Saturday, May 21, 2005

Positively Dull

Prefect SlogReflecting on "Dalek", episode six of the new series of Doctor Who, I begin to appreciate the perspective of the critic, many of whom apparently feel an obligation to be negative most of the time for fear they won't come across as sufficiently witty and entertaining. But in the face of my own overwhelmingly positive reaction to Rob Shearman's new series contribution, I'm not going to succumb to the same urge, and I'm just going to have to be completely at ease with the fact that this review of mine is going to be dull. Admittedly, with my current efforts to avoid use of the F word (by which I mean, "Fantastic!" - a word now doomed to be forever heard in my mind in a Christopher Eccleston voice) I'm going to be more limited than I'd like when it comes to appropriate superlatives, but for simplicity's sake, I'll just say: I loved it. Unreservedly. Yes, it had its flaws. Such as...what on earth is the Dalek thinking, showing off its nifty ability to levitate, then electing to follow the course of the stairs all the way around? Er, had it really not come across the concept of 'straight up' in its intensive download of the entire internet? What was the Doctor thinking, accusing Van Statten that he'd 'set it loose'? Scuse me, Doc, but the blame for that lies squarely with Rose. Van Statten was the one keeping it locked away, deep in the deepest vault and if Rose hadn't stuck her (admittedly touching) oar in, the thing would have been tortured to death and the Earth would never have been so endangered. Get your facts straight, Doctor. A friend of mine also observed that a billion combinations on the lock to the Dalek's cage was really not that great, and if I really thought about it I'd have certain questions about the abilities of the Dalek to regenerate itself merely by the acquisition of a little Rose DNA. But, really, when it comes down to it, who cares! It was great. They reinvented the Dalek, but retained the design. They made it intelligent, scary, bloody dangerous *and* sympathetic. (Just please, guys, when you bring them back in numbers make sure they're just as intelligent, scary and bloody dangerous - whole worlds must quake in their metaphorical boots. Don't do an "Aliens", please, and have lots of them just to have lots of them blown away, and then have to introduce a Queen Dalek just to up the ante again. That's all I ask.) The setting was nicely confined, and there was a real sense of them being trapped in there with the rampaging Dalek. The key characters were great - with the exception of Adam, and why oh why did they need to take him along at the end - I mean, if the Doctor had wanted a spare limb, there was a perfectly serviceable Slitheen arm in Van Statten's collection. And the character moments were nothing short of terrific: I wasn't a hundred percent sure about the Doctor's childish taunting of the Dalek when he discovers it's defenceless, but then I've not been convinced of this Doctor's childish behaviour on other occasions either. But lines like the Dalek accusing the Doctor, "You would make a good Dalek", the little moment in front of the Cyberman exhibit, the Doctor's evident fear and hatred of the Dalek race and his desperate scrambling to deal with this lone survivor, Rose's apparent death, and the genuinely tear-jerking stuff towards the end all - along with other moments that will no doubt jump out at me when I revisit the episode again (and I got the sense the episode had a greater re-watchability than any of the others thus far) - make for a magic 45-minutes. So, in summary, apologies for a positively dull review, but it's not my fault if Rob Shearman and the production team come up with an episode quite the opposite.

No comments: