Sec’s Bomb

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Hi. I’m one of the people who liked Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel, so this year’s classic-creature-based-two-part-Art-Deco-extravaganza should appeal to me – right?

There’s a heavy sense of ‘seen it all before’s to this year’s Dalek epic, which is a pity, as inside with, beyond the showgirl and her pig of a boyfriend, Hooverville and the Back to the Future in Manhatten! storyline , there’s a rather interesting development in the character of Cult of Skaro leader Sec. But as I’m loath to admit, being a visuals junkie and all, this time the look of the story gets in the way. 

Evolution of the Daleks looks fantastic. It looks especially good being on the telly, and it copes admirably with having followed King Kong so recently. Watch the Confidential of the story and you’ll see the work that went into the establishing matte shots, but beyond that there’s great lighting and set design, wonderful music, fantastic period costumes and some really very decent dressing of Cardiff for New York’s Sheep Meadow. This aside, and it really must be aside, the story squanders its big reveal, its guest villains, and Martha. 

So what’s the problem? The Daleks are one. More directly, the Cult of Skaro is the problem. Great idea, and the ‘sacrificed’ skirting panels were a cool touch, but I think a ball was dropped in making the non-Sec members of the group so identical. Caan was the survivor at the end of the day? I had to wait for the dialogue to tell me that, and that’s a shame because for a group of free-thinking Dalek Machiavellis there’s little visually that distinguishes each from the others. Granted, being a litle more ‘Dalek’ than Sec was, this was probably intended, but it struck me as a return to the episodes of the Sixties, where anonymous Daleks waggling their eyestalks at each other was all we got. The Cult was an opportunity to relax this idea without resorting to the Davros character (or a Davros character), and instead this is what we got. Sec’s dream is an intriguing one, but the execution shortsells it – the hammy accent and the party balloon hat don’t help either.

By the time we get to the notion of a new Dalek race of hybrids created by a very Frankenstein lightning storm, things have collapsed somewhat, and the combination of classic enemy and bat-arsed scheme signal a return to the excesses certain Eighties stories have been accused of going to. I thought the Doctor climbing a radio mast in The Idiot’s Lantern was a nod to the past too many; to have him do it again here strikes me as just unneccesary. And to transfer Time Lord DNA? I’m not the kind of fan to let some implausible science get in the way of a good story, but I genuinely have had trouble trying to work out how that could happen: ”From the people that brought you spray-on intravenous drugs comes a new adventure in improbable physics!”

I’m rambling, and the last thing I want this review to be is a two-parter as well, so I’ll sum up. Interesting idea, looks nice, daft conclusion. Supporting cast not bad (liked Tallulah, Lazlo and Solomon), but either there were too many of them (adding Frankie plus Sec and others) or they were given too much to do, because apart from reading some schematics I can’t think of what Martha was given to do in this story. Except bring up Rose and rescue the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver – both quite unneccesary.

 So then, not a terrible story, but not one I’ll return to quickly. I didn’t like the two-parter as much as I enjoyed last year’s first Cybermen one (the Mickey arc was what sold that to me), and I liked that less than Army of Ghosts, which had a really effective reintroduction to the Cybermen AND a shocking return of the Daleks as its cliffhanger. So for all the advance spoiling of images and teasing of Helen Raynor’s first script, Evolution‘s a bit of a flop to me. Here’s hoping it’s only a blind alley.

PA

One Response to “Sec’s Bomb”

  1. Foo Says:

    Yep, I know I’m a little behind the eight ball, but, I just finished watching EotD for the first time.
    Hmmmm. DiM was better and this one has me wondering what to make of it. Not the best, but not quite the worst.
    My partner, well, she thought it was terrible. Possibly the worst episode of series 1-3 – cringe worthy, poor accents, bad concepts. Embarrassing.
    While I personally wouldn’t go as far, I’m pretty sure it’s not going to improve much on a subsequent viewing.

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