Doctor Who, BBC1, Saturday
What to say of you liked it
The long overdue return of the most versatile and enduring character in television history, but this time faithfully accompanied by stunning special effects.
What to say of you didn’t like it
After being exhumed from an ancient televisual rubbish tip by four-eyed, geeky archaeologists, Doctor Who is made over by Trinny and Susannah’s bed-wetting younger brother before being shoved back into the schedules as sacrificial fodder to the gods of Ant & Dec.
What was good about it?
• Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor, who can switch between being immature and intellectual, solemn and silly. Even though it took a little while to become accustomed to sight of the stony-faced star cracking jokes and smiling (the highlight being when he was proud of the TARDIS “disguise” of a 1950’s police box), he portrayed the Doctor as a delightful amalgamation of previous incarnations of the Timelord with Tom Baker’s eccentricity and Jon Pertwee’s practicality to the fore.
• Billie Piper as Rose Tyler who harmonised superbly with Eccleston’s Doctor to create a hugely appealing double-act, most satisfyingly at the very end when the Doctor convinces her to abandon Mickey and join him by claiming the TARDIS can travel in time in a parody of a slimy mobile phone salesman “pulling” a gullible young model.
• The opening scene as the camera soared through space towards Earth. The numerous references to classic science-fiction that included the opening scene of the tumbling Earth which resembled the opening of Star Wars; the wheely-bin burping after consuming Mickey was like the Sarlacc in Return of the Jedi; the dismembered Auton arm that choked the Doctor was similar to the face huggers from Alien; and the shambling Autons emerging from the shop windows was akin to the zombies in the original Dawn of the Dead (which itself may have been ripped off from a similar Autons attack which occurred in 1970’s Spearhead From Space).
• Russell T Davies’ trademark excellent dialogue which subtlety and seamlessly characterised the Doctor, Rose, her mother and Rose’s boyfriend Mickey without the need to luridly wield their most marked traits like a prize on the Generation Game.
• The Doctor being perceived as a shadowy figure by internet conspiracy theorist Clive (Mark Benton) with the same capacity for doom-mongering as Nostradamus (“A legend woven into history. When disaster comes he’s there!”).
• If we were eight-years-old there were moments when we’d be charging to the sanctuary of the sofa such as when the Auton arm choked the Doctor; Mickey;s transmformation into an Auton, whose plastic inhuman definition looked like a sinister Action Man; and the moment the Autons came alive in the department store windows and massacred shoppers, including the unfortunate Clive (far superior to the near-identical scene in 1970). Although the most terrifying moment of all was hearing the disembodied voice of Graham Norton as Rose was stalked by the Autons in the department store due to a technical blunder by BBC technicians.
• The mostly brilliant special effects that illustrated the Auton Mickey’s arms morphing into hammers to smash up a restaurant; the Nestene coiling and swirling in the guise of the molten contents of a vat under the London Eye; and the Autons themselves.
What was bad about it?
• One drawback of music technology is that modern instruments sound so much cleaner and sterilised than their antecedents, and this was shown in the bland theme tune which lacked the abrasive Kraftwerk-quality of the 70s and 80s signature.
• The way the camera plummeted down from space to London was impressive, but has become the property of Match Of The Day so we half-expected to hear the droll tones of Tony Gubba introducing brief highlights of Charlton v Middlesbrough.
• Some of the incidental music to accompany the action sequences sounded like cheap 80s techno, and was utterly incongruent amid the otherwise lavish production values.
• The story was rushed through, was mostly peripheral and seemed quite light on science-fiction with a hackneyed ending as Rose kicked an Auton holding the Doctor’s anti-plastic into the Nestene destroying it and also absolving the Doctor of the blame for killing it. Although this can largely be excused, as the main thrust was to introduce the principle characters and make the show accessible to all viewers not just those who have started each day since 1989 by plunging another pin into their lifesize voodoo doll of Michael Grade.
