Monday, May 31, 2010

Genesis of the Daleks revisited

Last night I watched most of Genesis of the Daleks with Anna. Her friend from school had lent her the DVD - although we didn't get to see much of the last episode as it was scratched and wouldn't play, much to our disappointment. Anna was so desperate to find out how it all ended that I had to Wikipedia.

I first watched this when it was first broadcast in 1975 when I was 7 and I've seen from various repeats on the infernal wickedness of Sky since how much of the allegory I missed as a child.

It was great to see Anna's reaction to it. She always knew Davros was evil, having seen him in Journey's End, but she discovered through watching this that he was to her especially evil, because he was experimenting on animals.

She loved, absolutely loved, Tom Baker. I think it's the first time we've watched a whole story with him and she was as completely captivated by him as I was as a 7 year old. He has a super combination of authority and sense of fun that just compelled you to like him whether you wanted to or not.

It's no accident that Anna shares a middle name with the lady who played, as far as I am concerned, the best companion ever. I grew up wanting to be Sarah Jane Smith and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I can't quite live up to her, though - rather than being a top notch investigative journalist I've ended up with this blog, and rather than stopping hostile aliens from destroying the universe, I've had to settle for things like ridding Chesterfield and West Fife of the Labour Party. That was immensely satisfying though, can't deny it. It's fantastic that a whole new generation of Doctor Who fans are able to get to know Sarah Jane via the brilliant Sarah Jane Adventures.

Sarah Jane had some good bits in Genesis - organising a rebellion among the Thal's slaves. She also had some very cool purple boots but no idea where she got them from as she certainly wasn't wearing them with her yellow cagoule in the first episode. By the final part, her lovely knitted sweater had been replaced with a cardigan and blouse. We both laughed when she said, with passion, "I will never eat oysters again."

Anna occasionally said that it seemed very old fashioned - especially when Harry was about, but then he sounded like he came straight out of an Enid Blyton novel.

For me the surprise was that something I first watched 35 years ago still stood up. The dialogue was excellent, the plot full of treachery, betrayal, and political shenanigans. I laughed when the Kaleds decided to set up, effectively, a committee to review Davros' work and sympathised with the Doctor's frustration that they just didn't get it. The atrocities on both sides of a bitter and futile war were hard to deal with and the Nazi parallels with the Kaled elite were clear.

You could feel the Doctor's pain at the dilemma of whether to blow up the incubator room with the mutant green jellyfish things that live inside the pepperpot Dalek casing - knowing that the genocide would make him as bad as Davros, knowing that if he left them alone, millions would lose their lives.

It's made me want to watch a lot more of the old stuff again. We have Robot on DVD to watch next........


John Ruddy said...

Another good one is "Robots of Death" - much comparison with slavery. You can't deny that Who took on some big philosophical topics!

Keith Legg said...

Caron, try or - both have classic Dr Who episodes watchable for free (though you have to register with both, I think.) No Tom Baker, from what I can see, but there is William Harnell, Patrick Troughton and Peter Davison.


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