Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Serial 151: Remembrance of the Daleks

Doctor: Sylvester McCoy (7th Doctor)
Companion: Ace

Written by: Ben Aaronovitch
Directed by: Andrew Morgan

Background & Significance: The Doctor has to face Daleks. Always. It's like a rule, and if it isn't, I'm of the opinion that it should be. That's not to say that I approve of Dalek overexposure. I don't. But at least once per Doctor (more possible if he's got a long run), methinks.

It's interesting to see how each Doctor handles the nefarious little buggers. Whenever I think about The Doctor facing off against The Daleks, I always think about that moment in "Doomsday" when The 10th Doctor strides into the room and starts dialoguing with the suddenly scared Cult of Skaro. More than anything, it just reinforces the notion that The Doctor is not your typical hero. Think about the heroes of other science fiction programmes (Malcolm Reynolds in Firefly or Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica) or even from a big-budget action movie/show (John McClane in the Die Hard movies or Jack Bauer in 24) and the difference is stark. That is not how any of them would handle The Cult of Skaro in that scene.

No. The Doctor's a guy who's all British and talky and can stride into the room full of the evilest creations in the universe and talk them out of shooting him. Not every Doctor handles them in that specific way (and oh boy will we see him act other ways), but the Doctor's approach to a solution to a problem is never the "I'm going to shoot them and blow them up"method (although remind me I said that next month). His response is always one of appealing to intelligence and arguing in favour of diplomacy and his reliance on his words and language. That's The Doctor's weapon. That's how he fights the evilest creations in the universe.

"Remembrance of the Daleks" is the 7th Doctor's turn to take them on.

Now, I know it's been quite a long time since we've done a McCoy story, but let's be honest. There's very little of him around (he out-serials Colin Baker by ONE story), and what there is hasn't been widely DVD'ed [yet]. And, because I really, really liked him when we talked about him last time and am all about delayed gratification, we're only doing two stories of him this year, and a "bunch" of him coming up on the other side of January.

But enough about blog politics! Let's focus on Dalek and Doctor Who politics! Much more interesting!

"Remembrance of the Daleks" is written by Ben Aaronovitch and came about because they wanted to give McCoy's Doctor a chance to go up against the Daleks. Producer Jonathan Nathan-Turner commissioned the story and then sent the drafts to Terry Nation to review for his approval. Nation was most pleased with the story, except for one element (which certainly merits discussion but we'll talk about that in part four) which he asked to be excised. Nathan-Turner "took his comments into consideration" and then politely never sent Nation another draft for perusal. The worst part is, "Mad Man" Terry Nation? He was... not wrong.

Ah, Jonathan Nathan-Turner. So consistently self-righteous. So disappointing.

"Remembrance of the Daleks" is considered one of the best McCoy stories and it shows a really nice Dalek vs. Dalek story with some pretty neat graphics and special effects. It's also a really great look at The Doctor and does a bit of a retcon of the first ever Doctor Who story, in a move that is.... questionable? Shall we say? And of course the ending to episode one is famous because it's uh... pretty frakkin badass. Even by today's standards.

Unfortunately, it suffers a bit from the poor storytelling that happened during the Jonathan Nathan-Turner years, but I'll overlook most of that in the light of other really great things about the story, which is thrilling and exciting and pretty damn solid. Also, Daleks vs. Daleks with The Doctor and Ace in the crossfire. What's not to love?

Well, there is that one choice at the end. But we'll talk about that later.

So let's get to it!


Part 1:

“Remembrance of the Daleks” starts…. I think rather weirdly compared to other stories. In the classic series, the credit sequence to an episode always came first. There were three other exceptions (“The Five Doctors” being the one we’ve seen so far what with that Hartnell flashback) and we’ll talk about them as we get there. The weird thing is, typically the other ones serve a purpose. This one… doesn’t. It merely is. It’s just a shot of the Earth and a pull out to reveal the superstructure of a spaceship near the moon while radio signals play…

Yeah, not even important. Just thought I’d throw you off with that, as it throws me off every time.

