Doctor Who – Why do Daleks need their Casings?

Ever wondered why Daleks need their casings? Find out here on Sacred Icon:

The 2019 New Year’s Special of Doctor Who featured the return of the Daleks and the introduction of a new Dalek variant – the Recon Scout, a mutant with genetic modifications and extra abilities that allow it to survive in almost any environment, as well as allowing it to exist outside of its casing.

However, this does seem to contradict Doctor Who lore, as historically the Daleks have been confined to their casings, so is this a mistake? Well, to answer that question, let’s first dive in and explain why the Daleks actually need their casings to begin with.

Locked inside a Cold, Metal Cage

A Dalek with its casing open

The Daleks originated on Skaro, a planet ravaged by nuclear and chemical warfare, as the result of experiments conducted by Davros that focused on adapting the existing races of the planet so that they could survive in the polluted and ruined atmosphere. The idea behind this was that, once the war was over, some form of life had to survive to live on otherwise the entire conflict would have been meaningless. However, in the process Davros created a monstrous creature that lived to hate and required a life support machien to survive.

Though it might seem ironic that Davros’ attempts to create the ultimate creature ended up creating a race that were dependent on life support to exist, Davros countered this by also inventing the ultimate weapon – the Dalek shell, a self-supporting battle tank with extremely powerful weapons, armour and shields. In many ways, the Dalek mutant and the casing are intrinsically linked, to the extent that in the Big Finish Audio Story In Remembrance, an Imperial warrior states that “A Dalek is it’s casing”, further solidifying the idea that, to the Daleks, their casing is almost like an extension of itself.

Daleks and Their Casings

Nonetheless, the casing is not always necessary for a Daleks’ survival. In past episodes of the show we have seen that some Daleks are capable of surviving outside of their shells for some time, as was seen in Resurrection of the Daleks, Twice Upon a Time and Resolution. But how is this possible when the casing provides such essential life support? The answer to this question varies depending on the context and the episode – in some cases Daleks have been seen to adapt to life outside their casings over time, and in other cases the Daleks are capable of temporarily leaving their casings.

A Dalek creature inside the open casing

Either way, the primary purpose of the Dalek’s casing is to provide life support – that was its primary function before the Daleks even adapted for interstellar warfare. Daleks have also been known to use their casings to depict rank or allegiance. This was certainly the case with Supreme Daleks, and in the case of important individual Daleks such as the Dalek Time Controller or Dalek Sec. During the Imperial-Renegade Dalek Civil War, the different Dalek factions were denoted by their different-looking casings, that each sported their own unique colour scheme and overall design.

The Paradigm Daleks used bright colours to determine rank among their limited number, and their casing deviated radically from that of the standard Dalek of that era to denote their unique position in Dalek society. Despite these differences, the overall design of the standard Dalek casing has always remained constant. The Daleks have no desire to adapt the shape or design of their casings, and they see any attempt to do so as an abhorrent deviation, except in the most dire of circumstances. Daleks view themselves to be the supreme beings in the universe, so they revere imagery of their own casings, building skyscrapers in an image that resembles them, both on Earth and even on Skaro itself. Overall, it’s safe to say that the Dalek casing is an important part of the Dalek itself.

Battle Armour and Immense Firepower

In keeping with their philosophy of Extermination of all other life forms, the Dalek casing is built to be the ultimate death machine. The primary armament is a gunstick fitted into the left-hand ball-jointed socket on the front of the Dalek. This weapon fires an energy blast that can be tuned and modified to suit the needs of the Dalek in the current situation. Their first on-screen use was to stun humanoids by disabling their legs temporarily.

A Dalek fires its energy blast…

When used at full power, however, the Dalek’s death ray can instantly kill almost any life form in a single blast, which liquefies the internal organs of the victim causing intense agony followed by a sudden death. The blast can be altered in strength to quicken the death of the victim, disintegrate targets, cut through metal or cause intense explosions, or modified in delivery by either a projectile or beam-shaped blast.

…and the target is Exterminated.

Not only that, but the Dalek is also armed with a strong manipulator arm with a flexible gripper that can assume almost any shape, either to interface with complex mechanism or to crush the heads of humanoids in close-quarters combat. The Dalek is protected by an energy shield that absorbs energy-based projectiles and disintegrates incoming ballistic-based projectiles and vaporises living things that get too close when used at full power. Not only that, but the casing’s armour itself can withstand most projectiles. Needless to say, the Dalek’s casing is a catch-all tool for hunting down and exterminating prey on the ground. But the Daleks would never stop there.

Defeating the Flight of Stairs

The Dalek casing moves about using heavy lifters beneath the casing that can be intensified to allow the Dalek to fly. This allows Daleks to essentially become airborne fight craft, that can also double as bombers if their weapons are used at full power.

Daleks in Space

This feature also allows the Dalek to fly up stairs, navigate potentially difficult environments, and even function in space. When flying through space, Daleks are surprisingly fast, and are often deployed en masse from Dalek saucers and used in ship-to-ship combat.

Due to their enhanced mobility and ability to make their casings air-tight, Daleks can also function underwater if necessary. Certain models of Dalek are adapted specifically for underwater environments, as the Dalek Empire will conquer and destroy ocean worlds just as freely as any human colony or tropical paradise.

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Doctor Who – Into the Dalek Review

The Moffat era was somewhat sparse when it came to quality Dalek stories – which is surprising, considering Steven Moffat himself was such a fan of them. Throughout this era, particularly Matt Smith’s era, Moffat almost took the Daleks for granted, as when they did appear, the episodes were rarely about them specifically in the way that an episode like 2005’s Dalek was. As such, Into the Dalek, the second episode of the divisive Series 8, comes as somewhat of a refreshing change compared to earlier Moffat-era Dalek stories, as this episode is all about one very specific Dalek, and gives us a closer look at the inner workings of a Dalek than we have ever seen before. But how does this episode stand up, nearly five years later?

