Doctor Who – 3 Interesting Dalek Lore Theories

For those who read my previous Doctor Who Theories – What Became of the Paradigm Daleks?, this list is essentially a ‘spiritual successor’, in that that list article and this one were originally combined, but I felt that I had so much to say about the Paradigm Daleks alone that they deserved their own separate article. But since Daleks have become someone of a recurring theme on this blog, it seems only fitting that I continue with my original concept and group together some wild and outlandish fan theories that I have regarding my favourite sci-fi monsters.

For those like me who love the Daleks, their timeline and history become an immediate point of interest – like most of the lore surrounding Doctor Who, it is disorganised, inconsistent, and lacks any real direction. Even when their real-world creator, Terry Nation, was still alive, the Daleks lacked a consistent timeline and the temporal meddling that takes place within the canon of Doctor Who has rendered any attempt to explore or explain Dalek History totally futile. This is great news for Doctor Who fans, however, as it opens the door for endless speculation and essentially opens the concept of the Daleks up for an ‘anything goes’ policy when it comes to theories, stories and ideas, especially considering the wacky concepts that have been used on the show itself. So it is with great pride that I present my Top 3 Dalek Fan Theories, since none of them can compare to the level of nonsense we saw in Asylum of the Daleks

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Theory 1 – The Cult of Skaro appeared in Series 9 alongside Peter Capaldi

NuWho fans who have been with the revival since at least 2006 will remember the Cult of Skaro, a secret order of Daleks that were given individual names and tasked with using creativity and out-of-the-box thinking to outwit their opponents. Led by the razor-witted Dalek Sec, the Cult unleashed all hell on planet Earth in the Series 2 finale Doomsday, which saw the departure of fan-favourite Rose Tyler as London played host to the first on-screen conflict between the Daleks and the Cybermen. Despite laying waste to the city and annihilating the Cybermen to such an extent that it took them until Series 7 to regain their fear-factor, the Cult were eventually defeated and their army was destroyed, although they managed to escape to 1930s New York where they began experimenting on themselves in order to keep the Dalek race alive – at least, that it what Russel T. Davies originally planned.

Oddly, despite being killed as a result of the said experiments, Dalek Sec appears in the two-part opener to Series 9,  The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar – in reality this is explained as a result of the production team for that episode hiring several home-made Dalek props to bolster the ranks seen on screen, and one of those was a screen-accurate recreation of the Dalek Sec prop, complete with his unique identification code. The presence of this code on this particular Black Dalek, however, means that in-universe this Dalek can be none other than the Dalek Sec, which seems odd as he is now both a Human-Dalek hybrid and also quite dead. However, could it be possible that Sec and the other members of the Cult were somehow in the Dalek city, at some point in time before they were destroyed?

In the episode Evolution of the Daleks, Dalek Sec (as the Human-Dalek Hybrid) explains to the Doctor that he and his Cult used an ‘Emergency Temporal Shift’ to escape the battle in Doomsday, referring to it as a ‘slaughter’. However, at this point he could just as easily be referring to the fact that the Doctor destroys the Dalek city in The Witch’s Familiar, and in many ways it might actually justify the Cult leader’s reasoning for his actions in Evolution of the Daleks – after all, if my theory is correct, he will have just witnessed an entire city of Daleks consumed by regenerated mutants free of their casings and fused with non-Dalek DNA, namely, the Doctor’s regeneration energy. Could this be what gets him thinking about whether or not the Daleks are better off inside their casings or not?

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Theory 2 – The Daleks in Destiny of the Daleks are a Renegade Splinter Group

In an ideal world, Destiny of the Daleks should have been fantastic. It was written by Terry Nation, the original creator of the Daleks, and even had legendary science fiction author Douglas Adams, author of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, as a script editor. But despite some classic comedic scenes involving Tom Baker’s Doctor and the newly-regenerated Romana, now played by Lalla Ward, Destiny just doesn’t shape up to the masterpiece that it Genesis of the Daleks, the previous Dalek story. Among the many missteps of this episode, both the Doctor and Davros refer to the Daleks as robotic – rather than the cyborg life forms that they had been consistently established as. It even becomes a crucial plot point in the episode that the Daleks require the assistance of their creator to break the stalemate that has rendered them unable to destroy their current adversary, the Movellans. If this sounds like nonsense, that’s because it is – for one, the Daleks are definitely not robots, and as we saw in the 2017 episode The Pilot, proper Daleks have no trouble simpy boarding Movellan ships and slaughtering them all. So the question remains – what on Skaro was going on in Destiny of the Daleks?

Many theories have emerged to attempt to explain away this glaring inconsistency – some claim that at some point in the Dalek evolutionary timeline, they completely did away with their biological components and were actually robotic for a time, before the revival of Davros turned them away from this path and returned them to their Kaled roots. Others say that the Daleks were attempting an elaborate trick, and even the Doctor bought into it, even though this makes no sense. My personal explanation for all of this is the idea that the specific group of Daleks that we see in Destiny of the Daleks are a splinter group, that may or may not be aligned with the Dalek Empire but were originally a ‘subspecies’ of entirely robotic Daleks that were assigned to guard what remained of Skaro, and were later reprogrammed to run the work camps designed to uncover the Kaled bunker that contained Davros. At some point these Daleks either forgot their robotic origins or were programmed to believe that they were real Daleks, and this explains why Davros is able to sway them into suicide bombing so easily – he simply reprogrammed them, immediately seeing through the ruse but saying nothing about it.

This explanation does not account for the wider Movellan War, however, which seems to imply that the entire Dalek race is robotic – but this could simply be a result of the Daleks becoming overly reliant on their robotic counterparts to do fighting for them, as we later discover in Resurrection of the Daleks that the Movellans used biological and chemical weapons against the Daleks to eventually win the war. Ultimately, it could be possible that the robotic Daleks are actually a Renegade faction, who believe that they are the true Daleks, and the Movellans simply exploit this conflict to inflict maximum damage on the pure Daleks. Ultimately, since both Nation and Adams are sadly no longer with us, we may never know what the actual point of this strange arc was in the first place, but we can speculate as Doctor Who fans are known to do.

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 Theory 3 – Daleks are actually descended from Humans

This is a theory that has been around for quite some time now, and it even played in to a potential origin story for the Daleks written by Terry Nation in 1973, in which the Daleks are revealed to be humans from the far future who underwent accelerated evolution in a similar manner to the future humans in the 2007 episode Utopia, who are altered to become the Toclafane by the Master. Clearly this story, despite being written by Terry Nation, contradicts what we see in Genesis of the Daleks and so must be considered non-canon. However, the idea that it presents is an interesting one – could the Kaleds and Thals actually be humans from the future?

There are two major points that could discredit this theory – firstly, the Kaleds and Thals are proven to be biologically different from 20th=century humans in Genesis when a Kaled scanner registers Sarah Jane and Harry as ‘aliens’. This would suggest that Kaled biology is distinctly separate from that of humans, making it unlikely that they are the same race. Secondly, the war between the Kaleds and the Thals takes place in the past, relative to Human evolution – despite their more advanced technology. However, both of these points can be explained away with time travel – after all, Kaleds could be different to 20th century humans because they have thousands, perhaps millions, of years of evolution between them, and this combined with the highly irradiated planet on which they live could account for their biological differences. Likewise, if humans from the far future went back in time and were stranded on Skaro, this would explain why they have been there for over 1,000 years by the time Genesis comes around.

This theory has profound implications for the rest of the Doctor Who universe, however. For one, it finally explains why the Daleks are so focused on the human race, and why Earth seems to be both the planet they want to conquer the most and also the planet they have the least luck in conquering – perhaps the Daleks have a latent innate idea that Earth is somehow valuable to them, but no real understanding as to why. If the more popular fan theory that Time Lords are also humans from the future is true, this creates a ‘triumvirate’ of species that are all interlinked – Humans, Daleks and Time Lords, all the same species just with vastly different evolutionary histories.

So there’s my list, if you enjoyed then by all means leave a like or comment telling me what you thought, and if you want to see more content like this then be sure to like us on Facebook or Follow us here on WordPress. Thanks for reading!

Doctor Who – Who is the ‘Best Doctor’?

