When Eric Saward was script editor during the JN-T era the scripts for The Caves of Androzani were a revelation in so many ways. Despite having some script credits to his name, Holmes was obviously a past Master (pun intended) at the craft, which Saward went to school on. Holmes was back in the rotation with The Two Doctors but the Holmes-ian influences in Saward’s own work became evident in Revelation of the Daleks.
A story replete with double-acts (think Jago and Lightfoot here)? Revelation has got it in spades, including the Doctor and Peri who spend the whole first half of the story of on their own. They don’t all work, though William Gaunt as Orcini and John Ogwen as Bostock work well enough. But whereas Holmes’ own double-acts were often both curious and wonderful, there’s a certain bitterness about the character interactions in Revelation which, pitched as it was as something of a black comedy, prove to be more than a little distracting 25+ years later.
That’s not to say Revelation isn’t without its charms. The setting of Tranquil Repose is quite interesting. The production actually lucked out with the sudden onset of winter just prior to location filming as it works very well. Graeme Harper cemented his place as a great Doctor Who director on Revelation (following on from Caves … again) and there’s a certain through-line stylistically which runs from here all the way through to his work in nu-Who which is evident here.
But Revelation, because it literally has such a slow walk-up, keeps viewers at a relative distance, and can be hard to love as a result. Alexei Sayle as the DJ is just plain odd, and just as in Caves (again) there’s a distinct lack of sympathetic characters. Davros slips away at the end (natch) but aside from the Doctor and Peri, only the double act of Takis and Lilt survive. Fairly bleak stuff.
Where to next? Not to Blackpool goodness knows, but rather back into the loving embrace of Modern Recap-itulation (again). Next week.