DALEK

Sue: Thank God Rob Shearman is in New York this week. He’ll be too busy worrying about his play to care about this blog.
Me: I bet he’s shitting himself. After all, you gave the Slitheen two-parter eight out of 10.
Sue: And?
Me: (Exasperated) Eight out of 10, Sue! That’s the same score you gave to Invasion of the Dinosaurs and The Time Monster! Actually, forget I said anything.

DalekThe TARDIS has arrived at a museum, and as the Doctor and Rose browse its exhibits, the Doctor is startled by a familiar face.

Sue: I’ve visited this place. They’ve landed at the Doctor Who Exhibition (she means Experience). Don’t drink the coffee; it’s horrible.

Cue titles.

Sue: Come on, Rob!

A helicopter with the call sign ‘Bad Wolf’ is descending.

Sue: Did Rose actually hear that? Because if she didn’t, it was a complete waste of time.

The museum’s owner, Henry Van Statten, suggests that the Doctor and Rose infiltrated his secret base by climbing “intruder window”.

Sue: Rob’s Broadway play isn’t a comedy, is it?

When the Doctor meets Van Statten, the multi-billionaire is examining an alien device which vibrates when you finger it.

Sue: I hope that isn’t an alien sex toy. This could get messy.

Once it’s been established that Henry is “a massive twat”, the Doctor is taken to see his most valuable exhibit – the ‘Metaltron’.

Sue: Rob should have called this episode Metaltron. Then he wouldn’t have given the plot away in the first five minutes.

DalekI pause the DVD so I can explain to Sue that there was a time when this episode didn’t include a Dalek.

Sue: Eh? How can you call your episode Dalek and not have a ****ing Dalek in it? How does that work?
Me: Rob called it Absence of the Daleks.
Sue: **** off!

I tell her that the BBC couldn’t secure the rights to the Daleks at first (they were probably doubled-booked on a Twix advert or something), so Rob had to rewrite the whole script with a different monster.

Sue: Did he replace it with a Cyberman?
Me: No –
Sue: The Master?
Me: No –
Sue: K9?
Me: No! Anyway, Russell drew a picture of the monster he wanted Rob to replace the Dalek with (he’s a very talented artist is Russell), and this is what he came up with:

dalek10I hold up my notebook for Sue to examine.

Sue: (Laughing) A Sontaran?

I cast her mind back (or is it forward?) to the David Tennant episode which featured floaty balls and the Master dancing to The Scissor Sisters in order to jog her memory (because the word ‘Toclafane’ simply isn’t enough).

Sue: Oh yeah… Those things. Right. So what did Rob do? Did he refuse?
Me: No, I think he wrote 17 drafts of the script with a floaty ball in it.
Sue: Shit.
Me: And then the BBC got the Daleks back and Rob had to rewrite the script all over again.
Sue: I hope he was paid extra for being messed around like that. Does this explain why Rob hasn’t written any more Doctor Whos? Was it too painful for him? Poor Rob.

The scene where the Doctor confronts his arch enemy is so intense, Sue is rendered speechless for a good five minutes. In fact, it’s only when the Doctor is dragged away before he can commit cold-blooded murder that she remembers to breathe again.

dalek11Sue: Doctor Who doesn’t get any better than that.
Me: Now imagine that scene with a floating ball.
Sue: The Doctor could have headbutted it when he got angry. Like a football. But yeah, it would have been shit. I wouldn’t have cared if it was just a ball. There’s no history between the Doctor and a ball for me to get excited about.
Me: Yeah, some things are definitely better with the Daleks.
Sue: I just don’t understand why they didn’t replace it with a Cyberman. Idiots.

Meanwhile, Rose is flirting with Adam, Van Statten’s young and attractive expert in alien technology.

Sue: This is so sweet. Don’t you think they make a lovely couple?
Me: Not really.
Sue: Oh come on, Neil. They’re falling in love with each other – look! It’s so cute. Adam is basically a Doctor substitute for Rose. He’s basically the Time Lord she can shag without people complaining about it. Unless you count Mickey, of course, but who cares about him?

The Doctor is stripped to his waist and tortured.

DalekMe: There you go, Sue. Some eye candy for you.
Sue: Don’t be ridiculous, Neil. There’s nowt on him!

