The Good: One or two seconds of performance
The Bad: Melodramatic acting, Preposterous plot, Terrible effects, Poor character development (when there is any)
The Basics: Saving the past from crazed, diluted Daleks and Dalek-hybrids makes “Evolution Of The Daleks” an impossible-to-recommend episode of Doctor Who
The second part of an episode is very rarely better than the first part, I have found. I think that might be because it is so easy to set-up a compelling conflict, but resolving the situation that puts beloved characters into the worst possible situation almost always undermines the set-up. In the case of Doctor Who, “Evolution Of The Daleks” the pay-off was almost guaranteed to be a failure given how mediocre “Daleks In Manhattan” (reviewed here!) was. Despite confirming that Dalek Sec was the Dalek that disappeared from an emergency temporal shift at the climax of “Doomsday” (reviewed here!), “Evolution Of The Daleks” has very little to offer fans.
At the climax of “Daleks In Manhattan,” which left four Daleks in 1930 Manhattan reconstructing their race using DNA from humans and creating human/pig hybrids. The Dalek that escaped the future has gone somewhat crazy and melded with the foreman who was picking off the residents of Hooverville. The result was a ridiculous creature – Dalek in human form – that makes it entirely impossible to take the Daleks seriously as a menace.
Confronting the new biped Dalek/Human Sec, The Doctor taunts the Daleks and escapes using a radio to confuse them. Fleeing back to Hooverville is a futile plan for The Doctor, Martha, and the rest. The Daleks attack and after Solomon attempts to reason with them, he is exterminated. The Doctor convinces the Daleks to spare the residents of Hooverville in exchange for his going with them. While Martha tries to figure out why The Doctor gave her the psychic paper before leaving her, The Doctor learns the final plan the Daleks are preparing. The Daleks have harvested a stockpile of near-corpses and plan to reanimate them as human/Dalek hybrids.
Getting into the Empire State Building, Martha works to figure out what the Daleks have done to change the Building. On a lower floor, The Doctor figures out the final plan and he begins to assist Dalek Sec in creating his new race of Dalek/human hybrids. But the remaining three Daleks revolt and in the ensuing encounter, the Doctor puts his life on the line to stop the Daleks and the Dalek humans.
“Evolution Of The Daleks” offers the chance for the Daleks to be altered and it is hard to take the episode as credible given that it occurs in the 1930s. The concept of Dalek Sec desiring a new home for a new Dalek race is not a terrible one, but the execution of the idea in “Evolution Of The Daleks” is pretty awful. At the top of the problems, “Daleks In Manhattan” created a plot that needed so much explanation that “Evolution Of The Daleks” is saddled with delivering a lot of exposition.
The second problem with “Evolution Of The Daleks” is the supplemental characters who flesh out the episode. Tallulah is essentially a pathetic stereotype of a 1930s New York City woman; she resonates about as realistically as a soap opera character. It seems like the whole point of Tallulah is to give Martha Jones someone to have “girl talk” with. Almost completely absent from the episode is Martha Jones’s strength, intelligence and resilience. Instead, Martha Jones fawns over The Doctor and laments his lack of romantic interest in her.
Despite a decent monologue from Hugh Quarshie, most of the acting in “Evolution Of The Daleks” is pretty terrible. Miranda Raison’s performance as Tallulah is over-the-top and ridiculous. Even the usually-wonderful Andrew Garfield has moments where his Southern American accent comes across as canned and awkward.
The Doctor’s high moral stance is virtually negated by the cheesy reuse of the same cheap plot technique used to get the Daleks into the situation; it assures that the Daleks will return yet again. After the sour taste left by “Evolution Of The Daleks,” that is the last thing fans might want!
For other works with Andrew Garfield, please visit my reviews of:
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
The Amazing Spider-Man
The Social Network
The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus
[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into Doctor Who - The Complete Third Season on DVD or Blu-Ray, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the second season of the Tenth Doctor here!
For other Doctor Who episode and movie reviews, please visit my Doctor Who Review Index Page!
© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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