Number : Season 25, episode 1 of 4.

Which one : Before An Unearthly Child.

Cast : Doctor : Sylvester McCoy
Ace : Sophie Aldred
Davros : Terry Molloy
Group Captain Gilmore : Simon Williams
Dr Rachel Jensen : Pamela Salem
Alison : Karen Gledhill
Sgt. Mike Smith : Dursley McLinden
Ratcliffe : George Sewell
Harry : Harry Fowler
The Young Girl : Jasmine Breaks
John : Joseph Marcell
Embry : Peter Hamilton Dyer
Headmaster : Michael Sheard
Vicar : Peter Halliday

Written By : Ben Aarronovitch

Produced By : JNT

Length : 4 x 25 minute parts.

First UK Broadcast : 5 October – 26 October 1988.

Plot : The Doctor returns to Coal Hill School, with Ace – in 1963. To retrieve an important object he secured there, as his 1st incarnation. Something that will turn the tide in the up-and-coming Dalek’s civil war.

Whats good : Nostalgic use of locations from An Unearthly Child. The Daleks famously finally overcoming stairs! Subtle inclusion of references from the previous 25 years. McCoy finally sheds the clown act. The “Abomination”.

Whats bad : The Dalek’s side to side wobble – it’s kind of …..offputting!

Review With Spoilers :Remembrance Of The Daleks was the 25th Anniversary episode of Doctor Who and The 1st episode of a season of showcase stories.

Rather than go for another all Doctor affair, as per the 20th Anniversary; producers wisely decided that the nostalgia trip would be provided by the inclusion of locations and references from An Unearthly Child and other past episodes.

And to good effect too. There are so many subtle Who references present, its hard to pick up on all of them; the use of Coal Hill School and I.M. Foreman’s junkyard – are among the obvious ones.

Michael Sheard as the Headmaster, having previously appeared in many other Who’s. The strange super-intelligent alien young girl who helps the Dalek’s; a nod to Susan. The references to the Doctor as being quite different to the “white haired old gentleman”. I.e. The First Doctor.

The Hand Of Omega ties Remembrance Of The Daleks up with the events of An Unearthly Child, as to what the First Doctor was doing in I.M. Foreman’s junkyard – prior to meeting Ian and Barbara.

The embryos inside the Supreme Dalek’s polycarbide casing, being more fully formed than the rebel variety –
and having claws. This is a nod to the first time you see a Dalek’s innards and provides an explanation as to the inconsistency of their changing appearance – over the years.

Captain Gilmour is (no doubt) a nod to the Brigadier and his interplay with the Doctor; as the stuffy Military Commander – is interesting and harks back to the Brig and the 3rd Doctor’s frayed relationship.

McCoy is starting to find his feet as the Doctor. As they finally give him some actual characterisation to work with. Finally, putting to bed the awful clown act – from season 24.

Ace is on fine form here aswell, almost finding herself a boyfriend in Mike but being more enamoured with the assortment of guns, rocket launchers and bombs; that the army unwisely let her loose with. Ace also memorably lets loose on a poor Dalek with her ‘Hand Of Omega’ imbued baseball bat – in the school.

“Your species has the most amazing capacity for self-deception, matched only by its ingenuity when trying to destroy itself!” Doctor

The “Remembrance” title here, is apt and is conveyed throughout the episode with the funeral of the Hand Of Omega casket and the destruction of Skaro.

A couple of neat twists ensue; with the revelation that Davros is not controlling the rebel Daleks from the warehouse, as you are led to believe (it turns out to be a young girl under Dalek influence).

And that the Supreme Dalek is infact Davros – in disguise; having finally re-established himself as controller of the Dalek empire. In Revelation Of The Daleks he was in charge of a doomed rebel force. We also get to meet “The Abomination” for the first time, a special tank-like super dalek, whose whole top half is a giant gun.

Special Effects are strong here too for the time. The Daleks themselves have a nifty new Terminator-style viewpoint, which we get to see through. Also, the Dalek laser blasts are tangible energy blasts. Rather than the uncomprehensible reverse negative blinking effect, which had been used in earlier years – when they exterminated.

Remembrance Of The Daleks is one of the better McCoy episodes and nicely signs off the previous 25 years. This is largely due to its fresh take on the Daleks. Its interesting location work and tie-in with An Unearthly Child. McCoy’s best episode.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (5/5)

Old Doctor Who

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