In 2020, the world of Doctor Who embarked on a big multi-platform mega-story called Time Lord Victorious, which for the most part slipped by completely without my notice.
So there’s not much that I have to say about Time Lord Victorious, because I find the whole thing a bit daunting and confusing, but I did just recently watch through the five episode Daleks! animated web-series.
(Daily Doctor Who #231)
The whole thing is written by James Goss (who was the producer behind Time Lord Victorious), and tells the story of the Daleks on the run after an encounter with some alien robots goes disastrously wrong. This leads to multiple efforts by the remaining Daleks to ensure their race’s survival, taking them particularly to the planet of the Mechanoids (a one-time robotic creature from early Doctor Who, in the story known as The Chase).
The crux of the drama, such as it is, is the tension with a particularly old and clever Dalek known as the Strategist, and the question of whether he will turn on the seemingly less capable Emperor. This gives the story something to be about other than just Daleks fighting for survival.
And it turns out to be reasonably engaging. I’m not a big Dalek-fan, and so my interest in the rise and fall of their little empire (knowing full well they will never achieve their goals but also never be fully defeated) is limited at best. But the question of who the Strategist is betraying and how, turns out to be…well not surprising exactly, but at least clever.
The visual design of the episodes is pretty cool, even if the animation is a bit lackluster–there are no human characters and so the animation demands regarding character work are pretty simple. The sound design is impressive but becomes a little repetitive after a while, even if the performances themselves are fine.
In the end, Daleks! is for me a mild curiosity of an addition to Doctor Who-lore, hinting at big things that maybe would be more meaningful to me if I was more familiar with Time Lord Victorious. A story with no heroes at all was never going to hold great interests for me, but the story certainly held my interest, and most chapters ended in a way that made me want to watch the next one. It certainly should appeal greatly to any particular fan of the Daleks, but beyond the most general levels, that’s just not really me.