I haven’t watched Dr Who since the abysmal reworking of the 80s and early 90s. They made it quirky, less serious, the effects still rubbish but so as to make it kitch and camp. There are a lot of people in this country who remember the good old days of Tom Baker, John Pertwee, and that guy who went on to be in All Creatures Great and Small. Anything since has been sacrilege.
It is then perhaps a massive surprise that the current BBC reprisal of Dr Who is actually very very good. Its modernized, the acting first rate, especially from Christopher Ecklestone who has stepped into the Dr.’s shoes. He brings an Northern regional accent to the party, a glumness, and a sarcastic wit. He is a bit edgier.
So is, lets be fair, his side kick, the very attractive Rose played by Billy Piper who used to be married to a ginger called Chris Evans who no one but Mike will know. Anyway, there is no little sex appeal there and this is part of the sub text of her relationship with the Dr. Even the script is written by a guy who is so hot right now and who you may better know for his work on the award winning Queer as Folk.
The effects have something for everyone. The old school puppets are not betrayed but kept and subsidized with CGI which makes it more exciting and more real ( and at the same time not. thats SCI Fi I guess.), and more scary. This is a prime time show for all the family on a saturday evening and there is enough knowing humour for the parents and enough thrills and spills for the kids and folks alike to make this a real gem.
This weekend, though, was the big one, the one we had all been waiting for (except me who was not ready to face my demons), the Daleks. Ending up quite by accident in a futuristic earth setting, the Tardis emerges in an underground bunker. There they find many space artifacts on display, a Cyberman’s head, various weapons etc etc. Anyway, they are captured and it turns out some mad American guy who secretly owns the internet, spends his money on alien hardware, using the technology and patenting inventions off the back of it.
His prize, it turns out, is a live Dalek which he has chained up. He tortures it, its screams heard loud and clear. This is a pretty hardcore scene and one I know got lots of complaints. The writers are not afraid to reference contemporary events, British politics and things like the war and clearly here we are intended to be reminded of the moral and ethical low points of the Prison in Abu Ghraib prison.
When the Dalek sees the Dr he of course speaks. “Exterminate” he says. I leapt behind the sofa. The Dr wants to kill it. He hates it. It hates him. Turns out the Dalek is trying to get in touch with the rest of them and the Dr breaks it to him that he is the last. The Dr is the last of the Timelords too. Turns out they have more in common than the Dr would care to believe and its pointed out after one of the many attempts to capture the Dalek once it inevitably escapes that the Dr.’s single minded brutality towards the Dalek means he would make a good Dalek.
I am getting ahead of myself because the Dalek is only able to escape once it recharges itself and it does that off the DNA of Rose, who feels sorry for it and touches it. Women. Needless to say the ensuing rampage is special. The ray gun now has a nice x-ray effect as it disintegrates the Earthlings. More importantly, those sniggering as the earthlings run up the stairs (admittedly the only thing that kept me from wetting the bed in fear as a child) are in for a shock as the Dalek says “Elevate” and begins to hover up the stairs, killing those in its path.
Surely this is it for mankind. One Dalek is too much for anyone. The Dr cant trap it, its too smart. No. its okay. Its war of the worlds all over again. Except this time the Dalek has been infected by Rose’s human DNA and has developed complex feelings about itself and being alone and killing etc etc. I am making this sound more cheesy than it is really. Anyway. rather than live with not being itself , a Dalek, it chooses to kill itself with the help of Rose with whom it shares an affinity. Dalek Euthanasia if you will.
All in all a good time was had by all.
I cant wait for the Cybermen to be honest or anything that this script writer and this team of actors can produce.