Remembrance of the Daleks starts off Doctor Who’s 25th season with a bang as it is the last appearance of the Daleks in the classic series. The Seventh Doctor has a season under his belt already and by now his darker characteristics are beginning to emerge. During the previous season, the Doctor was humorous and light hearted, slightly bumbling and almost clownish. Throughout seasons 25 and 26 the Time Lord’s personality shifts. His happy go lucky layer is peeled back to reveal a cunning manipulator that sees every battle as a game of chess and everyone around him, including his companions, are his pawns.
The Seventh Doctor didn’t have a smooth regeneration, due to behind the scenes drama. When Sylvester McCoy took the role of the Doctor in 1987, he replaced Colin Baker who was fired by the BBC after the end of season 23. Colin Baker declined to return to film his regeneration story so they put Sylvester Mccoy in the Sixth Doctor’s costume and a wig for the beginning of the Seventh Doctor’s first serial Time and the Rani. Although they obscured his face with special effects, McCoy is a half foot shorter than Colin Baker.
The Doctor and his new companion, Ace, arrive in London during 1963, in the same neighborhood as Coal Hill School and the junkyard at 76 Totters Lane. The Doctor needs to retrieve Time Lord technology that his First incarnation hid on Earth. The Hand of Omega (the powerful being seen in The Three Doctors) is a tool used to make stars go supernova as a source of power for the Time Lords’ time travel. Unfortunately the Daleks are on Earth after the Hand of Omega as well. To make matters worse, there are two distinct groups of Daleks fighting with each other to get to the Hand first.
The Renegades are the group of Daleks who are not loyal to Davros. At the end of Genesis of the Daleks it appeared that Davros was killed by his own creation. However he was brought back in Destiny of the Daleks, a late Fourth Doctor serial. The Imperial Daleks are loyal to Davros.
There are two aspects of Remembrance of the Daleks that remind me of the modern series. The first involves the Doctor. After the battle is over the Time Lord seeks out the last remaining Dalek and taunts it. He manages to talk it into destroying itself. When I first watched the scene I was reminded of when the Ninth Doctor came face to face with the last remaining Dalek in “Dalek.” Christopher Eccleston played the scene spitting with anger. In contrast Sylvester McCoy keeps his voice low, remaining calm as he approaches the Dalek.
The second aspect is Ace. Of all the classic series companions, Ace reminds me the most of a modern series companion. She’s one of the youngest, as she’s only 16 when she joins the Doctor. Her first solo story and she already has to take on the Daleks! But she handles the challenge quite well. In fact, she beats up a Dalek with a baseball bat. Granted the bat has been enhanced with the Hand of Omega, but it’s still an impressive visual.
New Who fans should definitely check out this story, especially for those who are interested in the mythical Time War that precedes the modern series. The War between the Time Lords and the Daleks could have easily started with Remembrance of the Daleks.