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“You would make a good Dalek!”
This episode is by Robert Shearman. It was the first ‘Doctor Who’ episode I ever saw! Honest it was!
For this Dalek story, I’ve had the original DVD cover of ‘Doctor Who – Series 1, Volume 2’ signed by writer Robert Shearman and Dalek voice artist Nicholas Briggs at the ‘Regenerations 2011’ convention in Swansea, September 2011. I’ve also had the DVD cover signed by Barnaby Edwards, the Dalek operator in this TV story, at the ‘Pandorica 2015’ convention in Bristol, September 2015.
This was the first time I saw Rose and the Ninth Doctor and it was the first time I saw a Dalek. I have fond memories of this ‘Doctor Who’ story, since it got me mad into watching the series and it changed my life.
As I’ve said before, I met Rob Shearman and Nick Briggs at ‘Regenerations 2011’. It was great to meet and chat with them. I shared my memories of watching ‘Dalek’ and ‘Doctor Who’ in general to them.
This story is set in an underground museum in Utah, 2012. It’s owned by a millionaire and claimed ‘owner of the Internet’ called Henry van Statten, who collects alien artefacts that have fallen to Earth.
One of these alien artefacts is a lone survivor of the Time War – a Dalek. The Doctor encounters this Dalek and is determined to destroy it, since the Daleks cost him the lives of his people, the Time Lords.
I didn’t know what Daleks were before I watched this episode. Seeing the Dalek in this episode really terrified me. The things that a Dalek could do with its voice; the way it looked and exterminating people was frightening.
The Dalek can kill people with its ray gun and sucker stick. But the fact that the Dalek has a ‘burning intelligence’ and being clever in getting what it wants is disturbing. It can also be very manipulative.
The voice of the Dalek is very chilling to listen to and Nicholas Briggs does a fantastic job voicing it on TV. Nick delivers a lot of layers on the Dalek voice from being so pathetic to being extremely hostile.
I found the scene between Rose and the Dalek very moving at first. It seemed to be ‘dying’ and Rose had some sympathy for it. Eventually, when Rose placed her hand on the Dalek’s casing, it was all a trick.
The Dalek revitalises and escapes its Cage to cause havoc and to exterminate. Throughout the story, there are deaths left; right and centre and the Doctor is determined to go to great lengths to stop it.
Christopher Eccleston’s performance as the Doctor is very powerful. He goes from wanting to kill the Dalek to being shocked and upset about Rose’s ‘demise’ and ‘death’ and he blames van Statten for it.
Billie Piper as Rose is brilliant. I love her empathy towards the Dalek once she sees it being so pathetic. She’s soon horrified when it starts killing people. I did think that Rose would get killed by the Dalek in this.
Bruno Langley (of ‘Coronation Street’ fame) guest stars as Adam Mitchell. Adam works for Mr. van Statten in the episode and he may be a potential companion for the Doctor at the end of the story.
The final showdown with the Dalek is very inspirational. The Doctor’s about to blow up the Dalek with a big gun, but he’s stopped by Rose who sees him turning into a monster and it’s pretty emotional.
We get to see inside the Dalek once it opens up its casing to reveal the mutant creature. It looks so pathetic and horrible inside. The Dalek exterminates itself when it considers itself no longer fit to be a Dalek.
‘Dalek’ was my first memory of ‘Doctor Who’ and it’s one I’ll never forget for the rest of my life. It’s considered one of the best episodes ever made in the new TV series and it’s very easy to see why that is.
The DVD/Blu-ray special features for this episode are as follows. There’s an audio commentary with Bruno Langley, Nicholas Briggs, writer Robert Shearman and visual effects supervisor Dave Houghton. There’s also an ‘On Set with Billie Piper’ video diary that includes a behind-the-scenes look on ‘Dalek’. There’s a BBC trailer for ‘Dalek’ to enjoy. There’s also the ‘Doctor Who Confidential’ episode ‘Dalek’.
