Daleks In Manhattan
I rewatched The Impossible Planet last night, and didn't stop cringing until the credits rolled. The Doctor and Rose are such utterly hateful characters in that episode that I really brought it home to me how much series three has improved in that department. Virtually every episode last year had at least one scene each that made my stomach knot with humiliation, and that's definitely been less of a problem so far this year. Even the blip that was Gridlock got by because the characters were solid, and in the long term they're what stick in the memory when the show is considered overall. So it is then that when the good characters are added to a solid plot you have what is probably one of new Who's top five episodes.
The Daleks are certainly better than they've been since they originally came back: thoughtful schemers again rather than blobs that shout “exterminate” and can't shoot straight. Personally, I was really impressed to see the Daleks not even fire once this episode, as it seems to represent its intelligence above what's come before. Even the speeches, something I normally detest, seemed in-context because they were coming from someone whose role was to be a charismatic orator rather than the “why son, I never knew you had it in you” crap of The Idiot's Lantern. The other characters are basically solid, and often very well written, although the acting is sometimes stilted and if more than 50% of the actors are genuinely American then I'll eat my hat.
I can't think of a great deal to say about this one since the plot has yet to come into its own; I was content to let this one just carry me along. It was good enough to let me forgive the occasional moment of contrivance: stumbling upon that Rutanesque blob out of nowhere; constructing a DNA scanner out of nothing, which recalls The Time Monster for all the wrong reasons, and Frank picking up a weapon against an entire legion of pigs for no reason other than that the episode has an action-quota to fill. Now that I think of it there is the occasional structural knock (the pigs grab hold of the boss...when they cut back ten minutes later, nobody's moved) but these never overwhelm the story like they did last week.
It ends with a great cliffhanger too, even though it was given away by the Radio Times in one of their most idiotic editorial decisions. Watching the hybrid struggle out of the casing was genuinely grotesque, and only let down by a comedy New York accent (apologies if the actor is genuinely from New York...his childhood must have been hard) that I find impossible to take seriously. But on the whole – maybe I'm just in a good mood tonight, but I really enjoyed this.