Daleks Done to Death

by Nalini Haynes
original Dalek

an original Dalek

My earliest memories of science fiction are of hiding behind my uncle’s chair terrified, unable to take my eyes off the TV playing Doctor Who. When I was about 7 years old, I had to take the scraps out to the chooks at dusk after watching ‘Death to the Daleks’.  Terrified, I was sure there was a dalek behind every tree. The original daleks were silver and had really menacing theme music.

In the Doctor Who reboot the daleks had a change of image. The new daleks were sleeker, more well-finished, looking much cooler with their bronze or gunmetal casings, with new theme music and overall much less menacing.

first rebooted daleks

first rebooted daleks

Finally the daleks were absolutely ruined for me in ‘Victory of the Daleks’, what is possibly the worst dalek story of all time (written by Mark Gatiss and script edited by Brian Minchin).

Spoiler alert!!! ‘Victory of the Daleks’ begins with the Doctor (Matt Smith) and Amy arriving in World War 2 at the request of Winston Churchill, to find daleks (called ironsides by the locals) fighting for Britain. The Doctor loses his temper with the daleks, hitting one on its dome with an oversized spanner. Not once did the Doctor hit the dalek weapon or try to take out the eyestalk. He yells ‘I am the Doctor! You are daleks!’ The daleks practically thank him for his testimony and leave?!?

The Doctor follows them and is informed that the daleks need his testimony to give to their progenitor, a dalek created from recovered DNA. Without the Doctor’s testimony, the existing daleks would not be recognised by the genetically restored dalek because they are too impure. With the Doctor’s testimony they will be recognised as daleks. So the Doctor wanders around without being shot while the daleks recreate their species in the form of 5 new daleks, each a unique colour and made of plastic. I kid you not – they look entirely plastic. The existing daleks then don’t mention the testimony they worked so hard to get from the Doctor, they just passively accept being shot by the new daleks. So now we have ‘new improved’ daleks that are suitable toys to accompany Happy Meals. These new daleks definitely look like they have been created with mass merchandising in mind, aiming at the ‘family entertainment’ aka kiddie market.

Maccas daleks

Maccas daleks

I just can’t take these daleks seriously.

Dog vs Dalek

If you prefer your daleks not to be pretty colours of plastic, watch the below video where a dalek takes on a dog. This dalek is more threatening than the daleks in ‘Victory of the Daleks’.

This article was previously published in Dark Matter issue 3, April 2011, and predated on this website to reflect the original publication date. 

3 Comments

  1. I have never understood the mass hatred for Victory of the Daleks. While a rather flawed episode, it does not stand or fall based on how silly the New Daleks may look. Personally I think the overblown melodramas of “Doomsday” and “Journey’s End” are far worse, and the “Daleks in Manhattan”/”Evolution of the Daleks” two parter is probably the lowest of the low. That being said, the Daleks are overused in general in the New Series – there hasn’t been a single year since the show returned in which they haven’t had at least a cameo appearance. The same problem is true of everything in the New Series, however. Doctor Who was a product of its time, and it is inevitably shallower in an effort to conform to the slick, hyperactive demands of modern television.

    1. I’m totally with you. Time permitting, Edward and I are planning to write a few commentaries on recent Who episodes. They will not be flattering, and this is from two people who grew up loving Doctor Who.

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