Daleks! The Doctor Who series nine opener is full of them, with various versions of the tinpot terrors from throughout history rubbing plungers (so to speak). From the blue-and-silver originals and the 1980s Special Weapons Dalek through to the pimped up red Supreme Dalek from the David Tennant era and the modern bronze design, they’re all hanging out and it’s pretty cool.
But there’s one Dalek design conspicuously absent from the fun in The Magician’s Apprentice – the new Dalek Paradigm, aka the big colourful Teletubby/Power Rangers Daleks first seen in 2010’s Victory of the Daleks and sporadically after that.
In case you’ve forgotten, Victory of the Daleks saw a few bronze Dalek survivors use the Doctor (Matt Smith) to activate the progenitor (see below), pure Dalek DNA that created five new classes of Dalek – the Supreme, the Strategist, the Scientist, the Drone and the Eternal (still no idea what the Eternal did to earn his nickname, by the way).
Upon arrival, the new “pure” Daleks judged their bronze predecessors (who were their creators) to be “impure Dalek stock”, and exterminated them, symbolically taking their place in the series – or so we thought.
So where have these big bad Daleks gone? Well, there are two answers to that, both within the series’ mythology and in the real world of Doctor Who’s production.
Doctor Who magazine issue 431, which discussed criticisms of the redesign
It’s safe to say that this Dalek redesign didn’t quite capture the imagination of the public in the way the series makers had hoped, with many fans complaining that the new villains looked more like Fisher-Price toys/iPods/Renault Lagunas than the scourge of the galaxy.
Eventually, Steven Moffat told fans that while the new models were here to stay, the modern bronze Daleks weren’t gone forever after all – rather, the new Paradigm Daleks would be their bosses.
“The fact is, we’re not going to lose the old Daleks. We’re keeping them,” he said in Doctor Who: The Brilliant Book. “They’re coming back. We’ll just use them all at once, and have different ranks. All I’ve done is give the Daleks an officer class.”
This idea was put into action for 2012’s Asylum of the Daleks (above), which saw The Doctor a guest of the Dalek Parliament where modern bronze Daleks were commanded by a minority of new Paradigm Daleks (some of whom had also been given a slightly more muted colour redesign and a less hunched look, as can be seen below).
However, since then any episodes featuring Daleks (eg The Day of the Doctor, the Time of the Doctor or Into the Dalek) have only featured the bronze Dalek design, so it seems the new Paradigm Daleks have been phased out due to their unpopularity.
An in-show explanation
So how can we explain this absence within the Doctor Who universe? While there’s no definitive answer from the series itself (the new Paradigm are portrayed as the sole Dalek establishment until Asylum of the Daleks, when the bronze models start to return), their gradual phasing out may still have a canonical explanation. Stage right, enter the Doctor Who Experience…
Yes, that’s right: the interactive exhibition based on the plot of the sci-fi series – contained within a large building in Cardiff Bay next to the studios where Doctor Who films – may just hold the key. When the Experience first opened in 2011, visitors were ferried on an adventure inspired by the first series of Matt Smith’s tenure as the Eleventh Doctor, with sections focusing on the Weeping Angels, the Pandorica and (most importantly for us) the new Daleks.
During the section of the story when visitors are on a Dalek spaceship, the resident new Paradigm Daleks are attacked by an army of their bronze cousins. In the exchange that follows, the bronze Daleks claim that they are actually the purer genetic stock, having been spawned from the DNA of Dalek creator Davros himself (as revealed in 2008 series finale Journey’s End).
To quote the Daleks in the exhibition:
Bronze Dalek leader: “We are the children of Davros! The new Dalek Paradigm is false! We are the one true master race!”
New Paradigm Dalek leader: “We are superior. We were created to ensure the purity of the Dalek race. You are inferior. You will be exterminated!”
Bronze Dalek leader: “This is war! Exterminate!”
New Paradigm Daleks: “The rebel Daleks are attacking!”
Basically we’re seeing the suggestion of a Dalek civil war here, which has happened twice in Doctor Who’s classic series – once in The Evil of the Daleks, and later when two rival factions called the Imperials and the Renegades battled for supremacy during the times of the Fourth and Fifth Doctors (above). Could this potential third clash have wiped the new Paradigm Daleks from the face of the galaxy, after a period of some cooperation during Asylum of the Daleks?
Sadly, we can’t know for sure – but considering the first version of the Doctor Who Experience (it now has a different story starring Peter Capaldi) was written by showrunner Steven Moffat, we reckon the odds are pretty good that this is where the new Paradigm lads are supposed to have vanished to. Hell, even if it’s not technically canonical it’s our favourite explanation so far for the curious case of the vanishing Power Ranger Daleks.
I mean, wiping half their species out because they weren’t sure who was most pure? That’s so Dalek.
Doctor Who series nine begins on BBC1 this Saturday 19th September at 7:40pm
Sign up to the Radio Times newsletter for the latest TV and entertainment news