Daleks in Manhattan / Evolution of the DaleksBookmark and Share

Monday, 30 April 2007 - Reviewed by Rob Stickler

There is something special about a Dalek episode of Doctor Who. An extra frisson. It's always been the way. I remember waiting with incredible anticipation for Ressurection of the Daleks, Revelation of the Daleks and particularly Remembrance of the Daleks. It's my opinion that a period setting is somehow even more effective in Dalek stories than a SF one. Throw into the mix a genuine New York location (through the magic of television and well used plate shots) and it was with great excitement that I sat down to bear witness to the return of the Cult of Skaro.

I loved the first episode. Until the final seconds I was probably the happiest I've ever been watching Doctor Who. The period setting was pulled off perfectly, the location footage gave it extra realism, the Daleks complimented the art decco surroundings as if they had been designed with that aim in mind. The direction and the performances eloquently referenced the films of the period with hammy brooklyn accents lifted straight out of Singin' in the Rain or a Busby Berkeley picture (please God no one ever really sounded like that).

Hooverville (or Bute park as I know it) was effective. Some have expressed the opinion that the issue of the Doctor and Martha being a mixed race couple in 1930's New York should have been raised, and also that the white characters interraction with Martha was unrealistic. Whilst I take the historical point on the race issue I feel the answer is that you can't tackle that same problem every time the Tardis lands somewhere before 1990. They acknowledged it the first time it was relevant (The Shakespeare Code) and I imagine they'll leave it at that unless it's incorporated into the plot of an episode. Whilst it's a suspension of disbelief I'd rather suspend than hear some saturday tea-time/family drama racial bigotry every couple of weeks. Enough of this silliness it's Doctor Who not Panorama.

Hugh Quarshie was acting his little socks off, and to think I'd only the previous evening been mocking his turn as Captain Panaka in the first of the Star Wars debacles, I mean prequels. Best guest artist for episode one though must go to Miranda Raison who was captivating. The scene towards the close of the episode where she gets lost in the sewers and starts to cry I thought was brutal and touching.

The pigmen really were Dalek Invasion's Robomen weren't they, right down to the short life span. They were very good, especially the horrific masks. I felt Laszlo failed however. Ryan Carnes really touching performance was undercut by a make up job that just made him look silly instead of half-gone. I felt the whole of part one was very old fashioned and slow placed which worked brilliantly as normally it's all so frantic. Reminiscent of old Who stories in several ways.

The Daleks, in particularly chatty mode, have had enough of clinging to survival. The scene where Diagoras and the Dalek talk whilst looking over the Big Apple was beautiful. The Dalek lab was like something out of a James Whale Universal Horror and the lovely Dalek Sec was in fine form... for a few moments. Then Sec is sacrificed. Is that the first Dalek suicide? The Kaled Sec appears larger and more appendaged than the mutant we saw in series one (Dalek). I'm sure I remember reading that the mutants are specifically bred as grunts, leaders, or whatever. As a Black Dalek (sometimes reffered to as a Dalek Supreme [Dalek Spotters Guide Book, 1984, Spotty & Single]) Sec would have been bred to be more intelligent and... stuff than an ordinary Dalek. That's my explanation for him clearly being ten times the size (& limbiness) of the others. Anyways back in Sec's lab it's time for the Dalek to ingest the human thereby obviously merging their DNA (wha?) and hatching something that looks like The Mighty Boosh do City of Death. If that wasn't harrowing enough Sec has absorbed his bloody accent too.

A couple of questions; firstly why Sec? Why would the leader sacrifice himself? Okay it was his idea and the others couldn't follow his logic but if he'd ordered them to absorb the human they'd have done it. As a super-genius Black Dalek he should have forseen that the rest of the Cult would revolt without him to guide them. Secondly, how the hell did the Daleks not see the Doctor? They didn't see him, sense him, pick up on his double heartbeat. Nothing. No wonder they're on the brink of extinction as they appear to have gone blind.

