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October 13, 2015

Doctor Who: Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks

by Martin Conaghan, posted May 2nd 2007 8:21PM
Dalek(S03E04 / S03E05) There's nothing like a good villain, especially one that won't just lie down and die.

The Cylons, the Borg, Moriarty and Blofeld -- they're what make our heroes tick, and without them, any classic fiction formula would be miserably incomplete.

And so it is with Doctor Who and his timeless nemeses, the Daleks.

I must admit, it's easy to get sick of a good thing, but only if it's bled dry and kicked about until it's lifeless and dull.

If you're going to repeatedly bring a popular villain back, do it with a bit of style and originality and give the viewer something to look forward to.

So when this particular two-part episode of Doctor Who started a few weeks ago, I was honestly expecting the Daleks to resurface in their archetypal role, attempting to dominate worlds and eliminate the Doctor, but I was genuinely surprised to find that only four of the pepper-pot cyborgs remained from since the last encounter with our time-travelling hero, and their latest plans had taken a slightly different twist from before.

Starting in Manhattan during the 1930s Depression, Martha and the Doctor encountered a desperate clutch of the last remaining remnants of Skaro, who were trying to create a new race of supreme beings, but failing miserably.

Part of their dastardly plan involved building a powerful resonator on top of the Empire State Building which would harness a rare solar flare to expedite their mass production process, but they failed to count on The Doctor's presence in New York, and his determination to stop his deadly foe at any cost.

(At some point in the Doctor Who chronology, someone is going to have to explain why the Doctor always seems to end up where trouble is -- it must be a flaw in the TARDIS -- or perhaps a feature? -- which causes him to be drawn to points of crisis in time and space. Either way, he always seems to end up where the action is -- otherwise, we wouldn't have a show to watch every week).

As ever, The Doctor managed to save the day with the help of a few down-at-heel Hooverville residents, although, (quite predictably), the last of the Daleks made a swift escape via an 'emergency time portal' (you didn't honestly think Russell T Davies would kill off the Daleks, did you?) and will undoubtedly live to fight another day.

But it was interesting to see the evolution of the Daleks in their latest human-hybrid form, which turned out to be a sympathetic creature with feelings and passion -- not like the emotionless, obedient and ruthless killers we've come to know and hate.
I'm not stupid enough to think we've seen the last of the Daleks, but we've probably seen the last of them for a while to come, and if Russell T Davies knows what's good for this rejuvenated sci-fi romp, he'll leave it at that for now.

On a scale of 1 to 7 (worst to best), I'll give this episode a 5

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Absolutely pitifully written epsiodes. I agree with the comments above on two key points--that it was too soon to bring the Daleks back after the Dalek/Cybermen/Rose's sacrifice finale last year and that this episode was ultra-corny. And to that I'd add that the Doctor didn't react nearly enough to seeing the Daleks again after they brought about his separation from Rose. Add to that the echoes of the Dalek storyline from a ways back about humans being turned into Daleks and it was really an all-around letdown. Things picked up a notch in the second part, but all in all, still a huge disappointment.

May 05 2007 at 3:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The return of the Daleks will depend heavily on the price tag the Nation estate puts on the series using them in the future. That's one reaons we've seen them at least once a year in the first three seasons--the new series got a three year contract to use them. I fully expect them to somehow show up in the season finale.....just to get the mileage out of them.

That said, I thought this two parter was in the mold of the old serials...basically for what served as part three, nothing happened to advance the plot. It was pretty to look at, but ultimately it was hollow for me. The whole thing of the Daleks basically saying "No, we're really going to exterminate you this time...we are not kidding this time!" got a bit much.

Also, I expected the Doctor to somehow trick them by helping them out.....

Oh well....

May 03 2007 at 11:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Usually I really like Dr. Who, but these two episodes, especially the second, were really not up to par.

Dr. Who is very campy. That's a part of the show's charm. But in these episodes they replaced camp with corniness. And it's not the same thing.

I also didn't buy the idea that any Dalek, even from the cult of Skaro who are supposed to think "outside the box", would consider mixing their DNA with another. One of the main points about Daleks, since the first times they appeared on Dr. Who many many years ago, was that they find such ideas totally abhorrent and repulsive. Heck, in "Dalek" there was a Dalek believing himself to be the last surviving Dalek who committed suicide because a human touched him.

And dragging on the hybrid Dalek-Sec on a leash?! That's not even close to how Daleks are supposed to behave. Destroying Dalek Sec, yes, sure, but tying him and keeping him around? No.

And with all that they still had the time to squeeze a large number of long winded inspirational speeches. Blah.

Not to mention, in this season they just keep putting the doctor in positions that traditionally would have required him to regenerate. Obviously they want to keep the current doctor for a while longer, so they don't want him regenerating. But in this case they should stop completely draining his blood, hit him with lightning, or doing anything else that should be so traumatizing.

May 03 2007 at 8:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Toby OB

Just got back an hour ago from visiting friends who showed me the two-parter, and while I enjoyed it (as well as tonight's 'Lost' which we watched first), it would be pretty hard for any TV show to come along and knock my socks off in the same week as this past Monday's episode of 'Heroes'.

Still, I enjoyed the story, the setting, the characters. I would have liked to have seen an overhead camera shot of swirling Daleks a la Busby Berkeley - that would have really captured the 30s showbiz feel!

But at the same time, enough with the Daleks. When Rose became god-like and obliterated them, that should have been their grand finale forever. At the very least they should have been retired for good after the fanboy dream battle between the Cybermen and the Daleks.

To keep bringing them back now just cheapens both of those events as well as the sacrifice made by the Gallifreyans.

Besides, wouldn't have been easier to just give them a big bang finish and not have to worry about dealing with the Terry Nation estate any more?

I got it in my head that they were going to reveal at the end that young Frank would turn out to be Frank Lloyd Wright - I guess it was just seeing him poring over the blueprints.

Oh, and enough of Martha pining for the Doctor. That got tired fast!

May 03 2007 at 5:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Two of the worst episodes of the entire season. We just saw the Daleks five episodes ago. And, this was just corny, all around. Move along...

May 02 2007 at 11:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mike m

I enjoyed the two-parter, but I must admit I wanted a little more....these Daleks of the new series die far too easily. I'm just wanting a big arch, of maybe four to six episodes where lots of things begin and lots of things get resolved, and RTD doesn't seem to want to give that to us.

May 02 2007 at 9:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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