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Sacrilege to the phenomenon.

By:Michael Sky, Melbourne, Australia
Date:Saturday 1 October 2005
Rating:   1

I think this is time to dust off an old line - Sacrilege! Sacrilege! Burn him at the stake!

This was the story that truly made me lose respect for the Williams era. Never in my years of watching Doctor Who have I seen such absolute rubbish flashing out from my television screen. It wasn't so much the story itself - it was the way it was presented, and I will never ever forgive Graham Williams for this. The Daleks are the greatest monsters Doctor Who has ever produced, and here are Graham Williams and Douglas Adams, trivialising them, laughing at their flaws, making them appear like idiots, and doing his best to completely destroy the Dalek legacy. This story really made me think Williams was just some crackpot producer who couldn't care less about the programme, and just churned out whatever episodes he could lay his hands on. To try to solve my problems with airing my grievances, I think I'll list them.

A. The Doctor's way of dealing with the Daleks.
This is perhaps the thing I hate most about the episode. I stopped tolerating Graham Williams at two moments - when the Doctor walks up to a Dalek, throws his hat on it, and rolls it down the corridor. Sure, we all know that the Daleks have their flaws, but to use them as a plot device absolutely reeks of sandwiches that someone left in their school locker for two terms and that started to grow a tree. Utter compost. The other moment, that perhaps isn't so bad, but is another contender for most degrading moment for the series, is when the Doctor taunts the Daleks by throwing a rope down to them. We know that Daleks can't climb up stairs (not at that stage anyway), but to completely trivialise the Daleks and turn them into characterless pepperpots is just plain carelessness and apathy.

B. The production of the story in general.
To demonstrate how little regard Graham Williams had for the responsibility he had for the series, he decided to just pull out some cracked and damaged Daleks from storage and just pass them off as genuine monsters. As a result, we have these Daleks seemingly waddling along something that appears to be somewhere between a desert and a quarry, because he couldn't be bothered doing something creative with them. Their voices were worse. Both the Daleks and Davros were given awful voices, though some of the Daleks sounded decent (the ones done by Roy Skelton, at least). Their entire [hack] dialogue was absolutely [hack, cough, cough] littered with noise that sounded something [splutter, cough, cough, hack] like they were wretching in their polycarbide armour. I'm not blaming Williams for the voices, but it just reflects the unprofessionalism of the entire thing.

C. A quick note on the regeneration.
A lot of fans think that they love the sequence where Romana changes face about six or seven times. They explain this ridiculous notion by saying that perhaps there is a short period of grace where they can change appearance without altering their regeneration form. This raises the question: "Why doesn't the Doctor change his face if he doesn't like it (we know that he is not entirely happy about some of his faces)?" But the major problem has nothing to do with the faces. It's to do with the fact that it's just plain farcical that this entire comedic thing should be thrown into a Doctor Who story with no apparent reason other than to completely destroy any credibility that the start of the story ever had. Like my major complaint with the Ninth Doctor's attitude (don't get me wrong, I think Eccleston was a decent Doctor) - it's just plain flippant.

Overall, disgusting. 1/10.

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