|03 May 2005||Dalek, by Matt Kimpton|
|03 May 2005||Dalek, by Liam Pennington|
|03 May 2005||Dalek, by Stuart Ian Burns|
|03 May 2005||Dalek, by Richard Ormrod|
|03 May 2005||Dalek, by Robert John Frazer|
|03 May 2005||Dalek, by Joe Ford|
|03 May 2005||Dalek, by Gareth Thomas|
|03 May 2005||Dalek, by Dominic Carter|
|03 May 2005||Dalek, by Peter Whiteley|
|03 May 2005||Dalek, by Matthew Pinto|
|03 May 2005||Dalek, by Mick Snowden|
|03 May 2005||Dalek, by Nicholas Forro|
|03 May 2005||Dalek, by Daniel Smith|
|03 May 2005||Dalek, by Sam Loveless|
|03 May 2005||Dalek, by Adam Knights|
|03 May 2005||Dalek, by Dominic Teague|
|03 May 2005||Dalek, by Dave Keep|
|03 May 2005||Dalek, by Douglas Edward Lambert|
|03 May 2005||Dalek, by Mike Halsey|
|03 May 2005||Dalek, by Paul Davies|
|03 May 2005||Dalek, by Alan McDonald|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by Razeque Talukdar|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by Dominic Smith|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by Michael Cleary|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by Jonathan Crossfield|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by John Winterton|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by Ian Dudley|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by Ed Martin|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by Geoff Wessel|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by Richard Franklin|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by Scott Coyne|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by Paul Wilcox|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by Angus Gulliver|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by Gregg Allinson|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by Steve Ferry|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by Rossa McPhillips|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by David Pomeroy|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by Andrew Philips|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by Steve Manfred|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by Lukas Tatek|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by John Jones|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by Alex McAteer|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by Robert F.W. Smith|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by Gareth Tucker|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by Robin Calvert|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by James Main|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by Ken Holtzhouser and Jessica Jones|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by Paul Berry|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by Andrew John|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by Dan Casey|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by Mike Humphreys|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by David Carlile|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by Daniel Knight|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by James Griffiths|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by Adrian Jarvis|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by Eddy Wolverson|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by Nick Mellish|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by Richard Radcliffe|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by Paul Clarke|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by Paul Hayes|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by A.D. Morrison|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by Karen Bryan|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by Adam Kintopf|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by Billy Higgins|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by Alex Gibbs|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by Richard Board|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by Jennifer Segger|
|29 Oct 2005||Dalek, by David Lim|
|27 Aug 2007||Dalek, by Robert Tymec|
|27 Aug 2007||Dalek, by Shane Anderson|
No-one could accuse Russell T Davies of lacking commercial sense. An old monster in Episode One to reassure the fans. Half the budget thrown at Episode Two to convince the CGI generation this stuff is worth watching. A gloriously historical Episode Three to flex the BBC's period drama muscles. Then relax with a money-saving two parter, coasting on the show's newly established success... And then, just as the rating starts to sag with the traditional mid-season slump - WHAM! Hit 'em with a Dalek.
Now THAT'S Doctor Who.
Previews suggested Dalek would be the pick of the season, and expectations were consequently enormously high for this episode - although perhaps not much higher than they would have been anyway, with the iconic nature of this, the Doctor's oldest foe. The BBC's pan-media publicity outlet ground into action once more after a lull for Aliens of London / World War III: a new-look Dalek graced the cover of the Radio Times; trailers popped up at all hours of the day; Blue Peter worked its usual behind-the-scenes-feature magic; Newsround Showbiz carried a feature on the story, although not until after the show aired... Even BBCi managed to make a story out of it, focusing on the monster's new abilities.
Ultimately, the episode probably ended up commanding almost the same level of public attention as Rose, the new season's opener - and much like that story, it succeeds absolutely in recreating an icon for a new generation, mixing the traditional with the innovative to invent a whole new, even more satisfying creation. The tight cast, high production values, impressive direction and top-notch visual effects are everything people had been demanded of the new Dalek, and indeed everything they should now be coming to expect from the series, but it's the writing that's the real start of this episode. It was always going to take more than a bigger laser to evolve the Dalek from a prop that crops up in Kit-Kat adverts into a really scary alien, and Rob Shearman absolutely cracks it, creating instead something that goes beyond all that and becomes, at times, genuinely moving.
The self-consciously traditional prop/costume design belies a new direction for what is a supposedly a 'monster' story, with a tense, claustrophobic storyline that makes the most of its 45 minutes by filling it with moral greys and difficult decisions rather than great big explosions. Gone are the massed armies of yester-who, the 10,000 Daleks waiting just off camera to annihiliate the universe - here we have a single lone Dalek, against a single, lone Doctor; both of them intelligent, and both of them dangerous. The result is an exquisite pair of performances, each one bouncing off the continuing wonder that is Billie Piper, and each character (and yes, it is a character) bringing out the best and the worst in the other. Between the three of them - amongst all the mayhem, and despite the occasionally overbearing incidental music and now-traditional wobbly editing - they create what are undoubtedly some of the strongest moments ever seen in the series.
Genuinely, it's hard to say much about this episode other than how good it is. It's scary, it's funny, it's tense, it's almost impossibly involving, and it's got lines that will send a thump of energy right through your tragic geeky heart. And it's got the best cliffhanger ever written, right there in the middle of the episode. And not only has it got all this, and profound emotional arcs, and powerful, moving moments of drama, AND great big explosions, it's also got the cute gay bloke off of Corrie.
Never mind aiming at the eyepiece, this one hits you right between the eyes - and stays there.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
I bet some of the dedicated fan base are spitting feathers tonight. "Dalek" was all about icons - the show itself, the characters themselves, the enemy itself - enough icons in one show to keep media students happy for months. But rather than keep each element in thier own place, this series continues to chop up convention and slap heritage in the face with a kipper; the Doctor turns evil, the Dalek turns soft, and the companion gets herself into trouble an... Oh, okay, not [i] all [/i] the conventions are altered...
"Dalek" will certainly divide opinion. Maybe some fans are beyond convincing now - for some, this series is beyond a joke and as far as they are concerned, Doctor Who finished with Sylvester McCoy and has never, ever returned. This episode pushed the show further away from the assumed conventions of Doctor Who, and maintains the very high standard of the series so far. Make no mistake - this is classy, classic television, with the confidence of the show oozing from the screen. By making the Doctor far more complex, twisted even, the new series opens up the usual character traits and stuffs them full of new, unexpected details. Viewers are being asked to feel sorry for a Dalek, and for a moment actually does. The viewer - this one, at any rate - must have held their breath when they realised what was implied by the line "You'd make a good Dalek..."
For this episode to work, Christopher Eccleston would need all his ability turned all the way up. He did and gave one of the best performances of any of his predecessors. The shock seeing the trapped shirtless Doctor, urging his captor to listen to reason, was made all the more real by the constant sense of fear running through the entire episode. In 45 minutes, real terror existed in an episode destined to be remembered as a modern classic. Genuine concern at the safety of Rose, genuine shock at the electrocution of the guards, and as for the Dalek's levitation...
By making the Dalek and Doctor so closely tied, the danger always existed that the episode would be too sentimental, perhaps too domestic to use a common phrase round these parts. But how clever, how perfectly written, was the twist which saw the last surviving Time Lord turn into a gun-toting mad-man, and consequently the Dalek into the moral voice of reason. How brilliant to see the depth of intellegence which allowed humour to appear like raindrops on a windshield, giving the Doctor a real gritty drama to act through but with a background of light relief perfectly realised. Christopher Eccleston will surely be ranked fairly high on the list of 'best' or 'most convincing' Doctors. Not because he's the most recent or the better looking, but because this Time Lord has layers so thick one series wouldn't be enough to scratch the surface, and that is the kind of character the series has always needed. Of course, one series is all we have, all we get given after all these years. "Dalek" was a very different, very modern Doctor Who, played by one of the best Doctors, with one of the best narratives. Onwards, ever, ever onwards.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
This could well be the best of the series so far. At no point during the episode did you feel like you had to make allowances for moments designed y'know for kids. No farting or burping here. This was a story sleekly designed to frighten the bejesus out of everyone and was all the better for it. Arguably, for the first time, the series held its back story on its sleeve throwing references for long term viewers and fans all over the place, to Davros and Cybermen, without needing to name any names. But new mythology was created for new fans, with the adversaries in the Time War spelt out for the first time and The Doctor's part in it.
Ironically the scariest moment for me were the scenes in which this story was told as The Doctor confronted the Dalek. He just ranted at it, face red with anger, veins popping out all over. We've seen Eccleston do comedy in the series, but this was the first time we saw his out and out anger and I just sat clutching the armrests of my chair. I jumped as we saw The Doctor's face bending around the Dalek's line of sight. Hartnell smirked, McCoy underplayed, Eccleston boiled over. Billie Piper was at it again too bringing even more dimensions to her work. The moment when we were led to believe the Dalek had killed Rose, even though having seen spoilery clips of later episodes we know she'll still be around, was heart breaking because the histrionics and screams which could have greeted her end are replaced with a quiet seeya to The Doctor.
But it wouldn't have worked if Nick Briggs, in his voice work as the Dalek, hadn't been there giving as good as he got. I've been following Briggs' Daleks for years in the Big Finish audio dramas but I haven't witnessed anything like the performance he gave tonight. In the diary in this month's Doctor Who magazine, he talked about how he was asked to loosen his intonation slightly and he comments that he'd been wanting to do that for years (perhaps constrained before by expectation). It really showed. This Dalek had an emotional range which made it even creepier -- as it tricked Rose into caring for it to the extent that she would touch and reinvigorate -- with that quiet whisper. Terrifying.
Much like The Unquiet Dead the episode benefited from having a small number of humans. It's tricky for the main guest cast to make an impression in circumstances such as this, but Corey Johnson's Henry van Statten had just the right level of smarm, Anna-Louise Plowman (who was previously in the Stargate tv series) oozed charisma and Bruno Langley had to just the right amount of charm without you wanting to throttle him. I like that he'll be travelling to another adventure -- he's a good counterpoint to the now slightly darker Doctor. Also want to mention Jana Carpenter who I think was the guard on the stairs who stood her ground against the Dalek -- along with Beccy Armory who played Raffalo the plumber in the second episode its an example of someone really making you care in only a few moments of screen time.
But again, to demonstrate what an intricate jigsaw this episode was, none of their work might have been as good had Rob Shearman not produced another gem. I'd thought it would be a more traditional work than Big Finish's Chimes At Midnight and particularly Scherzo. So it was with all the action and chase sequences. But there was still something else going on. You have an episode with a Dalek. What to do with it. I mean you could just drop it in a city and letting it go on a killing spree, and that might be exciting and scary (and expensive) but what would be the point we'd need to do something new. And as has been the case with this new series and Shearman's past work it was bound to subvert expectations.
They've invaded Earth, the universe and time on countless occasions. We've seen their beginning and now and then their ultimate end. What next? Make us care for them. Actually make them the wounded and The Doctor the aggressor, wanting their ultimate destruction. No crouching on the floor with two wires debating whether they should be destroyed. They just needed to die at all costs, the hero standing almost over one with a giant gun hoping to finish the job of wiping out their race for the final time. And we didn't want him to. Actually the Daleks have been given feelings before, way back in the Troughton era in The Evil of the Daleks when they were infected with the human factor leading to them inploding in on themselves in a civil war. Then it was a cool way of ending the adventure in some excitement. We never heard of that faction again (give or take a comic strip).
The programme makers knew that if you gave them feelings it took away the one thing which made them different. That they just wanted to kill everything else. Watching tonight I was reminded of the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode I, Borg in which that series' version of the unstoppable killing machine was drawn away from its kind, spent time with humans and started to question its purpose. In that series it had the ultimate effect of weakening the foe for years afterward, because we knew that under their organo-metal exterior they still had the capacity to care. And even when it returned to its own kind there was that little wink at the end that it had taken the experience with it. They became too human.
Doctor Who didn't make that mistake. The Dalek might have absorbed some of Rose's DNA and was beginning to have new ideas, thoughts and feelings but it didn't know what to do with them. It could have gone either way and made it even better at its job. Instead it just wanted to die. And there it went, imploding in on itself. But we know its just that Dalek and no matter what The Doctor says it was the last of them, in our heart of hearts we know they'll back, and judging by all the flying, plungering and electricuting, deadlier and scarier than they've ever been.
Some will question whether its right that our hero would go on the offensive in that way -- all of the jellybabies and telling Leela to put away her knife out the window. But we've seen this kind of thing already this series from this incarnation with anti-plastic, withholding moisturizer, gas explosions and hunking great missiles. What people probably won't like is how direct it is, in a moment when the enemy is already effectively defeated. Which is an idea entirely inkeeping with Shearman's canon -- the deconstruction of what we know -- in previous cases through the restructuring of story, this time the audiences reaction to a Doctor who becomes an anti-hero bent on revenge.
The jigsaw continues with Joe Aherne's direction. His vampire series Ultraviolet was one of the best looking and written genre series of the past twenty years so I was delighted to hear he was directing some Who. In television series like this, it's less easy to see the individual contributions of the director, editor, photographer and producer. But for me this show seemed to flow much better than the rest. It had a fairly linear story, certainly, but the pacing seemed perfect, and it didn't throw in a camera angle to be flashy. Everything seemed in service of the story. I'd include in this Murray Gold's score which demonstrated what he is capable of, pulling back when he needed to in a very Howard Shore way.
But, finally what of the realisation of the Dalek? Considering the horror stories in the past of Spider-Daleks and humanoids I was amazed and overjoyed at actually how respectful this design is. There is something of the Battle-Dalek from their last tv appearance about it, all gleaming metal. The rationalising of the sink plunger as part of its killing armoury worked very well, as did it's new approach to the electronic keypad. The CG effects really demonstrated how far tv has come, especially as the exterminated not only went negative but also transparant, shocks flying through skeleton.
After the disappointment of the film version of The HitchHiker's Guide To The Galaxy, I feel blessed that my actual favourite franchise is being rendered so perfecting in the next century. It took that familiar jigsaw, all of the icons of the series, and cut its own pieces out to fit. Our perception of The Doctor and those Daleks will never be the same again, and that's an extraordinary thing.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
Dalek' was the episode of this first Season of the new Doctor Who series I was most looking forward to; more than 'Rose' for me personally this was the story that excited me, the one I was most looking forward to. So did 'Dalek' meet my fevered expectations?
The answer has to be a resounding YES! This is perhaps the best Dalek story ever made and one of the best Doctor Who stories in any medium ever. So impressed was I by the way every aspect of this story, from the script, to the acting, to the special effects, to the music gelled together to create a story truly deserving of that much over used descrition 'classic', that it is difficult to know where to begin.
The script, by the very talented Rob Shearman, was simply superb and has significantly raised the standard for the other writers, including RTD himself. The concept of the alien museum owned by the self-centered Van-Straten was an interesting one and the idea of the Dalek machine having passed through several hands before it reached him an interesting one. The emphasising of just how dangerous even one lone Dalek can be was long overdue and surpassed even the audio adventure 'Jubilee' by the same writer in that regard. The rising up the stairs had, of course, been done before, but suddenly that sink plunger is no longer funny. The intelligence of the Daleks has never been more ably portrayed and this was only a lowly warrior; imagine how the intelligence of the Supreme Dalek compares. Other elements of the script worthy of praise include the Doctor's extreme reaction to the Dalek, the connection between the Dalek and Rose and the inventive ways in which the Dalek killed and manipulated. The ending was just perfection, the revealing of the truly vulnerable Dalek creature (looking almost exactly as I had always thought they would), Rose's anger at the Doctor and the Doctor's hatred, giving way to a kind of understanding. this wasn't just good Doctor Who, it was good drama period. So far as I could tell from one viewing there were no plot holes, no padding and no unnecessary characters or incident. This was a tight superbly wriiten script that I cannot praise Rob Shearman highly enough for.
'Dalek' was the episode that finally proved for me that Christopher Eccleston was the right choice to play the Doctor, and that made me regret that we will only see his excellent Ninth Doctor for one season. There was no unnecessary grinning here, no hint of sending the character up (something I have occassionally felt he was doing) but a tight focussed performance that made me forget completely this was a television series and that there was an actor playing the part of the Doctor, it was the Doctor there on screen, a real Time Lord fighting a real Dalek. Whether he was portraying pain, anger, concern or fear Eccleston was utterly convincing! If Christopher Eccleston is as good in the rest of the season his moving on from the role will be all the sadder.
Rose Tyler was, of course, just as central and important in this episode as the Doctor and once again we had a superb performance from Billie Piper. Like her co-star, she made me forget there was an actress playing the part and created the illusion of reality. I wasnt watching Billie, I was watching Rose Tyler.
The real star of 'Dalek' was, of course, the eponymous villain itself. The Dalek casing looked superb, the slightly retro design actually looking far more effective and menacing than the previous update in 'Remembrance of The Daleks. This was a Dalek that convinced you it was dangerous. The Doctor's comments about how dangerous it was were, to a large extent, merely the icing on the cake since it was obvious from the Dalek's appearance and new abilities that it was very, very dangerous. I have already mentioned the elevation and deadly sucvker arm, but the force shield was an idea long overdue and very welcome and the swivelling mid-section inspired. All these abilities were, however, overshadowed by two things, the superb Dalek voice by Nick Briggs that conveyed every nuance of the Dalek's intelligence and emotions and the aforemention intelligence itself, combined with a cunning that truly convinced that this was, possibly, the most dangerous creature in the universe.
The supporting characters were uniformly excellent with no hammy performances, even from those who were exterminated by the Dalek.
Murray Gold's music was also excellent, the operatic feel perfectly suiting the tone of the episode.
Thinking about it again, this is not only the best Dalek story ever, but possibly the best Doctor Who story ever!
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
"Dalek" sweeps away all other contenders, from old and new. It is an absolute triumph of television, conveying drama and emotion in equal measure, and propitious amounts of that. I'm notorious for being cruelly pedantic in my reviews of any sort of media, never permitting the slightest fault to be omitted as I indulge in a malevolent delight in tearing down every edifice. Yet it's genuinely requiring massive effort on my part to find anything that could conceivably construed as a fault in this edition of Doctor Who. My only quarrels with this episode was that Van Statten was something of a one-dimensional entity being your stereotype fresh-out-of-the-box Greedy Business Magnate Mk. I, the "elevating" Dalek looking a little too obviously computer generated, and the armaments of the soldiers still sounding like weedy pop-guns, lacking the throaty, tympanum-rupturing roar and growl of deadly armaments.
Beyond those niggles, however, "Dalek" is a majestic episode. Christopher Eccleston excels himself, spitting venom, rancour and loathing at his great foe as he circles it, each word of reprobation another twist of the knife, another vindictive, steel-capped kick to the stomach as he gives voice to an entire species' worth of resentment, and sheer, unadulterated hatred. The frisson in the atmosphere as Dalek and Doctor circle about each other in a deadly dance of death, every revolution disgorging another convulsing, vomiting spray of disgust, damnation and despair, burns through the air just as much as does the Dalek's own raygun.
Who could imagine that we could ever feel anything for the arch-nemesis of forty-one years of Doctor Who? I never envisaged it - but witnessing the Dalek engage in its final throes brought me, a proud man of eighteen who should have grown out of this, to literal tears. The hollow core of the Dalek's being - the soldier without an army, the warrior without a quest, the killer without a target - is communicated beautifully. Who would have thought that this prop would have been capable of conveying emotion? Yet the drooping eyestalk and the phlegmy, stuttering, electronic grate of its voice are harrowing things to see and hear. I'm not a limp-wristed libertarian who applauds the tired (and frankly embarrasing) plot device of "the evil beast has a nice side really", but the execution of it was superb - and sensibly treated, as well. The Dalek is ultimately a weapon - he can't tolerate emotion.
Although Van Statten himself was rather bland, as I communicated earlier, how his subordinates reacted to his tyrannous employment was well-realised. Adam putting an optimistic gloss on his chances of escaping with his cherished mind intact, and Van Statten's secretary sacrastic and prim way of giving the proprietor a taste of his own medicine, were both marvellously human.
Again, there are pleasing fillips of continuity to keep us "Classic Series" fanboys sated - the Cyberman's decapitated head and the old jokes about stairs and "pepperpots" brought a self-deprecatory smile to my face.
"Dalek" was a marvellously emotive piece of television, superbly acted, and impeccably written, infusing the viewer with as much emotion as the cast. It's a pity really, because I fear no further episode could ever scale above this apogee. Let's hope I'm wrong!
Robert Shearman deserves a peerage for delivering us this script - I await His Grace Duke Shearman of Utah's entrance into the House of Lords eagerly!
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
Obviously wonderful and easily the most GOSH WOW ISNT DOCTOR WHO THE BEST THING ON TELEVISION episode yet but, I dont know, I think I preferred World War Three. Maybe it was because I have heard the whole thing before, in the fantastic audio adventure Jubilee or maybe because for all the fabulous set pieces it was just another base under siege story. Please dont get me wrong, this was exciting, emotional and scary and easily the best production of the show to date, it was great telly for sure but it just felt a little too mainstream to be truly Doctor Who. Whereas World War Three was outrageous and silly, this was all a bit normal for Doctor Who. Gosh, I bet Im not making any friends, am I?
What Rob Shearman has done (in my eyes at least) is taken all the humour out of Jubilee and kept all the serious bits and despite adding some depth to the situation with further mentions of the Time War has practically pasted the entire script into a televised episode. And to be frank, I think I preferred Jubilee. There was something wonderfully uncomfortable about that particular audio and not just because we get to sympathise with the Dalek captive but because the humour was out and out disgusting in places and mixed in with the horror and drama made for a delightfully macabre experience. Whereas Dalek the TV episode goes for spectacle and frights, which admittedly it does fabulously but with the humour all but absent, I was constantly feeling there was something missing. It was no where near as uncomfortable and thus only half as effective as it could have been. Although I know somebody who will be delighted with this episode, someone who despised the humour from Jubilee but enjoyed the central idea. He will be in heaven.
However some of the humour in Jubilee was overdone and embarrassing and losing a woman asking a Dalek to marry her was greatly appreciated. And when all is said and done Rob Shearman is still Rob Shearman, which means the episode will still be powered by superb dialogue, strong emotions and clever twists. Dalek is all the best emotional bits from Jubilee strung together and that can be no bad thing. Considering how lightweight some of the series has been to this point some meaty drama can be no bad thing.
And wowza Christopher Eccleston where have you been hiding in the first five episodes? This was a bravura performance from the lead man, unleashing previously unseen anger and bitterness that highlights a particularly ugly and racist side to his personality. I adore this sort of examination of the Doctor and this was one of the absolute best attempts, his sheer hatred and fear of the Dalek led to some thoroughly uncomfortable moments. The scene where he attempted to kill the Dalek in cold blood chilled me to the bone but nothing could have prepared me for the sight of the Doctor gripping that bloody great bazooka and threatening to blow its head off at the climax. We know how dangerous these metal bastards can be and technically we should be behind the Doctor all the way but by creating an unfamiliar bond between the creature and Rose we are forced into the discomforting position of wanting him to fail. And while the much celebrated Do I have the right? scene from Genesis of the Daleks is powerful in its own right I dont think any other Dalek story has convinced me that the Doctor is wrong in his beliefs and that the Dalek deserves to live. It aint pretty but it makes for compulsive television.
I am so glad Nick Briggs was given a chance to star in the new series, the delights he has lavished on fans of the Daleks with his audio series are manifold and were easily enough to convince the creators of Doctor Who that he is the right man for the job. What he does here is phenomenal, actually managing to make us care for what is nothing but a homicidal killing machine. With his voice alone he conveys the Daleks anger, despair, defeat and revenge. He makes it scary as shit in certain scenes and yet touching in others. Of course the creators of the actual Dalek machine deserve plaudits too, there has never been a Dalek this stylish before and several of its actions scenes, particularly the amazingly cool moment where it swivels its body around to shoot more people, are gob smacking. Everyone involved deserves a round of applause, they have managed to take this absurd looking pot and make genuinely frightening, certainly I was terrified when it rose into the air and turned the sprinkler system into electric hell.
Billie Piper is such a good performer it breaks my heart to have to say this but I think Maggie Stables is a better actress and her relationship with the Dalek in Jubilee had more charge than Roses with this Dalek. Rose and the Dalek hit all the right notes and more, they convincingly portray their (dare I say it) bond and bring you close to tears when she eventually tells it to commit suicide. The scene where Rose asks the Dalek what else it wants apart from killing is superb drama. But Maggie played the Evelyn as though she was thoroughly terrified of the creature whilst she was understanding it which made for far more edgy scenes whereas Rose clearly cares for the Dalek which guts some of the tension. Plus I couldnt really take the sunlight scene as well as others have, there was something a bit too twee about it (well this is set in America!) reaching out its tentacle into the sunlight. Of course Dalek only had half the time Jubilee had to get inside its characters heads and I think it still deserves kudos for doing something with a bit more depth than most mainstream sci-fi shows would dare or indeed have the ability to do. This is far, far from the unbearable sugariness of Star Trek the Next Generations I, Borg which similarly humanised one of its biggest baddies. At least Dalek got to kill over two hundred people and sucker someone death for a laugh!
There was definite step up in production values and direction too which help to give this episode a filmic quality. The news of Joe Ahearne directing Doctor Who got a lot of fans excited as he has been the perpetrator of some fantastic telly in the past and this was like all his best work put together. The pace of this story never lets up and there is a genuine sense of danger. The POV Dalek scenes were giddily dramatic and added a lot of weight to the interrogation scenes. Some of the shots were painfully violent and all the better for it, the kids must have been terrified of this one. The cameras never stop moving and there is a pleasing mixture of complex long shots and intimate close ups. This is the work of a man who understands telly; the build up to the Daleks escape is nail bitingly tense. Murray Gold once again provides fine accompanying music; I loved the heavy vocals as the Dalek rampages through the complex. And the lighting and special effects were flawless, conveying danger and spectacle in equal measure.
Performances never falter but nobody tops the work done by Eccleston and Piper and more than ever you can feel their bond. The Doctors violent reaction after he shuts her in with the Dalek and thinks it has killed her made me sit up and gasp, clearly he has more complex feeling for this woman than we ever dared to think. And his heartbreaking reaction when she asks what he has become, pointing a gun at her because she standing between him and the Dalek, shock at how ashamed he feels proves he really does care what she thinks of him. Equally Roses painful I wouldnt have missed it for the world when she thinks she is going to die speaks volumes.
Riveting drama then, and easily the most sit up and pay attention episode yet. I would not be surprised if Dalek won the best episode of the season poll as it clearly is oozing with talent. Maybe the humour of Jubilee would have poisoned such a dramatic episode but in the end of the day I will probably stick on the much more uncomfortable audio rather than watch the episode in the future.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
Much better than last week: atmospheric, imaginative and scary. This was also an episode that worked well in the 45 minute format. I've waited 17 years for this, and on balance I wasn't disappointed.
My 'problem' with this episode, however, is its portrayal of the Dalek psychology. If the Daleks are supposed to be fascists - racists, like the Nazis - then that is first and foremost a social doctrine rather than an individual philosophy. So, it was always going to be interesting to see a Dalek in complete isolation. The episode obviously played on this a lot, but I wonder if it exaggerated the importance of genetic engineering as opposed to social philosophy, which I think is more interesting and relevant to our own experience. If you truly believe that something is evil because of its genes, then doesn't that make you a bit of a racist too? Also, the Doctor said the Dalek wanted to exterminate humans simply because they are different, but this misses an opportunity to explore another interesting idea. The Daleks, like all fascists, seek to dominate or exterminate other races because ultimately they feel threatened by them. Extermination is a sort of Bushesque pre-emptive doctrine. This ties in with their self-identification as survivors of a nuclear war. In that sort of social and technological environment you 'have' to adopt totalitarianism and genocide in order to protect your species.
Of course, the Dalek evolving after coming into contact with Rose touched on their genesis as survival - or 'travel' - machines in 'Genesis', and also on their search for the 'Human Factor' in 'Evil', and this was all good. However, it didn't quite ring true in the absence of the social context. The implication was that the Dalek in fact could not evolve - it was damned by its genetics, which is kind of interesting and poignant, but a bit morally suspect.
Other complaint: the Doctor's character. Of course, it was one of the well highlighted ironies of the episode that the Doctor 'would make a good Dalek', and again this is interesting and clever, but do we really want a hero who behaves like a Dalek? Are we happy with the Doctor being prepared to sacrifice his companion (and then try to blame it on someone else)? Are we happy with him being 'emotional' and torturing a creature vindictively, or committing genocide out of hatred and bitterness - oh, Tom, where are your two pieces of wire now? This petulant Doctor - who is becoming more and more like your mate's dysfunctional older brother - couldn't be more removed from McCoy's confronting the Black Dalek at the end of 'Remembrance', when he effectively reasons the Dalek to death - far more Doctoresque.
Having said that, Eccleston's portrayal of this dubious character is admittedly very good.
Finally, as someone who thinks 'Marco Polo' is arguably the best of all Doctor Who stories, I do hope we have another episode set in the past - even if it is a 'pseudo-historical'.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
Robert Shearman had an epic task in bringing back the daleks but has carried it perfectly. He has made the dalek far more then just a machine or a henchmen to Davros as they had become in the eighties, he has transformed them into entirely convincing genocide obsessed alien. He has also proved how truly powerful one dalek can be as well as being manipulative and calculating.
This episode also began with a humbling nod to the past as one of Von Stratten's exhibits is a cyberman helmet from Revenge of the Cybermen. Parts of the dalek which were mocked in the past were updated in this episode to great effect. For example the plunger having a sinister function and, ofcourse, it could climb stairs and fly. Hopefully this will silence critics who claim that daleks can't climb stairs but they ignored it last time...
Another old aspect which has now been effectively updated is the dalek gun laser which has similarities to the part in Remembrance were the guard is shot and his skeleton is exposed. The dalek in this episode also seems to have a greater manipulative intelligence not seen since Power of the Daleks or Evil of the Daleks. For example it gets Rose to touch it and this results in it's resurrection. It also kills a large amount of guards in one shot as it sets off the sprinklers, the dalek then goes on to blast the water and bathes the guards in electricity.
Towards the end of the episode we see the inside of the dalek and the kaled is exposed. The kaled looked good but i still prefer the dalek interior as portrayed in the Dalek Book. The dalek self destruct sequence is also very effective. We also learn more and possibly all about the Time War, but i still think this Bad Wolf character will be involved with it somewhere (most likely episode twelve, seeing as it is called Bad Wolf). Adam also joins the Tardis and it will be intersting to see if his character develops to rival Rose.
If feel that Robert Shearman has made one of the most menacing dalek stories which have not been seen for far too long. He should be congratulated in making such an excellent story which i think is possibly the best in the series so far, although its a close call between The Unquiet Dead and Dalek.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
On the worldwide interthingy I go by the name dalekpete. This was an impulse when looking for an identity almost a decade ago. I use an avatar of Abslom Daak to suggest that my electronic persona is anti-Dalek; after all who could ever have sympathy for that race of destructive killers?
Under the circumstances I awaited the episode Dalek with more anticipation than normal. The BBC short trailer where the chained Dalek recognised the Doctor made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Not for a moment was I disappointed.
I never thought that I would end the story feeling sorry for the Doctors greatest adversary. That the Timelord might charge around waving a gun and, in deranged way, attempt genocide seemed inconceivable; but for all we recognised the Daleks plight, we know he was right. This was a Dalek, the greatest killing machine known to history, and it wreaked havoc within the bunkers that housed a roughly contemporary collection of alien artefacts. However it was a pitiful, tortured being, easily out done in the despicability stakes by some of the humans.
In finding there the last remaining member of that mutant race and recognising that it was a threat the Doctor was surely doing the right thing. We all knew that Tom Baker erred in not destroying the Daleks, didnt we? It is just that Rose has her doubts and in her few minutes with the creature she sees more than her svengali has learned in 900 years. This was the central premise of an outstanding episode.
