Saturday, April 24, 2010

Daleks in the Wartime

So, that last episode of Who ... in anticipation of something better tonight when the Angels are back (wonder if they'll nick the Doctor's wheels again ...) some thoughts on last week's episode. Well it started well, is about the best I can say. The wartime setting was nicely handled, and even Churchill was a nice cameo - even though I find it hard to believe that Churchill would ring the Doctor and ask him to come and see a new weapon ... why would he do that? Unless of course Bracewell encouraged it as part of the Daleks' shaky plan. I loved the initial reveal of the Dalek in olive green, and the very 'Power of the Daleks' homaging of 'We are your ... Soldier!' I loved the Daleks gliding around the base serving tea and coffee, and the fact that only the Doctor knew they were a menace. But then it all fell apart. The nice sense of paranoia which the aforementioned 'Power' played on so well was missing and the Doctor started hitting a Dalek with a spanner! Then we go off into some technobollox about the Daleks having this cute little device (*1) which lit up and which somehow contained pure Dalek DNA ... we learn that Bracewell (*2) is a Dalek robot and has built the things on Earth - but where did he get the Dalek DNA from I wonder ... and then the Daleks, having had the Doctor identify them, can now get their little Dalek gadget to create some 'pure' Daleks ... ... and here they come now! Tinky Winky Dalek! Dipsy Dalek! La La Dalek! and of course not forgetting Po Dalek! The Dalek Tellytubbies roll out looking for all the world like giant toys (*3) and proceed to exterminate the other ones ... erm ... Then, realising that there's a lack of action, Churchill sends some Spitfires into space (erm ... OK ...) and they attack the Dalek saucer ... How on earth they 'flew' is anyone's guess - Bracewell's anti gravity wassname maguffin might have got them into space, but there's no gravity there so how did the craft actually manouver - propellors won't work (no air) and the wings are useless (no atmosphere) ... never mind. Bracewell turns out to have a Dalek bomb in him as well, and so the Doctor and Amy, accompanied as usual by Murray Gold's inappropriately loud and intrusive music talk him out of it! Didn't we see that before in reverse in 'Remembrance of the Daleks' where the Doctor talks a Dalek into destroying itself. It didn't work there either. At least this time we get some lovely performances from the leads, and Gatiss does his best with the dialogue. Then the Daleks escape. The End. It was all way too rushed for 45 minutes, and what there was made little sense even on first viewing. Interesting how Amy can't remember the (many) Dalek (and Cybermen) invasions of previous years at all ... and of course we get to see Amy's crack again on the wall behind the TARDIS as it leaves. It's a story which could and should have been so much better, even with a lot of the same elements. A wartime adventure where the Doctor finds that Daleks are being used and has to side with the Nazis to destroy them ... or even more of a skit on 'Power' with the Daleks plotting to destroy and no-one listening to the Doctor so he has to use his wits to get him through it all ... And the new Daleks - woeful. They're too big, wobbly and brightly coloured. Daleks should be tight, small, bundles of power and threat and paranoia. If these were 'pure' Daleks, then we should have seen original 1963 versions, or those from 'Genesis of the Daleks' ... but then maybe this is all part of this parallel world/whatever it is thing going on with Amy here ... maybe this is what the Daleks looked like in her world ... maybe they were kid's toys which took over when the time was right ... who knows. All in all a very disappointing third episode which perhaps tried to do too much but ended up collapsing due to the weight of the requirements put on it, and the need to try and bring the Daleks back as 'new and improved'. Why try and improve something which just doesn't need it ... we shall never know. PS: The little asterisks are my somewhat cynical way of highlighting the elements which were included because they'll make great toys rather than having any real relevance to the story.


Abu Yair said...

In "Power of the Daleks", Lesterton discovered the true nautre of the Daleks' plan at the end of the fourth episode - that's almost a hundred minutes of Dalek plotting and scheming. In this story, it happened after about 12 minutes, if which a large proportion was the title music and scenes already shown at the end of the previous episode. No wonder the thing seemed rushed and superficial.

Moreover, I'm getting a little bored of all these homages. Have you noticed how often they're homages to missing episodes? It's almost as if the fans are trying to make up for the lost episodes by remaking them as edited highlights.

The more I watch the new series and the DVD releases, the more I realise the sad truth: Doctor Who as we knew it ended when Tom Baker left.

Roman said...

I enjoyed the episode, bottom line it was fun.

I think the pace of these episodes, which seem to be running at 42 minutes, is a little too fast.

The impression I got was that Bracewell had had these ideas (programmmed) which cover 'gravity bubbles' 'hypersonic flight' which I think explains the spitfire sequence. Bracewell say say they are 'musings of the potential of...' which suggests he hadn't build the devices, so its a bit quick methinks. I suppose Gatiss wanted to choose his words here carefully.

I liked the nod to 'Power of the Daleks' here too.

I did feel that the cliffhanger to the previous episode was not relevant to the episode, the call from Churchill was meaningless. It suggested something sinister with the shadow of the Dalek in the background, but then Churchill is unconcerned about Bracewells robot

I don't think Bracewell 'found' Dalek DNA, the RTD Daleks say they found a trace of a remaining Progenitor Device. The comment about Bracewell was to hide his purpose as a lure to get the Doctor to confirm that these RTD Daleks are real Daleks for the Progenitor Device and that he is a weapon.

I must admit the new Daleks are nice and large but the design really needs furthur tweaking. I can imagine a human being inside one, and keep thinking of the end of Daleks of Manhatten Part 1.

Ironically the new Daleks are pure Dalek DNA so they are the original Daleks. I think this has now finished any Dalek fraction nonsense the Daleks have been saddled with since the 1980s.

Hopefully when these Daleks return that there will be a better story to serve them

Amys memory loss appears to be significant, but this has been touched on in the series, where the 'Zygon Gambit' amoug others was not remembered and the Doctor makes some sort of comment

I see this episode as the "Reset of the Daleks"

I've liked Gatiss's other works, but have never been that impressed with his Who scripts, although this is the best of a bad bunch.

(I think the answer is an alternate universe too, the TARDIS slipped through the crack and perhaps was responsible for it. Or Gallifrey in End of Time was)

OrangeDog said...

I thought it was quite clear that the three daleks had escaped from the previous battle and created Bracewell; so he wouldn't have needed to "find the DNA".

wayne said...

It would be nice to go one WHOLE series without seeing an episode involving the daleks, but i suppose they are now customary there for the kids. I find them just boring now & the plot always seems thin whenever they appear. As usual, the poorest story of the series so far, even if we did see Amy's crack at the end!