These are some of the things I did today, in non-chronological order.
1. Tried and failed to write something about the differences between Moffat’s and Davies’ Daleks, and why the latter are obviously better.
Resulting emotional state: Tired and slightly irritated.
2. Discussed and started to sort out a lot of upsetting personal stuff.
Resulting emotional state: Quite upset
3. Became aware of Spies With Badges. Read through the entirety of Volume One.
Resulting emotional state: Utterly delighted.
Amazing! (Not ‘2’ obviously. Sorry to hear about ‘2’)
I can’t think of anything more brilliantly unexpected and appropriate than Faction Paradox fandom discovering Spies with Badges.
Answer to #1 is obvious: Moffat doesn’t seem to give the slightest fig about the Daleks (even coming up with the appropriately loony “Dalek Parliament” for Asylum felt half-hearted, while the attempt to introduce the new paradigm was misguided in the extreme and has resulted in an embarrassing climbdown), whereas Rusty loves them to bits (he owns a full-size one, for a kickoff) and is basically the only person ever to write Proper Dalek Dialogue (“THIS IS PEST CONTROL!”)
I don’t usually like direct RTD-v-Moff comparisons (they both have their strengths and weaknesses), but if you’re a Dalek fan, Russell’s the one you want in charge.
Really, though? I mean yes, RTD did a fantastic job of setting up the Daleks in series 1 and transforming them from the camp icon they’d become into something genuinely scary again, but with each appearance their menace was weakened. The lone Dalek in “Dalek” is a hundred-thousand times scarier than the Dalek Empire seen in “The Stolen Earth”/”Journey’s End”.
Maybe the Daleks aren’t supposed to be scary, but personally it felt very much like Davies worked hard to build something that he then knocked down by casually flinging his own shit at it.
This is not to excuse Moffat’s treatment of the Daleks, of course - the New Paradigm was change for change’s sake, not to mention they were a bit crap - but “Asylum of the Daleks” is the closest they’ve been since “The Parting of the Ways” to being actually, properly menacing.
Oh, I loved Asylum, don’t get me wrong. But that’s because I think Moffat is A Very Good Writer, and he turned his mind to trying to produce a good Dalek story and did something a bit different and interesting, and had that scene with Rory where yeah, he made them properly scary again (largely by, as I talked about in my URP! review, actually playing on the image of Daleks as stationary and safe-looking pop culture objects, which was inspired). I still don’t think it really showed that he cares that much about them in general, though. I don’t think he’d be using them every year if it weren’t (as the rumours go) contractually bound by the Nation estate.
Whereas Russell clearly does absolutely just love Daleks to bits. But on the flipside this means that yes, his giddy enthusiasm led to a tendency to overuse them and just rely on the fact that “Hey! They’re Daleks!” Which works for some of us (myself included, sadly - I’ll generally enjoy a bad Dalek story more than a mediocre non-Dalek story) but obviously not for everyone.
But hey, even in Stolen Earth/Journey’s End he was just carrying on with established tradition, by suddenly making the Daleks completely background and secondary to (an absolutely brilliant take on) Davros.
(And I think the only truly poor Dalek story in RTD’s tenure is one of the two he didn’t write, i.e. Manhattan)
At the panel I was at over the 50th weekend, Moffat answered the “Who is your favourite monster?” kiddy question with an absolute, unequivocal 100% Daleks answer, then proclaimed that everyone else was wrong if they said ANYTHING otherwise, then told Matt Smith that HE was wrong for saying it was The Weeping Angels when OBVIOUSLY the Daleks are the best ever, ever, ever.
I don’t think he’s as nonchalant about them as you’re inclined to think, even if (yes) Victory of The Daleks is a complete dud.
(Sidenote: God I hope the “Gatiss as successor!” claims come to nothing.)