Dr. Who: Why are the Daleks supposed to be so formidable?

Sure, they’re heartless, ruthless, merciless fiends with high technology. But they’re encased in giant saltshaker shells that roll on casters. They appear to have no limbs capable of fine motor manipulation. They can’t climb stairs. All they can do is scream “Exterminate!” and zap you with a death ray. Wouldn’t such creatures be easy to beat? Hit one hard enough with a rock and it tips over.

Elevate! Who needs stairs when you have built-in anti-gravity?

I believe they have manipulatory appendages, we just don’t see them 'cause they’re mostly trying to kill people when we see them. Can’t tip 'em over with a rock, they have a force field that seems to be proof against a lot.

Yeah, and even if they CAN only scream “EXTERMINATE!” and shoot you with a death ray, the death ray appears to be a mighty effective tool. I think their whole thing is that they’re slow, they’re lumbering, they’re gradually coming after you, and there is nigh nothing you can do to stop them.

They are technologically ahead of the game. Ruthlessly focused on conquest. Highly disciplined and intelligent.

They are supposed to be so formidable because they are an avatar of Nazi Germany. It worked in the English context. I don’t know about the American.

Maybe I haven’t watched enough Dr. Who episodes.* I can’t recall ever seeing an instance of the Daleks using antigravity locomotion, or a force field.
*Even among SF nerds, “scarf” is a term of derision. :wink:

The Christopher Eccleston Doctor encountered the last of the Daleks, who was able to levitate (so I’m assuming anti-gravity of some sort) and had a force field. The episode was called “Dalek”, and during it we learn that the Time Lords and the Daleks pretty much exterminated each others’ species, leaving only the Doctor and this last Dalek.

Scarf is a derogatory term? Really? blink New one on me, and it hasn’t been that long since the last time I attended a convention.

The levitation was established even before that: it was first shown in “Rememberance of the Daleks” in 1988, though it was implied as far back as far back as “The Chase” in 1965.

However in “Destiny of the Daleks,” in 1977, it’s also specifically stated that they cannot. So I guess it depends on which Daleks.

But then, real Daleks don’t climb stairs – they level the building.

Let me add that, originally, the Daleks were far less formidable than they became as time went on: they were only fighting the Kaleds on Skaro. They also added armament. But their death ray was a hell of a weapon from the start, and they were very difficult to kill within their armor.

Heck, originally, stairs were the least of their problems. They couldn’t even move unless they were on the metal pathways they built into the corridors of their city. The pathways conducted the “static” electricity ( :rolleyes: yes, I know) that powered their saltshakers. It was part of continuity that they increasingly developed their technology from that point.

So they quickly mastered off-roading? Wow.

You are hanging out with the wrong sort of SF nerds.

My oldest and best friend (25 years, now) with whom I spent many a sugared-up Saturday night watching Doctor Who when we were children, asked me for a favour yesterday.

He’s over his bandwidth limit, and he arksed me to download five Doctor Who titles from the binary newsgroups before they cycle off the server.

I haven’t really checked in on the Doctor for ages – until the past couple of weeks when he sent me out a package containing all the Big Finish audioplays, which I am enjoying immensely. (In exchange for all the episodes of Lost broadcast so far. I got him hooked, mwahaahaha!)

Anyway, since these videos are here anyway, I’ve been checking 'em out. Tonight I watched Revelation of the Daleks from Colin Baker’s run. I know I saw it around 1989 or so, but damn, I’m enjoying going back there again. So unpretentious and gleefully awesome. And, holy schmoly! That’s Alexei Sayle! Alexei Sayle as a comic DJ on Doctor Who! With Philip K. Dick influence!


[/ecstatic nerd]

Dr Who geeks are derisively called Anoraks.

But they want to be called Whovians.

I can’t see how one is better than the other, really, but if it keeps them out of my way, I’ll call them whatever they want.

Huh? In my experience (remote though it may be) “anorak” is a much more general term, similar to “spacker,” but with a connotation of obsessive attention to incomprehensibly trivial detail.

I’ve think I’ve heard it applied to trainspotters most frequently – and it at least makes sense in that context.

Obsessive geeks in general, yeah – but Who fans? In my experience they tend to be the least likely to exhibit anorakism.

I think the descending anorak scale for sci-fi fans goes (approximately) Star Trek → Star Wars → Firefly → Battlestar Galactica → Dr. Who


Unless you were armed with, say, a towel. Drape it over the saltshaker so you block the sensors and the dalek would start spinning around in circles shrieking

My vision is impaired! I cannot see!
My vision is impaired! I cannot see!
I cannot see! Emergency! Emergency!

…and then blow up.

I mean, hell, now you know where all those members of the Windows ME QA team found jobs after that last round of layoffs.

If you lived long enough to get that close.

Well, if they saw you had the foresight to bring your own towel, they might let you get a lot closer than they would otherwise, thinking that perhaps you just needed to borrow a toothbrush.

Well they are so fearsome that they only need to tell you, “I…am…a…Dalek” to frighten you. Although unless you are watching the first few episodes when you didn’t know who they were it was fairly pointless.

Basically these reasons:

  1. Each Dalek is basically a one person tank. Well armored and armed, and unfailingly obediant to their task

  2. Davros (and later other Daleks) create significant tech power. They are advanced enough to create time traveling ability, and

  3. They only want to conquer you. This is pretty simple, but combined w/ 1 & 2 and over-riding numbers and the desire to roll over most civilizations.

The German analogy works pretty well… the Dalek Blitzkrieg is pretty well know around the galaxy.

Where do we Blake’s Seven fans fit in, then? Answer me that! … Actually, on second thoughts, please don’t.

Because Dr Who was almost the only SF of any significance in the UK during the 80s, Anorak came to be the term most used to describe Who fans. It’s not used much anymore, if at all, since Dr Who lost its stigma or it got less distinctive and more lost in amongst equal nerdy obsession over Tomorrow People and Sapphire and Steel, etc. Now Dr Who is the most popular show in the UK, it’s not very nerdy to like it at all.