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Remembrance of the Daleks

Rating Votes
10
47%
60
9
27%
35
8
14%
18
7
9%
11
6
2%
2
5
0%
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4
2%
2
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Average Rating
9.0
Votes
128
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Latest Community Reviews

From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
10
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10
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10
Has Prerequisite(s):
No
Reviewed By: JMChurch25Review Date: 3/13/19 3:00 pm
1 out of 2 found this review helpful.

Season 25 starts off the 25th anniversary of the show in style and on an extremely high note with the critically acclaimed story “Remembrance of the Daleks”. This one remains not only my favorite Seventh Doctor story of all time but also my Classic Doctor Who story of all time as well as the final appearance of the Daleks in the Classic era.

The plot is a little complicated on the surface but easy to dig into once it all gets going. The Doctor and Ace return to Earth in 1963 to protect a mysterious Gallifreyan artifact from the clutches of rival Dalek factions embroiled in a civil war. In the process, they also return to Coal Hill and the junkyard where the series started, witness the beginning roots of what would eventually become UNIT, and cause massive amounts of explosions. It’s an extremely nostalgia-heavy narrative going all the way back to the beginning with connections to the First Doctor and what exactly he was doing in 1963 London in “An Unearthly Child” while also serving as a template for future stories in New Who especially the 50th Anniversary special “The Day of the Doctor”.

But what makes this story stand out especially is the Doctor himself. This story is where Sylvester McCoy’s Seventh Doctor truly arrives onscreen. Up to this point, he had been almost a replica of Patrick Troughton’s Second Doctor with a silly and small demeanor that would allow him to handle a situation more out of luck than skill. With the direction of script editor Andrew Cartmel however, McCoy’s Doctor in this story suddenly starts to become a bit more elusive, a bit quieter, and a bit more serious. This Doctor was slowly becoming a force to be reckoned with a manipulative streak, a penchant for long-term strategic thinking, and some very subtle hints that he might a far more important figure with a powerful past than he had ever let on in the past. McCoy’s performance was also amplified to help sell those points and thus it makes “Remembrance” his best TV story not just so far in re-watching it but also as a whole. He was still funny, enjoyable, and eccentric on the surface but now there was a dark and almost amoral intellect behind that outside impression that deepens his character and he would prove to be unstoppable and devastating to his foes if underestimated. His masterplan in particular in this story is a doozy and it makes the tale more interesting than it otherwise could’ve been with another Doctor.

The rest of the cast is also exceedingly with a side cast of memorable characters in the military especially Group Captain Gilmore, some suitably creepy henchmen, and of course Sophie Aldred giving one of her weaker but still great performances with the chance to blow Daleks up left and right. The effects and pacing of this story are surprisingly good for the time supported by a script by Ben Aaronovitch that’s incredibly tight and focused with lots of stronger moments to dwell on and some big twists and surprises. It all gives the story a very cinematic feel to it and wouldn’t be amiss being played on a theater screen at least for me.

Even the flaws and things I initially found in this story in prior looks are overshadowed by almost EVERYTHING else and they are so minor that they are rendered not worth mentioning. I don’t even know what else to say: everything that’s great about this is damn good many times over even as I watch it for the umpteenth time. This to me is the perfect Sylvester McCoy / Seventh Doctor TV story if not the best story in the Classic Series by a wide margin and it’s incredibly difficult to match.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
7
Plot Rating:
7
Acting Rating:
6
Replay Rating:
6
Effects Rating:
7
Has Prerequisite(s):
Unsure
Reviewed By: EcclestonSmithReview Date: 2/25/19 10:22 am
0 out of 8 found this review helpful.

This was a boring story and Ace sucked so much
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
10
Plot Rating:
9
Acting Rating:
10
Replay Rating:
10
Effects Rating:
10
Has Prerequisite(s):
Unsure
Reviewed By: BrainofMorbius23Review Date: 9/5/17 1:21 am
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

Simply one of the most entertaining dalek stories there is!
Action packed. Loveable characters which could have almost been our new unit of the 80-90s who if it proceeded! (Look out for them in big finishes countermeasures series)
Lots of nods to the point that we feel like we are almost being treated with a special.

Need I mention the special weapons dalek!

10/10
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
10
Plot Rating:
10
Acting Rating:
10
Replay Rating:
10
Effects Rating:
10
Has Prerequisite(s):
No
Reviewed By: DalekbusterScreen5ReviewsReview Date: 4/9/17 5:43 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

Doctor Who's 25th anniversary season did something different to what was usually expected during a Doctor Who anniversary. Rather than bringing back past Doctors to interact with the current one, producer John Nathan Turner decided to go in another direction: celebrating the Doctor's most famous enemies in the Daleks and the Cybermen. The Cybermen's story Silver Nemesis was the show's twenty-fifth anniversary episode but before that there was Remembrance of the Daleks: the story many Whovians consider to be the real twenty fifth anniversary special.

In Remembrance of the Daleks, the Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) returns to 1960s London with Ace (Sophie Aldred), where two opposing Dalek factions are at war with one another and searching for the Hand of Omega: a device created by Stellar Engineer Omega to turn stars into supernovas as fuel for Gallifreyan time travel. Davros (Terry Molloy) and the Daleks want it to improve their ability to time travel. The Doctor plans on giving it to them...but why?

