Vengeance on Varos

doctor vengeance

And cut it — now!

Governor

Synopsis

Looking for a rare mineral to repair the TARDIS, the Doctor arrives on Varos, where political prisoners and their guards are all subjected to sadistic tortures and executions which the colony’s inhabitants view and vote on through interactive television. Accused of being alien infiltrators helping the colony’s rebel factions, the Doctor and Peri find themselves the latest unwilling subjects in this most extreme form of reality TV.

Review

Vengeance on Varos can be considered as one of the stories that best demonstrates the violent and dark places the show was heading under the guidance of Eric Saward during Colin Baker’s era.  It is undeniably a great story, focusing on reality television and showing how dictatorships cling to power, however, demonstrates sadistic violence towards individuals, as well as horrible punishments.  The Doctor is not immune to this violent streak, which is the biggest problem in my opinion with this story.

The explicit violence in this story is definitely the most troubling thing, and especially worrying considering that the Doctor seems to be complicit in this.  When rescuing Jondar from his punishment, the Doctor turns the laser gun on the guards, which I wasn’t particularly happy with.  In some ways, the grimmer tone here is really the point, as the whole idea of the society on Varos broadcasting this footage is to keep the population in line.  One of the more troubling aspects displayed here is how blasé the Greek chorus of Arak and Etta are in the opening moments of the story, with Arak even talking off-handedly about repeats.  Additionally, the torture of Areta and Peri, transforming them into creatures is truly horrific, as well as featuring some of the best effects of the series.  The more violent nature of this episode certainly makes the episode more memorable, especially the infamous acid bath.  The Doctor may not kill the two guards tasked with destroying his body, but it is a scene that has attracted much comment.  Personally, I have no problem with his offhand remark on their demise, which is a Bond-esque quip, but I can see why people aren’t keen on this aspect.  A scene I find more troubling is the one towards the story’s climax, where the Doctor tempts the cannibals in the punishment zone to touch the tendrils and setting up the ambush for the Chief Officer and Quillam, a scenario where he undoubtedly knows the outcome of his actions.

You’ll forgive me if I don’t join you.

Sixth Doctor

sil vengeance

Philip Martin’s script takes a hard look at the video nasties that were prevalent in the 1980s, as well as looking at the potential future use of reality television.  On occasion, this can be seen to be slightly too on the nose, especially when the Chief Officer talks about viewing figures, but by and large, this element works really well. I particularly enjoy the reaction of Arak and Etta when the Governor announces that he is shutting down the television networks.  My only issue with the script is that the resolution seems to come far too quickly, and the elements seem tied up too neatly.  However, the story benefits from a great central villain in the shape of Sil, played here by Nabil Shaban.  Sil is a representative of the Galactic Mining Company, sent to Varos to negotiate with the Governor a price for his Zeiton-7, a valuable element also required by the Doctor to repair the TARDIS.  Sil manipulates the instability caused by successive Governors being murdered to negotiate a beneficial price for his benefit, attempting to get this valuable resource at as low a price as possible.  Sil must be amongst the most disgusting and sinister monsters the Doctor has ever faced, with his reptile-like behaviour and that horrendous laugh.  It is a really memorable performance from Nabil Shaban which lifts the rest of the episode.

I have to say that Colin Baker is particularly good here, especially when he is so confident that he will have the opportunity to query after his execution, but I also enjoy his outrage when he sees Quillam’s experiments on Peri and Areta.  I feel it is far too easy to dismiss Baker’s incarnation of the Doctor as the one in the frankly garish costume with some questionable stories under his belt.  However, his attitude towards the role sees him attack even the shakiest story with enormous gusto and you can’t question his commitment to the show.  With how the BBC treated him, with the initial hiatus and the frankly shocking handling of his sacking, the fact that Colin Baker remains a fantastic ambassador for the show is to his enormous credit.  Anyway, back to Vengeance.  I really like the performance of Martin Jarvis as the Governor, as I feel that he brings a quiet resignation to this character, who in other hands could potentially come across as a one dimensional character.  The scene where he attempts to persuade Maldak into letting Peri go while being completely resigned to his own fate is another personal highlight in a strong story.

