Saturday, October 17, 2009

4E6 - Genesis of the Daleks 6

Genesis of the Daleks, full of iconic moments, still manages to save most of its best moments to last. The "Do I have the right?" scene, the Daleks massacring the Kaled scientists and military leaders, Davros's "death" scene (bet you regret not taking Gharman up on his offer to add pity to the list of emotions in the latest line of Daleks, eh, Davros?), and so on.

My two favourite moments, though, have to be the final moments of Nyder, and the final scene of the story itself. Nyder is the only person in this who still manages to keep his character and motivations in tact, even though he dies. His wry smile as he sees Gharman exterminates is loathsome, his shoving of Kravos into the line of fire of a Dalek ray gun is despicable, but his worst crime happens last. While everyone around him is screaming in fear and pain when they are exterminated, when Nyder finally gets his own just desserts at the end of a Dalek gun, he denies everyone the final satisfaction by not screaming. Even when dying, Nyder wins. And that's what makes him one of the most memorable villains in the programme's history.

The optimistic speech by The Doctor at the end as he, Sarah, and Harry spin and float through space as the Time Ring takes them home, is a beautiful peace of dialogue that never fails to get me emotional. "I know also that out of their evil must come something good.", The Doctor says. He speaks as if he knows the future, but what he may not realize at the time is that he has just rewritten it. From here on, a second Dalek history is born. There's no mention of the Dalek invasion of Earth in the 22nd century, and other Dalek conquests likely never happened thanks to The Doctor's actions. The Doctor didn't change history by blowing up the incubation room, though. He changed it by putting enough doubt in Davros's mind to install a forcefield in his chair (as we will find out in Destiny of the Daleks). With Davros alive, he now becomes the Daleks' main focus, and they are nowhere near as effective as in the first history of the Daleks, where they were conquerors throughout time, absent of much internal strife.

The same could be said for the Daleks as a fictional element in the production of Doctor Who. While Davros is a remarkable character, this is his first, best, and what probably should have been last hour. With no offence to the actors that were to portray him after this story, they just aren't Michael Wisher. Wisher's performance as Davros must stand as one of the great villainous performances in the series' history. He is never animated, he rarely even moves his one good arm, and so Wisher has only the power of his voice to convey the many varied emotions that Davros experiences throughout this story. Wisher is just as frighteningly effective when he's speaking in a low whisper with Nyder as when he is in full on rant mode in the later episodes. No Doctor Who villain has ever ranted quite as convincingly as Michael Wisher as Davros.

Genesis of the Daleks is obviously one of the series all time great stories, and it is of no surprise that it is constantly in the Top 5 of any "best story" polls that have been conducted by various fan groups and magazines over the years. As good as it is, and it almost seems insulting to say this, it must still sit in third place amongst Dalek stories for me, behind the two Patrick Troughton stories, The Power of the Daleks and The Evil of the Daleks. However, Genesis also seems as if it will be the last great Dalek story, and is a remarkable achievement for Philip Hinchliffe to have two iconic stories (this and The Ark in Space) in his first season as producer.


Who+ said...

I don't think Genesis of the Daleks is a great Dalek story at all, it's a shoddy piece of writing where Terry Nation throws all of his time-honoured boilerplate up in the air and watches them land in a slightly different order. The dialogue (apart from the few great, Robert Holmes-interpolated exceptions) is much less sparkling than, e.g. The Ark In Space and the motivations and actions of the characters are largely ridiculous.

What Genesis IS is a great Davros story. It has the best villain in the history of Who (sorry Master) being utterly magnetic and compelling throughout. So powerful is this portrayal that every "Dalek" story for the next 15 years would in fact be a Davros story instead, not necessarily to their benefit. For Davros and the historical importance, yes, this story is a true classic, but in terms of actual story, meh... it's Terry Nation by numbers, which is an ugly thing at the best of times.

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