Sunday, 30 September 2012

The Angels Take Manhattan

Amy is gone. At last; I don't know why they took so long about it. Amy was possibly the worst companion since Adric. A flirt with zero characterization, who can do anything that lazy writers need her to do. I don't get the people who think she looked attractive; she was far too skinny and waif-like to be pretty, not to mention those vacant stares.

In order to prepare us for the delight of Amy's exit, we are served up one of the worst stories that Moffat has ever given us. The Angels Take Manhattan is an horrible, thoughtless mess. It's a story that takes no time to generate a believable plot that makes any sense, and which attempts to bombard us with a sentimental emotional overload wrapped in Murray-Gold. We also get a return appearance from Moffat's Mary Sue, River Song, who only serves to get in the way of the presumed objective of giving Amy and Rory a good send off, not that I care. We get some moments of emotional drama with River, but these fall utterly flat because her character is too thin and undeveloped for them to stand on.

Moffat has a particular obsession with plots involving the mechanics of time travel, a trope horribly described as 'timey-wimey.' Such plots seldom make any sense and here this kind of story fails abysmally. The Doctor tells us that once they have read what will happen to them (he assumes the paperback is gospel truth and not fiction or an elaboration), it cannot be rewritten. That is in itself a great idea. I have always liked the Hartnell-era idea that time cannot be rewritten. But has not everything Moffat given us before attempted to make us believe that time can be altered at will? It is as though he has realized the dead end that 'time-wimey' plotting leads us to and made an half-hearted attempt too late to put the breaks on.

Weeping Angels were a delightfully scary idea. Unfortunately, they are an idea that gets old quickly. Hence, this story tries an whole load of new ideas with the Weeping Angels which fail to show any of the original power of the concept. The Angel babies were a little too silly and lacked the power of the proper Angels to terrify. The Angel Statue of Liberty was simply daft, as so many reviews have pointed out. Weeping Angels are great as a silent, unseen killer, but the idea of the Angels creating a battery farm of displaced humans just doesen't have the same impact. Do the displaced humans spend the rest of their lives in an hotel room? Do the Angels provide room service?

I'm just dreading what the next Christmas special will bring.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Paradise Towers

The first time I watched Paradise Towers, I found it extremely enjoyable. I was sucked into this surreal and fascinating world. Yet with each viewing of this serial, I am ever more conscious of it's faults.

Paradise Towers has a lot going for it. It offers a fascinating nightmare world based on the mundane reality of British housing blocks. It has a very clever and witty script that plays with language in a way not seen in any other Doctor Who story. It makes a fairly effective use of Mel and after the difficulties of Time and the Rani, we see Sylvester McCoy really settle into the role and make the Seventh Doctor his own. Watching him with the Kangs, we see a Doctor who is cool in a way the previous Doctors could never be.

Yet Paradise Towers is let down by a number of problems. The score is too loud and fails to fit the mood of the story. The sets are very well designed, but they are far too brightly lit, a common failing in 80s Doctor Who. While the Kangs are very enjoyable, they are quite obviously middle class drama school graduates.

The Chief Caretaker is a brilliantly conceived character. He is inspired by the very British phenomena of the overzealous council official who 'thinks he's Hitler.' Richard Briers performance does not quite do the character justice. While he has some glorious moments together with McCoy, most of the time he overplays the role and sends it up just a little too much.

One definite problem is that the world of Paradise Towers does not really make sense. The ages of the actors do not fit, we are given no explanation of why nobody ever leaves, we have no idea where the characters get their clothes or food or just generally how the whole society of the Towers works. This is not a problem in a story like Greatest Show in the Galaxy, where everything in the story is left mysterious. The problem with Paradise Towers is that we are given an awful lot of information about this society, but it still makes no sense.

Paradise Towers is not the highlight of the McCoy years and it is not even as good as Delta and the Bannermen, the story that followed it. Yet it was an important milestone in treading out a different path for the program. This serial was a bold experiment that offered a new and fresh avenue for Doctor Who.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

The Power of Three

For just a few moments, I actually wondered if Kate was the Big Finish character Elizabeth Klein.