Much like most stories, part one starts with intrigue and some awesome action. There’s a lovely Dalek-vs-the-military action sequence smack dab in the middle of the episode that is quite excellent and wonderful. There are some nice explosions and some gunplay, and who doesn’t love all that.

What I find most compelling about this episode is the “reinvented” Sylvester McCoy. We haven’t talked about it yet, but McCoy’s first season is nothing short of a rough patch. McCoy entered unprepared (not his fault, it was a late cast, but we’ll talk more about that eventually), Nathan-Turner REALLY didn’t want to be on the show anymore (again, eventually we shall talk about this), and Andrew Cartmel was rushed into the position of script editor after the departure of Eric Saward (more on that in a few weeks).

Cartmel is who I want to talk about here. There will be more times to talk about McCoy and god knows we can’t do a Nathan-Turner serial without talking about Nathan-Turner, but Cartmel is… the wildcard.

I think the Sylvester McCoy era is one of the most fascinating eras of the show. It ran through the late eighties and the somewhat silly of the 60s and 70s had left those modes of storytelling for the most part. The 80s is really where storytelling (as I see it, anyways) started to take a turn towards more modern forms. Long forms, psychologically real characters, giving them arcs… All of these things started to rise into prominence in the late 80s, and it’s to the point nowadays where you literally cannot escape them.

After his “barely-trying-to-keep-the-ship-afloat” first season, it was this sensibility of narrative concepts that Cartmel began to design and implement into his tenure on Doctor Who, specifically into the characters of The Doctor (who, they felt, lacked the mysteriousness he'd had for the first few seasons of the show) and Ace (his new companion).

“Remembrance” is the first instance of this plan (often referred to as “The Cartmel Plan”) revealing itself. McCoy’s Doctor was made to be more conniving and mischievous, the grand orchestrating chess player who was guiding Ace to… something, although we never find out what (because of the show’s cancellation in 1989, although they have come forward and said what was up in interviews. Look it up. It’s a doozy).

It’s because of this that people love the era. I mean, how can you not love Ace when so much time and effort was put into developing her character and making her more than just-your-average companion? She was strong willed, wonderfully characterized and realized, and had a tremendous rapport with The Doctor.

Anyways. Yes. Remembrance (sorry, got distracted). We see this start to take effect. The Doctor and Ace land in 1963 to accomplish something in particular when he’s dragged away by his curiosity in a mysterious van scoping out a school and space ship landing burn mark things on the school’s playground.

He also encounters a Dalek and blows it up (while hanging out with UNIT) and makes mention to Ace later on that The Daleks want something called The Hand of Omega, which he said he left here when he was last here. (More on that later).

We also get some lovely Ace, who gets to walk around with a big ol’ 80s boombox and her signature badass clothing and TNT in her backpack. She meets a UNIT Sergeant. There are some sparks (no, that was not part of the Cartmel Plan).

There’s also a mysterious little girl who keeps watching The Doctor and the school master of the school who seems to know something he’s not telling The Doctor (also he seems to be under mind control).

Really, what sucks me in is The Doctor’s not saying what we feel he should be saying. He should be expositioning The Hand of Omega, but he wants to keep it secret for whatever reason. He makes Ace notice things and question things, which is all quite compelling and hints at a larger story (Cartmel Plan! Look it up!).

The drawback to this is, of course, what has been called “Jonathan Nathan-Turner’s over-obsession with unnecessary fanservice”. We’ll see it worse in other places (and oh boy will it be so much worse in other places) but it does manifest itself here as The Doctor making many references to The Daleks and Davros and other previous adventures that took place on Earth that were never publicized.

It’s not that these moments don’t work, but I do become aware of them as I notice them more and more. He talks about the Zygon Gambit with the Loch Ness Monster (from “Terror of the Zygons”) and the Yeti invasion of the London Underground (from “The Web of Fear”). Here, the fan service works (to a degree). It references previous Doctor adventures without being overly reliant on them, although I do question their dependence on fans remembering events that took place ten or twenty years previously. (And with the BBC wiping old records and rarely playing reruns, I doubt many people remember “The Web of Fear”, which has been lost to the annals of time).