Looking around the internet for polls or lists on the topic of ‘Best Doctor’ in Doctor Who is essentially the equivalent of opening the Whovian equivalent of Pandora’s Box. Not only will any given list undoubtedly be wrong because it contradicts your own predetermined idea of who the Top 5 Best Doctors actually are, but any such list or poll that has a readily accessible comments section will, without fail, erupt into a war zone of competing opinions. But ultimately, is this all totally futile? How can anyone determine who the ‘Best Doctor’ actually is? What criteria do you use? Surely anyone who tries to rank the Doctors will be confounded by their own personal bias? To analyse this issue, I will be focusing on several trends that I often see in these lists that, whilst not necessarily unpopular, can be criticised nonetheless. To begin, a trend that disappoints me more than any of the others…

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The 80s Doctors are Always at the Bottom

The more mainstream lists on outlets like WhatCulture and the Radio Times obviously try to stir up as little controversy as possible with their lists. Unfortunately, this also means relegating the more unpopular Doctors to the bottom of their lists, notably Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy. At first glance this does seem to be the most logical move – their eras were mired with production issues, inconsistent storylines and direction from a certain John-Nathan Turner that ran the show into the ground thanks to the extreme bias of Michael Grade, Margaret Thatcher’s puppet in the BBC. But when assessing who is the ‘Best Doctor’, should outside factors like production value and relative success of the seasons factor in? After all, anyone who has seen any of Sylvester McCoy’s episodes will agree that he makes a fantastic Doctor – in fact in the 1990s, during the wilderness years, he consistently topped polls of ‘Best Doctor’ because fans of the show were genuinely devastated that it had been cancelled – Seasons 25 and 26 were a notable improvement over their predecessors and it has essentially been confirmed now that Grade cancelled Doctor Who in the 80s based primarily on his own personal bias against the show, and little more.

Similarly, Peter Davison enjoyed a fairly successful run as the Doctor, with episodes like The Caves of Androzani, The Five Doctors and Earthshock being among the shows most popular DVD releases, even today. He was almost the ‘David Tennant’ before David Tennant was the Doctor, in that he was a younger, more energetic Doctor who was popular among female fans. Interestingly, David Tennant himself has stated that Davison was his primary inspiration for how he handled the role of the Doctor, and maintains that Davison is one of his favourite Doctors, so it seems ironic that he would consistently come at the bottom of more recent ‘Best Doctor’ polls. The oddball in all of this is Colin Baker who, unfortunately, is more justified in coming near the bottom of the polls – whilst he enjoyed an excellent run of Big Finish audios, it is understandable that they do not factor in as audiobooks are arguably the most niche of the Doctor Who expanded media, and his televised episodes are among the classic shows weakest, although there are some standout entries. The question remains – why the bias against 80s Doctors? It could mostly come down to taste – whilst 80s Who has some fantastic storytelling, the production values do let the show down in the eyes of many fans, and in the end the decision comes down entirely to personal taste. John-Nathan Turner’s campy style of set and costume design do not sit well with modern audiences, particularly compared to the more extravagant NuWho. One cannot help but shake the feeling that Doctors like McCoy and Davison coming bottom in the polls is down to little more than ignorance, however, since fans of NuWho are less and less likely to give their eras the chance that they deserve.

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The Relative Positions of Hartnell, Troughton and Pertwee

This one is entirely dependant on the list in question, since some revere the position of Hartnell’s Doctor as ‘the one that started it all’ and others are based solely on fan voting input, which unsurprisingly gives Troughton a boost. In many ‘home made’ lists, however, particularly those made by fans who have self-confessed to never having seen any Classic Who, Hartnell and Troughton are used as ‘filler’ for the lower end spots despite their relative popularity. Whilst this may come as a surprise to some, Patrick Troughton in particular in one of the most popular Doctors, despite the fact that his era has huge gaps due to missing episodes. Stories like The Power of the Daleks, The Tomb of the Cybermen, Fury from the Deep, The Mind Robbers, The Invasion, The Evil of the Daleks and several others are considered essentials of Doctor Who’s monochrome era, and yet Troughton’s position in polls fluctuates more often that Steven Moffat’s script quality. Why is this?

Again, it comes down to simply ignorance. Many fans are put off by Classic Who as it stands and so are even less likely to watch Classic Who in black and white, regardless of how well the episodes are received. Still, at the end of the day, it’s their loss, and the relative position of Troughton on ‘Best Doctor’ lists has become a sort of litmus test for stalwart 60s Who fans to determine the extent of Classic Who that the creator of the list has actually seen, for better or worse.

Unfortunately, a similar occurrence mires Jon Pertwee’s era, which is due in part to the format changes that occur during this time – grounded on Earth for his first few seasons, Pertwee’s Doctor foregoes a lot of the space-time exploration to instead hold his ground on Earth, working with UNIT to fight off many alien invasions. The show morphed into more of a James Bond meets X-Files theme, as Pertwee’s Doctor took a more physically violent approach to dealing with menacing aliens, most notably his use of kung-fu and the occasional stolen alien blaster to dispatch his foes. Pertwee’s era also introduced us to fan-favourite companions like Jo Grant and Sarah Jane Smith, so the impact of thie era cannot be underestimated. Another factor to consider in his era is the introduction of The Master, and Roger Delgado expertly fills the role of the Moriarty to Pertwee’s Holmes. It’s great fun, but again, it comes down to personal taste – and it would seem that more recently the odds have not favoured the Third Doctor in fan polls, despite some genuinely fantastic episodes in his era like Frontier in Space, Terror of the Autons and The Time Warrior. 

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David Tennant at the Top

One of my previous articles on David Tennant may have given the impression that I don’t rate him very highly as a Doctor, but that isn’t the case. David Tennant was the Doctor that I grew up with, along with Eccleston and McCoy, so in many ways he is ‘My Doctor’, and I look on his era with fondness, despite the disproportionate amount of criticism that I dish out against it. Regardless, it does not sit right with me that Tennant regularly tops lists of ‘Best Doctor’ – obviously he is a lot of people’s favourite Doctor, that much is clear, but it seems that a lot of lists put him at the top to avoid controversy rather than to actually celebrate him as a Doctor. After all, his run was good, but was it consistent? Tennant took the Doctor to a dark place, essentially transforming him from a simple space-time traveller into an allegory for Space Jesus, with prophetic (and shamelessly and tediously repeated) arc words of his death, many episodes before it actually happened. Russell treated the end of his run as if Doctor Who itself would die with the Tenth Doctor, and unfortunately as a result many fans turned off when Tennant left, buying into the hype.

David Tennant played the Doctor well when he was actually playing The Doctor, but a big problem with his characterisation is that he would often forget who he was playing. For the self-proclaimed ‘Man Who Never Would’, Tennant’s Doctor dabbled in an inordinate amount of genocide, cold-blooded murder and insane megalomania, which in many ways unravelled his mandate as the Doctor in a way that most other actors who played the role did not have to contend with. It is also impossible to ignore that whilst Tennant had a handful of stellar episodes like The Girl in the Fireplace and Midnight, he also played host to many of Doctor Who’s most embarrassing episodes, ones like Fear Her, Love and Monsters, The Unicorn and the Wasp, Partners in Crime and New Earth. Again, this is down to personal opinion, but if people who have never even seen the majority of Doctor Who can attempt to rank the Doctors based on anecdote, rumour and affirmed negative consensus, then I can objectively rank episodes of David Tennant’s run that I feel are bad, thank you very much. Is Tennant a popular Doctor? Yes. Is he a good Doctor? Yes. Is he the best Doctor? Doubtful.

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Baker and Smith, the old Second Best

In light of the ‘Tennant Problem’, more self-aware lists have deliberately denied him the top spot in favour of an equally safe alternate choice for number one – Tom Baker or Matt Smith. The word ‘overrated’ is often thrown around to refer to the trio of Baker, Tennant and Smith, but this isn’t entirely fair – all three have legitimate reasons for coming in the top five, as they are all brilliant actors – if anything the continual reappearance of any of these three in the top spot has just become annoying, mostly because, as anyone who has seen most of Classic Who will tell you, all of the Doctors are played by brilliant actors. After all, this entire issue comes down to personal opinion, both in how you rank the Doctors and also how you decide the criteria for ranking the Doctors. Target Audience is a massive factor too – ask a group of hardened Big Finish fans to rank the Doctors and Tennant will undoubtedly come near the bottom, with Colin Baker usually appearing near the top. Ask the same of a group of NuWho fans and the positions will be reversed. So why not shake things up a bit?

If it has just become the norm to always put Tennant at the top, Smith and Baker in second and Davison, McCoy and poor old Colin at the bottom, then what is even the point of doing a ‘Best Doctor’ list at all? Fans could debate endlessly over the fact that McCoy is an underappreciated gem, or that Colin Baker is much better in the audiobooks, or that David Tennant is overrated, or that NuWho is better than Classic Who, or whatever the debate happens to be, but at the end of the day, there will never be a consensus. And why is that?

