on 28 July 2013
I can't review this story because I have now had 3 copies of it sent to me and ALL 3 have exactly the same fault on them. The story gets to a certain point and then starts to loop back on itself over and over again. First time it loops is at a point where two people are running down a corridor from 2 different angles - so it takes a while before you realise there is a problem as there is always so much running down corridors in Who. If you manage to get past this first loop (which I only did on my 3rd copy) you continue to meet many FURTHER loops as you go along - each one looping back further and further each time. If anyone has managed to buy a good copy of this DVD I'd like to know where they got it from so I can get a copy there as well.
on 13 July 2005
Typically, REVELATION has never been a favourite with most fans. About the nicest thing they're likely to say about it is "it's the best Colin Baker story", which is damning with faint praise as Colin Baker is never going to win the acclaim of say, Pertwee or the other Mr Baker. Nor is the short list of TV Colin Baker stories (broadcast originally between 1984 and 1986) usually held up as a bright beacon of TV excellence. So basically this DVD release is going to be met with a large amount of indifference or even scorn, and I want to say right here how much of a shame this is! REVELATION should not be filed away as an example of 1980's tat, but instead should be held up as one of DR WHO's masterpieces...yes that's right: MASTERPIECES!
Not only is the serial the best Colin Baker story, it's the best in the whole of the 1980's. Only 1984's THE CAVES OF ANDROZANI (also directed by REVELATION's superb Graeme Harper) can boast a production, a script, a cast and an emotional impact this impressive. But where ANDROZANI had a dodgy "Magma Beast" monster, REVELATION has no such shortcomings. There is not one prop, one set design, one special effect that really embarrasses, and when one considers the tiny budget that Harper and his team had to work with, this should make our fanboy (and girl) jaws drop. But of course we're not going to because received wisdom tells us that it's not as good as TOMB OF THE CYBERMEN, or PYRAMIDS OF MARS, or anyone of a dozen other stories that time after time gets cited in polls as "classic". I despair sometimes, I really do...
The cast is one of the best ever assembled for a DR WHO, and includes magnificently subtle/grotesque/tragic/hilarious turns from the likes of William Gaunt, Clive Swift, Eleanor Bron, Trevor Cooper, Alexei Sayle, John Ogwen and Hugh Walters. Here we have a gallery of almost surreal characters, based on figures from literature (THE LOVED ONE, DON QUIXOTE) or cinema (the Wicked Queen from SNOW WHITE, LAUREL & HARDY) interacting in the most fascinating ways possible; as if this were some kind of bloodsoaked carnival or dance of death. The streak of black humour and focus on mortality is surprisingly mature for something that is generally regarded as a children's programme, but it's never exploitative or sickening. It's surprisingly literate, even theatrical, and the actors bring such a sense of gravitas and intensity to it all. I cannot commend these performances too highly to you, nor can I refrain from singing the praises of Terry Molloy's Davros. Here at last we see a Davros not only equalling but surpassing Michael Wisher's original 1975 version in GENESIS OF THE DALEKS. Davros is once again a real person, not just a ranting mad scientist with a prune for a face. He speaks to Tasambeker with what sounds like a horribly peverse kind of love, he has a black sense of ironic humour and we even feel sorry for him at moments.
Colin Baker is excellent as the Doctor and proves here(if it ever needed proving) that with the right script he was an excellent choice for the role. He's ably supported by Nicola Bryant's feisty companion and in this story he's more likeable, more caring, more...well, Doctor-ish than he's often given credit for. The only controversial casting decision appears to have been Jenny Tomasin's Tasambeker. Writer Eric Saward states in the DVD commentary that he thinks she was miscast, and that she hadn't "found" her character. I personally disagree, and I rather like what she does, but even if you take Saward's line, surely she's not so bad as to totally spoil this wonderful piece of television?
