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on 27 June 2006
Sure, we're all agreed that 'Genesis' is a high water mark for the series, but I think what distinguishes it is its profound atmosphere of unease, which in turn is established by the unsparing, unsentimental and convincing presentation of cruelty. Both impart a grim urgency that is absolutely lacking in contemporary television. Davros is frightening, as he should be. The guard who torments Sarah by dangling her off the edge of the rocket is actually hateful, as he should be. And Nyder's inhuman coldness is perfectly believable. These impressions are NOT soley the result of great acting (although that, too!) The antagonists, and thus the plight of our heroes, are riverting because they occur in a convincing - not kitsch - atmosphere of urgency and dread.

I think it is this atmosphere, behind the fantastic story and despite the shoddy production values, that makes 'Genesis' so unusually powerful.
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on 21 March 2013
Genesis of the Daleks is a six part Tom Baker prequel story set on pre-Dalek Skaro as the war between the Thals and Kaleds, having devastated both civilisations and the planet, nears an end. The Doctor, Sarah and Harry have been sent by the Time Lords to prevent the Daleks from becoming the dominant force they're destined to become which leads the Doctor to an impossible moral dilema. As their creator and mad scientist Davros attempts to perfect his Dalek designs, his cold henchman attempts to suppress growing civil opposition to the Dalek project leading the Doctor to realise that to defeat the Daleks forever may require an act no less evil than the Daleks themselves.

This is a particularly dark story with themes that are not necessarily suitable or likely to engage with children; granted the classic series caused controversy over its suitablity at times (Terror of the Autons for instance) and Genesis is a strong contender. This is a story featuring war, torture and worse still genocide. It's very intelligent storytelling with great visuals and it delivers where it should especially the scenes where the Daleks are finally unleashed and the horror that genuinely comes with it. Although Daleks are in the title and do feautre, this is a story about their origin and the main villain of the piece is mad scientist Davros (played brilliantly by Michael Wisher and never bettered) who is not just an impressive physical creature but a evil mind that bounces off well against the Doctor. He is a worthy and memorable adversary and Genesis is arguably the last time until 'Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks' that the nature of the Daleks is truly explored again.

The word 'classic' is overused when talking about Doctor Who; I've seen a lot of people (even myself) use the word as a simple way to distinguish the original series from the current series. The problem is that when you use the word 'classic' to overgeneralise everything how do you prevent the truly great stories from becoming blended with everything else? Not all 'classic' Doctor Who stories are classics themselves but Genesis of the Daleks is a story that is indeed a classic and is in my opinion a strong contender for being the best Doctor Who story ever written. Aired during the heyday of the 'classic' series original run, you can easily argue that this is the best Dalek story since their original appearance in 1963's 'The Daleks' and even more arguably not bettered since.
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on 9 May 2006
I vaguely remember seeing this when it was first shown (I would have been 4 or 5 - middle age has now firmly grabbed me and won't let go). On its repeat in the 1980's I watched it again and remember being slightly disappointed at the apparent lack of Dalek action... ah the fickleness of youth. This is a great story, well worthy of the 'classic' status bestowed upon it and possibly Terry Nation's finest script for the programme. Great performances from all concerned, tightly directed, and unusually for a six-parter, it doesn't really sag too much. Special mention for Michael Wisher playing Davros - could have been such an over the top performance, but instead is reigned in and played with a subtle menace. This is not the ranting Davros of later stories (although to be fair, Terry Molloy did do a great job in 'Revelation'), but an icy, quietly spoken (at times) figure who truly believes that what he is doing is right... great stuff.

I won't give away the plot, but recommend this for new fans converted by the new series. The extras or pretty good too, although I agree that the post - Genesis stories are sadly under-represented by 'The Dalek Tapes'.

