Mark Watches ‘Doctor Who’: S01E06 – Dalek

In the sixth episode of the first series of Doctor Who, the Doctor and Rose travel to an underground bunker where an arrogant American is hoarding alien history. There, we meet a Dalek for the first time and the Doctor is forced to explain what the Time War is. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Doctor Who.

Here’s to hoping that “World War Three” is the only episode I don’t enjoy as much as the others. We are nearing the halfway point of Eccleston’s reign as the Doctor and I’ve grown to enjoy his portrayal of this character. In “Dalek,” besides getting some crucial answers to a lot of questions I’ve been asking, we get to see Eccleston play the Doctor with a bit more intensity than usual.

The Doctor and Rose land over 50 stories down into a bunker in Utah; it is unexplained throughout why Rose’s hair suddenly and inexplicably changes to be more frizzy, but I’ll run with it. (It was pretty distracting for the first five minutes or so.) This is also one of the first times the Doctor openly speaks about how the TARDIS took him to this time and place. We learn it’s because of some sort of signal being sent out in this veritable fortress of a museum.

Oh, right, it’s a museum of aliens. Before it’s confirmed that they’re in Utah, I thought that this was going to be an Area 51 episode. Instead, it proves to be a fairly humorous take on American culture at the hands of Henry van Statten, played brilliantly by Corey Johnson. I think Robert Shearman, the writer for “Dalek,” wasn’t aiming at some sort of insulting characterization of the American male. I wasn’t offended by van Statten or what he represents as American power. On the contrary, his dedicated sense of wealth and entitlement as the owner of all these alien artifacts was in-character to me. The idea that someone would seek out and then collect such things in an entirely selfish manner is realistic for how van Statten was portrayed.

Anyway, let’s get to the real point of all of this: the Doctor finds out what was sending the signal that the TARDIS picked up. van Statten has captured a live specimen, which he foolishly dubs the “Metaltron,” and is torturing it to get it to speak. This creature is a Dalek and is the last remaining of its kind. When we first saw the Dalek on screen, I wasn’t particularly intimidated by it. In actuality, it kind of looked silly. This was the infamous villain of so many Doctor Who episodes? It was just a robot, I thought, and a slow one at that.

For the Doctor, it’s a chance for him to let out fury in a way we’ve not seen before: the Time War was between the Daleks and the Time Lords (over what, we’re not told), and it was the Doctor who did something to exterminate the remaining Daleks AND the Time Lords all at once. I don’t think we’ve ever witnessed that sort of extreme violence from the Doctor and the thought is scary: what on earth did the Daleks do to cause the Doctor to rationalize his use of extermination?

The bulk of this episode deals with the Dalek taunting the Doctor and the Doctor attempting to figure out what exactly he should do with this thing. van Statten himself, who considers himself all-knowing about alien affairs, only proves that he knows nothing by continually ruining the situation. Rose, on the other hand, imbues the episode with her sympathy, which ironically is what activates the Dalek in the first place. I thought it was pretty neat that the Dalek could draw out the radiation Rose had absorbed from her travels in the TARDIS and I laughed so, so, so hard when it downloaded the entire Internet and the Doctor says, “IT KNOWS EVERYTHING.” Literally one of the funniest lines to ever be spoken on public television, even if Shearman didn’t intend it to be. GUYS, WE ARE THE INTERNET AND WE KNOW EVERYTHING.

The more I learned about the Dalek, the scarier it got. The Doctor explained that the Dalek’s purpose was explicitly orchestrated. He never says whom did it, but they were created with only the capacity to hate difference, making them the “ultimate in racial cleansing.” They thrive on the survival of their species. And this episode poses an interesting question: What do you do if you’re the only one left? The Dalek itself constantly struggles with this, and I do believe the few statements of aimless loneliness we see are real.

But that doesn’t make the Doctor immune to this sort of identity crisis either. The Doctor’s hate at what happened during the Time War causes him to resort to violent threats again, which both Rose and the Dalek point out: isn’t he turning into the very thing he hates?

The great irony of it all is that Rose’s DNA alters what the Dalek actually is, so much so that it’s nature to destroy what is different actually destroys itself in the end (upon Rose’s orders, that is). I didn’t think we’d ever get to see what actually lives inside the robot-like shell, as it’s part of the mysterious terror of what they are. And yet, after Rose attempts to free the Dalek (as she believes it has fundamentally changed), it opens its casing and we get to see the shriveled, slimy creature that lives inside. IT IS REALLY GROSS, TYVM. I was happy that this revelation didn’t make the Dalek any less creepy, since sometimes when things are explained or shown, it reduces their mystique.

The episode has a sort of wistful end for the Doctor, who realizes that he technically “won” the Time War, another reminder that his entire race is completely gone. It is a sad moment and I can’t begin to empathize with that sort of thought. Poor Doctor. πŸ™

But on a high note, we’ve gained a new companion! At the last minute, one of van Statten’s technicians, Adam Mitchell, decides to join them! INCREASE THE MAX PARTY TIME, GUYS!


  • One of the “weapons” Mitchell saved was a hair dryer. I laughed.
  • There was a brief moment where I believed Rose actually died and the Doctor would take on a new companion.
  • “You would make a good Dalek.”
  • “You just want to drag the stars down and stick them underground beneath tons of sand and dirt and label them. You’re about as far from the stars as you can get.” WRITER HIGH FIVE MOMENT. Sick burn!
  • The idea that the Roswell crash gave us broadband Internet is HILARIOUS. Thank you, aliens!
  • Adam’s head is going to ASPLODE when he realizes how different things really are.
  • “It’s weird, it’s kind ofÒ€¦useless, it’s just like thisÒ€¦great big pepper pot.”
  • Again: the Internet knows everything. This is the greatest show of all time.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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379 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Doctor Who’: S01E06 – Dalek

  1. nextboy says:

    Amazing episode! It's all uphill from here!

  2. Randomcheeses says:

    1) Ò– Again: the Internet knows everything. This is the greatest show of all time.

    Yes. Yes it is! Long live the Doctor.

    2) The writers succeed in making a giant talking pepper pot scary. That is skill.