When Rose touches the imprisoned Dalek, it miraculously repairs itself. Seconds later, it crushes a technician’s skull to a bloody pulp with its plunger.

Sue: **** me! I’d forgotten they could do that! That was horrible! Oh, Rob, you sick bastard.

The Dalek escapes from its cell.

Sue: Shoot its ****ing eye off!

The Dalek downloads the internet.

Sue: I’m surprised it can still move with all that porn rattling around inside it.

The Dalek makes short work of Van Statten’s security forces.

Sue: Why doesn’t our toy Dalek have a spinning-middle like that? I feel cheated now; I hope you kept the receipt. I do love these new chunky gold Daleks, though. To me, they’re proper Daleks. All the rest were just leading up to this.

DalekWhen the Dalek’s progress is hindered by a staircase, Adam stupidly takes the piss. “Great big alien death machine defeated by a flight of stairs!” he guffaws.

Sue: The Dalek should have pointed its gun up the stairs and shot him for saying that.

The Dalek elevates itself instead.

Sue: You must have loved this when you first saw it, Neil. Look! A Dalek is flying up some stairs!
Me: For ****’s sake, Sue.
Sue: What?
Me: We’ve seen Daleks do this before, remember? Sylvester McCoy? The one in the school?
Sue: Oh yeah, but they didn’t say “Elevate!” then. This one says “Elevate!” How cool is that?

The Doctor tells Van Statten’s security forces to aim for the Dalek’s eyepiece.

Sue: Finally!

Not that it helps.

Sue: Have this lot been seconded from UNIT? What are you doing?! Shoot its ****ing eye off!

The Dalek sets off the base’s sprinkler system.

dalek8Sue: And now it waits for the soldiers to die of pneumonia or run out of bullets, I guess.

The Dalek electrifies the floor and the water does the rest.

Sue: The clever shite.

Van Statten’s base is littered with corpses.

Sue: It’s a bit bleak, this, but I think I’m on the Dalek’s side. It serves them right for torturing it. Am I wrong for thinking that? It’s a tricky one, this. I think Rob’s made it difficult on purpose.

We are told that Rose’s time-travelling DNA caused the Dalek to regenerate.

Sue: That almost makes sense, I suppose… Actually, no it doesn’t. EH? WHAT?

The Doctor is so angry with this particular Dalek, he spits at it.

Sue: Bloody hell. I think that’s probably the best scene I’ve ever seen in Doctor Who. And I’m including everything that comes after this, as well. Bloody hell, Neil. What else do you want me to say? I got goosebumps watching that.

Adam and Rose have reached Level 49.

Sue: If only they’d reached Level 42, they could have had a quick burst of Lessons in Love as they ran off together. They missed a trick there.

Adam escapes from the Dalek in the nick of time, but Rose is left behind.

DalekSue: It’s like that bit where she ends up trapped in another universe and she has to say goodbye to a wall. This was definitely planned in advance, Neil. I keep telling you this, but will you listen? Will you ****.

When the Dalek taunts the Doctor with the question “What use are emotions if you will not save the woman you love?”, Van Statten looks horrified.

Sue: He wants to say, “Isn’t she a bit young for you?” but now really isn’t the time.

The Doctor and Adam search Van Statten’s collection of alien artefacts for a weapon that can destroy a Dalek.

Me: The hair dryer joke is the only thing that stayed in every draft of Rob’s script.
Sue: It’s a good job Russell didn’t ask him to replace the Dalek with a giant hair dryer, then.

And then Sue doesn’t say anything for a very long time.

Sue: I’m sorry. I’m just enjoying this now. Ask me something.
Me: Not now, love. I’m watching this.

The Dalek and Rose have almost reached the surface. The Dalek blasts a hole in the ceiling and sunlight pours into the base. And that’s when the Dalek reveals its true self.

Sue: For a moment there, I thought it was going to transform into a car. Oh, and your toy Dalek doesn’t do that either.

dalek6A mutated tentacle reaches out to touch the sunlight.

Sue: I really hope that’s its finger and not… you know.

The Doctor wants to kill the creature, but Rose manages to talk him down.

