Now that the new Daleks are well-established in this series, their appearance has lost its impact. Bringing them back for each season is a mistake in my opinion. But they’re here, the four-strong Cult of Skaro, and this time they’re really the last of their kind. Really really! And to survive, they’re going to have to evolve. This “last of the Daleks” stuff might have had more impact, but knowing they’re going to be dragged back in time and time again after this, it’s hard to care now.
The most interesting thing about this story is the Daleks’ changing attitude to what it means to survive. As ‘pure’ supreme beings, all they have achieved is their own demise, but is becoming human hybrids a step too far for them? This was touched upon in The Parting of the Ways. Can they still call themselves Daleks if they splice themselves into human form? Conflict within the Dalek community has always been good fun to watch, and here we see Dalek Sec’s loyal brethren question their orders and turn against him.
Other than that, I can’t say I enjoyed this very much. The New York setting makes a nice change, but the accents sound awful to my ears. Granted, I’ve not yet been to New York (and not in 1930), but most of the characters sound like they’re putting on stereotypical accents rather than real ones, particularly Tallulah. Admittedly, it’s not as bad as the accents in the 1960s episodes of The Chase or The Gunfighters, but that’s not saying much.
So much of this story is just boring or silly. The Daleks use slaves to do their work for them. Makes sense, but why turn them into pigs? (They had a better idea in The Dalek Invasion of Earth, where they used robo-men, although they weren’t much help either.) The biological engineering necessary to transform humans into pig-men just doesn’t seem worth the end result – an army of conspicuous monsters that can’t blend in. And why pigs again? The Slitheen loved pigs. The Daleks love pigs. Does somebody in the BBC production really fancy some bacon? (See also: the aliens = animals problem.)
The Daleks’ plan to produce a race of human/Dalek hybrids goes to pot when the Cult of Skaro rebels against Sec. Suddenly, humans can be wholly Dalek by fusing their DNA differently, even though they still look like human (so they’re non-human how, exactly?). And for some reason the Doctor’s DNA can travel through electricity? And gamma rays from the sun arrive in the form of lightning? What? Somebody get the writer a science book, this is just nonsense.
The Doctor’s “I’m so sorry” routine is getting really old now as well. This time, he also seems to have a death wish, commanding the Daleks to shoot him on two separate occasions (he’s surprised when they don’t, so I don’t think the first time is a bluff) and then getting himself zapped while climbing up the Empire State Building’s spire. That’s not the first time a story has ended with the Doctor climbing up some big thing and being zapped. It’s boring, sorry.