The way Remembrance of the Daleks celebrates Doctor Who's longevity is remarkable. It does something that the recent film Jurassic World did very well: slots in nostalgic nods and references into the story without it distracting the main story. The majority of the narrative takes place at Coal Hill School (the same school that the Doctor's granddaughter Susan Foreman was at). You get to see IM Foreman's scrapyard and the book about the French Revolution Susan borrowed from Barbara in An Unearthly Child. There is even a scene where Ace walks out of a room just as the BBC continuity announcer on the television announces the start of a brand new sci-fi television series 'Doc-'. This is the reason why many consider Remembrance of the Daleks to be the show's 25th anniversary special: it feels so much like one that it's hard to believe Silver Nemesis was the special and not this.

And the nods to the very first serial An Unearthly Child don't stop there. The story even features a mysterious child of its own. A character so mysterious she doesn't even have a name: she's simply called 'The Girl' in the end credits. The Girl is a deliberate echo of Susan Foreman: only this time, instead of being the Doctor's granddaughter she is the Dalek's 'battle computer'. Young actor Jasmine Breaks plays her brilliantly; she gives a certain menace to her performance that is surprisingly creepy for a young girl. It's also a nice idea for a story twenty five years later to take inspiration from the serial that started it all; the Girl never feels like a copy of Susan but a different mysterious child, even as a deliberate call-back to the character of Susan.

There's something I mentioned in my Agent Carter review that really applies here and that's the use of music to create the era. The music in this serial featured in the cafe scenes is nicely authentic towards the sixties' era and it feels like the seventh Doctor and Ace are actually in the 60s rather than the reality of the time it was filmed. There's never any doubt that this story takes place shortly after the first Doctor and Susan leave IM Foreman's junkyard and you can tell real research has been put into the era by sound man Scott Talbott. It's a terrific sound mix and works well for a story with call-backs to the 60s era of the show.

But this isn't just a serial that looks backwards. Like the best Doctor Who celebrations, it looks forwards. The special effects by Stuart Brisdon are ahead of their time; these are effects that are so impressive that the new series of Doctor Who borrows from them a lot. The skeleton effect that surrounds a character fired at by a Dalek looks a lot like the skeleton effect of the 2005 revival and the beam of light that emits from the Daleks' egg whisks here bears a strong resemblance to the effects used for the RTD era Daleks.

It's not only the special effects that look to the show's future either. The narrative also looks forward when it needs to. Writer Ben Aaronovitch is a genius at juggling the forwards and backwards look of the serial and crafts one of the show's all-time best cliffhangers: the moment when a Dalek levitates up the stairs. This is a moment so iconic that it is replicated in the 2005 episode Dalek, when the Dalek follows Rose and Adam up some stairs at billionaire collector Henry van Statten's museum. Yet rather unfairly, it is forgotten. People tend to think of Robert Shearman as the first person to do it, when actually it came from the mind of Ben Aaronovitch. I imagine it must have been a surprise for the audience of 1988, without the knowledge that Daleks could climb stairs: it is a chilling moment and one of the highlights of this serial.

Remembrance of the Daleks is notable to the Whovian fanbase for introducing the Counter Measures team, consisting of Captain Gilmore (Simon Williams), Rachel Jensen (Pamela Salem) and Allison Williams (Karen Gledhill). It is not surprising that these characters got their own Big Finish spinoff as they feel like the sixties' equivalent of UNIT. Captain Gilmore in particular feels like a nice alternative to Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, played with the same level of charm and authority by Simon Williams. You could believe had the classic series run of Doctor Who had continued that the seventh Doctor and Captain Gilmore would have developed a similar friendship to the Brigadier. Karen Gledhill and Pamela Salem are good in their roles too but don't quite shine as much as Simon Williams does as Gilmore. What's great about Pamela Salem's character Rachel Jensen is she is a fun callback to the third Doctor's time with UNIT. Just like the Doctor, she is a scientific advisor to a military organisation and it is always great to see how a different character deals with the job when the Doctor's around with considerably more knowledge. Allison Williams doesn't really do a great deal although I imagine her character is expanded upon in the Big Finish releases.

Overall, Remembrance of the Daleks is an amazing celebration of twenty five years of Doctor Who. It didn't need more than one Doctor to celebrate the longevity of the show; instead it does something that the more recent Jurassic World did with nostalgic nods and references to the history of the franchise. Yet despite the references, it still manages to look forward through the outstanding special effects and chilling cliffhanger where the Dalek glides up the stairs. The 60s sound mix convincingly recreates the sixties era and the Counter Measures team are a fun sixties version of UNIT. This serial has made me tempted to try out Big Finish's Counter Measures audios at some point and I am sure it will do the same to anybody who decides to give this Doctor Who serial a go. And you should give it a go: you don't need prior knowledge of Doctor Who to enjoy it. It's an excellent story in its own right and I would recommend it to anyone who likes recent movies such as Jurassic World.