Revelation revamped I’ve always enjoyed this story. Some of the complaints of the previous reviewers I’ve considered its strengths – the fact that the Doctor and Peri are sidelined thoughout a lot of the story is an interesting departure and one that allows an exploration of other aspects of the Dr Who universe.
Something surprising in the catacombs… Typically, REVELATION has never been a favourite with most fans. About the nicest thing they’re likely to say about it is “it’s the best Colin Baker story”, which is damning with faint praise as Colin Baker is never going to win the acclaim of say, Pertwee or the other Mr Baker. Nor is the short list of TV Colin Baker stories (broadcast originally between 1984 and 1986) usually held up as a bright beacon of TV excellence. So basically this DVD release is going to be met with a large amount of indifference or even scorn, and I want to say right here how much of a shame this is! REVELATION should not be filed away as an example of 1980’s tat, but instead should be held up as one of DR WHO’s masterpieces…yes that’s right: MASTERPIECES!Not only is the serial the best Colin Baker story, it’s the best in the whole of the 1980’s. Only 1984’s THE CAVES OF ANDROZANI (also directed by REVELATION’s superb Graeme Harper) can boast a production, a script, a cast and an emotional impact this impressive. But where ANDROZANI had a dodgy “Magma Beast” monster, REVELATION has no such shortcomings. There is not one prop, one set design, one special effect that really embarrasses, and when one considers the tiny budget that Harper and his team had to work with, this should make our fanboy (and girl) jaws drop. But of course we’re not going to because received wisdom tells us that it’s not as good as TOMB OF THE CYBERMEN, or PYRAMIDS OF MARS, or anyone of a dozen other stories that time after time gets cited in polls as “classic”. I despair sometimes, I really do…The cast is one of the best ever assembled for a DR WHO, and includes magnificently subtle/grotesque/tragic/hilarious turns from the likes of William Gaunt, Clive Swift, Eleanor Bron, Trevor Cooper, Alexei Sayle, John Ogwen and Hugh Walters. Here we have a gallery of almost surreal characters, based on figures from literature (THE LOVED ONE, DON QUIXOTE) or cinema (the Wicked Queen from SNOW WHITE, LAUREL & HARDY) interacting in the most fascinating ways possible; as if this were some kind of bloodsoaked carnival or dance of death. The streak of black humour and focus on mortality is surprisingly mature for something that is generally regarded as a children’s programme, but it’s never exploitative or sickening. It’s surprisingly literate, even theatrical, and the actors bring such a sense of gravitas and intensity to it all. I cannot commend these performances too highly to you, nor can I refrain from singing the praises of Terry Molloy’s Davros. Here at last we see a Davros not only equalling but surpassing Michael Wisher’s original 1975 version in GENESIS OF THE DALEKS. Davros is once again a real person, not just a ranting mad scientist with a prune for a face. He speaks to Tasambeker with what sounds like a horribly peverse kind of love, he has a black sense of ironic humour and we even feel sorry for him at moments.Colin Baker is excellent as the Doctor and proves here(if it ever needed proving) that with the right script he was an excellent choice for the role. He’s ably supported by Nicola Bryant’s feisty companion and in this story he’s more likeable, more caring, more…well, Doctor-ish than he’s often given credit for. The only controversial casting decision appears to have been Jenny Tomasin’s Tasambeker. Writer Eric Saward states in the DVD commentary that he thinks she was miscast, and that she hadn’t “found” her character. I personally disagree, and I rather like what she does, but even if you take Saward’s line, surely she’s not so bad as to totally spoil this wonderful piece of television?The extras too are great. A fantastic documentary on the making of REVLATION, behind the scenes footage, a marvellous CGI special effects option, music only option(Roger Limb’s score adds a brillant layer of atmosphere) and a commentary with Bryant, Saward, Molloy and Harper all make this a must have package. In short I cannot recommend this disc too highly. Sadly not everyone is going to agree with this, but next time there’s a poll of favourite WHO stories, let’s have REVELATION where it belongs…in the top 10! (No sniggering at the back please).
A classic First shown in 1985, Revelation of the Daleks was the final story of season 22. By this stage it already been announced that the following series would not be made, with the programme being cancelled just weeks before the first story of the next season was due to commence filming. It was only thanks to the public outcry and several newspaper campaigns with their save Doctor Who protests, that the programme was not cancelled outright. It was then announced would return after an 18 month hiatus.Different reasons have been cited for the reasons why the programme was suspended. Michael Grade, the then BBC controller, stated that at the time that series had become excessively violent, and storylines had become tired.Although it is true that the series had become over reliant on maintaining continuity with the past, in particularly the opening story of season 22 Attack of the Cybermen, this season actually contained many original and interesting stories. Vengeance on Varos was a serial that examined the impact of violent television on a planet in the future, Mark of the Rani introduced a new female renegade timelord and was set during the industrial revolution, a period the programme had not visited before, and Revelation of the Daleks was a superbly dark story set on a funeral planet, with a terrific undertone of black humour. Perhaps because of the cancellation crisis, Revelation was not acclaimed by the fans as maybe it would have been had it been shown in a different less controversial period. Nevertheless time has been kind to season 22, and Revelation in particular is now seen by many as a classic, and alongside Caves of Androzani ranks as the best serial of the mid 1980s.It is certainly no coincidence that both Caves and Revelation were directed by the same man Graham Harper, who has recently returned as a director on the new series. As with Caves, the story in Revelation is kept moving at all times. There are some terrific action pieces and sequences. The story was filmed in winter time, and as it concerns a funeral planet, the snow seen in the outdoor sequences helps enhance the feel of the serial. Eric Saward’s terrific script concerns Davros, or the great healer as he now referred, offering to cure the famine in the galaxy through the development of a new food. Davros is in hiding after escaping from prison in his previous outing, which is why he has now adopted a new name. Meanwhile, the bodies of people lying in suspended animation have disappeared and Davros has developed a new race of Daleks, more powerful than before and more obedient to their creator’s will.As with the Tom Baker classic, Genesis of the Daleks, the Daleks in this story take a secondary role to their creator Davros, and the various human characters who populate the bleak planet Necros. This does not distract from the story, and it actually results in making the Daleks more menacing in their limited appearances.The characterisation in this adventure is excellent, with a host of memorable characters. As usual writer Eric Saward successfully introduces flawed characters, who are neither good nor bad. With the exception of one female character, every actor is very good.The often cited complaint that Colin Baker’s Doctor has little to do in the story, and indeed does not really contribute to its resolution, is valid.Nevertheless this is a highly recommended DVD.
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