Skip to main content

We had opened the way for them with our experiments.


Doctor Who
The Evil of the Daleks: Episode Two


It’s possible that the audio of Evil might be claimed to mask a crushing disappointment should the physical articles ever be happened upon. Except that we have a solitary physical article, and Episode Two ends up only supporting the case that this deserves its classic reputation. Derek Martinus is one of the series’ most underappreciated directors, and if anyone could make Galaxy 4 more vital than its pedestrian script would allow it’s him (so it will be interesting to see that recovered episode… one day).

Episode One is revealed to have employed the old stand-by of superfluous Dalek cliffhanger. Having shown up to kill Kennedy, it promptly glides off.


The chemistry between Troughton and Hines continues to reap dividends with comic business at the antiques shop (“And don’t knock into anything” instructs the Doctor, as he proceeds to do just that). If Jamie has been defined as a thickie to be mocked by Season Six (not so surprising with two geniuses as company), here he’s allowed a surprisingly focused mind that intuits the answers more quickly than the Doctor’s.

Jamie: I’ve got an idea. All the stuff in here is genuine.
The Doctor: Yes…
Jamie: But brand new.
The Doctor: Well done.
Jamie: Well, that’s impossible. Unless… Waterfield could have invented a time machine like the TARDIS, Doctor. And he’s bringing back all this stuff from Victorian times.
The Doctor: Well, it’s not very likely, is it?


Waterfield is convincingly presented as a man on the edge of losing his wits, uncomprehending of the Daleks’ mindless destruction (“You don’t have to kill!”) and unraveling under the pressure of the demands place on him (“I can’t. I can’t go on with this.”)


10 minutes into the episode, the Doctor and Jamie have been gassed and whisked away to 1866. If it were the case that Ben and Polly were going to be written out after the first episode of Evil, it would at least have made more sense to break their involvement as the contemporary adventure was left.


The device of allowing the audience to become aware of the new time period at the pace of the Doctor (and then Jamie) is usually a gradual Episode One experience. In this episode the Doctor is on the back foot, awaking to the greeting Molly the maid and being offered a powerful restorative. We learn that he is some miles from Canterbury (the series doesn’t often end up in Kent, does it?) and it is interesting to see his initial resistance to the idea that he has been taken back in time.


Maxtible: You will believe, Doctor. We are all of us victims of a higher power. A power more evil and terrible than the human brain can imagine.

There’s something highly arresting about the dislocation of the Daleks to the minds and setting of Victoriana. As noted in Episode One they become an almost supernatural force conceptually, associated with occult forces and diabolism. The sight of them rolling around a Victorian house is both incongruous and eerily potent.


Waterfield tells the Doctor that his daughter’s life is in her hands, and on cue we have a scene featuring the incredibly wet girl with the big tits. Its saving grace is some idiosyncratic Dalek dialogue.

Dalek: You will not feed the flying pests outside.

The Dalek threatens to force feed her (via plunger?) and before a scene is finished Victoria is whinging and heaving her bosom. Not helped by the incidental music taking a decidedly maudlin turn. Imagine, if you will, Victoria played by Gabrielle Drake. She was shortlisted for the role, apparently. I’m imagining it right now.

Maxtible: Here we are, Doctor. This is hallowed ground.


Marius Goring’s performance as Maxtible is as over-sized as his crazy hair, but it completely works. He demands your attention and gets it, smoking away on his big cigar. Accentuated by an explanation of his science that is verging on the giddy in how strange and at-odds it is with any attempts at rationalisation.  Perhaps that’s what makes it so seductive; unapologetically plunging head first into the fantastical experimentation. The references to the properties of mirrors put me in mind of the likes of Richard Stanley’s Dust Devil and Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. As such, it’s an idea that is very much owned by the fantasy arena.


The Daleks are “inhuman monsters” and “creatures of the devil”.

Maxtible: Following the new investigations twelve years ago by J Clark Maxwell into electromagnetism and the experiments by Faraday with static electricity…
The Doctor: Static?
Maxtible: Correct… Waterfield and I first attempted to define the image in the mirror and then to project through it.

They use 144 mirrors, polished, with electrical charges to “repel the image”.


Waterfield: In the middle of our final test with static, creatures burst out of the cabinet, invaded the house and took away my daughter. We had opened the way for them with our experiments.

