Dalek

Roots: Dalek is heavily based on writer Rob Shearman's Big Finish audio Jubilee, with all the camp nonsense taken out and running at a quarter of the length. Also Simmonds the torturer is named after Kai Simmonds (who played the torturer on Jubilee). Van Statten is based on Larry Hagman's character JR Ewing from Dallas. The situation of the Dalek was based partly on Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs. What happens to the Dalek is very reminiscent of Evil of the Daleks. Dalek mutation as a result of incorporated DNA also features in Big Finish audio The Mutant Phase. The Dalek climbing stairs is straight out of Remembrance of the Daleks (though Remembrance made the effect look far more believable), and the whole plot is similar to the scene from Remembrance where the Doctor talks a Dalek to death. The Dalek being powerless is similar to Death to the Daleks, and the Doctor's reaction to it not being able to kill is taken from episode 2 of that very story. There are also similarities to Power of the Daleks ('One Dalek could wipe out this entire colony!' and the throwaway line from Power 'Did the Daleks destroy your homeworld?' 'I don't know, I can't remember!')

Van Statten's set-up is remarkably similar to that of the man with the scar in The Scales of Injustice and Business Unusuall. Adam's anecdote is very similar to the plot of the film War Games. Hangar 18 urban myths. The collector of artefacts is straight out of the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode where Data gets captured against his will, which was pre-dated by the Marvel UK comic strip The Most Toys. The way in which the Dalek opened up to reveal the mutant was reminiscent of the scene in Total Recall in which Arnold Schwarzenegger's disguise opens up. Marathon man. There are also similarities to The Caves of Androzani, a powerful corporation controlled by (Trau Morgus/Henry Van Statten) controls almost all of a valuable resource (Spectrox/Alien Artifacts) and is threatened by a single opponent: (Sharaz Jek/A Dalek). In the end the company is taken over by (Krau Timmon/Goddard) who had been helping (Trau Morgus/Henry Van Statten).

The X-Files (UFO culture and underground bunkers full of extraterrestrial trinkets. Also the conspiracy theory that advanced human technology is derived from salvaging extraterrestrial crashes.) Frankenstein (exposure to vast amounts of electricity regenerates and empowers a creature, giving it life and strength.) Star Wars (R2D2 plugs himself into a data terminal on the Death Star, gaining access to the data network and some control over its systems.) Big Finish's The Genocide Machine features Daleks downloading vast archives of data (the entire knowledge of the universe from the Wetworks facility of the Library of Kar-charrat, rather than the pifflingly small human internet of 2012).

The phrase "Lock and Load" (originally "load and lock" - an order referring to the operation of the M1 Garand Rifle during World War Two) became immortalized by John Wayne in 1949's Sands of Iwo Jima, (where the Duke reversed the phrase to the current "lock and load"). The phrase has become more general in meaning now, referring to preparation for any imminent event. In sci-fi, it is most commonly associated with Star Trek TNG, where Data uses it as dumbass gung-ho soundbite in Insurrection. War of the Worlds - the scenes of the opened Dalek casing remind us of their forerunners in sci-fi: H.G. Wells' Martians: organic, tentacled alien inside metal, raygun-equipped battle machine. The Dalek stopping bullets mid-air is similar to scenes in The Matrix.

Goofs: The Cyberman head is the design seen in Revenge of the Cybermen (set in the 29th Century), rather than any of those designs seen during stories set before 2012. Furthermore, the plaque beneath it strongly implies that it is intended to be the design seen in The Invasion. [It's a time travelling Cyberman who ended up buried with the Invasion Cybermen.]

If the previous technician who touched the Dalek burst into flames, why didn't that happen to Rose? Is it the same thing that means he needs to absorb time traveller DNA? [The two are probably linked. Perhaps the absorption process produces either result depending on whether the individual is a time traveller or not.] If the Dalek hasn't spoken, then how does Van Statten know that it can speak? [It has spoken, just not since Van Statten acquired it.] Also why can the Dalek feel pain when its metal structure is being cut into, but not feel sunlight falling on its outer casing?

If Adam's job is to collect extra-terrestrial artefacts, why does he think people who say that they've met aliens are nutters? [He's thinking that alien abductions in particular don't happen, and that the sort of people who report them come across as nutters.]

When Van Statten scans the Doctor, it only shows his heart and ribs, and none of the other internal organs. [It's been set to only show that information and has already scanned other parts of his body.] Also, why does the scan hurt the Doctor, and why do they need him to take his shirt off?