    • fantasylover12001 says:

      2) The writers succeed in making a giant talking pepper pot scary. That is skill.

      I know, right? When that thing first came on screen I was like "really?" in between giggling at it. But then midway through when it started its rampage, I was terrified of those things.

  3. Blabbla says:

    If the Dalek could download the internet in a few seconds, I NEED Dalek-style broadband in my life.

  4. cdnstar says:

    There is no mockery of Daleks allowed. Those plungers and beaters are dangerous stuff! And come on – it completely stood up to the taunting about the stairs πŸ˜‰

    I liked this episode since it starts to explain a bit more of the 'history' and expand on the information about the Tardis and the Time War/Daleks, etc. I also found interesting the part where they subdue the Doctor himself as the 'last of an alien species'. I think it was a nice change, since he appears so human most of the time, to see him treated as an alien.

    • pica_scribit says:

      Since it was the new series that introducted me to Daleks (though I was sort of vaguely aware of them in a collective-unconsciousy kind of way), it was extra amusing for me to go back and watch the very first Doctor Who storyline involving Daleks, where the Doctor doesn't know what they are either. They used to be so…polite.

      • cdnstar says:

        I forget what it is like to not know what a Dalek is and how amusing they can be just by being. You people starting through the new series have a completely different experience than those of us who'd watched it before (even if only through reruns and not whole seasons).

        • Imogen says:

          I always got a thrill when a Dalek or one of the other recurring monsters reappeared in the old series (and in these ones as well).

  5. NB2000 says:

    "In actuality, it kind of looked silly. This was the infamous villain of so many Doctor Who episodes? It was just a robot, I thought, and a slow one at that."

    I've heard the episode was written with the specific intention of making the Daleks scary to an audience that were used to thinking they were kind of silly looking. It definitely worked.

    And yeah I always giggle at the "it knows everything!" line. Does that mean it knows about lolcats and netspeak?

  6. Ms Katonic says:

    When we first saw the Dalek on screen, I wasn’t particularly intimidated by it. In actuality, it kind of looked silly. This was the infamous villain of so many Doctor Who episodes? It was just a robot, I thought, and a slow one at that.

    Oh Mark. SO NOT PREPARED. πŸ˜‰

    I really did love this episode though – it takes a lot to successfully make you feel sorry for a Dalek. It's nice to see the shades of grey for once – where Daleks are concerned, that's not a terribly common occurrence.

  7. who cares says:

    The Daleks have failed! Now why don't you finish the job, and make the Daleks extinct?! Rid the universe of your filth! Why don't you just DIE?!

    Really intense performance from Chris in this episode.

    • barnswallowkate says:

      So much spitting!

    • MowerOfLorn says:

      That little performance is really the highlight of the whole episode. Not only is Chris amazing and intense in it, it also highlights one of the Doctor's major character dichotomies- a character who truly wants to do good, but has an incredible power to destroy life.

  8. Albion says:

    Thank goodness, a review! This was the episode that really got me hooked.

    As for the Daleks maybe they were seen as frightening to kids during the 60's, we needed to see the slimy thing inside lol.

  9. thirty2flavors says:

    I had never even heard the word "Dalek" before, so seeing it for the first time was "LOL WHAT THE HELL IS THIS". It is among a few things in the new series that I would later learn could be pretty easily explained by "designed in the 60s".

    I think this is one of the strongest in s1 though, or at least one of my favourites. Eccleston does really well with crazy, angry, spiteful Doctor, and that performance sold me on the Daleks as a threat even as I was giggling at their dumb design. And the "what the hell are you changing into?" moment at the end is a good moment for Rose and for her relationship with the Doctor.

    But also the Dalek downloaded all of 4chan. No wonder it self-destructed.

    • 2nd2ndalto says:

      Ha! I'd ~heard~ of the Daleks, but I don't think this was what I was expecting.

      Yes, excellent character/relationship development in this episode, though. These are the kinds of things that got me hooked. πŸ™‚

    • pica_scribit says:

      And all the fandom 'shipping wars.

    • Ronnie_Soak says:

      "But also the Dalek downloaded all of 4chan. No wonder it self-destructed"

      • kytten says:

        ALL OF THE PORN. Including the horrendous dalek/doctor porn I found once. ALL OF 4-CHAN.

        I'm pretty certain it wanted to kill us all even more at that point.

  10. monkeybutter says:

    This episode is such an improvement from the last one! It manages to be silly and serious so much better than "World War III." Daleks are creepy, annoying, and hilarious. I love their toilet plunger arm as much as I hate EXTERMINATE.

    Van Statten collecting things just because he can totally rings true. He's a good example of the frivolity that can come with extreme wealth.

    I'm a terrible person, so when you said "he technically 'won' the Time War," I couldn't help but think of this mess:
    <img src=""&gt;

    He's alive, but I wouldn't say he's victorious.

  11. elusivebreath says:

    It really is all uphill from here, Mark. I'm glad you love the show, because it just keeps getting better and better. I am excited to be watching it all over again with you πŸ™‚

  12. Mauve_Avenger says:

    I already had a basic idea of what Daleks looked like and what they did, but I initially thought they were just robots, too. And I'm glad that you started Doctor Who when you did, because it gives me an excuse to spam you with these fellows I found earlier:

    <img src=""&gt;
    <img src=""&gt;
    <img src=""&gt;

  13. who cares says:

    What're you going to do? Sucker me to death? Oops.

    Also Bad Wolf 1 descending.

  14. Pseudonymph says:

    I love this episode! So much emotion and so many different personalities and cultures put in a highly stressful situation and forced to interact! Oh and lots of poetic justice scenarios. I like those.

    Even though I had seen the episode before I was kind of surprised that the Daleks are even capable of self-destruction. It seems to go against their prime directive.

    But then I thought that perhaps they worried they might find themselves in a situation in which one Dalek needed to be sacrificed to save many more in which case a self-destruct feature would be beneficial.

    Anyways, I am one of the ones who loves this episode. I don't know why, it just ~speaks to me~.