Verdict: A really strong entry for the Sixth Doctor, with my only real problem being that the Doctor indulges in violence perhaps a bit too much. 9/10

Cast: Colin Baker (The Doctor), Nicola Bryant (Peri Brown), Martin Jarvis (Governor), Nabil Shaban (Sil), Nicolas Chagrin (Quillam), Jason Connery (Jondar), Forbes Collins (Chief Officer), Stephen Yardley (Arak), Sheila Reid (Etta), Geraldine Alexander (Areta), Graham Cull (Bax), Owen Teale (Maldak), Keith Skinner (Rondel), Hugh Martin (Priest)

Writer: Philip Martin

Director: Ron Jones

Parts: 2

Behind the Scenes

  • Martin Jarvis had previously appeared in The Web Planet and Invasion of the Dinosaurs, and went on to appear opposite Colin Baker in Jubilee for Big Finish, which would be adapted into the Ninth Doctor story, Dalek.  Sheila Reid went onto play Clara’s gran in The Time of the Doctor and Dark Water.  Stephen Yardley had previously appeared in Genesis of the Daleks as Sevrin.
  • This story attracted further criticism for being too violent from members of the public, as well as fans and long-term critic, Mary Whitehouse.

Best Moment

The cliffhanger at the end of Part One is perhaps one of my favourites.  With the cameras in the Punishment Zone broadcasting the Doctor’s demise, the Governor calls to cut the footage at the point of his apparent death, as Sil begins to laugh his horrific laugh.

Best Quote

Is he sane, this Doctor?

Sometimes.

Peri, this is no time for casual conversation!

Jondar, Peri and Sixth Doctor

peri bird vengeance

Kinda

tegan kinda

Straight-down-the-line thinking, that’s what this situation needs.

Sanders

Synopsis

The TARDIS visits the planet Deva Loka, where all Tegan becomes possessed by an evil force known as the Mara.

Review

This story is perhaps the best example of how flexible the format of Doctor Who is.  Kinda focuses more on aspects of belief rather than science fiction ideas and this means that it sticks in the memory much more than some of the other stories surrounding it.  The story also disposes of Nyssa for much of the story, allowing the focus to be much more on Tegan and Adric, as well as the fairly new Fifth Doctor.  There is also some particularly fantastic direction by Peter Grimwade on this story which allows for some particularly striking visuals.

Kinda borrows some ideas from Buddhism and some elements of Christianity to create the belief system of the Kinda living on the planet of Deva Loka, and whilst some elements of this make the story complicated to follow for a casual viewer, it allows for the world that the Doctor and his companions find themselves on to feel more fleshed out.  Elements such as the names of Karuna and the Mara all come from Buddhism but as they are mixed with other ideas which allows them to feel fresh and alien.  The only issue this creates is that I imagine that at the time it wasn’t terribly interesting to children watching the programme.  There’s no real alien or monster, with the wonky looking Mara snake at the end, however, I can honestly say that it did not affect my enjoyment of the story, as it only features briefly.  Some of the bigger ideas about the Kinda and the story in general served to keep me interested enough to follow the complexities of the plot.

doctor tegan adric

The direction of Peter Grimwade cements this story as a classic.  Grimwade’s technique of directing from the floor was fairly unique at the time and draws a parallel between himself and Graeme Harper, another standout director of this era of the show.  Where the two men differ however, is that Grimwade seems to have irritated actors later in his run, especially on the production of Earthshock.  Here, he has some difficult scenes to direct, such as the scenes inside Tegan’s mind which feel almost like a play.  In the hands of another director, these could feel very over the top and out of place, but his handling of the scenes, coupled with the three actors involved in the scenes set here, especially Jeff Stewart as Dukkha.  The scenes in her mind, where everything is compressed to simple colours, emphasising the little red seen, making them seem vampiric.  Grimwade really makes the scenes in her mind truly memorable and everything in Tegan’s possession scenes are unsettling, creepy and a little disturbing.  The merits of Grimwade’s style of direction can also be seen especially in the performance of Simon Rouse as Hindle, where his descent into madness and his determination to destroy the planet he is supposed to be colonising is handled really well by both the actor and the director.  Similarly to the scenes in Tegan’s mind, this could seem ridiculous in different hands, so it is to both’s credit.  The direction also helps to give the Mara an effective debut, and they would go on to reappear in Snakedance.