Top 5 highlights of Doctor Who: The End Of The World
1 – The near-flawless special effects that encompassed a twirling space station, the end of the world, the robotic spiders, the most lurid menagerie of aliens since Jabba the Hutt’s palace, and Cassandra – the Zoe Wanamaker-voiced last human alive who was a piece of stretched skin with two eyes and a mouth.
2 – The demise of the malevolent Cassandra who, stripped of her aides to moisturise her, dried up and contracted sending her flesh flying through the air just missing the Doctor and Rose in one of the most pleasingly repulsive deaths since the Mr Chinnery-treated dog in the League of Gentlemen.
3 – It’s a shame Christopher Eccleston is quitting as his Doctor is rapidly becoming the essential draw of the whole show from his quirky humour, his flirtations with Jabe (a comely humanoid who was actually a tree descended from Earth’s tropical rainforests), his apparent guilt at his role in the near extinction of the Timelords, his absolute lack of mercy towards Cassandra and his Jerry Springer-like thought about the transience of existence at the end.
4 – The Doctor controlling his TARDIS by twirling handles and pushing and pulling levers as though it was an unreliable 19th century prototype steam engine rather than a time machine.
5 – Soft Cell’s Tainted Love being played as an example of a classic tune from Earth’s history.
Bottom 3 lowlights of Doctor Who: The End Of The World
1 – The use of Britney Spears’ Toxic to soundtrack the end of the world. While we appreciate the need to make the show as accessible as possible, employing this marketing ephemera as a classic that will survive to the end of time is completely ludicrous.
2 – The emphasis was still on formulating the Rose-Doctor chemistry and showing off the special effects meant the plot was a little thin once more. It basically amounted to a murder mystery with the suspects being some of the most grotesquely ugly creatures ever to besmirch a television screen. Only an Agatha Christie novel set at the World Darts Championship could be more gross.
3 – The sun-filter (a lethal lattice of lowering laser beams) in the steward’s office being set-off by one of the infiltrating spiders by the simple press of a button. If we had one such button on our keyboard we’d be in mortal danger each time we sat in front of our monitor.
Top 7 highlights of Doctor Who: The Unquiet Dead
1– The script by the League of Gentleman’s Mark Gatiss was certainly the most chilling of the series so far as the Doctor and Rose battled the gaseous Gelth who inhabited human corpses in a bid to cross to and invade Earth from a remote part of the universe.
2 – While the zombies were more the pallid species of 60s Hammer films rather than rippling with rotting flesh, they were quite scary – pitched at the half way house of horror between the lumbering, putrefying cadavers Night of the Living Dead and the glossy style-conscious automatons of Duran Duran’s Night Boat video.
3 – The dark atmosphere emphasised by the dim lighting, the nocturnal setting and the ominous ticking clocks.
4 – The dialogue. As the Doctor realises the TARDIS has not landed in glamorous Naples in 1860. Dr to Rose: “I’ve got the flight a bit wrong.” Rose: “I don’t care.” Dr: “It’s not 1860.” Rose: “I don’t care.” Dr: “And it’s not Naples.” Rose: “I don’t care.” Dr: “It’s Cardiff.” At which point Rose pulls a sullen face.
5 – The Doctor, or rather Charles Dickens (Simon Callow), using ingenuity rather than violence to neutralise the evil Gelth through releasing gas from the lights in the cellar where the aliens had cornered the Doctor and Rose. Admittedly, the Gelth were ultimately obliterated in a huge gas explosion, but the thought was there.
6 – The hints in the tale about the Time War, a mysterious narrative thread that will perhaps one day explain how the Timelords became extinct save for the Doctor.
7– The allusions, intentional or not, to the League of Gentlemen such as the Doctor seemingly appearing out of nowhere like Harvey Denton’s diabolical twins and when Gwyneth starts talking eerily and in wonder about the distant land of London like Tubbs.
