Tag Archives: daleks

The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang

Epic finales have capped the past four and a bit seasons, so it was no surprise that season 5 went all out. In a scene reminiscent of what Russell T Davies probably intended in The Stolen Earth, every single available alien, robot and creature from the past five years gathers together at Stonehenge 102 AD (including, bizarrely, the Silurians, who shouldn’t even be awake at this point) to trap the Doctor in a giant box, thus stopping him from destroying the Universe when his Tardis explodes in the future.

The Universe's largest recorded INTERVENTION meeting.

The Universe’s largest recorded INTERVENTION meeting.

It’s a good twist, because you spend most of the first episode thinking there’s a monster inside the Pandorica, but in fact the monster is the Doctor and all the bad guys are there to save the Universe for a change. It must have taken an incredible amount of planning on their part, though. They had to read a psychic imprint of Amy’s mind to create the trap, ensure the coordinates were written on a painting that would get passed down to River Song, who would find a way to escape prison and bring the Doctor to the right place. Convoluted isn’t the word! You also have to wonder, if keeping the Doctor sealed away for eternity is so important, why make the Pandorica so easy to open again from the outside?

Auton-duplicate Roman Rory, now with sonic screwdriver action.

Auton-duplicate Roman Rory, now with sonic screwdriver action.

The Doctor tells the alien spaceships over Stonehenge to bugger off for a while.

The Doctor tells the alien spaceships over Stonehenge to bugger off for a while.

Okay kid, this is where it gets complicated. With the first episode ending on the most extreme of cliffhangers, the Tardis exploding, the Doctor trapped forever, and the lights in the Universe blinking out of existence, it takes a hell of a job to undo it, but this is one of those occasions where it mostly works satisfyingly, thanks to Steven Moffat’s knack for planning out long-winded and complex plots and believing in the audience enough to keep up with it. Through a series of time jumps, the Doctor sets into motion an elaborate plan to rescue himself and works out how to undo the erasure of the Universe. These sequences are both amusing and clever, not to mention logically consistent (a rarity in a show that supposedly deals with time travel), so it’s a shame that a large part of the climax revolves around, basically, magic.

I wear a fez now. Fezzes are cool.

I wear a fez now. Fezzes are cool.

This annoys me, because the story could rely on its use of hard temporal mechanics to sort itself out, but instead descends into wishy-washy metaphor. Erased from existence, the Doctor is brought back into the Universe by the power of memories or love or some such nonsense. How does that make any sense? The mind is not some magical thing that can overcome the laws of physics – either somebody exists in spacetime or they don’t. So now we have a situation where the Tardis was actually blown up, but now it wasn’t because it was undone, except that it still did happen because they remember it and still need to work out who was responsible for it, even though it quite obviously didn’t happen because the Tardis still exists. The Doctor was at the heart of the Big Bang version 2, except he clearly wasn’t because he still exists, and he only exists because Amy and Rory remember him… and so on, and so forth.

It's not quite as bad as "the whole world prays for the Doctor" but it's the same sort of thing.

It’s not quite as bad as “the whole world prays for the Doctor” but it’s the same sort of thing.

Well, whatever issues there are with the plot, I can’t deny that it’s bloody ambitious. I also love how the previous episodes from the season are incorporated into it, with Vincent’s painting passed down through history, and then later with the Doctor revisiting Amy in their previous adventures and finally explaining that weird scene from Flesh and Stone. Amy’s story arc also reaches a conclusion, with the mystery of her vanishing parents solved, the crack in her room being sealed, and Rory coming back into existence in time for their wedding day.

It's hard not to feel a twinge of emotion as the Tardis materialises during the reception, to the words "something old, something new, something borrowed... something blue". Yes, very clever, Steven. How long had you been waiting to write that?

It’s hard not to feel a twinge of emotion as the Tardis materialises during the reception, to the words “something old, something new, something borrowed… something blue”. Yes, very clever, Steven. How long had you been waiting to write that?

I suppose what I liked most about this finale is that all the overblown threat is contained with a minimum of bluster within part 1. After the big incident, the second part is relatively low-key. There’s this wonderful mix of the utterly bleak (all the stars have gone out, the Tardis is burning in the sky for two millennia, and the Earth will soon disappear), the heartwarmingly lovely (Auton-duplicate Rory standing guard over Amy for 2000 years) and the bloody funny (the stuff with the mop and the fez). There was never any doubt that everything would turn out fine in the end, but getting there is a fascinating journey. For that reason, it’s the best season finale of the new series, despite the problems I had with it.