The Power of Three has a few clever ideas and I actually wondered for the first ten minutes if this might turn out to be a good story. I really liked the way this episode deconstructed previous Earth-set stories. When Sarah Jane Smith got involved in an Earth-set story, she would drop everything and help out the Doctor. Here the adventure has started, the Doctor has showed up and Rory is getting ready to go to work. I also liked the way the characters were expecting the cubes to turn out to be an alien invasion and were left waiting and waiting for something to happen. It would probably have been a more interesting story if the cubes had actually turned out to be a marketing gimmick or a a clever work of concept art (a Doctor Who story without aliens? It has been done before!). Unfortunately, the expected happens and the cubes start glowing and doing evil things. That is the point at which the story starts to drag. For every good idea in this story, there are at least two bad ones.

It's a bit difficult to see Amy and Rory as a good example of normal life. Amy has had a traumatic childhood, a history of psychiatric treatment and has become a successful model after working as a kissogram. Rory comes close to being normal, except we know he has spent a thousand years guarding a box in the guise of a Roman Centurion and was also an Auton replicant. How do you relate to characters like that? A couple of episodes ago, Rory and Amy were about to go through a messy divorce. Now they are playing the average happy British family. Rory's dad seems a completely different character to the person we met in his first appearance. He is not so much a character as somebody who is there to deliver comic lines.

The introduction of Kate Stewart as leader of UNIT does not get enough time to do it justice. Kate comes across as rather colourless and uninteresting. She is very quick to point out that her position has nothing to do with her father. Does anybody really believe that? Nepotism is not cool. Bringing up the Brigadier, I really hate all the sentimentalizing of the Brigadier. Nicholas Courtney was a great actor, but it is getting a bit tedious. The Brigadier was actually best as a bully and an antagonist of the Doctor. Turning him into a pseudo-companion or a comic sidekick was just wrong.

The alien menace turned out to be a terror from the mythology of Gallifrey. We had the terrible vampires and Yssgaroth and the Hoothi fungus that can animate the dead. It turns out that they are also terrified of some old bald guy with wrinkly skin. Time Lords scare very easily.

Proving that the story has too much going on and not enough time (though they oddly manage to throw in a bit of historical romping with Henry VIII), the Doctor saves the day by waving around his sonic screwdriver. This is the kind of reset button plotting that we became so used to under RT Davies and which we have never quite got away from under Moffat.

This was yet another disappointment of an episode.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Death Comes to Time

Death Comes to Time was a webcast made by the BBC in 2001, with an impressive cast of voice actors, most notably Stephen Fry and Anthony Head. It featured the Seventh Doctor, a surprising choice as it was made after the McGann TV movie.

This webcast is a colossal, epic drama that occurs on an overwhelmingly cosmic scale. Yet it is not epic in the silly over the top way of the new series' season finales. This story has a beautiful poetic feel. With it's orchestral classical score, a far cry from the sentimentality of Murray-Gold, Death Comes to Time feels very much like a Wagnerian opera. It is furthermore, a story that touches on religious and philosophical themes.

The story opens with a voiceover that is reminiscent of Bagpuss. It tells a fairy tale about a land of giants; an allusion to the Time Lords. This very much sets the tone of Death Comes to Time; it is more of a fantasy story than a science fiction story. You only need to watch this to realise just how shallow Moffat's notion of what the word 'fairy tale' means.

The big mistake of the TV Movie was to include too many of the shallow trappings of the show's past- the Master, regeneration, the Eye of Harmony. It assumed that the viewer would be interested to know that Time Lords regenerate and that they come from the planet Gallifrey. In contrast, Death Comes to Time does not tell us what Time Lords are, but shows us. We are introduced to the concept gradually through analogies like the beautiful parable about the painter and his painting.

