Daleks in Manhattan / Evolution of the Daleks

* Well, that was not quite as awful as I’d remembered. I was expecting an absolute stinker, but it’s not, it’s just average. And that’s probably why I’d remembered such a massive disappointment: Daleks shouldn’t be average. Every Dalek story so far in the revival has been a solid ten out of ten, whereas this is the weakest story of the season so far.

* My first issue is with the clichéd New Yoik accents – it’s an accent that grates on me at the best of times, but what’s more some of them are Gunfighters levels of inaccuracy. Mind you, the one who I thought was the worst offender is now Spider-Man, so what do I know? Tallulah got on my tits a little bit, which is a shame because it’s not really a fault of the character, just my aversion to English people doing over-exaggerated old-timey American voices.

* Lots of bits and bobs of this episode reminded me of things from the past. Just the combination of Daleks and the Empire State Building brought back memories of Peter Purves’s attempt at a terrible accent. Daleks pissing about with their own genetics is nothing new either – it’s basically what Davros was up to virtually every time he appeared, and they were trying to inject the human factor as early as the 60s. Most obscurely, the pig slaves reminded me of the similar giving-animal-DNA-to-people antics of Mindwarp, but with a showgirl crying about it, rather than Brian Blessed.

* The problem with the Daleks’ final experiment, other than the fact that the results were plastered all over the Radio Times beforehand, a decision so stupid it’s still the thing I most remember about this episode ten years later, is simple. Fundamentally, why would you want to see the Daleks out of their shell? Don’t get me wrong, the fact that there’s a living creature inside the travel machine is an important factor, but it’s the machine that makes them such an enduring icon.

* Also, from their perspective, it makes no sense for the Daleks to make themselves so vulnerable, without the casing’s armour or weaponry for protection. It doesn’t help that Sec looks stupid and sounds stupid, with his mandibles tightly packed into a swanky suit, and his whispering, softly-spoken voice. I’m kind of on the rest of the Cult’s side when they turn against him, as the things he’s saying veer so far away from how Daleks should be thinking. They’re simply supremacists, and any fundamental change to their physiology should be abhorrent to them – they should rather die than become humanised.

* There were still plenty of good Dalek moments, such as the two of them having a gossip about Sec in the sewers, and one turning round to check nobody’s listening in. I loved Solomon delivering a massive speech about peace and harmony, only to be greeted with a predictably blunt extermination. It’s just a shame that these moments were so few and far between – there wasn’t nearly as much action as in any of their previous appearances, and the dialogue isn’t close enough to RTD’s standards to compensate.

* Fave lines that I’d previously forgotten: “I should have guessed. He’s in to musical theatre. What a waste.” / “You told us to imagine and we imagined your irrelevance.”

* An story that celebrates the spirit of liberty and freedom in which America was founded feels sadly outdated, given the comprehensive destruction of those principles which is currently taking place. The Daleks aren’t the only evil megalomaniacs to have operated out of a New York tower.


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