Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

The presence of a Dalek story so early on in Matt Smith's run (third) seems like insurance against viewers leaving before they've given the new guy a chance.

It's certainly a Dalek-lite story, the titular baddies putting in their weakest appearance yet. However on the plus side, much good comedy does get mined from their ingratiating themselves into the British army during World War Two, such as the one gliding around with a tray grating "WOULD-YOU-CARE-FOR-SOME-TEAAA?"

If I didn't know better, I'd swear that this was some kind of comedy sketch-show…

Another nice in-joke is the line "I-AM-YOUR-SOL-DIER", a nod back to an infamous similar line from the 1966 story Power Of The Daleks. Little touches like this do a lot to reassure me that the writers know what they're doing, whilst not even slightly inconveniencing more recent viewers. (ie. most viewers)

The whole WW2 setting was great, particularly with Ian McNeice's excellent portrayal of Churchill as such a cheery fellow. He really looks the part, and Amy even gets to address him with the words "OI! Churchill!"

Summoned by the wartime PM, the Doctor and Amy discover that one of his scientists - Professor Edwin Bracewell played tremendously by Bill Paterson- has just impossibly invented the Daleks.

Conversely, the Daleks actually turn out to have invented Professor Bracewell. This is a fact that he is mortified to realise when one of them exterminates his hand and reveals him to be a robot. He has a lot of grief over that. Well, you would. He has to handle learning that all his memories are false, and that really messes him up.

Forced into proving what metal menaces the Daleks actually are, the Doctor discovers too late that this was their actual intention all along.

As the story quite unexpectedly cut away from London and across the solar system, I thought things looked to be really taking off, but not for long.

As soon as the Daleks teleport up to their ship without exterminating the Doctor first, well, I just had to start waiting for a later explanation. There wasn't one.

It all gives way to a lot of talking between the Doctor and his nemesises(es)(whatever), including a funny line about a biscuit, but very little action between them.

Executive Producer Steven Moffat seems determined to restart Doctor Who again from scratch this season, having in recent weeks replaced the cast, the credits, the show's directors, and now even had the Daleks redesigned. Yes, behold - this week the Doctor meets the Power Ranger Daleks.

I think these look pretty good. They still look enough like regular Daleks that an in-plot explanation for their change isn't even necessary, but at the same time they're more imposing and reminiscent of the movie ones from the 1960s.

Actually, this episode features two new designs for them, the other being this special UK variant:

They look great as well - and this one even has its 'ears' covered up to prevent them from flashing during the blackout!

Speaking of which, that the Daleks chose to wipe-out London by simply turning all its lights on was a bit ingenius too.

Fortunately a few of Bracewell's actual inventions ultimately save the day, although the jump in the storyline required to suddenly realise his designs, and fit them onto aircraft, AND attack the Dalek ship is too much for my liking. There just seemed to be a scene missing there, or at the very least a couple of weeks.

As my friend Brian put it tonight "Why not just have the robot scientist say he'd built... them but they were untested? Script plausability and dramatic tension solved in one pop."

Added to that, just what were the Daleks thinking - effectively giving mankind the technology to attack their own saucer with? Stoopid Daleks. Next they'll be broadcasting live whatever's taking place on their ship.

However the notion of seeing the Daleks face-off against the British army was a really good idea, although let's be honest, what we all really want to watch is a battle between the Daleks vs. the Nazis.

Which brings me to a huge bit of praise. I rarely compliment any film or TV show on the quality of its special effects, because today you can do just about anything with CGI. But this final showdown sequence - blimey! This was absolutely stunning! It was like watching Star Wars!

The Daleks' final ace in the hole - to blow-up said human-robot - fails, because they have somehow built it to not detonate if the robot believes that it is human. I so didn't get that.

My biggest problem though had to be with the episode's premise. Specifically, that in the 1940s Churchill et al honestly believed that Bracewell had invented a machine capable of independent thought, and that each Dalek did not actually contain someone (perhaps an enemy Nazi) sitting inside controlling it. I know it's science fiction, but that leap on the part of the characters is too much of a leap for me.

All in all, this is the third story of three this season to have not held together particularly well. Which is a disaster. The scripts to all three have felt, to me, unfinished. These are exactly the sort of plotting tangles that I really hoped we had seen the end of, now that we have such a great new head writer.

Instead I find myself typing the same word that I have been for the last five years - proofreaders! :)

More promisingly on that subject, this episode also featured the breaching of how modern-day Earth could have been invaded so many times without its population remembering it afterwards. The Doctor notices that Amy has forgotten the Daleks' invasion in The Stolen Earth, and resolves at the end of the episode to investigate further.

We may not have had a good story yet this series, but things are still looking very promising.

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