Granted, Death Comes to Time gives us a radical revision of what Time Lords are. They are no longer a society of old men, but a race of gods who wield terrible power. Gallifrey is not even mentioned (though no doubt the three faces in the Temple of the Fourth are supposed to be Rassilon, Omega and the Other), but rather the Time Lords are wanderers in the fourth dimension. Fascinatingly, the idea of the TARDIS is deconstructed. The Doctor insists that his TARDIS contains no technology at all. It is rather portrayed more as a manifestation of some magic power that Time Lords possess. When the Doctor revokes the Minister's TARDIS, it is impossible not to be reminded of Gandalf breaking the staff of Saruman.

Death Comes to Time is often out of character with much of the history of the show. It is bizarre to think that the Doctor possesses the power to kill by thinking. Yet, we the idea of the Time Lords as gods can be found within parts of the Doctor Who mythos such as The War Games. For all that this story departs from continuity, the Doctor Who mythos is big enough to embrace a story like this; and it is a story that is made with passion and conviction.

This story is rarely accepted as a part of true Doctor Who continuity on account of how it departs from other stories. Yet there are many divergent and conflicting threads within Doctor Who. I'm sure that most of the discrepancies can be explained away. While Ace does not become a Time Lord in the New Adventures, this Ace appears to be older. It could be a Post-Lungbarrow Ace. It has been argued that if the Master or the Rani could kill by thinking like the Time Lords here can, they would have done so. Perhaps they had not yet mastered that power?

What are we to make of the Doctor's death? As is the golden rule in fantasy and science fiction. if there is no body, you can expect the character to return. Perhaps the Doctor does not really die? If you hate the TV Movie, you could see it as an alternative regeneration into the McGann Doctor, one that happens offscreen. Or if you hate everything in the New Series, you could use Death Comes to Time as a reason to exclude the RT Davies and Moffat era from your personal canon.

It is a shame how little the BBC Wales series has drawn from Death Comes to Time, as this is Doctor Who done well.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Scream of the Shalka

Scream of the Shalka was an animated webcast put out by the BBC in 2003. It featured a new Doctor voiced by Richard E Grant. For a while there was talk of a new series being launched with this Doctor.

I like the Gothic look of this Doctor, though I find it frustrating that they decided to give him a generic Victorian look. This is disappointing because it does not set him apart from the McGann Doctor. In personality, the Shalka Doctor most closely resembles Pertwee, though he is loaded with a massive dose of angst and guilt. This was not an original move, as both the New Adventures and the BBC EDAs had been full of angst, with the Doctor variously feeling guilt over manipulating Ace, blowing up Skaro or blowing up Gallifrey. On the whole, this Doctor comes across as just a bit too angry to be likable. Paul Cornell's script gives him a lot of humour, but Grant plays it so straight (like Pertwee) and so he comes across as an humourless man trying to be funny. Of course, it's unfair to judge this Doctor by this one performance. Most of the Doctors have taken a few stories to completely get into their role. Sylvester McCoy's Doctor evolved massively during his time on the show. Scream of the Shalka offers us a faint glimpse of what might have been.

The animation for this story is very nicely drawn, but the movements of the characters are not terribly fluid. One could probably enjoy a series of such animations had it ever been made. The real problem with the story is its traditionalism. There is too much effort made in trying to come up with all of the elements of Pertwee-era Doctor Who; the Doctor arguing with the military, an alien invasion, the Master and the Doctor not wanting to kill.

The only really clever idea this story has is the robotic version of the Master in the TARDIS. The idea of the Doctor keeping the Master as a kind of mascot or buddy is quite inspired and deals with the difficulty of taking seriously a Delgado-style Master in a 21st century story.