Surprisingly the Hybrid was one of the things I liked most about Evolution of the Daleks, his developing conscience and relationship with the Doctor was interesting and well played. The Doctor having to try to help him despite all his better judgement just in case it could make a difference was brilliant too. The Dalek revolt was the best bit (especially the clandestine chat in the sewer where one Dalek checks nobody is looking before he will speak). 'We imagined your irrelevance!' Class.

On the other hand it transpires that the luxuriant pacing of part one was at the expense of episode two. The story plays out pleasingly if too quickly. The guest cast are wasted (literally for Hugh Quarshie - but that's one of the best bits!) and appear to serve little purpose. This is especially tragic for Miranda Raison having been so watchable in part one. The Human-Daleks really are just Robomen apparently incapable of individual thought (although it's worth a mention that the last time the Daleks experimented with the Human Factor (Power of the Daleks, 1966) 'Why?' was the first question they asked then too. Nice reference.) and no more use than the Pigmen. The Daleks get to drag Sec/Hybrid around on a chain (sweet Jaysis are you serious?) which is odd as I would expect them, having decided he is an irrelevant abomination and an evolutionary dead-end, to exterminate the flip out of him. No, apparently they're holding onto him for now so that... ah yes, so that he can be killed accidentally in a clumsy metaphor. Excellent.

The stand out best sequence of Evolution is when the Doctor climbs the mast of the Empire State Building to remove the Dalek panels, loses his screwdriver and desperatley pulls at the dalekanium as if he can rip it off with his bare hands. Seeing that he can't he clutches at the mast, presumably risking his own destruction, to block the power. This is followed by a nice scene of him lying inert, coat flapping in the wind. Is he dead? Nah, course not he's back on his feet in two seconds. Incidentally, how did the Time Lord DNA get into the Dalek-Humans? Through the power system? Wha?

Anyways, back in Sec's lab, or is it Caan's lab? Caan does a runner (he has to really or no more Daleks ever and do I like the Doctors reasoning) while DT has some kind of grinning/winking relapse and prances about the lab like he's on Strictly Dance Fever. He said he couldn't fix Laszlo, how does he do it? Actually, don't worry about it. I'm not bothered.

And as the credits run that's how I feel. Not bothered. Which is a real shame because there is a really good story in there but for me, on first viewing, Evolution of the Daleks doesn't really work. Gutted I was. After an awesome set up they lost the second half completely.

It will be interesting to see what general opinion of this story is after some time has past. I've only watched part two once and must confess I really wasn't sure how I felt about it until I began writing this review. It wasn't bad. It's no Time-Flight. It was a great disapointment to me however; and in that it achieves a first since Doctor Who returned to our screens.





Daleks in Manhattan / Evolution of the DaleksBookmark and Share

Monday, 30 April 2007 - Reviewed by Vincent Truman

I don't know about the lot of you, but my enthusiasm for the Daleks' return has all but been exterminated by this leaden, dreary two-parter. First of all, and this is no fault of the writers or performers, but this is the Daleks' seventh episode appearance in thirty-one episodes. Enough. Secondly, the Daleks have gone from legitimately terrifying in "Dalek" to impish gossip-mongers ("But you have doubt?") in this pair of episodes. The first thing the Dalek in the former wanted to do upon identifying the Doctor was to shoot him dead; two seasons later, four Daleks - the Cult of Skaro, mind you - are terribly patient and willing to listen to the Doctor prattle on, dare them to shoot him ? twice! ? or even play the radio.

Like the Macra in "Gridlock", it almost appears that enemies are not to be avoided or fought in Season Three, but merely walked passed with perhaps a nod of the head. Victory!

Performance-wise, David Tennant continues to impress, curbing his character's manic energy with some genuine world-weary experience. Agyeman's Martha is neither horrible nor wonderful ? the millennium version of the placid Nyssa from the Baker/Davison years. She still appears to be a stand-in for a real companion. Though one hates to compare companions, I'll indulge anyway: Rose, by Episode 5 of Season 1 ("World War Three"), had firmly established herself as a brave, spirited, smart and integral part of the Doctor's world. We knew her problems, her family, her fears, etc. If Martha wasn't in Episode 5 of Season 3? would you have really noticed? Apart from her Token Idea (she seems to have one each episode) in Part Two and occasionally talking about something not being fair, her character is that of a special guest star who just hasn't gone home yet. She's there because the Doctor always has a companion. I do wish Russel Davies chooses to break that mold someday with the others he has shattered since the series' return.