Well, its because Doctor Who is so vast and so diverse, and it spans such a colourful and controversial history that it has attracted fans of all different walks of life from all over the world, and getting such a huge amount of individuals to agree on such a widely spanning range of different factors is simply impossible. After all, how many other shows have such a diverse audience? To many, the Doctor Who fandom comes across as more like a religious cult than a fanbase – and their religion has many different sects, each with their own unique beliefs and customs. Big Finish fans, NuWho fans, Moffat fans, Davies fans. Classic fans – they are all fans of Doctor Who for different reasons, they all enjoy the same franchise via radically different mediums, and many cross over many of these – I consider myself to be a member of all of these creeds, some more than others, so within the fanbase I find my loyalties divided – but at the end of the day, one must remember that all of these factions come under the monolithic umbrella-term of simply being a Doctor Who fan – something that requires dedication but is an enormously rewarding experience. So if NuWho fangirls love Tennant, let them. If Big Finish fans love Colin, let them. And I’ll happily enjoy Sylvester McCoy episodes in spite of where he might rank on ‘Best Doctor’ lists, like many more who are certain, regardless of what anyone else says, that whoever happens to be ‘their Doctor’ is the best.

So there’s my rambling thoughts on the idea of the ‘Best Doctor’, if you enjoyed then be sure to leave a like and you can follow us either here or on Facebook for more content like this. Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

Doctor Who Theories – What Happened to the Paradigm Daleks?

As I already alluded to in my Paradigm Daleks Custom Showcase, the Paradigm Daleks don’t really rank very highly on my list of best Dalek designs. They’re clunky, the colours don’t work and they look like oversized action figures. Originally introduced as a means of ‘rebooting’ the Daleks, the Paradigm were supposed to be a new elite class of Dalek that was to replace the 2005-2009 Time War ‘bronze’ design seen from Dalek to Journey’s End. However, these new Daleks didn’t go down very well with the fanbase, and were ridiculed mercilessly after their reveal. The writing team of Doctor Who at the time clearly realised this, because after their initial appearance in Victory of the Daleks, the Paradigm rarely appeared again, and they were seemingly erased from the canon by the time Peter Capaldi came along. So the question remains – what happened to the Paradigm Daleks? I’ve come up with a few theories over the years as to what became of them, and so in no particular order, I’ll be listing them right here. To begin:

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They Did Their Job and Disappeared

To start with, here is what is arguably the most boring theory in this list – that the Paradigm Daleks fulfilled their task of restoring the Dalek race, and then were simply re-absorbed into the ranks of the Daleks and phased out over time. This theory is backed up by several points of evidence – firstly, the Paradigm Daleks in Asylum of the Daleks are seen working alongside the Time-War era Daleks, implying that the ‘restoration of the Daleks’ that they speak of in Victory was completed by then, and that the Dalek Empire was back to the height of its power. Also, the Paradigm Daleks are not seen again after this episode, implying that once their task was completed, they were no longer required. This seems to be the most likely cause of their disappearance, since we are never shown anything on-screen that suggests otherwise, but again, this is a rather boring explanation.

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Another Dalek Civil War Occurred

This was always my favourite theory when I was a kid, the idea that the Paradigm Daleks were eventually overthrown and destroyed by the Bronze Daleks. In-canon, however, it doesn’t make a lot of sense – the New Dalek Paradigm is supposed to be made up of Daleks with totally pure DNA, and so they should represent the epitome of the Dalek race – in the episode Victory of the Daleks, the bronze Daleks willingly allow the Paradigm to obliterate them on the grounds that they are impure, and the Paradigm are supreme – however, these Daleks were created under unusual circumstances (grown from Davros’ cells, to be precise) and chances are they were so hell-bent on restoring the Daleks that they were willing to do anything to get the Daleks back on track. Interestingly, the Doctor Who Experience had a setup that suggested that this is what actually happened off-screen, with the Paradigm coming under attack from the ‘children of Davros’ who claim that they are the pure ones.

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Political Shifts Render Them Obsolete

This theory is sort of a ‘blend’ of the previous two, and postulates that originally the Paradigm ruled as the ‘pure’ class of Daleks, but eventually something happens to the progenitor that means that the supply of Paradigm Daleks begins to run short. This would explain why in Doctor Who Expanded Media that was released following Victory, the Paradigm Daleks make up the entire Dalek race, but by the time of Asylum, they take the role of an ‘officer class’ (to use Steven Moffat’s exact words). This could also explain why Davros and several other types of Dalek are present in The Magicians Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar, as the power vacuum left by the significantly reduced number of Paradigm Daleks require an alternate means of Dalek ‘production’. This may also explain the presence of a Dalek ‘parliament’, since several factions of Daleks would have to negotiate a truce and accept their differences in order to survive, if one could picture such a thing. Overall, I’m not a big fan of this theory, but it does seem to explain a lot.

 

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They Were Erased From History

Whilst a lot of people would happily erase all memory of the Paradigm Daleks from history, alongside other narrative missteps like Jar Jar Binks, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and the more recent Jaws movies, they are unfortunately ingrained in the Doctor Who mythos forevermore. However, it is possible that some ‘timey-wimey’ mishaps may have erased them from Doctor Who’s internal timeline. After all, within the context of the show the events of certain episodes have been overwritten, such as Name of the Doctor being overwritten (thank goodness) by the events of Time of the Doctor, the alternate universes created in both The Big Bang and The Wedding of River Song ceasing to exist after history was alteredand the fact that in the finale of The Day of the Doctor the entire Time War conclusion was altered. In fact, this seems to be a plot device that Moffat is particularly fond of, and so it is remotely possible that the Paradigm may have suffered the same fate. After all, we are given no explanation at all as to why the Bronze Daleks seem to be in control again from Into the Dalek onward, and even the Doctor doesn’t seem to notice.

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The Paradigm Has Always Existed

This theory is a bit far-fetched. But again, there is at least some evidence to suggest that it could at least be remotely plausible, and when you think about it, there might actually be some grounds to it, and it might just solve several long-standing inconsistencies in the Dalek design. To begin this theory, we need to go all the way back to Genesis of the Daleks. This episode essentially lays out the Dalek origin story, and explains how Davros manipulated his race into creating what would become the most ruthless killing machine in the universe. However, as may people have pointed out, the Daleks seen in Genesis do not resemble the Daleks seen in their first episode, The Daleks, and instead take the form of the gunmetal grey, independently-mobile, battle-ready Daleks seen in Planet of the Daleks, Destiny of the Daleks and Resurrection of the Daleks. The original Daleks were silver and blue, with no slats on the midsection of their casing, and lacked an independent power supply. So why is this?

The true explanation is the use of props – due to budget reasons, the BBC couldn’t create a convincing number of original Dalek props for Genesis and had to settle for the version seen in Planet, even though this creates a narrative inconsistency. In-universe, this can be explained as the Daleks initially looking one way, then slowly adapting to the sedentary lifestyle of their city, before re-adapting their more war-orientated appearance when they realise that they are not alone in the universe.

However, I have a better theory, and it’s to do with the Paradigm. In Victory of the Daleks, the Supreme Dalek states that the Paradigm will ‘return to their own time and begin again’, suggesting the Paradigm intended to go back in time, to Skaro, and rebuild the Dalek Empire there. When next we see Skaro, it has been inexplicably rebuilt following the events of Remembrance of the Daleks, and it is now populated with Daleks of all different designs, most notably, the silver and blue classic Daleks from The Daleks. Could it be that the Paradigm somehow manipulated the timelines to re-boot the Daleks, independently of Davros’ Genesis design? Imagine the Dalek history as being two timelines working in parallel – the Genesis Daleks are created, escape Skaro, build an Empire, and the events of Planet of the Daleks through to Remembrance play out as normal, then we have the Time War, then the post-Time War era, and then the Paradigm – who then go back in time to a different point on Skaro, build the city, and then ‘begin again’ as the Supreme states, eventually leading through to The Magician’s Apprentice, at which point the two timelines converge, hence the appearance of multiple Daleks at once.

This theory is pretty wild, and it all but devastates the pre-existing Dalek timeline – but if you think about it, it isn’t really much of a timeline at all. And after all, the Paradigm actually share some similarities with the Dalek Invasion of Earth design from the 60s, notably the larger, bulkier bases, the sleeker and less tank-like design, and the longer appendages. This would also explain why the Daleks from 60s Who seem to have much more advanced technology than the Daleks from 80s Who, such as the TARDIS-like time machine that the Daleks have in The Chase, compared with the plasma ball ‘time controller’ that the Daleks are stuck with in Remembrance. The Paradigm could exist as a sort of ‘secret society’ of Daleks, the Dalek Illuminati perhaps, who only show themselves in times of crisis and are otherwise hidden in the shadows. After all, there is a Dalek in the Paradigm specifically called ‘The Eternal’, a rank that is never explained. Could this Daleks’ job be to ensure that the two conflicting timelines never cancel each other out, thereby ensuring the Daleks exist forever in a sort of self-fulfilling Ouroboros?

