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Dr Who

Nicola Mostyn is concerned about the deadliness of Daleks

Published on June 30th 2008.


Dr Who

What I love about Doctor Who is how attached we get to characters who, due to the very nature of the programme, must be frequently replaced.

"In search of the lost planets, the Doctor and Donna got stranded in the Medusa Cascade and no-one could get in touch with them until eventually, with the help of Harriet Jones, former PM, the answer was found: just call the Doc’s mobile."

So when Christopher Eccleston was rumoured to be leaving after Series 1, it was all, “Nooooooo! He can’t go!” Until he regenerated into the quite wonderful David Tennant, with his nice flicky hair and his suit’n’converse combo. Then we didn’t mind so much.

And when Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) slipped off into God-knows-where, it was all, “No-one can replace Rose!” until we met new companion, Martha Jones who, if she didn’t top Rose, certainly gave her a run for her money (running being an integral part of the companion’s job description).

Angst again reached a frenzy when Martha (Freema Agyeman) was replaced (the turnover at Doctor Who Towers now rivalling a call centre) by Christmas guest star Catherine Tate. Nooooooooo!

An unpopular choice, but even the most churlish of viewers must have been won over by Tate’s depiction of Donna Noble by now. Despite coming across as a bit of a gobshite in the Christmas special, Noble has turned out to be a complex and increasingly important character and Tate is a more subtle and appealing actress than her sketch shows displayed. Thank God.

On Saturday we saw the penultimate episode of the Fourth Series, The Stolen Earth, and a bumper edition it was, too. As well as the Doctor and Donna we also had the company of Torchwood (the one’s who aren’t dead), old skool Doctor Who companion Sarah Jane plus son, and Rose, who seemed more world (well worlds) weary than ever and– doubtless to the delight of the young male fanbase – was clutching a huge gun.

As pointed out by the episode’s title, the earth had been rather rudely stolen. By the Daleks.

Now, I hate to be controversial but I just can’t find the Daleks scary. Perhaps it’s because I wasn’t a massive fan of Doctor Who as a child and so the groundwork hasn’t been done. I don’t know. I try to feel scared. And I can tell by the way all the characters react that, as soon as I hear the word “Exterminate…”, I’m meant to feel all hope is lost. But they just remind me of a mix between C3PO and Dusty Bin off 3,2,1.

Nonetheless, this was a cracking episode. Other planets had gone missing. Martha’s atoms were sent whizzing separately off through space via some new military technology or other and Captain Jack (John Barrowman) did what he does best - shouting, making suggestive comments, hugging his staff, more shouting.

In search of the lost planets, the Doctor and Donna got stranded in the Medusa Cascade and no-one could get in touch with them until eventually, with the help of Harriet Jones, former PM, (Penelope Wilton) the answer was found: just call the Doc’s mobile.

Meanwhile the Daleks, bless them, were causing carnage, shooting – in a Star Trek stylie – any extraneous characters who had a line of dialogue. Sorry to hark on, but even the way the Daleks shoot things doesn’t do it for me. It just seems so....ordinary. (Is this what desensitisation feels like, do you think?)

Eventually, the Doctor’s worst suspicions are confirmed – Bonnie Langford is coming back. Just kidding. It’s not as bad as all that. It’s just that Davros is alive. Yeah, the one that looks like a loo-roll cover. Apparently, he was saved from certain death in the Time Wars by Dalek Caan, a heroic mission which sent him bonkers, even more so than you’d expect a pink brain squiddy thing to be.

Not good news. The Doctor legs it, which is more than Davros can do, and he and Rose are almost re-united but, before he can get to her he’s shot by a Dalek. And starts to regenerate!

And that was it. We were left with a cliffhanger until next Saturday night, for which huge viewing figures are anticipated. Clever, that Russell T Davies.

