Sunday, August 24, 2014

Doctor Who--"Daleks in Manhattan"

I can imagine Dalek purists being unhappy with the way this is going, but I was quite pleased. I have no particular attachments to the original series and have frankly found the supposed emotionless, xenophobic Daleks to be a bigger bore as their appearances wore on back in the day. I think the Cult of Skarro, introduced last season in “Army of Ghosts” and returning here, make much better villains with their ability to evolve and adapt. There is even a discussion between them over how humanity, with all its “inferiorities,” has managed to survive countless wars while the Dalek race has been wiped out save for the Cult. I assume this is also foreshadowing. Rumors are the contract with the Terry Nation estate is for use of the Daleks expires this year and will not be renewed. Is this the end of our staccato voiced Nazis from space?

There are only two gripes about the episode. The first is the Doctor takes Martha to 1930’s Manhattan in the first place without explanation. Supposedly she was supposed to get one trip to the past, which was in “The Shakespeare Code.” The Doctor extended that to a trip to the future as well in “Gridlock.” Now they are regularly traveling together with no elaboration as to why both, who were somewhat reluctant to join together, are now regular companions. Presumably this will be addressed later. Secondly, the faked American accents are awful. The exaggerated Bronx brogue on Tullalah reminds me of the horrible job Jessica Simpson dragging out her natural Southern drawl as Daisy Duke in The Dukes of Hazzard. It was so over the top as to be parody.

The story so far involves the Doctor and Martha arriving in 1930 Manhattan in time to discover homeless people disappearing from a Hooverville in Central Park. Unbeknownst to them, the people are being kidnapped by the Cult of Skarro who are converting them into a slave race similar to the pig alien from “Aliens of London.” The Cult is running two experiments. One, they are in charge of constructing the Empire State Building for some purpose and two, they are creating Dalek/Human hybrids for the purpose of advancing their race. The Doctor does not discover Dalek involvement until the climax after Martha is kidnapped (again) and he joins up with Tullulah the showgirl to find her boyfriend who has been converte to a slave.

The high point of the episode was the production values. They were fantastic. Outside of the accents, everything was authentically New York. The BBC does past ettings extremely well on a low budget and every penny shows up on screen. Considering how elaborate this and “The Shakespeare Code” were, I expect some bare bones, low budget installments in the second half. I will not be too disappointed onsidering what we have gotten so far. I believe the Dalek/Human hybrid which appeared at the cliffhanger was the best and creepiest makeup job I have seen on Doctor Who. It was fantastic. There were kids diving behind the sofa all over the United Kingdom last night with that one, I guarantee.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

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