Doctor Who #680: Remembrance of the Daleks Part 2

"Every great decision creates ripples, like a huge boulder dropped in a lake. The ripples merge, rebound off the banks in unforeseeable ways. The heavier the decision, the larger the waves, the more uncertain the consequences."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Oct.12 1988.

IN THIS ONE... The Doctor buries the Hand of Omega. Ace stays at a racist bed and breakfast.

REVIEW: I love time travel stories, and that's probably why I love the seventh Doctor. He thinks in four-dimensional terms, referencing time frequently, and in another of his excellent speeches, takes a moment to ponder what right he has to play around with history, even in a good cause. Though playing the long game (a very long game if it started at least 500 years ago when he was William Hartnell) obviously takes its toll on him, but ultimately, there's no real choice. As Fresh Prince's Joseph Marcell tells him, the best thing is just to get on with it. Even the Doctor can't see all the variables, and trying to calculate them is just paralyzing.

The other main thread running through the story is the racism and segregation inherent to the 1960s setting, an honest portrayal in what should otherwise be a tribute to the era. Ratcliffe was a Nazi sympathizer and his "Association" a racist organization. Mike's mum has a "No coloureds" sign in the window, which shocks Ace's sensibilities. And Marcell's John muses about his ancestors being sold into slavery. The reason this isn't just period flavor or, worse, "a very special episode of Doctor Who" is that it ties perfectly into the A-story. This is, after all, about the Daleks. They aren't just space Nazis, they're also all about genetic purity, especially in the Civil War era, the gray ones hating on the white ones and vice-versa, Imperials vs. Renegades, Davros vs. Supreme Dalek.

There are a great many things I love about this episode aside from the way it weaves its themes in. The Hand of Omega's funeral with the Doctor playing coy with both the undertaker and a blind priest. The exciting firefight in the science class with Ace jumping around the room amid exploding debris. The Doctor repeatedly deflating Group Captain Gilmore's ego. "Frightening, isn't it, to find there are others better versed in death than human beings." The ironic spot for the headmaster's death. "School lunches." And of course, the B&B TV getting cut off just as it's about to announce the first episode of a new science fiction series, Doc---

- Hits all the notes I want an Anniversary show to hit, and more besides.


LiamKav said...

Ace's leap through the window seems to be really good stunt work, especially 1989. I know we had Havoc before, but most of their stuff was based on film, and Classic-Who always taught me that the really important stuff happens in the studio.


Love the nod to Hartnell from the undertaker,he thought the Doctor was supposed to be an "old geezer with white hair."

Bill Doughty said...

I enjoy how the perception of Ace's reaction to the "No Coloureds" sign and Mike's attitude and betrayal changes as we learn more about her backstory as the series moves ahead. Here it's easy to think that she's just a good-hearted person who would of course be anti-racism, though her later screaming at Mike that he "betrayed" her seems to have a lot more emotion behind it than just that (or that yet another authority figure has let her down).

I have a few issues with Cartmel's increased darkening of the Doctor (though that's mostly with the NA writers, who IMHO pushed him too far, from aloof alien chessmaster to manipulative prick), but Ace's storyline is all kinds of excellent.

Siskoid said...

Yes, it's quite interesting how each story adds to the overall portrait of Ace, as opposed to companions that are exactly what they are from their first appearance (again, this makes Ace the Anti-Mel).


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