Review: Dalek

Last Alteration: Monday 19 September 2005

Episode Six: Dalek, by Robert Shearman

Season 27 just gets better week on week but can subsequent episodes match this? It seems to me that the two top episodes so far are The Unquiet Dead and this week's Dalek feast. The non RTD episodes appear to be the highlight and I'm pleased that he's only penning 5 of the 13 scripts for season 28 but apparently no Rob Shearman at all? I was hoping for more scripts from him as this episode was great and his audio stories have been top notch too. Having said all that RTD's episodes do provide the structure and tone for the entire series and I think this aspect is building up what with the Bad Wolf references and all that.

After all the comments about the 9th Doctor's character over the last 5 weeks or so we got an episode with the clearest indication yet of the kind of man he is. The Time War has clearly changed our hero and we have to face facts that he is now willing to be just as chilling as the enemies he faces. From anarchist, to terrorist, to anarchist terrorist and now to warrior he seems to be ever so slightly different to the Doctor we saw in San Francisco in 1999. He's now ready to hand out his own 'justice' when he chooses and I can't imagine him reaching his hand out to prevent The Master from falling into the Eye of Harmony as his predecessor was so eager to do. Rose has got a fight on her hands if she wants to change him and this sub plot in the series is very welcome - good grief, we've got real characters and real development!

This episode presented a personal vendetta in which we were invited to feel sorry for the Dalek whilst our hero took on the role of part sensible soothsayer (regarding the possible danger of the Dalek) and part nut case with a very big gun (the man's a liability). He isn't very likeable at times and this episode showed that aspect of the character perfectly - unsettling, unpredictable and several other things starting with un.

The whole point of this episode though was to present the Dalek in a new light for a modern audience and on this it had its strengths and weaknesses. On the plus side we saw a Dalek that looked genuinely menacing and hard to defeat. It was intelligent rather than a shouting tin can (wasn't Nick Briggs brilliant?) and it used its weaponry and defences in a way that was bound to astound new and old viewers alike. My personal favourite was the swivelling mid section which looked fantastic from above. Some of the CGI work in this was impressive (for example the reflection of the Dalek on the soaked out floor as it hovered above) but much of it was obvious and will date badly (for example some of the elevation sequences on the stairs). Generally though this whole episode was well put together with script, acting and direction coming together well.

Now that we have a new outlook on the Daleks let's hope that they aren't really dead at all - just imagine they could turn up at the end of the series and shock us all. I bet nobody has thought of that. I just hope that they don't return with a redesign. We've seen what one old style Dalek can do and we don't need an army of new ones. The original has proved its worth - please keep it.

One of the best episodes of Dr Who ever.

Jonathan Bigger

  • Read Jon's review of episode five, World War Three, and the seventh episode, The Long Game.