The Dalek connects to both the power supply and the internet at a key node by punching into the terminal outside The Cage. It is able to drain the entire power supply of North East America AND the data of the entire internet through this connection. (Man, that's some plunger suction!) Even if it punched straight into Van Statten's network, internet backbone and servers (with its Roswell-based broadband) the Dalek would be doing well to download the entire content of the Net within seconds through one access point (even if 7 years have vastly altered the carrier technology WAY beyond copper wire and fibre optics). Surely the electron/photon/data flow would bottleneck at slow/weak points? It doesn't matter how hard you can suck: the pipes have a finite capacity, and something would give or slow the flow. Maybe the Dalek's using some nifty webspiders and quantum computing compression algorithms? Also: by 2012, the Dalek would have to absorb up to a petabyte of porn, pop-ups and spam. No wonder it goes a bit funny afterwards. [Maybe Van Statten has a local cache, or the Dalek is able to instantly upgrade the entire infrastructure of the internet.]

How can a helipad be the only way out of the complex? Has Van Statten never heard of fire exits?

During the stairs scene, why does the Dalek need to climb the stairs to exterminate people? Also, why take the stairs when it's less distance to just float up the gap in the stairwell. [It's showing off]

Why does Van Statten's US organisation use the UK keyboard layout?

The map of the US showing the Dalek draining the power grid was either slightly wrong, or there have been some changes by 2012. The Upper Peninsula of Michigan has disappeared, and all the New England states bar Maine have amalgamated into one (although that might just be their power systems)...

Why can the Dalek shoot through the roof but not the bulkhead? Surely there can't be that much difference in their relative strengths. Talking of the bulkheads, the Doctor doesn't have the power to delay closing them, yet does have the power to raise them again. And how can the Dalek can control the communications systems but not the bulkhead system? [They're on different circuits and the Dalek hasn't managed to get any access to the bulkhead one.]

How does the Dalek come to the conclusion that Rose is the woman the Doctor loves? [He's got the information from Rose's DNA/biodata, and she thinks the Doctor's in love with her.] Also in that scene Rose doesn't try to tell the Doctor that the Dalek couldn't kill her.

Why is there no debris when the Dalek explodes? Does it atomise itself?

It's strange that nobody notices the TARDIS, given that it's not part of the museum's catalogue, and is standing right next to where the Doctor and Rose appeared. At the end of the story, Adam thinks that the Doctor and Rose are standing inside a box, despite the fact that Rose establishes you can see the inside of the TARDIS, and it seems it's started dematerialising. It's also dematerialising whilst the door is still open.

In the lift Billie Piper mouths "my function is to kill", which is the Dalek's line.

Fluffs: Goddard orders all guards to 'converge on the Mellotron cage, immediately!' Not the Metaltron. This means that a musical keyboard is running amuck through Van Statten's base (probably accompanied by a Hammond organ and an abused Theremin.)

Dialogue Disasters: Van Statten on the intruders: 'I'll tell you how they got in. In tru da window.' Groan.

'Lock and load!' What next? Vin Diesel as Doctor Who?

Dialogue Triumphs: Van Statten: 'So, the next President. What do you think, Republican or Democrat?
Goddard: 'Democrat, sir.
Van Statten: 'For what reason?
Goddard: 'They're just so ... funny, sir.'

The Doctor: (On the genocide of the Daleks) 'I saw it happen. I made it happen.'

The Doctor: 'Exterminate.'

Van Statten: 'I wanted to touch the stars.'
The Doctor:'You just want to drag the stars down and stick them underground underneath tons of sand and dirt and label them. You're about as far from the stars as you can get.'

Dalek (To the Doctor): 'You would make a good Dalek.'

The Doctor looks through Adam's stash of alien weapons: 'Broken, broken, hairdryer.'

Rose: 'What about you, Doctor? What are you turning into?'

Memorable Moments: The Doctor taunts the Dalek about the destruction of the Daleks, and the Dalek concludes that "we are the same". The Dalek exterminates two floors worth of soldiers with just 3 shots thanks to the sprinkler system. Rose tries to protect the reformed Dalek from the Doctor. The overhead shot of the Dalek as it swivels its midsection armament is gorgeous. Overall its choreography in battle is imaginative and well-shot.

