It’s a mutation. The Dalek race was genetically engineered. Every single emotion was removed except hate.
It’s the Daleks!
The Daleks have been a staple of Doctor Who since day one. (Or week six, if you like, making it oddly appropriate that it’s the sixth episode of the new series which features the Daleks). They’re iconic. They’re right up there with the TARDIS and Tom Baker’s scarf – in fact, they’re probably above them. No, they are above them. The Daleks have a history.
So bringing them back like this is kind of a big thing. (It’s a massive thing). Hell of a lot riding on this one, wasn’t there?
Robert Shearman wrote this one, and he did an absolutely fantastic job. It’s really, really amazing. And I’m not just saying that because he’s on tumblr!
One of my favourite bits about this story is how, at times, the Doctor is actually scarier than the Dalek. That’s amazing, and it comes from the brilliant writing and the equally wonderful acting. Quite early on, when the Doctor first encounters the Dalek, and he mocks it, sneers at it – that was unsettling in the extreme. It’s not only the actions of the Daleks, but the reaction they prompt from the Doctor that makes them so potent in this episode – and for me, this reaction carried a lot more weight than when the Doctor was simply scared. (Which says a lot, considering how scared he got!)
That of course feeds into the rather wonderful dichotomy between Doctor and Dalek here, where each act almost as mirrors of the other. One of my favourite Dalek scenes in the entire episode is it’s first meeting with Rose, where it manipulates her… it’s something rather Doctor-esque, actually.
You’ve also got the “You would make a good Dalek” moment. Obviously, it’s a great scene, you don’t need me to say that – the fact it’s quoted almost constantly is evidence enough. But I’m going to say it anyway, because wow. It’s fantastically written, and brought to life astonishingly well. This episode is probably Christopher Eccleston’s finest hour as the Doctor. It’s just brilliant; it sets the relationship between the Doctor and the Daleks for years to come, and it establishes the Daleks as a real threat. The Doctor’s anger, grief, and fear are all so wonderfully realised that you can’t help fear the Daleks alongside him.
The Dalek itself provides a fair few reasons to be scared as well. Other than when we saw it’s manipulative side, which I will always hold up as one of the Scariest Dalek Moments Ever™, we see it completely lay waste to the entire museum (which, by the way, is a fantastic premise and setting. Loved the Cyberman moment as well). The one that stands out the most is the electrocution scene; the Dalek isn’t just cruel, it’s sadistic as well. That’s frightening.
(And Simmons with the sink plunge- sorry, extrapolator. I think that’s the name of it anyway, I’d have to check… I’ve just come back from writing a later part of this review, I just remembered another moment that I thought was great!)
In another episode, the Dalek and the Doctor might overshadow the rest of the cast – and, to be fair, they almost do. But the strength of the other characters means that this is never quite the case. Van Statten and Goddard are both brilliant creations, and I loved them throughout – there’s some nice moments of humour from the pair of them. Adam too fares pretty well, but doesn’t leave as much of an impact as the other two.
Rose is again acting as our audience surrogate, and asks all the important questions – like, for example, “what the hell Doctor?”. She’s us in this equation, which is brilliant. There really wasn’t a better way to use her in this episode.
(Although, and this is totally unrelated, she’s quite bad at running, isn’t she? I mean I know she was on the phone at the time but come on, your life is in danger… sorry, rambling!)
The direction is fantastic as well – Joe Ahearne did a really great job with it all. I can absolutely understand why Christopher Eccleston sings his praises, the direction on this episode is wonderful.
So… 10/10, I think. That’s the first perfect episode of the season – woohoo!