Steven Moffat’s Daleks

For years I wasn’t too happy with how Steven Moffat tackled Skaro’s finest. After Davies had built them up into the ultimate Doctor Who villain, it felt a little bit underwhelming seeing them just go back to being ordinary alien conquerors again in the Moffat era.

However having looked at the 11th Doctors Dalek stories again I not only think they hold up a lot better than before, but I can also see that Moffat actually did manage to come up with a fairly new and interesting take on the Daleks.

I would still rank Moffat as the weakest of the main 4 Dalek writers on television however. In all fairness though he has actually only written one Dalek story by himself so far.

Still despite this he did develop their characters somewhat, and also managed I think to take a deeper look at their relationship with the Doctor than anyone else before him.

I don’t blame Moffat any more for making the Daleks less powerful than Davies did.

Like I said at first for obvious reasons it did seem like they were now lesser foes in Moffat’s era. They went from catapulting planets through time and space, to needing the Doctors help to take care of a few insane Daleks. They went from being the main villains of whole seasons like seasons 1, 2 and 4 of the Davies era, to not being the main focus of most of the stories they appeared in during 11’s era, such as “The Pandorica Opens/ The Big Bang” and “The Time of the Doctor”.

However when you actually look at the position Moffat was in he needed to make the Daleks less powerful if they were to ever appear in the series again.

Davies’s Daleks had come to a natural end. Throughout his era he had only shown us glimpses of the Daleks power. Even in stories like “The Parting of the Ways” and “Doomsday” we only see an army of Daleks which cannot even begin to represent the full power of a Dalek Empire. However in “Journey’s End” we finally saw what a full empire could do. It took the full force of Russell T Davies’s entire Doctor Who universe to stop them, all of his main Doctor Who cast, Torchwood and the Sarah Jane Adventures.

Now that we had seen what a full empire could do, we couldn’t exactly go back to having Dalek stories that hinted at what a full empire could do.

Added to that making the Daleks so powerful did somewhat limit the types of stories they could appear in. Every story had to be the fate of the entire universe or multiple universes. Notice how all but two Dalek stories in the Davies era are the season finale’s. That’s because Davies era Daleks are such huge and powerful characters they kind of have to be in the biggest story around. That in itself becomes a problem as people who love the Daleks like me, only get the one type of story where millions of Daleks attack the earth and the Doctor has to make a big sacrifice to stop them, whilst people who can’t stand the Daleks have to see them in every season finale.

As much as I love the Davies era Dalek stories and how he wrote them overall, it is true that they were getting a bit samey by the end of his tenure.

For instance 9’s plan to use the Delta Wave to destroy the Daleks that will also sacrifice the earth at the same time, is very similar to Martha’s plan to use the Osterhagen key to destroy the earth in order to foil their plan in “Journey’s End”.

Rose getting god like powers to defeat them in “The Parting of the Ways” is similar to Donna getting the Doctors power to stop them in “Journey’s End”. Both occasions feature a companion getting a power that allows them to thrash and humble the Daleks. There is even a bit where the Dalek unafraid and ignorant of how powerful Rose has become zaps her only for Rose to block it with her new powers, that is replicated in “Journey’s End when a Dalek tries to zap Donna only for her to shut its power off.

The power in both instances is something that the Doctor has to deal with every day, but a human being is unable to cope with it.

“I can see everything. All that is, all that was, all that ever could be.

“That’s what I see. All the time. And doesn’t it drive you mad?

“She took my mind into her head. But that’s a Timelord consciousness. All that knowledge, it was killing her.”

Both Donna and Rose even get twinkly golden eyes.

Also both “Doomsday” and “Journey’s End” feature tragic departures of companions who do go on to still live normal and happy lives, but unfortunately the Doctor is unable to see them ever again. Both “Doomsday” and “Journey’s End” also revolve around multiple universes being threatened too.

Davies’ Daleks were really beginning to run their course as effective as they may have been in the beginning.

Restoring the Daleks to just being normal space conquerors again rather than long lost gods opened up the potential to do more with the Daleks. Now they could be featured in more low key stories like “Asylum of the Daleks” which is just a problem with Daleks on a far away planet, rather than the fate of all of creation itself.

Not every Dalek story in the classic era had to involve the fate of the entire universe. Many were actually quite low key like “The Daleks”, “Power of the Daleks”, “Death to the Daleks”, “Revelation of the Daleks” and “Resurrection of the Daleks”. Power in particular is very low key. It simply involves a few Daleks on a far flung earth colony.

Of course as to why Moffat era Daleks were so much less powerful than Davies’s Daleks in universe I have no idea. My head canon was that the Progenitor Daleks were weaker because they were created from the old Dalek empire before the Time War, during the events of the classic era. Even though they were purer they were more primitive. I quite like the idea that the last of the RTD era Daleks could have given the Paradigm Daleks all of their advanced technology like the reality bomb, but they lost it all in their desire to remain pure.

Finally another problem with Davies era Daleks is that because they were meant to be a near extinct race, every story had to feature yet another group of Daleks who somehow survived the war that had supposedly killed them all. I was beginning to wonder if any Daleks had actually died in the Time War so many of them had survived!

With “Victory of the Daleks” Moffat and Mark Gatiss (who actually wrote the story) both ensured that the next time we saw the Daleks we didn’t need to spend ten minutes explaining why they had survived.

I think having the Daleks escape at the end of “Victory of the Daleks” also got round making them a threat after “Journey’s End” quite nicely too. It would always be difficult to make them seem menacing after “Journey’s End” as it showed them threatening every universe. Where do you go from there? Anything is going to seem like a come down after that. Also in “Journey’s End” they actually managed to kill a recurring character, Harriet Jones, and it took the combined might of the main cast of three different series to stop them.