Bottom 2 lowlights of Doctor Who: The Unquiet Dead
1 – The appalling pun of the Doctor, which was even scorned by Rose, as he pleaded with Dickens not to upset the psychic Gwyneth during the séance as he likes “a happy medium”.
2– Being a single episode once again gave the Doctor the character of an intergalactic postman, shoving salvation through the troubled doors throughout time and space before beaming onto his next delivery. Thankfully, the next story is a two-parter.
Top 5 highlights of Dr Who: The Aliens of London
1 – As The Aliens of London is spread over two parts, the pace of the drama was excellent and enabled the tension and sense of paranoia to slowly build as the
aliens gradually took over the British government by assassinating the prime minister and intelligence chiefs. It also left room for little sub-plots such as Mickey’s anger at how Rose’s disappearance for a year meant he was under suspicion of murdering her.
2 – The moment when the Slitheen revealed themselves was as scary as last week’s undead rising from the grave and will thankfully bring in more complaints of how young children are being terrified by the show. That’s the bloody point.
3 – The first episode’s ending had a proper cliffhanger as the Doctor and Rose were separately assailed by the Slithee (rather spoiled by the giveaway preview of next week’s episode – see below)
4 – The special effects were mostly brilliant – especially the spaceship smashing through St Stephen’s Tower (home of Big Ben, not Big Ben itself) and were complemented the sharp script. “The government are gathering together all the experts in aliens,” the Doctor beams to Rose. “And who’s the biggest expert of the lot?” “Patrick Moore,” she replies.
5. The apparent utter rejection of the Doctor’s history as he referred to the spacecraft crash as “Earth’s first contact” which disposes of the such things as the alien Loch Ness Monster swimming up the Thames in the mid-70s and the Christmas cracker rubber dinosaurs stomping around the capital shortly before that. Although we don’t count the Cybermen’s late-80s invasion of Earth in which they colonised a single warehouse and some sewer tunnels.
Bottom 5 lowlights of Dr Who: The Aliens of London
1 – The preview for next week’s episode showed the Doctor, Rose and Rose’s mum alive and well and even strongly hinted at how they escaped their respective predicaments. Yes we know they’re not going to die, but the whole point of having a cliffhanger is to get viewers to watch next week to see how the heroes extricate themselves. With this preview, there’s now no such incentive.
2 – Perhaps we’ve been spoiled by the excellent special effects so far, but to us the Slitheen were the most disappointingly realised aliens of the series looking more like men in rubber suits than malevolent bug-eyed monsters. Still, the CGI-animated hordes of Slitheen from next week’s episode appear to be much sleeker.
3 – The continuity from the original series is quite confusing. While the Doctor seems to have forgotten much of his past, he sometimes refers to it such as when he spoke about UNIT with whom he collaborated in the early 70s. And next week he meets a Dalek.
4 – The annoying farting by the aliens. Although it probably amused the kids who weren’t banned from watching by over-protective parents (ie 99 per cent of parents).
5 – The over-the-top performance by the acting prime minister (we think we’ve seen that guy before. wasn’t he the Cockney pretending to be a French chef in Family Affairs years ago?)
Top 5 highlights of Doctor Who: World War Three
1 – The way the whole tale of an alien invasion of London was faked by a family of extra-terrestrials called the Slitheen who hoped to start World War Three and leave the planet a radioactive husk which could then be plucked clean of its natural resources and sold across the galaxy (a service they were already advertising).
The Slitheen achieved this by taking over the government and lying about the threat from the aliens’ mothership, claiming they could launch a deadly assault “in 45 seconds” and humanity “faces extinction unless we strike first”, but was just a ruse to gain access to the nuclear codes to initiate the nuclear holocaust. And of course was in no way a satire of the Iraq war.
2 – Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor’s flippancy in the face of mortal danger which was one of Tom Baker’s most distinctive traits.
3 – The scene where the Doctor “narrowed down” the Slitheen’s planet of origin to determine their Achilles Heel. He eventually deduced they were a calcium-based life form and were vulnerable to acetic acid.