  15. exbestfriend says:

    I love this episode. This was the first episode I saw that cemented my NEED to watch the rest of Doctor Who. I loved the conflict of the Doctor trying not to become something he hated and this was the first episode where it felt that The Doctor really wanted Rose to be his companion. After the events in the last two episodes, clearly the Doctor respected Rose, but when he starts describing what they could go see together just to keep from having dinner with her mother it seemed like he didn't really care who he saw those sights with as long as he got to see them. Whereas when he thought he lost Rose here, it affected him. I'm not advocating a romantic relationship, but her presence was something that he wanted. Not that he is human, or that he should be human, but his response to her peril "humanized" him. It characterized him in a way that, to me, made him seem slightly more caring to the actual people around him as opposed to how he reacts to situations.

    At any rate, I can't wait until you get through all the episodes and are current with the rest of us Mark. Not just because it is surprisingly difficult to talk about the episodes without including later spoilers, but because this wait between the Christmas episode and the new season is a pain I like to share.

  16. barnswallowkate says:

    This is one of my favorite episodes ever, and the one that made me fall in love with Doctor Who. I adore the epic emoness of the Time War and the Last Time Lord so I was all about this show after this ep.

    I knew as much about Daleks as Rose did at the beginning, and by the end of the episode I was terrified of them in general but still felt bad for that one (even though being "contaminated" by Rose Tyler doesn't seem so bad! I'd end up so much sassier!).


    Also: <img src=""&gt;

  17. Fuchsia says:

    I'm snowed in in Boston so I won't be able to watch this episode until I get back to Chicago on WEDNESDAY (boo!) so I'm just going off of memory here. I wasn't scared of the Dalek in this episode, really. Not as terrifying, even when it was trying to kill them towards the end, as I'd heard they were. I mostly just felt bad for it. I mean, in every day life, I generally feel sorry for those who can't appreciate differences in life and want everyone to be the same. That's kind of how I viewed him in this episode, taken to an extreme.

    • monkeybutter says:

      Jealous of your snow, even if you are stuck.

      Yeah, and invoking pity and disgust is better than plain old silliness. The episode is good because it gives Daleks some purpose beyond comic effect.

  18. azurefalls says:

    Ugh. Hate Adam Mitchell. Awesome episode, probably my favourite for Nine. Excellent angsty acting.

  19. Tasneemoo says:

    Mark, will you please make a recording of you saying 'exterminate' into a fan? Please?

  20. randomisjen says:

    Adam’s head is going to ASPLODE when he realizes how different things really are.

    Oh, Mark. You have no idea!

  21. Araniapriime says:

    What made me realize how scary Daleks are is how the Doctor reacted to the one Dalek we encountered here. Up until then, I thought nothing can scare the Doctor, but he FREAKED THE FUCK OUT so badly. He saw one deactivated Dalek and immediately was POUNDING ON THE DOOR TO BE LET OUT OF THE ROOM. He was almost at the point of being willing to use a gun — and longtime fans of the Doctor know that something like that is anathema to the Doctor. (He lets other people shoot the guns. Heh.)

    The idea is that Daleks are UNSTOPPABLE, that it's impossible to negotiate with them, they'll just keep up this unending wave of destruction with no respite. Plus, remember that this is ostensibly a "family show" — and the Dalek took out a bunch of security mercenaries by ELECTROCUTING THE FLOOR THEY STOOD ON. And the Doctor really believes that one Dalek can take out the entire population of Salt Lake City, if not the entire frakkin' country!

    Once you remove the campy elements and consider the implications of what the Daleks are, they are some of the scariest fucking things in the universe.

    Oh, and by the way? YOU = NOT PREPARED. Just sayin'.

    • barnswallowkate says:

      "What made me realize how scary Daleks are is how the Doctor reacted to the one Dalek we encountered here."

      Yep, that's what did it for me!

    • vermillioncity says:

      What made me realize how scary Daleks are is how the Doctor reacted to the one Dalek we encountered here. Up until then, I thought nothing can scare the Doctor, but he FREAKED THE FUCK OUT so badly. He saw one deactivated Dalek and immediately was POUNDING ON THE DOOR TO BE LET OUT OF THE ROOM.


    • murgatroid1 says:

      Yes. When the Doctor's terrified, I'm terrified.

    • Randomcheeses says:

      Fun fact: The Daleks were invented in 1963, barely two decades after the end of WW2. For extra traumatising points, they are BASED ON NAZIS.

      • Araniapriime says:


        oh fuck spoilers. *chants* DO NOT SPOIL MARK DO NOT SPOIL MARK lather rinse repeat. *headdesk* I'll shut up now.

  22. Vicki Louise says:

    Yay! (I've been refreshing the page for the last hour tehehe)
    This is one of my least favourite episodes of this series, It doesn't have anything to do with the writing, because that's fantastic! It's just that i don't enjoy the episodes with soliders, fighting and guns. But i LOVE what this episode does for the Doctor, the Daleks and Rose. You really get to see the wounded, battle scarred, lonely and dark side of the Doctor that Chris plays so well.
    I had no idea that there was something inside a Dalek, i just thought it was a metal creature, but i was amazed when i saw that this terrifying, murdering, evil creature was actually just a pathetic lump of stuff trapped in cage of its own making. I'd feel sorry for them if they didn't try to kill every living thing ever!
    I love Rose in this one, she can be very selfish sometimes but she is capable of being selfless and compassionate.
    I love the music in this episode, when you see the Dalek being shot at in the corridor and the bullets are melting, the singers are saying 'what is happening' in Hebrew. I <3 Murray Gold!
    And Bruno Langley who plays Adam is sooooooo cute!

    • Stephanie says:

      Murray Gold is a musical genius. I got the soundtracks for seasons 1 and 2, which was one CD and 3 for christmas. I've been listening to them on repeat ever since.

      • Vicki Louise says:

        The series three soundtrack is my favourite! Have you got the one for series five?

        • who cares says:

          The series 5 one is awesome so many tracks and now they're releasing one just for the Christmas special? Hmm someone wants to millk Katherine Jenkings.

