Doctor Who: Ranking the Dalek Stories - Which is the Best?

Where it feels lesser in comparison is that it is neither connected to an everyday, material reality (unlike ‘Spare Parts’, the story exploring the Cybermen’s origins) and its famous scene where the Doctor asks if he has the right to commit genocide, which looms large in later stories.

And yet, this scene only works in isolation. In context it’s jarring. In surrounding stories, the Doctor kills a sentient robot, a Sontaran, and some Zygons; he will later poison someone with cyanide, all without any qualms. Here, though, he compares destroying Dalek mutants – which are already attacking people – to killing Hitler as a baby. The Doctor worries he’d be as bad as the Daleks if he wipes them out. A few scenes later he has changed his mind, trying and failing to kill them. If it was linked to Davros’ aspirations of godhood, fine, but it’s neither written nor played that way.

It’s not as if the Doctor hasn’t already instigated attacks that seem to wipe the Daleks out, but there other people did the dirty work. It’s this, going forward, that becomes the key aspect of the scene for future writers.

3. Remembrance of the Daleks

‘Remembrance’takes the brewing civil war situation of ‘Revelation’ and connects it simultaneously to Doctor Who and British history. The Doctor is trying to trick the Daleks into using a superweapon hidden in 1963 London, knowing it could result in people dying. The Doctor’s trap feels like a response to ‘Have I the right?’ – clearly he feels he has but doesn’t want to directly press the trigger. It’s both a significant change and logical development in the series and the character, with Sylvester McCoy wanting to play both the weight of the character’s years and actions.

The Daleks are here because it’s an anniversary series but also because if you want a demonstration of power then potentially defeating the Daleks is a clear statement. Writer Ben Aaronovitch doesn’t just involve Daleks with a view to blowing them up, but addresses the reasons for their civil war: the hatred for the unlike that has defined the Daleks but also been part of British culture the entire time Doctor Who has been on screen and beyond, explicitly linked to the most evil creatures in the universe. Not only that, he places that hatred in the supporting cast: the ostensible good guys, the UNIT precursor, the family home.

This has scale, depth and feels important on different levels. This is Doctor Who back to its playground-influencing best.

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