48 Stupid Things about
“Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks”
(And 2 Cool Ones)
(But we're not telling you which is which)
(We're expecting you to work that out for yourselves)
By Alan Stevens and Fiona Moore
Previously published in Celestial Toyroom issue 435/436
1. The first sequence in the theatre is clearly intended to be referencing the sparky, staccato tone of 1930s showbiz flicks, but instead winds up looking like a Disneyfied version of same. Remember as you watch the sexless campery of the airbrushed chorus girls here, that in the real world, this is the time when a typical mainstream movie musical number involved a line of girls singing We're In The Money while wearing nothing but strategically placed coins.
2. “What if your mother doesn't like me?” She's a showgirl who goes on twice a night not wearing very much, what's not to like in a potential daughter-in-law?
3. You wouldn't know it from the bleached and dry hair, the Bette-Davis-in-Whatever-Happened-to-Baby-Jane makeup and the horribly phony accent, but Miranda Raison is actually a very beautiful woman.
4. Why is there a sewage drain leading directly into a theatre? Apart from anything else, the smell would render the place unusable.
5. Weren't the Cardiff team lucky to find a piece of brickwork that resembles the base of the Statue of Liberty right there in Wales? That way they could save money by not taking David Tennant and Freema Agyeman along to the New York shoot, meaning they just have to take the effects team, the writer, the producer and the entire staff of Doctor Who Confidential.
6. This story was inspired by the abovementioned brick wall, and by a brief sequence in the 1965 legendary disaster “The Chase”. Is it any wonder it turned out as badly as it did?
7. Martha picks up a newspaper to find out what the date is. This is such a frequent occurrence in the new series that one suspects the Doctor is being stalked by a fellow time-traveller who specialises in leaving newspapers on handy park benches the moment it hears the words “I wonder what the date is?”
8. Although there was indeed a Hooverville in Central Park, it didn't actually get going until July 1931; while a few homeless people congregated there in late 1930, they were swiftly evicted by the police. Even in 1931, the population was under 25 inhabitants, so Solomon's estimate that Hooverville contains “hundreds” of people is somewhat exaggerated.
9. Surviving film footage suggests that the Central Park Hoovervillians were mainly white men; however, since at least one Hooverville, in St Louis, was documentably racially integrated and had entire families living together, we'll give them a pass on this one.
10. Somewhat less excusable is the fact that, although Tallulah initially assumes the Doctor and Martha to be in a relationship, she doesn't so much as remark on the racial aspect of this, even though mixed-race couples were distinctly unusual in 1930s America.
11. Time, labour, building materials, scientific equipment, and a damned great hollowed-out underground base in the prime real estate belt of central Manhattan. Where did the Daleks get the money from to pay for all of this?
12. “My planet is gone. Destroyed in a great war.” This is contradicted in two directions: one, “Remembrance of the Daleks”, in which the planet is indeed destroyed, but not in a war, and “Asylum of the Daleks”, in which there is a war, but the planet is not destroyed.
13. Diagoras appears to be based on Humphrey Bogart's character in The Roaring Twenties, Helly, a soldier who turned gangster. Up until the point at which he turns into the penis-headed mutant-creature, that is.
14. Why has Dalek Sec started to waggle his eyestick up and down whenever he talks? Is this the Dalek equivalent of a facial tic?
15. Manhole covers are normally held in place through gravity and fit. However, to provide a reason why the pigs don't follow the Doctor and Solomon into the theatre, the writing team has invented the world's only screwtop manhole. At that, how does Lazlo manage to get into the theatre later if the cover is screwed down?
16. Schmuck, a word derived from a Yiddish pejorative for male genitalia, is, according to the dictionary, “a clumsy or stupid person; an oaf; a fool.”
17. The tune for Murray Gold's “Bad Angel” is so heavily ripped off from “Hey, Big Spender” that it is presumably only the generosity of songwriters Cy Colman and Dorothy Fields that prevents the lawsuit.
18. Why are the pig slaves dressed in overalls? Do the Daleks have a concept of modesty? Is the Dalek which exposed itself to Rose in “Dalek”, therefore, some kind of flasher?
19. Stories where humans have worked for the Daleks under coercion: “The Dalek Invasion of Earth”, "The Evil of the Daleks", “Day of the Daleks”, “Destiny of the Daleks”, “Resurrection of the Daleks”, "Remembrance of the Daleks". Stories where humans have worked for the Daleks of their own free will: “The Daleks' Master Plan”, "The Power of the Daleks”, "The Evil of the Daleks", "Day of the Daleks", "Death to the Daleks," "Revelation of the Daleks", "Remembrance of the Daleks". Why bother with the pig-slaves at all?
20. The idea is that there are millions of humans, but only four Daleks, therefore the humans are superior, and the Daleks want to engineer a hybrid between them and the humans. But if sheer numbers are the determinant of success, why aren't the Daleks trying to engineer a hybrid with the cockroaches?
21. Also, the reason why there are only four Daleks has nothing to do with humans; it's all down to the Time Lords, which the Daleks currently (as far as they know) outnumber by three to one.
