Doctor Who Cuttings Archive

Doing in a Dalek used to be more fun

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1986-07-18 Province.jpg


"The way you killed a Dalek," said a friend who knows about such things, "was to approach it very, very carefully from behind ... reach over the top ... grab it by the proboscis . .. and tip it on its back! A little like a turtle. But much, much more dangerous."

"Hmm," I answered. 'Was that the only way?"

"Definitely," he said. "You see, once they were on their backs, with their little casters whirring away in vain, they would keep on shooting at the ceiling and screaming 'Exterminate! Exterminate!' with their horrible monotone voices getting higher and higher, and then they just — disappeared."

Fabulous. What a nice, fanciful — even affectionate — approach to Daleks, who are among Dr. Who's arch-enemies, and look like heavily armed metallic salt-shakers, the "proboscis" actually being a pivoting arm protruding from the head section. I mean, I had just watched a lot of Daleks getting killed on an episode of Dr. Who on Saturday night, and that is certainly not the way you kill them nowadays. Nobody snuck .. . very ... carefully ... up behind a Dalek and just ... tipped it over Saturday night. What everybody did Saturday night was blow the Daleks away, Rambo-style, the same way the Daleks blew everybody else away — and each other, too. (Daleks may be self-contained war machines motivated by hatred and totally devoid of conscience, and thus probably the most dangerous creatures in the universe but they don't always get things right.)

"I should point out," says my Dalek friend, "that it was not easy to jump on Daleks' backs and tip them over, as they usually travelled in groups. The grey ones were not very smart, so you could quite easily distract them and trick them. But you had to be quick, because that would make them really mad. The other neat thing about Daleks, actually," he said, "was that although they did manage to exterminate all kinds of people, it was always Dr. Who's enemies! I don't think they realized that."

This vision of Daleks, both funny and frightening, was getting more and more attractive. After all, Saturday night's Dr. Who was full of incredible carnage, the Daleks had no particular personalities, and by the end there were blown-up Daleks everywhere, not to mention blown-up people, all smoke and short circuits and burned warehouses. It was so violent that even Tegan, Dr. Who's spunky, leather mini-skirted companion, decided she'd rather stay in 20th-century England than chase around time with a Time Lord. She liked the doctor, but she couldn't take it any more.

I sympathized. As soon as you hear somebody like the Dalek expert on Daleks — which of course are his childhood memories of Daleks, the kind they used to make years ago — you get nostalgic for the days when stealth and cunning were more important than hardware — and more suspenseful.

Just imagine, sneaking ... very ... very ... carefully ... up behind a dangerous but not very bright Dalek, tricking him into looking the other way, and then .. . and then ... grabbing his long "nose" and tipping him on his back! Imagine him lying on his back, screaming 'Exterminate! Exterminate!' with his little casters whirring. Compared to this, Dr. Who's new attitude to Daleks feels as if somebody had given Pooh Bear an Uzi.

Which just goes to show, once again: New and improved isn't always.

Caption: Among Dr. Who's arch enemies are Daleks.

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  • APA 6th ed.: Read, Jeani (1986-07-18). Doing in a Dalek used to be more fun. The Province p. 55.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Read, Jeani. "Doing in a Dalek used to be more fun." The Province [add city] 1986-07-18, 55. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Read, Jeani. "Doing in a Dalek used to be more fun." The Province, edition, sec., 1986-07-18
  • Turabian: Read, Jeani. "Doing in a Dalek used to be more fun." The Province, 1986-07-18, section, 55 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Doing in a Dalek used to be more fun | url= | work=The Province | pages=55 | date=1986-07-18 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=1 March 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Doing in a Dalek used to be more fun | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=1 March 2024}}</ref>