John Kahane (jkahane) wrote,
John Kahane
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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.
Tags: doctor who, review, tv hut
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