Written by: Helen Raynor
Directed by: James Strong
When the Cult of Skaro made their last-ditch temporal shift away from the Battle of Canary Wharf, they could have ended up in worse places than 1930s New York. There’s something about the Daleks’ retro design that looks totally in keeping with New York’s art deco skyscrapers, while the poverty and desperation associated with the Great Depression make the Big Apple the perfect location to launch a bid for world domination.
But it was always a good bet that the last four Daleks in existence wouldn’t just want to enjoy the sights of Manhattan. Instead they’ve taken their cues from the Universal horror movies of the era by creating an army of pig men, a visually stunning Empire State building laboratory and a suitably dastardly scheme to continue the species by splicing Dalek DNA with that of humans. (The sight of Dalek Sec sucking a human test subject into his casing via some superbly icky CGI is a glorious slice of schlock).
This two-parter is also sufficiently different from the Daleks’ previous nu-Who outings to make sure they aren’t rolling over the same ground twice. As we saw in “Doomsday”, Sec, Thay, Caan and Jast don’t think like other Daleks, and Helen Raynor’s script has lots of fun with the idea of ruthless killing machines wondering whether they’re doing the right thing. The Doctor too, is forced to face a new frontier, balancing his hatred for Dalek-kind - “They always survive, while I lose everything” - with the hope that a couple of drops of humanity might make them worth saving.
While the second part doesn’t quite deliver on the all-out flying Dalek action hinted at in the first episode’s “Next week” teaser, the only major disappointment is the “Daleks in Manhattan” cliffhanger; when you’ve already seen the Human-Dalek hybrid staring back at you from the cover of the Radio Times, it can hardly be described as a revelation. But, like “The Shakespeare Code”, this story takes you back in time like only Doctor Who can, wrapping a little bit of history in a big, fun Dalek shell.
Dalek: “You told us to imagine and we imagined your irrelevance.”