Doctor: 'All right, it's a Jammy Dodger, but I was promised tea.'
prohibits me from saying 'they're baaaack'—but they are. The Daleks
have been mercifully scarce of late: a brief cameo here, some scrap
parts turning up there, but no full appearance since 'Journey's End'.
So, did you miss them?
*Tumble-weed rolls by*
I was young, the Daleks were awesome. Nobody was badder. I was too
innocent then to recognise the Nazi overtones, nor did I notice that they
wobbled as they moved, and most disturbing of all, I once met an actual Dalek
outside a Doctor Who exhibition in London. I was about 5 at the time and it looked right at me.
Naturally, I cried my fucking eyes out. For me, the Daleks have always been
real—I've seen one for goodness sakes—so, no matter how badly a story
stinks, no matter how terrible their wise cracking antics are, no
matter how easily they're defeated, I know how scary they can
be. Since their return in 2005, however, they've had mixed success. Season one's 'Dalek' was exceptional, but Season three's 'Evolution of the Daleks' was just horrible. So I was understandably nervous about tonight's offering.
Now admittedly, a 5 year old's perception of the
Daleks isn't the same as an adult's. So I may be being unrealistic in
expecting the same reaction as a grown man—but I am
an optimist. I do live in hope, and tonight's episode started out
promisingly enough. Despite my recent indifference to the Daleks, I was
immediately excited to see them again. They looked so cool in khaki.
Less impressive was their 'would you care for some tea' refrain, but at
least Gatiss concentrated on the megalomaniacal aspect of their
personalities, and left the wise-cracking silliness alone. So my initial
impression of this episode was favourable. Yet, something about it just
didn't work for me. It wasn't a terrible episode—I just didn't connect
with it at all.
The Daleks were superbly creepy at the
start, skulking around the cabinet war room, their eyes (or stalks) and
ears (or....err...dunno) focused patiently on the Doctor, observing his
every move. But whose idea was it to give the Daleks a makeover? And why do they now look like Henry vacuum cleaners with fat arses? In Doctor Who Confidential
everyone was praising their new look as the scariest ever (which,
incidentally, is the same load of bollocks they say after every redesign). Really?
Since when is a yellow Dalek scary? They don't even look metallic any
more. And whose idea was it to call the old guys Ironsides? Surely not
after detective Robert T. Ironside, the wheelchair bound TV detective?
Please say it isn't so!
The story wasn't much to write
home about, either. It seemed nothing more than an expedient way of
bumping off the old Daleks and ushering in a new age of garishly
coloured, fibre-glass replacements (or Robin Reliants,
as I like to call them). Do we really need new Daleks? Was their old
look such an issue? Shouldn't they be changing the things which don't
work—the dire stories, for example—and leaving the things that do? How about fixing their impotence in the face of just about everything, or nixing their appalling new found
sense of humour? I've never heard anyone express frustration at the
Daleks not being colourful enough. I did,
however, like the Supreme Dalek's deeper voice. It's just a shame the
others weren't blessed with a similarly low register. I guess racial
purity is synonymous with a squeaky voice.
To his credit, I though Matt did a decent
job. He was given some distinctly stodgy dialogue at times, but I
did enjoy him throwing Bracewell the V sign (a gesture Churchill no
doubt copied as the war progressed), and his Jammie Dodger ploy was
particularly inspired (though whether that was because it made the Doctor
look like a mad genius, or because it made the Daleks look like
nincompoops, I'm not sure). I also enjoyed him raging at the Daleks
('you are my enemy, and I am yours'), not to mention him twatting that
Dalek with an improbably heavy spanner. Great acting from Matt there.
That spanner can't have weighed more than two ounces, yet he made it
look....oh, at least four.
The Oblivion Continuum
thingy, despite being a convenient way of stopping the Doctor wiping out
the Daleks, turned out to be a bit of a dud. Did anyone really care how
or why it worked? Was there any real logic behind it? Why should
Bracewell being human (or at the very least thinking he was human) stop
him from exploding? And although I overlooked Amy's intuitive blinder in 'The Eleventh Hour', her leap of logic this week came out of nowhere.
Ever fancied someone you know you shouldn't? What possessed her to say
such a thing? Forget the Doctor, this girl's a genius!
was also unhappy with some of the dialogue. It felt too generic, which
made it nigh on impossible for any of the actors to contribute much in
terms of characterisation—there just wasn't the room. Most of the Doctor's
dialogue sounded as though it had been written for Tennant, and Amy's
dialogue was just bog standard companion fare (although I did enjoy her
catching Churchill trying to steal the TARDIS key). This episode felt
like a prime example of a writer not quite connecting with his
I did like the war room setting. Aesthetically, it was pretty much spot on. What let it down, in my
opinion, was Ian McNeice's over the top portrayal of Churchill. I'm not
saying it was a bad impersonation—it wasn't—but Churchill's talking
voice sounded too much like his speeches, so he never sounded
like a real person. He was just a cliché ridden caricature. And why the
attempted poignancy at the end? Did anyone really care that Miss Breen
had lost her beau? Churchill seemed pretty much uninterested, even Amy
changed the subject almost immediately, which made you wonder why it
was left in there. Its dramatic impact was virtually zero. Were they
just trying to pad out an already lean episode?
to confess, I really enjoyed the space battle. I know that the Spitfire's
propellers wouldn't have worked outside the earth's atmosphere, and I know I
should've been enraged by this criminal lack of realism, but I'm a boy, and boys
like planes and spaceships and space battles and shit. The special
effects were also top notch. I even enjoyed Murray Gold's music, which seemed
to sit perfectly on top of the chaos and mayhem (for once). I just hope
they didn't blow too much of the budget on CGI. If we get cardboard
cut-out monsters later is the season, I guess we'll know why.
of course the Daleks managed to escape at the end via a time shift. No
wonder the Doctor was so pissed off—it happens almost every time—but
at least Amy helped bring everything back into perspective. I enjoyed
her little exchange with the Doctor. Sometimes it pays to have someone
there to remind you that, despite the gloominess of the bigger picture,
there are significant victories to be had in the details. He did just
save the world, after all. Which ain't too shabby.
—KBO? Keep buggering on? Not the best catchphrase out there.
—The new Daleks bear the titles Soldier, Drone, Scientist, Strategist, and The Eternal.
—Loved the Doctor wafting a hand at Churchill's cigar smoke.
—The premise of this story bears more than a passing resemblance to the
1966 episode 'The Power of the Daleks' (which similarly has Daleks
pretending to be subservient to humankind).
—Why does Amy have no recollection of the Daleks, I wonder?
—Since the Daleks see in a bluish tinge, why the bright colours to
differentiate between the various classes? Surely colour is virtually
irrelevant to them.
—A short episode at just over 40 minutes
—How many soldiers does it take to put up a tiny flagpole? Five
apparently. Maybe the army have been weakened by scurvy, or something.
Churchill: 'Must I take it by force?'
Doctor: 'I'd like to see you try.'
Doctor: 'Sorry, it's a type 40 TARDIS. I'm just running her in.'
Doctor: 'You know who I am! You always know.'
Dalek: 'Would you care for some tea?'
Doctor: 'You are my enemy! And I am yours!'
Doctor: 'You are everything I despise. The worst thing in all of creation. I've
defeated you time and time again, I've defeated you. I sent you back
into the void. I saved the whole of reality from you. I am the Doctor!
You are the Daleks!'
Amy: 'What was her name?'
Doctor: 'Dorabella? It's a lovely name. It's a beautiful name.'