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rare female film critic | by maryann johanson

‘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”)


MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

official site | IMDb
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