Sue: This is very profound. Only Rob Shearman could make you feel sorry for a Dalek. Even after it’s killed all those people. I know some of them were lawyers, but even so.

Both the Doctor and the Dalek are the last of their kind.

Sue: They’ll kick themselves later.

The Dalek begs Rose to give it one last order.

Sue: Aww… This is so sad. I think Rose should hold its tentacle before it passes away. Unless, well, you know.

DalekThe Dalek rises into the air and prepares to self-destruct.

Sue: Look, Neil! BALLS! Rob managed to get his balls in!

And then the Dalek is no more.

Me: Bloody hell, Sue. Are you actually crying?
Sue: (Dabbing her eyes with a tissue) **** off, Neil.

There is some good news: Henry Van Statten will get his comeuppance when his memory is erased and he’s dumped somewhere beginning with S.

Sue: Stockton-on-Tees. That’ll teach him.

The Doctor assures Rose that he definitely is the last of his kind, and the Daleks are all dead, too. He knows this is true because he’d be able to tell if wasn’t. Oh yes he would. Honest.

DalekSue: He’s wrong, you know. Completely wrong.
Me: Yeah, but it doesn’t matter, does it?
Sue: Actually, it’s beginning to get on my tits now.

Despite the Doctor’s misgivings, Adam manages to hitch a ride on the TARDIS.

Sue: I’m glad he went with them. I couldn’t remember him doing that. They really do make a lovely couple.

 

The Score

10/10

Me: Wow. Who saw that coming?
Sue: Are you saying it isn’t worth 10 out 10? Is that what you’re saying, Neil?
Me: No, that’s not what I’m saying. What I’m trying to say is –
Sue: Don’t listen to him, Rob. I thought it was brilliant. And next week looks great, too!

I give up.

 

Next Time

 

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Comments

  1. Dave Sanders  April 30, 2015

    How come Mark Gatiss, Paul Cornell and Toby Whithouse all got returning gigs but Rob Shearman didn’t? He can’t have been *that* busy apologising for things on DVD extras, surely?

    • Jason Irving  April 30, 2015

      True, I really am surprised Rob hasn’t written again, he’s a fantastic writer. “Dalek” still stands out as one of my post 2005 favourite episodes.

      • Terry  April 30, 2015

        It may be because the BBC is reluctant to let writers write if they don’t have enough TV experience. Before DALEK, Mr. Shearman had only written one episode of a soap opera for TV, and since then he hasn’t written anything for TV. Whereas Mark Gatiss had experience before, Toby Whithouse created Being Human and wrote several episodes for it (and some other stuff) and Paul Cornell also had a lot of experience with TV before he wrote his episodes (though if I remember right he’s not done any screenwriting since around 2007.)

        • Rob Keeley  May 1, 2015

          But how are writers to get experience if the opportunities aren’t offered to them? I speak from experience (!). The opportunities for new writers to get their work near anyone who might actually be interested in commissioning it for TV are few and far between.

          Splendid episode Mr Shearman, and you’re definitely overdue a return to the TV series. (I was one of your writing team on “Chain Gang” (Radio 4 Extra), incidentally – what did we do to your initial premise on that!)

          Rob Keeley

  2. Rob Shearman  April 30, 2015

    Phew!

    • Dave Sanders  April 30, 2015

      Jubilee is still marvellous, by the way.

  3. Dave Sanders  April 30, 2015

    ELEVATE stops being cool the moment you remember the Trumpton firemen saying it when you were three.

  4. Lorcan  April 30, 2015

    Actually Neil I saw the 10/10 coming

  5. Mike  April 30, 2015

    At the time of original transmission, this was easily my second favourite episode of the rebooted series (‘The Unquiet Dead’ was at this point the series highlight, but that would change). It was, however, the episode I was MOST excited about watching and it really delivered. After so many years of being almost pantomime villains, it made the Daleks scary again.

  6. Dave Sanders  April 30, 2015

    If Rob’s in New York this week, somebody’s going to do the inevitable ‘Dalek in Manhattan’ joke. It might as well be me.

  7. Sean Alexander  April 30, 2015

    10/10 is perhaps a little TOO generous, but this is still the moment 21st century Who got both the old school and the new fans onside at the same time. Not surprisingly it hasn’t occurred that often since.

