I thought long and hard about which version of Resurrection to show to my wife. Should I make Sue watch the two-part double-length version transmitted by the BBC in 1984, or would the four-part edit that was originally planned by the production team be the better option? I went to Facebook and Twitter looking for advice, and the following exchange made me laugh:
John Williams: If you show her the four-part version, I’ll petrol bomb your house.
Robert Dick: Show her the four-parter, but two episodes each night. And after Part Two explain to her why you insisted on watching two.
John Williams: It’s almost as if you want me to petrol bomb the house.
In the end, I decided to go with the two-part version. For the sake of the scientific accuracy, you understand. Nothing to do with my fear of John Williams (he knows where I live) or the opportunity to trick my wife into believing she might be in for an easy ride. No, of course not.
Sue: Hey, there are only two episodes. Shall we knock both out tonight?
I shrug my shoulders and say nothing.
Sue: Ooh, Daleks. It’s always Something of the Daleks, isn’t it? I’m surprised you didn’t try to hide that from me.
Me: I’ve strung you along for the sake of a cheap gag too many times already. I’m going to be honest with you from now on.
Sue: There’s a first time for everything, I suppose.
The story begins with the police gunning down people in cold blood.
Sue: What’s going on here, then? Is it a dystopian future where the police have a shoot to kill policy?
Me: It’s either that or the IRA dressed really strangely in the 1980s.
The policemen even kill a tramp.
Sue: Hey! He was only smoking a rollie! Jesus, that’s a bit harsh.
One of the survivors of this bloodbath is none other than…
Sue: Rodney Bewes! He’s the last person I expected to turn up in Doctor Who.
Having said that, Sue is extremely pleased with this story’s trajectory so far.
Sue: A decent director at last. You can tell by the camera movement, the angles and the lighting. This is in a different league to what we usually get.
The leader of this death squad is Commander Lytton. He is played by Maurice Colbourne.
Sue: Oh, it’s him.
Me: Where do you know him from?
Sue: He was in that stupid Gangsters programme that you made me watch when we lived in the caravan. The one where they all turned to the camera at the end and gave up. That one.
Me: Stupid? STUPID? That’s even worse than what you said about Snakedance!
A bell is tolling in the TARDIS.
Sue: Oh no, it’s the Doomsday Bell.
Sue: Same thing. If you hear it ringing, it means things are going tits up.
Meanwhile, on a space station…
Sue: It’s Rula Lenska! Why is she working in the Clinique store at Fenwicks with the cast of Thunderbirds?
The Army turn up at the warehouse on Earth.
Sue: Oh good, it’s UNIT. I feel safer already.
Meanwhile, the crew of the space station are chilling out on the bridge.
Sue: Is she smoking? You wait ages for someone to turn up with a tab in their mouth and then two come along at once. The same goes for ethnic minorities in this show. This story is very progressive when it comes to casting.
Me: I know. Letting a sitcom actor appear in straight drama was still a risky move back then.
The TARDIS materialises beside the river Thames in 1984.
Sue: Tegan could visit her relations. Unless they’ve all gone into hiding, of course.
The Doctor wants to investigate the source of the mysterious time corridor which ensnared his ship earlier.
Sue: Why is the Doctor carrying a scroll around with him?
Me: That’s his hat.
The location for this story meets with Sue’s approval.
Sue: I assume it’s really nice there now, although I bet the house prices are extortionate.
Me: Yes, a consortium of Doctor Who fans bought up all the property. You can’t move for the ****ers.
The Doctor bumps into Stein outside the warehouse.
Sue: Rodney isn’t a very good actor, is he? I think he’s out of his depth in this. Where’s Terry when you need him?
The space station is attacked by an alien battle cruiser. The invaders breach the airlock and… it’s the Daleks!
Sue: That was an impressive entrance. Very iconic. The direction certainly helped.
At one point, a hand-held tracking shot is used to crank up the tension.
Sue: There are other directors who wouldn’t have even bothered panning, there. The direction is excellent. It’s little touches like that which make all the difference.
The Daleks release a gas canister and its impact on human physiognomy is horrific.
Sue: Not. For. Kids!
The crew of the space station are worried about the safety of their prisoner.
Me: Who do you think that might be?
Sue: Is it the Master? Don’t give me that look. He works with the Daleks, doesn’t he?
The Daleks exterminate everyone who stands in their way.
Sue: That Dalek just exterminated three people with one shot. Impressive!
The Doctor and his companions are interrogated by a bomb disposal unit who have been sent to investigate strange canisters in the warehouse. I’m sorry, but if you’re pulling for Del Henney or Chloe Ashcroft here, you are shit out of luck.
It turns out the space station’s prisoner is none other than…
Sue: Davros! How did I miss that? It’s so obvious.
Me: I always thought it was a bit weird they didn’t reveal Davros with a big scary close-up. He’s just sitting there in the background.
Sue: It’s more frightening that way. The director has obviously thought this through. It can’t be accidental.
The antechamber leading to Davros’ cell is flooded with poisonous gas.