      • thirty2flavors says:

        I am so glad Murray Gold was one of the few hold-overs from the Great Production Shuffle of 2009.

      • Imo says:

        And Ben Foster too – he's the orchestrator and is an absolute genius in his own right. He makes Murray's marvellous melodies into thrilling three dimensional orchestral scores.

  23. Minish says:

    I think I speak for everyone when I say: It's worth it to endure the bad episodes for episodes like these. ESPECIALLY Steven Moffat episodes (OMG GET TO IT ALREADY!).

    And I'm totally companion happy. I love a full Tardis. 'Specially male companions (just because it doesn't happen often).

    • pica_scribit says:

      Steven Moffat is made of win. I have all of Coupling on DVD. And I desperately want to see Jeff/Richard Coyle as the Doctor.

      • xpanasonicyouthx says:

        People tell me that I should watch Coupling. SHOULD I.

        • Minish says:

          DO IT.

          It will make you happy in ways you've never thought possible.

        • grlgoddess says:

          It is amazing and hilarious and way too short. Go for it!

        • pica_scribit says:

          Incidentally, I woke up this morning with an intense craving for Mark Reads A Song of Ice and Fire. Because I think you would love it, and I would love to hear your take on the epicness of it all. But probably not until there is at least an official publication date for the fifth book in the series.

          • kitish says:

            This! I love A Song of Ice and Fire. But "official publication date" makes me laugh . . . hasn't there been like six or thirty at this point, though they may not have been *official* dates. Seriously though, the waiting has filled my life with tragedy and sadness. Sorry for butting in however I don't often run across people who even know what A Song of Ice and Fire is, so I had to throw my support in for Mark Reads A Song of Ice and Fire when, you know, the next book gets published.

    • Blabbla says:

      I enjoy Moffat's episodes, but his random bursts of misogyny really bother me :/

      • sabra_n says:

        He's one of those rare writers who talks an absolutely terrible game, sexism-wise, but manages to do a better job when actually writing his characters. Not a perfect job, of course, but I can name the number of sexism-free shows I've seen on one hand, so I guess my standards aren't that high. πŸ™

        • thirty2flavors says:

          lol I sort of agree. I don't want to get too into it because I know nothing gets this fandom riled up faster than the words "Moffat, RTD, female characters", but I think Moffat's writing is actually less problematic than the things he says in interviews. I think most of the trouble arises when you know read his interviews and then try to apply them to his writing.

      • Thennary Nak says:


      • hassibah says:

        Really cause so far the misogyny is bothering me more in the early seasons than anything I've seen that he's written. Not to start a huge debate or anything but does it come out more on other shows he worked on?

        • Blabbla says:

          I think his female characters (like in the most recent Christmas ep) are really flat, and most of them are only there for the men's sake.

          And I think it comes out in Sherlock, too. There are no female characters, except for the woman who does their housework despite not wanting to, and the woman who's sexuality is joked about. He took the story from the Victorian setting, without changing the fact that all of the important characters are white, christian, straight, cisgendered men.

          • hassibah says:

            Ah OK. I somehow forgot the xmas special, which you're spot on she's not really a character so much as a plot device. The two most important female characters in series five are definitely among my favourites though…the minor ones I have more reservations about how they're written but I'll talk about that when we get to em.

            • MowerOfLorn says:

              You're both right about Abigail from a Christmas special…she's a bit devoid of personality.

              Not having watched anything else Moffat has done (although I'm planning on watching Sherlock), I obviously can't judge him too much, but I do think his female characters are quite strong. I thought Nancy, Sally, River and Amy were powerful female characters, all in their own right. I know he has some views about fanservice, etc, but I haven't seen anything too odd in DW.

              I think we're just a very demanding lot. XD

        • rys says:

          I think some of his best efforts regarding women were in Press Gang (WHICH YOU SHOULD TOTALLY WATCH MARK BECAUSE IT IS GREAT). Press Gang passes the Bechdel test and the characters are well-rounded, although I wouldn't say it's perfect.

          The worst so far is probably Sherlock, in which everything was updated from the 1800s except for the sexism and marginalisation of women.

          But really, he and RTD should just not give interviews, because that's where they really put their foot in it.

    • NB2000 says:

      Steven Moffat FEEDS ON FEAR.

    • SpiritWolf1201 says:

      A full TARDIS is the best kind of TARDIS.

  24. Penquin47 says:

    I have to say I'm amused by the fact that the only one who was deemed worth rescuing was the one with the British accent.

    I spent most of the episode distracted by Goddard, trying to figure out where I'd seen her before. (Stargate.)

    All I knew about Daleks was that they were robot-like thingies. I can see where they'd be totally terrifying, Doctor Who's equivalent of the Replicators from Stargate, or the Borg from Q Who (before they started assimilating people too). What I wasn't expecting was for the Doctor to end up being so terrifying, too.

    • pica_scribit says:

      They didn't rescue Adam; he was just following Rose like a lost puppy. He wasn't in any danger, unless he failed to evacuate the base before they assembled enough concrete to fill it.

    • Same thing went through my head, Penquin! My evil plan for surviving as an extra in a Doctor Who episode: Fall back to my British roots and quick switch accents (It's my one talent, and I don't think speaking German will save me somehow). Kind of like in Star Trek, where I know I need to avoid wearing red to live. πŸ˜›

  25. Sara says:

    Gotta love the old-school BBC:
    "We need a villain, but we've used up our entire special effects budget. What have we got lying about?"
    "A garbage bin, a plunger, and a whisk."

    Luckily, the idea of what the Daleks are and what they do is about ten billion times more terrifying than their appearance (although the face-crushing plunger really is pretty horrifying).

    As for what the Daleks did for the Doctor to be ok with destroying every last one of them–people of the internet, is this a spoiler, or can we explain it?

    • exbestfriend says:

      That's tough, because timeline wise the Time War is over, but I feel that the later episodes that address what happened are better to watch unprepared. I say spoiler, but everyone else can vote down this comment if they don't agree.

    • Fuchsia says:

      Definitely a spoiler. It's explained in later episodes, so there's no reason to explain it now, even though chronologically time-wise it had already happened.