The extras too are great. A fantastic documentary on the making of REVLATION, behind the scenes footage, a marvellous CGI special effects option, music only option(Roger Limb's score adds a brillant layer of atmosphere) and a commentary with Bryant, Saward, Molloy and Harper all make this a must have package. In short I cannot recommend this disc too highly. Sadly not everyone is going to agree with this, but next time there's a poll of favourite WHO stories, let's have REVELATION where it belongs...in the top 10! (No sniggering at the back please).
on 13 July 2005
I've always enjoyed this story. Some of the complaints of the previous reviewers I've considered its strengths - the fact that the Doctor and Peri are sidelined thoughout a lot of the story is an interesting departure and one that allows an exploration of other aspects of the Dr Who universe.
The other characters that take centre stage are fantastic - from the brilliant double acts of Tasembeker/Jobel, Takis/Lilt, Vogel/Kara, Grigory/Natasha (does anyone else think that they're like an alternative universe version of Star Trek DS9's Bashir and Kira?) and of course Orcini/Bostock to stand alone characters such as the DJ (Alexei Sayle!) juxtaposed with old favourite Davros who here shows other sides of his character - in particular dispensing relationship advice to Tasembeker!
It is indeed wrong that the Doctor leaves the planet in the hands of sadists Takis and Lilt, but this just goes to show that he's fallible - and perhaps suffering from a lack of information, having been out of the thick of it for a lot of the story.
This being a DVD, mention has to made of the extras, which do not disappoint. There's a 45 minute documentary "Revelation Exhumed" provides a fascinating insight into the making of the story, and a commentary by Graeme Harper (dir), Eric Saward (writer), Nicola Bryant (Peri) and Terry Molloy (Davros). Odd that Colin Baker is missing from both of these - but perhaps fitting considering his absence from a lot of the story! There are also a couple of features to beef up the story for modern viewers - subtly rendered new CGI effects to replace some of the low-budget eighties clunkers, and a 5.1 surround sound alternative audio track - painstakingly reconstructed using the original audio plus the occasional re-recording of the odd line by the original cast.
There's more too, but I'll leave you to discover them yourself when you - naturally - purchase this first class DVD.
First shown in 1985, Revelation of the Daleks was the final story of season 22. By this stage it already been announced that the following series would not be made, with the programme being cancelled just weeks before the first story of the next season was due to commence filming. It was only thanks to the public outcry and several newspaper campaigns with their save Doctor Who protests, that the programme was not cancelled outright. It was then announced would return after an 18 month hiatus.
Different reasons have been cited for the reasons why the programme was suspended. Michael Grade, the then BBC controller, stated that at the time that series had become excessively violent, and storylines had become tired.
Although it is true that the series had become over reliant on maintaining continuity with the past, in particularly the opening story of season 22 Attack of the Cybermen, this season actually contained many original and interesting stories. Vengeance on Varos was a serial that examined the impact of violent television on a planet in the future, Mark of the Rani introduced a new female renegade timelord and was set during the industrial revolution, a period the programme had not visited before, and Revelation of the Daleks was a superbly dark story set on a funeral planet, with a terrific undertone of black humour. Perhaps because of the cancellation crisis, Revelation was not acclaimed by the fans as maybe it would have been had it been shown in a different less controversial period. Nevertheless time has been kind to season 22, and Revelation in particular is now seen by many as a classic, and alongside Caves of Androzani ranks as the best serial of the mid 1980s.
It is certainly no coincidence that both Caves and Revelation were directed by the same man Graham Harper, who has recently returned as a director on the new series. As with Caves, the story in Revelation is kept moving at all times. There are some terrific action pieces and sequences. The story was filmed in winter time, and as it concerns a funeral planet, the snow seen in the outdoor sequences helps enhance the feel of the serial. Eric Saward's terrific script concerns Davros, or the great healer as he now referred, offering to cure the famine in the galaxy through the development of a new food. Davros is in hiding after escaping from prison in his previous outing, which is why he has now adopted a new name. Meanwhile, the bodies of people lying in suspended animation have disappeared and Davros has developed a new race of Daleks, more powerful than before and more obedient to their creator's will.
As with the Tom Baker classic, Genesis of the Daleks, the Daleks in this story take a secondary role to their creator Davros, and the various human characters who populate the bleak planet Necros. This does not distract from the story, and it actually results in making the Daleks more menacing in their limited appearances.
