Monday, 19 April 2010

Apologies For The Double Post

I seem to have hit a rather defiant stretch of writer's block right now (actually, that isn't true; it's more that I'm putting a lot into one of my two half-finished novels - the first thing I've ever written that I have even the slightest notion of perhaps submitting for publication some day - and I don't seem to have anything left over for the blog), so I'm finding it hard to think of things to post about. In lieu of anything new and sexy and exciting, then, I figured I may go for break in the time-wasting stakes, and post some more up about Saturday's Who episode, despite it not even warranting the amount of effort I put into it last time around.

Let's talk about the Daleks some more. Specifically, what seems to be the two most common complaints about them this time around. The first complaint is that the new variants look too much like they've been deliberately designed in order to create a new toy range.

This isn't entirely true, I don't think. The problem isn't that the Daleks look like someone designed them so as to make new toys, it's that they look like someone has already designed the new toys, and then the TV versions were created from those. Look at how cheap and simplistic these new Daleks look:

No fine detail, no intricate knobbly bits. Trollface over on the SFX forum argued they looked like they'd been made from vacuum-formed plastic, and he's right. It looks for all the world like the decision was made over what a toy could realistically look like, and the series version of the Daleks was created accordingly. This would most certainly not be the first time in TV history that a toy created a narrative (or even a show), rather than the other way round, but in the sheer brazenness stakes, this may be a first for Who.

The other problem, I am much more willing to defend. A lot of people are keen to know why the Daleks - so famous for simply gliding forwards with blasters blazing until everything non-Dalek was non-moving - would attempt such a bizarre plan of infiltration and defeat. Why not just turn up in London and start wrecking up the place?

Thinking about this, actually, I think the plan something to be said for it. From all appearances, there were at absolute maximum three surviving Daleks. It's even possible that the one left on the ship was the only survivor, and the other two were genuinely created by Bracewell.

This leads to two tentative conclusions. Firstly, you have the possibility that last surviving ship was actually a comparatively rubbish one-Dalek saucer, which helps to explain why three Spitfires (yes, with Dalek cannons) could pose a serious threat (even with its shields down, one would think a Dalek Saucer would be the odds on favourite in such a fight by some considerable distance).

Secondly, and not unlrelated, is it possible that the last remaining Dalek has perhaps actually learned something after all those ridiculously embarrassing defeats? Perhaps it's no longer prepared to go in all guns blazing and hope to win by sheer body count. Somewhere in that coldly xenophobic processor, it's finally worked out that the Underpants Gnome theory of interstellar dominance is no longer working. Step 1: Blow up everything in front of it. Step 3: Total victory! But what's Step 2?

Step 2, it's now realised, is: Get your pepperpot-head handed to you by the Doctor. And that, from a Dalek perspective, is rubbish.

The very first Last Dalek, back in Season 1, had absolutely nothing to lose but its chains, and its mind. Step 3 was no longer an option, so it pretty much decided to settle on Step 1 in perpetuity. The latest Last Dalek - only someone with the memory of a goldfish would be prepared to call it the last Last Dalek - is in a very different situation. It can get to Step 3. It can bring back the Dalek race. And all it has to do is find his species' deadliest enemy, and not have him blow its eyestalk into oblivion.

The Daleks are supposed to be the universe's most efficient practitioners of warfare. They are warfare, to all intents and purposes. And I very much like the idea that there are certain situations in which their logic units point them towards tactics more complex than "Float along, zap". It's not really a new idea, after all. What was Spirodon but an attempt to improve the Daleks through subterfuge? The first two or three episodes of Remembrance of the Daleks reads like nothing so much as what the Daleks would consider smoke and mirrors.

The last advantage to this line of thinking is you could even twist it into a reason for the Progenator not opening. The same mental state that led our last Dalek to start thinking of alternatives to the frontal assault has rendered it insufficiently Dalek-y for the Progenator to want to have anything to do with. Sure, the claim in the episode is that it's a biological issue, but then there's a certain appeal to the idea that our newly-humbled pepperpot literally cannot grasp what the problem is. [1]

I suspect plenty of people would hate the idea of Daleks feeling that they need to be prudent and sneaky (though once the show got o "WE MUST NOW RELY ON SOLDIERS MADE FROM PIGS", I'd argue it had already crossed that particular Rubicon). You could also take the Remembrance idea and run with it, and suggest the problems lies in the Progenator being an Imperial device, which won't recognise the Stolen Earth Daleks, who are surely Purestrain almost by definition. Still, it's something to consider, at least.

[1] I acknowledge the problem here is why a Dalek AI operates in a different way to a Dalek itself. The best I can think of is that the former has partially transcended its own programming and become something all together more considered. Now there's a pleasingly terrifying idea...

No comments: