Sunday, 8 March 2015

392 Genesis of the Daleks: Part One

EPISODE: Genesis of the Daleks: Part One
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 08 March 1975
WRITER: Terry Nation
DIRECTOR: David Maloney
SCRIPT EDITOR: Robert Holmes
PRODUCER: Philip Hinchcliffe
RATINGS: 10.7 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Genesis of the Daleks

"Now we can begin"

On a battlefield gas masked soldiers are mown down in a hail of bullets.

The opening to this episodes is evocative of a World War 1 film, with soldiers going over the top to be mowed down.

Later events will show that those with the painted gas masks are Thals and their attackers are Kaleds.

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The Doctor steps out of mist who meets with a Time Lord who has intercepted his transmat beam.
TIMELORD: Ah. Welcome, Doctor.
DOCTOR: What's going on? Don't you realise how dangerous it is to intercept a transmat beam?
TIMELORD: Oh come, Doctor, not with our techniques. We Time Lords transcended such simple mechanical devices when the universe was less than half its present size.

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Playing the Timelord is John Frankly-Robbins plays the Time Lord (later named as Ferrain in the New Adventures novels). He was also in Star Trek: The Next Generation as Macias in Pre-emptive Strike the penultimate episode of the series, The Dean in the TV Adaptation of Terry Pratchett's Hogfather and Atticus in the eight episode of I, Claudius: Reign of Terror.

His appearance here is meant to evoke Death in the film The Seventh Seal.

They have a mission for the Doctor:
DOCTOR: Look, whatever I've done for you in the past, I've more than made up for. I will not tolerate this continual interference in my life.
TIMELORD: Continual? We pride ourselves we seldom interfere in the affairs of others.
DOCTOR: Except mine.
TIMELORD: You, Doctor, are a special case. You enjoy the freedom we allow you. In return, occasionally, not continually, we ask you to do something for us.
DOCTOR: I won't do it. Whatever it is, I refuse.
DOCTOR: Daleks? Tell me more.
TIMELORD: We foresee a time when they will have destroyed all other lifeforms and become the dominant creature in the universe.
DOCTOR: That's possible. Tell on.
TIMELORD: We'd like you to return to Skaro at a point in time before the Daleks evolved.
DOCTOR: Do you mean avert their creation?
TIMELORD: Or affect their genetic development so that they evolve into less aggressive creatures.
DOCTOR: Hmm. That's feasible.
TIMELORD: Alternatively, if you learn enough about their very beginnings, you might discover some inherent weakness. DOCTOR: All right, just one more time.
TIMELORD: You'll do it?
DOCTOR: Yes. If you'll let me have the space time coordinates, I'll set the Tardis for Skaro.
TIMELORD: There's no need for that, Doctor.
TIMELORD: You're here. This is Skaro.

You have to consider the enormity of what the Time Lords have asked the Doctor to do: averting the creation of the Daleks would be a massive shift to the time stream and seams contrary to the Time Lords' insistence that history could not be changed. If you remove the Daleks then the Doctor's personal Time Line would be substantially altered. This isn't a little tweak here and there, this is major surgery. You have to wonder if they *knew* that the Doctor couldn't possibly succeed but had discovered somehow that he'd been there and so sent him on the mission just to fulfil the demands of history. Or are they hoping to obtain some future advantage from the Doctor's activities without altering the events of the known timeline?

He is given a time ring to return him to Nerva Beacon and the Tardis and Sarah & Harry are sent to Skaro with him.
DOCTOR: What's this?
TIMELORD: A Time Ring. It will return you to the Tardis when you've finished here. There's just one thing.
DOCTOR: What's that?
TIMELORD: Be careful not to lose it. That Time Ring is your lifeline. Good luck, Doctor.

As sure as eggs is eggs The Doctor WILL get separated from that Time Ring. Hang the gun on the wall in Act 1, Use it in act 3.

