on March 9, 2006
Genesis of the Daleks was one of the first Doctor Who stories I remember watching when I first started watching the program on PBS. Genesis was actually the first Dalek story I had ever seen, and it remains my overall favorite today, as well as one of my overall favorite Doctor Who stories. After years of thrilling stories with the Doctor's oldest archenemies, The DW production staff, along with writer/Dalek creator Terry Nation, decided to explain the origins of the psychotic, megalomaniacal pepperpots in Genesis of the Daleks. The Doctor (Tom Baker) and his companions Harry Sullivan (Ian Marter) and Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) are brought to Skaro, the Daleks' homeworld, by the Time Lords at a time before the Dalek race existed. The Time Lords want the Doctor to either prevent the Daleks from having ever existed, or alter their development so that they evolve into less aggressive creatures. The Doctor, Harry and Sarah find themselves in the middle of a long-running war of attrition between two humanoid races--the Kaleds and the Thals. They discover that the nuclear bombardments have caused people on both sides to mutate. The Kaleds, who are into racial purity, have expelled their mutants (called Mutos) into the wastelands outside their city. One exception is Davros (Michael Wisher), their chief scientist. Davros, believing these mutations are speeding up the evolution of the Kaleds, is performing experiments which lead to the creation of the first Daleks. But Davros' experiments cause the Daleks to lose their sense of emotion--love, hate, pity, compassion. They are driven by one thing--the need for power over the Thals and other "lesser" races. Davros betrays the Kaleds by helping the Thals nuke the Kaled city and destroy his own race. He then turns on the Thals by sending an army of Daleks into their city to exterminate them, sending the survivors running into the wastelands. In addition to Baker, Marter, Sladen and Wisher, some other great performances come from Peter Miles as Nyder, Harriet Philpin as Bettan and James Garbutt as Ronson. Although Resurrection of the Daleks was a very good story, Genesis of the Daleks is probably the last Dalek story from the original series that could truly be considered a classic, and I am thrilled that it is finally coming to DVD.
Imagine you could pick your favorite villains, from your favorite TV show, and do more than just reinvent those villains, but invent those villains, infront of the eyes of a viewer totally familiar with who those villains are, then go back and tell the story of their origin from the perspective of the protagonist. When that protagonist is a TIMELORD, it's easy to tell that story. That is just what Genesis of the Daleks is, the story of how the Doctor's greatest enemy comes to be. But, this concept is taken further than just telling their origin, the Doctor's mission is to stop that origin!
This is truely one of the best story arcs of the 4th incarnation of the Doctor, as played by fan-favorite, Tom Baker (currently narrator on the successful "Little Brittain" series).
This gritty and sometimes extremely dark story is one I and many fans have been waiting on for DVD release. The Doctor questions his own morality, wrestling with the decision to wipe out the Daleks like some terrible disease: To destroy an intelligent life form, wiping out a race, would 'he' be any better than the Daleks.
One short-coming is the price of BBC 2-disc sets is high and the special-bonus material is usually less-than special.
It's hard for me to make up a list of the best "Doctor Who" episodes. Well, let me restate that. I can make a list from here to Ravalox and back, but it's hard to put them into any order. It's a list the contains things like Doctor Who - The Talons of Weng-Chiang,Doctor Who - The Tomb of the Cybermen, and, of course, "Genesis of the Daleks". I'm not sure if it's the best story (what's your favorite? Comment!), but it's definately the best Dalek story.
The story opens with our heroes trying to return to Earth after one of their most recent adventures. They get, essentially, pulled over by the Time Lords. One of them, dressed, for some odd reason, rather like Tim the Enchanter, explains to the Doctor that he's on Skaro and must prevent the construction of the Daleks.
Now this opens up a great many interesting doors, including such things as the grandfather paradox. A lot of them don't get opened, but some do, such as the Doctor questioning the morality of destroying the Daleks. He sites the evil that they do, but also explains that by forcing various species to work together against them they also cause good (in Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch it's observed that evil sows the seeds of its own destruction. This is a great example).