Probably not. But it was worth a try. If you enjoyed this list, be sure to leave a Like and Follow us either here or on Facebook for more content like this. You can also check out my older articles down below, and feel free to browse my collection of Dalek Customs if, like me, the Daleks are particularly fascinating to you. Thanks for reading!

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The Tomb of the Cybermen – A Rare Gem

One of the most popular Patrick Troughton stories is 1967’s The Tomb of the Cybermen, which is the earliest story of his era to exist in its entirety. Although many fantastic Second Doctor episodes that are lost have been reconstructed or partially reconstructed using animation, such as the Power of the Daleks recreation that I have previously reviewed as well as animated episodes in partially complete stories such as The Moonbase and The Invasion, nothing really compares to the genuine article. But is The Tomb of the Cybermen only as popular as it is because it is one of the few complete episodes of Troughton’s era? Well, the short answer is no. Tomb stands on its own as a classic Cyberman story, often cited as among the earliest memories of Doctor Who that a lot of veteran Doctor Who fans have, and makes good use of its four-episode run time so as to not feel drawn out like other Cyberman stories of its era. In fact, Tomb is considered by some to be the last Cyberman story that actually does the concept of the Cybermen justice in the classic era, although the topic is debated.

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As always, Patrick Troughton and Frazer Hines perform in their roles spectacularly – Now educated on the nature of the Cybermen from the events of The Moonbase, Jamie is a great asset to the Doctor whose motives initially seem quite clear – he wants to keep the humans as far away from the Cyberman Tombs as possible, and yet as the episode goes on he deliberately gives the archaeologists more and more information about how to operate the Tomb’s controls, almost as if he is just as curious as they are to see how the Cybermen have managed to survive. The Second Doctor is credited by many, including no less than 4 later Doctor actors, as their favourite Doctor and is probably the most popular Classic Doctor after Tom Baker. It would seem obvious then that The Tomb of the Cybermen ranks highly among Classic episode polls, since it is a standout episode of the Troughton era, but oddly enough the Second Doctor is actually sidelined in this story compared to other episodes of his era as the narrative focuses more on the team of archaeologists and how they interact with the Doctor and his companions. Both Jamie and Victoria are separated from the Doctor at various points throughout the episode, and prove their ability to stand out as characters in their own right. The archaeologists themselves, particularly the skittish and paranoid John Viner and the cunning logician Eric Klieg, form a diverse and interesting array of characters, although the episode’s handling of the large and largely mute Toberman, who eventually becomes quite the hero at the end, is an interesting dichotomy.

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This episode also serves as the official introduction of new companion Victoria Waterfield, played by the late Deborah Watling. She appeared in the previous episode, The Evil of the Daleks, but since that episode almost entirely lost and considering the fact that she was not an official member of the TARDIS team until now, her official ‘induction’ into the pantheon of companions begins here. Victoria makes a good first impression in this episode, alternating between damsel-in-distress to confident heroine – she does get into trouble occasionally, such as being trapped inside the Cyberman recharge pod early in the story, but also shows her strong will by insisting to volunteer as a member of an exploration party and successfully deceiving Kaftan. Victoria’s courage would shine more prominently in later stories, but the general image of her character begins to take shape right from the get-go. Sadly, most of Victoria’s episodes are either incomplete or totally missing – in fact, until the recovery of The Enemy of the World in Nigeria in 2013, this episode was the only complete episode featuring Victoria, making it one of the few remaining opportunities to see what her character was really like.

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The Cybermen themselves appear as sinister as ever, with this marking the first instance of an appearance of the Cybermen in which their general design did not change from the previous appearance, establishing a sense of continuity and the assertion that these are definitely the same Cybermen that were seen in The Moonbase, and although the design would change again after this, the idea of standardising the design of the Cybermen did finally take hold following Earthshock in 1982 and again in 2006. Their goal in this episode is simple – they want to survive. Putting the Cybermen in a more vulnerable position helps this episode immensely, particularly since they do so without damaging the character of the Cybermen – they are still shown to be strong, cunning and insidious, but there are simply not enough of them to immediately take over the base. In fact, the Cybermen themselves don’t do very much in this episode – mostly just milling around their tombs and occasionally engaging various characters in hand-to-hand combat – their sinister leader, the Cyber-Controller, fills most of their screentime. His electronic voice and visible brain help portray him as a sinister character, and the parallels between the Cybermen and the human Logicians is clear in this story – Eric Klieg wishes to use the Cybermen for their strength, although he severely underestimates them. Like the Cybermen, however, he remains persistent to the end, and at certain points in the episode you wonder if he is the true villain, since he displays his utter lack of conscience and commits acts of murder and betrayal that the Cybermen would be impressed with.

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Another aspect of this episode that shines is the set design. There is something about the black-and-white era of Doctor Who that almost made the sets appear more convincing, and in The Tomb of the Cybermen this was always an important factor. An essential part of the episode is convincing the audience that the environment of Telos, as well as the underground Cyberman structure, is a real place and the threat of the Cybermen is very real. A hard task for Classic Who to achieve, but in cases like this it does so spectacularly. A particularly impressive sequence is the blending of model shots with actual-size footage as the Cyber-tomb begins to unfreeze, and the Cybermen inside begin to wake up. In fact, the cliffhangar sequence of Part 2 in which the Cybermen emerge from their tombs has been listed by some as the greatest cliffhanger in the history of the show, and is certainly cited as a classic ‘scary moment’. It seems odd today that the Cybermen could be that scary, in fact I have previous analysed the subject of whether or not the Cybermen can be scary today, but in the late 1960s they were about as scary as it gets, and an element of that can still be detected today, even if this episode won’t have kids hiding behind the back of the sofa.

So that’s my review of The Tomb of the Cybermen, leave a Like if you enjoyed and be sure to follow us either here or on Facebook for more content like this!

 

 

Genesis of the Daleks – The Rebirth

Genesis of the Daleks is one of those classic Doctor Who episodes that is often considered to be the best, alongside other popular Tom Baker episodes like The Ark in Space and The Deadly Assassin, and with good reason. Genesis appears at the height of Philip Hinchcliffe’s run on the show, an era defined by its dark imagery and thrilling sci-fi concepts – and if Hinchcliffe’s era is the Golden Age of Classic Who, then Genesis of the Daleks is the crown jewel.

Rarely does a six-part episode make good use of its run-time, with other Dalek six-parters like Planet of the Daleks and The Chase falling victim to pacing issues as the writers padded out the length, but Genesis of the Daleks is a great example of a six-parter done well – it seems as though to cut anything out of Genesis would detract from the story, as opposed to many other six-parters in which it seems entire episodes could be removed with little or no impact on the story. Genesis incorporates the capture-and-escape formula of many other Classic Doctor Who episodes, but spreads the narrative focus across enough elements to maintain the viewer’s interest. Combining this technique with the rich amount of political intrigue and conflicting motivations of each of the main characters creates a story in which the plot propels the audience through a dark and exciting tale of betrayal, obsession, murder, desperation and genocide and managing to keep the tension high throughout all six parts.

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As the name implies, a key element to this episode is the Daleks themselves – and Genesis of the Daleks manages to find the exact balance between keeping the Daleks as the narrative focus without dedicating so much screen-time to them that they become boring. Throughout the episode the ever-present threat of the Daleks looms, and their sporadic appearances early on divulge enough information about their nature to make this episode accessible for newcomers to the show, and this was undoubtedly the intention of Terry Nation – the original creator of the Daleks and writer of this episode. In fact, this episode acts as a sort of ‘reboot’ of the Daleks – it tells the story of their origins that differs from the exposition explaining their origins that we hear in The Daleks written over ten years prior, and the Daleks had gone through several character shifts throughout the 60s – Terry Nation clearly didn’t know what to do with the Daleks initially – they appear less aggressive and overtly evil in their debut, and The Chase portrayed the Daleks as comical buffoons whilst The Dalek Invasion of Earth and The Dalek’ Master Plan painted them as more sinister characters, a characterisation which thankfully stuck and contributes greatly to the atmosphere in Genesis of the Daleks.

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Terry Nation seemingly killed the Daleks off for good in The Evil of the Daleks, though they were sheepishly brought back to Doctor Who under Jon Pertwee’s tenure after a disappointing American movie breakthrough. Nation had several misfires in Dalek story quality in the early 1970s – Day of the Daleks was limited by its physical props and quality of effects that was only corrected years later, Planet of the Daleks is a classic example of a four-parter padded out to fill a six-episode runtime, and Death to the Daleks explores interesting ideas but ultimately its reception was lackluster. And so, Genesis of the Daleks explores an idea that, until then, Terry Nation had only briefly explained in passing – the origin of the Daleks, and an explanation of how they came to be. Before Genesis, the original evolution of the Daleks was explained in a comic book – one of the many contributions to the Dalekmania of the 1960s was a range of bizarre and colourful comic books – but Nation was nudged towards writing an episode around the Daleks origins by the producers, since his recent scripts had become rather samey. As a result, by a collaboration between arguably the best showrunner that Doctor Who has had in its run and the man who originally created the Daleks and was responsible for their direction as a character, Genesis of the Daleks was born.