Writing-wise, the two scripts have great potential but ultimately fall flat. The Daleks are evolving? Momentarily interesting, but then really impossible, considering the 42-odd-year history of the scooting pepper pots. Now we're to be afraid of a a guy who looks like a cross between a spider and, to use a coarse term, somebody's butt? When he was zapped, it registered as a zero on my Surprising-Twist-O-Meter. Of course, he was going to die. Also ? and I confess I am lifting this from another reviewer ? to have New York at your disposal and to put the climax of the episodes in a theater? well. OK. Not very impressed. The Daleks themselves arguing amongst themselves did not appeal to me, either. I just cannot believe that the most brilliant machine/minds from Skaro, so brilliant they could pilot a void ship, would bicker so.

I fear that "Doctor Who" is treading a road into style over substance in Season Three ? touching episodes like "Father's Day", "Unquiet Dead", "School Reunion" and "Girl in the Fireplace" have been exchanged for the occasional touching moment and competent CGI work ? and I am very concerned that we are nearly at the half-way point of the season without an obvious classic in the bunch (though "Shakespeare" comes close).

At least they're not saying 'Torchwood' every other word this time.





Evolution of the DaleksBookmark and Share

Sunday, 29 April 2007 - Reviewed by Mark Hain

I tried to like this two parter, and in some ways I did. As I said in my review of "Daleks in Manhattan", being a long time Doctor Who fan, the Daleks actually realizing that their "You will be exterminated" solution to every problem had led them dangerously close to extinction is an exciting premise. The creation of the Human hybrid Dalek Sec was not something I would have wanted to see for good, but for a one or two episode arc it was actually done well. The "Cult of Skaro", a group of Daleks that can actually reason and think was a very cool concept as well.

The problem I have with the whole thing is that like a bad bond villain, the Daleks let The Doctor live several times when they have every possibility of killing him. Even at the very end, the last remaining Dalek in the universe, who had forsaken his leader Sec and was ready to take over Earth, decides to run when all it would take is one shot and the Dalek's greatest enemy (or one incarnation of him at least) would be dead. This idea that rewriting human DNA and replacing it with Dalek DNA would create completely human looking Daleks is a bit out there too (and as apure Sci-Fi fan, that's a big statement).

I don't know what else to say. The acting as always from DT, Freema and every single extra was excellent. The scene where The Doctor resolutely decides he WILL save Laslo was excellent and shows what he can do if he so decides it must be done. Although, the scene where he attempts to convice a Dalek that "Exterminate" will get him nowhere is kind of nuts but this is a Dalek that can supposedly reason somewhat so not impossible. It also seems strange that The Doctor so easily decides to help Sec in his quest to build another planet and inject 1000+ humans with Dalek DNA. Yes, I understand he "has to believe one man can make a difference" and all, plus these humans are supposedly "empty vessels", still Doc seems to embrace the idea a little quickly and a tad too wholeheartedly in my opinion. The Daleks themselves as always were awesome, especially in the Hooverville attack. Once again we get to see that they are not your grandfather' s 1960 Dalek.

So once again, one escapes so we will see them again (you expected any other outcome?). All in all, I did enjoy this two parter but I felt some of the logic and science was a bit wacky. Good thing this show has a superb cast and crew, excellent special effects and quite possibly the best Doctor ever! Next week the Doctor meets Martha's family...here's hoping they don't come with him at the end of the episode!





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Sunday, 29 April 2007 - Reviewed by Gary Caldwell

I've been avoiding 'Confidential' like the intergalactic plague this season, partly because I don't want the 'magic' to be spoiled (I'm kidding of course... magic has been entirely absent from season three) and partly because I can't handle another talking head shot of RTD, grinning like a maniac as he lets rip as to how 'brilliant' his version of 'Who' is, and how much we're in dept to him for having been paid a huge amount of dosh to re-imagine it.