The stories ‘Aliens of London’/’World War Three’ and ‘Dalek’ on the Series 1, Volume 2 DVD are a great way to get into the new series of ‘Doctor Who’, especially if you’ve just started and you want to know about the Daleks in ‘Dalek’. You’ll also have tremendous fun in enjoying a two-parter featuring Downing Street and stinky aliens.
‘Dalek’ rating – 10/10
‘DOCTOR WHO – DALEK’
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The Target Novelization/Audiobook of the First ‘Doctor Who’ TV Episode I Ever Watched
Everything comes ‘full circle’ for me in this ‘Doctor Who’ review of a Target novelization/audiobook!
Back in 2005, I was introduced to ‘Doctor Who’! The first ‘Doctor Who’ TV episode I ever watched was ‘Dalek’ by Robert Shearman. This was when my Dad purchased the Series 1, Volume 2 DVD for me to enjoy. A lot has changed since then, but you don’t forget your first ‘Doctor Who’ TV episode. 🙂
In my opinion, ‘Dalek’ is one of the best ‘Doctor Who’ episodes ever made in the new TV series, featuring Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor and Billie Piper as Rose Tyler. It can be argued there are chinks in the armour over the years, but I regard ‘Dalek’ very highly as a classic TV episode.
I’ve been fortunate in having met Rob Shearman at two conventions over the years including ‘Regenerations 2011’ where he signed the Series 1, Volume 2 DVD cover for me. I also had a nice chat with Rob Shearman about his work on ‘Dalek’, ‘Doctor Who’ and his approach to writing overall.
It’s easy to forget that Rob Shearman wrote more than just ‘Dalek’. He’s also written a number of Big Finish audios for ‘Doctor Who’ including ‘The Holy Terror’, ‘Jubilee’, ‘The Chimes of Midnight’ and ‘Scherzo’. He’s also a well-established playwright and can do really good character drama in his tales.
I was hoping for a Target novelization/audiobook on one of my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ stories and my very first ‘Doctor Who’ experience in ‘Dalek’ by Rob Shearman. Thankfully the announcement came in 2019 that the book was going to be released in 2020 before it soon got rescheduled to 2021.
Having checked out the ‘Dalek’ Target novelization/audiobook, I greatly enjoyed the experience. It’s allowed me to reflect how I perceived ‘Dalek’ originally when I first saw it on DVD in 2005 and how I perceive it today. A lot has changed in terms of how I understand ‘Doctor Who’ and novelizations. 🙂
I’m sure I established this in another review, but the reason why the Target novelizations were done on stories in the classic series was because VHS and video recorders weren’t available at the time they were published. Nowadays, we have the luxuries of enjoying ‘Doctor Who’ on DVD and Blu-ray.
There’s also BBC iPlayer and Britbox! The point I’m trying to make here is that a Target novelization/audiobook of ‘Dalek’ doesn’t need to be made. People can view the story over and over again and don’t have to rely on a Target novelization which would have supplied a TV tale’s absence.
I believe Rob Shearman knew that when he novelized ‘Dalek’ for the brand-new range of Target novelizations of ‘Doctor Who’. I say that because he doesn’t do a note-for-note translation of the TV story into a Target novelization. I don’t think Rob Shearman is the type of writer who would do that.
What he does in terms of novelizing ‘Dalek’ into a book is how he provides additions to the story that wouldn’t have been seen or appreciated on TV. This includes the development of characters such as Henry van Statten, Diana Goddard, Adam Mitchell and ‘Danny Simmons’ in unique manners.
A lot of these additions are great as it allows the reader to see ‘Dalek’ in a new manner compared to how we perceive the story on TV, DVD or Blu-ray. Trust me, I’ve seen ‘Dalek’ about umpteen times to know what I’m talking about and I know most of the pieces of dialogue that are about to come up next. 🙂
With that said, there is a drawback to how Rob Shearman does this. As he doesn’t do a note-for-note translation of the ‘Dalek’ TV story into a Target novelization, he does cut certain scenes out from the original TV adventure into prose. These include scenes I greatly enjoyed watching in the TV episode.
