Christopher Morley wraps up our Sixth Doctor month with a look at the Marmite Doctor's sole on-screen Dalek encounter, Revelation Of The Daleks.
Perhaps its kindest to call the Sixth Doctor 'Marmite' in Whovian terms - you either love him or want to do to him as he did to Peri Brown post-regeneration in The Twin Dilemma. Whichever camp you fall into on the issue, shield your eyes from that coat as we swan-dive into what might be termed the Second Dalek Civil War- The Evil Of The Daleks (this should give you some clue as to how it turns out) making for quite some first battle.
Of course there's a certain sense of overlap between the two in more ways than one. Six has only fairly recently met his Second self (The Two Doctors, which for the younger incarnation is his second Celestial Intervention Agency mission- immediately following the World Game novel) & now finds himself headed straight into trouble.
Having journeyed to Necros to pay some manner of last respects to an old friend, Professor Arthur Stengos, it soon becomes apparent that Tranquil Repose isn't quite such a nice place in which to spend your last days...accosted by a mutant on the way, it becomes apparent that the mystery of ' The Great Healer' must be solved! At least he's keeping them in suspended animation until cures can be found for their ailments. Beat that, NHS. And at least the Healer has no need of an 'out of hours' phone line, eh?
Plus there's a DJ on hand to keep everyone entertained. Sadly, it isn't the late great John Peel, but be grateful for small mercies, its not Tony Blackburn or Steve Wright either, & for that they should all be grateful. In fact he comes in the form of Alexei Sayle...
Arthur's about to be shaken out of his listening pleasure though. Too bad, as he'd already lodged a song request! But his daughter Natasha & son in law Grigory have come to visit at least- isn't that nice?
They haven't exactly come in legally, but there's a good reason for that. They've got their suspicions as to what's really going on, only heightened when Tasha finds her dear old papa inside one of the so-called Healer's new creations- the Glass Dalek. As the name implies its a vaguely ornamental glass version of the standard Dalek casing, with the mutated reanimated corpses of Tranquil Repose patients inside. The process hasn't quite killed off the ' old' Arthur yet though, as he recognises her...
The Healer, by now recognisable as someone altogether nastier, is apparently in a similar state to most of his test subjects. If you've watched Futurama & seen the heads in storage tanks/jars, that's him ( which could retrospectively be said to have been Matt Groening's inspiration?). Forget ye not also the Fourth Doctor's Simpsons cameos in a nice display of multi-Bakerism. Nice to see him considered an 'esteemed representative of television'!
One of Davros's cronies- Kara, who's been taken for something of a ride by the creator of the entire Dalek race (Genesis Of The Daleks) has her mind set on revenge. And its quite an ambitious scheme too! She's hired the assassin Orcini & his accomplice Bostock to do what the Doctor's earlier self couldn't bring himself to all that time ago back on Skaro- with him gone she'll have both money & power aplenty with which to control the entire galaxy. So in a way she's just as bad as he is.
With full conditioning starting to take hold of poor old Arthur, he begs the apple of his eye to put him out of his misery. Following some dithering she pulls herself together enough to give him the last rites with a bullet. The Doctor & Peri have taken some time out to stop & smell the roses in the Garden of Fond Memories- horticulture being a secret passion of Six's.
He's just about to tell Ms Brown about his attendance at the first Chelsea Flower Show in the genteel Kensington of 1862 when he's dumbstruck by the sight of a funerary tribute statue of himself!
All before they can nip back to the TARDIS in time to tune to Radio 4 for Gardeners Question Time, sadly. Most inconvenient! He might not have time for the dulcet tones of Eric Robson should the thing topple on him, & he won't be able to pay a visit to Bob Flowerdew either. That Pippa Greenwood's a bit of a fox, too...
Best not tell Peri, though. She's too busy screeching in alarm as the Statue Doctor falls on the real one! Luckily she's able to get help from Mr Jobel. He's the chief embalmer around here, so of course he's going to presume the worst. Namely that Six is dead. Just when Ms Brown might be preparing herself to witness yet another change of face for the Doctor there's quite a revelation. He's completely unhurt, as the thing wasn't made of stone...the way's clear for them to enter the Repose facility.
Peri decides she wants to meet the DJ, having never been to a Radio One Roadshow- while the Doctor is quickly captured by his old foes once more! Not having had the pleasure of meeting the Time Lord in his current form, Davros is somewhat surprised- not just by his complete lack of any fashion sense...
Before that though, Six is thrown in a cell with Natasha & Grigory. Before he can regale them with tales of a certain Russian Mad Monk of a similar name whom he met in his First incarnation ( The Wanderer, an audio story), then again two bodies later in the novel The Wages Of Sin, they're freed by Orcini.
Just before the Doctor gets to the good bit too- 'Greg' as he calls him surviving a glass or two of poisoned wine! War just might be about to erupt down on Necros though..some Renegade Daleks ( from back home on Skaro) have arrived to oppose Davros's Imperials ( created, of course, at Tranquil Repose).
Its all a bit of a mess, but Revelation is notable for very nearly being the last 'classic' Who episode ever made- Michael Grade, arguably the greatest villain the Doctor has ever faced or indeed ever will holding fire on bringing the axe down at least until Survival.
There's the small matter of an eighteen month period of 'gardening leave' and a messy divorce between Colin Baker & the BBC. Ever wondered why there's a sudden freeze at the end, before Six can tell Peri where they're off to next? He was to have taken her to Blackpool for the scrapped serial The Nightmare Fair, which would have seen the return of the Celestial Toymaker. It would later see the light of day as part of the Big Finish Lost Stories series.
Next up on screen, though, was the Trial Of A Time Lord arc, from The Mysterious Planet up to The Ultimate Foe- and while he would be exonerated following the Valeyard's escape, next time anyone sees him after that he'll be a tiny Scottish bloke in a pullover who likes to rroll his 'rrr's.
Execution delayed until December 6, 1989!
Execution delayed until December 6, 1989!