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In 2005 "Dalek" managed to make the Daleks frightening again. Not that
the Daleks had ceased to be an inspired and fearsome creation for a
legion of devoted fans. Through fiction, graphic novels and audio
adventures, the Daleks had continued their war against anything
un-Dalek. Only on television had their impact been reduced by the
dreaded "Gay Daleks" of Victor Lewis-Smith's "TV Offal" and even an
appearance in a Kit-Kat advert.
With "Dalek", the diminutive metal terrors were back with a vengeance. Or rather, to be strictly correct, one Dalek was. This "last Dalek" showed the fans what they'd known all along - that one, solitary, lonely Dalek is more dangerous than an army of armed humans.
Robert Shearman's script is tight and director Joe Ahearne leaves no time for boredom to set in. This is a return to classic "Who". No frills, no laughs, just solid, gripping story-telling.
Christopher Eccleston's Doctor is clearly more than a little upset to see the Dalek. In fact, the 9th Doctor's reaction creates a dilemma for his companion, Rose. This is a Doctor pushed to the very edge of his patience and sanity, and it's not a pretty sight.
This episode managed the seemingly impossible and made the audience actually care about the Dalek. Its appearance in the final scene, revealed without its protective polycarbide-armoured shell, is unforgettable.
Early in the episode, there's an Aladdin's cave of artifacts for the keen viewer to search for old, familiar props. No prizes, though, for those who recognised the classic "Invasion"-style Cyberman head! Excellent television and a genuine wish come true for many fans.
The truth lies in the middle, people often say. In this case, the truth
is that surrounding the appeal of Doctor Who, and it is revealed almost
halfway through the first season of the revived show: no other genre
series (currently airing, that is) juggles action, drama, comedy and
pure suspense like this.
Thes story takes us to a new, interesting location: a museum in Utah where an eccentric billionaire, Henry Van Statten (Corey Johnson), collects various artifacts proving the existence of extraterrestrials (Fox Mulder would love a tour of the place). This peculiar characteristic draws the Doctor's attention, only for him to be captured by Van Statten, who's thrilled to have a second live specimen to brag about. The other one, we soon learn, is a pretty rusty reminder of the Doctor's troubled past: the last of the Daleks. Before anyone can scream "Run for your lives", the Time Lord's most lethal foe is already repeating a certain dreaded phrase: "Exterminate!".
Moving away from the more apocalyptic story lines conjured by Russell T. Davies, writer Robert Shearman proposes something more contained and claustrophobic, although this doesn't mean he gives up the occasional playfulness these scripts allow. In fact, the teaser contains a very amusing moment, when the Doctor notices a familiar face (actually, it's a head) in the museum - fans will recognize it on the spot - and tells Rose it's "an old friend. Well, enemy.". Taking on the rather challenging task of reintroducing the protagonist's oldest, most enduring and popular adversary, Shearman accomplishes the mission by inserting another reference to the past (the Time War and Davros are mentioned more or less directly) while continuing in the darker direction required by the 21st century update.
The performances are as sharp as expected, with Nicholas Brigg's vocal rendition of the Dalek's dangerous presence standing out. Also worth checking out are the darker undertones on Eccleston's behalf, as his take on the Doctor becomes more serious in this episode than it's ever been, mainly because Shearman makes the bold decision of following Michael Mann's example and establishing a similarity between the hero and his nemesis. "Look at you.", Eccleston tells the decrepit machine, "You're alone." "So are you." the Dalek retorts.
More than any other episode of the new series, Dalek is the definitive proof of the fact that Doctor Who, like the revamped Batman, isn't really "for kids" anymore. Sure, it's harmless compared to more adult productions coming from the States, but it's undeniable - a lot has changed since William Hartnell first entered the TARDIS in 1963.