The characterisation in this adventure is excellent, with a host of memorable characters. As usual writer Eric Saward successfully introduces flawed characters, who are neither good nor bad. With the exception of one female character, every actor is very good.
The often cited complaint that Colin Baker's Doctor has little to do in the story, and indeed does not really contribute to its resolution, is valid.
Nevertheless this is a highly recommended DVD.
on 11 July 2014
Revelation is easily the best that the Colin Baker era has to offer, but unfortunately both the Doctor and the Daleks are sidelined in the story, both seemingly just passers by in a story of other people's greed and complicity. The trouble is more of the Doctor and the Daleks would probably have sidelined the supporting characters and in the process would have lost much of the flavour that makes this one of the great Doctor Who stories.
Plot: Doctor Who does black humour! And very good it is too. It's big failing is that both the Doctor and the Daleks seem incidental to the plot, with Orcini/Bostock taking on the normal Doctor/Companion role and Davros (despite spending most of the story as a moving head) taking on the role of the villain. But even there the roles are slightly blurred. Orcini is no Knight in Shining Armour, while Davros is doing much good in the galaxy (while hiding his bad). Kara and Vogel start out seemingly good, but quickly revealed to be as much evil as Davros, while Takis and Lilt move from torturing Grigory to surviving to bring new life to Necros. The inclusion of a memorial statue to the Doctor is the only sour note. It adds nothing to the plot and seems to exist only to showcase (badly) the memorial.
Script: This is a superb script, taking the plot and breathing life into it by giving each character clear motivation and words that bring out that character. None of the supporting cast is left out of this and even the Doctor and Peri get some good lines that move their relationship forward (particularly after the death of the mutant). Davros, relegated to a talking head for much of the story gets the chance to shine with the Daleks moving into the background for this story. Double-acts abound: Natasha/Grigory; Takis/Lilt; Jobel/Tasembaker; Kara/Vogel and especially Orcini/Bostock. Some great moments here, from Davros' laughter at the plight of the Doctor, to Jobel's "Pretty, pretty" and Vogel's obsequiousness.
Acting: Once again the acting comes up trumps, each character lovingly brought to life by people who know their craft. It is not possible to single out the best performances because they are all the best performances, with actors playing off each other and producing something really special, my personal favourites are William Gaunt and John Ogwen, but to emphasise them is to diminish the others, which does them a disservice. Personally I'm not a fan of Alexei Sayle's DJ, but he still commands your attention.
Design: A superb job, with the functional corridors made to look different merely by having people walking down them in different directions. The addition of random bits of statue seems to hint at something different in the past. Davros' lair looks the part. Costumes are a bit bland on the part of the Necros worker's, but it actually works well in the setting. The new 'Imperial' Dalek design looks really good, especially in comparison with the original Daleks.
Direction: Graeme Harper once again does an outstanding job and it is a shame that he didn't contribute again for 20 years. Harper, either in his choice of actors, or in his ability to encourage them gets a superb cast to play it all so well. The sequences are all well handled and while this is much more subtle than Caves, he still comes up trumps with shots that continually entrance the viewer.
The finest story in the Colin Baker era is let down primarily by having the Doctor as a spectator to much of the story.
on 14 May 2012
The Doctor and Peri arrive on Necros, a funerary planet, where the dead are held in suspended animation. He is there to pay respects to a friend but the whole thing is a trap. The planet has been infiltrated by Davros who is secretly using the bodies as spare parts to build a new army of Daleks and selling the remains to other planets as a form of concentrated protein for consumption. This is a somewhat grisly but quite entertaining premise really. In fact, some of the scenes verge on the unpleasant: something which spoilt much of the CB era for many fans. The main story revolves around different factions on Necros trying to rid themselves of Davros, and the attention tends to be concentrated on them for large parts of the action.
This then is the main fault of the episode, namely that the doctor is really no more than a bystander in this story, which more or less resolves itself without any input from him. The final solution is provided by two subsidiary characters, and has a bit of a `Deus Ex Machina' feel to it.