After finding bodies on the battlefield, and narrowly escaping a minefield they are caught in a gas attack surviving only by stealing gas masks from bodies.
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All of the war zone locations in this story are filmed at Betchworth Quarry in Surrey. This is it's first use in Doctor Who but director David Maloney returns there for The Deadly Assassin. He then repeatedly uses it during the time he produces Blake's 7 where it appears as the surface of a number of planets: Time Squad as Saurian Major, Deliverance as Cephlon, Hostage as Exbar surface and Moloch as Sardos. after Maloney departs the producer's chair Blake's 7 keeps on using it when it appears in the fourth season in Power as Xenon and Warlord as Betafal. It therefore has a reasonable claim to be THE BBC Sci Fi quarry! It's closest rival that I can think of off the top of my head is Winspit Quarry which is in two Doctor Whos, Underwater Menace and Destiny of the Daleks, but just one Blake's 7.

The trench meanwhile is a studio set: get used to it, we'll be seeing a bit of it later in the story

Following a Thal attack the Doctor & Harry are captured by Kaleds but Sarah is left for dead.
In amongst the Thal attackers, either here or in the wasteland, is the series regular stunt double for the Doctor Terry Walsh. Two more Thals Soldiers have prior form form: David Billa was an Extra in The Savages episode 1, a German Soldier in The War Games episode one, a German / Roman Soldier / Alien Technician in The War Games episode four, a Time Lord Technician in The War Games episode ten, a Technician in Doctor Who and the Silurians episode 1, a Prison Guard in Frontier in Space episodes two & three and a Vogan in Revenge of the Cybermen part one, filmed before but broadcast after this episode. He's also an Extra in Genesis of the Daleks part two and a Thal Survivor in Genesis of the Daleks part six but since all the Thals in this episode die he can't be the same one. The other Thal soldier with form is David Cleeve. Previous Producer & Script Editor Barry Letts & Terrance Dicks had used him in their series Moonbase 3 as a Technician in Departure and Arrival & a Technician in Behemoth. He then appears twice in season 10 as a UNIT Soldier in The Time Warrior part one and an Ice Warrior in The Monster of Peladon part five. As well as a Thal Soldier here he's a Thal Guard in parts two and four. He'll return as a Radiation Suit Man in The Hand of Fear part one, An Other in The Sun Makers part one and a Deon Guard in Meglos part one.

We also have an extra credited to this episode who has been in the series before: Michael Crane was in The Monster of Peladon: Part One as the King's Champion Blor. No idea what he could have been here!

The Doctor & Harry are interrogated by General Ravon and attempt to escape but are swiftly recaptured by Security Commander Nyder & his men.
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Guy Siner plays General Ravon, The Doctor & Harry's interrogator. He's most famous for his role in Allo Allo, the BBC Comedy about the French Resistance, where he played Lieutenant Gruber. He's also had roles in Babylon 5 and Star Trek Enterprise making him, I believe, the only person to appear in all three shows. He'll return in episode 3 which features another member of the Allo Allo cast!

The Kaled who captures The Doctor & Harry is played by Richard Reeves: in a nice touch he will later return in the next episode, captured by the Thals! The Kaled Soldier in Ravon's HQ is regular series stuntman Alan Chuntz. he was previously, all uncredited, Harvey in The Seeds of Death episode one, a Thug in The Ambassadors of Death episode 1, a Technician in Inferno episode 1, a UNIT Soldier in Terror of the Autons episode four, a Prisoner The Mind of Evil episode three, four & five, Omega's Champion The Three Doctors episode three, a Security Guard in The Green Death episode two and a Guard in Planet of the Spiders part one! He'll be back as an Elite Guard in part five. He *FINALLY* gets a credit as The Chauffeur in The Seeds of Doom part three before a final uncredited Guard appearance in State of Decay part three.

Oh look! There's a UFO control panel in Ravon's office! I've never clocked it before, the wooden veneer hiding it's normal finish disguises it somewhat but the curved shape does rather give the game away!

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There's another, possibly the most famous, outing for the "clear the pockets out" routine as The Doctor empties the contents onto the relief map of Skaro's surface. This shows us that there's not a huge distance between the cities of the Thals and Kaleds.

We saw one of the two cities, presumably the Kaled one, earlier in the episode in the distance in the mist. The dome shape will prove to be important later. Again Hang on the wall in act 1, use in act 3.

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RAVON: Take a good look. In a few weeks we're going to change the shape of that map forever. We'll wipe the Thals from the face of Skaro.
DOCTOR: Yes, I've heard that before.

