Victory of the Daleks
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It's WW2 this week, the Doctor and Amy arrive in the cabinet war rooms of good-ole Winnie Churchill. He's played by here as a one dimensional caricature by Ian McNeice; it's his finest work since 'Ace Venturer: When Nature Calls'. Yes dear reader, you can see where this review is going.
After all the pleasantries it is revealed that head of Churchill's Q-Branch is 'Edmund Bracewell' and he has something called the "Ironside Project”. It's Britain's great new weapon against Ze-Germans. It quickly turns out this cunning plan is actually "The Daleks shoot Jerry for us". I would have gone with the fallen Madonna with the big boobies, but that's just me. Much to the Doctor's confusion, the Daleks (complete with Union Jack logo) are submitting to human commands. The Doctor protests to Churchill that they are evil, but he isn't having any of it, he's for winning the war and the Daleks will make that pretty dam easy. The Doctor and Amy decide to go interview “Dalek inventor”, Mr Bracewell but they get nowhere with such a reasonable course of action; so the now angry Doctor takes umbrage with an unsuspecting Dalek. This Dalek didn't know what hit him, he was just merrily going about his day making tea and doing admin. I'm with the Doctor on this this though, who wouldn't be weirded out by what, as far as those military personal were concerned, a top secret weapon doing the filing and stirring your tea? After a solid beating about the helmet the Dalek wakes up out of it's programmed compliance and zaps off Mr Bracewell's robot hand. Yes, apparently he is a robot and the Daleks made him so they could infiltrate the highest levels of British government. The sore helmeted Dalek transmits the info about what the Doctor just said about them being evil Daleks back to the mother-ship and he and his buddy teleport away. Whoops!
Note: That exclamation mark was the first of many, I apologise in advance.
So the Doctor inadvertently gave the Daleks what they wanted, they were after him all along and he leaves Amy behind to give chase in the Tardis. Now instantly on the Dalek ship (he does have a time machine) the Doctor walks up and talks to the Daleks, where they begin to explain their plan in fine detail and decide to not to blow the Doctor's limbs off. Maybe they were busy or something.
Then a load of events happened beneath some badly mixed music....big breath...
Amy and Churchill promptly find the Tardis in space with WW2 radar (eh?). The Daleks then light up London's lights so the Jerry can see where to bomb. Bit un-sportsmen-like old chap? This is most certainly all they could come up with as leverage to get the Doctor to leave them alone. Meanwhile, Amy and Churchy are busy trying to come up with something to fight the Daleks with and help out the Doctor. Yay, go team! But wait, back on the ship the Dalek's (other) master plan is revealed. They are reconstructing a new Dalek master race from a time capsule. It was the Doctor's confirmation that the impure Daleks were in fact Daleks, that unlocked the 'Dalek Maker'™ device. It whirs into life and out pop orange, blue, white, yellow and red Daleks and they are a bit bigger than the other gun-metal Daleks but otherwise the same! ARGGGGHH!! Meanwhile (again), Amy and Churchy ask Robo-Bracewell to help them out because, as Amy correctly presumes, the Daleks must have given him all the knowledge to do that. "It's time to think big" says Churchy.
Back with the Doctor (music still going) and the uber-Daleks look down on their imperfect, 'dull coloured' creators and start cleaning race. “We. Are. The. New. Superior. Toy. Line. 'Zap!' 'Zap!'”. Then the Daleks turn to the doctor (who's still standing there enjoying the view) and are about to kill him, only for him to show them his Tardis self destruct button again.. clever thinking Doc. Back to the War rooms (again) and Robo-Bracewell has re-jiggered a WW2 cathode-ray-tube oscilloscope to display black and white TV pictures. These pictures are from 'Dalek CCTV' up on the mother-ship, good job Robo-Bracewell!
“Alert Alert!” The Daleks did a scan and the Doctor's been using a Jammy Dodger for a self destruction device. “Alert 2! Alert 2!, all Daleks forget Alert 1, even though he single handily destroyed our race!” They look out the windows and it looks like Churchy and Amy have come to the rescue and launched Space-Spitfires. Robo-Bracewell must have pulled those out of his magic Robo-Behind in the last two minutes, and now they are heading towards the mother-ship! I hope he doesn't have anything else up there....
Quick Doctor, evade the Dalek's zapper with with a ninja leap or two! Get out of there!
Earth:"Good luck Spitfire chaps, tally-ho with those those prop-driven, wing-flap ridden aeroplanes in space and all give Dalek-Gerry what for!"
Alas, after a jolly good show from the fly boys, there's only Danny Boy left, he thinks he's all done for; but, with a chin up from the doctor he does his duty for Queen & Country and he fires some zaps toward the Mother-ship... cut to the Doctor:"This is the end for you Daleks, the absolute and final end of all ends"
The Daleks have a last card to play though, they threaten to blow up Robo-Bracewell and destroy the Earth. The Doctor has a choice to make, he calls off Danny-boy from destroying the Mother-ship and Tardis's his way back to Earth to give Robo-Bracewell a bunch of fives round the Robo-Chops. “Take that potentially volatile bomb!” But it turns out Robo-Bracewell-Bomb has a timer not a hair trigger. What to do? "Ever fancy some one you shouldn't?" says Amy. "Dorabell" is Robo-Bracewell-Bomb's lost love. Bracewell wills those feelings of explosion back, arrhhh, it's his inherent Robo-human Love which defuses the bomb. But in the kerfuffal it's too late, the Daleks have escaped. The Doctor isn't happy about it, for a couple of seconds, but saving the Earth isn't too shabby. Job done!
Well that's that, world saved, Space Spitfires thrown out as if their impossible existence was just that. Churchy steals the Tardis key for some reason but is perfectly trustworthy in not using alien tech to win the war in the near future. It's also absolutely fine to leave a planet destroying Robo-Bracewell-Bomb on Earth, it's only his emotional stability which stops him going off. That'll be fine, the Doctor will come back in a bit and pick him up whenever.
I can't quite believe this episode was written by Mark Gattis. He's written some solid Who stories in the past and his 'Crooked House' ghost story series (which aired on BBC4 in Christmas 2008) were fantastic. Here however, we were left with nothing. The great dialogue that we've had the past two weeks disappeared, the story was weak and the entire episode had the emotional depth of a Dalek. Maybe I was being too harsh on the “fantastical” elements above; but that was really all their was to see here, so the plot holes rang out loud. Clearly the point of the episode was to bring back the Daleks 'bigger, badder, and more colourful than before' and to let them escape for the Doctor to run into at a later date. The couple of minutes of this episode where the 'how' the Daleks returned is pure exposition and thrown away in a couple of lines. It's a shame that this okay explanation wasn't expanded properly into a worthwhile story. Let's hope the Daleks are used more effectively in the episode this one has set up.
There are some things to like about the episode, by all means it wasn't terrible. The Jammy Dodger bit was funny and the show still looks really nice. The effect of the Dalek ship escaping was cool looking and the painterly Blitz London skyline was well done even if it was a bit on the cheap side. Again, the lead actors did a solid enough job. I've been a tad disappointed that Amy's character hasn't done much so far, but it's early days for this new Doctor so I can see why they'd want to concentrate on getting him up to speed before they move on to her story.
With the three episodes we have had so far, each has been worse than the one before. Obviously this isn't a good trend for the show. This episode should be labelled as disappointing.
Next week: Moll Flanders is back in "Blink 2". That better be a lot better than this one. Hopefully ' 'Blink', possibly the best episode of Doctor Who ever, doesn't get sullied with a badly thought out monster back-story that it didn't need.