Magic Bullet Productions

47 Cool Things About “Genesis of the Daleks”
(And 3 Stupid Ones)
(But we're not telling you which is which)
(We're expecting you to work that out for yourselves)

By Alan Stevens and Fiona Moore

Originally published in Celestial Toyroom Issue 419-420

1. Eden metaphors #1: Nation’s storyline originally had the conversation between the Doctor and the Time Lord taking place in a garden.

2. Although David Maloney red-penciled this, undoubtedly because it would mean adding (the time and expense of) another location to the shoot.

3. Robert Holmes Recyclingwatch: There is a distinct resemblance between the Time Lord sequence at the start of this story and the Time Lord sequence in “Terror of the Autons.”

4. When the Time Lord says “we foresee a time when [the Daleks] will have destroyed all other lifeforms and become the dominant creature in the universe,” the Doctor replies “that’s possible”-- meaning that, as implied elsewhere in the series, the Time Lords can’t see into their own future.

5. We’re also into Holmes’ image of the Time Lords of “The Deadly Assassin,” as a corrupt and evil group who, rather than dirty their own hands, give the Doctor a mission so morally dubious that he eventually can’t bring himself to carry it out.

6. The artillery barrage they encounter in episode 1 is very similar to the barrage the Doctor encountered in “The War Games”, even down to closeups on the female companion’s terrified face as she holds her hands over her ears. David Maloney Recyclingwatch.

7. Watching the land-mine sequence conjures up images of what would happen if the Time Lord had to go back and report to the High Council, “well, we sent someone, but he trod on a land mine three minutes later and died. Sorry.”

8. The original script has the Doctor and companions taking the gas-masks out of the packs of the dead soldiers, where the TV version has them taking the masks off their faces.

9. The Doctor’s point about “kaleds” being an anagram of “daleks” only works if the Kaleds are using the Roman alphabet.

10. “We’ll find out what’s different about them... by autopsy.”-- Nyder, "Genesis of the Daleks". “You might be able to identify [the Master] afterwards.... I've got the R.A.F. to lay on a rocket strike.”-- The Brigadier, "Terror of the Autons". Robert Holmes Recyclingwatch.

11. Mind you, Terry Nation Recyclingwatch: Lone woman stalked by menacing figure who later turns out to be friendly, mutants, hand reaching out to unsuspecting woman, Doctor/companion befriended by a native, time/space travel through magic bracelet, some Skaronian race using other humanoids for slave labour (the twist here is that it’s the Thals), monstrous creatures used as guard animals.

12. There’s a clear implication that the Thals are also chucking their mutated citizens out into the wasteland to die or shamble about aimlessly.

13. “Tarn” was originally named “Gitane.” As well as being French for “gypsy,” this is the name of a brand of French cigarettes, providing another indication of where Nation gets his names from.

14. “Ronson” is also a well-known brand of cigarette lighter.

15. Eden metaphors #2: “neidr” is Welsh for “snake,” but see below...

16. It’s not just the Kaleds and Thals who are obsessed with ethnic purity, as the Mutos have decided to kill all “norms” (by which they mean the so-called normal members of both the other two groups).

17. In the first scene with Ronson, we can clearly see that the Doctor’s membership card in the Alpha Centauri Table Tennis Club is among his possessions. “Robot” Recyclingwatch?

18. The Kaleds’ obsession with racial purity is such that their security scanners explicitly make a record of a subjects’ biochemistry.

19. A gunless Dalek being put through its paces by a scientist for a group who’ve never seen one before, which then goes up to the Doctor and identifies him as different; also, a process aimed at “humanising” Daleks. David Whitaker (who had absolutely nothing to do with Doctor Who at this point) Recyclingwatch.

20. Establishment of a fascist Think Tank in an underground bunker with a minefield and a chief scientist obsessed with creating a robot which winds up killing him, plus business with nuclear missiles. Terrance Dicks (who also had absolutely nothing to do with Doctor Who at this point) Recyclingwatch.