With regards to the TARDIS crew, the absence of Nyssa allows us to understand the dynamics between this team and give us a chance for some much-needed development for Tegan.   Janet Fielding gives a really compelling performance as the unhinged Tegan and By making this villain so inextricably linked to Tegan, and giving her something different to do rather than moaning about getting back to Heathrow allows us to see a different side of the Doctor.  We also see that she and Adric don’t really get along – as demonstrated in their discussion about mental control in Part Four and Tegan thinking she’s helping Nyssa win at checkers at the beginning of the story.  The fact that Adric spends most of the story “captured” by Hindle and Tegan is battling her own demons allows Peter Davison to take the lead, and he gives his most convincing performance as the Doctor here, especially in his scene facing off against Aris, where he feels as though he is in complete control of his situation.  We also see how the relationship between the Doctor and Adric has changed since the former regenerated, and the relationship is now more of a brotherly one rather than a father-son relationship as previously.  The Doctor also gets to spend a lot of time with Todd, played by Nerys Hughes, who comes across as a great pseudo-companion, who is inquisitive and thoughtful.

Verdict: Kinda is an interesting story that introduces a great villain and has some great performances from both the main and guest casts. 10/10

Cast: Peter Davison (The Doctor), Janet Fielding (Tegan Jovanka), Matthew Waterhouse (Adric), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa), Nerys Hughes (Todd), Richard Todd (Sanders), Simon Rouse (Hindle), Mary Morris (Panna), Sarah Prince (Karuna), Adrian Mills (Aris), Anna Wing (Anatta), Roger Milner (Anicca), Jeff Stewart (Dukkha), Lee Cornes (Trickster)

Writer: Christopher Bailey

Director: Peter Grimwade

Parts: 4

Behind the Scenes

  • Despite receiving a mixed reaction from fans on transmission, in more recent times it has been ranked as the second most popular story from season 19, behind Earthshock.
  • This story marks the first time since the show started being filmed in colour that one of the companions was absent from the narrative for an entire episode. In this case, the story had been completed prior to the casting of Nyssa as a companion.
  • Kinda demonstrates then state of the art Quantel effects for the trip through Tegan’s eye, however, production issues cut down studio time, which impacted on the appearance of the snake in Part 4.
  • The story writes out the sonic screwdriver very early on.  In the following story, The Visitation, the sonic screwdriver would be destroyed and would not return until the TV Movie.
  • Jonny Lee Miller appears in an uncredited role.
  • This is the only story of Peter Davison’s run to feature no interior TARDIS scenes.
  • The story was commissioned by Christopher H. Bidmead, worked on by Anthony Root and produced under Eric Saward, which means that it has had the most script editors work on it.

Best Moment

The use of the Quantel technology to zoom in on Tegan’s eye and into the dark recesses of her mind is fantastic.

Best Quote

An apple a day keeps the – Ah.  Never mind.

The Fifth Doctor

Doctor Todd Kinda

Robot of Sherwood

robot of sherwood

No damsels in distress, no pretty castles, no such thing as Robin Hood.

Twelfth Doctor

Synopsis

At the request of Clara, the TARDIS arrives in Sherwood Forest in 1190, where they meet the folk hero Robin Hood, much to the Doctor’s disbelief.  They quickly realise something is amiss as the Sherriff of Nottingham and his army of robots are plotting a scheme that could rewrite history for the worst.

Review

There is an element with Mark Gatiss’ work on Doctor Who that some argue means that it could be lifted from any one series and placed into another without much impact on the show itself.  Robot of Sherwood, despite feeling quite light-weight and fluffy in comparison to some other stories in Series 8, is a good glimpse into the sort of man Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor would become later on in his run, while also contributing to his uncertainty about whether he is a good man. It can seem a bit out of place surrounded by episodes emphasising how dark this new Doctor is, but is quite a good fun romp.  There are elements that seem slightly over the top and it’s never going to be a story I consider to be amongst the best of Capaldi’s run though.

merry men

When did you stop believing in everything?

When did you start believing in impossible heroes?

Don’t you know?

