Thursday, May 16, 2013

Doctor Who: The Daleks' Master Plan - AudioReview

Article author: Alwyn Ash

"The Daleks’ Master Plan reminds us just why fans of the show embraced Target books: to relive those extra pieces of magic, an extended piece of time travel and adventure."

It is easy to see why the Daleks were – and still are – so popular with fans. World domination is mere child’s play to these Kaled creatures. Instead we are given a plot, the Daleks’ master plan, that will suffocate enemy governments and their space fleets; armies will be slaughtered before the might of Dalek supremacy. This is a certainty. It has all been engineered to perfection. However, as is often the case with such plans, the Doctor’s involvement, or interference, is never accounted for.

The epic adventure that was The Daleks’ Master Plan, originally airing on BBC1 from 13th November 1965 to 29th January 1966, focused on Mavic Chen's back-stabbing, Guardian of the Solar System, whose goal and thirst for power overwhelmed any compassion for others, especially his own kind. Did he even have any compassion, or was his sole purpose to betray and control? The latter is quite clearly his motive and food for life. A man of greed, his own egotistic nature a blanket, preventing him from seeing what others around him thought. He cared not for the opinions of others, unless they were considered useful to him, even for a short time.

And now to the Daleks – instigators of the plan. Like Chen they are unaware of their own faults, oblivious to the limits of their capabilities. They are like Gods – no, they ARE gods! But this overconfidence is something that allows their missions to fail. The Doctor, for example, knows these creatures of old, having first encountered them on their home planet of Skaro. However, the Doctor refuses to underestimate them, for he knows how devious and deadly they can be. He steals the Taranium core, to prevent their master plan from ever succeeding.

But this act does not hinder the Daleks, for long. Confident of their destiny to conquer and destroy, they follow him through time and space, in a bid to regain their missing element.

It has to be said that both Peter Purves and Jean Marsh are absolutely superb, their narrative delightful and engaging. Purves’s vocal impression of the First Doctor, for example, is prime brilliance, underlining his skill as an actor and recognising his personal connection with not just the show but also William Hartnell’s character, so loved and remembered by fans.

Marsh delivers a far gentler narrative, an alternative style that helps to keep the story feeling fresh. This kind of device has been employed before, in other audiobooks, and it works brilliantly here. It is also a pleasure to hear both actors portraying their original parts too – of Steven Taylor and Sara Kingdom.

Lastly, the “Meddling Monk” (a renegade Time Lord first encountered in 1965’s The Time Meddler) makes a sudden return. Like the Daleks he is pursuing the Doctor in a time/space ship, unlike them his solitary motive is revenge. Trapped for a short time on Earth in 1066 (the Doctor had tampered with his TARDIS, preventing him from leaving the planet), the Monk now vows vengeance. Like Mavic Chen, the renegade Time Lord is capable of deceit, a skill that serves its usefulness when the Daleks capture him and he promises to deliver the Doctor to them.

Did I previously say: “it is easy to see why the Daleks were – and still are – so popular with fans”? Let me add: it is easy to see why this story has remained a true Doctor Who classic. Just who can resist a tale promising Daleks, threats of invasion and destruction, conspiracy and deceit, greed, revenge and more...?

The Daleks’ Master Plan reminds us just why fans of the show embraced Target books: to relive those extra pieces of magic, an extended piece of time travel and adventure. And, not forgetting, one of the longest stories ever written for Doctor Who (the original broadcast can boast twelve episodes – this audio adaptation of John Peel’s novelisation can promise 10 x CDs, that’s 12 hours and 10 minutes of unabridged entertainment!)

In fact, it is such a long story that, as with the original novelisations, it has been split into two parts – "The Daleks’ Master Plan Part 1: Mission To The Unknown" and "The Daleks’ Master Plan Part 2: The Mutation of Time". So, yes, you have to purchase both audio releases to enjoy the experience in full, but where would be the fun in missing out?

One of the most important elements to this superb drama reading that should be given a special mention is that of the Daleks themselves, here voiced by the brilliant Nicholas Briggs. It is no lie that an authentic Dalek voice would be missed without this man, who has shared his talents with both Big Finish and the new Doctor Who television series. Doctor Who: The Daleks' Master Plan is a far more polished adventure with Briggs on board.

Further reading: AudioGo - Official website