The exploding Tardis painting makes for a lovely piece of wall art.

The exploding Tardis painting makes for a lovely piece of wall art.

I was hoping to have revisited Matt Smith’s entire run before season 8 begins, but as I type this, Peter Capaldi’s debut is just days away, so I’m going to take this opportunity to take a ‘deep breath’, enjoy the new series and come back to this in a little while.

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Victory of the Daleks

The Daleks have always been a not-so-subtle allegory for Nazi Germany, the “master race” wanting to purify the species and take control of everything, so it was inevitable that they’d feature in an actual WWII episode eventually. Winston Churchill’s war room has supposedly built these new weapons, which Professor Bracewell calls “Ironsides”, but obviously the Daleks have their own plans and their loyal servant routine is just a facade. While the Doctor spends much of the episode trying to persuade Churchill that the Daleks are remorseless creatures with an ulterior motive, I was reminded of the rather excellent Power of the Daleks, in which much the same thing happens. Unfortunately, this episode doesn’t handle it so effectively and the story is pretty much nonsense.

The Doctor, Amy and a not entirely convincing Churchill.

The Doctor, Amy and a not entirely convincing Churchill.

So, the last of the last of the last (really, this time!) of the Daleks, having slipped back through time, have found a special Dalek-growing device that will reboot the entire race, but they’re not pure enough to activate it, so they need to construct an implausible scenario where the Doctor will inadvertently confirm the Daleks’ identity to the Progenator Device, by building an android scientist (Bracewell) and infiltrating the London war room during the blitz. Ooooo—kay. After their plan actually works, they attack London indirectly by turning its lights on during a blackout, but we then learn they could have blown the Earth up with the bomb inside Robo-Bracewell anyway, so what was the point of that? And I don’t care how advanced he is, there’s no way he could have built spaceworthy Spitfires and trained pilots to fly them in ten minutes. That’s just ridiculous.

The bomb is deactivated using the power of love. Sigh.

The bomb is deactivated using the power of love. Sigh.

The episode does have its strengths, however. When the Daleks are playing their role as slaves, they’re arguably more menacing than when they’re being up-front and honest. They certainly get the Doctor nervous. Servant Daleks asking people if they want tea in loud Dalek voices, and, later, the Doctor bluffing his way onto their ship using a jammy dodger, are examples of the British humour that permeates the show in its more whimsical moments. It’s also interesting that the Daleks actually sort of win this time. Finally, there’s the added mystery about the crack, which now appears to have removed memories of the previous Dalek invasions from Amy’s mind, or possibly erased the events themselves. Intriguing.

"WE ARE THE NEW DALEKS. PLEASE TAKE US TO THE CHECKOUT. LIMIT ONE PER CUSTOMER."

“WE ARE THE NEW DALEKS. PLEASE TAKE US TO THE CHECKOUT. LIMIT ONE PER CUSTOMER.”

Ultimately, though, the plot is flimsy, purely a setup for the new Daleks (who were wasted on a mediocre adventure game released around the same time) and, presumably, an excuse to sell a colourful range of toys. Shameless!

The Stolen Earth / Journey’s End

Journey’s End is everything that is wrong with modern Doctor Who all rolled into one. I was torn over whether this is worse than Voyage of the Damned, but I think it has to pip it. It… is… terrible! It’s a melting pot of ideas thrown together and stirred until it’s nothing but fanboy pulp; it’s Russell T Davies writing from the point of view of a ten-year-old playing with his Doctor Who action figures and going “and then Jack turns up and then the Daleks fight them and then Torchwood and Sarah Jane help them and then Mickey comes back and then Martha and she teleports and then they explode and then there’s two Doctors and then-…”. There is no restraint shown, it’s just trash. It’s hard to believe this is the same writer coming from Turn Left and Midnight.

It's telling that Davies wanted the Shadow Proclamation scene to be much bigger and include hordes of aliens from the past four years but they ran out of money so it had to be some Judoon and a woman with red contact lenses instead.