Clara Oswald and the Twelfth Doctor

The story’s real strength is in Gatiss’ script, which has some fantastic dialogue allowing the two stars and the two main guest stars, Ben Miller and Tom Riley, to really shine.  Moments that stand out include the scenes in which the Doctor and Robin are imprisoned together and are constantly bickering.  The story really is one of a battle of the egos of two iconic heroes, with the Doctor being jealous of Clara’s infatuation with Robin.  However, by the end of the story, both men’s respect has grown for each other once the Doctor is convinced that the famous archer is not, in fact, a robot, which does show a slightly softer side to the hard Twelfth Doctor.  It is not revealed until relatively late on that Robin is, in fact, real, with the Doctor being so utterly convinced that he is part of the Robot’s schemes that it takes the Sherriff of Nottingham pointing out that there would be no obvious point to them creating opposition to their plans for him to see how wrong he is.  In fairness to the Doctor, the Robin Hood we see here is almost like the epitome of the traditional legends and stories about the emerald archer, and Tom Riley’s swagger and charisma really help evoke the Errol Flynn image of the character.  There are also elements like the archery contest and the golden arrow, as well as the fight between the Doctor and Robin that allude to the famous stories about Robin Hood that have lasted through time.

Is it so hard to credit, that a man born into wealth and privelege should find the plight of the oppressed and weak too much to bear?

I know, b…

Until one night, he is moved to steal a TARDIS, fly among the stars, fighting the good fight.  Clara told me your stories.

 

Jenna Coleman’s performance deserves a lot of credit here too.  Her enthusiasm at meeting Robin Hood means that she is much more accepting of the facts when she discovers that the legends are in fact true, and her frustration at the constant bickering between the Doctor and Robin when they are imprisoned is completely understandable.  We see glimpses of what Clara must be like as a teacher in these scenes, especially when she dismisses the Doctor’s plan to escape as boiling down to using the sonic screwdriver.  The dinner scene between Clara and the Sherriff, where Clara is able to convince him to divulge his big plan is also really good.  Ben Miller plays the Sherriff of Nottingham surprisingly straight and he may seem like a stereotypical villain with his plans of world domination, but Miller does bring something likeable to the role.  I remember when we first saw the trailer for Series 8, there was quite a lot of speculation that he was playing either the Delgado or the Ainley Master.  Little did we know we had already seen the new incarnation of the Master twice already!  The Robots aiding the Sherriff in his plans are quite effectively creepy even if they don’t really contribute much, except to mention that, like the Clockwork Droids in Deep Breath, they are also looking for the “Promised Land”.

sherriff of nottingham

The story’s tone can feel a bit jarring, following hot on the heels of Deep Breath and Into the Dalek, however, the story allows this incarnation to have a bit of fun in the story.  Capaldi’s comedy chops are well known by most in the UK through the superb (although very sweary) The Thick of It, and he seems to have a great time here being the doubter of the story.   I really like the moment when he and Robin discover the spaceship at the heart of the castle, and he rejoices in finding something that he feels is finally real.  If we think where the character of the Twelfth Doctor ends up in Twice Upon A Time, it does owe a lot to this episode where he starts to comprehend that an image of heroism can help to make the grimmest scenarios more tolerable.  The episode does have moments that I find to be a bit too cheesy though, especially the bit where the Doctor, Clara and Robin are all required to fire the golden arrow to blow up the ship, which just doesn’t really sit well with me.

Verdict: A more light-hearted story for the Twelfth Doctor that has some interesting moments that tie in to the ‘Good Man’ arc of Capaldi’s first season.  The tone does feel a bit jarring, however, and there are some moments that make me cringe a little.  7/10

Cast: Peter Capaldi (The Doctor), Jenna Coleman (Clara Oswald), Tom Riley (Robin Hood), Roger Ashton-Griffiths (Quayle), Sabrina Bartlett (Quayle’s Ward/Maid Marian), Ben Miller (Sherriff of Nottingham), Ian Hallard (Allan-a-Dale), Trevor Cooper (Friar Tuck), Rusty Goffe (Little John), Joseph Kennedy (Will Scarlett), Adam Jones (Walter), David Benson (Herald), David Langham (Guard), Tim Baggaley (Knight), Richard Elfyn (Voice of the Knights)

Writer: Mark Gatiss

Director: Paul Murphy

Behind the Scenes

  • One of the images showing depictions of Robin Hood through time shows Patrick Troughton playing the hero, who in addition to playing the Second Doctor was the first actor to portray Robin Hood on television.  Additionally, Patrick Troughton’s grandson, Sam Troughton, played Much in the BBC adaptation of Robin Hood broadcast during Doctor Who’s off-season from 2006 until 2009.
  • Peter Capaldi celebrated his 56th birthday during production of this story and was given a Dalek-themed birthday cake.
  • A scene was cut of the Sherriff of Nottingham being beheaded, explicitly revealing him to be a robot was cut from the episode due to the beheading of two American journalists by the terrorist group ISIS which happened a few weeks before transmission.  There is a line that states that the Sherriff is “half-man, half-machine” and his hands are seen in the vat of molten gold which allude to this.
  • David Benson and Ian Hallard had previously appeared in Invaders of Mars, a Big Finish audio written by Mark Gatiss.
  • The title references the ITV show Robin of Sherwood which went up against series 22 of Doctor Who in 1985, and the golden arrow story are staples of the Robin Hood legend.
  • This episode is the first since Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS not to feature a scene on present day Earth.

Best Moment

It feels like a cheat to include a quote under best moment, but I do really like the final exchange between Robin Hood and the Doctor.

You are her hero, I think.

I’m not a hero.

Well, neither am I.  But if we keep pretending to be (laughs) perhaps others will be heroes in our name.  Perhaps we will both be stories.  And may those stories never end.  Goodbye Doctor, Time Lord of Gallifrey.

Goodbye Robin, Earl of Locksley.

And remember, Doctor, I’m just as real as you are.

Robin Hood and the Twelfth Doctor

Best Quote

Aah! All these diseases! If you were real, you’d be dead in six months.

I am real!

Bye.

The Twelfth Doctor and Allan-a-Dale

arrow spaceship

 

The Sontaran Experiment

fourth doctor transmat
The Doctor fixes an army of BB-8s.

It’s absolutely typical of Harry.  How anybody in his right mind can fall down a whacking great subsidence like that…

The Fourth Doctor

Synopsis

The Doctor, Sarah and Ian arrive on a desolated Earth and discover some shipwrecked astronauts, who are being experimented on by the Sontarans.  Can the Doctor stop Styre’s experiments?

Review

The Sontaran Experiment could be seen as padding between the weighty Ark in Space and Genesis of the Daleks, but to do so would be to do it a disservice.  In fact, it demonstrates the economy with which a Doctor Who story can be told, with no need for padding which can be seen in a lot of earlier stories.  It is well directed and the use of film for this entirely on location story shot on Dartmoor, although the Sontaran robot does look particularly wobbly, even for Doctor Who.

I feel a bit like a Morse message: slightly scrambled.

Harry Sullivan

My biggest problem with the story is probably the fact that the Sontarans need to conduct experiments on an uninhabited Earth, and don’t simply invade straight off the bat.  This element of the story really doesn’t work for me, especially if they have a battle fleet ready to invade, I believe that any warrior race championing themselves as the best soldiers in the galaxy would move in straight away and conduct these experiments later.  However, the experiments carried out on Sarah Jane and the GalSec crew are truly horrifying and give the story some of it’s more memorable moments.  The moment where Harry comes across the astronaut left to die of dehydration by Styre is horrifying, and the fear experiment on Sarah is really shocking. On a slight tangent, I like the fact that Sarah recognises that she has met Sontarans before – it’s a nice moment of continuity that Baker and Martin didn’t need to throw in. All in all, despite the leap that the initial premise of the story requires, the story is good and builds up fear in tension in a much shorter running time than other stories in Baker’s predecessors’ eras.  It is perhaps unfortunate that it falls between two stories widely considered to be the best that this era, and in some cases, the show, in general, has to offer.

styre sarah roth

Rodney Bennett’s direction also helps this story and the fact that this story was shot entirely on location in Dartmoor aids this story as it busts through the claustrophobia of entirely studio-based stories.  The story takes full advantage of this location, doubling up as the site of the abandoned London, and certainly helps the story when Harry starts wandering off.  The image of Styre’s head deflating at the end of the story is really startling and is definitely something that will stick with me for a while after watching this story.  The choreography of the fight scene between Styre and the Doctor (whilst obviously not being Tom Baker) is also pretty spectacular.  Bennett’s direction particularly effective in convincing you that this is a futuristic and abandoned Earth and really aids the story.

The cast here is small but pretty fantastic.  Tom Baker is particularly great, especially in the interrogation with the GalSec astronauts and there is a particularly lovely moment where he believes that he has misplaced the sonic screwdriver, only for Sarah to reveal that she picked it up earlier.

What would I do without you?

