I have probably watched this episode more than any other of the first series episodes. I am not sure whether this is because my girlfriend is a big fan of this episode (she likes the scene where Eccleston is topless) or because it is probably one of the best episodes of the first season. I would say that it is a bit of both, but more often that not it is because my girlfriend could watch this episode a million times and not get bored of it – well that one scene anyway.
Dalek is, in essence, a rather traditional base under siege storyline and is an episode that is truly perfect for the single episode format that this series is mainly in. There is not a moment wasted in the episode and this episode, on its own, proves that the single episode format works.
The pre-titles sequence is good and it is nice to see a Cyberman head there. Quite why a Revenge of the Cybermen head (wouldn’t an Invasion style Cyber Head be more likely?) found its way to Earth I don't know, but it was nice to see.
Of course the best thing about this episode was the Dalek and, boy, what a Dalek it was.
One thing that this episode also did that you would never expect what that is genuinely made you feel sorry for the Dalek and who can say they have ever felt for a Dalek? You actually felt sorry for it when it was being tortured. Even though it was a Dalek. Weird.
There were plenty of action scenes where the Dalek was being what a Dalek truly is: an unstoppable killing machine. The way the middle section of the Dalek and its eyestalk can spin round 360 degrees made the Dalek's seem more invincible than ever before. It was almost as if before you could surprise them by approaching them from behind, as it could not see you. Not this time.
I also loved the scene on the staircase when Rose, Adam and that women soldier are so glad that they have eluded the Dalek only to discover that it could elevate itself. It was very tense as the Dalek stopped at the bottom of the staircase for what seemed like an age before showing what it could do. Brilliant. A shame then really that Blue Peter had already showed the scene the week before the episode.
The first scenes with the Doctor meeting the Dalek are classic and, for once, the Doctor seems genuinely afraid of them and when he discovers that it cannot hurt him he is elated. Christopher Eccleston gives a really excellent performance in these scenes, and in the episode as whole, probably his finest as the Doctor at the time of first broadcast.
Billie Piper is also excellent in this episode, her scenes when she is trying to protect the Dalek are great and she makes you believe that she thinks it has changed and is not a killing machine like before. It also struck me as strange that the Dalek’s eyestalk was in the perfect position to be in direct line with Billie’s eyes for their scenes together.
Bruno Langley gave a good performance as Adam (good name by the way) but didn't strike me as that interesting a character and not potential companion material at all. You sort of hoped that he would not appear again but the next time trailer scotched that idea. I was pretty glad that he was got rid of by the end of the next episode.
Corey Johnson was ok as the Bill Gates-a-like Henry Van-Statten but could be a little over the top and melodramatic at times but still good.
Nicholas Briggs was superb as the voice of the Dalek and it was through his performance (and the writing obviously) that the Dalek had a character of its own and that you sometimes felt for it. Indeed my girlfriend got a bit misty-eyed near the end when the Dalek allowed itself to feel the sun for the first time.
To put it simply Dalek was an excellent episode and is definitely one of the best episodes of Doctor Who. Not just of the first season but of all time.
It’s that good.