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Thoughts on DW: "Victory of the Daleks"

Caught the third episode of Matt Smith's Doctor Who, "Victory of the Daleks", last night. Here are some of my thoughts and observations about the episode.

Right off the bat, given the cliffhanger ending of "The Beast Below", in which Winston Churchill calls the Doctor and asks for his aid while the obvious shadow of a Dalek appears on the wall, you know what you're going to get in this story. Or do you?

To begin with, the story itself never really makes it clear why Churchill summoned the Doctor in the first place. Churchill tells the Doctor once he arrives on the scene that he called him almost a month ago, and yet the whole reason for the Doctor's visit is never made clear, although I suppose this becomes secondary to the situation that arises when the Doctor confronts the Dalek for the first time. The first fifteen minutes of this story are quite good, but it felt like the main story didn't matter after that. I suppose that when it comes down to it, I wanted a story that had Daleks *and* Winston Churchill in it, and I guess that I assumed the story was going to be about the tough types of decisions that have to be made when one seems to have an ultimate weapon such as the Daleks appeared to be. The episode became something of a mess as soon as the Testimony of the Doctor was delivered, and the truth of what the Daleks sought came to light. Unfortunately, the rest of the episode felt like a Dalek merchandising presentation with a paint-by-numbers feel to it.

And the Daleks themselves? Well, the first 15 minutes were brilliant, as I said, and the look of the Daleks appealed to me quite a bit. However, to be honest, I never really want to see the Power Ranger/Crayola/New Paradigm Daleks again. While I'm fine with the colour-coded caste system (which I assume we'll be told about at some point), the obese plastic hunchback design (and honestly, they came across as toys to me, more than anything else, and a marketing ploy at that) is just terrible, with the proportions and angles just being...wrong. With any luck, we'll see a serious redesign before their next appearance, preferably to the iconic body shape that has given children nightmares for almost half a century.

The use of Professor Bracewell as a Plot Device(tm) was interesting, but the business with the bomb was handled terribly. Defusing the bomb through the means of generating emotions about fancying someone that you're not supposed to was just pure bad writing and decision-making, but that was no worse than having space-worthy spitfires ready in literally ten (10!!!) minutes. Add the element that the Doctor is able to survive on the Dalek ship by bluffing them with a jammy dodger, and then when his bluff is finally called, he is able to flee to the TARDIS while the firing Daleks are barey able to hit the bulkhead next to him. Obviously the new body and weapon design on the Daleks impeded their targeting!

What really bothered me in "Victory of the Daleks" was that once more, Amy Pond outhinks the Doctor, and solves the problems of how to fight the Daleks (make space spitfires in ten minutes) and how to deactivate the Bracewell bomb. It was clear during the latter sequence that she fancies Matt Smith's Doctor, but I'm tired of his character being outshone and made to seem somewhat inferior by the companion. To some extent, this feels at times like the Patrick Troughton and Peter Davison Doctors, but they seem to have been much more capable and somewhat behind-the-scenes, whereas Matt Smith's Doctor is being dis-empowered by Amy Pond. I really hope that this trend does not continue. That said, the mystery of Amy Pond deepened somewhat in the story, as the fact that she has never heard of the Daleks is definitey a concern. That would lead me to believe that she is not of the reality to which the Doctor exists, and makes me think that she has some connection to the cracks in the wall as she has been present everywhere they are occurring. And then there was the obvious crack in the wall again, as the TARDIS departs at the end of the story, and...

Overall, "Victory of the Daleks" was an entertaining episode of Doctor Who that had its moments - several of the conversations between Churchill and the Doctor, a Dalek offering the Doctor tea!, and a few others - but not one that will stand out for anything other than possibly the re-design of the Daleks. For me, the hokey-ness of some of the plot elements spoiled the story for me, although the first fifteen to twenty minutes were really good. I appreciated Mark Gatiss's attempt to re-do elements of "The Power of the Daleks" (one of my favourite Troughton episodes), but to be honest, this episode was not my cup of tea.

I give it a 7.0 out of 10.


( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
May. 3rd, 2010 02:47 am (UTC)
Disarming the bomb the way they did it wasn't bad science, it was cheesy science and utter gobbledigook. Heck, it wasn't science at all. Why would Daleks build the guy with a such a device and then make it vulnerable to being shut down that way? Of course, I can think of about five reasons they would. Or is this saying more about Amy Pond than about Dalek bomb science...
(Deleted comment)
May. 3rd, 2010 02:56 pm (UTC)
While it's true that I've been a fan of since the beginning of the series, the whole business of defusing the Dalek bomb had nothing to do with science at all, but Bomb Psychology 101. I suppose that you can treat this as a living bomb, but even so, it just didn't seem right in so many ways. Ymmv, of course. :)

May. 3rd, 2010 03:25 pm (UTC)
Silly! Everyone knows the way to defuse a living bomb is to teach it phenomenology!

And yes, if ANYONE gets that, I know it didn't work too well the first time...
May. 3rd, 2010 03:38 pm (UTC)
Was that a reference to something in ST: VOYAGER, or DOCTOR WHO?

Hmm, obviously I didn't get it. :)
May. 3rd, 2010 03:51 pm (UTC)
It's obscure enough that I'll tell you straight off, although it's quite googleable. Movie called Dark Star. Bunch of burnt out losers stuck in a starship with a mission that has been extended well past the supposed end of their tour of duty. Their job is to go from star to star and look for planets with orbits that might cause trouble for future colonization in the area. And blow them up. Yes, it is at LEAST as odd as it sounds.
May. 4th, 2010 03:32 pm (UTC)
Oh, I remember Dark Star vaguely. Likely saw it only once, and haven't caught it since in tv airings and the like.

And yes, it was an odd movie.
(Deleted comment)
May. 3rd, 2010 03:37 pm (UTC)
Granted that certain things are pack and parcel of the show, but Doctor Who has always resorted to forms of pseudoscience insofar as defusing bombs go up until now. Defusing Bracewell was not bomb science or pseudoscience, but the more I think of it, the more I realize it fit in well with the "dark faerie tale" series that Moffat is doing. Doesn't mean I liked it, 'cause I still don't, but I understand why he did it.
(Deleted comment)
May. 3rd, 2010 02:48 am (UTC)
Thanks. :) I think that if I were to watch the episode again in the next week or so, I might edit the review and reduce the rating I gave it even more. Sad, eh?

Mind you, the preview for "Time of the Angels" looked really good. :)
(Deleted comment)
May. 3rd, 2010 02:57 pm (UTC)
For which I hope to be grateful. "Victory of the Daleks" left a very bitter taste in my mouth.
(Deleted comment)
May. 4th, 2010 03:33 pm (UTC)
Now you've got me curious...what do you consider to be the worst episode of the New Who so far?
(Deleted comment)
May. 4th, 2010 10:14 pm (UTC)
Hmm, we've already talked about the Eccleston period, but just to get to the Tennant period, there are a few that I don't like...

"The Idiot's Lantern"
"Love and Monsters"
"Fear Her"
"Daleks in Manhattan":
"Evolution of the Daleks"
"The Stolen Earth"
"Journey's End"

and I wasn't crazy about the Cybermen stories (I prefer my Cybermen old school) stories or the two "End of Time" stories.
(Deleted comment)
May. 5th, 2010 02:45 pm (UTC)
I preferred the Cybermen to the Daleks as well, Curufea, but my all-time favourite DW villains are the Ice Warriors. So glad that "The Monster of Peladon" and "The Curse of Peladon" have just come out on DVD. :)

Fanwank, definitely, but RTD engaged in a lot of fanwanks.

I like the secondary character stories, too, but that was largely what the Classic Who had in it at times. Babylon 5's "A View From the Gallery" was delicious tv, but I didn't like "Love and Monsters" because it *was* a SJA story more than Who.
(Deleted comment)
May. 3rd, 2010 08:46 pm (UTC)
My question, is how can the doctor land perfectly on the Dalek ship, yet he's a month late getting to London?
(Deleted comment)
May. 4th, 2010 03:34 pm (UTC)
That's just part of the New Who mythos, Steve. :) Sometimes he's on time, sometimes he's rather late...usually the latter it seems, but not if the plot demands it. :)
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )


John Kahane

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