    I’m reminded of one naysayer who wrote to Radio Times and essentially said the story was ‘flawed’ because it humanised the most evil creature in the universe – which kind of misses the point of the episode’s narrative, as this is as much about the ethics of torture, the Geneva convention and whether killing outside of warfare can ever be permissible. There’s lots of adult, clever stuff in Shearman’s sole Who TV outing (I’ll forgive Sue for being oblivious of his continuing output for Big Finish) but coming at a time when the war on terror, Guantanomo Bay and the pre-emptive foreign policies of the Bush/Blair regimes were pretty much a constant media diet it seems like the most topical and important piece of Doctor Who ever made, in whatever medium.

    And the Eccleston/Dalek confrontation scene is perhaps the finest TV moment in 2005. And yes, I welled up too when the emo-Dalek asked to be put out of its misery. Doctor Who had now, finally, grown up and this remains a defining moment in its evolution from niche, cult curio to mainstream powerful drama. Not bad for the former editor of an 80s fanzine…

  8. Roy Watson-Davis  April 30, 2015

    A truly great story. When I watched it first time around it created such a complex mix of emotions around both the Doctor’s actions and the Daleks. For one glorious moment I thought the series might actually have the balls to end the Dalek involvement there and then. What a fabulous end stop that would have been. But oh no here come tons of them in any number of stories thereafter-and those decisions totally rob this one of its majesty and power. Such a shame.

    • Roy Watson-Davis  April 30, 2015

      mmm…. is there a possessive ‘s’ missing somewhere?

  9. Assad  April 30, 2015

    I still have to scratch my head about Rose pleading so earnestly for the Dalek when it has just killed several hundred people right in front of her (a pretty brutal scene).. including the friendly squaddie who went off to face it with a pistol. It’s not the one holding a gun indeed.. WHAT’S THAT NEXT TO ITS PLUNGER???
    The Doctor is also fairly useless, his only advice being to shoot at it and hope something gets through its impenetrable force field (new Daleks, slightly overpowered, I find). Was he TRYING to get everyone killed?
    But as with so many things, everything bad that happens is all Rose’s fault… stop touching everything!!!!

  10. Mrs L  April 30, 2015

    I remember this episode vividly, mainly because I had explained to the kids beforehand how terrifying the Daleks were, and then when they watched it they were completely on the Dalek’s side. So, total parenting fail.

    Subsequent stories restored the Daleks to their true position of children-terrifiers, so when we were lucky enough to meet some Daleks at the Leicester Space Centre later in the year (big shout to the Dalek Builders’ Guild of Great Britain, they’re brilliant), my youngest spent the entire visit clinging to me in very genuine fear that he was at risk of being exterminated. (This despite the fact that the Daleks were whizzing around screeching unthreatening statements like ‘photo-opportunity detected!’ and ‘I am investigating small humanoids!’)

    I had no idea ‘Dalek’ had ever been written featuring any other adversery (I can’t imagine it either) – what on earth was envisaged for the final story, then?!

  11. Mike Bond  April 30, 2015

    Rose and Adam have no chemistry whatsoever. Their ‘flirting’ scene seems ridiculously contrived. Apparently just saying the word “Fantastic!” is enough to remind Rose (and Sue, it appears) that’s he’s a Doctor substitute. Eh? Really?! Pull the other one! At one point, Rose stares at the floor, which is supposed to make her look bashful or something – but it just makes her look like she can’t stand to be in the same room as him.

  12. Anniew  April 30, 2015

    i loved this episode. It made me cry too. Eccleston was such a great Doctor. Dangerously insane really. A pity we only got one season of him. Lovely blogging Neil, Sue. Thank you

  13. Elle  April 30, 2015

    You should let Sue listen to Jubilee

  14. Barry  April 30, 2015

    Stockton-on-Tees? I’m sure the Doctor would love it – it’s got a fountain… and, er… It’s got a fountain! (and a good record shop) – and Who Ray!

  15. Jon  April 30, 2015

    Well earned score Sue! This is one of the best.

    Neil, do you have the piss about every episode in the new series? It’s starting to look like you want Sue to dislike them.

