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Review of Dalek by MrColdStream

2 May 2024

✅88% = Great! = Essential!

Thworping through time and space, one adventure at a time! This time: Jubilee reincarnated, Daleks returned, and a new companion!

Robert Shearman, in his sole contribution to the show, draws inspiration for Dalek from the popular Big Finish audio play Jubilee, starring Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor. This turns out to be a very effective base-under-siege story, relying heavily on the unseen history of the Time War. It puts both the Doctor and the Daleks in a new light and gives us a very dark and emotional episode, relying on character relationships and interactions.



With the script for Dalek, Robert Sherman and RTD tackle the classic base-under-siege story type and use it to reintroduce the most iconic Doctor Who monsters in the Daleks. This is like a 2nd Doctor era monster story on steroids—with a deadly alien threat, a self-centred and ignorant base leader, and a loyal and disposable crew—but it's fast-paced and features a dark and angry Doctor at its core.

I love how quickly the story introduces the Dalek and how the Doctor first responds to it—with shock and fear—before lashing out in anger. The story effectively sheds light on the Time War and its impact on the Time Lord, the Daleks, and the Doctor.

Even if this story introduces the Daleks to a new generation of fans, showing why even a single Dalek can be lethal, it also effectively makes the humans who keep the Dalek captive very easy to hate since they torture and research it without remorse. Watching Henry van Statten torture both the Dalek and, especially, the Doctor makes me feel very uncomfortable.

Rose is put in the ultimate trouble here, and the Doctor is forced to choose between saving her and keeping the Dalek at bay. The moment he realises what he has done to her, it is heartbreaking. In this episode, Rose plays a crucial role in reactivating the Dalek, prompting it to question its own existence and its role in the universe.



This episode, along with The Doctor Dances (2005) and The Parting of the Ways (2005), is Christopher Eccleston's finest performance on the show. He captures the fierce reaction of the Doctor meeting the Dalek incredibly well—the fear, the anger, and the desperation. He goes from sad to furious to energetic in a heartbeat and truly personifies the dark and depressed side of this incarnation. He screams and cries, and he even goes as far as to arm himself with heavy artillery to wipe out what remains of the Dalek race. At the same time, the story creates parallels by showing a Dalek becoming human and the Doctor becoming a Dalek.

Billie Piper is also very good here, particularly when she confronts the Dalek. Although Rose doesn't have much to do, the importance of what she does is immense. I've never really liked the connection between her and the Dalek, or the DNA-feeding stuff.

Corey Johnson plays Henry Van Statten, arguably the first classic villain of the revived era. I loved his performance from the very beginning. He plays very well opposite Eccleston, in particular. He's very much written like an Elon Musk-type rich industrialist, but he's made to be a bit too blunt in his stupidity, as he refuses to realise the danger even after the Dalek begins slaughtering people.

Bruno Langley's short-lived companion, Adam, isn't very good, but he gets worse in The Long Game (2005). He annoys me from the beginning and never feels genuine about anything he does or says.

I'm in two minds about the Dalek's portrayal in this one. I prefer them to be cold, calculative, and ruthless (as seen in The Daleks' Master Plan and The Power of the Daleks), but RTD is showing them to be somewhat humane as well, even if it's brief. The Dalek questions itself and its function, which leads to an emotional climax and a moment of self-sacrifice.



The production is very simple, but the new Dalek design is iconic, the music is beautiful, and the direction is great. The set feels claustrophobic, and the dark lighting makes it look scary and small.



What makes the Dalek in this episode so scary and effective is the fact that it shows qualities most pre-revival-era Daleks haven't shown before, and it is capable of slaughtering soldiers left and right by itself. That's more than most Daleks have been able to do. I didn't think I would ever say this, but this episode makes me feel bad for the Dalek since it seems to suffer.

The atmosphere quickly turns dark, intense, and menacing, which the acting and the claustrophobic setting help to strengthen. The scene with the Daleks in the rain is one of the most chilling in all of Doctor Who.

This is a slow episode until the Dalek is released, but since the focus is put on the Doctor's reactions and the unique atmosphere around the lonely Dalek, everything still feels engagingly tense. But the episode is also inherently sad and murky.



When the first season of a series takes place in a future that has long since passed in real life, you know it has been going on for a while. Here it is the wonderful year of 2012.

A nice bit of fan service here: the Utah museum has the head of a Mondasian Cyberman on display. That remains the only onscreen encounter between the Ninth Doctor and a Cyberman.

Davros is indirectly mentioned here by the Doctor.

Following their latest appearance in Remembrance of the Daleks (1988), the Dalek is capable of levitating up a staircase, effectively ripping off the famous cliffhanger from the previously mentioned story.



Dalek brings back the angry pepper potts in a dark and emotional story that fails to bring out their scariest sides from the original run but perfects the unique characterization of the Eccleston-Doctor.

Review created on 2-05-24, last edited on 2-05-24