An example of this is the Cyberman head in van Statten’s museum being cut out of the novelization when the Doctor and Rose first arrive. Another example being cut is when the Dalek kills itself as it originally rose up in the air and his baubles came off, encasing him in a forcefield before it imploded.
I wish Rob Shearman kept some of those moments in the novelization since I enjoyed watching them when I saw the TV episode on DVD, Blu-ray or on download. Maybe there’s a reason why Rob Shearman cut those moments out and perhaps I should interview him on why he made the changes.
I found the novelization/audiobook experience of ‘Black Orchid’ by Terence Dudley more fulfilling than the novelization/audiobook of ‘Dalek’ by Rob Shearman since mostly everything was kept intact. If anything needed to be changed, it was done to improve the story and remove weak points.
I don’t recall there being any weak points in the ‘Dalek’ TV episode and maybe I’m perceiving the story differently compared to how Rob Shearman perceives it since I think he likes to be a perfectionist. Although I’m glad the ‘intruder window’ joke was omitted. It wasn’t particularly funny.
Now I’m not saying I find the ‘Dalek’ Target novelization/audiobook a bad experience. On the contrary, like I indicated earlier, I found the reading/listening experience invigorating. And I found Rob Shearman’s approach to novelizing a story more enjoyable and fulfilling than Steven Moffat’s. 😀
Yeah I know people might rate ‘The Day of the Doctor’ novelization/audiobook highly than me, but I found a lot of the additions and changes in that novelization/audiobook played for laughs. With the ‘Dalek’ novelization, I could take things seriously in terms of how Rob Sherman novelized his TV tale.
Going into the technical side of the novelization/audiobook, the story is divided into 12 chapters with a prologue at the beginning and an epilogue at the end. There are also bonus chapters detailing the backstories of certain characters featured throughout the ‘Dalek’ Target novelization/audiobook.
This is something similar to what Ian Briggs did in his novelization of ‘The Curse of Fenric’ as he added in bonus chapters to explain the backstories of the some of the characters and places in that tale. It’s so intriguing how Rob Shearman decided to add bonus chapters for his ‘Dalek’ novelization.
There’s ‘The Torturer’s Tale’, which focuses on Danny Simmons’ character who was originally called Aaron Denton and he had a troubled upbringing. There’s ‘The Collector’s Tale’, focusing on Henry van Statten’s character of course. I liked how his backstory got revealed in terms of being a collector.
There’s also ‘The Agent’s Tale’, looking into how Diana Goddard’s tale was handled and how she was revealed to be a federal agent. There’s ‘The Genius’s Tale’, looking into Adam Mitchell’s backstory and there’s ‘The Soldier’s Tale’, looking into how the solo Dalek began and ended up on the Earth. 🙂
There’s also the story in Chapter 6 where the character Maya Klein’s backstory was handled. Originally the character was called De Maggio, as played by Jana Carpenter. Here we get to learn about her family and how it became sour when she decided to work at Henry van Statten’s museum.
Talking about the audiobook, the story is read by Nicholas Briggs who voiced the Dalek in the TV adventure. I’m pleased Nicholas Briggs read the story in the Target audiobook and he’s a fitting choice considering he voiced the Dalek in the original story and he can do a very good Ninth Doctor.
I heard Nick Briggs voice Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor in the ‘Destiny of the Doctor’ story ‘Night of the Whisper’ and he also voiced the Ninth Doctor in ‘The Ninth Doctor Chronicles’. He’s able to capture the Ninth Doctor era in the audiobook reading and knows the story well from working on it.
Going back to what’s changed in the novelization as opposed to what remains the same, certain dialogue is switched around or altered in some places compared to how it was spoken on screen. This includes when the Doctor meets van Statten for the first time and when he’s being interrogated by him.
A nice addition to the story is when the Doctor and Rose are in the TARDIS before they arrive in van Statten’s museum. I like that scene addition since if ‘Dalek’ was a four-part story as opposed to a single episode, it would have accommodated for that additional scene being provided in the TV tale.
