Daleks in Manhattan


Oh, Daleks. Who told you you could make it in Manhattan? You need to have a word with your agents. Remember when you only appeared in really awesome stories? Those days have passed.1 I mean look at you. You’re in the USA for ten seconds and you go and get yourselves a makeover. And just like any big star trying to survive in a tough industry, you look far worse than you did before. Frankly, it’s embarrassing.

Nothing in Daleks in Manhattan is a intrinsically a bad idea. Having the last four defeated Daleks turn up in New York during the Depression is thematically amusing. Having them experimenting on the dregs of society is quite disturbing. Having the Doctor twist their experiment and use it against them is a classic, cool resolution that has been underused in the new series. Having the Daleks use the Empire State Building as part of their evil plan is just cool.

How then, do you screw all that up?

Firstly, I suppose, you remove the wit. I’d be willing to call ‘Daleks in Manhattan’ the dullest, dreariest story so far in terms of dialogue. I can’t remember the last time I’ve had trouble finding a quote for a Who story. The dialogue reaches its low point when Solomon steps out to make the most cliched “can’t we all just get along” speech possible. When the sweeping music started to creep in, it felt like he was being played off at the Oscars. Let’s not even touch the awful attempt at a Davies-style innocent bisexual innuendo.

Once all that humour and spark is gone, I think we could kill this idea more. Lets have the Daleks want to become human. What? Doesn’t make sense you say? Goes against their very nature, their raison d’etre? I felt like ranting at the television after the end of part one; I haven’t felt like such a lame fanboy in quite a while.2 At least the normal Daleks weren’t easily convinced, and began skulking around being hilariously shifty. But let’s face it, the plan sucks, and they were the ones that agreed to it in the first place. If a good story had come out of the idea, perhaps I’d be more forgiving.

So, it’s not funny and our villains don’t make sense. Let’s keep going. I want bad science. No, no, not your average Who ‘that science was a bit silly just now’ sort of bad science, or even your ‘that doesn’t seem to make sense, but it was super-advanced technology so I’ll just accept it’ sort of bad science. No. Let’s have some ‘DNA can be conducted, like electricity, through metal’ bad science.3 And lets top it off with a lightning strike hitting the Empire State Building instead of a solar flare, as previously indicated. Why? Because everyone’s expecting a lightning strike. It’s a tall building. Of course it’ll get hit by lightning. What are you, stupid? Will no one think of the children?

I normally like this show. I’ve loved its resurrection. There have been some rough patches. They always seemed longer than they were. But this two-parter has special will-sapping energy, far beyond ‘World War Three’ and ‘Rise of the Cybermen’. There’s no particular theme or interest driving it. There’s no joy. There’s nothing clever to it. There are very stupid looking pig-men in it. It’s big, and dumb, and lazy, and I wish Doctor Who hadn’t had to sink quite so low.4

  1. Or rather, we’re just back to the bad old days.
  2. My definition of lame fanboy may differ from yours, gentle reader.
  3. What’s particularly annoying about this is that the Doctor could easily have slipped his DNA about the place in much more believable ways earlier on. And he’d have looked a lot cleverer as a result. I like a clever Doctor.
  4. If you go around calling episodes perfect then you’ve just got to sink the boot in when they suck.
New York City. If aliens came to Earth, no wonder they came here. — Tallulah

One Response to “Daleks in Manhattan”

  1. Why don’t we watch Planet of the Daleks? Check out those awesome blue coats.

    How did the Doctor and not-Rose get from Liberty island to Manhattan? Did the Doctor just park there for effect, and then they jumped back into the Tardis?

    It wasn’t so bad. A couple more pigs-in-the-lift style scenes would have carried the show.