21. The sound we hear when the Doctor and Harry first peer into the proto-Dalek “nursery” isn’t the Kaled mutant noise, it’s the Mire Beast noise.

22. Public service announcement for all nitpicky fans who insist that Sarah should be showing signs of radiation poisoning after a few hours working on the Thal rocket: The effects of radiation are cumulative. The normal one-year dose limit for people working directly with radioactive material in the nuclear industry is 50 millisieverts; 100 millisieverts is the point at which an increased cancer risk is noticed, and it takes 400 millisieverts for most individuals to start showing symptoms of radiation poisoning. So unless that rocket is putting off enough radiation to seriously endanger the Thal guards as well (radiation suits notwithstanding), a few hours’ exposure isn’t going to make much difference.

23. The Dalek is not only a means of ensuring the survival of the Kaleds, in some form, but also a weapon which will end the war, and is thus, despite Ronson’s complaints, perfectly in line with what the Elite was set up to create.

24. And as for Ronson’s assertion that it’s a “conscienceless monster,” judging by the rest of the Kaleds’ obsession with killing, experimenting on and otherwise inconveniencing anything even marginally different to themselves, it’s got some stiff competition from its parent race.

25. Ronson's objections to the Daleks appear to stem from the ingrained Kaled obsession with racial purity: The "ultimate creature" has been created using similar processes to those which produced the Mutos.

26. Imagine that you’re sitting peacefully in a cave, minding your own business, when some idiot comes along and shoves his boot in your mouth. You’d get pretty angry too.

27. Contrary to what the infotext on the DVD tells you, “conchylum” is indeed a Latin word, meaning “small seashell.”

28. The key reason the Council would be willing to listen to the Doctor, however weird his suggestions and however xenophobic Kaled culture, is clearly because the Elite, and Davros specifically, are becoming a threat to the power of the current establishment, and need cutting down to size. Someone providing a good excuse to start doing so is always welcome.

29. This is in fact a theme running through the story. For example, the Time Lords turn to the Doctor to solve their problem; the Elite turn to the Daleks to solve their problem; Ronson turns to the Doctor and Harry to solve his problem, the Thals turn to prisoners and Mutos to solve their problem, the Council turn to the Doctor to solve their problem; Davros turns to the enemy to solve his problem.

30. More fun with radiation! When a radioactive source is released, outside of the immediate danger zone (about twelve miles), the radiation goes straight up and more or less evenly distributes itself in the atmosphere, meaning that the whole planet is more or less equally at risk. The Thals’ agreement with Davros may wipe out the Kaleds, but it’s condemned the Thals themselves to at least a generation of increased risk of thyroid cancers and acute leukemias. Clearly, no price is too great to pay for peace.

31. A political leader does a deal with his people’s ostensible enemies, but plans to betray these enemies as well once he’s used them to establish his own powerbase among his people, then wipe out the very beings he uses to wipe out said enemies. “The Daleks’ Master Plan” Recyclingwatch.

32. The Kaleds’ means of ensuring the continuation of their species involves the artificial gestation and maturation of genetically modified beings on a kind of assembly-line system. The Thals have to make do with Bettan.

33. Although Davros tells Gharman to introduce chromosomal variations into the embryo Daleks to make them “without feeling or emotion”, which would imply that the existing Daleks don’t have those variations, Davros’ earlier dialogue with Nyder indicates that the twenty Daleks which went off to the Thal dome have been genetically conditioned to remove those qualities as well.

34. The Doctor goes around a corner, sees a Dalek with a stack of Thal bodies blocking its way, and ducks into hiding. We then see the Dalek gliding around the corner with no indication that it had to push through any obstacles. You’ll believe a Dalek can fly!

35. Everything Davros says can be made funnier by adding the phrase “But first, a biscuit.” Particularly if it precedes the line “Nyder, take charge of the tin.”

