Remembrance Of The Daleks: Doctor Who: Season 25
Remembrance Of The Daleks SYNOPSIS:
Landing on Earth in late 1963, the Doctor and Ace find something strange is going on at Coal Hill school and the Nearby scrapyards of I.M Foreman. The military have been called in and the menace is revealed to be the daleks. In the school basement a transmat has been set up by the daleks so they can arrive on Earth undetected.
The Doctor realises the daleks are after the Hand of Omega, a powerful timelord artifact he hid on Earth back when his grand daughter was going to Coal Hill school. However there are two dalek factions, the grey renegade daleks led by the Supreme dalek being helped by members of the local fascist party and white Imperial daleks who answer to the dalek Emperor.
The Doctor manages to steal away the hand of omega temporarily but wants the Imperial daleks to have the artifact as he has a trap prepared for them should they intend to use it. But first he must make sure the renegade daleks don't steal it and ensure Captain Gilmore and his men don't get diced in the cross fire in the war of dalek factions.
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Remembrance Of The Daleks DETAILS:
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Remembrance Of The Daleks CAST & CREW
Sylvester McCoy (Seventh Doctor)
Sophie Aldred (Ace)
Terry Molloy — The Emperor Dalek/Davros
Simon Williams — Group Captain Gilmore
Pamela Salem — Dr Rachel Jensen
Karen Gledhill — Allison
Dursley McLinden — Sgt. Mike Smith
George Sewell — Ratcliffe
Harry Fowler — Harry
Jasmine Breaks — The Girl
Joseph Marcell — John
Peter Hamilton Dyer — Embery
Michael Sheard — Headmaster
Peter Halliday — Vicar
William Thomas — Martin
Derek Keller — Kaufman
John Leeson — Voice
Hugh Spight, John Scott Martin,
Tony Starr, Cy Town — Dalek Operators
Roy Skelton, Royce Mills,
Brian Miller, John Leeson — Voices/Dalek Voices
Production Staff for Serial 7H:
Writer - Ben Aaronovitch
Director - Andrew Morgan
Script editor - Andrew Cartmel
Producer - John Nathan-Turner
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Remembrance Of The Daleks REVIEWS
From Svartos, now there was a good planet name - to swingin' 60's London...
...and the first story of the 25th anniversary season - Remembrance of The Daleks! Wow has it been 25 years already? It feels that long actually since we started all these reviews. Still it's nice to see the whole show seems to have gone for the 'back to basics' approach. Setting at a time and place not long after where the very first story was set is a nice touch but any references do not overshadow or interfere with the story narrative or the pace. Ben Aaronovitch does a fine job in his first outing as writer and it's funny that after two years of mediocre Who at best, it takes the Daleks, who were in the very last offering of excellent Who to drag the series right back up there again.
Funny how the perennial pepper pots always manage to re-energise everything - "right things are going bad we better bring back the daleks" it always seems to work falling back on the most classic monster of the series and one of the most recognizable in the world. Obviously a behind the scenes re-think has gone on before Remembrance of the daleks, Andrew Cartmel may be lazy Grob but he's come up with a good idea, 'lets make the main character mysterious again' just like he was up until about 19 years earlier and just try and forget about all the history built up around him. The producer is content to say whatever and take a back seat, realising finally his high profile and OTT ideas were ruining the series.
Everyone lifts their game for this one. Yes I finally buy Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor in Remembrance Of The Daleks, although his Scottish burr, 'r' rolling still shit me (nobody's perfect) and he seems to have an actual presence here, really throwing out a proper definition of his 7th Doctor. He's eccentric and pleasant except he's also a darker more manipulative character underneath, although here it's less blatant than later on, it does work to make him mysterious again and raises questions about him. Sophie Aldred has taken acting lessons because she comes across way better here though still think she was cast right from day one for Ace, just needed to polish her skills and she and Sylv do have a chemistry that has been sadly lacking in the Tardis team's of the recent past.
Andrew Morgan has come back as director and can forgive him for his work the previous year, he brings all the slickness and pace of Time and the rani to Remembrance of the daleks and casts it perfectly, no acting slouches in this one, everyone is on top form in their portrayals, Simon Williams Brigadier like Gilmore - man he has military patience for the amount of times he's insulted by the Doctor -, Pamela Salem as the reliable, but annoyed out of her Depth Scientific adviser, Alison as her gorgeous but smart assistant, Mike and Ratcliffe are played perfectly as the seemingly stalwart chaps you need with you in a scrap but are really pushing their own racist agenda as closest facists trying to keep Britain pure for their own kind.