22. And finally, the main reason there's only four Daleks left, down from the millions which appear in “Doomsday”, has everything to do with one specific entity. To wit, the Doctor-- who the Daleks have several opportunities to destroy during this story, none of which they take.
23. It turns out at the end of the first episode that the real reason the Daleks want to hybridize with the humans is because "the children of Skaro must walk again." Re-acquiring legs makes sense for a technological race stuck in 1930s New York, but really, why the spurious justification with the numbers then?
24. The Daleks have been quite willing to alter themselves, and/or hybridize, in “Resurrection of the Daleks” and “Revelation of the Daleks”. Why are they currently so obsessed with the idea of purity?
25. Also, considering their argument about keeping the race pure comes after they've already kidnapped and hybridized over a thousand humans with the intention that they should be the new Dalek race, why have it now?
26. The “true Dalek form” seen here is different to the mutant seen in "The Daleks", "The Daleks' Master Plan", "The Power of the Daleks", "The Five Doctors", and "Resurrection of the Daleks". What makes this one special?
27. Why does Tallulah look straight up during the dance routine in “Bad Angel”? The obvious answer is that there's a camera there, but there wouldn't actually be one in the theatre.
28. Busby and Berkeley's Broadway routines (as opposed to those they choreographed for movies) were clearly structured so that a theatre audience would be able to appreciate the geometric patterns formed by the dancers, even from the stalls. The routine in this story, however, is structured so that Tallulah is largely invisible to anyone not positioned directly over the stage.
29. The Daleks encode their planet of origin into their genetic structure. Why, have they patented it?
30. It makes a certain amount of sense to rip off “The Phantom of the Opera” for “The Talons of Weng Chiang”: both are set in the Victorian era, in European cities where there are underground rivers and/or tunnels connecting with the sewer system, and for a story about a hideously deformed paranoid obsessive. It makes less sense to rip it off here, for the story of Lazlo the Pig.
31. When Martha asks the Dalek what they're doing, why does it bother answering her? Do they normally explain their plans to random prisoners on request?
32. Yes, we know what it means, but the credit “Hero Pig: Paul Kasey” is still funny.
33. Dalek Sec says that what the Daleks wanted from humanity is “ambition, hatred, aggression and war.” Since the Daleks have been doing pretty well on all those points for millenia, why do they think they need an upgrade?
34. Daleks have a great sense of humour and timing, letting Solomon make his big speech about togetherness, ending on “what do you say?” before pausing for a moment and responding, “Exterminate.”
35. The Doctor says to the Daleks, “Kill me if it'll stop you attacking these people”. However, he clearly doesn't believe it will, as he later proceeds to negotiate with the Daleks an agreement that, if he goes with them, they won't kill the Hoovervillians. Self-sacrifice fail.
36. In a camp full of dissatisfied homeless people, some of whom are war veterans, situated not far from an upscale residential area, there are a series of visible explosions and audible rifle fire, shouts and screams. Why, at the very least, are the NYPD not coming around to check it out?
37. Does the Empire State Building actually have gigantic caverns in its basement?
38. “There's no room on Earth for another race of people,” says the Doctor, echoing the “Britain is full!” chorus of anti-immigration racists, and making it a little hypocritical that he was OK with bringing back the Silurians in both “Doctor Who And The Silurians” and “The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood”.
39. All the continual references to Rose and how much the Doctor liked her as compared to Martha just has the effect of reminding the audience of the past setup and undermining Martha as a companion.
40. How can the converted humans be 100% Dalek?
41. “You told us to imagine. And we imagined your irrelevance.” That is a pretty good put-down.
42. The sun does indeed produce gamma radiation through solar flares. However, as it's night, the sun is on the other side of the planet from Manhattan at this point; oh, and solar flares don't come to Earth in the form of lightning bolts.
43. Just pause for a minute during the lightning-strike sequence, and savour the sheer idiocy of it all.
44. How can the Daleks turn the entire human population of Manhattan into Daleks, if their initial conversion of a mere thousand or so humans required a colossal amount of gamma radiation from the largest solar flare event in a milennium?
45. Could you really take Manhattan with a thousand armed zombies, considering the human population is much larger, more agile, more resourceful and, by all accounts, very well armed?
46. When arriving at the theatre, the Daleks apparently feel the urge to put on a show, complete with flashbombs, chained monster, audience participation and choreography.
47. “Your own leader. The only creature who might have led you out of the darkness and you destroyed him”. Actually, they only shot Dalek Sec by accident, so the Doctor's a little off base here.
48. The Daleks have a self-destruct command which kills all the hybrids. Which it might have been better to employ before engaging in a pitched battle, which leads to the death of two Daleks, and instead saved their energy for exterminating the Doctor.
49. The Doctor gets all emo about the destruction of the hybrids, calling it “genocide”. Ignoring his own earlier statement about how there's no room on Earth for another species, as well as showing absolutely no remorse about the fact that he's indirectly responsible for the death of every single pig-slave bar Lazlo.
50. Lazlo's failure to die at the appropriate point in the script is presented as a happy ending. However, when you think what sort of existence he and Tallulah are likely to have subsequently, with even the Doctor and Martha tittering about “the pig and the showgirl” behind their backs, it seems the Doctor's actually condemning two people to a life of misery.