Anyway... I was so numbed by the 'brilliance' of this weeks episode that I was unable to lift the remote control to change the bloody channel, and was only able to summon the huge amount of will to do so, when RTDs grinning head appeared to utter the 'b' word about 30 seconds in.

'Evolution of the Daleks' was I'm afraid, far from brilliant. After last weeks debacle, I hoped the show would have improved, but, no... it was actually worse. Story wise, this was a mess. A half baked concoction of non-sensical ideas that played out with stunning predictability. The basic idea of the Daleks employing the concept of evolution as the key to their survival was actually pretty sound, and in the hands of an intelligent writer could have made for an excellent drama (as long as there were plenty of 'shootie' bits for people like myself... cos I like the 'shootie' bits!). In fact, by coincidence I've just finished watching the complete 'Neon Genesis Evangelion'. A Japanese sci-fi cartoon (or 'Anime', to the initiated) that deals with roughly the same basic concept of forced evolution. Evangelion, however, has an intelligence and depth so outwith the grasp of the Who production team as to make it seem that it was written by beings who have evolved onto the next level themselves.(and in case you're wondering, the 'shootie' bits are bloody brilliant as well).

It just gets my goat... for the last 15 years or so, British television Sci Fi has been camping out under a bridge, all damp and smelling of wee (and lets not forget, that despite the BBC currently heralding Dr Who as the second coming, for years it was a dirty phrase the utterance of which would have resulted in instant dismissal at best... extermination at worst) only to be rescued, cleaned up in the station toilets and sent to 'Top shop' before being housed in a nice semi in Cardiff!

And this is what we get!

Okay, hold tight, cos this is gonna be bumpy!!!

A series of events and character motivations that made no sense whatsoever. The wonkiest science I've ever witnessed in a television programme that wasn't targeted at two year olds. Tennant shouting a lot, waving his arms a lot, and over acting a lot (actually, somebody in the forums remarked on him being an excellent stage actor, and suddenly my dissatisfaction with him finally clicked. That's it... he's 'stage acting', exaggerating everything so that everybody at the back can see. Unfortunately, this style is no use when you're being viewed close enough to see whats up you're left nostril.). The Doctor hoaching with indignation and outrage whenever the Daleks did anything remotely 'Dalek' like, as if he knows nothing about them, let alone fought them in a cataclysmic war, (they shoot things, that's what they do' thats all they do, so don't look so damn surprised when they shoot somebody). The Doctor offering himself up for sacrifice twice (oh, just shoot him!) despite the end result of such actions achieving absolutely nothing. Flat, surprisingly lifeless direction which did, however feature a hilarious shot of a dalek, filmed with a wide angle lens so that it's plunger appeared in huge perspective, with the camera strapped to it's front as it trundled along. (Actually the direction was the least of this episodes problems, Spielberg couldn't have sorted out this mess.). An astonishing level of inconsistency from the Daleks ( having made his impassioned speech, Solomon is instantly exterminated... the Doctor takes stage and the Dalek hesitates). In fact, the Doctor spent most of this episode wandering round with a giant target on his head which the Daleks (all talk and no action) took zero advantage of, despite their continual promises of intent. Taloolah failing to bat an eyelid when Martha states she's a doctor (cos black women doctors were ten a penny in 1930's "Nu Yaawwrrk", apparently.) More running around the same 15 feet of sewer, more climbing up thing's at the end and more famous buildings used as focal points. An invasion of Manhattan by 12 'Dalek' blokes (real shades of 'Plan 9 from outer space' here). Egg whisk Dalek Tommy guns, being 'chambered' (despite firing energy bolts). Vast amount's of dull exposition. The playing of the same musical cue that accompanied the cult of Skaro's glide from the void ship at the end of (the genuinely exciting) Doomsday, over a similar sequence that just looked pathetic in comparison ( the Daleks 'big' entrance onto the stage, a crawling Dalec Sec in tow, via the kind of 'explosion' that would have made Paul Daniels blush!) The much vaunted New York shoot being nothing more then a collection of matte plates. The same threadbare locations/sets used in the first episode (Hooverville being no more then a collection of tents and props). Cliched characterisation and some terrible accents (the lead human/Dalek in the theatre had the worst American accent I'veever heard outside a comedy show). A ridiculous song and dance from Tennant as he mixes up some solutions for the second time in the space of 15 minutes in order to alter DNA or somesuch crap! Daleks that can "temporal shift" anytime, anywhere at will, but only when the writer decides. And finally, some truly dreadful dialogue (Dalek Sec... "For all their faults, such courage!", and my personal favourite "Pig slaves will take the lift!")

