The quick rundown: Doctor Who is the longest running science fiction television show, courtesy of the BBC network; i.e. the British Star Trek. It follows the exploits of a supergenius timelord referred to as ‘The Doctor’ and his revolving door of intellectually somewhat above average companions as they solve intergalactic problems and defeat actors in costumes.
There are two distinctive Doctor Who fan bases, the classic and the revived Whovians. When the series aired on PBS here in the States in the eighties, it came on around dinnertime when families could gather around the television and have half an hour of casual cultural development. This was a time when attention spans were longer and multitasking was a concept a few decades in the future. This was a time period when the classic episodes could be viewed without really acknowledging the noticeably cheap sets, awkward performances, or (dare we say it?) how… um… you know …uh… sort of… boring they are.
The world has changed since then, and we’ve been spoiled by Russel Davies and Steven Moffat. The twenty-six year history of the show is certainly worthy of respect. Often the production teams were working with no resources. The actors who played the Doctor all poured in something unique during their respective legacies, and often they had to emote opposite genuinely imaginary threats. But all of these things don’t make the old episodes any easier to sit through.
Still, let’s focus on the good. Resurrection of the Daleks obviously resurrects the Daleks (or more accurately their creator Davros), which are at the apex of the Doctor’s nemeses. Word has it, these metallic soldiers are metaphors for the fears of the British about occupancy by Nazi tanks. Maybe those fears don’t resonate as dramatically for American audiences, but Daleks certainly have an elegant presence to them, probably only matched by Moffat’s Weeping Angels.
The Peter Davison years marked a kind of end to a major chunk of the Doctor’s history. Having been the active doctor in the twentieth anniversary special the previous year, Davison almost could have closed the book on the series, and Resurrection of the Daleks marks the beginning of the end with the departure of longtime companion Tegan. Turlough will follow in the succeeding story, followed by Davison’s regeneration in the one after that.
On its own, the story works just fine. It doesn’t have the impact of Cyberman story Earthshock (probably Davison’s best arc), but it’s decent if you can get yourself in the correct mindset. If the production values simply don’t win you over, then we recommend the Christopher Eccleston series for Daleks at their most frightening.