    • Nick Mays  May 1, 2015

      Do you not like ANY of the episodes of the new series Neil? Just asking…

      • Neil Perryman  May 1, 2015

        Where do I say I don’t like any of the episodes in the new series? In fact, where do I say I dislike The Unquiet Dead or Dalek, for example?

        • Nick Mays  May 1, 2015

          To my knowledge, you never have, but some of the guys on here seem to be picking up an antipathy towards it. I just wondered what you thought of ‘Nu Who’ overall.

          • Anonymous  May 1, 2015

            Anyway, it was Jon who asked if you had the piss with every episode… 😉

          • Neil Perryman  May 1, 2015

            Yeah, I don’t understand that either.

      • Sean Alexander  May 1, 2015

        I’d have thought it was plain to anyone by now that Neil hates ALL Doctor Who, as illustrated by his numerous Doctor Who blogs, his rewatch of all 696 classic episodes with his wife, his two published books to date and the five more planned over the next 18 months.

        Whisper it quietly but I also believe Neil hates Blake’s 7 too, for much the same reasons…

        • Nick Mays  May 1, 2015

          Aww come on guys, don’t shoot the honest messenger! “I only arrrsked!” as Varga might say. Of course I know that Neil doesn’t hate Dr Who or Blake’s 7, but I was slightly bemused by Jon’s comment and asked my question in an ironic way… which obviously sounded a bit TOO ‘real’, so apologies for that.

        • Andy Luke  May 9, 2015

          He’s the worst troll ever.

  16. scribbles  April 30, 2015

    Whenever I convince people to watch Doctor Who, they always cite this episode as being the one that got them hooked. It’s really an absolute classic.

    • Nick Mays  April 30, 2015

      And this just goes to show that RTD really WAS on the money when planning out the series. Apparently tyhe BBC wanted the Daleks to be in the very first episode, but RTD said no, let’s reel the audience in, get a bit of a following and THEN hit them with the Dalek(s). In fact, he did say in an interview that ‘Dalek’ was meant to be Episode 1 Mark 2, as it were.

      It’ s still one of myTop 10 favourite episodes of ALL Dr Who and it still packs an emotional punch on repeat viewings over the past 10 years.

      Well done Mesrrs Shearman and Davies! 🙂

      • Robin  May 1, 2015

        Wasn’t there a story that RTD thought that the series would only get to episode six before it got shunted out of the schedules, so he made episode six the one everyone would watch?

        • Nick Mays  May 1, 2015

          I hadn’t heard that one, but after the Slitheen episodes, it might have been a possibility! Either way, a good call with ‘Dalek’.

  17. KatieC  May 1, 2015

    I love this blog, it’s so educational. It would have been so crap with a Tocliphane or even a cyberman.
    Sue “I’m surprised it can move with all that porn rattling around inside it”. OMG so funny, no wonder it wanted to get it’s tentacles out! ( I do love this episode, really)

  18. Andy Miller  May 1, 2015

    Not enough Movellans.

    • encyclops  May 3, 2015

      Man, I would love to see them again. Sexiest Who monster ever, with the possible exception of the female Eldrad.

  19. Rob Shearman  May 1, 2015

    Weirdly enough, I did put in a line when the Dalek downloaded the internet that it was forced to navigate tons of pornography and fan petitions for a revival of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I can’t for a moment think why it was cut.

    • Nick Mays  May 1, 2015

      “What-are-these-images-of-naked-human-females-and-small-feline-quadrupeds? Additional: Buffy-must-be-revived – potential-Dalek-allies-in-vampires-detected…”

      • Rob Shearman  May 1, 2015

        I see you read my draft then.

        • Nick Mays  May 1, 2015

          Ho! Ho! Good one, Centurion! 😉 😀

    • Matt Blanchette  May 3, 2015

      It looks like Joss Whedon nabbed your “villain downloads Internet” plot point for the new “Avengers” movie… 😉

  20. Jason M.  May 2, 2015

    My favorite bit:

    “[The Dalek downloads the internet]
    Sue: I’m surprised it can still move with all that porn rattling around inside it.”

    And, really, nothing is better on the Internet than when Sue the not-we is enthralled by a great story and properly gives it a 10/10!

