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Destiny of the Daleks

Reviewed by Michael Mayo

My appreciation of Doctor Who never increases when a Terry Nation story screens. Why? Basically because his plots, dialogue and characters are all boring. Some of his stories are even rehashes of previous efforts. So I approached this four parter with considerable caution. Going by general opinion, this story dies not rate very highly.

Anyway, the long break Nation had had since Genesis of the Daleks seemed to have paid off. Destiny of the Daleks was at last a story that used the Daleks to their full potential. Most of it was pure magic, thanks mainly to director Ken Grieve.

Davros made his long-awaited return in this story, this time played by David Gooderson, rather than Michael Wisher. Gooderson's portrayal is just as good as the original, I thought, except for the all too human voice. One scene I won't forget for a long time was in Part Four when the Doctor and Davros are talking, and the Doctor reaches for the detonation button, but a Dalek comes screaming out of the shadows ordering him not to move - brilliant stuff!

Other characters of interest were Tyssan and the Movellans, although they all lacked that extra depth. I would have thought that it would have been more 'in character' for Tyssan to turn out to be a traitor!

As I said before, the stunning direction saved this story, but all the credit mustn't go to just the director. Tom Baker seemed considerably less dominating, Lalla Ward was excellent, and so was the rest of the cast.

Each story is not without its faults however and unfortunately the Daleks' endless chant "Seek! Locate! Exterminate!" grated on my nerves and instantly reduced the pepperpots to childish toys. Other things that are rather pathetic is Terry Nation's common practice of having the Doctor say "I've got it!" or "So I was right after all!" just before the end of an episode, and then not revealing whatever it is until the next part. However, a very good season opener with a considerable improvement in cliffhangers, special effects, and choice of storylines, putting the likes of The Armageddon Factor to shame.

Definitely the best four parter in a long time; let's hope the standards don't slip too much for the rest of Season 17.

This item appeared in TSV 6 (April 1988).

Index nodes: Destiny of the Daleks
Reprinted in: Special Reprint Edition