I am sure that many will dissect the whole Time War aspect and wonder whether this advances the Who concept or not. There was certainly enough to satisfy aficionados of the show with references to the past. What shouldnt be debated is that this was first rate Doctor Who and brilliant television. It was both gripping and emotional. Not just because it featured a Dalek but because it was complex in the characterisation and it altered our understanding of the Doctor and his current companion.
The Dalek was superbly visualised with the repairs sequence looking wonderful. An explanation of some of the finer details about the abilities of the killing machine only added to the fascination of the Daleks. It was voiced to perfection by Nicholas Briggs, this was an emotionless being that had to find a soul. Eccleston was outstanding, never more so when beseeching action from the other cast members in the close ups. Piper was also sound, particularly when she had the moral upper-hand. Of the non-regulars Corey Johnson was impressive, while Bruno Langley nicely underplayed his role and in joining the Doctors trip might be considered a companion.
While that status of Adam might be disputed, the status of this episode as a classic shouldnt be open to question.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
OK, I will admit it, I didn't want to get my hopes up for this episode. Whilst I have found the new series enjoyable, I haven't quite clicked with it yet, nor have I entirely warmed to Eccleston's blokish portrayal of the Doctor. I will admit to being a long standing fan of the Daleks so the approach of a new Dalek episode filled me with mixed emotions. I wanted this episode to be good so badly indeed, the news that it had been written by Rob Shearman gave me hope but I didn't want to get my hopes up too high.
After 45 minutes of sitting on the edge of my seat, I realised that you can truly a judge a man by the quality of his enemies. "Dalek" didn't just entertain me, it blew me away! For the first time in the new series, I was utterly immersed in the story. I was no longer simply watching Christopher Eccleston playing the Doctor, I was watching the Doctor come face to face with his oldest enemy and loving every minute of it (despite the urge to duck behind my sofa).
RTD may be very good at drama but his writing of the Doctor has been slightly hit-and-miss for me and this is why I have taken a while to get into the new series. Rob Shearmen on the other hand nailed the character precisely. For the first time, I truly accepted that Eccleston was THE Doctor and not just A Doctor. The dialogue is sharp, the character is spot on and the tension is relentless.
The supporting cast are introduced in one of the sharpest 10 minutes of television I have seen. With a few economic scenes, we are introduced to the Dalek's captors and given a handle on their motives. The egotistical billionaire collector, his sycophantic second-in-command and the likable english boffin who catalogues his collection.
Shearmen doesn't mess long-time fans about, like the Doctor, we know that carnage and mahem is waiting the minute the Dalek bursts its chains. The scene where Doctor and Dalek come face-to-face for the first time is electrifying. Eccleston's immeadiate terror is replaced by sardonic mocking that would have made any of the doctor's earlier ascerbic incarnations proud. His diatribe against the Dalek contains the biggest revelation of the series so far. The Daleks were the antagonists of the much-mentioned "Time War", it appears the war ended with the Daleks and the Timelords wiping each other out leaving just the Doctor and this sole surviving Dalek.
From that point on the episode proceeds with relentless inevitability. Rose's compassion and ignorance of what the Dalek trigger's its release. It quickly goes on the rampage and proceeds to slaughter its way through the personel who try to stop it. Desparate to prevent the Dalek getting loose comletely, the Doctor tries to lock down the bunker and trap it. Unfortunately he traps Rose too who quickly comes to regret her earlier pity as she finds herself cornered. The Dalek however fails to exterminate her (to its own suprise as much as Rose) and instead demands its release in return for Rose's life.
Unwilling to see her killed, the Doctor releases both Dalek and hostage before heading off to find something powerful enough to destroy it. The Dalek and Rose reach the surface and Rose comments that she never expected to feel the sunlight again. The Dalek appears curious and shockingly unseals it's casing, allowing the mutated creature within to bask in the sunlight.
The Doctor rushes up with an alien weapon, determined to put an end to the last Dalek once and for all. Rose however refuses to let him simply gun down the creature. The Dalek is increasingly exhibiting human emotions including fear and pity. The Doctor realises that the Dalek has become contaminated by Rose's DNA and is slowly mutating into something new, a fate that is worth than death for the xenophobic creature. Unwilling to become what it despises, the Dalek self-destructs. The Doctor and Rose leave but not before taking the resident boffin with them.
This episode was undoubtedly the best in the series so far. The scripting, pacing, acting and story were excellent. However there were a few minor quibbles. The redesigned Dalek was a masterpiece. Without changing the basic design, the new-look Dalek looks considerably more sophisticated and dangerous than its plywood predeccessors. Unfortunately this good work is largely wasted in the second half of the episode when this menacing metal monster is inexplicably replaced by a sloightly dodgy looking CGI Dalek. The purpose of this appears to be to show off the Dalek's ability to hover to negotiate stairs. This is a total waste as the CGI work is nowhere near as good as the physical Dalek. A single scene with the Dalek climbing the stairs would have been adequate and then they should have switched back to the real Dalek. The poor CGI work mars the last 15 minutes of the episode unecessarily.
The other problem with the story is that it borrows heavily from Shearman's own Big Finish story "Jubilee". The premise of the last surviving Dalek being imprisoned and tortured by humans before forming a strange bond with the Doctor's companion will be very familiar to any fans of the audio series. I cannot entirely fault Shearman for this however since Jubilee was such an excellent story and deserved to be enjoyed by a wider audience.
The last few points are niggles but bothered me anyway. It is never explained how Rose's touch managed to regenerate the dying Dalek, nor how her DNA became mixed with it's own. Also the revelation that the Daleks are responsible for the destruction of Gallifrey and the Time Lords shocked me somewhat. The Daleks are powerful and deservedly a threat to the cosmos but the idea that they could go toe-to-toe with the Lords of Time just feels wrong to me.
Still an excellent episode and the trailer for next week has Simon Pegg in it so I finished the story on a positive note.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
After the disappointment of the 2-parter, the hype surrounding "Dalek" had me having the same sort of fears as accompanied "Rose" a few weeks back. Was it to be a travesty? Would it belittle the metal meanies? Would CGI overcome plot?
Thankfully, "Dalek" is a return to the high standards set in the first 4 weeks of the series. A clever script, if the opening minutes are a little familiar to anyone who has listened to Shearman's BF audio, "Jubilee". Luckily, the episode veers from that plotline fairly quickly.
There is pace, a battle scene that will have former members of "Havoc" weeping openly, huge emotion, and this week, the subtext remains just that. We start to see elements of the Doctor's darker side emerge, and the back story of the Time War receives its greatest fleshing out to date. Continuity freaks will doubtless use this episode to debate that following events in Resurrection, the Daleks did indeed launch an offensive against Gallifrey, that the 7th Doctor's use of the Omega device was simply an opening salvo, and that ultimately, all-out war was declared. Me, I just loved the NOW.
The new Dalek actually delivers what previous models have said on the tin - that this is a highly technological race, designed for survival, and dedicated to destruction. This Dalek doesn't just fire at everything in sight: it calculates, strategises, and pulls more than one surprise out of its polycarbide armour.
A new emotion emerges from behind the sofa, too. It may seem strange, but at points you actually start to pity this embodiment of evil, and find yourself doubting some of the motivation behind the Doctor's actions. A Dr Who story that challenges viewers' expectations? Wow!
A strong supporting cast complement sterling performances from Billie and Chris, and Gold's quasi-operatic score adds an atmospheric death that leaves you in no way nostalgic for those plodding Dalek themes of yesteryear.
And finally, the best news of all - for the first time on TV since Death to the Daleks, there's no Davros. Although,there is a cameo from another of the Doctor's nemeses.
All in all, then, a splendid return to form for the show. With the announcement that the final episode is titled Bad Wolf, another reference is dropped in to tonight's episode. It seems that Aliens/WWIII were just abberations.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
Wow. It could be a one word review and it would probably sum up how I feel about the slice of Doctor Who that I have just been served up but unfortunately the review guidelines indicate that no short reviews will be entertained. OK. I admit it. I had doubts. Well, you know how it is, you get all excited, you can't help it. You don't really want to because you fear disappointment but the inner child in jumping up and down inside of you and it won't be stilled. You count the days. Dr Who is coming back. It's gonna be bigger, the sets won't wobble, some of the production stills look magnificent, you think the lead actor is brilliant, and then you get the TV Movie. Been there, done that. So, a new TV series. Great lead actor, gorgeous looking stills, a genuine fan at the helm and one of the most talented men in TV Drama, to boot. It's got to be good this time hasn't it? Well, hasn't it?
So, for me Episode One didn't really gel for me. The Auton threat wrapped up in a few minutes. Solved by brute force rather than brainpower. A LOT of smirking. Burping wheely bins. I enjoyed it. A few, well quoted, good one liners. It was OK but it wasn't great. It did not inspire awe and wonder. I *thought* we would end up with a series that looked good and wasn't bad but that it would never be great. But it got better. I wouldn' t say much better but better. The second story was more interesting and then we got the The Unquiet Dead. Well, now that is more like it. Dickensian London, gothic ghost story. A smattering of Weng Chiang with a dusting of Sapphire and Steel much more like it. Then we had a cliffhanger! Hurrah for that. Been missing those. Things are warming up nicely. I am still not blown over but I am considerable impressed. I am excited about the next episode. I am feeling positive about the series. Proud of it. Able to defend my dirty secret Who habit. Able to discuss the episode with collegues in the staff room who are also enthusiastic.
Then Dalek. This IS Doctor Who and it ain't average. It is great. It is real, I feel it beginning to connect with the Doctor Who of the past. I can hear Tom Baker intone, 'have I the right?' The story is moving. Cerebral. Well acted. Genuinely edge of the seat stuff. It is top notch. It isn't a pale reflection of what has come before, it is vital and it is beginning to add to our mythology. It is not merely Doctor Who, I mean Trial of the Timelord was Doctor Who, it is the programme at it's best and it is more than capable of holding it head up in the company of the old series, Dalek has the hallmarks of the best of the best.
I can't wait to see what we are going to get next. I see Simon Pegg is in the next episode. He's great. This programme is becoming better with each airing. I think there is more to come. I was upset Eccleston had decided to call it quits but anyone who had the pleasure of watching the fabulous 'Casanova' is probably getting quite excited about seeing Tennant in the role. I know I am. I think he may add a touch more subtlety to the portrayal than the current incumbent. Better and better. Wow!
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
The long wait is over. At last we can finally rid ourselves of the cheap tacky image of the Daleks, evolved over decades of derision by the same old critics. Now they can climb the stairs. Now they can sucker a man to death. Now all the functions of a Dalek do seem to be practical. But does the excellent realisation of New Dalek merely dilute its traditional message of menace, in the same way that New Labour was seen as a dilution of socialism in the late 90s?
Robert Shearman's answer is an emphatic NO. 'Dalek' sees a fantastic rebirth of a televisual icon in every possible way (I couldn't possibly comment on the rebirth of the Labour Party). In many ways this is the best characterisation of the Daleks since their debut in 1963, certainly since Power of the Daleks. The sheer scale of the species' capability is explored far more than it ever was in the original TV series, making one genuninely awestruck at the potential that just one machine could achieve. Everything is covered. Intelligence in its distress calls and downloading, Cunning in its duping of Rose, Pitiless in its destroying of all the militia in the underground facility, Ruthlessness in its holding the Doctor to ransom in order to escape, Confusion in its coming to terms with Rose's emotions. I could go on, but you get the idea. Where could one get this scope in most of the Daleks' previous stories? And yet that was what made them so appealing in the first place, that there was so much more to the obvious fascistic side they presented. Shearman and RTD deserve immense credit for going back to the roots of the Daleks' attraction.
Special credit is also due to the faithful reproduction of Raymond Cusick's original design. Any production team would have be tempted to start afresh, but thankfully RTD and friends have resisted this, appreciating that the original attraction of the design was the key to the Daleks' appeal. The modifications they have made have all improved the effectiveness of the design, in particular the blue eye, and for me, the speech indicators with the poorer lit scenes being highly effective. The classic old ring modulator is also retained, and Roy Skelton has been well and truly left behind in the voicing stakes by Nicholas Briggs, who produces a fantastically emotional performance, highlighting the Dalek's paranoia superbly.
Of course, all the other elements to Dalek ensure that this is a story of the highest quality. The mood is considerably darker than any of the previous tales and suitably so, since we are now beginning to explore in detail the immediate background to the Doctor's present situation, and the painful effects of the Time War. Gone are the inane grins from Eccleston and cheesy jokes (well most of them), to be replaced by an intense performance of the highest order. This is what many would have imagined Christopher's Doctor to be like from Day One, but the contrast from the first 5 episodes lightheartedness makes this even more effective.
Billie Piper continues to surprise with her acting, and shows she can equal Chris in the intensity stakes. Corey Johnson is superb as Van Statten, smarminess and ruthlessness incarnate, and pleasingly preserved instead of dying the usual villain's death. Only Bruno Langley fails to impress here, performing with too much innocence and naivety for a self-pronounced genius.
The story's location is another excellent feature, the bleak long corridors echoing all the old classic Dalek stories, and providing those much-cherished moments of suspense. Shearman says that the stairs scene was the first thing he wrote, and it's easy to understand why. This scene is directed and acted to perfection, and is the final put-down to the critics.
From a production point of view only Murray Gold's music disappoints, with a lot of over-playing in certain scenes - the Adam/Rose scene a particular weak point. That said, the choral sequences are highly effective in conveying the awesome potential of the Dalek and the rebirth of its power.
After this revelation, I for one hope that we see more of the Daleks in this series, and despite having zero knowledge of the stories to come (spoiler-free is much better you know), something tells me we will. The series will be all the better for it. It's so gratifying to say that the Daleks haven't been brought back just for the sake of it - the possibilities are endless. When one considers that the Daleks' origins go back 42 years this is truly a special alien.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
There were always going to be two big episodes-the first episode and the one where the Daleks come back. Neither disappointed, which is what counts.
The focus of the story is course the Dalek-it would have been suicide to do otherwise! And they really did suceed here. The plunger now has effective use, and the scene where the tortured gets 'suckered' is probably one of the scariest the series is ever going to produce. The rotating sections are really showing how mordern technology has benefited Doctor Who and enhances the feeling of the terror the Daleks create-the 'behind the sofa' factor if you will. The extermination scenes are the key points and they are lovely. I could go on for ages, but the bottom line is the Daleks are back and frankly could not have been done better.
Now on to the rest. The opening scene is very nice and retrospective, yet not interfering in the slightest. Its also special to me-the Cybermen were always more important to me than the Daleks, and if I could write for anything, screw te Doctor its these babies I want to write for. But thats another story. The guest cast is worth consideing. The soldiers are precisely what they should be, Von Straten is a complete hadcase and Diane has great potential. Then of course there's Adam, who we can see more of. He looks promising in adding a new dynamic to the TARDIS crew.
The sets are very nice, with the sprinkler sequence showing off the full scale of what they can do.
If you're going to borrow, borrow the best, and this is what Shearman has done. He has taken Power & Evil of the Daleks and melded some of the best sequences from them into a 45-minute crackpot. The downside to this is the rather predictable bit of the piece which allows for the ending. One feels a final climatic battle would have been worth it. The War bits are especially good though f you consider how strong the Daleks were getting as a result of time travel and the inevitable consequences.
This is truely a good dalek story, and a strong gun for this season, as it should have been. Lets hope the Doctor is wrong, and the Daleks will come back in force.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
I was unsure of whether I would enjoy Dalek. My earliest memories of the greatest Doctor Who villain are from the Sylvester McCoy outing, Rememberance. Seven years old, quaking in my armchair as the white Dalek climbed the stairs towards the Doctor. Awesome stuff. On a repeat viewing recently, I was slightly underwhelmed by the whole thing. The story didn't make much sense. The Daleks were not as threatening, they wobbled and looked slightly rickety. They were still good, but only just. The downfall of rose tinted spectacles I guess. No pun intended.
So, did Dalek dissapoint? No.
Of all the episodes of the new series so far, this has been the standout, even more so than The Unquiet Dead. Good humour, dramatic to a tee and scary to boot. The moment the Doctor first meets his old nemesis is thrilling and downright spooky, the single blue light of its eyepiece looming out of the darkness. A moment to stick in the minds of many a young child I hope. I know it'll stay in mine.
Christopher Eccleston's performance was bang on the nail throughout. He displayed none of the gurning weaknesses that let down Aliens of London and WW3. His trademark "fantastic" was less annoying and more a wonderfully unhinged show of relief. He excels with drama and flounders with the humour at times, so it's nice to see this episode played entirely straight. His fear of the chained Dalek, his hatred of it, chilling. I would have objected to the Doctor rifling through guns with the intent on destroying his foe, but the payoff of this was also part of the episodes finest moment. More on that in a while.
Billie Piper was, as always, good. Not much more I can say. It was great to see her feeling sorry for the chained and tortured Dalek. I'll even admit to feeling sorry for the thing as the scientist was going at it with the drill. The shrieks were another thing that left a lasting impression on me.
I shall be interested to see how Bruno Langley fares. For the first time since the Peter Davison era, the Doctor is now travelling with more than one companion, so it will be nice to see how this dynamic works and if it lasts. Adam has not really had enough time to settle in this episode, so we shall see.
Henry Van Statton was superbly slimy. Perhaps the character was a little cliche, but nicely played.
But of course, what of the Dalek itself? After all these years, is it scary? Yes, and then some. I got cold shivers as it broke free whilst screaming "that" catchphrase. You know the one. Begins and ends with an E. The resulting chaos and slaughter was both shocking and exciting.
More than the action, the emotional content was a sharp slap in the face... In a good way. To see a Dalek in such turmoil is strange. And the high point of the story, the climax, that finest moment I mentioned... Breathtaking. I nearly cried for the Dalek, with its pitiful fading voice and single tired eye. As the Doctor runs in, intent on gunning the poor creature down, and Rose defends it. The roles are suddenly reversed. It is the Doctor who is intolerant and hateful, quite ready to murder as the Dalek is finding itself unable to do the same, vulnerable, alone and confused. A great twist and a great bit of writing. Gravitas, y'know?
This week the tone was just perfect. After the farting, camp and rather pathetic Slitheen, this is truly welcome. This is what Doctor Who should be. A perfect balance of humour, action, suspense and drama. Murray Gold even outdid himself in places. For all the excitement this episode had built up, I did not find my expectations so cruelly shattered.
I would put this right up there with the best of any other Dalek episode, Genesis included. There can be no higher praise surely?
Oh yeah, hooray for the Cyberman head.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
The last Dalek television story was Remembrance of the Daleks in 1988; a story which, like many earlier stories featuring the famous monsters, ended with the total annihilation of the Dalek species. Unsurprisingly, this is overlooked in Dalek and yet the story begins with Skaros inhabitants having already suffered a calamity which has left only one surviving example of its malevolent species. This individual soldier is being held captive at an exhibit in a privately owned museum in a Utah of the near future. Initially, the creature is in an sorry state of extreme decrepitude, unable even to exterminate the Doctor when the chance presents itself. However, thanks to the clumsy intervention of Rose the Dalek is able to regenerate itself, recover the power to activate its laser and go on the rampage. What then follows are some of the best sequences of the new series so far, with the Dalek doing what is does best and single headedly wiping out several groups of heavily armed soldiers.
There are one or two differences between this Dalek and the more familiar predecessors, but they are mainly in the form of new tricks which it is capable of performing rather than radical re-imaginings of the creatures character. We all know that the Daleks could fly in the old series, as they did so clearly in Remembrance and it was inferred that they did so in Revelation of the Daleks also (how else did that Dalek fire from such an elevated position in episode two?). The Dalek in this story also flies, doing so at several points in the story. It is also capable of rotating not only the dome on top of its shell, but the central area at which the arm and gun are mounted. The suction cup on the end of the arm is now capable of moulding itself into different shapesfirstly to crush the skull of a scientist and then to hack an electronic keypad. The laser blasts look less like the thunderbolt-look from Remembrance of the Daleks and The Five Doctors special edition and more like the tradition blue beam of energy from the earlier stories. When the targets die though we are now treated to a stunning x-ray death akin to those seen in the Doctor Who comic strips. Towards the end of the story the bonded polycarbide armour of the Dalek opens up to reveal the mutant inside, probably the longest and most generous footage ever allowed of the actual mutant but very much in keeping with earlier appearances. Finally the Dalek commits suicide using the half-spheres around its base. How exactly these worked is never explained, but they seemed to create some kind of destructive field around the Dalek which completely wiped it out. Other tricks the Dalek displayed in the episode include drawing energy from a television monitor whilst simultaneously downloading every piece of information available on the internet, using its casing to set fire to or extrapolate DNA from whomever touches it, and generating a defensive shield around itself which caused all bullets to disappear before making contact.
The writing for this episode was unlike anything yet seen in this series so far. It avoided the irritatingly facetious levity of Russell T Davies episodes and allowed for the most dramatic exchanges of dialogue weve yet had from the 9th Doctor. The scenes in which he verbally spars with the Dalek are mesmerising and powerful, and even the Daleks perspective is given an convincing angle. There are also several surprises thrown in, including the Cyberman head on display in the museum, the reference to Davros and the acquisition of a new assistant in Adam, something I really wasnt expecting.
One aspect of the story which narrowly avoided being disappointing was the emotional baggage that seems to be passed from one episode of this new series to the next. Like earlier stories, there were gratuitously soppy scenes of Rose and the Doctor facing death and once again telling one another how theyre glad they met each other. Im getting a little tired of these scenes and am hoping they wont carry on into the 10th Doctors era, but clearly the production team think they are necessary. One genuinely moving aspect of the story was the Dalek itself. True, it kills lots of people and shouts exterminate in the voice we all love, but it also demands the sympathies of the viewer. The suicide of the Dalek at the end of the episode could so easily have been derived from the same sentimental trash as that seen in The End of the World, and indeed I can imagine a Russell T Davies version of this story ending with the Dalek killing itself because it was lonely (as in Remembrance of the Daleks). Thankfully though, writer Robert Shearman comes up with a much better justification of the self destruction: because of Roses DNA the Dalek is mutating into something other than a Dalek, therefore it considers itself to be impure and cant face a none-Dalek future. In short, it is killed by its own xenophobia. This theme of ethnic cleansing it one that lingers at the heart of the Dalek legend, featuring prominently in stories like Genesis of the Daleks and Evil of the Daleks as well as many others. In fact, Dalek draws many comparisons to Evil of the Daleks in its treatment of the idea of Dalek nature contaminated by humanity. Being about twenty years too young to have seen Evil of the Daleks and having only experienced it through the soundtrack and single remaining episode, it was a wonderful opportunity for me to see this adventurea story which promises great potential for future episodes. Lets hope the next story is just as dramatic.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
We know our place in Britain. We make quirky films and television shows, we make intense dramas and, occasionally, we make the odd caper movie. What we do not do, cannot do and should never attempt is flat out, balls to the wall action shows. We are not capable of making shows that fly along at a breathtaking pace while retaining storyline and character. Most importantly of all we cannot allow shades of grey to colour our heroes and villains.
Someone needs to tell this to the Doctor Who crew because at seven oclock this evening they ripped upped these rules, set fire to them and merrily danced on the ashes.
Dalek was the best episode of Doctor Who ever. Underline, write it up in bold uppercase. The action was intense, the pace was relentless and the effects faultless. Did Joe Ahearne know this was for television? Christopher Ecclestons scene with the Dalek was intense and his reaction to Roses death poignant but he is an ensemble actor, generous in his ability to allow his co-star the chance to shine and she took her chance. Billie Piper is officially forgiven for recording Because we want. Goddamned this girl has got some acting chops! Heres hoping that we get another series out of her because she is going to be a star.
But after the action and carnage, the script, direction and acting that we mere mortals do not deserve the thing that will stay in my mind for weeks to come is the Dalek opening up to experience sunshine.
I pity next weeks show because this aint gonna be topped!
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
I think this episode is without doubt the episode everyone has been waiting for since the series started, even before. It doesn't matter whether your a fan of the show or not, watched the original or not, because there's not many who haven't heard about the daleks. Even those who are too young to remember the original series have heard about the Daleks, so expectations for this episode were high.
The episode opened with a cameo from another of the Doctor's biggest and famous of enemies-the Cybermen. Luckily enough for the casual viewer the quick climpse wasn't laboured and full with remarks to previous encounters between TimeLord and Machine. Had this been the case many would have soon turned off put off by the constant remarks to events they know nothing off. Luckily the sequence was quickly over and the Doctor was arrested.
He was quickly introduced to the second villian of the piece, an american billioniare who collects alien artifacts. He wasn't the best of characters to be honest. Whether that was due to poor scripting or acting its difficult to tell but he didn't shine out, he just felt like a plot device to introduce the audience and the Doctor the main enemy of the episode-The Dalek. The Doctor stroded agrogantly into the cage expecting he could help the alien and expecting the alien to be greatful of his help. The last thing he expected to see was his arch rival hidden in the dark and the horror on the Doctor's face was plain to see.
The episode quickly picked up some much needed pace so it could be all over and done with in 45 minutes because of the restrictive new format. This episode could have done with being a two-partner to allow events to be spread out instead of feeling rushed. The deaths could have had more of am impact if the Dalek chasing through the corridors was expanded. It slowly hunting down and killing its captors. We could have seen the fear, horror and tension from the other characters as they fought for their lives and the realisation that there's a better killing machine other than mankind. All these themes and others could have been explored more deeply but let it not be said that this was an excellent episode.
The influence of the new Battlestar Galactica could be felt here. The enemies in that series were once chrome robots who hunted down mankind because they had no other purpose. But the new Cylons are humanoid and have emotions, they have evolved and because of it you feel for them. Their are times when you are on their side or at least you understand their motives. This episode had examples of that. The Dalek, by using Rose's DNA to regenerate, developed emotions as a side effect and by doing so the audience began to feel for it. You sympathised with it, more so than with the Doctor. The Dalek was the last survivor of its race and all it could do was follow long programmed orders to kill but desperately wanted new ones. Meanwhile the Doctor almost became the villian of the piece through his determination to kill without listening to reason or letting emotion come in the way. Even the Dalek pointing out the Doctor was acting more like his species than Timelords didn't really stop the Doctor. It took Rose and the mutating Dalek begging to be killed for the Doctor to realise what he had become.
The episode also confirmed my suspsion that the Daleks were invovled with the great timewar and also hinted that if a Dalek survived other Timelords may survive as well.
Once again Billie Piper stole the show with brilliant acting and the supporting cast were better than some so far although perhaps not as brilliant as one was hoping. Christopher Eccelston improved on previous performaces as the Doctor but he still doesn't quiet feel like the Timelord I have come to know and love thanks to UkGold repeats, VHS and DVD releases due to being too young to remember the original series. This episode gives me hope for future episodes after previous ones failed to engaged or to impress me, bar Wolrd War Three that is.
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Well this was it. This was what the fate of the entire series was resting on. Seems a bit odd that they kept it back to episode six frankly, especially after the abysmal effort that was episodes four and five. (I'm so ashamed I can't even refer to them by name any more).
The Daleks are definitely back. Bigger, badder, bolder and bronzer than even Kilroy-Silk. Let's get one thing out of the way. In order to help itself regenerate it needed "time traveller DNA", though how Rose's DNA would have been changed by time travel is a mystery to me. The Dalek knew it needed this but seemed surprised when it, apologies for substituting one dastardly tag line here for another, assimiliated Rose, and got all sorts of girlie thoughts in there as well. For heaven's sake! The bloody thing had assimilated the entire internet. Did it just skim over the websites for Hello! magazine and Top Shop? Frankly if I were looking for aliens on Earth, I'd probably start with Hello! magazine.
I definitely approve of the upgrades and it seems the Mill have finally sorted themselves out with the special effects, and are producing effects, not only that the series deserves, but that viewers want to see.
It was frankly a single premise story but it was very interesting to note the helicopter at the beginning of the episode was referred to as "Bad Wolf" and now with the Grafitti from last week and episode twelve, another big Dalek one, also being called "Bad Wolf" I know this is going to turn into something interesting, and I hope they manage to keep it a secret until the time is right.
It was good to hear more about the time war. frankly anybody with a brain could have figured out it was the Daleks' fault. I sincerely hope they don't just keep referring to it however, and actually show us either it, or some refugees and consequences of it. It's a bit like hearing about Somalia on the radio but never seeing the full horror of it for yourself on TV.
So there you go, my review. I liked it... alot! It was precisely what I've been waiting for and was in my opinion the strongest episode so far. Cool to see a girl from Stargate in it too, never hurts!
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Lets face it... Put a Dalek in a Doctor Who story and you are going to get peoples interest. We have waited for over a decade to get these things back on our screens, and by God, did they do it with style!
What we have been treated to is something so much greater than just the return of the Daleks. This story had real body and soul. This is an episode from which all the Doctor Who fans the world over can say, We told you so with a grin firmly planted from ear to ear.
From the offset its quite clear that this isnt the script of RTD. No slapstick humour, no grafting on of pointless jokes, no cringe worthy lines of dialogue, just pure and simple sci-fi drama. This was a great flight of fantasy. After all, Doctor Who was not meant to be too intelligent at the end of the day, thats what Sapphire and Steel was about (please can someone bring that back too?). But while it was nail biting edge of your seat stuff (and I assure you I was on the edge of my seat) it had real heart.
In Dalek we had elements of Asimovs Robot and Philip K Dicks Do Androids Dream of electric Sheep. Yes, it really was that good! A Dalek all-alone dealing with emotions for the first time. Long time fans will be amazed how beautiful and emotional tonights episode has been. New fans will just see why we have all wanted to see the return of this show for so long!
I really must say this. Thanks RTD for bringing back Doctor Who, but there is a big difference between writing for Doctor Who as a fan and writing for Doctor Who for the fans.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
Once again, the work of a different writer marks a much welcome change of tone and pace for the show.
There were huge expectations for 'Dalek' - the return of the most celebrated of the Doctor's enemies, the middle-season event episode, the promise of a darker, more complex tale.
Incredibly, it delivered.
After the slightly goofy shakiness of 'Aliens of London' and 'World War Three', we were thrown straight into a tighter, more claustrophobic setting in the form of Henry Van Statten's UFO museum, deep in a bunker in Utah. The Doctor and Rose are catapulted into the tale within the first five minutes (after a rather wonderful fan-pleasing moment featuring a Slitheen arm and - brilliantly - the helmet from a classic series Cyberman), giving us over to the episode's real star - the Dalek itself.
There has been huge build-up to this moment - the Doctor's vague references to the Time War which wiped out the Time Lords and was responsible for countless further damage to the Nestenes and Gelth, amongst countless others, have clearly been related to the Daleks.
And the creature's unveling, followed by the Doctor's gobsmacked reaction, which soon turns to venomous hatred, was outstanding. This was not a dumb, clumsy pepperpot which could only yell 'Exterminate', this was a soldier, intelligent, manipulative and incapable of understanding that there was nothing left for it to fight for.
Until, that is, it uses some of Rose's DNA to repower itself (a contrivance which seems sketchy but is entirely forgiveable given the places it takes the story) and sets about wiping out the inhabitants of the bunker.
There were so many superb moments here, not just Doctor Who moments but moments of real, heartfelt drama. Chris Ecclestone, after looking a little unsettled in the previous tale, dives into the script with a vigour and commitment which is entrancing to watch. Here is a Doctor who is not only eccentric and mercurial, he is damaged. He still hurts and hates for what happened to his people. Ecclestone's movement from fear to hatred to anguish to desperation to sympathy is an absolute joy.
Yet, almost unbelievably, it is once again Billie Piper who runs away with much of the episode. She has none of the Doctor's (or, indeed, many of the audience's) history with the Daleks, allowing her to see the wretchedness of its existence and to show it a second's kindness which ultimately saves all their lives and takes the viewer into the real tragedy behind the two races of aliens whose face-off she gets caught in.
Special mention should also go to Nicholas Briggs, who gives the Dalek more depth than any seen before.
It's hard to see how the series could get any better than this. Rob Shearman should certainly be given more episodes to write next season and I can only imagine what such a radical rethinking could do to, say, the Cybermen or The Master.
All this, and a new companion to boot. The Doctor has been back for a few weeks but now, finally, he's even better than before.
And just what is this recurring Bad Wolf reference leading to?
