Doctor Who 5.03: Victory of the Daleks

I’m hiding this behind a read more cut thingy because I got a little carried away and there are spoilers littered all over the place. You have been warned!

I think this episode can be summed up as “Doctor Who does war movies and Daleks” and it worked brilliantly. Despite the obvious Nazi analogies that have always surrounded the Daleks, I’d never thought of putting them into that setting before. It’s an idea that I knew would need to be done carefully and I had no idea how it could really work. Mark Gatiss was the perfect person to write this!

My only real complaint is that I thought this episode could have worked even better as a two-parter. It was over too quickly and there was enough in it to make into a longer story. There were places where it felt a little rushed because so much was being fitted into a forty-five minute story. Maybe they’ll give Mark Gatiss something big and meaty next year? I’ve loved all his stories so far.

The closing scene in last week’s episode had me shouting out loud because it was such a genius idea. I’m so glad that I wasn’t disappointed! We went straight into the action this week and I loved that opening scene. The Doctor is always name-dropping, so seeing him interact with one of those great historical figures as an old and much-loved friend was fantastic. It’s not something we’ve really seen before: usually the Doctor is meeting these people for the first time. The banter and camaraderie between Churchill and the Doctor (I caught that reference to the Doctor changing again) instantly created the feeling a friendship that’s long-established. I could feel that the Doctor had been there many times before, having long discussions through the night with Churchill and helping him out when odd things have happened.

Daleks are a fascinating creation. They are one of the few really terrifying monsters on the show because they’re virtually indestructible and cannot be reasoned with. We all know as soon as they appear that there is no way that anyone on Earth could have invented them: where would anyone get the Kaled mutant to put inside? Seeing them roaming the halls with cups of tea and files was both funny and deeply disturbing. I was actually relieved when the Doctor finally got them to admit what they were, although the relief quickly turned to “Er, this cannot be good”.

The Progenitor. It feels like something that needs capitalisation. From the name I can guess that they’re pure Dalek DNA. All the stories in the revival have involved Daleks recreated from other DNA in increasingly unlikely ways. Moffat was always going to need to do something special to be able to continue using the Daleks – our disbelief can only stretch so far – so this works. The redesign?

When I saw them emerge, the first thing that I thought of was the old 70s Peter Cushing Dalek movies. It was a relief to see that Gatiss and Moffatt had also been thinking along those lines, it would have been creepy if they hadn’t.

The idea of different Dalek ‘types’ is new. I’m going to be interested to see how that pans out. The redesign is definitely Dalek, but that humpy shape at the back and the extra six inches in height are rather intimidating. Matt Smith and Karen Gillan are both insanely tall, so the old Dalek design did look a little weedy next to them. They’ll have to grow on me, I think, but I tentatively like the new design and I’ll be interested to see what happens with them.

This episode had the feel of a big old war movie. Mark Gatiss talked about his research in the Confidential and it paid off. He obviously did far more than ever got onto screen (something that I’ve heard a lot of writers advising, do more research than ever gets into the writing) and it paid off because he was able to work in the sci-fi elements to the war setting beautifully. The speed that they were able to refit the Spitfires was a little crazy, but in my head I’m explaining it as they were mostly refitted already, Bracewell just had to add the gravity bubbles and they were already built.

That’s my explanation and it works for me.

Loved the Spitfires in space. It was a brilliant image and I’m so glad they were able to get that in.

The thing that really worked for that sequence was the music. I don’t usually talk about the music, although I loved what Murray Gold has been doing, because for me it works beautifully and doesn’t intrude. I know that others feel differently, but then I also love the score for Lord of the Rings and think it’s one of the things that makes those movies so I probably have different ideas of what works. Anyway, Murray Gold did a fantastic job here and I loved his ‘war movie’ theme. It really helped to create the right atmosphere for this episode.

Having mentioned Bracewell, may I just say how much I loved this character? He was quite lovely and I adored him.

Possibly one of the reasons that I thought this episode should have been a two-parter is because it’s open-ended. It felt like a set-up episode for something much bigger. There’s nothing in the episode list for this season that tells us when they’ll reappear, but there are also several TBA episode titles so it’s possible that they’ll be back this year or maybe not until next year.

One of the most interesting things in this episode, for me, was the fact that Amy doesn’t remember the Daleks. At first my thought was that Amy’s memory has been tampered with. It obviously worries the Doctor. Then I started working through it and came up with multiple explanations, all of them very scary. Perhaps it’s not just Amy’s memory, but everyone’s? Or perhaps time has been interfered with and none of the events in the last few years happened? Or maybe it’s something to do with Amy’s aunt, because I’m sure there’s something going on with that aunt?

The one thing I’m certain of is that those cracks in time and space are involved.

I’m getting deeply curious about where the season arc is going.

A friend directed me towards the PDF linked here:

So, how many Dalek posters do you think will be decorating bedrooms, offices and schools next week? I think my cubicle is about to get an addition…

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Roseann Huynh
    May 28, 2010 @ 00:40:06

    Really great article! Truely..


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