The Opening

It makes sense to start at the start, and one of the most eye-catching things about Into the Dalek is the opening scene, which immediately grabs your attention in a manner similar to that of Star Wars: A New Hope, as we are shown the tiny human ship desperately trying to outrun a massive Dalek Saucer in an asteroid field. The low angled shots of the Dalek ship effortlessly ploughing through the asteroids as the human ship dodges and weaves around them depict the near-unstoppable power of the Dalek Empire, and how ill-equipped the humans are to deal with the threat. The rapid cuts to the cockpit of the ship, showing pilot Journey Blue trying to radio her command ship, attend to her dying brother and fly the ship all at once furthers the idea that the Humans are vastly outgunned when compared to the cuts to the clean, efficient Dalek bridge.

We see a Dalek move towards a control panel, it shrieks its familiar cry, and Journey’s ship is finally destroyed. But the flash of her exploding ship morphs into the familiar spinning lights of the TARDIS, as she wakes up on the floor with the Twelfth Doctor stood at the controls, holding coffee. This image is one of the enduring impressions that this episode leaves, as it is a truly memorable opening sequence that is sadly underappreciated. Peter Capaldi gives a stern rebuke to Journey’s attempts to order him around at gunpoint, which serves as the introduction to the theme of this episode, the idea of the folly of the military and soldiers in general, and as if to ram this point home, following the title sequence, we immediately cut to Danny Pink in the playground of Coal Hill School, ordering children about like a drill sergeant.

Danny Pink

Opinions on Danny Pink and his relationship with Clara seem to vary among fans. On the one hand, he was an honest attempt at developing a character that was unaware of the space-and-time antics and had to be kept in the dark as a series arc, something that had not really been done since Series 4 as Moffat seemed to sway away from the Earth-based parental angle of the Russel T. Davies era and instead kept the majority of his domestics in the TARDIS. But on the other hand, although it is a refreshing change to introduce this kind of character, many have argued that his characterisation was painfully flimsy and that he was underdeveloped – which is hard to argue with. It has to be noted that the Earth-based scenes in this episode were written by Steven Moffat, and these few short minutes focusing on Danny are packed with Moffat tropes from conversational faux-pas to the classic cutting ahead and flashing back routine, so these scenes can be skipped if this sort of thing isn’t for you.

Clara and the Doctor

Another controversial thing about this era is Clara, as opinions on her are widely divided. The best way to think of Clara is as New Who’s Peri – her character is who she is, and is unapologetic about it, whether you like it or not. Ironically, she was first introduced as the most basic, generic, cardboard-cutout companion you could imagine, but during the Capaldi era she is given a chance to actually establish her own character, and Moffat takes the opportunity that any of us would as showrunner, and wrote a companion with serious personality flaws to play out how they clash with the Doctor. He did this knowing that kind of Doctor-Companion relationship doesn’t appeal to all fans, but took the chance, which is commendable. The result is a strange mix of genuinely heartfelt acts of kindness displayed by the Doctor and Clara to each other, to them arguing or falling out or manipulating each other.

As such, they are perhaps the closest thing that we will get to a Sixth Doctor and Peri homage in the New Series, and Into the Dalek shows this down to a tee – the Doctor is melancholy and brooding in the TARDIS, and the companion is attempting emotional support with little success. For those who have seen it, this scene mirrors a similar one in Vengeance on Varos, arguably the best Sixth Doctor TV story, although the topic in question is markedly different. In Varos, the Doctor is facing the idea that the TARDIS has died mid-flight and stranded them in the Vortex, whilst in Into the Dalek, the Doctor is confounded at the possibility of a ‘Good’ Dalek that has made him begin to doubt his own morality. In a way, it is a good problem to throw at a new Doctor, particularly a more grumpy incarnation who is unsure of himself. After all, if a more mean and standoffish version of the Doctor met a ‘Good’ Dalek, who would be the better person of the two? Speaking of the ‘Good’ Dalek:

Rusty the Dalek

Rusty is a rare example of a depiction of an ‘individual’ Dalek, arguably the best way a Dalek can be depicted in the series, as it is by far the most interesting way to portray them. All the best Dalek introspectives have focused on the morality or decisions of a single Dalek, be it the Dalek from Jubilee, the Metaltron, Dalek Sec, and in this case, Rusty. The title Into the Dalek is fitting for more reasons than just the obvious.

The Dalek philosophy is fundamentally challenged in this episode, and it is hard to decide whether Rusty’s sudden change of heart is madness or morality. There have been a few instances of the ‘single captured Dalek’ plot in past Dalek stories, such as Jubilee, The Dalek Transaction and Dalek. But Into the Dalek puts a unique spin on the idea, making Rusty a memorable Dalek in his own right. The effort that went into painstakingly constructing the Dalek prop for this story is impressive, and can be read about in detail in Dalek 63 88’s excellent segment on how Rusty was built using materials to hand.

Maximum Extermination

Another aspect to this story that makes it important in the chronology of Dalek episodes in Moffat’s era is the fact that it features the extermination effect, a staple of successful Dalek stories in early NuWho but sadly neglected during the tenure of the Eleventh Doctor. In fact, the extermination effect had not been used since Series 5. Rusty’s rampage through the Human ship, followed by the climactic battle between the Daleks and the Human soldiers, marks the first time the Daleks are seen doing what they are supposed to do on-screen in a long time.

Not only that, but the exceptional use of model shots during these action scenes is inspirational. The team used 12-inch RC Daleks for the bridge scene and again in the boarding corridor scene, and the results are really good. Practical effects are used for when Rusty turns on the Daleks and destroys them all, and the special effects team made excellent use of a stunt Dalek blown up in several different ways to depict the Dalek Assault Squad being destroyed one by one.