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The Daleks are back. Well, one of them anyway. Indeed, it was the last Dalek, as Rob Shearman and Russell T Davies had obviously decided. So how did this story compare with previous Dalek adventures and most importantly, did it do a good job of 'reinventing' the Daleks for the 21st Century audience and the fans of the classic series.
So how does the story go? The TARDIS lands in a long corridor, lined with display cases. It turns out to be a huge museum 53 floors underground in Utah, containing alien specimens and owned by a multi-billionaire who owns the internet. So it will come as no surprise that within minutes the Doctor and Rose are surrounded by about a dozen, fully armed guards all pointing machine guns at them. After a chat about alien technology, the Doctor is taken to what the billionaire claims is his only living specimen. After being locked in a room with it, the Doctor finds out (...wait for it) that it's a Dalek that's fallen through time from the time war with the Timelords! The Doctor, somewhat out of character, tries to kill the Dalek, but is stopped by the billionaire. Meanwhile, Rose has been left in the capable hands of Adam, a young, self-proclaimed genius who soon shows off his genial skills by hacking into the security camera overseeing the Daleks torture session. He takes Rose to see the Dalek. She feels sorry for it and, lured by the Dalek, touches its case. Her time travelled touch enables the Dalek to start self-healing. With this new vigour, the Dalek (finally) shows what that sucker can do. Suck the life out of the torturer and single-handedly decode an electronic lock, before smashing a monitor and absorbing the entire internet. The Dalek proceeds to start it's killing spree, during which we find out it can repel bullets in true Matrix style. The ever resourceful Rose decides that the legless Dalek can't go up stairs. Wrong! With the simple word 'Elevate', the Dalek glides up the stair at a slight better pace than in 1988 (Remembrance of the Daleks), before entering a room full of armed guards. Now this is the best bit. The Dalek Elevates to about 10 foot off the ground, starts the fire sprinklers and uses the water to electrocute all the guards. Adam manages to get clear of the area before the bulkheads close, but Rose doesn't. The Dalek accuses her of 'infecting' it, as it feels her fear. The Doctor finds a big alien gun and heads for the room where, bizarrely, Rose and the Dalek are enjoying the sunlight. Rose doesn't let the Doctor kill the Dalek, but eventually the Dalek persuades her to order it to kill itself, because of it's 'Sickness'. Rose then persuades the Doctor to let Adam go with them.
In short, great story, great direction and great graphics. A brilliant achievement in television. So let's break it down.
The Story was, as previously mentioned, Robert Shearman. Shearman also so wrote the Big Finish Audio Adventure 'Jubilee' and the beginning of 'Dalek' was very similar to that of Jubilee. A lone Dalek being tortured and the Doctor's assistant feeling sorry for it. But the similarity ends there. This adventure had the Dalek go on a full scale killing spree and made the fact that they destroyed Gallifrey in a massive war all the more believable. But the best scene in the whole episode was undoubtedly the sprinkler electrocution scene. The clever way it was done showed just why the Daleks are the Doctor's most dangerous enemies. The whole story shows both the excellent talent of Rob Shearman and the supremacy of the Daleks over all other races in the art of war. Furthermore, the fact that the Daleks were wiped out in the time war too, makes it all the more likely, if the Daleks are to be brought back, that the Gallifrey will also be brought back. All in all, a thoroughly brilliant experience.
The Direction of the episode was given over to Joe Ahearne for the first time and he has done a great job. The way the characters are presented on screen, including the Dalek, and the way the action scenes were shot was excellent.
The Graphics in Dalek were some of the best on British TV to date. The Dalek elevating up the stairs was hardly distinguishable as CGI to the casual watcher and exterminations were also of a very high quality. Add to that the great Matrix style bullet force fields; the mill has done an exceptional job with this episode, especially considering the short timeframe they had to do it.
So overall an excellent performance on all accounts, hindered only by the fact that Russell T Davies made the Dalek Designer change it from Steel and Gun Metal Black to the Bronze and Copper we saw on screen (exterminate him) and the continuing emotional instability of the Doctor. Great performance, as we expect from an episode featuring the Daleks.
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After weeks of waiting and anticipation we finally see the Daleks back on screen, in an episode that not only is the best in the 2005 series so far, but also one of the greatest Doctor Who stories of all time.
The beginning of the episode salutes the classic series wonderfully, with a rather touching scene containing some superb dialogue from the Doctor regarding the Cybermen. It's well executed and well written and is a fantastic teaser for the main episode.
The plot execution is pacey and interesting, but the moment everyone has been waiting for is certainly a scene to behold. The confrontation between the Doctor and the Dalek is fantastic. We finally get some more insight into the great 'Time Wars' and learn of the Daleks' involvement. The Doctor seems to be unable to control himself, as his mood swings do begin to get slightly questionable by the end of the scene although this is understandable considering the characters current state of mind.
The prospect of having the Doctor lashing out and attempting the Dalek is a wonderful piece of drama, and a bit of a shock to the viewer considering the Doctor's passiveness towards violence. The final confrontation between the two foes is also quite interesting, and we see how Rose has something of an influence on the Doctor in the way of bringing him back down to Earth.
The CGI of the episode id good, although the CGI Dalek goes seem somewhat plainer and simpler than the actual model so there is detraction. The death of the Dalek is very interesting as we finally find out what those bumps are for. However, the death is very smooth and in retrospect, a bit of a let down as it seems slightly anti climactic (there could have been an explosion at least)
The characterisation of the Dalek is a daring leap into the 21st Century. We're not used to the Daleks speaking dialogue that is typically 'human', but then again it does possess Rose's DNA and so would take on some of her characteristics. In all, the characterisation is good although a little OTT at times 'I AM FRIGH-TENED'
Bruno Langley has a somewhat small role in the episode but it will be interesting to see how and if he develops in the next episode. The last scene is good but Langley just doesn't seem to be on top acting form in his very last few lines, a little too whiney for the moment.
The teaser trailer for the next episode is good, but does seem to be a bit of a muddle, with there being no plot exposition to it when compared with others. The Daleks episode in all is a fantastic one and a dead cert at being a ratings phenomenon.
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"You would make an excellent Dalek". After several episodes, we FINALLY get a story that really takes us back to the old series. What we have is the most simple, yet effective Doctor Who story to date. We have a Dalek and a Doctor. I realized watching this episode that most people would compare it to "Star Trek" or a bunch of other Sci-Fi series, but I was left thinking about this: The last time we saw the Daleks, we had the 7th Doctor explaining to the last remaining Dalek on earth that it was alone. The Dalek could not accept this so it self destructed. Really was this episode any different? Well, yes and no.
First off, we have AMAZING special effects. Second, we have probably the fastest moving story yet. Yet at the same time one of the most moving. I have said before that Chris E. as the Doctor is probably the darkest portrayal since Colin Baker, but for once, it feels right in this episode. Not only do we have years of hate against the Daleks, but also we learn a little more about what happened with the "Time War". Whether or not I agree with the way the series is going with this "Time War", I have to admit the continuity is being upheld.
I also have to say Billie Piper once again wins the award for the best actor in the series. I feel she is the best companion to grace our TV screens in 20 years. If you watch her facial expressions and her reactions in this episode you will really see that she is an amazing actor who understands the amazement of traveling in time and space that is required for a companion. She shows no regrets but is human enough to show fear. That to me is what makes an amazing REAL human role. I can relate and understand the character more than any other companion. If she has a good agent, she should ask for double what she is being paid. There has been a lot of press about her not watching the original series and therefore not having done enough research to portray a proper companion. Well, folks, she puts you to shame here.
Christopher E. fares better than the other episodes (That silly grin for once doesn't appear.) but he lacks something all the other Doctors had - a sense of wonder and compassion, not only for the people around him, but for all living creatures. I honestly don't see Sylvester McCoy aiming a gun at a lonely Dalek who is the last of his race, trying to kill it. What Chris E. needs is a sense of humour and a light heart, somebody who is in control of a situation, and I just feel he is never in control of it. But while he is getting better, unfortunately I feel he might reach his full potential when too late, and once again we will be left with a Doctor who did a couple of episodes and then is gone before we knew him.
Finally, I can't help myself - The Dalek looked great! Its been about 17 years since we have seen one, and my God, it was worth the wait. Just think - a whole new generation of children will be hiding behind sofas and having nightmares. Many of us were kids watching the old episodes, and now we have our own children, and this episode I hope scared them to death. And that's the way it should be! Doctor Who isn't always safe, isn't always secure, and certainly it will shock, but it's always entertaining. So sit back, open a bottle of wine, get your friends around and enjoy because we waited so long for something like this, and it was worth it and we are all here to see it together. I give five stars to the new series, for even throwing in the Cyberman in this episode.
Its a cracking story with great acting and the production team finally knows that the old fans are watching and they give a generus nod and smile in our direction. So I guess what I can say to them is "Thank You"! And also one note to a debate I KNOW lots will be talking about: Doctor Who did not rip-off "I Borg" from "Star Trek". They ripped off tons of ideas from "Doctor Who" and you know what? Their cancelled......and were not!) (Apologies to Star Trek fans, of which I am one of). Keep them coming people, it just gets better!
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Of course this was the episode we have been waiting for - the long overdue television confrontation between the Doctor and his nemesis. And what a result! We finally see the Doctor getting rattled - and with good cause. The Dalek portrayed here is fare deadlier than anything we have previously seen.
Some reviews I've noticed criticising this episode for it's portrayal of teh Doctor as prepared to kill or losing control and temper - as opposed to Sylv 'reasoning' the black Dalek to death. I have to say that one is certainly not more Doctor-ish than the other. The Sylv thing always sort of rankled with me anyway as there really wasnt much 'reasoning' going on. "Your planet's dead" causes the Dalek to blow up? A bit too convenient.
But here, the Doctor has been through a lot more with the Daleks than ever before. He has seen them wipe out his people. He has seen them reach heights of atrocity never before seen in the series - and as such it would be a major stretch to imagine that this wouldn't have affected the Doctor's attitude towards them.
And he has certainly been capable of destroying Daleks before with violence, even to the point of encouraging Ace to kill Daleks with that bat in Remembrance again.
This was the Doctor at his most desperate, confronted with a vision from his worst nightmare. Whereas previously he always approached the Daleks with a sort of smarmy arrogance, here he is genuinely terrified of them and we can only guess at the true extent of the time war.
This was a jaw drop of an episode and Joe Ahearne has squeezed every last bit of tension from the script. Shearman has turned in something exceptional and the reasoning way in which the Dalek coldly destroys the humans whilst slowly moving through the bunker was truly chilling. Who else was incredibly impressed by the way the Dalek dispatched an entire squad with the sprinkler system and one blast? Rob did more than just present a Dalek mindlessly killing, he presented a highly developed killing machine and then continually upped the stakes.
Bravo. This episode has put the Daleks back where they belong, in people's nightmares and shown that they can exist outside of the shadow of Davros at long last.
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Back in 1963 I watched the first Dalek story, if not actually from behind the sofa, then at least through the crack in the door. Since the 1960s, however, the Daleks have rarely impressed me as a terrifying presence: while this is doubtless attributable in part to the effects upon me of advancing age, it also reflects the lacklustre treatment of the Daleks themselves in too many of their subsequent televisual appearances. Happily that trend has now been reversed by Rob Shearman's triumphant episode "Dalek", in which the eponymous alien finally reinstates its species as a powerful, ruthless and cunning force to be reckoned with.
In contrast with most of the preceding episodes of this season, there was little humour in "Dalek". That was, however, entirely appropriate given the nature of the story: and it is one of the many virtues of the new series that it can accommodate more than one tone of storytelling, from the essentially comic to something (as here) a good deal grimmer. In this respect the series' eclecticism is reminiscent of the Hartnell era.
"Dalek" is essentially a story of parallels, contrasts and transformations. When the caged Dalek comments to the Doctor - the only other survivor of the Time War - that "We are the same", the Doctor's initial reaction is to reject the comparison out of hand. However, he then appears to render it only too plausible by attempting to destroy the Dalek with a cry of "exterminate". Subsequent events show that this was not simply an isolated rhetorical gesture on the Doctor's part, but the beginning of a process which brings him perilously close to transformation into his arch-enemy: as the latter comments, "You would make a good Dalek".
In parallel to the Doctor's transformation is the Dalek's own (equally disconcerting) journey towards a form of humanity under the influence of Rose's DNA. Ultimately, both the Doctor and the Dalek come to a realisation of what is happening to them: while for the Doctor the resolution lies in regaining his own character, for the Dalek the only way out is by a final assertion of Dalek values through extermination - in this case, its own. The Dalek's cry of "exterminate" is not only fitting for the last utterance of the last Dalek, but also brings a satisfyng closure to the sequence of transformations which began with the Doctor's own use of the word back in the cage.
The demands of the story drew strong performances from all the cast, notably of course Chris and Billie. As for the third star of the show, the Dalek was the most impressive representative of its race since "The Evil of the Daleks" not only in terms of its character but also as a physical presence. The new casing was quite superb, being appropriately solid and with fine detailing: and I especially loved the rotating centre section when it went into "battle mode".
For me "Dalek" instantly takes its place as one of the finest Dalek - and indeed "Doctor Who" - stories ever made, and reminds me why I fell in love with this monster, and this programme, back in 1963.
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Dalek was astonishing. One of the most consistent aspects of this new series of Doctor Who has been how astonished each episode has left me (for very different reasons) and this was perhaps the most breathtaking so far. Perhaps it was because, after seeing all of the hype and publicity pre-transmission, I had catalogued it in my mind as the 'event' episode of the season - all big guns, big action, lots of soldiers and old enemies coming back shiny and new. A kind of Earthshock for 2005 - shouting impressive, griity action and set-piece scenes with the old foes, but not a lot else. I was probably then not really prepared for the intense 45 mins that were to follow as I sat down and (once again) caught the end of Graham Norton's dance fest.
The striking thing about Dalek, in comparison to what has preceded it in the new series, is how dark, humourless and, at times, positively horrific it was. The fart gags and iPod jokes have gone, to be replaced by gunfire and screaming. We knew that Dalek was going to be more hard-edged (which was needed for some balance in the series) and it certainly delivered. Completely shot in darkness, or dim light, the violence was unending. I suspect that the BBC may get the odd complaint! The shots of dead bodies, the screaming of the woman killed on the stairs (what a pointless act of self-sacrifice that was!), the moment when Simmons is 'suckered', the skeletal exterminations, the Doctor's 'crucifiction' - all very cinematic stuff. However the scenes that I found the most disturbing (and actually a little difficult to watch) were the ones where Simmons was torturing the Dalek - his drill thing not quite managing to drown out the Dalek's screaming. Yes, the Doctor's been wired up to some machine or other that electrocutes him in the past, but the depiction of torture here was quite shocking. It was probably even more so as we were actually being forced to feel sorry for a Dalek, just as Rose did.
And this is the key to why Dalek was so astonishing. It completely turned the tables on us. There was I, expecting my Earthshock-style romp, all guns and no story, and instead I am faced with an episode that ends with a bitter, crazed, hate-filled Doctor, brandishing a massive gun, about to blow up a tortured Dalek that doesn't want to kill and just wants to be free to do some sunbathing. When Rose asks the Doctor "what are you changing into?" and the Doctor almost breaks down, it's a devastating moment. That last scene is one of the most emotionally intense that the series has produced and dares to do something wonderfully different and eschew all-out action in favour of depth of character and story. It was absolutely fantastic.
Christopher Eccleston is at his most angry (and probably most effective - I'm not sure that humour really suited him as well), Billie Piper is wondeful (again) and Bruno Langley is also good. When the Doctor comments on how pretty Adam is, it's another indication of the refreshing relationship that the Doctor and Rose have - close, fun, loving and very almost sexual. When before has a companion been refered to as "the woman you love", or whatever the Dalek said? But how true would it have been if it had been said of the Third Doctor and Jo? Or the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa? (well maybe not fun - for all of her intelligence, Nyssa could hardly have been labelled the most 'fun' person in the world!). It will be interesting to see what happens to Adam next week...
So, despite the fact that I had to watch it a second time before I could make up my mind (and also to get my head around all of the Rose DNA stuff), Dalek was truly astonishing - in a good way. Adult, gripping, intelligent, emotional, well-acted, well-realised and ground-breaking Doctor Who. I had some very minor gripes (the editing seemed a little jumpy, the Slitheen arm a little conveniently placed, and Van Statten a little too much), but the tear-jerking end made me forget all of that. Probably best of the series so far (with The End of the World coming in at second place).
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Back in 1965, the production team sent up the Daleks. We had one interrogating a talior's dummy, one "thicko" (which doesn't sit well with the idea of purity and perfection) and the Doctor calling one "Aunty".
There's no time for that now. Since Terry Nation died the Daleks have been mocked left right and centre, and have been turned into figures of fun. Rob Shearman has been given 45 minutes to make them cool again-and he wipes the floor with everyone who ever took the mick.
Starting at the beginning, the Cyberman reference was great, but I would have kept it in the background more. (Not that I'm complaining, but does this mean that if the Cybermen ever appear they'll have to be the Revenge style ones? Because, frankly, there are better).
The Dalek itself...all the elements that people laugh at (the monosyllable voice, the sink plunger, and of course the stairs) are subverted beautifully. So now we get a deadly sucker (in more ways than one) and a fantastic job by Nicholas Briggs as the voice to make the creature far more realistic. Their agenda is obvious, but it's worthy and carried off with brilliance.
Certain scenes had me gasping-something I haven't done with Doctor Who for ten years-such as the part where the Dalek breaks free and the spinning mid-section that nullifies the joke about them being able to move at two mp/h; now they can draw like Clint Eastwood. In fact, it was so good when it was over my mum rang me and we had a long conversation about how great it was, to the bemusement of my housemate.
But the best part of the episode, the very very best part, is that the Daleks are characters again. The last time they were characters, the series was in black and white. Pertwee's Dalek stories were colourful runarounds (except Death To The Daleks, which was a runaround in various shades of brown) and after that Davros turned up. By Remembrance they were boring drones that squawked nothing by "exterminate" three thousand times and couldn't shoot straight. That catchphrase can be very badly used; here, the number of times it is uttered more or less matches the number of people who get exterminated. That's good. People have complained that the Dalek was made into too sympathetic a figure; frankly, the noisy little cliches from Resurrection and Remembrance can take a jump.
Add to this some superb special effects (the exterminations were a wow!) and some nice characterisation from both the Doctor and Rose, and the episode just gets better and better. The Americans were characterised as corny G.I. Joe types, which I'll peg down as satire from the pen of an English writer. Even with tiny little uncomfortable bits, like the Doctor relishing holding a huge gun, this is still an utterly, utterly brilliant episode.
The one final question is how it relates to the other Dalek stories. It beats every colour Dalek story bar Genesis; it beats Revelation by inches, as the Doctor's lack of involvement in that story means it can never truly satisfy. The black and white ones are harder to judge-it's better than The Chase, but after that I'm hedging my bets. Still, this is a superb episode and while I can understand that being asked to sympathise with a Dalek can be hard to swallow for some, with time I think this episode will be very well remembered indeed.
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What more can I add to that?
Well, this I guess:
Well. This was definitely the 2nd best ever Dalek TV story (sorry, "Remembrance of the Daleks" still holds the title), and probably my favorite of the season so far. The atmosphere was tense, you knew there was going to be a high body count (that thing with the sprinklers? Daaaamn), and you knew we would see the Doctor in High Militant Mode when it comes to the Daleks. After all, he's already come yea shy of wiping them from history before they were born, he held a gun to Davros' head once, and oh yeah, also kinda sorta destroyed their home planet. So yeah, he's never really in the mood to be a nice guy where the Daleks are concerned.
Thing is, despite the greatness of it all...I've experienced this story before. And oddly enough, it was by Rob Shearman too. Because about half the Dalek's dialogue was almost a direct lift from his Big Finish audio "Jubilee." "I NEED OR-DERRRS!" "I AM WAI-TING FOR OR-DERRRRS!" "YOU DO NOT FEAR ME EVE-LYN SMY--"ERRRR "ROSE TY-LER" "I AM A SOLLL-DIER!"
So yes, unfortunately there is an element of fandom who's seen a captured, tortured, insane, suicidal Dalek before. Or heard, rather. And dammit, aren't Dalek torture-screams about one of the most bloodcurdling things you've ever heard?
At the same time tho, once again Shearman uses the Daleks to say more about humanity, in the guise of Van Statten. What kind of man DOES it take to ruthlessly collect alien artefacts, rape them for technology, and oh yeah, capture and torture a live Dalek, anyway? The same kind of man who thinks he owns the Internet. And as with all Alpha Males, van Statten quickly realizes when there's a bigger, badder, meaner dog in the yard. Hell, he had no problem with letting 200 employees die, or torture the Doctor, either. Face it, when it comes to torture and death, we're #1! We're #1! We're #1!
Rose (and I'm sure, some viewers) saw sides of the Doctor she'd never seen, and didn't much like. But then he's not human, he never will be. (ANd for you continuity wankers, half-human does not equal human. Do the math.) He, too, is the last of his kind, and he doesn't much like it.
All in all, greatness, and I'm glad Shearman was able to tell the story (although I do wonder what his alternate script was....)
Oh yeah, and what's with the new companion, too? Hmm...tension on the TARDIS now?
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Here is the episode most of us have been waiting for. Did it disappoint or did it meet expectations? Let's find out.
The story opens with a nice scene in a museum featuring a few references to past stories including one that will have fans jumping for joy! This was one of the best opening teasers so far in its writing and build up to the opening credits sequence.
The rest of the story follows at the very fast pace which is now firmly established for the current series which does not allow for some of the characters like Goddard and even Adam to develop enough for us to care if they are in danger or not. Which is a shame given the apparent importance of Adam's character especially. Yet it does yield the best character moments between The Doctor and a Dalek ever. Van Statten is another nicely developed character and well played by actor Corey Johnson who brings a subtle performance to a role that most actors would have had overacted in tremendously.
Billie Piper again brings an impressive performance and is easily establishing herself as one of the best actresses to ever play a companion and Christopher Eccleston is proving to be a very versatile actor with all the different emotions he has to convey. He may become known as the conflicted Doctor as his morales and range of emotions are being tested like no other Doctor.
The Dalek itself is just brilliant with its new modifications and new budget for special effects. I can't imagine the devastation these new improved Daleks could accomplish with their upgrades. One Dalek by itself has never been this threatening before. The special effects people as did a wonderful job with the Dalek creature as it is able to convey a surprising amount of emotion with just a fine voice performance by Nicholas Briggs and only an eye to convey feeling. A tremendous act to accomplish without a mouth or facial expressions.
The story also does a nice job at providing just enough of a piece of the puzzle to the overall season storyarc to make it move forward and yet keep us wanting to know more.
One downside to the story is that if you've heard the audio story "Jubilee" by Robert Shearman himself, a lot of this story will seem like a retread of past material. I'm glad to hear that Shearman was commissioned to adapt his audio story into a TV story, because I was left wondering at his lack of originality at first. There are a lot of new things to offer however and the story is just so good anyway that its hard to hold that against it too much.
At six episodes in, I have to say that from a story standpoint, Doctor Who works best in a 90 minute format whether that be as episodes or movies. As good as some of these stories are, if they were given an extra 45 minutes to develop, I believe they would be even better. There is just too much to establish with introducing new characters, setting and threats in every episode for a show running less than 45 minutes. Having stated that criticism, I think that Russell T. Davies and crew are doing a fabulous job with the time limitations they have. With only 45 minutes or less to work with, I seriously doubt anyone could do better. It is also appropriate to note that in a world where there is so much entertainment to distract you, it does make sense to shorten the episodes to attract an audience that either doesn't have the time to devote 90 minutes to one programme, or the attention span to see it unfold.
So despite some criticicisms about the format of the show itself and the retreading of old material, I have to say that "Dalek" is still one of the best Doctor Who stories ever and the best one of this series so far. The story has great tension, action, special effects, acting and writing. Truly a triumph!
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Dalek is an accomplished story, which redeems the Daleks from years of frankly below par stories. Which naturally leads us to ask, is this the best Dalek story? Yes indeed it is! Borrowing heavily from Rob Shearmans excellent Big Finish audio story Jubilee, Dalek takes the best elements of that story and mines them for all they are worth! Above all it is perhaps the strong sense of moral ambiguity that makes the story really stand out. Its the dialectics at the centre of the script which linger. We are presented with the ultimate killing machine, and by the end of the episode our feelings have been complexly subverted as we feel sympathy for the Dalek, an outstanding achievement.
Daleks are genuinely chilling and this episode proves it better than any other episode in Doctor Whos history! Note the scene were the Dalek chillingly electrocutes the soldiers. Finally we get a visceral insight into why the Doctor fears the denizens of Skaro so much. . . . The Daleks will no longer be a joke!
Christopher Ecclestons performance in this story is what really drives it, his fear, guilt and his passion. Its clear now that the Ninth Doctor is a wounded soul, whos not always thinking straight. Rose sees a side to the Doctor in Dalek which she has not only not seen before, but finds questionable, and indeed so does the audience! That initial scene between the Doctor and the Dalek in the locked cell was absolutely electric, beautifully directed too by Joe Ahearn, notice the way the Doctor addresses the Daleks eyestalk directly! Oh the intensity. You can clearly see why Joe Ahearn is directing five of the series thirteen episodes. The bottom line hear is that the Doctor comes tantalisingly close to becoming what he fears most! Mention should also be made of Nicholas Briggs superb performance as the Dalek. Nick was spot when he said that what was needed was a real characterisation, rather than just a cod robotic voice. The end result is nothing short of extraordinary.
Again the script is brimming with contemporary satire. An American who holds a Dalek prisoner illegally and tortures it.. . . . On the subject of Van Statten, he was a witty and quite enjoyable villain, albeit he was straight from the James Bond mould. The references to the Internet and the cure for the common cold were particularly enjoyable.
The only thing that very slightly mars this episode is Bruno Langleys performance as Adam Mitchell, which while passable enough was a bit patchy at times, but Im sure he will be redeemed.
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Sorry RTD, but it seems (so far) your contracted writers have the edge on you. Until now, Mark Gatiss' script was the best of the bunch but Rob Shearman has just topped that. So Mr Davies, you are trailing sir.
Contrary to most reviews, I am going to list the negatives I found in this episode. 2 . Well saying that, 1 because the other is a plot query rather than a negative. The first (only) thing I can have a niggle at (not even a proper complaint) is the big selling point of the episode next to the reveal of the Dalek itself. The stairs. I found Bruno Langley's taunt a little weak asnd the cgi effect a little cgi effect-ish. I much preferred the (4 guys witha pole behind the stage) effect in Remembrance of the Daleks.
And the plot point - It just seemed too easy to me that Van Statten realeased the Doctor so quickly before the Dalek threat had really became evident.
Otherwise the episode was exactly what I hoped. I have critised myself before for watching these episodes with the eyes of Joe Public but this Saturday I just didn't care. I was giggling when the cyberman exhibit appeared, again at the Dalek's first reveal, the sucker both in its use for death and puzzle solving. I was still giggling at the Dalek's rampage and the slo mo bullet fire and spinning mid-section. I'm sorry but I'm just not going to fault it.
I had some trepidation before about the Dalek's emotional revelations in the media butI found them believable and spot on. In fact my partner had a little tear during the final conversation with Rose (awww).
The guest cast were also excellent with Van Styatten being the first out and out villian of the new series and (other than his ease at releasing the Doctor) he was far more menacing than the Autons, Cassandra, Geth (I wont even mention the Slitheen) and even the Dalek itself. Even the pun early on was in character.
Anna-Louise Plowman as Goddard too was a fine accomplice and she had her moment at the end with a retort on Van Statten's earlier disposal of his first assistant.
Bruno Langley moved easily from his gay persona in Corrie to totty for both sexes in Who flirting awkwardly with BilliePiper. But is it a trend that the male support are such cowards. Billie Piper just shines again. Her performance brings real feelling to the episode.
It seems to be common to knock Chris Eccleston's performance as the Doctor in the series but in this episode he was, to coin a phrae, FANTASTIC. His interplay at the episode's start was well played, his eventual fear and anger were beilevable and his frustration, sadness and remorseful moments moved on easily from his early feelings in the episode. His occassional jolt into a comic line was inspirational - "Broken, Broken Hairdryer, Lock 'n' Load". FANTASTIC (again)
I can't say I or anyone I know found the Dalek scary but it certainly was menacing and violent and finally accomplished sympathy which was the writer's intent I guess. And to get a 'performance' from a special effect, that's gotta be class and all kudos to Joe Ahearn and the speceial effects team. Of course not forgetting Nick Briggs vocal performance.
And finally, Murray Gold's soundtrack fitted this episode perfectly and I loved the choral accompanyment to the first appearance of the Dalek.
Some of the people I have spoken to didn't like this episode but I cannot fault it. Another snippet to the Who history (two hearrts) and more hints to the overall Season arc. Oh go on, I'll say it one more time......FANTASTIC!
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Almost half way into the new series of Doctor Who and the writers have thrown us, to my mind, two stories that will stand out as classics. "Dalek" joins "The Unquiet Dead" as being an episode that not only feels like Doctor Who but which has real suspense and fear, and which brings something new to the programme. Really, this was not only high quality television (so rare these days) but Doctor Who at it's best.
The first thing I noticed, vague similarities to "The Space Museum" excepted, was the reference to "Bad Wolf" again as the helicopter landed. Surely another piece of the jigsaw that is the story arc. I now assume that we'll have to wait until the very last episode of the series to put that jigsaw together.
Of course we'd all seen the bronze Dalek in the newspapers and trailers, and it looks faithful enough to the originals to be acceptable to "old" fans like myself. But what of the promise that we would "cry for the poor Dalek"? Surely this would require some revision of accepted history?
Well no, because the Dalek takes on some of Rose's DNA by tricking her into touching it so we ended up with a genetically modified Dalek that had a range of emotions not seen before and quite appropriate to its situation. Indeed we got something of a role reversal with the Doctor ranting and shouting at the creature, who replied chillingly "You'd make a good Dalek". That was a masterful piece of dialogue and quite true. It makes the viewer and the Doctor think about the situation.
Also important with regard to the story arc, we now know that the mysterious "time war" involved the Time Lords and the Daleks, both ending up destroyed. Clearly the Doctor blames the Daleks for the destruction of his race and world and actually seems to go mad, red mist descending as he looks for the nastiest weapon with which to obliterate his foe.
But what of the poor Dalek? It begins by going on a killing spree, as it hasn't metamorphosised yet or gained feelings. The idea of even a lone Dalek on an isolated base running (hovering!) around picking off the inhabitants ought to frighten today's kids. Then it begins to get feelings, is persuaded by Rose in particular and the Doctor that there may be more to life than taking orders and destroying things. Opening up its casing, it desires only to feel the sunshine before it dies.
Here is my only problem, though the Dalek creature looks much like the innards of the 'old' daleks of days gone by, I don't recall seeing an eye. It's there for us to empathise with the Dalek but I didn't like it. However that is one small quibble in a story otherwise consisting of excellent visuals, dialogue and perfect suspenseful timing.
It was just a little thrilling to see a Cyberman's helmet, reminding us that this really is following on from the previous television Doctors. I was also pleased to notce several references to the past, but these would not in any way have detracted from a new viewer enjoying.
I do wonder how many children are watching this series. I work in a school and the kids don't ever talk about Doctor Who...the staff do! However, when a Dalek made a guest appearance in my local shopping centre late last year it scared the crap out of little children so clearly the nasty pepperpots still do the business. I wonder what those children made of seeing the metal killing machine on their television screens yesterday evening?
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Dalek. The name says it all.
The sixth episode of Russell T. Davies' Doctor Who encapsulates the writer/producer's vision of the series perfectly. Action, philosophy, humour and social satire collide in a story that occasionally lulls you into thinking it's one thing, only to shock you into realising it's something else entirely.