“Victory of the Daleks” however gets round that by having the Daleks win for the first time in the revival against the Doctor. The Daleks completely win in that story. They manipulate the Doctor and trick him into creating the new Dalek race, and they manage to escape. Though the Doctor prevents them from destroying the earth, that was of secondary importance to them. Their main plan this time actually worked. They played on both the Doctors hatred of them and his compassion. No matter how hard he tried to stop them, they always had another little trick up their metaphorical sleeves. When he tried exposing their true identities to the humans, it turned out that was what they wanted. When he threatened them, thinking they were powerless, they were able to manipulate the human beings into almost killing one another. When he thought he had finally beaten them he discovered that they had placed a bomb in Bracewell.

At no point in that entire story does the Doctor have the better of them. Its a great way of making them still seem powerful after “Journey’s End” and at the same time having the Daleks escape, so we don’t need to have any more last of the Daleks stories. It kills two birds with one stone.

The idea of the Daleks winning against the Doctor would be revisited again somewhat in the Moffat penned “Asylum of the Daleks” where the Daleks manage to capture the Doctor (not believing he died at lake Silenco unlike the Silence) and force him to destroy the asylum. It is only with the aid of Clara that the Doctor is able to escape and though he is able to wipe their memory of him, the Daleks main plan which is to use the Doctor to destroy the asylum is undoubtedly a success.

Even in “The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang” they do actually manage to trap the Doctor who is only saved because all of reality crumbles. On top of that they manage to shoot the Doctor too.

Even in “The Time of the Doctor” whilst their invasion force is destroyed they still cause the death of the 11th Doctor.

Overall Moffat’s Daleks have a much better track record than any other for actually beating the Doctor.

I think Moffat took a leaf out of David Whitaker’s Daleks and made his much more manipulative and cunning.

His Daleks despite being less powerful than Davies win because they are much craftier and use their wits against him rather than sheer power.

Even their cameo in “The Wedding of River Song” showed how they were somewhat more crafty than the Doctor, as they were shown to have knowledge of the Silence before anyone else including even the Doctor himself.

Again this was another good way to get round these Daleks being less powerful than the ones in Davies’s era, make them smarter.

I feel that you can recognise quite a lot of Moffat’s usual tropes in how he wrote for the Daleks, though that is true of all the major Dalek writers to some extent. For instance Russell T Davies’ Daleks embodied the theme that ran through all of his stories of characters being terrified of deathm, and doing their best to try and avoid it.

Still you can learn a lot about Moffat era Who just by looking at either of the Dalek stories he wrote, or even just the Dalek stories produced in his era.

Moffat often has the Daleks not just simply kill their enemies, but inflict much worse fates on their victims.

This is a recurring trope of Moffat’s. His monsters never just simply kill people. The Weeping Angels zap people back into the past and make them live out the rest of their lives there. Whilst some see that as preferable to just getting zapped, in some ways it could be seen as worse.

Imagine getting transported to a horrible period in earth’s history like the middle ages. Even if it wasn’t a horrible period it would still be worse to be forced to live out the rest of your life in a completely unfamiliar period in human history, permanently separated from the people you love, none of whom would ever know what happened to you.

Then there is the horrible fate they try to inflict on Rory Williams in “Angels Take Manhatten”. Locked in a tiny little room, kept alive for decades without any human company. I’d take getting shot by a Dalek and it all being over in a second over that any day.

Then there are also the gas mask zombies in Moffat’s first ever Doctor Who story. Again they don’t just simply kill you, they slowly and painfully transform you into a living corpse who will go on to infect others.

Even outside of Who in “Sherlock” Moriarty doesn’t just simply want to kill Sherlock Holmes. He wants to completely ruin him, destroy his entire reputation and legacy, even to his closest friends.

Then of course there was the latest finale which revealed that after we die our minds still remain aware trapped in our bodies experiencing the pain of being cremated, or eaten by worms as our bodies slowly rot.

The idea of death not being the end and your torment going on and on is an idea that clearly fascinates Moffat, and is one he has used to terrific effect throughout a lot of his work.

I must admit though I did think he went a little too far in “Dark Water”, but still by and large Moffat has been able to create very effective, horrifying scenario’s that make us long for monsters that just used to shoot us instead.

“Don’t cremate me, don’t cremate me, don’t cremate me”.

Now getting back to the point Moffat’s Daleks similarly never just zap you. This was something that angered a lot of fans as at first it appeared that the Daleks in Moffat’s time never killed anyone. They actually kill just two people on screen in 3 seasons.

However what the Moffat era Daleks actually do to you is actually more horrific.

In Moffat’s era the Daleks turn people into their puppets. The Dalek puppets are absolutely horrific. They kill you, then revive your corpse and use it as a servant, and what’s worse is that they can bring you back to life for a few minutes at a time.

In “Asylum of the Daleks” they bring the woman they actually use to capture the Doctor back to life for a few moments. As the Doctor himself tells her she is a trap and she doesn’t even know it. She still thinks her daughter is alive in the Dalek camps. Her daughter most likely died years, even decades ago, but she still thinks there is a chance for her daughter. Then however when she is told the horrifying truth, she has a few seconds to realise and regain her memories, before she dies and becomes their servant yet again.

She will die over and over and over for decades more to come. Each time she will realise just before she dies the horrible cycle she is trapped in, only to forget it when she is brought back the next time, and then realise it again just before she dies yet again.

Like I said before I’d rather they just shoot me.

The Dalek puppets embody other a few other prominent Moffat tropes. The idea of a persons corpse being revived and used by an enemy in some way is an old Moffat trope that has been featured in a number of his stories, including when the Vashta Nerada revive the astronauts corpses after devouring their flesh, or when the Weeping Angels use Bob’s consciousness to communicate with the Doctor.

Also the body horror aspect is another favourite trope of Moffats. Again gas masks bursting out from under people’s faces, the Vashta Nerada eating people’s faces off, and even Amy’s hand turning to stone are all classic examples of the body horror aspect in Moffat’s Who.

Then there is the fate the Daleks inflict on Tasha Lem. They break their way into the Papal Mainframe and capture Tasha. They need information from her. They could have just extracted the information from her mind (which they later do after she has died,) but first they decide to torture her to death many times ,and then revive her corpse so that they can torture her to death again.

“She would have died before telling you”

“I did several times, I died screaming your name”

They decided to torture her instead for no reason other than sadistic cruelty.