4 – After Mickey and Rose’s mother were informed by the Doctor of the Slitheens weakness, they dispatched the Slitheen attacking them by splashing it with pickled
onions, pickled eggs and other vinegar-based products causing it to explode into a satisfying mess of green jelly.
5 – Russell T Davies cunningly exploiting every child’s worst nightmare (the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) when the Slitheen taunted the trapped, but concealed, Rose and Harriet from their hiding places with the Child Catcher’s creepy dialogue.
Bottom 3 highlights of Doctor Who: World War Three
1 – The disparity between the sleek, lithe CGI-animated Slitheen, who resembled wild animals staking their prey, and the lumbering actors in huge clumsy suits.
2 – The regurgitation of the “every planet has a north” gag from episode one.
3 – More farting jokes.
Top 5 highlights of Doctor Who: Dalek
1 – The Dalek was very impressively realised andprovided a difficult adversary for the Doctor to tackle. The Dalek was innovative in its method of “exterminating” (setting off a sprinkler system in the bunker and then hovering before electrocuting the water and dispatching about 20 guards in an instant); was far more mobile than before as it could swivel its torso to direct blasts without the need to change direction; and even had a personality of sorts after it absorbed Rose’s DNA when she touched it, but this ultimately led to its suicide, assisted by Rose, after it felt tainted by human emotions.
2 – The moral dilemmas of Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor who closed the bunker doors to prevent the Dalek’s escape but consciously trapped the tardy Rose down there with it, and when the regal man of science became as belligerent and merciless as the Dalek to avenge the extermination of the Time Lords by his mortal foe in “the Great Time War”.
3 – The script in-jokes that debunked each flaw in the original Dalek’s design, often with violent relish, such as the technician mocked the Dalek’s sucker which subsequently crushed his face to a pulp and young boffin Adam (Bruno Langley) deriding the Dalek’s inability to scale stairs before it cackled “elevate” and hovered towards he and Rose. Although, as we observed in Dr Who Confidential, this defect was solved during Sylvester McCoy’s tenure as the Doctor.
4 – The classic bunker setting miles below the Earth’s surface in a complex run by Henry Van Statten who owned the internet and determined the identity of US presidents. And the environs were acutely exploited to their, slightly clichéd, dramatic ends when the Dalek drained the power.
5 – The flawless special effects from the Dalek smoothly gliding up the stairs, the chilling death ray that causes bodies to become transparent right down to the skeleton, the cyan-drenched Dalek’s eye view and the mutated Kaled inside the Dalek that looked like a pool of snot with an eye and tentacles.
Bottom 3 lowlights of Doctor Who: Dalek
1 – The female guard who “bravely” assaulted the Dalek armed only with a pea-shooter pistol having just seen about 30 heavily armed troops “exterminated” by the alien’s rapid firing death ray. Such stupidity in the face of hopeless odds was last observed by the taciturn Billy in Predator, with the same consequences – a blood-curdling off-screen scream of death.
2 – The mention of Roswell in the script. This supposed alien crash cover-up is now the dullest plot device in sci-fi and has been over-mined to the point when this once valuable dramatic resource is little more than celluloid fool’s gold. It might well be true, but any alien survivors of the accident would be regarded with such stale familiarity by a public so attritionally wearied of their tale their only recourse to enduring fame would be to go on “I’m A Celebrity…” (“So Nexus, you only managed to get five stars for the camp!”)
3 – The slight sense that the Dalek is a televisual anachronism and this episode resembled a modern day Rolling Stones concert as the Dalek belted out all the catchy tunes (“EX-TER-MIN-ATE!” “DOC-TOR!”) of its heyday to an adoring yet aging public, but without any contemporary conviction and was as bloated and as irrelevant as Keith Richards and Mick Jagger prancing around to Satisfaction.