All in all, well worth the money. Buy it, or I'll set my Dalek on you (yes, I own a full size Dalek... middle aged crisis).
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VINE VOICEon 1 May 2006
I missed out on the original Doctor Who completely through growing up abroad during the 80s, and although I managed to catch a few of the repeats in the very early 90s I hadn't seen an original episode since then. I bought Genesis of the Daleks because I was really curious to see what the series was actually like in its heyday. As it turns out, this actually proves to be quite a good place to start - it's the iconic Doctor (Tom Baker) against his iconic enemies (the Daleks) in what many consider to be a classic serial (a sticker on the box boasts that it's been voted the number one story ever by readers of Doctor Who magazine).

As the name suggests, Genesis tells the story of the Daleks' creation on the planet Skaro. The Doctor arrives in the latter stages of a devastating war between the Thals and the Kaleds. Both races are mutating as a result of the radioactive weaponry that's been deployed, and the brilliant, ever-so-slightly unhinged Kaled scientist Davros, deducing that the Kaled mutation will be irreversible, has designed a Mk III travel machine to house and support his race's final mutational form..

As expected, the serial features wobbly sets, dodgy effects and RADA accents aplenty, but it also has a number of important things going for it. The main asset is the story, which is gripping, tense and really, really dark, and effectively transcends its own production and budgetary constraints. A lot of this is down to the actors, but in particular those cast as Kaleds. Davros is thoroughly nasty, his mutant makeup is pretty impressive even now, and he has a creepy tendency to sound exactly like a Dalek when he gets excited. But the more human-looking Kaleds also come over pretty well - initially they're portrayed as straightforward fascists, but most of them aren't immune to reason, and you start to empathise with their plight after a while - they know they face extinction, and that the Daleks are almost certainly their only hope of survival, and yet a few of them are still willing to take a stand. The fact that there is no clear morality in this story is a real strength: the Thals and Kaleds are portrayed as equally bad, and even the Doctor is hung up over the question of whether he has the right to exterminate the entire Dalek race at birth. The Daleks themselves are used quite sparingly, and when they do appear they're subservient, which only makes the scene near the end in which they finally come into their own all the more effective. The only thing I found slightly disappointing is that the Tardis doesn't feature at all - I gather the Doctor and his companions were separated from it in the course of wider events.

The second disk contains the special features - principally an hour-long 'making of' documentary, which frankly I found a little dull, and a much more entertaining featurette that ran through each of the many appearances of the Daleks in the original series in chronological order. There's also a complete audio commentary featuring Tom Baker among others. Overall this is an extremely good, if bleak story, and a shining example of just how far you can go in TV drama even when your sets are held together with sticky tape.
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on 18 May 2009
Generally considered by fans to be the best Doctor Who story ever made; Genesis is a winning combination of the evil titular mutants, the first appearance of their Machiavellian creator 'Davros', Tom Baker and Lis Sladen on top form, and a dilemma that sums The Doctor up in one breathless moment. Whilst it naturally suffers from being dated (it was made 34 years ago!) it still stands up as a great slice of Doctor Who from the show's golden period. Baker had settled into the role after a handful of stories, and his Doctor is all manic action and charisma; the scene where he debates with himself whether or not he has the right to destroy The Daleks before they have had a chance to unleash their evil and destruction on the universe is a series high; of that there is no doubt.

Due to this being a six-part story there is a second disc here for the extras. The two best on here are a documentaries: `Genesis of a Classic' and `The Dalek Tapes; these represent value for money on their own as both are around an hour long and are very thorough and detailed. The former includes interviews with most of the surviving cast and crew, plus Michael Wisher who is represented by an archive video interview from 1994. There's also a clip from an Alan Whicker interview of Terry Nation. Tom Baker apparently receives a call mid-interview from his ex-wife and there are six sequences featuring Roy Skelton called "Teach Yourself Dalek", in which he demonstrates by speaking some of his lines from the script (and one line actually voiced by Wisher). These are a little unnecessary but still good fun. `The Dalek Tapes' is an overview of the series' best-known villains, containing original interviews and archive footage.
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on 10 May 2006
At last this classic Tom Baker / Dalek story comes to DVD, on two discs no less. The 6-part tale was originally broadcast in 1975 and although rather dated by today's television standards, still has considerable impact and power! It is also one of the most original and inventive of the many Dalek stories.

