This week’s podKast (with a “K”) features Christian Cawley and James McLean (and improved sound quality!) discussing the wonderful episode The Doctor’s Wife as only they can, as well as the recent Torchwood: Miracle Day…

Who am I? The alien wanderer… the clown with a ruthless streak… the melancholy Time Lord trying to avoid returning home? Throw in a bag of jelly babies, a robot dog, some very attractive companions…

Doctor: [To the Cyberleader] ‘You’re nothing but a pathetic bunch of tin soldiers skulking about the galaxy in an ancient spaceship.’ Cyberleader: ‘Cybermen can survive more efficiently than animal organisms. That is why we will rule the galaxy.’

Revenge of the Cybermen

And that is what it boils down to. The Cybermen are second only to the Daleks in their desire for domination, but whereas Skaro’s most insane desire to utterly destroy anything different to themselves, the Cybermen will subjugate and convert their conquests, thus bolstering their own ranks. This is the true horror of the Cybermen. Convinced that flesh will fail, that their way is best, they surrendered emotion and eventually individuality in the name of survival.

So, for the uninitiated, what is a Cyberman? Their history is one of sadness; the inhabitants of the planet Mondas – Earth’s lost twin – the original Cybermen were like us until they found that replacement surgery was necessary to prolong the life of their dying race. Their respiratory system was replaced by the prominent chest place, and their strength increased ten-fold. With their planet lost, wandering through the galaxy, the Cybermen conquered many worlds but Mondas was eventually destroyed following an attack on Earth (The Tenth Planet). Few of the remaining Cybermen are true Mondasians, but their aim is still the same – survival. Eventually, some settled on Telos and built their own tombs in order to draw those humans that would see them reanimated into their lair… and convert them.

This, of course, isn’t an entirely new concept; every story in existence has the concept of survival wove into it one way or another. In a Universe where anyone can be met at anytime by the Doctor, it is no surprise that many of the races he meets are threatened with extinction. Take the Kaled/Dals, the Ice Warriors, and the Zygons as prime examples from the original series – then add what has happened to the Autons world following the Time War and the effect of the war on the Gelth’s world. And just look at what the Master was prepared to do to stay alive!

Survival is a word that also commands our daily existence. We work – or otherwise acquire money – in order to survive. We buy food that we might survive, and pay rent or mortgage so that we and our families have shelter – in order to survive. Doctors and scientists spend their lives working so that we might survive.

This was something that co-creator of the Cybermen Dr. Kit Pedler recognised. In 1966 when he was employed by the Doctor Who production team to give the series a stronger scientific grounding, the Cybermen were born. A real-life doctor, Pedler was fearful of the ghastly possibilities that the proposed replacement-part surgery likely to be available in the future would create for mankind. Survival was one thing – but what if we lost our humanity?

As the Cybermen were eventually able to develop into a force capable of challenging mankind’s place in the galaxy, their image as silver-clad cadavers was replaced with an image of an unstoppable force. Thanks to writer Eric Saward, the already overused Nazi metaphor applied with varying degrees of obviousness to all of the Doctor’s adventures with the Daleks were shoehorned in to Cyberman mythology in the 1980s, no doubt to assist with their desire for conquest. But surely survival is enough?

Pedler and Davis’ original vision of the Cybermen back in the 1960s was perfect. Done-to-death Nazi parallels were meaningless in the 1980s, and even more so now as imperialism rears it’s ugly, destructive head once more. But a human-like race, fearful of it’s impending doom, fighting nature for survival and using whatever means be they mechanical or whatever – that is genius. And the parallels with real life are far more interesting. Governments have risen and fallen for the last 4000 years – aggressive fascist policy isn’t going stop mankind whether it be fictional or real. But a dying race would stop us, and make us face up to these very real decisions.

A mechanical heart or one grown in a lab?

Daleks. When you think about it they really are ridiculous. For instance, they can’t pick things up, they need slaves to do that. They talk about their superior technology yet one has to wonder how they built it. Do they get a bunch of humans, tell them what to do, then kill them so know one knows how to work it but the Daleks?

Okay so in later years they have been able to walk, or float, upstairs whereas before they would have only been able to conquer the first floor of the White House or Buckingham Palace. The Fourth Doctor put it best in “Destiny of the Daleks” when he said, “If you’re supposed to be the superior race of the universe, why don’t you try climbing after us.”

Daleks are really very child like as well. Easily frightened of the dark, they start to scream and freak out when you cover their eyestalk with a towel or a jacket. They also have a fear of being alone, as the last Dalek on Earth in “Remembrance of the Daleks” is proof of. Realizing that it was the last Dalek it had such a massive panic attack that it self destructed, or self disintegrated.

