Friday, October 07, 2005

'Day of the Daleks'

4 episodes

Reasonably solid little story that has several good elements, by far the least effective of which is the Daleks themselves. You can tell that they were added to the original scripts, which did not originally feature them, as their part is largely confined to the background and they do not have a proactive role until the final few minutes of the serial. Considering these most iconic of monsters were 'killed off' in their last appearance a long four and a half years earlier (after all their previous stories had been crammed into the series' first three and a half years), what should have been an epochal reintroduction - in colour too, no less - is marred by the title, as ever, flagging this up, any remaining suspense being destroyed by their cropping up randomly fifteen minutes in for about two seconds, and the fact that their voices are terrible - far too human without any of the metallic alien menace that characterising their most terrifying moments.

Otherwise, this is a solid serial. The main theme concerning the problems of time travel and the paradoxes that can result from it is handled very well, with the lovely revelation that the guerrilas' sterling efforts to prevent their awful future world coming into being actually cause it! The location work and sets are good too, and UNIT get to be a bit more serious and military after the cosy 'family' feel of the last season. The Doctor is marvellous, disapproving yet sympathetic to the various human elements, and enjoying his fine wine and cheese so much he at one point casually sends an assailant flying with one hand before taking another sip and putting his glass down to complete the job...! Nice too to get a glimpse of his two predecessors on the Daleks' mind analyser screen. Full marks for effort, too, for his valiant attempt at escaping his captors on a motorised tricycle, although minus quite a few for the execution of this plan!

The subsidiary monsters the Ogrons look impressive (uncannily reminiscent of the Uruk-hai from the Lord of the Rings films) and the fact that the Daleks are actually the masters of earth two hundred years in the future is unsettling in as much as it presents them as that world's ruling 'establishment' rather than just would-be conquerors following another harebrained masterplan. The Controller is a seemingly uninteresting creation whose icy personality thaws late on as his trials and motivations are revealed, and his 'redemption' at the end is a fine sequence. Anat is well served storywise for a supporting female lead; shame that so many of the other minor characters (e.g. the sympathetic/undercover prison chief) crop up only for a scene or two before disappearing back into the ether. What, for example, is the deal with the Controller's glacial female assistant(s), whose odd, stilted behaviour is never followed up on or explained...? Also, the big worry plotwise is that after all the talk about time paradoxes and the like, the Doctor happily goes along with the plan to dispense with the Daleks without ever appearing to consider the further huge paradox that would be created by destroying the 'bad' future - so the guerrilas wouldn't have needed to come back to their past, therefore they wouldn't have prevented this future, therefore they would still have come back from that future to 'prevent' the world war by killing off Sir Reginald Styles, therefore they would still be the unwitting instigators of that war, therefore creating the preexisting paradox, so we have paradoxes squared by this point! Lastly, regardless of all that, whatever happened to the Doctor and Jo meeting up with their past selves as dictated by them meeting their future selves at the start of the story? Looks like that element got completely forgotten along the way...


Episodes watched: 199
Episodes still to watch: 523

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