You know, it's a testament to how bad this all was that there still loads of things I can think of to list, however, a line has to be drawn, and I'm drawing it now, before I die from old age!

'Evolution' was terrible on so many levels it beggars belief. I'm not even sure that the most undemanding kid would have stayed the distance, boredom being this episodes most cardinal sin. There were a couple of good angle's/stuntmen falling about, when the Daleks (albeit briefly) attacked Hooverville and I liked the tracking shot when the Human/Daleks opened fire in the theatre. But that was it. I still think Murray Gold is providing movie quality scores, and should be complimented on doing so, but his bombast is now starting to feel distinctly out of step with the increasingly shoddy visuals ('Who' as a production in general is nowhere near as gleaming as many people seem to think, compare it with 'Farscape' and you'll see what I mean). Apparently this story was put together via a shopping list thrown at the writer by RTD, (who referred to Helen Raynor in the Radio times as being "Brilliant". That's a surprise!). Well... if you're listening Russel, here's a list for next season's two parter.

The Spanish civil war.
A plate of porridge.
Carnie folk.
An Onion.
The mutant tax collectors of Kelloss.
Existentialism.
Dusty Bin.

Ridiculous isn't it. Okay, so I'm having a laugh. It's fine for me to do so, because I'm not getting paid to entertain people. RTD is, and he's clearly having nearly as big a laugh as I am (ok... not quite, but...). The writing process is a creative endeavour that should not be polluted by stupid pre conceived lists whose elements must all be shoehorned in to satisfy some unnecessary brief. It show's a contempt for the audience that makes RTD, in my opinion unfit for the job he's doing. To conduct such an 'experiment' with the Daleks, and with a two part adventure no less is unforgivable He's turning Dr Who into some kind of joke, and I fear when the audience realises, it'll end in tears. (maybe that's the point, could he deliberately be trying to kill it off, so that when he's bored and finally leaves, nobody will take his place to potentially mess with his vision.).

I'm really coming over like the most paranoid of fanboys here, and that last bit is, I'm sure, nonsense, but I'm annoyed Godamnit!!!

Dr Who has always had it's bad episodes (most of them produced by John Nathon Turner, heh, heh, heh!). I reckon It comes with the territory, due to it's, anthology nature. But a good episode would usually be along pretty soon. Some of the first season episodes were pretty bad, but just as many were good. Some were very good, and Ecclston, while not ideal, had a gravitas and vulnerability that worked (hey... maybe he was too serious, the 'gurning' not sitting well, and perhaps contributing to his departure). Season two unfortunately seemed to have been built on, ( what I perceived to be ) season one's flaws, but there was still a lot of good stuff in there (and some nice subtext as well). I've never much cared for Tennant... his performance is all over the place and the self importance he's imbued his Doctor with just grates. Anytime I have got close to liking his portrayal (He doesn't do 'serious' well, but he can be impressively introspective... remember the 'theological' conversation he conducted with the female scientist in episode 2 of 'The Satan pit''.), he's blown it all away the following week. Less is often more, as Tom Baker proved time after time (a truly 'alien' performance by a genuine oddball... perfect). Piper, however, was still on board and she proved surprisingly capable of being the hook the show seemed to be hung on. Now, she's gone, and the third season appears to have been built entirely on the flaws, Pipers replacement being as uninteresting as she is 'airbrushed'. It's not the actors fault, she's been given practically zero to work with. Martha has no real backstory, and no distinctive personality traits, nothing! If there was a leash on Tennent (certainly in place during some of 'The girl in the fireplace', The Satan pit' and Doomsday'), it's been cut and he's being allowed to run rampant. Five stories in and the best of the bunch (The Shakespeare code) was no more than ok! Next weeks looks fine, but only if you haven't seen 'The Relic'. (which immediately sprung to mind, and I'm sure it'll be ripped off mercilessly, without Peter Hyams murky camerawork, of course, but also unfortunately minus Tom Sizemore and Penelope Anne Millar).

