Friday, July 27, 2007

Doctor Who: If I can change, and you can change, maybe we can all change into Daleks

Spoilers for the "Doctor Who" episode "Daleks in Manhattan" coming right up...

I'm jet-lagged and this is the first half of a two-parter (the conclusion of which I haven't seen yet), so this is gonna be short.

I don't have any kind of fundamental opposition to the Daleks as a concept, but much like the Doctor, I'm starting to get frustrated with how easily they keep popping up, despite story after story in which they're erased from time, once and for all. It's like how the X-Men writers keep killing off Magneto, only to have the next writer bring him back, time after time.

This was also one of the less subtle episodes they've done, and while the Daleks themselves aren't particularly subtle villains, my head started to ache from the number of times I got beat by the clue-by-four. The wise leader of Hooverville is named Solomon, and he solves a dispute over property by dividing it in two? Sure, why not? Every single character makes a comment at some point about how mankind is capable of building something like the Empire State Building while letting something like Hooverville exist, and just in case we didn't get the point, we find out that Talullah's Broadway revue is called "Heaven and Hell"? Super!

I mean, the broadness of the dialogue and characterization match our cultural memories of 1930s Noo Yawk -- or at least of the movies about that time and place -- and there's some fun in seeing the Doctor and Martha interact with a cast of Damon Runyon types, but overall it felt disposable.

What did everybody else think?


Nicole said...

This episode and the next one are the weakest of the bunch. I tired of Tallulah's accent quickly and kinda didn't care that much about the fate of Hooverville. It's not a horrible episode, but I felt it was a bit of a step down from the first three.

The Daleks were interesting in the "new" series because at first they brought out the Doctor's pain regarding the Time War, and then later upped the stakes in Doomsday, to make a grandiose battle. This current "Master Plan" seems silly and the Doctor doesn't seem quite as personally involved as in the past. This better be the last time we see them in a long while, because they are starting to neuter the Daleks like Voyager did with the Borg.

Eric said...

Agreed that this is the low point of this season. One thing that amuses me is that British actors are capable of American accents every bit as bad as most Americans' British accents. They're not all Hugh Laurie.

The only reason to bring the Daleks back next year would be if Davros comes with them. Which I think is fairly likely.

dark tyler said...

Well, in fairness, this is the only time so far that the Daleks came back but we knew they would. Previously it was every time "Oh my god, there are more! How?!" but now we knew there were coming after we saw one survive "Doomsday".

That's besides the point, though, that this two-parter definitely is the low point of the season. {Well, I've not seen the final 4 episodes yet, but I have a feeling that they are kinda gonna rock. :) }

Nicole said...

The last 4 episodes absolutely will rock, making this and the next one a pale and distant memory. Actually, I should say the last 6 rock.

As for the Daleks, I think they probably work best with the element of surprise, and staying in their container, because the hybrid seems more ugly than scary.

Taleena said...

This 2 parter is forgettable - not good when you are playing a Dalek card. But the season improves quite a bit, especially as we get to Human Nature and Family of Blood.

Unknown said...

The only dalek moment I've enjoyed in Who 2.0 was the bit of cyberman-dalek braggadocio in the Series 2 finale. Davies-era daleks blather on endlessly. How's that scary? It's supposed to be "EXTERMINATE" and *zap.* And though the notion of a human-dalek hybrid seems to have been introduced back in one of the Troughton serials, giving it a thick Brooklyn accent was probably as good an idea as having Harvey Keitel play Judas.

Though this two-parter was awful, I'm not sure I'd agree it was the low point of the season for me. I think both the best and worst eps have yet to come.

Anonymous said...

This episode seemed particularly weak. The performances by the 1930s New Yorkers were particularly bad, and as you say, it seemed that the surface understanding of 1930s NYC came from movies about that period, not knowledge about that period. I don't necessarily mind the resurfacing of the Daleks, but they could at least do so in a neat reveal like Whedon would have with the return of an old villain. Not so here. Not my favorite episode, not much fun.

dark tyler said...