The result of this hard work is something truly special – a Dalek action sequence made in the spirit of Classic Who, but one that is exciting enough to be engaging for modern audiences. And overall, this same praise can be extended to Into the Dalek as a whole, as the episode does a great job of bridging the familiar with the unusual and its creative ideas are executed brilliantly thanks to the inspired work of Doctor Who’s behind-the-scenes team.

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Doctor Who – Series 9 Daleks Explained

The mutual love of the Classic Series that both Steven Moffat and Peter Capaldi shared meant that the Twelfth Doctor’s era was packed with Classic Who references. Arguably the most overt were the appearance of several classic monsters, such as the Mondasian Cybermen, and spiritual sequels to several classic episodes, such as Genesis of the Daleks being continued in The Magician’s Apprentice and The Witch’s Familiar. The latter two-part story features the appearance of several iconic Dalek designs, seemingly with little explanation as to why they appear. Variants such as the Special Weapons Dalek, a Renegade Dalek, 1960s Dead Planet Daleks and even Dalek Sec. But why are so many different types of Daleks featured in this episode?

The Asylum Problem

The real-world answer for the diverse variety of Daleks in this story is that the production team, particularly Moffat himself, decided to use more Classic Daleks in response to the poor reception of Asylum of the Daleks. The dark lighting and dulling-down of the paint jobs on the props in the Asylum meant that they were difficult to recognise in the episode, and their limited screentime coupled with the fact that the Special Weapons Dalek was completely idle was seen as somewhat of a missed opportunity by fans. So, when the next chance to introduce more kinds of Daleks to New Who came along, Moffat took it.

The fact that the Series 9 opener featured the Dalek central control on Skaro meant that there was now a chance to populate the set with Classic Daleks in a well-lit atrium, rather than a dank dusty chamber. The Dalek props were sourced from a variety of collectors and prop manufacturers, and a few were even hired from novelty businesses. Some were accurate representations of Classic Daleks, such as the Renegade Dalek and Special Weapons Dalek props, but others were modified varieties, such as the bright blue 1960s Daleks. But what was the lore reason behind these Classic Daleks showing up again after all these years?

The New Dalek Paradigm

As of Victory of the Daleks, it can be assumed that the Daleks featured in the New Series are all members of the New Dalek Paradigm. It has been shown that the Progenitor Daleks and the Bronze Daleks are part of the same faction in the Dalek Parliament, and depending on when The Magician’s Apprentice and The Witch’s Familiar is set in the Dalek timeline, it could be that Skaro had been rebuilt for hundreds, even thousands of years before the Twelfth Doctor arrived to meet Davros. It is even possible that the Classic Daleks seen in the episode are survivors from previous wars that are kept safe at the heart of the Empire, as a form of experienced Elder Council. Or, the Daleks have been snatched from their own timeline to add their DNA to the pure Dalek race. Either way, it would seem that Bronze and Classic casings have replaced the Paradigm designs in the new Dalek regime.

However, it is clear from behind the scenes images that the Paradigm Daleks were on set, suggesting that they were originally to be included in the episode but were pulled at the last minute. As a previous Sacred Icon theory post suggested, the Paradigm could now be an elite time-travelling Dalek caste similar to the Time Controllers and Time Strategists of the Big Finish Audios. In that sense, the mainline Dalek Empire is composed of Bronze Daleks, with Classic Daleks appearing in the safe depths of Dalek space. Meanwhile, the Paradigm Daleks travel up and down the timeline, interfering when they see fit.

Russell-era Daleks

Another interesting addition to the Daleks seen in Series 9, however, are a particular set of Russell-era Daleks. The same kind of Dalek Supreme seen in The Stolen Earth and Journey’s End also appears here, although it is clearly a different individual as it displays a distinctly different personality from its 2009 predecessor. Whilst the previous Supreme shunned Davros and locked him away, the Series 9 Supreme shows Davros more respect and even praises him. The return of the red Supreme Dalek in this episode is a welcome addition, and is a clear deviation from the consistent use of the White Paradigm Supreme in the Matt Smith era.

The other significant Russell-era Dalek is the distinctive Dalek Sec, and as another theory post suggested, the fact that the Black Dalek featured here is definitely Sec going by the identification tag means that this Dalek is in fact Sec at a point in his timeline either before the events of Doomsday or, more likely, between Doomsday and Daleks in Manhattan. This is interesting as it suggests that the Cult of Skaro could have had more exploits between the ones we see on-screen that could potentially be developed in a Big Finish audio series.

Skaro Shenanigans

So now that the appearances of the forms of Dalek seen in Series 9 have been explained, hopefully the reasoning behind Steven Moffat’s decision to include them seems more clear. Many fans would agree that the appearance of Daleks from different eras of the show in the New Series is definitely welcome, but perhaps it should be used more sparingly. Hopefully if the Daleks return to battle the Thirteenth Doctor again, they adopt a standardised design whilst still retaining varieties like the Supreme Dalek and the Special Weapons Dalek, but fans can only hope.

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Doctor Who – NEW Big Finish audio brings back Classic Who’s most infamous Supreme Dalek

Needless to say fans are excited about the return of this popular Dalek, but why is this particular Supreme Dalek so special?

Although the Daleks feature prominently in many of Big Finish’s Doctor Who Spinoff Audios, such as the Time War audios, it is a relatively rare occurence for the Daleks to feature in the monthly range. As the range approaches its 20th Birthday this year, it is interesting to look back on how the range has used the Daleks sparingly in the past compared to the current incarnation of the TV series. However, since it has been over a year since the last Monthly Range Dalek story, fans were teased with the title of August’s monthly release earlier this year, a Sixth Doctor story with the title: ‘Emissary of the Daleks’.

