Mark Gatiss' "Victory of the Daleks" is another story very much in the British Science Fiction Comic Book tradition and also I guess echoeing the old "Boys Own Adventure" stories also of British tradition.
The episode opens in World War II London during the Blitz. Under attack from the German Luftwaffe, Winston Churchill orders that they roll out the new secret weapon: The Daleks!
The TARDIS arrives in Winston Churchill's cabinet war room exactly a month after Churchill phoned him at the end of the previous episode "The Beast Below".
Churchill greets the Doctor as an old friend but during their handshake attempts to steal the TARDIS key. (The dialogue in this scene indicates that this is something that Churchill often tries to do when the Doctor visits him, slightly later dialogue also hints that Churchill knows about regeneration and has met at least more than one of the Doctor's past incarnations).
Professor Bracewell is head of the "Ironsides" project. The Doctor discovers that the "Ironsides" allegedly invented by Bracewell are in fact the Daleks (with tiny Union Flag's painted on them!).
The Daleks at this stage don't seem to know who they are (or at least act that way) and seem dedicated to helping the UK win the war against the Nazis. (They use the line of dialogue "I am your soldier" apparently a reference to a similar line of dialogue "I am your Servant" from the Second Doctor's debut story "Power of the Daleks" from 1966).
The Doctor argues with Churchill that the Daleks weren't invented by Bracewell but are aliens using alien technology and that they are evil.
The Doctor is also shocked and surprised that Amy has no memory of the Daleks invading Earth or moving it across space in the Series 4 stories "The Stolen Earth" and "Journey's End".
Amy converses with one of the Daleks, whilst Churchill argues with the Doctor that he needs the Daleks/Ironsides, citing that if Hitler invaded hell he would give a favourable reference to the Devil.
In a humorous moment, a Dalek offers to make/obtain a cup of tea (!) for Bracewell.
The Doctor questions Bracewell about his invention of the Ironsides/Daleks, and his other inventions, and warns that the Daleks are deadly.
The Doctor shouts at a Dalek and attacks it to provoke a reaction, and then orders it to kill him. He tells them that he is the Doctor and that they are each others greatest enemies, and names them as the Daleks, before kicking the one he attacked across the room.
The Daleks have recorded the Doctor's statement that he is the Doctor and they are his enemies, the Daleks and play it back, saying: "Correct. Your testimony is accepted."
They transmit it to a space ship in orbit of the Earth.
The Daleks announce who they are, exterminate someone and reveal that they invented Bracewell and shoot off his hand further revealing him to be an Android.
They beam away to their spaceship.
The Doctor tells Amy to stay behind (in the middle of the London blitz) and leaves in the TARDIS to track the transmitted signal and follow it to the Dalek space ship.
Churchill tells Amy that the Doctor would want them to "keep buggering on!" (!).
The Doctor arrives and confronts the Daleks on their ship with a jammy dodger that he bluffs them is a 'self-destruct' mechanism for the TARDIS that would also take them and their space ship with him, and finds out what the Daleks are planning.
The Daleks reveal that the pro-genitor on the ship refused to recognise them as pure Daleks and that they set up an elaborate trap to get the Doctor to testify that they were in fact Daleks. They need the pro-genitor to re-start the Dalek race as it contains 100% pure Kaled mutant DNA. (Referred to here as Dalek DNA).
From their ship they cause all the lights in blitz era London to come on, which would allow the in-coming squadron of German bombers to easily see their targets.
Amy works out that they can use a gift from the Daleks to help them - Bracewell.
The pro-genitor opens whilst the Doctor is talking to the Daleks and a group of bigger, better, newer, bulkier, souped-up, colourful Daleks emerge. (With colour schemes right out of the Peter Cushing "Doctor Who and the Daleks" movies or the Terry Nation Century 21 Comic strip).
As imperfect examples of the Dalek race and therefore inferior to the new Daleks, the old Daleks volunteer to be destroyed by the new ones they helped bring into existence.
Bracewell is having some sort of emotional breakdown. He has a gun and is threatening to commit suicide. Amy and Winston Churchill convince him to not go through with it and to keep helping them. He realises they can use his gravity well invention to send something into space. He also has a communication device that picks up broadcast signals from the Dalek space ship, and on it they watch the Doctor conversing with the new Daleks.
The new Daleks have scanned the Doctor's "TARDIS self-destruct mechanism" and discovered the Doctor's bluff.
