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Remembrance of the Daleks

Reviewed by Scott Walker

The Plot/Story

The Doctor returns to 1963, shortly after he left. He has to collect the Hand Of Omega, an all powerful artefact, which he left in the care of the local undertaker. Also after the Hand are Renegade and Imperial Daleks, who wish to have the power of the Hand for themselves. The Doctor wishes the Imperial Daleks to have the hand, to stop the Renegade ones from using it for total evil. Helping the Doctor is, of course, Ace and a UNIT style intelligence group, headed by a character uncannily resembling the Brigadier in many respects.

If this outline sounds familiar, it is very similar to another 25th season story, yes, you guessed it, Silver Nemesis' Only the actors, settings and a few other things are different. Such as:

Remembrance of the DaleksSilver Nemesis
The Hand Of Omega.
(Belongs to Omega)
The Living Metal.
(Belongs to Rassilon)
Goes back to 1963
(TV Birth Anniversary)
Goes back to 1988
(25th Anniversary)
Factions after the Hand:
Daleks: Imperial and Renegade. The Army Taskforce, the Doctor and Ace, Mr Ratcliffe.
Factions after the Statue:
Cybermen, Nazis, the Doctor and Ace, Lady Peinforte and Richard.
Renegade vs Imperial Daleks
(Villain vs Villain)

Army vs Daleks (both)
(Good vs Bad)
Nazis vs Cybermen
(Villain vs Villain)

Doctor/Ace vs Cybermen
(Good vs Bad)
Invasion Fleets:
Invasion Force ready to invade the Earth.

Uses the Hands power to destroy the Dalek Mothership and Home planet, Skaro.
Invasion Fleets:
Invasion Force in orbit around Earth ready to invade.

Uses the statues power to destroy the cyber-fleet.
The Daleks human agents try to kill each other and obtain the hand.
The Cybermen's human agents try to kill the Doctor and steal the Nemesis statue.

Well, as you can see, the resemblance between the two stories is very, very similar. However, that does not stop the story from holding up well on its own.

It's an Anniversary season. Why not celebrate two anniversaries, the 1st and the 25th anniversaries?

The Doctor's Character

Well, I must say that Sly's character is becoming exceedingly brilliant. In season 24 we saw a Doctor who was nauseating to say the least, Sly's attempt as the Doctor left us feeling very cheated. The role under his banner totally changed and became something almost un 'whoish'. It takes time to settle down, and over the course of season 24 Sly turned out better and better performances.

However, in season 25 I have a feeling that he was given some advice as to how the Doctor should act, advice pertaining to his performance last season. The reason I say this is because Remembrance of the Daleks and Sly's portrayal of the Doctor is very 'whoish'. It is refined, and yet he still contains all of his season 24 antics, however it is subtler; the humour is quieter, he seems to be taking the role very seriously, and it shows.

It was also a story which gave Sly a wide range of emotions to play with, curiosity, fear (at the end of Part One), fun, seriousness, and the mysterious, emotions which were used by McCoy to the greatest effects. The script showed us he was just as vulnerable as any other character and that he was not always the one who seemed to be immune.

If we were to relate his Season 25 performance with previous Doctors, then it would go something like this...

He has the sternness and seriousness of William Hartnell, the quirkiness and quick wit of Patrick Troughton, the action of Jon Pertwee, the fun loving sense of adventure of Tom Baker and the innocence of Peter Davison, making for a very well rounded character.

I look forward to seeing more of him in Season 26.

Supporting Characters:


Ace is becoming an increasingly popular companion in all areas of fandom. Here at last is we have a bright, intelligent, young woman who has an independent mind, is almost self reliant and best of all, does not scream! Her characterisation is a tight and compact routine which leaves one feeling full and satisfied.

Too many 'Melanie' machines have plagued the show for far too long. Again, I feel that Ace's introduction was a step in changing Doctor Who for a 'eighties' audience (finally!) in a series of thought-out steps by JNT.