Fans are always quick to begin theorising over what the latest ‘of the Daleks’ buzzword actually means, with varying degrees of success. So far, all we really know about the story itself is that it stars the Sixth Doctor and Peri, and has something to do with someone acting as a go-between for the Daleks and another race, although even that is somewhat of a vague premise. All that changed with the reveal of the cover art, the first example of a Monthly Range Dalek story using the new Series 11 branding and logo, but the thing that really has fans talking is the inclusion of a specific and infamous Dalek on the cover – the Dalek Council Representative from Planet of the Daleks.

For those not in the know, this specific Supreme Dalek appeared in the 1973 Jon Pertwee story after Dalek activity on the planet Spiridon was disrupted by the Doctor, Jo and several Thals. Arriving on the planet in dramatic fashion in one of the most impressive uses of spaceship model shots in the era, the Supreme Dalek certainly made its mark on viewers with its unique appearance. The prop used for this Supreme was one of Terry Nation’s Movie Daleks painted black and gold, meaning that it is one of the most unique Daleks to appear in Classic Who and, in typical Classic Supreme style, he never appeared again after his first appearance.

Needless to say fans are excited about the return of this popular Dalek, but a logical question to ask would be: Why is this particular Supreme Dalek so special? After all, there were many Supreme Daleks in the Classic series, and there have been even more since the revival. The answer is in this Supreme Dalek’s attitude – thoughout Planet of the Daleks this Supreme is particularly ruthless – even by Dalek standards. He brutally murders his immediate subordinate for failing to capture the Doctor, and very nearly wipes out the entire population of the planet. After being thwarted and having his ship stolen by Thals, the Supreme Dalek is last seen plotting revenge of swearing the supremacy of the Dalek race, setting up a rematch with the Doctor that, sadly, never occured on-screen.

However, this distinctive Dalek Commander will hopefully be getting his chance at payback in Big Finish’s Emissary of the Daleks, as since we have never seen another Supreme Dalek quite like this one, there is a good chance that it is actually the same character. If so, this will be a rare example of a specific Dalek recurring in multiple stories. As the Dalek occupation of Spiridon was thwarted in another Big Finish story, it will be interesting to see what this Supreme has been up to, and given the sign warning of dangerous ‘Vitanium’ mining on the cover, it would seem this Supreme hasn’t lost his perhant for exploiting the natural resources of innocent planets. Hopefully Nick Briggs will also give his best shot at imitating the Pertwee-era Daleks’ distinctive voices as the pièce de résistance of this exciting-looking Dalek story.

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Doctor Who – Resolution of the Daleks

Though it has been several months now since the release of Resolution, the only episode of Doctor Who in 2019, the full impact of the story still hasn’t sunk in. Despite the positive response that most fans had to Series 11, an undeniable flaw with the series was that none of the villains felt truly scary, and due to the fact that Chibnall has opted for a more child-friendly interpretation of the show than we have ever seen before in the New Series, each and every episode struggled to scare or thrill most of the audience. In that regard, Series 11 was a bitter failure.

However, fear factor is not the only criteria used to judge Doctor Who. In fact, by most people’s reckoning, Series 11 was a success as it managed to create an excellent jumping-on point, making the show more accessible to younger fans (who are, at the end of the day, the future of the show) and also establish a decent base that Series 12 can build upon. Had the ten episodes of Series 11 stood alone, then perhaps we would be more pessimistic – but Series 11 was saved at the eleventh hour by a certain upstart New Years Special.

To get it out of the way, it must be said that Resolution is no masterpiece. However, it is perhaps the best Dalek story of the decade, although there are several factors that blur this assertion not least being the fact that the episode has two plots running concurrently – the interesting plot, involving a single deranged Dalek going on a rampage after building itself a junk casing out of scrap, and the boring plot, involving a microwave salesman. Those who predicted that Ryan’s deadbeat dad would appear at some point in the series were proved right, perhaps a little earlier than they were expecting.

Throughout Series 11 one of the main recurring issues was the characters – not just the companions, but almost every character who appeared in the series. Often character motives or feelings would be expressed through expository dialogue, and whilst this is forgivable for one-shot characters who who get less than 20 minutes of screentime, but it is a poor way to develop a companion. Ryan was perhaps the most exposition-built companions of the bunch, and the vast majority of his dialogue had something to do with his dad walking out on him when he was a child.

The issue here is that, with Ryan’s deadbeat dad situation now resolved, what else really is there for him to talk about? According to Series 11, Ryan is a person who likes to talk about his neglectful father and mention that he has dyspraxia – and following Resolution, his potential topics of conversation have now been halved. Whilst this is a testiment to how flimsy Ryan’s character really is, hopefully in Series 12 the writers will use this clean slate oppurtunity to write Ryan as an actual character and not the flattest in a lineup of cardboard-cutouts. There is some great potential for this, as the scene in the diner in Resolution in which Ryan sits down and talks to his father is actually really moving, and proves that Tosin Cole has great potential as an actor. Hopefully the writers will have a long hard think about how they can use what Series 11 establishes to make Series 12 better.

With the wider concerns out of the way, it’s time to talk about what should be the primary focus of any Dalek story – the Dalek. And Resolution’s Dalek is probably the best singular example of the species that we have seen on the show since Dalek Sec. A cunning, manipulative and surprisingly boastful ‘Recon Scout’ who, after centuries of being trapped on Earth without a casing, has gone completely insane. The basic idea for the story is brilliant, and resembles the kind of imaginative idea you normally get from Big Finish rather than the mainline series – the Dalek mutant, separated from its casing, hijacks a woman’s body and uses her to get around, build a new casing and, of course, murder people. Credit has to be given to Charlotte Ritchie for her incredible performance as Lin, particularly once she has been taken over. The powerful stare coupled with the sickeningly gleeful smile when she carries out an extermination makes her a highlight of the episode, to the point where I was almost sad when the Dalek finally gets its casing back because we wouldn’t be seeing any more of Ritchie’s fantastic Dalek performance.