  26. kaleidoscoptics says:

    <img src=>

    This is one of the episodes where I really, really wanted to see your reaction. It's one of my favorites because of all the intensity and the revelations we get about the Doctor. The Doctor absolutely loses it. Eccleston's acting when he's in 'the cage' with the Dalek–first sheer terror and panic at being stuck in a room with a Dalek, and then terrifying mania when he realizes it's helpless–is astounding. The Dalek's assertion "You would make a good Dalek" never fails to make chills run down my spine.

    Also the 'elevate' bit. That's kind of hilarious, but still kind of creepy somehow. IIRC it's an old joke that the Daleks could be defeated by stairs, since the props' drivers (yes, there are people in there) could only go on flat surfaces in the original series.

    Unrelated, but once I was watching an episode with a non-Who fan who looked at the Dalek and started whining that they had ripped off R2D2. I had to lecture her that the Daleks were created a decade before Star Wars. Possibly one of the nerdiest things ever.

  27. pica_scribit says:

    So when the Dalek downloaded the internet, was anyone else thinking, "OMG! All that porn!"?

    Ò– Adam’s head is going to ASPLODE when he realizes how different things really are.

    Hee hee! You have NO IDEA, Mark!

    Oh, and Rose's hair? I dunno, but it's pretty much implied that we don't get to see *all* their adventures together, so who knows what exciting disaster they've just come from?

  28. quizzabella says:

    I know that from an objective point of view compared to some of the stuff that's on Doctor Who the Daleks aren't the scariest things in the show – even now that they've got the whole managing up to get up stairs thing sorted. But still, everytime I see them onscreen I am ten years old again and hiding in Marwell Zoo's toilets because they had a little Doctor Who exhibition that had a life size Dalek in it.
    Loved this episode – Ecclestone really sold it for me. The undercurrent of rage towards the Dalek and the idiots keeping it as a trophy just gives a whole new dimension to the character. (Oh and Rose bless her – such a great mix of kindness and gutsyness).

  29. Megan says:

    I am one who had yet to think Daleks are inherently scary. I think I’m still having a ‘this looks like a 1970’s cappucino machine’ thing. I don’t know. I think the classic monsters are the weakest parts of Doctor Who. I also feel bad saying this because everyone else seems to think they are awesome. But I had never heard of them until ‘Dalek’. I keep wondering if I watch the old show if I might get more appreciation? I don’t know. :/

    • who cares says:

      Depends on your tolerance for slower plots, wobbly sets and cheap effects.

      • kytten says:

        All those things are part of the charm. Also, huge amounts of cheese and ott acting.
        what do I know, though, I spent Christmas watching an Old Who serial where the main monster was a giant squid. And I LOVED it.

    • exbestfriend says:

      As other people have said in much more eloquent language, Daleks aren't inherently scary. The audience is scared of them because the Doctor is scared of them. Although he takes everything else in stride, he hates Daleks and so we are supposed to hate Daleks. Which is why it was so interesting when Rose was sympathetic to them. I started watching DW at the beginning of this season so I was confused over who to side with because I knew just as much about Rose as I did the Doctor.

      But I'm totally biased, because I love this episode, because I love the Doctor and now I've seen lots of Dalek episodes and I carry that frame of reference when I try and think about this episode again.

    • nanceoir says:

      I never really thought the Daleks were super scary myself, but when I was playing the Dalek episode of the adventure games, let me tell you, getting spotted by one of them and hearing, "EXTERMINATE!" made me jump in my seat.

  30. Fusionman says:

    Just to let you know this is the second time a Dalek ELEVATES! The first time was in a 1980 something serial. However by that point the whole audience was 4 men and their pet dog. Even British newspapers were making fun of the Daleks. As said this episode was to make them scary again. It worked. OH GOD did it work.

  31. monkeybutter says:

    Eep. Do you have someone to check on them or do you have an automatic feeder? I know it's not really consoling when you're worried, but they should be okay for a couple of days. I hope flights get back to normal quickly so you can get home to your kitties.

    • Fuchsia says:

      Yeah, my friend's checking in on them but she couldn't find her set of my keys for a long time yesterday. She finally did, though. I just get nervous leaving them alone for more than a couple days, especially with the weather we'd been getting in Chicago as it is.

  32. echinodermata says:

    I really want to be all spoilery and talk about the difference in personalities between Eccleston’s, Tennant’s, and Smith’s roles, and speculate how their characters would have acted in this episode. But yeah, kind of a scary side to the Doctor, but I'm glad they went there.

  33. Stephanie says:

    I heard that pretty much the only reason they had the Dalek fly up the stairs was because in the entire old series, everybody always said that if you want to beat a Dalek, you just need to go upstairs. I think that taking away their only real weakness made them so much more frightening.

    I've been waiting til you got to this episode so I could tell this joke, which I find hilarious, but it's more of a Classic!Who joke, because it made more sense before they could fly.
    How many Daleks does it take to change a lightbulb?
    2.5 million, to conquer a race that can climb ladders XD

  34. Mauve_Avenger says:

    The Dalek called the Doctor "the coward [who] survived."

    The Dalek immediately responded to the word "Doctor," so I'm guessing he's had past experience with the Doctor or at least knew about the Doctor before (unless all Time Lords are called Doctor___?). So maybe the Doctor was widely known to be a coward, and his involvement in the Time War changed him? Or maybe his involvement in the Time War itself was somehow cowardly.

    • Stephanie says:

      I don't think that it's spoilery to say that throughout the entire old series, the Daleks are the Time Lord's number one enemy. It's an ancient rivalry, and the Doctor has defeated them more times than you can count. I think each regeneration must have done it at least 3 times. I think he's just known to the Daleks as one who brings about their death, because he always does.

  35. doesntsparkle says:

    Re-watching the first season is giving me a new appreciation of Eccleston's doctor, with his darkness and his leather jacket.

  36. buyn says:

    On a scale of 1 to 5, this episode was given a 4 for scariness.

    I think it's just because it's a Dalek, but how should I know. Also, I think this was the episode where I really noticed Bad Wolf, mostly because I was marathoning season 1 so I could catch up to realtime.