Granted, this is not nearly as egregious a fan-service as they can be.

The centerpiece of the episode, though, is of course the end. It’s one of those defining moments that “changes” Dalek mythology (how do you defeat a Dalek? Run up the stairs!) and ends on a lovely cliffhanger that definitely makes us want to come back for more. It's something that must have had EVERYONE talking at the time. Hell, we've seen Daleks do something like this tons in the new stories, but it's still pretty badass. Nay. WAY badass.

Don’t believe me? Watch the youtube of it and see for yourself.

Part 2:

If this is the first story to introduce The Doctor’s new paradigm of being all mischievous and part one introduced this new paradigm, part two expands it dramatically.

As an episode, part two can be divided into three specific acts. The first act is about The Doctor and Ace attempting to defeat the staircase-climbing-Dalek, the second act is about The Doctor and his preparations, and the third act is about Ace’s breaking back into the school.

I’ll talk about the second act first, because… well… It’s just interesting. What we see is The Doctor actually leaving his companion alone for a night while he goes out to “take care of unfinished business”. In this case, it’s visiting an old friend in a coffee shoppe and picking up and moving the Hand of Omega, which was left in a funeral parlour.

From knowing that this is 1963 we get the added bonus (as the curator of the funeral parlour points out) of knowing that when The Doctor dropped off The Hand of Omega in the first place (the hand is in a large coffin) he was old and had white hair. Again, the fan service of this tells us that it was The First Doctor who left The Hand here. Not only that, but because this is London in late 1963, the implication is that this is why The Doctor and Susan were here in the first place going all the way back twenty five years to the first ever Doctor Who story “An Unearthly Child”.

Now, I’m gonna be honest with you. I really actually do have a problem with this. As with the “You don’t have to explain everything” theory from last week, this story retcons The Doctor’s original stay in London in an attempt to explain why he was here in the first place.

But if this Hand of Omega thing was the point of him being here in the first place and was forced to leave before “finishing his mission” because of the surprise arrival of Barbara and Ian (we’ll talk about it in a few months, don’t worry), why did it take him six regenerations to return to it? Granted, the 2nd Doctor was too busy having adventures and the 3rd Doctor was stuck at UNIT in the relative future, the 4th, 5th, and 6th Doctors all had autonomy over the TARDIS enough to control where to go?

Fundamentally, I find this a story problem. One of the base story questions is “Why this story? Why now?” and I don’t see why this story has to happen with this Doctor? They never really explain that, and it drives me batty trying to think about why The Doctor chooses now to finally go and tie up this pretty massive loose end.

That’s not to say this “act” is a total wash. There’s an absolutely fantastic scene in which The Doctor questions his actions and such in a moment that is just fantastic McCoy and truly, truly wonderful. And the scene where The Doctor actually moves the Hand of Omega is quite excellent. But really, it’s all about the coffee shoppe. I even youtubed it for you.

The final act of the episode revolves around Ace breaking back into the school because she was left behind and needs to do something. What we get, of course, is the revelation that The Daleks have started transmatting to the school to reinforce their presence on Earth and some excellent action scenes of Ace running around with a magic baseball bat and whacking the crap out of a bunch of Daleks.

The Doctor also meets up with UNIT (and is randomly put in charge of everything despite the fact that he wouldn’t actually join UNIT for a few more years… Just a funny thing) and explains that he thinks that there are two factions of Daleks involved in the proceedings here. The Renegade Daleks (the darker ones) and the Imperial Daleks (the gold and white ones). It’s a really nice development, if you ask me. Who doesn’t love a good Civil War? Especially one involving Daleks vs. Daleks? Nice touch from writer Ben Aaronovitch.