Coming at the approximate mid point of the first series of the revived
Doctor Who, Dalek came at a perfect moment to bring about the return of
another of the icons of the series: the Dalek. Yet the episode is much
more then the return of an icon. It is a story that takes the hero (the
Doctor) and the villain (the Dalek), our notions of them and to what
lengths they will go to survive. The result is the best episode of the
Dalek is notable for featuring Christopher Eccleston single best performance as the ninth Doctor. In the space of forty-five minutes Eccleston gives a performance that is nothing short of remarkable. While the lighter side of the ninth Doctor is evident during the opening minutes there is also a darkness that, while mostly submerged previously, comes to the surface. It all starts in one of the best scenes to ever be put in the show when the two enemies are locked in a room together. In the space of just a few minutes Eccleston covers a whole range of emotions from caring to frightened (in a moment which utterly convinces you the Dalek is a real threat) to the moment where the Doctor takes the catchphrase of his enemy and uses it chillingly. Add to that moments where the Doctor tells the Dalek to die or the last couple of scenes of the episode which show us a Doctor who is battle scared to the point it comes as a surprise when we see just who it is pointing a weapon at the end. While Eccleston gave fine performances the whole way through this episode would mark his single best performance in the role.
Then there's the title villain: the Dalek. Bringing back the iconic villain could have been easily misdone but here we get the full force and power of the Dalek. Not only is the Dalek itself magnificently redesigned on the outside but writer Robert Shearman shows us what the Dalek is at heart as well. This is not a tin robot armed with a whisk and a plunger by any means. This is a killing machine that is just as capable of being conniving if not manipulative as well as demonstrated throughout much of the episode's first scenes with the Doctor and his companion Rose Tyler. Not only that but for the first time ever really we get to see the Dalek as a killing machine capable of putting that plunger and whisk to remarkable (and chilling) effect. Then Sheraman as writer and Nicholas Briggs as the voice do something even more remarkable then that: they give it sympathy. Slowly we watch as this killing machine begins to change and by the end becomes something greater then that before meeting a fate that is truly tragic. To do all that in less then an hour is an achieve met in itself.
That's not forgetting the other human members of the cast of course. There's Billie Piper who gives a fine performance as Rose which helps to bring both great amounts of fear and then sympathy to the Dalek in both their first and last scenes together. She also shares some nice chemistry which Bruno Langely as Adam, who gives a nice performance here which makes the final scene in the story believable and a shame about what happens in the next episode. Corey Johnson makes a nice, if at times over the top, appearance as the billionaire Henry van Statten who, while not quite believable, works rather well. There's also nice performances from Anna-Louise Plowman and Nigel Whitmey as two of van Statten's employes at the base where the episode is set. All together they make for a nice supporting cast in a fantastic episode.
There is also some fine work behind the camera as well. The CGI effects shots of the Dalek are fantastic pieces of work which help to make certain bits of its return all the more better (watch the episode for which bits!). The cinematography of Ernie Vincze gives the entire episode a claustrophobic feel that, even in the larger areas, give the tension a considerable boost. To help with the tension is the the editing of Graham Walker coupled with the relentless and in the later sections of the episode haunting music of Murray Gold. All of these when coupled with the first rate script of Robert Shearman show off some of the finest work yet seen in the new series.
So why do I call this episode the best of series one? Well it has the best performance of Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor, the return of the Dalek at its best, some nice performances and some fantastic work behind the scenes as well especially in the script by Robert Shearman. There is more then that though. This episode is about survivors and what lengths they will go to keep on doing just that. It is also about our very own notions of good (the Doctor) and evil (the Dalek) and what it takes to turn them on their head. If nothing else that is what this episode is all about.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
After the average two-parter last time out the show needed to bounce
back. And boy it did. The Doctor receives a distress call and finds
himself underground in what looks like a museum of alien artifact's. He
soon discovers Henry Van Statten who shows him the prize of his
collection. The Doctor finds out it is a Dalek who has fallen through
time after the Time War. Rose also meets it and the Dalek gains
sympathy from her and when she touches it the Dalek springs into life
wreaking havoc through the base and The Doctor can do nothing. The
Dalek gets locked in with Rose but when the bulk heads are opened the
Dalek heads to the exit. With The Dalek realising it has no purpose and
that it is mutating it kills itself.
