Doctor Who: Daleks in Manhattan

Martha: "I've always wanted to go to New York. I mean, the real New York, not the new new new new new one."

Is it sacrilege for a new fan of Doctor Who to state up front that I've completely had it with the Daleks? I realize they're the iconic Doctor Who villain, yadda yadda yadda, but they just do nothing for me. I thought the way they were treated in the smarter season one episode (appropriately named "Dalek") would have been a great way to address them and phase them out. But no. They just keep coming back. I want something new, dammit!

Ahem.

Whenever I have trouble figuring out what to say about an episode, I go for the "good bits/bad bits." What did I like about this episode? I liked the setting. New York in the thirties, the Empire State building, the despair of the Great Depression, Hoovervilles in Central Park. I liked the Faustian bargain of Diagores essentially selling his soul for success. Even Laszlo the heroic pig slave leaving roses for Tallulah with three Ls and an H (like Lynda with a Y) sort of worked for me.

But the climax. The Dalek-human Diagores was just ridiculous. One eye and tentacles with a three-piece suit? Less is more, people. This actually might have kinda sorta worked if they'd had him looking mostly human, but not quite. Maybe with tentacles stuffed into his sleeves. Express his alienness with acting choices. Could have been a lot more interesting.

Because you can never have enough metaphors, the stage show was about angels and devils. Maybe if the Daleks had performed on stage... Daleks singing and dancing. That at least would have been different.

Bits and pieces:

-- There's only one Doctor. (Okay, ten, but really.) There are only four Daleks. With the Doctor exploring the universe as well as a timeline of literally millions of years, how come he keeps finding them? They're drawn together, I suppose. Does that mean the Doctor lacks free will?

-- In order to illustrate why he got his name, the first thing Solomon did was break the stolen bread in half. I've sort of just realized, even though it was obvious, that a lot of Doctor Who seems to be about class struggle. Am I projecting?

-- In keeping with our general "we just do the same thing over and over again," Martha got kidnapped and the Doctor went after her, for the second episode in a row.

-- Paul is right that everyone had a different American accent, and some them were a bit much. Although it's true that in places like New York, you do tend to get people from all over.

Paul Kelly says...

Well, after the energetic shenanigans of "Gridlock", Tennant was back to his reserved, thoughtful self this week. This is how the Doctor should be played. I don't mind the manic outbursts, but there needs to be balance, and Tennant, when he's in this mode, looks like the finished article. It's a shame the story was such a dud. My least favourite of all the Dalek stories.

I'm not qualified to speak on the authenticity of the accents, but they seemed, well... rubbish. Did New Yorkers in the 1930's really speak like they're in Bugsy Malone? In fact, didn't Jodie Foster play a Tallulah in that movie as well?

Martha struggled a little, too, this week. Thank goodness she was there to tell us that the green jellyfish brain thingy wasn't human -- we'd never have guessed otherwise. And all that standing on the devil's tail and generally mucking up the show stuff seemed terribly clumsy. Poor Martha. She's gone from being really quite clever to a bit of a dunce in just one episode. In future Martha, when you see a man/pig hybrid hiding in the wings, sod being discreet, just run after the damn thing.

And shame on the Radio Times for having a full colour photo of hybrid Sec on the front cover of its April 21st issue. Way to ruin the surprise guys. Not that it spoiled much, the hybrid was way too comical in appearance, with its strange accent, cyclops eye and crazy octopus hair (my friend came up with a more apt description of the head appendages, but I won't go into that right now for fear of offending), to be anything other than laughable. The idea of creating a hybrid, I suppose, was reasonable. Despite their perceived weakness, humans continue to thrive. By contrast, the Daleks keep failing. Perhaps their tendency to “hide from the dark”, rather than being a weakness, is actually their defining characteristic. They understand perfectly the principle of self-preservation and are able to discern more readily when to fight and when to flee.

But didn't Dalek Thay have a point? Isn't merging with humans completely contrary to the Dalek imperative? Especially when the end result is so ugly looking?

They'll have to do some work next week to drag this one out of the gutter. And I like musical theatre. What of it!!!

Quotes:

Union guy: "These new bosses. What's their names?
Dia whatever: "I think you could say they're from out of town."
Union guy: "Italians?"

Martha: "It's gone off, whatever it is. And you've got to pick it up."

Solomon: "Just exactly who are you?"
Doctor: "Oh, I'm just sort of passing by."

Martha: "Oh, he's not... we're not together."
Tallulah: "Oh, sure you are. I've seen the way you look at him. It's obvious."
Martha: "Not to him."
Tallulah: "Oh, I should have realized. He's into musical theatre, huh?"
---
Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

3 comments:

Mark Greig said...

This two-parter is, for me, the absolute worst story the series has produced since its return. It’s the Batman & Robin of New Who. I honestly think they came up with the title first and backtracked after that. Series 3 has always been my least favourite series despite featuring the return of my favourite villain (no, not the Macra).

And Martha’s really starting to get on my nerves by this point as well. Is it wrong of me to wish she’d pull an Adric and die in some horrible and irreversible way? If this was Lost I’d be hoping she gets a DUI and be voted off the island pronto.

shawnlunn2002 said...

Very well Dalek story but without it, their Season 4 one might have lost it's impact though.

I liked some of the quieter moments with the Doctor as well and Tallulah was a riot too.

The Daleks scheme isn't as good as it could've been.

I don't mind Martha too much but she did get easily snatched in the last episode and here though. Don't do a Peri people.

Michael Colvin said...

Certainly not my favorite, but I like the idea of using the Empire State building. And I have to say that Tullulah (3 Ls, 1 H) would have made a MUCH more interesting companion/sidekick this week.