This adds a whole new dimension to the Daleks. Before though they were evil, they never actually enjoyed inflicting pain on their victims. It was hinted at in “Destiny of the Daleks” that they enjoyed persecuting humanoids, but by and large they were not sadists. They killed only because they felt they had to. They were seemingly incapable of taking pleasure in it.

Moffat era Daleks however enjoy extending their victims pain for as long as they possibly can. Just imagine being at the mercy of a Moffat era Dalek. Its a truly frightening thought. Even if you killed yourself to avoid capture, they could just bring you back to life like they did to Tasha Lem. There would be no escape from their cruelty even in death.

One of the most horrible fates they inflict on their victims however is in “Asylum of the Daleks” where they transform Oswin into a Dalek. This transformation is even more horrible than being turned into a Cyberman. She is turned into a freak who is rejected by both Daleks and humans alike. She wont be able to live as a human, but she wont be able to live even among Daleks either as she is too human and therefore impure. Instead they keep her locked up in the Asylum, in solitary confinement with the knowledge of what she has become, which she eventually blocks out because it is too horrifying.

At the very least when you are turned into a Cyberman they accept you, you become part of their race. In their own way they believe they are helping you, by removing your emotions which they see as a weakness and source of pain.

With the Daleks however they remove your humanity, but still reject you as you are still not truly one of them. They’ll lock you up in their asylum, all alone, and leave you there until they need to make use of your intelligence.

Terry Nation’s Daleks may have been the most alien, David Whitaker’s may have been the most cunning, Russell T Davies’s may have been the most powerful, but Steven Moffat’s were definitely the most sadistic.

I quite liked the idea that initially the Daleks were incapable of taking pleasure in the chaos they caused. They couldn’t feel anything but hatred, therefore they could not take pleasure in anything. However now after all of these years they have learned other emotions, but they are still linked to hate. They can now feel pleasure and joy, but it is in causing pain to those they despise. They also now in the Moffat era have a concept of beauty too, but again it is linked to their hate. They think hatred itself is beautiful and even consider it offensive to destroy hatred.

In this respect Moffat era Daleks were by far the most frightening. There was a sickness that had developed in them that had nothing to do with Davros altering their minds.

Another trope of Moffat’s that is present in the way he writes the Daleks is his obsession with showing us the impact the Doctor has had on those around him.

There are a few Steven Moffat penned episodes that end with the Doctor being able to make enemies literally retreat at the mere mention of his name his reputation has become so great.

Amy Ponds story arc in series 5 meanwhile revolves about the effect the Doctor has had on her life and how she has become somewhat obsessed with her “raggedy man”.

Series 6’s story arc is all about the effect the Doctor has on other life forms both good and positive, with the Silence striking out in fear of him.

Even the latest story arc about Clara and how she is becoming more like the Doctor is obviously once again about the effect the Doctor is having on her.

In “Asylum of the Daleks”  we are taken deep into the relationship between the Doctor and his greatest enemies.

We see how the Doctor has actually made them stronger, ironically in his many battles between them. Davros removed all emotions from them except hatred, but the Doctor taught them how to fear.

A lot of people said it was out of character for the Daleks to show fear, but I don’t think so.

The Daleks have been shown to fear the Doctor for many years. A very important plot point of “Day of the Daleks”  is the Daleks fear of the Doctor. The character of the controller serves the Daleks because he believes that there is no way anyone can stop them. Thus he serves them as he thinks that way he can make things easier for the people they have enslaved. He thinks that the human rebels who fight the Daleks are simply making things worse by angering them in a futile battle which they will inevitably lose. However when he see’s how the Daleks react just to the Doctors name, it is the first time he has seen the monsters genuinely terrified and it is for this reason that he later allows the Doctor to go and is exterminated as a result for his treachery.

Unlike with the rebels the controller genuinely believes that the Doctor can stop the Daleks.

The idea of the Daleks being scared of the Doctor has its roots way back in the Classic era and so I don’t think its out of character at all for them to show fear in the Moffat era.

In “Asylum  of the Daleks” it is said that The Daleks fear of the Doctor caused them to up their game, it kept them on their toes, metaphorically speaking of course as Daleks don’t have toes.

A prime example of this is in “The Chase” the third Dalek story. Here the monsters actually discover the secret of time travel solely with the purpose of hunting the Doctor down. Had it not been for their feud with the Doctor they may never have even believed in time travel. The fact that they, from the very beginning were facing an enemy who could tamper with their history, even wipe them from existence obviously caused them to advance much more quickly than if they had been facing the Thals, who were mere farmers or even the human race itself.

It also hinted in Moffat’s stories that not only did the Doctor teach the Daleks to fear which became a useful tool for them to survive, but he also taught them how to hate in a different way. It was through him that the Daleks learned to take pleasure in their victims suffering. It was through him after all that their hatred became more personal. Prior to their dealings with the Doctor they had always hated whole species and life forms, but there was never a single figure they despised. They grew to despise the Doctor in a totally different way to Davros’s conditioning. They wanted to make him pay for all the defeats he had inflicted on him.

At the same time however Moffat’s stories also show us how the Daleks have affected the Doctor too. Just as the Doctor taught the Daleks fear, the Daleks have taught the Doctor hatred.

Davies was the first to show us that the Doctor hated the Daleks. Moffat meanwhile continued that idea and showed us how the Daleks were able to manipulate that hatred for their own good. In “Victory of the Daleks” it is ironically the Doctors hatred for the Daleks that allows them to survive ironically. In “Asylum of the Daleks” they are able to use his hatred of them to destroy their Asylum.

The 11th Doctors interactions with the Daleks where arguably among the most tense. A lot of people have said they don’t think the 11th Doctor was as well suited to the Daleks as other Doctors such as “Who Addicts Reviews”. However I disagree, I think his interactions with them where very memorable. There was one scene in “Victory of the Daleks” in particular where the 11th Doctor reacted with violence towards a Dalek, striking it with a wrench that I think perfectly demonstrated the Doctors hatred for the Daleks.

