The Orange Dalek   Leave a comment

The Orange Dalek

The new Orange Dalek is described as a “Scientist” Dalek.

OK, the Daleks need scientists – but why are they orange? Beats me.

While I was initially rather sceptical about an Orange Dalek (whatever its rank or function might be) I was pleasantly surprised to find that the colour scheme didn’t seem too bad. I’m still frankly surprised that orange was chosen as a colour – for several reasons.

At the risk of grafting human expectations onto an alien species, personally I would have made the Science-Dalek the White Dalek – basically because of the image of a scientist as a bloke in a white lab coat.

A White Dalek Scientist would seem to make more visual sense to me (after all, they’ve gone for the equally clichéd red for warrior/drone/soldier Dalek).

While I did find that the Orange Dalek looked better than I’d anticipated, it also (unsurprisingly) looks rather like the Yellow Dalek. So why not make it a more noticeably different colour?

While I don’t really have a problem with the Orange Dalek, given that we’ve got a Red Dalek and a Yellow Dalek in the same show, why not chose something a bit more different – a Silver Dalek for example.

While I’d quite like to see a Purple Dalek on-screen (preferably a decent metallic purple) I suppose this was best avoided in this particular show, or the New Daleks would have looked even more like Teletubbies….

Some of the deliberately odd camera angles used in the story did make the Daleks seem fairly dramatic and on the whole this worked well with rapidly moving images. The trouble is that the Daleks don’t look so good when you look at them closely. From the front they at least look like Daleks, but  the new shoulders look like something any child could have build out of Lego….

The rear sections of the new Daleks don’t make them look sleek, stylish or high-tech. They just look like the props department ran out of domes…

But the side view is by far the worst…

Jokes on the “does my bum look big in this?” motif are unavoidable…

It isn’t just that the new Daleks don’t look like the iconic originals – from the side they simply look silly.

Any attempt at redesigning the Daleks is only ever going to work if it adds to their essential nature, not detracts from it.

The Daleks are meant to be mutated blobs in virtually unstoppable killing machines. While I doubt that anyone can really improve much on the original design, tinkerings are fine, especially if it somehow adds to their sense of menace.

The problem is the new design simply isn’t at all scary looking. It comes across as a “cuddly” toddler-toy, a “My First Dalek” for the latest generation of fans.

Intelligent use of camera angles and lighting effects reduce the “cuteness” of the new design – but an effective Dalek should look imposing from any angle without this…

Looking at the new Daleks, it is really difficult to tell if they are actual TV Daleks or the latest batch of radio-controlled toys. They really do look like models not “the real thing”.

The new design works best when it is not viewed as a whole – seen only from the front, or from the front half, it still appears to be a Dalek – especially when lighting favours a few shadows here and there.

But when inspected closely there are simply too many elements to the design that look poorly constructed, half finished or done as a cut-price rush job.

The new “organic” eye (which was not really noticeable on screen) does look interesting in close up…

However, while it is certainly interesting, I remain unsure about it….

It does remind us that the Daleks are not simply robots but have a living organism inside. On the other hand, it makes the “New Daleks” seem rather primitive (which may perhaps not be a bad thing after the almost un-killable Time-War versions, which were perhaps at times simply too tough to be really interesting). I can certainly see lots of cries of “My vision is impaired – I cannot see” and “Aim for the eye-stalk” In the future.

Which is probably a bit of a shame really… Such weaknesses were great in earlier stories – they made the Daleks defeatable, which was good from the narrative of a story. But it would be more interesting to see the Doctor, his companions and allies find some new ways of fighting the Daleks rather than just falling back on the old standard ploys. I thought the “My vision is NOT impaired” line in “The Stolen Earth” was one of the highlights of the story… shame to back-track when a far more interesting option would be to work out a new way of exploiting a Dalek weakness.

The Dalek Scientist

The Future’s Bright – The Future’s Dalek

But the first job for the Scientist is to develop contact lenses….


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