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But a question remained How could a race like the Daleks actually evolve? Genesis answers this question in the most practical way possible – the Daleks did not evolve, they were created. But in establishing this concept, Terry Nation also had to establish the concept of a creator. And thus the character of Davros began to take shape – and he was actualised by the fantastic Michael Wisher, who sadly did not go on to play Davros in later appearances of the character due to filming commitments, but here he shines as a psychotic megalomaniac, hell-bent on achieving his goal whatever the cost may be. The character of Davros was designed to provide a more human angle to the Daleks and a means of conveying their intentions in a way that did not devolve into chants of ‘Exterminate’. And although Davros would go on to draw attention away from the Daleks in subsequent appearances, here he shines as a player in the plot in his own right. His debates with the Doctor about the morality of what he is hoping to achieve are fascinating, and set the scene for continuations of their debate in the future.

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The introduction of Davros is one of this episodes core strengths, but the other supporting characters in this episode cannot be underestimated. Elisabeth Sladen and Ian Marter are, as always, on point with their representations of Sarah Jane Smith and Harry Sullivan. The trio spend most of their time apart in this episode, with Harry assisting the Doctor in his quest to prevent the Daleks from ever having been created, and Sarah Jane simply attempting to survive, first on the harsh war-torn surface of Skaro and then deep within the Thal city. By far one of the best aspects of this episode is the cunning and manipulative Nyder, who serves as Davros’ right hand man, playing double-agent and essentially collaborating with every evil act which Davros commits in this episode – and he even carries out some of these deeds himself. Another particularly interesting character is the young General – we see him arguing with the Doctor early in the episode, convinced of the Kaled superiority, but he also works with the Doctor later in the story – similarly, the scientist Ronson falls victim to Davros’ earlier scheming due to his mercy towards the Doctor and concern over the morality of creating a creature as merciless as a Dalek.

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However, this episode also introduces a moral dilemma that resonates throughout the show well into the New Series. The Doctor is determined to avoid the inevitable choice of having to destroy the Daleks by relying on his ability to persuade or manipulate the Kaled scientists into betraying Davros and changing the Daleks, restoring their positive emotions. But as the options begin to run out, and Davros tightens his grip over the Kaled bunker using any means necessary, the Doctor is eventually faced with a choice – to destroy the Daleks, or to not destroy them. At this point he seems paralysed, unable to decide which is best – in destroying the Daleks before they have a chance to evolve, he becomes like them, and that is something he cannot face.

So those are my thoughts on Genesis of the Daleks, leave a like if you enjoyed and be sure to like us on Facebook or follow us here on WordPress for more content like this!

Also, click the link below to see my collection of Genesis of the Daleks figures:

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Classic Series Dalek Customs Collection Tour – 1970s era Daleks

Top Ten Sci-Fi Spaceships

The Science-Fiction genre is replete with examples of iconic spaceships, often used as transports and even mobile homes for the characters in science fiction. As such, the ship almost becomes a character in itself, developing its own quirks and technicalities that give it its personality. But the question remains – which ship is the best? For this list we will be judging based on how useful the ship would be, and the extent of its powers. To begin:

10 – Red Dwarf – Red Dwarf

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Despite being a slow, unwieldy, ancient mining ship that is peppered with meteorite impacts, Red Dwarf always pulls though and provides a home for its disparate band of occupants. Also, it comes packaged with Holly, the transgender eighth generation ‘hologrammic’ computer with an IQ that supposedly exceeds 6,000. Depending on the day, Holly might be sane or totally senile, and the ship seems to attract trouble on a near-daily basis. Don’t look forward to speedy travel with the Dwarf, however, since it trundles along at a snail’s pace. You do, however, get Starbug, but its up to you whether or not that’s a good thing.

9 – High Charity – Halo

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The Covenant Holy City-ship of High Charity serves as the cultural, political and military headquarters of the alliance, and mobilises the Covenant assault force against Humanity.  The best thing about High Charity is its environments, which you explore during the Halo 2 levels Gravemind and High Charity. The curved purple interiors and modular architectural design demonstrate the alien nature of the Covenant, and in terms of power it boasts a slipspace drive for instant transportation and a vast array of destructive weapons, with docking structures that can contain and transport hundreds of capital ships. So whether you like strolling through botanical gardens or invading planets with huge fleets of warships, High Charity is for you.

8 – Thunderbird 3 – Thunderbirds

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The ultimate classic rocket design, Thunderbird 3 might not have weapons but it is extraordinarily fast – able to make it halfway around the world in a matter of minutes, in some cases. Overall, the red rocket tops any other rocket-type ship in sci-fi, and the best part about it is that you might even get Tracy Island thrown in, as well as the ability to travel to and dock with Thunderbird 5, an orbital space station. Designed to launch as an SSTO (single-stage-to-orbit) rocket, the ship can be re-used unlike contemporary rockets used by NASA, and it even runs on the same fuel,

7 – Ebon Hawk – Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

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The spiritual predecessor to the Millenium Falcon, the Ebon Hawk serves as the home for the traveling circus cast of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. This ship was constructed over 1,000 years before the Falcon, so it isn’t as fast but it does seem to be more heavily armoured. However, featuring dual engines, the Ebon Hawk was certainly fast for its era, and could certainly hold its own against more powerful ships like the Leviathan. After all, this was Darth Revan’s ship for a reason.

6 – Serenity Firefly

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Similar to the Ebon Hawk, Serenity is a freighter primarily, designed to haul cargo from planet to planet. Thanks to heavy modifications, however, she serves as the vessel of Mal Reynolds and his crew, a band of vagrants and smugglers who partake in various illegal activities. The ship was described by Firefly creator Joss Whedon as the ‘tenth character’ of the series, and she has character indeed – fans have likened Serenity to freighters like the Millenium Falcon. The biggest strength of Firefly-class ships is their durability and ease of repair, and Serenity is no exception.

5 – USS Enterprise-D – Star Trek: The Next Generation

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The USS Enterprise is a fantastic ship in its own right, but the USS Enterprise-D surpasses it in almost every conceivable way. For one, it is essentially just a more powerful version of the original Enterprise, and it also has much more advanced technology aboard like the Holodeck and the Saucer Separation. Not only that, but the ship is also more luxurious, with more space and better living conditions – the original Enterprise was built with practicality in mind, with dull grey bulkheads and no inch of space wasted, whereas the Enterprise-D has a warm beige interior design with the occasional appearance of wood paneling. With the addition of the crew, particularly Data, the Enterprise-D is equipped to deal with any obstacle, whilst also providing a comfortable environment.

4 – Millenium Falcon – Star Wars

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Allegedly the fastest piece of junk in the Galaxy, the Millenium Falcon is certainly a go-to starship if speed is a priority. Han Solo boasts in A New Hope that the Falcon ‘made the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs’, which sounds like he made it up on the spot but will undoubtedly be extrapolated to the Nth degree in the upcoming Solo Movie, but the general jist of what he is saying stands – the Falcon is a fast ship. Able to outrun any Imperial starship, this unassuming-looking freighter has gone on to become one of the most famous ships in the Galaxy, and aided in the destruction of not one but two Death Stars. The only real downside of the Millenium Falcon is its amenities – it is essentially a grotty smuggling vessel, with very few forms of entertainment to pass the time during the long hyperspace jumps (unless you count a dodgy holographic chess set and a flying ball.) The ship would be handy in a pinch, but for long-distance travel the Falcon falls short of the best ‘conventional’ starship in Sci-Fi, which is:

3 – USS Voyager – Star Trek: Voyager

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The Intrepid-class starship won the top spot for Top 10 Federation Starship Classes, and the most famous ship of its class is at least half of the reason why. The exploits of the USS Voyager top any starship of this dimensional plane, and its already advanced and reliable design is augmented by many modifications that the crew picked up during the ship’s time in the Delta Quadrant, including some Borg technology and a massively improved warp drive. With the Voyager also comes the Delta Flyer, a greatly upgraded and improved redesign of the standard Federation Shuttlecraft for ship-to-surface transport or even ship-to-ship dogfights, an innovation that other Federation starships lack. Despite the greater focus on tactical systems and speed, the Voyager still features the entertainment systems available on the Enterprise like the Holodeck, and is sleeker, faster and comes with a holographic medic.