Sue: The make-up is horrific. This episode is a bloodbath. It’s complete carnage!
Sue admires the Dalek troopers’ uniforms.
Sue: I like the Dalek hats. It’s a good way for the Daleks to maintain brand awareness when they’re out conquering the universe.
A Dalek appears in the warehouse on Earth via the time corridor. The Doctor tells the Army to aim for its eyepiece.
Me: My vision is impaired! I cannot see! My vision is impaired! I cannot see!
Sue: Shut up, Neil.
The Doctor pushes the Dalek through a loading hatch and it falls to the street below.
Sue: It’s a bloody good job another tramp wasn’t standing outside when he did that. Great sequence, though. This is very exciting.
The Dalek Supreme promises to deal with the Doctor in due course.
Sue: His balls are too big.
Me: That’s one way of putting it, I suppose.
Meanwhile Davros looks forward to taking his rightful place as King of the Daleks.
Sue: Davros is great when he goes into one of his rants. He reminds me of you when you’re watching Question Time.
The Doctor searches for the Kaled mutant which escaped from its casing.
Sue: Peter Davison shouldn’t walk around with a gun. That’s not right.
Colonel Archer leaves the warehouse to call for reinforcements, but when he asks the local police for assistance, he ends up with a gun in his face.
Sue: How did they get away with that? Seriously, that’s a terrible message to send to kids. Honestly.
Back on the space station, a technician named Kiston is making repairs to Davros’ chair.
Sue: That isn’t Dirty Den, is it? It can’t be… Is it?
Me: Nothing. Yes, it’s Leslie Grantham. This was his second acting job, I believe. He hadn’t been out of prison very long.
Sue: Incredibly, it turns out that hiring a convicted murderer wasn’t the worst thing the BBC did in the 1980s.
The Doctor continues his hunt for the Kaled mutant, but he uncovers something else instead.
Sue: Aww, bless, it’s a little kitten. Pop it in your pocket and take it with you. You could call it Adric.
The Doctor blasts a Kaled mutant to bits with his revolver.
Sue: That doesn’t feel right. The Doctor shouldn’t be Dirty Harry. He’s surrounded by soldiers – let them do the dirty work.
Stein doesn’t want to return to the Daleks’ ship.
Sue: I’ve only just realised that Rodney Bewes is putting on a stutter. At first I thought he was ****ing his lines up. I can’t tell whether he’s good or not now.
A soldier has been bitten by the Kaled mutant.
Me: Maybe Little Ted knows a song about alien viruses.
Sue: What the hell are you talking about?
Me: That’s Chloe Ashcroft from Play School. You probably don’t remember her because you’re too old.
I duck as a cushion sails overhead.
Sue: She looks like she’d rather be on Greenham Common.
At least Davros is glad to be out and about again after 90 years of mind-numbing boredom.
Sue: I know the feeling, mate, and I’ve only been doing this for two years.
I throw the cushion back at her.
Sue: I’m only joking. I wish they were all as good as this.
Lytton tells Davros that the Doctor’s capture is imminent.
Sue: Seriously, who holds the copyright on that catchphrase?
Three Daleks prepare to enter the time corridor.
Sue: Even the Daleks have been choreographed. Who directed this?
Me: Matthew Robinson. He’s new.
Sue: He’s brilliant.
Me: Somebody should tell him that one day. He’s very modest.
In fact, Sue is enjoying Resurrection of the Daleks so much…
Sue: I wish it was four parts instead of two.
The episode concludes as the Doctor and Stein arrive on the Daleks’ battle cruiser in the TARDIS. But there’s a twist: Stein is a Dalek agent!
Sue: NOOOOOOOO! Rodney, you b-b-b-b-bastard!
The credits roll.
Me: Did you enjoy that?
Sue: Very much. I don’t understand why it felt so long, though. It can’t have been the direction. Maybe I’m just tired.
I tell her the truth. Not that I lied earlier. Not really.
Me: Don’t blame me. Blame Torvill and Dean.
We are introduced to the space station’s self-destruct mechanism.
Sue: It looks like a giant game of Frustration™.
The Doctor is led to the Daleks’ duplication room and made to lie on a bed made from bubble wrap.
Sue: Stand-by for some undignified popping.
POP! POP! POP!
Sue: I was only joking!
The Daleks show off the duplicates of Tegan and Turlough they made earlier.
Sue: Who would you make a duplicate of, Neil?
Me: I’m not going to answer that question on the grounds that it will probably incriminate me.
Sue: I would make a duplicate of you.
Me: That’s sweet.
Sue: Yeah, one that didn’t make me watch Doctor bloody Who.
Tegan digs up a canister that has been buried inside the warehouse.
Sue: Why is the virus here on Earth in the first place? This bit doesn’t make sense to me.
Me: I’ve seen this dozens of times and it still doesn’t make any sense to me.
The Daleks want to send duplicates of the Doctor and his companions to Gallifrey so they can assassinate the High Council of the Time Lords.
