Doctor Who episode 775: Victory of the Daleks (17/4/2010)

‘If Hitler invaded hell, I would give a favourable reference to the Devil.’ The biggest problem with Victory of the Daleks is that it’s an introduction for a New Dalek Paradigm that nearly everybody hated, and is tainted by association. The script makes such a big thing of the new Paradigm, giving them each a unique power and vaunting their superiority over the Time War models (which are summarily exterminated, and wiped from the collective consciousness by the cracks), that it’s hard to see past the failure of the new props. It’s the first crack (if you’ll pardon the pun) in Moffat’s revamp, the first decision rapidly backtracked on.

The Paradigm Daleks are, indeed, a misstep, although I suspect had they included from the outset the improvements made in subsequent series to reduce the hatchback and add a metallic finish they might have been better received. Even so, they’re trying to solve a problem that didn’t exist. The show has form at introducing a colourful new model while trashing the old version, and this works about as well: it’s The Twin Dilemma of Dalek stories.

Victory of the Daleks

Tearing our eyes away from the Paradigm, there are things to enjoy – including the Dalek Ironsides, with their cute little lamp covers. Mark Gatiss works through some Troughton era nostalgia with the Ironside chanting, ‘I am your soldier’ and the Doctor contemplating ‘the final end’. Churchill, whose reputation has been more openly questioned in the years since 2010, was still at this point the Greatest Briton (at least according to the BBC Poll), and it was inevitable the 21st Century series would do a celebrity historical. Gatiss’ decision to make him a ruthless pragmatist willing to do anything to further the ends of his country and its Empire means this doesn’t come across as hagiography.

Similarly, the punch-the-air moment of Spitfires engaging a Dalek saucer is balanced by the moment when Lilian Breen receives news her young man has been killed. I’m a fan of the Doctor in this, too: he retains his previous versions’ impetuousness and short temper (especially where the Daleks are concerned), and the EastEnders swagger (‘Don’t mess with me, sweetheart’, ‘I’m not stupid, mate’) with a streak of panicky desperation.

But none of this can hide that the script is underwritten: a throwaway line about Bracewell’s bath-time noodlings about gravity bubbles isn’t quite enough to sell the British having spaceworthy Spitfires with laser weapons. The Oblivion Continuum is a weak climax coming after the big space dogfight (and what will Dorabella think when she gets Bracewell’s shirt off?). No, this succeeds or falls on the concept of the New Dalek Paradigm – and we all know how that turned out.

Next Time: The Time of Angels

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2 comments

  1. Pingback: Doctor Who episode 774: The Beast Below (10/4/2010) | Next Time...
  2. George Kaplan

    Ah, Victory of the Daleks, a story that has many problems than than the amusing and colorful new Dalek paradigm. It’s an incredibly stupid story in terms of logic while the attempt at post-Davies Revival emotion with roboscot scientist is hilarious. Bill Paterson with an Iron Man circa 1966 chestplate is very very stupid and one of the things from this season that looks extremely cheap Jack but that is outdone by the unholy dumbness of the fasttracked Space Spitfires. Oh-ho-ho! Sacrificing story logic for a not-very-impressive image is not usually a good idea, and here it’s appalling.
    Aside from that, the set-up of the story isn’t necessarily bad, stupid, but not bad. Power of the Daleks moved to WWII-era London and put on fast forward until Gatiss tosses this aside for those fantastic-voiced but goofy NeoDalek buttplugs. Matt Smith and Karen Gillan do a good job with the material but Mr Moff deciding rapidly that the new Dalek paradigm were a bust means that it’s a set-up with no payoff.
    In the Dalek paradigm’s defence they aren’t bad in their Pandorica Opens cameo while the stone Dalek from The Big Bang is pretty great. If only the production team hadn’t decided to include the scene which has the New Coke Kaleds denigrating and exterminating the Classic Coke Kaleds then it might have meant we could have both versions. With – as you say – a little redesign they could have worked as an addition to the Dalek horde. The Red Dalek from The Stolen Earth and the Black one from earlier were more appealing than the by Victory slightly boring mundane Daleks. Oddly, the khakiKaled Daleks from Victory look good too!
    Poor Mark Gatiss, it wasn’t until Series/Season 7b that he came up with really entertaining stories in Cold War (despite its flaws) and The Crimson Horror. And then in Series/Season Eight there was Robot of Sherwood which I’m afraid (not really) I find hilarious. The Doctor and Robin Hood squabbling and attempting to outdo one another like needy heroic children. Yes, please! I already loved Peter Capaldi’s Doctor but he was funnier and more likeable than any revival Doctor there, whilst his chemistry with Jenna Coleman’s luminous, funny, increasingly exasperated Clara was/is perfect. Nothing to do with Victory of the Daleks of course but there you go.

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