Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Doctor Who: Into The Dalek ( review )

OK... two episodes into the new series and my Doctor Who reviews have already started running late. Same old story. In my defence we did have a mega-busy weekend with Sophie's marathon birthday party ( 8 hours of socialising! ) and several Ice Bucket Challenges taking up a lot of valuable blogging time :-)

After the traditional post-regeneration trauma of last week's episode, the Doctor now seems more stable... and can even fly the Tardis accurately. He proves this by saving the life, somewhere in deep space, of Journey Blue  -  a soldier fighting a last, desperate battle against overwhelming Dalek forces. On board Journey's space shuttle, the Aristotle, the Doctor discovers the rebels have a patient: a captured Dalek who is so damaged he has turned "good". And he needs a doctor. After a quick hop back to Earth to pick up Clara ( who seems to be doing just fine on her own, chatting up new character Danny Pink ) the Doctor and a military escort ( shreddies ) are miniaturised and sent... into the Dalek...
For me, this is one of the best episodes in years, especially after last year's regular series ( away from all the 50th Anniversary hoopla ) was so hit and miss. And it's definitely the best use of the Skarovian pepper-pots in a long time, restoring their full menace and deviousness. Director Ben Wheatley brings a suitably intense, filmic quality to the story with some of his signature slow-motion / trippy visuals  -  I love the psychedelic scene where the Doctor and co travel through the Dalek's eyestalk like it's a funhouse hall of mirrors. The script is fine too, examining this series' theme of what it is to be a hero or, indeed, a good man. The new Doctor can be abrasive and seemingly uncaring at times, a harshly pragmatic man who seems to forget that humans have feelings... but also very funny, exasperating ( especially for Clara ) and at times vulnerable. And calling the damaged, deranged Dalek "Rusty"? Brilliant! Capaldi, while maybe not yet fully comfortable in the role is excellent as ever and promises great things.

The only quibble I have is that there are elements to this story which are overly familiar: the Doctor confronting a chained, broken Dalek ( er, Dalek ), the miniaturisation and attack by antibodies ( Let's Kill Hitler ), falling into the digestive tract of a beast ( er again, The Beast Below ). These are only mild irritations and don't detract from a claustrophobic, exciting and surprisingly scary episode. I can't wait to see what else this new / old Time Lord has up his magician's sleeve...

Four Out Of Five Sonic Screwdrivers ( or Dalek antibodies )

4 comments:

Kid said...

I'm not sure I like the way he veers between being serious and a bit of a clown. I also think (as noted in my comment on your previous Doc post) that Clara slapping the doctor undermines his authority and gravitas and turns him into an object of ridicule. Sure, it was funny, but out of place - Capaldi's Doctor would surely have slapped her right back.

Steve Does Comics said...

To be honest, I'm struggling to get into this series so far but I'm pleased that others are getting pleasure from it. :)

cerebus660 said...

@Kid
I've left a reply on the other post :-)
I didn't think the slapping was done for comic effect. It just showed Clara's anger at the Doctor dragging her and others into such a life-threatening situation and then, typically for him, almost enjoying it...
Now, when Jackie Tyler slapped the Ninth Doctor... that was funny...

@Steve
Hopefully you'll enjoy this week's episode - it looks like a lot of fun after the necessarily dark Dalek story. Robin Hood, Clara as Maid Marian, a Mark Gatiss script...looks good to me :-)

Kid said...

I'm not sure whether it's intention was for comic effect, but that's the 'effect' it had - on me at least, 'cos I laughed and then thought - "Wait a minute, I shouldn't be laughing AT the Doctor." It also made the Doc look like a child getting a slap from an adult, and raises the interesting question - "If it's all right for Clara to slap the Doctor when she's angry, is it all right for him to slap her when HE's angry?"

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