The trouble with daleks

Confession here: as much as I love Doctor Who, the series has one glaring weakness, one that I’ve been able to overlook, mostly — its villains.

Capaldi

Before I get started on my rant, I’ll talk about what I love about BBC’s half century old sci-fi classic. Doctor Who is playful and thrilling and joyful. Its set-up, with an ever changing cast of Doctors (via regeneration) and revolving companions, keep the series fresh. I love the humanity of the alien Doctor, the creative plot twists (which often stretch the limits of believability), and all the fun timey-wimey stuff.

But the villains. Yes, I know that Doctor Who has its roots in a children’s series, so the monsters can’t be too monstrous. But none of the monsters have kept me up at night. Especially these sparkly things.

daleks

This latest season opened with a two-parter starring the Doctor’s biggest nemesis, the Daleks, created and controlled by the evil Davros. The episodes were exciting and inventive. We got to watch the Doctor’s  frenemy Missy (aka The Master, another renegade Time Lord) interact with and torment the Doctor’s faithful companion Clara. We glimpsed the Doctor being playful as he rode a tank and thrashed an electric guitar in medieval Britain, and we watched as he rescued a boy from death, a boy who would grow up and become a mass murderer.

davros

But I can’t get past the ridiculousness of the daleks. They look like inverted, bedazzled garbage cans with a plunger for a hand. Probably because the daleks were created in the 1960s, before such things as half-decent special effects. When Doctor Who was revived in the 2000s, the show was stuck with these ludicrous looking creatures as part of Doctor Who canon. I don’t find the daleks remotely terrifying, and their shrill cries of “exterminate” make me want to laugh.

dalek-supreme

As much as I enjoy Doctor Who, the biggest failure of its revival has been the lack of a singular, terrifying enemy. The Silents came close, but they were dispatched. The Weeping Angels were pretty good too, but they only have one trick, which gets old quickly. Instead we’re stuck with the shrill, plunger-wielding daleks, and maybe once in a while, the clunky cybermen.

Here’s hoping the next head writer gives Doctor Who fans the villains we deserve.

The end of the Doctor (for now)

Christmas is coming, and that means only one thing to me: a new Doctor Who Christmas special. And this one will be the end of the 11th (or is it 12th? — seriously, who knows for sure) Doctor, as played by Matt Smith.

The preview clip is up now, and it seems like Steven Moffat is throwing another grab-bag of Doctor Who villains at us: Daleks, Weeping Angels, Cybermen, and the Silence.

Seriously, Steve? Anyone else you want to include? This hodgepodge of villainy has been a specialty of the Moffat era of Doctor Who. It never works for me. Too distracting.

What else to expect from Moffat? His writing shuttles between brilliance and incoherence. Not much of a middle ground. At least he’s always entertaining. Can’t wait to see how he offs Smith’s Doctor.