Big Finish Folly, Part 7

Having spun off on a side-trip into Professor Summerfield’s corner of the universe, we now return you to the main programme…

Renaissance of the Daleks, from a story by Christopher H Bidmead

File:Renaissance of the Daleks.jpgAh, Daleks. You can’t really go wrong with them, can you? Except, as that Nu-Who New York foul-up proved, you can. It’s difficult to do them in such a way that their menace is still fresh and razor-edged, given that they’ve been done so many times before. My favourite Dalek tale, incidentally, won’t be reviewed for quite some time to come as it is an 8th Doctor audio…

But back to matters at hand. The Doctor is on Earth in a time when the Daleks should already have invaded. But they’re not there. Instead, there’s a Cabbage Patch Doll-style onslaught of Dalek toys… Nyssa, meanwhile, is experimenting with a pocket interrociter in the 13th century. As you do. And then falling through a wormhole into the American Civil War. As you do. The solution to these riddles lies, quite naturally, at the end of time.

According to what I’ve read, the author of this play decided that the final script had deviated so far from his original story that he asked for the “from a story by” credit instead. It begs the question as to what the original script looked like – and the answer is given here, on the Doc Oho reviews site, by the play’s director John Ainsworth (scroll down to see his comment on the review for full details). Criminy – and here I thought there was too much going on in the released version…

Okay: to be fair then, it really isn’t that bad. There is a bit of a disconnect at the very start, as the play opens almost mid-scene, but then there is some very good confrontational dialogue between General Tillington and the Doctor, throwing up questions of the ethics of meddling in time… and some very good, petulent locked-in-a-cell shouting from Peter Davison too. The questions of morals and ethics feature throughout the story, with one time track fighting another and the Doctor being reminded that he too meddles with the future – who is he to say the Daleks cannot? Let’s not forget as well that, as the Doctor says, “whenever I fight the Daleks, innocents have to die.” Another outing for Davison’s portrayal of fallibility.

The toy Daleks – and the “city” built at the end of the time tracks – are brilliant concoctions. And of the martial characters that make up the Doctor’s ad-hoc army, Nicholas Deal’s Mulberry and Richie Campbell’s Floyd deserve far more than a few episodes in which to shine.

But this play won’t be getting five stars. Not quite. The Dalek plan is high concept, but clearly cobblers, and despite the work done by the Big Finish team to square away the script, it just doesn’t seem to hang right. Still entetaining though, and always good to hear the old tinpots get frustrated again…
****

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stevenpoore

Epic Fantasist & SFSF Socialist.

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