February 9th, 2013
Since 1963, the Daleks — laser-yielding pyramidal steel shells containing hateful squidlike aliens — have been the primary enemy for the Doctor, a benevolent humanoid alien who reincarnates himself as various English gentlemen on the the long-running BBC sci-fi series “Doctor Who.” The Daleks, mostly unchanged since their introduction, with the exception of some shiny ipod variety updates in the 2012 series, are an undeniably quaint villain. They possess screechy voices (mostly used to scream “Exterminate!”), roll around in Nazi-esque formations, and try to eliminate the Doctor and his companions with their lasers. The Doctor himself is strictly anti-guns and comes armed with a sonic-screwdriver — essentially a multi purpose magic wand used for manipulating electronics and opening spaceship doors. This makes for some interesting “combat,” the Doctor mostly running around and outsmarting his foes with cunning and witticisms.
The poor Dalek is dated, and though early appearances seem sincerely cutting-edge for early ‘60s sci-fi craftsmanship and special effects, the fact is that they’ve perhaps become as obsolete as their less interesting peers, the “Cybermen.” This critique, however, goes only as far as their ability to compete with any contemporary innovations in alien villainy. In the current era of dubstep-soundtracked horror trailers and ass kicking machine gun realism, there remains a special place for the Dalek and his non-violent nemesis, born out of the 1960s imagination.