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More about this two-parter
This two-parter was first broadcast on 21 - 28 April 2007. A brief and somewhat spoiler-ish summary of the plot: it's the Daleks. In Manhattan. And they evolve.
There is a lot about this two-parter that I love. Following the Doctor and Martha as they find out how the underclass in 1930s New York lives is fascinating. The 1930s characters are memorable and over the course of the two episodes we grow to care about them. The two episodes look fantastic, there's enjoyable period music and the two episodes move along at a steady pace.
The big problem at the heart of this two-parter is the plot. The plan that the Daleks have come up with to ensure their race's survival is bizarre, and it only seems to be there to enable the programme to show us the Empire State Building, men with pig heads and a squid in a pinstriped suit and wing-tips. For the Doctor to go along with the plan seems out of character, and the eventual plot resolution makes no sense.
Another problem is that a lot about these two episodes feels like a greatest-hits compilation from the 2005 season. The Doctor's one-on-one confrontations with the Daleks? Done before in 'Dalek', and the first time around we got a marvellous performance from Christopher Eccleston and a story that actually made sense. The Doctor's exuberant "Nobody's going to die today!" echoes the previous Doctor's exuberant "Everybody lives!" in the episode 'The Doctor dances' except that, yet again, then we had Eccleston's performance and a story that got it right. At the end of 'Evolution of the Daleks' Laszlo lives, alright, but what kind of life is he going to have as a freak with a pig's snout in the middle of the Depression? How is he even going to eat with those tusks?
This isn't a bad story for Martha. She spends much of the two episodes away from the Doctor, and she gets to take action and be a leader which tends to bring out the strong points in Agyeman's performance. She still seems infatuated with the Doctor, though, and I wonder whether the 2007 season's script writers aren't writing themselves into a corner there. Meeting a time traveller who lived through a devastating war and only seeing him as potential boyfriend material makes Martha seem shallow and slightly detached from reality, and her fixation on romance doesn't give the relationship anywhere to go once the inevitable "you could spend the rest of your life with me, but I can't spend the rest of mine with you" talk is out of the way.
Starts promising, doesn't deliver.
My original review of this story:
07/05/03 Doctor Who: Daleks in Manhattan / Evolution of the Daleks
Doctor Who reviews: introduction
More "quite good, actually" Doctor Who:
Doctor Who reviews: quite good, actually
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Doctor Who reviews: 2005 - now
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BBC Episode guide (Daleks in Manhattan, Evolution of the Daleks)
Behind the sofa (Daleks in Manhattan, Evolution of the Daleks)
Outpost Gallifrey (Daleks in Manhattan, Evolution of the Daleks)
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