Top 6 highlights of Doctor Who: The Long Game
1 – After the frenetic Dalek episode, the Long Game was plotted at a much more sedate pace that enabled a number of ideas to develop such as Adam Mitchell’s mendacity and the doomed Suki’s endeavour to free the world from the grip of the Editor and the Editor-in-Chief Max (a huge alien that seemed to be little more than a fang-filled mouth that lived in the ceiling of the Editor’s control room).
2 – The caustic allegory of how Satellite 5 broadcasts lies and distortions of the truth to suit their ideology and keep Earth’s inhabitants in a cowed state of unquestioning terror (“We create a climate of fear. Create an enemy, change a vote”).
3 – The very impressive and variegated sets of Satellite 5. Level 139, was essentially a bustling market populated by amorphous drones of humanity (we think they symbolised Daily Star readers) who existed on a diet of corrosive lies and unhealthy fast food diets (cronk burgers especially and beefy slush puppies), Level 16 where medical operations were carried out with an almost callous efficiency, was sterile and sparse. Level 500 was an icy environment where Editor Max (Simon Pegg, with all-black irises) and his undead journalists kept a tight leash on the perceptions and ideology of mankind.
4 – Bruno Langley’s turn as the devious Adam Mitchell who sought to transmit the technological advances of the future Earth to his telephone in 2012 England and so break the laws of time. This was also a cunning catalyst to concentrate the Doctor’s jealousy of Rose’s affection for the flawed boffin and exacerbate his rage when he discovered what Adam was doing.
5 – The Vomitamatizor that froze Adam’s sick into a neat capsule.
6 – Russel T Davies revealed the mystery of how Earth became enslaved by Max and how the beast became installed in the ceiling will be explained in a future episode.
The one lowlight of Doctor Who: The Long Game
1 – Even with Russell T Davies’ customary excellent script, one 45 minute episode wasn’t long enough for the able Simon Pegg to really terrify the audience as the Editor and never were the Doctor and Rose under any lethal threat from either him or Max.
Top 7 highlights of Father’s Day
1 – Even though the setting was mundane suburban London, little elements seeped into the narrative that gave a sense of weirdness long before the predatory reapers first appeared on screen such as Alexander Graham Bell’s first telephone message, The Streets on the radio 15 years before their first record and the playground surreptitiously picked clean of children by the stealthy reapers.
2 – The hardcore sci-fi time travel storyline was bounteously merged with a soapy script of Rose encountering her late father that never strayed into overt sentimentality and owed much to the superb performances of Billie Piper and Shaun Dingwall as Rose’s father Pete.
3 – The Doctor getting killed by the reapers. In fact, it was quite pleasing to observe how he was a relatively peripheral character with his only real task being to inform the terrified wedding guests of their peril.
4 – The conclusion was a satisfying variation on the classic dramatic theme of redemption, in which Pete was given the chance to be the hero to his daughter always believed him to be rather than the unfaithful, harebrained washout he actually was.
5 – The spoof survival dramas (think the Father Ted episode when priests were lost in the women’s lingerie store) in which the couple getting married related the tale of their romance to an admiring Doctor, who was moved by their belief that their lives don’t really matter. “Yes,” the Doctor beamed, “I’ll try and save you.”
6 – After Rose altered the course of time by saving her dad’s life, the Doctor returned to the TARDIS and found only a normal, empty police box.
7 – Rose’s mum Jackie’s confusion and disgust when Pete revealed the grown up Rose was his daughter. “That’s sick! How old must you have been? 12?”
Bottom 2 lowlights of Father’s Day
1 – Even though the conclusion was well-handled, it was fairly evident from about halfway that Pete would be the hero and sacrifice his own life by jumping in front of the car that killed him which was sporadically appeared driving around the church where everyone was trapped.
2 – Once the timeline had been corrected by Pete’s immolation, the reapers disappeared rather too quickly.
