‘Doctor Who’ blogging: “Evolution of the Daleks”

(intro to my Who blogging / previous: Episode 4: “Daleks in Manhattan”)

Yeah, always so nice when the bad episodes aren’t content enough to be just, you know, one episode, but have to spill over into another. There’s not a lot more to say about this one that I didn’t already say last week, but at least there’s some geeky fannish “oh my god Russell Davies has been reading my fanfic” stuff making it bearable.

Oh, and David Tennant is always, always worth watching.
The Sci Fi promos for this episode have been supremely misleading, making it look like the Daleks exterminate the Doctor, because of course that doesn’t happen. But still, the Doctor taunting the Daleks, telling them to just go ahead and kill him already: wow. The Doctor really does have a death wish — he’s suffering so badly that he wants to die. It’s no ploy on his part, this begging to be killed. He’s just had it.

The whole Dalek-attack-on–Hooverville scene reminds me that I don’t think we never ever saw location shoots at night on the old show. This new Doctor Who actually has a budget. Amazing.

The Daleks were never this funny, though, and I’m not entirely sure that’s intentional. First we have the “human Dalek” with a head full of tentacle penises, and then we have the two still-metal-tinpot Daleks gossiping in the sewer about the human Dalek: I think seeing that one Dalek swinging its eyestalk around to make sure they’re alone while they conspire against the human Dalek is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen on DW. Then later the two Daleks exchange a signifcant glance — or at least as significant as metal robotic eyestalks can be — when the human Dalek is showing the Doctor the “empty shell” guy on the stretcher. Hilarious.

Also freakin’ hilarious: “Pig slaves will take the lift.”

But seriously, folks: The empty-shell people is a harsher turn than I think the old show would have taken. The writers 25 years ago would have concocted the story so that there was a chance for the Doctor to save them, but this is a lot more cynical, which makes the Doctor, in some ways, a lot more cynical: he doesn’t even consider finding a way to save those people, and he’s even ready to help turn them into human Daleks. Geez. I’m starting to suspect that the Doctor has gone even further down into a dark place than has been hinted at.

And yet, the one aspect of this episode that really rings false for me, considering what we’ve seen of this new Doctor via Russell Davies, is his compassion for the Daleks. Here he’s got the last four Daleks in existence. He could wipe them out, which could have revealed whole new dark levels of this Doctor, and illustrated the depths of his despair — these are the creatures who destroyed his people, his world, his everything — and instead he helps them be reborn. I’m not sure even the Doctor is that high-minded, that noble. I’m not saying I want the Doctor to turn evil, but it really does seem as if destroying the Daleks at this gem of an opportunity would be more in keeping with the tone of this new Doctor.

Fanfic fodder:

Martha not wanting to separated from the Doctor? Hell, I’d be the same way. I’d never wanna let him out of my sight, not just because of the being madly in love thing, but because I’d be terrified of being left behind. This was an unspoken aspect of in my fanfic: You don’t let go of the Doctor. You just don’t. (Also, if the Doctor is looking to die, you need to stay with him in order to stop him doing something stupid, like stepping into front of a pissed-off Dalek. I mean: Hell, the Doctor has trouble flying the TARDIS. How are you gonna get yourself home without him?)

And Tallulah and Martha’s exchange about the Doctor being different, ha ha, you’ve no idea how different, and Tallulah says, “He’s a man, sweetheart, that’s different enough”… it reminds me of a line I’d been saving for a fanfic story I never got around to writing. My companion Ayren (yes, she started out as a Mary Sue, but she rapidly became something very different) is talking to Tegan Jovanka. Tegan has since stopped travelling with the Doctor, but this is “her” Doctor with Ayren she runs into, and Tegan is stunned to discover that Ayren and the Doctor have a romantic and sexual relationship — Tegan simply never thought of him in that way. And Ayren tells her, “He may be a Time Lord, Tegan, but he’s still a man.” Which wasn’t really true of the old show, which is probably why I remember a line from a story I never even got around to crafting.

Random thoughts on “Evolution of the Daleks”:

• Dalek on a leash? Kinky!

• “If you choose death and destruction, then death and destruction will choose you.” The human Dalek sounds like The Sphinx from Mystery Men!

• As annoying as much of this two-fer episode was, it was nice to see Tallulah turn out to be so open-minded about her pig-boyfriend Lazlo, and stick with him in the end.

• “New York City! If aliens had to come to Earth, no wonder they came here.” Yup.

• I’m in such a Harry Potter state of mind at the moment that, as I was rewatching this episode this afternoon, when Doctor drops the sonic screwdriver off the side of the Empire State Building, I automatically thought, “Accio sonic screwdriver!” Now, that’s what the Doctor needs: Harry Potter as a companion. That would so freakin’ cool. And now I have to go write more fan fiction. Damn you, Russell Davies!