2 – Heart of Gold – Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

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The Heart of Gold is powered by the Infinite Improbability Drive, a wonderful new method of crossing interstellar distances in a mere nothingth of a second, without all that tedious mucking about in hyperspace. This incredible propulsion system temporarily launches the ship through every part of conceivable space simultaneously, and the only payoff is a temporary bout of extremely high improbability, which can cause hallucinations, out-of-body experiences, or a complete rewrite of the ships entire internal environment at a molecular level. Known effects have included the creation, and spontaneous upending, of a million-gallon vat of custard, marrying Michael Saunders, the transformation of a pair of guided nuclear missiles into a whale and a bowl of petunias, and transforming one of its crew into a penguin.

1 – The TARDIS – Doctor Who

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The TARDIS may not look like much of a spaceship, but its abilities exceed all of the other ships on this list combined. Capable of traveling anywhere in time and space, the TARDIS can quite literally take its crew anywhere in any time period, and even other dimensions under the right conditions. If that were not enough, the ship is dimensionally transcendental, meaning the interior exists in a separate dimension to the exterior, creating the illusion that it is bigger on the inside, and the interior of the TARDIS is so vast that after over 2,000 years of owning the ship the Doctor has still not managed to fully map the floor plan. The TARDIS is alive, in a sense, and can alter and reshape its interior to suit the needs of its occupants, as well as allowing for a huge amount of internal systems such as a karaoke bar, a cinema, a library and a swimming pool, all of which occasionally move, change, or in rare cases fuse (causing the swimming pool to sometimes appear in the library). The ship is shielded to the extent that Dalek missiles – of which less than 10 are needed to eradicate a planet – don’t even scratch the blue box. Undoubtedly, no other spaceship in Sci-Fi even comes close to beating the TARDIS.

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And that’s our list of the Top 10 Sci-Fi spaceships. If you enjoyed, be sure to leave a like, and you can follow us and like us on Facebook for more content like this. If you have your own list of Top 10 Sci-Fi spaceships, be sure to leave it down in the comments below!

 

Doctor Who – Why Do Daleks Have Plungers? – Top Questions about the Daleks answered!

The Daleks are the Doctor’s greatest enemy, and have had more appearances throughout the show’s run as any other enemy, so despite the vast swathe of Doctor Who lore out there, a lot of fans both casual and die-hard alike are well-versed in the history of the Daleks. However, certain questions about the Daleks remain. This article will attempt to answer many of the pressing questions that fans have about Skaro’s metal murderers.

Why do the Daleks always shout ‘Exterminate?’ rather than just shoot people on sight?

This is a question you hear all too often about the Daleks. In the lore, the Daleks are supposed to be intergalactic mass-murders who destroy cities, fleets of warships and sometimes even entire worlds in their spare time, and yet when you see them on-screen they appear to dawdle and get caught up screaming ‘Exterminate’ over and over again rather than actually just shoot people. Why is that?

Well, for a start, that isn’t necessarily the case 100% of the time. There are plenty of examples of Daleks shooting on sight, mostly to kill nameless characters or anyone not relevant to the plot. You could say then that the real explanation for the Daleks’ inconsistent behaviour is due to a classic case of plot armour – the Daleks can’t just shoot the Doctor, because then there’d be no Doctor Who, and wouldn’t that be a tragedy.

In-lore, however, there are actually two other possible explanations for this, the first makes its appearance in The Witches’ Familiar, in which Missy finally explains why the Daleks shout ‘Exterminate’ all the time – their weapons channel hatred, and their battle cry is how they reload. It’s an interesting concept, and it’s great that it comes from Missy – the Doctor would be much more likely to try and explain the Daleks’ ways in a more philosophical sense, whereas Missy just gets to the technical ins-and-outs. This not only provides a great insight into how Dalek technology functions (as well as perhaps paying homage to the psycho-kinetic mobility systems that are explored in their very first episode, The Daleks) but it also covers for several instances in Dalek episodes in which they seem to get stuck like a broken record, shouting ‘Exterminate’ over and over again until some convenient plot device comes in to save whoever is in danger (usually the Doctor).

The second explanation for this is slightly more simple, and relates to a concept that, for better or worse, is introduced in Asylum of the Daleks, which relates to how the Daleks view the concept of hatred itself. The Daleks admire anything that can hate as much as they can, and since the Doctor hates the Daleks, they actually admire him for it. Not only that, but they work themselves up into a frenzy over it – imagine each Dalek who tries to kill the Doctor agonising internally over whether or not to kill their greatest enemy, or spare him simply because of the raw untapped hatred that festers within. This can count for any hate-filled species, which might also explain the Daleks’ initial poor luck in their war against the Movellans – but we’ll get to that later.

Why were the Daleks set back by 1,000 years in Genesis of the Daleks by a collapsed corridor?

This one is interesting, to say the least. In Genesis of the Daleks, the Doctor fails in his mission to destroy the Daleks before they are even created, but he does achieve one small victory – he manages to destroy their embryonic growth tanks, and also destroy the one entrance into the Dalek bunker, effectively trapping them inside. But he then says that he estimates that these two actions have stunted Dalek development by a thousand years, which seems unlikely, particularly given their persistent nature. So why is this?

Essentially, it comes down to a cascading effect, and also relates to the death of Davros. In destroying the Dalek embryo tanks, the Doctor wipes out all of the Daleks growing inside, and also destroys their means of reproduction. Since the Daleks also kill Davros, their creator, as well as all the other Kaleds, they have no means of procreating, and basically have to start from scratch. Given the limited resources available, it’s a small wonder that the Daleks don’t just die out there and then, and having to rebuild a delicate and precise genetics laboratory with no arms is no simple task.

Why do the Daleks always seem to lose, when they have such a fearsome reputation?

Another common criticism of the Daleks is that they lose too much. This is fair, as we rarely see long-lasting Dalek victories on screen. However, there is plenty of evidence on-screen to suggest that they have conquered a significant portion of the galaxy. We see humans in conflict with Daleks in the future in plenty of classic Doctor Who episodes, and we also see the Daleks subjugating alien races too, like the Thals, the Aridians and the Exxilons. We see an example of a Dalek prison camp in Destiny of the Daleks, giving us an idea of how the Daleks treat the residents of the planets that they conquer. But they never actually manage to destroy the human race. In The Parting of the Ways, the humans on Satellite 5 know of the Daleks from legend, but claim that they ‘died out’ thousands of years ago, relative to their time period of 200,100, obviously to fight in the Time War.

So the Daleks are spread out across the Galaxy, fighting what is essentially a war with infinite fronts – it is in their nature to attempt to destroy everything that they encounter, which is no easy task, even for them. And then you must take into account the instances where, by pure fluke, the Dalek expanse was halted or reversed, such as the Movellans devious virus, the Dalek Civil Wars, or their mass exodus out of time and space to throw all of their resources at Gallifrey’s planetary shield at the conclusion of the Time War. If the Daleks hadn’t suffered these setbacks, judging by what we have already seen on-screen, there is no doubt that they would have conquered the Galaxy. The greatest obstacle standing in their way, however, is the Doctor, who has been declared on multiple occasions to be the Daleks’ greatest enemy for meddling in their affairs at critical points throughout their history and derailing many of their more destructive plans. As the show’s expanded universe often points out though, the Doctor cannot stop every Dalek invasion. As such, the Daleks have still caused immeasurable destruction throughout the Galaxy that the Doctor never really sees, and as the Doctor never experiences it, we as the audience don’t either.

Classic and Modern Daleks work together on Skaro

Why do the Daleks change their appearance over time, when they regard themselves as the pinnacle of all evolution?

Again, the real-life answer for the Daleks’ changing appearance is due to the evolution of the BBC’s production values and materials, similarly to how the Borg in Star Trek change their appearance over time despite existing in their original form for millions of years. In-universe, the Borg appear to adapt when they encounter a race that benefits them, and the same can be said for the Daleks.

As far as the casings are concerned, the Daleks undoubtedly incorporate new materials and techniques into their design as they encounter them, such as the Metalert that was accidentally discovered and absorbed by the Dalek scientist Zeg, which was later used to create the casing for Dalek Sec. Although the Daleks constantly view themselves as supreme, they are not above altering certain aspects of their design when they feel that it was make themselves even more ‘supreme’.

As far as the actual physical appearance of the mutant is concerned, there is a simple in-universe explanation for this as well, although it requires some explanation. Although the Daleks central philosophy is maintaining their own genetic ‘purity’, their physical form does mutate over time. This stands to reason, as they were created using nuclear radiation, and it is very possible that by the time the Daleks go off to fight the Time War, they are practically a different species to the Daleks we see in the city on Skaro. This is proven by the alterations to the Dalek physical form that we see in Remembrance of the Daleks and The Parting of the Ways. One thing that is clear, however, is that following Victory of the Daleks, the Dalek Empire has returned to its original, ‘pure-bred’ state after surviving for years as half-mad hybrids or derivations, which the new Daleks dramatically destroy in the climax of that episode.

