I haven't reviewed the new series* so far simply because I haven't had anything to say. I enjoyed the first three episodes, and I couldn't really think of anything to say except 'Yeah, they were pretty good'. And that's not really much of a post, is it? So I didn't post anything. Generally if I post stuff, it's because I didn't like stuff, and when I start complaining, you're gonna have a hard time stopping me.
The thing is, I don't watch much TV these days. It's pretty much our good Doctor and Heroes (Eccleston's finally appeared**, by the way. Yay!). Not much else on, really. I missed the beginning of the other shows that I would normally watch - ER, Rescue Me, Nip/Tuck, House - and I really can't be bothered to download them or whatever, so if those two shows aren't good, I get a bit upset. No worries with Heroes, since it's pretty much impossible for that to suck, so that just leaves Doctor Who, and as I've said, I've enjoyed it so far.
Then along came Evolution of the Daleks. And oh dear, the illusion was broken. See, I enjoyed the two-parter when I first watched it. I really did. Good ol' bit of fun, not really paying too much attention to detail, just sitting back and relaxing to a bit of late-afternoon/early-evening TV. But then I watched it again, both episodes, back to back. And my oh my, did the problems start appearing. Let's review, shall we? And since I don't have a set reviewing pattern***, let's have some fun. Note that I'm reviewing both episodes here, since they're one story. Hey, it's my review, I'll do what I want.
The Effects. Absolutely amazing. I'm going on a 3-day holiday to New York with my family next week, and if the views aren't as good as they were in the show, I'm going to be disappointed****. Beautiful. The Mill should be bloody proud of themselves, because they've completely outdone themselves once again.
The Actors. I know some of you didn't like the exaggerated 'New Yoik' accents, but I did, so shush. Most of the secondary characters were good, especially Solomon, which made his death quite poignant. The guy who took over from Solomon, Frank (thanks Wikipedia), was also pretty good, as was Mr Diagoras, who became this season's must-have Halloween mask. Tallulah wasn't fantastic, but she wasn't as bad as she could have been. The other, minor characters were also pretty good, considering the small parts they had.
The Regulars. Freema was, as has become standard, excellent, and far, far better then I ever thought Billie Piper was with Mr Tennant. (I don't think I've explained this here, so I'll quickly do it now. Billie and Chris - Father and Daughter. Billie and David - High school friends. One is quite touching, the other's just annoying. Guess which is which) David, on the other hand, was only good in the first half, but that half was very nice. I also liked how he rambled on in the beginning of Evolution - that's the sort of acting I like to see from him.
The Plot. Again, only applicable to the first half, which is just setting up the Jenga pieces, ready for them all to fall down. It did a good job of it, drew us in, made us want to know what was going on, etc.
The Musical Number. How many other shows could get away with having a song right in the middle of the action? I mean, really?
Dalek Sec. Yes, I liked him. He was an interesting way forward for the Daleks. I certainly wouldn't have imagined it happening - I shudder to think what else is going on in RTD's mind. Seriously. But the make-up wasn't that bad, and having managed to avoid being properly spoiled by the Radio Times, it came as a bit of a surprise when it happened. Alas, poor Sec, you had such great plans...
That Football Goal. Every time I watch Daleks in Manhattan now, I'm going to see those. Thanks a freaking bunch, Stuart*****.
The Daleks. I seem to recall, way back in the Eccleston era, that the Doctor was bricking himself over just one Dalek getting loose, because it would destroy an entire city, maybe even the state. So here we've got not one but FOUR Daleks, who've been running around Earth for months before the Doctor even arrives, and what are they doing? They're building a freakin' skyscraper. What the hell is up with that? You're Daleks! You don't need pig slaves! You don't need Gamma radiation! You're freakin' Daleks! Go forth and exterminate!
The Doctor. In part deux, he reverts to shouting. Dammit, the man cannot do loud terror, have they not learned that by now? Hell, he's doing it against Daleks, the masters of bloody great shouty threats! Understated menace he can do very well, we've all seen it. Why does he feel the need to yell at everything that pisses him off? Also, not even singed from the lightning? Hell, I'd have settled for a little bit of smoke coming up from his hair in a slightly comedic manner, but not even that?
The Pig Slaves. Seriously, where did the pig element come from? If you can get past the sheer idiocy of the Daleks in not immediately killing everyone, I can understand them wanting slaves, but where the hell did the pig part come from? Were there any pigs in Manhattan at the time?
Laszlo. Who... why... what... was the point? How the hell did he escape, and why weren't they looking for him? if they were, they never said so, and when he rejoined the group there was nary an eyebrow raised... hell, there weren't even any eyebrows TO raise. Why did the Doctor save him? He's a freakin' pig man! What's he gonna do, start a bakery? How will him and Tallulah work? I wouldn't imagine a pig's trouser snake would be very big... is she really gonna stay with him once she finds that out? And why the hell didn't Tallulah recognize him in the sewer when it was clearly him? Was she deaf as well as dumb?
'Urge to kill... too... strong...' No excuse. Absolutely none whatsoever.
The Emergency Temporal Shift. Weak. So, so weak. I suppose Dalek Caan may have drawn the needed power from the remnants of the lightning strike, but even so... Weak.
In conclusion: Fun when drunk, but painful when sober. For god's sake, even the script editor needs a script editor sometimes. Better yet, grab some of us as unofficial assistants, we'll help you sort out most of the problems. God knows we'd be glad to help out if this is the sort of thing that'll happen without us...
The Bumper Book of Made-Up Doctor Who Facts has this to say about Evolution of the Daleks: Contrary to popular belief, Ryan Carnes, who played Laszlo, actually needed make up to look human, rather then a pig-man.*Series 3. Or 29, depending on how you look at it.
**This happened in the second half of the first series. I thought he was really good in it.
***I lied here - I did have a set review pattern. It just wasn't a very good one.
****Thankfully, they were stunning. It's a beautiful city from up high. Not so much from ground level - it feels more like a really big maze.
*****I'll quickly explain here, since the post that I originally linked to doesn't exist any more. In one of the early shots of The Doctor and Martha meeting Solomon, you can see a set of modern football goalposts in the background. There was a picture of this in the post linked, and I was referring to the guy who showed it to us via his review of the episode.