Things that Vex Keith Dunn… Dalek

Published: 27th June 2005

This Musing is all Tony's fault, well no to be honest some of its my fault too. You see me and Tony have developed, not so much a love / hate relationship but more a "how can I wind up this guy now". It started way back in 1991with an off the cuff remark about a Virgin Dr who book "Tymeworm Apocalypse". Which I now admit wasn't a great book, but not as bad that Tony made it out to be.

Then the next book out was Revelation, that as a book wasn't bad but not the greatest piece of literature that Tony said it was.

Now part of the reason this musing is my fault is that on the night that Dalek was broadcast I couldn't get to our usual Saturday night get together, so I couldn't vent my views on the show (I know that I would take the opposite view to Tony (see the forum)).

The following weekend Tony was ill so now I had all these points of view festering in my head (The vein is rely throbbing fit to burst, so I am forced to put pen to paper or is it finger to digital input).

So before I go splat my thoughts and opinions of Dalek II thank you

Wonderful, fantastic, one of the best episodes of Star Trek I have seen for quite some time, shame really because I was watching Dr Who.

The show was fantastically faultless in taking all the jokes, silly little sketches and adverts of the past couple of years and shredded them in to a fine spray, until the last ten minutes then re-enforced them, it all fell apart.

It finished with a soppy, sugary ending that could have come out of any Spielberg spectacular. I half expected the end of one of the Dalek mutant's tentacles to start to glow tap Rose on the Chest with it and say "I'll be right here".

It was conformist replaying a cliché that appears in every American Sci-fi show from Star Trek, Stargate SG1 to (and I hate to say it) Babylon 5, in that it's Rose's human DNA that affects the Dalek. That humans are the greatest thing that this cosmos has ever produced (despite the evidence of our own inhumanity to our fellow humans). If this was an American show it would also state that America was the best society on the planet.

As the Dalek was infected by human DNA why didn't it kill Van Statten when it had the chance, as a human I know that if some one had been torturing me for about fifteen years I would reduce him to component molecules.

The Dalek isn't a completely organic creature, it is a life support system, a defensive / offensive system, a mobile data bank and a self-destruct system. Now I know it was badly damaged in the beginning (a smashed, scarred and battered casing) but we had that wonderful self repair scene (were all it's specifications returned to the factory settings?) So you're given the implication that all the hardware is now working.

When the Dalek Supreme realized it was all that was left of the taskforce (Remembrance of the Daleks) it went foom but this one can quite happily chant that it is on it's own.

The trouble with Dalek is that it bends the character with a half thought out plot device, reshapes the character to fit the plot and doesn't shape the plot to service the character.

Let me explain, you want to write a story about police brutality, so you take a police character and kill his wife or his best friend or his child then put him in a room with the killer and a truncheon and the drama just writes itself. It all falls apart if you make your protagonist George Dixon of Dock Green. It would have been all right if you would have chosen anyone from the Sweeney or the Bill but not homely old George because of the confines of the character. You and I both know the most he is going to do is shout at the suspect then go home and eviscerate all the slugs in his back garden.

You can only push a character so far before it feels wrong as they almost did with the Doctor before they allowed Rose to pull him back from the brink, it's pushing the round shape of the character into the square hole of the plot. I hate to say it but it's something that Rob Sherman does a lot in his Big Finish plays.

I have been told that it brings some much needed pathos to the story, maybe it does but pathos needs a lightness of touch. This atomic boomed everything with a gooey syrup, to see pathos done properly. Just watch Father's Day to see how to get it right.

If you wanted a ending that could have pulled at the heart strings, it would have been better and more in keeping with the characters if we had the Doctor gunning for the Dalek, Rose talks him out of it, then the Dalek's hardware kicks in establishing it's original personality and forcing Rose to kill it to save the Doctor. This giving her the guilt of killing a sentient creature and making the Doctor feel guilty about turning Rose into a murderer and forcing her to clear up his mistakes.

The Daleks are in to racial purity, a metaphor for anti-Semitic and the Nazis (and is still relevant to day thanks to the BNP). To quote the old show (I don't like to because the new show must stand on its own merits) "Renegades are blobs, Imperial Daleks are bionic blobs with bits added. One set of blobs thinks the other set of blobs are too different, not pure in their blobbiness. They hate each other's chromosomes, war to the death".

The episode even touches upon this itself:
"nearest city".
"Salt lake".
"1 million".
"All dead!"
"But why would it do this?"
"Because you're different"

The episode hinges on the fact that the Dalek incorporates Rose's DNA into its system and it effects it's personality (personality is different from physical make up).

My question is this, if the Daleks are so hung up on racial purity why would it use a device that could incorporate alien DNA in to it's body, why didn't the self destruct system kick in when it realized it was contaminated with the human DNA?

Round character, square story...