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.
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).
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...
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.
on 11 April 2006
There's little point in preaching to the unconverted here. If you're not a Doctor Who fan at all, then you probably never will be. If you are reading this review then you probably at least think you MIGHT be - perhaps you've only seen the recent Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant stuff on TV at the moment and have a deep urge to see how it all began and get a better appreciation of the earlier actors to play the role.
Most fan surveys always seem to involve 1975's "Genesis of The Daleks" as their ALL-TIME FAVOURITE story. It's been repeated on TV often enough since it's first broadcast, was one of the few stories to ever arrive on LaserDisc, and now is finally available to own on DVD. There's not much point dissecting the story too much, save to say that some of the plot points are a little bizarre - the fact that the Kaled's and the Thal's seem to rather improbably have built their respective capital cities right on top of each other, and the fact that it seems so easy for everyone to convieniently flit between the two as the story demands. Sarah's fall from the scaffolding at the end of part two is a particularly poor cliff-hanger to an episode, and the ending to part five is equally silly as Tom Baker wrestles with a flying omlette for no particular reason other than the end of the episode is near. Harry's encounter with the giant clam monster is similiarly stupid.
The reason this episode is so fondly remembered is not for the Daleks (they are very much secondary characters), but for their leader, Davros. There is very much a WWII air among proceedings - events take place in "the bunker", and Davros and his quazi-Nazi henchman Nyder (the brilliant Peter Miles) could easily be substituted for Hitler and Martin Bormann. Once again, the Dalek's are associated with ethnic cleansing and other fascist idealogists - not necessarily a bad thing.
There are two discs to this DVD set - the huge six-part 'main event' on the first disc (plus a commentary which actually features Tom Baker on it!!) and two substational documentaries on the second disc, both 60 minutes in length, a 'making of' documentary, and 'The Dalek Tapes', narrated by the most recent Davros actor, Terry Molloy, which brings us a complete history of the Daleks on TV from 1963s "The Daleks" up to 1988s "Remembrance" with Sylvester McCoy - look carefully, as some of the clips from the Hartnell/Troughton era have been COLOURISED!! Overall, a pretty essential purchase for any "Who" fan and a fine release from the BBC. If only they didn't put that "2Entertain" logo on the new DVD cases and make my DVD collection look out of sync on my shelf, I'd probably give this release full marks:-) Highly recommended.
on 2 March 2006
Almost the archetypal Doctor Who story, Genesis really does deserve its reputation as one of the all-time classic stories, if not THE all-time classic. This was pretty grim stuff for a Saturday tea-time - what with its scarred and body-strewn landscapes, its talk of genetic purity and extermination, its casual brutality...indeed, the production team did get into trouble for some of the imagery (the opening sequence, for instance, in which a group of gas-masked soldiers is massacred). In some ways, depsite the similar approach used in one of the show's previous tales (Ark in Space), Genesis was a real turning point for the series, with a production team willing to move beyond the somewhat cosy family confines of the Pertwee era (still great stuff, in its own way)and into a much darker arena altogether. In Davros, the series was given perhaps its ultimate villain and it's just a pity that he was so overused in future stories. Here, he is superb, played to perfection by Michael Wisher. No other actor has come close to matching Wisher's truly terrifying performance. The key here is restraint. Future actors simply piled on the megalomania as the law of diminishing returns set in. One could be forgiven for thinking this isn't a Dalek serial at all, as they actually play very little part in the proceedings - but their creation is at the core of this tale and results in one of the few genuine moral dilemmas that the Doctor has had to face. In a sense, he's let off too easily, but that doesn't diminish the power of the scene in which he is forced to choose between the future deaths of millions and the genocide of an entire race. The story isn't without its silly moments (giant clams, anyone?) but they are very minor distractions from what still ranks as one of the most tense, exciting and intelligent stories that the classic series produced.
on 4 December 2015
At 56 years young this was a great trip down memory road for me, I am so glad I bought this, one note I have to make is watch the extra features there Fantastic, telling all that came to be regarding Doctor Who: Genesis of the Daleks, I normally hate extras ie Matrix showing wires and how it was done, totally kill it for me, but these extras are well worth the watch. Very Happy, yes I think I have started down the road on my Dr Who Collection.
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.
There are some very good reviews of this particular Dr Who tale, so here's my penny's worth.
What I really liked about this narrative was the introduction of the Daleks' creator Davros, played by enigmatic Michael Wisher, who had an exceptional visual design. The script was further enhanced by Philip Hinchcliffe and Robert Holmes, who made the tweaks that changed the original script and made the story that much darker. Terry Nation, the original creator of the Daleks, had intentionally modelled them on the Nazis, which was further explored as the frame work theme in Genesis. The story also throws up the moral issues that come with fiddling with history through time travel and the concept of genocide. As ever the filming was done on location in a quarry.
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.