I remember even “Who Addicts Reviews” had to admit that this scene was brilliant, because 11 was the last Doctor they would have expected to react this way. 11’s intense hatred for the Daleks was slightly more unexpected than 9’s. 9 was a darker Doctor so naturally his interactions with the monsters would be darker where as 11 really is the last Doctor you would expect to take pleasure in destroying another life form, as seen in “The Wedding of River Song”.

The relationship between the Doctor and the Daleks is a hateful, poisonous relationship so it makes sense that the Daleks, creatures of hate would get stronger as a result of it, whilst the Doctor a good man would be almost destroyed by it.

At the end of “Asylum of the Daleks” we see the Doctor finally break this hateful cycle when he has Oswin erase him from the Daleks memory.

It was a shame that Moffat never really followed this story up, having the Daleks simply gain information from Tasha Lem in their next appearance about the Doctor.

I think it could have been interesting to show us how the Daleks had become weaker and even stagnated without that fear of the Doctor, which had helped drive them forward almost as much as their hatred for other life forms.

Moffat much like Russell T Davies also went to great lengths to show how the Daleks were the Doctors archenemies too, albeit in a different way to Davies.

With Davies he had the Daleks right in our face all of the time and made them behind everything major that happened to the Doctor, as well as showing their superiority to his other foes by having them thrash enemies like the Cybermen and the Master.

Moffat on the other hand was somewhat more subtle. He still made them a major presence in the Doctors life, yet he was able to push them into the background too, which was the right thing to do. The Daleks had been used so frequently and so prominently in Davies time, that we could not possibly have still had them be used the same way in the 11th Doctors time.

Moffat in complete contrast to Davies had the Daleks appear alongside other enemies of the Doctor as nothing special at first. In “The Pandorica Opens/ The Big Bang” and “The Time of the Doctor” they don’t seem to be more powerful or dangerous than any of the others. Not like they were in Davies’s time. However we see what makes them stand out is because they hate him the most. In “The Big Bang” all of his other enemies are wiped from existence, except for the Daleks. Even when all of reality itself has been virtually erased, the Daleks still pursue the time lord.

Similarly in “The Time of the Doctor” they outlast all of his other enemies old and new. Cybermen, Weeping Angels, Sontarans, Silurians, Ice Warriors and Zygons.

The Daleks beat them all not because they are the most powerful, just because they hate him the most. Whilst all of the others flee and eventually give up, the Daleks hatred is too great and they remain until the bitter end.

“The Time of the Doctor” also reveals that the Daleks were responsible for all of the major story arcs in 11’s time too. Throughout 11’s era we were lead to believe that other enemies had in many ways replaced the Daleks. The Weeping Angels for instance had been responsible for the greatest tragedy in 11’s life, whilst the Silence had been his most persistent foes.

In “Time of the Doctor” however we saw that it was the Daleks that caused the siege at Trenzalore, which in turn caused the Silence to go back in time and try to murder the Doctor in order to prevent it. It is also because of their actions, that the Silence try to kill 11, River Song is created, and the Tardis explodes.

It is also the Daleks who in the original timeline killed the Doctor on Trenzalore which allowed the Great Intelligence to enter his timeline. No Daleks, no Great Intelligence messing with the Doctor, no Clara.

It was also the Daleks that caused the Doctors to send Gallifrey into the other universe which begun the siege in the first place.

Finally in addition to this it was also the Daleks who remained there until the very end, and wore the 11th Doctor down, effectively killing him.

Whilst stories like “The Big Bang” and “The Time of the Doctor” may not be Dalek stories per se, I still feel that they do a great job of showing us why the Daleks are his arch enemies.

“The Day of the Doctor” is another story that isn’t really a Dalek story, but still does a good job of showing how they were his greatest enemies. It features the Doctors defining moment. We see the Doctor having seemingly sunk so low he is now prepared to slaughter billions of innocent people to stop the Daleks. He has even changed himself into a warrior to do so. However we soon see that the Doctor would never be capable of doing that. No matter what the situation the Doctor will always find a way to defeat the villains, and it will always be in a completely unpredictable way that eludes everyone else, even his fellow time lords.

That’s why we love the Doctor, he is someone who doesn’t play by the rules, who is a total maverick and who always manages to come through in the end.

The fact however that its the Daleks however that all of the Doctors have to unite to defeat is perfect as it shows how they as his greatest enemies help to define who he really is underneath all of his different faces better than any other villain could.

Overall whilst Moffat may not have done as much with the Daleks as Nation, Whitaker and Davies. By and large I still think he was able to provide a very interesting and fresh take on them, by making them far more sadistic and needlesly cruel than ever before, as well as providing some truly fascinating insights into their relationship with the Doctor.

Always remember that if you want to write a Dalek story in the style of Terry Nation write them as allegories for the Nazi’s, and the threat of nuclear power. Also always write them as totally inhuman and alien, and make them physically weak too. Show the great irony of these creatures who consider all other races inferior yet are very frail, and even quite delicate themselves. Show them as large armies. Make it seem like it doesn’t matter if you kill one, there will always be another 500 behind it. Also make it fast paced with plenty of action

If you want to write a Dalek story in the style of David Whitaker, make the Daleks cunning, and manipulative against a more manipulative Doctor, make them more powerful, and do stories where the Daleks are infected with humanity in some way. Also show us how much damage one Dalek can do. Make it much more slower paced too and really build up the human characters they interact with and manipulate. Show the Daleks manipulate a whole host of different people, not just evil villains.

If you want to do a Dalek story in the style of Russell T Davies, write them as incredibly powerful creatures, the most powerful enemies in the entire Whoniverse, yet portray them as nearing extinction and the stuff of legend. Show how they are trying to rebuild their fallen empire and portray them despite their power as mere shells of their former selves. Also make the body count huge. Also make the Daleks responsible for some horrible tragedy in the Doctors life.

Finally if you want to write a Moffat style Dalek story, make the Daleks take pleasure in hurting people and don’t have them just shoot people. Have them inflict really nasty and gruesome fates on people that will make the viewers wish they did shoot their victims again. Also show the Daleks as being slightly more sly and maybe even have them winning against the Time Lord in some way if not completely.

