TV Some people liked the redesign of the Daleks. I'm not one of them. Admittedly, that wasn’t always the case and on broadcast, my post-match review suggested “their new bulk gives them even greater weight and menace within the studio, and it was rather amazing to see so many practical examples spinning around in one shot, this half dozen having more substance than a thousand computer generated versions.”
While the comment about their practical nature is true, just as that’s true of all the practical Daleks when they appear, on reflection, I was being tediously kind. They’re plainly too big, too plasticky and over-emphasise their various parts, like the ball around the eye-stalk as it reaches from their head and the hump, the infamous, terrible hump.
If his audio commentary on the dvd release is a guide, Mark Gattis didn’t like the hump much either noting, rightly, that it changes the classic silhouette of the pepper pots, which I’d add was so perfectly engaged with and paid tribute to in the first nuWho redesign which respected that they’re been through a war and as the Red and Black Dalek had shown previously, quite capable of reflecting a hierarchy.
Similar the "Bracewell Daleks" featured earlier in the episode are a more coherent progression of the gold Daleks, evocative of period tanks and referencing somewhat the imagery of the war which ultimately caused their genesis, the irony of course being that they're fighting, albeit as a maneuvering tactic the war machine which influenced their fictional creator.
It’s noticeable that subsequently, “the new paradigm” has receded to the back a bit since, in the shadows mostly for Asylum of the Daleks, with furious retconning from a production team surprised by the negative reaction suggesting that this was always meant to be the leadership class and that the previous predominantly golden model were always supposed to remain. Yes, ok, if you like.
Compare this with the treatment of the initially equally reviled new versions of the Silurians, not helped by the revelation, in the subsequent Brilliant Book via a concept sculpture, that the reinvention was initially to be closer to the 70s versions before budgetary constraints and practically requirements came into play. That they weren’t meant to be the same species didn’t quell the annoyance of some fans.
In contrast, I rather liked them and their ability to express a far greater range of emotions in a Draconian sense than their earlier cousins and thanks to Madame Vastra they’ve become a little bit loved by everyone else too, arguably a similar process to that experienced by the new Sontarans beyond their initial adventure, though to be fair they were never really a design classic.
But the image of the Zygon from the 50th anniversary special and the recent Martian suggest that through all of these mistakes, however fortuitous in places, lessons have been learnt, that re-establishing a character or race doesn’t need to be about throwing out the old, but simply updating it, constructing the original designs with newee, better more realistic materials. Roll on the Draconians. Please?