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 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
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 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.
on 11 August 2005
Having watched this recently released DVD, I remember clearly why it was I enjoyed this story so much as a young boy when it was first broadcast in 1985. The plot deals with dramatic subject matter and is entirely consistent with the previous story, Resurrection of the Daleks from 1984 (another classic). The sets and special effects are also much more effective than many of the stories during this period. The Doctor and Peri are both very convincing in the story and much of the tedious humour from the season is thankfully absent. It is certainly a story which should be watched by all dalek fans.
The main criticism I have of the story is not regarding Trevor Cooper or Alexei Sayle (although such characters are a bit cringeworthy) but the excessive violence and unpleasant subject matter that occurs throughout. Embryonic daleks and hands being shot off are fine (although we have to remember that this was being broadcast at 5.30pm on a Saturday during a season that people had come to expect lighthearted stories like The Two Doctors) but torture scenes, knife and syringe stabbings and general character humiliations still makes this story an uncomfortable watch. I would certainly not recommend it to anyone under 10 years of age.
That said, the extras are great and I hope the BBC continue to release such high quality discs!
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 14 July 2005
"Revelation" is not really a Dalek story, it's a Davros story with some Daleks thrown in and a cameo by The Doctor. Many would site this as the stories main weak point, after all The Doctor is completely superfluous to the plot, and his presence makes absolutely no difference to the events that have been set in motion or their resolution. As for the Daleks they are reduced to mere foot-soldiers, lurking in the shadows and occasionally threatening people in rather high-pitched tones. The Doctor and Peri don't even come in contact with any of the central characters until the second episode! It is indeed a peculiar narrative, but it works. Maybe The Doctor should have had more to do with the outcome, but his smaller role in events allows Davros to take centre stage and the supporting characters to flourish. The Daleks too work well in this respect, kept mainly in the background and seen only occasionally gliding through the misty corridors of Tranquil Repose, they retain a sense of menace and are nicely underused until the finale. Graeme Harper manages to bring the whole thing to life beautifully, he has a keen sense of what works dramatically, and visually this is one of the most polished and impressive stories the series ever produced. Saward, an often unfairly maligned writer has delivered probably his finest script here, a multi-layered story dealing with predominately adult themes, littered with memorable lines, strong supporting characters, drug references and excessive violence. Strong stuff for it's pre-watershed timeslot. I'd like to add that I for one like the DJ, He quickly becomes likeable, as we see him converse with Peri & kick some Dalek b*tt! and is perhaps the heart and soul of the whole story, so it's a real shame that he's exterminated so quickly.
But this is a Davros story after all, and I have rarely been so enthralled with an actor's performance. Terry Molloy is utterly superb, in what is truly his superlative appearance as Davros.
Some don't care for Molloy's take on the mutated Kaled scientist, and prefer the power-house performance that Michael Wisher so memorably gave us in "Genesis", they tend to feel that by the 1980's Davros had become nothing more than a lunatic, and lacked the subtle nuances of Wisher's definitive portrayal. This is of course a matter of opinion. I love both actor's take on the role, but Molloy's performance is marvellously restrained in "Revelation", the actor obviously aware of the need to make Davros resemble a real person rather than your archetypal two-dimensional villain and Davros has never been more cold and calculating than he is here, always one step ahead of every other character in the story, he outsmarts all of them, and the only mistake he made was in not anticipating the arrival of the renegade Daleks. I particularly enjoy the scene in which "The Great Healer" attempts to control his temper in front of Kara, and be diplomatic but cannot conceal his true totalitarian qualities, ordering her instead of asking , his softened tone of voice frequently returning to "rant mode" as he attempts to keep up the charade. It is an impressive insight in to his true character, flawlessly played by Molloy. Once again the creator has become more interesting than his creations. He also appears to have harnessed the powers of the Dark Side of The Force, as he now has the exact same ability to shoot blue lightening from his fingertips as Emperor Palpatine did in "Return Of The Jedi" and "Revenge of The Sith" respectively and can also hover about the place! What a bad-ass! But I digress, Revelation is a true classic, definitely the finest story of the Colin Baker era and an excellent choice for release this year. I don't need to see the features to know that this is an essential purchase for fans old and new. I can't wait to see Graeme Harper back in the directing chair for the news series! As judging on the strength of this and the classic "Caves of Androzani" we're in for a real treat!
on 18 June 2005
Revelation is really not that good a story, offering a bizarre narrative in which the Doctor and Peri spend the first 45 minutes largely on their own. However, and it's a big however, director Graeme Harper transforms it into a great work of art, thanks to his fantastic eye for detail and instict for dramatic imagery. Everything about this story is stylistically and dramatically over-played, from the acting to the music and set design. It shouldn't work, but it does. The daleks barely feature, but when they do, they look magnificent gliding along the smoke-filled catacombs. Terry Molloy really makes the part of their wizened creator his own - the sight of Davros' severed head, swivelling hawk-like from side-to-side in his glass cylinder, spitting out curses and cackling hysterically is not easily forgotten. The music score and many of the directorial tricks come out of the same bag that Caves of Androzani used, but the twist here is the maudlin streak of black comedy missing from the earlier story. S**, swearing, drug abuse, homosexuality, nose-picking, necrophilia, double-entendres, expilicit violence, death - this story has it all (and should have been broadcast well after tea-time). This is a spectacular production filled with memorable moments.
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.