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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.
Honestly, it's the most ridiculous episode of Nu Who yet, barring possibly Fear Her. The major difference being that Vot D revels in it to pretty good effect.
I think that, despire the daft moments, this episode performed some long overdue Damage Control on the Daleks. After years of decisive defeats and utter obliterations, the Daleks have now been given a bit of their bite back.
But more than that, if this had been a two parter and a bit more time was taken to show things then it might have been a whole lot better. If I am kind I could say this was tightly scripted, many people complain about apparent inconsistencies that are in fact just missed lines of dialogue. It was unkind however that same sentiment could be expressed as "Rushed." Also, while things are a bit wierd there is nothing that can't be explained away with real world science and a bit of common sense, Spacefires particularly. Remember this is a crippled, apparently unshielded, Dalek ship. As for why the propellors are going, you have to power the Gravity Bubble with something and, more than that, you don't want to go distorting gravity at GROUND LEVEL.
But all in all this felt more like a "Lets fix the damage Rusty did to the Iconic Villain" story than anything else. And when you look at the colours the Mark IV Daleks where done up in from time to time, these ones are far from out there.
I can see your perspective, but I don't agree. Maybe my perspective is narrowed by having started with the RTD episodes, but I thought the RTD Daleks worked. I saw "Dalek" as damage control, and this episode as the pointed rejection of everything that made the Time War-style Daleks awesome.
My main complaint with the Gravity Bubble scene is the ridiculousness of them being able to assemble working Bubbles using 20th century technology and use them to send planes into orbit, all in the space of less than ten minutes. Compared to that, the propellors are a trivial detail.
But yeah, this did feel a lot like a "Let's fix the damage Rusty did to the Iconic Villain" episode. I don't think that warranted an entire episode, and I don't think they needed fixing since, in my opinion, no damage was done.
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