The final story of the 22nd season of Doctor Who has the Time Lord dealing with his worst enemies, those Dalek pepperpots, only this time they have a really nice ivory and gold colour scheme.
The Doctor and Peri are paying their respects to Arthur Stengos, one of the galaxy's finest agronomists. His body is lying in the Tranquil Repose on the planet Nekros (perfect place for a funeral planet!). TR is a cryogenics repository where people with incurable diseases are suspended and later restored to life when a cure for their condition has been found. At the same time, TR's vain and arrogant supervisor, Jobel is ready to make funerary history, as he has just finished the president's wife and is ready, with his staff to receive the president. Jobel is played by Clive Swift, best known as Richard, Hyacinth's husband in Keeping Up Appearances. He has a great line at the Doctor's expense. After being insulted by the Doctor, who has survived a phony statue falling on him, Jobel retorts, "If the statue had been made of stone I doubt if would've killed you. ... It would take a mountain to crush an ego like yours."
Then there's Grigori and Natasha, the latter Stengos's daughter, who break into the catacombs, where the vaults are. She suspects her father's body has been stolen, and indeed it has. But where's the head? She and her partner find it, and it's being put to grotesque use.
However, that's not all the work going on at Tranquil Repose. The turbaned Kara (Eleanor Bron) is in charge of a factory manufacturing a high protein concentrate ready to sell to developing planets at such a low price, their accountants are embarrassed. Whatever profit she gains is being squeezed by the Great Healer, an alias used by Davros, creator of the Daleks and now master of a new breed of Daleks subservient to him rather than the Supreme Dalek. However, not to worry-she has hired Orcini, a professional assassin and excommunicated member of the Grand Order of the Knights of Oberon to get rid of Davros, and he is dedicated. He has an artificial leg with a faulty hydraulic valve, and rather than getting it replaced, he prefers the inconvenience as a reminder of his mortality and to keep his mind alert. He's also conscientious, as he gives any fees he gets to charity. Assassinating Davros is an honourary job he is willing to undertake.
Davros himself is aware of the Doctor's presence, but he has eyes and ears around TR. He rants against Jobel, who refused his offer of immortality, and uses Tasambeker, played by Jenny Tomasin (Ruby from Upstairs Downstairs) a fawning and not too good looking female employee infatuated with him, as a loyal servant, and later, orders her to kill Jobel, who conspires with employees Takis and Lilt against him. And he thinks the DJ, a prattling disc jockey, played funnily by Alexi Sayle, who pipes in announcements and 50's/60's music to the bodies in state, knows too much.
There is all sorts of violence here. A leg is blown off one person, a hand off another, but Script Editor Eric Saward defended the violence as being realistic instead of the phony violence one sees in US action movies. If you shoot someone's hand at close range, it gets blown off, plain and simple.
Saward had read Evelyn's Waugh's The Loved One, which takes place in a funeral parlour, where Aimee Thanatogenos, a crematorium cosmetician becomes infatuated with artiste embalmer Mr. Joyboy. Here, Joyboy becomes Jobel, and Thanatogenos becomes Tasambeker. Indeed, a line from Jobel on the president's wife also mentions the title: "she's a loved one who's passed on to pastures finer and lusher than those she knew in life."
There are actually places like Tranquil Repose on Earth, but would they be economically feasible? With overpopulation, future generations have no incentive to cure the sick from generations back, as they would be technologically and culturally out-of-date. What could they do if cured?
A worthwhile story, given that most of the story dealt with the non-Dalek shenanigans going on in TR, but afterwards, it was clear that Doctor Who was living on borrowed time.