Sunday, 18 April 2010


[9.23 - French Time] The Doctor (Matt Smith) and Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) arrive in London under the Blitz. The Doctor has been summoned by an old friend, Prime minister Winston Churchill (Ian McNeice), who wants to show him a new secret weapon created by Professor Bracewell (Bill Paterson) and called the Ironsides. Except that these robotic future saviours of the British Empire are nothing less than the Doctor's deadliest enemies: The Daleks.

Victory of the Daleks (Series Five Episode Three) [Minor spoilers]

Who else than Mark Gatiss could contribute so wonderfully to the restoration of the Doctor's glory launched by Steven Moffat and the new Doctor Who production team? The actor, screenwriter and novelist is a long-time devoted Who fan. And retrospectively the fact that Russell T. Davies had to abandon the idea of shooting Gatiss's World War II script for series four is certainly a blessing in disguise. His script for Victory of the Daleks is a gift.

« Can I be of assistance? »

The psychorigid pepperpots are back... with a twist. Cremated to the point of migraine at the end of previous series, the Daleks really needed a very good excuse to come back and what better way to reintroduce Terry Nation's creations than during the Blitz as the last hope of the British Empire!

« What does Hate look like, Amy? It looks like a Dalek and I'm going to prove it. » The Doctor almost goes batty when he sees his first "Ironside", a camouflaged, Union Flag wearing Dalek. Matt Smith does a fantastic work as a mix of William Shatner in Terror at 20000 feet (a classic Twilight Zone episode) and The Invaders's David Vincent. We damn know the Daleks are evil and the Doctor paid to know they are, they have a plan (they always have) but what about a little foul play first?

This game of hypocrisy and paranoia is complicated a little more when it occurs that Amy has not the single beginning of a notion of what happened to Earth in The Stolen Earth and Journey's End (we wish we could forget too). And Churchill doesn't care if the Ironsides were Gengis Khan's schoolmates in a past life, as long as they give him victory against the nazis: « If Hitler invaded Hell I would give a favourable reference to the devil ».

But they say "Better the devil you know" and when the Doctor yells « I am the Doctor, and you are the Daleks! » before kicking the camouflaged so-called Ironside out of Bracewell's lab, he triggers more than he could imagine. The Dalek forgets his Jeeves gig and reverts to its true nature, shooting two Marines in pure Dalek style. Evil is back and in living colours.

« A new Dalek paradigm ». There's already a lot written about the colourful Dalek "Master race" but the new creative forces behind Doctor Who seem to be huge fans of the two movies starring Peter Cushing and there were coloured Daleks in the classic series. Anyway keep in mind that modern Doctor Who is a lucrative franchise and the new design will not harm Dalek toy sales. And the advert for the new Who video game aired right after the episode gave us a clue that we are not solely in artistic license territory (« Now from the makers of Doctor Who »).

Mark Gatiss's script is the perfect illustration of the renewal through tradition and invention initiated by showrunner Steven Moffat. Invention with that incredible space battle between WWII Spitfires and the Dalek spaceship. And tradition in a spirit of continuity with previous classic Dalek stories or even with the Christopher Eccleston episodes.

Ian McNeice is brilliant as Winston Churchill, with a special mention for his TARDIS key scenes. Far from his usual authority figures, Bill Paterson is really interesting and moving as Bracewell and thank goodness Law & Order: UK didn't send another cast member. Karen Gillan will enter in the Top Five of the Doctor's companions if if her character is not ruined like Donna under the Davies/Tennant era. Murray Gold's score is superb, particularly the "Wagnerian" sequence with the new Daleks. And Andrew Gunn's direction is excellent.

Matt Smith IS the Doctor, the Daleks are in colour, another victory. More to come, so... Don't blink.

Episode Two:
Episode One:

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