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First, they exterminate Manhattan, then they exterminate Berlin.

First impression of Daleks in Manhattan: not very good. There were some good ideas in there, but the execution left a lot to be desired. The biggest problem was the acting: the BBC obviously has a huge, huge talent pool, but some things are simply too much to ask, and asking an ensemble cast of British actors to perform well while faking American accents is clearly one of them. The problem wasn't so much that the accents were bad, as such, though some were. Compared to Nicola Bryant's attempts 25 years ago, the bar has clearly been raised; the accents were consistent and there were even some attempts at diversification, with the black New Yorkers sounding like (generic) black Americans, the kid from Tennessee having a bit of a southern drawl going, and the showgirl type being from Queens or Brooklyn or wherever those showgirl types always come from. I can't pinpoint her accent with that much accuracy, but I'm sure some people would be able to. However, the effort involved in maintaining these accents hamstrung the performances and many of the characters came across as stiff and unconvincing as a result. This put a big damper on my engagement with the story.
The other problem was the reveal at the end, which managed to look even cheesier than the portrait of Dalek Sek's new form on this week's Radio Times.

A bit of a pity, really, because there was a lot to enjoy. There were lots of little filmic references (the corridor in the theatre looked like a shot out of The Blue Angel with the sad clown in it, the scenes on the scaffolding of the Empire State Building looked like classic photographs of working men from the era), there were Daleks using the brains they were cultivated with for a change, and the honest poor folks in Hooverville were painted as people you'd want to know more about. The script had some nice paralellism between what Solomon, the Hooverville community leader person, and Diagoras, the foreman-who'd-become-a-Dalek-stooge each brought back from the Great War, with one of them being ennobled by it and the other hardened and corrupted. This will probably be a setup for the next episode, as we're constantly reminded that the Doctor himself fought in a Great War.

Their names, incidentaly, are possibly significant. Solomon is wise and even hands out a Solomon's judgement (splitting the bread); Diagoras is apparently named after a Greek atheistic philosopher. I got that last tidbit from the Doctor Who communities, by the way.

I do hope next week's episode is a bit better. It's going to be difficult, because being the second part of a two-part story it will likely have the same problems as Daleks in Manhattan, but at least it will have all the mysterious business out of the way and all the players in position for a confrontation. AND there'll be some exterminatin'. That's what we want from our sink-plungered-pals, right?

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