Our Doctor Who expert, Tony Cross, is journeying through all of time and space to bring us his thoughts on every available Doctor Episode. Today is the Eleventh Doctor adventure Victory of the Daleks...
OK people this might be something of a rant so forgive me. I loathe Victory of the Daleks. I loathe the re-designed clumpy, colourful Daleks clearly designed with merchandising in mind. It's an object lesson in re-designing something to make it worse. Raymond Cusick must have wanted to take a large metal spanner to them.
On the other hand, the Ironside Daleks look lovely. It's a clever little conceit.
I loathe the glib way it handles World War Two. The way it takes a series of clichés and makes them seem even more clichéd still. I loathe the way that the loss of one WRAF women's other half is thrown away to show the sorrow of war. As if Mark Gatiss doesn't trust us with the concept of war and loss. The annoying thing is that he's could have made his point so much better through Bracewell (Bill Paterson) and almost does.
The best scene in this is their attempt to talk Bracewell in to his humanity. The fact that the Doctor, not being human and filled with so much grief, can't do it and it needs Amy to do so is rather nice. It takes a human to humanise. (And there's a distant echo of the Doctor's own story in there). So, kudos for that to Mr. Gatiss.
And whilst we're about things I liked I should admit to liking the Doctor's Mexican stand-off with the Daleks armed only with a Jammy Dodger and a brain. I like Spitfires in Space, even though that makes no sense. I like Spitfires though, so I'm inclined to be generous. I like Ian McNeice's Churchill too and the fact they get him to say Nazi in that distinctively Churchill-esque way. I like Bracewell. I like Karen Gillan in this too.
But it really is rather awful. It's certainly Gatiss' worst script so far. I mean the references back to Power of the Daleks would be fine if this script were even a tenth as good as that. Oh there's the 'amusing' Broadsword/Danny Boy reference too, which is oh so hilarious.
The thing is I know this is Doctor Who World War Two, which is Indiana Jones World War Two (and even Where Eagles Dare World War Two). It's not meant to be a documentary and Doctor Who is probably not the place to tell harrowing tales of the War, which is why the throwaway weeping WRAF officer at the end is so out of place. It's tonally wrong.
It's as if Gatiss (or someone else) thought: "Actually this script is fine but we need someone to represent the sacrifice of the British people. Forget about the two Marines the Daleks exterminate or the two Spitfire pilots who die attacking the Dalek saucer, they're just the usual throwaway dead of Doctor Who. Let's make our point in five seconds using a weeping woman. Yep, job done. Would you like a cup of tea?"
I know I'm making a lot out of this, but it really, really annoys me.
Even Matt Smith struggles to make this work. I think - except for the Jammie Dodger scene and a couple of little moments - this is his least impressive episode so far. The thing is I don't blame him. I blame the script and the direction.
This might be one of my least favourite episodes of Doctor Who ever.
Anyway, I'm done.
At least it wasn't boring.
Tony Cross is the creator of the wonderful Centurion Blog's found HERE and HERE.
Image – BBC.