A nice little hark back to the original Dalek story where the Daleks are trying to destroy the surviving Thals!

The Doctor then questions what's happening

DOCTOR: I was just wondering how you propose to wipe the Thals from the face of Skaro with boy soldiers, no ammunition, and very young generals.

We've already seen soldiers with an odd mix of equipment which has let the Doctor surmise the war has been going on for a long time.

RAVON: When victory is ours, we'll wipe every trace of the Thals and their city from the face of this land. We will avenge the deaths of all Kaleds who've fallen in the cause of right and justice, and build a peace which will be a monument to their sacrifice. Our battle cry will be, 'total extermination of the Thals'!

Sound familiar? But it supplies the Doctor with a crucial piece of information!

DOCTOR: So you're Kaleds, eh?
RAVON: Even you mutos know the difference between Thals and Kaleds.
DOCTOR: K A L E D S. Why, that's an anagram of..... How interesting.

General Nyder is played by Peter Miles who we saw in Doctor Who and the Silurians as Dr. Lawrence and Invasion of the Dinosaurs as Professor Whitaker. He's got two Blake's 7's to his name, both while David Maloney was producing, and in a rarity for that show plays the same character both times: he's Secretary Rontane in both Seek-Locate-Destroy & Trial. He'd have made a superb Imperial Officer, it's a shame he never appeared in Star Wars.

There's an addition to his costume in these early episodes: he's wearing an Iron Cross which disappears later on in the story!

A superb exchange between Nyder & the Doctor provides much background and is the first place to introduce a name which will become VERY important:

NYDER: This is yours?
NYDER: What is its function?
DOCTOR: Well, it's an etheric beam locator. It's also useful for detecting ion charged emissions.
NYDER: Oh, really. It is not of Thal manufacture.
DOCTOR: Well, naturally not. My friend and I are not from your planet.
NYDER: Aliens?
HARRY: Humans. Well, I am, anyway.
NYDER: I've heard Davros say there is no intelligent life on other planets, so either he is wrong or you are lying.
DOCTOR: We are not lying.
NYDER: And Davros is never wrong about anything.
DOCTOR: Then he must be exceptional. Even I am occasionally wrong about some things. Who is this Davros?
NYDER: Our greatest scientist. He's in charge of all research at the bunker.
RAVON: They could be mutos, Nyder. Intelligent mutos who've developed a technology.
DOCTOR: Tell me, what exactly are mutos?
NYDER: Mutos are the scarred relics of ourselves. Monsters created by the chemical weapons used in the first century of this war. They were banished into the wastelands where they live and scavenge like animals.
DOCTOR: In other words, genetically wounded.
NYDER: We must keep the Kaled race pure. Imperfects are rejected. Some of them survive out there.
DOCTOR: That's a very harsh policy.

A similar idea is picked up on in Judge Dredd where mutants are exiled from Mega City One. A series of storylines in recent years has seen this policy challenged and examined it's effects.

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FOUR men are credited as Elite Guard in this episode by IMDB! I'd venture that Peter Kodak & Bob Watson are part of the team capturing the Doctor & Harry on location while Giles Melville and Barry Summerford are in the studio: Both Summerford & Melville are credited for the next episode too and though IMDB's credits for this episode do not hold up to scrutiny as there's no Kaled Councillors or Kaled Boy involved! I'm willing to believe that the same men can be used in the same roles for the studio sessions for both the first two episodes though.

Again, if IMDB is to be believed, Barry Summerford is in every episode this serial as an Elite Guard bar episode 5, and the listing for that's a bit dodgy too so he may well be in that as well! He'd previously been a Golden Age Man in Invasion of the Dinosaurs part six and a Vogan in Revenge of the Cybermen part one, filmed before but broadcast after this story. He's return as Private Thurston in Terror of the Zygons part two, a UNIT Communications Soldier in The Seeds of Doom part six, a Security guard in The Hand of Fear part two, a Steaming Audience Member in The Sun Makers part four, a Shrieve in The Ribos Operation part four, a Guard in The Armageddon Factor part one, another Guard in The Creature from the Pit part one and a Foster in The Keeper of Traken part one. Director David Maloney must have liked him because he's got a number of uncredited Blake's 7 appearances to his name: a Federation Trooper in The Way Back, a Rebel in Pressure Point, a different Rebel in Voice from the Past, a Customer / Gambler in Gambit, a Federation Commando in Volcano, a Monster in Dawn of the Gods and Tando in Blake: his appearances in The Way Back and Blake mark him as one of just four actors to appear in the first and last episodes of the series.

