Doctor Who: “Victory of the Daleks” or “You fit that! In there?”
Saturday May 1st on the SyFy Network.
Doctor Who Series 5.
“Victory of the Daleks” by Mark Gattis.
Running time is about 45 minutes.
Doctor Who is now four episodes into series five(or season 31 depending on how you look at it).
With this season we see a new Doctor(played by English actor Matt Smith), new companion Amy Pond(Scottish actress Karen Gillan), and an almost entirely revamped production/writing staff being lead by Head-Writer Steven Moffat.
But Moffat didn’t pen “Victory of the Daleks”, that dubious honor goes to Mark Gatiss.
Gatiss first published as a writer for the Virgin(publishing) New Adventures Doctor Who novels, Nightshade (1992), which starred the seventh Doctor(Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred’s characters). He then went on with more Doctor Who fiction,but made his name as a sketch comedian, most notably for BBC’s League of Gentlemen in the mid Nineties.
“Victory of the Daleks” broadcast about a week ago.
The plot is as such; the freshly regenerated Doctor and new companion Amy are transported via T.A.R.D.I.S. to WWII London during the Blitz. Arriving at a bunker where Winston Churchhill and his war cabinet are about to unleash a new weapon that should bring the Blitz and the war to a quick close. The Doctor, who has worked with the British government before, is introduced to these fighting machines who turn out to be armored aliens. The Doctor is very familiar with these aliens, yet no one else seems to show the slightest bit of recognition, least of all Amy. Amy should know who they are since in her time(our present) it wasn’t so long ago that the doctor had done battle with them. Repeatedly. The Daleks. A mutant race determined to annihilate every form of life in the multi-verse. But, the Prime Minister insists they are the invention of the Scottish Professor Bracewell. The Doctor perplexed by Amy’s reaction determines that hitting an “Iron Side”(as they are being called) with a rather large wrench is the way to open everyone’s eyes to the dangers of the Dalek menace.
This episode(4 have aired as I type) has to be hands down the worst this year, and I know, I know, it is early.
The question becomes, Where does this episode fail?
Is it the writing?
The usage of setting?
Are the characters unsympathetic?
Are the actors lame?
I find myself frequently enjoying the “ideas” present in a Doctor Who episode, the season long over-plot, the sentiment, that sense of “other-ness” and loneliness about the Doctor: these are strong ideas that touch the soul. But, they do beat you about the head with them don’t they? Each new companion has an existential moment. Does the Doctor love me? Why won’t he love me? In this piece we see the Doctor and Amy rushing to the TARDIS so they can fly to the baddies mother-ship to confront them. The Doctor slows, pauses and tells Amy to stay behind.
In the “Blitz”.
When she comments on this he replies,”As safe as it gets, with me”.
Of all the high handed, rushed ideas, this is one that really kills me. Episode three my friends. Can we take some time to build the relationship between the Doctor and Amy? Does the Doctor really need to be so manic(painfully alone, the glaringly last of his kind) in every story? Perhaps the message is about how he motors on through all the pain and senselessness.
So, the setting fits this theme of “overcoming all”. Beyond that connection little use or explanation is made of the setting other than that it is where the enemy tricks the noble humans and thus advances us to a Doctor Who monologue. In the 60s, the 70s, even the 80’s, a proper story ran for at least 4 episodes, often, with very little Doctor to be seen until episode 3. The history and the companions did the work and the Doctor was mysterious, even aloof. The past three Doctors have been much more emotional and immediate, the stories much more(if not really, only) about him. Please do make better usage of your trips through time. Help him out, would you? Amy?
“Victory of the Daleks” features Winston Churchill, a Professor Edwin Bracewell, the Daleks, and of course Amy Pond and the Doctor.
Churchill could be removed entirely from this story and replaced with any stock government type, so his appearance is strictly for the sake of . . .
. . .just that(appearing), a name dropping of the “Can I smack the writer now?” flavour. The “u” intentional. UUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!
Professor Edwin Bracewell, however, was a sped past/missed opportunity. It turns out that the good prof is not solely an android, built and filled with human memories(a sleeper agent), he is also a bomb. Now in a forty five minute long program you may expect that the disarming of an AI explosive with a “soul” would be the end all be all question/problem/issue du jour.
Not so. Just another device propelling a Doctor Who spiel. These stories touch on so many points worth exploring,without doing so, that they seem to be ignoring the complexity of being human. Please air next the episode entitled, “Life is Horrible, yet,(rather large sigh) I Go On”, where we will be subject to 43 and 1 half minutes of Matt Smith and other Doctors (yes, the dead actors too) chanting “Life is Suffering”. Thank you, finis.
Bracewell is deactivated by appealing to his memory of an unrequited love. And Amy is the one who does it. The Doctor isn’t human, after all, and how could he really understand. He would lose his outsider status if he did. So what does this suggest about Bracewell, technology, and the Doctor for that matter?
Oh, Amy Pond! You new companion You!
Thank goodness that enough time has passed where we can dump out our withered Roses and move on!
So, the trick of Doctor Who is that he is a time traveler. So regardless of how long a companion seems to have been with him, we may never really know how log a companion has bee with him! Never mind the stumble reveal that Amy will have to return to Earth tomorrow, for her wedding, the Doctor ca always do that! But how does a person age as they travel time?
There really isn’t too much to say about Miss Pond as of yet. I much prefer her to the aforementioned Rose. Except that she seems to have developed feelings( a crush perhaps?) for the Doctor. Already. Ladies, Matt Smith, David Tenant, or pick a Doctor! Are any of them really that desirable? Or is it that he truly is a “Doctor Without Borders”?
My final prognosis, so far this season shows potential. Surely, more so than the Russell T. Davies era. The weaknesses are probably the fault of the current style in which the show is produced. A little flash, a little obnoxiously fast techno bubble sound track, and the need to expand the story lengths. Take a clue from the old show. DEVELOP.