The story is also notable for the introduction of Davros. Ah, Davros. For some reason, despite the Daleks appearing every-other episode of the new series, he hasn't shown up yet. Probably only a matter of time, as it were.
Both the story and the acting are of quite high caliber here. Tom Baker, who hadn't been the Doctor for long, does an excellent job of developing out the chracter he'd play for seven years. The various supporting roles, especially the Kaleds, are also very well-done.
As is usual with the "Doctor Who" DVD releases there's a wealth of extra materiel. Especially of note is the entertaining commentary. I couldn't help but laugh when there's a shot on the screen of a man wearing a gas mask and Elisabeth Sladen says, "Mummy!" (if you don't get it, watch the new series. Most of it's... well, adequete).
Any "Doctor Who" DVD collection simply must feature this story. If you don't have it, get it.
(as a side note, years ago I, in what I can only guess was a sleep deprived state while attending Norwescon, began to shout out randomly, "We- are- Daleks- of- Borg! You- will- be- assimilated! Assimilate! ASSIMILATE!" Yeah... I'm just that weird)
on March 25, 2006
This was the story that got me hooked on Doctor Who back in the early 80's. My friend was a fan long before me and was always getting me to sit down and watch episodes on local TV with commercials. I was not impressed by what I saw until they ran Genesis of the Daleks during a PBS pledge drive. That was all it took to make me a diehard fan. Other reviewers have gone into detail about why this story is so good so I won't repeat their excellent comments here.
With this release my Top 5 favorite stories are now on DVD. Shame about the price increase though. On the plus side we're getting one of the Tom Baker's best stories and he's even doing a commentary!
Now if the BBC will only release Pertwee's Dalek stories...
on April 27, 2015
In 2014, I made a goal for myself...to watch all 50 years of Doctor Who; every available serial, episode, movie, and special...and I gave myself one year to do it. It took eight months, but I eventually achieved my goal, and just in time for the 50th anniversary special. I then decided to buy/own my absolute favorite serials/episodes from each Doctor, and this was one of them.
The Fourth Doctor and his companions, Sarah Jane Smith and Harry, are summoned to the Daleks' home planet of Skaros before their rise to power. Hoping to prevent the dominating beings from developing their warlike behavior, the gang soon finds themselves in the middle of a war between two races, the Kaleds and the Thals, and uncover a plot by a Kaled scientist, Davros, to render his people invincible as the metal-encased Daleks. Will the Tardis team be able to stop Davros? And given the chance, will the Doctor stoop to committing mass genocide and destroy his enemies before they're even born?
There's a reason this serial is considered one of the greatest stories of Doctor Who's long run. It not only fleshes out the back story of the megalomaniacal, robotic Daleks, but also presents a thoughtful storyline with elements that remain topical, even today, like cultures locked in an endless war, and genetic experimentation. Add to that the chilling villain and mad scientist, Davros, who manipulates both his enemies AND his own subordinates like a master chess player; stopping at nothing to take over the galaxy, and letting nothing stand in his way (phyisically, he even LOOKS like a chess piece). Two of the best moments of the show are contained in this story; the first being when the Doctor and Davros have a little "chat" about the fate of the universe, and what they would do if they had the power to destroy everything. Davros' insane speech just builds and builds, and it's nothing short of memorable.
The other comes when the Doctor is about to blow up the room where the Daleks are being created, and with the simple act of touching two wires together, he's left with an insanely difficult choice....if he kills the Daleks now, he'll be ridding the galaxy of a great evil forever...however, many planets put aside their differences and came together only because of the united threat of the Daleks. And even more importantly, for how evil the Daleks are, they ARE still an intellegent race, and taking this rare chance would mean committing mass genocide. Does he, or anyone else, have the right to do that? It's a heavy question with no clear answers. (You know this scene is famous when it becomes the cover art for the DVD.)
As for Sarah Jane and Harry, they're good as always, although argueably, they're not really given much to do this time around, and personally, this story could've easily been trimmed down to four parts instead of six. But for how good the stuff with Davros and the Daleks are, I can forgive this; I'm probably just nitpicking at this point. The DVD picture quality is excellent, and there's a ton of cool special features to check out, including behind the scenes of the making of the serial, and episode commentaries from the actors themselves.
