The 2006 Round Table: Alien Incursion
So, letâ€™s move on from Rose and Mickey and have a think about those two bastions of evil â€“ the Daleks and the Cybermenâ€¦
“Itâ€™s difficult to rate the effectiveness of monsters in Doctor Who from an adult perspective”, starts Steve Preston, “because their raison dâ€™etre of scaring the bloody daylights out of you are long gone. The Cybermen seem less fearsome as a robotic troop army because they were always at their best when lurking singularly in sewers under 1960s London.”
Barnaby Eaton-Jones: “The Cybermen were a given for bringing back, in that they are nearly as iconic as the Daleks in the public consciousness. However, the story they were brought back in wasn’t exactly top-notch. I have to admit, it was the one story of the season where I didn’t really care what was happening. I’m not sure why and I don’t think I can place my finger on it.”
Simon Mills interjects with thoughts on the (over-?) reliance of the Daleksâ€¦ “It’s nice to bring back the favourites, but let’s not get hung up on the “Monster of the Year” ideas, eh? Let’s give them both a year or two away. Of the two, I’d much prefer to see the Daleks again and some more revelations about the Time War.”
Dalek-wise, Anthony Dry certainly agrees: “Iâ€™m a bit bored of them already. They’ve been well over used and it didnâ€™t do much for me seeing them battle an obviously inferior Cyberman species, they just donâ€™t seem clever enough.”
The evident strengths of the Daleks are underlined by artist Nigel Parry, who points out that the Daleks: “They can hover, fly, trick any lock and â€˜sucker people to deathâ€™. They are schemers, plotters and, as we saw in their first story in the 2005, very good at staring too – the blue light in their eye stalk is a magnificently intimidating addition!”
“My main problem,” says Barnaby, who has thought on a little but still hasnâ€™t put his finger on it, “was that I’d heard Spare Parts. The amount of emotion wrung from similar scenes on audio, without the aid of pictures, was very much higher than what was achieved in the new series episodes. And that wasn’t the acting; that was the writing.”
Brian has also heard Spare Parts, but feels that the Cyberman stories worked. “I would have preferred the original Cybermen from our universe with the new series upgrade, but the way they used the alternate reality for Rose’s exit was just brilliant so I won’t complain. I do feel that it was great to see the Daleks back as a “surprise” but wonder if it would have worked better if the alt.universe-Cybermen had met our Cybermen and merged to become one race?”
“I could have lived without the ‘delete’ catchphrase though,” finishes Brian Terranova, and heâ€™s not alone â€“ Steve Prestonâ€¦ “The cry of â€˜Delete! Delete! Delete!â€™ has little impact in comparison to the “Exterminates!” of Doomsday.”
From a design point of view, what did the Cybermen do for Anthony Dry? “At first when revealed their design didnâ€™t appeal; it wasnâ€™t until I saw them in action that they looked quality. I like the alternative universe idea of them – however I think we could do with seeing the normal universe version of them – the one of a dying race slowly, piece by piece being replaced rather than just putting a persons brain in a steel body, that is a hell of a lot more interesting, the fact that thereâ€™s a person in there.”
We havenâ€™t heard from Gareth Kavanagh on this matter yet â€“ so weâ€™ll pose a slightly different question to him. Did the Cyberman-Dalek battle work? “Some merit I suppose in using them all together as a sort of food chain analogy. Cybermen defeat man. Daleks defeat Cybermen. Doctor defeats all.
“But overall, it just felt a bit hollow and wasted. I mean, the Cybermen looked great on the street marching in formation and the Daleks had some choice lines â€“ especially Dalek Fred or whatever his name was (the Black Dalek). But this whole bullets/ lasers/ water pistols can’t stop them for the Daleks is getting a bit tedious.”
“The use of the Daleks this year may have been spot on to me,” argues Brian, “If they had a full blown story it would have been too much too soon, but here I felt like we were getting a taste of things to come with the introduction of the Cult of Skaro.”
Also with lots of Dalek-centred positives was Steve, pointing out that “RTD scores bonus points for actually making them quite funny. The line “No, this is pest control” was one of the few laugh-out loud moments this year. Also the continuation and extension of the myth by presenting to us the Cult of Skaro took away the boring aspect of them not being just another group of escapees from the Time War.
“The Ark containing the millions of imprisoned Daleks was terrific and worth waiting for too. Never having being that much of a Dalek fan, Iâ€™ve been enjoying their resurgence in the new series.”
Nigel agrees â€“ but are the Daleks really that strong? “As an unstoppable wave of marching killers, they worked brilliantly, but my money was always on the Daleks. As it was, they were no match for the pepper-pots in â€˜Doomsdayâ€™ â€“ I think we should have seen at least one Dalek fatality!”
Daniel Bohm was taken by surprise when viewing Army of Ghosts. “Daleks in the final episode?! I didn’t see that coming! The Cybermen were cool but the Daleks even more so, and I really like the enhanced new version of both races. I really hope they will appear from time to time because they belong to the Doctor Who universe and remind us of the old times.”
Barnaby sees the Daleks as guaranteed crowd-pleasers noting that “They’re like the Stormtroopers of the Star Wars universe. I’m looking forward to seeing Davros, their Darth Vader, return at some point. I didn’t think the Emperor Dalek in the first series was particularly impressive, if I’m honest. Give me a half-human, half-Dalek with a rasping maniacal tone any day!!”
Imagine the kids getting freaked out seeing a half man half Dalek roll on to the screenâ€¦
Next, we consider the use of guest casting in the 2006 series of Doctor Who.