The other gripe is some jarringly poor performances from Alexei Sayle as the DJ (who broadcasts to the dead - another neat idea) and Jenny Tomasin as Tasambeker. Comedian Sayle is terrible, trying all sorts of silly, clichéd DJ voices all of which are underlain by his own flat scouse accent. Why they picked him beggars belief. Tomasin just doesn't have the range to pull off the love-lorn Tasambeker and comes across like something from an end-of-term sixth-form drama project. Her face is quite annoying too (but perhaps that is just me being horrible).
In balance, the performances of William Gaunt, Clive Swift and Eleanor Bron are great, as they should be from proper, respected actors.
It contains the usual clichés of Doctor Who; the doctor is lured to a planet by an enemy in the beginning, and the whole thing is rounded off by a convenient explosion. Why Davros would lure somebody who has repeatedly thwarted his plans in the past right at the moment he is about to complete his latest scheme is a bit of a mystery. Also the Daleks don't seem very scary anymore; suddenly they have become easy to destroy, by attackers with silly little machine pistols in this case. This kind of removes some of the menace and sense of jeopardy from the proceedings.
So overall a solid premise let down by some patchy plotting and characterisation, but with enough ideas and pace to make it a fairly enjoyable 90 minutes.
on 18 April 2008
I am not going to go into great analytical depth with this story, since a good many other reviewers have done this here already.
Suffice it to say that not only is this probably one of Colin Baker's best story, if not the best one; it is also one of the best Doctor Who stories of the 80's, with a real creeping sense of horror at the things Davros is up to, some brilliant dialogue, and some very black humour.
It is my opinion that this one story equals the classic Hinchcliffe era of Tom Baker stories in its tone.
By that i mean its level of violence, humour and feeling.
Those stories, (Pyramids of Mars, Seeds of Doom, Deadly Assassin etc) are revered as classics, and this one should be too.
Only a few things jar, and that is the Alexsei Sayle DJ character which is a bit over the top, and significant in that producer would repeat this mistake in future series of casting tv celebs in unlikely roles that would jar terribly. (There are a lot of 7th Doctor tales that can be included here.)
The only other thing that is a shame, is that of the ending, where Colin Bakers last line linking into what was supposed to be a real cracker of the opener of the next season, was deliberately missed off.
This is because the series was temporarily shelved due to a lack of support from BBC bosses and pandering to silly people who called it too violent, and would next year go into a decline from which it would never recover,(until 1996,and then 2005 with the new series) with the start of the 'new direction' which would increase the humour content at the expense of realism, thanks to pandering to the Mary Whitehouses of this world, something that thankfully does not affect the new series, where the balance is pretty good.
The Trial of a Timelord that would follow, would see the episode count effectively slashed to half, and with the introduction of more dodgy casting to follow....
Colin Bakers last line?
Well, he was originally supposed to say,
"Alright, I'll take you to Blackpool."
This was to be where the Doctor was to have a return match with the Celestial Toymaker, a foe first encountered by William Hartnells Doctor in the story of the same name.
This was to be followed by another story with the return of the Ice warriors for the first time since 1974, and then it was rumoured, a story set in either Hong Kong, or san Francisco, with the return of the Autons....
Instead, we got the Trial Of a Timelord.....
Doctor Who should be scary, violent, and black humoured occasionally, and this story depicts that perfectly, with Colin baker doing a star turn.
Enjoy this, and think about what could have come after in the same vein when you hear the last line that never was!
This story, could, and should, have been the start of a new classic, dark scary era for Doctor Who, with Colin Bakers Doctor seeing a longer tenure.
Alas, it was not to be, but this story stands tall in its own right as a good one.
I never saw this adventure when it was on telly. And due to very poor quality DVD's I've still not seen it. I've now had four copies of this series from Amazon and other suppliers, and all of the discs have a fault which means thay can't play past chapter 2 of the first episode. And it's not just my DVD player, I've tried each disc on three players, and none of them work. Conclusion - there is a fault with this series that makes it unplayable.