The scenario has more in common with horror movies than science fiction, and conjures almost Lovecraftian imagery. So the actual appearance of a Dalek to issue the Doctor with commands could be seen as deflating the bag. Particularly as it seems a highly elaborate plan on their behalf just to do some tests on Jamie. How exactly would they have laid in wait for the Doctor at this point and time? The Dalek’s edict sets up the deceit of Jamie in future episodes, and this is a new an interesting idea for the series to play with, albeit one that doesn’t turn the Doctor into some kind of master manipulator of the McCoy years. Here he is, at least, under duress.  He is instructed to “reveal nothing to your companion” and there’s a great bit of Troughton outrage and alarm directed at his hosts (with an underlying implication that they have mixed themselves up in “devilish” practices)

The Doctor: What have you done with your infernal meddling?

There’s also an indication that Maxtible may be less the stooge and more the accomplice to the Daleks, as his outlining of the Daleks’ motives seems very well-informed; some factor in human beings, that they want to transplant into their own race.

Maxtible: My dear fellow, I am merely surmising. I know nothing definite.


Jamie ‘s introduction to the era is slightly less sure-footed, suffering from clumsy exposition and setting up of plot points for later. Mollie seems to fancy him as a bit of rough, while Ruth Maxtible doesn’t seem at all put out that he instantly fixates on the picture on the wall rather than complimenting her for her looks. It just comes across as a bit peculiar that Jamie wakes up and rather than orientating himself gets a massive stiffy for a painting (of Waterfield’s dead wife). It is Frazer Hines, though.


The appearance of Windsor “lovely boys” Davies as Toby seems to be a bit out of nowhere, and not altogether successful (bashing Jamie, then getting interrupted and grabbing the maid); while it adds to the unanswered questions (chief of which being why Jamie’s so vital; “Absolutely essential”), it comes across as the first sign of the script looking for filler.

The cliffhanger is more obligatory Daleks (“There will be no delay!”), who have worked well so far due to being place on the periphery of the action. A typical Dalek scene like this does them no favours.

It has a few less successful elements, but this gets full marks again for sheer inventiveness and atmosphere.  

Popular posts from this blog

I think I’m Pablo Picasso!

Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021) (SPOILERS) I get the impression that, whatever it is stalwart Venom fans want from a Venom movie, this iteration isn’t it. The highlight here for me is absolutely the wacky, love-hate, buddy-movie antics of Tom Hardy and his symbiote alter. That was the best part of the original, before it locked into plot “progression” and teetered towards a climax where one CGI monster with gnarly teeth had at another CGI monster with gnarly teeth. And so it is for Venom: Let There Be Carnage . But cutting quicker to the chase.

I don’t think Wimpys still exist.

Last Night in Soho (2021) (SPOILERS) Last Night in Soho is a cautionary lesson in one’s reach extending one’s grasp. It isn’t that Edgar Wright shouldn’t attempt to stretch himself, it’s simply that he needs the self-awareness to realise which moves are going to throw his back out and leave him in a floundering and enfeebled heap on the studio floor. Wright’s an uber-geek, one with a very specific comfort zone, and there’s no shame in that. He evidently was shamed, though, hence this response to criticisms of a lack of maturity and – obviously – lack of versatility with female characters. Last Night in Soho goes broke for woke, and in so doing exposes his new clothes in the least flattering light. Because Edgar is in no way woke, his attempts to prove his progressive mettle lead to a lurid, muddled mess, one that will satisfy no one. Well, perhaps his most ardent fans, but no one else.

It looks like a digital walkout.

Free Guy (2021) (SPOILERS) Ostensibly a twenty-first century refresh of The Truman Show , in which an oblivious innocent realises his life is a lie, and that he is simply a puppet engineered for the entertainment of his creators/controllers/the masses, Free Guy lends itself to similar readings regarding the metaphysical underpinnings of our reality, of who sets the paradigm and how conscious we are of its limitations. But there’s an additional layer in there too, a more insidious one than using a Hollywood movie to “tell us how it really is”.

The voice from the outer world who will lead them to paradise.