  37. kelseyintherain says:

    I love this episode so much. The Dalek's existential crisis is really cool, and by the end of the episode I actually kind of felt sorry for him in a weird way.

    I think the part I remember most about this one is when everyone runs up the stairs to get away and it FUCKING LEVITATES. They couldn't do this before, and it was a running joke on the show that you could escape them just by using a flight of stairs, so when that thing starting floating it was a very "OH SHIT SON!" moment.

    And am I the only one that wants to know what if any useful information the Dalek found in all that internet porn?

  38. sabra_n says:

    The fact that this episode managed to make the ridiculous-looking "Metaltron" scary to this Dalek-ignorant American says a lot for the writing and for the acting – Eccleston's especially. Up until this point, the Doctor was the scary one, and none of the deadly danger he'd been in made him more than nervous. The way he absolutely lost it in the presence of a Dalek imbued that silly pepper pot with a whole lot of menace-by-proxy.

    Just for a little context: When the Who reboot was being created, Daleks and the show in general were often dismissed as campy silliness. Eccleston, OTOH, was a prestige actor who had previously specialized in doing SRS BUSINESS dramas like Our Friends in the North, so having him be the Doctor definitely made the whole project look more serious. And "Dalek" is one of the places where it paid off in spades – not anyone can bring that much gravitas to a conversation with a pepper pot. πŸ™‚ And that's what's awesome about Doctor Who – yes, it can be the campiest, silliest floof on the airwaves, but every once in a while it can also swing around and give you "Dalek". The show never had to prove its drama cred after that.

  39. rys says:

    I liked this one. Seeing Nine flip out when he sees the Dalek is amazing. No doubt he's got lots of enemies but I think the Daleks are the ones he didn't rise above — they made him the traumatised, angry, lonely man we see in this episode.

  40. Ash says:

    The Daleks are slow?
    Of course they are. Speed is for running and they are certainly not the ones that need to run away, and the ones that do need to do the running can’t run forever.

  41. Openattheclose says:

    Mark, I was on the Doctor Who forums at Television Without Pity, and lo and behold, someone (possibly the HE KNOWS EVERYTHING Dalek?) linked to you from over there. I love it when my internets collide.

    Does anyone else think it was a bit silly for Rose and then the Doctor himself, to talk about his being an ALIEN in front of a known alien artifact collector? I know the Doctor probably did it on purpose, so he could get in with whatever was sending the distress signal, but it still seemed risky to me. But that's the Doctor, I suppose. He's really smart, but he takes stupid risks sometimes.

    • nyssaoftraken74 says:

      But that would imply that he was worried about Van Statten who, compared to the things the Doctor has faced and defeated, is nothing. In fact, since van Statten clearly viewed humans as dispensible, revealing himself to be an alien would make sure he wouldn't just have him killed.

  42. Vicki Louise says:

    Mark, your list of TV shows is probably enormous by now, but can i suggest a few more?
    Definitely Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures.
    BBC1's Merlin: It has three series. It's really funny and entertaining and it shows the Arthurian legend in a different light, (without the confusion and incest!). Also Colin Morgan <3, need i say more.
    BBC3's Being Human: Two series and the third starts in the UK soon. It's about a ghost, werewolf and a vampire who share a house in Bristol. It's basically about them trying, as the title suggests, to be Human. Funny, scary, lots of character development. Also Aidan Turner *drools*, need i say more.
    Itv1's primeval: Three series with the fourth starting this Saturday! It's funny and has time travel and Dinosaurs, what more could you want?!
    My wild card choice would be: E4's Misfits. Two series and a Christmas special. Very funny, lots of sex and violence. It's about a group of teenagers who get hit by a bolt of freaky-assed lightning and develop super powers, seriously.
    Sorry for taking up space on the Dalek review for this, but i didn't know where else to write it.

    • pica_scribit says:

      I've been meaning to watch Being Human, having seen the original pilot. If Mark watched it, it would definitely give me an excuse. I also want to see Mark cover the 1976 BBC minseries "I, Claudius", because of all the awesome it contains. And all the much younger versions of acting greats like Derek Jacobi and Patric Stewart (with hair!).

    • syntheticjesso says:

      I LOVE Being Human. When I went to see Voyage of the Dawn Treader last week, I raged at the previews because SyFy is completely ripping it off AND calling it an original series. If there hadn't been smallish children there, I would have had some Words for the movie screen. I mean, Annie was even wearing the same outfit! "Original" my foot.

      Sorry, I had to vent that to someone who would understand.

    • PJG says:

      I agree with Torchwood and Primeval… I’d already recommended both. I am so EXCITED that S4 of Primeval starts this week!!! I hadnt heard confirmed that they were restarting the series!! AMAZINGLY AWESOME (though I still miss Cutter even more than Steven. Helen, not so much.)

    • Tasneemoo says:

      I think mark should watch Downton Abbey.


    • NB2000 says:

      Bit late in replying but: I definitely agree about Being Human, I LOVE that show so much. (BTW I need Aiden Turner to show up on Doctor Who at some point, practically everyone else from BH has shown up).

      Series 2 of Merlin made me want to throw things but series 3 was a slight improvement. Although the constant reset buttons are really starting to grate.

  43. xkcdhobbes says:

    I think the scariest thing about Dalek's is their voice when they scream "EXTERMINATE!"

    This episode is awesome especially when van Statten says he's going to use the two heart technology. (I can't remember if he want's to copyright it or just use it, though copyrighting 2 hearts would be hilarious!)

    I'm already excited about coming back from my trip to read some more Mark does stuff! Have a good January guys πŸ˜›

  44. xpanasonicyouthx says:


    why is the world so cruel.

    • Openattheclose says:

      Watch it! You only have about 71 more episodes to go, who cares if you eat or sleep or work, really?

      • Openattheclose says:

        And just think, by the time you catch up, you will only have to wait a little bit to watch the new season, unlike the rest of us who will have no new Who for months.

    • Because Daleks control the 'net?