UPDATE - Thanks to the comment attached to this review by Simon Dent, there is a fix to this problem. By going to the extras menu, selecting the new special effects option and choosing either on or off, then playing the disc then it will play fine. I have just checked this with a previously unplayable disc and it works just fine now. Cheers Simon!
I still think it's a bit poor that discs are released in a condition where you can't just play them though!
on 15 July 2005
'Revelation of the Daleks' is probably one of the stories that fans have most been waiting for as a DVD release. Considering the appalling choices for release of classic Who this year ('The Claws of Axos' - Why??), its release is a most welcome one. The story, while not only featuring the return of Davros and the Daleks (always a huge event in the show), is considered an absolute classic and probably one of the best stories of the entire 80s, if not the entire show.
The story is so successful because it is perhaps one of the most innovative of the show's entire run in terms of story, charactersiation, direction and design. If you enjoyed the Fifth Doctor finale 'The Caves of Androzani', then the similarities between it and 'Revelation' are very obvious thanks to the direction of Graeme Harper, one of the most creative directors the show has ever had. Despite the budget constraints, he crafts a story where every element works superbly. Eric Saward provides a story which is both bleak and rich in dark humour with a lot of great dialogue (something the show had never really attempted before) and populates it with a wide range of supporting characters (heavily influenced by everything from Shakespeare to fairy tales) who are both real and grotesque in their own way. Taking a lesson from the great Robert Holmes (probably Who's greatest script-writer), he creates a series of fantastic double-acts - Orcini and Bostock (the knight and his squire), Jobel and Tasmabeker (the egotistical chief embalmer with an hilarious toupee and his fawning, dumpy, pathetic admirer) and Kara and Vogel (the Wicked Queen and her confidante).
Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant put in perhaps their strongest performances as the Sixth Doctor and Peri. The character of Peri is particularly good as she rebuffs the advances of the fawning Jobel and beats off a mutant as it attacks the Doctor, shaking off the standard 'screaming companion' tag. A shame then that their partnership and chemistry in this story (which is at its strongest) is cut short by the show's cancellation. The supporting cast is uniformly excellent and there is not a bad performance amongst them. Alexei Sayle is hilarious as the DJ, almost acting like a Greek audience to the unfolding action. William Gaunt gives an understated yet regal performance as the assassin Orcini whose life is completely dedicated to a noble kill while Clive Swift cuts a performance which is creepy and absolutely pitiful as Jobel, a man who is convinced of his own charm and looks despite everything to the contrary. Special mention must also go to Jenny Tomasin as Tasambeker who plays the role of stalker almost ready to explode to a tee.
Backed up with a great score from Roger Limb and great make-up (the mutant is particularly frightening and effective), costumes and set design, it is a story which one finds it hard to pick holes in, in any aspect.
There are several criticisms of the story which do need to be addressed. Firstly, the violence and the gore (including several brutal stabbings, dismembered heads and body parts blown off by gunfire) which can seem too extreme even for the show and which did lead to the show's cancellation in 1985. However, there is nothing particularly disturbing in the show at all (certainly nothing like that in 'The Two Doctors' or 'The Brain of Morbius' to name but two) and it is more the fact that the show dares to push the boundaries in this area is what makes this story so unique. Secondly, the minimal involvement of the Doctor and Peri until the 2nd episode and the fact that there are just so many characters vying for the limelight, meaning that the viewer has to follow so many different plotlines at once. However, the story holds together pretty well and in actual fact, the story becomes far more fast-paced and interesting as a result.
The DVD itself is well put together. 'Revelation Exhumed' is a fascinating documentary detailing the creation and filming of this story with interviews with cast and crew alike. Similarly, 'In Studio' provides a great look at the behind the scenes work on the show. Besides the usual extras such as continuity trailers, commentary and deleted scenes the DVD allows the viewer to watch it with new CGI effects. However, the only criticism of this is the fact that these new effects are nearly indistinguishable from the originals and thus, pretty pointless. The enhanced audio and picture quality is superb.
