I’ve often felt like “Revelation of the Daleks” was Eric Saward’s attempt to one-up what Robert Holmes did the season before with “The Caves of Androzani.” Both stories are bleak at times but are visually stunning thanks to Graham Harper directing. And while Saward does his best to try and channel Holmes with witty dialogue and double-acts, he never does quite succeed in capture what made “Caves” so special.
“Revelation of the Daleks” suffers from a lot of the issues that plagued season 22 and the move to 45-minute episodes. Each story in the season suffers from long sections of the first installment keeping the Doctor and Peri from the central action unfolding in the story as characters, situations, and worlds are created. A better novel might have streamlined large sections of the Doctor and Peri walking into the trap laid by Davros, but instead, Saward follows the basic outline of the script and makes us take every step with them.
Listening to this audiobook, I couldn’t help but wish someone would tell Saward that he’s neither Robert Holmes nor Douglas Adams. The attempts at Adams-like levity that are sprinkled throughout this book come off as ill-considered and fall flat.
And then there are the final chapters wherein it feels like Saward is gleefully killing off his cast and multiple Daleks. I can’t tell you the sheer number of times that Saward mentions the living creature inside the Dalek splattering on the floor as Dalek after Dalek gets exterminated. And that doesn’t even begin to get into the various deaths that Saward inflicts upon the supporting cast that he spends much of the first half of the book building up.
I suppose I shouldn’t be too shocked by this since Saward’s “Resurrection of the Daleks” features one of the highest body counts in all of Doctor Who.
There are some interesting ideas here though –from the mortician Jobel with his inflated ego to what Davros is really up to posing as the Great Healer (think Soylent Green). But these are sprinkled into long passages of grim horror and in-jokes (Saward really loves his creation of the Terraleptils).
As a completist, I’m glad this gap in the Target book range has finally been filled. I just wish that we’d had a better novel after waiting thirty years to finally get to read it.