I'm afraid I've just lost faith in all of this. The show seems to have moved in a direction I'm just not in tune with. Maybe 'Doomsday' was too climactic, too grandiose, and the programme now feels smaller as a result. Maybe this sieries is exactly where the production team have always wanted it to be (it's all down to subjectivity). Maybe I'm taking this all too seriously. All I can say, however, is that where 'Who' currently seems to be is definitely not where I want to see it. I'm sure out of the remaining episodes The Harper directed ones will be competently put together, and Stephen Moffat's effort, potentially good (okay, so his 'drunken Doctor' stank, but he knows how to construct a story). But these are the only glimmer's of hope to cling onto during a season that up to this point has, as far as I'm concerned, gone to hell in a handbasket. Even the fx work seems a little less consistent then before.

The show is sinking in a morass of repetition, inconsistency and plain amateurishness. When the programme should be at it's peak, 'Evolution' marked a new low.

A shame!





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Sunday, 29 April 2007 - Reviewed by Eddy Wolverson

Evolution of the Daleks is an episode that barely takes a moment to breathe. Immediately we are thrown into a good old-fashioned Dalek corridor chase, sublimely complemented by Murray Gold's epic score. Within just a few minutes marauding pig-slaves and flying Daleks besiege Hooverville. And within just a few minutes more the human part of Sec is beginning to take hold.

"We must return to the flesh and to the heart."

With her script for this episode, Helen Raynor has done almost as good a job as Rob Shearman did with "Dalek" in how she presents the Dalek race in a new and fascinating way. I say 'almost as good' because I think that Shearman had a slightly harder job in trying to make us feel compassion for a 'traditional' Dalek; Raynor at least has a humanoid Dalek.

"Observe humanity. For all their faults, they have courage."

Having watched "Daleks In Manhattan", it seemed pretty obvious to me that the three Daleks were going to turn on Sec. In my head I imagined a Davros / Daleks "Genesis of the Daleks" type finish, but never did I imagine that events would play out in the way that they did. I was somewhat taken aback by just how far Raynor pushed Sec ? within two episodes he goes from the fiendish leader of an evil Dalek cult to an almost whiter-than-white visionary.

This created a lovely dilemma for the Doctor ? should he help him?

In all his incarnations the Doctor has been an unstoppable moral force. He has always done what he believed to be the right thing or what he believed to be for the greater good. But usually the audience, scrutinising the Doctor's decisions from outside the box, can clearly see what the right moral choice is or was. Watching "Evolution of the Daleks" though, I honestly didn't have a clue. Thousands of frozen humans, completely brain-dead. Should the Doctor let Sec use their empty husks as vessels for a new, tamer Dalek race? Talk about the difficult decisions?

"He is an enemy of the Daleks? and so are you! You have lost your authority. You are no longer a Dalek! You taught us to imagine and we imagined your irrelevance."

Predictable as it may have been, the recalcitrant Daleks' eventual insurrection certainly didn't lack impact. The image of Sec being forced to crawl in chains ahead of Thay and Jast is certainly an enduring one, and Sec 'taking the bullet' for the Doctor is an almost equally powerful moment. I love the shot of the death ray illuminating Sec's cyclopic skull. Beautiful.

What I found really entertaining though, was seeing Caan, Thay and Jast plotting, scheming and bitching about Sec. I loved the way that their domes would swivel around 360? as if they were looking over their shoulders, scared of getting caught! Fantastic.

Turning to the man himself for a moment, I've been a fan of David Tennant throughout his reign ? he had me won over by the end of "The Christmas Invasion" ? but in this episode I couldn't help but be dumbfounded by the sheer gravity of his performance. Following hot on the heels of Solomon's touching and eloquent speech during the attack on Hooverville was certainly an unenviable task, but the Doctor's plea to the Dalek to kill him seemed worryingly heartfelt. It was almost as if the Doctor wanted to die, and were it not for the compassion of Sec he would have. And it doesn't end there.