I have often thought that in Dalek society it goes a little something like this. Nations Daleks are the leaders, as they are the most inhuman and ruthless and thus seen as an inspiration to the other Daleks, what they should be. Whitaker’s Daleks who are the most cunning and best understand humanity are the strategists. Davies’s Daleks who are the most powerful are the soldiers, whilst Moffats are the ones in charge of the death camps. The real sadists of Dalek society.

Best Dalek Moment/ “I Am Not Dalek I Am Human”/ Asylum Of The Daleks

A truly chilling moment, and a great twist that I did not see coming. Clara’s fate is genuinely horrifying and the acting from Matt Smith, Jenna Coleman and Nicholas Briggs is top notch. Watching Clara in her Dalek form mumble pitifully ” I am human” is both disturbing and heartbreaking. This is a perfect example of how the fates Moffat’s Daleks victims inflict on their enemies are often far worse.

Worst Dalek Moment/ The New Dalek Pardigm Emerges/ Victory Of The Daleks

Okay I know he didn’t write this bit, but still he did approve of the new Dalek design. The new design isn’t actually that bad, its just the colours are too bright, which makes the monsters seem almost cuddly. Its a shame as the scene itself the way its written is very good, but the execution is just terrible and for many this is the moment the Daleks ceased to be scary.


Actually I can just show you some videos instead.

14 thoughts on “Steven Moffat’s Daleks

  1. Hi Burrun, Blessed ere’

    I read all your 4 assessments of the Dalek writers. Wow, what a Christmas treat ! I read them while I was on the train and time literally flew past.
    I haven’t seen much of the classic Dalek episodes yet, I’ve seen The Daleks, Genesis of the Daleks, Resurrection of the Daleks and Remembrance of the Daleks.
    I have to say that while I hadn’t noticed your assessments while watching the episodes each and every single one is spot one.

    You’re truly a fan to be admired, you seem to find a lot of positive attributes even in stuff you don’t particularly like.
    You must have done your research and write with a lot of passion which makes for a very enjoyable read.

    My favourite Dalek writer is Russell T Davies, no he’s no my favourite writer nor are his era’s Dalek stories my favourite Dalek stories.
    However you’re right, he LOVED them and you felt that while watching. His era is what introduced me to the show so off course Dalek, Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways, Doomsday ect. are what introduced me to the Daleks as well.
    Russell just had a very special way of giving the Daleks dialogue that I can’t explain and so far each and every single writer ( both classic ones AND Steven Moffat ) hasn’t been able to.

    ” We would destroy the Cybermen with ONE Dalek, raise communications barrier ! ”

    ” You didn’t need to kill him “, ” Neither did we need him alive.. ”

    For a lack of a better word, he made those squeaky pepperpots with pluggers a Bad-ass monster, how the hell do you do that? No really, I mean it. I actually thought the Daleks were bad-ass back when I watched Series 4. Intimidating? no, Scary? not really no. But as you so well described they were the Top Dogs compared to any other villain.
    Cybermen? The Master? all bite the dust compared to these dangerous mother*ckers, excuse me’ language 😛

    The only ever time the Daleks have managed to inspire that moment of bad-assery to me in the Moffat era was in Time of the Doctor, where they enter the room when the Tasha Lem puppet is revealed.
    Exactly two lines did it for me ” Step away from the Dalek unit, Doctor ” and ” See how the Timelord betrays ”

    Like you said, the Moffat era Daleks have great things about them too. For a start their Empire being finally restored was a very welcome one. Their last two stories happening on a distant planet and a Asteroid belt not only makes for a refreshing change of scenery after years of Earth Invasions, it also makes us realize the true gravity and extent of their terror.

    Before Series 5 you kinda had to ussume the only ones the Daleks were bothering about were the Timelords and the people on 21st Century Earth.
    Into the Dalek in particular is very interesting to me as we actual off-world resistance fighters living in absolute terror of these beings.

    However when it comes to giving them dialogue Moffat isn’t just very good with them. It’s mostly just stereotypical ranting ” Exterminate ” or ” The Daleks are sooo victorious, oh hail us ” ect.

    Into the Dalek really is a special gem for me in the Moffat era.

    Keep up with the good work my friend. I accidently came across it when I thought just maaaayybbbeee I could give IMDB a shot again during the Christmas special.
    It litteraly took me 2 minutes of “the Clara haters must be mad”, “Moffat is a misogynist”, “Sorry Troll all I see is..” bullshit to giiittt riiigghhtt out. However I caught a small glimpse of your post + link to this article and I was not disappointed.

    I will watch your blogs with great interest from now on 🙂

    What did you think of the Christmas special?


    • Hey Blessedtwinz great to hear from you again. I totally get why you ditched IMDB. It can get a little tedious at times with all this fan war rubbish, though I am going to persevere none the less LOL.

      Thanks so much for the kind words and glad you agree on RTD’s Daleks being badass. IMO RTD gets such an unfair wrap from fandom re the Daleks. Yes he perhaps did overuses them, but he really beefed them up so much. I mean I don’t think there is a single villain in anything that is as badass or does as much shit to the hero as RTD’s Daleks. I mean every shit thing that happens is because of these metal bastards LOL.

      I love hearing from new Who fans who grew up with the RTD era and always go on about “Rose and 10 being seperated made me cry and Donna’s fate made me blub so badly” and I just think HA HA that was the Daleks that caused all of that.

      I love it that my fave villains growing up made the next generation blub their eyes out.

      Of course my fave take on the Daleks is still Terry Nations. I think there is probably just more in his (though he did write more Dalek stories than anyone else) but like I said RTD’s are the most badass of them all.

      As for what I thought of the Christmas special well I thought it was okay. It was bit like Amy’s choice with all the dream stuff. Nick Frost was a great Santa and I don’t mind Clara staying on. It was okay I’d give it a 6/10 but I have seen better. My fave specials are still Voyage of the Damned and the Snowmen.

      So glad to have your support on my blog. I am gonna finish up with the Daleks first before moving on to reviewing the Tenth Doctor as well as the themes of death in RTD’s era.