Top 7 highlights of Doctor Who: The Empty Child
1 – Dr Constantine’s (Richard Wilson) terrifying transformation from sick, amiable medic to plague-afflicted zombie through a gas mask emerging from his face in a morphing akin to An American Werewolf In London as the filter protruded through his mouth like a disgorged tennis ball while his eyes bulged and swelled until they had fully changed into
the empty reflective lenses.
2 – The two-part story enabled the application of a slowly building narrative that exploited the sinister Empty Child to chilling effect as he haunted London homes during the blitz. The affectation of him plaintively crying, “Are you my mummy?”, one of the least threatening and submissive phrases in the English language, added to the spookiness as did his ability to transmit his voice through the radio, the TARDIS’s telephone and the wind-up monkey toy.
3 – The extended time also meant Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) could be properly introduced as he tried to seduce Rose aboard his spaceship.
4 – And there was time to explore the character of Nancy as she doled out grub to starving children around a dinner table abandoned during an air raid to compensate for her guilt over her brother’s “death” (he was the first kid to become an Empty Child).
5 – The classic Doctor Who set up of separating the Doctor and his assistant early on to elicit two simultaneous tales that interweave and ultimately merge later on.
6 – The seemingly dead gas mask-wearing patients in the hospital sitting up to attention on their beds.
7 – The Doctor’s commemoration of Britain’s efforts to resist Hitler during World War Two, coming so close to the 60th anniversary of VE Day.
Bottom 3 lowlights of Doctor Who: The Empty Child
1 – The scene where Dr Constantine succumbed to the virus could have been even scarier but the BBC cut out the sound of his fracturing skull (although maybe it was never really there and rumours of this censorship have just been another cynical stratagem by the BBC’s relentless Dr Who publicity push).
2 – The cliff hanger was effective, but again ruined by the trailer for next week’s show. Saying “look away now” as a warning isn’t good enough.
3 – The Doctor exclaiming the way the gas masks are fused to the very skin of the plague victims as “impossible”. For an alien who regularly travels anywhere in time and space everything should be possible.
Top 5 highlights of Doctor Who: The Doctor Dances
1 – The happy ending where “everyone lives” after the Doctor identified that the cause of the plague was an infestation of alien nanobots who were altering humans’ appearance to match that of the little boy they found when they were released from their inter-galactic ambulance and took a gas-mask wearing, a shattered skull and a collapsed lung as typical of human DNA and set about “curing” everybody else.
2 – The Doctor and Captain Jack competing ferociously for the affections of Rose. Some indicators were more obvious than others, such as the variable effectiveness of the Rose’s suitors’ sonic tools; Jack had an impressive sonic cannon that could shoot through walls, while the Doctor had his little sonic screwdriver.
3 – Nancy’s clan of orphans getting spooked by the typewriter chattering away all by itself as the Empty Child operated it from afar.
4 – The zombies marching solemnly to prevent the Doctor, Jack and Rose from interfering with the crash site.
5 – The old lady who jubilantly addressed Dr Constantine after being cured by the nanobots. “My leg’s grown back.”
Highlights of Doctor Who: Boom Town
• The flippant tone of the first part of the episode in which the Doctor, Rose, Mickey and Jack conspired to snare the last member of the Slitheen on Earth who was planning to build an unstable nuclear power plant in the middle of Cardiff. The chase sequence was agreeably blithe and more resembled Scooby Doo or the Chuckle Brothers as a parody of more serious pursuits in which Mickey stumbled over some debris, Rose sent some neatly stacked paper flying and Jack hurdled an obstructive trolley.
• To follow the levity of the first part, the episode then became more dialogue-centric, which in the hands of Russell T Davies was as gripping and thought-provoking as you would anticipate. The captured Slitheen coerced the Doctor into taking her out for a meal in a restaurant where she cleverly pricked his conscience about the deaths he’d been responsible for as she sought to convince him not to take her back to her home planet where she was under sentence of death.
