"Revelation of the Daleks" is released on DVD this coming Monday and I recommend it without reservation. Not only is it a terrific "Doctor Who" story, it is simply a glorious piece of television drama. It doesn't matter that the Doctor's involvement in the first half is minimal or that the Dalek voices seem a little spineless; this is storytelling with guts. All the characters are fully fleshed and three-dimensional right down to the nameless mutant who forgives Peri for killing him near the beginning of the adventure.
After I first watched it, just over twenty years ago, I remember I found myself counting the moments of pathos. You find yourself feeling sorry for characters you would not usually feel any sympathy for under different circumstances. Jobel, for example, is a hideous man, a user of women for his own gratification. He is played to perfection by Clive Swift, best known as Hyacinth's harassed husband in "Keeping Up Appearances". He certainly won't be harried here! You despise Chief Embalmer Jobel when he sidles up to Peri, near the start of episode two, for trying to chat her up with the immortal, "Those rose-red ruby lips were made for kissing" - to which she retorts with the splendid put-down, "But not by you" - and yet you feel sorry for him when Tasambeker stabs him to death with an enormous syringe even though he has just callously snubbed her affections with the rhetorical, "Do you think I could possibly fall for a fawning little creep like you when I have the pick of the women here". With his dying words still full of conceit, "What have you done, you've killed Jobel", his orange toupee slips from his head to the floor and it is this little directorial attention to detail which makes the viewer think, what a pathetic excuse of a man!
Moments later, the Daleks corner Tasambeker, as she begins to regret her action of killing the man she loves. Naturally, being Daleks, they exterminate her mercilessly for betraying Davros. She had warned Jobel of what she had been sent to do just before he infuriates her enough into going through with it. The woman's inadequacy is breathtakingly captured by Jenny Tomasin, best known as the almost-equally put upon maid Ruby in "Upstairs, Downstairs". I've always compared the killing of Tasambeker in "Revelation" favourably with the scene in which Daleks pursue Ace in "Remembrance of the Daleks". They keep firing and missing as Ace goes round corners and yet when they corner her they start talking about it instead of finishing the job! Tasambeker is a supporting character and thus dispensable whereas Ace a companion and needed for the next story!! Therefore, the writer of "Remembrance" shouldn't have put himself in a position where, logically speaking, the Daleks should've been chanting "Exterminate" while giving chase and not once their prey was finally trapped by them!!!
I've mentioned merely but a few moments from "Revelation" though its ninety minutes running time is packed with similar emotionally complicated but rewarding scenes. If you think Captain Jack's inclinations in the recently finished season are new to the series then watch Orcini's actions on the death of his Squire. Author of "Revelation", Eric Saward has often been accused of heavy-handedness in his writing yet here he is much more subtle than Russell T. Davies has been twenty years on! If you think it was a new and wacky idea to have the Daleks exterminate a television celebrity in "The Parting of the Ways" then marvel at the demise of Tranquil Repose's resident DJ as played by the wonderful Alexei Sayle. And, if you think that Daleks couldn't elevate themselves before now, or even before "Remembrance", then, to quote the Sixth Doctor, "Look, listen and learn". I wholeheartedly recommend the purchase of this DVD even though I still have my Betamax recording all these years after its original transmission!