Reviewed By: TCar96
Review Date: 12/4/16 7:02 pm
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It's not Caves of Androzani - not even Resurrection of the Daleks.
The latter feels odd to type, it certainly works better on paper. The Doctor and Peri, landing on an alien world devoted to the art of cryogenic suspension... an art being abused by Davros - creating Daleks (and quorn!) out of humans - all on screen in gory detail. Davros manipulates interstellar corporate grab-grinders, who in turn manipulate a double-act of space knight and sci-fi squire, but Davros is also willing to manipulate the emotions of lowly staff for sick pleasure.
Most of the latter takes place towards the last half of episode two, in isolation a stellar piece of Who. There's Dalek civil-war; Davros' hand being blown off with his fingers on the floor; model explosions and a real sense of continuity being made. This is constructive and purposeful use of canon, unlike Timelash a fortnight earlier.
The issue is with execution. Despite Harper's best efforts, his second outing fails to compete with Caves (hardly a fair critique, I know). There's some shots which elevate what could otherwise be terribly dull: namely Davros' lair scenes and the opening shots inside the embalming chamber. However, with 'space Ikea base of the week' studio sets, there's just too little to work with.
Spots of visual flair are unfortunately underused. The glass Dalek is gorgeous and gory - skin crawling and an absolute coup! It's used sparingly in episode 1 and even more sparingly in episode 2, rather than taking absolute centre stage. Likewise, Davros' use of humans to generate protein concentrate is a superb little slice of body horror - where's the production line? The obligatory scenes of characters (preferably Peri!) eating the cadavers? What could've been gems sacrificed for some bland characters.
I say bland.. there's infuriating too. As glass Daleks are being pushed off screen, we're bombarded with the awful DJ character. Harper tries to make lightening strike twice with the DJ staring into the lens and Saward tries to make lightening strike twice with some post-modern observation. Neither succeeds.
Jobel on the otherhand does to a degree, but his subplot of utter sleaze being manipulated by Davros is ruined by Tasambeker's awful portrayal. On paper this subplot is simply amazing, introduction elements of raw emotion often bereft from Classic Who. The execution, not the idea, just falls flat.
The effects too often fall flat. Dalek explosions seem a bit wet; sets seem a bit tacky excluding Davros' lair. The voices of the Daleks are huge step down back to the calibre of Destiny, following the success of Resurrection.
Excellent isolated ideas aside, Davros' plan of ensnaring the Doctor seems to be pointless and the central dynamics of the serial are initiated by Davros and Kara. The Doctor's active role in the serial is literally meaningless until he arrives in episode 2, and even then neither he or Peri are particularly proactive. The resolution, the arrival of the Renegade Daleks, has nothing to do with the Doctor whatsoever. Again, plenty of amazing ideas and beats, but being slung onto a story that's a tad pants, and executed in a slapdash fashion.