Monday 16 May 2011

Today's Review: Daleks

Just recently I started watching Doctor Who again. I tried to watch it when it was first rebooted, but I couldn't get into it. But I have been informed that this is due to the fact that the first four series were mostly terribly written, and since Steven Moffat has taken over it has turned much more amazing. I very much enjoyed series five indeed, but I feel I have to go back over the somewhat shitty stuff to get the rest of the backstories that I'm currently missing out on. I watched a few of the older ones when I was a child, some of the aliens I saw scared the hell out of me, but there's one I never quite undestood. The Dalek.

Daleks are synonymous with Doctor Who. There have been countless anecdotes by old people recounting how they hid behind the sofa cushions, or the sofa itself, whenever a Dalek graced their TV screen in the 60s. Many regard them as the most terrifying Doctor Who villain of all time. But why? Look at the thing.

It's a bulky robot. With one eye and one gun. It's not exactly the most threatening thing I've seen, especially since no one's bothered to redesign it even in the slightest in the last 50 years so it no longer looks like it's holding a plunger and a whisk. This is the most terrifying creature? What about the mannequins that had freakin' guns in their hands? They scared the crap out of me. Even Cybermen were more scary, they at least had more than one weapon, and they had a heck of a lot more mobility.

They have flimsy wheels on their base, they're pretty fat, and they can only see through one circular eye. They can't even turn around that fast, all you'd need to do to avoid one is keeping running around it singing "You can't catch me". The whisk-gun is about as useful as a T-Rex arm that shoots death rays, as in, pretty useful, but only if something is within a certain radius. Their computer-interfacing plunger thing is probably even less useful. What if the interface is larger than the plunger? What if it's at a dodgy angle? They've got all those weird little balls on their bottom half as well. I know they serve some purpose but I'm sure they could have used more guns or eyes or something.

I'll admit, I haven't properly brushed up on the entire history of the Daleks, but from what I've heard they can be quite powerful. When they're connected to computer systems and the like. But for basic ground combat, when we have very agile humans with guns and such, I don't see how they pose any sort of threat. Hell, at first they couldn't even climb up stairs. Until they changed that by letting them hover, 'cause they realised how stupid it all was. That's the thing I don't understand about how the Daleks have developed over time. Every time one of their shortcomings was getting in the way of the story, they just seem to have gained the ability to do something for no particular reason other than that someone said so. They couldn't go upstairs, so suddenly they could hover. Now they can fly. None of the physical characteristics have changed, but they gain new abilities whenever they feel like it.

But why? The Dalek casing is just a housing for a mutated alien. You'd think all the times that they've been rebuilt they'd put in some schematic updates. An eye in the back of the head? A more maneuverable weapon? Nah, what we've got is fine, even though every time we've tried to do something we've been foiled by one man wielding a screwdriver. 

You can lecture me on how I don't understand Dalek biology or history, because I don't know it all. There might be perfectly good reasons as to why they can't be upgraded, but you try and tell me that this fat weaponised wheelchair is terrifying, and I'm pretty sure you'd be wrong.

My rating: 2/5

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