Doctor Who: I, Davros Review
Genesis of the Daleks is one of my all time favourite Doctor Who stories, and I know for a fact that I am not alone with that opinion as I often see it to be people’s favourite Dalek story. There are a lot of factors that make this a phenomenal piece of television, whether that be; Tom Baker’s thought provoking performance or fan favourite director David Maloney’s somber yet intriguing atmosphere and quite possibly the most impactful factor being a multi layered and genius script by Dalek creator and Doctor Who MVP Terry Nation. Whatever the reason I think most will agree that the most notable reason for its iconic status is the introduction of Davros; the eyeless maniac whose deformed features and attitude kept many children from sleeping whenever he would make an appearance. As he is one of the most iconic Doctor Who characters to come out of the Tom Baker era I was not surprised to find out that it only took Big Finish half a decade to make a spin off series based on the character. The series was released in four movie sized installments each directed by Gary Russel and starring Terry Molloy who is given the opportunity to show he can play Davros as more than the mad ranter he played him as on screen. While I much prefer Michael Wisher; Molloy perfectly captures every facet of the character and he is playing the part so differently to normal that I didn’t even know it was him until I looked at the credits.
While I intend to listen to and review every installment of this series; it is part of the early range of Big Finish which they opted to release in installments rather than a box set so unlike how I usually write reviews this will be focused purely on the pilot to this series so I will go into more detail on spoilers than I usually would because of how much of the plot these major twists and turns make up. Be prepared for spoilers but the Big Finish website has each of these audio plays for just three pounds and they are worth investing in if you are a fan of Davros or are interested in him and want to see more of what he is like as a character.
Despite being praised by fans and critics alike I found the first installment of this series to be rather lackluster. It didn’t anger or bore me but I feel as if it would have been a lot more enjoyable if bundled together with the other three as all it does is set up themes, character arcs and ideas for later. A good comparison would be a TV pilot that something like HBO would put out in the early 2000’s as its priorities are purely in showing what this series could do in the future. This isn’t necessarily a criticism as some of the best TV series have begun with weaker episodes but I didn’t really feel like there was any or at least enough pay off for my time. This meant that when I was finished listening I didn’t want to buy the next one because I wanted more but instead in the hope that there may be more of a satisfying pay off to the shocking revelation that Davros was adopted; which didn’t add to his or his fathers character and was just there to kill off a character who was threatening to reveal this.
Although this constant setting up did at least let me get an impression of the characters who will have important rolls later on, alongside a series of fantastic performances; with the head and shoulders stand out performance being Terry Molloy as young Davros, who perfectly captures the deranged side of what we know about his fascistic inspirations backstory, and he brilliantly gives off a slightly psychopathic feel who demonstrates the fascination with life we know him for but uses this to emotionally torment his sister who seems to be the only person with an idea of what he is capable of; playing on the trope of a sister hating her brother for trivial reasons. The world building is also incredibly strong and very reminiscent of Terry Nation; building on the seeds sewn in Genesis while also adding lore to the world of Skaro and creating a bitter irony at the attempts to save the Kaled race as we all know they will be destroyed at the end of the war. The ending of the story also sees Davros using genetic experimentation for the first time and developing a mutant which gave me goosebumps due to his cold announcement of the events. The scene also mirrors the cliffhanger in Genesis in which we see the first Dalek test and the scene is incredibly well written as it makes the physical and mental changes that are going to happen to Davros over the coming years obvious to the listener; creating a sense of dramatic irony.
In terms of what it sets up alongside some incredible performances I am looking forward to hearing the end of this series but in terms of a standalone story I feel that I, Davros was a bit scattershot and should have focused just as much on standalone character arcs and story lines alongside what it sets up for later.
I give this a 7/10 because what it does set up is genuinely interesting and I look forward to hearing where it goes next.
Written by: James Fraser
Having reviewed several box sets now I am planning to start delving into standalone stories and books including novelizations such as; The Talons of Weng Chiang and the Invasion, as well as some of the eighth Doctor adventures book range and Big Finish releases such as Ravenous 4, the Mary Shelley plays and the third Doctor adventures.