Doctor Who #1027: Daleks!

"Stop. Wait. Zero."

TECHNICAL SPECS: Webcast as part of the Time Lord Victorious event on five consecutive weeks on the BBC's Doctor Who YouTube channel in 12-15-minute episodes - The Archive of Islos (12 November 2020), The Sentinel of the Fifth Galaxy (18 Nov), Planet of the Mechanoids (26 Nov), The Deadly Ally (3 Dec), and Day of Reckoning (10 Dec).

IN THIS ONE... The Daleks fight an extradimensional entity and the Mechanoids.

REVIEW:
I have not followed Time Lord Victorious (man, I hate that phrase), as I do not like cross-platform stories (I didn't like it when The Matrix did it either). They're confusing, cost-prohibitive and not evenly accessible. Nevertheless, Daleks! is its one tele-visual manifestation and by the rules I set for myself, it must be reviewed. After seeing the first chapter, I further decided to cover them all in one go despite each one having a singular title, essentially because my reaction wasn't positive and I didn't want to spend five articles on it. Anyway, the way it connects to TLV is that the Entity that tries to destroy the Daleks is a servant of primordial creatures from the Dark Times that then show up in the comics portion of this, and the Dalek Strategist here acts more or less as the Doctor's companion there. So it's about giving us a complete story - appreciated - that sets up just how dangerous the next threat is. That said, I don't know how well any of it connects.

The Daleks in Daleks! are the TV Comic version - synergetically, a collection of those old strips just came out - with the Golden Emperor, flying platforms, and enmity towards the Mechanoids. Some retro fun in that premise (plus, whatever happened to the Daleks in Planet of the Daleks), but the webcast generally fails to make the Daleks good protagonists the way the comic strip did. It's a tale of two media. The comic strips were just a couple painted pages per chapter, you didn't have to hear their screechy voices, and fixed expressions are completely normal in comics. Live action or animation, doesn't matter, I find the Daleks, left to their own devices, pretty boring. In fact, it's not until the Mechanoids show up in episode 3 that things get at all interesting. First, because the Mechanoids seem to show them up at every turn, and then because the Dalek Strategist plays THEM beautifully. Seems the goofy robotic race had its own hubris to keep in check and underestimated the Daleks' fanaticism. To think one of them could be turned.

So while the final battle and the Dalek stratagems are satisfying - certainly more than the technobabble conflict between the mechanicals and a cloud of green particles - much of my misgivings come from the quality of the animation. We've got HD resolution that prevents any depth of field, textures that would be at home in video games from 20 years ago, automatic camera moves like those of the RTD-era DVD menus, and the fire and explosion effects might as well be Flash. There are times when they layer on the special effects to the point of it just looking like a mess. All characters have to be mechanical due to the animation's limitations, and while the Daleks and Mechanoids have working "models" and look fine, the Archivists and the robot from the Planet of the Daleks are nothing to write home about. I hate to pan the work of people who probably had to produce this in record time to tie into the event, but it looks dated right out of the box, more primitive than the Flash animation used in The Invasion/The Infinite Quest. A major detraction.

REWATCHABILITY: Early episodes, Low, rising to Medium-Low by the end - I liked the Mechanoids to the point of wanting to see them on the show again (let's see that battle spin with proper effects), but stand-alone Dalek stories are a hard sell to begin with, and the animation made it even more of a chore to watch.

2 comments:

Drinkplentyofmalk said...

I'm not against the idea of doing a big dumb complicated comics 'event' for expanded universe Doctor Who stuff, but what leaves a sour taste in my mouth is that it revolves around the Tenth Doctor with the current era of the show barely playing a part.
I do love seeing more of the RTD era... but I resent the fact that the current show itself is clearly not where the main focus of the attention is, and that they clearly waited until they could just get in the Doctor from when the show used to be extremely popular.
Even though of course the expanded universe is going to focus on past doctors, it feels like they've almost given up on actually making the current version of the program into something that could be a big beloved phenomenon on it's own, and that just bums me out.

LiamKav said...

Different markets, I think. This isn't going for the casual television market but the hard core fans who read DWM and have listened to Big Finish Audios.

 

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