(MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD)
“Please desist from striking me. I am your soldier”
My initial reaction was ‘OH DEAR.’ The fifth series of Doctor Who reached rock bottom with ‘Victory of the Daleks’, falling from the heights of ‘The Beast Below.’ I did not have high hopes for this episode, due to the Dalek over-saturation by Russel T. Davis, and Mark Gatiss, the script writer. He wrote such ‘classics’ as ‘The Unquiet Dead’ and ‘The Idiot’s Lantern.’ The Dickens one was the first poor episode of the first series, and the ‘MAGPIE’ one plunged the poor half of the second series further into oblivion. Even my low hopes for this episode were not met.
After the Dalek over-saturation of the RTD era, we needed a break from the Daleks. But only three episodes in, and the Daleks were on our screen again! In the Series 1 episode ‘Dalek,’ the sense of threat from a Dalek was immense. However, the threat was diluted throughout RTD’s reign. They were defeated with ever easier solutions, and were presented in ever greater numbers. I hoped that Moffat would push Gatiss in the right direction, and separate these Daleks from the past. A World War II Dalek story was inevitable, given their genesis from the Nazis. However, a spin on this was that the Daleks were working for the Allies, not the Nazis. Of course, something was amiss!
Gatiss probably thought that with the World War II background, the Daleks, and a Winston Churchill appearance, he didn’t need to make the effort. And he clearly didn’t, possibly in his worst Doctor Who effort ever. This episode displayed all the excesses of an RTD script, from the CGI space dog fight, to strangely multicoloured Daleks, to an incomprehensible plot. Churchill was wasted, worse than Agatha Christie was in that reprehensible ‘The Unicorn and The Wasp’ episode. There was almost nothing intriguing about the episode either. It could have been a brave attempt to question the value of World War II, almost universally acknowledged as the ‘good World War’ opposed to the naive belief of the First World War as the ‘bad World War’, full of donkeys leading lions, pointless trench warfare, and so on. It could have questioned the British intervention to help Poland, or Churchill’s effectiveness as Prime Minister. It could have had Churchill using the Daleks knowing that they were evil and would eventually turn on England, with the obvious parallel to the Soviet Union.
“The Earth will die screaming”
There wasn’t even a rousing speech, one that would make me feel proud to be British. Moffat came up with a corker in the World War II era-‘The Empty Child,’ through The Ninth Doctor: “1941. Right now, not very far from here, the German war machine is rolling up the map of Europe. Country after country, falling like dominoes. Nothing can stop it, nothing. Until one tiny, damp little island says ‘No. No, not here.’ A mouse in front of a lion. You’re amazing, the lot of you. I don’t know what you did to Hitler, but you frighten the hell out of me.” That is a real punch the air, time to sing ‘Rule Britannia,’ moment.
‘Victory of the Daleks’ was an unfortunate pitfall for what seemed like a promising start for Doctor Who. The first episode was very good, although exhibited some of the flaws of RTD. The second episode was fantastic, an insightful commentary on the flaws of elections. The third episode was pathetic, with the best part being the Dalek offering Churchill a cup of tea. Hilarious! I’m not being sarcastic, either. I can’t think of another redeeming feature. The episode needed to re-establish the threat of the Daleks as the Doctor’s greatest enemy, but failed miserably. was the first visible and tangible appearance of the RTD days with the reference to The Stolen Earth, and also the first poor episode. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
VERDICT: 3/10. Daleks, World War II, and Churchill. What could go wrong? A lot, apparently. A waste of theme and characters.
Leave your thoughts/comments below!
(Click here for my review of Doctor Who, Series 5, Episode 2: The Beast Below)