Doctor Who – Daleks in Manhattan

This weekend’s episode, reviewed:

I’m going to hold off on reviewing the overall story, since my opinion of it will largely depend upon the resolution in the next episode of this two-parter. That said, the next episode had better be bloody brilliant, because this one was kinda “meh” for me.

Some thoughts:

1) If you’re going to go to the trouble to fly your filming crew and stars to NYC to do some filming (which they did), I would have expected more use of the actual locations in the story. There was nothing that actually looked like it was filmed there….despite the fact that I know for a fact that the TARDIS landing scene was, in fact, filmed on Liberty Island. They never did a wide shot, though, so it could have easily been a stone wall in Tooting Bec, and a CG Statue of Liberty. They spent most of the episode running around in corridors, for chrissakes — Something from the old WHO that I really didn’t miss.

2) We’ve seen genetically altered pig people before, in the first series of the new show. The Slitheen did it. The pig people in this episode are not only repititious, but entire unnecessary. They’re a slave race. OK, fine. But don’t repeat the same riff you’ve so recently used. Come up with something new…or use the Dalek’s classic slaves, the Ogrons. Plus, they’re not really needed plot-wise. The Daleks could have just as easily had human thugs working for them (since they already did – Mr. Diagoras, for example). The only reason to use creeeeeepy pig people was to do the whole mysterious-monsters-in-the-sewers bit….but if your bloody title has “Daleks” in it, it’s not as if we’re going to not figure out who the real villains are…..

3) This is a big one, and I’d never thought I’d be saying this, but: ENOUGH WITH THE DALEKS ALREADY. Seriously. In the old show, the Daleks were a special-event monster. You were lucky if they showed up once in an entire incarnation of the Doctor. There were years between their appearances, which made them something special. In the new series, we’ve had them appear every year. The situation reminds me of what happened with The Master in the early 80s. The Fifth Doctor couldn’t go five feet without bumping into him, and it really reduced the Master to a moustache-twirling pantomime villain. The specialness was gone. I don’t want to see that happen to the Daleks.

I have more thoughts, but again, they depend mostly on how everything plays out in the next episode. More next week.

6 Replies to “Doctor Who – Daleks in Manhattan”

  1. I thought in the Dr. Who Confidential episode they showed that the TARDIS landing scene was filmed at a wall in Cardiff with a greenscreen, then the background was superimposed with a greenscreen. In fact, the impression I got was that none of the actors went to New York, and that the only group that did go were the writer and a crew that did a few pickup shots of The Majestic and the Empire State Building.

    They said they didn’t want to fuss with shots of the streets or tenements because of the work involved trying to make them look period.

    I agree with you about the Ogrons, that would’ve been a nice revisit and still be different enough to make them interesting.

    RTD has a hard-on for Daleks, and because they’re piovtal to the Time War, I think that’s why they’re ever-present, despite the fact that they’re only four left.

    I noticed that so far this season the theme seems to be “adapt, escape and survive” – we see it with the blood-drinker in the first episode, we see it with the Carrionites in the second episode, and we see it both with the humans (who need a bit of a push) and even the Macra (albeit in a twisted way) in the third episode.

    I like the fact that the function of the Cult of Skaro was to think outside of the box, and Sec points out that despite the fact that Daleks claim to be superior, they’re almost entirely wiped out while the human race survives.

  2. Hadn’t seen the Confidential — that’s interesting. I could’ve sworn the landing scene was a location shot, because I’ve been there, and that’s exactly what it looks like. They only did pick-ups? What was the bloody point? They could’ve gotten period stock footage from any number of sources, and done it completely digital. Feh.

  3. Yeah, another weak episode generally. I agree about the pigs especially. Speaking as a UK viewer, though, it was interesting to find out a bit about Hooverville etc. — continuing the whole “Dr Who as an educational show about the past” vibe.

  4. 1) folks have already dealt with…

    2) Well, yes.

    3) And again, we’re in “teatime of the daleks” territory. “Dalek” was brilliant, the end of season 1 two parter needed daleks to work, as did the end of season 2, but this is just tat.

    Wasn’t the early scarcity of daleks down to terry nation getting as much cash as possible for them? Good on him, I say.

    Third doctor ruined the master, IMHO, when we had a whole season of “ho ho, here’s the master… not doing much.” Tony delgado pays the rent again.

  5. definitely…

    agreeing about the Daleks. Mind, the only time I’ve ever found them frightening was in “Dalek” (the first time I saw one fly) & “Parting of the Ways.” The corollary w/ the over-use of the Master making him ineffectual (despite being performed by fairly good actors) was most apt.

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