  2. Burrunjor and Blessed–

    I’m so grateful to have discovered you two. It’s good to see you both. Please excuse my late reply. I’m just now getting time to go back and pick these articles up.

    One of the greatest wasted opportunities during the Moffat years was having the Doctor erased from the minds of the Daleks . . . but there being no consequence to this, ever. This must be evidence of an aborted plot line that was going to be explored before Smith left, but wasn’t. I like your suggestion that we would have seen weaker Daleks, but I think we’d see an inverted Whoniverse altogether. The Doctor would be at such an advantage–perhaps he could save enough lives that the Daleks could be hunted down, then contained. Would the Doctor have become a god to them, as someone so strong and who knew all their moves, who had such pure hate?

    You make a good case that Moffat’s Daleks are sadistic, but I didn’t read them that way. I saw them as desperate and afraid, therefore drawn to more extreme tactics. They’ve never had any problem using and harming other forms of life. I don’t know that they actually switched over to become pleasured by others’ pain. I feel they still have a “scientific” purpose behind the acts of cruelty they commit. They push up against the boundary, but I don’t think they cross it.

    Thank you for the excellent series!



    • Thanks so much its always good to hear from you. I like that interpretation that desperation drives the Daleks to do more horrible things, but I never got that vibe from Moffat’s Daleks as Moffat’s Daleks seemed to have a strong and mighty empire, and Skaro was back again.

      I agree its such a shame they never continued down the Daleks don’t remember the Doctor idea. I sometimes wonder if Matt left a year too early. It seems like Moffat had to condense a years worth of stories into the Time of the Doctor TBH.


      • It’s true that the Daleks in Moffat’s era are coming from a place of enormous strength. I just think that they’re having to pay the piper for their strength in the form of becoming paranoid, which leads to desperation that doesn’t exactly jive with their place in the order of things. Look at Asylum of the Daleks: we see many Daleks who have broken minds. It seems like it wouldn’t be too far a leap for the average Dalek of Moffat’s time to be driven to the brink of sanity by the everyday stresses of being the best killing machine in the universe.

        It’s tragic that we didn’t get the intended wrap up to Trenzalore. For me, Season Six sparkles so much because of it’s promise. I want to know the answer to the oldest question: “Doctor Who?” The Silence, the ignorance of the Daleks about the Doctor–it all screams for a better resolution.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I actually kinda liked what Moffat did with Missy in that finale. I dunno, I just kinda liked how the story actually acknowledged that Missy was different from other versions of the Master, and made it into a plot point. Eh, maybe I’m just crazy. Hmm, I wonder what Chibnall’s Dalek style will be like?


      • Nah you’re not crazy LOL. I know I’m strident at times about my dislike of Missy, but please don’t let me bully people who did just genuinely like her performance and the twist of the Master killing himself into apologising for liking it LOL.

        With Missy I just hate her so strongly because to me she turned the Master into Catwoman or Irene Adler or Ares from Xena. That villain that the hero is in love with who loves the hero, but can never quite be on their side.

        That’s not the Master and turning it into that at this stage makes it seem like a parody as we’ve seen the Master going on about wanting to kill the Doctor for about 50 years. It would be like if Blofeld and Bond suddenly threw themselves into each others arms and said “all this fighting for all these years and I just wanted you” LOL. That would seem silly and that’s basically what Missy is.

        Also I dislike Missy because I feel that Michelle Gomez was only cast in the role because of pressure from a certain group of fans, who don’t actually care about the show, just in pushing their own silly agenda, though I won’t get into that again don’t worry.

        Really Gomez should have been the Rani, (and should not have been written as being in love with him) and the Master should have been Robert Carlyle.

        Glad you are liking my articles. Stay tuned there will be more on the way soon.


  3. John Simm’s Master was implied to have strong feelings for the Doctor, but he was so twisted that they manifested through sarcasm, sudden screaming outbursts, and turning him old and keeping him as his demeaned pet.

    As it seems to me, Missy had a “good need” and a “bad need”. The good need was her genuine love for the Doctor, the bad need was her love of death and destruction. For Simm’s Master, and many of the ones before him to some degree, they were both part of the same “bad need”, wanting to take over the universe, get the best of the Doctor, and keep the Doctor alive so he could constantly be superior to him.

    Missy’s needs entwined (making a Cyberman army to give the Doctor, etc.) but conflicted, because her obsession with the Doctor was of genuine affection. Simm’s needs entwined and actually benefited each other, because his obsession was more insane and violent.

    Wow, that turned out longer than I thought, lol. But that’s how i perceive the difference between them regarding the Doctor. And you’re right, Missy’s feelings do seem more in the vein of Catwoman or Irene.

    Also, regarding the Rani idea… it’s a neat idea, but let’s face it, many more people are aware of the Master then the Rani, because many of them are more familiar with the revived series. That’s why I don’t think her as the Rani would’ve been received any better than her as the Master. But, eh, who knows?
    Sorry to take up so much space lol, just had a lot of things come to mind.


    • Don’t worry about taking up space. I have long posts too you may have noticed.

      I agree that RTD added a gay subtext to the Doctor and the Master, but a subtext is not the same thing as having the villain and the hero actually full on snog each other.

      I never bought the no one is familiar with the Rani excuse either. Fewer people had heard of the Silurians and the Great intelligence as well.

      I think Missy as the Rani would have been better if they had done the following things.

      1/ Ditched her infatuation with the Doctor.

      2/ GIven her a better reason for working with the Cybermen.

      3/ NOT brought the Brig back as a Cybermen.

      If they had done that then Death and Heaven would have been okay, but as it stands I think its the worst Doctor Who ever made.


  4. Well, to have Missy as the Rani, they probably would’ve ended up having to change a lot of the season, because with the Silurians and the GI and such, the they didn’t build a season-long twist that revealed that they were the villains, because not a lot of viewers were familiar with them like you said. They were introduced as-is, and then the story explained who they were. That’s not really how Season 8 worked. Does that make sense?

    Not that I’m saying you’re necessarily wrong.

