Following on from the strong season opener ‘Deep Breath‘ – reviewed here! – ‘Doctor Who‘ delves in to much deeper territory with this episode, taking viewers somewhere we’ve never been before… inside a Dalek!
Where ‘Deep Breath‘ began to take the show along a deeper path by showing the coldness of this new Doctor ‘Into the Dalek‘ pushes the series in leaps and bounds along this new trajectory. Secondary characters are sacrificed with a moments notice and in the end not even the heroic acts of the Doctor himself can save a Dalek and turn him good.
The episode opens during a rescue mission in space with Clara oddly absent from the Doctor’s side. Given time for some quick introductions and exposition we learn that on a future hospital ship a ‘good’ Dalek has been found but is in need of repair, cue a brilliant Who-style shrink ray and a team lead by the Doctor is exploring the inside of the machine searching for a way to make things better.
I’ve probably made it sound a little more light-hearted than it actually was, ‘Into the Dalek‘ is actually a great psychological tale in to one of the Who-verses’ most formidable villains.
With the announcement of the episode title and the return of the Dalek’s for season 8 there was an almost audible sigh from the internet bemoaning the overuse of the characters throughout the Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat ages of the show, it’s true they’ve appeared many, many times in many different capacities in the last 8 seasons but credit where credit is due Phil Ford and Steven Moffat have crafted a truly unique tale for this episode.
Although the threat of the Dalek’s looms over this entire episode what we’re actually confronted with is a tale of moral ambiguity and in a strange way self exploration and the whole thing is wrapped up in a classic science fiction shrink ray story.
In my review of ‘Deep Breath‘ I spoke about how Steven Moffat had given Jenna Coleman some real material to work with and the same can be said for this week with the introduction of her new love interest Danny Pink, played by Samuel Anderson. His emotional past is handled really well and with much consideration and so we’re instantly drawn in to the bumbling interplay he has with Clara. I’m concerned he’ll be evil in the end but for now there will hopefully be more enjoyable scenes between the two of them and not in a way which becomes derivative of Amy and Rory Pond.
I read a lot of reviews and comments about ‘Doctor Who‘ and I often find that little is said about some of the most consistent aspects of the show beyond the writing.
Firstly: the music.
Murray Gold has always done a fantastic job on this show and in the last couple of seasons the music has gone from good to absolutely stand out. With the popularity of the shows annual prom the music has really taken on a filmic quality and can at times be almost Bond-esque. I had expected a more electronic element due to the revamped opening credit but actually the music continues the huge orchestral swells which never overpower but always complement the show with incredible ease. The sign of a successful score for me is how quickly I want to buy the album and right now I want a season 8 soundtrack!
Secondly: set design.
Back when the series was first revived there was perhaps a more low key feel to some of the sets but in the last nine years the show has come a long way. The new TARDIS is beautiful to behold and hopefully we get to explore a lot more of it throughout the season, the Gallifreyan symbols which were added during the Matt Smith run really add a new depth to the set for the first time you can feel how expansive it really is.
Liekwise the inside of the Dalek feels confined and as claustrophobic as expected but at the same time manages to be authentic and never feels like an existing structure found to be a relative facsimile to what you would expect the inside of a Dalek to appear.
It’s hard to argue with how successful this new darker is working for the show. In the next episode the Doctor and Clara travel to Sherwood Forest to meet the ‘Robot of Sherwood‘ which appears to be a more comedic episode so it will be interesting to see how Capaldi can handle some of the more straight forward comedy.