What Makes It Work: The Daleks

And now, we come to something that’s more of an expansion/reboot on another blog post that I did in October of last year. I love the Doctor Who series, both in its classic and revived forms. And in both incarnations of this classic show that and excites and infuriates fans over (sometimes even in the space of a scene!) my favorite villain has to be those lovable pepper pot fascists, the Daleks.


Sound FX Daleks



And as such, I’ve spent the time I could be going out and having a life contemplating what truly makes the Daleks work. Not in any biological or mechanical sense, oh no. I’m not that much of a hopeless nerd yet. I mean in a character sense.

What makes the Daleks work, in my opinion, comes down to two important words: simplicity and versatility. The simplicity part is obvious, really: The Daleks, made to hate and kill all non-Dalek life forms from birth, are essentially the ultimate monsters. Psychotic blobs in personal near-indestructible tanks, they’ve proven time and time again to be dangerous and nigh-implacable foes for The Doctor and all life in the universe. There’s no real reasoning with them, no real bargaining or pleading with them. They’re evil incarnate, and they want you dead.

But from that simplicity, a sort of versatility can be had as well. That’s what happens when you’ve existed for fifty plus years and have had legions of writers and scripting your actions. Just ask any comic book superhero whose lasted longer than the decade they were created. Hell, entire books can be, and have been, written on the subject of characters that have lasted decades and how they’ve changed with the times, be it for  good or ill. Superman himself could probably sustain and entire book’s worth, just from the comics and the various other mediums he crossed over into.


Wait, what was I talking about?






Oh, right, the Daleks.

The Daleks are versatile in many ways. For one, they can function as a singular threat or as an oncoming army, like any good alien invader. They can also be their own type of threat or simply work as henchmen of a larger big bad (i.e. Davros). The Daleks can also manipulate they’re enemies by making them think they’re either docile or there to help (Power of the Daleks, Victory of the Daleks) can manipulate other sentient creatures to help them out (like the Dalek did to Rose in Dalek) and even on (not so rare now) turn to relative good (Evil of the Daleks, Dalek, Into the Dalek, Dalek Caan at the end of Journey’s End). They can even be genuinely sympathetic…in their own, mass murdering way.

With the Daleks set to show up again in season 10, the Daleks are seen by some as overexposed (thank you BBC and your refusal to make a deal with Terry Nation’s estate). I can’t say I’m tired of the Daleks just yet, though. They’re my favorite villain in the whole show, and I hope they can go on for as long as they can.


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