My first encounter with Peter Davison as The Doctor was when his episodes were first shown in the States, not too long after they were broadcast in the
The Doctor, Turlough, and Tegan are dragged to 20th Century
At the other end of the corridor, the Daleks attack a space station that's serving as a prison to a single prisoner. The station is old, and in poor repair, and the attack is totally unexpected. The station launches its fighters, but they're quickly defeated, as are the few troops that try to stop the Daleks and their human soldiers from boarding. After a brief but fierce battle only five people are left alive on the station: Dr. Styles, Lt. Mercer, two guards, the prisoner - Davros.
The Daleks are in trouble and once again they turn to their creator. It seems that the Moldavians (last seen in Destiny of the Daleks, where they had fought the metal creatures to a centuries-long stalemate) had finally won their war. They did it by creating a virus that would attack the living tissue inside of a Dalek's casing. Though they had tried, they cannot find a cure to the disease and so they've broken Davros out of prison where he's been frozen for the past 90 years.
That's all well and good, but Davros isn't just going to follow orders, he has a plan of his own. Refusing to leave the station, he pretends to work on a cure while actually recruiting humans to his cause, with the help of a hypodermic hidden in his chair.
Meanwhile Turlough discovers the Time Corridor and travels to the Dalek ship, only to be captured by the four remaining guards. They're trying to make their way to the center of the station so they can activate the self destruct device and destroy both Davors and the Daleks.
Back on Earth, The Doctor and Tegan have to worry about a Dalek that's arrived. But even after his casing has been destroyed the creature is still a formidable monster.
The thing that immediately strikes viewers today is how this story has aged so well. It feels fresh due to the action-packed script and the high body count. Yes, people did die in the classic Doctor Who, sometimes at the Doctor's hand even, but when it happened it usually wasn't on screen and it was an important plot point more times than not: The criminal getting his comeuppance, an example of just how dangerous the villain was, someone heroically sacrificing themselves to make up for their past transgressions. In this story people just die. Guards die fighting the Daleks. Daleks die fighting the guards. Prisoners are mowed down by machine gun fire while running away from their captors. This story actually shows the consequences to violence, which isn't always the case in some of the classic shows.
Peter Davison is in fine form in this adventure, even shooting a Dalek (outside of its casing) with a handgun. Even so, he struggles, much as his predecessor did, with the morality of killing someone who is evil and, if allowed to live, will cause the deaths of countless others. He doesn't take killing lightly, but he's not a total pacifist either.
There's a lot going on in this story, and that makes for a fun show. The narrative quickly gets split up into four story lines, with The Doctor and each of the companions being featured in one thread and Davros in the fourth. That sounds like it would be muddled and confusing but it isn't. It keeps the pace going at a quick clip as something is always happening in one of the subplots. The whole thing comes to an abrupt conclusion that works quite well. It's a great story.
This two-disc set present this story in two versions. Disc one has it as two 50-minute episodes as it was originally broadcast and disc two present the show as four 25-minute episodes as it was written. There's not a lot of difference between the two.
Viewers have the choice of the original mono soundtrack or a DD 5.1 mix, which is nice, though the audio menu seems to have been left off of the first disc with the two-part version of this adventure. The DD 5.1 track is there, you just have to access it via your remote. The mono is the default track. In any case, both audio options are clean and clear with no hiss or background noise to take away from the story. The dialog is easy to discern and the background music and effects are never overpowering. The 5.1 track throws some nice effects to the rears every now and again and I enjoyed it a bit more than the mono track, which isn't too surprising.
The full frame video has been cleaned up by the Restoration Team and looks fine. Some scenes are a bit soft, but generally the image is clean and the colors are solid. If you've seen the other restored Davison era stories, then you'll know what to expect.
There's a lot of bonus material included with this set (including everything that was on the earlier DVD release). First off there's not one but two commentary tracks. The two-episode version includes comments by actor Terry Malloy (Davros), writer Eric Saward, and special effects and Dalek operator Peter Wragg. It is moderated by Nicholas Pegg. This is a new commentary track and it's pretty interesting and fun to listen to. The four-part version includes the track that appeared on the old release. It features Peter Davison, Janet Fielding and director Matthew Robinson.
The video features start with a new bonus, Casting Far and Wide (32 minutes) in which Toby Hadoke interviews five supporting actors who appear in this story and discuss their time on Doctor Who and how it effected their carriers. Probably more interesting to UK viewers who may have seen some of these people on other TV shows (or have actually heard of the shows that they're talking about...) there were some nice anecdotes included that made it worthwhile. On Location is look back at the filming of the adventure with writer Eric Saward, director Matthew Robinson and producer John Nathan-Turner. I was especially interested to hear JNT's version of how things went.
There's also an eight-minute clip from the BBC show Breakfast Time where John Nathan-Turner and Janet Fielding talk about Tegan and the Doctor's companions, seven minutes worth of extended and deleted scenes, and a commercial for the show from BBC1.
An eight-minute black & white silent 8mm home movie that was taken the day of the shooting is all that remains of the final Dalek battle scenes from The Evil of the Daleks. That's included as well and is quite a treat. Fans who have been enjoying the minute-long CGI reels of The Doctor's vehicle will appreciate TARDIS Cam no.4.
The best extra is Come in Number Five, a look at the drama behind the scenes during Peter Davison's tenure as The Doctor. It runs nearly an hour long and has interviews with several of the key players at the time and looks at what JNT was trying to do with (and to) the show. It's very interesting and explains a lot of what happen with the show during that time.
The story also comes with an optional pop up trivia tracks that's filled with information. Some of it is minutia, the date the episodes were filmed and ever the time that the shoots wrapped, but also background info on the supporting and incidental characters and it points out on screen gaffs. These are wonderful. There's also a photo gallery, the Radio Times listings (in .pdf format) and an isolated music track too.
One of the better shows from Peter Davison's tenure, Resurrection of the Daleks gets the deluxe treatment with this reissue. Presented in its two-episode broadcast format for the first time on home video, this set also includes copious extras including an excellent hour-long overview of the behind-the-scenes events during Davison's time in the title role. If you have the earlier release, fans should at least consider upgrading. For those of you who haven't picked up this adventure yet, this release comes Highly Recommended.