Disc one gives us all 6 episodes of "Genesis". The story opens with the Dr and fellow companions Sarah-Jane and Harry drawn "off course" to Skaro - the home planet of the Dr's arch enemies, the Daleks. The Dr's own race, the Time Lords, have summoned the Dr there to carry out a vital mission - to prevent the creation of the Daleks, or at the very least, influence their development so that they become less evil, aggressive creatures. The resulting story deals with the Dr's attempt to fulfil the Time Lords' aim, but there are many obstacles along the way, not least the Dalek's fanatical creator and evil genius, Davros...

As said, this is an original idea and marks a welcome break from the previous Dalek stories of the Jon Pertwee era, which were starting to become rather predictable and formulaic.

The crowning glory of "Genesis" is of course the now notorious character of Davros - a rather ugly chap with a face like a constipated tortoise (sorry couldn't resist) who zips around in a motorised device that looks exactly like the bottom half of a Dalek (you know, the slanty base bit with the round bobbles). Davros is brilliantly played by Michael Wisher, in what must be the definite portrayal of this character. One of most iconic of Dr Who villains, Davros was to return to the show on several other occasions, however later performances really don't match up to this one. Wisher plays Davros with moments of subtlety as well as showing a definite tyrannical side - but he never slips into the ranting, over the top megalomania of later performances (remember "Resurrection of the Daleks"?!). Davros in "Genesis" is sinister, malevolent and dedicated to the Dalek cause and has some truly excellent scenes. For instance there's a gripping stand off with Davros and the Dr, when the Doc asks Davros what he would do if he had the power of life and death.

What else is there to recommend? Well, considering that this is a Dalek story, the aforementioned pepperpot monsters are actually used very sparingly. However this is no bad thing - they still have some chilling scenes, such as the moment when Sarah sees the first Daleks being tested by Davros; or the final episode when the Daleks start to think and act independently of their creator and the other scientists - Davros really has created a monster...

Tom Baker is at the height of his powers here, giving a more brooding, intense performance than the rather maniacal, lunatic Dr he gave us in later years - though still peppered with moments of eccentricity and humour and that familiar toothy grin.

He's also well supported by his companions. Elisabeth Sladen, plays Sarah Jane Smith, one of my favourite ever assistants (and recently back on our screens in the new Dr Who - hoorah!) Although a little bit of a screamer at times she's still a gusty and likeable assistant, and pretty brave when she's climbing up the Thal rocket!

Ian Marter as Harry Sullivan is very much the middle class English man and perhaps has less to do than Sarah but is a good foil to Tom Baker's Dr.

The look and style of the story are generally successful, given the low budget the BBC was working with! There's some interesting allusions to Nazi warfare, highlighted by the costumes and the trench settings. The special effects are fair (again given the time this was made) but the most disastrous/hilarious have to be the giant clam creatures that attack the Dr, Sarah and Harry, making the Muppet show look frightening by comparison.

The story also offers the usual optional commentary, but I have to say I found this particular one pretty disappointing. Elisabeth Sladen and director Michael Maloney make a fair contribution, however Tom Baker's input is disappointingly sparse - given his reputation as a story teller and ability to tell a good anecdote you'd think he'd have more to say. The problem is he seems to have forgotten what the story was about (okay it was thirty years ago, but...!)As other reviewers have noted, the team really needed a good moderator to keep things properly focused on the story, or perhaps they should have slipped Tom the odd naughty beverage or two to loosen up his tongue.

Disc two of this set contains some excellent extras - for example, an extensive documentary which looks at the history of the Daleks and at each Dalek story in chronological order.

My only major criticism of this story is that although it's an excellent piece of drama and very emotive in places, the overall tone does tend toward the dour and grim, (as noted by script editor/writer Terrance Dicks too). The story could perhaps have done with an injection of humour at times - compare this tale to another classic 6 parter already released on DVD, "The Talons of Weng-Chiang" which manages to combine both the serious and the comic with great success. It's for this reason that I'm awarding "Genesis" four rather than five stars - too much of the dark and serious tips the balance, in my opinion. Still given the subject matter perhaps it's appropriate that the treatment is so serious.