There were several set-pieces and elements lifted from popular films and previous Doctor Who episodes: the Dalek being alone was reminiscient of the small, weak Cybermen "army" in Revenge of the Cybermen (a parallel made explicit by the appearence of a Revenge-style Cyberman head in Van Stratten's collection). The Doctor and Dalek alone in a closed chamber could've just as easily been Hannibal Lechter and Clarice Starling. The base under siege by an alien is a familiar cliche in telefantasy and sci-fi films in general and Doctor Who in particular. The "feeling" Dalek echoed the "human factor" Daleks of Evil of the Daleks as well as the numerous unemotional nonhumans-who-want-to-be-human that abound in Star Trek. Van Stratten using alien technology to make himself the uncrowned and invisible king of the world is something Tobias Vaughn would've been proud of.
And yet, just when you think Dalek is turning into a "greatest hits" collection, it whallops you across the head. There's a man out there who decides who the President is, and he owns the internet. Real emotion-*humanity*- is the absolute most terrifying thing in the universe if you're a Dalek. The Doctor- big gun in hand- can't speak when Rose asks him what he's becoming. The moment you think you're watching a kid's science fiction series with a cool mutant killer wiping out soldiers, Dalek turns right around and asks you to take a good long look at yourself and the world you live in.
Major, major kudos to Rob Shearman for an outstanding script, Russell T. Davies for bringing Doctor Who back to life, the Terry Nation estate for allowing these two gentlemen to restore some of the terror and mystique of the Daleks, Christopher Eccleston, Billie Piper, and the rest of a uniformily perfect cast. The first unqualified success of the Davies era, and one of the very best episodes of Doctor Who ever made.
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Wow! What an episode. The Dalek looked great. OK there was a lot of meaningless technobabble (extrapolating the time traveller's biomass?) but the emotional content more than made up for it.
The first scene in the space museum was interesting, didn't the Cyberman head look great in the glass case? "The stuff of nightmares" indeed. The first alien in a glass case that the Doctor looked at may have been the shami kebab version of the metamorph in Red Dwarf but I'm not sure.
Van Stratten was a fine over the top performance and all the speaking parts in the show acted well enough but the star, of course, was the Dalek. The voice was just right from its' screams while being tortured to its' final melancholy "exterminate". Probably just as well it committed suicide at the end, if it had escaped and gone to Salt Lake City in that damaged emotional state it could have ended up becoming a Mormon and I wouldn't want a Dalek going door to door trying to convert people.
The Dalek's appearance was very impressive. It was the T1000 of Daleks. Super intelligent, able to fly, indestructible and able to download the entire internet in seconds (just what would a Dalek do with all that porn?).
And at the end? Who would have thought that you would feel sorry for a Dalek? Great writing and just so true to the nature of Daleks. It could stand the death of its' race, it could survive a hail of bullets but it couldn't stand the idea of changing into anything other than a Dalek.
As for the rest of the cast, Billie Piper was excellent as usual, Chris Ecclestone went foaming at the mouth bonkers and the new companion was competent, more to come from him. The plot was interesting, one of the best Dalek stories since 'Power of the Daleks'. The comedy content was limited this week but there were still some good throwaway lines ("Broken, broken, hairdryer, broken, hey hey, lock and load") although I'm still waiting for a Doctor Who moment as funny as the death of Adric.
This vies with 'The Unquiet Dead' as my favourite episode of the new series but I would give Dalek the edge because of the Dalek's death scene. This was the saddest moment in Doctor Who for ages. The only moment I could compare it with would be the the part in 'Inferno' where the Doctor leaves the alternate Earth as it, the Brigadier et al are destroyed.
There was another random mention of 'Bad Wolf' in this episode. How can this phrase turn up in so many different situations? Can there be a reason for this or is Russell just playing with us? Perhaps the Doctor is really in the matrix and his mind is trying to tell us something. By the way wouldn't something of the Time Lords have survived in the matrix? Didn't they keep a backup? Maybe they were using an MS operating system and it crashed.
So anyway, onwards and upwards to the next episode.
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I usually like to watch the new episodes a couple of times before I review them but alas, fate has had its way with that idea. Overall, I was pleased and I'm sure new viewers thought it was the best thing ever!
'Jubilee' - pardon me, 'Dalek' - was an episode full of expolsive action; the stuff that really turned me into a Doctor Who fan. The scene where the dalek rises, turns the water on and electrocutes all the troops almost had me literally weeting my pants with glee and surprise. "Oh my God!" was my exact words when I saw that. Great stuff! And the x-ray image and Dalek POV, used sparingly in Remembrance were well used here and really did show the Daleks to be evil killers that they were. Van Statten should have got exterminated though, although his actual fate was probbaly more fitting. Goddard was gorgeous - but I have athing for powerful women.
Christopher Eccleston's portrayal as the Doctor was quite surprising - like Troughton in 'Power' but on speed and red bull! This Doctor is a lot more ruthless than previous, and contrasts with Baker's 'Genesis' speech have already been alluded to by more capable reviewers. Such ruthlessness hasn't been seen since the infamous rock scene from 'An Unearthly Child'. I like it though; we don't want this Doctor to be too like previous ones do we?
As for the emotional Dalek - i wish I hadn't listened to the masterpiece that was 'Jubilee' as I would have enjoyed this episode more. Jubilee, I'm sad to say, literally had me in tears at the end so this 'adaptation' was a bit of a dissappointment. I'm glad I know the Jubilee similarities were intentional, as the whole world should enjoy that story - if only in the truncated auspices of a 45 minute episode. So good, but too much like Jubilee for me to really appreciate it.
And what the hell is the next episode about? I really can't tell from the trailer at all.
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Well, what can I say? WOW. This episode is the one that Who fans have eagerly awaited ever since it was announced that the good Doctor was coming back. We've been bombarded with talk of this episode for long before it aired and all I can say is "boy does it live up to expectations and more".
Let's start with the obvious, the Dalek itself. Hugely impressive, taking the well established history and back story of the Daleks themselves and building on it. A lone Dalek causing so much death and destruction, we can now truly believe that a whole army of them could wipe out entire civilisations. Nice touches such as the rotating mid-section allowing all round fire and the now multi-purpose plunger ("What are you going to do? Sucker me to death?") gives us a truly evil and potentially unstoppable enemy. The scene in which the Dalek sets off the fire-sprinkler system and then elevates allowing it to electrocute its enemies shows just how intelligent and cunning these pepper pots actually are. Stairs? What Stairs? The much publicised the Daleks can now fly stories in the media recently, however they all seem to have forgotten The Remembrance of the Daleks in which we see them hovering up a flight of stairs after the Doctor (then Sylvester McCoy).
Which brings me to the little in-jokes throughout this episode. The aforementioned stairs issue is joked upon by Rose and the Doctor insults the Dalek by calling it a Pepper pot. All names and comments that the public has used as derogatory throughout the years, turned back upon us with a little knowing nod and a wink. Again a credit to the writing staff.
We are also given a full load of information on the continually hinted at time-war. We now know that it was fought between the Daleks and the Time Lords and that both races were wiped out as a result, all except the Doctor, who mysteriously claims that it wasnt by choice he survived. There is certainly more of this back-story to be told.
Finally, I just have to give full credit to Christopher Eccleston, his acting in this episode was absolutely superb. Gone were the silly grins and face-pulling of the previous episodes, instead we are treated to just how great an actor he really is. From the moment he realises that he is sealed in a room with a Dalek; the truly primeval fear he displays, to a few moments later when it becomes apparent that the Dalek is unarmed and his fear turns to mockery and then to true hatred. The venom with which he (literally) spits his words was a joy to behold.
I for one hope that this is not the last we see of the Daleks. Not now we have seen how truly destructive they can be. Just imaging a whole Dalek army rampaging through a city... Bring it on!
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It's the moment we've been waiting 17 years to see. The daleks are back, and deadlier than ever.
The storyline is very straightforward. A lone dalek is held captive in a cell, and Rose enables it to break free. Such a simple plot enables the characters to indulge in some incredibly well-written dialogue, and The Doctor in particular gets the best lines, from ordering the dalek to kill itself to the joke about the hairdryer (easily the funniest line in the series so far). His constant verbal battles with Van Statten are wonderful, and his tirades against the dalek show a darker and more vengeful side to the character than we've ever seen before, to the extent where he even takes up arms to commit genocide at the story's conclusion.
There are some truly powerful moments in this episode, with the closing of the bulkhead door being the most nailbiting scene of the series this far. The non-fan I watched this with honestly believed she'd seen the last of Rose at this point, and the magnificent direction both here and throughout the show made this the most exciting new Who episode to date. The dalek POV shot with the Doctor's line "I made it happen" is also worthy of praise, as is the scene where the dalek exterminates an entire platoon with just three shots and the aid of the sprinkler system.
However, as is usual with this programme, the special effects are a real let down. Unusually, though, it's because they're actually too spectacular to be convincing, rather than too cheap. The more outlandish moments, such as the bullet-melting forcefield and the final self-destruct, seem to be written purely to show-off new flashy effects, and the suspension of disbelief is shattered as a result. The far simpler triumphs of the sucker arm, the rotating mid-section and the levitation, on the other hand, were very effective, and the geometric surfaces of the dalek design are ideal for realisation with CGI.
Sadly, there are one or two other flaws with this episode, too. The speed of recovery shown by the dalek with such a small amount of DNA, and the inadequacy of the explanations given to justify it, fail to convince. I also found it very hard to believe the final scenes where the dalek opens up to feel the sunlight, although that opinion may well be informed by the preceeding three decades' worth of utter nastiness shown by the creatures. Perhaps this scene above all gives us a clue as to why the daleks almost didn't return at all - it certainly wouldn't have happened in a Terry Nation script.
Murray Gold's music has veered wildly between superlative (The Unquiet Dead) and grating (Rose), and whilst it is still very heavy-handed in this episode, his borrowing from the themes from The Omen is inspired.
In conclusion, Dalek is a very enjoyable - and not a little scary - forty-five minutes, and despite the overdone effects, is shaping up to be one of the series' highlights.
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More than any other episode before this (and probably after this too), this one owes itself the most to the sterling work of Big Finish Productions and to those of us here and elsewhere who've supported them over the last six years. (Six?!?) That it has turned out to be by far the best episode so far and recognized as such in almost every quarter is a tribute to all the hard work and experimentation that's been done in the audio drama format spearheaded by Jason Haigh-Ellery and Gary Russell, to the attention and feedback (and not to mention cash) we all have given them, but most especially and personally on this occasion by two of their most stalwart, reliable, talented, and creative people: Nicholas Briggs and Robert Shearman. I knew in my gut from the first time their names were mentioned in connection with this episode that the episode would therefore simply have to rock... it had no alternative really, and I knew the general British public would be surprised and amazed by what hit them, as indeed they seem to have been. They, and we, have at last got to _see_ what we here have been hearing for the past six years, and now we all get to look a bit smug at all the doubters and naysayers who said it couldn't be done. This is fun in itself. What's more fun though is to watch and enjoy full-blooded, sophisticated, 2005 "Doctor Who."
That all being said, there are still a few small things that aren't quite there yet, and I'll mention them as I go chronologically through the episode here. I say that here because the very first scene is one of those small things, and that's how in this new "abbreviated" format of 45-minute episodes there just isn't time to do the full "part one" type explorations. The short wander of about seven paces in the museum before the credits is all we get here. Mind you, we don't need 25 minutes of it... but I do wish there was just a bit more time available for peering around corners to see what's on the other side of them. The little we did get to see was fun though, particularly the Cyberman head, though I'm a bit puzzled why it was a "Revenge of the Cybermen" model instead of an "Invasion" or "Silver Nemesis" one, given when and where each of those stories took place. (Perhaps there's an untelevised adventure here?) I was also a bit puzzled how all those heavily armed soldiers surrounded the Doctor and Rose _that_ quickly when the Doctor set off the alarm. I mean, they were there in less than 2 seconds. Do they normally all just stand watch in full gear _right_ around the corner of this room this deep in the museum?
We get introduced very quickly to billionaire Van Statten and his team, suddenly let by the very hot Goddard when the previous team leader gets fired, mind-wiped, and dumped in Memphis or Minneapolis... somewhere beginning with M (says me, Manfred, from near Minneapolis...hmmmm. ;) )
Van Statten's a somewhat stereotypical character, yes, but his dialog's so good I don't care. I personally liked the "intruder window" joke even before he insisted "that was funny!" (which only made it moreso) I love the idea that he "owns" the internet... I wonder if he hypnotized Al Gore to think that he did just to distract everyone from himself. I've recently been watching my five-year-old cousin play with Transformers, and his dad and me have been having just as much fun playing with them again as we did when we were kids. I get the sense that Van Statten's much the same (witness his name "Metaltron" for the Dalek), only his are real and life-sized.
The "Jubilee" mimicry in this story begins with the famous scene of the Doctor being locked in the cell with the helpless Dalek, but I was happy to see that the mimicry was one-sided, in that this Dalek goes on a similar emotional journey to the one from Jubilee, however, the Doctor does not. The Sixth Doctor and the Ninth Doctor have different reactions, and the Ninth's are clearly down to the "damage" he's suffered from the Time War that I've been commenting on in the previous episodes. The "damage" shows itself in full when the Doctor starts shouting how "fantastic" it is that this Dalek is helpless and imprisoned, and how he starts taunting it. (He sounds not unlike Morebi in "Dalek Empire" in fact.) Then he has this exchange with the Dalek regarding the destruction of all the other Daleks. "I watched it happen! I made it happen!" Dalek: "You destroyed us?" Then the Doctor seems to have a moment of regret as he says, "I had no choice." Dalek: "And what of the Time Lords?" Doctor: "Dead. They burned with you. The end of the last great Time War. Everyone lost." Dalek: "And the coward survived. I am alone in the universe. So are you. We are the same." This enrages the Doctor and he rounds on the Dalek exclaiming "We're not the same! I'm not... no, wait... maybe we are. You're right, yeah. Okay. I know what to do... I know what you deserve... exterminate!" and then he, the Doctor, pulls a switch to try and _gleefully_ destroy the Dalek. Even the Doctor is not immune to the emotional damage that war has caused to him and the evil it can spread into him. And then we hear the Dalek say a word that didn't used to be registered in a Dalek vocabulary bank: "Have pity!" And the Doctor answers, "Why should I? You never did!" (Van Statten's people step in and save the Dalek at this point.) The scene is played brilliantly by Christopher Eccleston and Nicholas Briggs, and between this and the later scenes, it really ought to earn them some industry awards. (Prejudice against s.f. will prevent that, I'd guess.)
Rob's script wisely turns away from that intensity for a little while as Rose gets to know a young genius named Adam in Van Statten's employ who studies and catalogs all the alien artefacts. I love how Billie plays these scenes where Adam's trying to show off how he knows all about, gosh, aliens, and she's like, "That's amazing. (not) I'm gobsmacked. (not)." She's considering herself an old pro at all this again, and again I think that's going to get her into trouble in some future episode. As for Adam, it's like they're trying to do Adric again but with charm this time. I like this actor, Bruno Langley, and I like that Adam's thought to keep some alien weapons he shouldn't have, but beyond that we don't really learn that much about him here. Since he leaves with the Doctor and Rose in the TARDIS, next week's episode will probably rectify that.
I like the lift scene and the pot shot the Doctor takes at Von Statten and how he would've loved the Daleks' creator. We get a bit more backstory here too, that the Dalek fell in a meteorite 50 years ago, and the Doctor theorizes that it "must have fallen through time... the only survivor." He also interestingly says that his own survival was "not by choice." This Time War intrigues me more and more.
The shorthand that has to be used in this length comes up again in the scene where the Doctor tells Van Statten that a Dalek is honest and therefore better than Van Statten. This lesson in the hypocritical nature of humanity was one that "Jubilee" let wash over us slowly, but here we just have to have the Doctor say it in a few sentences. It's just as true either way, but it's more fun if you have to work it out for yourself. Still, that can't be helped I think at this length.
Another shorthand (literally), is having Rose touching the Dalek be the trigger for the humanizing of the Dalek. We're told that this is "DNA absorption for regeneration" and later that "extrapolating the biomass of a time traveller regenerated [the Dalek]." Ummm... yeah... This is quite a stretch really, but I don't mind it as I've already heard Rob do it the proper way in "Jubilee" by Evelyn's nurture, but that took a good three 35-minute episodes to accomplish, so I don't mind him taking a "nature" shortcut here.
Now we get to the part where the production team get to strut their stuff as the Dalek breaks out and goes on the rampage. I adored all of the new improvements to the Dalek design, from the more malleable sucker hand that can actually do things now (like kill people or push buttons) to the mid-section that can rotate to it's stair-gliding (yes, it could do this before, but it looks better now) to its static electrical tactic of dousing the soldiers with sprinkler water and then electrocuting them all. I'm less happy about it being able to suck up both the entire internet and the entire west coast power supply through that one outlet on the wall... I can swallow that the Dalek could do it, but not all the nodes and connections between it and the rest of the infrastructure... they'd break under such a strain. Mind you, if Enron could do it, maybe one Dalek could too... hmm. Still, all these improvements really help sell the old idea that "one Dalek is capable of exterminating all," and one really does start to think that it could single-suckerdly exterminate everyone in Salt Lake City.
And two more little points about the Dalek, production-wise... I notice that Nicholas Briggs isn't using his very best Dalek voice for this one, which I (and I think he) think is the one he does for the Dalek Supreme in the BF audios. That makes me wonder if perhaps that one's being saved for later use? The second point is that I like the little motor whirring sound effects they've put on the Dalek's stalk and sticks when they move... that plus the new glossy, Mini-Cooper sheen it has make it seem much more like a real robotic thing.
The best zinger in the whole piece comes around here, where the Dalek seems to truly realize that it really is the only Dalek left and asks the Doctor where it's going to get more orders from. The damaged Doctor yells at it, "Why don't you just die?" and then the Dalek responds with, "You would make a good Dalek." Watch Eccleston's left cheek after the Dalek says this... one little vein in it twitches while the rest of his face stays still... like the Dalek has literally hit a nerve in the Doctor here. I wonder if CE knew that he'd done that. Whether he did it on purpose or not, it's brilliantly brilliant.
Then we come to the bit where the Doctor has to close the bulkheads to confine the Dalek, but in doing so he seals Rose in with it. It's emotionally extremely powerful and very well played by Eccleston and Piper... but I did have two niggles with it. One is that I don't think it's made quite clear enough that Van Statten needs the Doctor's help in getting the bulkheads down. Earlier he claimed he could do the whole software-rerouting thing himself, so he'd presumably be the one to press "enter" and lower that bulkhead, but when the moment comes, he tells the Doctor to do it for him, thus putting Rose's life into his hands (well, one finger anyway). I just don't quite buy why it's got to be the Doctor who's got to press that button at this point and not Van Statten (or even Goddard)... I think we needed a clear reason here.
The second thing I didn't like about this scene (and a few others) is the incidental music by Murray Gold. I think he completely blew it here, and laid down these swells of thick synthesized brass and cymbals that he thinks are big emotionally evocative things but which instead just sound like superficial music-by-numbers choices. In listening to Gold's music throughout the series, it's becoming clearer to me that he doesn't really feel the emotion of the scenes himself when he writes the music to accompany them... he just puts on stuff that he thinks is supposed to go there as though he's doing it by rote. Russell T. Davies has gone to Big Finish people in many other areas in this series, and it's worked every time, and I really think he needs to at least try some of their composers or ex-composers. I really think we'd be better served with the likes of Russell Stone, Alistair Lock, David Darlington, or Steve Foxon doing the incidental music for the new TV series. Or failing them, how about going back to the original series and getting in Mark Ayres, Paddy Kingsland, or Peter Howell again?
Back to the action now, and a very good exchange that's almost getting lost in amongst all the other ones, where Rose tells the Dalek, "They're all dead because of you." and it answers, "They are dead because of us." It's got a point here... that these exterminations wouldn't have happened if Rose hadn't felt sorry for it and touched it, but this point isn't something there's any time to really delve into here. Perhaps this might come up in a future episode, if indeed Rose will get a show where her over-confidence in the companion role gets herself or more other people into big trouble.
The Doctor gets to undo his decision to "kill" Rose and releases her and the Dalek when the Dalek threatens Rose instead of killing her and asks, "What use are emotions if you will not save the woman you love?" That he made the first decision the first time might be another symptom of his psychological damage, given that we saw that the Eighth Doctor repeatedly couldn't make that same decision for Charley. The next scene where he exclaims, "Lock and load" after finding an appropriate alien weapon to kill the Dalek with definitely is part of that damage, as no Doctor before this would've said something like that even in a confrontation with a Dalek. Indeed, Rose points this out to him, with her "It's not the one pointing the gun at me," and "What about you Doctor? What the hell are you changing into?" The Doctor then suddenly seems to realize how easily he's made this decision that he didn't used to make very easily and how he is becoming the good Dalek that the Dalek predicted he'd be. But thanks to Rose, he steps back, and realizes what he was about to do... and that was to kill something that in the past few scenes has been becoming something new that can't bring itself to exterminate people anymore and instead just wants to feel the sunlight on itself...
Which brings us nicely to "the sun scene," where the Dalek opens it casing up and we see the full mutant and how sad and old it looks, with that weak little tentacle, that one wizened eye, and those bits that virbate in sync with its speech. Nick Briggs really makes it sound sick as it says "this is not life, this is sickness. I shall not be like you" and then orders Rose to order it to destroy itself. In this one scene we really get a sense of the tragedy that's befallen all the Daleks down the millenia and the hell that is any Dalek's existence... it's just that not until now has any Dalek recognized that for what it is. The scene can be read in two ways, as the Dalek being so disgusted with becoming more human that it kills itself, or as the humanity making it realize how horrible it is to be a Dalek. I personally think it was both at the same time, which makes its decision to kill itself even more logical.
Some have speculated that perhaps it didn't really die here but instead teleported somewhere. I hope that's not the case as that would cheapen this story, and that the eventual Dalek return happens by other means. By the way, are we to now believe that those spheres on the casing have always been part of its self-destruct mechanism?
I liked seeing Goddard take over and send Van Statten to San Diego, Seattle, or Sacramento... someplace beginning with S. I just wonder where she got the authority to do this from, given he had all the cash... maybe if we see her again someday we'll find out? I'd like that.
I've gone through this whole review without mentioning director Joe Ahearne's name yet, which I shouldn't have done as he's given us the best directed episode yet. Though I complained of abbreviations due to the 45-minute length, his sense of pacing of scenes and knowing where to keep it snappy and where to put the pauses really mitigates that to the point you almost don't notice as it's going. The Dalek combat scenes were all very striking, in particular the moment where Van Statten is yelling at his guards not to harm the Dalek, and he and we listen as the sound of the bullets in the distance slowly go down to a trickle and then to nothing as each guard is killed one at a time. He also really knows how to pull the best performances out of his actors. I'm very happy to see his name on so many more upcoming episodes... it should be a lot of fun to watch those as well.
And finally, I note that this is the first new series episode with no TARDIS interiors in it. Not that that means anything... just a point of trivia.
This review has gone through fourteen drafts, because I lost the right to say the word Dalek halfway through the process.
Overall rating then: 9.5 out of 10. (I'm holding back on the full 10 mostly because of Murray Gold's music.. and to leave room should something else in the season actually surpass this one.)
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
This must have been the strongest story in the series so far and certainly the most anticipated (with the possible exception of Rose). Whilst Russell T Davies undisputed genius has revived this series he does sometimes tread a thin and slightly dangerous line with the humour occasionally (alien farting and laughter laid on a bit too thick maybe), which has never the less always been an integral and necessary part of the show, but if overdone can lapse into the self parody seen towards the end of the original series. Done well the humour doesnt detract from but rather enhances the show (I like a happy medium and his put downs of Ricky).
However, Rob Shearman in this episode gave us much darker and more adult Dr Who. Christopher Eccleston is up there with the best of the Doctors of all time in my view, again walking a thin line between the humour and the horror, its only right the program should show a wide range of emotions afterall, but this time his acting went up several levels and the mugging, the Baker-esque grinning and the Fantastic of previous episodes were replaced by some very adult emotions of fear, hate, anger and sorrow.
His fear of the Dalek and what it represented; the death of his people and the destruction of his planet was real and palpable as was his panic at being locked in the same room as the Dalek.
His complete hatred of the creature was almost xenophobic. Whilst the Dalek absorbs Roses DNA and mutates, becomes almost human with human emotions that are completely new to it, the Doctor becomes the thing he hates. He becomes the executioner; the judge, jury and exterminator. Only Rose stops him from blasting the Dalek.
It is here we see probably Ecclestons best acting in the series so far. His deep hatred and anger for the Dalek; ranting, with spittle flying from his mouth, to the part where he puts the gun down, shocked at what he has become; the exterminator of the last of the Daleks.
When the Dalek says that as they are both the last of their race and that they are the same, angrily he denies this, but then he agrees with the Dalek. Maybe they are the same. Maybe the Doctor IS capable of genocide, of racial cleansing of the Daleks, which apparently he caused in the Time War. Eccleston warned that his Doctor would have a dark side and he has not disappointed. You would make a good Dalek is the Daleks ultimate comendation.
The moral of this episode is simply that we become the things we hate; we are reduced to their level; we lose our humanity, whilst the Dalek ironically gains humanity. The Daleks new found emotions were as touching as was the Doctors hatred appalling.
The Dalek itself was a revelation. Shearman was correct that the 1960s pepper pots would today be laughable; especially to an audience brought up on Alien and Predator and there were elements of both with the stalked becoming the stalker. Taking all of the original Dalek weak points and making them terrifying, such as the sink plunger being dexterous enough to punch keys at high speed on a keypad on a wall; sucker a persons face off, and absorb the contents of the internet makes for a rather hi-tech sink plunger! I was a bit disappointed the Dalek didnt have 360 degree vision but how you would show that on a TV screen without distracting and detracting from the action? All in all a very impressive hi tech flying and killing machine that can hack into any computer security system. The Omen style music was ideal for the demonic nature of this beast!
Nit picking? The exterior of the Tardifs looks like it was knocked up at B&Q yesterday, the paint looks too new, not the battered old police box we remember of old. When are we going to see some of the other parts of the Tardis? And Ecclestons departure, badly mistimed, is seen as selfish by many; but remember what this top class actor has given to the show before you slate him! I like his dark side and gravitas.
This series seems to get better and better. I like my Who a bit serious, deep and with gravitas. If this is what they can do with one Dalek just think what they can do with a whole army. Somehow I dont think we have seen the last of the Daleks! 9/10
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
Bear in mind this is the first time I've ever watched an episode of Doctor Who on its transmission date (it was technically after midnight in Britain when I did, but it was Saturday here), not counting the TV movie. This was also the first completed episode of the new series I've seen.
I've never seen a Dalek more sympathetic or more frightening than the one in this episode, nor have I seen the Doctor so frightening at times. The Dalek was right when it told him "You would make a good Dalek." It's amazing how intimidating a five-foot-tall pepperpot can be when properly shown/lit...... The Doctor's reaction to the Dalek when he first saw it was abject terror, which I don't think I've ever seen in the Doctor before. The fact that the Time War wiped out both Time Lords and Daleks may have had something to do with it, but it made sense for the setting. The Doctor then moved to hysterical, childish cruelty in his taunting of the Dalek when he discovered it couldn't hurt him. It was difficult to tell which was the villain at that point.
The Dalek's new abilities were impressive, though perhaps a bit too powerful; its ablity to absorb DNA(?) from anyone who touches its casing was odd to say the least; its absorbing power and regenerating its casing made more sense to this longtime fan. The ability to rotate the shoulder section makes perfect sense for Daleks (the speed at which it turned was terrifyingly fast); the internal force shield, not so much. As for its hover technology--it was worth the loss of one of the few sympathetic redshirts for the "E-LE-VATE" line. NEVER taunt a Dalek ^_- Seeing the Dalek use tatics to exterminate the ambush squad was amusing--with three shots it eliminated over a dozen guards (and a few out-of-their-element scientists with guns).
The Dalek and Rose made an interesting couple for the last part of the episode; her absorbed emotions confused the Dalek so it could not kill her, and she did her best to understand and reason with it (even going so far as to convince it not to exterminate Van Staaten, who deserved it). The scen with Rose and the exposed Dalek creature basking in the sunlight was beautiful (the creature itself being hideous, but that's beside the point). The juxtaposition of a calm Dalek and a homicidal Doctor made this work, and let the Doctor know exactly how badly he'd failed this time. Poor Rose was torn between her traveling companion and a lonely creature who just needed to be understood......
The human supporting cast were not nearly as impressive. Van Statten was a one-note caricature, a low-rent Bond villain. Goddard was memorable only for her similarity to her boss in personality. Adam (I think that was his name) was entirely forgettable, like Adric without the annoyance factor to make him memorable. When the most sympathetic human character other than tthe Doctor's companion is a nameless guard, there's a problem.
That said, I enjoyed the episode immensely. It was well-plotted and very atmospheric, looking better than some American science-fiction productions. They took care to at least attempt to maintain continuity; the Cyberman helmet they used was supposed to be an "Invasion"-era one (unfortunately it was one which had been modified for "Revenge of the Cybermen" so had vacuum-cleaner hose handles and a four-barrel gun in its forehead), which would have been the most blatant Cyber-attack on Earth by that time ("Tenth Planet" mainly involving Antarctica, few-to-no Cybercorpses left from "Attack of the Cybermen", and a presumed coverup by the Seventh Doctor in "Silver Nemesis"). Yes, it was a bunch of concrete-and-brick halls, but that was acceptable given the bunker's established origins. As a great man once wrote, "little expense had been spared to make it look as though no expense had been spared".
In terms of acting, Nicholas Briggs and Billie Piper provided the most moving performances. The Dalek was by turns vulnerable, manipulative, autocratic, and reasonable, with Rose linking the Doctor and the Dalek with her concern for both. At the end, with the Doctor pointing the rifle at the defenseless Dalek creature, Rose didn't know who to sympathize with; through her obvious confusion neither did the audience. Not since the first season of Doctor Who has the companion (or companions) been the focus of the series; the new series, however, focuses firmly on Rose and her view of this strange visitor from another time. Rose is in many ways the main character of the series; her reactions to events reshape the Doctor's feelinigs--through her, he's learning to feel again. Whatever happened in the Time War has done a great deal of damage to his psyche; right now he needs Rose to help hiim learn all the things he's lost.
If "Dalek" is what Doctor Who for the 21st century is, it's got a long future ahead of it.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
"You would make a good Dalek".
Wow! This was, in so many respects, the best episode so far. For the first time that I can remember, we have a Dalek that actually has some depth, and could seriously be taken as a threat. The interplay between the Doctor and the Dalek was superb, with some great one-liners, and Christopher was on top form; he really managed to convey the anger, hate, remorse, guilt and loneliness of a man who is the last of his race. Incidentally, this is the second story not to be written by RTD, both of which are demonstratively the best yet.
In the opening scene, there is a great shot of an alien facehugger egg in the background, a mechanoid and seeing the cyberman again was nostalgic, not only for us but for the doctor as well.
The first scene with the Doctor and the Dalek alone in the cage is a classic; so many gems here. The anger of the Doctor is real as well as the guilt. He implies he carries the burden of destroying the entire Dalek race as well as the Time-Lords, they share the fact that they are both alone in the universe. There is a nice parallel here with 'Genesis'; Tom Baker's Doctor agonised over the decision to end the Dalek race, but here we see a vengeful Doctor who does not give it a second thought.
On the downside, the beauty and the beast sub-plot with Rose and the Dalek was predictable and tedious, but their first scene was useful in that it showed the physiological manipulation the Dalek is capable of, was unexpected, and it was also interesting that the Dalek can regenerate using the DNA of a time traveller. The Dalek killing the guards, showed for the first time, it is a force to be reckoned with; the forcefield was an inspired innovation, though the levitation did not have the same punch, as its been seen before.
The Dalek killing using the combination of the sprinklers and gun showed its intelligence and ruthlessness, but its desperation evident when asking the Doctor what to do. Nick Briggs deserves special mention for his performance as the Dalek, particularly the scene with Rose in the lift. I loved the Dalek armour opening to reveal the Kaled mutant, as well as the admission that both the Dalek and Doctor have changed. Christopher's performance here is his best yet; the Doctor carries the guilt of not being able to save his people (and possibly the Daleks?). I will admit that I did actually feel sad and sorry for the Dalek as it self-destructed; great writing. My only real quibble is that with the limitations of the 45 minute one episode format, the secondary characters are never able to develop, so you never feel any great empathy with them. Overall though, a classic episode.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
Oh my God. Oh. My. God. (as someone in Friends would surely say, had they the wit to understand Doctor Who at its very best!)
