TARDIS File 03-05: Evolution of the Daleks

TARDIS File 03-05: Evolution of the Daleks

The Big Idea: In the conclusion to last week’s Daleks In Manhattan, the Doctor finds himself assisting Dalek Sec with his plans for the future of everyone’s favorite mutants.

What’s So Great…

  • That wonderful moment when the two Daleks rotate their eyestalks to make sure no one is listening as they discuss their misgivings about Dalek Sec
  • A very funny bit of business as the pig slaves shuffle back and forth waiting for the elevator to arrive at the roof
  • The sense of impending doom as you yell at the television when Solomon, with an impassioned speech in true Star Trek fashion, tries to reason with a Dalek
  • More of that wonderful epic chanting as all heck breaks loose and the Daleks swing into action with a good old-fashioned corridor chase
  • The Daleks conspiring against and eventually usurping Dalek Sec, staying true to their innate nature The final confrontation between Dalek Caan and the Doctor has an old western feel about it
  • David Tennant continues to shine: in true Doctor-ish fashion, the Time Lord refuses to accept Lazlo’s death, and with must bravado, is able to save him with the help of a fully stocked Dalek laboratory

Some Quick Bits of trivia: The song heard on the radio is “Happy Days Are Here Again,” by Milton Ager and Jack Yellen. Hooverville, so named after the 31st president of the United States, Herbert Hoover, was the generic term given to a shanty town that sprung up during the depression. “Hoovervilles” existed all across the United States during the Depression including St. Louis, Seattle, Portland, and Washington DC Unlike the version seen on TV, the Hooverville in Central Park existed not in the park but in the emptied Central Park Reservoir from 1931-1933 . Dramatic license has fudged the timeframe, moving the Central Park further inland and ahead a year. There are some deliberate nods to the film version of Frankenstein (1930) particularly the scene where the platforms that the inert bodies lay on are lowered to the ground.

Things to Geek Out About…

  • The “psychic paper” makes a return appearance as the Doctor passes it to the Martha as a means of getting into the Empire State Building
  • Dalek Caan activates an emergency temporal shift at the end of the episode, ensuring that the Daleks will fight another day (the Cult of Skaro used the same technology to escape the Void at the end of Doomsday).
  • There’s a brief mention of the (here unnamed) creator of the Daleks—a reference to how Davros, the Daleks’ creator, used technology to circumvent emotion to make the Daleks more effective in Genesis of the Daleks (1975)
  • Dalek Sek’s strategy is not a new one: in the classic series story The Evil of the Daleks (1967), the Daleks are looking to isolate “the human factor” that enables humans to triumph. The Doctor thinks this is in order for the Daleks to learn compassion and mercy; the Daleks want to use it to create better Daleks.

Not to Complain But…  The whole business with the Dalek/human hybrids is confusing. How on earth did Gamma radiation passing through Dalek metal, much less a Time Lord, create such a thing? And how is it that gamma radiation coming from a solar flare manifests itself as lightning?

All Things Considered… Like World War Three and The Age of Steel before it, this second of two parts had a tremendous amount to do, and as a result some of more intriguing story elements got a bit of short shift.

Whereas Daleks In Manhattan spent a great deal of time establishing character and place, the conclusion steps up the pace providing plenty of action and plot progression. Ultimately, what is most fascinating about the episode is watching the Cult of Skaro slowly realize that their compatriot has betrayed their understanding of Dalek purpose. There is great tragedy in Dalek Sec’s aborted quest to move the Daleks forward onto an alternative evolutionary path. And yet, like the fictional Dr. Frankenstein before him, the quest is doomed to failure.

There are wonderful little scenes and bits of dialogue that punctuate the story here and there; like when Dalek Sec muses on the human race’s very Dalek tendencies, or when he caresses the front of the broken radio. In the end the Dalek/human hybrids seem little more than a device, and we never really grasp their true meaning or potential. What if they had lived? Would they exhibit Time Lord traits? Has the Doctor in fact lost possible brethren? It’s never really clear, and thus the full emotional impact of their demise is never fully realized.

In the end there was lots of action, colour, and invention. It would seem that Russell T Davies is firmly committed to presenting the first two-parter of each series as the breezy, fun, over-the-top stories that will appeal most to younger viewers. Daleks In Manhattan and Evolution of the Daleks comprise a bit-of-everything-including-the-kitchen-sink kind of story, but at the end of the day it’s very entertaining.

Line of the Week: “Exterminate!” (yes the line is 40 years old, but it can still have impact—as it did when Solomon is mowed down after giving his impassioned speech.)

Index of TARDIS Files

TARDIS File prepared by Scot Clarke

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