Doctor Who: The Dalek Collection

Dalek, by Rob Shearman, is one of the best Dalek stories of all time. Reminiscent of Power of the Daleks, and based on his own Big Finish Sixth Doctor story Jubilee, Dalek sees a lone and damaged Dalek being tortured by Henry Van Statten, an odd mix of Richard Branson and Bill Gates in a story reminicent of Star Trek: The Next Generation’s The Most Toys. When the Doctor and Rose arrive, events escalate, and the Dalek, predictably, escapes. But something is wrong with it, and, as it creates carnage on its way to the surface of the underground base, it begins to change, a change it seems for the worse…

Everything in this story works. Nicholas Briggs is in turns chilling and sympathetic as the Dalek, Billie Piper is vulnerable and determined as Rose and Christopher Eccleston shows a visciousness and terror unseen in any Doctor in the past. A great story, and as good as you remember.

Series One ended with Russell T Davies’s Bad Wolf/A Parting of the Ways and ties up a lot of loose ends left dangling throughout the season with the Daleks in a plot to reinvent themselves under the tutelage of a bonkers Emperor who considers himself a God. Bad Wolf shouldn’t really work, but does due to the conviction of the main cast. Deadly games of Big Brother, The Weakest Link and other contemporary gameshows are played on the Games Station – which turns out to be The Long Games Satellite Five. Behind a plot to destabilise the Human Empire and create a new breed of Daleks, the Dalek Emperor appears for the first time, properly, since Evil of the Daleks, completing the Second Doctor echoes in this series. This is all about motives rather than plots, and in A Parting of the Ways, little happens plot wise as the chaacters are all put through the mill or killed. Or both. With Jack abandoned and the Doctor regenerating, again this is a thrilling, heart racing adventure and one which merits a second look.

Skipping, it seems, Doomsday, the action moves to Helen Raynor’s Daleks In Manhatten/Evolution of the Daleks. As David says in his intro, Daleks In Manhatten does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s the weakest of all the stories in this boxset and a story full of holes and “best of” scenes and if it wasn’t for David and Freema this could have been actually bad. It’s not though. The Dalek’s plot is suitably mental again, the fact that they DO evolve and change with every adventure is refreshing and some of the concepts almost work. Dalek Sec’s Human Dalek however, is and was a bad idea. Daleks are Daleks. That’s the point. Carnage ensues, but one gets the feeling that the Daleks could have been substituted for another alien race to greater effect. And “Daleks In Manhatten” is absolutely the worst title for a Doctor Who adventure ever! Sounds like a provisional title someone forgot to rethink.

On to the end of series four now with The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End with the Doctor having to bring all his companions from the new series together fighting a Dalek Empire which has been rebuilt (again) from the body of Davros, pulled out of the Time War from Caan, from the Cult of Skaro from Doomsday after he escaped at the end of Evolution of the Daleks… phew! This has got to be the most convoluted Doctor Who adventure ever. Russell T Davies talks about wiping away the “baggage” of classic Who for his new series, but goes on in this story to create a continuity which goes away back two series. It’s a fan thrill to see all the companions again, the story again is a mad Dalek one, and echoes The Dalek Invasion of Earth, and it ties up a few loose ends from series four (lost bees, lost planets, etc…) but, in my opinion, there is just too much going on, and for a casual viewer it must have been a mystery. Some things don’t work at all. Another Doctor/Rose reunion wastes a perfect ending in Doomsday, and the way Rose swaps to a “human” Doctor is jarring and uncomfortable. It is an adventure, which Terrance Dicks alludes to in the commentary for Planet of the Daleks, which goes for “the moment” as apposed to the story. Just don’t think too hard about it. Triumphs are, of course, Julian Bleach’s Davros, although, again, I think this is recasting for recastings sake – not only would Terry Molloy have been able to be Davros exactly like this behind the mask – it would have given a further gravitas and continuity thread that only he could. Another triumph is the parting of Donna and the tragic way she becomes what she was before she met the Doctor. A tour de force by a wonderful Catherine Tate. The scene with everyone flying the TARDIS is heartwarming too, if the reason they have to – towing the Earth back into position – is suitably bonkers.

All in all, this is a set of varying quality – Dalek is the best, by far, Daleks In Manhatten the worst – but none of the stories are bad, and all are full of fan thrills and fabulous moments. But then, you know that, because everyone already has these…

Updated: June 14, 2014 — 10:00 pm

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