    • kelseyintherain says:

      It is not cruel, it's simply trying to allow you to savor each and every episode. The world LOVES YOU. πŸ™‚

    • Because Daleks control the internet?

    • thirty2flavors says:


      • xpanasonicyouthx says:


        • sophpoph says:

          You'll definitely finish in time, well you miiight need to watch 2 a day for some, I'm not sure. I watched the whole of series 5 in four days I think (the few days before Christmas so I could watch the special), I just watched a couple a day and spaced them out a bit. So I don't think you'll have a problem.

    • THE Nessa says:

      It took my sister about 2 months to get caught up.

    • Ash says:

      Shut up Mark you’re getting to see a bunch all at once. When you catch up it’s one series a year and a week between each episode. More than a week at one point because of the bloody Eurovision song contest. Well at least for me who lives in the UK which is in Euro land where we need to put up with that crap on the BBC once a year.

      • kytten says:

        eurovision isn't as good since Terry Wogan stopped presenting. I liked it when he got wasted and mocked the contestants.

        But I have just had the last who fix I'll have TILL APRIL. APRIL.

  45. hassibah says:

    I kind of love the Daleks, the way they talk (esp when they say doc-TOOOR) and the way they will wheel up to you fast for a couple of feet when they are trying to be intimidating. Guys I know they are supposed to be scary but the fact that they exterminate whole cities accomplishes that. I love my campy scifi and this is how I (vaguely) remember 80s Doctor Who.

    Also: Good god Eccleston can act.

  46. Oh Mark, creepy things come to those who wait. Even if they are TOTALLY UNPREPARED!

  47. Hypatia_ says:

    Fun game to play regarding Daleks: Find someone who has never seen Doctor Who and has no knowledge of it whatsoever. Show him or her a picture of a Dalek and explain how they’re essentially the most feared beings in the universe. Let them finish laughing hysterically, then show them this episode. It’s good fun.

    Anyway. This is the episode that convinced me that the reboot was going to be amazing. Eccleston just acts the hell out of this episode, it tells us so much about why Nine is the way he is. Seeing the Doctor utterly terrified, as he was when he realized he was locked in a room with the Dalek, is so rare that I find it really disturbing. Then it becomes more disturbing when he spends much of the rest of the episode in a spittle-flecked, homicidal (well, Dalek-icidal) rage. Even for an incarnation as dark as Nine, it’s chilling behavior.

    The stair thing did make me giggle a little, because there’s an old series episode where the Doctor (I forget which incarnation) and his companion escape a Dalek by climbing a flight of stairs, stopping near the top to cheerfully taunt the Dalek for being unable to climb after them. Rose and Adam do essentially the same thing, right up to the taunting, and then: “EL-E-VATE!”

    • Wahlee says:

      Seeing the Doctor utterly terrified, as he was when he realized he was locked in a room with the Dalek, is so rare that I find it really disturbing.

      These are the episodes I like the best– the ones where the Doctor isn't totally on top of every situation, all confident and blasé. Because they are so rare, and because Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant and Matt Smith act the hell out of them. Gives us a glimpse into the depth of the Doctor's soul.

  48. xiri says:

    Heh. For the last three years, I've studied Archaeology at a university. Most people in Archaeology are nerds, often of the science fiction variety. Twenty odd years ago, at the university, a hypothetical site was set up – a place where students could excavate annually and build the practical skills necessary for the career.

    It's called the TARDIS. Yeah. 'Teaching and resource development in simulation' or something daft like that, but everyone knows it's just named that because the people who built it just wanted the Doctor Who reference, lol.

    Teams are assigned group names: Time Lords and Daleks are amongst those. Shan't name the others, spoilers. This year, the group I was in was the Daleks, lol.

    Funnily enough, it wasn't until after I'd informally graduated that I actually went and bought/watched Doctor Who.

    Oh, it's been so worth it. I wish I could say more about the Daleks, but spoilers and all that, so … yeah. ~ENJOY~ πŸ˜€

    • Hypatia_ says:

      That. Is. Amazing.

      Another group you might not think is largely composed of nerds is librarians (at least librarians of roughly my age, which is to say twentysomethings). I watched this episode for the first time with two friends of mine, another librarian and an archivist. At the part when Adam calls cataloguing alien artifacts "the best job in the world", we totally lost it and once we stopped laughing we started working out the proper way to catalogue things like the sonic screwdriver and the alien hair dryer. I believe we once had it written down somewhere. Much geeky fun was had by all.

      Also, one of my professors when I was doing my MLIS once compared librarians as a group to the Stargate. Which was also pretty awesome.

      • xiri says:

        Lol! I actually worked in a library before studying Archaeology, so no, it doesn't surprise me that there's plenty of nerdom to be had. I was the youngest employee at the time, though, so I had a bit more in common with the IT department. πŸ™‚ I love the discussion you had, though, that would be grand. Were you talking in terms of Congress or Dewey?

    • Jaydeyn says:

      I'm wondering if you went to the same university as I did, where the TARDIS was set up? I was a Time Lord in 2003. πŸ™‚ I kind of love that there are a number of people in the program who have gotten into Doctor Who just because Jay H (and Jon P) are obsessed about it!

      They are rebuilding this year and a few TARDISes are being set up around Queensland. You know about the project?

      • xiri says:

        OMG HI THERE, I know exactly what and who you're talking about. Got to love this city, who needs "Six degrees" of connection? We have bloody three degrees!

        Also, if you are who I think you are then I think you know me, which is so many levels of awesome. Uhm, uhm, searching for a reference point… Oh. The most recent field trip to GG with 9,368 stones?

        • Jaydeyn says:

          It is indeed a small world. I'm not exactly shy about my user name connecting to real life, so yes! 9 368. All of them. Just the most recent? And given that I brought along the finale for Doctor Who last time…

          I've always loved the TARDIS being such an integral part of Archaeology at UQ. It brings me joy. πŸ™‚

    • pica_scribit says:

      Why was this not at my university?! Damn you, St Andrews! *shakes fist* So spill, then. Which uni is it, and where do I sign up?

      (Hi! I'm also an archaeologist!)