Neverthless, when the Dalek does get its casing, that is when the episode really picks up. An already respectable body count from Lin’s massacre is quadrupled as the newly-armoured Dalek takes on an entire platoon of British military, including a tank, and exterminates them all. As good as Moffat was at understanding the psychology of the Daleks and offering more nuanced takes on their philosophy, his Dalek stories lacked one vital ingredient – copius amounts of death. Resolution makes up for this by demonstrating the power of the Daleks and providing the first real threat that the Doctor and her friends faced in the entire series. For a one-off design, the Dalek itself is excellent – admittedly, when it first wobbled through the door for its dramatic reveal, my first reaction was to chuckle – the ramshackle parts coupled with the oddly offset design made it seem almost comical. However, we soon find out that this Dalek is just as deadly as its pristine counterparts – perhaps even more so. Whilst fans likely wouldn’t take to it as a standard Dalek design, the one-off Resolution Dalek must be praised for its unique design and thecreative implementation of the first example of a fully-remote-controlled Dalek prop in Doctor Who history.

Resolution proved a lot of things. It proved once again that the Daleks are just as fearsome as ever, it proved that a New Year’s Day Special can work, and it proved that Chibnall and his team can write an excellent Doctor Who story when they embrace the pre-existing aspects of the show that made it so popular in the first place. However, whilst fan reaction to Resolution were largely positive, there was something else that it proved – it proved that the Thirteenth Doctor will need to change as the series progresses.

In many ways, Resolution finally laid bare the primary issue with Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor, an issue that has plagued several great Doctors early in their tenure – she is almost impossible to take seriously, due to her child-like personality and bumbling nature. For a now-2000 year-old Gallifreyan Highborn the Doctor seems to have suddenly reverted back to the mind of a child in this recent regeneration – we have seen this happen before, as the Third, Seventh, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors all started out with unstable or ‘silly’ personalities when they first appeared, and mellowed as their time on the show went on. Having a silly Doctor can work with the more whimsical episodes but when facing a threat like the Daleks the whimsicality has to drop and a serious tone must take over, otherwise the audience doesn’t stand a chance of taking the show seriously. As introductory seasons go, Series 11 certainly presents the Doctor as likeable, and Jodie Whittaker does a fantastic job with the scripts, but it doesn’t give fans much to go on in terms of the Doctor’s drives and ethos other than the generic ‘I like to save the day’ trope.

For this reason, the Thirteenth Doctor will have to undergo a dramatic personality shift as her tenure continutes. Undoubtedly this is what Chris Chibnall and the other lead writers have planned, but it would have been nice to see some hints as to what direction they want to take the character in Series 11 itself, to give fans who are unsure about the Thirteenth Doctor’s current characterisation some reassurance that she will mature as time goes on. The Eleventh Doctor, often regarded as among the most child-like Doctors, got a scene in his second episode, The Beast Below, in which he is confronted with an ethical dilemma so heartbreaking that the bumbling child-like exterior fell away and we got to see the darker side to the then-new Doctor early on. So far in the Thirteenth Doctor’s run we have had is a vague over-arching theme of family, which could foreshadow a dramatic plot development later in the show (such as the death of a companion) and another pseudo-theme of the Doctor accepting responsibility for her actions through the Tzim-Sha arc. These are interesting points that can be built on in Series 12, but are ultimately not enough on their own to shore up the Thirteenth Doctor’s lacklustre character development.

Overall, Resolution is a great episode that gives fans hope for big improvements in Series 12, but it is by no means perfect and, although fulfilling its role of bringing the Daleks back to our screens in a big way, it perhaps tried to be too many things at once by cramming nearly half a series of sideplots into a 50 minute story. Hopefully the future will prove Resolution to be a key turning point in the Thirteenth Doctor’s tenure, and now that Chibnall’s ‘pilot’ series is over we can look forward to a bigger, better and more bombastic Series 12 after what we saw from the New Years Special.

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How to Fix – The Paradigm Daleks

Welcome to the next article in a series called ‘How to Fix’, this piece will discuss how the infamous Paradigm Daleks could be improved in future seasons of Doctor Who, should they ever return. As previously mentioned in Doctor Who Theories – What Became of the Paradigm Daleks? the taller, bulkier and multi-coloured redesign of the Daleks that took place in Series 5, Steven Moffat’s first series as showrunner, was not well-received by fans.

chrome of the daleks

DW XI I Ep3
Image Credit: Dalek 63 88

The most important thing that was to blame for the poor reception of the New Dalek Paradigm was the lacklustre set that was used for their big reveal in Victory of the Daleks – a tiny room in a disused matchstick factory with a ceiling that was barely high enough for the Paradigm Daleks to even fit. The Dalek props themselves were not nearly as badly designed as fans made them out to be, and alterations to the props for Asylum of the Daleks corrected several issues with the design that were evident from Victory – most notably the plastic-like colours that were replaced with the much nicer chrome finish, but the hump at the back was also reduced in response to complaints about the ‘hunchback’ design. For more information on the specifics of the tweaks to the design click here to visit Dalek 63 88’s comprehensive history of the Paradigm props used in Asylum of the Daleks.

But this seemed to be too little, too late, and the Paradigm Daleks were never seen again following Asylum of the Daleks. In total, they had featured prominently in just four episodes in the entirety of Matt Smith’s run as the Eleventh Doctor, which were Victory of the Daleks, The Pandorica Opens, The Big Bang and Asylum of the Daleks. They had also cameoed in  The Wedding of River Song and been featured prominently in several video games and comics of that era, but by Peter Capaldi’s first episode as the Twelfth Doctor to feature the Daleks, Series 8’s Into the Dalek, the Paradigm had disappeared and have never been seen since.