It’s telling that Davies wanted the Shadow Proclamation scene to be much bigger and include hordes of aliens from the past four years but they ran out of money so it had to be some Judoon and a woman with red contact lenses instead.

It’s simultaneously overblown and boring. It’s full of rambling exposition and ridiculous technobabble. It even makes fun of its own technobabble, but continues to use it to solve the plot anyway; meanwhile, interesting setups (like the Osterhagen key) go literally nowhere. A bluff amongst other bluffs with no consequence. Devices work and break and work again, people teleport in and out. Despite the two parts and extended length, the cast of characters is still too huge to get enough screen time. Even previously satisfying conclusions, such as Rose’s farewell in season 2, are undone, like prodding at a corpse to make it twitch. Rose now comes back then returns to the parallel world for really poor reasons, with a half-human double of the Doctor to spend her life with, just to thoroughly undermine one of the few good things about Doomsday.

She's back, and she's got a great big gun.

She’s back, and she’s got a great big gun.

As for the Daleks, I think they’ve given up any pretence that they’re an endangered species now. Time War? Void ships? Pah! Despite Rose eliminating “all Daleks” from existence with her godly powers, there’s somehow another army of them, grown from the cells of Davros himself, with enough power to move entire planets and destroy the Universe. No, not just the Universe, that’s not big enough anymore. We have to go bigger. All Universes! All parallel worlds, alternative timelines, past, present and future. All of reality and unreality and everything in between. The Daleks will destroy all of it. Don’t worry, though, the duplicate Doctor presses some buttons and all the Daleks are destroyed.

The 27 missing planets, pulled out of time and space, are used as a power source for the Daleks' Reality Bomb, within the Medusa Cascade. Also something about bees.

The 27 missing planets, pulled out of time and space, are used as a power source for the Daleks’ Reality Bomb, within the Medusa Cascade. Also something about bees.

I hated pretty much everything about this. Every little cliché that all the “big event” episodes have. All those TV news reports from around the world, celebrity cameos, disastrous events having no apparent consequences on everyday life, big fleets of CGI things swarming over the Earth while overbearingly bombastic music plays, the Doctor running about shouting plot things at people, and so on. There’s even a ratings-grabbing tease of a cliffhanger as it seems like the Doctor is going to regenerate (ooh, they kept that a secret!) but actually he comes back as David Tennant again because… yeah. The planet Earth being carried through space by the Tardis is the giant cherry on top of a very cheesy cake, and not in a good way.

The Doctor, the other Doctor, Captain Jack, Sarah Jane Smith, Martha, Rose and Rose's mum, take the controls of the Tardis.

The Doctor, the other Doctor, Captain Jack, Sarah Jane Smith, Martha, Rose and Rose’s mum, take the controls of the Tardis.

It’s not all bad, but it almost is. Admittedly, amongst all the running around, there’s some nice moments between the reunited characters. Wilf is good, as he always is. Doing a crossover with The Sarah Jane Adventures and Torchwood is an interesting idea, and I’ve been keeping up with both shows in parallel, so the events line up properly, but I can’t imagine the average viewer doing the same, given the target demographic for them. The return of Davros is a big moment and he is as bonkers as ever and looks disgusting, as he should. Oh, and German Daleks. It’s almost worth it for German Daleks. “Exterminieren!” Aaaaand… that’s it. That’s basically the extent of anything good in this finale.

Davros' new hand is shocking! Sorry.

Davros’ new hand is shocking! Sorry.

Even Donna has to leave, and to make sure she can never come back, there has to be some memory-enabled killswitch in her head, because in modern Doctor Who, you can’t just part ways like ordinary people. Donna has, frankly, been fantastic, and she deserves a better end than this. She has been the moral compass for the Doctor on more than one occasion, and the best decision they made was in removing any possibility of romance right from the start so that she could have balanced motives and behave in a more human fashion. She will be missed.

Unable to retain the Time Lord knowledge, Donna's memory is wiped. Because the Doctor can do that, apparently.

Unable to retain the Time Lord knowledge, Donna’s memory is wiped. Because the Doctor can do that, apparently.

Season 4 has been really good, so it’s a shame that it had to end on such a duff note. This is the ultimate lesson in why “less is more”.

Daleks in Manhattan / Evolution of the Daleks

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 Cult of Skaro.

The Cult of Skaro.

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.

