Doctor Who Series 5 Episode 3 review: Victory of the Daleks

Posted: 2 May 2010 in television
Tags: , , , , , ,
Keep buggering on…
Doctor Who - Victory of the Daleks

Holding genocidal aliens at bay with a jammy dodger…Dogfighting Spitfires in space… Anyone who says that Doctor Who does not have the greatest and most flexible format in the history of drama needs to be visited by one of Bracewell’s Ironsides.

The mirroring of the first 3 stories in the debut RTD season (contemporary Earth, futuristic Earth-connected, celebrity historical written by Mark Gatiss) is now complete with the arrival of Victory of the Daleks from the pen of Mr Gatiss.

The Daleks were born from the mind of Terry Nation in 1963, a mere 18 years after the end of World War II, as a metaphor for the faceless, authoritarian, conformity-seeking, racist Nazis. In many ways the period encompassing the war against Nazi Germany could be viewed as the natural home of the Children of Skaro so it seems fairly incredible that it has taken 47 years for them to appear in that era.

It’s been said that the Daleks work most effectively in an environment or a situation that you normally wouldn’t expect to find them in: the Victorian setting of The Evil of the Daleks, quoting Shakespeare in The Time of the Daleks, or in servitude to a human colony in The Power of the Daleks. Indeed it is to Power that Victory owes its birthing to with the theme of Daleks working to gain the trust of the human race before showing their true bumps.

The Daleks look so at home trundling around the Cabinet War Rooms with their khaki-coloured “Ironsides” livery, Union Flag badges and military webbing you’d swear that they’ve always looked that way. Then: Behold the new generation of Daleks!!! Scientist. Strategist. Drone. Eternal. Supreme!!! Bright shiny colours!!! The most radical redesign since their first appearance in 1963!!! Oh fuck what have they done???!!! As easy as it is to justifiably criticise many elements of the RTD era (many of the scripts and certainly the redesigned Cybermen) they got the beefed-up 21st century Daleks absolutely right – indestructible bronze engines of fury.

Alongside the Daleks, the Doctor and the TARDIS comes another icon of British history: Winston Spencer Churchill portrayed with precise (and ample girth) by Ian McNiece. No doubt many will say that McNiece and Gatiss play up to the legendary image of the man regarded as the greatest Prime Minister ever and ignore the dark faults of the character. Of course they bloody well do!!! This is drama not the History Channel. We want the cigar, the “V” sign, the sheer focussed bloody mindedness of the man that held the nation together from 1940 to 1945.

Apart from the beautifully emotional scene with Bracewell, Amy doesn’t have as much to do in her third adventure with the Doctor but with the Doctor, Churchill, Spitfires and two generations of Daleks to fight into less than 45 minutes that’s hardly a surprise. Like The Beast Below this screams out for a double episode slot to pace the story more effectively. More time needed to be spent in the cramped confines of the Cabinet War Rooms establishing the threat of the Daleks and proving the Doctor’s assertion of their evil.

Restoration of the Daleks would have been an equally apt title for this mini-World War II film (even the Daleks say as much) as it restores the Children of Skaro as a force of pure evil in the universe. The RTD era spent each of the Dalek stories resurrecting them only to send them back into the fire, void, whatever it was each time. The Daleks are woven into the DNA of the series and must, must return to face each Doctor.

And there’s that crack in the universe again..


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