Doctor Who "Eve of the Daleks" Lets Creepy Guy Off the Hook, Win Girl

Doctor Who: Eve of the Daleks has been and gone. It's a "Groundhog Day" plot, which is become a cliché. Every show has to have a "Groundhog Day" episode now when it runs out of ideas, and this is not a surprise for the current run of Doctor Who. What's unexpected is how the plot is really about letting a creepy guy off the hook and letting him win the heart of the girl he's been stalking.

Doctor Who: Eve of the Daleks Lets Creepy Guy Off the Hook, Win Girl
"Doctor Who: Eve of the Daleks" key art, BBC

The plot has the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and companions stuck in a loop where they keep getting killed by Daleks. As is usual for a Doctor Who story, some random civilians get caught up in the plot that the Doctor has to save, and they end up helping. That's basically "Doctor Who Plot 102." This time, it's shy, creepy Nick (Adjani Salmon), who has a crush on the lady who runs this storage unit Sarah (Aisling Bea), and shows up to put things in his unit every New Year's Eve because he knows she's there. Her employee Jeff always leaves her in the lurch on New Year's Eve so she has to stick around to mind the store. It turns out that what Nick stores in his unit are things left behind by his ex-girlfriends – shoes, books, items of clothing, God knows what else. And it's a lot of things his alleged exes leave behind. Are we supposed to believe him when he says he's not a serial killer? How does a man have that many exes? It looks like hundreds of itemized things he stores. And how can he afford to keep a storage unit that large? How many years has he been dating and storing his exes' things? And yet he continues to low-key stalk Sarah every New Year's Eve? By the end, Nick has won Sarah over and they settle into a happy relationship traveling the world. "It's the weird ones that are keepers," someone says. We beg to differ! It's the weird ones that end up stuffing and mounting you in their basements!

There are actually 2 creepy guys in the story. Aside from Nick, there's also the unseen Jeff, Sarah's employee. The Doctor and company discover that not only has Jeff skived off to party on New Year's Eve and leaving his boss Sarah stuck with minding store and getting killed by Daleks, but he has also secretly moved into one of the storage units and turned it into his apartment. He has also secretly stored dangerous flammable chemicals and fireworks in the storage facility, which the Doctor ends up using to blow up the whole building with the Daleks inside it. British TV has this tendency to validate awkward, dysfunctional nerds with crushes on gorgeous women and then have them win over those women via creepy means. The writers don't seem to realise how creepy these guys are. We get the feeling female writers would not be so forgiving or empowering of these creepers. The entire prospect of portraying the women as prizes for these creepy men to win is the creepiest part of this subgenre of romantic comedy. It should really be called Stalker Comedy.

This is the second time a Dalek story has been really about an awkward nerdy guy trying to win the girl he has a crush on, and what better than a Dalek invasion to bring that about? The first time was Chibnall's first New Year's Day Special "Resolution". There we had a nerdy South Asian archeologist named Mitch (Nikesh Patel) trying to save his fellow archeologist and crush Lin after she gets possessed by a Dalek. Charlotte Ritchie was lucky enough to then land the leading role in Ghosts (the original BBC version) and not have to do this anymore.

Look, it's not like we pick over Chibnall's scripts to find things wrong with them. They're always right there on the surface for all to see. We still remember that Chibnall wrote the early episode of Torchwood called "Cyberwoman" where Ianto (Gareth David-Lloyd), then a character we'd only just been introduced to and barely knew at the time, secretly kept his Cybermen-infected girlfriend in Torchwood's headquarters and she ended up rampaging through the building trying to kill everyone. Everyone in that episode behaved like a complete idiot in ways that no human would in real life. We called that episode "Cyberbra" because the poor actress ran around the episode in a metallic bra and covering. That story was also really creepy. That episode was probably the lowest point in Doctor Who, Torchwood, that actress' career and should be the lowest point in any employed TV writer's career. Yet Chibnall still went on to create and run Broadchurch and became the hottest TV showrunner in the UK, which bagged him the job to become the new showrunner of Doctor Who. Since then, all his New Year's Doctor Who specials were about Daleks. To be fair, "Eve of the Daleks" is the least boring of his specials.

That's two more specials to go before this long international nightmare of a Doctor Who run is over and Russell T. Davies returns to right the ship in 2023. Did we say that already? We might keep saying that until it actually comes true. We might not truly believe it's going to happen until then.

Doctor Who: Eve of the Daleks is on BBC America in the US.

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About Adi Tantimedh

Adi Tantimedh is a filmmaker, screenwriter and novelist. He wrote radio plays for the BBC Radio, “JLA: Age of Wonder” for DC Comics, “Blackshirt” for Moonstone Books, and “La Muse” for Big Head Press. Most recently, he wrote “Her Nightly Embrace”, “Her Beautiful Monster” and “Her Fugitive Heart”, a trilogy of novels featuring a British-Indian private eye published by Atria Books, a division Simon & Schuster.
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