Naturally, this unexpected twist has sent the Doctor Who-loving world into a frenzy. To paraphrase: It’s known that there will be no series five of Doctor Who until 2010, but Tennant said he was signed up to the three specials planned for 2009. Was he lying? Is there going to be a new Doctor Who? If so, who? And how did they manage to keep it a secret? Or might this just be some crazy story to do with the parallel universes and the doctor’s previously severed hand and is David Tenant actually staying after all? There’s no way of saying until next Saturday night, but that’s not going to stop them asking. Over and over and over.

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11 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

JonasJune 30th 2008.

And what about the last episode, that was amazing. Lots of killing of daleks and humans...in fact to stop political correctness lets always have the enemies robot like creatures such as the daleks then we can blow them up with impunity.

JinkiesJune 30th 2008.

What the kids want? Sounds like what you want Bryony. I've found this series brilliant, with an intelligent script and great characters. Bit sad if kids just want guns going off and shouting. Maybe you should have let them watch panorama last night.

bobJune 30th 2008.

This series has had it's ups and downs for me. Some great episodes, but some frankly embarassingly bad ones too. I agree that the daleks just aren't scarey enough, but that may be because we're so used to them. In fact, it does seem that they are re-using all the monsters rather too much.. Nice to see Sarah Jane again, though.

YorkshireNedJune 30th 2008.

You can't diss Daleks, they're a design classic like the VW Beatle or the iPod.And Bryony, maybe Dr Who isn't right-wing enough for you, but the high viewing figures and record-breaking audience appreciation ratings speak for themselves. Your entitled to your opinion but claiming the series isn't any good because it has the nerve to suggest that maybe ethnic & sexual minorities aren't horrible is perhaps confusing feeling with fact.

BryonyJune 30th 2008.

The present Dr Who is terrible. It's hidebound by the ludicrous tension destroying plot mangling political correctness of the BBC. Ever series just about has to have a mixed race family, there are constant allusions to same sex relationships and the Doctor keeps lecturing everybody about the evilness of guns. What the kids want is action with narrative and sprinkling of emotion, not this emasculated nonsense of niceness.

mark mJune 30th 2008.

Dr Who rocks.

RowJamJune 30th 2008.

Anti-guns? What about the whopper canon Rose was carrying last episode. Overly pro-ethnic minorities? The Dr has had one black side-kick who lasted one series. Yes it has it's sick bucket moments and no it isn't scary. But to write it off solely on any of these grounds reveals more about the critic than the programme. p.s. personally i was most scared of the Bertie Bassett character. i've never liked licorice allsorts.

YorkshireNedJune 30th 2008.

Herbal Tea classes? Good stories?Doctor Who has always been like a chocolate selection box. Sometimes it's great, sometimes it's crap. Even the most hardcore, OCD fans have many stories they hate. Every series, since it began in 1963, has had the odd stinker. There's been some dull ones in recent times but there's also been some full on classics. The character of The Doctor has always been a pacifist, anti-guns, anti-authority so the modern series has kept it faithful to what makes the character so original and refreshing.

BryonyJune 30th 2008.

Oh come on Yorkshire Ned, it's nothing to with right wing, it's to do with good stories focusing on the narrative not on a message from the herbal tea classes.

BryonyJune 30th 2008.

I sat through the whole of Panorama with them last night funnily enough. Boys (and girls) love action, making the world unfeasibly, unrealistically twee in a series like Dr Who destroys its fundamental purpose which is to gently terrify the audience. This episode isn't too bad by the way but that one with the Oud or whatever and there disrupted singing and that crap about them being enslaved, which may or may not have been a metaphor for something or other in real human existence was simply cringingly dull and embarrassing.

YorkshireNedJune 30th 2008.

You can't diss Daleks, they're a design classic like the VW Beatle or the iPod.And Bryony, maybe Dr Who isn't right-wing enough for you, but the high viewing figures and record-breaking audience appreciation ratings speak for themselves. Your entitled to your opinion but claiming the series isn't any good because it has the nerve to suggest that maybe ethnic & sexual minorities aren't horrible is perhaps confusing feeling with fact.

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