Dalek Sec. A Dalek in a suit with a New York accent. Oh yes.

Dalek Sec. A Dalek in a suit with a New York accent. Oh yes.

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.

Frank is played by Andrew Garfield. It’s strange to see a (now) big Hollywood star in a bit part on Doctor Who. Thankfully, his American accent has improved significantly since this was made!

Frank is played by Andrew Garfield. It’s strange to see a (now) big Hollywood star in a bit part on Doctor Who. Thankfully, his American accent has improved significantly since this was made!

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.)

Oink, oink!

Oink, oink!

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.

Solomon keeps the peace in the Hooverville shanty town.

Solomon keeps the peace in the Hooverville shanty town.

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.

Army of Ghosts / Doomsday

“This is the story of how I died”, lies Rose, in a narration that immediately demands attention. This is the season finale, the last regular appearance of Billie Piper as Rose Tyler and, as expected, a typically overblown finale that throws in everything but the kitchen sink.

An army of Cybermen emerges from the dimensional rift at the Canary Wharf branch of Torchwood.

An army of Cybermen emerges from the dimensional rift at the Canary Wharf branch of Torchwood.

I guess the problem is that none of it is really surprising. Torchwood is supposed to be a revelation, but even at the time this episode was first aired, it wasn’t. It had been namedropped and teased throughout the entire season (without subtlety, this is no “Bad Wolf”) and we’d already seen what they were capable of in the Christmas episode. So when we finally meet the Torchwood bunch, the only new thing we learn is that they’re all complete morons with more money than sense, commanded by the deplorable Yvonne, and operating some of the worst security systems imaginable (staff have training against psychic paper but electronic locks don’t? What?). The Cybermen reveal could have been amazing, but it’s spoiled by showing them earlier on (not to mention in last week’s preview). It’s only really the Daleks turning up that has an impact, but that’s mitigated by a sense of “oh bloody hell, not these again”. Thankfully, these are a rogue sect with a somewhat interesting story behind them, and their skirmishes with the Cybermen are exactly as magnificent as you would hope.

Daleks and Cybermen battle it out, with humans caught in the middle. "Delete!", "exterminate!", "delete!", "exterminate!"

Daleks and Cybermen battle it out, with humans caught in the middle. “Delete!”, “exterminate!”, “delete!”, “exterminate!”

Being a Russell T. Davies script, naturally the entire world is in peril without carefully considering the repercussions of the situation. We’re instead treated to the cliché of news reports around the world showing famous landmarks, pop culture references (lolz, ghosts on Eastenders), Rose’s mum tagging along, the Doctor being his usual ‘wacky’ self, and the necessity of a big magic reset button that sucks all the bad guys away from every single country in the world within a matter of seconds. What about the ones indoors? Still, it’s probably best to just enjoy the spectacle while it lasts and not think too much about it.

The Time War was rather less effective than first thought. Millions of Daleks were still trapped in a Genesis Ark, sealed with a void ship, floating endlessly in the space between dimensions. Basically the equivalent of finding money down the side of the sofa.

The Time War was rather less effective than first thought. Millions of Daleks were still trapped in a Genesis Ark, sealed with a void ship, floating endlessly in the space between dimensions. Basically the equivalent of finding money down the side of the sofa.

As ever, Davies does his best work when dealing with human drama, and it doesn’t get much more dramatic than Rose being forced to leave the Doctor. Now, I could whine about overly dramatic big goodbyes with tears and sad music, unlike in the old days where companions would just leave when they felt like it, but the fact of the matter is that Rose’s relationship with the Doctor is different from all of them. Such is her love for him that she would give up ever seeing her own mother again, and it seems clear to me (and to a legion of fangirls, if Google images is any indication) that the Doctor feels the same way in return. This necessitates the creation of the ‘void’ and a sealed off universe for Rose to live with her reunited family, a final goodbye for the Doctor and Rose with no hope of them ever seeing each other again. If you need closure, that’s the way to do it. I mean, it’s not like they’d ever bring her back in some awfully contrived situation, is it? Erm.

Separated by the fabric of reality itself, Rose grieves as she is permanently cut-off from the Doctor. Forever. Yes, forever! No, I'm not listening, la-la-la-laaaa!!

Separated by the fabric of reality itself, Rose grieves as she is permanently cut-off from the Doctor. Forever. Yes, forever! No, I’m not listening, la-la-la-laaaa!!