The issue of racism is dealt with very well here through Mike, his Mum especially when Ace finds the 'no coloureds' signs hanging in the boarding house window to the daleks themselves, the most racist lifeforms every invented. Now split into two sections, the white Imperials and the original grey renegade faction led by the not-so-supreme any more black dalek. The battles are well staged especially between the two dalek factions in part 4 and when the Imperials pull out their Special Weapons dalek trump card at the end, it's a nice touch.
The other nice touch to Remembrance of the daleks is Davros turns up but only in the second to last scene it's purely a dalek story and although it's a nice touch to have him turn up and be revealed as being what's really under the Emperor Dalek's dome, his ranting is kept to a minimum and doesn't intrude on the story, although have always liked Terry Molloy's Davros. Another nice touch is the Supreme Dalek's mind enslaved school girl who gives a very creepy performance as the the ultimate dalek agent - who would suspect her? The Hand of Omega was a nice addition to the Timelord mythos and a great way of introducing some mystery to the Doctor, as he explains Timelord history to Ace, nice and subtle and that the whole narrative was wrapped up around his mistake was well handled. The funeral scene at the end for Mike was good too, even though he was a traitor he still had heart and is mourned by his friends. It added a human touch and made him a fuller character a first for the series?
In all an enjoyable effort, though I still hate Keff McCulloch's music it kills atmosphere as surely as a walther PPK kills people but at least it's kept to a minimum in the first couple of parts. Remembrance Of The Daleks is a good effort with style, pace, good effects and gives the Daleks a fantastic outing in what turned out to be their final appearance in the classic series. Seriously though how could they come back after both factions are destroyed, their creator (almost) and their entire planet.
Mines an 8.5/10
Andrew Morgan's direction is first rate and you do get a good feel of Remembrance Of The Daleks being set in 1960's London with a lot of attention to detail. For starters there is that wonderful pre-title sequence of the dalek ship hovering above the earth with the various political speeches of the time playing over it. Then we start straight in to the swinging 60's of London and it all gets going. The BBC prove that once again they are much better at the period dramas than sometimes the outer space stuff.
Episode one is particularly effective as the tension and intrigue is hit home (literally) as to who the aliens are, then the eventual reveal and the final climactic cliffhanger of the dalek ascending the stairs which gives you a very good "how will he get out of THAT one?" feel. Sadly we haven't had a decent cliffhanger for quite a long time. Andrew Morgan also brings back the menace of the daleks by setting up some scenes that show them with impressive firepower plus some very good POV shots in episode one. The shootout at the junkyard being one of the most impressive, plus the other shootout in episode three where the daleks get control of the Hand of Omega at Ratcliffe's yard. Sadly the daleks themselves don't work so well on the location shoots and do a lot of wobbling about the cobblestone streets. Another exceptional scene is the dalek shuttle landing at the school yard which gives us another good cliffhanger. Also, the scenes with the creepy girl are very well done.
There are a lot of very believable and stand-out performances in Remembrance of the Daleks and it really seems everyone went for broke with the first story of the anniversary season. Simon Williams is great as Group Captain Gilmore (chanelling the Brig here) and likewise Pamela Salem is also very good as Rachel Jenson and I really liked her relationship with the Doctor where in some places it was like watching Barbara Wright. Alison and Mike were also very good and even the smaller parts like Harry and the other cafe owner are equally good.
One of the main themes running through Remembrance of the daleks is racism which is borne out in the two dalek factions seeking racial purity while on the human side is Mike and Ratcliffe fighting their corner for what is best for England's population. It is also a very deep study of relationships that people form in situations out of their control; the Doctor and Ace, Ace and Mike, the Doctor and Rachel, Rachel and Gilmour, and Gilmour and the Doctor. This attention to detail in the writing seems more down to Ben than to his lousy script editor who still doesn't know what his job is supposed to entail.
Sylvester McCoy once said that he didn't feel at home as the Doctor until he did Remembrance of the daleks and that is certainly evident here. I liked his moments with Ace as he explained the Time Lord history and then later when he goes calling at the funeral home. The story also serves the Doctor well with a very interesting back story regarding the Hand of Omega and McCoy makes full use of this, although he is by far and away better in the reflective cafe scenes than the final showdown with Davros.
I am not a fan of Davros as no actor has come close to Michael Wisher's superlative performance in Genesis and once again Terry Molloy just turns the dalek creator into a ranting caricature that sits in his egg-cup and whines about being too stupid to work out that once launched, the Hand of Omega has to return - well, back to where it was launched from.
The final scene with the funeral for Mike and Ratcliffe are exceptionally well directed, written and acted - particularly for 80's Who. Not once up to this point was the consequences of death dealt with in this way and you do see the real effect that it has on the people left behind, particularly Mike's aged mother and the Rachel, Alison and Gilmour. The final shot of the funeral chapel door closing behind everyone is a nice and poignant way to finish what is a very well written, directed and acted story.