    Also, in Death in Heaven, I actually liked the Doctor’s “Idiot” speech, because it seemed to me like it was an actual answer to the constant “is the Doctor an all-important hero or a psychopathic menace” thing the revived show is always on about, if you see what I mean. I thought that was a good element to the episode.

    Also, this is probably a stupid question, but why do even people who usually don’t mind old elements being brought back don’t like the Brig showing up as a Cyberman? I don’t really understand, maybe because I haven’t seen a whole lot the episodes with him in them?

    (P.S.: I also remember hearing about some legal IP dispute where the people who created the Rani refuse to let her back on the show unless they can write it.)


    • The Rani is fairly well known to people. The Master isn’t as iconic to the general public as the Daleks. Really ask anyone who isn’t a die hard DW fan and they probably won’t remember who he is.

      Even among the New Who crowd, prior to Death in Heaven the Master had been in 5 episodes, last one of which was 2010. He was really a minor villain, even the Sontarans and the Silurians had been in more episodes than him.

      Also I’d argue that the big reveal was a crap idea anyway. They’d already done that before and I might add that it was entirely predictable. It was hardly on a par with Earthshock, which is a shame as it could have been. If they had waited a bit into the Capaldi era and brough the Master back as a dude then it could have been a big surprise.

      However because it was so soon after the female Doctor debacle, then everybody guessed it was the Master. See here.

      I also didn’t like the “Am I a good” man speech or story arc either. Really I had had enough of mopey Doctors and I thought the whole point of the 50th anniversary was that the Doctor saving Gallifrey had kind of proved that once and for all he was a good man. Ultimately he is someone who would never sacrifice innocents (this is further reinforced by the fact that he stops Kate in a similar situation.)

      Then there is his staying on Trenzalore for 1000 years, so why would he go back to doubting that he is a good guy? Also Missy’s plan was stupid, but more on that later.

      I would have preferred it to be honest if Missy had been the time lady version of Clara we had seen in The Name of the Doctor who told William Hartnell what TARDIS to steal.

      I would have had it that she had survived the time war and regenerated into a new body (Michelle Gomez) and she would be downloading the minds of people the Doctor had failed to save like Gretchin into a Matrix style heaven. In her mind she would still be helping the Doctor as she would be cleansing his soul.

      In the finale the Doctor would discover the planet she was doing this on which would be the Promised Land that the other aliens had been trying to reach. Clara/Missy would have been draining stars of their energy in order to power the Matrix (as the original Matrix was powered by the Eye of Harmony, a destroyed star.) She would view it as an acceptable sacrifice as she would just download the worthy souls from the planet she had destroyed as soon as she had drained each star into the Matrix.

      Thus the Doctor would have to shut her heaven down to save those planets. You’d also have her having created a virtual hell to punish those she deemed evil where Danny would have ended up ironically after his murder of the boy in the war. You could have also had cameos from other villains like Madame Kovarian and Solomon the Trader suffering in the hell she created.

      IMO that would have been a better story, and then you could have brought the Brig back next year, and the Rani and Romana and Susan back after Gallifrey.

      As for Cyber Brig I and I am sure many others dislike the Brig being brought back as a Cyberman because its kind of a crap ending for the character.

      Think about it the Brig is now stuck as a Cyberman forever. He won’t die, he won’t age and if we go by Moff’s latest he is in tremendous pain too (as all Cybermen apparently are.) Also where did he go? His story is also unresolved now.

      Also there was no need as the Brig’s story had been nicely rounded off. To bring him back as a Cyberman, on top of turning the Master into the Doctors kinky poppins, laying the groundwork for a female Doctor, was basically Moff sticking his finger up at classic era fans, spitting in their faces and saying to the feminists SJW’s “this is your show now”.

      And the reason he did that was basically because they slandered him as a sexist, a homophobe, a racist (all of course unfairly.) And so he basically gave in to them.

      That’s the moral of the Peter Capaldi/Jodie Whittaker era’s. If you don’t get your own way slander and bully someone until you get it. From a rational point of view the female Doctor advocates lost the debate.

      All of their arguments for a female Doctor were so weak.

      “it will be a change and all change is good”, yeah what about the half human bit in the tv movie, Colin choking Peri, Colin’s costume, “I don’t want to go”, sonic shades, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Daleks.

      All of these things were changes that people hated and were huge flops, so that right away destroys that argument. I’m not saying no change can happen, but judge it on its own merits. William Hartnell to Patrick Troughton was a change that worked because A/ Nothing had been established about the Doctors alien nature or people so whilst it was an asspull, it wasn’t technically a huge contradiction. B/ It was the only way the show could go on and it extended the life of the show.

      “Sydney Newman wanted it and he created Doctor Who” Okay to start with Newman didn’t create the show on his own. He also never wrote a single episode, and lets not forget this is the same man who never wanted the Daleks to appear in the show, wanted it to be an educational show for kids, and wanted the companion to be a trumpet playing hippie with John Lennon glasses, and have the Doctor degenerate back the way. Yeah by that logic lets give into the fan girls and have Tennant back first before Jodie, bin the Daleks and make Doctor Who a show for kids again.

      “Its been established that the Doctor can turn into a woman” NO it wasn’t for 50 years until YOU wrote it in for the sole purpose of pandering. Yes technically that is the case now, but it still doesn’t make sense. If its random why did the Doctor change into a man 13 times? The Master 15 times, Borusa at least 4 times, Rassilon over 13 times, Romana 3 times, River 3 times? Also if its by choice why if time lords according to that shit in season 10 have no concept of gender why did they ALL stay the same gender when changing?

      Why did they all have such gendered personalities? They’d have to have all acted completely differently if they were a race with no concept of gender. Sontarans have no concept of gender, ditto Daleks, I don’t think we can say the same about Time Lords.

      “But the Doctor can be anyone and he is a shapeshifter, so that means that he has to have no gender”. Since when did shapeshifter equal genderless? Is Mystique from the X-Men gender neutral?