Sue: Things have become very complicated all of a sudden. Where the hell did that come from?
Stein fights against his Dalek programming.
Sue: I get it now. Rodney’s performance almost makes sense. Almost.
She is certain of one thing, though.
Sue: Rula Lenska is bloody brilliant in this. She’d be a great companion. I hope she makes it out of this story alive. I love her blasé attitude to everything that’s going on around her.
Tegan escapes from the warehouse but is immediately intercepted by Lytton’s policemen. They also silence a beachcomber with a bullet, just to be on the safe side.
Sue: He wasn’t even looking in their direction. Is that the most pointless death in Doctor Who‘s history?
Me: Apart from Adric’s, you mean? Possibly.
The Doctor is hooked up to the Daleks’ brain pattern recorder.
Sue: The Doctor has a lot of fillings.
The policemen escort Tegan back to the warehouse.
Sue: They’re going to charge her with soliciting.
The Dalek troopers shoot Rula Lenska dead.
Sue: NO! They can’t do that. She’s Rula Lenska!
Minutes later, Chloe Ashcroft bites the dust as well.
Sue: They’re dropping like nine pins!
The Doctor’s ex-companions flash before his eyes, and Sue audibly reacts to the following faces: Adric (“Aww”), Romana I (“Ahh”), K9 (“K9!”), Sarah Jane (“Ahh”), and the Brig (“Yay!”).
Me: Did you notice anything wrong with that montage?
Sue: No. Did they get the order wrong?
Me: No. Take another look at it.
I replay the scene.
Sue: Oh yes, someone’s missing… There’s no Leela. What happened to her?
Me: Ian Levine happened.
Tegan and Turlough are reunited.
Sue: Turlough can’t take his eyes off Tegan’s tits. There’s one glance. And another. And one more for luck. Get a room!
And then the moment we’ve all been waiting for. A moment so gobsmacking, Sue will insist that we watch it again. And again. And again.
Sue: I can’t tell if Rodney is brilliant or dreadful here. I really can’t.
The time has come for the Doctor to finally pop a cap in Davros’ ass…
Sue: No way. Let Rodney kill Davros instead. Don’t get your hands dirty.
The Doctor and Davros face off. It’s an electrifying scene and Sue doesn’t have any fingernails left when it’s over.
Sue: That was a great scene. That was ****ing tense.
Sadly, it’s about here that Sue finally loses her grip on the plot.
Sue: There’s too much going on. I can’t tell who’s working for who any more. I can’t stand the confusion in my mind!
Two Daleks are sent to the warehouse to kill the duplicate soldiers.
Sue: Right in the balls. Nasty.
The last one to die screams his lungs out.
Sue: He was going for his Equity Card, there.
And the deaths keep on mounting up.
Sue: They’re running out of cast members. Still, at least it simplifies the plot, which I don’t understand. I’m just going along with it now. I still don’t know which Dalek is which.
When Stein reaches the self-destruct chamber, he puts his hands on his hips and sighs.
Sue: Yes, this is the weirdest performance in Doctor Who so far. No doubt about it.
Stein struggles to make sense of the controls.
Sue: This is you trying to use the washing machine, Neil.
Back at the warehouse, the Doctor uses explosives to destroy the Daleks.
Sue: He’s too much like Rambo in this. I don’t like it.
Davros unleashes his virus and the Daleks succumb to its effects.
Sue: Ooh, he’s definitely excited!
In the heat of battle, Lytton kills one of his own men.
Sue: Ooh, a red light in the face. Nasty.
The warehouse is steeped in death, thanks to the Doctor’s decision to unleash another canister of the Movellan virus.
Sue: Maybe he’s finally had enough of the Daleks after all this time. It’s the only thing that makes any sense.
The Dalek Supreme appears on the TARDIS scanner screen. He claims to have control over an army of duplicates who have infiltrated key positions on Earth.
Me: That explains the Tory government in 1984, then.
Stein is shot by a Dalek.
Sue: Rodney, you plonker!
But he still comes good by belly-flopping like a dead salmon onto the self-destruct button.
Sue: That was… different.
Lytton and his men walk off into the sunset.
Sue: Where the hell do they think they’re going?
And then Tegan’s snap decision to stay on Earth makes Sue gasp.
Sue: Oh no!
You could have heard a pin drop during the leaving scene. Until…
Sue: Don’t tell me she’s changed her mind again!
But she’s too late this time and the credits begin to roll.
Sue: That was sad. I didn’t like Tegan at all at first, but I don’t want her to leave now. It won’t be the same without her.
Me: Excuse me, I think I’ve got something in my eye…
Sue: The script let it down. It was too complicated. It would have been on for a nine or a 10 if I’d followed the plot. It was needlessly complex. But it looked great, and the actors were really good, too. Even Rodney was entertaining. The direction, the music, and the sets – they were all brilliant. I really enjoyed it.
That’s about six marks more than I would have given it. But who cares what I think?
Me: What did you think of the 45-minute format?
Sue: I think I preferred it. You can really get into it when you don’t have so many breaks.