Winston Churchill and British Daleks. Let that sink in.
I won't lie; I had serious misgivings about this episode even before it aired. However, it subverted almost every preconception I had formed from the trailers. I was expecting a rather brutal war story dripping with nauseating patriotism; instead, what I got was a sugar-coated heavy assault on my suspension of disbelief.
If this was intended as an introduction to the concept of Daleks, it fails. The story is reliant upon "Journey's End" to the point where it will likely be difficult to follow if you haven't seen that story... but it then proceeds to give the RTD era Dalek stories the middle finger and do its own thing. The contrast between this story and 2005's "Dalek" is striking; where "Dalek" was dark, gritty and scary, this is bright, colourful and cheery. The Daleks behave less like the cold blooded killing machines we've grown used to, and more like the villains of a Saturday morning cartoon. They look like plastic toys, and they're about as scary as plastic toys, too.
On the face of it, this is very much a science fiction episode, but in practice what little science there is takes a backseat to sentimentality, Rule Of Funny
and Rule Of Cool
. It almost works - the sight of Spitfires engaged in space battles is so awesome that you can forgive the scene for making absolutely no sense - but there are moments where it really doesn't, and as a story, it's rather unsatisfying, because there's very little substance to it.
If I had to pick an aspect of this episode where it really shines, I would have to say the dialogue, which is very witty and amusing. Also very entertaining is Ian McNeice's show-stealing, larger-than-life performance as Winston Churchill.
Ultimately, whatever criticisms you want to level at the programme, it's an entertaining piece of nonsense, but entertaining nonsense is still nonsense. As New Who
goes, this was not one of the stronger episodes.