There’s also the revelation that the Sergeant we meet in episode one, the UNIT guy (WHO IS TOTALLY AND NOT SUBTLY CRUSHING ON ACE) is almost certainly working for one of the Dalek factions, and it looks like they’re the Renegades. Ruh roh.

We also get a really weird scene where Ace turns on the TV and they announce that a brand new sci-fi adventure show is premiering right then on Saturday at a quarter past five and it’s called “Doc-“ but that’s all we hear. The implication (for those that don't get it) is that if Ace had stuck around at all, she would have noticed Doctor Who on the telly. It’s a moment that’s worth mentioning, but really why do we need to break the fourth wall that much? Yes, it’s cute meta-text but come on. Do you really need to add that much noise to already-cluttered message boards? Ugh. And then we have to wonder about what she would have seen if she had stuck around. Ugh. UGH!

All that leaves us with is the opening act, which features The Doctor and Ace defeating The-Dalek-who-climbed-the-staircase. Normally I wouldn’t go too much into it (and I won’t), but there’s just one thing that I can’t not talk about…

Okay, so, The Doctor and Ace manage to run out of the school and onto the street, where they find a UNIT dude with a Jeep. They ask him what he’s doing there and he should leave but the guy says he’s got orders to deliver something called “ATRs” to the school.

Turns out, “ATRs” are Anti-Tank Rockets, which would be perfect for having to destroy a Dalek, right? Also, they’re some pretty powerful, high-end artillery and clearly not for civilian use. But The Doctor and Ace RUN to the back of the truck and grab the ATRs AND THE DUDE SAYS NOTHING.

I mean, really. You have a batty codger in a question-mark sweater and carrying and umbrella and this badass looking chick with a backpack and you let them rummage around your jeep WHICH CONTAINS ROCKETS?

Now, this is one thing. If they run up and start barking orders and taking control and moving quickly, I can see why this guy would go through with this. But now. Ace and The Doctor take their sweet time and pick out their rockets and launcher with care.

And then! AND THEN! As if that’s not crazy enough, they pull the rockets out of the back and get ready to storm the school and blast some frakking Daleks to frakking smithereens AND THEN the soldier guy stops them. Good on you, dude. Finally, you realize that you shouldn’t be distributing a ROCKET LAUNCHER to civilians without ever seeing or asking to see any credentials. Finally you get a head on your shoulders! Good for you.

No. Wait. He doesn't do that. asks them to sign for the rockets.


I love that. I friggin do. This guy has to deal with the UNIT bureaucracy. If he doesn't at least have a paper trail the Brigadier or whoever will have his head and then he'll be in trouble. BECAUSE NO ONE SIGNED FOR THEM. It'd be almost like he gave away HIGH END MILITARY GRADE ARTILLERY to a couple of random civilians if he didn't at least say that someone signed for them.

And then The Doctor signs for them and runs off.

This is probably the soldier’s though process: “I’m not really allowed to hand these out to just anyone. But just so long as they sign for them, there’s a record and my ass will be covered and my superiors can know I didn’t hand these rockets out to just anyone.”

Except you did. Be thankful you handed the rocket launcher to the right guy. Otherwise, you'd probably lose your job for this.

So that’s the lesson here, kids. The Military will let you take rockets out of the back of their trucks, just so long as you promise to sign for them. After that, it’s on your head. Be safe!

Part 3:

As with every other story, we finally get some slowing down to the proceedings in part three.

One of the best things about this episode is the inclusion of more Daleks. We finally start to understand the ramifications of two Dalek factions rolling through the streets of London. Whereas the last episode was mostly about the Imperial Daleks, this one is all about the Renegades and starting to see their inner workings and get some explanation into what's going on with them. I really like it, too. What started small is slowly growing and building outwards and we're still getting some nice reveals even in episode three.

Finally, we get some closer on the mystery person in the chair and discover it’s the little girl. We also start to understand which side who people are on. The Imperial Daleks, it looks like, are the ones who are going to get the Hand of Omega.

