Doctor Who: Daleks in Manhattan Review

Series three, episode four: Daleks in Manhattan. In summary, I liked it a lot. Read on for more, but be warned of spoilers if you haven't seen it!

I think that overall, this was a good strong episode. It's the first part-work of season three, so the pacing was different. I actually prefer the slightly slower pacing of the two-parters, so that got me off to a good start; it allows for some development of the minor characters, and means that there can be a few more introspective moments.

There are only two places, I think, where the quality of the script (or possibly the acting) fell down. The first was the Doctor's reaction - Ten is manic enough, usually, that I would have expected a far stronger response to the presence of the Daleks than we saw. Perhaps, of course, that'll be made up for in the second part. The second was Solomon rousing the Hooverville inhabitants into motion to defend the camp - it was too much a set piece, a staged oration. You can't stir people to action with three sentences when there's no immediate danger. However, I'm not sure whether to blame the acting, the script, or the direction for that - I suspect that had we entered Solomon's speech as though he were mid-sentence, or implying it, it would have worked a lot better.

I liked the biblical reference of Solomon splitting the loaf of bread; it was a nice, subtle way to let us know we're dealing with someone wise. I'd like to know what he did before the crash.

Tallulah (three Ls, one H) was also an excellent character. She reminded me of Alyson Hannigan's Willow, in Buffy - something in her looks, as well as the slightly caustic comments; "Again with the not kidding..." and so forth. There was the very fine point of her smoothing down Lazslo's collar both before and after his transformation, which I thought was a very fine way to say she cared about him, not his looks. Incidentally, he reminded me of Jack Harkness in his scenes at the beginning - I think it was more style of dress than anything else, though.

I'm a little tired of the Daleks at this stage, though. Having never had the childhood exposure, I really do keep seeing them as faintly pathetic space dustbins (to borrow a phrase) rather than scary monsters of any kind. I'm interested to see what happens to the dalek-human hybrid, though - if it? he? gets killed, and if not, how the escape is managed. It's in some ways a silly idea, but also a coldly logical one - if one species always defeats you, steal their genes and use them.

There's been enough scene setting for the next episode to be pretty impressive - between the mast on the Empire State Building, the revelation of the hybrid, the massing of the army of the homeless in Hooverville, and so on, there're a lot of elements to come together.

Posted by Drew Shiel at April 25, 2007 8:23 AM

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Did you think the hybrid looked a little like an illithid?

Posted by: MigarFrobert at April 25, 2007 12:01 PM

Defintely, but not quite so much as the Ood, last season. They were definite mind flayers, right down to the telepathy.

Posted by: Drew Shiel at April 25, 2007 12:36 PM

Most terrible episode of Dr Who so far.

Posted by: alex at July 14, 2007 4:03 PM