I’ll be honest, when I first started watching Doctor Who reruns as a kid, I was a bigger fan of the human(ish) villains than the monster types. The Valeyard, the Rani, the Master (RIP Anthony Ainley), these characters were fascinating, oozing schemes out of their ears, a true mental match for the Doctor, right up to their rapier wits for verbal sparring. And since they are so smart, they always have an ace or two up their sleeves, a back door from which they shake their fists to scream “You haven’t seen the last of me!” so the battle of wills is never really over, not that we really want it to be.
But I do with the Daleks. Steven Moffat (or Stevie-Mo, as I like to call him) has announced that the Daleks will be taking a (much needed, much wanted) break. “Rest” was the word used, as though in peace the dead horse that is the Daleks could be buried. Perhaps the Cybermen will be next?
Seriously, this has been something I’ve been saying a lot about the new Doctor Who for a while now. I love the series, I think it’s in great hands with Steve and I am looking forward to the show lasting as long as it did the first time around. What is especially good about the show is all the old material they can mine from the original series should they ever start running out of ideas. I think the Valeyard and the Rani will show up again, as well as many others (if the show stays as popular as it is now).
However, the Daleks are from a bygone era (the sixties) when sci-fi was just coming in to popular culture. Audiences weren’t used to in depth characters with extensive backstories, or even ones that had much of anything below the surface. Season long story arcs weren’t cheap or practical because viewers couldn’t be counted on to catch the next chapter each and every week, so one-shots were the norm. The Daleks were designed perfectly for this, with their singular mindless drive to destroy all inferior life, but with their many weaknesses (stairs!) they were an easy enemy. They still are.
Of course, they aren’t gone forever. You can’t take the Daleks out of Doctor Who any more than you can take the Cylons out of BSG. But in order for DW to remain as great as it is, the show will need to either create brand new monsters and stories (The Weeping Angels, etc) or start reaching back and extracting some of the more obscure story lines from the older show. Personally, I don’t grieve the Daleks out-phasing, I never found them to be that scary or intimidating. I’m still unsure how they built all their technology without arms and hands, but I do understand how they were so easily (ex)terminated from the show.