Saturday, 8 February 2014
Dalek written by Rob Shearman and directed by Joe Ahearne
This story in a nutshell: The Doctor comes face to face with his greatest nemesis and it opens some old wounds...
Chavvy Chick: A perfect encapsulation of the confident, self assured Rose from series one and not the jealous, hopeless creature from series two. She’s gone all punk for this episode and looks hotter than ever. She’s gonna smack you if you don’t stop calling her she. I love how Rose tries to sound amazed by Adam’s claims that the universe is teeming with life; her lifestyle actually experiencing these wonders makes his toying about with technology seem even geekier. She is a reckless flirt but then I would be in the same position when it comes to a pretty boy like Bruno Langley. Rose feels for the Dalek and cannot stomach its torture, no matter who is telling her it is an evil thing. When she thinks she is going to die Rose tells the Doctor that she wouldn't have changed anything. All I could think of was what Jackie's reaction would be to this development. I never believed that Rose was dead but Eccleston's reaction to her 'demise' was so powerful that whether it was true or not was irrelevant. He believes that she is and that is a blisteringly dramatic void in his life. Billie Piper gives a very strong performance in Dalek and Rob Shearman writes excellently for her character. It would have been nice for him to have returned in series two, Rose could have done with some of this attitude and spunk in her sophomore year.
Sparkling Dialogue: ‘If you want orders follow this one. Kill yourself. The Daleks have failed. Why don’t you finish the job and make the Daleks extinct. Rid the universe of your filth! Why don’t you just die!’
‘You’re about as far from the stars as you can get!’
‘Broken, Broken. Hairdryer.’
‘This is not life. This is sickness.’
The Bad Stuff: The 'in-tru-der window' gag is appalling. So bad they felt the need to use it twice. Was Van Statten supposed to be this irritating? I can't decide whether it is the character as written or the way the actor chooses to play him. There have certainly been classier megalomaniacs in the series and the comparisons with Davros are completely unjust. If you check out the audio version of this story that Dalek was based upon you will discover a far funnier, more disturbing villain in Martin Jarvis' Rochester, a weak, cowardly, wife beating monster of a man. Adam is hopelessly wet and it annoys me that Rose would fancy such a hopeless geek...but then Bruno Langley is desperately cute and so I fund myself succumbing all the same and that annoyed me even more. Aren’t all those guards wearing rubber? Surely they should be protected from the Dalek massacre via electricity? I hate the ending with a passion bordering on insanity – who wants to see a Dalek opening up his casing and reaching out for the sun? It is entirely unrepresentative of what the Daleks are about and anybody new to the series might be fooled into thinking they always turn this soft. Jubilee managed to maintain the Dalek prisoners dignity with much more success and with far less overdone sentimentality. Turning an individual Dalek into a character rather than a drone is a smart idea but I'm not sure I buy into the idea of one of these creatures admitting that he is frightened. Diana Goddard is equally as irritating as Van Statten, especially when she is in charge.
The Shallow Bit: Eccleston topless might get the shippers excited but he’s far to skinny to be worthy of a second look! Rose and her grungy look is definitely the hottest thing about this story.
Result: A dramatic and powerful story, Dalek cemented the return of the Daleks in Doctor Who and ensured that they would return again and again and again and again... Saying that, Dalek is nowhere near as clever, funny, twisted, macabre or entertaining as its audio equivalent Jubilee. They can be taken as two entirely different stories though since the audio version has practically three times the length and time to inject a great deal more humour, pathos and detail. It feels as though someone has taken the audio and sucked away all the dramatic bits and made Dalek, a punchy and violent episode but lacking the imagination and dark humour that sparkles in the best of Rob Shearman’s work. This is probably the most individual Dalek we have ever seen on the television, an unforgettable character in his own right. The audio version tested human psychosis to its limits whereas the TV version suffers the indignity of cracking open its shell and reaching out for the sun. A sanitised version of the original story? That's a little unfair since this episode clearly made the impact that it was supposed to...but given the choice I always listen to this story rather than watching it. What helps Dalek is how well directed the story is, the action is visually stunning and Christopher Eccleston gives an unforgettable performance that really slaps you awake whenever he is on screen. Well made and well intentioned and very exciting in spots: 8/10