Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Geek Out - Daleks

I don't have the ambition to post every day this week on geek subjects, but I figured I'd try to get one in, at least.

With Doctor Who, there are many facets to discuss - various Doctors (he regenerates, you see, becomes a new person & personality with the memories and core values he's always carried), various eras, so many aliens and villains.

I figured I would focus on one aspect that still captivates me to this day, the Doctor's oldest enemies, the Daleks.

Recently, Grognardia asked what was your favorite non-humanoid aliens, and my answer was still the Daleks.  In fact, I think that very question highlights one reason I enjoy the Daleks.  When you consider all the television scifi from the early days, almost every alien seemed to be either a ball of light (scratched onto the film) or aliens that looked an awful lot like humans in foam rubber masks and gloves, or - my favorite - aliens that take human form for convenience of plot and budget.

The Daleks look nothing like that.  For all the FX short comings of the original Doctor Who, the Daleks were an original look.  Machines without legs, and yet - they aren't machines either.  They aren't robots.  They are humanoid, but they were so mutated by nuclear war (and genetic experimenting) they became blobbish, tentacled balls of hatred and malice, and withdrew into "travel machines" to survive.  Later, these self-contained life supports systems became weapons in their own right, each cyborg Dalek becoming its own self-contained tank of death & destruction.

Yes, I own a bit of Dalek and Doctor Who merchandise; episode novelizations (which, are great because some of the earliest episodes' tapes were recycled by the BBC and are lost forever), original novels, VHS tapes, DVD upgrades of VHS as they become available, audio dramas.  And yes, some of the toys, too.

One thing I have not yet tried are the Dalek Empire audioplays.  These dramas feature stories about people battling the Daleks, without the Doctor's involvement.  I am not sure I am interested in the Daleks without the Doctor.  But, I guess I should give one a listen sometime.

Recently, the Daleks underwent a fairly big redesign.  They are now more colorful and physically larger - I guess to be more threatening.  (Cynic in me says they were revamped to make the online game more colourful [British spelling intentional.])  I kind of like the new design, but many long time fans are unhappy.  Not surprising.  Perhaps a balance of old-design Daleks with new-design would have been better than a wholesale swap out.

However they look, I hope they stay around, and are put to good use in strong stories. (Truth be told, the story in which they were revamped was really weak, which is why I have a cynical view that it was rushed to tie-in to the video game.)

The Daleks have changed before, they can change again.  Ain't time travel great?


  1. They're kinda cool. I'd have to give some thought to my favorite non humanoid alien.

  2. I've liked the Dalek's since I first saw them in a Tom Baker episode-can't remember the title or anything but I think it had the orgin of Davros.

    I've missed a lot of the 12th Doctor, trying to catch up.

  3. I really need to watch some Doctor Who.

  4. There was a Dalek that showed up at ConDFW for several years. He was quite well behaved and didn't try to conquer anyone. He must have gone back to his home time period because I haven't seen him the last year or two. I haven't had time to keep up with the current Doctor.