There is a firestorm raging among Whovians (Yes, I am proud of that traditional name!) this week, sparked by the release of images of the new Daleks 11th Doctor Matt Smith will battle in the upcoming “Victory of the Daleks” (See the trailer here). The Doctor’s most enduring enemies have undergone a bit of makeover.
While I agree that the basic Dalek design is sacrosanct and should never be radically changed — no proper arms and legs…ever! — some noodling about and variations of the theme are perfectly fine with me. The hideous mutations from Skaro still have eye stalks and sucker arms and those round balls; if the skirts have some additional detailing, that’s not a sin. If the eyestalk looks more menacing now, I’m good with that. This Dalek looks sturdier, sleeker and thus more commanding. Dalek tweaking is not new. We have seen new Dalek colors introduced at intervals; a Special Weapons Dalek was trundled out in “Remembrance of the Daleks” (which also featured a reimagined Emperor!). And Russell T Davies gave us bigger, bulker Daleks topped with the squarish, cylindrical headlamps from the movies!
People, remain calm. Minor redesigns happen all the time. Look at the Cybermen. Compare their constantly changing appearance to dastardly robos first seen in “The Tenth Planet.” Some change is good. The Silurians are going on their third redesign this season. And these are just surface changes to the pepperpots. It’s hard to believe, but there was a time when there was no Davros! Now the evil creator is an integral facet of the Dalek story. And how different is current Dalek time-travel technology from the old days of Time Corridors? Through it all, the Daleks are still the Daleks. And I say the redesign looks great. New show-runner Steven Moffat is doing the right thing. He’s throwing open the windows and giving the place a thorough cleaning. Let the Doctor and Amy encounter some spiffy Daleks.
It seems wrong to me that fans of DOCTOR WHO — of all series — should complain about change. DOCTOR WHO is change. And when it comes to the Daleks, I say it’s about time!