Why would a race like the Daleks ever fight a Civil War?

Speaking of Remembrance, that episode and its two predecessors, Resurrection and Revelation, introduce a fascinating new aspect to Dalek lore, and that is the concept of an all-out Dalek Civil War. It seems odd that a race as single-minded and fanatically loyal as the Daleks would ever fight such a war, since Dalek rebellions or dissent among the ranks are unheard of given their nature. But the seeds for this idea were sowed as far back as Evil of the Daleks, in which the Second Doctor causes a civil war to break out in the Dalek city on Skaro by infecting a significant portion of the Daleks with the ‘Human Factor’, making them able to express emotion and question orders.

In terms of the actual full-scale Civil War to follow, however, one must look to Destiny of the Daleks for the first stages of the answer. The Movellans, who are able to effectively combat the Daleks due to their development of a synthetic virus which is the only disease which affects them, reduce the Dalek Empire to rubble overnight, cutting dozens of Dalek holdouts off from each other, which continue to exist even after the Movellans are eventually wiped out. Cut off from the main Empire, and believing themselves to be the only survivors, these Daleks go on to adapt and change for the same reasons discussed earlier, leading to several splinter factions who regard all of the other factions of Daleks as inferior.

And then Davros gets thrown into the mix, and he takes this a step further by actually creating Daleks from different template species, such as humans, and also altering the Dalek base design by incorporating far more cybernetic elements to make them obedient to him, basically creating a race of Daleks that are more machine than organic. The result is a Dalek Civil War on many fronts, with many factions, that lasts for centuries as the main Dalek Empire focuses on wiping out all of the smaller splinter factions, which they consider to be an affront to their existence. It is even implied in Remembrance that the Daleks hate non-pure Daleks more than they hate humans, which certainly explains why they get so caught up in constant in-fighting rather than focusing on destroying humanity.

And finally, arguably the most pressing question of all…

Why do the Daleks have plungers?

Ah, the quirks of 1960s prop design. Supposedly the idea of a totally inhuman appendage that defies our understanding scared people back then. In truth, the plunger is a bit of a weird choice to have opposite the gunstick, and frankly is amazing that it has been retained all these years, particularly in the new series. The Americans did away with the plunger for their Daleks, instead preferring a more sinister silver claw, but we Brits like to stick to our guns – or, rather, cleaning utensils.

In fairness, the revival did wonders for actually trying to make this appendage seem scary – it looks less like a toilet plunger with its detail, but still retains the same shape, and it is revealed in Dalek that it can not only morph to fit around panels and buttons to use a an actual manipulator, but it can also form a tight seal around a human’s face to suffocate them to death and also apply enough force to crush a man’s skull like it was polystyrene.

The in-lore explanation for the manipulator arm, as it is officially named, is that it is a catch-all device for performing as many tasks as possible with one standard attachment. The problem with the Daleks having a claw is that this is a recognizable human shape, a hand, and that detracts from the Daleks’ most chilling aspect which is their utterly unapologetic non-humanness. When one takes into account the fact that it can change shape, it actually makes a lot of sense, especially since the Daleks aren’t likely to carry spare tools around with them. It also doubles as a scanner, a brainwave-extractor, a tea-tray-carrier and, if the situation requires it, it can make quite an effective close-range weapon for ripping people’s faces off. I think I’d prefer a quick extermination, thanks.

How do Daleks build things?

Daleks build things using a combination of their technical genius, their plungers and sheer determination. Despite their odd design, Dalek plungers can extend and retract, hold objects with a vice-like grip, and rotate and move objects in ways Human hands can’t, making them perfectly functional. Daleks can also replace the plunger with other tools like welders for specific tasks.

How do Daleks reproduce?

Daleks reproduce by growing new Dalek mutants in genetic laboratories and installing them into Dalek casings which are built on production lines. The Power of the Daleks showed us that Daleks were capable of setting up new Dalek production facilities using samples of their own DNA, metals from a Human colony and a constant supply of electricity. This means that a single Dalek ship can theoretically create a new Dalek production line anywhere it lands.

Do Daleks Eat or Sleep?

Because their casings provide nutrients and life support for the Dalek mutant, Daleks never need to eat or sleep. The corpses of their victims are pulped and fed into Dalek casings to provide sustenance, and their brain chemistry is constantly monitored and sustained by their life support system so they will never need nor want rest of any kind.

Can Daleks Fly Anywhere?

Daleks can not only fly, they can fly practically anywhere. The exact range of a single Dalek’s flight is not known, but they are capable of flying at high speeds in-atmosphere and even faster in space, to the extent that a single Dalek can serve as a fully-shielded heavy aerial fighter-bomber, as episodes like Evolution of the Daleks and The Stolen Earth show that their firepower can be maximized to destroy buildings and vehicles.

Can Daleks Work Underwater?

Daleks can work perfectly underwater, and this has been known to fans since as far back as their second ever appearance in The Dalek Invasion of Earth in 1964 when a Dalek rose ominously out of the Thames. Daleks can either traverse the bed of a body of water or use their flight abilities to move through the water like sharks, and their weapons can be instantly adapted to be functional underwater.

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Doctor Who – Ranking every Series of New Who

Ranking the 10 New Who seasons (or ‘series’ here in the UK) is difficult, particularly because there is no ‘right’ answer. Each and every series has its good episodes and bad episodes, and there is no universally accepted ranking of the series that will please everybody. As such, this list will be my opinion only, and will (for the sake of simplicity), include both the 2010 specials and the 2013 specials as separate entries. Be sure not to take this list too seriously, after all, it is only one writer’s view, and I’d love to read your version of this list in the comments below, and I’ll try and make this list as unpredictable as possible.

13: Series 7

Okay, well perhaps this was a bit predictable.

Series 7 only makes the bottom because its unlike any other series of NewWho, in that there are hardly any truly memorable episodes. I genuinely struggled to remember them all, and that’s probably something to do with the terrible formatting of this series. From what I remember, the best episode in the series is probably Cold War, with A Town Called Mercy and Dinosaurs on a Spaceship in close second. And that’s really about it for good episodes – Series 7 has such godawful episodes as Asylum of the Daleks, The Power of Three and The Name of the Doctor, a finale that achieved nothing and, according to some, throws the entire canonicity of the Classic series into doubt. So yeah, Series 7 misses badly.

12: Series 6

Again, I struggled to put Series 6 anywhere but here because even though it has three of my favourite episodes of all time (The Doctor’s Wife, The Girl Who Waited and The God Complex,) the split into two parts really damages Series 6. Despite having what is arguably one of the biggest ‘reveals’ in recent Doctor Who history, Series 6’s truncated nature makes this seem undeserved and could have benefited from more build-up. The stories are messy, there’s too much focus on Doctor Who ‘going American’ and Night Terrors is not scary regardless of what anyone says. Plus, there isn’t a single dedicated Dalek episode, and the only Cyberman episode it gets is Closing Time. The less said about that the better.

11: Series 11

Despite the storm surrounding the casting of the first female Doctor, Jodie Whittaker’s first series as the Thirteenth Doctor was underwhelming. A lack of returning monsters, no clear character arc or development, a lack of a strong series arc in general, and a few too many lacklustre episodes meant that Series 11 felt less like a reboot of the show and more like a high-budget yet poorly-made fan production. The fault doesn’t lie with Jodie Whittaker, who is sharing the limelight with three other companions (an arrangement that rarely went well in Classic Who) and each companion has the potential to be great in their own right – there just isn’t enough time with 10 episodes of 50 minutes each. In my opinion, the best thing Series 11 has going for it is Resolution, but that’s only because its a Dalek story.

10: 2013 Specials

Almost forgot about these, didn’t you?

Technically this hardly counts as a series since it’s barely 3 episodes, but the 2013 specials are packaged differently from Series 7 by the BBC and as such as considered a separate entity. This is very convenient for me because it means I can distinguish between these episodes that are, for the most part, decent episodes in their own right, from the shambles that was Series 7.

That being said, the 2013 specials are only really higher than Series 7 because of the 50th anniversary special The Day of the Doctor, and the 8-minute long minisode Night of the Doctor starring Paul McGann as his first on-screen reprisal of the role of the Eight Doctor since 1996. Unfortunately, this series is dragged down by the confusing mess that is The Time of the Doctor, which offers some truly awesome moments but little more other than that in terms of actual plot.