Dune (2021) (SPOILERS) For someone who has increasingly dug himself a science-fiction groove, Denis Villeneuve isn’t terribly imaginative. Dune looks perfect, in the manner of the cool, clinical, calculating and above all glacial rendering of concept design and novel cover art in the most doggedly literal fashion. And that’s the problem. David Lynch’s edition may have had its problems, but it was inimitably the product of a mind brimming with sensibility. Villeneuve’s version announces itself as so determinedly faithful to Frank Herbert, it needs two movies to tell one book, and yet all it really has to show for itself are gargantuan vistas.

Give poor, starving Gurgi munchings and crunchings.

The Black Cauldron (1985) (SPOILERS) Dark Disney? I guess… Kind of . I don’t think I ever got round to seeing this previously. The Fox and the Hound , sure. Basil the Great Mouse Detective , most certainly. Even Oliver and Company , so I wasn’t that selective. But I must have missed The Black Cauldron , the one that nearly broke Disney, for the same reason everyone else did. But what reason was that? Perhaps nothing leaping out about it, when the same summer kids could see The Goonies , or Back to the Future , or Pee Wee’s Big Adventure . It seemed like a soup of other, better-executed ideas and past Disney movies, stirred up in a cauldron and slopped out into an environment where audiences now wanted something a touch more sophisticated.

Monster nom nom?

The Suicide Squad (2021) (SPOILERS) This is what you get from James Gunn when he hasn’t been fed through the Disney rainbow filter. Pure, unadulterated charmlessness, as if he’s been raiding his deleted Twitter account for inspiration. The Suicide Squad has none of the “heart” of Guardians of Galaxy , barely a trace of structure, and revels in the kind of gross out previously found in Slither ; granted an R rating, Gunn revels in this freedom with juvenile glee, but such carte blanche only occasionally pays off, and more commonly leads to a kind of playground repetition. He gets to taunt everyone, and then kill them. Critics applauded; general audiences resisted. They were right to.

It becomes easier each time… until it kills you.

The X-Files 4.9: Terma Oh dear. After an engaging opener, the second part of this story drops through the floor, and even the usually spirited Rob Bowman can’t save the lethargic mess Carter and Spotnitz make of some actually pretty promising plot threads.

Three. Two. One. Lift with your neck.

Red Notice  (2021) (SPOILERS) Red Notice rather epitomises Netflix output. Not the 95% that is dismissible, subgrade filler no one is watching but is nevertheless churned out as original “content”. No, this would be the other, more select tier constituting Hollywood names and non-negligible budgets. Most such fare still fails to justify its existence in any way, shape or form, singularly lacking discernible quality control or “studio” oversight. Albeit, one might make similar accusations of a selection of legit actual studio product too, but it’s the sheer consistency of unleavened movies that sets Netflix apart. So it is with Red Notice . Largely lambasted by the critics, in much the manner of, say 6 Underground or Army of the Dead , it is in fact, and just like those, no more and no less than okay.

Oh hello, loves, what year is it?

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) (SPOILERS) Simu Lui must surely be the least charismatic lead in a major motion picture since… er, Taylor Lautner? He isn’t aggressively bad, like Lautner was/is, but he’s so blank, so nondescript, he makes Marvel’s super-spiffy new superhero Shang-Chi a superplank by osmosis. Just looking at him makes me sleepy, so it’s lucky Akwafina is wired enough for the both of them. At least, until she gets saddled with standard sidekick support heroics and any discernible personality promptly dissolves. And so, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings continues Kevin Feige’s bold journey into wokesense, seemingly at the expense of any interest in dramatically engaging the viewer.

What about the panties?

Sliver (1993) (SPOILERS) It must have seemed like a no-brainer. Sharon Stone, fresh from flashing her way to one of the biggest hits of 1992, starring in a movie nourished with a screenplay from the writer of one of the biggest hits of 1992. That Sliver is one Stone’s better performing movies says more about how no one took her to their bosom rather than her ability to appeal outside of working with Paul Verhoeven. Attempting to replicate the erotic lure of Basic Instinct , but without the Dutch director’s shameless revelry and unrepentant glee (and divested of Michael Douglas’ sweaters), it flounders, a stupid movie with vague pretensions to depth made even more stupid by reshoots that changed the killer’s identity and exposed the cluelessness of the studio behind it. Philip Noyce isn’t a stupid filmmaker, of course. He’s a more-than-competent journeyman when it comes to Hollywood blockbuster fare ( Clear and Present Danger , Salt ) also adept at “smart” smaller pict