Oh, yes, this one of the old-skool efforts I wrote while watching it for the first time.
1:19 Please note, as 'By Mark Gatiss' came up on screen I said 'Fuck.' This is probably an overreaction, though...
2:03 In trying to emulate the famous cadence of dear old Winnie Ian McNeice seems to be performing all of his lines with a mouth full of licorice allsorts...
2:20 ... sorry, Amy thinks she's a genius for working out this is the war room? *Sigh*
3:27 When he starts talking about the 'Narsey' menace I begin to wonder how seriously McNeice is taking this all. I guess I'll see soon whether it's with good reason..
And I guess it takes away any wonder that this is only the third WWII story to show up on screen - in pop culture terms, which Dr Who actually does use a lot to deal with its history - even back in the supposedly much more serious Hartnell era - WWII has become comic book territory. The Curse of Fenric and The Empty Child combatted this effect by stories well off the beaten track - they mainly both used WWII as a vague context for the stories and focused on odd tangential stories. TEC had nothing to do with the army, after all, swinging the spotlight onto the terrified civilian life living through the Blitz and Fenric while seemingly improbably disarmed a lot of the typical WWII fodder by making the bad guys Russians... and then making them NOT bad guys at all!
Incidentally, what some people have regarded as the biggest barrier to finding Fenric credible, aside from the generally overlooked fact that the Doctor has to make certain that grey, mutated vampires rule the Earth in just a century's time (seriously - why does nobody question that bit???) , that the Russians would conduct a commando raid against Blighty in secret at the time when they were allies isn't as incredible as you think. I just recently read about how Polish-speaking American paratroopers were actively recruited for a top secret OSS mission, where they were to be dropped into Poland to arm and train the resistance to fight the enemy. Only, the further the men got into their briefing the clearer it became that 'the enemy' was actually the forces of the USSR. As it happened, the plan didn't go through, as the Russians advanced too quickly to contain. Makes you think, though...
Anyway, back to something that probably won't be quite as grey-on-grey...
3:45 GAH! That professor looked a little bit Gatiss himself!
3:56 .. okay, that bomb dropped close enough to illuminate Amy's entire body with it's flash and they're in no actual danger?
4:41 Sorry, small detail - they said earlier that the targets were usually out of range, indicating that they aren't now... but those planes were very close. AA should have been on them not long after first visual. Also, the planes were flying in a very abnormally close formation and seemingly quite low for a bombing run of this sort. I don't think we should give props to the Daleks at all and just pin it all on bloody suicidal Kraut pilots.
So.. how silly is the idea for this episode? How many times have the Daleks missed their targets in the classic series, dealing with blokes running not-terribly-fast over a distance of about fifteen feet max? Now they're fucking crackshots at anti-aircraft fire of distances of miles? Pretty odd considering the fact that their guns are shown to have a fairly cosmetic effects on metal and most things inorganic, since they were designed for the sole purpose of genocide of shirtless hippy blokes (or Soviet expies who didn't believe in body armour, depending which origin story we go with this week..)
5:49 Okay so this week Amy's parochial enough to insist that Bracewill's smarter than the Doctor because he's Scottish? Jesus Christ. Even when I compliment Gatiss I have to say he isn't flattering to any female companion he writes for..
6:25 "When I rang you a month ago I admit I had my doubts", ah retconning how I have missed you...
6:37 ... Winnie's in love with the Daleks because of their 'absolute hostility' and the power of their weaponry.... so he assigns them to move files around the office? Somehow this reminds me of Warbot From Accounting...
6:50 "They invaded your world, planets in the skies, you don't forget that..."
I actually was lucky enough to have forgotten that. Now there's ANOTHER reason this isn't making sense. But, of course, this line is the sound of the script editor's pen scribbling madly. Let's hear what Gazza came up with...
7:07 Oh. So we're being enigmatic, then. Lindsay Duncan remembered them...
9:00 - Incidentally, Churchill did actually go to a bunker especially set up for he and the War Cabinet during air raids in the London Underground. I know this because Billy Connolly went there. Sometime after the war I'm sure...
9:34 WOULD-YOU-CARE-FOR-SOME-TEA???? Okay, I lol'ed at that. The hostility in the sentence was very amusing. As the Daleks get more and more milked out making them say funny things has become a big factor in writing stories for them I've noticed. After all, what point did Legacy of the Daleks serve other than to have Daleks quoting Shakespeare? Or Brotherhood of the Daleks aside from Daleks singing in a Soviet chorus? Or, indeed, The Stolen Earth aside from that one scene where Daleks shouts in German, which is basically everyone's favourite bit, several listing it as the one good bit in the story. (Impressive for a 5 second scene..)
9:44 - OH YES! This is the scene that got leaked when they rehearsed it the night after Matt Smith OD'ed on mescaline and had to come in and do it on his hospital bed. Let's see how much the delivery has improved...
10:38 "Yes, DOCTAH! DEATH TO MY ENEMIES!" Change the fucking record, Churchill. Jesus Christ can we get a scene without your larger-than-life bloodlust here?