On the whole this DVD is to be most recommended - so buy it before you get exterminated...
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Genesis of the Daleks has long and rightly been regarded as one of the best Dr Who stories, but it's still surprising viewing this again just how good the writing is (so good in fact that the audio commentary with Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen constantly dries up as they get caught up in watching the show). The Daleks were always intended as an allegory for Nazism, but here Terry Nation takes it much further, setting the birth of the `Mark III Travel Machines' in the final days of a thousand year war between the Nazi Kaleds and the equally ruthless Thals. Even Davros, such a painfully hammy and unwanted presence in the subsequent stories, is played straight as a Hitler figure (like Adolf after the bombing he even has a useless arm).

The BBC's 2-disc set has some good extras, but sadly doesn't include the two-parter The Sontaran Experiment that preceded it and which was included on the old video release - in one of their occasional mercenary fits, that's been released as a standalone story.
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VINE VOICEon 16 April 2007
This by far one of the stand out stories in Doctor Who's history. It's been one of the most repeated on terrestrial TV and there's a chance that your copy may have a sticker proclaiming it being voted the best story ever. There are so many reasons why this story deserves these accolades that I wont have enough time to tell them.

Story wise this is a reimagining of the Dalek origins as The Doctor is sent back in time to stop or halt their development. The way this is done adds a new layer to the story in the fact that it fits in with the time war of recent seasons and can be seen as the Time Lords launching a pre-emptive strike. The Doctor and companions are thrown into the last days of a war between the two Skaro factions Kaleds and Thals. The early episodes show The Doctor getting caught up in the war events while trying to save his companions when the later episodes become tight character episodes featuring the scientists who created the Daleks.

An important introduction in this story is Davros who is really the villain in the story (the Daleks are not at the forefront as much as other stories but do have an important part). This isn't the panto villain of later appearances but a serious portrayal by Michael Wisher, possibly one of the most impressive guest performances and one other actors to play the part would never equal. Peter Miles as Nyder is the other standout guest performance but there are others who perform well including a few faces you may recognise.

This is an incredibly tight (for a 6 parter) and heavily plotted story. Director David Maloney didn't do much Who but he certainly did a few crackers. This story is from the early Baker era when they were focussing on horror which is why it has a PG rating, while there's nothing to alarm children it is worth mentioning that this story is pretty dark and has little panto elements which some Who stories are known for.

Of note in the extras is the commentary featuring Tom Baker (who is wonderfully random as you'd expect), Liz Sladen, Peter Myles and David Maloney. Genesis of a Classic has now become my favourite Who DVD Documentary, the Dalek Tapes showing Dalek history are also worthy of a mention.
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on 21 March 2014
In March 1975, the 4th Doctor (Tom Baker) took Sarah Jane Smith (Elizabeth Sladen) and Harry Sullivan (Ian Merter) to witness the creation of the most evil and angry monsters known to the entire universe `THE DALEKS'. It not only the Daleks that both the 4th Doctor and his companions have to face, but for the first time the Doctor has to face the Evil, Twisted, and Psychotic Megomanic `Davros' played excellently by the greatest actor to portray this monstrous cyborg, the late and great Michael Wisher.

Both Tom Baker (The 4th Doctor), Elizabeth Sladen (Sarah-Jane Smith), and Ian Marter (Harry Sullivan) all shine in every six episodes. What make this `5 star' adventure spellbinding is that the supporting cast such of Peter Myles shines as `Davros' evil and cold depute `Nyder' to the Kalid Rebels and Scientist who are scared and frightened of the `Daleks' ranging from James Garbett as Ronson, Dennis Chinnery as Gharman, Tom Georgeson as Kavill, and `Allo', `Allo' actor `Guy Siner' as `Ravon' who live under the Kalad dome to the outsiders such as Harriet Philpin as Thal Rebel `Bettan' to Stephen Yardley as `Sevrin' a `Muto' who helps Sarah Jane survive the outskirts of the Dalek's home world `Skaro'.

