I'd say my rating nudges 8 and a half but I'm not allowing myself such indulgences.
Here's the first ever Dalek story to be written by a woman, Helen Raynor. Perhaps after my enjoyment of "Gridlock" 2 weeks ago I was looking for too much in the first part of this story. It was fine, and even threw in a bit of education for the kids about the Empire State Building and the Great Depression in America. We even had a musical number, which is a very rare occurance!
The plot just seemed a bit unoriginal, not helped by the fact that the cliffhanger ending it was leading to had been given away on the cover of the "Radio Times". The characters, with the possible exceptions of Laszlo (Ryan Carnes) and the doomed Diagoras (Eric Loren) were fairly standard fare too but full marks to Miranda Raison for putting in a fizzy turn - as showgirl Tallulah - that was light years away from her "Spooks" character.
But then came Saturday's "Evolution of the Daleks". Though I felt that even the 3 remaining 'pure' Cult of Skaro Daleks betrayed a bit too many human tics, this episode gave me a bigger buzz and didn't go quite so predictably. That's the reverse of most 2-parters where the conclusion is the let-down. We'd been left with the emergence of the Dalek Sec/Diagoras hybrid and many foresaw a ruthless new Davros arriving on the scene. In fact we got the most pinko-liberal-Guardian reading 'Dalek' you've ever seen. Even the other Daleks couldn't stomach the Miss-World-contestant-like plans of their 'leader' who wanted the race to give up their wicked ways and retire to an uninhabited planet. The mutinous trio instead tricked Sec into breaking out an army of 'Dalek-ised' humans suspended in the ceiling and armed with their 'egg whisk' guns on what looked like a machine-gun barrel.
The deposed Sec was put in chains and Caan took his place. After Martha used her initiative to kill the pig-slaves by electrocuting them all in a lift shaft of the Empire State Building, we had the Doctor simultaneously becoming a lightning rod on the roof.
This latter intervention rather mucked about with the supposedly 'Dalek-ised' humans in the literally theatrical climax. Here Daleks Thay and Jast have brought a chained Sec crawling like a dog on a lead on to the stage. When they try to exterminate the Doctor in the stalls Sec interrupts and takes the fire instead. Then the 'Dalek-ised' humans question their orders to exterminate the Doctor, as he himself had suggested. Now that's the wrong thing to do with a Dalek normally, but these guys (and girls) had been given the Dalek weaponry and they open fire on the stage, destroying the two Daleks. Back at base, Caan retaliates by remote, committing a genocide of a new species that disgusts the Doctor. I actually think it might have been problematic for the series anyway to keep a race made up of human, Dalek and TimeLord DNA! Our intrepid band of goodies eventually confront the last Dalek in person but -yes, so predictably - Dalek Caan instigates another 'emergency temporal shift' to escape. He's out there somewhere ...
So possibly the most disastrous 'cunning plan' in Dalek history, but great TV. And refreshing that there's no real happy ending. Hundreds of the destitutes, transformed into pig-slaves or 'Dalek-ised' have subsequently been killed. Diagoras dies with Sec, the noble Solomon is rudely exterminated and Lazslo's life is saved by the Doctor but he will have to stay half-pig - he and Tallulah must seek out tolerance. Unfortunately I fear a circus career awaits.