Before we get to the Important Bits (Daleks! Spitfires! Tea!), some brief notes from the real world.
First and foremost, Raven's gone.
Boarded a plane on Monday morning and flew across the Pacific Ocean. Gone home.
Yes, I'm cheating. Trying for a false sense of emotional tension only (now) to admit that, while the above is technically true, the reader's most likely inference is incorrect.
Yes, she's gone home, but not to stay.
Still, she's been away six days and won't return for another five weeks. A hell of a way to see in the early days of a Relationship, but being 45 instead of 25 certainly makes it easier. Time moves a lot faster now than it did then, and experience tells me those five weeks will not only be over sooner than I image but optimism insists distance will make the heart grow (even) fonder.
But I'd be a liar if I said I don't miss her. I hope you have a marvellous time, sweetie!
Meanwhile, I am unwashed and unshaven, to the point where I begin to disgust even myself. Tomorrow, I shall lave myself and my clothes, work out and start studying Mandarin before it's too late.
'Victory of the Daleks' is Matt Smith's first win
|"Can I be of assistance?" Amy admires the Dalek's fanny-pack and wonders how it manages to take anything out of it.|
"Victory of the Daleks" is a long way from being a classic episode of Doctor Who, but it is a solidly entertaining one; following on the heels of the mediocre season-opener and the nearly-execrable follow-up, "The Beast Below", the Mark Gatiss-penned episode feels like a home-run. In truth, it's likely to look more like a single, but at least the program's back on base. (And no, I don't know why I'm suddenly using baseball metaphors.)
According to the Wikipedia article linked above, Gatiss is a fan of the 1970s-era Doctor Who and "Victory of the Daleks" certainly had the feel of one of the goofier Tom Baker serials. There is quite a lot going on, not all of it stands up to serious scrutiny and there is plenty of humour to help the viewer swallow whatever might otherwise be had to get down.
This time, the Doctor and Amy show up a month late in response to Winston Churchill's phone call at the end of last week's episode. The Doctor claims the mistake is due to the Tardis being a "type 40" that he's still shaking down, but this is clearly a sign that All is Not Right With the Universe. Later on, we learn that Amy doesn't remember the daleks or that the Earth was moved only two years back — the cracks in the universe are certainly starting to show.
|"Would you like some ... teeaaaa?"|
But all that is foreshadowing the season's greater story arc; Moffat's not being subtle with this stuff, but it is still somehow reassuring that he seems to have some idea where he's going with the show. But this week, Winston Churchill has a new secret weapon for the war against Hitler: tiny "ironsides" that we (and the Doctor) immediately recognize as Daleks, no matter how much they protest they are only "your soldier" or how often they serve tea.
And yes, for this fan, the sight of a Dalek serving tea was an absolute delight and would have been even if the rest of the episode had been absolute rubbish.
Happily, it wasn't.
The Daleks, of course, have a Plan hidden inside their khaki fanny-packs, one that not only involves the Doctor but that requires him. Yet another trio of survivors from a "single ship" which (somehow) managed to survive the Daleks' last "last encounter" with the Doctor, this bunch is a beat-up crew not ready for open warfare but still able to pose a (more or less) credible menace.
|The united colours of Dalekdom.|
Prior to that, they manage to be almost cute and endearing; as someone pointed out, it must have taken one hell of a lot of self-control for any Dalek to let the Doctor beat it with a massive spanner without fighting back.
As happens far too often with Doctor who, the climax suffered in comparison to the set-up, but the lapse was relatively minor this time around. The introduction of the new and improved Daleks, though a bit too much like an auto-show, held some pathos when the old guard gave way to the new. And that the Dalek actually managed a victory of sorts also helps to renew them as a threat the viewer can take seriously.
The weakest part of the episode was the very silly business with robot/walking bomb, Bill Paterson's Professor Edwin Bracewell. Just why the Daleks, would plant a colourful countdown clock in the chest of their planet-shattering weapon is a question that simply can't be answered, any more than can the "there's no place like home" method of defusing it.
Matt Smithis not yet "the" Doctor, but he acquits himself credibly enough and Karen Gillian does well in a fairly limited capacity. Amy Pond comes across as a likeable and very capable Companion, if not yet one of enough substance to feel as if we really know her.</p>
So, all in all, the season's first genuinely enjoyable episode.