But, just like the placement of Remembrance of the Daleks in scheme of Who, it's not what you're expecting!
Seems like Mr Cartmel has come in for a bit of criticism for Season 24. Now season 24 was certainly a long way from being good... but then again, neither was season 23. In the past, Who has been lucky in that an "incumbent" was able to resurrect the series fairly quickly :- Letts, Hinchcliffe and JNT were all able inject something new into the series and drive it into a new era. For Cartmel to become the 4th name on that list, he was going to do it against the odds. He was joining the show at its lowest - a new actor playing Who, a producer who didn't want to be there, a BBC that didn't really want the show any more and playing games with series lengths and time slots and above all else, it was a job he was placed in without any real knowledge of the background.
Is that his fault? He didn't hire himself. He did hire a couple of fairly ordinary writers - most of which were friends, but I'm sure none of them offered sexual favours for their work. I would doubt that anyone placed in such a position would do any different - when you have to turn around a series in a short amount of time, with no regulars around any more to offer anything (and no regulars who might be around with any history of anything good!) where else would you go if not to your mates.
So did he make mistakes in series 24? Yes he did.
Everyone makes mistakes - I'd say that you're never going to succeed unless you give yourself permission to make mistakes. As such, I wouldn't judge someone on the mistakes they make, I'd rather judge them on how they learnt from their mistakes.
And in Remembrance of the Daleks, it's clear that Cartmel learnt a lot from the mistakes he made in series 24.
The story goes that after the rush job of getting series 24 together, Cartmel immersed himself in Who's history. Should he have done this before series 24? Yes. Did he have time? Probably not as he was pushed into a job that had to be done asap - certainly a position that Letts, Hinchcliffe or JNT were never in. The first thing he learnt was that Who needed to be darker, and the central character needed more mystery - something that McCoy also agreed on. JNT also agreed - but he clearly didn't want to be there, and he probably would have agreed to the Doctor becoming a Mexican who talked to bananas.
He also persisted with trying to find new young writers - and in Aaronovitch he certainly found success... not just for his work on TV, but he also contributed heavily to the post TV Who world - so he obviously had a passion for the show.
And so begins Remembrance of the Daleks.
And rather than dicking around with trying to slowly introduce any changes to the show, we really jump straight into the story - and before we know it, not only does Remembrance of the Daleks have an intricate and frightening plot that cleverly involves the Doctor's greatest nemesis, but we also finally have a comeback to all the people who say "just run up stairs!".
As it involves the Daleks there is a lot of continuity to contend with in this one, and for me there are two points that kind of don't make sense. One is Davros - while I like him in this, how did he become the Emperor of the Dalek faction that captured him? Maybe the Skarian judicial system sentences criminals to government! I guess that such is the power of Davros, he could have manipulated the Daleks to believe in him once again - I'd buy that... but a reference would have been good. That said, Davros wasn't in the original version of the script (it followed the comic's history of the Daleks - following Cartmel's original ideas on new who) and had to be added on the insistence of Terry Nation. My other problem comes from Remembrance of the Daleks premise . While it ties things in beautifully to say that the Doctor was at Coal Hill School way back in season one to hide the hand of omega (which in itself is a nice little mystery) from the Daleks, but really put it there to get them to steal it and then have it blow up their own planet (which could have been the first shot fired in the Time War?) - but, I'm sure way back in "The Daleks" the Doctor hadn't met them before? Is that right Grob?
Anyway, the story itself is very strong, fast paced and such an improvement on series 24 that's it's almost impossible to compare the two. From memory channel 2 showed this at the end of their screening of series 25 (as an anniversary special), so we'd seen a few of McCoy's better efforts by then - but watching Remembrance of the Daleks in order just makes you go wow... is this the same show?
There are great performances all over the place - starting with the regulars. McCoy is certainly more mysterious, and certainly more "clever" in the way things get resolved - and Ace slots in nicely and, while pretty kitsch, is still way more likeable than Melanie Bush ever was or ever will be! The supporting cast - all the way from the little girl (who is very spooky - certainly an inspiration for Joss Whedon's "anointed" in Buffy I'd say), through to the headmaster are all top notch. Nor can you really fault Andrew Morgan's direction in his second outing. For all it's faults, the pace and feel of Time and the Rani was probably its main strength - and the pace and atmosphere created for Remembrance of the Daleks is equally strong.
So, continuity problems aside, Remembrance of the Daleks is a major turning point for the series - and proof that people should be allowed to make mistakes so long as they learn from them. Both Cartmel and McCoy have delivered in spades here.