Doctor Who: Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks
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