It was a great way to bounce back after the first real disappointment of the series. We got a timeless old enemy reincarnated in what was its best form. No other enemy ever in Doctor Who can strike as much fear into hearts on its own. This ONE Dalek was alone a bigger threat the Doctor than the Slitheen. There were some truly brilliant moments as the episode moved along at a frenetic pace. The Dalek moving up the stairs was genius. Not because it was new but the assumption and then reaction by Rose and Adam was brilliant. There are two scenes in this episode which I will couple together as the Doctor and the Dalek. This consisted of the first meeting and a truly brilliant moment where the Doctor tells the Dalek to die. All the while the Dalek was wreaking havoc. the sprinkler scene was brilliant.
There were some things holding it back. The final ten minutes weren't quite up to scratch with the rest of the episode. The resolution didn't fit in with the rustic and simple nature of the episode which is what made most of it quite brilliant. Though everyone is excellent in this. Ecclestone gives one of his best performances along with Rose, Doctor Dances and Parting of the Ways. Rose was decent and Can Statten was great. I didn't like Adam which was a shame but overall a brilliant piece of TV and a stand out episode.
OVERALL - 8.0: Almost a 9 but the final ten minutes (resolution) and the presence of an unimpressive character Adam brought it down. None the less a brilliant episode.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Following the dismal 'Slitheen' two-parter, the 2005 season of 'Dr.Who'
was in need of a big pick-me-up. Fortunately, it got it thanks to
writer Robert Shearman and director Joe Ahearne. Yet 'Dalek' very
nearly did not happen due to a disagreement between the production team
and the Terry Nation Estate. Many newspapers speculated the new show
would flop without its most famous monsters on board. Fortunately, the
crisis was resolved in time.
'Dalek' is set a few years in the future, in Utah in the U.S.A. The Tardis lands in a museum owned by millionaire Henry van Statten ( Corey Johnson ), who collects alien technology. He even has the head of a Cyberman in a glass case ( left over from 'The Invasion' in 1968 ). The pride of his collection is an alien he calls a 'metaltron'. The Doctor, however, recognises it as a Dalek. He warns van Statten, but he won't listen. In desperation, he tries to kill it himself. Then Rose accidentally leaves a hand-print on the damaged casing, and it uses her D.N.A. to reactivate itself. Free at last, it goes on the rampage, exterminating all who get in its way...
Based on a Big Finish audio adventure called 'Jubilee', this episode reestablishes the Daleks as the Doctor's greatest foes. Though only one is seen here, it is unstoppable, effortlessly wiping out security guards by the score. It even has a few new tricks up its sleeve, such as 'suckering' some poor bloke to death, and being able to swivel its middle section around in order to shoot all those who try to creep up from behind. Oh yes, it can also go up stairs! Now a Dalek going up stairs is hardly new ( it first happened in 1988's 'Remembrance Of The Daleks ), but as so few people saw it then it might as well have not happened.
The Dalek and the Doctor have in common the fact they are sole survivors, their respective races wiped out by the Time War. Great dialogue exchanges here, with the Dalek telling the Time Lord at one point that he would have made an excellent addition to his own race. Christopher Eccleston is like a ball of fire, you half-expect him to head-butt the Dalek.
van Statten's failure to recognise the Dalek does seem strange given their various invasions down the years, but as the Doctor said in 'The Unquiet Dead', history is always being rewritten.
Despite the outcome ( the Dalek committing suicide ), no-one was in any real doubt they would return. And we would not have to wait very long for it either...
"Dalek" is, arguably, the episode that solidified the "new Who" as
something respectful to the legacy of the show while also able to move
things forward in exciting and interesting ways.
The Doctor and Rose end up in a strange museum, overseen by the rich and powerful Henry van Statten (Corey Johnson). The TARDIS was drawn there by a signal, a cry for help, but the source of that call isn't immediately obvious. It's not long, however, until The Doctor realises, with horror, what the prize item in this particular collection is. A Dalek.
There have been a wide range of memorable villains throughout the years of Doctor Who, but the Daleks remain my personal favourite, and the favourite of many other people who grew up with the show. They made many viewers cower behind the sofa cushions in terror, and their power to instill fear hasn't diminished one bit, mainly thanks to their unflinching determination to destroy everything that isn't a Dalek.
