I’m going timey-wimey back to Classic Who with this one.
I’m old enough to recall some of the old series, but certainly not the first three Doctors and I also missed out on quite a bit of the Fourth Doctor.
The show’s format is so very different from now, a twenty-five minute episode as part of a serial running over a few weeks, ‘Genesis’ differed a little by having six episodes instead of the usual four at that time and it certainly had a tale to tell.
Skaro, a planet with a civil war between two similar domed cities that were separated by mountains and a nuclear wasteland. Kaleds, Thals and Mutos. The Doctor had two companions in Sarah Jane and Harry, but no Tardis as a Time Lord bossman was calling in a favour for letting the Doctor run around time and space.
It’s the mid-seventies, so some suspension of reality and today’s quality of production, effects and picture is required. Nevertheless, this stands up, it’s an origin story, a retcon in some ways to explain where and how the Daleks came about.
Davros, is ugly, evil, sinister and calculating. He manipulates his followers and scientists in the ‘Elite’ Kaled bunker into a transport system for their ‘ultimate’mutated form and creates the Dalek shell, presumably based on his own chair.
Davros is a chief scientist, a genius, a leader of sorts, but to get to his face-off with our Fourth Doctor, we have some plot that sees Harry and the Doctor negotiate the danger of a personnel mine, the separation of Sarah Jane, the capture of Harry and the Doctor by the Kaleds and an explanation of a futile long running war.
Both sides have a wonder weapon, the Thals have a missile, the Kaleds work on the Daleks.
The Kaleds aren’t a nice bunch, militaristic and having a strong whiff of facist with the uniforms in their military, their Elite are no better with a plan to evolve into a mutated state and live inside the Dalek casing as their highest evolved form recognising their exposure to the radiation.
The only difference between the Elite scientists and Davros is that he wants to take away compassion and ‘weakness’ from the mutants, he wants the Daleks free of emotion. The scientists want a remnant of their humanity to remain.
The Doctor enters the story, he is captured, but eventually is able to speak with Kaled politicians about Davros’s creation. Davros responds by planning a betrayal of his society and allowing the Thals to win the war by telling them how to weaken the Kaled dome before destroying it with their Missile. Davros and his Elite are safe in their bunker whilst their city is destroyed. Davros follows this by setting his Dalek creation on the celebrating Thals. Of course, the Doctor tries to avert this, but is captured by the Thals and has to endure the sight of the destruction of the Kaled city.
So, a meaty tale with plenty of action, betrayals and intrigue before the final episodes address the Doctor trying to complete his Time Lord mission and stop the Daleks being created.
Is it good to watch? – my view is yes. It has a good script. A very decent cast and the presence and abundance of character that is the Fourth Doctor. Tom Baker is The Doctor, no two ways about it. He’s striking in appearance, a clear voice and tone and a real presence. But, the show isn’t just him. Sarah Jane and Harry help him, get in their own scrapes and are useful foils to the Doctor, even though Davros uses the threat of torturing them to squeeze out information on future Dalek failures from The Doctor.
The Fourth Doctor is touched upon in character by the modern Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors, possibly only the Ninth Doctor in reviving the show doesn’t quite seem to touch back as much to this classic Doctor. The Fourth Doctor is alien, long lived, but clever and decisive and able to lead his companions. There’s no guilt or angst or fancying Sarah Jane, he’s certainly fond of her, but not any of our modern day complications.
So, we have a different tone and feel to ‘NuWho’, a considered script, The Kaleds have some sort of ethical dilemma with the creation of the Daleks, but ultimately Davros and his faction win out, although The Fourth Doctor slows the progress of the Daleks by trapping them.
A big difference to our last sighting of Davros in 2008, where he seems incidental to the plot and is held in a vault away from the Supreme Dalek. Obviously, I’m guessing at an emergency temporal shift at the finish of ‘Journey’s End’ to get him back to Skaro for the Twelfth Doctor to meet him in his dying state.
All in Alll, an interesting diversion from the current show and more than decent value for six pounds at a large retailer of DVD’s and other stuff.