In the throes of the Great Depression, New York City’s towering Empire State Building is erected even as able-bodied men eke out a barely-adequate existence in its shadow, unable to find work. But something other than poverty is stalking them – rumors circulate of pig-faced creatures who walk like humans and abduct unsuspecting people who are then never seen again. The TARDIS lands in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, and the Doctor and Martha make their way to Manhattan, where they learn of the abductions and follow clues to the sewer tunnels beneath the city. The Doctor does indeed find the pig-like beings – humans who have been subjected to genetic experimentation and mutation – but he also finds an amoeboid life form whose origins he knows all too well: a failed attempt to create a new mutant to occupy a Dalek casing. By the time the Doctor and Martha find the Daleks’ base of operations beneath the streets of New York City, the Daleks have already taken a terrifying new step in their own evolution.
written by Helen Raynor
directed by James Strong
music by Murray Gold
Guest Cast: Miranda Raison (Tallulah), Ryan Carnes (Laszlo), Hugh Quarshie (Solomon), Andrew Garfield (Frank), Eric Loren (Mr. Diagoras), Flik Swan (Myrna), Alexis Caley (Lois), Earl Perkins (Man #1), Peter Brooke (Man #2), Ian Porter (Foreman), Joe Montana (Worker #1), Stewart Alexander (Worker #2), Mel Taylor (Dock Worker), Barnaby Edwards (Dalek Operator), Nicholas Pegg (Dalek Operator), Anthony Spargo (Dalek Operator), David Hankinson (Dalek Operator), Nick Briggs (Dalek voices), Paul Kasey (Hero Pig)
Notes: This marks the first time that footage for episodes of Doctor Who has been custom-shot in the United States. In 1985, the Colin Baker story The Two Doctors was originally written to take place in New Orleans, but budget constraints forced the story to be rewritten to take place in Seville. The 1996 TV movie’s shots of San Francisco were taken from stock footage (the movie itself was shot in Vancouver). For Daleks In Manhattan and Evolution Of The Daleks, director James Strong and a small camera crew from BBC Wales traveled to New York City and shot video and photos – much of which would be digitally touched up in post-production to “de-age” the city to the 1930s; most of the footage – even the scenes that appear to be at the base of the Statue of Liberty – were still filmed in Cardiff. Guest star Hugh Quarshie has dabbled with Duane Dibbley in Red Dwarf and protected Padme as Captain Panaka in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
LogBook entry & review by Earl Green
Review: After all these years, TV Doctor Who brings us to America in a way that doesn’t make me cringe. For a SF show made in Wales, Daleks In Manhattan certainly does a better job than, well, most UK productions I can think of in terms of making me feel like the story really is taking place in the United States. It certainly succeeds better than the first season’s Dalek, but what’s with the title? If we’re going to give it away right after the opening teaser, then please, let’s be classy about it and call it The Daleks Take Manhattan. Daleks In Manhattan just sounds like an unfortunate TV Guide log line. If they took Manhattan, the Daleks could at least be in the same league with the Muppets.
One thing that this two-parter makes me fear – and I don’t think I’m giving the game away by discussing this in a review of part one out of two – is that the new series is reaching toward its own overly-convoluted Dalek mythology, much like the Dalek stories of the Tom Baker era onward from the original series. Between Tom Baker’s first season and Sylvester McCoy’s last, there was a grand total of five Dalek stories (I’m not counting the brief non-sequitur appearance of a Dalek in The Five Doctors as one of them), and they were all tied into each other, to the degree that some plot points were nearly incomprehensible (see Resurrection Of The Daleks). Already, just a few episodes into the third season, we’ve tacked new evolutionary steps onto such things as the Cult of Skaro and the Time War. If I hear someone utter the word “Movellan” into the bargain, my head will probably explode. I can keep track of it all, but I’m a fan – and thus far, the new series has done a nice job of dropping bread crumbs to the fans while preparing nice meals of story for the general viewing public.
For the most part, Daleks In Manhattan is enjoyable, peppered with laughs (and killer pepperpots), though that title still bugs me. I’ll reserve further comment for the second part of this story.