So, mixed feelings about this finale. On the one hand, at least it actually feels like a finale that has been earned, laying the groundwork throughout the second season (Torchwood, Cybermen, Pete Tyler, parallel universes), with a good cliffhanger, some good action and a sweet final farewell. On the other hand, it just feels too big for its boots at times – contrived, overblown, pushing the peril to ridiculous levels, always trying to top the previous effort. We’re not at the point where the Doctor tows the entire planet through space or where all of the known universe is going to explode, but it’s set a damaging precedent already.

Oh look, Catherine Tate is in the Tardis in a wedding dress…

What?

What?!

WHAT?!

Bad Wolf / The Parting of the Ways

Much of this series has been better than I remember it from the first time around. However, with Bad Wolf, this is not the case. It is exactly as bad as I remember it. Perhaps worse in some ways, as the Big Brother / Weakest Link game show stuff is no longer current or modern, so these scenes have dated. It’s hard to imagine a future where they’re inexplicably brought back along with android versions of hosts who were briefly popular.

It's all fun and games until people start getting disintegrated. "You are the weakest link - goodbye!"

It’s all fun and games until people start getting disintegrated. “You are the weakest link – goodbye!”

Speaking of androids, ‘Anne Droid’ is a terrible pun. Much of the humour misses the mark here, particularly Jack Harkness standing around in the buff, literally pulling a gun out of his arse. It tries to be satirical about reality TV (ha-ha, contestants are killed!) but it’s really broad satire with none of the bite. I dare say it was done better in the Colin Baker story, Vengeance on Varos. What I will say in its favour is that the comical game shows set certain expectations which are then blasted away when the Daleks turn up, and you realise that this is not such a daft throwaway story after all. That is at least an effective twist (or would have been at the time, assuming you didn’t watch the preview).

The Dalek fleet approaches Satellite Five and Earth. Decent visual effects.

The Dalek fleet approaches Satellite Five and Earth. Decent visual effects.

The Parting of the Ways is an improvement in that it ditches most of the game show stuff and focuses on a siege against the Dalek invasion. However, as is so often the case, a lone Dalek is more threatening than an army of them. They’ve been overused already within the first season! How do you deal with a threat this big? You have to invent a weapon that’s even bigger. The deus ex machina involves Rose becoming an all-powerful god (the Bad Wolf) and literally thinking the Daleks out of existence. Every single one, wiped out, erased, and Captain Jack brought back to life (but nobody else who died, oddly). One has to wonder, if Tardis hearts have the ability to do that, even at the expense of a life, why didn’t the Time Lords use this power before? I really hate that sort of thing; it’s a thoroughly unsatisfying ending.

Bad Wolf Rose thinks the Daleks out of existence, but what's more impressive is that she also makes herself not a chav.

Bad Wolf Rose thinks the Daleks out of existence, but what’s more impressive is that she also makes herself not a chav.

The “Bad Wolf” foreshadowing throughout this series has been more subtle than, say, massive cracks appearing at the end of every episode, but the message it was supposed to convey is… questionable. If you had total control over time and space and could send messages back through time to your past self, why would you choose a message that merely describes what you will temporarily call yourself in the future? It’s not instructional or useful. I guess the fact that it worked anyway means that she knew it would work, which is why she did it… a self-fulfilling prophecy? You could go a bit mad trying to wrap your head around it. Once again, I have to feel sorry for Mickey, who Rose treats very badly in this episode. He needs to let her go, for both their sakes.

The Dalek Emperor. Somehow survived being destroyed many times in the past and rebuilt his Dalek army over hundreds of years. It shoulda been Davros, though.

The Dalek Emperor. Somehow survived being destroyed many times in the past and rebuilt his Dalek army over hundreds of years. It shoulda been Davros, though.

But it’s the ninth Doctor’s time to go now. Draining the vortex energy from Rose (with a kiss, *roll eyes*) is too much for his cells to take and he dies, forcing a spectacular regeneration… and a confused companion. I suppose I should comment generally on Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor, which I enjoyed more this time around. What I didn’t like so much was how weirdly unpredictable he could be, but I think that impression was formed from this episode, which demonstrates what I mean. When he’s talking to the Daleks and their emperor, he goes from cheery smiles to angry shouting at the drop of a hat. It’s sort of what he does in the Dalek episode, but more ‘zany’ this time and makes him come across as unhinged.

