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May 05, 2007

It's a helluva town!

Apologies for not joining in sooner but yet again, real life has been interfering.

Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks

I loved DiM, and while it has its draw-backs, it’s 45 minutes of solid entertainment. A few scares, some light education...everything you could want.

There are beautiful moments

There are several beautiful moments in the first part which I found particularly enjoyable at the second go. Things like the Doctor pausing to be invited into Solomon’s tent, Tallulah and Martha chatting and Dalek what’s-his-puss and Diagoras’ conversation about war and New York.

What could have been developed more was the “I lose everything...” speech. It was powerful and under-stated and a little more lead-up would have helped the “just shoot me!” parts of EotD sound a little more logical.

It was great to see Doctor Who being informative and the little history lesson was very well done. I knew a bit about the depression and such but I never had the juxtaposition of the shanty towns in Central Park and the building of the Empire State Building. It does worry me, however, that now Daleks are being associated with capitalism. They’ve long been fascists but is the whole of the right to be kidnapped? Just for once, I’d like a communist Dalek episode. Could be interesting.

A few problems jumped out at me: Tallulah’s inability to spot Lazlo, the pig men, the embryo which stops glowing once it’s picked up, THE PIG MEN, the way Diagorus’ workmen turn on a dime from chipper chirpiness to "WORKMEN: ALL ANGRILY TALK AT ONCE". All but one of those is a niggle and pretty irrelevant.

Ultimately, the pig men were just silly and clearly unnecessary

But the pig men...hmmm. Never is it convincingly explained why the Daleks should want pigs working for them and, as has been pointed out, it would be far more discreet for the slaves to appear human. Also, it’s hardly Neil Gorman’s finest moment. You can almost see the collar of the mask at points and while it’s all very admirable, I was never convinced. I do think his work for Smith and Jones was brilliant, however, and I like Sec a lot more than most. Ultimately, the pig men were just silly and clearly unnecessary. While they were just about OK in ep. 1, their weaknesses showed up more clearly in Evolution.

if you’d enjoy some formulaic, dependable entertainment then it’s the new Genesis. If you’re after something revolutionary and ground-breaking you’re bound to be disappointed

 

I don’t think this episode deserves half the criticism it got because it’s just so much fun. I love the conspiratorial Dalek looking over its “shoulder”, the building of Sec’s character, Solomon’s speech-ifying...where it falls down is only where it defies the formula (mistakenly in my opinion) and saves Lazlo. The point of the tragic hero is *he dies*. We don’t know or empathise with the human-Daleks but we like Lazlo so we should be upset when he cops it. Never mind that it’s utterly unbelievable that even Hooverville would accept a semi-pig, it robs the story of some emotional clout.

Evolution worked up until where it decided to break with convention

 

The thing about Evolution is, even objectively it’s difficult to judge. My gut instinct is, “that was fab” but I try not to just follow that. It depends what mood you’re in: if you’d enjoy some formulaic, dependable entertainment then it’s the new Genesis. If you’re after something revolutionary and ground-breaking you’re bound to be disappointed. I have nothing against the former – after all, there have been many brilliant paint-by-number stories (Caves of Adrozani and Talons of Weng-Chiang are both fairly standard plots zhuzzed-up by skill and wit) and, as I said, Evolution worked up until where it decided to break with convention. I can’t help but wonder, though, what could have happened had it gone another way. Sec would have made a brilliant recurring villain – what if he had been lying to the Doctor about his intentions?

I only hope Caan (the joke about whose name I don’t get – what is that?) will muster up a proper army soon, it’s time we let Daleks be Daleks and maybe stopped wiping them out.

Still, a thumbs up from me: imperfect but lovable.

PS: tonight’s episode looks really promising (I only hope it isn’t struck by the Idiot’s Lantern curse of mediocrity)and  I have especially high expectations having seen writer Stephen Greenhorn’s musical, Sunshine on Leith*. It’s an amazing show and whether or not you know much of the Proclaimers, it’s a damn good story. The night I went, the auditorium was packed and at the end there was a standing ovation and rendition of “500 Miles” by everyone who knew the words. It’s on tour soon, details here. Oh and if that’s not enough, Peter Davison guest stars in the Lazarus Experiment. Honest.

Comments

Explanation for the joke can be found at:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=ANqeDH41MIs

Cheers Salem, I was starting to feel out of the loop. No wonder though - I never watched Star Trek.

Not a problem, Flick. Not everyone is struck by the glory of Trek. Some people actually think Star Wars is entertaining. *shrug* who can account for taste? =P

I really think they should replace the rickets-monster with a picture of Peter Davison, maybe from that cliffhanger in Androzani. This has got to be a TTV article at some point.

I enjoyed reading your very balanced review.

My opinion of the story has also improved upon re-watching both of these episodes back-to-back.

Flick:

Welcome back.

Intriguing point about Daleks and the right-wing and left-wing.

Star Trek (not that I'm a huge fan) have produced Communism parables with the (Cybermen-rip-off!) Borg before - so maybe a future Cybes story could explore that.

On both wings, the (right-wing) Nazis and the (left-wing) followers of Stalin were both following orders of a dictatorship.

Dictators and following orders being other recurring elements of Dalek stories (not to make light of terrible real-life history!)

On the subject of this two-parter, I give it a thumbs down rather than up - as the Final Experiment plot disintegrated into incoherence in Evolution, I couldn't enjoy the many admirable features of this story.

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