Victory of the Daleks

DVD NTSC
Region 1
13-episode
box set

DVD PAL
Region 2
13-episode
box set

Ltd.
DVD PAL
Region 2
3-episode volume
See below for Blu-Ray options
(Doctor Who Story No. 210, starring Matt Smith)
  • written by Mark Gatiss
  • directed by Andrew Gunn
  • produced by Peter Bennett
  • music by Murray Gold
  • 1 episode @ 41 minutes
Story: The Doctor and Amy join British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in an underground bunker during World War II, where the Doctor becomes extremely concerned about their latest project of "ironside" robotic soldiers. Why do these robots resemble Daleks in every conceivable way? What are the Daleks really after?

DVD Extras (box sets only) include:

  • Picture-in-picture commentary by writer Mark Gatiss, Dalek Voice Nicholas Briggs, and Dalek Operator Barnaby Edwards.
  • Doctor Who Confidential featurette: War Games (14 min.) with Gatiss, Matt Smith (The Doctor), Karen Gillan (Amy Pond),
    Ian McNeice (Winston Churchill), Bill Paterson (Professor Bracewell), director Andrew Gunn, executive producer Steven Moffat,
    war room curator Cressida Finch, and designer Edward Thomas.
  • Monster File featurette: Daleks (10 min., also included in 3-episode volume) with Moffat, Gatiss, Smith, Gillan, Gunn,
    Thomas, Edwards, and Dalek Operator Nick Pegg.
  • Story Trailer

In-Depth Analysis Review

by Martin Izsak

WARNING: This review contains "SPOILERS", and is intended for those who have already seen the program.
To avoid the spoilers, read the Buyers' Guide to the season instead.


Okay, strange, but not so bad in the end. There are two main ideas in play here, both of which were "assigned" to writer Mark Gatiss by Chief Executive Steven Moffat, and Gatiss's initial reactions to each pretty much mirror my own. Daleks, yes okay. Winston Churchill, ick, why?


Ultimately, it's still a case of been there, done that, with BOTH ideas. The London Blitz in World War II got ample screen time in "The Empty Child" (story no. 168), where it too was Moffat's take on the period, and it's too soon to revisit it. As a draw, Churchill, like most politicians, is also likely to divide the audience, or at least divide those that don't simply tune all politicians out altogether. The old buddy-buddy relationship with the Doctor seems to come out of nowhere, unearned, and isn't something we really want to see.

In fact, part of the problem seems to be that we are just going through the repetitive season arc motions of introducing the audience via Amy to the fact that the TARDIS can travel into the past, and this time we've picked on Churchill and his era. Ho hum. This arc hasn't been useful on this show since season 27, especially since its creators seem more keen to set shows in the past than on alien planets anyway. We're really just waiting for a good, proper adventure to kick in.

At least this time, we also get Daleks. But, Daleks have also been overdone lately. I don't subscribe to the idea that no Doctor is the Doctor until he's encountered them - I enjoyed years of Tom Baker and Peter Davison without Daleks appearing at all. However, Daleks can work, and if they are to do something we haven't seen them do lately, how about letting them show up and threaten someplace OTHER than Earth? That would be relatively new! That would give them the galactic (or larger) scope that they seem to want to lay claim to. While we're at it, let's let go of any notion that these are somehow the only Daleks left in existence. They've always proved too adept at survival to make that a plausible theory to entertain.


In the end though, I think this is the best proper story that Mark Gatiss has written for the show yet. The story goes from one interesting beat to another, and escalates very logically. It's not hard to get invested in this one.

The whole "I am your sssoldier" line is a nice throwback to "The Power of the Daleks" (story no. 30), helping to give the unusual dynamics here a little more credibility amongst long-term fans. It's also a cool touch to hear Daleks measuring time in "rels" - a nice throwback to a time when cultures were actively created on this show.....

The character of Professor Bracewell (played by Bill Paterson) feels like an archetype Gatiss character, and perhaps the most successful one he's created yet for televised Doctor Who. He's got the usual charm and likeability, but doesn't quite gabble on endlessly as some of his counterparts have done.

I can't say I was too thrilled about them putting World War II planes in space. Part of me really wanted to go with the whole dogfight sequence - story beat, awesome special effects, and all. But this really is the type of thing that deserves to be proper spaceships defending an alien planet somewhere, and the corny conversations with a pilot named "Danny Boy" really feel out of place. Still, not bad.

Events amongst the Daleks remain interesting. I too like Daleks of various colours, as seen in the Peter Cushing movies, but for me those colours always indicated specific ranks. Here, they seem to be going for a lot of wild new colours just for the hell of it. Not so satisfying. Making the Daleks bigger isn't really impressive. They say one of the best ways to indicate the scale of something is to put a human figure beside it - and Daleks have become such a common icon on this show that putting a Dalek beside something is another equally valid and successful way of defining the scale of that other thing. So really, they only end up making Matt Smith and the saucer interior look smaller - and the room that makes do as the saucer interior really had too ridiculously low a ceiling already. Not so great. The only other noticeable things about this design is that the new Daleks seemed to have developed hunched-backs, and they really look less capable of action when photographed from behind.

Story-wise, this change-over is much more fascinating. Indeed, it feels like things are still escalating nicely when the story ends, as though it has merely teased us with part of a story instead of giving us a full-fledged outing. Amy also appears to be the one coming up with most of the successful ideas in this story, but somehow she doesn't quite upstage the Doctor, which is good. He has a very nice moment at the end of feeling like too much has been left undone, and he really wants to do more, but the opportunities have passed. Gatiss goes for an emotion-based ending here, rather than an action one, and it works quite nicely. It's unexpected, but definitely more interesting than re-runs of previous Dalek finale story-beats.

If anything, "Victory of the Daleks" feels like it's just a bit too short when it ends, as if it needed an extra episode (with a scope expanded to an alien planet, perhaps?) to become a satisfying adventure. However, as a single-episode adventure, perhaps less is more. It explores its own ideas properly, and then bows out before any one conversation goes on too long.


Though this isn't quite one of the outstanding episodes of the season, it's a decent one, with a number of very enjoyable elements. I'm happily going to give Mark Gatiss two thumbs up, before moving on to the next story....



This story has become available on DVD.
Click on the Amazon symbol for the location nearest you for pricing and availability:

DVD NTSC Region 1
13-episode box set
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada
DVD PAL Region 2
13-episode box set
for the U.K.:

(Limited Edition)
DVD PAL Region 2
3-episode volume
for the U.K.:

Blu-Ray NTSC Region 1
13-episode box set
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada

Blu-Ray PAL Region 2
13-episode box set
for the U.K.

(Limited Edition)

Note: The full season sets contain commentaries, behind-the-scenes featurettes, and other extras. The smaller volumes only feature the plain episodes.


Comments on this article are welcome. You may contact the author from this page:

Contact page


LYRATEK.COM


Read the In-depth Analysis Review for the next story: "The Time of Angels"



Home Page Site Map Star Trek Sliders Doctor Who Matt Smith Era Episode Guide Catalogue