Doctor Who: Genesis of the Daleks: Part One (1975)
Season 12, Episode 11
Genesis of the Daleks (story #78)
17 May 2009
"If someone who knew the future pointed out a child to you and told you that the child would grow up... to be a ruthless dictator who would destroy millions of lives, could you then kill that child?... Do I have that right?"

The Daleks were always reminiscent of the Nazis, but while Nation's previous Dalek stories used this as subtext, it is made exceptionally blunt here and that's not a criticism. It's always surprised me, sort of, that "Genesis" had such a big mainstream fanbase (it and "The Five Doctors", I believe, have outsold and by far any other Doctor Who DVD release). I suppose it is very memorable, but it's also not REALLY what "Doctor Who" feels like much of the time. It lays on mythology and history rather heavily, is surprisingly violent and gruesome (the new show would never have anything approaching some of this in it, and if it did it would probably be ruined by hackneyed dramatics), and has a pretty dark, ominous tone, with only a few scenes of the sort of humor present in a lot of previous Who stories. While its popularity is more than understandable, it is a little odd to me that it is often referred to as the definitive Who story (unless you view "Doctor Who" as "The Dalek Show", a view Russell T. Davies has seemed rather eager to uphold).

Of course I have little to add to what has already been said many times about this story. Its reputation is well-deserved, its scale believable thanks to good direction even though there is nothing in the way of location shooting or elaborate sets, the writing consistently tight and smart. For the Who fan "Genesis" represents a stylish, relatively well thought-out revisionist take on the Dalek's history. The lack of consistency in the 'canon' of Who is understandable given how it was made (and the fact that before the late seventies/early eighties and even then and after they were making it for one-time viewing, basically, other than reruns home video was not really a part of the equation), but given that Terry Nation wrote most of the previous Dalek stories one can hardly see this as anything but a revision of past history, one which is 'explained' by some fans rather well. I prefer not to talk about 'canon' though and just assess the stories on their own merit.

The actors are all convincing and the story is consistently involving, moving from scene to scene with conviction and a fast (but not speedy) pace. It's rather heavy stuff, as previously mentioned, and quite intelligent in its handling of its themes, for "Doctor Who" anyway, and without the pretension and mawkish sentimentality which would inevitably be par for the course these days (though another Dalek story lends itself better to bitching about RTDWho, imagine the Doctor saying goodbye to Susan in "The Dalek Invasion of Earth" done in RTD's era... blech). Admittedly this could be an episode or even two shorter but it is such a legendary and well-done story all around that it's hard to knock it, and I really love Davros in this.
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