36. The Doctor’s suggestion to Davros that he should make the Daleks a force for good throughout the universe finds an interesting echo in the scene in Schindler’s List where Schindler tries to convince Goeth that he can demonstrate his power more effectively through showing mercy than by killing people.

37. Despite his later concern about the contents being programmed into the Daleks’ memory banks, the Doctor’s account of Dalek future history appears to be a load of bollocks (“The Dalek Invasion of Earth” took place in the year 2000? Really?).

38. Davros’ famous “virus” speech has him asserting that he would release the Daleks, knowing they would eradicate all other life, because such power would set him up above the gods, and yet a minute later he’s ordering the destruction of the Daleks rather than let the Doctor switch off his life support system.

39. Likewise Davros’ vision of future peace as the complete extermination of everything else is a mindset clearly developed from centuries of war. And yet, he also doesn’t make the connection between his philosophy and his circumstances, as at the end of the story he pleads for his life and those of the scientists. Cognitive dissonance, it happens.

40. There’s also an implication that the Doctor’s going to switch off his life support system anyway, as he must be aware that even if Davros says “this order cannot be countermanded,” he has the authority to simply take it back later, unless he’s in no position to. “Destroy Davros, and you destroy the Daleks,” as he said earlier to Bettan.

41. Sarah’s response to the Doctor’s “have I the right?” seems to be “you have to do it because the Time Lords told you to.” Considering what a pack of bastards the Time Lords are, that’s not much of an argument from authority.

42. There’s a clear influence on the serial from the Silent Spring-led environmental movement of the day, in reaction to the discovery that eliminating “harmful” species (e.g. locusts) had a knock-on effect that killed off other species (e.g., birds). Destroy the Daleks, and maybe we won’t have bees.

43. The million and a half reviews of this programme that prate on about The Brothers Karamazov miss the significant irony that the “innocent” on whose death and torment Utopia can be built is in fact the Daleks.

44. Eden metaphors #3: The story features a self-described “godlike” being creating a new species, from which he tries to withhold the knowledge of good and evil. However, the story is inverted; it’s Gharman, not Nyder/neidr, who is the “snake” arguing that they should have this knowledge; the beings never obtain it; and they wind up destroying their creator, the snake, and pretty much everything else.

45. Davros, who receives unswerving loyalty from Nyder, appears to expect the same from the Daleks. However, Nyder has obvious reasons to remain loyal, as supporting Davros gives him power and prestige within his society; there’s nothing encouraging the Daleks to do so. Perhaps Nyder is the snake after all?

46. Clearly Nyder has not told Davros that the Doctor has destroyed the tape, otherwise Davros would have ordered the Doctor recaptured rather than killed.

47. The Daleks are given a computer programme that tells them to go out and kill Thals; they come back home and are told to kill Kaleds. No wonder they get a little confused and just start exterminating everyone.

48. Davros’ realising at the end of the story that the Daleks are monstrous and attempting to destroy them, even knowing it means his own death, is an act which arguably redeems the character, but this is subsequently negated by the existence of every other story featuring Davros. Sometimes it’s not a great idea to bring back a popular villain.

49. The whole story is about groups teaming up against groups. The Doctor and members of the Elite team up with Kaled politicians against Davros; Sarah forms an alliance of Kaled and Muto prisoners against the Thals; Davros creates a temporary alliance with the Thals; Gharman constructs an alliance against Davros; the Thals and Mutos team up against the Daleks. Finally, it is tempting to assume that the “good” the Doctor thinks the Daleks will generate, is that species will forget their differences, band together and form alliances out of their fear of the Daleks, however, it's also true that these various allliances resulted in brutal destruction and death.

50. This, in turn, reveals the nature of the original conflict. In the same why that the Bunker subdivided from the Kaled main dome, the Thals and the Kaleds subdivided from each other, which is evidenced by the fact that the Bunker and the Kaled dome are connected by a subterranean tunnel, and that the Kaleds are aware of service shafts that lead directly underneath the Thal city. Consequently, this was not a war between races, but a civil conflict. 

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