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Apr 11, 2006

I, Dalek

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.

 

 

Comments

Honestly, I'm more surprised the Cybermen can find their way OFF of Earth. UNIT ought to have a whole warehouse of the buggers by now, between Colin's ep and Silver Nemesis. The scenes with Chris and the Dalek were especially nice as they took us off our guard by showing Chris actually being _mean_ and _angry_ for possibly the first real time in the series. Looking back on him, he's gotten a whole "Please don't make me make the hard decision, don't make me do what has to be done anymore" feel to him.

I especially liked Adam, for one major reason. He didn't work. Think how much more Adric would have been liked had he been left on the Vampire planet, or dropped back on Alzarius after State of Decay. It's nice to see proof that not just ANYONE who wanders on board the TARDIS is cut out for the lifestyle(I'm looking at you, TEGAN!!).

I agree. Brilliant episode and it contains quite possibly the single finest moment in the entire series.

Eccleston enters the dark room, babbling a general apology and offering aid before casually mentioning his name. That grating and all-too-familiar voice chokes out a reply: "Doc-tor?"

Spine chilling and exhilarating at the same time, I shrieked and laughed in delight when I first saw it. Absolutely fantastic.

I feel less enthusiastic about this episode.

Daleks are more like a novelty item these days, and appear less like the convincing enemy they once were...

So, why would their introduction to this new generation want to play the sympathy card? I think it was a good idea, but save it for another season... Daleks need all the evil help they can get, especially when they are supposed to be a formidable foe in the series finale.

- The Dalek was showing emotion way before Rose injected some life into it - which kind of erks me.

- The Doctor getting tortured without his shirt on was unnecessary and somewhat camp.

- Did we really need another Dalek vs. a staircase bit?

I did like Ecce's strong performance and the fact that the Dalek got to blow away some shoot everything in sight Americans, (there are a lot of 'em in Utah!) and the ending with the daylight was quite good... but aside from that, this story wasn't so watertight.

Have to agree that this was the peak of Eccleston's performance.
"WHY?! Why would it do that?!!" -
"Because it honestly believes they should die!"

Love the Doc & Dalek bits, seriously irritated by the silly Van Statten and his 'ruling the world in my spare time' schtick. As for which Eccleston I watch the most, no question - Empty Child/Doctor Dances is just superb.

Ryu, you've obviously never met anyone from Utah. I have a strong suspicion that the guy who played Van Statten knows a few Utah citizens, but the character's probably one of the umpteen mormons living in that state.

Ha! :D

Good point...but I'd rather he was just a rich guy than being able to basically do everything in the world on a whim. Especially because him being practically Lord of Earth makes his very easy and pat 'comeuppance' ring false.

One quick call to some high-priced lawyers and those 200 dead magically never existed in the first place...

We could sit here and argue this all day, but I contribute the coup to Miss Goddard, the ambitious and possibly Goa'ould right-hand woman in the Utah complex. I know I'm reading too much into it, but just looking at her, you can believe she'd been planning for just this moment for some time. A line or two of extra dialogue probably would have been all it took to make this a believable plot point.

A story that's crying out for a Target novelisation. Well, possibly.

Someone give me a reccomendation to BBC Books and I'll write it >=D

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