When the Doctor and Rose get captured by the guards in van Statten’s museum, it’s when they try to gain access to the Cage once they hear the Dalek screaming. This is instead of the Doctor accidentally triggering an alarm when he touched the casing of the Cyberman head in the museum.
In ‘The Collector’s Tale’ chapter of the story, it’s intriguing how Henry van Statten purchased the ‘Metaltron’ Dalek from a man called Hiram Duchesne. It’s also intriguing how van Statten became manipulative and cruel in his dealings with people once he owned his underground museum in Utah itself. 😐
There is an indication that the Dalek was far more damaged in the novelization than it seemed to be in the TV story. This includes its dome being malformed and its sucker being snapped. It’s incredible the Dalek was able to reconstruct itself superbly using the biomass of Rose’s hand touch in the story.
Speaking of which, in the novelization, the Dalek instructs Rose to touch it to ensure it wouldn’t die alone. This is different in the TV story. The Dalek merely states it will die alone and Rose is encouraged to touch it of her own accord. No disrespect to Rob Shearman, but I prefer the TV version of that scene.
I’d like to think the Dalek is cleverer than that in terms of manipulating Rose to feel sympathy for it when it plays out that it’s dying before it gets touched by her. Maybe I’m blinded by nostalgia, but the scene is more effective when the Dalek isn’t prompting Rose to touch the casing to give it life. 😐
There’s also an implication of a ‘connection’ between the Dalek and Rose since she seems physically unable to run away from it on two occasions. I think I prefer the more subtle approach of Rose noticing the Dalek seeing something in her rather than them physically being unable to break from each other.
In the book, we get to meet the person who touched the Dalek and burst into flames according to ‘Simmons’ who is called Dr. Yevgency Kandinsky. It’s intriguing how that story was explored in the novelization and it emphasises how dangerous a Dalek can be if you touch its casing for far too long.
It was quite interesting how Owen Bywater, played by John Schwab in the original episode (who’s character name is based on a school friend of Rob Shearman’s who got him into ‘Doctor Who’ in the first place 😀 ) happened to be in a relationship with Diana Goddard when working for van Statten. 😐
Adam’s recruitment into van Statten’s business seems darker compared to how we view him in the TV story, which includes him meeting his original roommate Sven and when he meets the Dalek for the first time. Adam is also rather concerned about Rose taking over his job at van Statten’s place. 😐
Van Statten’s ending is different in the novelization compared to the TV story. In the novelization, he erases his memory himself rather than Goddard ordering it. I quite prefer the TV version’s way of handling van Statten’s demise although Goddard’s exiting lines can often be considered quite cringy.
It was also fun to hear how the Dalek’s backstory got developed in the Target novelization. In ‘The Soldier’s Tale’ chapter, the Dalek’s exploits in the Time War, including the Fall of Arcadia are depicted. There’s a moment where the Dalek encountered the War Doctor before it headed off to Earth. 🙂
The story concludes with Adam eventually joining the Doctor and Rose in the TARDIS. With Rob Shearman’s scenes of depicting a boy on a hill, whether it reflects the Dalek or van Statten or both, I could help think of my ‘Zorbius’ story called ‘The Child of Death’ where I depicted a Dalek and a boy together.
The ‘Dalek’ Target novelization/audiobook has been an invigorating experience. I can’t say I’m entirely satisfied with the novelization/audiobook since some of my favourite moments from the story are omitted and it’s not an exact prose retelling of a TV adventure I know well inside and out. 😦
With that said, it has been fascinating how Robert Shearman novelized ‘Dalek’ for the Target range of ‘Doctor Who’ books and I can’t deny it’s been an enjoyable novelization/audiobook to read and hear. It’s also been enjoyable to hear Nicholas Briggs read the audiobook of the ‘Dalek’ novelization.
‘Doctor Who – Dalek’ rating – 8/10
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