The Fourth Doctor

The story also separates the TARDIS team up a bit and allows Harry to do something affecting the plot.  It is Harry who discovers the first of Styre’s sadistic experiments on the astronauts and him who attempts to save Sarah from the psychological torture inflicted on her as well.  I have to say I really like Harry, despite his old fashioned nature, and Ian Marter plays the part really well here.  The GalSec astronauts are all well played, especially Vural and Roth, and I find the idea of the South African accents being a demonstration of the evolution of language through time interesting, as championed here by Bob Baker and Dave Martin.

sarah sontaran experiment

Verdict: A good story which demonstrates how easy it is to tell a compelling Doctor Who story over a relatively short duration for the Classic Era.  It does suffer from being in the middle of two absolutely superb stories.  7/10

Cast: Tom Baker (The Doctor), Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah-Jane Smith), Ian Marter (Harry Sullivan), Donald Douglas (Vural), Glyn Jones (Krans), Peter Walshe (Erak), Kevin Lindsay (Styre and the Marshal), Peter Rutherford (Roth), Terry Walsh (Zake), Brian Ellis (Prisoner)

Writer: Bob Baker and Dave Martin

Director: Rodney Bennett

Parts: 2

Behind the Scenes

  • Whilst this is Tom Baker’s third broadcast story, it was second in the production order.
  • This story is the second to be filmed entirely on location, after Spearhead from Space, and is the first not to feature any studio scenes.  Unlike Spearhead,
  • This is one of ten stories not to feature the TARDIS at all.  Coincidentally, the following story, Genesis of the Daleks also does not feature the TARDIS.
  • During shooting, Tom Baker broke his collarbone.  His scarf was used to cover up the neck brace, and stunt performer Terry Walsh doubled for him in some scenes.
  • Kevin Lindsay returns for the second and final time playing Sontarans.  He played Linx in The Time Warrior but died due to a long-standing heart condition shortly after this.
  • Glyn Jones, who plays Krans, wrote The Space Museum, making him one of five people to write and act in Doctor Who.
  • This is the first two part serial since The Rescue and the last until Black Orchid.

Best Moment

The moment that will stay with me is Styre’s defeat and his head deflating.

Best Quote

Doctor! I thought you were dead.

Not me.  (Holds up a piece of metal) Piece of the synestic locking mechanism from Nerva’s rocket – popped it in my pocket.

Fortuitous.

Foresight.  You never know when these bits and pieces will come in handy.  Never throw anything away Harry.  (Throws it away)  Now, where’s my 500 year diary?  I remember jotting some notes on the Sontarans…It’s a mistake to clutter one’s pockets, Harry.

Harry Sullivan and the Fourth Doctor

Sontaran globe

Victory of the Daleks

dalek bracewell churchill doctor amy

Would you care for some tea?

“Ironside” Dalek

Synopsis

Responding to Winston Churchill’s call, the Doctor and Amy travel to World War Two where they find the Daleks. But why are they helping the Allied cause? Why don’t they recognise the Doctor? What are the Daleks planning?
Review

When I rewatched Victory of the Daleks for this blog, I realised that I still had vivid memories of watching it on it’s initial transmission in 2010. This may seem bizarre, as it is a divisive entry into Doctor Who canon, but thinking about it, I realised that this was the first Matt Smith story I watched live. I’d been away for the broadcast of the previous two, and having caught up and having been utterly convinced by this new Doctor, sat down excitedly for the next instalment of his adventures. This makes me sound like I was 8. I was actually 18, just about to take my A-Levels and probably in the midst of panicking about exams, university and life beyond. When I came to watch this episode nearly ten years later, my reaction to it was probably about the same as it was then. I’m not going to say that Victory is the best Dalek story that the new series or the original have produced, however, I feel it does get a rough ride. Matt Smith puts in a good performance as the Doctor, as does Karen Gillan as Amy, and the guest stars of Ian McNeice and Bill Paterson certainly help this story along. It is hindered by some poor direction in places by Andrew Gunn, and I really feel this story could have benefitted from being a two-parter.

Listen to me. Just listen. The Daleks have no conscience. No mercy. No pity. They are my oldest and deadliest enemy. You can not trust them.

If Hitler invaded Hell, I would give a favourable reference to the Devil.