The Army Intelligence Group

This team that helped (?) the Doctor defeat the Daleks was a forerunner to UNIT. Seeing it brought back a feeling of nostalgia, but avoiding actually using UNIT itself. The Captain is very similar to the early Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart, so much so that the Doctor uses the immortal line; "Look Brigadier...", " It's Captain, Doctor". The Doctor, realising his mistake then corrects himself.

Other Points

Just as a matter of interest, who noticed that you never saw the inside of the TARDIS at all in the first three shows of the season (you do for about two minutes in The Greatest Show in the Galaxy)? Again, I suspect this is another JNT move. It makes sense, doesn't it. We've become far too blasé about this "bigger on the inside than out" thing. It's been a case of overkill, and the prolonged exposure has made us indifferent, whereas limited views tend to makes us appreciate the magic of this amazing concept.

Remembrance of the Daleks also gives us tantalising snippets of information about the Doctor's life. In fact, the whole of season 25, especially the first and third stories (Remembrance of the Daleks and Silver Nemesis) tell us more about the Doctors life than any of the seasons have in its twenty-five year history. We now know he had a hand in creating the living metal, also in creating the "Hand of Omega".

We also see the Doctor's calling card, with symbols and a question mark, meant to represent his name. He also lets slip "The problems we had with the prototype" implying that he had close ties with Omega and Rassilon. If this is so he has a far bigger hand in the universe that we previously thought.

All in all, a story that heralds (what I think is) a totally new era in Doctor Who's TV History!

Here's to season 26!

Reviewed by Murray Jackson

Touted early on as being the possible highlight for the twenty-fifth season Remembrance of the Daleks certainly lives up to its billing. I doubt if we will ever see a return to the old style of Doctor Who but this story certainly did no harm to ushering in the new glossy finish production seen recently. The previous stories of the past couple of seasons have had effects galore to ogle at and the obligatory big name star now apparent on the programme, but let's face it, the stories have been on the whole, crap!

Remembrance of the Daleks wafts in like a fresh smell in a stagnant dunny with writer Ben Aaronovitch right on target with a well-structured story featuring the manic pepperpots. Daleks are not the nice guys we've seen recently, they're back to exterminating all and sundry. The extermination effect and the Daleks-eye view certainly made them seem rather unnerving opponents this time round. Not only that but they've got around the thorny problem of climbing stairs as well, giving Ace and the Doctor nasty frights at some points.

Moving away from the Daleks for a second, it's nice to see the combination of the Doctor and Ace coming together so well though it irritates me as much as it does him whenever she calls him `Professor'. A lot of the silliness has been toned down and one really feels the Doctor is an intelligent being once more and not some cheap comic bumbling his way through from story to story. McCoy has given his Doctor a slight temper which he often uses when annoyed or outraged to good effect. Ace is an all-action girl rather like Purdey from The New Avengers albeit a more miniature and adolescent version, but hell, she even jumps through windows in this!

Not wanting to give the plot away, I'll just say it kept me glued to the screen and the cliffhangers were the best since The Caves of Androzani. I don't watch a programme to look for loopholes so there may have been thousands of contradictions to established Who-lore but who gives a toss when you're onto a winner like this.

Remembrance of the Daleks is not of course without its poor points. For example; Why does Davros always have to appear in Dalek stories these days? Personally I thought Daleks were better without Davros. How can a programme with so much pride in effects these days trundle out something so awful as the gunner Dalek (looks like one of those Daleks off 'Doctorin' the Tardis'!) and a Dalek ship that has a hatch which slides down with the assistance of pulley ropes? And why are there still patches of corny dialogue?

Hey, but these are trivial matters, get it on video and enjoy. Remembrance of the Daleks gets a big thumbs up from me.

Reviewed by Ken Tod

I enjoyed Remembrance of the Daleks the most. It had everything going for it. A great story, good acting, great special effects. I found myself experiencing the same feelings when I watched Doctor Who as a kid, especially at the end of Part One - brilliant! Obviously this one had the most money spent on it and was the `flagship' story of the season. From Doctor Who Monthly it appears it was well received in the UK also. More, more, more!!! I rate this story best of the season.