All in all, you will rarely get much better than this and in all honesty, the black comedy has the potential to appeal to non-Who fans as well. It is a tribute to see what the classic series could do with a great script and a cast (and 'Revelation' certainly rivals anything that the new series has produced - I can't see the new series attempting anything as daring as this). This is probably the best story of Colin Baker's entire era and hopefully, we will soon 'Genesis of the Daleks' coming to DVD soon as a result of this. So for any fans who have dismissed that decade or era of the show as too violent or tacky, give this story a go and see something which is witty, clever and delightfully morbid and which still holds up well today.
This is a horrible story. Not a *bad* story, you understand, in fact it's very well written, filmed and directed, has good sets and effects and benefits from some excellent guest performances.
But this is a story about repellent people doing disgusting things on a planet that seems very sick. A place only a Dalek could feel at home.
On the planet Necros, at the ironically-named `Tranquil Repose', (home to the departed and the cryogenically suspended, staffed by a team of nauseating creeps), `The Great Healer' seems to be conducting hideous experiments on the almost-dead and bodies are disappearing from the vaults.
Surely the respected `Great Healer', who is feeding the hungry masses of the galaxy on a cheap, plentiful (but mysteriously unknown) food can't be responsible? Well yes, he can, because `The Great Healer' is actually Davros, who is busy turning the best `specimens' into new, obedient Daleks and as for the rest of the `loved ones' ... I told you it was disgusting.
Davros' partner is Kara (Eleanor Bron, in an excellent performance of smooth, elegant villainy), who processes the `product' at her factories and is getting worried about the partnership. Not morally of course, she is no better than him, but Davros is costing her profit and she is nervous about the Daleks. So she hires a mercenary to `dissolve' her partnership, and her partner. Enter the one spark of honour in this story, Orcini, formerly a Knight of the Grand Order of Oberon, now fallen on hard times but still with his faithful squire Bostock, longing for one last glorious mission before he retires (one way or another) from his calling. William Gaunt brings weary dignity to his role as one decent man in a most unpleasant world.
But Davros (probably Terry Molloy's best performance in the role) cleverly outwits them all and seems to have won, when like an evil version of the `deus ex machina' of Greek drama, a force of Imperial Daleks (not loyal to Davros) arrive from Skaro and cart him off, raving and shouting to the last. Orcini gets his wish for an honourable way to `retire' and takes the remaining Daleks with him.
I haven't mentioned the Doctor or Peri, because they hardly count in this story. Colin Baker was always underrated as the Doctor but he doesn't get much to do here. Nicola Bryant has even less to do, as Peri is largely wasted in a sideshow with an annoying DJ character, although seeing him destroy a Dalek with a beam of high-powered Rock `n Roll is at least amusing.
I also haven't mentioned the various charming personalities who make up the staff of `Tranquil Repose'. Davros is impressed enough with one of them to consider she would make a good Dalek, which tells you all you need to know. Clive Swift (who usually played kind, likable characters) excels as the repulsive Mr. Jobel, but this half of the tale feels quite disconnected from the rest. The Doctor leaves two of the worst of them in charge at the end of the story, proving how out of touch he has been. At times it feels as if the Doctor is irrelevant to this story, which is busy partly with its even darker parody of the black-comedy film `The Loved One', then with the intrigue between Davros, Kara and Orcini.
Another problem is we need someone or something for the Doctor to save, someone worth saving, and when the most likable character on the planet is a hired killer, if the invading Dalek force had simply exterminated the whole place from orbit, providing the TARDIS had safely dematerialised first would anyone watching really care less?
This story is definitely NOT family viewing; I saw it in 1985 and was glad I didn't see it at the younger age when I was enjoying every minute of the legendary `Gothic' period of 1970s `Doctor Who', which drew much criticism for its scary themes and "violence" but was actually filled with exciting stories of honest heroism, and straightforward villainy being defeated. Some aspects of this 1985 season gave too much ammunition to those who wanted to kill off the show I'd always previously enjoyed and which I still enjoy today.
I feel I can't give `Revelation of the Daleks' less than three stars, because it's well written, well made and in parts very well acted. It's popular with many fans - but personally, I don't like it.