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Apr 26, 2007

Rhapsody in a Blue Suit

Daleks in Manhattan

Now let me get my most impressed point of view in and out of the way. There is not a single use of the word EXTERMINATE in this episode. Having been exhausted to the point of no other vocabulary since "Dalek" (why on earth would it be his last word? Where's the sense in that?) they finally achieve the seemed impossible, and go through an entire episode without using the word. Now, the last time I remember that happening was the Hartnell era. Did you know that in their first serial, the entire 7 episodes of the first Dalek story, the word Exterminate was not used once? The nearest they got was "total extermination", and I think they were talking about themselves. It should not be their entire vocabulary, so I cheered when we reached the closing credits having not had the word once. I then cringed when it was the nub of next week's preview, but what can you do?

Anyway. we get another stereotypical teaser. I'm starting to get bored with the routine set up of "Pre credits teaser, we'll set the scene by having someone attacked". Think about it, the last three episodes have all had a similar opening sequence. Maybe "Lazarus" will see us start from the Doctor and Martha's point of view for a nice change. I'm getting knarked by the routine-ness the same way I got irritated by the constant POV shots at the start of last year. Still, quite a nice opening scene, with Guys and Dolls Stereotype Number 1: Gangster's Moll not quite reaching her "heeands een thee eeair" moment foretold by last week's preview.

A lovely Rhapsody in Blue moment, as the Doctor and Martha step out, followed by a nice setting in Hooverville. The doctor from Holby or possibly Casualty does a good job as Guys and Dolls Stereotype Number 2: Martin Luther King Jr Clone, saying that there isn't a doctor there (I laughed at that moment). A quite poetic moment regarding the expense of the Empire State Building needing to be built in time for Peter Purves to yodel in 30 years, against the misery of Hooverville.

Meanwhile, the Daleks are the ones in charge of the Empire State Building, and send Guys and Dolls Stereotype Number 3: Gangster to round up some cheap labour/food. Given that these people are not going to return, and that they are therefore not going to have to pay them the dollar, why didn't they offer more? Ten dollars would have got the whole lot of them, and the Daleks would have even more of those pigslaves. By the way, at any point in the episode do you see any actual pigs? If the Daleks are, as it seems, creating pigs partly as a prototype for the human-dalek hybrid project, where are the pigs whose DNA they take?

Can I just take a moment to critiscise an important psychological point I just noticed? If Solomon is the leader, wouldn't his accepting the job lead to others accepting the job? They look up to him, and so his accepting would surely lead to the rest volunteering. Yet those few go down. More to the point, wouldn't he realise the influence held by himself, and not allow himself to volunteer for the danger slave-labour mission for fear of permitting other, more vulnerable and innocent individuals to go down? A more realistic way to get the characters needed down there would be if, once the Doctor and Martha had put their hands up, everyone put their hands up, determined to be the onesto go down. Stereotype 3 would then say that they only needed a few, and Solomon would insist upon it being him for safety reasons, picking out the Doctor, Martha, and the other needed.

Our Tennessee boy is a nice lad, setting himself up all throughout to be the expendable good guy. Martha makes an incredibly clever analogy of a green lump. I for one hadn't spotted that it wasn't human, I just thought he was a bit short.

One of the Daleks gets sentimental about his planet being destroyed in a war (or by the Hand of Omega... huh...), and Stereotype 3 goes down to meet his Radio Times Cover. The basement is a lovely set up, if a little too Dalek. It should probably have looked more hastily scrapped together from human artifacts. Instead it LOOKED custom made, it looked like it had been designed by the best Kaled designers, and manufactured with the best Kaled machinery, rather than cobbled together by pig creatures and metal pepperpots without opposable thumbs. I mean, how could they really build all this stuff with just their plungers? It's TOO IMPRESSIVE, and that's not said of Doctor Who very often.

I just have to say what an excellent choice of year this was to set it in. One of the few periods and places in history where the threat of unemployment was so great that people would work continuously in dangerous circumstances because it was that or Hooverville. The scenes in the sewers are spooky, and the pig crying is one of the most disturbing scenes in the new series. Well, maybe that's an exaggeration, but it's still quite creepy. An army of pigs then come after our heroes, as the Doctor shouts a completely unpredictable "Run!"

Stereotype 1 has changed her accent completely from the opening credits, about as far as it can be changed without going welsh. She is clearly afraid of going to Hooverville, and misses Laszlo just not quite enough to seem sad that he's gone. The Doctors have a nice conversation, with a completely unneccesary talk about being too scared. Okay, I understand the intention, but just the one or two lines about being too afraid to save Tennessee threw the whole moment.

Dalek Sec seems to do some disbelief in the thoughts of everything he's supposed to hold dear. His very programming, which states that the Daleks are superior to every other lifeform, he realises is wrong, because there are billions more humans than Daleks, and they are so close to extinction that they must change until they are no longer so close to extinction.

3 H's 1 L gets incredibly irritating during her song. The weedy breathing noiise in her singing really grated on me. And why was she so cheery and happy when talking to Martha? She's just lost the love of her life and not even a hint of sadness. Fortunately there's a mad english girl stumbling across the stage to end the pain. She chases Laszlopig because that's clearly the most sensible thing to do (if the manhole cover was open this whole time, why had only one pig emerged to take Laszlo, and none been up since?). The Doctor and Tallulah in her best Sewer Suit follow into the sewers, until they see a pepperpot interrupt Tallulah's flirting. They run into Laszlo and Miranda Sultana doing her most 1 dimensional bit of crying yet.

Dalekanium! Who cheered? More so than Macra?

Separated into intelligence levels, the Doctor and Martha and the other smarty pants are taken off to see Stereotype 3 emerging from his shell, as a Monoid for no readily apparent reason, with a low raspy voice that does nothing to excite me for next week's episode.

There's been some lovely incidental music this series hasn't there? The pig chase scene is very Pirates of the Caribbean, there's the dance number which is quite Chicago, and the workmen on the top of the building which is quite like something I can't recognise.

As of this episode, there's a lot of problems which should really be answered. Why pigs? Why didn't Laszlo's transformation finish? Why did the Doctor end up in the same time/place as the Daleks? Coincidence? Why didn't the Daleks recognise the Doctor? Why didn't they recognise that Martha had travelled in time? Why do the Daleks think that being outside their shells without their weapons be more successful? And just how much will the daleks say "Exterminate" next week to make up for this week?

My word, I've just realised how long that review was. Not much room left to say the general stuff. Well, The Doctor was fabulous, Martha still left me underwhelmed, the direction was good (but not yet to the standard of James Strong's last contribution), and the writing could have done with being thought through a bit better but was on the whole quite good.

For me, the most enjoyable episode so far this season, but still not what it should be.

8/10.

The Bumper Book of Made Up Doctor Who Facts has this to say about Daleks in Manhattan: When the Radio Times cover showing the hybrid was sent to print, Terry Nation spun in his grave.

Really enjoyed it.

Comments

They don't say it for a while in what we now call "The Daleks" but I's sure it shows up more than than. Isn't there a HE-MUST-BE-EX-TERMINATED in there somewhere?

Database heads? Back me up, eh?

I'm taking Coleman's side here. I don't recall hearing Exterminate much if at all in The Daleks.

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