Sunday 31 August 2014

Into the Dalek (time shift)

When I have clarified and exhausted a subject, then I turn away from it, in order to go into darkness again.
 - Isidore of Seville

Or (if you want to be all obvious about it)

He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.
- Friedrich “Chuckles” Nietzsche

Me:  That’s the first one we’ve not seen on a massive screen.  In a car park.

Him:  Not ever.

Me:  No, not the first one we’ve ever seen not on a massive screen.  In a car park.  What did you think?

Pause.  The Him stares grumpily.1

Me:  I’m doing it again.  Okay.  Dalek stories can be a bit tricky.  Did you think that was a good Dalek story?2

Him:  Well, I don’t understand what was wrong with the scripts for the first ten Dalek stories.

Me:  What, including Victory of the Daleks?

Him:  No.  The first ten Dalek stories.

Me:  Back in the Sixties?

Him:  Back when it was the same script.

Me:  Ha!  “From the pen of Terry Nation.”

Him:  Yeah.  That’s what you say, at least.  They’re all very different as far as I’m concerned.

Me:  Well, he changes the names.  Not everyone’s called ‘Tarrant’.

Him:  ‘Terry’, ‘Terrance’, ‘Terran’, ‘Tarran’…

Me:  ‘Tarrant’.  Okay.  Do you think Journey’s brother’s going to turn out to be Danny?  Seeing as her surname’s Blue and his is Pink?

Him:  I have no idea what you just asked.

Me:  Right at the very start of the episode, Journey's brother’s in the cockpit – but we don’t get a good look at him.  Do you think he’ll turn out to be Danny Pink?

Him:  Brothers tend to have the same surname as their sisters.

Me:  Fair enough.  Thoughts on Missy?

Him:  I knew it was going to be her the second it… did… that.

Me:  Were you surprised?

Him:  What do you mean?

Me:  Instead of having it as a twist at the end, right in the middle of the episode all of a sudden, “Would you like some tea?  Little splosh?”

Him:  No, no.  The second that the screaming was the only noise, I could tell that was what was going to happen there.

Me:  It was a good scream as well.  I thought some of the exterminations looked brilliant.  Right.  I’ve got my theory that Steven Moffat’s rebooted the series from scratch having had the Doctor die of old age, making this the ‘First’ Doctor all over again, which is another reason why the Doctor doesn’t have a numbering system.  It kind of holds true at the moment because the first story was set in London in the past-

Him:  You can’t say that about An Unearthly Child because we’ve got to assume that most of it’s not set in London and might be set on another world.

Me:  Yeah, it could be set anywhere, couldn’t it?  I think Deep Breath reminds me more of Spearhead From Space than anything else.  Or the Jon Pertwee era anyway.

Me:  Yeah, a bit.  I don’t know why because obviously it’s not-

Him:  It’s not.

Me:  Rose is closer to Spearhead From Space because it’s got the Autons.  It’s just the feel of it.  It felt a bit ‘Third Doctor’.  Deep Breath’s got a dinosaur standing in the Thames, so that’s a sort-of reference to Terror of the Zygons.  This one, apart from being the second story and-

Him:  You’re going to compare Deep Breath to Terror of the Zygons now?

Me:  No.  Terror of the Zygons is alluded to.  There’s been lots and lots of little things-

Him:  Last time you were comparing that one to Invasion of the Dinosaurs.

Me:  Yeah, I was.  Look, you’ve got a dinosaur standing in the Thames, like there’s been a Skarasen standing in the Thames.

Him:  But it’s not a dinosaur.

Me:  I know the Skarasen’s not a dinosaur.  It’s a similar set-up.  There’s a similar vibe.  So…  This is the second of the new Doctor stories and it’s featuring the Daleks, so it’s resetting the Daleks again, in the same place that the series did when it first started off.3  Back in 1963 the audience weren’t sure who the Doctor was and he looked like someone who might actually kill people who got in his way.  That’s something that may or may not be being hinted at here.  There’re so many little touches going on within these two stories…  Fantastic Voyage gets a reference there, which takes us back to The Invisible Enemy.  So there’s another echo of the Tom Baker era.  You’ve got Nick Briggs saying things like, “DEATH-TO-THE-DA-LEKS!” and “SEEK!-LO-CATE!!-DE-STROY!!!”

Him:  “And also people breathed and they were the same amount of breaths in this story as there were in the 1968 classic.”

Me:  Well…  Yeah, alright.  I know what you mean.  Some of the references that people are moaning about…  There are complaints that it hearkens back to the past too much.  Like I’ve said before, they’re not bothered by the ones they haven’t noticed.  So, if they haven’t noticed something that’s been put in there-

Him:  "Like, for instance, that this one has the same amount of extras as-"

Me:  No, no, no.  Little things like…  Strax going on about the female thorax, which is something that Sontarans seemed to be obsessed with going on The Time Warrior and The Sontaran Experiment.  I haven’t seen that being mentioned – and this is just an example – I haven’t seen that being mentioned by people who’ve been moaning about “You’ve redecorated.  I don’t like it.” or “Here we go again.”  It’s a running gag. That’s the way it goes.  Okay, do you know any of Russell T. Davies’ nicknames?

Him:  ‘Russell The Davies’.

Me:  There’s that one.  There’s also ‘Russell Tiberius Davies’ and ‘Rusty’.


Him:  That’s nice.  Only you call him ‘Russell Tiberius Davies’.