Dalek is almost unbelievable in the way in which it raises the level that the new series is operating on. As someone who was distinctly unimpressed by all the hype and gushing praise that surrounded Jubilee, I was all ready to be disappointed by this too it just goes to show how catastrophically wrong one can sometimes be. This is by far the best episode of the new series so far, almost certainly one of the best episodes in all of Doctor Who, and in terms of Dalek stories is right up there with Evil and Remembrance.
And that is odd, considering that Dalek is extremely highly influenced by Jubilee, and is by the same writer. Robert Shearmans audios have never done it for me, so for this episode to be a success in my household (or rather my grandmothers thats where I watch it. Im 18) Shearman would have to make some pretty drastic changes. And here hes nailed it boy, has he nailed it! The script takes all the best elements of Jubilee that is, the Dalek itself and creates (or recreates?) something awesome.
This Dalek can do everything! It is, in a very real sense, SuperDalek. Sure, it can fly (yawn yawn, been there, done that), but watch out for what else it can do! Project a force field! Suffocate people with its sucker arm! Manipulate keypads designed for human fingers! Emote convincingly! Regenerate! Drain the entire US East Coast power grid! Survive firestorms of bullets (thatll show those Resurrection Daleks)! Erm
open up its casing! Speaking of which, the thingy inside was another inspired Dalek design I loved the hesitant way in which its tentacles nuzzled the sunlight, feeling the warmth of a star for the first time in uncounted years.
Oh, and of course it slaughters hundreds.
This Dalek, just like the one in Jubilee, is a real character, and nowhere is this more evident than in the scene where it confronts Van Statten. It moves realistically and reacts to the humans surrounding it. Its eyestalk actually looks at people, its lights flash in synchronicity with Nick Briggs superb voice work, and it conveys emotion through body language. Really, it does! Just watch and youll see what I mean. This is a masterpiece of direction by Joe Aherne, and a triumph of design, that the metal monstrosity could have come back with all appendages present and correct, no obvious alterations (except making it shinier and better), but still be so very much more than the slightly mobile lump of scenery of yesteryear. It even gets character development, beginning to question its meaningless existence and begging for release at the end. We havent seen the like since Evil of the Daleks, and Scott Grays seminal comic strip in DWM, Children of the Revolution.
Eccleston is again the weak link in a fairly good cast. The lines at the end, for example along the lines of I couldnt
would have been shattering delivered by somebody unimpeded by having to try so hard to play the role. But even Eccleston manages to make something out of the excellent material Shearmans script and Billie Pipers Rose give him; I am thinking particularly of the scene where Rose, cornered with no hope of escape, tells the Doctor she wouldnt have missed it for the world. Coming so soon after Jackies anxiety that her daughter will not be safe (and what a world of difference between the writing here and the writing just one or two weeks ago), this is more epic stuff.
This story had me completely hooked from the very beginning. Even before we discuss the high-octane set-pieces and thrilling mix of action and character moments, which seemed to go on forever (in a good way, just to be clear whenever I wanted more, there was more. It was a truly great script), the teaser was one of my favourite things in the entire series, and the best single moment of the story. Most of you will doubtless spit at this, but I really am such a fanboy that that Cyberman head, and the subsequent lines (The stuff of nightmares, turned into an exhibit. Im getting old.), managed to be the most thrilling example of Doctor Who Ive seen in a very long time. I was literally bouncing up and down in my seat with childish glee when the Cyber-head hove into view and a proper head, as well, ritually engraved teardrops and all! Forget the Daleks self-destruction, thats when I almost cried, with sheer joy that Robert Shearman and yes, even Russell T Davis, I suppose care that much about Doctor Who fans and Doctor Who continuity. Mentions of Davros later on made me grin warmly as well and, on current form, I would suggest that a story showpiecing a lone Davros, possibly directed by Aherne again, would be just the ticket for Season Two. Lance Parkin has shown what can be achieved.
So, yes, the more I think about it the more I am gobsmacked by just how good this was all told, and just how much Mr Shearman has improved the series. I can only hope that Paul Cornell and Steven Moffat excel themselves in the same way that he has. Heres to the future, although probably not The Long Game.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
Dalek had once again given me expectations. The best Doctor Who scriptwriter of the audio years combined with the most anticipated on-going episode of the new series.
Did it work? Well in summary, yes and in more words without doubt.
Dalek had everything, an exceptional start, a well-driven middle and a memorable end. In a series that starts with Doctor returning from a 16-year regular TV gap and ends with a regeneration this still will be the one to remember. Whilst I hope I am wrong, I doubt any episode will beat this in 2005.
The Doctor and Christopher Eccleston grew up in this episode more that I could have anticipated. The hate and remorse in the Doctor is a new side to our beloved lead character. Even with what was to come I was moved by the Doctors emotion before a Dalek had been seen. The scene with the Cyberman was a bonus beyond belief.
The average viewers feeling of hate before the episode would be expected to be aimed at our Dalek, but by the end would be torn between the ruthless Van Statten and the hate filled Doctor.
All the cast worked, and the production reached a new level of professionalism. From the radio lead up I heard that the design team had taken the Dalek design apart to understand it. To rebuild it traditionally on the outside, but to be so fresh on the inside was refreshing.
I could continue to wax lyrical about this episode. But in summary give the man an Oscar. The man who deserves it most however I am undecided, and will let you choose. The nominees however are Robert Shearman, Christopher Eccleston and the head of design.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
It isnt the first time The Doctors been threatened with ending up as an alien exhibit, but I loved the Cyberman cameo and the fact that we were onto Episode 2 by Classic Series Standards immediately after Pre & Opening Titles.
We didnt get to see much of Utah beyond the base, but it was totally convincing. Robert Shearmans story was a strong one.
I always liked the boy-girl thing. Having Bruno Langley in it as Adam Mitchell striking up a mutual rapport with Rose made the series more human, not to mention contemporary since actors were instantly recognisable. Though by no means the chief requirement, Billie & Bruno ran down corridors and up stairs well together. The Dalek moved up them well too. Loved the new Dalek catchphrase: EL-E-VATE.
There was an Ursula Andress Moment where the chunkier bling Dalek, complete with ID barcode, sucker head shrinker & X-ray exterminator gun bristled at sharing company with the Doctor and burst its bonds. Seems natural that a future project - whether TV or film - covers the Time War set up by Russell T. Davies. Hes highlighted the Daleks status by wiping out one of the more contentious aspects of the latter series: The Doctors home planet, Gallifrey. Nice move.
There was an interesting dynamic going on between The Doctor and the Dalek. Things have changed since Tom Baker refused or hesitated to wipe them out thirty years ago to the month (our time). Eccleston was in yer Daleks face about it. The Daleks response that The Doctor would make a good pepperpot himself stood as a gloating statement that its own ruthless motives were stronger and purer than The Doctors avowed intent of good. Similarly, The Doctor lost the argument with Rose when he was all for killing it. The Daleks are, as Eccleston put, the Kryptonite to his Doctor - and perhaps future Doctors. They may have the potential to turn him.
Christopher Eccleston is perhaps the strongest Doctor since Tom Baker. His Northern accent detracts not one iota; in fact it helps convey his characters strength and passion. It would be impossible to imagine him as The Doctor without it.
The machine-gun battle sequence was mercifully void of the picture distortion video-tape often gave and was worthy of a feature film, while at the same time looking like a classic sequence from DR. WHO.
There was real tension when Van Statten reminded The Doctor that Rose was the woman he loved. No one could have doubted it. Lump in the throat moment when Rose, facing death thanked The Doctor as she wouldnt have missed it for the world. But far from being exterminated, Rose had touched the Dalek in more ways than one (and Im not talking Katy Manning Page 3 spreads!). By the same token I think Billie Pipers portrayal and rapport with Ecclestons Doctor has touched all of us in a short space of time by being so grounded and likable.
It was a very original move to open up the casing to show us the real Dalek aiming for freedom and a life beyond its genetic tyranny. Sad but somehow inevitable that it could not fully adapt.
Rose threw the Doctors suspicions about Adam being pretty back at him as two become three in the TARDIS (I hadnt noticed). Again, this Doctor cant duck gay innuendo. If Rose disagrees with The Doctor shell tell him. Shell neither agree to disagree (60s & 70s), or whinge (80s).
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
This episode promised alot and delivered. The Daleks once again have some street cred which - without changing what is in many ways a very dated design - is a huge achievement.
Later on I make some sneaky comparisons with other stories as I feel casual viewers will be doing so with the episode from the previous week and this will effect their expectations of later installments.
The opening in an underground museum with stuffed alien relics and artefacts was lovely and very reminiscent of the original series. In the old series a moment like that would have been alot more drawn out and involved more of a 'lets explore' exchange with the companion which would have been great, but with these 45 minute episodes there understandably isn't time for that kind of measured drama. I got a twinge of excitement when the cyberman head appeared as an exhibit, though was a little surprised that the 1970s chunky version was used. Though it seemed to work with Christopher Ecclestone's very weighty perfomance which was the best we've seen so far.
This was really an episode for Ecclestone to get his teeth into and he seemed to enjoy the opportunity to up the tension and energy. I quite like the backstory that we're given about the time war and the Doctor being the last Time Lord left alive and am perfectly happy with this having damaged his psyche somewhat - the outbursts and uncharacteristic lack of control the Doctor has over his anger and hate. Though it did seem to jar at one point towards the end of the episode. I'm thinking of the scene where the Dalek opens its casing to feel the sunlight (what a treat that was - big smile, very happy. And they carried off tentacles without them looking too phalic!). Seeing the Doctor wield a large gun and appear to lose his usual attitude towards violence is presumably intended to put across how very damaged and alone he is, following the destruction of his people. The comparison between such total loneliness in the Doctor and in the last Dalek was a wonderful moment and made a powerful statement, leveling two sworn enemies in mutual despair. However (some people are never satisfied;) I wish we could have had a less trite line than 'I didn't... ...I wasn't...'. I also felt that having the Doctor ridicule someone for their reliance on knowledge (his comment to Adam about his A-levels) and then brandish a (comically) large gun and deliver the line 'lock and load' was going a bit too far. Despite the effort and conviction in Ecclestone's perfomance, this just isn't the same character - psychological trauma or not - and it starts to look a mite self-conscious. The leather jacket is fine so long as it's not a deliberate attempt at a macho charactersation. And Ecclestone's Doctor frequently isn't that, but now and again he comes over as too much of a knee-jerk reaction to the camper or more gentlemanly previous Doctors and can be really unpleasant to others. Colin Baker suffered from this when the programme makers had him try to throttle his companion shortly after regenerating, and Ecclestone's repeated telling people to shut up or undermining of anyone who isn't a pretty girl (what IS going on here?) really starts to grate. Efforts have been made to make the Doctor less sexist, but it may come full circle because of the pseudo-sexual tension he has with any young man who talks to Rose!
Back to the main stars of the episode. The part where Rose reached out to comfort the Dalek was the best moment in the whole series and in a lot of Doctor Who ever. The cunning of the Dalek and sudden reversal of mood in the scene when it 'extrapolated' a sample of Rose's genetic material was so exciting and well executed. It was a moment where the direction, the music and Nick Brigg's perfect portrayal of the melodic ascension in pitch in the Dalek's voice all worked perfectly together. I was definitely twelve again and was definitely watching Doctor Who!
All in all this was one of the two best episodes in the new series. It's almost meaningless to directly compare it with some of the others because of the change in tone and atmosphere, but alongside Mark Gatiss's episode it was an unparalleled piece of family television and a juicey slice of what the series should be like. And no one farted. It worries me a little that the stories I have enjoyed the most so far and that I have found more casual watchers were impressed by were those not penned by RTD. I don't quite understand how the man who's skill and vision is almost solely responsible for the return of the show can have introduced such clangers like the burping bin and the wind-breaking slitheen. A friend who is not a fan but has been enjoying the new series commented that the farting aliens from the previous story were more like characters from Austin Powers! 'Dalek' acheived a wonderful 45 minutes of drama and excitement without anything that unsubtle and when we look back at the best and worst parts of the show's history, it is the excess of humour and absecne of seriousness that is criticised the most. I do hope RTD and the rest of the team take note of how differently both journalists and the public seem to have responded to the more serious stories as opposed to the more childish episodes. Perhaps I'm forgetting what children enjoy on television as the show must fundamentally appeal to the pre-teen audience (though obviously I'd rather it was just for me!). And I suppose we should count ourselves lucky that this isn't the early sixties when like the Slitheen would have been called the Flatulatons from the planet Fartos. Fingers crossed we'll get some more wind-less Dalek stories before this run is over!
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American Doctor Who fans are a funny lot. We accept that the series is created for children (or "Family audience", if you will..) but most of us old-time fans began watching the series in our teens. I, myself, began a life-long love for the program in the early eighties as a teen sci-fi fan looking for something more fun to watch than Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica. What fun! What charm! It's meant to be ..what?
Honestly, I could just never get my head around the idea. Millions of English children diving behind the sofas in sheer terror of the Daleks. The Daleks?
Don't get me wrong, I love The Daleks to bits. Really. I love the single-mindedness and the blind "dislike for the unlike" and those fantastic scratchy/electronic voices....
But I can't imagine anyone being scared of them.
Fast forward. I'm a typical fan with loads of videos and Dapol Dalek action figures and Big Finish audios. I'm also the step-dad of a wonderful young girl named Jessica Jones, who I very much want to enjoy the series with me. Over the years, I tried many different items. Pyramids Of Mars? Yep. Dapol toys mixing with her own toys? Sure, I tried that.
Not much interest.
Over time, she would watch episodes with me. Peter Davison episodes ,mainly. Season twenty. No monsters. Still, her opinion of Doctor Who was pretty low. One night, we were driving home and I knew that the trip would take roughly thirty minutes. "Hey, guys..", I said, "how about an episode of Doctor Who on the cd player? Just so happens I have one in the car." My better half, Teresa, rolled her eyes and sighed that particular sigh (the "what a geek" one) and settled in for some Doctor Who. "Jubilee" episode four played in tandom with a clear starry night as I drove home listening to another class production from Big Finish. That's when I learned something.
Jessica is TERRIFIED of The Daleks. She can't so much as look at them, let alone listen to those evil-filled voices.
In recent months, I've had the good fortune to see episodes of the new Doctor Who series (lots of squinting, though. Thank goodness I have a multi-region DVD player and DVDs are right around the corner). I have loved the good old mix of cheeky self-reference and adventure, wit and thrills I first enjoyed in Doctor Who mixed with a fresh new breakneck pace. And, boy! Am I enjoying Christopher Eccleston's Doctor Who! By the way, how sad a fanboy am I that I actually cheered when I saw him listed in the end credits as "Doctor Who"?
Jessica watched "Rose" over my shoulder at first, then found herself drawn right into the action. She really loves it, but is most taken with Rose Tyler. Billie Piper's Rose is just heroic enough to be a role model and just normal enough to be an everywoman.
And so we've watched most of the episodes together, when possible.
When the preview for Rob Shearman's frankly brilliant episode "Dalek" started, Jessica froze. "Daleks...", she hissed." I don't like Daleks..." When the Dalek began shouting "Exterminate!" , she began to shake. I told her that there was only one Dalek in the episode.
"oh....that's okay then..."
The Doctor and Rose land in an impressive alien archive, complete with the head of a Cyberman ("Hey! I've seen one of those!"). Suddenly, armed guards take our heroes to visit our villain Van Statton, who seems to have an alien fetish. Along with him, they meet Adam, working for Van Statton ("Ohh...he's british, too. Is that why he thinks they will like each other?") And The Doctor is taken to visit the prize of the collection ("uummmm..."), a living alien life form. All alone in the dark (At this point, Jessica begins to position herself closer to my chair). When The Doctor introduces himself, the lights come on and we see a lone Dalek. The Dalek goes mental at the sight of The Doctor and begins shouting "Exterminate!!" (At this point, Jessica screamed and hid behind my chair. It's true. Kids DO hide behind the sofa.)
When The Dalek realizes that he and The Doctor are the last survivors of a great war, he also realizes that he is all alone in the universe ("Aww", says Jessica. She was pants-wettingly scared of The Dalek and now she feels SORRY for it?) When The Doctor offers to free him from life by electrocuting him, Jessica went ballistic. "What? He can't do that! The Dalek's chained up! That's not fair!"
In the labs, Adam begins making goo-goo eyes at Rose ("They like each other....wonder what The Doctor will think?")
Angered by The Doctor's attempt to kill his prize, Van Statton begins a scan of The Doctor that seems like torture. "You have two hearts", Van Statton coos ("Cool!", Jessica exclaimed)
Thanks to Rose ("No! Rose! Get away from it!", Jessica shouts. This is followed by "I think that Dalek likes Rose. She feels sorry for him.")
Suddenly, The Dalek re-energizes and breaks free. Jessica screams. I cheer wildly.
"What are you gonna do," a doomed man asks, "Sucker me to death?"
It does. Jessica screams. I cheer wildly.
Over the next thirty minutes, we are treated to a massacre the likes of which Doctor Who has never seen. My jaw drops several times throughout as the production team do everything humanly possible to make that Dalek the coolest (or scariest) thing ever.
Jessica picks up the theme of the episode early on, noting that The Doctor is acting like a bigger monster than the monsters! She gasps every time that Rose is in danger (RTD, you've done quite a job with this one..) and cheers when Van Statton gets what's coming to him.
And she feels very sorry for The Dalek at the end.
And, hey! So do I.
She chuckles as Adam finds his way aboard The TARDIS ("Is he going with...ha! ha ha ha! He's only going because he likes Rose, y'know..")
And as the episode ends, she asks "Can we watch again?"
I loved the episode. I got action, suspense, and a great character study of the tenth Doctor. But I also got to see what the show looks like to a nine year old, non sci-fi fan.
I saw the Daleks as children see them. Behind the sofa scary.
RTD, you are on to a winner!
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At last theyve done it. After three entertaining but somewhat flawed stories and one unmitigated disaster, the series new production team have finally delivered an episode which lives up to the potential of Doctor Who in the 21st century, and gave us probably the best story since Remembrance of the Daleks back in 1988.
I have had many problems with this new series of Doctor Who, particularly the inherent silliness and the often middle of the road light entertainment feel that all of RTDs stories have had, but Dalek is the first which would make me glad to get up and shout its praises from the rooftops. Overall it reminded me of why I was a fan and still sitting in front of the tv screen after almost twenty years of indignities have been inflicted on this series. It proved the old notion that all that is needed is a solid script, some conviction from the cast and the rest would take care of itself.
I must admit the concept of this story appealed greatly, the concept of a private alien museum with one living exhibit sounded a great premise, but I hadnt dared get my hopes up too much after last weeks contender for worst episode of all time. But from the off, this story moved quickly and assuredly, no moments of camp silliness to jar you out of the reality of it, no problems with pacing or structure that the first three stories suffered from. In short we got 45 minutes of genuinely exciting, moving and well structured drama, in fact the sort of thing I had been hoping for from this series from the outset.
There were some nice surprises, particularly the Cyberman head which brought a smile to my face, and gave us our first direct link to the original series and the Doctors almost melancholy reaction to it was strangely moving.
The arrival of the supporting players I thought was slightly overdone and played a little clichéd, but I was glad to see both Corey Johnsons Von Statten and Anna Louise Plowmans Diane Goddard settled down within a few scenes and became very credible characters. Bruno Langleys Adam I am somewhat undecided on, although I must admit being familiar with his character from Coronation Street made it harder to see Adam as a character in his own right. The last minute addition of him joining the Tardis crew however came as a nice surprise, and it will interesting to see how he develops in his role as a (presumably temporary) companion. Perhaps ironically though the best performance came from Nick Briggs as the voice of the Dalek.
While in lesser hands it could have been a disaster, here for probably the first time ever, a Dalek became a rounded character in its own right, rather than just shouting down a microphone, Briggs varied the intonation to the point where you believed there was a living being inside and that there was far more to a Dalek than anyone could have imagined . I had been dreading the humanised Dalek after hearing rumours about it, but to give everyone their credit, it always stayed on the right side of credible and by the end one found themselves almost siding with the Dalek.
Visually too, the creatures have never looked better, thankfully retaining the original design with just a few minor tweaks which bring them firmly into the 21st century.
Just as I moaned in my review of Aliens of London about doing Who villains badly, so Dalek illustrates perfectly how to do them right. The Dalek seen here is an unstoppable force and god if this is just one, think what a whole squadron would be like. Now we can see why they rule the universe. Every joke that everyone has made about Daleks will hopefully now be silenced. From the rotating midsection, to the leviatating, this machine will hopefully have left joe public with their jaws on the floor, and if the remote control Dalek toy isnt a best seller this Christmas then there aint no justice. The revelation of the mutant was an unexpected surprise and full marks should go to the effects crew who made it look thoroughly realistic.
If I were to raise any quibbles with this story and they are only minor quibbles it would be that the levitating Dalek effect looked a little fake, also I found the Daleks revival just by Rose touching the head a little too convenient and lacking a full explanation. After 6 episodes I also still find myself sitting on the fence over Chris Ecclestons portrayal of the Doctor. I have found much to like in his performance, but ironically I still find him very undoctorly in a lot of his confrontational scenes, in moments of this story he came across a bit like Grant Mitchell in space, almost thuggish and too easily emotional. His scene against the Dalek was a masterclass of acting, but failed in the fact that I was never convinced that it was the Doctor actually saying these things . Saying that, I think part of the problem is the inevitable source of comparison, one cant help but compare him to Doctors one to eight, and certainly Ecclestons Doctor is far removed from his predecessors and I applaud the production team for trying something different. Unfortunately this bold new take on the Doctors character which now seems to have developed into him being a shell shocked war veteran is, taking some get used to and with Eccleston leaving at the end of the season I can see him being remembered as the guy who didnt quite pull it off.
I havent quite decided whether this story is a classic, opinion usually takes a while to settle on these things, but it was definitely close. Unfortunately it seems the two scripts most respectful of the old series this season have come from writers other than Russell T Davies, it is shameful that jobbing writers are doing a better job of getting this series right, than the man who was employed by the BBC to revive the show in the first place.
However regardless of what next week may bring, Doctor Who shone bright this Saturday, it may have took an eternity but Doctor Who has finally delivered on 16 years of expectations and promises and for that everyone involved in Dalek should feel very proud.
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I come at this not as a hardened Who fan who follows every cough, spit and splutter of everyone who has ever written for, or of, the series and its predecessors, but as a non-nerdy lover of Doctor Who going back to when it began in the sixties. I rather hope it brings a different perspective to what I say about Dalek.
Yes, it was excellent, hence my being moved to write my first ever review of a Who episode. Dalek worked for me on a number of levels. It helped knowing something of the Daleks and, I guess, having been one of the team who copy-edited many of the books for Virgin and the Beeb (I even helped to blow up Gallifrey). I realised, though, that, had I not known anything about them other than their cult status, my enjoyment would not have been diminished it would merely have been made to work at a different level.
A friend thought the episode had sentimentality; I preferred the word pathos, not defined as arousing pity but going back to its Greek origin: feeling. I felt a lot for the Doctor and the Dalek while watching this episode, and could empathise with Rose, still very much an outsider to the Doctors world universe in spite of her show of being a little more knowing as the series has progressed.
We did not need legions of Daleks to summon the idea that this race was one of absolute monsters whose potential for destruction was Armageddon-like. Our minds could do that for us, thanks to the skilful writing of Robert Shearman and the direction of Joe Ahearne. The menace oozed from this understated creature because Messrs Shearman and Ahearne went only so far, and let us do the rest surely the goal of any writer or director.
>From the single blue light when we were supposed not to know a Dalek was there (but did) to the lighting up of the room, revealing the carapaced creature bound like the Titan who tried to steal the fire (but bound for very different reasons), we were entranced. The wider emotional range Nicholas Briggs brings to the Dalek voice is apparent from the words, The Doctor?
Here was the centrepiece of the tableau, imbued somehow with an indefinable quality from the very fact that the episode was called Dalek, not The Dalek. Some subtlety there, on someones part. During this first confrontation between the creature and the Doctor, we found ourselves wanting to look for longer, wanting the dialogue to be more spare, wanting longer gaps between lines, so that we could witness this confrontation between But wait a minute. It wasnt between good and evil any more: it was between well, between the Doctor and the last surviving member (as far as we know) of the Dalek race; between the complexity the Doctor was able to show in this episode and a balancing complexity brought to the Dalek by Briggs and the writer.
Yes, there were comic moments. One was when the Dalek realised its gun wasnt working, and down went the eye stalk and up went the gun, simultaneously, in an anthropomorphic representation of someone whos just been told that hes holding a turd in his hand and cant quite believe it. But the most telling thing to come from the Dalek was the line, addressed to the Doctor, You would make a good Dalek.
This was perhaps where knowing something of the Doctors past would have helped those viewers coming to Who for the first time, although perhaps having seen the first five episodes has given them enough of his character and backstory to work out that here we were seeing a hero who was not all that the heroes of drama are cracked up to be.
Dalek had claustrophobic menace, some classic creature features with much-needed enhancements thrown in, emotional complexity, the gorgeous Billie Piper and equally gorgeous Bruno Langley (Adam) and a Doctor who is forced to question himself. It worked on all these levels and, for this fan, was the best so far in the series.
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We're roughly halfway through the debut season of the new "Who" and on the whole I have been pleasantly surprised. Having said that, I don't think it has been a coincidence that the two episodes so far that have been truly top-notch are the two that have not been penned by Russell T Davies. We all owe Davies a debt of gratitude for bringing the Doctor back in the first place, but he might be taking on too much by writing most of the episodes in addition to his duties as producer. Anyway, more on that later...
As a die-hard listener to the Big Finish audios I've had the opportunity to enjoy Rob Shearman's previous work, so the news that he would be writing a television episode featuring nothing less than the Doctor's most notorious enemies filled me with confidence for the show's future. The episode, titled simply enough "Dalek", certainly did not disappoint. I'm leery of the trend that casually throws around the term "classic" before the closing credits have even finished scrolling down the screen, but I'll make an exception in this case. "Dalek" is destined to be regarded in the same vein as "Genesis of the Daleks", and not only because of the parallels between the Doctor's attitude to Dalek life. Shearman's episode brings additional layers to the whole Dalek mythos just like its predecessor but manages to do it in only a fraction of the time.
The above comment regarding the story's length is one of the key strengths of "Dalek"; this is the first of the new series' 45-minute one-parters that seemed to fit perfectly within its limited timeframe. It's a bizarre facet of the "Doctor Who" universe in which any story less than 90 minutes is seen as somehow lacking while virtually every other television show in existence fits comfortably under an hour. Granted, plenty of "Who" stories have featured tons of filler to pad out its length but even so fans have become so conditioned to the traditional length that anything less is seen as less substantial. Even the Big Finish audios and full length novels reinforce that prejudice. At any rate, I was worried about the shorter stories coming into this new series and until "Dalek" my fears had been largely confirmed. All of the previous one-parters left me wanting more; in the case of "Rose" and "End of the World" in a critical "Is that all?" sense. Even "The Unquiet Dead", as great as it was seemed like it could used something more. "Dalek", while I wouldn't have complained seeing even more of such quality writing, nevertheless had a beginning, middle, and end that left me with the satisfied feeling of having seen a complete story.
Another highpoint of this episode was the acting of one Christopher Eccleston. Previously his performances have left me with very mixed feelings; the Doctor's attitude has been way too breezy, flippant and at times downright annoying with the idiotic grin plastered on his face half the time. At times I wouldn't have been surprised if he had broken out the spoons. It wouldn't be fair to blame Eccleston for all of this, however; for one thing almost all the previous doctors went through similar growing pains in their early stories as the actor himself as well as the writers came to grips with the latest incarnation. The tragedy in this case is that Ecclestone already has a much tighter time-frame to grow into the character before he leaves the role. Part of the problem also lies with the writing for the character, more particularly Russell Davies as the primary writer. The goofy, off the wall characterization fits in with Davies' idea of comedy within the series; I've always enjoyed the comedic aspects and sense of fun found in the classic series but at times Davies' writing seems to veer closer to Benny Hill than Doctor Who. Shearman fortunately brings back the dramatic, darker aspect to the Doctor which is especially important in an episode such as "Dalek". The threat would be drastically undermined if the Doctor resorted to an endless stream of one-liners and gags, something that weakened "Aliens of London/WWIII". This episode illustrates how Ecclestone certainly has the ability to be a great Doctor given the right material. He works much better in a serious role with the occasional comedy versus the clownish role with the occasional drama that has been the case so far.
As usual, Billy Piper is excellent in this episode. As an American, I had never heard of her until she was cast as Rose. Learning that her claim to fame was as a pop singer didn't exactly thrill me but she has turned out to be the most consistently enjoyable aspect of the series. The guest stars in this episode also held their own; I was worried that the American setting would mean plenty of caricatures of the "Texas oil tycoon" or brass "New Yawker" variety but fortunately they stuck to a more neutral accent. The Dalek itself certainly earned its starring role, thanks to the work of Nick Briggs as this generation's version of the deadly pepper pot. The script made great use of the creature, from the deadlt use of its sucker to its downloading of everything on the internet! Perhaps my favorite scene was not the Dalek levitating up the stairs, as I'm sure it was for many, but a later scene in which it wipes out an entire room of soldiers using the sprinkler system and electricity. It was a clever and interesting way to demonstrate the Dalek's intelligence and its deadly nature without resorting to yet another generic shootout.
"Dalek" has confirmed my overall belief that the new series has the ability to have just as successful a run as the original show. Even with my reservations for the RTD-written scripts I'm still enjoying the overall progression of the season. The second half of the season seems to contain a more serious and dramatic tone with perhaps more revelations about the mysterious "Time War", one of Davies' overarching storylines that I am enjoying in addition to the ongoing connection with Rose's family and friends back home. At any rate the rest of the season has the potential to set up the Doctor's adventures for many years to come, with or without the ninth Doctor.
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If you frequent forums, newsgroups and the like without contributing then you are known as a 'lurker'. Many of you reading these reviews will recognise that quality in yourselves, but every now and then something comes along that breaks you out of your apathy. A moment so profound, so life changing that you are forced out of the shadows to yell it from the rooftops and tell everone else about it. In science it's been labelled the EUREKA moment. What event would cause a scientific mind to leap naked out of their bath and run yelling down a public street?
Well no nudity in public for my epiphany. I like to reserve a special place in my tele-visual history for the WOW moments. On Saturday night, a cynical classic Who fan of some 36 years sat down and watched a beloved, but in his view, underachieving, resurrection deliver a WOW moment that registered high on the richter scale. Dalek delivered - in spades.
Let me put this into context.
I've lived WHO from Pertwee to Baker, from Davison through to the other Baker. My enthusiasm was drained by the travesty of... I mean the Trial of a Timelord, only to have it re-ignited by 'Fenric' only to have it dashed by the cancellation when it had just become interesting. I had slim hopes for McGann and the movie... yet the infamous 'kiss' scuppered any creditability it may have gained from me. So it was that the Doctor faded into television history.
17 years and the landscape was changing... Star Trek had a Next Generation, Deep Space Nine came and went, Voyager voyaged and Enterprise confounded original series devotees... Mulder and Scully opened (and closed several times) the X Files, Babylon 5 was the last best hope for peace' before being decomissioned, Buffy was the chosen one, died and was resurrected... as indeed was her vampire love Angel... all contributed in their own way and gave rise to inspiration for others to follow... but you know that...
The US fantasy output had 'raised' the bar - in script writing / dramatic and special effects terms. Nothing the British could do could challenge or compete with the genius of Whedon, Straczynski or Carter... at least that's what we had been led to believe.
I'm not one to deify writers, creators etc, and RTD is a long way off that with his own scripts, but I must congratulate him on the first two non RTD scripts of this new series. Gattiss's 'The Unquiet Dead' invoked nostalgia of Hinchcliffe WHO, and now Shearman's Dalek.... to coin an often used ninth doctor phrase "Fantastic!"
