Dalek-moania

When the lone Dalek returned to new Doctor Who in 2005 in Robert Shearman’s eponymous first series episode (based loosely on his Big Finish audio adventure, ‘Jubilee’), there seemed to be a renaissance for Dalekmania that reached an intensity not seen since the 60’s perhaps. We had merchandise popping up everywhere, we had TV news features (still refusing to believe that they’d ever flown upstairs before), we had kids playing Daleks in the playground again, but, most of all, we had a completely top-notch new episode to enjoy. It was all rather enjoyable, especially given the fact that negotiations between the BBC and the Nation estate at the time meant that their return itself was in some jeopardy for a while. From a critical perspective, it was probably a high water mark for Skaro’s finest: Their subsequent appearances, while all good in their own ways, never seemed to scale the heights of their first RTD-era comeback.

Their next two outings came in the finales of Series One and Two, with ‘Parting of the Ways’ and ‘Doomsday’ respectively, which both saw huge armies of Daleks smashed to oblivion, well, the Dalek equivalent of oblivion at any rate, which tends to be a place where there is small but shining opportunity to expand on a plot point to bring them back again. These were, undeniably, good stories with an impressive scale of storytelling and solid emotional character arcs underpinning the action, but their next appearance early in Series Three in the New York set double header ‘Daleks in Manhatten/Evolution of the Daleks’ was met with a more critical response by some. I guess that the trouble at the heart of these stories is that the Daleks must always be defeated but they must always come back and it sometimes seems that every tale is simply contrived to achieve this end. There was a bit of a break before we next saw them, and once again in a series finale, ‘Journey’s End’. They were bolstered here by the inclusion of Julian Bleech’s Davros, but this was a story where I found the conclusion to the Dalek threat to be a tad disappointing.

One of the interesting things about the pepperpots since 2005 is their propensity to make a cameo appearance having featured in ‘Waters of Mars’, ‘The Big Bang’ and, most briefly of all, “The Wedding of River Song’. They actually seem to be quite effective in this way and these brief glimpses add to the feeling about their widely feared status. The most recent episode dedicated to them was Matt Smith’s first meeting in the Mark Gatiss’ penned ‘Victory of the Daleks’, but again despite my protestations that this was in fact a really good story, lots of people (or ‘fans’) disagreed. Indeed, even Steven Moffat himself seemed to be swayed by the feeling that the Daleks were a bit of curate’s egg, describing them as “the most reliably defeatable enemies in the universe” while he was announcing their lack of an appearance in Series Six.

Now, following (i) rumours at last week’s con, (ii) the glimpse of an eye-stalk in last weekends sneak-peak at Series Seven, (iii) tantalising photos released by Edward Russell on the BBC website (one of which pictured above), and (iv) now a was-it-an-April’s-fools-gag pic of Karen and Matt with an classic series (Genesis?) style Dalek; we can rest assured that they’re coming back this autumn for another outing. Cue the wailing and gnashing of teeth from fandom as the speculation ramps up. I think it’s great that they’re coming back for a full-on romp, but do you?

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