RT Davies has made it quite clear that Scream of the Shalka is not considered to be canon and that the 9th Doctor is Christopher Eccleston. If you are a fan who loves the Shalka Doctor, you can probably find a few clever ways to incorporate this story into the Doctor Who mythos. Lance Parkin includes this story in his AHistory guide to Doctor Who continuity by suggesting that this might be a future Doctor after the 9th Doctor. His Gallifrey Chronicles novel famously stated that there are three versions of the ninth Doctor, a meta-textual reference to this story, Curse of Fatal Death and Eccleston. In his discussion of Gallifreyan history, Parkin provides another potential solution as to how there could be more than one 9th Doctor. Attempting to tie together the War of Heaven in the BBC novels and the Last Great Time War of the new series, Parkin argues that the Eccleston Doctor could be a regeneration of the Grandfather Paradox version of the 8th Doctor in The Ancestor Cell. This is an interesting theory and raises the question of what happened to the proper version of the 8th Doctor. Perhaps he could have regenerated into the Richard Grant Doctor? It would be disconcerting, however, to think that there could be two Doctors at the same time.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

A Town Called Mercy

As I said in my review of Curse of the Black Spot, the problem with pseudo-historicals is that there are essentially only two plots- a good alien is interfering with history or a bad alien is interfering with history. In A Town Called Mercy, we get two aliens who are both good, bad and ugly.

When we meet Kahler-Jex and find out he is a nice alien, it is a certain fact that he will turn out to be not as nice as he seems. We are also well aware that the cyborg alien will turn out to be more than just a brutal killer. I actually found myself reminded of the DWM story The Star Beast, in which the cute and cuddly alien, Beep the Meep turns out to be a wanted war criminal. That was actually a much more interesting story than this.

This story was just boring. It was flat and predictable, especially the very Star Trekl Next Generation debate about whether to hand over an unrepentant mass murderer to save a town full of innocent people. The whole thing was horribly sentimentalised with Issac's death and the horrible Murray-Gold music.

The resolution was terrible too. Kahler-Jex kills himself, thus removing any need for the Doctor to actually come up with a solution to the dilemma. Wouldn't life be so much easier if all the bad people just killed themselves? That is the worst kind of lazy writing.

Once again, we get racial issues swept under the carpet with the presence of a black preacher ministering to an otherwise white town. I am also irritated by Amy wearing a miniskirt. Does she not realize the hostility she is likely to attract when dressed like that in the 19th century? But then as JNT would do, Moffat has Amy wear a uniform in every episode no matter what the circumstances.

Give me The Gunfighters over this any day. The Gunfighters was actually about the historical events and circumstances, while still having fun with western cliches. This story just uses the western setting as a themepark backdrop to a banal science fiction story.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The Curse of Fenric, by Ian Briggs (Target novelisation)

The quality of Target novelisations varied enormously, but a distinct improvement in literary depth can be seen in some of the novelizations of Seventh Doctor stories. The novelization of the Curse of Fenric, by it's original writer, is a good example of a novelization that attempts to provide a much deeper penetration into its source text. I think that the original serial was brilliant and this novelisation does not improve on the original (or remove all confusion about the plot) but it does provide a fascinating perspective on the story and enlarges on the writer's original vision.

The stark prose of this work has a somewhat avant-garde feel, but occasionally it becomes banal enough for you to remember it is a kid's book. Unlike most of Target novels it brings up sexual themes, with Millington and Judson's homosexuality made explicit and the surprising revelation that Miss Hardaker had a child out of wedlock (and was subsequently socially ostracised).

Many details are added to the televised story. The Russian soldiers are given distinct personalities and Nurse Crane turns out to be a Soviet spy (which seems to me a pointless addition). The story of how Millington's homosexual jealousy of Judson led to the latter becoming crippled is an interesting touch.

Particularly interesting are the editorial notes between chapters, which take the story in different directions. These include a schoolboy essay by Millington on the subject of Norse mythology and a letter from Bram Stoker about vampirism. Most interesting of all is an Arabian Nights-style account of the Doctor's first contest with Fenric. We learn that after defeating Fenric, the Doctor travelled for two years with Zeleekah, a freed Ethiopian slave. This is generally thought to have taken place during the Doctor's first incarnation, though few fans have considered exactly where in the chronology of the Doctor's life it occurred. I am dying to write some fan fiction featuring Zeleekah, though I find it hard to think how exactly to go about her character.

