You have to understand that, as far as I’m concerned, Doctor Who is a show about the Daleks and how their plans are frequently buggered up by a smug git in a police box. In between these tales, there’s an awful lot of irrelevant gubbins in which the smug git indulges in genocide and xenophobic conflicts with a lot of other races (or as I like to call them, “targets of opportunity”). Far from being a show about a Time Lord, it’s just a highly inefficient delivery system for stories about the Daleks. Trufax.
I love the Daleks, in a way probably frowned upon by the Bible. They’re a design classic, lightning in a bottle, the perfect combination of visuals, sound and plot, forming something that still makes the hairs on my arms stand up even though I’m 50-something and should really know better by now.
So any Dalek story is a big deal to me. I get stupidly excited beforehand, even though I know that the story will probably be a bit duff, there won’t be enough exterminations and the smug git will probably win again. But these things do little to curb my enthusiasm or quash my enjoyment, because really, it’s hard to screw the Daleks up.
So you can perhaps imagine my astonishment, disappointment and later anger at the total pile of steaming cack that the BBC delivered to me under the title “Victory of the Daleks”. It was, for want of a better word, pants. But I don’t expect you to take my word for it just like that, so let’s look at specifics.
First off, the good stuff. Spitfires in space, the Doctor being mates with Winston Churchill, the “Ironsides”, the Progenetor device, devious Daleks once again, all grand stuff.
The bad stuff. Ian McNeice’s Winston Churchill was rubbish, from his obvious hairpiece to his chummy delivery. The idea that Dalek technology might be able to recognise the Doctor in a fresh regeneration when it can’t recognise Daleks cloned from the tissue of the last Kaled in existence. The pacing seemed off, possibly because the story really needed to be two episodes long. The script was lazy and chock full of cliches. And the bloody, mother-humping plasticky “New Paradigm” Daleks.
Let me make it plain where I stand on this particular step in Dalek evolution. If I could find the building they keep these things in, I would burn it to the ground. I want to find the idiot who looked at these monstrosities and said “Sure! Let’s spend thousands of pounds of licence-payers money on these, even though they look nothing like a Dalek and piss all over decades of a British icon,” and smack him in the face with a shovel until I could do my ironing on his face. I hate them, so much that it’s hard for me to even think rationally or objectively about them. And what I hate even more is that, having spent all that money on them, the BBC is now spending even more trying to convince me that they are brilliant and that they are a “good thing”.
They are not a good thing. Their very existence offends me on such a personal level that I’m actually not interested in watching the show any longer – and I’ve been a fan for literally longer than I can remember. I’m not going to be able to go to another convention, because if I run into any of the current production team I’ll need to be tasered unconscious before I can be pulled off.
What don’t I like about them? Well, the previous design was such a success because it was respectful to what had gone before. It retained the classic silhouette while updating textures to suggest increased weight and toughness. It took the essence of the Dalek machine and enhanced it by turning it into a miniature tank, a go-anywhere kill-everything death machine.
What Steven Moffat did was turn them into toys. The shape is familiar; it’s the shape that almost every lazy toy manufacturer produced in the sixties and seventies when they couldn’t be bothered to get the proper dimensions from the BBC. In doing so, he made them look fat and out of proportion. There are elements of the design I quite like; the eye-stalk and the gun, for example. I quite like the raised skirt panels, maybe even the raised and integrated fender. But there are far more elements that just drive me buggy; the integrated shoulder section, the bizarre neck rings, the wierd hump at the back, the fact that the head section looks too small and the way the whole thing looks hunched forward. It’s just shoddy, and I think what makes me so angry is that fact that the production team were entrusted with something of value to a lot of fans and promptly went and changed stuff for the sake of change. Moffat understands that he doesn’t own Doctor Who; he’s just the caretaker until someone else gets the job, and it’s his job not to screw it up for the next guy. So I’m not entirely sure why he forgot it when it came to the “New Paradigm”.
Thankfully, the overwhelmingly negative reaction to the re-design has seen them consigned to the dust heap of Dalek history, making ever more fleeting appearances until they seem to have finally vanished from the Dalek ranks.
See? I’ve finally turned into one of those rabid frothing fanboys. Shoot me now.