• The very silly technology that seemed to have been invented on the spot and was redolent of the Cat’s fantastical plans from Red Dwarf that were always callously deflated by Kryten. The best was the “pan-dimensional surfboard” which the Slitheen planned to use to surf the wave created by the Earth’s destruction to a new home in the stars.
• The Doctor coolly vanquishing the Slitheen’s last two desperate efforts to escape in the restaurant by casually plucking her poison dart out the air before nullifying her toxic breath by spraying a vial of perfume into her mouth.
• The lingering tourist-boardesque panning shots of Cardiff that could be read as a Thank-You from the BBC to the city for putting up with them filming for the best part of a year.
Highlights of Doctor Who: Bad Wolf/The Parting Of The Ways
• The Doctor’s sacrifice of transplanting the time vortex from Rose through a kiss and then regenerating into a bemused David Tenant.
• Unlike Oasis’s recent album, this Dalek invasion was a return to past glories as the Dalek fleet exterminated whole continents and executed the stragglers who were too slow to be evacuated. This was an improvement on their recent incursions in the late
80s in which about four of them pissed about in a small sewer in London’s Docklands.
• Lynda With A Y’s doom as she waited for the Daleks to burn their way through the door in her observation sanctuary, but then four Daleks appeared outside Satellite 5’s supposedly meteorite proof window and blasted the glazing away sucking her into space.
• The Doctor receiving another moral dilemma like naughty schoolkids receive lines; this time he had to wrestle with the decision to unleash his delta wave
that would annihilate the Daleks, but also Earth’s population or simply let the metal monsters exterminate humanity.
• While lip service was paid to the three reality shows parodied in the future – Big Brother, What Not To Wear and Weakest Link – none of them intruded on the momentum of the narrative and actually enhanced the mystery of the plot.
• The golden Daleks spewing out of their ships like chunky urine.
• The revelation that the oblique mystery of Bad Wolf was in fact goddess Rose’s attempt to ensure she didn’t forget to save the Doctor spread throughout time like a fragmented historical post-it note.
• Anne Droid dematerialising two Daleks before a third blasted her head off.
• Mickey’s efforts to vandalise the TARDIS by attaching a chain to his mini, and then Rose’s mum turning up with a huge lorry.
• The Daleks starting up a football chant of exterminate as they gathered in their spaceships to prepare their invasion of Earth.
• The eerie, unique Dalek architecture in their spaceship.
• The way in which Female Programmer and Male Programmer were killed off in the great tradition of sci-fi stereotypical cannon fodder. FP disabled a Dalek with a lucky hit and was exterminated as she celebrated, while the distraught MP descended into a frenzy of deluded rage like Hudson in Aliens before being blasted too.
Lowlights of Dr Who:
• Because of the preview after the penultimate episode, everyone knew the Daleks were behind the Doctor, Rose and Jack’s kidnapping and it was really just waiting for their grating metallic voices to pierce our TVs. Which was a pity, as the script was structured to keep secret the Daleks with their first on-screen appearance being a blurred reflection of their distinctive bodies.
• The pathetic efforts of Captain Jack’s motley crew as they attempted to repel the Daleks with machine guns and met the same predictable fate as those troops who forlornly used the same tactics against the “Last Dalek”.
• Rose turning into an omnipotent goddess who was able to disintegrate the Daleks and their craft with little more than a thought seemed to be a bit of a cheat. It was saved by what followed, but there must have been a better way to dispatch the Daleks through ingenuity rather than the sci-fi equivalent of the diplomatic veto.
• The Doctor was again indirectly killed. He has yet to fall to a simple laser blast or death ray (Sylvester McCoy doesn’t count), and like Peter Davison and Jon Pertwee before him, Christopher Eccleston succumbed to a lethal dose of energy in some altruistic gesture to save an assistant/the world.
• While the Emperor Dalek wasn’t a disappointment in itself, we had believed from the previews that it might be the return of their creator Davros, provoking an independent primal urge to seek shelter behind the nearest settee.