The scene atop the Empire State Building is regeneration-worthy. When the lightning struck the tenth Doctor's body I would have written him off had I not seen clips from later episodes! There is something about the Daleks that brings out the best ? and worst ? of the Doctor, and in "Evolution of the Daleks" it is more evident than ever.

"Never waste time on a hug!"

I'm sure I'm not the only one to have noticed this new little phrase creeping in to the Doctor's vocab - this and bloody "Allons-y." I noticed this saying first in Stephen Cole's tie-in novel "Sting of the Zygons," and it stood out again here. It's as if the Doctor is regressing to his pre-Rose state. He's closing up.

"?he looks at me and I just sort of think, he's not seeing me. He's just remembering."

Poor Martha?.

The spaghetti western-style showdown between the Doctor and Caan was the highlight of the episode for me. The last of the Daleks and the last of the Time Lords? again. The scene mirrored not only that fateful meeting between the ninth Doctor and the Dalek in Van Statten's museum, but also the final battle of wits between the seventh Doctor and the Dalek Supreme in "Remembrance of the Daleks."

Bar one pivotal difference.

"Caan, let me help you. What do you say?"

With pale red eyes and the emotion in his voice barely kept in check, the tenth Doctor looked upon the last Dalek in existence and offered it mercy. The Daleks might commit genocide at the drop of the hat, but not the Doctor. Not anymore, at least. He's become a better man. The man who once vaporised Skaro's sun offers the olive branch to Dalek Caan, and what does he say?

"Emergency temporal shift!"

And when all was said and done, Helen Raynor had one last uplifting surprise in store for us. Lazlo and Tellulah. The Pig and the Showgirl. The Pig with a tragically short life span? were it not for the intervention of a Time Lord.

"Oh Tellulah with three l's and an h! Just you watch me!"

And they all lived happily ever after? well, they both lived happily ever after. Hardly "Everybody Lives!", but it still has the same sort of feel-good resonance.

And so once again I have nothing but praise for all concerned in the production of this week's magnificent episode of Doctor Who - bar a couple of minor gripes?

Why was the grand 'Invasion of Manhattan' confined to a sewer and a backstreet theatre?

Since when were Daleks made of Dalekanium? The last I heard, Dalekanium was an explosive! Whatever happened to bonded polycarbide armour?

I believe that this is called clutching at straws.

Next week I promise I'll try to tear "The Lazarus Experiment" to shreds.

Promise.





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Sunday, 29 April 2007 - Reviewed by Billy Higgins

A pleasing - albeit solid, rather than spectacular - conclusion to the first two-parter of Series 3. The pattern in the previous two series has been for the later two-parters in the season to be generally perceived by fans to be superior to the first - that was certainly my view - and I suspect that will prove the case this time round.

There was plenty to like about Evolution, particularly from the Daleks themselves and The Doctor, but not much to suggest it was anything out of the ordinary. I would stop short of calling it "predictable" but, if there was a disappointment in the adventure, it was a lack of the "wow" factor - there wasn't much there to take even the casual viewer by surprise.

However, what was on view was delivered extremely efficiently from script to screen, and made for another enjoyable watch to continue the high standard maintained by the season to date.

The episode began with the human Dalek Sec appreciating his new form in the sewers under New York, and looking forward to the creation of a new race of hybrid Daleks - though the rest of The Cult Of Skaro are quick to privately express doubts about their leader's plans.

The Doctor leads Martha, Talullah and Frank back to Hooverville, but they're pursued by the pig slaves and two of the Daleks, who callously exterminate Hooverville's leader, Soloman, despite his pleas for clemency. Sec orders them to spare the rest of the humans in exchange for The Doctor's assistance in helping him to create his new race - he already has the "husks" of 1000 humans awaiting implementation of Dalek DNA - and take them to another planet.