Twenty minutes in, after much promise came the WOW moment. Two minutes of Dalek action in the corridor showdown with the bases forces. Two minutes where I remembered what it was like to be a child again. That wonderful feeling of awe and inspiration where you look at the screen with undiluted pleasure. EUREKA! Te ruthlessness, the brutality... this was a Dalek displayed in it's purest form doing what it does best. The re-invention was realised superbly... with post-Matrix forcefields dissolving bullets, skeleton exposing exterminating rays and the clincher? The 360 degree revolving mid section. Such a simple idea... and a perfect accompaniment to what went before. The aerial POV shot of this new movement was inspired! Yet it didn't stop there... who could watch the movement of the Dalek as it shifts itself into it's next direction post the corridor slaughter and not be chilled by it? This could so esaily have been a static Dalek moves forward shot, so congrats Joe Ahearne for going for a more artistic and aesthetically pleasing viewpoint.
So impressed was I that I had to view BOTH the BBC Three reruns.. just to see if this moment was as good as I thought it was. Could I be being deceived? Was WHO 2005 delivering the goods at last after the abomination that was the 'two parter' that shall remain nameless... (Third World War indeed... waste of a powerful title...Wind breakers would have been better....)? Dalek did deliver and I wasn't being decieved.
Sure I can be critical; Rose could touch the Dalek even though the "last guy that touched it burst into flames"?; the emotionless pre-DNA transfer Dalek could be "glad" that it had met Rose?; the Dalek reasoning that "what use are emotions if you won't save the woman you love"; slightly dodgy CGI in places, the cop out power drain / internet download (some broadband connection!) and the slightly 'too convenient implosion'...(if that's what it was... I'd much prefer it to have been a time jump....) But in counterpoint the episode has such richness... from great atmosphere to stunningly effective use of location (the Millenium Stadum at Cardiff was an inspired choice), tight direction and classic dialogue; "You would make a good Dalek..." ; "If you can't kill what are you good for.. Dalek?" "E-L-E-V-A-T-E!". I can't let my review pass without praising the subtle refrence to classic WHO in the prologue.. "an old friend.. well.. an enemy.. the stuff of nightmares reduced to an exhibit" recited over the image of a blank expressionless "Invasion" Cyber head. How may households rang to the cries of... "Dad what is it?" Well done Mr Shearman for not labouring the point. (Just bring them back and let the new generation really know what they are...)
I hope the new generation of WHO fans will enthuse about this as much as this veteran does. THIS is what it's all about. This is why I love this programme. If there is nothing else offered by this revival then the 2 minutes of WOW delivered here will have made the 17 year wait worthwhile. File with those other classic moments... my first glimpse of a Dalek in Day of the Daleks, the Sontaron reveal in the Sontaron Experiment, the Cybermen appearance at the end of episode 1 of Earthshock, the marshmen in the swamp of Full Circle... and I'm sure you have a long list too...
If Mr Davies wants to learn anything about his audience then he too should become a 'lurker' and realise that he has started something good. As all fledgling shows this new 'infant' will make some faltering steps... but when it learns do do things right (as it has done here) it should do them MORE! Here's one lifetime fan hoping for less 'soap' (exterminate Mickey please) and more WOW in the weeks to come.
As another sci-fi visionary once said; "Faith manages".
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L E K
On its trek
Elevates to new
Heights of TV dramatic sci-fi.
Hatred to pitiful cry
Of a lost museum
Alien waiting for the call
To exterminate all.
So Tightly well written
With Rose smitten.
Beauty and metal Beast
Created a monster Doctor
Giving a performance of pain
Guilty for races he hath slain.
Timewar arc to motivate Who
Shaping him with purpose true!
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
Dalek was undoubtedly one of the most disturbing, emotional and exciting episodes of Doctor Who I have ever seen. Writer Robert Shearman skilfully gave us an episode that had the requisite amount of thrills and drama, but with an emotional wallop that has surely never been seen in the series before.
With just one Dalek to contend with, the battle for the Doctor against his deadliest enemy was far more personal and totally believable. It was disturbing to see the Doctor first cowering with fear as the Dalek threatened to exterminate him (for the umpteenth time, youd think hed be used to it by now!) But then to then see him taunting the Dalek and explode with uncontrollable fury. Then just when youre reeling at that, he actually tries to kill the Dalek in cold blood
This was powerful emotional stuff and superbly played by Christopher Eccleston. Never before have we seen a Doctor be so scared; not even Patrick Troughton! The gradual development and exposition of the Time War back story actually had me on the edge of my seat. This episode, perhaps more than any of them so far, really gave Eccleston a chance to excel and show just why the production team chose him in the first place, regardless of him only wanting to do one season.
Nicholas Briggs gave the Dalek voice so much more character than any other Dalek voice actor before. The sixties Dalek voices (apart from the films) always sounded camp, while Roy Skelton in the seventies was scary yet monotonous, mainly due to the script. Here, for the first time, the Dalek ran through a gamut of emotions, even managing to instil some sympathy in us while still maintaining its menace. And when the Dalek spoke about Rose being the "woman [the Doctor] loved!" I was gobsmacked!
And what of that woman? Well, Billie Piper continues to impress due not only to her talent but also due to the writing. The production team are aiming to show true character development and consistency, plus building up a relationship between the Doctor and Rose that is genuine and believable. The scene where she says goodbye after the bulkhead closes was heart-wrenching, I literally was on the edge of my seat!
It wasnt just the emotional level being hiked up, the Dalek had its image updated too and its scare factor significantly increased. No more sink plunger jokes thank you; although you knew it was coming, the new and improved deadly plunger no doubt had audiences cheering. The exterminating effect was superb but an old Git like me missed the old-style negative effect. Any traditionalist fan however will be pleased that this Dalek story fulfils the usual requirement of a high body count, with not only the electrocution scene being memorable, but also the individual deaths of minor characters like DiMaggio were realistic and shocking.
With the trio of the Doctor, Rose and the Dalek taking up the majority of screen time, the other actors should be praised for making their characters quite memorable. Corey Johnson was suitably menacing as Van Statten, perhaps being more of the storys villain than the Dalek. Anna-Louise Plowman as Goddard had little to work with but still gave a solid performance. The character of Adam Mitchell threatens to be another Adric, although fortunately he is, at least, well played by Bruno Langley.
The ending was odd, but in a good way. I had imagined that we would actually see the Doctor blasting the Dalek to bits. To see it just give up and self-destruct at first seemed wrong but on reflection, it does seem to be the more appropriate ending. The Dalek mutant was another triumph for the special effects crew.
And the Cyberman cameo at the start was strangely moving, focusing as it did on the "teardrop" design. Despite it being one of the dated designs, it managed to look realistic and not retro or quaint. Maybe Im getting old too?
Dalek was fantastic as the Doctor would say! The best episode of this series so far, full of wonderful moments and for me it managed to demonstrate in just 45 minutes, all that is wonderful about Doctor Who.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
Dalek continues the season's downward trend with an episode that promised much but ultimately delivered little of any real quality.
A lot of fans seem dazzled as usual by the high production values, but this was a resolutely uninspired run-around. Take the Dalek climbing the stairs incident - I'm no fan of the McCoy era, but at least the climax to Remembrance part one had pacing. Given that everyone know the bloody thing was going to levitate, what was the point in having it sit there for about two minutes listening to a load of old piffle about being made to surrender? The subsequent death of the trooper was gratuitous and contrived - there was no reason for her to stay and get killed - she already knew her weopen would be useless.
But these are small points compared to the more serious charges that, with each passing episode, can be laid at the feet of Christopher Eccleston's Doctor. People seem to be enjoying his "anti-hero" stance, but this idea that the Doctor is now some sort of intergalactic war veteran with psycologicial scarring and a predilection for bouts of gut-level brutality -well, does any of that do anything to evoke or develop the essential magic of Doctor Who?
The Doctor is supposed to be a HERO folks, he was never meant to be Avon, or Garibaldi from Babylon 5. By all means make other supporting characters messed up and flakey, but for God's sake, give the kids a central hero they can rely on. In the Unquiet Dead he ended up with his back to the wall, having made a monumnetal error of judgement and almost destroyed the world - fortunately Dickens was there to save everyone. In the next story he allowed himself to be cooped up in one room for nearly a whole episode, eventually replying on Rose's mobile phone and a council estate urchin to save the day by proxy. And now we have him standing around getting all emotional while Rose inadvertently defeats the Dalek with a dose of her own humanity.
Come on Russel T. Davies - give us a story in which the Doctor finally DOES something heroic and positvie, where he behaves like the Doctor! Subverting his character is an act of sabotage that will only be appreciated by hard-core fans. A new generation of children need the brave, resourceful centre-stage hero which we were treated to between the years 1963 and 1980. Anything other approach and we end up slipping down distinctly Carmel-esque slopes.
One other thing about this episode that drove me nuts was the heavy handed and over prescriptive incidental music, which became positively unbearable at the climax. Having revealed the Dalek creature in all its one-eyed glory, the story then slipped into slushy melodrama with the kind of string-driven pap that blights american movies. The whole of the final sequence had enough emotional content already - here was a Dalek choosing suicide! Why do we need to be told how to feel by slushy music? Can you imagine that happening at the end of Ark in Space as Noah sacrifices himself? A flurry of strings as Chase gets eaten by his compost machine? Those fine memorable dramatic deaths happened in the complete absence of music!
And finally - it seems we have another Adric on our hands. I've already forgotten the name of the character, along with his face, his voice, and his non-contribution to the story. Just what is it about him that the production team felt would be a good companion? Blandness personified! Rose's boyfriend would have been infinitely better, and that's not saying much.
All in all, this episode (SFX trumped up as potentially the greatest episode ever!) reminded me of a forgettable Doctor-less comic strip from the back pages of Dr Who weekly. A major disappointment.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
This was not only comfortably the best episode of the new series but, quite possibly, the best Doctor Who story ever - and I know I'm not the only one to say that. In exploring the allegorical potential of science fiction, the episode took up the gauntlet thrown down so dauntingly by the likes of the new Battlestar Galactica and beat them at their own game. We were shown the Doctor as refugee (and, perhaps, war criminal) a man (alien?) struggling to come to terms with his own past and, in his torment, posing some serious questions for our own world.
There is no need to rhapsodise at length about the tautness of the plot, the excellence of the special effects or, even, how well Billie Piper performed as Rose; others have covered that ground and said nothing with which I would disagree. For me, it was the overwhelming sadness of the episode that ensured its classic status. The moment when the Dalek learned that he was all alone in the universe was genuinely moving. And has the series ever produced a finer moment of acting than Christopher Ecclestone's utter devastation in response to the Dalek's "You destroyed us"? The actor conveyed perfectly the Doctor's realisation that he, too, was a mass murderer, no better, and probably worse, than the creature he was so violently taunting.
But even that was topped by the Dalek's melancholy response "You would make a good Dalek" to yet another of the Doctor's bile-filled rants. How easy it would have been to make that line a flippant throwaway, an infantile "one-liner" with an instant, and unsatisfactory, payoff. Instead, it added a bleak resonance to the Dalek's earlier remark that he and the Doctor were alike. The Dalek had meant that their loneliness united them. In fact, as the creature came to understand, the common ground was irrational hatred.
At such moments, the programme was much more than an entertaining piece of fantasy hokum, but a profound exploration of the human condition. Of course, such existential speculation has always been begged by a series with the title Doctor Who; many more episodes like this and they're going to have to start writing it with a question mark.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
You would make a good Dalek, Doctor.
Before Saturday 30th April 2005 my all-time top five Doctor Who stories where The Caves of Androzani, Remembrance of the Daleks, City of Death, Logopolis and Genesis of the Daleks, in that order. After watching Rob Shearmans action-packed psychological masterpiece Dalek, I already feel impressed enough to put it right up amongst such lofty company, if not above it.
Having watched the episode hailed by SFX as the best episode of Doctor Who ever twice - I usually review episodes after just one viewing but I just couldnt resist an immediate replay I am sure it will remain one of my favourite episodes for many years to come. On the first viewing I actually cried three times. This story was absolutely phenomenal. As someone who has been counting down the days (for about three years) until the cinema release of the Revenge of the Sith, I think it will have to be something to beat this TV episode of my favourite-ever TV show. It was chilling, it was moving and in all its 16:9 / 5.1 surround glory it was as spectacular as anything you could hope to see at the cinema. More than that, I thought it was an incredibly sad and moving story.
>From the opening scene where the Doctor looks at the head of a Cyberman the stuff of nightmares
reduced to an exhibit I realised how lucky we were to have the Doctor back. For over a decade our only hope of seeing a Cybermans head was in a museum or convention somewhere
and now we were going to get something far better than a Cyberman, an Auton, a Slitheen or the Gelth. A Dalek; no scrap that; not just a Dalek a Dalek characterised by Rob Shearman. With the sounds of his extraordinary play Jubilee still ringing fresh in my ears I held my breath as that distinctive theme began to play.
Bad Wolf One descending
It didnt take long for the action to begin, and for forty-five minutes (an ideal length for a story such as this one) it didnt cease. We had only a few minutes to enjoy what we have become used to as The Ninth Doctor as he playfully demonstrates to Adam and Van Statten the musical instrument. Of course, as soon as he learns an alien life form is being held in this underground bunker of Van Stattens he wants to help just as he did with the Gelth, the pig in the space suit etc. and ever the optimist, he enters the cage. You could cut the tension with a knife this scene was fully loaded.
The Doctor we know is gone in the blink of an eye. Previous Doctors have been terrified by the Daleks most memorably in my mind is the look of the Seventh Doctors face as he is backed against the door by an Imperial Dalek at the end of Remembrance, Part I but the Ninth Doctor seemed even more terrified. This scene was scripted, acted and directed beautifully. As those lights on top of the dome lit up I had goosebumps. When I heard EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE I felt the tears well up. The Doctor ran for his life then he realised. The Dalek gun was powerless. In one second the Doctor changed from a Timelord scared for his life to a bitter, hateful and vindictive creature. I loved the way he got right in the Daleks face. What are you gonna do? he yells in his northern accent although I must admit I am curious as to why the Dalek didnt sucker him to death(only possible niggle I could think of; I had to think damn hard with this episode!!!) I guess it was probably still too weak prior to its DNA infusion from Rose. The following exchange of dialogue was some of the best that has ever graced an episode of Doctor Who. We learn that the Doctor finally completely and utterly destroyed his mortal enemy and the enemies of the Timelords leaving them burning in space. He brags about this to the Dalek. What of the Timelords? asks the Dalek. The coward survives
And then it happens. The Doctor tries to murder the Dalek. This is the same man who had the chance to destroy every Dalek forever just by touching two wires together
but he couldnt do it. He felt he didnt have the right.
But now his homeworld has gone. Hes getting old. All his people are dead; their TARDISes annihilated. He could have prevented it all. How he must regret that decision he made hundreds of years before, in another life. Twisted, bitter and full of hate he wants that last Dalek dead.
You would make a good Dalek, Doctor.
After hearing the exchange between the two sole survivors of their respective races, Van Statten wants them both in his collection. The Doctor is strung up and his biology examined and patented. Two hearts. Another revelation for the new viewers, expertly delivered.
When Rose meets the Dalek she is free from prejudice, having never met one of them before. Nicholas Briggs puts in a chilling performance as the Dalek, his voice talent particularly impressive in this scene. There are moments, no doubt done deliberately, where the Dalek sounds practically human. I am in pain
The modulation on the voice is cut down and it sounds like weak, pathetic, tortured life form. Like Evelyn before her in Jubilee, it is Rose who can sympathise with the Dalek, who can take the role the Doctor should if we were dealing with any other life form that was tortured or in pain. Its also Roses sympathy that leads directly to the death of hundreds of people.
The torture scenes earlier on where nowhere near as graphic or brutal as in Jubilee though their effect (and purpose) is just the same. I even found myself feeling pity for this malevolent creature. Where Dalek primarily differs from Jubilee is the pace instead of a long, drawn-out relationship between Evelyn and the Dalek in the Tower, Roses pity towards the Dalek is initially brief as once she touches it all hell breaks loose. Again, wonderfully directed, the Dalek shatters its chains and chillingly screams genetic material absorbed
or something along those lines.
Then we get what we have been waiting for a bad ass, unstoppable Dalek. Its sucker can crush your skull in the most horrific way. It can suck all the power out of city in seconds. It can download the entire internet in the same amount of time. It can elevate. It is cunning the scene where it sets off the sprinkler and exterminates all the soldiers with one gunshot is breathtaking. Its trunk, base, and dome can now all rotate separately so you cant hide from it merely by standing behind it. It is a tank. It is a killing machine. It is the ultimate in ethnic cleansing. Its as deadly as the Terminator. You can call it a nazi, a fascist, a racist or whatever; it is worse than all those ideologies combined. It is a DALEK.
You would make a good Dalek, Doctor.
It wasnt your fault, Rose cried into her phone as she prepares to face her certain death. I absolutely LOVED this sequence. It had all the power of I could save the world but lose you but this time there was no cop out no Harriett Jones to make the call the Doctor made the call. Im ashamed to say that as we heard Exterminate! and the gunshot went off the tears made their second appearance of the night. Its not that I thought Rose was dead Im not that naïve plus Im a spoiler-junky it was just the power of the scene. The Doctors face; his reaction. For a minute I thought he was going to punch Van Statten (though that would have been a bit too far).
You would make a good Dalek, Doctor.
It was a joy to see the Doctors face when the Dalek AND Rose appeared on the monitor the classic hostage situation (reminded me very much of the scene in Earthshock with the Cyberleader and Tegan) he was simply overjoyed to see her alive. For a moment it was as if hed forgotten about the Dalek. We saw a faint hit of that Fantastic smile; the Doctor underneath.
What use are emotions if you cant save the woman you love?
Not out of place, not overdone or overstated the Dalek called it as he saw it. Platonic it may well be but the Doctor loves Rose and she loves the Doctor. Im sure if the Doctor had the chance he would go back and touch those two wires together. Now he had another chance to make the decision to save millions of lives or Rose, and this time he couldnt bring himself to sacrifice her again, even to save millions of people.
So the Doctor and Adam take off to find the biggest bazooka imaginable, leaving Van Statten at the mercy of the Dalek as it burst in crying EXTERMINATE! But the Dalek cant kill him. Infected by Roses emotions in the DNA it absorbed to regenerate itself, it begins to questions itself, its purpose, what it wants. Like the Dalek in Jubilee it is a solider; a solider with no orders to follow. It wants orders, but there are no other Daleks to give them. This Dalek decides it wants freedom.
The final scene was as beautifully written, acted and directed as every other in the episode. The shot of Rose following the Dalek through the corridor is an image that has particularly stuck in my mind but nothing in the entire episode was as unnerving as the Dalek looking up into the sunlight (through the hole in had blasted), its eye-stork looking up towards the sun. That particular shot seemed almost religious in its significance here is this evil, twisted monstrosity of a creature. Born evil, bred evil. It had no choice other than to be evil. Evil be its good. Yet we have it infected by human emotions and ideas. To see it looking up into light, as if it has been redeemed, is an incredibly powerful image. Earlier in the episode it had commented you would make a good Dalek Doctor, possibly the most hurtful thing anyone has ever said to the Doctor. When we look across from this creature basking in the light to the heavily armed Timelord emerging from the shadows, something just isnt right. Bazooka in hand, we have a Timelord fallen from grace; the last of his people; and no matter how much he abhors violence he has no other thought in his mind than the cold-blooded killing of the last of the race who killed his people. The tears weld up again for one last time.
You would make a good Dalek, Doctor.
The Daleks casing gracefully slid open (as opposed to the Dalek getting its lid-blown off as usually happens once per Dalek story!) and we saw the most effective realisation of a Kaled mutant to date. It looked ancient. There was also something about it that looked
I dont know
kinda pathetic. This small, weak little creature encased in a metal death machine. Maybe Ive just got Star Wars on the brain or something but there is something unnerving about the amalgamation of weak flesh encased in an armour of terrors. No matter what evil deeds we see the machine committing, when it is revealed in the flesh there is a sense of pity you cant help but feel towards the creature. Its just so unnatural.
The dialogue in this old-fashioned showdown was beyond superb. All those fantastic ideas about the nature of good and evil, the difference between the hero and the villain, the interchangability of the two
somehow it was all encapsulated in this final scene.
It has been forty-two years since that Doctor and the Daleks first graced our television screens. All that history from The Dead Planet to Remembrance and the destruction of Skaro; all the Timelord history and larger-than-life characters; Rassilon, Omega
; all gone forever. All we have is the Doctor and this one Dalek. It had a horrible finality to it; it felt so incredibly sad. When the Dalek realised it was mutating into something more human
it just couldnt allow itself to live. Its suicide was incredible feat of CGI; and more impressively it spared the Doctor having to kill it.
He couldnt see until it was too late that his hate has blinded him to the fact that, bazooka in hand, he was becoming as bad as the Dalek and unlike the pepperpot from Skaro who could blame Davros for its evil nature, the Doctor had no-one to blame. As in The Unquiet Dead, Rose helps the Doctor see something he could never have seen without her, just as he shows her things no-one else has ever seen. Thats their love.
Following the end, we had the beginning, as Adam joined the Doctor and Rose aboard the TARDIS for what will undoubtedly be a fascinating ménage a trois
After Dalek twice I am drained. I havent enjoyed a TV show that much in a long, long time. I can only hope that somewhere, in some time, more Daleks survived the Time War. I can only hope that this Bad Wolf thread gets a good payoff too. More than anything I hope that Doctor Who will run every year for the rest of my days!
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
The Daleks had been ridiculed, often imitated, and had generally lost their edge. No longer were they the stuff of nightmares; they were now the figures of fun. With this in mind, Robert Shearman had a hard task in writing this Episode, and it is a pleasant surprise that it was as great as it is.
Slowly but surely, the Dalek strips away all possible points of humour: the sink plunger arm becomes a sucking, lethal, and head-breaking (literally) weapon, as well as one able to break codes and absorb information; the circular balls on the Daleks bases are no longer pretty, decorative attachments but are instead spherical bombs which are used to commit suicide, or self-extermination if you prefer; the gun turret in the Dalek centre can now swivel around 360°, making any notion of sneaking up behind them and, say, pushing them into a freezing cold lake on Spiridon no longer reasonable. This Dalek could single-handedly wipe out the entire Thal army in less time than it takes to surmise the plot of
well, a Doctor Who story with very little plot- insert your own parallel here!
The actual plot of Dalek, rather famously now, borrows the lone-Dalek-in-a-cell scenario from the beyond-excellent Big Finish play Jubilee, but scenario aside there is very little in the way of similarities, which is a good thing as it saves me having to write out lengthy comparative paragraphs, though I shall come back to it later on nevertheless.
Here we have what everyone believes to be the last Dalek. Ever. The Daleks are no more; they fought a war against the Time Lords and were wiped out, though quite why they were fighting each other and what it actually entailed is something we never learn throughout Series One. This is a Dalek which is alone, and consequently confused. It kills, because that is what it does. It exterminates because it is a Dalek, and Daleks exterminate.
After some nifty DNA-extraction from a certain Rose Tyler (o, she of the easy deception), our entrapped friend is free to begin its killing spree, and kill it does. The bodies fly thick and fast, the screams echo and in one very memorable scene, the Dalek even makes sure everyone is watching it as it gloatingly murders a room full of base personnel in a rather imaginative way. The actual repair of the Dalek seems a bit convenient, though I cannot really see another way in which it would have worked, considering how the Episode ends. The use of a solitary Dalek was a superb way to make them seem all the more hostile and threatening. After all, if one Dalek alone could cause the immense damage this one did, imagine a whole army of them
The supporting characters Shearman has created are just as memorable as the Daleks actions within the Episode; Henry van Statten- played with obvious relish by Corey Johnson- is the perfect Doctor Who baddie. He is selfish, arrogant, rude, and out only to save himself at the expense of everybody and everything else. Bruno Langley debuts here as Adam, and he gives a performance that shines, so when he joins the TARDIS crew at the end of the Episode, it is a pleasant and most welcome surprise. As Van Stattens aide, Diana Goddard (played by Anna Louise Plowman) is just as cold as her boss, but so less vocal that she gets away with not being shouted down by the Doctor. Alas, she is given little to do compared to Van Statten and Adam but she still makes an impression.
Once more, Billie Piper as Rose Tyler is a joy to watch, from the slow way she is tricked by the Dalek to the moving conversation she has with the Doctor via Mobile Telephone. If this wasnt enough, Christopher Eccleston turns in his best performance to date as the Doctor. This is a Time Lord scarred by all he has seen, witnessed and fought in, and his sheer anger throughout the Episode is gripping stuff; you cannot help being drawn in. Everything, from his one-on-one conversations with the Dalek to his rant at Van Statten following Roses apparent demise, is so good that one is compelled to watch.
The Director of Dalek was Joe Ahearne, and he is quite simply terrific. The ambience he creates fits the Episode perfectly; when it is meant to be moody, it is moody; when it is meant to be a bit lighter in tone, it is lighter in tone. From the reveal of the Cyberman head in a glass case near the start of the Episode to the interplay between Van Statten and the Doctor to the scenes with Rose and Adam talking about extra-terrestrials, everything is as close to perfection as can be achieved. Complimenting this very nicely indeed is Murray Golds incidental music; his score is big, loud, operatic and grand, and lives up to the expectations of the visuals every step of the way.
The very ending of the Dalek in Dalek is good, though arguably not clear enough. Many people have complained that it is shown to be weak and full of heart due to having a conscience, but in truth it has anything but that. It does not kill itself because it has gone soft and seen the error of its ways. It kills itself because it can no longer kill. It wants to exterminate all living things, but cannot. It wants to see the destruction of all things, but is prevented from doing so, so it kills itself. It is not a happy ending; this Dalek has not been redeemed. If anything, it shows itself to be just as nasty as it has done throughout the Episode. It wants to kill, but it cannot, so it kills itself. It dies through lack of sadistic alternative.
If I had two complaints, they would be that, as mentioned above, the ending lacks the clarity that it really should have, and also, from a personal point of view and one largely irrelevant to the Review, I preferred Jubilee.
For a start, I think that its four-episode format allows the supporting cast to develop more, and also the Dalek undergoing similar treatment reaches the same state as the one in Dalek without the lack of conscience, making for, in many ways, a more powerful ending and certainly a more interesting Dalek. Perhaps I just wanted Dalek to be longer than it was, but for me Jubilee wins the crown as the better story. Despite this, I still think that its television equivalent was superb, so its a bit like comparing sublime with fantastic- theyre both good, but one has the edge.
Dalek was a chance to make everything the Daleks once were prominent in the viewers minds, and Shearman has succeeded remarkably. This is an Episode that could have gone so badly, but it doesnt. Everything shines from the acting, to the Direction, to the golden Dalek casing (which looks brilliant and quickly quenched any thoughts within which wanted the Dalek casing to be silver like in Death To The Daleks in my deepest, darkest fanboy dreams). Okay, so the ending lacks the clarity it deserves and, for me at least, the source of inspiration (Jubilee) remains superior to this, but that is not to say that I disliked this. In fact, I loved it, as the rest of this review will show. Dalek is a resounding triumph, which does Doctor Who, Christopher Eccleston and- above all- Robert Shearman proud.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
We are hitting the middle episodes of Doctor Who 2005 now, and the production team wisely re-ignited the public interest with those wonderful Daleks the main reason the show took off in the first place. After just over a month on TV, this would have seemed a great idea a definite pulling back of viewers after that initial excitement of the first few shows. Fact is though that Doctor Who 2005 has been pulling the viewers in regardless. Admittedly Aliens of London 2-parter had seen a slight drop in viewers but it was still popular and massively in the public eye.
Dalek presented something extra special in a season that continues to enthral and amaze. Time and again this series has exceeded my expectations and Dalek was no different and those expectations were so high too!
Christopher Eccleston was at his best in Dalek, but increasingly it is Billie Piper who is claiming the major accolades for performance amongst some brilliant characters. Her lovely scene with Adam in the workshop was wonderfully flirty. It is Rose who has the confrontation with the creature at the end the Doctor clearly bricking himself at the possibility of being anywhere near his Number One Foe. It is Rose who increasingly is the Major Star of Doctor Who even though, I have to stress this, the 9th Doctor is brilliant too.
The episode was beautifully paced, and I think its the Director who deserves praise for that. The wonderful opening in the Museum, with all the strange artefacts on show. The inclusion of the Cyberhead was glorious has anything looked so shiny and worthy of display more? The Dalek was introduced at perfectly the right time, and Christopher Eccleston excelled in his fear.
The supporting characters, from the cold collector Van Statton to the genius wonderkid Adam, were very good too. I rather warmed to Bruno Langley, and it will be interesting to see how Rose and Doctor take to this new travelling companion.
Dalek essentially was about the Dalek though hence the imaginative and totally appropriate title. And in this regard we have brilliance. Isolating the major Doctor Who enemy this way made me think of Hugh, out Next Generation Borg fame. But then I moved beyond that this individual of an enemy race was handled much better, and with far more gravitas. This lone Dalek was infinitely more powerful than anything seen in the series thus far. I genuinely believed that this Dalek, on his own, could produce more devastation than anything we had thus far seen. I was totally convinced because of the design and execution of this iconic Monster.
I am warming to Murray Golds music more too and in Dalek he reached his peak thus far. The dramatic vocal score particularly emphasized the menace presented and was a perfect counterpoint throughout to the action. Excellent production. Another reassuring aspect of Dalek was this was the first Directorial chore for Joe Ahearne. As he is directing the bulk of the rest of this series, that bodes very well for its quality.
The sets were marvellous, and I loved the totally appropriate use of the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff. I have always thought Sports Stadia were very bunkerish. I will be watching for any Daleks the next time I go through any Sports Stadium!
Another interesting aspect of Dalek is the script. I have been a big fan of Rob Shearmans work on Doctor Who since Holy Terror. His scripts are continually superior to most of Big Finishs consistently excellent output they are that good. Jubilee, the inspiration behind some of this TV script, was one of the best. But yet Dalek went its own way, with only the imprisoned Dalek of the start reminiscent of Jubilee. This story is mostly about a Dalek on the rampage in an underground bunker there was none of that in Jubilee. All the usual Dalek put downs were present and correct here but further emphasized how superior this new Dalek was.
In short Rob Shearmans script totally fitted its TV medium, as Jubilee totally fitted its Audio Medium.
I am convinced that Dalek will win the Poll for Best Story of the season even if the Daleks return later on. I thought it was magnificent the second brilliant episode of the Series so far (the Unquiet Dead was glorious too, for all kinds of other reasons). Dalek shows again that new Who is brilliant Who.
Arent we the lucky ones we have 7 more stories this year, and another massive season next year. These are truly golden years for anyone who has ever loved Doctor Who. 10/10
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
When I discovered that Robert Shearman would be writing the first Dalek episode of the new Doctor Who series my heart sank, since I had heard that the episode would feature a lone Dalek and predicted that Shearman would rehash the basic plot of Jubilee. Whilst Shearman is my favourite Big Finish writer, Jubilee is my least favourite of his audio stories, and although the vast majority of the viewing public would not have heard it, I also found it vaguely disappointing that a writer of Shearmans calibre would recycle his own material. Fortunately however, Dalek is sublime, a stripped down, leaner version of Jubilee without the awful, generically unconvincingly mad Rochesters and the nonsensical temporal paradox, and the result is, for me at least, by far the best episode of the new series to date. It also occurs to me that it is actually highly appropriate for Shearman to write a new Dalek story by plagiarizing his prior work, since Dalek creator Terry Nation was never a man to let an idea go un-recycled.
