Sunday, 18 April 2010

Doctor Who: Victory Of The Daleks ( review with spoilers )

Dalek: "You are the Doctor. You must be exterminated!"
The Doctor: "Don't mess with me, sweetheart!"

So, this week it's the resurrection of the Daleks ( where have I heard that before? ) in Mark Gatiss' s "Bank Holiday war movie in 45 minutes". The Doctor and Amy are summoned by Winston Churchill ( a very jowly Ian McNeice ) to the cabinet War Rooms at the height of the Blitz. Here ol' bulldog-features unveils Britain's new secret weapon, the Bracewell Ironside, a strangely familiar, khaki-clad metal pepperpot. Of course, it's a Dalek and the Doctor has to convince Churchill that his new ally is really humanity's biggest enemy..... after Mr. A. Hitler that is.

The episode's early scenes are spookily atmospheric with the servile Daleks gliding around the War Rooms, while the Doctor looks on, waiting for the opportunity to "out" them as evil space-fascists. Matt Smith is convincingly worried and rattled by the Daleks' presence until he can't stand any more and literally throws a spanner in the works.

"You! Are! My! Enemy! And I am yours! You are everything I despise, the worst thing in all creation. I have 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 and you are the Daleks!"

Unfortunately, after this classic Doctor/Dalek confrontation, the episode goes a bit off the boil. Like Gatiss's last Who effort, The Idiot's Lantern, all the elements of a good story are present but they don't seem properly developed. The revelation of Bracewell's identity is too much of a cliche; the Spitfires-in-space idea is a wonderfully bonkers and typically Doctor Who concept, but the way it's set up is a gaping chasm of implausibility; Amy is sidelined for too much of the story and, critically, so is the rather caricatured Churchill.

And then we come to Daleks: The Next Generation.....

As the new, Technicolor Daleks roll off their production line, it becomes clear that this whole episode exists just to introduce a new Dalek race for the Doc to fight, to basically push the Reset button to pre-Time War days. And whereas the 2005-model Dalek was mostly faithful to the classic design, except for a few tweaks to make it seem more solid and menacing, the 2010-plate Skaro mutant is a whole new tincan. They now come in a range of colours ( fantabulosa! ) and are much chunkier, with a tank-like shape and deeper bases. In fact, a kind of cross between the Peter Cushing movie versions and the "Remembrance" Special Weapons Dalek. Respect to the production team for having the Dalek-balls to redesign such an iconic image, but they do seem plastic-y and more toy-friendly. I'm not sure if I like 'em or not: I'll have to sleep on it. ( That said, we have been amazed for years that Lego have never come out with a Doctor Who range of toys. These new Daleks seem custom-made for the Danish plastic brick empire. James would certainly love it! )

All in all, I'd give the episode 3 or maybe 3 1/2 out of 5 stars. If I did star ratings.
( Should I do star ratings? All the genre mags seem obsessed with them. ) There were some lovely moments in this episode - Churchill picking the Doctor's pocket for the Tardis key, the haunted look in Matt Smith's eyes as he faced the triumphant Daleks, that wonderful bit ( or bite ) with the Jammie Dodger - but I wouldn't call it a real "Victory". And, sadly, the ratings would also support that. To end on a positive note, the Amy Pond mystery deepens: why is she unaware of the Daleks?

"They invaded your world, remember. Planets in the sky - you don't forget that. Amy..... tell me you remember the Daleks....."


Mickey Glitter said...

Wonderful! Upon hearing the news about Eleven and Katy Manning (yes, *that* Katy Manning) in TSJA's next series, I learn about Technicolor Daleks AND Amy's short(er) skirts. She might be giving the Venerable Ones a run for their 30+ year reign. =) Great write-up; I think you should totally go for a star rating system, but you could use sonic screwdrivers or bowties. I'm sorry I have to wait two more weeks for this one!

Wes said...

Oh, you were far too kind to this episode! It did seem like its sole purpose was to introduce the new Daleks -- and I rather like the new designs, though their backs are too fat my liking and I'm not too keen on the reduced bump count -- but I can think of far better and more interesting ways the deed might have been accomplished.

As it stood, the episode cribbed much of its interactions from other new series Dalek episodes, to the point that Smith's Doctor even acknowledged the dialogue similarities (one ship survived, crippled, yadda yadda). And the way they stopped the bomb from detonating? Ugh.

I'd give it something like a 1.5, and that's only because it made me want new Dalek toys.

cerebus660 said...

Mickey, thanks for the kind words. I might have to go with a "Bow tie" rating system - sounds good ( if kinda nerdy! )

Wes, thanks for stopping by. But, 1.5 out of 5? Really? Blimey, you're hard to please! How would you rate something like Timelash?

Mickey Glitter said...

But bow ties might become the new skull and crossbones, which are the new smiley face! You could start a total fashion trend...because it would be way cooler than Orville Redenbacher and his bow ties. Anything would be cooler than that old coot.

Momo said...

I found a BBC game called the last dalek. You are the dalek and you have to escape the underground science complex.

Enjoyed this new dalek adventure and its nice to see that they can be cunning to trick the Doctor.

Edward said...

I'm inclined to support the Private Eye view that the coloured Daleks are a ploy to relaunch the toy franchise. BBC Worldwide coined it when the Daleks returned to battle Christopher Eccleston but now everyone who wants one has a standard Dalek. Multiple colours (should that be colors ?) equate to repeat sales. Like any self-respecting force of ultimate evil would dress up in canary yellow! Thank heavens for the return of the Weeping Angels.


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