10:45 "Yes, Winston, and death to everyone else, too!" ARRRGH! STOP REPEATING YOURSELVES!
10:47 I was going to make a joke about the Dalek offering tea again... and he did it! He bloody did it! YOU MANIACS! YOU BLEW IT UP!
12:17 "I AM THE DOCTOR! AND YOU ARE THE daleks."
Definitely an improvement.
It occurred to me this scene would be cool if I hadn't seen and heard it around twice a year since 2005. Dear god, Rusty, what have you done?
12:52 Yes! That miniature of the Dalek ship was very shoddy! The special effects are definitely worse this year. THIS FUCKING FANTASTIC! We're getting some alien planet for sure.
13:19 Phew. Lucky thing Churchill waited so long to call the redshirts in, or they may have gotten some lines.
14:12 ... now this is looking like a generic Dalek story....
14:23 The rogue janitor is activated???? So... they're sending Neil Flynn in?
16:18 I was about to complain about the idea of the TARDIS having a self-destruct but then I realised it's pretty definitely a bluff on the Doctor's part and he's just holding a novelty-sized Life Saver.
16:45 Oh, yes, one ship survived and 'fell back through time'... seriously, who the fuck cares by now? Can't we just go back to the glory of Sawardian exposition now?
THE DOCTOR: Wtf? You're dead, I killed you!
MASTER: As if. Dying's for queers.
Ah, those wonderful days..
17:49 So far as I can follow these are survivors of the mongrel Daleks that Davros somehow made by scraping meat off his own ribcage and that makes me think on from that... what a wasted opportunity to NOT make these inbred excuses of Daleks weaker than the 'pure' deal from Time War era and The Cult of Skaro that the Doctor faced. Seriously, give yourself some storytelling wiggle space. Sadly, these fuckers are able to fly.
ARRRRGH! I still grapple with this one. Hovering is plausible, hovering and no other action - hover devices roughly Dalek size have been made but - come on! The power of anti-gravity?? It's not as if the Daleks were fucking bereft of impressive powers to begin with, is it? God they suck. Daleks suck so much. They're like a televisual black fucking hole. Times like this when I think about what god-awful super-powered suckage lumps of entertainment anti-matter they've become in their modern bastardisation I wonder why the fuck I watch this show, I really do. In fact, fuck it, I'm going to watch some Fringe...
ARRRRGH! They open with a fucking recap. I HATE RECAPS MORE THAN I HATE DALEKS. So.... I guess we carry on.
18:37 Oooh... luckily despite my not-even-really-about-this-episode rant what follows is pretty damned clever. The Daleks are actually underpowered here given their ship is on the verge of collapse and so are unable to attack. So their attack - switch London's lights on. I was about to complain about the idea because this isn't really possible but then I realised - it is.
Well... not quite possible. We don't have the technology to do it but completely plausible. Tesla had a handle on the wireless projection of electricity back round the turn of C20 and though it required an awful load of electricity that's precisely what the Daleks canonically have in abundance. (Even if I'm going off David Whittaker's notes on Daleks mentally, which is basically Chuck Norris Facts with a Find-and-Replace done in Microsoft Word)
20:34 ... wait, Moffat's even introducing new Daleks as well? Cor, was he happy with NOTHING in the RTD era?
...okay, that question was a little ironic coming from me...
Also, they had the DNA... where do they get the massive Dalekanium casings from?
22:28 So THIS is how we get to Biggles Exterminates Some Kaled Arse....
23:20 These new Daleks are pretty fat. Why did they get Michael Kilgarrif as an operator?
23:48 ...so the Daleks are just broadcasting everything they do out from their spaceship if anyone's interested in watching it?
24:43 Oh my god, the self-destruct wasn't real! Who would have guessed it eight minutes ago?
25:08 Daleks have fallen back quite a bit, haven't they? Quoting Shakespeare one day, Pauline Hanson the next..
25:28 .... remember what I said about Daleks not being able to hit guys five feet away when they were running in the classic series?
28:23 I quite like 'Oblivion Continuum' - what a wonderful tautology. I do find self aware nonsense is the best kind...
28:47 Wait.... how can these newly-born Daleks even have any memories about the composition of the Bracewill android?
29:38 ...incidentally, the problem with this plan is that currently the Daleks should know that the Doctor is returning to Earth so there is no reason whatsoever for them to honour the bargain and NOT destroy the planet...
30:03 So now we know why the Doctor runs into a room and punches out a random dude!
...actually I'm not 100% sure. Let's keep watching...
30:27 Hehe, the Daleks still use Rels. Awesome. Also the sonic screwdriver has a 'dissolve Android flesh in a PG13 way' setting.
30:34 HOLY SHIT a piece of alien tech that the Doctor isn't instantly familiar with! Who's heard of that in six years or so?
30:47 "Amy, you're a female in a Mark Gatiss script. So you're not helping."
31:33 Okay... the day is going to be saved by making a middle aged man go emo against his will?
