Friday, October 16, 2009

4E4 - Genesis of the Daleks 4

History is made in this episode as Ronson, the scientist who helped The Doctor and Harry escape the Kaled dome, becomes the first victim of a Dalek extermination ray. He certainly won't be the last (the Daleks waste a good few Thals, celebrating their apparent victory over the Kaleds, later in this episode). And, amazingly, when you look at it, his won't be the most over-the-top death seen this story, either, as David Maloney amps up the violence aspect of this story by instructing his actors to really give it their all when they are shot by Daleks. Death by Dalek used to be a much more instant death. Either early Dalek rays let their victims linger for much longer, or Maloney wanted to have their victims' deaths last as long as possible onscreen.

Davros signs his own death warrant in this episode when speaking to Gharman. Gharman questions Davros's order to have emotions removed from the next batch of Daleks to be produced. Gharman states that this will result in creatures with great weaknesses, devoid of a conscience and, notably, "without pity". Gharman gets his own temporary comeuppance later when Nyder tricks him into revealing who his co-conspirators are, in yet another memorable scene featuring Peter Miles as Nyder. This story has been anchored by a dynamite performance by Michael Wisher as Davros, but Miles's Nyder is possibly an even more interesting character - calm and cool with an underlying sense of malice that carries him to the very end of this story.

Genesis of the Daleks is Doctor Who at its most stark. The many scenes set in the Kaled dome are almost completely lacking in colour. The Kaled scientists are dressed in all white; the military, in all black. All the walls are dark grey or silver. The Doctor and his friends, with their colourful costumes, act as an intrusion into this grey world just as their presence marks a disruption in the events that are occurring here. The near-monochrome look is almost a throwback to the early black and white days of Doctor Who, but it's the lighting that helps turn what could have been a very dull looking story into a visually striking and stunning extravaganza. Kudos to lighting director Duncan Brown, who proves that a well placed light can create more atmosphere than an expensive set could any day.


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