Thursday, 11 October 2012
Audio: Doctor Who - Time of the Daleks
The Eighth Doctor finally gets to meet his greatest enemy on audio in a truly odd story that is a little too clever for its own good. Featuring time travel and Daleks it's a surprise that Nick Briggs hasn't written it (he does direct), that honour falling instead to prolific Who novelist Justin Richards. He gives us a taste of Shakespeare quoting Daleks and time travel via clocks and mirrors, with the near future connected to Elizabethan England by a time corridor with Earth's history at risk from the devilish pepperpots. While it isn't my favourite listen, full marks for originality!
Realising something is up when he discovers Charley has never heard of Shakespeare, the Doctor (Paul McGann) brings the TARDIS to the Earth of the near future and new Britain's dictator General Maria Learman. A mad Shakespeare fan, Learman has been trying to perfect time travel so she can see an original production of Richard II. In this she is being helped by the self professed biggest Shakespeare fans, the Daleks. What is the plan of the Doctor's evil adversaries? Why are they feigning interest in Shakespeare? Why are more and more people forgetting the playwright ever existied? Why are there Daleks in Elizabethan England? Can the Doctor stop the Time of the Daleks?
While the concepts are suitably out there, Time of the Daleks remains a frustratingly dull listen. The problem is, for all the time travel through mirrors and Daleks in Shakespeare's time, the majority of the play is the usual Dalek tale with too much Dalek talking and the typical band of rebels who we care not a jot for and who are there merely to be exterminated. The conceit that all the cast have Shakespeare character names and the Daleks quoting the Bard gets old very, very quickly. If you're going to have a play that references our greatest playwright, at least make it about him and not just an opportunity to cut and paste his most famous lines. The TV episode The Shakespeare Code knew this and is far more entertaining as a result. After numerous scenes of the Doctor travelling through mirrors and of Daleks in distress in the vortex (an ear bleedingly awful scene that we get twice!) this came close to being the first Big Finish play that I almost turned off.
In terms of the season arc, we find out that it is Charley who provides the Daleks with the ability to time travel because of the paradox of her existence. Don Warrington's mysterious narrator also turns up again - quoting the Bard this time. This season has been great but Time of the Daleks is its stinker.
GK Rating: **