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Doctor Who - Genesis of the Daleks

episode 78

UK 1975
produced by
Philip Hinchcliffe for BBC
directed by David Maloney
starring Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen, Ian Marter, Michael Wisher, Peter Miles, Dennis Chinnery, Guy Siner, Stephen Yardley, James Garbutt, Harriet Philpin, Roy Skelton (voice), Richard Reeves, Tom Georgeson, Ivor Roberts, John Franklyn-Robbins
written and Daleks created by Terry Nation, script editor: Robert Holmes, music by Dudley Simpson

Doctor Who, Doctor Who (Tom Baker), Doctor Who (classic series), Daleks, Davros, Sarah Jane Smith

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Doctor Who (Tom Baker) is persuaded by the Timelords (his own people) to prevent his arch-enemies, the Daleks, from ever being created, so he and his companions Sarah (Elisabeth Sladen) and Harry (Ian Marter) are sent to the Dalek's homeplanet Skaro, a planet devastated from a way too long war bwetween the Kaleds (yes, it's an anagram on Daleks) and the Thals, with the Mutos (mutants who became that way by too many atom bombs) caught in the middle - and neither side is holding back, despite ammonition running very low lately, and they don't refrain from biological warfare or even more atom bombs.

As it is, the Doctor and Harry soon become prisonsers of the Kaleds, where the Doctor manages to interest a scientist, Ronson (James Garbutt), for his ideas of peace and his knowledge about the future of the Daleks, while Sarah, along with a Muto called Sevrin (Stephen Yardley) is taken prisoner by the Thals and fored to load their latest, all-destroying missile.

And then there's Davros (Michael Wisher), head-scientist and secret leader of the Kaleds, who has built an army of robots in which the Kaleds who have reached the next stage of their mutation (these special Kaleds are nothing more than a lump of flesh and a brain) can comfortably live, robots that look suspiciously like moving pepperpots ... or in other words, like Daleks. Now building robots for crippled mutations would not be a bad thing in itself (quite the contrary), but in the process, Davros also removes all traces of conscience from the Kaleds/Daleks' brains and builds them into the ultimate warmachines.

Now that has got several of Davros' scientists on the edge, most notably Ronson, who helps the Doctor and Harry escape to warn the Kaleds' council of Davros' obvious madness.

The council gives Davros a fair warning, but Davros acts like innocence itself and agrees to fulfill all the requests of the council - but a short time later, the Doctor and Harry, who have left the Kaled Dome to free Sarah, find Davros with the Thals, giving them plans on how to successfully bombard and destroy the Kaled Dome (which houses most of the Kaled race safe for Davros' science division).

... and soon enough, the Kaled Dome goes boom, despite the Doctor's best efforts to prevent it. But once that's achieved, Davros lets the Daleks loose on the Thals.

Somehow, the Doctor can persuade one of the more intelligent Thals, Bettan (Harriet Philpin) to form a resistance group against the Daleks together with Muto Sevrin, while he himself heads back for Davros' underground science division with Harry and Sarah, to fulfill what he has come for, wipe the Daleks off the face of the universe. But when he's about to blow up the tank holding the mutated Kaleds destined to become the Daleks, he realizes he can't, because that way he would commit genocide and be no better than Davros and the Daleks.

Davros meanwhile is brought to trial by the remainders of the council that had not been in the dome when it went boom (about which they don't know that it was Davros' doing as well). Davros agrees to put his cause to the vote, and the council feels all self-confident, but in fact, he has long put his Dalek army into position, and when he is outwoted, he has the Daleks cold-bloodedly shoot those against him.

Upon seeing this, the Doctor realizes he has to commit genocide to save the universe - even if it is against his conscience ... and in the end it is even taken out of his hands by a Dalek accidently activating the detonator. In the meantime, Bettan and Sevrin have positioned enough explosives to close the only entrance to the place but good, and the Doctor only just makes it out ... but the real drama happens down in Davros' lab, where the Daleks, which were built totally without conscience, turn against their master forcing him to self-destruct his lab (and himself and the Daleks with it).

Now the Doctor might not have succeeded in preventing the Daleks from being created, and he knows they eventually will emerge again (many times, actually), but at least he ahs slowed down their development.


Wow ! This really is good, a multi-layered war story (often reminiscent of botht he first and the second World War) that doesn't offer any easy answers, with even its main villain Davros being granted a tragic moment in the end, and the Doctor, a notorious pacifist, ultimately forced to commit genocide. Fast pacing, a sombre tone (with Tom Baker for once refraining from throwing in a joke every now and again - which he is incredibly good at), excellent storytelling and very moody lighting help make this one of the best-ever Doctor Who episodes !!!


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
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Tales to Chill
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the new anthology by
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written by
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out now on DVD