When it comes to life, we all have our own personal tastes and opinions. Be it our favourite album by a certain band, our favourite book by a certain author or our favourite story in a science fiction show. (You see where I am going here don’t you?). There are two types of people. Those who can have an opinion and respect the opinions of others and those people who think the only opinion that is correct is their own and anyone who disagrees is just plain wrong. The latter type are idiots and unfortunately there are a lot about, especially on facebook. You know the ones I mean. That person who likes to force his views on everybody by replying to every comment and disagreeing with anyone who does not share his view.
Now, one thing I have noticed with these type of people is the fact that when it comes to revealing which Doctor Who story you love, they are under the impression that a story can only be picked as a fave if it is generally regarded as a classic with great writing, great characters, great direction etc….I happen to think though that a lot of people pick a story, not just on those aspects but on what it means to them personally. That is why I have chosen Destiny of the Daleks to highlight my point.
While Destiny of the Daleks is not my all time favourite story, it still ranks in my all time top ten. Now I am not going to sit here and say that it is the best Dalek story from Doctor Who, because it isn’t, but that doesn’t need to be a pre-requisite for it to be included in my list.
When I was a kid, I had been watching Doctor Who for a couple of years without so much as seeing a single Dalek in the series. You see, for you younger fans, the Daleks were not wheeled out every single season. We had to wait a considerable amount of time to see the Doctor do battle with the menaces from Skaro. As such, it was a pretty big deal when it happened. So the first time I, as a wee boy, got to finally experience the Doctor’s greatest enemies, was in 1979 when this story first broadcast.
The first thing that happened, to my dismay, was that the lovely Mary Tamm had called it a day. She had been a huge favourite of mine the previous year as Romana, the companion who helped in the quest for The Key To Time, so I was somewhat gutted that she was no longer in the show. However, Lalla Ward won me over very quickly and proved to be a perfect foil to Tom Baker. As you will be aware, assuming you have seen the story, the first episode is spent building up the story and the tension. We see the TARDIS land on Skaro, the Movellan ship lands and the constant explosions and drilling underground. It was the last minute of that first episode that blew my mind. It was such a powerful scene to me, where Romana has fallen down the service slide and is stuck on her own. She gets up and gradually walks along with her hands on the wall, listening intently as a sound gets nearer and nearer. Allof a sudden, there is a mighty crash as the wall blows apart and one by one a squadron of Daleks appears through the gap, yelling, “DO NOT MOVE! DO NOT MOVE! DO NOT MOVE!”. The fear on Romana’s face is evident. This is her first experience of the Daleks and it was a feeling shared with myself.
The scene never ever left my head. I grew up and forgot a lot of the stories I had seen until I completed my dvd collection and rewatched them, but that scene stayed in a corner of my mind, allowing me to relive it over and over. Quite often, I can be watching a story and suddenly I am transported back to teatime on a Saturday evening and I am a child again, sitting watching the latest episode of my favourite show.
I know a lot of people have their faults to find with Destiny of the Daleks. First one being that David Gooderson is nowhere near as good as Michael Wisher. This is a fair point. If you watch Genesis then Destiny, the portrayal of Davros is like chalk and cheese. Completely different. I concede that Wisher is superior but Gooderson has a special place in my heart as he was the first Davros I saw. Then there is the “comedy” aspect that a lot of people are not keen on. Douglas Adams injecting humour into the story. This doesn’t bother me too much and I think there are some great lines, especially from Tom. The Movellans look like refugees from Studio 54 or extras from Saturday Night Fever. Very “D.I.S.C.O.” haha. Where is that mirrorball and Best of Boney M CD? But then isn’t that a part of the charm of the classic series? Inventiveness knew no bounds back then. They didn’t let meagre budgets and limited technology get in the way of bringing alien races to life. They used whatever came to hand and that is something that should be applauded. I HATE seeing people who slag off the classic era just cos the sfx were a bit limited. So what? The stories were brilliant and that’s what matters. And talking of which, I do happen to love the story for Destiny of the Daleks.
So at the end of the day, Destiny may not be your cup of tea. The Dalek props are a bit battered looking, Gooderson isn’t perfect and the Movellans may look a bit strange but to me it was my first ever experience of the Daleks and it never left my mind. To this day, I still thoroughly enjoy watching it and will always defend it. So next time somebody tells you what their favourite story is, remember that it doesn’t have to be one of the highly regarded adventures. People may be choosing it because if what it means to them on a personal level. Maybe it brings back certain memories, and that is the sign of a brilliant story.