J, I agree with what you say about the Daleks. On the other hand, that very first appearance of what we thought was the Last Dalek was the very moment this series turned from "fun" to "excellent" for me. What you say stands, though. It wasn't the Dalek itself but what it meant to the Doctor {and that unforgettable performance by THE DOCTOR -sorry, Mr. Tennant :) } that elevated it.

Anyway, I speak too much, what I mean to say is that I agree that Davies hasn't handled the Daleks very good. But the way he has the cast reacting to their concept, their very existence, is why they're worth the trouble.

So, without entering spoiler territory, what episode did you think was the actual low point of the series? "Lazarus"?

Unknown said...

Tyler, I'll grant that the "Dalek" episode was very important to the mythology of the series. But I don't think I ever got past the creature going, "I... am... so... wonewy." With a lot of the new Who I bought the broader brush strokes while grinding my teeth at a lot of the particulars. I had an easier time considering Eccleston's performance as part of a season-long whole.

For me the low points of this season -- mostly (but not only) because of flubbed potential -- are "Drums" and "Last."

dark tyler said...

With a lot of the new Who I bought the broader brush strokes while grinding my teeth at a lot of the particulars.

All the time, yeah. Except for when these particulars are written by Steven Moffat. ;)

I would have never considered the two you say as "low points", but there definitely was stuff that disappointed. Especially with "Drums", which came after the amazing and shocking "Utopia". OK, I'll stop now, because I think I see Alan fuming. (LOL)

Unknown said...

I hated those episodes so much I wanted to stuff them in a paper bag and set fire to the bag and leave the bag on a neighbor's doorstep and ring his/her doorbell and then, when the neighbor answered the door, I wanted to decapitate him/her just TO SAVE HIM/HER THE PAINFUL EXPERIENCE OF GAZING UPON THEM.

Hated them. And mark my words, Dark Tyler, I'll be back to spew my vitriol when the time comes. (Insert evil maniacal laughter.)

dark tyler said...

Now we have to wait two months for you to expand on these thoughts? Man, where's a TARDIS when you need one?

Jon88 said...

Time travel? Changing bodies? Daleks? I'm fine with all of that. But being able to see the Empire State Building from Central Park? Oh, please!

Nicole said...

You know an episode can't be great when the comments relate to hinting at the greatness (or lack thereof) of future episodes.

I too will be back, because I can already foresee disagreements.

Michael Hickerson said...

These two are the weakest of season three. They could have been easily combined into one and the Doctor makes some decisions next week that I find questionable based on his character arc in the new series.

That said, the reason the Daleks are back is, quite simply, they had the rights to use them for three seasons and they were going to get their money's worth. Daleks aren't owned by the BBC..but by their creator and now his estate. Back in season one, they weren't sure they could get them...hence they had to rewrite Dalek many times. They got them for three years and made sure to use them...esp. since the rights to use them are quite pricey.

Also, Daleks equals ratings in the UK. And tons of publicity for the show.

dark tyler said...

Huh, I had no idea about this. So, if they manage to secure the rights for Davros (I've seen some speculation online, not sure how accurate it is) there might not be any Daleks to go with? Or could they perhaps renew the license?

I'd hate to see the Cybermen return just because Davies can't have the Daleks as recurring villains!

Dan said...

Regarding accents. Us Brits are better at US accents than vice-versa. Just Hugh Laurie? How about Ian Hart in Dirt? Anna Friel in Pushing Daisies? Stuart Townsend in Night Stalker? And many other actors most Americans THINK are US-born.

A vocal coach once said that the stereotypical Brit accent is "untainted English", and you add to it to make accents (incl. UK regional), and it's easier for Brits to ADD than it is for Americans to successfully "restrict" their natural sounds.

The guys in DW just didn't reign their accents in enough and went overboard.