Sunday, October 4, 2009

XXX2 - Death to the Daleks 2

A scene in this episode, perhaps unlike any other, serves to highlight the key differences between the classic series and the new series, and the way the Daleks were treated by both the production team and in the stories themselves by the characters they encountered.

Once the cliffhanger is resolved, and it is apparent that the Daleks' guns are non-functional, The Doctor confronts the Daleks and taunts them for not being able to exterminate him. Compare this scene with Christopher Eccleston's Ninth Doctor's first meeting with a Dalek in 2005's Dalek. Both scenes are remarkably similar. Both scenes even contain the exact same lines of dialogue (The Doctor's reaction to a Dalek's empty threat in both scenes is "What are you going to do to me?"), but it's the delivery by the actors and the level of gravitas that each version of the scene is treated with that sets the two scenes apart.

Most of you who are reading this have probably seen Dalek, so I won't go into too much detail about it (plus, it will get its own due in a few months' time). But note the way that the Dalek is shot using stark lighting and intimidating camera angles. The viewer, and The Doctor, is scared of the Dalek, even though it is chained up and unable to hurt anyone. Rewind to the first Doctor-Dalek scene in Death to the Daleks. The lighting is bright, the camera is perched up well above the Daleks, making them look like the tiny dustbins they are. Even Jon Pertwee's Doctor treats them with a great lack of respect. He doesn't fear them, and he shares the same sentiment with the viewer.

This is nothing against Jon Pertwee's acting in this scene, or Michael Briant's direction in the way it was shot. It's a testament to how, in a larger sense, how television was produced back in 1974, but more of how Doctor Who and the Daleks were perceived at that time in the programme's history. Both were treated as something that entertained and, in an endearing way, frightened the children enough to hide behind the sofa, but not enough to ruin their evenings or give them nightmares. And if The Doctor isn't even scared of the Daleks anymore, then why should the children watching at home?


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