Me:  Ha!  I think that’s one for the-

Him:  No!  Only you do that.

Me:  ‘Resistance is futile.’  Speaking of Star Trek references.  Let’s get them out of the way.  I can’t stand Star Trek.

Him:  Then why were you always going about ‘Resistance is futile’ then?

Me:  I wasn’t.  I was referencing ‘Resistance is useless’ because that’s the sort of thing you get Vogans shouting and Cybermen being smug about.  What was your favourite bit? 

The Him shrugs verbally.

Me:  You were glued to it.

Another verbal shrug.

Me:  Did it seem longer than forty-six minutes?

Him:  No.

Me:  Did it go quite quick?

Him:  Yes.

Me:  Yeah, I thought so.  What are your thoughts on Peter Capaldi now? 

Him:  Yeah, I think he’s good.  I think he’s written completely mentally.

Me:  Do you like the dynamic between him and Clara?

Him:  What dynamic?

Me:  It’s gone back to the Tom Bakerish, “You’re a very beautiful woman.  Probably.”  “It’s nice to see you’re making an effort.”  I dunno…  I’m impressed with him.  It reminded me a bit of Dalek and also…4  I think it’s probably better than Dalek because it doesn’t have Adam in it.  

Him:  That’s not a fair comparison.  You love Dalek.

Me:  Yeah, I think Dalek’s brilliant.  But it does have Adam in it.

Him:  That’s not a reason to judge Dalek.  Do you really think this one’s better than Dalek?

Me:  I don’t think Into the Dalek would be what it is if Dalek hadn’t been written, so I think Robert Shearman – by a hair – has still got the best modern Dalek story.  Bad Wolf/Parting of the Ways is quite close.  Not just because it’s fresh and things have moved on, I think Into the Dalek… is the best modern Doctor Who Dalek story that doesn’t star Christopher Eccleston.

Him:  Okay.  That’ll do.  Do you hate Adam or Martha more?

Me:  I wouldn't say 'hate'.  Both times it comes down to miscasting, I think. 

Him:  You’re supposed to hate Adam.

Me:  Well, that’s it isn’t it?  He’s a companion who fails.  Rose makes similar mistakes…  We’ll come back to that. 

Him:  See!  It puts you on the spot when you’re being asked questions, doesn’t it?  It makes you forget what you were going to say.

Me:  Based on these two episodes so far, I think this is more exciting, more interesting and almost more ‘Doctor Who’ – in a classic sense – than the series has been in a long, long time.  I’m enjoying Doctor Who now, more than I have done… since 2006.


Him:  Really?

Me:  Yeah.

Him:  Really?

Me:  Really.  But that’s partly because there’s a classic air to it and so that appeals to me, personally.  I also don’t think that it’s going to hurt kids.  I think it’s more inclusive, in some ways, than it’s been recently - even though it’s a kids show, or a family show.  I’ve noticed a lot of people on the Net writing some absolute tosh-

Him:  Can you edit that to make you sound more clever than using the word ‘tosh’?

Me:  I used the word ‘tosh’ in our last post because it gives me a chance to very, very subtly reference one of my favourite eras of Doctor Who.


Him:  Still…

Me:  See?  No-one’s going to get that.

Him:  Use another word.

Me:  Other than ‘tosh’?

Him:  Yeah.  Anything else.  Just say ‘squirrel’ instead.

Me:  What did you think of Danny Pink?

Him:  We’ve already been threatened by Steven Moffat that he’s going to be making reoccurring appearances.  You thought he was going to be the one with the floppy hair in The Day of the Doctor.

Me:  Up until I saw the cast list.  There’s a kind of Tom Baker air – amongst others – to the way that Capaldi’s playing it and it reminds me…  I reckon that we could be looking at a Harry Sullivan/Sarah Jane Smith/Fourth Doctor type thing.

Him:  Right.

Me:  And I’m not going to object to that at all.

Him:  Okay.

Me:  Just based on that, he’s very good.  I like the domesticity of the Coal Hill arrangement as well.

Him:  And, of course, a new Harry Sullivan might get to do some running around.

Me:  That’d be good, wouldn’t it?  Alright then, anything you want to say before we finish with barnyard noises?

Him:  No.

Me:  Okay, ready?

Him:  We’ve already done barnyard noises.

Me:  I’m just looking for another excuse to bellow “MAN YAK!

Him:  Well, you can’t.  You’ve already said it now, so we’ve got to change the noise subject.

Me:  Um…  What shall we do instead? 

Him:  You choose.

Me:  Go on, make a noise like a Zarbi.

Me:  And on that bombshell…

1.  The Him hates being asked directly what he thinks.  Sometimes I forget this, which is why there’s a fair bit of going off-road in our 'reviews'.  Well, it’s one of the reasons. 

2.  Note the use of the closed question there.  You’d think this was an actual annotated conversation or something. 

3.  We’ll skip the rumour that the Daleks need to be trotted out at least once every calendar year for much the same reason that Roger Corman ended up making a Fantastic Four movie  

4.  Apparently the leaked workprint contained an extra scene at the end, in which Rusty was shown returning to the Dalek ship and exploding himself.  According to the Kembel drums, this particular noble sacrifice5 was done in the same style as the one in Utah.  Nobody’s mentioned yet whether Rusty subsequently pops up in Missy’s Heavenly tea shop demanding the finest wine. 

5.  Dalek story noble sacrifice trope/plot point c. Terry N. 1964. 

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