Perhaps they would have been better suited as intergalactic janitors. The only race with built in plungers and yet they have no bathrooms.

But then we love them don’t we? I for one wouldn’t miss an episode with the word Dalek in the title. Funny, we love the most evil race in the entire universe and they can’t even give us a hug in thanks.

Let’s look at the other side of things now.

If you were in the street and saw what appeared to be a one man tank coming at you yelling “exterminate!” in today’s world you would most likely run for the high heavens screaming for your Mommy.

They don’t care about compassion or sympathy so you couldn’t plead for your life. That is unless you could offer up some juicy secret information that will screw over your fellow man to save your own butt.

Not to mention that voice. For prolonged periods of time to one not used to listening to them, they could sound very annoying. On the other hand if you were in a prison being interrogated by one of them that voice would be bone chilling.

Also their weapons are very scary. They can paralyze your legs temporarily or permanently. They could scramble your insides with a laser beam. This shocked the heck out of me the first time I heard them say that’s what happens when they kill someone. Sounds awful. But then so are they. They have bombs, laser cutters, different setting for their laser arms ranging from “stun” to “blow things up”, and they even have Special Weapons Daleks for all those formal black tie battles.

Interestingly enough Doctor Who might not have survived so long had it not been for the Daleks. A creation that almost didn’t make it to our TV sets because someone thought they were a bad idea. But then fate stepped in and a legend was born. Had they not been aired as they had, Doctor Who may have been no different then any other nameless one season TV show.

As ridiculous as the Daleks could be, when you look at them and break them down, they are still important to the success of Doctor Who. So much so that for three modern era producers have brought back the Daleks in their first run of episodes.

Interesting that.

Back in 2005, fans were excited by the leaked shot of the new Dalek, but other than the big head lamps what was really “new”? The picture of the Dalek looked as though it was snapped by someone standing on the set than by a lucky fan. It might even have been intentionally leaked so that we wouldn’t get suspicious about the “new” look?

A new look that basically improved the classic Dalek, making it more formidable, a little sleeker, a bit more metallic perhaps; but otherwise still how we know them.

We have come to expect certain things from the Daleks over the years. One thing for sure would be their voice. I can tell all reading this that at least one episode of the new series will have the voice exactly as we remember it. This is due to the fact that actor/writer Nicholas Briggs is voicing them, something he has done for Big Finish Productions since they began creating new adventures for the Doctor and crew back in 1999.

Since 2005, Doctor Who’s designers have regularly deviated from the traditional Dalek design while ensuring the old design remains front and centre. Human/Dalek hybrids, New Paradigm Daleks, and even the ramshackle DIY effort that faced the Thirteenth Doctor… there’s always a real Dalek nearby.

The Doctor, the TARDIS, and of course the Daleks. So really, what’s changed?

Happy New Year, Kasterborites! It’s time to take apart Resolution, the latest episode of Doctor Who and probably it’s only showing in 2019.

Join Christian Cawley, Gareth Kavanagh and James McLean as they mull over the episode, highlight their highs and lows, and ask: was Resolution an unwelcome crown to a series that had already ended strongly…?

As an adjunct to our recent look at the best Dalek stories of each era of Doctor Who, Gareth Kavanagh joins us to look at the candidates, and discuss some of his favorite Dalek adventures, and move the conversation towards the most recent.

What went wrong with The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar?

Listen out also for definitive decisions from James and Christian on their all-time favourite Dalek stories.

We’ve had years of debate over who is the best Doctor, or what is the best adventure… but what about the real stars of Doctor Who? It’s about time we discussed the true importance of the Daleks, and their adventures. Which Dalek story is the greatest? Christian Cawley and James McLean consider… but will they end up dressed as Robomen by the end?

Probably not, but with 25 true “Dalek stories” since 1963, it’s probably time we talked about them in depth.

Fresh from watching the new #DoctorWho Series 10 trailer in loop mode on YouTube, Christian Cawley and James McLean are here to tell you what they thought.

But not what to think.

Instead, you can consider a few of the other matters at hand. Has Doctor Who writing lost its way in recent years, with writers aiming towards a more mature audience? And just what is post-fandom?

There’s only one way to find out! Hit play to enjoy this special, emergency edition.

Shownotes

Doctor Who voice artist and actor John Guilor (The Day of the Doctor, Planet of Giants) joins the podKast team this week to discuss Into the Dalek, the second episode of Series 8 starring Peter…