complete forty-pound boxset or individual DVDs. It's presumably aimed at new fans, although the lack of any special features whatsoever means that they're not a great bargain; the Davros DVD, which has "Genesis of the Daleks", "The Stolen Earth" and "Journey's End" with no extras goes for seven pounds. If you bought these stories on the preexisting DVDs instead, even without looking at the value-added boxsets, it's only another two and a half quid to buy yourself the proper version of "Genesis" with all the extras and the vanilla DVD release of "The Stolen Earth" and "Journey's End" that includes "Turn Left" in the bargain. This looks like fodder for supermarket shelves, to be honest, although we have no idea why the boxset is sold out as of time of writing.
Still, including Davros in this set of DVD releases means that you can have twice as many stories involving Daleks, which in and of itself was probably enough reason for the BBC to select him as a "Monster". Especially when Davros' origin story is such a resoundingly good story, in its own right and for the Daleks who are in it, which can't be said about every story involving Daleks or Davros (including the other half of this DVD set, but we'll get to that later). And with that out of the way, on to the reviews...
This is so right from his first appearance, when he's testing the capabilities of the Daleks; the Doctor and Co. know that eventually the Daleks are going to be a force in their own right, but nobody on Skaro does, and for nearly the entire story they really do obey the wishes of the creator; heading off to exterminate the entire Thal city, trying to exterminate prisoners instinctively, that sort of thing. Every possible threat - the Thals, the Kaled civilians, his fellow scientists - are dealt with meticulously and frightfully, and it's only the slow coming to terms of the Daleks themselves that finally takes down Davros in the end. But only temporarily.
But still. "Genesis of the Daleks", with the relentless, thumping impact of its anti-war message and the unsubtle-yet-all-too-real look at the consequences of conflict and its dehumanising nature for both sides (you'll never learn whether the Thals or the Kaleds started the war) is Terry Nation's single most powerful storyline. The terror and uncertainty that the TARDIS crew faces, three people lost in a world with no peace and death for anyone who tries to advocate it, is only one small story in a thousand-year war that it's clear at the end must continue on for far, far longer. And the melancholic ending, as our heroes are seen vanishing off into space and Sarah queries whether they've made any difference at all, has a good claim at being the single most ambiguous finale in the show's history. Compare to "The Silurians", that other great example of a story ending on that odd half-note of regret and uncertainty, and look at how its followups, by their very existence, soften the point; by the time Madame Vastra becomes a recurring character, it seems that there are always more Silurians and future hopes of reconciliation. Whereas every new Dalek story only inspires more questioning of that initial, hopeful, merciful decision that Tom Baker made the only time he had the chance to make that choice...
Davros gets more to do in the latter half, but that episode has so much in the way of tidying up to do - finish up Rose's storyline, including the parallel universe business, finish up Donna's storyline, give all of the other companions fitting send-offs, create and marry off an entirely new iteration of the Doctor...that the whole saving-the-universe from Davros business only has so much time that can be afforded to it. And the story has still got Daleks in it, who get to do lots of exciting shooty things as usual, almost turning the Doctor into Matt Smith and so forth, and so the perpetual problem of a Davros story about the balance between him and his creations doesn't necessarily work out in favour of the humanoid one. It's a story with Davros and not starring him, hence all the Doctor's chitchat about him being the "Dalek's pet". Julian Bleach turns in exactly the performance that the script asks of him, it's just not quite as rewarding a part as you'd expect. This isn't, quite, a problem from the story's point of view, which is clearly interested in doing other things, but it doesn't lend itself to marketing as a Davros character piece.
He's also much more interested and knowledgeable about how time works then before, certain in his belief that Dalek Caan is picking up on information that "saner" models have no access to. And that's important, because if it was his listening to Dalek Caan that explains why the Doctor and the TARDIS are left behind at the crucial moment at the start (and why, exactly, would the Supreme Dalek order that when the fleet of Time War Daleks think that they're more than capable of handling one single Time Lord?), then it must be because he believed Dalek Caan's prophecies about how Time works out. Which, given that Caan is insisting an army of companions have to be brought together before the destruction of the universe can proceed as planned, would tend to suggest that his loyalties may not be as clear cut as everyone in the episode thinks, or even that he's more a Cassandra-figure than a prophet of good tidings...but Davros doesn't realise that until the end, does he? Curious how much he trusts one mad Dalek, but then you'd probably listen to someone who broke you out of a Time War...(we could speculate as to why Caan's loyalties have changed through exposure to the Time Vortex, but that's another issue and outside our scope here).
So: both stories are worth the watching if only because of their lynchpin status to so much of what happens around them, both feature excellent actors playing Davros, and both are effectively horrifying (the body horror of Davros' flesh in "The Stolen Earth" matches any shot of unsavoury tentacles in "Genesis"). Would we recommend you watch them on this DVD set? Perhaps not.