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Dalek (Doctor Who episode)

"Dalek" is an episode in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who that was first broadcast on 30 April 2005. It should not be confused with the first Dalek serial, The Daleks. This episode is the first appearance of Bruno Langley as companion Adam Mitchell.

The episode is set in Utah in the year 2012, in the underground bunker owned by Henry van Statten, a billionaire collector of alien artifacts. After one of his exhibits, "the Metaltron" (actually a dalek) escapes, the Doctor races against time to stop it from surfacing and wreaking havoc against humanity.

Plot

Synopsis

The TARDIS is drawn off course by a distress signal, and materialises in a bunker in Utah, 2012. The Doctor and Rose Tyler find that the bunker is a museum, full of alien artifacts. An alarm is immediately set off, and they are taken to see the owner of the Vault — Henry van Statten, a billionaire collector of alien artifacts. Impressed with the Doctor's extraterrestrial knowledge, he invites the Doctor to see the "Metaltron", a creature he claims is the last of its kind. The Doctor enters the "Cage", where the creature is held, and begins to speak to it. The Doctor realises it is a Dalek, and attempts to kill it to purge the Dalek race forever, before being stopped by van Statten's guards.

Meanwhile, Adam Mitchell is showing Rose around the base. Adam shows her the Dalek, being tortured by a technician to force it to speak. Sympathetically, Rose asks to be taken down to the Cage to help the Dalek. Rose then touches the Dalek casing, which immediately absorbs her DNA and background radiation (a radiation that is picked up in mass quantities from time travel, and is the Daleks' sole power source). It escapes from its cage and downloads the entire internet, realizing that it is the only Dalek left. In response, the area is evacuated, and guards focus fire upon it, to no effect. The Dalek demands to speak to the Doctor, and tells him that it was able to regenerate its casing, but was unable to find any other Daleks or orders, and will follow the default function: destruction.

As Rose and Adam are escaping from the Dalek, the Doctor tries to stall to save them. Adam escapes, but Rose is cornered by the Dalek and is seemingly exterminated. Horrified, the Doctor blames van Statten for everyone's deaths. However, the Dalek has not killed Rose, as her DNA is making it hesitant. It instead negotiates, trading her life for access past the bulkheads which are obstructing its way. The Dalek then travels to van Statten's office, and is about to kill him before Rose intervenes and offers the Dalek its wish: freedom.

On the highest level of the museum, the Dalek creates a hole and feels sunlight for the first time. The Doctor arrives, gun in hand, and orders Rose to move. Rose refuses; the Dalek is changing, as it could not kill her or van Statten. Appalled at his own actions, he lowers his weapon. Both he and the Dalek realise that the Dalek is mutating further, and is becoming unable to conform to the Dalek objective. It asks Rose to order its death, and after being given the order, annihilates itself.

At the end of the episode, van Statten's assistant Diana Goddard orders van Statten's mind wiped and the vault filled with concrete. At the TARDIS, the Doctor ruefully observes that as the last survivor of the Time War, he "wins". Adam comes by, telling the Doctor that Goddard is sealing the base. Rose invites Adam aboard the TARDIS, which he enters with a puzzled expression before it dematerialises.

Continuity

The Dalek ability to fly or hover dates back to The Chase, where a Dalek was implied to have taken flight, while in Revelation of the Daleks, a Dalek hovered to exterminate two victims. The first part of the 1988 serial Remembrance of the Daleks shows a Dalek who was clearly seen to hover up a flight of stairs to the Doctor's horror. Rose and Adam allude to a long-held fan joke about the Daleks' inability to climb stairs, and are horrified when it does so.

The museum's display items feature the arm of a Slitheen (Raxacoricofallapatorian) from Aliens of London, which Rose recognises, and something that the Doctor refers to as "An old friend, well, enemy… " – it is a Cyberman head (from Revenge of the Cybermen, but labelled on its display case with reference to The Invasion).

The call sign for van Statten's personal helicopter was "Bad Wolf One", a recurrent phrase throughout the first series. An excerpt from the cold open is used in "Bad Wolf", where Rose recalls where she had encountered the phrase before.

Production

Conception

Rob Shearman, the writer of the episode, had his first encounter with the revived series of Doctor Who in 2003 after he created the Sixth Doctor audio Jubilee. Executive producer Russell T Davies drew heavily on Jubilee to create "Return of the Daleks" for his pitch to the BBC, a story which Davies hoped to recreate the menace shown by the Daleks in their 1963 debut The Daleks. The adventure changed the setting from the alternate Earth in Jubilee to 2010 Utah, with the lone Dalek featured being held captive by a billionaire called Will Fences, a caricature of Microsoft's chairman Bill Gates.

The script went through several changes. The story itself was initially called "Creature of Lies", and Van Statten was originally called Mr Duchesne. For a short period of time, Adam was van Statten's son, but Shearman decided against it. The most notable change to the script happened when the Nation estate, holders of the rights for the Daleks, blocked the use of the Daleks due to the BBC licensing them out too much. The changed story, named "Absence of the Daleks", contained an alien akin to a child who kills for pleasure, which eventually evolved into the Toclafane from "The Sound of Drums" and "Last of the Time Lords". Fortunately, the BBC were able to secure the rights from the Nation estate, and at the same time gave the episode its final name, "Dalek".

Filming

The episode was placed in the third production block, along with "Father's Day" and "The Long Game", the latter taken out due to delays in special effects creation. The episode's placement in the series was intentional so as to stave off the inevitable mid-series drop in viewership, although the BBC suggested that the episode be the premiere. Filming of the episode began on 25 October 2004 at the National Museum Cardiff, before moving to the Millennium Stadium the following day, where most of the episode was filmed. Most of the filming finished on 3 November 2004, with pick-up shots completed at the show's studio space in Newport throughout the remainder of the month.

Broadcast and reception

Criticism

Before the broadcast, media watchdog organisation mediawatch-uk (the successor to Mary Whitehouse's National Viewers' and Listeners' Association) complained about certain elements of the episode, characterising Van Statten's chaining and invasive scan of the Doctor as a "sado-masochistic" torture scene. Mediawatch also objected to Van Statten's invitation to Adam and Rose to "canoodle or spoon, or whatever you Brits do" as inappropriate sexual language.

When it was released on DVD, British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) gave the episode a 12 rating, because of the scenes where the Doctor is seen to torture the Dalek. The BBFC stated:

"We are concerned about role models for children using the sort of tactics that Doctor Who used against the Dalek. If that was transferred into the playground it would be something we would want to tackle."

Critical reception and awards

Reception to the episode was positive. The episode's overnight ratings was 8.73 million viewers, 46% of the audience share, a figure that was finalised to 8.64 million viewers. The Times stated that the episode was an "unqualified triumph". The Guardian commented that "Shearman's script bamboozles expectations", and the episode "should hopefully show 2005's kids what was always so wonderful about the iconic tin-rotters.". The London Evening Standard found the lack of surprise (namely, calling the episode "Dalek") the only disappointment, and The Mirror simply stated it was "for 30 pant-shittingly wonderful minutes, BBC1's new Doctor Who was the best thing on telly. Ever.

The episode was nominated for the 2006 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form along with other Doctor Who episodes "Father's Day" and "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances". The stories came third, fifth, and first, respectively.

References

External links

Reviews

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