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Who Review – Episode 3: Victory of the Daleks (Series 5)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

You’d think that at 30 years of age, and having been exposed to the Daleks for the better part of those 30 years, that I’d be kind of bored with the evil salt and pepper shakers by now. But for whatever reason – the brilliant simplicity of their design, that piercing, staccato voice, or just their ruthless efficiency – whenever I see a new Dalek episode of Doctor Who, it takes me back in time to when I was five years old and they were the scariest things on TV.

The plot for this latest Dalek adventure goes like this: The Doctor gets a distress call from Winston Churchill. When the Doctor and Amy arrive, however, a month has passed since that call. The blitz is on, and London is being hammered every night by Nazi aircraft. But Churchill has a secret weapon; a peculiar new device called an Ironside. Little does he know, and right away do we know, that his so-called Ironsides are actually Daleks dressed in army fatigues, shooting down Messerschmitts and acting as the lunch-time tea trolley. The Doctor tries in vain to explain to Churchill that the Ironsides are actually the most evil things ever created, however his pleas fall on deaf ears. So he takes a shovel to a Dalek and begins to pound away at it. It is only then that the true nature of the Daleks are revealed, and in some sort of hocus-pocus way, the Doctor unwittingly identifies the Daleks as Daleks and falls right into their evil master plan.

Then there’s something about the Daleks creating a new race of s-u-p-r-e-m-e Dalek, and WW2 spitfires with gravity bubbles having dogfights in space until eventually the Doctor has to decide whether to save planet earth, or destroy the Dalek ship. Guess which one he chooses?

I thoroughly enjoyed this episode. The setting was moody, and the basic concept was very strong. Good acting from all concerned, especially Ian McNeice, who plays a cigar-chomping Churchill with panache. I enjoyed the comic bits, and felt the story hit the right emotional pitch at the end. I also loved the big hints at mysteries left to be solved in future stories. However, and this is potentially a big however, this one felt just a little too rushed. A lot of plot has been crammed into 42 minutes, and I think if it had been slowed down, spread out over 2 episodes, the story would have felt much more satisfying. Leaps of logic might have had time to be fleshed out (just how can a radio-wave transmitter be turned into a long-range remote control surveillance camera? I mean, I’m not saying it can’t, but a better explanation would have been nice…), and more time could have been spent with the tea-trolley Daleks in Churchill’s bunker as opposed to the beefier supreme ones on the spaceship. But we take what we can get. Mark Gatiss is the script-writer on this one, and I was a little surprised, as his two previous entries, The Unquiet Dead, and The Idiot’s Lantern are well-paced, especially The Unquiet Dead.

In all, this episode hangs on by the skin of its teeth. But it’s so joyously wacky that it succeeds on pure exuberance. And, interestingly, Amy Pond saves the day once again. She’s certainly turning out to be no slouch, our Amy.

Oh yeah, and the Doctor pretending his Jammie Dodger was capable of destroying the Tardis was pure Tom Baker-era Who. And that gets a big – wait for it…Nice.

Next time, the scariest angels in the universe return.ohwrotcodllewopemearg

2 Comments leave one →
  1. SarahP permalink
    Wednesday, May 19, 2010 9:59 am

    But what about the Star Wars references….the scientist’s hand being blown off and replaced by a black glove, the imagery when the spitfires attack the Dalek ship, and later, the ship jumping into hyperdrive?

    I didn’t think it was a very good episode. The pacing was sooo off, that it was jarring and ruined the rest of it. It definitely needed two episodes to flesh out the story. The way it was…well…it sucked.

  2. Wednesday, June 16, 2010 12:53 pm

    I didn’t think it was a very good episode. The pacing was sooo off, that it was jarring and ruined the rest of it. It definitely needed two episodes to flesh out the story. The way it was…well…it sucked.

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