This, of course, is The Doctor’s plan. He actually wants The Daleks to get their hands on the Hand of Omega. The only thing that makes this complicated is the fact that there are two factions. The right faction has to get the Hand, otherwise The Doctor’s plan is for naught.

One of the interesting things of this plan, I guess it is, is The Doctor’s lack of explanation. Everything seems to be going according to his design and schemes, but we aren’t sure why The Doctor wants all of this to actually happen. Again, this is part of the revolutionization of The Doctor’s character. Even going forward to Ghost Light, we can see that he definitely has plots that he enacts and makes way for his villains to fall into his trap.

We also get some really excellent revelations. To add to the complexity, there’s also the discovery that the Imperial Daleks are under the command of an Emperor Dalek and the renegades are run by a Dalek Supreme. What I find interesting about this is that this story got Terry Nation’s approval despite the fact that when David Whittaker introduced the Emperor Dalek in “Evil of the Daleks”, Nation threw a bitch fit and said “that wasn’t his vision” and “The Daleks don’t have an emperor.”

Funniest thing? “Evil of the Daleks” is better than anything Terry Nation ever wrote.

Anyways, yes. But that wasn’t the thing that got him all up-in-his-gritsy. No, that’s for next episode. But I do love that it’s the Emperor Dalek versus a Dalek Supreme. (Spoilers. It doesn’t end up being that, but more on it later).

But yes. We learn that the little girl who’s been stalking is working with the Renegade Daleks as an “irrational interface” to provide imagination to The Daleks’ cold logic. Great idea, cool concepts. And I like that. It’s also the thing that allows the Renegades to gain possession of the Hand of Omega.

Probably the best moment of the episode, though, is the moment that The Doctor’s plan takes an unexpected left turn. The arrival of the Imperial Dalek Shuttlecraft at the school takes The Doctor completely by surprise and his admonition of “I think I may have miscalculated” is an excellent turning point. He is not surprised when he receives word that the shuttlecraft is inbound, but he was expecting it to land some ways away. But no. It’s here. At the school. Suddenly, The Doctor, who has been very much in control throughout the story so far is left having made a grave mistake and it’s a cliffhanger!

Granted, it’s a double edge sword. If you’ve been paying attention and recognize all the machinations that have been going down based on The Doctor’s planning and building, the cliffhanger is a doozy of “Ruh roh!” that accelerates us into the story’s end game. But if you missed the thing about the planning and stuff, it just feels like a punchliney joke more in the vein of the previous season’s Doctor, which isn’t bad and works in the context of an "oh snap" cliffhanger. But it's not what they’re going for, nor is it as awesome.

The former, of course, is much much cooler than the latter and brings a nice “oh sh*t” moment to what wouldn’t have been otherwise. Good stuff. Not the most amazing of cliffhangers, but it’s perfect for what it needs to slash should do.

Part 4:

Now… The endgame of Remembrance is when part of the narrative starts to crumble. Whereas most stories tend to coalesce as we get close to the end, the end of this story degenerates into some weird tangent things.

The first of the stories is the story of the little girl. The weirdest thing about this is… yes, the little girl was established in the opening minutes of the story, but she’s been so much more background than anything else. She’s not been a driving force of the narrative, and yet the climactic scene of the story for Ace is her having a throw down. It’s not that it’s not cool or whatever. It just doesn’t seem to work in the scope of the narrative.

But even then, the little girl is linked to the Dalek Supreme, so her facing Ace is actually negated by The Doctor and Ace doesn’t actually end up doing anything. Nor was it ever implied that there was a grudge Ace needed to settle. Really, she’s just around to kill off Sergeant Smith in a moment of excessive violence (which works in the context of the story).

Likewise, the Sergeant Smith story has been one of those things that’s been running through the background of the first three parts that is suddenly thrust to the forefront in this episode as he joins the Renegade Daleks outright. This was set up back in episode two and expounded upon in episode three, but it doesn’t really feel like a huge deal until this episode when he’s just out and out bad guy guy.

