John Kahane (jkahane) wrote,
John Kahane

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Latest Doctor Who Episode on CBC

I caught the latest episode of Doctor Who that aired on CBC here last night, "Daleks in Manhattan", and I have got to say...

...this episode was a disappointment in so many ways.

One of the things that always made Doctor Who so special was the fact that while the budgets for the series weren't so high, the story quality and content usually was. Dalek stories, in particular, were ones that were meant to instill fear and joy, fear because of the Daleks and their plot, joy because of the return of the Daleks to the screen, and for the most part accomplished their aim with an aplomb that is sadly lacking these days. Part of the problem is that the current audience of the series is forced to accept stories that are done up in a 45-minute framework, unlike the earlier series, where stories consisted of 4 to 6 parts (even more than that in the early days), each part being 28 or so minutes long. Doctor Who stories these days seem rushed for the most part.

"Daleks in Manhattan" is a case in point. This story had what seemed to be so much potential to it, and the revelation of the Daleks being behind the plot was given away some fifteen minutes or so into the episode. Granted that the Daleks were known to be in the story merely by the title of the tale, but that said, the fear factor was somewhat lessened by their first appearance so early in the story. I mean, the story had such potential... 1930's New York, right after the Great Depression, the shantytown that was called Hooverville, the disappearances, and some of the other stuff that was going on. The pig-slaves of the Daleks struck me as being quite menacing in the story, and the backstory with the dance show was quite good as well, but the story had such potential. The tale could easily have been stretched out for another 20 to 40 minutes easily, with more time invested in the secondary characters (who is Solomon, btw?), but no...everything had to be crammed into about 40 minutes of air-time. *sigh*

The best moment of the episode for me was the bit where the Doctor and the other are in the tunnels, and the shadow of the Dalek appears on the tunnel wall. Very eerie, very creepy, and very reminiscent of the very first Dalek story - but the scariness of the moment was diminished by the fact that we had already seen the Daleks on and off earlier on in the episode. In the old days, this would have made the perfect "to be continued next episode..." cliffhanger, but such is not the way of things these days.

However, what truly spoiled the episode for me was the ending, with the Black Dalek assuming humanoid form. While I can understand the Dalek need to evolve, given that they are the last of their kind, why this? Take the Daleks out of the pepperpot armour, and they become less frightening and less menacing then they should be, and that's a real crime if that's the direction they're going with the series now. The pig-slaves were an interesting angle, and the sheer fear I might have felt as a child when seeing them was augmented by the fact that they looked truly *evil*. So that was a good touch.

Not the Doctor Who I remember, to be honest, and not the same series in terms of quality and style. A Time Lord for the new millennium, obviously, but so far I'm pretty unimpressed with the series for the most part.
Tags: bbc, daleks, doctor who, tv hut

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