Barnyard Daleks


Cripes, some days you just can’t flog a new Microwave. I’ll lug it around with me, it might come in useful…

Last night I watched the Doctor Who New Years Day special. Usually this seasonal offering airs on Christmas Day but somebody somewhere decided it would be best to schedule it on New Year’s Day for a change. I suppose its further indication that the creatives behind this latest incarnation of the show wanted to establish a break from what came before. New Doctor, new companions, new showrunner, new composer, new effects team etc. Unfortunately I really do think that the more things change, the more they stay the same. For all its positives regards gender and racial politics and the praise it gets for this approach, it seems to have blindsided critics to all that’s wrong with the show these days. Doctor Who is not unique in this- quite a few series/films have jumped on a progressive bandwagon and left the basics (i.e. good storytelling and cohesive plotting) back in the dust.

How do we kill this Dalek? How did they do it centuries ago? Look- it’s in this book I have over here, full of pictures of this historic battle in which this monster was killed….

I have decided that maybe I should simply bid the Doctor farewell- it simply isn’t for me anymore. I haven’t seen every episode this season (four still languish on my Tivo) but those I have simply frustrated me no end. I think perhaps I just take it too seriously and expect too much. Take this special. Its lazy in the extreme (Ryan’s Dad turns up and is trying to sell a fancy Microwave and a blind man/Eastenders fan can see its a plot contrivance for wrapping things up later, and don’t get me started regards how the most dangerous alien in the galaxy can be melted down by a Microwave machine). A Dalek scout-possessed Archeologist from a sewer dig under Sheffield (there’s something you don’t see everyday) knicks a piece of alien tech (which just happens to be a Dalek exterminator gun) from a tech firm that just happens to be near Sheffield and she is somehow able to zap people with it just holding it without any power source, clever girl/alien. She then drives (after killing two police officers who are then forgotten) out to the sticks and a farm that has a workshop in a barn that a) has a forge and b) sufficient scrap to build a Dalek suit, complete with missiles and jet engines and sensor arrays etc.

I really expected them to break out with the A-Team theme at this point, it was that patently ridiculous and farcical. But nevermind, the Doctor can always be counted on to frown seriously and point her sonic screwdriver at any problem. And there’s no bigger problem than this dastardly Dalek bringing down the Internet and (horrors!) forcing families to hold a conversation with each other on New Years Day. How I laughed (not).

You see, I get it. Its supposed to be fun. Its not supposed to be adult or serious or anything. The rebuilt Dalek flies off and lands near a bunch of military personnel who it promptly exterminates/destroys amidst loud explosions and Dalek missiles destroying a tank and then flies off again and you know the Doctor will save the day with Ryan’s newly-arrived Dad ready to be dramatically imperiled but what you don’t know (unless you were paying attention for ‘Plot Contrivances 101’ half-hour before) is it involves melting it with a weapon built from jury-rigged Microwave innards (thankfully Ryan’s Dad is a jerk of a father but a great engineer).

I don’t know. Maybe I’m just getting too old for all this nonsense. Or maybe I just don’t ‘get it’- today there seems to be so many wildly positive reviews for this show that I wonder if I saw the same episode or maybe I should reduce my expectations for decent writing somewhat. I thought it was terrible, frankly.






5 thoughts on “Barnyard Daleks

  1. It certainly seems to attract more polarising reactions than ever these days — quite large groups (or very vocal minorities, who knows) who love it or just can’t stand it, and can’t see the other side’s point of view at all. And then there are people like me in the middle! There’s stuff I’ve really enjoyed in this series and special, but stuff I’ve thought was terrible too. I mean, I have no real problem with the idea of them dismantling a microwave to melt a Dalek that’s just been built out of Earth scrap metal, but who lugs a microwave around with them on New Year’s Day?! It would’ve made more sense if he’d just bought it in a sale than that he was trying to sell it door-to-door or whatever (on New Year’s Day!!!)

    I wonder if this is all a reaction to the accusations levelled at Moffat about making it too complicated and hard to follow — Chibnall seems to want to make it as simple and over-explained as possible. That’s not fundamentally a bad thing, but he’s really swung too far the other way by either having characters state the bleeding obvious or using plots that are so ‘easy to follow’ they don’t actually make sense when analysed.

  2. Matthew Mckinnon

    This show has been complete pantomime-level shit for over a decade, gender and race politics have nothing to do with it. Why bother?

    1. I know, I know, I feel stupid everytime I watch it but it’s like watching The Walking Dead, its morbid curiosity getting the better of me every year. This might be the end of the line though. Its a shame, I had high hopes with a female Doctor that they might actually do something with it but she’s probably the most cardboard non-entity we’ve ever known. The actress has nothing to work with other than inane plotting and lines Harrison Ford would have balked at back in 1977 (“you can write this shit George, but you can’t say it!” or something like that). I like the ‘pantomime-shit’ line by the way, I’ll have to use that sometime.

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