The novelisation is more upfront than the book in identifying the Doctor as a power of Good from before the dawn of time. Personally, I like this idea, though I do think it was better left ambiguous as it was in the serial.

The story gets even more confused when it comes to the subplot about the Ancient One and the dead Earth of the future. The book repeats the line about the dead world being the result of 'industrial progress' but it also seems to suggest that it is Millington's poison that creates it. It is implied that this future is prevented. I am unhappy with this. For one thing, it implies a temporal paradox. As I interpret the televised version, the desolate Earth of the Ancient One is the result of pollution and it is not erased. This should not be thought to contradict other Doctor Who stories set in the future. There is room for a desolate Earth (which will get repopulated by space colonists).

The novel ends with the Doctor meeting up with an older version of Ace in 19th century Paris, who has a relationship with Sorin's ancestor. Kate Orman's New Adventure novel, Set Piece would come to set up this surprising scenario.

The Curse of Fenric novel is a great read. It lacks the self-confidence and maturity of the New Adventures, but it is definitely a step in that direction.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

I can't believe I am writing this, but Dinosaurs on a Spaceship was not nearly as awful as I had expected. It probably helped that this story did not have the high pretensions of the previous disaster, Asylum of the Daleks. This was a story that set out to be enjoyable rubbish and for maybe a few times in the episode, I actually came close to enjoying it.

The very premise of Dinosaurs on a starship naturally sets alarm bells ringing. We are set up to expect a bonkers story that serves only to realize the absurd premise and provide a lot of all-out Dinosaur action. Indeed, the plot was a mess, but it was actually a little better plotted than I imagined. The spaceship turning out to be an Eocene vessel was a good idea, though it is a questionable one given that the Eocenes are not from the Dinosaur era (the creature in Dr Who and the Silurians is not a recognisable species and they co-exist with apes).

This is basically a story of set pieces, some of them comic, but with a surprising number of darker elements thrown in. It was a little odd to see the Doctor turning up with a gang of assorted thrown-together historical persons. This was especially jarring given that Riddell the big-game hunter played no real part in the plot. I think both Riddell and Nefertiti were disappointingly bland and their being paired up served more to irritate than amuse. I found Nefertiti's decision to sacrifice herself both predictable and banal.

That Rory's dad turned up serves to show how desperate the writers are to do something new with Rory and Amy. The pair of them have grown desperately tired. The thought of watching them any more is an appalling thought.

The real stand out element in the story was the villain Solomon. He was quite masterfully portrayed and very chilling. One major fault of the New Series is its lack of human villains. The reason for this is that with a short 45 minute episode, you can't spend much time fleshing out motivation, which is an essential quality of villains. It's much easier for lazy writers to throw in an alien monster. It was also refreshing to see the Doctor coolly despatching Solomon. The Doctor has killed before. He's not a pacifist, so get over it.

I was a little surprised by the Eocenes not having a weapon system. This does not fit at all with the aggression we have seen from their kind. I don't much like the New Series approach in making the Eocenes into sympathetic good guys.

This episode really could have been a lot worse.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Canon and Conundrum

I absolutely love the New Adventure novel, Conundrum by Steve Lyons. I think it is among the best of the Virgin New Adventures. The sequel, Head Games is also a great book. Steve Lyons is a great Doctor Who writer. Yet I find it really hard to forgive him for a clever meta-textual trick he pulls in Conundrum and repeats in Head Games.

In Conundrum, we learn that a new Master of the Land of Fiction has created a fictional counterpart of the Doctor, who is called Dr. Who (and the real one is not?) and who has two grandchildren, John and Gillian. In the sequel, Head Games, we meet Dr. Who. Although he looks like the Sylvester McCoy Doctor, his personality is quite different, having a very superficial and naive view of good and evil. His answer to monsters is to wipe them out. Dr. Who references several TV Comic stories. The clear meta-textual implication is that the TV Comic stories did not feature our Doctor, but this Land of Fiction creation.