      And how can the Doctor be anyone? There is an obvious pattern to the Doctors, hence why some actors aren’t right for it. Really all that happens with regeneration is that the Doctors body breaks down, it repairs itself, but it looks different. He is the same man, but a combo of the trauma, as well as the fact that he is living in a different body mean that his outer personality are somewhat different (like Hartnell is grumpier because he is an old guys body, Tennant is more dashing and vain because he is in a young, handsome body etc.)

      Adding a gender change on top of that does add a whole new dynamic and its one that I really can’t see working. As we have been over it does change the Doctors character as now he is basically genderless, as he apparently could have been a woman at any point when he regenerated. 13 male lives were just flukes?

      Also how is this female Doctor going to be played and written? A man in a woman’s body? What’s the point then? A totally female character? Well then she’s not the Doctor then is she?

      Also why bother when you have Romana already set up, waiting to be brought back, and who could have easily been given her own show?

      The pro female Doctor side could answer NONE of these questions, so they just resorted to bullying anyone who didn’t want it by smearing them as a sexist, homophobic and racist.

      And that’s part of why I absolutely fucking abhor Death in Heaven because it shows such a cowardly submission to these bullies. At no point has Steven Moffat sat down and thought about a female Doctor. Clearly the only thought that went through his head was “hmm I’ve been smeared as a sexist by feminists and self loathing fanboys so I better pander to them. Oh too late I’ve already cast Peter Capaldi so I better cast a woman as the Master.” There was no attempt at a compromise, a “well some people might want a female Time Lord, so lets bring back the Rani or Romana” All one way to pander to the bullies.

      Sorry I went off on one there and got off topic LOL, I just really hate Death in Heaven and what it represents.

      Even without the feminist pandering, awful ending to the Brig and spitting in Classic era fans though its still a crap story all around.

      1/ The 3W institute makes 0 sense? It literally changes between scenes as to whether or not its a top secret base that nobody knows about, or a place everybody is aware of.

      At some points like on the plane and when they are talking to Chang and the advert Missy plays when they first arrive, Skarosa’s discovery that the dead can feel pain is meant to be something that shocked the world, hence why the institute was set up to protect the dead. 12 says that was Missy’s plan to make everybody scared of dying to get them to preserve their bodies and millionaires paid from all over the world to have their bodies preserved.

      However in other scenes they make out that its a top secret base, with Chang asking the Doctor and Clara if they are sure they want to know the truth about what happens after they die.

      Also they make out that nobody knew Missy had her secret base which is the 3W institute in ST Paul’s, yet Chang just thought it was a normal office? Did he not notice it was in ST Paul’s and bigger on the inside than the outside?

      2/ Osgood’s death. Now okay I like Ingrid Oliver, but even taking that out of it, its still really stupid. To start with the Doctor and Kate are watching that room being monitored on the big screen that’s the size of a wall and not once did they do anything?

      Also how did Missy teleport the handcuffs around the room, and into Osgood’s pocket? How did Missy suddenly appear half way around the room behind Osgood? Why did the guards not do anything. Its frustrating because Osgood doesn’t die because she makes a mistake. Its literally because the Master suddenly gains teleporting powers and everyone around her is too stupid to live!

      3/ Missy’s plan, everything about her is just so stupid. Her whole plan is to give the Doctor an army of Cybermen to win him back as a friend? Okay if she wanted to win him back as a friend, why did she butcher innocent people in front of him? People that he liked? And why does the Master think that the Doctor wants an army made of Cyber corpses, including undoubtedly the corpses of many of his best friends like Amy and Rory, Jamie, the Brig, possibly even Sarah Jane and Harry too!

      And to top it all off she doesn’t even have a fail safe for her Cyber army. Beaten by a no thanks! Stupid bitch LOL.

      Also why does she throw the Doctor out of a plane if she wants him back as a friend and get genuinely annoyed at his survival? Also I’d say this is Michelle Gomez’ worst performance. She is a good actress, but she’s way too over the top here. (Rachel Talalay their director should have fucking told her to tone it down.) She looks drunk on the plane, she can’t deliver one line without screaming or putting on a silly voice like the cringey “GO GET THE GOOD GUYS BACK” and she overdoes her actual accent to the point where it really, really, really grates (and I’m Scottish BTW.)

      4/ The Doctor is a prick. Seriously what does he do? NOTHING! Also he snogs Missy after she has butchered Osgood and Kate (to the best of his knowledge) in front of him! Compare that to Tom Baker and Peter Davison who tried to kill the bastard when he stepped out of line, or Jon Pertwee who went out of his way to murder him in The Mind of Evil when he was already fleeing.

      This story makes it look like the Doctor cares more about a mass murdering psychopath than innocent people like Osgood. TBF there was a bit of that in the Tennant era, and I hated it then, but at least Tennant had the excuse of the Master was the only other time lord left so he didn’t want to be alone. What’s Capaldi’s excuse for being such a cuck in the face of the Master?

      Even when he is standing in Osgood;s remains, and Missy is LAUGHING in his face about having killed her, and made her scared, and taunting him about killing all his other friends, the Doctor still does nothing (except snog her later.) Can you imagine any other hero being that big a pussy in that scene? Even Superman, the big blue boy scout, if his friend was killed in front of him would at least come close to killing Luthor. Also the Doctor kills his enemies all the time, so what the fuck is his excuse? He just looks racist on top of being a cuck. Its okay to kill Daleks, even murderous humans like Professor Solon, and Solomon the Trader, but the Master I’ll just give her a big snog.

      5/ Its tone is all over the place too. It mixes in horrific, drawn out, sadistic, psychopathic killings, disturbing ideas about the dead, along with scenes of Santa and people squeeing. You wonder what audience they were aiming? I certainly wouldn’t let kids watch it, but frankly the infantile crap with santa doesn’t exactly make it something that I would recommend to adults either.

      Steven Moffat should have been fired for that travesty, and another producer brought in to wipe it from DW canon, but sadly Death in Heaven set the tone for the next two years, culminating in Jodie’s Doctor.

      Sorry went on waaaaaay too long there (in fact that’s almost another whole article LOL.) but hopefully you get why I hate death in heaven more than any other piece of television now LOL.


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