Eleventh Doctor and Winston Churchill

I’ll talk about the elements of the episode that I’m not so keen on first of all. This story definitely feels too short, and at forty minutes it feels as though something is definitely missing. There is potentially more to be done with the Daleks posing as Bracewell’s Ironsides, and in my mind, if this were a two-parter, perhaps either the Doctor’s “testimony” or the reveal of the New Dalek Paradigm would have been a good place for the end of the first part. Additionally, I’m not a fan of the direction of Andrew Gunn here, especially of the scene in which the Eleventh Doctor confronts the Daleks triggering his testimony. Equally the Cabinet War Rooms feel a bit too wide and open as opposed to claustrophobic and the Dalek ship, supposed to be ramshackle and damaged from the climax of Journey’s End feels extremely overlit. However, I do like the scene in which Churchill, Amy and the Doctor are discussing the Daleks and a sole Dalek wheels by. In Steven Moffat’s interview after his departure as showrunner, he did say that he felt that he had taken his eye off this block of episodes, and it does certainly show in some regards. The design of the new Dalek Paradigm did not bother me at the time and still to this day does not bother me too much and I really wish that we learnt what the purpose of an Eternal Dalek was (come on Big Finish!). Nick Briggs does modify his original Dalek voice to being slightly deeper and booming which makes them feel more menacing.

the new daleks

One of the more positive parts of this episode is the fact that it marks the end of a run of stories that see the Daleks as scavengers, a side effect of the Time War. This is the start of something that I like about the Moffat era in general is that there is a greater feeling of a wider universe. With this story depicting a rare and relative victory for the Daleks, it kickstarts a new Dalek empire and leads to the Alliance being set up at the end of the series. The stories since the Time War that have featured one last surviving Dalek are all very well and effective, but a regenerated race of Daleks to fight against a relatively newly regenerated Doctor is a potentially frightening prospect for the universe. I am not overly enamoured with the climax with the Bracewell bomb, although I do like Karen Gillan’s delivery of the line “Hey Paisley. Ever fancied someone you shouldn’t have?” and additionally, the Spitfires in space sequence is a bit silly but is a nice idea. The idea of the Daleks acting as servants to the British army is an obvious homage to Power of the Daleks, and part of me wishes that it did go on for a bit longer.

battlefield

The central and guest performances are strong in this story again. Matt Smith gives a particularly commendable performance as the Doctor, battling with his guilt when he realises that he is responsible for this new, shiny, multicoloured variety of Daleks. He is particularly good in the scene where the Supreme Dalek gives him the ultimatum – he can destroy the Dalek ship and condemn the Earth to destruction, or let the Daleks escape and potentially save the world. Of course, there is no doubt that the Doctor will save the world, but Smith’s performance makes you believe that this is really a choice that the Doctor is really grappling with. Karen Gillan is good here too, and the fact that she does not remember the Daleks works really well as it isolates the Doctor when he is warning of the threat. This also is the first story to demonstrate to Amy the dangers of travelling with the Doctor, as the fairytale feel of this series falls away with the arrival of the Dalek. Ian McNeice and Bill Patterson also put in good supporting performances, with small to medium size roles, making them feel really memorable.

Verdict: Victory of the Daleks does fluff it’s lines a little but allows us to see Matt Smith taking on the Doctor’s most famous adversary. 6/10

Cast: Matt Smith (The Doctor), Karen Gillan (Amy Pond), Ian McNeice (Winston Churchill), Bill Paterson (Bracewell), Nina De Cosimo (Blanche), Tim Wallers (Childers), Nicholas Pegg (Dalek 1), Barnaby Edwards (Dalek 2), Nicholas Briggs (Voice of the Daleks), Susanah Fielding (Lilian), James Albrecht (Todd), Colin Prockter (Air Raid Warden)
Writer: Mark Gatiss
Director: Andrew Gunn

Behind the Scenes

  • As part of the Cracks in Space and Time arc, it is revealed that certain events in the show’s modern history have been retconned, such as the Dalek invasion of Earth in 2009.
  • The ‘New Paradigm’ Daleks were initially intended to replace the bronze Daleks reintroduced in Dalek, however, due to the mixed response the new design received, the bronze Daleks and the new design would appear side by side in their appearance in Series 7.

Best Moment

The scene in which the Supreme Dalek gives the Doctor his ultimatum.
Best Quote

You are everything I despise. The worst sin in all creation. I’ve defeated you time and time again. I’ve defeated you. I sent you back into the void. I’ve saved all of reality from you. I am the Doctor, and you are the Daleks!

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The Eleventh Doctor and a Dalek

churchill and the dalek