Written by Terry Nation
Directed by David Maloney
Doctor Who is a British science-fiction television series that has been around off and on since 1963. The main character is just known as “The Doctor” and is a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey. This means he travels through time to various places. One of his favorite places to visit is Earth. Typically, he has one human female accompanying him on his adventures, and sometimes a human male as well or another alien.
A Time Lord can regenerate if fatally wounded, which has accounted for all the different actors who have played The Doctor throughout the years. In this episode, he is portrayed by Tom Baker. Baker was one of the most popular incarnations of The Doctor, and by many fan’s assessments, he was the most popular. Elizabeth Sladen is here as Sarah Jane as well as Ian Marter as Harry, The Doctor’s two traveling companions.
A nemesis throughout the years has been robotic creatures known as Daleks. In this story, how the Daleks came into being is explored, as well as a moral conflict for The Doctor. If he can stop the creation of the Daleks he can stop so much suffering they have caused throughout the centuries.
The Doctor, along with Sarah Jane and Harry, travels to the planet Skaro to a time just before the evil race known as the Daleks were created. Sarah gets separated from the two men, who are captured by one of the two warring factions on the planet, the Kaleds. Sarah, meanwhile, falls in with the Mutos and is eventually captured by the enemy of the Kaleds, the Thals.
The Daleks are a race of robotic beings that went on to devastate the galaxy. The Doctor sees a chance to prevent all that from happening. To do so, he must thwart the will of the evil Davros, a leader of the Kaleds who has created the Daleks as the ultimate weapon against the Thals. There are scientists among those working for Davros who have misgivings.
When given the opportunity to put the Dalek race to an end, the Doctor has misgivings. Does he have the right? Because of the Daleks many worlds that were warring united against them. It comes down to what if he changes the future and it becomes much worse than what was before?
This was produced in 1975, and the effects show it. They are cheesy almost beyond belief. Some of the effects of using models are terribly obvious. It’s easy to see what portions of the story were actually filmed outdoors and what was filmed on sets indoors. The cheesy “clams” which attack them in the caverns leave much to be desired. It is interesting to see what special effects were pre-Star Wars, though.
Tom Baker has been my favorite Doctor up until the most recent one. He does a great job with this story, showing the moral conflict within The Doctor as he has the power to destroy an evil race. This was the period of episodes when I discovered Doctor Who and a large part of it is due to him. He comes off as amiable and enigmatic, someone who would be fun to hang around with cruising through time and the galaxy.
The supporting cast is good. Sladen and Marter accompany him well. It’s nice to see Sladen get a bit of independence and have to fend for herself some of the time. Marter has a niche with Harry as the eager buffoon in many ways. The Kaled troops are patterned after Nazi Stormtroopers but don’t quite match their fierceness, although they seem to have the menacing down pat. The character of Davros is good as the creator of the Daleks as they take on parts of his personality. For that reason, this character comes off a bit over the top, but is suitable for the history of the show. Most of the time he sounds like a child having a temper tantrum, but if you know what the Daleks have sounded like through the years, it suits them perfectly.
I became interested in the series again after watching the current show on the Sci-Fi Channel with my eleven-year-old daughter. She enjoyed the modern version of Doctor Who so much that I thought I would show her what it was like when I became interested in the series. Much to my surprise, even with thirty-year-old special effects, both she and her six-year-old brother were mesmerized and watched the first disc with six episodes encompassing this storyline twice.
The second disc contains most of the bonus material. It’s a good amount of material and makes the series well worth buying above and beyond the great story contained in the first one. Fans of the series will really appreciate all of this material.
Not everyone will deem Doctor Who: Genesis of the Daleks suitable for children, you have to make that call for yourself. It can be violent at times and have some scary images. I don’t think it’s any worse than other science fiction from the era or even the Star Wars saga, but I think each parent needs to decide for themselves.
I really am enjoying seeing the series I watched more than twenty years ago again. This was one of the best stories ever in the series and it’s something worth having in your library if you are a fan. The story is good with enough drama and suspense to overcome a few shortcomings (such as why The Doctor rolls over so quickly for Davros when he questions him about how the Daleks were defeated at various times.) It also helps put movies like Star Wars in the context of the time as far as special effects go and make it seem all the more spectacular.
• Running commentary by Tom Baker, Elizabeth Sladen, and David Maloney (director) through all of the episodes
• Genesis of a Classic – Interviews with cast and crew who worked on this episode, including director, producer, script editor, actors, etc. They talk about the history behind the Daleks, what went into the story that formed in this episode, as well as the effects, make-up, etc. for this episode.
• The Dalek Tapes – Gives the history of the Daleks throughout the series up until this episode.
• Continuity Compilation – Shows all the BBC Promos
• Blue Peter – Shows the various monsters and characters from the series created by a fan
• Photo Gallery
• Doctor Who Annual
• Radio Times Billings