Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Prawn Visibility

Funny story: Last weekend I was helping out a friend with a few chores, and as we were going about our business the subject of conversation invariably came around to Doctor Who. He mentioned that the title of the upcoming episode Into The Dalek was rather odd, and I jokingly suggested that maybe they were going to go for some sort of remake of The Invisible Enemy.

I wasn't actually being serious.

CONTACT HAS BEEN MADE. For some reason.

And yet, nevertheless and riff on The Invisible Enemy is just we got. It's funny when you think about it. The first episode combined features of The Twin Dilemma with a splash of Invasion Of The Dinosaurs. More stories that are not all that highly regarded. At this rate next will be a remake of Black Orchid and the season finale will just be a 45 minute dubstep remix of that song from the Gunfighters accompanied by Peter Capaldi's dancing eyebrows.

But I digress. Right now we're here to talk about the past, not the future. Even if it WAS set in the future. Shut up, I know what I'm talking about.

Only the big problem is that I'm not sure there really IS that much to talk about. See, with a truly bad episode I can bang on for hours about every little thing it gets wrong, why it was wrong and what could have been done to fix it. With a truly great episode I can rhapsodize at length about how got stuff right and why it worked. But then there's that other sort of episode. The ones that are just kinda okay. Middle of the road. Not really stand out, but not truly awful.

Although I must admit that in the absence of anything more compelling to talk about there is a certain tendency to fix upon whatever flaws are present, resulting in a far more negative tone than ones actual reaction might indicate. In this particular case we have the disturbing tendency to recycle tropes, motifs, visuals, scenes and all that sort of stuff from previous episodes, and the increasingly obvious fact that, despite all the genuinely good stuff he's capable of, Steven Moffat simply doesn't get Daleks at all.

Now, I enjoy the various little throwbacks to the classic series that keep getting sprinkled into the series as it goes along. With the obvious proviso that if anyone else comments on how they don't like the redecoration of the TARDIS console room they're getting punched in the face. So when we have the big fight scene at the end quite deliberately evoking memories of Resurrection Of The Daleks it brings a smile to my jaded lips. But when you're immediately preceding that with bits from Dalek & The Beast Below, as well as as straight up blatant self plagiarism from Let's Kill Hitler then jaded eyebrows start to raise.

You could have at least TRIED calling them something different.

Then there's the Dalek issue. Now, it's certainly a cool idea to explore the concept of what if a Dalek turned good, and what sort of effect it would have on the Doctor. Although like most things Big Finish already did a bit of that in the first Dark Eyes series. However one thing I really do have to take exception to is the notion that Daleks have a set of dip switch settings for their alignment.

1 = Good, 2 = Neutral, 3 = Evil, 4 = Lawful, 5 = Neutral, 6 = Chaotic, 7 = Kill All Humans, 8 = Kill All Daleks

I might have been prepared to let it slide had the episode not also contained the rather baffling notion of daleks being anxious to find their comrade.

COMRADE?!?!?

Sorry, but these ARE Daleks we're talking about here. They don't HAVE a notion of comradeship. If a dalek gets captured they don't rescue it, they tell it to self destruct. Daleks give precisely zero fucks about anything, including each other. They're weren't actually communists last time I checked.

Although thinking about it the last Dalek story I listened to was actually Brotherhood Of The Daleks, so technically they WERE, kind of. 

If Daleks had anything so simple as an on/off switch for evil then somebody would have flipped it a long time ago. The whole point of Daleks is that they've been stripped of any semblance of positive psychological traits at a genetic level. That's what makes them so scary. They are actually physically incapable of being anything other than utter bastards.

Whilst we're on the subject, you know what else is a major feature of the Dalek genetic template? Indeed, what was the whole point of the entire Dalek program before Davros got carried away with the Nazi metaphors? 

RESISTANCE TO RADIATION.

They were engineered precisely to survive in nuclear hellholes and radioactive wastelands because that's what Skaro was. Hell, they're actually dependent on radiation to survive. Remember?It's a plot point in the first Dalek story EVER. The only reason Daleks bother with any radiation shielding at all is to stop it being wasted by leaking out probably. Think of the casing as a sort of lead bib. So for thi particular one to go crazy because of a simple radiation leak seems a little... far fetched. But then again there are plenty of different types of radiation, especially in sci-fi shows. So who knows. Pretty sure brain tumors don't just magically go away the minute someone shuts off the radiation source though

Ah well, as I said it wasn't all that bad an episode. It just wasn't really that great. The entire plot simply boiled down to the Doctor getting shrunk and doing a quick spot of welding. Not really sure why the Daleks self repair systems couldn't handle that themselves. Maybe he'd run out of duct tape.

What is interesting is the brief appearance by our mysterious black clad lady friend, who appears to collecting people the Doctor gets killed so she can have a tea party or something. One interesting theory I saw somewhere posits that this may be a new female incarnation of the Master. Missy being short for Mistress. I've know idea if this will prove to to be correct or not, but I could actually see it. She seems to have that odd sort of politeness tinged with craziness that the Master does. And I could totally see her slipping into full on crazy mode in an entertaining fashion. Plus this episode does illustrate that you can materialize a TARDIS around someone right as their about to die since the Docto does so before the theme music has even started. Still, we'll see in due time.