Meanwhile, Churchill has sent WWII Spitfires into space with Bracewell's gravity well, and they launch an attack on the Dalek space ship with lasers that must also have been invented by Bracewell.
The Doctor escapes into the TARDIS but orders the Spitfire squadron to destroy the Dalek ship. The Daleks communicate with the Doctor via his scanner screen on the TARDIS and order him to call off the attack, they reveal that Bracewell is also a bomb and they will detonate him and destroy the Earth unless the attack is halted.
The Doctor orders the squadron to withdraw, and arrives on Earth in time to punch out Bracewell and reveal to him and the others that he is a bomb. He also hurts his hand and fingers in the process.
The detonator is somehow linked to Bracewell's emotional state. If he gets too depressed / disheartened then it will explode. The Doctor tries to defuse it by appealing to Bracewell's 'humanity', playing on the human memories that the Daleks implanted in him and trying to get him to believe he is human to change his mood. It isn't working.
Amy intervenes to get him to think and talk about the woman he had a crush on when he was young, Dorabella.
This works and the bomb is defused, but it is a pyrrhic victory as the time taken to do this allows the Daleks to make a getaway in their space ship.
The Doctor is overwrought that he allowed the Daleks to escape - but Amy points out that they saved the Earth and that this isn't too shabby.
One of the women working for Churchill becomes upset and it is revealed that her boyfriend was a pilot who was shot down.
Churchill tries to convince the Doctor to stay and help them fight the Germans but the Doctor says it doesn't work like that but reassures him that Britain will win the war even if there are some dark days ahead first. The Doctor says his goodbyes to Churchill and Amy gives him a kiss and a hug - and realises that he has managed to steal the TARDIS key, and makes him give it back.
Bracewell is waiting to be deactivated. The Doctor and Amy have a cute scene where they talk about this urgent thing they need to do first that may take fifteen minutes to half an hour to an hour and hint that they won't be deactivating him and that he should try and find the woman from his implanted memories that he believes he had a crush on.
The Doctor and Amy make their way to the TARDIS and the Doctor questions Amy on her not remembering what she should have remembered about who the Daleks were and what they had done to Earth in what he believes is her time. (A closer look at "The Eleventh Hour" reveals that Rory, her boyfriend, has a Nurses badge that was apparently issued in 1990 - perhaps a clue although the technology of that episode included laptops, blackberry's and mobiles).
The TARDIS dematerialises and on the wall behind where they were, a crack in time and space appears.
"Victory of the Daleks" is a fun, kitsche, jolly romp episode.
Writer Mark Gatiss researched the script by going to the real World War II Cabinet war rooms and by studying Churchill, although he presents him as a comic book, boys own adventure version of the former Prime Minister.
He also draws on classic British war movies that he apparently watched on tv as a kid, and apparently theres some subtle references to some of those movies in the dialogue in a few scenes.
Ian McNiece portrays Winston Churchill as an amiable, affable, eccentric. Brave but fearful of losing the war and perhaps looking for a short cut to defend his country.
His rapport with the Doctor and the dialogue they share in the scenes they have together indicates a relationship similar to that of the classic Doctor Who series incarnations of the Doctor with the character of Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart.
Bill Paterson's Bracewell is also a loveable eccentric. A very human Android full of character and emotion, and before being confronted with the knowledge that he is an Android invented by the Daleks, he is a cheerful optimist.
Karen Gillan's Amy Pond continues to be a very strong and intuitive companion, often succeeding where the Doctor falters or is unable or unaware to make the right decsision, or take the right action for the win.
She's also very sexy, and has a cheeky confidence that is very appealing.
The souped-up Daleks took some getting used to. I took to the colour scheme right away with its echoes of past spin-offs and even the Pertwee era. The shape and size threw me a bit on first viewing.
"Victory of the Daleks" is a spectacular re-introduction/re-vamp of the Daleks. The Russel T. Davies era Dalek stories almost always ended with the Daleks being wiped out again perhaps in fear that the estate of Terry Nation might not let them make another appearance next time.
I loved the Spitfire battle scenes with their echoes of "Star Wars" and also to a certain extent "Dan Dare" - a British comic book roughly equivalent to the American "Flash Gordon".
Whilst it does have its flaws, and it isn't my favourite episode of series 5 so far, I did however thoroughly enjoy "Victory of the Daleks".
Next week, Alex Kingston returns as the Doctor's old/future flame, River Song in the first of a two part story that also sees a return stoush with the Weeping Angels from "Blink" , Steven Moffatt's series 3 story.
- Matthew Rayner