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07 September 2014 @ 08:22 pm
Into the Dalek  
I initially thought I was confused by this because I watching with a (not so) small child. However, it would seem, everyone else was as confused as I was.

Having, heroically, spent 9 years resisting any suggestion that they should watch Doctor Who with me (with the exception of Midnight) no-longer-so-small child has become a convert (and is particularly impressed by the coolness of school teacher's under fire). This is all very well but does mean the viewing experience is interrupted by a stream of questions for many of which the answer is "I don't know, maybe if we wait and see, we'll find out."

So, on viewing, Into the Dalek, I assumed that vital questions like who are the soldiers and what is their relationship to the Dalek? and if the Dalek is only good because it is broken why did you think fixing it wouldn't stop it being good? and why do the soldiers want to fix the Dalek anyway? were all answered but I was too distracted to notice.

On reading several reviews it turns out that no-longer-so-small child has no responsibility for my confusion at all.

I feel this was almost very good. It had a very clear idea about what it was trying to achieve. Like Dalek it wanted to compare the Doctor and the Dalek, in this case, focusing on their capacity or ability to be good. The idea of the miniaturised journey into the interior of the Dalek is rich with both visual and thematic imagery. This has been done before on Doctor Who in The Invisible Enemy (which features a miniaturised journey of clones of the Doctor and Leela into the Doctor's own brain), a much derided story so there was probably no harm in trying the general idea out again. But it was let down by the somewhat confused story telling and a much less tight focus on drawing parallels between the Doctor and the Dalek. Dalek's strength, I think, was that fixity of view, removing pretty much everything from the plot that was not in the service of that particular parallel. Into the Dalek was trying to do a number of other things and lost clarity as a result. Once it became sort of muddy and confused, it ceased to be anywhere near as good.

Incidentally, I was left with the feeling that we were maybe destined to revisit this particular conflict where more would be revealed. In particular, given Danny Pink is set to be a recurring character-cum-companion, possibly Journey Blue (his counterpart in many ways) is also destined to reappear. If that is the case, I suspect, again, that the attempt to lead into something larger was conflicting with the parallels the story wanted to draw out.

The Doctor has a rule against soldiers? Can I dignify that with a raspberry sound? Because, well, obviously not. He has a problem with a lot of soldiers, particularly those with a rigid mindset. But he has got along well enough with enough soldiers (mostly notably the UNIT regulars), that the best that can be said for the idea is that this Doctor seems a bit confused about his past.


I don't know. Dalek is a hard act to follow and I'd be inclined to say it was unwise to attempt the same kind of story a second time. The confused explanation of the set up didn't help at all. Much like Deep Breath I didn't dislike this and I'm pleased something this season of Who is doing has captured the imagination of no-longer-so-small child but I wish I could feel more personally excited by it all.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/126580.html.
 
 
 
eve11: dw_dalek_softieeve11 on September 7th, 2014 08:27 pm (UTC)
and if the Dalek is only good because it is broken why did you think fixing it wouldn't stop it being good?

This was the bit I couldn't get past. Why would you fix the Dalek when you all but said outright that it was only good because it was broken?
bunnbunn on September 8th, 2014 07:21 am (UTC)
THIS! I even thought it before they started to fix it, dismissed it as too obvious, and then was disappointed when it actually happened. :-/
Kargicq: Neuromancerkargicq on September 8th, 2014 08:22 am (UTC)
That was my main problem with this episode. Too stupid for words. But it wasn't even just that: none of it made any sense on its own terms. Like the Doctor lands on the soldier ship, the lead soldier says "We're going to have to kill you", but then there's a cut and apparently now it's all OK? My main thought on finishing that ep was "Well there's an hour of my life I'll never get back", and "If the next one is as pointless I'll stop watching this drivel." Fortunately the Robin Hood one was quite entertaining. -N.
Kargicq: Neuromancerkargicq on September 8th, 2014 08:23 am (UTC)
Also, what made them even think it was a good Dalek in the first place? It was sat there going "Daleks must be destroyed" - is that all you need to do to be "good"? Seems to be setting the bar fairly low... maybe it was in a foul mood and just wanted to destroy everything. -N.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on September 8th, 2014 12:32 pm (UTC)
The more I think about it, the more rubbish I think this episode was.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on September 8th, 2014 12:32 pm (UTC)
I've seen other people mention the "We're going to have to kill you" bit but I don't recall that at all (I think G was asking questions) but my takeaway feeling was that the whole thing was rather a mess even by the standards of popularist family SF telly.

We really enjoyed the Robin Hood one, at least it knew it was being silly.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on September 8th, 2014 12:30 pm (UTC)
I wasn't really thinking ahead that far because of distractions but when it happened I was definitely a bit "What? Wait? Wasn't that obvious?"
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on September 8th, 2014 12:29 pm (UTC)
I was absolutely convinced I'd just missed something until I saw everyone else going "Wut?"
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on September 7th, 2014 10:25 pm (UTC)
This was my least favourite episode in some time. I felt the inside of the Dalek was not imaginative or visually interesting (compare with The Invisible Enemy) and I didn't buy the comparison between the Doctor and the Dalek, which I did accept in Dalek. The script seems to imply that the Doctor is like the Dalek because both hate, but the Dalek hates others based on their essential otherness, whereas the Doctor hates particular people (murderers, mainly) based on their actions. The Doctor may or may not be wrong to hate murderers, but I don't see the moral equivalence between that and hating others in general.

The script was crowded with incident, but rarely seemed to think things through or develop an idea properly. I don't feel I understand the workings of a Dalek any better now than before, except that I now know the inside of a Dalek looks a lot like stereotypical Doctor Who corridors (for running down, inevitably).

And, as you say, the idea that the Doctor has a rule against soldiers is nonsense. It's one of those fan ideas that reflects how certain people in the audience would like him to behave more than how he actually behaves.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on September 8th, 2014 12:34 pm (UTC)
I think it is fairly clear that the script really hadn't thought its logic through. None of the problems seem insurmountable but it seems to have, I don't know, thought the comparison alone was clever enough to absolve them from doing any more work. I guess either that or we will discover in 10 years' time that there were horrible script/production issues with this one which is why it ended up such a muddle.
Young Geoffreyed_rex on September 11th, 2014 08:54 am (UTC)
10 years or less
I haven't been able to locate the post, but I am (almost) certain that Neil Gaiman publicly stated that "Nightmare In Silver" was meant to be a two-part episode, which would go a long way towards explaining how it ended up being so bad.

Similarly, I feel pretty certain that "Into the Dalek" was butchered. Phil Ford is simply a better writer than what showed up on the screen.

I bet that it will be quite a lot less than 10 years before someone (maybe Ford himself) spills the beans.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on September 11th, 2014 10:09 am (UTC)
Re: 10 years or less
It's ages since I seriously read an issue of DWM, which used to be the place to get good analysis of production issues. I can understand why, of course, it's now such an integrated part of the publicity machine but I still find it rather off-putting to read and gallifreybase scares the heebie jeebies out of me. I think I most get my Who gossip from parrot_knight these days who is good at keeping his finger on the pulse. I'm not sure if I have a point there beyond that this sort of thing tends to find its way to me quite slowly.

Unless the weird pro-monarchy vaguely divine right subtext in Nightmare In Silver was grafted on post facto, I would say the story had issues which were not just about its compression into 45 minutes.