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Before delving into speculation and ideas as to how to fix the Paradigm should they ever appear again, the narrative issues with the Paradigm must first be addressed. These issues are totally separate from the more commonly cited problem of the Paradigm’s design, but are perhaps caused by it – firstly, the Paradigm should have been introduced as an officer class for the Daleks from the get-go. Although it is clear that they later became this in Asylum of the Daleks, when they were first introduced they were certainly intended to replace the bronze design entirely. In interviews that were included in behind the scenes material relating to Victory of the Daleks with writer Mark Gatiss, who wrote the story and helped with the design of the Paradigm, he envisions future episodes of the show featuring the Daleks being staffed entirely by the red Paradigm variety, as he considered that the new ‘Drone’ for the Daleks and it was marketed as such at the time. Had the Paradigm been an officer class from the start, with the Progenitor in Victory of the Daleks producing a few Paradigm Daleks and then more bronze drones, perhaps they would have been better received and could have been included as recurring antagonists in a similar fashion to Russell T. Davies’ Cult of Skaro.

dalek series 6The second most glaring narrative flaw with the implementation of the Dalek Paradigm was the lack of Dalek stories in the following series to back up their introduction. Series 6 was devoid of a true Dalek story and this is possibly the greatest contributing factor to the failure of the Paradigm. Had Asylum of the Daleks’ design tweaks been implemented as early as the first half of Series 6, perhaps fans would have been more accepting of them, particularly as the chrome finish makes them look more metallic and less like oversized toys. Possibly in reaction to the poor reception of the Paradigm, Steven Moffat chose to put the Daleks on a mini-hiatus until Series 7, by which time he had made the decision to backtrack on the idea of the Paradigm completely replacing the bronze Daleks and introduced the Dalek Parliament, which featured bronze and Paradigm Daleks working together with no explanation as to why. Since this was the last appearance of the Paradigm, it is safe to say that this decision essentially killed the redesign for good.

series-9-daleks.jpgInterestingly, although the Paradigm were not featured in later Dalek appearances like The Time of the Doctor and Into the Dalek, it was still possible that they were working behind the scenes as the Dalek officer class that they had now become. Information from sources like Doctor Who encyclopedias and fact files from Matt Smith’s era suggest that the Paradigm were still very much alive, and were working behind the scenes to rebuild Skaro and the Dalek Empire, and that the booming voice of the Supreme Dalek threatening the Eleventh Doctor during his initial regeneration scene is in fact a Paradigm Supreme. However, when Series 9’s The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar came around and fans got to see the rebuilt Skaro for themselves, the Paradigm had been entirely replaced with a new form of Dalek command made up of various types of classic Daleks from the show’s history. Not an unwelcome choice of Dalek design for a modern day episode, but a surprising one. Even more interestingly, behind the scenes photographs from the Series 9 two-parter show that the New Dalek Paradigm props were on set at the time, alongside a Peter Cushing movie style Dalek. However, none of these were featured in the episode, and they seem to be the only Dalek props on set at the time that were excluded from the episode. It seems Moffat was considering following through on his idea to have the Paradigm return as the Supreme Council of the new Daleks, but instead opted to imply that they had either disappeared or had been assimilated into the ranks of a newer Dalek hierarchy instead. Either way, the Paradigm were gone for good.

paradigm-daleks.jpgBut if a future showrunner decided in the future that the Paradigm should return? Could it be done? The props themselves are almost certainly in storage somewhere at the BBC, and provided enough time had passed the return of the Paradigm could actually be quite nostalgic for many fans. Not only that, but bringing the Paradigm back might give fans of the Eleventh Doctor’s era some closure. But how could it work? For a start, there would have to be some kind of explanation as to why the Paradigm disappeared in the first place. Perhaps the mysterious Dalek Eternal meddled too much in Dalek history, resulting in the mismatched Empire seen in Series 9, and as a result the Paradigm were exiled. The explanation from the Doctor Who Experience, that the bronze Daleks eventually overthrew their superiors, could also make for some interesting television that harks back to the Dalek Civil War story arc of the 1980s Dalek stories.

If the Paradigm were to return in the future, it is highly likely that more tweaks will be made to their design. Although fans in 2010 were highly critical of these Daleks, there are many aspects of their design that are actually really effective that should be retained in future designs. These include the taller figure that makes them more intimidating, the biological-looking eyepiece that is perhaps one of the creepiest designs yet, and the interesting but sadly undeveloped ‘weapons hatch’ at the back that makes every Dalek capable of transporting multiple weapons or tools at once, which is a great idea that makes sense as a logical evolution for the species. The essential factor to take into account when redesigning the Daleks should be less of “What looks cool?” and more “What makes sense?”. An example of this would be the bolts and rivets on the bronze Daleks – they may look great, but don’t actually make much sense in the logic of the universe, as Daleks would hardly be likely to use human methods of construction when building their army. This goes to show that even the best Dalek designs have their flaws, and adaptations of the classic Dalek look are definitely the way forward for future showrunners who want to try their hand at giving the Daleks a makeover.

Whether they remain a cautionary tale of the hubris of the Moffat era, or they are one day picked up by a showrunner who wishes to do them justice, the Paradigm Daleks will forever be remembered as either a blatant mis-step or a tragic missed opportunity by various factions of the Doctor Who fanbase. One thing that almost all Doctor Who fans can agree on, however, is that although no showrunner should feel apprehensive about trying to put their mark on the Daleks, none should ever again try a Dalek redesign with such zeal without first checking to see if the design actually works well on screen.

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Doctor Who – Top Ten Classic Who Dalek Stories

As Classic Who’s most iconic and enduring monster, the Daleks appeared many times throughout the 1963-1989 run of Doctor Who following their initial appearance in the show’s second aired episode. Over the many eras of Classic Who, the Daleks usually appeared at least once – and although their creator Terry Nation wrote many of their early episodes eventually other writers stepped in with alternate interpretations of the pepper pots and how they should be used on-screen. This, coupled with the fact that Nation himself toyed with many varying ideas related to the Daleks, means that their episodes vary dramatically in tone, setting and content, and this inevitably leads to varying levels of quality to match.