To all Long-Term and New `Whovians', please get this `Five' Star epic. But one thing, I would love to see also is the completed version of Tom Baker's Doctor Who 1979 unfinished and incomplete adventure `Shada'. I do apologise about mention again and again, but in my opinion I think that 3D realistic CGI is needed, and Tom Baker, Lalla Ward, John Leeson, Christopher Neame, Daniel Hill and the other cast members of 'Shada' could be done by using the same method by combining live action which includes Acting Extras to portray the Main Cast in reproduced and replica costumes with blue masks for the realistic CGI animated faces to be added on, and the Timelord Prisioners on 'Shada' in matching late 1970s sci-fi prison outfits and 1970's style wigs (the same techniques as the re-vamp Star Wars Movies), blue screen and digital enhanced voice recording technology to 3-D Animate and Construct Tom Baker's missing and incomplete 1979 adventure `Shada' instead of bone-idle, lazy, lacklustre, pathetic and incomplete 1992 VHS version released by BBC 2E.

Iain Levine out of his own pocket had already had the completed version of `Shada' completed with both Lalla Ward, Christopher Neame, John Leeson (who is providing the voice of K-9, instead of David Briarley), Dennis Hill and the other cast member. Iain Levine employed a voice over actor who impersonated both Tom Baker's and Dennis Carey's voices, so the project was already done. It was only some closed minded person form BBC E2 who put a stop to it, it could have been the high fee from the Douglas Adam estate or the animation wasn't up to scratch, but a lot of Whovian including myself are curious of finding out what `Shada' would have been like if the 1979 strike never happened, and they are pleased that his televised completed adventures are now released, but to me and several Whovians feel that the Tom Baker era of Doctor Who is only 96% complete.

For all long-term Whovians, please start an on-line petition campaign on `E-Mail', 'Facebook' and 'Twitter' to ask Planet55\Quintas Entertainment to bring out the full and complete 3D animated version of 'Shada' to be released as a 'Special Edition' DVD to mark a tribute to writer Douglas Adams, producer Graham Williams, Director Pennant Roberts, actor Dennis Carey and to celebrate Tom Baker's 80th Birthday for 2014, come on BBC E2, please listen to the long-term fans for ONCE!!!
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on 30 December 2012
Well then, 1975's Genesis of the Daleks may be thought of throughout fandom as one, or if not, the, greatest Doctor Who serial the classic series ever produced, but, I think that is overdoing it a little. Just as in the case of Blink being considered the greatest New Series Doctor Who adventure. Both seem to me overrated. Genesis is a fantastic story no end, but I personally don't feel it's the greatest. Now, Timelash on the other hand is a masterpiece, a truly brilliant piece of writing. And if you are naive enough to think that I could be so foolish as to believe the last sentence I wrote, please turn off now. Genesis is a story that has many pro's and con's. The pro's are obviously the deliciously evil Davros, as played by the late great Michael Wisher, the fantastic Peter Miles as Nazi Nyder and some of the greatest design work and overall production values I have come across in classic Doctor Who.

I strongly believe that for all Terry Nation's talents as an established writer, I don't think that Genesis is entirely his baby. Robert Holmes had a great deal of input into many scripts from the era that he script edited, and somehow, I feel that Nation's scripts were "Robertized" by Holmes into something alot more along the lines that he and Philip Hinchcliffe, the producer, wanted for the new Gothic Horror era of Doctor Who. Now, we don't, and frankly never will know the truth behind the great scripts for Genesis, but it seems patently obvious to me that Genesis of the Daleks is a real class act that is littered with Holmes' typical writing accomplishments.