Melodramatic goodbye messages, it all started here, unfortunately.

Melodramatic goodbye messages, it all started here, unfortunately.


On the whole, however, it’s clear to me now that this style of Doctor is based on past performances from several different actors. Eccleston’s portrayal is more cheery in general, but I get the sense that it’s a cover for the feelings of guilt he has over what he’s done in the past. He’s often frustrated with humans (“another stupid ape!”) but at the same time utterly fascinated by them and admires their tenacity. He can be fierce and threatening, but when it comes down to it, he will not kill or become another monster himself. He’s clearly incredibly clever but likes to have fun and thrives on sharing that fun with others. More than any of the other Doctors, I suppose, he is a lonely wanderer.

Flashy.

Flashy.

It’s a shame Christopher Eccleston didn’t want to come back, even for the anniversary, but he had his chance to shine and now it’s time for David Tennant to give us a different interpretation.

—–

As for my favourite ninth Doctor episodes, I would have to go with The End of the World, Dalek and The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances… which were pretty much my faves the first time around too. However, this series is very inter-connected, with references to all past episodes sprinkled throughout (the Cardiff rift, Rose’s dad, the Face of Boe, Satellite Five, Slitheen, etc.). It’s not so easy to exclude a poor episode without missing something important. Well played, Russell T. Well played.

Dalek

You can tell tell the quality of an actor by putting them into a room with a puppet and watching them act out an impassioned scene. Without a doubt, the most memorable performance of Christopher Eccleston’s short stint as the Doctor comes from this episode, as he faces down the last of his old foes, a single Dalek soldier. Compassion turns to fear, fear turns to delight and then rage and disgust. I used to find Eccleston a little unpredictable and scatty as the Doctor, but it’s understandable, as he shows every side of the character within the space of a minute.

Another sign of a good actor is how much they spit when they shout.

Another sign of a good actor is how much they spit when they shout.

It was important to bring in new fans, who may not have known the history of the Daleks, but also appeal to the long-term viewers. The “time war” idea was a great way to wipe the slate clean and reset expectations, but I can’t help think that the reveal of the Dalek would have been more of a shock had they not spoiled it in the previous episode’s preview, or indeed in the name of the bloody episode!

Imprisoned and helpless, the Dalek is tortured.

Imprisoned and helpless, the Dalek is tortured.

Nevertheless, the intention was to make the Daleks threatening again for the 21st century, and this succeeds where more overblown efforts have failed. An army of Daleks invading Earth doesn’t have the same impact as knowing that just one rogue Dalek could single-plungedly wipe out millions of people itself, even if you don’t see it happen. Oh, this revised Dalek soldier is formidable on-screen, sure, but it’s the warning of what it might do, the terror in the Doctor’s eyes, that sells the threat.

The museum of alien artefacts, deep underground in Utah. Well, at least it's not Wales again.

The museum of alien artefacts, deep underground in Utah. Well, at least it’s not Wales again.

That the Dalek ultimately destroys itself, having been “contaminated” with Rose’s emotions, is perhaps the best end for the Dalek saga one could hope for. In the space of 45 minutes, we go from fear to pity, as this pulsating blob of a thing finally sets himself free, and the Doctor is brought back from the brink of becoming a monster himself. If this were the last ever appearance of the Daleks, it would have been a spectacular ending for them. Unfortunately, they were dragged back kicking and screaming before the first series was even over. A missed opportunity, but not one for which I can blame this episode.

Henry van Statten owns the entire Internet, apparently.

Henry van Statten owns the entire Internet, apparently.

While this is one of the best ever portrayals of the Daleks, the rest of the episode is merely okay. The idea of the alien museum is interesting (old-school Cyberman head!) but the characters fall flat or come across as silly, especially van Statten firing people for ridiculous things and having their memories wiped (this might have seemed plausibly futuristic at the time, but the episode’s setting of 2012 is now the past!). New tag-along Adam is so bland a character, I actually forgot he was even in this series. He claims to be a genius, but demonstrates no such quality just yet. He and Rose flirting seems inappropriate, given she only left Mickey waiting in the previous episode. Still, anything to shake up the status quo is fine by me.