Tuesday, December 15, 2009

5J4 - Destiny of the Daleks 4

There is so much wrong with Destiny of the Daleks, but it never seems as bad as it should be. The Movellans are interesting enough, if remarkably flawed. Why are their power packs, so vital to their survival, fitted on their belt where any Dickensian child pickpocket could dismantle an entire squadron with a quick flourish? And why do they all look like they're in Eddy Grant's backup band?

A long line of extremely helpful natives (including Westar and Sevrin) continues with Tyssan, who I actually feel very proud of when The Doctor almost looks like he's going to award him a medal after the raid of the Movellan ship is successful. Also, the first and only use in the classic of the then relatively new Steadicam works well, but could have been better utilized.

But the measure of success for this story still hinges on how invincible it's villains appear, or rather how invincible it's heroes are. Destiny of the Daleks is the beginning of perhaps the most smug era in Doctor Who's history. An omnipotent Doctor, his genius Time Lady protege, and an indomitable robot dog who would have probably been so powerful in this story that he had to be confined to the TARDIS lest he dismantle the legend of the Daleks even more. In the rare instances that The Doctor and/or Romana were in threatening situations, why would we even believe they were in danger? As Romana displayed early in Destiny, regeneration is as casual a process to a Time Lord as changing shirts is for a human.

The TARDIS team was at their most powerful at around this time, and, thus, at their most predictable. They are the Harlem Globetrotters to the Daleks/Movellans/(insert weekly alien threat here)'s Washington Generals. The game always seems close, The Doctor and Romana perform a series of tricks that entertain the children, and the Globetrotters end up winning in the end. It all depends, I suppose, how much of these antics you enjoy, as Season 17 was rife with them. Destiny of the Daleks succeeds in only being mildly diverting - probably a 12-point victory by the Globetrotters.


Al said...

There's a YouTube video where someone has redubbed Davros's voice for a few scenes from this story, and I have to say, I think that would make it a lot more watchable. They should totally have included that as a DVD extra. As it is, though, this is easily one of the worst Tom Baker stories. It's cheap, ugly, and boring. And the Movellans are so, so stupid.

Robert Konigsberg said...

It's Davros' accent that really jars me.

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