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Honorable Mention – Destiny of the Daleks

Included here as an honorable mention is Destiny of the Daleks, simply because it cannot hold a candle to any of the other Dalek episodes on this list. Despite being written by Terry Nation and featuring Douglas Adams as the script editor, this episode is an absolute shambles in terms of the show’s lore and the depiction of Davros. The worst moments include scenes in which both the Doctor and Davros refer to the Daleks as robotic creatures, and the Daleks contradicting themselves by first claiming that self-sacrifice is illogical before volunteering themselves for a literal suicide mission. The only real upsides are Romana II, the great dialogue and Tom Baker as the Doctor, but otherwise this episode is hardly worth the time.

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10 – Revelation of the Daleks

As previously discussed in How to Fix – Revelation of the Daleks, the Sixth Doctor’s only televised Dalek episode has its issues, particularly related to acting quality, pacing and story focus – it is still an enjoyable watch in its current state, although it does come across as a missed opportunity. The Doctor and Peri barely feature in this episode – and too much screen time is given to a strange DJ – but by far the highlight of the episode is Davros, and Terry Molloy is great as usual. Davros’ scheme is certainly twisted and insane, but what makes Revelation of the Daleks important to Davros fans is how it links two of the best Davros audios, Davros and The Juggernauts, as in the former we get to hear how Davros lays the foundations for his dreadful plans on Necros and the latter describes what happened to Davros immediately following this story, meaning Revelation forms the middle of a bizarre Sixth Doctor and Davros ‘trilogy’. One of the other highlights of this episode is the Glass Dalek, a monstrous creation by Davros that houses a human who has been mutated into a Dalek in much the same way that the Kaleds were in Genesis of the Daleks, laying the groundwork for Davros’ experimentation on the Dalek physiology that would ultimately culminate in the Imperial Daleks from 1988’s Remembrance of the Daleks. Whilst it is undoubtedly an important milestone in 1980s Dalek lore, Revelation does not stand up to many of the other Dalek stories on this list, particularly due to its odd pacing and tone issues that plagued many mid-1980s Doctor Who stories.

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9 – Death to the the Daleks

This episode features one of the best Classic Dalek designs and colour schemes, with the ‘science division’ Daleks featured in this episode sporting a unique silver-and-black finish that is certainly striking, Unfortunately, as far as Classic Dalek episodes go, that’s about the best thing that can be said about this episode – although the idea of using a power drain to force the Daleks and Humans to work together is an interesting one, Death to the Daleks does little more than this, especially considering the fact that the Daleks get alternate weapons before long. Still, the sequences inside the Exxilon City are interesting, and the Exxilons themselves are an interesting species with tribal chants that give this episode a distinct vibe, making Death to the Daleks an iconic episode even if it is not among the best Classic Who Dalek serials. Interestingly, this story is apparently Nicholas Briggs’ favourite Dalek story, and several Big Finish audios pay homage to it including the Fourth Doctor Adventures story The Exxilons and the Dalek Empire story also entitled Death to the Daleks!. One of three Dalek stories in the Third Doctor’s era (ironic, considering Jon Pertwee himself disliked the Daleks as villains) Death to the Daleks ranks as the weakest, although Jon Pertwee and Elizabeth Sladen’s performances in this story are not to be underestimated, and fans of this Doctor-companion pairing will enjoy Death to the Daleks for that reason alone.

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8 – The Daleks

The debut of the Daleks in Classic Doctor Who, The Daleks is definitely worth a watch but does suffer from issues of pacing, particularly since it is seven episodes long. Whilst this can be forgiven due to the fact that it was only the second ever serial of Doctor Who to air, The Daleks is perhaps best watched with the foreknowledge that it is in many ways a ‘prototype’ for future Dalek episodes – although at the time the creators had no idea the Daleks would become such an enduring recurring villain, many elements of this episode are developed in much more detail in subsequent Dalek stories, and The Daleks does dedicate a lot of its run-time to what is clearly filler. The best example of this is the chasm jumping sequence, in which the episode stops dead as we watch all five or six members of the Human-Thal party jumping over a chasm, taking up the majority of its episode’s run time. Ultimately, being the first Dalek episode and a very early episode in the show’s run, The Daleks is worth watching for historical interest but doesn’t contain as much Dalek action as it perhaps could, although there are many extended scenes in the Dalek control rooms that give the audience a good idea of what the Daleks are really like early on, as they scheme and manipulate the humanoids in the story with sinister mercilessness, with a particularly chilling moment being the line in which the Daleks decide to alter the environment of their planet to kill the Thals rather than adapting to the planet’s radioactivity.

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7 – The Power of the Daleks

Although this episode is entirely lost, thankfully a complete animated recreation was released by the BBC in 2013 with all six episodes restored using the original audio and some of the best animation for a Doctor Who DVD release to date. The episode shows the Daleks at their best – manipulative and ruthless – and their scheme to appear docile in order to siphon power from the human colony is devious. As this was the Second Doctor’s first televised story it set the standard for Dalek stories to come, as many fans view The Power of the Daleks as among the very best Dalek stories, but its length and pacing mean it has not aged as well as other much-loved Dalek episodes. Another slight drawback to this episode for many is the lack of original visuals, and although the animated reconstruction is welcome, many have noted the apparent poor quality of some of the recreated scenes – particularly the initial post-regeneration sequence and basically any other scene where it is not immediately obvious what the original actors were doing in the episode. Regardless, the animated Daleks do look spectacular and hopefully The Power of the Daleks will be the first of many fully-animated lost Dalek episodes.