9: Series 2

It is undoubtable that David Tennant’s first series has some fantastic episodes, not least the superlative The Girl in the Fireplace and the chilling two-parter The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit. However, this series has an achilles heel – Peter Kay. Love and Monsters stands as one of the worst episodes in Doctor Who history, and despite a recent resurgence of alternative interpretations of the episode that attempt to explain away the goofy comedy and terrible monster design, this episode will always remain one of my least favourite episodes of Doctor Who that, coupled with Fear Her and The Idiot’s Lantern, makes Series 2 one of the lower tier entries in my opinion. I still love Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel though, and if it weren’t for the recent World Enough and Time I’d put them at the top of my best Cyberman stories list

8: Series 8

Peter Capaldi’s opening series is so close to being fantastic, the only reason why it ranks low on this list is because of one major drawback. Clara. Why on earth Clara didn’t leave after the Name of the Doctor is anybody’s guess, and whilst she is more of a character in this series rather than a plot device, the character she has developed into in this series almost makes me miss the cardboard cutout Clara we got in Series 7. She is bossy, self-righteous and tries too hard to be the Doctor. Is she the worst companion of all time? No. But if it was just this series to go off of, she would be in the top 3 worst companions easily. So despite there being a few true gems in this series, like Mummy on the Orient Express, Flatline, Into the Dalek and Death in Heaven, the presence of Clara brings the whole series down in my opinion.

7: 2010 Specials

David Tennant’s final run of episodes barely stands as a series in its own right, but unlike the 2013 specials that are boxed separately from Series 7 (despite only having a whopping 2 and a half episodes), the 2010 specials were all we got from Doctor Who in 2010, since Series 4 ended with Tennant still in the role and yet it would still be 5 more episodes before he regenerates and Matt Smith takes over for Series 5. Because it was to be Tennant’s final run and the writers believed we needed something a bit more ‘epic’, we ended up with a run of episodes that are comparable in many ways to Marmite – you either love them or you hate them. This is perfectly demonstrated by fan reaction to The End of Time, with both parts seeming too drawn out and overblown, and yet this series also gives us The Waters of Mars, one of the best horror episodes in recent memory. Also, “I don’t want to go?” will forever remain the most unlikeable ‘last words’ for a Doctor incarnation since the Sixth Doctor’s “Carrot Juice”.

6: Series 9

As we get closer to the top spot it is hard to actually rank the top 5 or 6 in any order, since I love most of the new series of Doctor Who so much. However, Series 9 is certainly placed here as the official ‘least favourite of my favourite Doctor Who series’. Series 9 has some amazing episodes, and the fact that most of them are two-parters helps enormously – in fact, I would argue that there is no single two-part episode in this series that is anything less than good overall. However, an aspect of this series that falls flat is that a lot of the opening halves of the two-part episodes are a lot worse than their conclusions. The Magician’s Apprentice, The Girl Who Died and The Zygon Invasion are all vastly inferior to their concluding episodes in a strange inversion of the norm for Doctor Who two-parters. The one obvious exception to this rule is the masterpiece that is Heaven Sent, arguably the greatest episode of Doctor Who of all time, being followed by the poorly-received Hell Bent. Overall, Series 9 should have been a strong middle-act for the Twelfth Doctor’s era, but was bogged down by Clara’s fake-out death and the infamous Sleep No More.

5: Series 4

I like Series 4 a lot, which is why it makes high on this list, but apparently I don’t like Series 4 as much as most other people seem to like Series 4. It constantly makes the top spot of fan polls on favourite series, and for good reason: It is the final proper series of the Tenth Doctor, who to a lot of people is the best Doctor of the decade, or even of all time. Also, Series 4 has Donna, who is one of my personal favourite companions, and yet Series 4 doesn’t make any higher on this list for me because it also represents what some have dubbed ‘the beginning of the end for Doctor Who’, and a lot of people seem to think that Series 4 is ‘as good as it gets’. These people often also seem to be the same sort of people who would tell you to ‘skip nine’, and that the classic series is ‘boring and doesn’t matter anyway’. So to those people I say, Series 4 is good, yes, but its not that good. Planet of the Ood and Midnight aside, it’s arguably quite mediocre, and if it weren’t for the duo of the Doctor and Donna, it wouldn’t poll anywhere nearly as high. Sorry.

4: Series 1

Speaking of Nine, Christopher Eccleston’s only series to date as the Ninth Doctor brought back Doctor Who in a big way, and set up the show to be one of the most popular BBC shows of the decade. With explosive epics like World War Three and The Parting of the Ways coupled with some great psychological horror in The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances its hard not to love this series, even if it did have three episodes dedicated to farting green aliens. Also, it has Dalek. That alone is enough to propel this series to the top 4. The only downside to this entire series for me is the unnecessary kiss at the end of the finale, which I have spent the rest of my life attempting to unsee. And no, I’m not talking about when Captain Jack kisses the Doctor. You know the bit I’m talking about. “Come here… I think you need a Doctor.” Curse you, Russell.

3: Series 3

So at number 3 we have Series 3, which also seems to be a divisive series among fans. On the one hand, people who love Martha argue that this series didn’t do her justice, and the constant pining for Rose that dominates the Doctor’s character for most of this series is a major drawback on it for me, and is what prevents this series from reaching the top spot. However, the best episodes in this series, Family of Blood/Human Nature, focus almost entirely on Martha and how she deals with situations without the Doctor, which obviously sets her up for her departure at the end of the series, making Martha the only New Who companion to leave the Doctor on her own terms. No tears, no sudden death, no potentially problematic forced mind-erasure, just a simple “See ya Doctor”.  Also, this series has Blink, which has become hugely overrated but is still a fantastic episode. It’s just a shame that the finale was so… wacky.

2: Series 10

Peter Capaldi’s final series of Doctor Who is, undoubtedly, one of the best of the New Series. Bill and the Doctor have a relationship unlike anything we’ve seen in New Who before, which mirrors the Grandfather/Granddaughter relationship that the original pairing of the First Doctor and Susan obviously had, and yet it also has an element of a Teacher/Student dynamic, which makes Bill akin to a new Ace, thus elevating her into the pantheon of my top 3 favourite companions, at least. Also, Series 10 sees the return of John Simm as the Master, with arguably his best performance as the character to date, there’s the redemption arc for Missy that truly brings the character full circle, a great Dalek cameo in the first episode, and the return of the Mondasian Cybermen. And that’s not even scratching the surface of some of the episodes. Extremis, Oxygen, The Eaters of Light, World Enough and Time, The Doctor Falls, and even Knock Knock all rank as some of my favourite episodes of Doctor Who of all time. And, at last, after trying for what must be over 10 years, we finally get a half-decent, dare I say ‘good’ episode written by Mark Gatiss with The Empress of Mars. Bravo.

1: Series 5

And so, we reach the top spot, and it was difficult to decide what to place here, since I could just as easily have argued the case for any of the past 3 or 4 entries being number one themselves. However, I have to put Series 5 in the top spot due to what it represents, how it performs as a standalone series, and how it contributed to keeping Doctor Who stable in what was, all things considered, a very unstable time for the show.

Series 5 successfully pulled off the transition from Russel T. Davies to Steven Moffat, and replaced David Tennant with Matt Smith. Although this wasn’t the first time the Doctor had changed actors in New Who, this was the first radical shift in the show’s identity post-2005. And despite all the naysayers claiming that Doctor Who would die with Tennant’s departure, Series 5 went on to be one of the most critically acclaimed series of Doctor Who, with fantastic episodes such as Amy’s Choice, Vincent and the Doctor and The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood. The opener, The Eleventh Hour, stands to this day as one of the best opening episodes for a new Doctor in the history of the show, beaten only by Troughton’s The Power of the Daleks. And the finale represents a significant shift from the Davies-style ‘epic finale’ to a more reserved and simple setup of the Doctor, Amy, Rory and River being chased around a museum by a Dalek with the fate of the universe at stake. It screams Classic Who in so many ways.

And despite what they would later become, the trio of the Doctor, Amy and Rory stands at its strongest in this series. Series 5 predates the sickening soap-opera antics of Series 6 and 7 and we get the trio’s dynamic in its purest form, with Matt Smith playing a fantastic Doctor with his ability to appear ancient and otherworldly despite being only 26 at the time. Amy is a fantastic companion in this series, and arguably overall if we ignore Series 7. But the best thing about Series 5 by far is the character development of Rory, which is handled far better than Russel’s take on Mickey Smith in my opinion, since in the space on one series we see Rory go from a timid, nervous nurse to a strong and capable member of the TARDIS team who makes a huge sacrifice in the name of love and gets the girl in the end as icing on the cake. Aww.

Do you agree with this list?

Probably not, I’d wager. But regardless, be sure to leave your thoughts on this list (and perhaps your own version of this ranking) in the comments, It’s always interesting to read about why people love or hate particular Doctors, Seasons or Episodes, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you favourite or least favourite series of Doctor Who is.

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