When The Doctor realizes the Dalek is helpless, it brings out the worst in his nature. He gloats and taunts it, which is cruel in itself. Then he lunges at it, scaring the creature which backs away in its chains, crying out 'Keep back!' This beautifully shifts the locus of sympathy onto the orphan boy from Skaro being bullied by the biggest baddest bogeyman its race has ever encountered.

Continuity: Van Statten's collection includes the mileometer from the Roswell spaceship chunks of meteorite, and moondust. He "owns the internet". He uses alien technology to make advances - broadband was a result of the Roswell spacecraft. "Last year" (2011), his scientists discovered the cure for the common cold [c.f. The Ark], from bacteria from the Russian Crater.

The Dalek race was wiped out in one second. They all burnt, with 10,000,000 ships on fire, and the Doctor made it happen. The Time Lords burnt with the Daleks, and it all happened at the end of the last great Time War, the final battle between the Time Lords and the Daleks. This Dalek fell through time, and landed on the Ascension Islands, it screamed for 3 days before anybody could get near it. It spent at least the next 50 years going between collections of alien artefacts. When Rose touches it, the Dalek can initiate cellular reconstruction, using her DNA and extrapolating the biomass [biodata?] of a time traveller. It can calculate a thousand billion combinations in 1 second flat. Its sucker arm can be used to suffocate a human. It can also re-energise itself and repair physical damage when connecting to a power supply. It can also download the entire internet through that same connection. It has a force-field, so that bullets melt before they hit it, and can swivel its turret to shoot in any direction. Its weak spot is still the eyepiece and the dome. Its gun includes some kind of electrical component, as firing at water allows it to exterminate everyone standing in that water. Its casing can open up to reveal the mutant inside. There are no Dalek signals picked up on Earth's satellites and radio telescopes.

The Dalek can supposedly calculate a thousand billion combinations in 1 second flat, although it takes longer than that to crack the code on the door which, judging by the display and keypad, has nowhere near that many combinations. [though it is probably slowed down by the fact that its plunger cannot punch the buttons fast enough to keep up with its calculations.] [The non-canonical BBC online game reproduces screens from Van Statten's researchers, hypothesizing that the Dalek has Quantum Computer capabilities. This would account for such cryptographic prowess. N.B. The game also lists some International Electromatics hardware in Van Statten's inventory, technology from The Invasion. Cute.] The Dalek's sucker arm can ripple and reform so as to be able to press keypads designed for human fingers, as well as to kill a human

When Adam was 8, he logged onto the US defence systems and nearly caused World War Three.

The Doctor claims that he'd know if there were any surviving Time Lords. He says that Rose is 19, so no more than a few months has passed since World War Three.

Links: One of the exhibits is a Slitheen arm (Aliens of London/World War Three), and another is a Cyberman's head. Adam mentions the UN keeping aliens quiet, a clear reference to the activities of UNIT. The Doctor mentions the Daleks' origins (Genesis of the Daleks).

Extras: This story has an episode of Doctor Who Confidential. Clive's/Mickey's website has an interview with Van Statten (the interview, of course, taking place in the present day - 6 years before the story). Also, there was a mock-up website for Van Statten's company Geocomtex (at geocomtex.com), which is no longer up, and was not saved by the internet archive. There was also a Dalek game on the BBC's Doctor Who site.

Location: A bunker beneath Utah, 2012 [probably before mid-march, based on Van Statten's comments about replacing the US president.]

Future History: The cure for the common cold was developed in 2011 (c.f. The Ark)

Unrecorded Adventures: Rose's comments about seeing the stars suggest that she has had some adventures away from Earth's solar system. The Doctor admits to having destroyed both the Daleks and the Time Lords.

Q.v. The Fate of Gallifrey, The End of the World; Bad Wolf, The Parting of the Ways; Rose's Love Life, The Doctor Dances.

The Bottom Line: 'You would make a good Dalek.' Dalek is not a traditional Dalek story. First and foremost, it's an emotional drama about the Doctor acting a bit like a Dalek and a Dalek becoming humanised. The exterminations and action scenes are incidental diversions from this story. Rob Shearman's script actually makes you feel sorry for the Dalek, though the incidental music has a lot to do with that. Meanwhile, the Doctor has rarely been quite so harsh. As a result, it's hardly surprising that Dalek instantly became a fan favourite.

Discontinuity Guide by Stephen Gray, with thanks to James Precious

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