Dalek is, in keeping with Russell T. Davies direction for the new series, a character piece. Shearmans gift for characterisation means that virtually every supporting character makes a mark upon the memory, but it is the interaction between Rose, the Doctor and the Dalek that leaves an indelible impression. As in Jubilee, Shearman has a fine grasp on the Doctors most popular enemies, exploring the Dalek as a character without actually resorting to twee rot; the audience is invited to feel sympathy for the Dalek, especially during the poignant ending, but the writer remembers that the Daleks are above all else cunning, manipulative psychopaths, who only become even remotely sympathetic when theyve either gone mad or been infected with the human factor. So here we get a Dalek that proves supremely capable of not only going on an impressively directed killing spree, but also of getting under the Doctors skin and bringing out the worst in him. The moment the Doctor realises what van Stattens Metaltron actually is, he hammers on the door of the cage and starts screaming Let me out! Once he realises that the Daleks gun isnt working, he positively gloats, shouting at it, If you cant kill, then what are you good for, Dalek? The ensuing scene is fascinating, as we learn, rather predictably, that the Time War mentioned throughout the series was the final battle between the Daleks and the Time Lords, in which both perished. The Doctor snarls, You all burned, all of you. Ten million ships on fire, the entire Dalek race wiped out in one second. He sounds utterly traumatized, and the Dalek capitalizes on the moment, smugly adding, And the coward survived. It then adds, I am alone in the universe. So are you. We are the same, prompting the furious response, We are not the same! before he tries to destroy it.
The point of all of which is that we get a reminder of just how much the Doctor hates the Daleks, none of which would have any impact, if the acting were crap. Having admitted that Christopher Ecclestons performance was starting to irritate me in Aliens of London/World War Three, I was far more impressed with him here, as he conveys the Doctors sheer hatred extremely well, as well as his obvious fear and near-panic when trying to convince van Statten to release him, insisting, That thing downstairs is going to kill every last one of us
its woken up, it knows Im here! The scene in which he screams at the Dalek on the communication screen shows the Doctor at his most vitriolic, as he demands, If you want orders, then follow this one
why dont you just die? The look of shock on his face as the Dalek ripostes, You would make a good Dalek is magnificent. Of course this all culminates in the climax of the episode, as he stands facing the increasingly vulnerable and confused Dalek with a massive gun, forcing Rose to stand in the line of fire to stop him destroying it. When she asks him, What about you Doctor? What are you changing into? he again looks terribly shocked, and Eccleston is superb when the Doctor starts weeping and tells his companion, Oh Rose, theyre all dead. Its another insight into just how badly hes been traumatized by the Time War, and its a powerful moment. Eccleston gets some other great moments here too, including the Doctors gentle use of the alien musical instrument and his subsequent coldness when van Statten discards it, and his deadly seriousness when he informs van Statten that the population of Salt Lake City is dead if they cant stop the Dalek. His impassioned rant at van Statten when he thinks Rose is dead, as he tells him, Youre about as far from the stars as you can get. And you took her down with you is convincingly delivered.
Impressive though Ecclestons performance is however, hes almost upstaged by Nicholas Briggs, who finally gets to voice a Dalek onscreen after several years of honing his performance for Big Finish. As an avid fan of Doctor Who, one can assume that Briggs was like a dog with two dicks when given the role, and he gives it his all, fully exploiting Shearmans dialogue. Anyone who has seen such classic Dalek stories as Planet of the Daleks and Death to the Daleks might find it surprising that a single Dalek could pose much of a threat, but the script gives us a Dalek that is phenomenally dangerous; we learn at the start that the last person who touched it burst into flames, and its got a fair few other new tricks as well. Exactly how it is able to absorb the DNA of a time traveller in order to regenerate itself is not clear, but this isnt important; what is important is that as soon as it realises that Rose is the Doctors companion, it starts spouting self-pitying dialogue such as I am dying in order to make her feel sympathetic in an example of cunning and understanding of the human psyche not seen since The Power of the Daleks. The moment she pats it, a note of triumph enters its voice, as it starts to regenerate, and snaps its chains. Briggs delivers all his lines here extremely well, emphasizing the fact that the Dalek is very, very devious. Having plaintively told the Doctor, I am a soldier, I was bred to receive orders, it quickly proclaims that the Dalek race survives through it, and quickly decides, I shall follow the primary order, the Dalek instinct to destroy! Its subsequent killing spree is magnificently directed by Joe Ahearne, and the Daleks have never seemed so dangerous; we get the amusing sight of a Dalek actually making use of its sucker arm, firstly to kill its torturer and secondly to override computer locks; we see the Dalek single-mindedly gliding through a hail of bullets and finding a computer terminal through which it absorbs most of the national grid and the whole of the internet (as the Doctor tersely notes, The Daleks a genius); we get a hugely impressive gun battle in which the Dalek almost elegantly rotates its torso section and blasts dozens of guards down; and best of all another generation of kids gets to see a Dalek floating up a stairwell. The silliness of the Dalek saying, elevate before it does so is quickly forgotten under the circumstances. Best of all is the Daleks elaborate slaughter of the guards by silently rising into the air, then setting off the sprinklers to flood the room and then electrocuting them all, simply to show off to the watching Doctor. With the swanky new gold-coloured design, theyve not been this impressive for a long time. The Daleks new means of opening its casing is also rather impressive, as is the Dalek creature inside; although weve never full seen one before, weve seen enough bits of Dalek over the years and the creature revealed looks absolutely right, a cross between Raymond Cusicks original design from the nineteen sixties as seen in Jeremy Benthams Doctor Who The Early Years, and the tentacled green blobs glimpsed in The Five Doctors and Resurrection of the Daleks. Its self-destruction is also quite nifty, although as some fans have noted, it seems strange that a Dalek would be designed with a self-destruct mechanism that limits collateral damage.
Dalek is also a good episode for Billie Piper. Rose gets a nice scene with Adam, when he tells her I honestly believe the whole universe is teaming with life and she tries to keep a straight face, but her best scenes are of course with the Dalek. Having inadvertently resuscitated it, she drives it insane, as it absorbs rather more than just DNA from her, and it cries in anguish, I am contaminated! Having gained emotions beyond the usual Dalek repertoire, it exploits them; when the Doctor proves willing to sacrifice Rose to stop the Dalek once, he cant bring himself to do it a second time, as it holds her hostage and asks him, What use are emotions if you will not save the woman you love? Piper conveys Roses fear extremely well when she thinks shes going to be exterminated, and is also very good when Rose tries to bond with the Dalek. When it asks her in frustration, Why are you alive? My function is to kill! What am I? she takes advantage of its confusion to save Van Stattens life by dissuading it from killing. Despite Roses attempts to save the Dalek, Shearman resists the temptation to have it happily go off travelling in newfound happiness; it wearily tells her it wants freedom, and blasts a hole through the roof to see sunlight before it dies. The scene in which it opens its casing to feel sunlight on its skin, and raises a slightly phallic tentacle to the light, is strangely poignant, but it remains true to its race, insisting, This is not life, this is sickness. I shall not be like you! and ordering a reluctant Rose to order it to self-destruct. Its great stuff, and Piper portrays a whole battery of emotions largely through facial acting and body language.
Dalek also demonstrates Robert Shearmans gift for characterisation in the supporting characters, most of whom are memorable, even if they dont do a great deal. Corey Johnsons Henry van Statten is a stereotypical ruthless billionaire, who secretly owns the internet, wipes the memories of fired staff members, and chooses the outcome of presidential elections, but he works rather well, especially when he starts to crumble under pressure. He panics once his guards are shot down, and is desperate to flee until his assistant Goddard sharply informs him that there is no power to the helipad. Having half stripped and tortured the Doctor, he is forced to ask him for help, and he becomes increasingly frightened, most notably when he desperately tries to think of a way to bargain with the Dalek. The Doctor stonily informs him, If the Dalek gets out, itll kill everyone. Thats all it needs and he snaps, screaming, But why would it do that? Why? He looks utterly horrified when the Doctor replies, Because it honestly believes they deserve to die. Having failed to save any of his soldiers, van Statten is inevitably hoist by his own petard, as Goddard orders him to be taken away and have his memory wiped. Then there is a new (temporary?) companion in a shape of Bruno Langleys Adam, who brims with enthusiasm, is pragmatic enough to stash weapons so that he can, if necessary, fight his way out of van Stattens base without having his memory wiped, proclaims himself a genius, and obviously fancies Rose. Interestingly, the Doctor treats him in a similar way to Mickey, offering him withering sarcasm, and pointing out his flaws to Rose in very jealous fashion, which culminates in his worried observation, Rose, hes a bit pretty. Even the female soldier who tries to stop the Dalek on the stairs is memorable, desperate to prevent further deaths and sacrificing herself in an attempt to give Rose and Adam time to escape.
Dalek also contains some nice but unobtrusive nods to the past, such as the Doctor wistfully telling the Cyber head, Look at you
the stuff of nightmares reduced to an exhibit and his reference to Davros in the lift with van Statten. Murray Golds incidental score is also perhaps the best of the series so far, managing for the most part to be stirring and epic, and only occasionally intrusive and pompous. Overall, Dalek is perhaps the first episode of the new series that I might genuinely call a classic.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
Episode sixs writer, Robert Shearman, was always expected to deliver an excellent script based on his reputation forged in the Big Finish Doctor Who audio dramas. Perhaps particularly so given that Dalek was based on one of the most successful of those scripts, Jubilee, a tale featuring the Sixth Doctor encountering a lone Dalek imprisoned in the Tower of London in an alternative timeline. Taking the basic set-up of the lone Dalek and its relationship with its captors and being alone in the universe, Shearman manages to craft an effective tale less than half the length of the play upon which it is based, which is similar enough to retain what made Jubilee so good, but different enough not to make thus of us who have heard the earlier story feel cheated. While I did have problems with some of the story elements, there was nothing I felt to be badly written as such, with the exception of one line. The Daleks What use are emotions if you will not save the woman you love? was without a shadow of a doubt the worst piece of dialogue to have been uttered so far in the new series, so bad it sounded exactly like the sort of tagline a third-rate Hollywood movie might have. That it came from the pen of usually so reliable a writer as Shearman makes it all the more surprising, but then again when the only piece of dialogue you can fault in an episode is one brief line, it shows what a difference there is between this and your average classic series story.
Outside of this, Shearmans use of the Dalek was interesting for the first time since the 1960s we got to see a Dalek that was more human in its dialogue, something that is particularly noticeable if you go back to the original Dalek story, long before they started to become mere caricatures of themselves. There is also a distinct Power of the Daleks feel in terms of the Daleks use of guile and cunning, but I have to confess that I do like my Daleks to be the hard-arsed bastards of the universe, killing anything that gets in their way, so I did take a particular sadistic joy in the scenes of the creature going on the rampage and wiping out van Stattens troops. Of particular note was the electrocution scene, another ingenious example of the Dalek and the writer of the episode! putting some thought into things, even if the pedantic might put out that showing us a shot of the rubber soles of the soldiers boots surely suggests they ought to have been insulated from the electricity
Im not sure about the end of the story, however. The idea of it being infected with Roses DNA was a good one, and there is an established link of a Dalek bonding in some way with a young human female, touched upon in Remembrance of the Daleks and expanded upon in the novelisation of that story. But still, the way it ended
I can accept that in a way it was the Dalek being true to how weve always known them before as it wanted to destroy itself rather than to live with the sickness with which it had been infected, but I think the idea of trying to make us sympathise in a way with the Dalek was a mistake. Daleks should be irredeemable, evil, merciless destroyers, and despite the fact that its just killed two hundred people Rose wont let the Doctor destroy it, which seemed wrong to me.
Having said that, Roses appalled reaction to the Doctor wielding a gun was an excellent piece of scripting. Most fans would be horrified at the Doctor packing a weapon, and it was awful when he said lock and load! after finding a gun that worked. (Although the broken
hairdryer line almost made up for it!). I can accept, however, that its his sheer fear of the Dalek, his horror at finding one still alive, which drives him to this after all, it was Resurrection of the Daleks which showed the usual pacifistic Fifth Doctor happily wielding a pistol at a loose Dalek mutant. Plus the Doctors horrified realisation of what he had become at that moment earlier foreshadowed by the Daleks taunt of You would make a good Dalek! justify the brief, horrible image of the Ninth Doctor as gun-wielding action hero, and provide a neat contrast between what the Doctor should be and what he occasionally lets himself become, and why perhaps he needs Roses humanising influence around him. This is a Doctor clearly scarred by the events of the time war, the great conflict about which we learn so much in this episode good, intriguing backstory that helps add to the mystery and enigma of this incarnation of the Doctor, and factors which always go towards making good Doctor Who.
Rose continues to shine, with Billie Piper performing as excellently as always in this episode, never putting a foot wrong. Despite my misgivings over the Dalek plotline, Roses reaction to it and the sympathy she felt early on before she knew the true nature of the creature were all excellently written and portrayed. My only problem with the character in this episode was the moment of amazing stupidity she displayed at the end of the pre-titles sequence, happily mentioning that the Doctor is an alien. Is it not, to put it bluntly, a bit bloody thick of Rose to point this out when theyre surrounded by dead, stuffed, mounted and encased bits of alien and several troops with guns?
Not being an American I cant comment on how authentic the accents were of the US characters, although I believe that all of them were genuine Americans aside from Anna-Louise Plowman, who according to the IMDb hails from New Zealand, and the tin robot guy sounded off even to me. Wherever they were from, they were mostly excellent, with Henry van Statten being one of the best villains seen so far in the series. His interplay with the Doctor, his arrogance and his intelligence all came across well, with my favourite scene between him and the Doctor being the discussion over the alien musical instrument. The Doctors simple delight in playing the thing, and his gently instruction to van Statten are wonderful, and van Stattens sudden discarding of the instrument, throwing it carelessly into a corner, is really quite sad I love the little upset look briefly visible on Ecclestons face as he does that. This sets up the contrast between the two men very well.
Plowman was also very good as van Stattens No. 2, Goddard, who seemed like shed stumbled in from the solicitors Wolfram & Hart in Joss Whedons Angel. Thats by no means a complaint, however no, Ill save those for Bruno Langley as Adam, who I wasnt particularly taken by. He did seem to improve as the episode went on, I admit, but he lacked anything in the way of charm, charisma or anything else that might make me want to take an interest in his fate. All he seemed to be was, as the Doctor said, a bit pretty, and thats not enough to interest me. For one thing, if hes such a genius, then why has he never bluffed his way down to the cage before? He clearly wants to, and manages it easily enough when Rose wants to go down and stop the Dalek from being tortured. Perhaps hell improve in the next episode, but I have to say I am relieved to know that he wont be travelling in the TARDIS beyond that.
One problem that did arise from characterisation was that, for the first time this series, the pace did seem to be something of a problem for me. The first half of the episode flew by too quickly for my tastes, and I would have liked a while longer to get to know the various characters, particularly those who were being killed off. Di Maggios decision to attempt to stand and fight the Dalek on the stairwell and allow Rose and Adam more time to escape, for example, would probably have been a lot more affecting if we had been given a little time to get to know Di Maggio first. I accept that such characterisation is probably difficult in the confines of a 45-minute episode, but establishing sympathetic characters in minimal screen time has been a particular strength of Russell T Davies scripts thus far in the series, and the contrast is notable. The problem didnt affect Mark Gatiss The Unquiet Dead, as he was working with such a small cast of characters in the first place.
On the production side of things, Joe Ahearne was always the most hotly-anticipated director to be hired to work on the series, given his experience in UK telefantasy productions such as his own Channel 4 vampire serial Ultraviolet and Andrew Marshalls Strange for BBC One, and more recently the docu-drama Space Odyssey Voyage to the Planets. Indeed, so limited has been the production of fantasy-orientated dramas in the UK that Ahearne is probably the only director currently working in British television who is particularly associated with the fantastical. This expectation that he would thus deliver the goods for Doctor Who is more than justified here my own personal favourite shot was the Doctors face and head being encased within the reflection of the Cyberman head on the glass early on. Whether you take this to be a sign of the Doctors forthcoming ruthlessness and desire to destroy later in the episode or just a nice piece of framing, its still a nice touch. I also liked the Doctors comment in that scene about the stuff of nightmares reduced to an exhibit a comment on what happened to the old series after it ended, perhaps? And the Doctor reaching out as if to brush away the tears moulded into the eyepieces of the mask was also a lovely little touch.
Ahearne proves more than adept at handling the action sequences too, giving great style and flair to the sequences of the Dalek wiping out van Stattens troops. Overall the direction gives much more imagination and creativity than the rather flat approach of Keith Boak in the previous two-parter, perhaps no surprise given Boaks background in more standard BBC drama fare such as Holby City.
The whole look of the episode was wonderful from the fan-pleasing selection of alien nasties in the museum to the superbly-realised Dalek itself. The other production areas more than kept up some have complained about the look of the Dalek in its CGI state, but I didnt have a problem with any of the effects. Perhaps I am just easily pleased!
Overall then, I have to say that despite all the build-up, Dalek was not the best episode of the series so far, for me anyway. It was, however, a wonderful piece of Doctor Who, well-written, well-performed and well-made. If the series can keep up this high standard for the rest of the run then I will be more than happy however, I can only hope that the Daleks themselves will be given another chance to show what utterly malevolent, destructive pepperpots they can be somewhere along the line.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
The Unquiet Dead excepted, this week's instalment of Doctor Who seemed like a different programme altogether to, in particular, the comparitively appalling two-parter preceding it. Dalek is certainly the most convincing, compelling and dramatic episode of Who since, well, Ghost Light 1/Curse of Fenric 4/Survival 3. But I would go even further than that to say - despite one or two quibbles which I will mention in a bit - Dalek compares to some of the latter classics of the old series such as Curse of Fenric, and in its unusual intensity, pace and edginess, harks back to the inimitable direction of Graeme Harper's Revelation of the Daleks (with which it has much in common including Gothic-angle on the Daleks and noticeably similar incidental music) and, more importantly, the iconic Caves of Androzani: of course Dalek is still some way from being as superb as the latter story, but is very much in a similar vein, especially regarding intensity and pace, and more importantly, a quite vulnerable Doctor at the mercy of ruthless, capitalistic humanoids in a very gritty and overwhelmingly dark scenario. We also have a convincingly brutal torture scene with the Doctor chained up in almost crucificial posture, strongly reminiscent of the Fourth Doctor's interrogation by Hildred in The Deadly Assassin (though this time the direction goes one stage further from Tom Baker's open neck shirt and has Eccleston with naked, sweaty Ben-Hurish torso as he undergoes torture via a mechanism obviously modelled on the Dalek's eyestalk). Further harking back to the past series, we have easily the grittiest and most intellectually orientated study of the Daleks since Genesis of the Daleks (Revelation being focused solely on their creator, whereas Genesis split this analysis between the creator and, crucially, his creation); there is also, obviously, a very well written and realised echo of the Troughton classic Evil of the Daleks, in which the Human Factor seminally played a part in the Daleks survival-inhibiting downfall as it does, once more and arguably even more poignantly, in Dalek.
By the end of World War III I was seriously starting to think the consummate Unquiet Dead was perhaps just a one-off aberration in this new series of generally diluted and dumbed down, formulaic Who. One only needs to compare Aliens/War III with Rob Shearman's brilliant contribution to now see very clearly how RTD's writing credentials are seriously under dispute: so far he has only really offered one episode, End of the World, which, in (too few) places, could compare to some of the - more average stories - of the old series, but which was overall ruined by some highly inappropriate gimmicks. For my part, Rose and Aliens/War III are not worthy of the cannon, and this conviction has been strengthened by Dalek, a truly riveting episode which harnasses Who traditions with sharp reinventions, most obviously the most compelling and substantial portrayal and realisation of a Dalek since Genesis (or arguably since Evil back in 1967). Hats off to - the normally grating - Nick Briggs for an exceptional vocal performance as the Dalek - also worthy of note, the convincing and surprisingly quite restrained visual beefing-up of said entity.
This for me is the first episode in which Eccleston presents us with a truly compelling Doctor and in especially the one-on-one scene with the Dalek near the beginning, Eccleston's acting is quite literally superb; arguably no other actor has played the Doctor as intensely (in an emotional sense - Tom Baker's more subdued alien intensity being something else altogether, as well as his angry outbursts in Seeds of Doom and, ironically, the otherwise shabby Invasion of Time re his shouting at Borusa; and Colin Baker in the opening scenes of the even more shabby Twin Dilemma) as this before, displaying an almost unadulterated show of hate-fuelled emotion which re-cemented my thoughts on him prior to Who as sometimes being very similar to Ralph Fiennes, in facial characteristics and mannerisms - in this scene particularly Eccleston demonstrated he could have been an equally good choice for the Nazi character played by Fiennes in Schindler's List.
Ironically however it is on Eccleston's extremely powerful and memorable performance that I wish to briefly touch with regards the very few concerns I have with this episode: whilst this sort of face-contorting, angst-ridden acting from Eccleston is highly impressive and in some ways welcome, the tangibly violent nature of his verbal confrontation with the imprisoned and powerless Dalek is extremely disturbing to say the least when issuing from the mouth of a traditionally (bar some abberations in the past such as the pugilistic Sixth Doctor) pacifistic character and again the braun over brain syndrome of this latest incarnation manifests most worryingly in his ultimate confrontation of the Dalek, wielding a Ridley Scott-esque anti-tank gun; this scene is made all the more alarming due to the Dalek having become humanised by this point and evidently more vulnerable than ever before. Of course, thankfully, the Doctor finally assimilates this, partly due to Rose's influence, and lowers his weapon, then displaying a very tormented and confused emotional response regarding his grief for his dead race. I suppose then in the end these emotionally aggressive outbursts of the Doctor are finally reconciled as he comes back to his senses, however, there are shades of the Vietnam-vet approach to the Ninth incarnation which should perhaps be toned down more. Ultimately the magic of the character is his cerebralness and other-worldly ability to see through and around things which to human minds might seem less ambiguous - I find his earlier attempts to electrocute the captive Dalek particularly uncomfortable to watch. Yes, even the impassive Fifth Doctor did hold a gun at Davros in Resurrection, but this was softened by his lowering it during Davros's manipulative speech in an attempt to convince the Doctor he had mended his ways and was planning on doing good deeds with his creations; ultimately Davison's Doctor was taken off guard in this scene and missed his opportunity at carrying out the assassination of Davros, which I suppose was Saward's cop-out clause - detectably, there is something of the Saward blood and thunder approach to Who creeping in to the new series and the other scene in this vein which I really disliked was the Doctor mocking Adam with the - admittedly very amusing line- 'What are you going to do? Throw your A Levels at him?', then picking up the monstrous weapon and wielding it like a bloodthirsty weapons expert. Certainly the Ninth Doctor's uncompromising aggression towards the Daleks is light years away from the very moral ruminations of the Fourth Doctor when contemplating destruction of the Daleks in Genesis; and thus lacks the profound sophistication of his predecessor's compelling angst.
Another note is why is the Doctor feeling such a weight of grief at the destruction of the Timelords who in the past drove him away due their fascistic parochialism, exiled him to Earth (War Games) and took away his knowledge of piloting the TARDIS, continually manipulated him to do their dirty work (Genesis of the Daleks) so as not to spoil their 'lily white hands' (Brain of Morbius), turn his heroism on their behalf into ungrateful spurious propaganda cover ups (Deadly Assassin), attempt to execute him (Arc of Infinity), put him on trial (Trial of a Timelord) and generally piss him off throughout time and space? Perhaps a hint of grief at the loss of his own race, yes, but not to the point that he wishes to annihilate the last, humanised member of their special nemeses. The Doctor also says 'he has nothing left' now Gallifrey is gone - this seems odd considering his voluntary exile from the Timelords in pursuit of desired independence and his general contempt for them in previous years (especially the Fourth Doctor's almost irrational attitude towards them and anything related to them). A nice touch though was the Doctor saying he knew he was the only one left in his mind: hinting at the Prydonian telepathic ability.
Apart from the more overtly aggressive tendencies of the Doctor in Dalek, and two irritating lines, 'God, I can almost smell the testosterone' (Rose between the Doctor and Van Statten) and Van Statten's line about '...the girl you love' when referring to Rose - why not just 'a girl you love?', or better still, 'a human girl you love/a human you love', which would take away emphasis on Rose being a girl the Doctor is conceivably in love with - this episode was otherwise brilliant and very much definitive Doctor Who in plot, style and direction. An obviously nice touch was the Cyberman head at the beginning - it was great to have that first initial link to the past, leading up to something even more integral to the show's origins, as well as refreshing to see a circa Invasion Cyberman, quite possibly salvaged from the Mondasians's invasion of 1968 London (for me this echoed of the mini-scope teaser in Carnival of Monsters).
Also worthy of note are all the incidental characters who were as well realised as one might expect in only 45 minutes. Adam promises to be one of the more likeable male companions of the cannon, if he is to stay, which I think would be good and certainly preferable to the more tedious and superfluous Mickey. Nice also to have the first male companion since the superbly charismatic Turlough predicted to also be of ambiguous motivation (and not forgetting the equally turncoat-ish Adric, much less convincing a character though than Turlough). During the Colin Baker and McCoy eras I always wanted there to be a third, male companion, as I think this always gives the best dynamic and ideally gets someone else to do the testosterone-charged action bits while leaving the Doctor to be the more cerebral one.
Other brilliantly directed scenes in Dalek for me include the highly disturbing shots through the screaming Dalek's eyestalk as one of Van Statten's men tortures it - brilliant stuff, truly unpleasant to watch and reminiscent of some of the more gritty Troughton stories; the Dalek fighting the soldiers in the rain; and of course, the beautifully directed and genuinely moving final scenes in which the very convincingly realised Kaled reveals itself to the sun for the first time (its eye looked very real, though I did feel it should have had the hint of a second eye too in order to detract from the accidental and (as we know from Genesis) specious implication that Kaleds, prior to mutation, were Cycloptic).
The underground museum sets were brilliant; all production standards were A1 and even the CGI Dalek was convincing; another nice aescetic touch was the Art Deco-esque painting of Van Statten behind his desk. Clearly a lot of thought had gone into the set designs and visual details.
This is also only the second episode (Unquiet Dead being the other) to perfectly fit 45 minutes with absolutely no padding whatsoever, nor conversely any feeling that it needed more time to develop/to flesh out characters/to flesh out storylines (or in the case of Rose, actually include a storyline) - significantly in this sense, it and Unquiet Dead are the only two episodes so far to not be tediously interrupted by pointless domestic scenes (yes, even End of the World was with the brief Aerial commercial of the paroxide blond Miss Tyler bundling clothes into a washing machine whilst nattering to Rose on the phone near the beginning). There you are RTD: just cut out the domestic tedium and you have time to fully utilise the 45 minute time slots for the good of the storylines, which is supposed to be the point after all.
Dalek is undisputably a classic (in both the new and old sense), and has even exceeded the superb though more traditional and less dramatic Unquiet Dead as by far the best and most compelling episode of the new Who so far, and one which, unlike the RTD episodes, I will return to again and again on video, which is how the series should always be made: with layers and layers of detail.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
Let me take you back a little. When the interviews for the new series of Doctor Who began, Russell T. Davies was asked about the return of the Daleks. He famously said, many a time, that we would cry for the Dalek. "I'll believe it when I see it!" I thought. Saturday 30th April 2005 was the day of reckoning. From the pre-credit sequence it was clear that this was to be a different style of episode from the previous 5 weeks, and it was going to be something of an emotional rollercoaster. "Look at you!" exclaims the Doctor, a mix of awe and sadness in his voice, as he sees the severed head of a Cyberman in a display case. Surrounded by Alien artefacts in some kind of museum, Rose states what we - the viewers - are all thinking... that the Doctor, as a live specimen, must be Exhibit A. In rush a swat team, and in rush the credits. The scene truly setting the tone for the following 42 minutes.
As the Doctor and Rose meet Van Statten and "Little Lord Fauntleroy" Adam, the opposing views are set. Van Statten, an obnoxious man who's only true achievement has been to steal Alien technology and patent it as his own, is clearly set up as the villain of the piece - who is blissfully unaware that his prized possession, the eponymous Alien of the show, is in reality the most dangerous artefact that he is ever likely to possess. Cue a wonderful scene, beautifully edited, with swift retorts between the Doctor and Van Statten. Jump cutting between the two characters we feel how Rose must feel, and once again she airs the thoughts of the viewer "you can almost smell the testosterone" - she is our eyes and ears in these stories, a connection with is used to it's utmost in this story by it's writer and director.
When the moment the world has been waiting for happens, and the Doctor meets his arch-enemy, the eponymous Dalek, we are suddenly swept into a whirlwind of emotions. From the Dalek's futile attempt to exterminate the Doctor, who frantically tries to escape from The Cage, to the verbal confrontation between these two enemies, we are whirled from Fear, to Hate, to Guilt. The Doctor's 'in your face' confrontation of this, almost impotent, Dalek really hits a chord with the viewers. Taunting the Dalek, he finds himself on the recieving end of some pretty harsh criticism, and searching questions. And from this scene we learn that the Doctor was, in his view, responsible for the Time War - and therefore responsible for the demise of his own race. We feel his pain, we feel his loss, and we feel his anger. Yet, this reviewer felt these emotions for the Dalek too. A lone survivor, who somehow slipped through some kind of time eddy and escaped the fate of it's race. The story skillfully shows similarities between the Doctor and the Dalek, whilst maintaining their differences. Perhaps it is these similarities which make some of us start to feel sorry for the Dalek.
The pivotal scene of the story comes whilst the Doctor is being 'examined' - which really means tortured in the name of science - and Rose sees the Dalek being tortured on the cctv system. Her travels with the Doctor have already brought out her caring side, and through her visit to Platform One Rose has learnt to be more tolerant of Aliens, and not to automatically think that because they're different they're evil. Wanting to see the Metaltron, as Van Statten and his team refer to the Dalek, and feeling remorse for the ignorance of the humans holding it prisoner, Rose comes face to face with the Dalek. As she approaches it, we hold our breath in anticipation. We've already heard that the last person to touch it burned to death, and yet Rose reaches out and places a hand on the Dalek's dome - after some rather moving dialogue which truly expresses Rose's compassionate nature. From hereon in, the Dalek goes on a rampage, and finds itself on an ever increasing emotional rollercoaster. Yes, I said emotional. You see that's the clever thing with this story. Having used the DNA from a Time Traveller - Rose has just recently travelled in time - the Dalek rejuvinates itself enough to break free of it's shackles and make a bid for freedom, after suckering it's torturer to death. (Frankly I found this moment shocking, and rather scary. "Whachay gonna do? Sucker me to death?" I laughed at this line, thinking that nothing would happen. Boy, was I wrong! Don't ever think a Dalek's sucker is a humourous whimsy, with no threatening purpose.) But what this Dalek didn't bank on was the mutating effect of the Human DNA on it's own DNA. Over the remaining time of this story the Dalek begins to question it's actions, it's instincts. It develops feelings, and emotions.
But all this isn't to say that the Dalek is the only one showing emotions in this fine story. Overcome with his guilt, the Doctor slowly begins to descend into a sort of madness. And things aren't made any better when he has to shut the Dalek in, creating what could have been a wonderful cliffhanger. "I'm sorry, I was a bit slow" says Rose, staring at the closed bulkhead, tears in her eyes, and with the Dalek somewhere in the distance, closing in on her. "I wouldn't've missed it for the World" and I choked up on tears that somehow never came. The Doctor, facing the thought that he's killed Rose, becomes more vitriolic, his anger and guilt mingling. The relief we all feel at seeing that Rose is still alive, is short-lived, as this manipulative new Dalek forces the Doctor to put the world at risk again for the sake of his companion. And yet, the emotional aspect of this story is still only just beginning! As Rose persuades the Dalek not to kill Van Statten - why Rose, why? - we see the her DNA beginning to mutate the Dalek.
It is in the final segment of the story we see it's true sorrow. As the Dalek searches for freedom, and in it's final moments reaches a faltering tentacle out to the sun, we realise just how human it's become. For old fans this is the moment we realise just how determined this Dalek will be on suicide, and the futility of it all saddened me. It is no longer a Dalek, and no, Rose, that isn't better. A Dalek's natural instincts for racial purity will not accept anything un-Dalek, and that is what this Dalek has become. At this point, I cried. Yes, Russell was right. I cried for the Dalek, I cried for the Doctor, and I cried for Rose. As the Doctor tried to explain himself, in faltering tones "I didn't... I couldn't...", the Dalek pleads with Rose to instruct it to kill itself. This lone DNA-altered Dalek, searching for orders, seems now to see Rose as it's leader. Something she is unwilling to be. But when it comes to the crunch, she sadly tells it to "do it then", and steps back. After such a conclusion to this emotional rollercoaster, the final scene, of the Doctor and Rose returning to the TARDIS feels bitter-sweet. Rose and the Doctor are obviously still reeling from their encounter, but the Doctor trying to be more normal - when Rose asks if Adam can travel with them the Doctor says "He's a bit pretty".
