Last week I had the opportunity to watch the 1985 Doctor Who serial “Revelation of the Daleks”, starring Colin Baker as the Doctor and Nicola Bryant as Peri Brown.
I can envision the eye-rolling from here (“The Sixth Doctor? Really? He was one of the worst!”), but just listen to me for a minute. It’s true that the Sixth and Seventh Doctors often get a bad rap (Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy both played the Doctor during a time when the BBC was actively trying to kill the show), but a lot of their episodes are better than most people would have you believe. “Revelation of the Daleks”, while not one of the best episodes of classic Who, certainly wasn’t the worst, either.
The Doctor and Peri arrive on the planet Necros for the funeral of Professor Stengos, a good friend of the Doctor’s, but the Doctor has some suspicions about Tranquil Repose, the funerary parlor that is arranging the professor’s funeral. Turns out his suspicions are well-founded–Tranquil Repose is run by Davros, the mad creator of the Daleks, and he is using the bodies of the dead to try to create a new Dalek army…and also to solve that solar systems famine issue…which is dark even for Davros. Throw in some political intrigue, attempted assassinations, and a body count higher than many modern episodes of Doctor Who (you think Moffat kills all the characters now? You should see what these writers did!), and you have what is, at the very least, a memorable serial from the classic era.
I was surprised with how dark this episode went–seriously, how did this even get aired the first time around? But there were some pretty neat little moments, too, such as Davros’s initial interactions with Kara, a woman who provides funds for his research. Seeing Davros actually being polite and not shouting, actually attempting to be charming, was something of a shock. Then I remembered that when he was on Skaro, he must have had to persuade similar people to fund his research there, too, and it made me kind of want to learn more about a younger Davros. There’d be a lot to explore there, I’m sure.
One of the characters I really liked in this episode was Orcini, a disgraced member of the Knights of Oberon that Kara hired to kill Davros. Once a member of one of the most distinguished military branches in the galaxy, Orcini is now an assassin-for-hire, yet he is still something of a noble knight. In fact, in the middle of all the political intrigue and backstabbing, he was the only character who conducted himself with any honor–and he was a criminal! There was something about him that vaguely reminded me of Don Quixote–I’m not sure why, but there you have it.
Would I recommend “Revelation of the Daleks”? I’m not sure. I mean, it wasn’t as terrible as I’d heard, but it’s still not the best that Doctor Who has to offer. I think maybe I would; it does have some good parts that I think people would enjoy.