Reviewed by Craig Young

My 25th season intro was the classic Remembrance of the Daleks. This one was virtually flawless and dispelled any unfair doubts I might have once had about Sly McCoy's suitability for the role. The Doctor encounters an army detachment reminiscent of his UNIT days back (forwards?) in the seventies which is fighting the Daleks. We also meet Sgt. Mike Smith, the handsome son of the local boarding house owner, who is also affiliated to an earthbound neo-Nazi group better know as `the Association'. Ace seems attracted to Mike until she discovers his true affiliations. Aaronovitch uses a nice anti-racist theme here.

Characterisation, plotting, action-adventure, excellent dialogue, continuity (well, almost), - there is almost a return to normal. One or two niggles surface - why did the Emperor have to be bloody Davros yet again, but still, that wasn't exposed until the end. Let's hope he's really been killed off this time.

Why the qualifier to the continuity references? Well, remember Genesis of the Daleks - the fourth Doctor had the chance to destroy the Daleks in preparation but chose not to. Yet his seventh incarnation has just destroyed Skaro's planetary system... and the Thals, if any of them were still living there. What has changed? Any suggestions?

Reviewed by Stephen Murray

This long-awaited story is undoubtably the highlight of the 25th season. Remember the sense of mystery the Doctor once had, the sense of "What's happening here?" and "Who's all behind this?". Well, this story has it all - What's a black van with spying equipment doing outside Coal Hill School? Who's that girl that keeps popping up? I enjoyed it for the reason that they decided to put back all the ingredients that has made it the show it is (or rather was). It had atmosphere, suspense and, for the younger viewers, it might give you a dose of the willies. The story was interesting, the dialogue brilliant in parts (watch out for the mention of rice pudding), the scenes memorable. What can I say? It's a classic. The rest of the season ( excluding Silver Nemesis) fails miserably in comparison.

Reviewed by Richard Scheib

Would agree with most here that this is the highlight of the season, although I would never call it one to stand with the classic episodes, this primarily because, funny and all as the in-references are, Aaronovitch fails to provide a decent plot, it seems a virtual clone of Silver Nemesis with interchangeable classic villains hopping around in present day looking for Time Lord artefacts, the latter rather seeming to be not much more than arbitrary plot devices. Over recent years the standard of plotting has made a severe decline - minor things like dramatic construction seem to have been neglected. Plots nowadays seem to begin and end at random points on a continuum with much interminable running around in the meantime tied to some vague threat.

But there is much good to it - a lot of witty one-liners - "What are we dealing with here? Little green men from outer space?" "No, little green men in polycarbide armour"; "You can always judge a man by the quality of his enemies"; the Doctor's delightful face-off with Davros - and also amusing in the in-references to the series - the new sf series 'Doctor W-' about to appear on BBC-tv, references to the geezer in white hair, although there is the sense that the Coal Hill School and the Foreman junkyard were added for no other reason than to have them there because it's an anniversary show, the setting could have been anywhere. One or two neat ideas - the Dalek human controller; the Emperor Dalek, even if it does look like a hi-tech underarm deodorant; finally seeing a technology designed for Dalek sucker arms. On the whole not a bad story - quite well directed and scored, ending on a slightly sad note - but it's fairly dismal when only an averagely entertaining episode is the best thing to come out of the series in five years.

Reviewed by Wendy Toynton

The 25th season was definitely explosive. So explosive, in fact, that one tends to wonder if good old JNT has come down with a strange and bizarre fetish for them. Normally I wouldn't groan about this type of thing, but in Remembrance of the Daleks the poor Daleks keep getting their tops blown off every few minutes (literally)!

But despite the chronic disease of exploding Daleks, Remembrance of the Daleks was still an interesting story. The appearance of the schoolgirl at the start was quite sinister, and the coffin, or hand of Omega, was extremely comical. On the whole I have only one gripe about the story: the great Dalek battle, in which Davros' Daleks are pitted against the humanized ones and just stand there and fire at each other, completely missing their targets for about a minute. Not only is this degrading to the intelligence of the Daleks, but also to the humans they constantly exterminate with such apparent ease.

This item appeared in TSV 12 (March 1989).

Index nodes: Remembrance of the Daleks