Guest Contributor, Amy TARDIS wonders what it would take to restore the Daleks to their godlike status.
Daleks. Doctor Who’s most infamous and loved monsters of all time. But something has changed. These once captivating creatures that once enthralled the nation with no more than a sink plunger have now deteriorated into no more than a nostalgic pepper pot that seems to be compulsory each series. But what has made the Daleks lose their spark and how can we return them back to their former glory?
It’s hard to believe it’s been over 50 years since the genius minds of Terry Nation and Raymond Cusick invented the most feared beings in the universe that have stayed with the show all the way up to its revival in 2005. Daleks are without a doubt one of my favourite villains of all the time. From the claustrophobic corridors of Skaro, the Thousand Year War of Kaleds vs Thals and The Last Great Time War; the Daleks have captivated me ever since I watched the show 11 years ago with their fascinating and unique history. Unfortunately, every time I see a Dalek in a new trailer or announced for a new episode nowadays; I can’t help that sigh at the sight of their typical and repetitive return.
This dates back to 2010 when the show got a breath of fresh air in form of new head writer: Steven Moffat. Undoubtedly Series 5 began with a brilliant start of The Eleventh Hour (however accompanied by the not so brilliant The Beast Below that followed after). The Daleks made their reappearance as the
Teletubbies, I mean Paradigm Daleks in its third episode Victory of the Daleks. The episode began with a great start until the monstrosity was unveiled in the form of the Paradigm Daleks in multiple eye-watering colours. I remember being amazed (for all the wrong reasons) of how the show humiliated these beloved villains. From then on, the Daleks went downhill…
When growing up with the Daleks back in the RTD era, every season they appeared in was something new and re-inventive. In Dalek they were introduced for the first time to the modern audience, in Series 2 the Cult of Skaro was introduced, Series 3 the Dalek Hybrid, and in Series 4 their creator Davros returned. From then onwards, I’ve found that nothing has changed with the Daleks and they are getting predictable and are certainly not exterminating as much as they used to.
From what I’ve noticed from every Dalek story these days is the writers believe the more Daleks that are on screen the better. Personally I believe this is completely false and is without a doubt the opposite way round. A story that springs to mind is the episode Dalek where just one Dalek was written as a massive threat and had the ability to destroy lives so easily. Robert Shearman (previously known for his works on Big Finish such as Jubilee and The Holy Terror) created a gripping and astonishing story that will forever be a classic. This is so much more terrifying seeing what a single Dalek can do than a whole parliament of Daleks doing nothing. In comparison to more recent works such as Asylum of the Daleks and The Magicians Apprentice; Daleks appear to be there merely for fan service and to keep the fans hook by bringing back the classic designs too.
The question is: How can we improve the Daleks? Surprisingly the answer is rather simple. What got audiences hooked all those years ago? What made us fans treasure the Daleks as the ultimate villains to our favourite show? What word echoes through school playgrounds when Doctor Who was at a high? The answer is: Exterminate.
Since The Stolen Earth and Journey’s End, I’ve never seen the Daleks as ruthless as they used to be. The closest we’ve gotten to a brutal story is Into the Dalek yet the Dalek Rusty turned good and killed characters who barely said a line. The Magicians Apprentice is also an example when Missy and Clara were exterminated yet has no lasting impact as they survived. Every recent Dalek story has given them no justice. The only way I think these iconic villains can be saved from their own success is if they get a long break for a several years. This way more people will be yearning for the Daleks return instead of uncaring of their next appearance. Another way Daleks can be improved is if the Daleks kill a character we care about. This can be anyone from a one-off story or even a companion. Personally I hoped in The Magicians Apprentice Clara would have really been killed; making the Doctor powerless and truly showing the power the Daleks have.
To conclude, Daleks need a restart. Do remember when Daleks returning was enormous occasion that was the biggest part of the series? It’s now almost 8 years since The Stolen Earth and Journey’s End when they were given a story were they were the most evil beings of all time and space. I think it’s time for a break.