Review [DW]: “Resurrection of the Daleks”

21×4. Resurrection of the Daleks
Writer: Eric Saward
Director: Matthew Robinson
Script Editor: Eric Saward
Producer: John Nathan-Turner

Synopsis: A time corridor draws the TARDIS back to present-day Britain, where a Dalek incursion leads to the discovery of a plan to attack Gallifrey while reviving Davros from stasis on a prison ship following their defeat in the war with the Movellans.

Review: “Resurrection of the Daleks” could be thought of as a sort of companion piece to “Warriors of the Deep,” and like its predecessor, it raises some compelling and disturbing questions while failing at the more basic task of solid storytelling. Just as when he ended up using lethal force against the Silurians and Sea Devils, the Doctor is here forced to confront the issue of the violence and death that frequently surrounds him. At one point, he considers murdering Davros, and though he eventually decides against it, he does end up using the Movellan virus to wipe out the Daleks present on Earth. The brutal nature of the situation is reinforced not only by the fact that almost all the guest characters are dead by the end, but through the contrasting reactions of his companions. Turlough, arguably the least morally grounded companion ever to join the Doctor, adapts quickly to the chaotic situation on the prison ship as his ruthless side shows through. The more humanistic and empathetic Tegan, on the other hand, finally decides she can’t stay with the Doctor any longer because she simply can’t tolerate the violence, leaving the Doctor to conclude that perhaps he needs to “mend his ways.”

Worthwhile themes notwithstanding, however, the script is really kind of a mess. For example, the Daleks have gone to an enormous amount of trouble to rescue and revive Davros, only to turn against him at the end because they’ve decided he’s too unpredictable and now needs to be killed as well, not to mention that they’re also planning to invade Gallifrey, all while still trying to recover from having lost the war with the Movellans. I suppose you could argue that the script means to paint them as mercurial megalomaniacs, but that also serves to undercut their credibility as a threat. And while Mercer and Stien are drawn well enough to hold the audience’s interest, too many of the guest characters seem to be there just to run around, fire guns, and eventually get killed. I’ll credit Eric Saward for at least trying to make a point about all the violence, but it only barely comes across amidst all the mayhem, sound, and fury.

Rating: **1/2 (out of four)

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