The acting on display here is superb, with Eccleston really relishing scenes in which he reveals more of the background of his character, the decisions that he's had to make, and the well of anger and regret that he keeps buried deep within himself. Piper is also good, as the outsider looking at the relationship between The Doctor and the Dalek, while Johnson, Anna-Louise Plowman and Bruno Langley all have fun in their roles.
Writer Robert Shearman takes the essence of the iconic baddie, gives things a fresh twist and provides viewers with the first unmissable episode of the relaunched, and reinvigorated, franchise.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This was where Series 1 went up a level, 'Dalek' remains a truly classic episode, a real game changer. We learn of the Time War from the dalek, that all Daleks and Timelords are dead, with the exception of this Dalek and The Doctor, The Dalek draws parallels between the two which make the Doctor uncomfortable. The story in brief, Super rich American Henry Van Statten owns an Alien Museum, the Dalek is chained up as prized possession. Rose is uncomfortable seeing the Dalek tortured so steps in and unwittingly restores it from a decayed state into the zipped up, no nonsense metal meanie that we now recognise. Rose becomes locked in a vault with it, but will it kill her? One thing I particularly loved about this episode is that the Dalek which had seemingly softened during the 80's, was now a highly intelligent killing machine with true menace. The 'matrix' moment, is well done and shows the Daleks are finally tough to deal with. Rewatching it I agree with my initial decision about the best scene, where the guards lay in wait for the Dalek, and the Dalek sets off the water sprinkler fires onto the floor and electrocutes them all with one shot, genius. Roses closing scenes with the Dalek are brilliantly done. I can see why people would class this as the overall best episode of Series 1, but in my humble opinion even better was to come. Little note of trivia, the picture that appears above Van Statten's desk was used years ago in a Poirot, 'The Underdog.' The painting is really of Dennis Lill not Corey Johnson, but there is a resemblance.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I will congratulate Robert Shearman for trying to do something a little
bit different for a Dalek story: The Doctor and Rose land in a space
museum in Utah owned by megalomaniac collector Henry Van Statten who is
keeping an unknown alien creature that he wants the Doctor to identify
The problem is however that I've always liked the Daleks to be portrayed as " Space Nazis " who go around exterminating everything in sight and I include David Whitaker's Dalek contributions in the mid 1960s along these lines . Too bad Shearman has come up with the ridiculous idea halfway through the story that the audience should feel sorry for the poor Dalek who has just exterminated dozens of people . It should also be pointed out that the ending where the Dalek commits suicide has to be one of the laziest endings you will ever find in a DOCTOR WHO story
But it's not all bad . The story is beautifully paced and contains excellent dialogue and Shearman has written very well for the ninth Doctor / Rose relationship . There's also a couple of nods to the old series with Van Statten being an American version of Harrison Chase and we see a cameo from a Cyberman's head ! Joe Ahearne shows that he's bound to get a call from Hollywood who want him to direct a big budget blockbuster on the strength of this story alone and it's uniformly well acted by both guests and regular cast . Just a pity the ideas behind the episode didn't gel very well
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
He was a winner, wasn't he? Forty year old TV character rarely sees
that much depth and richness brought to it.
Anyone else, American or British or Other, think of the classic Star Trek episode with Frank Gorshin and Lou Antonio as the last two survivors of their black-white races? Now, the contradictions.
The Doctor (Richard Hurndall) and Susan would shove the Dalek in "The Five Doctors" and when Barbara used mud off of Susan's shoes in an early episode to blind the Dalek, that Doctor (William Hartnell) and Ian Chesterton would also touch the Dalek, whereas here in "Dalek" no one could do this without dire consequences (guy burst into flames) or the Dalek would absorb their DNA (as he did Rose).
I'm sure there are other moments in the past where it would have suited a Dalek or two to have levitated as well, tho, as was done here and was also done in Sylvester McCoy's Doctor episode "Resurrection of the Daleks".
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