I realize very well that Steve Lyons meant all this in good humour, but I can't help seeing a certain literary snobbery in the idea of relegating all the TV Comic stories to the Land of Fiction. This is basically an attempt to create some sort of Doctor Who canon and to define the boundaries of what is Doctor Who and what is not.

Doctor Who has no canon. The BBC licences products, but it makes no attempt to define what material is part of the Doctor Who mythos. Doctor Who has no Gene Roddenberry or George Lucas who can make pronouncements about canon. I'm very glad it does not. I grew up with the Star Wars Expanded Universe novels. I actually have a much fonder place in my heart for them than I do for the original Star Wars trilogy. When George Lucas changes things in the Expanded Universe, it really annoys me. I totally agree with Paul Cornell's claim that canon is just another form of bullying. To exclude a story from the canon is to say "No matter how much you might love this story, it doesen't count. So there."

There is a certain incongruity about a spin-off novel trying to exclude another spin-off from an hypothetical canon. I am a New Adventures fanatic, but there are plenty of fans who hate them. There are fans who hate the manipulative Doctor in the NAs and the bitter and violent Ace. There are fans who like the idea planned for Season 27 of Ace going to Gallifrey to become a Time Lord. Steve Lyons seemed to think that the TV Comic did not count. Plenty of fans think the New Adventures don't count and only the televised stories are genuine Doctor Who.

It is often pointed out that the TV Comic stories give the Doctor a somewhat different personality to the televised Doctors. The TV Comic version of the First Doctor uses magic and its Second Doctor invents things to make money, appears on a television chat show and carries a ray gun. Yet it ought to be apparent to a fan that even the televised show does not always get the Doctor quite right or achieve a consistent tone. Take the Seeds of Doom. I'm sure that Seeds of Doom went through a much more rigorous editorial process than Martha the Mechanical Housemaid, but there are still some oddities about that story. Seeds of Doom is a very enjoyable story, but in some ways it does not feel like Doctor Who. The tone of it comes closer to a spy thriller at times and in the end, the monster is destroyed not by the Doctor, but by an airstrike. Furthermore, the fourth Doctor does not quite feel the same as in other Fourth Doctor stories. He seems more of an establishment figure and much more ready to deal out violence. Robert Banks Stewart had not spent hours studying past episodes to make sure he got every detail right (as a fan would do); he just wrote it to commission. That is why the tone of the story is different and that is exactly why the TV Comic strips feel different to most Doctor Who stories. We would not exclude Seeds of Doom from the 'canon' because it is a bit different and neither should we exclude the Sixties comic strips.

Steve Lyons makes a really interesting point in Head Games about the TV Comic version of the Doctor having a naive view of good and evil and being ready to destroy anything that looks like a monster. While this is true of the Doctor in the TV Comic, it is also true of much of the televised show, especially in the Second Doctor era. The Doctor wipes out the Macra without knowing anything about them, he cheerfully blows up the Dominators with a bomb and he destroys the entire Martian fleet, even though they are a dying race. This is the sort of gung-ho attitude that Robert Holmes so brilliantly satirized in The Two Doctors.

There is another irony in the idea of the TV Comic being relegated to the Land of Fiction, that is that the whole idea of the Land of Fiction is a bizarre concept in itself and might just as easily have been something from the TV Comic strips. The Mind Robber might be part of an hypothetical canon, but there is no way that story would have been made in any period other than the Sixties era of Doctor Who. There is just as much a stretch to say that The Mind Robber and Terminus occurred in the same universe as to say that The Challenge of the Piper occurred in the same universe as Pyramids of Mars.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Mission for Duh

From the Doctor Who 1967 Annual

As odd as that might seem, the 1967 Annual was my first experience of Doctor Who (barring ten minutes of being terrified by Curse of Fenric). Unlike many of my school friends, I had not watched the last two seasons of Doctor Who and had no interest or knowledge of the show.