His grizzly end does give a really nice moment at the end, and we really do see the sort of… Excellence that is the relationship between Ace and The Doctor. She goes to him for consolation and he gives it to her, telling her that time will tell if everything was worth it or not.

If nothing else, it does help because of the chemistry between the two of them. But it just doesn’t ring true for me.

But then, of course, we have the ultimate end of The Doctor’s plan. The Imperial Daleks gain possession of the Hand of Omega and bring it back to their ship. And that’s all well and good and we see some sw33t Dalek on Dalek action (hawt) and the Imperial Dalek's wheel out a giant Dalek Cannon (no, unfortunately, it does not shoot Daleks at the enemy, it's just like Dalek Artillery. And it's badass) and then the Imperial Daleks escape and all that.

But then we find out that the Emperor Dalek is not really the King Emperor Awesome Dalek of all the Daleks. No. It’s Davros.

That’s right. Davros. The Imperial Daleks have all been under Davros’s command.

Now, this was the thing that Terry Nation disagreed with. And much as I’m wont to disagree with Nation and his writing sensibilities a lot (and oh boy will we talk about them a lot next year) he’s not wrong about this. He said that with the removal of Davros this story would have his blessing. And JNT took the opportunity to not speak to Nation about the story again.

But really? Why is Davros here? I guess he’s here for a twist. An “OH CRAP IT WAS DAVROS ALL ALONG!” but what does that prove? The answer is not much. So these Imperial Daleks are working for Davros and the Renegade Daleks are anti-Davros. But then this becomes the story of Davros and his Daleks vs. the not-Davros Daleks. Davros is included for no reason. And to those who say he is, how does his inclusion make everything different? So is it Davros vs. generic Daleks? Why not have it be Davros vs. The Emperor Dalek? That's a much more compelling Dalek Civil War. That's like Stalin vs. Lenin. And who wouldn't want that?

There was a thing Russell T Davies said once, about every time Davros is around it turns the Daleks into mindless drones. He’s not wrong. That’s all that happens here, and what is a cool and ruthless story (The Doctor literally booby traps the Hand of Omega to make Skaro’s sun go supernova. That’s grizzly) is suddenly undermined by Davro's insane gullibility.

Not only that, but there’s no explanation as to why the Hand of Omega can’t go to the Renegade Daleks? Is it because Davros is the only one who would act as he did? I mean, the Hand was booby trapped anyways. Wouldn’t it not make a difference?

Well, I guess it would. Because The Doctor is able to goad Davros into using the Hand, but Davros should be smart enough to see The Doctor’s so obvious “No, don’t!” of it all. It’s just a bit too gullible for the maniacally fantastic Davros if you ask me. But even then, I’m sure The Doctor could have tricked anyone else. Still don’t see why it has to be Davros.

Oh right. FAN SERVICE!

Ah well. It’s still a fairly solid ending despite being a little disjointed and strange. So I guess I can give it a pass? I mean, there was a Battle Dalek. But how does that work? Is it just a really grizzly Dalek who likes blowing stuff up? I don’t see why all Daleks aren’t fitted with that level of artillery.

Also, the little girl totally has random Palpatine lightning powers. Just saying.

Still, though. It’s good McCoy. And the plan is still sound (despite weird choices) and Ace and everyone else is pretty good. It just doesn’t really… Live up to the promise of the first three parts. It's weird to watch a story totally drop the ball in the fourth part. Typically it's around part three that the story starts to trail off (and it did, but not abnormally so) but the fourth part just kinda crumbles in terms of narrative structure, and I really lay a lot of that blame on Davros. He kills the story though, man. Because then it feels like I'm watching something completely different and we're into another story and once they've lost me that late in the game, you just... you don't come back from that.

Final Thoughts?: "Remembrance of the Daleks" is widely considered one of the best of Classic Doctor Who. I see why, but I'm not sure I agree.

