Doctor Who, Into the Dalek, TV review: Classic sci-fi adventure has blockbuster spectacle

If some fans were left with glazed eyes after last week’s nonsensical storyline, then ‘Into the Dalek’ more than compensated with a fresh take on an old foe

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Finally, a Dalek story that viewers could really get their teeth into.

Written by Phil Ford and Steven Moffat, ‘Into the Dalek’ literally took us into the heart of a killing machine before chewing us up and spitting us back out again.

After last week's Eton mess of a story, this was a good, old-fashioned sci-fi adventure. The plot borrowed heavily from Fantastic Voyage and 1987’s Innerspace - with a nod to the latter.

Without any intended puns, the Daleks have been done to death in recent times. Whatever happens, they come back but the Doctor defeats them ad nauseam. So exploring the morality of a Dalek was a nice change, ‘Asylum of the Daleks’ was the only other episode that has taken a new approach to the Doctor’s oldest nemesis.  

 

It was a serious and darker tale to match the abrasive new Time Lord. He doesn’t give a damn and is far too reckless. Clara is now his moral compass and has to slap some sense into him.

The change in dynamic between Clara and the twelfth Doctor is just what we needed. Clara's simpering has been replaced by a hard, feisty edge. It only took a whole series but finally she has become the companion we were hoping for.

Away from the Daleks, viewers met the new companion Danny Pink, who is one of Clara's colleagues at Coal Hill School. As a former solider embarking on a new life as a teacher, he is far more substantial as a character.

Within minutes of appearing on the screen he was crying after he’d been asked if he had killed someone who wasn’t a solider. Anyone who failed to be moved by that moment has the heart of a Dalek.

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Pink is a damaged and vulnerable young man and the audience instantly warms to him in that instant. Danny brings something new to Doctor Who. There is no cutesy back story to him, it’s hard-hitting and painful.

He breaks the mould of male companions on Nu-Who, who have been rather pathetic. Gone are the days of Mickey Smith cowering behind Rose Tyler or Rory Williams getting steamrollered by Amy Pond.

‘Into the Dalek’ reflects the darker and more adult tone that the makers of the show are now going for. Admittedly, it did feel like the audience was going on a psychedelic acid trip with Capaldi when he connected with the Dalek, but aside from that it was a strong instalment of Doctor Who

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Detractors are wrong when they insist the series isn’t the same - or mock the special effects, which were nothing short of blockbuster. The show is about change and this time around it feels grittier and more uncompromising. The body count is definitely higher as the Doctor leaves a trail of victims in his wake, who are ending up with Missy in “heaven”.

Next week Doctor Who gets a bit Game of Thrones when Clara and the Doctor meet Robin Hood.

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