If you're a fan of classic Who, or just Doctor Who, period, then you NEED to give this serial a watch. It gives us a ton of backstory on the Doctor's deadliest, most famous enemies, while also giving an important commentary on the consequences of having to make life changing decisions.
on March 22, 2007
It's all too easy to say of anything that it's a classic, to the point that the word almost gets cheapened from overuse. But sometimes no other word will really do, and that really does go for "Genesis of the Daleks" here, for on the one hand it's very typical and characteristic of the show (especially as it was in the mid-1970's), while on the other hand it's a bit of a cut above the rest. It features the Doctor's most popular nemesis, but does so in an unusual way that's interesting both if one's been following the show up until this point and if this is the first time one's ever even heard of a Dalek. And it succeeds both as a thrilling science fiction adventure and as an exploration of some fundamentally important issues.
This is also clearly a transitional moment in the show's history, shifting in emphasis somewhat from a kid's show that grown-ups can also enjoy to a grown-up show that kids can enjoy too. A subtle shift, but noticeable. Really we have a dark and bleak storyline with this one, lightened only by the Doctor's ever-reliable oddball eccentricity, Sarah Jane's lovable feistiness, and Harry's doofishness (always putting his foot in it). Otherwise the themes of genocide, eugenics, militarism, fascist totalitarianism, wars of attrition and genetic mutations, forced labor, suspicion and betrayal, megalomania, stark moral dilemmas and such cuteness all add to the somber lighting and the dull ash-grey sets (definitely a "Death Star" palette here, folks) to make this a compellingly grim adventure indeed. In some ways the moral dilemma faced by the Doctor at the climax is a variant on the old "would you kill Hitler when he was an infant?" conundrum, but it is disturbing enough to him on the spot--and to us, who understand his hesitation and the issues involved but also kind of just wish he'd throw ethics to the wind and nip the Daleks in the bud. Geez. All a little heavy for Saturday afternoon tea time, I'd think. There's a new depth of seriousness here that we hadn't quite seen before in "Doctor Who."
It is also an exceedingly imaginative masterstroke to set this storyline back when the Daleks were first invented or evolved or whatever, though it may be easy to overlook just how innovative this was after the fact. Dalek storylines can get a bit repetitive after a while if the writers aren't careful. They invade, they exterminate, and the Doctor stops them. Instead of a retread, though, "Genesis" succeeds admirably in breathing new life into the concept, exploring their formation in a compelling manner. And the Dalek's inventor, Davros, is a superb villain, a man of science and reason like the Doctor but who puts that knowledge to very different uses--the contrast between them is depicted wonderfully in one of their key dialogues (script-writing at its best). And Michael Wisher probably deserves an award for bringing Davros to life, convincingly portraying a wide range of different evil emotions and radiating creepy charisma all while immobilized in body (except for a right hand), crammed in a lower-Dalek wheelchair contraption, and encumbered by a well-designed and realistic mask that covered most of his face and blocked his vision. Finally, the final scene between Davros and his new creations, the Daleks, is a beautiful example of good old-fashioned irony, or maybe instant karma--a nice touch that also (for what it's worth) serves cleverly to maintain continuity with the many preceding Dalek stories in the series.
Don't get me wrong. Not everything's perfect. The writers lead the Doctor up to the big moral dilemma only to kind of let him off the hook, only to lead him back to the hook and yet pretty much release him again. This makes for some annoying anticlimax. And a few things stretch one's credulity just a little. And yes, the giant clams look fake. But overall, if I were introducing a friend to this show and wanted to find an exemplary story that exemplifies much of what's great about "Doctor Who," this would likely be one of my choices--though probably I'd want to compliment it with another one a bit more upbeat.
