Monday, 18 March 2013

Review: Doctor Who 3.4/5: Daleks In Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks

Dalek Sec, or, to the more immature among us,
"Brainy McPenis-Face"

Doctor Who - Season 29, Episodes Four and Five - Daleks In Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks
Written between 14th and 18th February 2013

I really do not know where to start. The Dalek Two-Parter is uniquely weird and wonderful, in that I can't really tell what it was trying to do, and yet certain bits are very good and certain bits veer into So-Bad-It's-Good. The only analogy that I can think of is that of a Rembrant painting that's been scribbled over by a toddler; some pieces of compositional genius remain, but they're rather dwarfed by the glaring problems at the story's heart. That's not to say that I hate the story, but it's not exactly the easiest to love.
     The first half is better than the second for many varied and interesting reasons. The story's lack of true location flming (there were some greenscreen shots taken by the production team but the actors stayed in Cardiff) does at time threaten to kill the atmosphere the story is trying to create, especially when it's abundantly clear that none of the actors can do a convincing New York accent. However, for whatever reason, it's clear the Daleks In Manhattan is actually trying to say something about the state of New York and American society in the 1930s, especially in the anvillicious figure of Solomon. The second half, however, throws any trace of commentary aside and descends into pure batshit crazy.
     This story's mad plot holes earned it the number 2 spot on my Top Five Cases of Bad Doctor Who Science article, where I go into the story's conflicts with basic Biology in much greater detail. If we ignore the craziness of Dalek Sec shoving a guy into himself and that somehow allowing two completely different species to fuse together, we come to a much bigger plot hole when the planned hybrids look exactly like humans who just speak weirdly and have a predeliction for carrying silly guns. It destroys the episode's tension, and the story's solution (clinging onto the lighting rod) spits in the face of all suspension of disbelief.
The ol'  "cling-onto-the-rod" technique. I tried that once;
it ended badly.
     Helen Raynor acted as an unsung script editor for a lot of the new series. She is notable, really, for being the one and only woman to ever write for the new series, which considering modern attitudes to equality is actually quite shocking. It's something of a shame, really, that her two stories for Doctor Who have been rather lukewarm - her two stories for Torchwood (Ghost Machine and To The Last Man) were rather amazing by comparison, but it just seemed like in Who she got fobbed off with bringing back popular villains, which didn't give her much room to do anything with the same potency as her other work.
     Well, those are the main points. Two-parters always tend to mess me up - even though some Classic Stories are longer, it feels like the new series shoves much more into each story as a matter of simple concentration. The Manhattan two-parter has its own unique brand of logic that I just really can't comprehend, and that's why even if I look into the attempts at atmosphere and story, I just really wouldn't reccomend it to anyone. If you want Dalek craziness of the weirdest degree, this is the place to look. Preferably with some form of alcohol.

Thanks.

NEXT WEEK: More Biology abuse in the insanity of The Lazarus Experiment.

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