Giles Melville meanwhile returns as an Extra in The Invasion of Time part one and a Castrovalvan in Castrovalva part one. That's not right IMDB: there are no Castrovalvans in Castrovalva part one. Three and Four maybe! He's also Got Blake's 7 form as a Technician in Star One and a passenger in Gold.

A recovered Sarah wanders through wasteland and stumbles across a secret test.

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A man, confined to a sophisticated wheelchair & life support system is identified by his colleague as Davros, the Kaleds' chief scientist.

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The colleague is Gharman: more about the actors that play him and Davros next episode but it's interesting to see the two of them together here at the start given how the story progresses.....

Why is this test taking place outside instead of in the bunker? I mean yes, from the narrative point of view it's so Sarah can see it and provide us with our cliffhanger, but why out here in ruins in the wasteland in what seems to be the middle of the night? Surely they're not up to no good?

They activate a machine hidden in shadow which Sarah recognises..... a Dalek.

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Sarah previously met the Daleks in her third story, Death to the Daleks. It wasn't that long ago for her: Genesis of the Daleks is the Ninth story to feature her. The only companion to encounter the Daleks twice quicker is Steven: they were in his first story, The Chase, and his fifth, the Dalek Masterplan.

It's interesting to note that the Dalek here has just one limb, it's gunstick, no sucker arm. Now compare that to what we see in the second episode and it adds further weight to something iffy going on....

DAVROS: Observe the test closely, my friend. This will be a moment that will live in history.
DAVROS: Halt. Turn right. Halt.
DAVROS: Now, Exterminate!

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This is the first time we see the Dalek gunstick producing a ray: previously it's just been a negative effect round the victim.

DAVROS: Perfect. The weaponry is perfect. Now we can begin.

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What a cracking end to the episode: Yes we know the Daleks are going to be this story both from the title and the earlier part of the narrative but that's a wonderful reveal sequence! Our first glimpse of Davros reveals a twisted nightmare, half man, half Dalek, a superb image that endures. It's fair to say Doctor Who will not be the same again. Unlike the 2 part Sontaran Experiment, which likewise reveals it's monster at the end of part 1, we have time to play with here: Genesis of the Daleks takes 6 parts so delaying the monster reveal till the end of the first episode is fine.

When I did this for the first version of the Blog I wrote, referring to the episode description which has been broken up by comments here:

Haven't done that for a while (Spearhead from Space 1 I think): that was written without needing to see the episode again, it's so etched on my memory.
There's a reason for that: For many people this will be THE Doctor Who story it's been repeated so often. If you've not seen the episodes then you'll have heard it as for many years it was the only Doctor Who story released as a soundtrack. And quite rightly so! Familiarity may have bred contempt amongst fans but this, both the story as a whole and this episode, is something special. The episode is wonderfully atmospheric right the way from it's misty battlefield beginings through to it's end in the semi darkness trying to conceal what Davros & Gharman are up to.

Genesis of the Daleks is, as the name implies, an origin story for the Daleks. We know the bare bones of the story anyway from the first Dalek story: The Thals were engaged in a nuclear war with the ancestors of the Daleks. Here we find that the conflict has been continuing for years and both sides are reduced in strength and technology with genetic mutations appearing which get exiled into the wastelands. There's been two attempts at doing a Dalek origin story before: one in the TV Century 21 Dalek comic strip (credited to Terry Nation, but believed to be written by David Whitaker and another in The Radio Times, but this the first attempt to do so on screen. Nation's first attempt at a Dalek story for this season had been rejected by outgoing script editor Terrance Dicks and producer Barry Letts for being too derivative of his earlier stories and it was they who suggested the Dalek origin as a replacement. What we get out is a much darker story than recent Nation Dalek scripts....

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