Written by Eric Saward
Directed by Matthew Robinson
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 a companion traveling with him, usually female, sometimes male, sometimes one of each. He travels in a time machine known as a “Tardis” which is disguised as a British Police booth.
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 Peter Davidson. His companions are Tegan (portrayed by Janet Fielding) and Turlough (portrayed by Mark Strickson).
Two humans planning a bold prison escape, create a time corridor that also captures the TARDIS. The Doctor, Tegan, and Turlough end up in London in 1984.
A battle cruiser approaches a prison space station, whose only prisoner is Davros, the creator of the Daleks. The staff manning the station are badly demoralized and lackluster in their jobs, which allows the crew of the battle cruiser, including Daleks, to infiltrate the prison space station. Some of the crew manage to fight them off and even inflict a few Dalek casualties, but they are eventually conquered.
Back on Earth in 1984, the Doctor is exploring a warehouse where he believes the time corridor which captured his TARDIS originated. He is there with authorities examining what have been deemed alien artifacts when a Dalek appears.
Turlough, meanwhile, traveled through the time corridor and is aboard the Dalek battle cruiser. He makes his way to the space station where he joins up with some of the remaining crew as they attempt to activate the self-destruct and hopefully destroy Davros and the Daleks along with the space station.
The Doctor arrives on the station inside the TARDIS along with one of the men from the warehouse on Earth, only he now cannot locate Turlough on the other end of the time corridor. He also uncovers the nefarious plan of the Daleks and Davros to clone the Doctor and his companions and use them to destroy the Time Lord High Council. Just how will he stop them?
I’ve made it clear my favorite years of the classic Doctor Who were the Tom Baker years, and it’s sometimes hard for another actor to step into the role. The dynamic that took place around Tom Baker was so energetic, including his charisma with his various companions over the years, that I find it hard to watch many of the other actors with the same degree of believability.
That said, Resurrection of the Daleks is not a bad story arc. There are a few issues with the writing. For one, the Daleks seem unusually vulnerable. They have always been written as sort of almost unbeatable foe, and I would think that a race that managed to wipe out all of the Time Lords would be a bit more resilient than they seem during this story. I understand this is supposedly due to the biological weapon unleashed upon them by their ongoing enemy, the Movellans, but it just seemed a bit too convenient that this race managed to come up with this biological weapon against the Daleks after all this time and when no one else was able to do so.
There is a nice image montage from the Doctor’s mind which shows people from the past in the series. This was a good moment for fans without it feeling forced. The dialogue between many of the characters doesn’t work quite as well as this and at times I sat there thinking about why certain things were happening. Too many times I thought the people should have been smarter than they were acting – they seemed to get dumber and more gullible when the plot called for it.
The acting by the main characters is pretty decent. I liked Peter Davidson as the Doctor a lot more than I thought I would. He captures the lightheartedness with which the Doctor has always approached many dire situations. There are enough elements that give his portrayal a feeling of the history of the character while at the same time there are enough differences that make it his own. He exudes a bit more confidence in himself at times than I remember other portrayals of the Doctor having, and he doesn’t seem to get bogged down in the morality questions. This can be attributed to his already having dealt with some of those questions in past incarnations, but overall he comes off as more mature and decisive. I think another actor wouldn’t have been able to pull that off in a character he hasn’t portrayed for years.
Resurrection of the Daleks marks the last story arc with Janet Fielding as Teagan. She was not one of my favorite companions, although she shows a good degree of strength and is definitely not a wilting violet. She does throw around the morality questions and has decided that traveling with the Doctor doesn’t have the same feeling of fun that it used to. I think Fielding does a good job with the role.
The guest cast is less than stellar. Partially it’s the material they’re given and part of it has to do with their delivery. It’s just not convincing, especially with some of the scenes on the space station with the Daleks. Mark Strickson is the only redeeming part of the equation, and even his performance as Turlough when he’s separated from the Doctor doesn’t have the same feel to it. It’s a great credit to Peter Davidson that there’s such a difference in performances when the actors are around him as opposed to on their own.
The effects are good. There have been complaints that Resurrection of the Daleks is a bit more violent and gory than what’s traditionally been a part of the Doctor Who universe. This might have been to better facilitate Fielding’s decision to leave her role, or it might be a product of the times it was made. From the perspective of twenty years later, it doesn’t seem all that bad.
Overall, the story is one of the weaker ones in the series, and there are parts of the cast that are sorely lacking. Peter Davidson saves the story arc from being atrocious, and he’s definitely impressed me as the Doctor a lot more than I expected. Fans of the series will want to view Resurrection of the Daleks, if for no other reason than to make sure they catch all of the stories which include the Daleks in it.
• Commentary with Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, and Director Matthew Robinson
• TARDIS – Cam No. 4
• Breakfast Time
• On Location
• Information Text
• Extended and Deleted Scenes
• BBC1 Trailer
• Who’s Who