Doctor Who 3.4: Daleks in Manhattan review

Review

Daleks in ManhattanDaleks in Manhattan review

Dalek Caan: This is the dawn of a new age.

Production Code: 3.4.
Doctor Who Season: S29 (Ep4).
Story Number: 182a.

The Daleks Take Manhattan…

“It’s funny ‘cause you see all those old newsreels in black and white like it’s so far away, but here we are. It’s real. It’s now.” It starts well. Freema manages to convey some of the wonder of a companion stepping out into the past, and the actual filming from New York for the background imagery looks great. (None of the lead actors were actually there though, and it’s a Cardiff Park rather than New York’s Central Park that the Doctor and Martha are striding through.)
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It’s 1930, the year after the Wall Street Crash, and so there are echoes with the economic crash of recent years (writing this in 2012) that weren’t there on this episode’s broadcast in 2007.

The shantytown of the “huddled masses” is contrasted against the opulence of the Empire State Building – which was completed in 1931, so they do have the dates right for this Doctor Who story. Why exactly was this combination of Daleks and Empire State chosen as the core of this two-parter? (The previous three stories having strong central ideas like “one Dalek”, “lots of Daleks in space” and “Cybermen vs Daleks”. Not that this isn’t a strong idea for story.) It seems unlikely that RTD would be unaware of the Daleks’ encounter with the Empire State in the Sixties Doctor Who story The Chase. Maybe that the was the genesis of this story.

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“My planet is gone… Destroyed in a great war. Yet versions of this city stand throughout history. The Human race always continues”. Dalek Caan laments the Daleks’ fate of recent Doctor Who stories. In a break from continuity though, it seems that four Daleks are no longer enough to conquer a planet. One of the core ideas of the story Dalek was that the Earth should fear one Dalek, and Doomsday saw four Daleks confident against millions of Cybermen.picspics

Whether this reflects a loss of confidence from this Cult of Skaro or just a new way of thinking or both isn’t clear.

Tallulah’s big show number “My Angel Put The Devil In Me” looks great, though the actual process in which the “Devil” Dalek Sec merges with Diagoras looks less great. Still, an interesting first half. A cliffhanger. What would the second episode be like?

Rating: 3/5

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(Daleks in Manhattan on bbc.co.uk/programmes/)

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