  21. Roy Watson-Davis  May 2, 2015

    Can only hope that after downloading all that porn the Dalek is only shooting at the soldiers….

  22. Richard Lyth  May 2, 2015

    This was my favourite episode of the year when it aired, and it still packs quite a punch today. The Doctor has never been as raw and angry as he is here, and you get the feeling they cast Christopher Eccleston just so he could give this performance. It’s also the most sympathetic a Dalek ever becomes, quite a risk for the episode bringing them back for a new generation. And there’s an endless series of cool new weapons and gadgets bursting out of the Dalek, hardly any of which have been used in any subsequent episodes, sadly.

    I really hope Sue gives the next episode a deserved slagging-off, but after her reaction to the Slitheen two-parter, who knows?

    • frankymole  May 17, 2015

      Is the Dalek sympathetic though? It’s a genocidal Nazi and only wants to die as human DNA has infected it (it judges). It does nothing laudable.

  23. Flynn Sullivan  May 2, 2015

    People keep asking about Doctors and companions and episodes, but there’s one thing I’ve always wondered(well, for the last minute anyway) so I’ll just ask: if Sue had to wear a Doctor’s costume for one day, which costume would she pick and why?

  24. encyclops  May 3, 2015

    I’ve mentioned that I was really dubious about the new series at first. This right here is the episode that convinced me I needed to keep watching. I don’t think it got quite this good again until “Human Nature” but the goodwill from this one lasted a long time.

    Adam’s easily in my top 5 shaggable male companions, maybe in the top 5 overall. But then Mickey’s on that list too, so go figure.

  25. Tom Keller  May 4, 2015

    No offense to Mr. Shearman, but I really, really, really hate this episode. This is the one where I totally went off of Rose as a companion. Until now she had just been useless, but here she actually caused the deaths of scores of people and then wouldn’t let the culprit be punished. However, Eccleston was quite good on the little he had to do, so it can have 2/10.

    • Nick Mays  May 4, 2015

      No offence Tom, but I think you’ve missed a few subtleties of plot here – and several not-so-subtle points. And as for her touching the Dalk and thus reviving it, well – accident surely?

      Arguably, Rose causes far more deaths in ‘Father’s Day’!

      • Tom Keller  May 4, 2015

        Please enlighten me. And it’s not an accident to touch an object when you have specifically been told not to.

        Oh, and I can’t stand ‘Father’s Day’ either.

        By the way, what’s a Dalk? 😉

        • Nick Mays  May 4, 2015

          It’s a Dalek with a stutter. :p

          As for enlightenment, well my son, you must seek this for yourself. Om Mane Padme Om…

          No offence, like…

          • Tom Keller  May 4, 2015

            I meant enlighten me to the plot points you think I missed.

    • Sean Alexander  May 4, 2015

      Remind me not to be around when you ARE looking to cause offence…

      • Tom Keller  May 4, 2015

        Sorry for offending you.

    • encyclops  May 5, 2015

      I can see how Rose would have annoyed you in this, but I think Rob should be praised, not criticized, for writing her as a flawed and thus interesting character. Sometimes good people do foolish things.

  26. Nick Mays  May 4, 2015

    I remember being really nervous when this episode was screened… I was watching it with my stepson Jake, who was fast becoming a big Dr Who fan. I said to him “I think you;’ll like this monster – it’s a Dalek.”

    I was literally blown away by the sheer menace of the Dalek. When it swung its mid-section round to blast behind it, I literally punched the air with excitement! This was how the Daleks SHOULD have been, how powerful and almost indestructible they were in the old TV21 strips and Dalek Book/Dalek World annuals. No thick grey painted, creaking damaged old props – a powerful, solid, truly metallic mini-tank-killing-machine, with a brilliant voice and that old Dalek cunning that had been missing for years.

    Jay became a confirmed fan after this, as did all our kids. I reckon I’ve re-watched this episode about 15 times since and it never pales for me. The Daleks have never been better than this! This episode truly restored my faith in the Daleks and Dr Who as a whole.

    Thanks Rob – you made an old fan (and many more os us I’m sure) very, very happy! 🙂

    I really MUST listen to ‘Jubilee’ too!