(next: Episode 6: “The Lazarus Experiment”)

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Ide Cyan
Ide Cyan
Sat, Aug 04, 2007 2:14am

BBC unions stopped the studio recordings at 10 PM in the original series. Overtime was very complicated and had to happen through consensus. I’m not sure what the status of night location shoots was.

And, regarding the harshness of the episode: do you remember *anything* from, say, Eric Saward’s era as the show’s script editor?

Sat, Aug 04, 2007 5:42am

There are bits in your so-called review that aptly demonstrate your frame of mind. I wish more people could use some form of journalistic detachment when posting “reviews” on their blogs. I grow weary of seeing hints of immaturity from yet another so-called writer.

Sat, Aug 04, 2007 8:44am

If you’d read my intro, Andreson, which is prominently linked right at the top, I plainly state that my discussions about *Doctor Who* ARE NOT REVIEWS, and that I don’t want to hear from people complaining about that. So go away, particularly if I am making you weary. For Christ’s sake, who is forcing you to read this site, or any site?

Oh, and also: See every fucking thing I’ve ever written here about the fallacy of “objective reviews.”

do you remember *anything* from, say, Eric Saward’s era as the show’s script editor?

I remember it all. But you’re obviously thinking of something specific, so why don’t you tell me so I don’t have to guess…

Just John
Just John
Sat, Aug 04, 2007 5:52pm

I thought the Doctor, in trying to sacrifice himself, was trying to cut a weird sort of deal: that the Daleks could kill him if they would leave the rest of the people alone. Doesn’t make that much sense in retrospect, though. Or maybe he was deliberately trying to provoke a human response in the newly-human Dalek Sec?

How was the Dalek holding that leash? Is the whole arm magnetizable?

In your previous DW discussion, you mentioned that the four Daleks should have been enough to conquer the Earth; they did answer that by saying that the Daleks’ power had been drained by traveling through time to avoid the Void last season.

Sat, Aug 04, 2007 7:41pm

In your previous DW discussion, you mentioned that the four Daleks should have been enough to conquer the Earth

Mmm, no, I don’t think I did…

Sun, Aug 05, 2007 10:13pm

The third law of the internet: if you can think of it, someone’s already made it. Ergo, there is already doctor who/harry potter fanfiction. And they probably have sex. In fact, I bet you can find a lolcat community of it if you had over to deadjournal…

Roger BW
Mon, Aug 06, 2007 4:42pm

The point during this episode during which I totally lost it: when it was revealed that not only do Daleks have DNA, but it’s spiky.

I’m looking forward to your reaction to the rest of this season…

Mon, Aug 06, 2007 7:44pm

I finished watching the season now. And it totally kicks ass. These two episodes were a weird anomaly in what is otherwise a batch of some of the best TV science fiction in the history of TV.

Tue, Aug 07, 2007 5:38pm

“And Tallulah and Martha’s exchange about the Doctor being different, ha ha…”

The part that I thought was hysterical was when Tallulah assumed he liked musicals (or whatever she specifically said) which is obviously her way of thinking The Doctor is gay. (This might have happened in the first part of this 2 parter)

“And yet, the one aspect of this episode that really rings false for me, considering what we’ve seen of this new Doctor via Russell Davies, is his compassion for the Daleks.”

I didn’t buy that either. That just didn’t work for me. It felt forced and awkward. I didn’t believe it for a second.

But I do believe The Doctor’s death wish. David Tennant sells The Doctor’s deep despair and sense of desolation is amazing. And it only gets better because I’ve seen the entire season as well and woh.

Tue, Aug 07, 2007 8:18pm

Woh, indeed. :->

Tue, Aug 07, 2007 11:26pm

I love reading these not-reviews of DW. I’ve also seen the full season, so I can’t wait for your reaction to some of the upcoming eps, especially the one with the Best T-shirt Ever. That one is up there with some of my favorite episodes of television, period.

I’d offer thoughts on this episode, but I don’t have any, because it made no impression whatsoever. I do, however, suggest that Luna Lovegood would be a fantastic companion. Much more fun than Harry. ;)

Tue, May 20, 2008 9:56pm

Oh! I didn’t really like that episode, but Tallulah was great.
Luna as a companion would be absolutely hysterical. I can just imagine her telling the Doctor that the TARDIS has some sort of nargle infestation.
But! Someone mentioned fanfic, and I must beg for a link to it.

Tue, May 20, 2008 10:45pm

The fanfic is coming very soon, I swear…

Tue, Sep 01, 2009 5:07am

What REALLY bugged me, is that they were supposed to be showing their view from the nearly completed Empire State Building, and the Empire State Building is very obviously in their eyeline. Bad editing.

And I agree with you, the whole Dalek sympathy was a bit hard to believe, especially considering his previous line of “They always come back and leave me with nothing.”

Eric Jenkins
Eric Jenkins
reply to  Heather
Wed, Jul 06, 2016 5:18am

Pretty sure that’s the Chrysler Building you see in the skyline.