The Doctor believes Sec has been influenced by humanity, and agrees to help, but the other Daleks have made alternative plans. They foil Sec and The Doctor's plans by instilling pure Dalek ideals into the human bodies, which will come to life when the Daleks' genetic laboratory is powered up via an energy conductor containing Dalekanium at the top of the Empire State Building.

The Doctor escapes (again) with the help of Talullah's boyfriend, Laszlo, a half-converted pig slave, and heads for the Empire State. Martha is already at the top, with Talullah and Frank, having worked out that is where The Doctor wanted her to head.

When lightning strikes the Daleks' conductor at the top of the Empire State, The Doctor is there and, although he isn't able to stop the new human Daleks coming to life, his own DNA is infused into them as a result.

The Doctor and his companions confront two of the Daleks in Talullah's theatre. The Daleks exterminate Sec, and invite their new human recruits to do the same to The Doctor. However, the human Daleks question the need to kill, and a battle between them and the Daleks ensue. The latter are eliminated, and Dalek Caan, monitoring events back in the laboratory, destroys the human Daleks, to The Doctor's horror.

The Doctor confronts Caan - now the last of the Daleks - who uses the Emergency Temporal Shift to escape . . .

The ailing Laszlo is saved by The Doctor, who is determined no-one else will die, and given a home in the Hooverville camp.

As we know, "they (the Daleks) always survive" but is The Doctor's closing confirmation to Martha that he will meet Dalek Caan again "one day" an indication that we will see Caan again later in this season? And was another apparently-innocuous line mentioning the Daleks' creator (albeit not by name) mean that a Davros return could also be the cards? That would certainly give another dimension to a Dalek episode.

That was achieved here - the interaction between members of The Cult Of Skaro was particularly fascinating. You didn't have to be a nuclear scientist to work out the other Daleks weren't going to tolerate their leader's plans for evolution, and there was even room for sympathy towards the hybrid Dalek, chained up and ultimately exterminated.

Another highlight was Soloman's speech to the airborne Daleks falling on deaf eyestalks, and being met with instant extermination - underlining that, ability to think for themselves or not, Daleks' core instincts are to destroy anything which is not like them.

But it's always a thrill to see a Dalek adventure and, though it's my view this was the weakest story of the four to feature them since the series came back, that had plenty to do with the quality of the other stories. We have done "the last Dalek" story with Rob Shearman's Series 1 tale, so one would assume Caan's return wouldn't replicate that.

Helen Raynor did an excellent job on by far her biggest TV writing assignment, but she isn't Russell T Davies or Steven Moffat. Although Raynor's script-editing experience on the show would have been a major help in the structuring of the episode - and the plot was certainly sound and very easy to follow - there was a lack of that little bit of additional sparkle which those two great, seasoned writers bring to their characters. Having said that, Raynor's script was assisted by David Tennant in particular being absolutely brilliant. You could give this guy the phone book to read, and he'd have you captivated. He had a good script here, with a lot of material, but lifted it up a level with his delivery, energy - and sheer quality. Tennant is arguably now Doctor Who's biggest single asset, and I would be very surprised if the list of his doubters weren't disintegrating by the episode.

Freema Agyeman continues to impress alongside, and Martha Jones had more of a role here than last week. In fact, she was very Rose-like when split from The Doctor and had to use her initiative to help with the foiling of the Daleks' plans. Although The Doctor is now clearly appreciating her intelligence and usefulness, it is still apparent that she doesn't exist to him in any romantic form. Not so much as a casual glance. Martha, on the other hand, evidently has the serious hots for her travelling companion, which I'm sure will be expanded upon when they return to present-day Earth next week. Martha's sadness at her unrequited feelings is making her a character easily empathised with.

It's going to be difficult for guest artistes to catch the eye with such focus - rightly - on the show's stars and sadly, Miranda Raison, who made a good impression as Talullah in the previous episode, was more of a bit-part player here.

A couple of impressive - and expensive - battle scenes were well realised by director James Strong and the various effects teams, particularly in the Hooverville camp, and I love Murray Gold's anthemic Dalek music.

No real complaints here - more Day Of The Daleks than Genesis probably, but that's no shame, and a steady seven and a half out of 10 for both episodes combined.