|First UK Transmission Date (BBC1)||Scheduled TX||Viewers|
|30th April 2005||19:00||8.63m|
Cast: Cast: Bruno Langley (Adam Mitchell), Corey Johnson (Henry), Anna-Louise
Plowman (Diana), Steven Beckingham (Polkowski), John Schwab (Bywater), Jana Carpenter
(DiMaggio), Nigel Whitmey (Simmons), Joe Montana (Commander), Barnaby Edwards
(Dalek Operator), Nicholas Briggs (Dalek Voice)
Robert Shearman, Director: Joe Ahearne
Synopsis: - When the TARDIS lands in a
subterranean museum in 2012, the Doctor becomes one of the exhibits. And when
another prize specimen turns out to be his archenemy, he realises they're both
in the same boat. The mechanised monster has been majestically refurbished, and
has some new tricks hidden under its beefed-up carapace.
'Dalek' Background and Summary: - It had
been sixteen years since a Dalek last graced the small screen and hype surrounding
this episode was huge. The Radio Times for the week featured a special gatefold
cover with the Daleks inside and out, newspapers were full of stories from the
set and the broadcast media had a plethora of interviews and bits featuring Daleks.
The leaked photographs from months earlier and demonstrated that the Dalek looked
good and the snippets from previous Doctor Who Confidential episodes had
shown it had slick movement but the question remained as to the quality of the
Rob Shearman's credentials were never in doubt
as he had delivered arguably the best scripts of the entire Big Finish range and
it was heartening to know that one of those scripts was a Dalek story. What came
as a surprise to many fans was just how much of this story was lifted directly
from Shearman's audio story Jubilee which featured a chained up Dalek,
the last remnant of a great war, lacking in orders or direction, refusing to speak
to its captors who resorted to torture elicit a response, and the creature only
responding only to the Doctor's female companion. It was later confirmed that
Russell T Davies had specifically commissioned Dalek as a screen adaptation
The most significant footnote in the production
of this episode was the fact that the Dalek very nearly didn't feature at all.
Having written his screen adaptation and redrafted it several times, negotiations
with the Terry Nation estate broke down and the captured alien had to be reinvented.
Shearmen kept the same basic premise but was forced to change the motivations,
dialogue and action sequences. Of the eighty scenes in the 5th draft, only six
were retained for the 6th draft. Fortunately, the rights issues were resolved
and the Dalek version of the script was reinstated.
The episode was, in many ways, the most faithful Doctor Who
episode of the new series so far because it fulfilled so many expectations of
the classic Doctor Who format. It opened with the TARDIS having been drawn
off course and the Doctor and his companion uncertain what to expect from their
new surroundings. It then developed with the Doctor and companion being captured
at gunpoint and taken for the ubiquitous interrogation as to their intentions.
The classic template then continues with the Doctor becoming separated from his
companion who forms her own relationship with a supporting character whilst the
Doctor himself is imprisoned. The conclusion to the formula is, of course, that
the Doctor wins his captors trust through his expertise and charisma and naturally
saves the day. One of the many strengths of Dalek is that it retains all
the tried-and-tested elements without coming across as tired or clichéd.
What's more it doesn't eventually follow the normal pattern and it subverts expectations
through the fascinating role-reversal between the Dalek and the Doctor.
Dalek is a masterful piece of television which works on levels
too multitudinous to cover here. The most obvious theme is loneliness and isolation
- the Dalek is alone in its cage, and both it and the Doctor are alone in the
universe, whilst all of the protagonists are trapped in the underground museum.
Furthermore the Dalek mutant's isolation in its own machine cultivates in it wanting
to feel the sunlight on its skin, and touch is an important facet of the solitude
motif - The Doctor's touching of the Cyberman cabinet starts the story going,
the Doctor instructs Van Statten how the alien music instrument needs a gentle
touch to work, and the Doctor notes that he won't touch the 'Metaltron', but when
Rose does touch the Dalek it causes it to regenerate.
