Friday 22 September 2017

Story 182 - Daleks in Manhattan / Evolution of the Daleks

In which the Doctor takes Martha to visit the original New York, the TARDIS materialising at the foot of the Statue of Liberty. It is November 1930, and the Empire State Building is nearing completion. Their attention is drawn to newspaper headlines which claim that homeless people are going missing from Hooverville - a makeshift camp set up by the destitute in the middle of Central Park. The Doctor and Martha go there and meet Solomon, who has found himself the community's leader. He explains how the people here are victims of the Great Depression. The authorities are not investigating the disappearances properly. A man named Diagoras arrives with an offer of work - clearing a blocked sewer tunnel. The Doctor, Martha, Solomon and a young man named Frank volunteer to go. In the tunnels, the Doctor finds a luminous green creature which he believes to be alien. They are attacked by savage human / pig hybrids. Frank is abducted by them. The others make it up through a manhole and find themselves backstage of a Broadway theatre. They meet a showgirl named Tallulah. She explains that her boyfriend Laszlo went missing some weeks ago. Since then someone has been leaving a flower in her dressing room, and she thinks this is Laszlo.

As the Doctor tries to ascertain where the creature from the sewers came from, Martha sees a pig-man observing Tallulah from the wings during a performance. She gives chase and is also abducted. The Doctor identifies the creature as originating on Skaro. He and Tallulah descend into the sewers. Martha has been reunited with Frank, and they are confronted by a Dalek. It selects some captives to be turned into pig hybrids, whilst others are to be used in another experiment.
At the top of the Empire State Building, Diagoras employs some men to fit metal panels to the lightning mast. When the foreman objects, he is taken away by some pig-men, who arrive with another Dalek. Diagoras is in league with the Daleks, who are responsible for the building of the tower. He is taken down to a chamber below the building where the Cult of Skaro have set up a laboratory. The leader, Sec, has formulated a new plan to ensure that the Daleks survive. It will genetically bond with Diagoras to create a new race of Human / Dalek hybrids. The Doctor and Tallulah find Laszlo, who has only been partially transformed into a pig hybrid. The Doctor allows himself to be captured, and arrives in time to see the new hybrid emerge from Sec's casing.

The Daleks reveal that a massive gamma radiation spike is due to strike the Earth in the next few hours, and panels from their casings have been fitted to the top of the Empire State Building to transmit this radiation to the laboratory. Dozens of humans are in a state of hibernation, their minds wiped. The radiation will be used to activate a genetic material which has been introduced into their bodies. They will awaken as mental-Daleks. The Doctor arranges an escape, helped by Laszlo, and he, Martha and Frank head for Hooverville. The three Dalek members of the Cult of Skaro are uncertain about the direction Sec wants to take them. As he is no longer pure Dalek, they start to conspire against him. Sec orders an attack on Hooverville in order to capture the Doctor. Solomon tries to reason with them, but is killed, which shocks Sec. The Doctor is taken prisoner, but first arranges for Martha, Tallulah, Laszlo and Frank to go to the tower to sabotage the lightning mast. Laszlo is ill, and explains that he is dying, as the hybrids only have a shortened life-span.
In the lab, Sec explains that Daleks must evolve through adopting human characteristics. They are the inferior race, and yet they thrive whilst only four Daleks survived. Daleks and humans must join in order for the Dalek race to continue. The three Daleks turn on Sec, opposed to his plans. They take him captive, and the Doctor flees. He joins Martha and the others at the top of the tower and starts to remove the panels, but is too late. The gamma strike occurs, the radiation passing through his body.

The Doctor takes everyone to the empty theatre, then lets the Daleks know where he is. Two of the Cult arrive, with Sec in chains. Dalek Caan remains in the laboratory, connected to their battle computer. The mental-Daleks also arrive, armed with machine-gun weapons adapted with Dalek weaponry. Sec attempts to reason with the Daleks but to no avail. He dies saving the Doctor. When the mental Daleks are ordered to kill the Doctor, they refuse and begin to question their orders. The Doctor explains that as the gamma strike went through him they have some of his DNA, over-riding that of the Daleks. They turn on the Daleks, destroying them both. Caan activates a signal which destroys all the mental-Daleks. The Doctor goes to the lab and confronts Caan - now the last surviving Dalek. He offers to help it, but it vanishes using an emergency temporal shift.
The Doctor is able to stabilise Laszlo and save his life, but he cannot undo the hybridisation. Frank arranges for him to be sheltered in Hooverville.

