Tuesday, 20 December 2016

I, Davros 1.4: Guilt by Scott Alan Woodard (December 2006)

I was, to put it mildly, no fan of Scott Alan Woodard’s Absolution, but fortunately Guilt, which wraps up the I, Davros saga, is free of that story’s worst tendencies. There’s the odd glitch: the Muto stuff isn’t as strong as the rest of it (it doesn’t help that Nicholas Briggs is rather phoning it in as Baran), but by and large this is a strong ending to a terrific miniseries: one of the most inventive and successful productions BF have given us, and certainly the most successful spin-off I’ve come across. Guilt takes place shortly before Genesis of the Daleks, and already the Skaro of Innocence feels like an age ago; the atmosphere in this final instalment feels much closer to the 1975 TV story: a bleak wasteland, mutants, explosions, “rels”, Davros’ familiar voice… and, of course, the presence of the magnificent Peter Miles as Davros’ right-hand man Nyder. It’s really rather hard to overstate - phenomenal though Michael Wisher is as Davros - how much of the success of Genesis of the Daleks revolves around Miles’ terrific performance. He’s pretty good here, too, once you get over the suspension of disbelief at the older actor playing the younger and more junior iteration of his character, of course (I don’t quite agree with Gary Russell that his voice hasn’t aged a day, though he does still recapture much of its former flavour: “I never sleep well, not if I wish to survive the night” is his best line, while his fear as the Dalek first emerges is also terribly effective). Opening by having Davros kidnapped by the Thals, then needing to be rescued by Nyder, is a gutsy move, but it pays off in terms of raising the stakes; his first actual meeting with Davros is a terrific scene, as we hear the inklings of that respect that will grow between them, respect that will eventually become absolute trust. It is only through gaining Nyder’s trust that Davros is able to put his plan into action, after all. The creation of the Daleks is as much something for which we should hold Nyder accountable (or “guilty”, if you like) as it is Davros.