      • xiri says:

        Archaeologists unite! πŸ˜€ This is at University of QLD in Brisbane, Australia. Rad times for all.

        Also there is a Doctor Who quote that I really really want to say but ~spoilers~ so I can't. DAMNIT MARK.

  49. Imogen says:

    I LOVE Eccleston, but I don't like this series. WHY OH WHY DID YOU MAKE HIS COMPANION ROSE? Suffice to say I stopped watching Doctor Who because of her. Started again when you decided to do this blog. Thank you for that! I have many old series recommendations for you however….

  50. Tallie says:

    Nobody has mentioned my favourite line!

    "What use are emotions if you will not save the woman you love?"

  51. Danielle says:

    You. Are not. Prepared.

    This episode right here showcases why Christopher Eccleston is one of my Top 3 Actors Of All Time.

  52. Hotaru-hime says:

    Daleks were the cheapest thing the BBC could afford to make when Doctor Who started- that's why they've got eggbeaters and plungers for arms.
    Despite all that, they have inspired children to cower in fear behind their couches.

  53. rowanlee says:

    DALEKS! Fucking Daleks, how do they work? I won't lie- whenever I hear a Dalek's voice, I get a little shiver in my spine. I was terrified by them when I was a kid- which, honestly, is a bit silly. As my friend of mine put it, "They look like ornamental SALT AND PEPPER SHAKERS!" But just… the idea of them- a race clever omnicidal maniacs that are nigh indestructible? God damn, but I wanted a baseball bat whenever I got freaked out.

    And yes, not all the episodes are brilliant. But the ones that are… πŸ˜€ oh my, the one's that are.

  54. Pingback: Tweets that mention Today, I find out what Daleks are. New 'Doctor Who' review is now live! --

  55. Rob Shearman says:

    I just wanted to say how wonderful it is that an episode I wrote over six years ago is still watched and discussed today. Thanks, Mark, for all your enthusiasm – and I hope you enjoy the rest of the series!

    Oh, and Happy New Year sorts of things.


    • pica_scribit says:

      Wow, for real? In that case, thank you so much for your work!

      And yeah, we all love Mark's enthusiasm. There's something wonderful about being able to watch these episodes again for the first time through his eyes.

    • Openattheclose says:

      Wow, it's so cool that you stopped by and commented! Thank you for writing this great episode.

  56. syntheticjesso says:

    <img src="; width="299" height="500" alt="Dalek" />

    <img src="; width="299" height="500" alt="dalek" />

    (I have a set of these, of a couple of different baddies, I can't WAIT till I can show you some of them without them being spoilers. I LOVE MY CUTE LITTLE BADDIES)

    Anyways, this episode! One commenter on page one summed it up best- when the Doctor gets scared, I get scared. Watching him flip out like that was startling, to say the least. Then when Rose was getting all buddy-buddy with it, I was so tense.

    Also, yes, her hair was totally distracting, all episode. Especially in the scenes where she is backlit or something, and the frizziness just kind of *glows*.

  57. swimmingtrunks says:

    I can't watch this ep right now, but yay Mark meets the Daleks! Here's a question for my fellow Americans- how weird does it feel to pronounce "Dalek"? I used to stick an r in there without even realizing. Tell me I am not the only one.

    I don't think many of Doctor Who's older viewers find Daleks as scary as they do annoying- due to their voice or the unintimidating appearance of weaponry or their tendency to keep f'ing popping up like the damn space cockroaches they are, but sometimes when used wisely they can still strike fear. This episode is definitely one of those places where a Dalek is utilized well. I mostly despise them popping up in the series, but have realized very recently how much I love them as an icon of Doctor Who in general. And seriously, who doesn't love their voice? Say anything with the Dalek affectation, immediately better. Try it.

    • Hypatia_ says:

      You just can't have Doctor Who without Daleks, really. They're nearly as iconic as the TARDIS.

    • Muirgen says:

      Heh my mom totally pronounces Dalek with an r. even with me telling her there is no r. She also like to add random in a random s every now and then. for example Barnes & Noble becomes Barnes & Nobles

  58. Kitzo says:


    And I love how they finally fixed the whole "stairs" issue!

  59. Roxie says:

    I just wanted to suggest another incredibly awesome show you might want to review later, "MISFITS".

    It's been called Skins+Heroes, or, "Heroes without a cause". It's AH.mAZE.ING!!!

  60. Meg says:

    OMG DALEKS. I always get so irrationally angry when newcomers to Who are scared to death of them. I grew up on the reruns from the 80s, and as a six year old, they are terrifying. But the terror comes to all new Who fans. Its a mark of them becoming One of Us.


  61. fakehepburn says:

    "It was just a robot, I thought, and a slow one at that."

    I LOL'd. Oh Mark, how wrong you were/are.

    Fucking Daleks, man; how do thy work?!

  62. fakehepburn says:

    Oh, also, Happy Holidays, Mark! You love the X-Files, right?

    Yeah, I'm just going to leave this here:

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

  63. kytten says:

    how do I post gifs? I has a good one.

    To really understand quite HOW TERRIFYING Daleks are, watch the OLD WHO Genesis of the Daleks series arc.
    And every other Old Who with 'Dalek' in the title.

    • rowanlee says:

      Post your gif like this <-img src="-url-"/->, except remove the dashes. ^^

      Also, THANK YOU FOR REMINDING ME OF GENESIS OF THE DALEKS. I'm not sure if I should watch it again, or hide.

  64. spectralbovine says:

    "Dalek" is the episode that proved that this show was more than just silly fun, and it was really worth my time.

    the Time War was between the Daleks and the Time Lords (over what, we’re not told)
    The last slice of pizza.

    Literally one of the funniest lines to ever be spoken on public television
    Oh, DW has many of those.

    The more I learned about the Dalek, the scarier it got.
    Right?? I mean, they look fucking stupid, but they're terrifying anyway.

    “You would make a good Dalek.”
    Ergh, I got chills just reading that line.

  65. Sierra says:

    Ugh. I want to be like all the cool kids and be scared sh(tless by Daleks, but I JUST DON'T GET IT.

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