During a Cub Scout holiday in 1990, I came across a dusty old copy of the 1967 Doctor Who Annual in the youth hostel in which we were staying. I was not particularly enjoying the holiday and this strange old book was the highlight of it for me. The annual seemed like the most amazing thing ever. Being very keen on carnivorous plants, I was particularly blown away by the comic strip, Mission for Duh. This relic of another era sold me on Doctor Who. It was 1990 and the show was cancelled, but I began reading Target novelization after Target novelization.

Mission for Duh might have really shoddy artwork, but it's such a lovely piece of Sixties kitsch. I love 'throwaway' stories like this and I resent anyone who tries to exclude them from the canon of Doctor Who. It's wonderful to think that Dr. Who had all kinds of adventures that never made it to the screen. The planet Birr and its Verdant inhabitants may never get mentioned outside of the 1967 Annual, but in my mind their part of the Doctor Who universe.

Stories like these raise interesting questions of continuity. In Mission for Duh and the rest of the stories in the annual, the First Doctor is travelling on his own. This is hard to fit into the apparently seamless narrative of the First Doctor televised stories. However, there are a number of places where it could fit. It could be set in between The Dalek Masterplan and The Massacre after the First Doctor has left the Death Zone in The Five Doctors. Alternatively, it could be set during The War Machines, before the Doctor returns to collect Dodo. The TV Comic stories featuring John and Gillian would also take place during this unseen gap.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Asylum of the Daleks

For about two minutes, I wondered if this might actually turn out to be a good story. It turned out to be typical sleep-inducing New Series waffle. Asylum of the Daleks has some pretty impressive visuals- lots of Daleks, flying saucers, impressive sets. Unfortunately it has no substance at all.

Despite the title, this story is not about the Daleks. These Daleks are not doing anything interesting like conquering the universe or enslaving humans. The paper thin premise of the Daleks enlisting Dr Who's aid is simply a cheap device to launch a big mawkish story about the power of LOVE. Once again, the companion's personal emotional drama is the biggest, most important thing in the universe. We get told lots of stuff about how the Daleks call Dr. Who 'the Pretador' and how he is the biggest enemy of the Daleks ever. However, there is no evidence of this onscreen. This is just verbiage. We can only believe that Dr Who is the enemy of the Daleks if we actually see him foiling their invasion plots, blowing up Dalek spaceships and the like. It's a shame we didn't see much of the yellow 'Eternal' Daleks either. I was looking forward to seeing them. Moffat evidently chickened out of using too many of the fun and cool New Paradigm Daleks.

It turns out that Skaro still exists, so presumably the premise of War of the Daleks, with the Daleks fooling Dr. Who into believing he had destroyed Skaro was all true.

Rory and Amy have very much outstayed their welcome. It's clear that the writers have run out of ideas for them because they have them getting divorced (what else do you do with a married couple?). Watching them argue and make up just fills one with a sense of crushing deja vu. Incidently, Amy was making some remarkably sexual poses for such an everyday style outfit. One would expect her to be wearing a slinkier sort of outfit for the poses she was striking. It's incredible how Amy seems to wear that leather jacket ensemble in nearly every story (even when she is supposed to be dressed for Brazil). It's like we are back in the days of JNT, when Tegan had to always wear her stewardess uniform and Nyssa always had to wear that hideous puffy sleeved velvet thing.

The big surprise of this story is the early revelation of new companion Oswin, played by Jenna-Louise Coleman. Only she's died. So it looks like we are going to get another stupid timey-wimey story about Dr. Who meeting a character backwards. What we see of Oswin is not encouraging. She is just another overconfident character who flirts and makes wisecracks all the time.

Not only is Oswin dead, but she has been turned into a Dalek (did anybody fail to see that coming?). I know Revelation of the Daleks had people being converted into Daleks, but that was Davros' idea. Turning people into Daleks is a denial of what Daleks are about. They are obsessed with their own racial superiority and purity. They would not want to turn people into Daleks.

The story ends with a chorus of Doctor Who? How many times have we heard that joke? Dr. Who really is just his name. He really is called that. Get over it.

Dr. Who has clearly never seen an episode of Star Trek Next Generation. Surely it must be obvious she got the milk from a replicator.