Daleks in Manhattan / Evolution of the Daleks was the first two part story of Series 3. It was written by Helen Raynor, and was first broadcast on 21st and 28th April, 2007.
It sees the return of the Cult of Skaro, last seen in the Series 2 finale. The episodes contain the first overseas filming for the programme since it returned in 2005. Some establishing and plate shots were recorded by a small team under director James Strong, to be later manipulated by The Mill. None of the cast went to New York.
Raynor had been a script editor on Doctor Who before writing Ghost Machine for Torchwood's first season. She was the first female writer for "new" Doctor Who, and to have written a Dalek story.
These episodes were originally to have been written by Steven Moffat, but he asked instead for a single episode story - this season's Doctor-lite one - as recompense for pulling out.
The Daleks had previously been associated with the Empire State Building - having temporarily stopped off there during 1965's The Chase.
Once the iconic building had been selected as a focal point for the story, Raynor's researches into the period brought the Hooverville settlement to her attention, and she decided to include it. Some horror movies of the 1930's provided some visual and plot inspirations. These include the Frankenstein films, and Island of Lost Souls - an adaptation of The Island of Dr. Moreau. The theatre setting also suggest The Phantom of the Opera.

Eric Loren plays both Mr Diagoras and the Human-Dalek Sec. Solomon is Hugh Quarshie. Now a regular on Holby City, he featured in the first of the Star Wars prequels. Tallulah is Miranda Raison, who has since gone on to become an audio companion to the Sixth Doctor. She was best known for the spy series Spooks. Playing Frank is Andrew Garfield, who has since gone on to become a major Hollywood actor. He was Spiderman in two recent misjudged attempts to revitalise the franchise. It has just been rebooted again without him. Laszlo is Ryan Carnes - best known for Desperate Housewives. We only see his handsome good looks briefly at the start of the first episode, as he spends most of the story under prostheses.

Cliffhanger: The Doctor, Martha and Frank are being held in the Dalek laboratory. Dalek Sec's casing shudders and smokes, then begins to open up. The Dalek-Human hybrid Sec emerges, announcing himself the first of a new Dalek race...
Story Arc: Nothing about Saxon again as we are in the past, but this is a direct sequel to Doomsday as this is where the Cult of Skaro transported themselves to. The Doctor had just told Martha about the Daleks at the end of the previous episode - so she recognises the name when she hears it.

Overall, there's a lot to like in these two episodes, but it is not generally liked. Checking the DWM 50th Anniversary poll I see it is at number 208, the least popular Dalek story. One of the problems is the rather stereotyped characters - especially Tallulah. The first part drags - not helped by a musical interlude - and the Dalek plan is somewhat baffling. The Cult gets wiped out too easily.
Things you might like to know:

  • The concept of mental-Daleks is hardly a new one. The Emperor's plan in Evil of the Daleks is to use the Dalek Factor to transform the population of Earth into mental-Daleks throughout its history. Other Dalek-Human slaves have appeared in the programme - being refined during the Matt Smith era as the drones with eye-stalk in their forehead and gun in their hand. Daleks falling out over their racial purity isn't new either - see again Evil or Remembrance of the Daleks.
  • Solomon is first seen arbitrating over a stolen loaf. This references the Judgment of Solomon from the Bible.
  • Tallulah got her name from the Jodie Foster character in Bugsy Malone - set around this time.
  • Frank got his name as a reference to film director Frank Borzage. His 1933 film, Man's Castle was set in a New York Hooverville. It stars Spencer Tracy and Loretta Young as a destitute couple who set up home in the shanty town. 
  • The Great Depression lasted for a decade from 1929, ending with the start of World War II. It was the economic recession triggered by the Wall Street Crash. Hooverville was named after President Herbert Hoover, who was in office at the time of the Crash. He attempted to alleviate the effects of the recession by establishing a number of massive public works schemes - most famous of which was the dam named after him. Unemployment had reached 25%. There were a number of Hoovervilles across the United States. New York had two - Central Park and Riverside Park. The biggest was in St Louis. It had its own mayor, and unlike the rest of the city was racially integrated. 
  • Viewers may have been interested in Paul Kasey's character credit - Hero Pig. In this context, "Hero" refers to a prop or costume that has to stand up to a lot of scrutiny on screen, such as a mask fitted with animatronics - as opposed to more basic versions used by extras. Note how only the one Judoon took off its helmet in Smith and Jones
  • Those movie references now. Dr Moreau was creating human-animal hybrids on his island - in his case turning animals into men, rather than the other way round. The Phantom lurks in the backstage areas of the Paris Opera, fixated on starlet Christine. The humans in the Dalek laboratory are suspended on beds from the roof, not unlike the Frankenstein Monster before it is reanimated. The Michael Crichton movie Coma (1978) is a clear visual influence for these scenes. The dance number obviously derives from the Broadway musical films - especially those choreographed by Busby Berkeley.
  • In the lift (elevator to US readers), the Doctor mentions "First floor perfumery...". This is a reference to the title music for department store-based BBC sitcom Are You Being Served? in which a lift announcer begins "Ground floor perfumery...".
  • Daleks in Manhattan got a Radio Times cover, which annoyed a lot of viewers in that it spoiled the appearance of the Dalek-Human Hybrid Sec. Russell T Davies was always keen to get RT covers and did worry about this one. As it was, the ratings were down by more than a million on the previous episode. Davies claimed that the image didn't spoil the actual cliffhanger to the first episode. I draw your attention to the Cliffhanger section above...

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