For one thing, everything instantly gets a bump when The Daleks get involved. Doesn't matter if it's good or bad, The Daleks provide a handicap to everything. Daleks were in it? Oh yes. Plus four to awesome. But really, I find that's a cheap cop out. It's like throwing in a big explosion or a fastball special and saying that makes it good. It's allowing Doctor Who writers to just throw in Daleks and suddenly they get a free pass to pull whatever they want. Not saying fandom does that (which they clearly don't nowadays what with the constant Davies-finale bashing), but how else do you explain stories getting huge bumps when the Daleks are involved?

And it is always nice to see The Daleks. I won't disagree with anyone there. But every time you bring them back, you have to do something new and awesome with them lest you get them being rehashed and less effective every time. There are exceptions, and those stand out, but it's hard to do a good Dalek story because there already have been so many good ones and the ones that are good always do something new. "Power of the Daleks" and "Dalek" come to mind, with each one doing something new and a bit different for The Daleks, much to those stories' successes.

"Remembrance" does some really cool things with them, but they do feel like background players to the main action of The Doctor running around and the human agents doing the Daleks' bidding. I like that, though. This story does not feel like a typical Daleks story. McCoy's Doctor is all about manipulating the Daleks and getting them to fall into his trap. There's actually very few Doctor dealing with Daleks. The one scene that comes to mind is him confronting Davros, and that's... not even the same. But there is the Dalek Civil War with The Doctor and Ace caught in the crossfire. And that, if nothing else, is an awesome concept to see played out in front of us.

These elements, though, make for something that is legitimately cool and idea-y, but they don't add up to a full story. There's a criticism I'm going to start leveling at the Jonathan Nathan-Turner years as we talk about them more and more as lacking in the storytelling department. Flash but no substance, if you get my meaning, and general confusion as to who is doing what and why and what are all the elements and pieces that are going on and whatever. I don't think "Remembrance" is as egregious as other errors ("Warriors of the Deep" and "The Leisure Hive" come to mind), but it certainly doesn't help its case. And part four, if you ask me, is more of a fumble than a rollicking success, especially in the storytelling department.

Ultimately, where "Remembrance" suffers for me is in comparison between it and other McCoy stories. Aaronovitch's next story "Battlefield" (which we'll be reviewing next year) is a much more refined version of this one, but with King Arthur mythology and The Brigadier instead of Daleks. "Ghost Light" as well is a much more nougaty story than this one, what with its brimming of ideas and masterful tone.

It's nice, though. And I see why it ranks so high. I just question that a mite. It's certainly a step in the right direction, though (especially considering the past season) and it's a great kick off to the McCoy that most people tend to think about. The one who "always has a plan".

But more on that when we talk about him again.

Next Time!: 4th Doctor! Sarah Jane! Mummies! GOTHIC HORROR! Sutekh! Killer God Damn Dialogue! And A Dude with a Fez! "The Pyramids of Mars"! Coming Next Tuesday!


  1. You keep referring to UNIT. UNIT does not appear in this story! Those are RAF troops. I'll be controversial and say that UNIT did not form until after 1976 (going by the dating in 'Web of Fear').

  2. This is my favorite story of all. Obviously it has a few flaws, but I don't think they are very significant. I would say this is one of the best Dr. Who stories.

    Interesting about Terry Nation objecting to Davros being in this. I had not heard that. I understand that after Genesis of the Daleks, Nation had insisted that every future Dalek story include Davros. Odd that he changed his mind about that. I think the Daleks are generally better off without Davros, but within the narrative of this story, Davros works quite well.

    I totally love Pamela Salem's performance as Rachel Jenson. Such a brilliant character. I wish she had become a companion (she was planning to retire from her job, so it would have been an opportunity). It would have been fantastic to have an older female companion on the TARDIS.

  3. The inclusion of Davros works if you consider this a sequel to both Ressurection and Revelation of the Daleks, since it follows the ongoing theme of Davros trying to take control of all Daleks. The impereal Daleks even have the same paintjob as Davros' Daleks in Revelation.