Doctor Who – Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks

After a pre-titles sequence involving showgirls and a rather strange pig/human hybrid, we join the Doctor and Martha in New York. The original one this time, none of your New New[1] Yorks. It’s 1930, the Great Depression has left many people homeless and destitute, and lots of them are living in a shanty town called Hooverville in Central Park. And that’s where the Doctor and Martha end up.

Meanwhile, the Empire State Building isn’t quite finished. Mr Diagoras, who seems to be in charge of the project, tells the workmen that “the new masters” want things speeded up. The foreman suggests that this isn’t going to happen, which prompts a visit from one of those masters: a Dalek, accompanied by a couple of pigmen[2]. Foreman finds himself replaced.

Back at Hooverville, all is even less well than you might expect in a shanty town full of desperately poor men. Men are disappearing. Diagoras turns up and offers work to a small number of men – unpleasant work in the sewers. Naturally, the Doctor and Martha join in, together with Solomon, who’s as near to a leader as Hooverville has, and a young man called Frank. They find a very nasty unidentifiable slimy thing down there.

And in the Empire State Building, a slight change to the design has been ordered. Some plates, which are clearly Dalek casing are to be fitted around the mast at the top. And it has to be done that very night. Diagoras has obviously impressed the Cult of Skaro, and in particular our old friend Dalek Sec, who we last saw doing an emergency temporal shift in the vicinity of Canary Wharf. Sec wants Diagoras for the “final experiment”, which doesn’t sound at all good for his health.

And that’s just for starters. There’s lots of running around in the sewers, more of the Daleks being utterly bonkers, and of course, the Doctor being not at all pleased to see them. Last time they met, he lost Rose, the time before he had to regenerate, and before that there was the little matter of the Time War, which cost him his home planet and his whole species, so it’s not surprising that he says

They survived. They always survive when I lose everything.

The Doctor and crew do a lot of running around in the sewers and the theatre, where they meet Tallulah, a showgirl who wants to know where her boyfriend Laszlo has got to. He’s quite obviously the more human looking pig man who was doing a Phantom of the Opera routine in the pre-titles sequence. Tallulah talks to Martha, who mentions that the Doctor doesn’t seem to be interested in her. Tallulah suggests

He’s into musical theatre, huh? :lol: :laugh:

The Doctor and Martha head back to the sewers, and are captured with assorted other humans. The general mass are to be turned into pig men, but the more intelligent ones are to be put aside and taken to the Transgenic Lab, which might well be worse…

Diagoras finds himself becoming closer to his masters than he expected. Sec’s casing opens, and he pulls the terrified man inside, where he is absorbed. Sec’s thinking out of the box again, and trying to find a new way for the Daleks to survive: by creating a new hybrid race. Smoke pours out of Sec, and he starts getting even more bonkers than usual for a Dalek[3], squawking about “the dawn of a new age” and “life outside the shell”, while that lovely choral music we usually get for dramatic Dalek bits goes on.

Sec’s casing opens, and a figure emerges. Standing upright, it’s human shaped but with a not at all attractive scaly tentacled head. It’s the new Sec, who announces

I am a human Dalek. I am your future.

Which was a nice cliffhanger moment.

The second part begins where we left off, with the Doctor revealing himself to the Daleks. While the Dalek-shaped Daleks are quite keen to do a bit of good old fashioned Exterminating, Sec has other ideas. Sec’s acting quite oddly for a Dalek, and the Doctor is able to distract him enough to allow the prisoners to escape.

Pig men attack Hooverville, followed by two Daleks flying in (with that lovely choral music again). Solomon gives a lovely speech, trying to reason with the Daleks, so naturally he’s exterminated. But the Daleks have doubts about Sec and his plan. They don’t want to give up their “Purity”. However, for now they go along with him. The Doctor, having passed his psychic paper to Martha, surrenders himself to the Daleks, having got Sec to agree to leave the people in Hooverville alone.

Back in the Dalek lair, the Doctor learns what Sec is planning. The Daleks have an enormous number of brain-wiped humans in storage. There is going to be a massive solar flare, which will channel energy down the gamma-ray conductor that the Daleks have had built on the Empire State Building. This will, combined with some icky looking fluids, turn the bodies into living human Dalek hybrids: a new army. But Sec is being influenced by his human part – he’s thinking of changing the nature of the Daleks.

And lots more fun follows. The other Daleks turn against Sec, the Doctor does an Are You Being Served? gag, and the whole Frankenstein bit appears to work. The army of hybrids awakes, as the Doctor appears to fail in his bid to disconnect the Dalekanium plates from the mast, and the energy surges through him.

Martha revives the Doctor, and he draws the Daleks to the theatre. Sec is in chains, and Dalek Caan has taken command. Sec is exterminated, and Caan commands the hybrids to kill the Doctor and his friends. They refuse, pointing out that they are not, in fact, Daleks at all. The Doctor explains that by getting in the way of the energy bolt, he’s infused them with Time Lord DNA. The hybrids manage to destroy two of the remaining Daleks before Caan makes them self-destruct.

The Doctor confronts Caan. He tries to persuade the last Dalek that he could change, but Caan’s not having any of it, and does the old emergency temporal shift routine again.

And there you have it. All over apart from the tidying up. Pig man Laszlo, who’s a lot more human than the others, and who was very helpful, is dying. Tallulah still loves him, even though he’s a bit of a pig. The Doctor manages to twiddle with his genetic code, which saves his life.

And what a lot of fun it was. Nice to see the Daleks being taken in a slightly different direction before reverting to their usual delightful selves. I’m sure we’ll be seeing Dalek Caan again, and I’m sure he’ll find a way to create some more Daleks to cause more trouble for the Doctor…

[1] etc :wink:
[2] There’s a long tradition of the Daleks using slave races.
[3] And let’s be quite clear: those guys are crazier than a bag of crazy things that stopped taking the tablets