Tuesday, 2 July 2013

I Don't Like The Daleks

But that's ok - because The Caves of Androzani isn't my favourite episode either.

The Daleks have never really captured my imagination. The entire nation seems to be in love with them, even now, and especially after their first appearances in the 1960s. There was huge uproar when Moffat, Gattiss and the design team decided to "mess" with their iconic look in Victory of the Daleks. The thing is - I like the Rainbow/Power Ranger/Parody/Paradigm Daleks. I like the fact that they have roles, I like the fact they have designated colours. To me, the new Daleks (and the moment they destroy the old ones I hated) was the best thing about the episode.

So does this make me a Doctor Who fan with a flaw? Does it even make me a fan? Yes. It just means I'm a fan with an opinion that dares to be different. For me, the Daleks ran out of stories after The Daleks' Master Plan. They can beat the Thals and Terry Nation could preach some anti-War messages, they came to Earth, they chased after 'Doctor Who'. Oh and then they killed people in a twelve-part epic - that is supposedly epic. Then that's it. People are in love with Power of the Daleks, but it's still using the same ideas. You give the Daleks no power, they get power, they kill people - yawn. Lots of people say it's the character in Power of the Daleks that makes it so good. That's fair enough. I'm quite a fan of Mission to the Unknown, and the majority of that is character based.

So the Daleks vs the Humans might work, as a series. Terry Nation attempted this - and maybe that would've even been interesting. But he failed so we'll never know. The point is - Daleks vs the Doctor and the TARDIS crew has been done to death. Pardon the pun. There are some amazing Dalek moments, even now, and I'll explain those later - but the fundamental idea of the Daleks is old. And, sorry guys, it's exhausted. The Cybermen you can reinvent and make supposedly scarier. You can always push them - they have a human connection to us. The Daleks can invade our planet as much as we like - you can show them killing as many people as they like - the fact is - they are boring and overused.

If we look at Asylum of the Daleks. It's a fantastic episode for one reason. Oswin. She is what makes it good. Without her - it would be boring, with too many scenes of Amy and Rory stupidly arguing, and people constantly looking for deactivated Daleks. "Ooh, is that from The Chase?". The other good thing about Oswin is that she is a Dalek. So there's a new idea there with the Daleks, something pushing the idea forward, something interesting about these ancient and irritating pepper pots. The idea of a Dalek Asylum is awesome too. The idea of the Special Weapons Dalek was awesome (and should have been Oswin, in my opinion). There are ideas that push the creatures in new directions - it is possible. It just doesn't happen enough. And it wouldn't be long until even these ideas are exhausted.

Dalek 'Golden' moments cover a range of things. When I first saw Resurrection of the Daleks, I became obsessed with the creatures for the first time ever. Watching it back, I'm not sure why. I mean assassinating Gallifreyan people - what? But it inspired me, I wrote Dalek things, I came up with new Dalek ideas. Then I got bored. For me, they always get boring. Revelation of the Daleks pushes them in another new direction, but again, for me it's the setting that works better than the Daleks themselves. Genesis of the Daleks is amazing - probably because they do hardly anything! Davros is awesome in it - but even he gets boring. Remembrance of the Daleks is a fantastic episode - and the Dalek battle is awesome, and there is a real sense of mystery. Mystery & imagination are brought to the Daleks and their methods, and it's interwoven with a really human story - so it works.

In an attempt to push the Daleks in new directions, because everyone realises new ideas are needed, there seem to be a few standard "new directions" that writers use. One of these is the "let's turn them into a cult thing". I haven't listened to too many Big Finish stories, but I saw a DWM cartoon of one (back in the days DWM did that), and the Fifth Doctor picked up a toy of a Dalek. This kind of 'mocking' the icon the Daleks have become is a little bit too much for me. It's just as boring as the idea of the Daleks in the first place. The stories become predictable.

The other "new" direction that people use, and the one that prompted me to write this blog in annoyance, is the attempt to make the Daleks good. EVERYONE DOES IT! "Dark Eyes", Big Finish's landmark Eighth Doctor box set, had some really good ideas. One of these was initially to make the Daleks good. It is a genuinely creepy idea - except it gets boring. They have to be revealed to be evil, the humans have to act all innocent til the point someone dies, and the Doctor has to get angry. It's predictable. The Dalek Generation by Nicholas Briggs, as far as I know, does the same thing. And today (2nd July), the Seventh Doctor Short Story was released. It's written by Malorie Blackman! Wow!

Oh - but it's about the Daleks.. turning good?

It annoys me that all Dalek stories now, and there are an increasing number, make the Daleks good in order to try and push these creatures in a different way. But it doesn't work. The new ideas are getting boring.

Unless someone can reboot the Daleks, unless someone can make them appealing all over again - or unless they have a REALLY REALLY REALLY long rest without the entirety of fandom going "OH NO MOFFAT'S GIVING THE DALEKS A REST", then they might work.

But for now - the Daleks deserve to be exterminated. Along with all these ideas of making them 'good' for the five minutes.


  1. Wow!
    I like the Daleks but your article proves a point:ironically the best Dalek stories are the ones in which their appearance is minimal.
    Davros got boring, especially with the Master's 'Joker Immunity'he seemed to inherit.
    As for good Daleks, whaaaaaaattttt?
    That is a no-no, other villains, why not, but a good Dalek just takes any status and purpose away from them.
    Genesis is a great tale as it plays with about 7 different characters' moralities, Revelation had potential to be the best Dalek story of all time, a year off from the Daleks would not be a bad thing, a rejuvenation/new avenue could then be tried out, time of the Daleks you might say.
    But DO NOT ever, ever make them good..........

  2. Ps-what do you not like about Caves?

    1. I like it, but the whole political/drug and weapon running thing isn't really proper Doctor Who for me. It's clever, ambitious, but not always enjoyable.