Scripts aside, the main body of Genesis is a tough old beast to truly analyse. I think that what makes the story such a success is the direction of stalwart director David Maloney, who directed some of the greatest Doctor Who stories ever made. His ambition exudes throughout the story and this really adds greater depth to the serial and it's characters. David uses the camera beautifully to frame the cast and captures the Daleks in a truly menacingly powerful style that just adds so much flair to them and makes them so much the more enjoyable to watch. Truly great stuff.

Tom Baker, at his zenith here, dominates the story as the newly regenerated Doctor. Baker, still in his infancy in the role is a joy to watch. Performances like this is what endeared him so much to the viewing public and no doubt helped him achieve universal popularity. We all know Tom does humour very well, such as in his later years, But I always found the problem with Tom's later characterisation as the Doctor was the complete lack of conviction. Here, however, in his early reign as old fourthy, he is the most humourless git onscreen and the story works perfectly for it. Sure, he has the occasional great {and very funny} one-liner, but the humour is not allowed to undermine the story, but to underpin and strengthen it. His conversations with Davros make for some truly three-dimensional performances from both actors and who could forget the "moral dilemma" scene that is as well known to Doctor Who fans as, well, Doctor Who.

Although Tom does a sufficiently good job of dominating the story, this doesn't mean the companions Sarah and Harry are sidelined. Oh no, in fact they are just as vital as the Doctor himself in carrying the story and conveying the true horror of the events as they unfold. Sarah particularly has some fantastic scenes with the supporting cast, especially in the first half of the story. Harry is not forgotten too, his scenes with Tom in the early part of the serial are a delight to watch as the two of them bounce off one another splendidly. Now, I can't go on reviewing Genesis without devoting some time to the great man himself, Davros. Michael Wisher was born to play the evil handicapped genius that is Davros, such gentile tones of voice make for the most chilling of villains in Doctor Who, but when you have this combined with a raving ranting madman bent on universal domination, you have the secret to a success that has lasted nearly 40 years. Davros' makeup is just probably the most convincing the series has ever achieved, and as for the design of his wheelchair, that is a piece of design excellence. Overall, I know that most fans feel that Davros was badly overused in subsequent Dalek serials, his Genesis here however, is nothing short of inspired.

Now then, we come to possibly my favourite character in the whole story, Nyder. What a truly despicable pile of sh*t Nyder is, played beautifully by the great Peter Miles. Nyder is the sort of SS officer that you routinely saw serving Hitler during the Second World War. His utter depravity is glorious to witness. His unconditional loyalty to the insane Davros is another aspect that makes this man so convincing. Peter Miles does a truly magnificent job of bringing such a nefarious bast**d to life. The only question that remains is, Peter Miles, where is your Oscar?

I have pointed out the pro's to the story, but now for the unpopular but necessary con's. I have always felt that the story was too long, any 6 parter in Doctor Who drags, even the greats. I find that episode 3 is padded to the hilt, Nation must have been having an off-day when he wrote that episode. Furthermore, some of the plot elements of the story are left un-satisfyingly unresolved. The Doctor's "get-out" clause in the final episode is a bit of a disappointment. I found the Doctor's inability to destroy the Daleks a great piece of writing, but having a Dalek just accidentally run over the two wires that detonate the mutation room was a bit of a cop-out to say the least.

That aside, the BBC's DVD release of this classic is something special. Not only do we have all 6 episodes looking spectacular due to the restoration work performed on them by the Doctor Who Restoration Team, but the wealth of special features is incomparable to any other DVD released thus far. If a 62 minute documentary dedicated to the making of this story does not please you then surely the 55 minute "Dalek Tapes" will. The latter doco features each and every story the Daleks ever appeared in analysed and discussed. It's a wonderfully in-depth doco beautifully narrated by Davros himself, Terry Molloy. This ranks as one of the best DVD's that the Beeb have released and is a must for any viewer of Doctor Who, let alone the fans. 20/20.

All in all then, Genesis of the Daleks is a classic story no end, but not the greatest, at least not in my eyes. Perhaps that view will change in time, and with the help of this BBC DVD release of this iconic story, that may well happen.

Many thanks for reading my rather lengthy review of Genesis, it's greatly appreciated.

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