02/03/2009. Contributed by Sue Davies
pub: Big Finish. 2 CDs 120 minute. Price: £14.99 (UK), £12.99 (download). ISBN: 978-1-84435-375-0. cast: Michael Praed, Patric Kearns, Beth Chalmers, Nick Wilton, James George, John Line, Derek Carlyle, Glynn Sweet, Denise Hoey and Nicholas Briggs.
check out web site www.BigFinish.com
A spaceship's heading towards Earth. On board the crew, a professor and his female assistant and two convicts chained together. Forced to land after the radio is sabotaged, they find themselves on Skaro.
It's a silent overgrown planet. Fifty years after the Daleks were defeated in a catastrophic war, nothing remains. Unless you count lumps of metal dotted across the landscape covered by vegetation. One of the crew finds somewhere to hang his jacket, a Dalek sucker attachment.
It's soon obvious that this was no accidental landing and it's also not long before the cries of the Daleks are heard across the landscape and this time there is no Doctor to save them.
I was half-way through this before I realised that the Doctor was missing. The confines of the spaceship work well as we are gradually introduced to the characters. The Professor, I thought he would be the Doctor but no, he really is a Professor. Once I got the extras and the blurb, I was enlightened. This play was originally produced to use the Daleks without the Doctor. He was too busy and they hadn't thought about franchises but they did want to exploit the popularity of the public's favourite villain.
It's not a hugely original story and it does suffer from a confusing array of characters. On the plus side, it has Nicholas Briggs narrating with description of the surroundings and hints about future characters. It helps a bit and creates an atmosphere that is lacking in the play itself. The extras explain the background if not the plot and put it into the historical context.
The women and the men are stereotyped by its origins in the 1960s. However, it's a valiant kitsch effort and fun. Michael Praed and the team are very enjoyable. I have to say that most of the time I had very little idea about what was going on but at least it all sounded new when I listened to it again.
As a touched-up period piece, it works better than the plays with the Doctor in them. This has more than a drop of 'Journey Into Space' and I still enjoy their daft plots. So its corny but the Daleks are the ultimate scary 60s pepper pots and I still hide behind the sofa even on audio.
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