25 February 2013
Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...

Day Fifty-Six: The Waking Ally (The Dalek Invasion of Earth, Episode Five)

Dear diary,

Actually, you know what? The Slyther grows on you. It only gets a brief appearance here, before it's killed off, but it's not as bad as it could be. Don't get me wrong, it still looks like a man shuffling around in an ill-fitting rubber suit, but then I realised that if this were the new series, it would probably be a weird mass of CGI. That made the whole thing look a little better.

Speaking of 'if this were the new series'… There's a lovely moment here - again - between Susan and David, in which he scares her with a fish (they're having something of an unusual courtship), before they laugh and wrestle, and stare deep into each other's eyes. When this then turned to a conversation, I said - out loud - 'if this were the new series, they'd have kissed then'. And you know what? They do! Huzzah! I'd completely forgotten that bit. The more this story goes on, the more their relationship is growing in a really believable way.

It's not all smiles and fish, though. Elsewhere, this episode takes to story to some pretty dark places, but it works all the better for it. The moment where Barbara and Jenny are sold out by an old woman just so she can get some extra food rations, having already taken Barbra's last few scraps, is wonderful.

It's so very believable, and really does help to sell the idea that this is a cold, desolate time, where people will do anything just to survive. It plays on Tyler's comment yesterday that there are some Humans who aren't necessarily working against the Daleks, and will kill to eat. It was a bit of a shame we didn't encounter any of these rebels in the sewers, so it's good to see it being played out here.

And we've got another chance to link to the new series from this storyline, too, with the old woman's speech to Barbara and Jenny. She tells them that she'd been to London before, many years ago. She asks if it's still the same, and talks of a number of futuristic things that she'd seen there. It's almost the same conversation that Martha has with the German guard woman in The Stolen Earth. I've always loved that scene, so it's good to see that its roots are here in this story, considering the other similarities of a Dalek Invasion of Earth.

Still on the darker route is Larry actually finding his brother in the mine. His whole purpose for coming all the way to Bedfordshire, and working so hard alongside Ian to survive… and his brother's been turned into a Roboman. It's a wonderful scene as he tries to remind him of his real identity, by talking about (presumably?) his wife and his previous life.

It sketches in a backstory for the two brothers, and gives them a real place in this world of Dalek rule. That they go on to kill each other, with Larry making sure he gets Ian out of the way to continue in his quest, is a lovely thing, though really bittersweet. It's a bit darker than anything else we've had in the series to this point, I think, but it's very well handled.

Mind you, it does have to be said, the Robomen really are Cybermen, aren't they? I mean, the helmet design is similar enough, but right down to the way that they act, and the way they've forgotten ever being real flesh and blood… Do we think the Daleks picked up some conversion equipment going cheap someplace?

Next Episode: Flashpoint

 
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Ray Bayly