GENESIS OF THE DALEKS (along with THE ARK IN SPACE Story 76) are two adventures of the 4th Doctor's first season I would recommend as "Must Have" for the eclectic collector of Dr. Who DVDs. Daleks, the most prolific of all the Doctor's nemesis and second only to the arch-rival Master in personal taste, the Daleks had by this release already made ther -EXTERMINATE- delightfully iconic.
Of all the Dalek stories, both old and new millennium, GENESIS OF THE DALEKS still rates up there in the top for me. Sure there a few cheezy moments (no early BBC production would be true to itself without them), but the acting, the witty moments, the scenery, the moral quandries, the lighting, the pacing, it's all top notch fun in an epic six episode format! Yes, this is one to be in ANY Dr. Who fan's library, even those who only watch the new millennium adventures as one encounters Davros and his creations over and over- GENESIS OF THE DALEKS adds a lot of background flavor to them.
on August 5, 2006
I would put this in my top ten best Doctor Who list. I think it is around the 4th or 5th highest rated by fans of all Doctor Who episodes. Tom Baker is my most favorite Doctor. Elizabeth Sladen is one of my most favorite assistants. Dalek episodes are always some of my most favorite stories. This is by far the best Dalek episode ever made. I watched this story several times on repeats on PBS as a kid. The story is essentially about how Davros created the Daleks in his own image. He was the great Kaled engineer that was very [..]like. I think he was overused in the later stories of the Daleks. He fit perfectly into this story. It takes a lot from the William Hartnell episode The Daleks, which is the first ever Dalek story.
on February 10, 2012
The Doctor is summoned against his will to the planet Sharo by a typically arrogant Time Lord, who explains his mission (whether he wants it or not) is to thwart the creation of the Time Lords' oldest enemies, the Daleks. And then the guy just dumps him and his two companions - Sarah Jane Smith and Harry Sullivan - off and leaves, apparently expecting them to figure out how to do it all on their own. What a jerk.
Skaro is a war-torn planet. The two dominant civilizations, the Thals and the Kaleds, have been fighting each other for centuries, to the point where they aren't even aware that there is even any other life in the universe except on Skaro. During a commando raid by some Thal soldiers, Sarah gets knocked out. The Kaleds "rescue" the Doctor and Harry, killing the attacking Thals and taking them prisoner. Sarah is assumed dead and left outside, where she is helped by a friendly vagabond named Sevrin before the two get caught by a Thal patrol.
The fascist Kaleds introduce the Doctor and Harry to their greatest scientist, Davros, an ancient, ugly man confined to a motorized wheelchair, who unveils his latest scheme to wipe out the Thals: mutant creatures inside of armored battle vehicles designed after his own conveyance. The Daleks! The Doctor's warnings about them fall on deaf ears. Davros is only concerned with seeing his Daleks come to fruition to wipe out the Thals as soon as possible, and when some of the Kaled leaders begin listening to the Doctor, Davros conspires with his assistant Nyder to wipe them out so their Daleks can reign supreme.
Meanwhile, we learn that the Thals are little better than their enemies, as Sarah Jane, Sevrin and other prisoners are being used as slave labor to construct a powerful rocket to destroy the Kaled city with: the Thals' answer to the Daleks. Sarah Jane and the others begin making plans to escape so she can find the Doctor. But will she succeed? Can the Doctor prevent these two warmongering civilizations from annihilating each other and convince everyone of the evil the Daleks will unleash upon the universe?
One of the darker and more depressing Doctor Who tales, with many a nail-biting moment. More than once we see the usually triumphant at very low points. Time and again he fails to ensure that the Daleks don't get created, and his efforts to bring the Thals and Kaleds together are met with hostile resistance to the idea. He almost literally finds himself in an unwinnable situation, and it takes the Daleks (of course) turning on their masters and deciding to kill both the Thals and the Kaleds to get anything done. A very tense and riveting if at times slow-moving story, one of Doctor Who's best.
on November 18, 2015
This is a great story. We meet Davros for the first time and see the creation of the Daleks. There are parts in this story where you can see the Doctor really cares about his companions and values their friendship. The only negative thing I can say about this story is that it's a bit long. It's very good, but if you choose to watch the whole thing all at once, you might fall asleep.