Doctor Who #509: Destiny of the Daleks Part 2

"The only way you get out of here is dead."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Sep.8 1979.

IN THIS ONE... Romana feigns death to escape the Daleks' work detail and the Doctor discovers they've been digging for Davros' mummy.

REVIEW: Destiny features some cool techno-sets, contrasting the Movellan white and the Dalek black, the latter a surrounded by maps on glass you can easily shoot through. Director Ken Grieve takes advantage of this feature and by placing his camera low to the ground, the sets' ceilings as well. Daleks are more imposing, the action more dynamic. There is, however, no effort whatsoever made to reproduce what we saw in Genesis of the Daleks, even if it's the same spot, apparently undisturbed since that story. But who knows what has happened since. The Daleks had to grow in power, likely had to build the city we saw in their first episode, go out to the stars, build an empire, become a terrifying force in the universe (as evidenced by their slaves' stories). Maybe they built something on top of Davros' tomb, changed the interior design, and that facility got destroyed too. It's been a long time. Right?

Davros stirring from his tomb is appropriately chilling, and the mystery about the Movellans' own agenda and nature (a nice cultural quirk about not seeing aliens see them in death hides a secret) develops slowly but surely. The villains I DON'T really want to see in this is the Daleks. They're about as strident as they've ever been, shouting the same commands over and over and generally being annoying to anyone with ears. Daleks rarely have anything interesting to say, so the less they feature in their stories, I've found, the better those stories are (i.e. Genesis). Except for the Doctor's famous taunt about them climbing after him if they're so superior, they don't really bring out the best in the Time Lords. The Doctor makes the loudest and thus stupidest possible exit from their control center, and this Romana proves to be too much of a whimperer for my tastes in that interrogation scene, more Astra than Mary Tamm.

Romana redeems herself by feigning her own death and building her own grave. Not sure if the Daleks make sure there are tombs for every dead slave, or if she was just trolling the Doctor (and us) though. She also gets a cute line about her two hearts ("One for casual, one for best"). Of course, she wouldn't have been in that situation if Tyssan, the creepy dude who made her stumble down a shaft, had spoken to her. Now allied with the Doctor, he's found his voice. I recognize Terry Nation's handiwork in this, manufacturing jeopardy where none should exist. I suspect the Doctor's loud exit and Romana's tomb have similar origins.

VERSIONS: The CG effects option on the DVD adds a beam effect to the Movellan energy weapons (for only one shot), and the Dalek blasters are a bit more glowy. Hardly worth the effort.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - The weaknesses are starting to show, Terry Nation-style, but the visuals and a couple of fun lines help bring it back from the edge.

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