For me, this story has been the highlight of a wonderful new series. The story was incredibly well written, and the tight direction felt like it wasn't there - which is, of course, the best kind of direction. The acting from both Eccleston and Piper was beautiful. I was gripped, and actually forgot that I was watching a pair of fictional characters on TV. The sets, and designs were wonderful. Creating a real world feel to the setting. The slight injection of humour into the story actually added to the emotional nature of the story, and was perfectly integrated. The Dalek was a revelation - how can we escape them now, with their geared mid-section? And full credit must go to Nick Briggs for his Dalek voice. Somehow, Briggs managed to portray a thinking, feeling, Dalek without producing something which felt camp, or cheesy. My only complaint - and it's a small one - is that one of the CGI effects felt unreal. As the Dalek elevated up the stairs, after being taunted by Adam in the way we - and the press - used to taunt them in the 80s, things started well. But as the camera angle changed and the Dalek came towards us, there seemed to be something wrong. Somehow it looked fake. But this was one scene, and for the rest of the episode everything was perfect. My only worry now is that this story is an extremely hard act to follow, as is Eccleston's Doctor.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
Dalek reintroduced Doctor Whos most enduring and iconic villains to a new audience, and at times during this story we cant help feeling a kind of magic. When the Doctor approaches the hurt, shadow-shrouded alien in friendship, only to hear that horrible, familiar voice (DOC-TOR? THE DOC-TOR?), its a moment filled with horror and delight an instant classic scene.
The idea of an emotionally tortured and stranded Doctor facing off against a *literally* tortured and stranded Dalek counterpart is a fascinating one, rich with dramatic possibilities, but unfortunately this story is not the mini-masterpiece it might have been. This is not really to do with the time-traveler DNA element that seems to have angered so many fans (its really amazing to me how many of us seem to have convinced ourselves that classic Who was above absurd often *extremely* absurd pseudoscience).
No, instead its more to do simply with the storytelling methods. If classic Doctor Who can be criticized for giving its audience too much detail (and boy, can it ever), then Dalek can be criticized for giving us too little. Oh, we have everything we need to follow whats going on but we have nothing more, and it is that more that so often made the old series feel like it existed in its own true fictional universe. Dalek, on the other hand, feels like a plot outline. Gone is the fun of the Doctor having to figure out where he and his companion have landed and why; this time he simply tells us in the storys first minutes. (In fact, he tells us were in an alien museum before we can even *see* that were in one!) Then we are asked to swallow that the paranoid van Statten would immediately take an intruder found in his maximum-security compound and dump him in (unchaperoned!) with his most prized possession . . . . These problems arent really the fault of Rob Shearmans script; the writer simply does what he has to in order to bring the viewer up to speed within the constraints of a single 45-min. episode. But to anyone approaching the new Doctor Who in the context of the old, Dalek cant help feeling somewhat shallow and rushed blink and youll miss it.
The supporting cast of characters doesnt add much. Van Statten is an extremely annoying stereotype he bellows his own *name*, for crying out loud and his self-conscious banter with Goddard is shrill and witless. Hes as bad as Chinn in The Claws of Axos, and the fact that the character is such an obvious joke makes it seem ridiculous that the Doctor would take him seriously enough to give him a Pertwee-esque indignant lecture. And the irritating Adam contributes little to this story, except for his obvious plot function as provider of the secret Dalek-killing weapons.
Thats not to say that all is bad about Dalek. The fundamental premise is still compelling, and Christopher Eccleston effectively plays the Doctors jumble of emotions at the resurfacing of his oldest foe bafflement, fear, fury and mockery all combine convincingly in this performance. Rose is plonked into a Beauty and the Beast cliché, but Billie Piper makes as much of it as she can. The finale is rather melodramatic (especially Roses What the hell are *you* changing into?, accompanied by Taras Theme style sweeping music, which made me cringe a bit), but even so, its hard not to be touched by our first good look at the sad, lonely mutant inside the travel machine.
As for the Dalek itself, it is also somewhat better in the concept than in the execution (this is nothing new for the series, I suppose!). Nicholas Briggs seems to be channeling the ghosts of Dalek voices past he sounds like Roy Skelton when angry, like Michael Wisher when hysterical, and like Brian Miller much of the rest of the time. Its a messy, mixed bag of a performance: Briggs jumps up and down vocally where Dalek inflections traditionally go up and up and up, and I found it rather distracting. The Dalek machine itself does look very good, and its certainly nice to see its lights flashing in synch for once. But it also seems to move slower than any Dalek in Doctor Who history (who would have thought that was possible?), and the production team has inserted a C-3PO-esque mechanical squeak when it moves its eyestalk, which makes it more robot-like than ever. As for the Daleks character, it does show cunning and manipulation in its dealings with Rose, true, but it doesnt really resemble the resourceful, scientific Daleks of old at their best (the weaponless Daleks in Death to the Daleks, for instance, take control of their situation much faster than this mopey old philosopher).
All in all, its of course worth watching, and nostalgia alone should raise it a couple points in any fans estimation. But there should have been another way . . . .
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
When I first saw Dalek, I had the same sort of vibe as I did when watching The Green Death, Planet of the Spiders, Genesis of the Daleks, Earthshock and The Caves of Androzani. In other words, here in 2005, we had another member of my personal Doctor Who classic club.
Subsequent viewings have confirmed that first impression (which, in my experience, are so often right). From beginning to end, I loved Dalek. It was my favourite episode of the new series and Id be surprised if it didnt rank similarly highly in any season surveys.
It was a very shrewd move from Russell T Davies to position Dalek at Episode Six in the series running order. This guy plays the TV game beautifully, and he must have known there was a chance if things werent going well, ratings-wise, in the new series, the promise of the Daleks return even if it was just the one truly-amazing Dalek would provide a mid-season boost. As it happened, it did just that, even though the seasons success was already guaranteed by this point.
Id thoroughly enjoyed the new series to this point, but Dalek took things to another level. It wasnt just an excellent Doctor Who adventure, it was a first-class piece of TV drama in its own right. Im sure even the people out there with no imagination could have found something in there!
And the old school fans who found the new series too far removed from what came before must have found an affinity with Robert Shearmans beautifully-crafted, perfectly-paced piece. Unlike any of the other episodes in the series (with the possible exception of The Unquiet Dead) I think Dalek could have appeared in another Doctors tenure but, given the choice of any Doctor at their best to play the Time Lord in this story, Christopher Eccleston would have been my pick.
Ive been a fan of Ecclestons Doctor right from the off. I like the physicality he brings to the role. Jon Pertwee and both Tom and Colin Baker were all powerful men who really filled the screen and Eccleston is of that ilk. And, without the bouffant or curly mops, his shorter hair marks him out as someone who can really handle themselves. I also enjoy his sometimes-criticised inane grinning hes playing an alien, why shouldnt he grin inanely and have a rather odd stride pattern as he bounds along?
And he really delivers his lines with a passion. When Ecclestons Doctor goes through a gamut of emotion when he uncovers the Dalek for the first time fear, loathing, sarcasm, relief, anger, the lot, all in the space of a couple of minutes you really feel those emotions with him.
I must admit I found the back-up characters in this story less remarkable than in previous episodes including companion-to-be Adam Mitchell. However, this way have been because this was all about the Doctor, the Dalek and Rose.
The setting for the episode was ideal. The Daleks have always been at their deadliest in an underground setting (after all, thats how it all began) and the basic idea of the last Dalek being held in a museum, and being tortured by a megalomaniac, was a cracker.
The initial encounter between the Doctor and the Dalek really was gripping. Nicholas Briggs Dalek intoning, Doc-tor. THE Doc-tor! emphasising the definite article was an edge-of-the-seat moment one of the best scenes of the whole series. Simple, but so effective.
And displaying the Doctor showing genuine fear an emotion never shown in previous incarnations is one big improvement to the Time Lords character in the new series. Of course, the Doctor is a superhero. Hes physically powerful and mentally strong. But hes seen terrible things. He may have caused terrible things in the Time War. His whole race have been destroyed. He isnt invincible. He is vulnerable and he knows it. And, although were not used to seeing the Doctor afraid, he is afraid here. Even of this chained-up, impotent Dalek. Very afraid.
Briggs now, undisputedly THE voice of the Daleks had some great dialogue to work with, but I really enjoyed the softer monotone he brought to his character looking for pity. Character being the operative word. Too often in the past, the Daleks have been one-dimensional killing machines or, as in Revelation of the Daleks, mere drones. But here, without Davros for the first time since the Pertwee years, a Dalek by itself was able to take centre stage and be a character in its own right.
And whod have thought the viewer would have cared about that character? A tribute to Shearman, Briggs - and Eccleston and Billie Piper in their scenes with the Dalek. It must be difficult acting against what is essentially a giant metal pepperpot, and making it so utterly believable and watchable, but they managed to pull it off.
The Dalek itself was another triumph for the design team. I loved the transformation from old, battered Dalek to majestic, gold, killing machine after its extrapolation of Roses DNA. It really looked the part as it glided along the corridor (you can never have enough corridors and running in a Dalek story!) at no great pace, exterminating indiscriminately. This is part of the menace of a Dalek when its handled properly you cant stop it. It doesnt have to be move quickly. You have nowhere to run to. It will catch you, and it will exterminate you.
Obviously, the effortless elevation upstairs was an added bonus, as was the kitchen sink plunger being used for more nefarious purpose than just being there. I wonder if the production team were tempted to go further with the sucking of the Dalek torturers face now that would have been worth the 12 rating on the DVDs!
Talking of added bonuses, the Doctor actually allowing Rose to die (or so he believed when she was trapped by the Dalek) was a fabulous scene. The only thing from the old series which was comparable was Adrics death in Earthshock (one of the great scenes in Doctor Who lore) and, even then, the Fifth Doctor didnt directly seal his companions fate. More scope for great moments from Eccleston and Piper, who must look back on this episode with tremendous pride.
And a truly great ending to boot. Ecclestons Doctor is, by this stage, mentally all over the place, waving around a huge gun for goodness sake! The Daleks plea for an order to die, and Roses softly-intoned clearance for the creatures suicide was gripping stuff.
This was a great story have you got that impression from these words? If there was a serious fault, it wasnt one I could find. Even if the rest of the series had been rubbish, it would have been worth it for Dalek. Full marks to all involved. This was Doctor Who at its very best. And maybe time will show Dalek to be the best of the best.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
Living half a world away from England can be difficult sometimes, especially for a Doctor Who fan during the first run of the new series. Id been spoiled to death. I knew practically everything about this episode well in advance. Since its premiere in the UK eight weeks ago, Dalek had been hailed by many as the best episode of Doctor Who in a long, long time. Some were even calling it the best ever. Apart from these things, I was looking forward to this episode for another reason in a weeks time, Ill be leaving the country for a couple of months, thereby missing the rest of the shows run completely. This was to be the last episode of new Who I would see in a long time. I was so glad I am so glad I got to see this one.
Joe Ahearne, Ive just heard, masterminded the BBC documentary Space Odyssey, which was just shown on Australian television. I loved it. And when I discovered Dalek was directed by the same man, I knew I was in for something special. I was proven right only a few moments into the episode, when a classic-style Cybermans head was revealed. But it wasnt just thrown into the background, Hitchhikers movie style nor was it dwelt upon for ages like a fanboys wet dream. I guess it was somewhere in between. But it worked brilliantly. Henry Van Statten is a great character evil, funny, clever, well-acted and well-cast and his first scene strikes all the right notes.
When I first heard the Dalek scream, I winced. I suddenly felt as if I was trapped inside the Daleks armour, unable to get out, and being tortured to death. This feeling remained with me throughout the rest of the episode, and I put it down to three things Joe Ahearnes direction, Robert Shearmans writing and Nicholas Briggs acting. When the Doctor faces off with it, the Dalek goes from gloating to immense pain within moments. And then were in for Nicholas Briggs greatest triumph so far the Daleks first meeting with Rose. This is a meeting that couldve happened in the first Dalek story, all those years ago, but instead it was decided the kids would prefer them to be mindless killing machines. Thats all well and good, but what if you were trapped inside there? The Dalek was in pain. Genuine pain. It was dying. That said, I was sitting up in my seat when Rose touched it, and it regenerated into its former, killing-machine self.
So the Daleks on a rampage. The best directed Dalek rampage in the history of this show. (Sorry, Mr Harper.) And I thought Euros Lyn was good! Joe Ahearne was perfect for this job. Im glad he was kept on for the majority of the season, but at the same time disappointed that he wont be back next time. Oh well. Dear me, this is brilliant stuff
the way the Dalek wipes out the entire squadron
without even touching the ground! The suspense is terrifying! I loved the reveal when it turned out Rose had been trapped behind the bulkhead. And when we heard the Dalek cry Exterminate! and fire, for a moment despite what I already knew I was sure Rose had been killed.
But this is a new kind of Dalek a Dalek the Time Lords hinted at many years ago. Remember when Tom found the little Kaled mutant in the pit? Beautiful scene. And now, when this Dalek blows a hole in the roof just to feel the sunlight, we have the follow-up to that beautiful scene. Suddenly the Doctor turns up. At this point I realised the full extent of what the Doctor had gone through with this Time War. You might exile yourself from your home, but when you find out your homes gone
destroyed by monsters
what is your gut instinct? Forget right and wrong the one thing you want to do is find these monsters and destroy them. Thankfully this tends to wear off pretty swiftly. And it does with the Doctor, who watches helplessly as the Dalek begs Rose for one last order. We can now see this poor creature, reaching out to the light, and the one thing we want for it is
what? Do we want it to die? To become ruthless again? To be free? Wow. Existentialism in Doctor Who. This is new, isnt it?
Yes, I cried. Again, I have Messrs. Ahearne, Shearman and Briggs to thank for this. (You gits.) And Billie Piper? Well done, kid, you pulled it off. I felt your fear too, because I was trapped inside that horrible casing, begging to be set free. I never thought Id be writing such things about an episode of Doctor Who
but then again, this is indeed the Best.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
"Dalek" marks the best episode of the new Dr Who series to date and not too soon either, many would say, following on as it does from arguably the series' worst.
It's best to dispense with the only real quibble first, which is the inexplicable empowerment of the Dalek's motive units from Rose's brief touch. We are told of time traveller DNA being absorbed and extrapolated - no problem there; even the smallest amount of matter harbours a staggering amount of energy - but not how it particularly differs from other DNA or why it is the only DNA that works. As a general rule, if a concept can be understood by anyone with a high-school level knowledge of science, no need to explain, but if it requires some leap of logic then some attempt had better be made. Often enough the rational, even if technically improbable, works well enough in this quantum age for dramatic purposes, although I must confess being hard put thinking up anything that might enlighten us regarding this particular plot point. Still, there's no point getting stuck on this one anomaly, as it - thereafter logically - underpins so much of what follows, including the frankly wonderful denouement.
Several factors combine to elevate the overall standard of this episode. Most conspicuous is the presence of the Dalek itself and the fashion in which it is presented. Fans doubtlessly want the Doctor's arch-nemesis to figure as a credible and deadly threat, and the story certainly delivered that. Loved the subtle updating of its casing and weapons system, from the eerie blue light emanating from its eye stalk to the first ever decent use of its sucker.
Thankfully, we also had a more serious Doctor this time. After being desperately afraid that his emotional reaction to the Dalek would be mishandled, I was gratified to discover how well they actually did it - fear, anger, even commiseration was all there yet kept in check; just when the Doctor's dignity seemed about to shatter it managed to be maintained - for we don't have to witness him crying or ranting to appreciate his genuine distress (in fact, I find it far more powerful the more it is internalised and nevertheless evident, which is a feat good actors can accomplish and which should be always appreciated). That the ninth Doctor is more outwardly emotional than the others is by now beyond doubt, and that's fine so long as it isn't driven too far; he's still a Time Lord, remember - a title of dignity and distinction. One more grumble, however: I do wish he would stop feeling guilty every time Rose is in trouble. I mean it's going to happen, isn't it, every episode! Drop her back home for good if it's such a big deal.
In the final moments we have a Dalek committing suicide. Heresy?! Believe it or not, no, for the living creature inside was corrupted by alien DNA, it was no longer pure - the perfect and most ironic foil to its own racial hatred. In reality a Dalek did not suicide, something else did. One has to admire such a simple but poignant conclusion to some of the most exciting television I've ever had the pleasure to watch. That its central themes derive from earlier Dalek stories - "Power of the Daleks" and "Evil of the Daleks" as all good fans know - is no bad thing; for a start they are two classic but sadly lost episodes, and I also believe that with such a long history, Dr Who has every right to pick from its own vintage, especially when it can engineer such a fresh reworking as this one.
Little more need be said. Message to the BBC: this is what we want! They must have some feedback system in operation. I can only hope most people agree with me in thinking that less adolescent humour and more guts will keep this series going, not just for a few years but for whole generations, in the successful tradition of its earlier, venerable incarnation.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
Okay... now, how should I describe this episode? I have read everyone elses reviews after I finally saw this episode on Saturday that has just passed. (Us poor deprieved people in Australia were five or six episodes behind the UK; I have been brave and not let myself look at any other reviews for future episodes).
While having watched the new Who every Saturday and the reruns of every all the old series (we are currently on the second series with Tom Baker) every weekday I thought the Daleks in the old Doctor Who weren't all that scary compared to the latest episode. I actually got really scared when the Dalek started to go one its killing spree because it showed many shots of the dead bodies. I did feel a lot of sympathy for it when Rose's DNA started to mutate it.
Actually coming to Rose I thought that Billie Piper acted brilliantly, especially all of her scenes with the Dalek and as usual all of her scenes with the Doctor were a joy to watch. The Doctor's reaction to thinking that Rose was actually dead and gone was extremely convincing but his reaction to seeing her alive was even better to watch. Christopher E's acting though stole the show when he first encounters the Dalek and his reaction and speech to the Dalek after he realises that it actually can't hurt him because his laser can't "Exterminate!" I did get a bit disturbed though when the Doctor threatened the Dalek with a massive gun, even though the Dalek had opened his casing and only was trying to feel the sun. Since when did the Doctor become a military man? Her reaction though was extremely well played and her asking the Doctor, "What about you Doctor? What the hell are you turning into?"
Excellent acting but the only thing that peeved me off was the introducing the character of Adam.
Why on earth did the Doctor take him? I can understand from Rose's point of view but why oh why Doctor? Hopefully he'll die or something in the next episode!
I also really hope that the Doctor and Rose get together in the end.
Overall I would give Dalek a 9/10.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
From the moment where Christopher Ecclestone gives his Earth Spinning speech in 'Rose', I fell in love with this new series. After the very enjoyable Aliens of LondonWorld War Three, 'Dalek' redefines one of Doctor Who's great enemies for a 21st Century mainstream audience.
Firstly, thank you thank you thank you to RTD and Rob Shearman for inserting a reference to the Cyberman (my number-one favourite Doctor Who villain). It clearly shows that this series is deeply respectful of its history. There are so many elements that come together to make this episode an absolute classic. The first, is the apparently out-of-character motivations of the protaganists. We've always held the Doctor to be a paragon of virtue, a hero that we can all look up to. But like Picard in Star Trek: First Contact, his seething raging, almost racially-motivated-but-justified hatred of the Daleks is electrifying to see. But the most shocking element of this episode is the Dalek itself. Even as a child, I've never taken the Daleks all that seriously as deadly adversaries, even after they were able to climb stairs.
Every single element that made the Daleks a laughing stock has been given a horrifying new function. Each new sequence demonstrating the Dalek's abilities was nothing short of stupendous. The use of the sucker arm, the swivelling torso. But the one moment that truly made me fear the Daleks for the very first time in my life, was the Dalek's malevolent use of the sprinkler system. This wasn't just a green blob in polybonded carbonate armour, but a cold-blooded killing machine that should be feared by every sentient being in the universe.
Those elements alone would've made this episode memorable. But what elevated this episode to a classic was Rob Shearman's brilliant characterisation of the Dalek, brought to life by Nicholas Brigg's powerful voicework. During the suspenseful moment when the Dalek is threatening to kill Van Straten, I found myself (much to my surprise) cheering it on. When the Dalek chooses to exterminate itself, I was almost close to tears. Will wonders never cease?
And we at last learn who the two main protaganists were during the last great Time War. It's also increasingly clear that the Doctor had a great hand in ending this conflict, but at the expense of his own people. Each episode of this new series thus far has dealt with the consequences of the Doctor's fateful decision. The Autons invade Earth because their protein planets were destroyed during the war. Jabe discovers the last of the Time Lords, and pays for that revelation with her life. The Gelth lose their corporeal bodies, and as a result invade Earth. The Slitheen take advantage of an economic slump after the end of the Time War, to sell the planet for radioactive waste. And the Dalek falls through time, to become the last of his race.
In summary, this episode is one of the most stupendous redefining moment in Doctor Who's illustrious history. After watching the rather-good-but-remade-for-Americans Hitchhikers Guide, it's a huge relief to see a series that manages to update an old classic for a new audience. Not only does it force us to revaluate an old foe, it will cement this current series place in the international psyche. A true, genuine, honest-to-god classic that ranks as one of the single greatest moments of televison ever produced. In my heart of hearts, I do not believe that this episode will ever be topped. Of course, RTD and co. will probably prove me wrong.
Doctor Who is back. And it's better than ever.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
Before we even get into the story proper, let me first of all say that this particular episode is, if nothing else, a brilliant piece of marketting. "Dalekmania", although now 40 years old, will always be an integral part of the success of the show. And Russell T. Davis knew exactly how to inject that formulae back into the new series.
Let's be honest, within seconds after hearing that the show was coming back on the air, the next thought that most fans had was: "I wonder when we'll see the Daleks". There wasn't even a notion of whether or not the Daleks would return - we knew they had to be there somewhere for the Doctor to run into or it just wouldn't be Doctor Who. And RTD, like all good producers, recognised that timing would be everything in the way these monsters would be re-introduced. And his timing was immaculate. Not only in terms of which episode(s) he chose to feature the Daleks in, but also the way in which they were featured.
"Dalek" succeeds best in this way because it features just a single Dalek. A smart way to re-introduce them to the series. For old fans, we get to learn some of the new nuances of the Daleks. And for the newbies, they just get to learn about Daleks, in general. To have an entire army of them roll in would've made this process far more complicated. But with just a single Dalek trundling around, we really get a chance to get up close and personal with him.
But, marketting aside, does the story live up to the hype?
There are some very "classic" moments to this story but I wouldn't quite call this a classic. It's missing a few things in order to truly achieve that status. If nothing else, the plot is just a tad too streamlined. While I can appreciate a story like "Rose" being so simple in its plotting because it was the first episode of the new series, "Dalek" is now five episodes into the season. I could've used a bit more meat to my plot than just: "A Dalek's breaking out and it's going to spend the next 45 minutes killing everyone and then killing itself cause it went a little crazy from absorbing Rose's DNA."
Now, don't get me wrong, I do recognise that there is a bit more substance to this story than just that. We have Van Statten's egotism, some integral revelations about the Time Wars and Adam getting it on with Rose but these are all far too minor to really become legitimate plot threads. So, even though we've got some nice underscoring and subtext going on, we're still left with "A Dalek breaks out and is going to spend the next 45 minutes killing everyone and then killing itself cause it went a little crazy from absorbing Rose's DNA"! And that, in my book, is enough of a flaw to get it to not quite achieve "classic" status.
Still, this is a very strong story, overall. In many ways, it's superb. The conflict between the Doctor and his greatest enemy has never been so well portrayed. For the chief reason that the battle between Dalek and Time Lord is now deeply personal because of what occurred in the Time Wars. And it makes for excellent drama to watch. Particularly when you consider that one of the two combatants is really just a working prop!
Of course, this conflict is best displayed in the notorious scene when the two of combatants first meet. Eccleston turns in his best performance of the season here. His horror and dismay and then sheer fanaticism are all very compelling. And the way the Dalek actually plays off of him (even though, again, he really is just a working prop) gets this whole scene to shine brightly in the memories of both old fans and new viewers. It's everything we expected the confrontation to be between these two - and more.
It's also quite interesting to see what they had done with this latest model of Dalek. Some really cool new "special features" have been added to them: rotating gun turrets and bullet force-fields and the like. This is obviously the Dalek at its ultimate form of evolution. Which seems quite sensible. It would be at this stage that they would decide they are perfect and take on the ultimate enemy in the greatest war they would ever face. It all jibes with continuity quite nicely in my book. And that's always a nice thing for a fan to see in a story!
I'm also quite impressed with how deeply the story delves into "the Dalek philosophy". It really takes the time to not just show us how nasty these aliens are, but also explain why they are so nasty. So that, at the end, when the Dalek commits suicide, we understand why. It could never stand being anything but a pure killing machine and therefore needed to destroy itself when it realised it had been corrupted. This conclusion makes sense rather than being just a cheap cop-out.
There are several other really nice touches to this story. The Doctor coming to terms with his obcessive hatred is nicely achieved. And the destruction of Van Statten is also great stuff. I even quite liked the vague reference made to Davros. But, in the end, I still feel that the two final episodes of the season were better Dalek stories. And the all-time best Dalek story, for my money, is still "Remembrance of the Daleks" - even if the title is a tad goofy! Still, "Dalek" does an excellent job of bringing this evil intergalactic conqueror back into Whoniverse - I just can't quite call it the "classic" some of you are claiming it to be.
It's pretty damned awesome - but not a classic!
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
This is the story I wanted to see ever since I read about it, and the only one I couldn't resist spoilers on. I went and read reviews by fellow fans months ago, as well as watching the Doctor Who Confidential episode covering this story over my dial-up internet connection (a chore, to be sure). Having finally seen the episode itself, I have to say that the oldest enemy of the Doctor was redesigned and reinvented very well in my opinion.
The story itself is not bad. It's not a deep plot but it works, and writer Rob Shearman relies on the Doctor's history with the Daleks for much of its emotional impact and drama. It boils down to this: Dalek falls to Earth, is ultimately bought by Van Statten and put in the cage, until the Doctor arrives. Doctor and Dalek shout at each other, Dalek tricks Rose and escapes, slaughtering hundreds in the process. Genetically contaminated by Rose, the Dalek chooses suidcide. Fine and dandy, but I wish the one event on which the plot turns, the absorption of Rose's DNA by the Dalek, had been explained in more detail. What was it about her DNA that allowed the Dalek to recharge and escape? We're merely told that the fact that she's a time traveller allows the Dalek's renewal, with no further explanation. Of course, the answer is that the concept makes no sense, and that the writer didn't even try to make up some technobabble to explain it, which is disappointing.
The Dalek itself is wonderfully updated. It's still the same old basic design we've seen since 1963 (thank goodness) but with a few tweaks here and there. The dome with rivets and panels looks good, along with the larger "eye" lamps. The eyepiece with what is presumably the Dalek's designation underneath is a very good update, giving the faceless Dalek some individuality at last. The bronze-metallic overall finish works very well and gives more of an impression that the travel machine is made of metal than previous Dalek props have done. The force shield, levitation and the rotating midsection are just icing on the cake, really making this Dalek the threat that it should always have been. Last but not least is the depiction of the mutant inside, which takes elements from the old Raymond Cusick sketch with it's exposed brain, along with the tentacled Dalek creatures we've seen over the course of the old series. The redesign is nigh-on picture perfect.
As for the Dalek's character, it's quite accurate as well. Emotional, manipulative, deceptive and murderous, the Dalek draws on both "Power of the Daleks" and "Evil of the Daleks" for characterization. Speaking of "Evil", lest we forget, this is not the first time we've seen a humanized Dalek. Unlike the ones in "Evil" who seemed to take in stride their new human emotions and ability to question, this one becomes very self-aware and chooses suicide over contamination". I almost felt sorry for the thing at the end of the episode, but considering how many people he murdered, it's hard not to see his condition and death as just desserts.
Moving along to characters other than the Dalek, there's villain number two, Henry Van Statten. The idea of an egomaniacal billionare who collects alien artifacts is a decent concept. However, Van Statten begins to fail as a character when other ideas are thrown into the mix. He owns the internet? Picks the next president? Invented broadband? Right. The character would have worked very well without these needless excesses. He is acted well enough I suppose.
Moving along, Goddard is a character who's barely there, and her sudden takeover at the end defies belief somewhat. Whose name is on the bank accounts? Though I suppose given that she had the support of the troops who were angry at Van Statten for letting so many of their fellow soldiers die, she might pull it off. Seems a shame that she wanted the museum destroyed at the end though. Adam comes across as a bit full of himself, but as someone who plans ahead a bit, given that he keeps some alien weapons stashed away just in case. Pity he couldn't have planned ahead a bit further next episode, eh? "Ithink I'll have this chip installed in my forehead..." Even the few soldiers who get lines get good ones. "Get the civilians out," one says. Nice to see that even though his boss is a ego-maniac, he takes his job seriously. Then of course there's the doomed soldier trying to hold the Dalek off on the stairway... a futile gesture and a wasted life.
It's hard not to sympathize with Rose in this episode. She doesn't know about the Daleks at this point, and doesn't realize just how terrible they are. Her compassion for the Dalek after she sees him being tortured is commendable, as are her attempts to stop him from killing Van Statten. Even though the Dalek has killed hundreds of people", as she sees it changing she tries to reason with it. There's a lot of nobility in her actions.
This ninth Doctor is a tough one to come to terms with. I accept that he's been traumatized by the war, and by losing his home and family, but even so it's hard to like him sometimes. A lot of the characteristics of past Doctors shine through, except for charm. He has very little of that, sadly. I did feel that his actions in this episode were spot on character though. He's afraid of the Daleks, he recognizes just how dangerous they are, he hates them for taking part in the destruction of the Time Lords, and when he takes the weapon to go and destroy the Dalek at the end of the episode, it's not the action of a man becoming what he hates. His action is more than justified, given what the Dalek has just done if nothing else. For all that the script tries to draw parallels between the Doctor and the Dalek, and make us feel pity for the Dalek, said parallels are surface level only. The Dalek kills because it is xenophobic, and to it all other life is wrong. The Doctor wants to kill the Dalek because of so many past experiences where all the Daleks do is bring death and destruction, and the Doctor's instinct is to protect innocents. There may well be some revenge in the Doctor's mind as well, which while wrong is both understandable and still a long way from the Dalek point of view. The two are not the same, and never will be, despite being the "last survivors" of their respective races.
Despite my defence of the Doctor here, I have to agree that he is angry, bitter and vengeful towards the helpless Dalek in the cell. It's unpleasant to watch, but he's right: what is a Dalek good for, if it can't kill? Having seen the Daleks kill every other member of his race (so far as he knows), I think we'd be hard-pressed to fault the Doctor for his verbal abuse of the Dalek. It is a commendable scene for another reason: not since the days of Hartnell and Troughton have we seen the actor who plays the Doctor taking the Daleks so seriously(with the possible exception of "Genesis"), and Eccleston's superb acting in this scene really does sell the idea that the Doctor hates and fears these creatures unlike any other. Already this season we've seen him attempt to reason with the Nestene and the Gelth, but his approach to the Dalek is vastly different. His hate is understandable, even if we wish he would rise above it.
Some nice touches to the episode include the Cyber-head from "Revenge of the Cybermen", and the mention of Davros (though not by name, just as the Daleks creator). Numerous Dalek-POV shots were nicely done as well. Some not-so-nice touches: the horribly cheesy line "what good are emotions if you will not save the woman you love?"
The final scene is touching. "I win" the Doctor says sadly. Do we really think Susan is gone, or Romana, or the Master? I tend to believe the Doctor isn't as alone as he thinks, but it may be a long time before any writer feels like bringing another Time Lord back into the mix.
In short, the plot is functional and advances the Time War story. The episode serves to reintroduce and amplify the Daleks as the ultimate Doctor Who adversaries. It's the Dalek and the history behind it that makes this episode work dramatically. No other monster or enemy has the same effect on the Doctor. "Dalek" is not a classic, but it is a strong episode.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television