33:57 Amy has saved the day for the third time in a row, giving her a 100% success rate.... but in the most wishy-washy way ever. Come on. "Hey, I want to bonk fringe-boy here senseless!" defuses a bomb. Give me a break, that made very little sense...
35:39 ... Amy just asked Churchill "What now, then?" .... Jesus Christ. He's PM, and there's a war on. He's got some plans in mind!
35:56 "She looks very upset." Jesus Christ. Is she channelling Poirot right now?
37:38 They walk right in on Bracewill's Dr Strangelove impersonation..
39:06 ...couldn't the Doctor have just said "We aren't going to de-activate you"? Do 45 minute stories need padding now?
Nothing interesting happened in the next two minutes.
Well, annoyingly I was just reading some of Ewen's blog, so my opinion is a bit uncertain - I need to resist in future until I have actually finished my review! As it stands... well... the good outweighed the bad by some margin in this mixed bag of an episode. Being Gatiss, it was all fairly straightforward and, if we're honest, at times worryingly patriotic and insular with some flat characters. Is it possible this is the biggest waste of a celebrity historical on screen? Too fucking right it is, because Churchill does very, very, very little of note and relates very little of his character. Amy is terribly handled.
On the other hand... Daleks are handled well. Yes, that comes from me - the familiar gimmick of Daleks being weird is wound up very early on in the story, really, and once Daleks are being Daleks things are actually surprisingly well written and interestingly handled... well, in relative terms. The Daleks are defeated using logical means, no deus ex machina in sight through the use of a Chekhov's Gun against their Achilles Heel. Nobody performed any Ass Pulls. Also, get this - the Daleks lived! They are the Harry Potters of Daleks! We have a story where the alien menace is not wiped out for ever and ever and ever and ever for a change, so we can actually have a sequel where they don't just pop up and say "Doctor - you forgot to say NO RETURNS! BWAHAAHAHA!"
Now I talk myself back into it, this was pretty fun when it came down to it. And the show's on what I regard as the right track. The Doctor wasn't infallible, the bad guys got away after being defeated by a sort of weird logic. So.... I guess 7/10. Though it could easily have been improved, don't worry about that.
I guess my appreciation of this story, compared to my relatively unimpressed response last week, should prove as testament to the sad truth that the effort you put into a story isn't directly related to its quality. Because this was so under-written in comparison to The Beast Below it doesn't bear thinking about, but was just plain old fun to watch.
WHAT THOSE OTHER LOSERS SAID
Casual response: My Dads a casual fan, but hes watched every episode this year so far. He thought this weeks was crap, and I dont think it won Matt any points with him either.
Authoritative fan-consensus response: By far its not the worst. Its not the best but it was still a fun romp.
Best = Rememberance of the Daleks
Worst = Genesis of the Daleks
Clean-living response: My son said he liked Churchill's "smoking thing", so it has worked as pro-smoking propaganda!
Six year-old response: She needed a bit of input throughout - we'd discussed WW2 and Churchill in preparation, but the "put that light out!" stuff and why Churchill "kept blowing into that brown stick" prompted questions.
Great unwashed response: Partner, best friend, online friends all in disappointed agreement.
Darkhorse response: VotD had an interesting concept behind it, but fell flat on characterization and some very iffy things like spitfires, plastic Daleks, and an android bomb that just needed a wet dream to stop exploding.
My not-sure-what-to-call-her-potential/ex girlfriend-y response: It was so crap!
Ewen Campion-Clarke response: Jesus this is shit!
Mum's response: Fighter planes in space? What bullshit.
House of literary references response: Dad, when asked, said '.... yyyeeesss' through gritted teeth. 'It was alright to a point.'
'... which was?'
'The playdough Daleks that look like Richard the third.'
Minimalist response: Do we really need another "I hated Victory of the Daleks" thread? There's already about 500 or so on here.
Pissed-off-viewer hotline response: I received more texts and phonecalls from non-whovians after this episode than any other nu-who story.
They were universally negative.
The Daleks were derided as Dyson vacuums.
They all thought the plot was non-existent.
Obviously, I can't look at the vitriolic response without realising this is shaping up as everybody's least favourite aside from me. But, hey, how many classic series guilty pleasures do I have... Silver Nemesis, Claws of Axos, and Terror of the Vervoids it's good to have a story that everyone HATES in NuWho that I can enjoy. Certainly makes a nice change. (The Long Game doesn't count. Or Fear Her. Those stories are of such quality I'm sur everyone online was joking about them sucking.)
Next Time: "Quick, name your favourite Phoenix brother!"... The Doctor bombs the Statue of Liberty... River Song asks Amy if she watched Larry Miles' favourite episode... River showcases the most boring Reality TV pilot ever... somebody steals Paul McGann's voice... the Doctor calls in the cast of Black Hawk Down... somebody hits Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V in their word processor... River makes the mistake of picking up The Book of Monotonous Foreboding... and an angel statue doesn't do very much....