The subtleties of the story are as enjoyable as the action sequences
and the story works hard to debunk everything laughable about the Daleks. The
sucker-arm is shown to be deadly, bullets are disintegrated by a force-field,
the creature makes intelligent decisions about how to kill most impressively and,
naturally, stairs are no longer a problem. These great elements, plus the very
traditional path the story took, were a joy to behold. Fans of Doctor Who
had long become bored with the rehashing of old Dalek conquer-and-destroy storylines
and the lone-Dalek premise reworked from Jubilee was a breath of fresh
air. The turn the story took as the Dalek came to terms with foreign DNA changing
how it feels was fascinating to those who had seen or read endless stories about
merciless Daleks. This success was reflected in a fan poll of 2600 votes, where
an incredible 94% of people rated it "good" or "excellent"
(and of those 76% said "excellent") with only 2.3% disliking it. Curiously
though, it was for those very reasons of originality that it wasn't quite such
a hit with the general public. Viewers on the whole had an expectation to see
the Daleks as they had been in their heyday - en mass, exterminating and showing
no feelings - certainly seeing this supposedly evil childhood nightmare struggling
with its emotions and desiring the sunlight came as a shock to some and, despite
great reviews in everything from The Guardian to The People, the audience's reaction
was on the whole not entirely favourable.
The overnight viewing figures
of 7.83m were a considerable improvement on the previous two weeks' figures. Furthermore
it was the most-watched British TV programme on its day and had a 42.73% audience
share. Needless to say it well beat its ITV rival Celebrity Wrestling.
In summary, Dalek cannot be seen as anything other than a triumph.
It is perhaps narrow-minded to dismiss the opinion from some quarters that the
emotional Dalek was a bad idea but, nevertheless it is important to look beyond
the personal tastes of those who were looking for a clichéd Dalek story
and who - lets face it - would have complained had they got one. Dalek succeeds
on every level. It's superbly written, brilliantly acted, well directed and lavishly
realised. As Doctor Who goes, it is virtually faultless.
Classic Series Influences and References:
- The Space Museum contained many alien artifacts including a Dalek
Dalek is sending out a distress signal picked up by the TARDIS. It is established
in Planet of the Daleks that Daleks send out a distress signal when their
casing is tampered with.
- The Cyberman's head on display is labeled as
having been "recovered from underground sewer ... London ... 1975" which
is a direct reference to The Invasion, (although the head shown is of the
style seen in Revenge of the Cyberman) Image
- Davros is referred to as the evil genius who created the Daleks,
although he is not mentioned by name
- The line of the guard "What
you gonna do, sucker me to death?" is taken almost exactly from a line in
an Abslom Daak: Dalek Killer comic strip run in Doctor Who Magazine
scene in which Rose, Adam and a soldier look down upon the Dalek, assuming it
can't climb the stairs is a debunking of the infamous scene from Destiny of
the Daleks were the Doctor taunts the Dalek. It similarly copies the popularly
overlooked scene in which a Dalek follows the Doctor up the basement stairs in
Remembrance of the Daleks.
- Caves of Androzani also featured
a powerful businessman who was deposed by his female assistant
- Van Statted
reveals he has the cure for the common cold under wraps which was mentioned in
The Ark to have been discovered in the late 20th century.
- The Doctor
being confronted by the Dalek shrieking "exterminate", only to discover
its weapon is immobilised strongly echoes Death to the Daleks.
sound effect of the Dalek weapon is a combination of the sound used in Genesis
of the Daleks and Remembrance of the Daleks.
the Complete First Series
is an absolutely must for anyone who remotely enjoyed the new series of Doctor
Who. Unlikely the previous individual releases of episodes, the box set has extras
coming out of its ears. And whereas some box sets just have extras on the final
disc, this brilliant package has a selection of extras on each disk, plus the
entire set of Doctor Who confidential (cut down) on another disk.
much needs saying about the episodes themselves but commentaries on certain episodes
are almost worth the price alone. The commentaries of Rose, The Unquiet
Dead and Dalek are of particular note and the video diaries of certain
members of the team are very interesting and fun. The TARDIS container is a nice
package and overall, believe me this set of DVDs is well worth the asking price,
or probably more!