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6 – Day of the Daleks

Having been recently remastered, Day of the Daleks went from being a somewhat mediocre Dalek story to a classic thanks to updated effects, re-dubbed Dalek voices performed by Nicholas Briggs and even whole new scenes filmed using the original camera equipment. In the original story, the final battle used only three Dalek props – the most that were available at the time – so the effect is lessened. With new Daleks added with CGI, the battle scene has been reinvigorated, and for Classic Who this episode is particularly exciting. With a complex time-travel plot that is similar to, but actually predates, the Terminator series, Day of the Daleks is a great action-packed Third Doctor story that incorporates time travel into the story as a core aspect of its main plot rather than simply a means of reaching Point A from Point B, making it unique among Dalek stories. Since its remaster, this episode has jumped up in quality from a mediocre Dalek serial that was bogged down by budget and production issues to a reinvigorated classic that is actually more like a longer episode of New Who than many other Classic Dalek serials. Living up to the action-adventure themes of the Third Doctor’s era, Day of the Daleks is well worth the time now that the much-needed remaster in the Special Edition has been released.

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5 – Resurrection of the Daleks

Resurrection of the Daleks begins the three-part ‘Dalek Civil War’ arc involving Davros, the Daleks and various factions of in-fighting Daleks that also includes Revelation  and Remembrance, and of the three Resurrection has by far the best depiction of Davros in all his manipulative, scheming glory. Terry Molloy’s debut as the twisted Kaled scientist is a must-watch for Dalek fans, and fans of the Fifth Doctor can rejoice as this episode features many watershed moments for his character, including his deliberation over whether or not to shoot Davros, and the fact that Tegan departs the TARDIS, both situations that test the more human and fallible Fifth Doctor. As far as the Daleks go, however, Resurrection portrays them as being noticeably weaker than previous Dalek stories, with the Movellan War crippling the Dalek Empire and forcing the Daleks to employ humanoid soldiers for assistance in combat situations. This leads to the introduction of Lytton, a fantastic character who appears in this episode and Attack of the Cybermen, and is somewhat of an anti-hero in both episodes.

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4 – The Dalek Invasion of Earth

It was inevitable following the success of The Daleks that the Daleks themselves would return to Doctor Who, and their second appearance, The Dalek Invasion of Earth, has often being said to be their best episode of the Hartnell era, as depicting the Daleks assaulting familiar ground like central London is far more effective and heavy-hitting than having them attack a band of alien hippies in a forest, as in The Daleks. Relying heavily on imagery from the Second World War, an event that was still directly impacting many of the audience at the time, giving this episode a heavy impact at the time that still endures to this day. As if the depressing imagery of a subjugated Earth was not effective enough, The Dalek Invasion of Earth also features the first instance of a companion departure in the show, with Susan staying behind on the war-torn Earth as the TARDIS leaves, with the Doctor promising that one day, he would come back.

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3 – Frontier in Space/Planet of the Daleks

As a pair, Frontier in Space and Planet of the Daleks link together to form one 12-part story involving the Master, the Ogrons and the Daleks attempting to destabilise the relationship between the Human and Draconian civilisations before awakening an army of Daleks, and either episode experienced on their own pales in comparison to watching the entire serial as one continuous story. Because Frontier in Space is just so excellent, featuring the final appearance of Roger Delgado’s Master, and Planet of the Daleks has some fantastic scenes with both Daleks and Thals, the pair of stories combine into an epic space opera revolving around the beginnings of the Galactic War against the Daleks. The only real criticism of this story is the length – although Frontier in Space makes a competent use of its runtime, Planet of the Daleks could have been shorter, and overall twelve parts for the entire double-serial run is just too long.

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2 – Genesis of the Daleks

Arguably Terry Nation’s best contribution to the lore of his own creations, Genesis of the Daleks depicts the creation of the Daleks, centuries before their appearances in The Daleks and subsequent Dalek episodes, as well as being the debut episode of the mad Kaled scientist Davros. Like all the best six-part Classic Who stories, Genesis effectively utilises its run time to deliver a well-paced story with suitable doses of action, suspense, and exciting sequences in each episode. Unlike Planet of the Daleks, there is not a single individual episode of Genesis that feels as though it could have been cut out, and as the plot marches towards the inevitable creation of the Daleks the tension builds until the climax at the end of Part 6. Genesis has been praised for its great characters and dialogue, and there are some fantastic scenes between the Doctor, Sarah and Harry that show how the TARDIS team has bonded throughout the season. The Kaled characters in this story are also fantastic – Nyder, Ronson and, of course, Davros, who makes his debut here played for the first and only time by the legendary Michael Wisher who does a tremendous job as the maniacal scientist. Overall, Genesis is a classic and well-deserved of its status as one of the greatest episodes of Doctor Who. However, there is one other Dalek episode that takes the top spot, and that is…

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1 – Remembrance of the Daleks

…ironically, the final Dalek episode of the Classic series, Remembrance of the Daleks. The Cartmel Masterplan made its debut in this episode, as script editor Andrew Cartmel decided to include more references to the idea of the question behind the Doctor’s identity, and Remembrance of the Daleks is the first in a series of episode that hint at the Doctor’s dark past and his history with the Time Lords and other powerful races. The depiction of the Imperial-Renegade Dalek Civil War as well as the return of Davros and the introduction of the Special Weapons Dalek make this episode an explosive and fitting finale to the Dalek plot arc in the Classic series, as the episode ends with a much darker and more ruthless Seventh Doctor destroying Skaro and wiping out both the Imperial and Renegade Daleks on Earth. If that were not enough, this episode is considered by fans to be the true 25th Anniversary Special (even thought the inferior Silver Nemesis’s broadcast coincided with the actual anniversary date of the 23rd of November) as this episode is littered with continuity references and is based in 1963, in the same place as the First Doctor and Susan parked the TARDIS in the very first episode of the show.

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