Destiny of the Daleks

Region 1

Region 2
VHS Video
(Doctor Who Story No. 104, starring Tom Baker)
  • written by Terry Nation
  • directed by Ken Grieve
  • produced by Graham Williams
  • music by Dudley Simpson
  • 4 episodes @ 25 minutes each
Story: Lalla Ward takes over the role of Romana, just as the Doctor lands the TARDIS on an abandoned planet ripe for exploration. Something buried deep in the ruins has attracted not only the Daleks but other races as well, and the Doctor becomes determined to find it before the Daleks do, and more importantly, to find out what everyone's real interests are....

DVD Extras include:

  • Audio commentary by Lalla Ward (Romana), David Gooderson (Davros / Dalek Voice), and director Ken Grieve.
  • interview with director Ken Grieve (9 min.) on the making of "Destiny of the Daleks"
  • "Terror Nation" featurette (28 min.) on the career of the late sci-fi writer / Dalek creator Terry Nation,
    with contributions from ex-script editor Terrance Dicks, ex-producers Barry Letts & Philip Hinchcliffe, Dalek director Richard Martin,
    Dalek voice artist Nicholas Briggs, and vintage interviews of writer Terry Nation.
  • Optional new CGI effects
  • Prime Computer ads featuring Tom Baker & Lalla Ward (3 min.)
  • Pop-up Production Note subtitles
  • Photo Gallery (8 min.)
  • Trailers (4 min.), including the infamous in-jungle "Do not disturb until September" scene.

In-Depth Analysis Review

by Martin Izsak

WARNING: This review contains "SPOILERS", and is intended for those who have
already seen the program. To avoid the spoilers, read the Buyers' Guide version instead.

Season 17: It's more fun this way...

This 17th year of Doctor Who stories is often much maligned in fan circles for a production style that can't take itself seriously enough to remain believable, often going over the top with its indulgence in humour. But, blessed with the late Douglas Adams of "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" at the helm as script editor, it also manages to take the Doctor to places and give him and his friends things to do that are far more interesting and mainstream sci-fi than in the horror-bent days of producer Philip Hinchcliffe. And, a lot of the time, the humour is downright enjoyable in its own right!

Destiny of the Daleks

Destiny of the Daleks is an interesting mix of styles. It is written for a fairly serious manner, though the acting and directing only support this some of the time. However post-production and model effects are definitely at their best yet for a Dalek story, which is a huge plus. The optional CGI additions on the DVD are somewhat of another case of fixing what ain't broke for the most part, predominantly painting a white glow over the picture and being a bit hit-and-miss with actually improving it. However, at least the Movellan weapons have a good visual beam effect now, which I quite liked. It's just too bad that many other stories that more readily needed improvement continue to go untouched...

The most interesting premise in the story is only explored in episode four: the need for catalysts to end a chess-like stalemate in the Dalek/Movellan war. Episode One also works well: Terry Nation writes great exploration scenes. However, it is so repetitive of his other work, and since the story's title has once again let us in on what the ultimate discovery will be, in creeps the feeling that they should just show us the Dalek and end the episode already. Part two betrays some thinly-motivated delaying tactics on Nation's behalf to pad the script out, as very little of significance to the plot can happen until Davros is revealed, and then it's another episode gone by. When Davros finally does show, it's a great disappointment. David Gooderson can neither operate the chair, nor be a convincing megalomaniac. And the deviousness of Davros evident in "Genesis of the Daleks" (story no. 78) that was later resurrected by Eric Saward is devoid from the script in this story.

The story is saved by the wonderful location filming which used many dramatically effective edits, and by the Movellans. Rarely does Nation come up with as interesting an alien race that also comes off really well on the screen (apart from the ease with which they are deactivated). And the end of episode three is one of the very best ever in concept, although could have gone up a notch if the cut to the credits had happened a beat later...

Dudley Simpson uses music very sparingly in this one, and like many others on the production team, sadly cannot resist the urge to play up the humour more than it is called for at times. Dick Mills is very much on form creating wonderful new things in the sound effects department, but much of the credit for the successful atmosphere in this story must go to Brian Hodgson, whose sounds from the first 1963 Dalek story like the "Thal Wind" and all the background Dalek city soundscapes are put to near constant and excellent reuse.

Special Sound by Dick Mills
"Nova Device Countdown & Explosion" features on:
Audio CD - Doctor Who at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop
Volume 2

More info & buying options

Special Sound from "The Daleks" by Brian Hodgson
"Thal Wind",
"Dalek City Corridor", and
"Dalek Control Room" feature on:
Audio CD - Doctor Who at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop
Volume 1

More info & buying options

An Evolving Cast

Despite having many main characters carrying over from previous stories, Tom Baker sadly remains the only returning member of the cast, as both Mary Tamm (Romana) and John Leeson (voice of K9) did not participate in this year's offerings. A small consolation is the ease with which one can still imagine K9 with Leeson's voice and persona inside, as the poor dog is kept practically silent with "laryngitis" and rarely seen at all for another two stories. But alas, episode one still teases us with the hope that K9 will feature more in the story, and it is a pity that we viewers lost this sole opportunity to see him confront the Daleks.

Romana's regeneration on the other hand, has to be the worst example of this Timelord process ever. For a few cheap laughs that don't come off at all, the sense of loss and realism and pathos and thus the joy of re-birth are completely missing. Here's wishing Mary Tamm had been able to go out in a blaze of glory at the hands of the Daleks or the Black Guardian. Oh well.

While Tamm may be my favourite, it must be said that Lalla Ward makes a good Romana as well, and moves the character forward. She is now less helpless when facing the challenges of the universe, with a year's experience under her belt, and by mimicking the Doctor's costume, first in his colours and then later in a flattering pink and white of her own, she seems eager to achieve equal footing with him. Of course, her scenes of being captured and interrogated by Daleks look on the surface to be examples of great weakness in her character, if you believe that she's not specially putting on an act for them, to keep them from knowing they've got hold of a Gallifreyan Timelord. .... or Timelady, whichever term you prefer. Interestingly, just as the Daleks were brought out in 1966 to help audiences accept Patrick Troughton as the first replacement Doctor, I think the power of the Daleks in helping viewers accept the first replacement Romana is evident here.

Destiny of the Daleks might also be the best season 17 story for introducing the TARDIS to new viewers, so it's nice that it was positioned first. There is a satisfying amount of screen time in the interior in episode one establishing the regular characters, with a good materialization for the police box and excellent juxtaposition of interior and exterior scenes.

The lead up to and execution of the last episode of the story is on the whole well done, with lots of action and energy, and featuring the first decent effects we've ever seen for a Dalek shootout on location, with the possible exception of the second Peter Cushing film Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. (theatrical remake of story no. 10).

Remaining a highly enjoyable tale, "Destiny of the Daleks" actually turns out to be perhaps the most serious production of the season, even if not quite the most interesting.

International Titles:

Deutsch: "Die Bestimmung der Daleks"

Magyar: "A dalekok végzete"

Français: (Le destin des Daleks)

Русский: "Судьба далеков"

German Novelization: "Der Schöpfer der Daleks"

This story has become available on DVD and VHS video:
DVD NTSC Region 1
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada
DVD PAL Region 2
for the U.K.
VHS Video
NTSC A in the U.S.
NTSC B in the U.S.
NTSC in Canada
PAL for the U.K.

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Read the In-depth Analysis Review for the next story: "City of Death"

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