This is the audio soundtrack from the 1965 Doctor Who serial: "The Daleks' Masterplan" - starring William Hartnell in the title role--the original actor to play the part. This is one of many early stories that no longer exist (as video) in their entirety in the BBC archives, as they were among those deleted when the BBC was purging its video archives in the early 70's.
Dalekmania was in full swing at this point, and this twelve part story from the third season is simply space opera done Dalek style. The Daleks aren't just talking about universal domination here, they're doing something about it. The story opens with Doctor stumbling across a base of operations on the planet Kemball, from which the Daleks intend to launch a final conquest of everything in collusion with a number of power-hungry galactic leaders, including the traitorous Mavic Chen, guardian of our Solar System!
Action shifts from Kemball to numerous otherworldly and earth-based locales throughout time which lends an expansive feel to the story. Like many early Dalek stories, the Daleks are well characterized here and at their scheming best. The supporting cast is wonderful, and includes an extremely moving act of self-sacrifice by companion Katarina, as well as the welcome return of fellow time lord, The Meddling Monk.
There is some hammy dialogue in a few of the episodes as writer Terry Nation doesn't seem to understand the difference between "solar system", "galaxy" and "universe"; however, if you can overlook this The Daleks' Masterplan can be a real treat alternating between drama, humour and an engaging chase across time and space.
Note: episode 7 was aired on Christmas and is a bit of a self-aware slapstick run-around, ending with Hartnell turning to the camera wishing the audience a good holiday (which is much maligned by fans, however given Hartnell's love of the program is somewhat fitting). It is nice to see it included here.
Fans of the era won't be disappointed.
It was 1985, and Doctor Who had been placed on an 18 month hiatus by the BBC due, in part, to failing ratings and persistent criticism of the increasing levels of violence that were on display as Colin Baker had taken the reigns of the lead character (while season 22 was uneven, there was a lot of promise in the notion of a darker character in The Doctor; I will leave the debate of the merits of Colin Baker's tenure to others, as I rather enjoyed some aspects of his era). It was during this hiatus that the BBC produced a one-off radio drama written by then script editor Eric Saward (who's work I almost universally loathed in the program). Slipback is thus the only "new" Doctor Who that aired between Season 22 and 23, and unfortunately these 6 10-minute episodes weren't encouraging for the future.
Saward attempts to marry almost Douglas Adams-esque style comedy with what would otherwise be a somewhat brutal run-around featuring a fairly large cast of uninteresting characters doing uninteresting or questionable things until the majority of them are dead. The Doctor himself is side-lined for much of the story and the ever-present banter between him and his companion Peri (voiced as always by the lovely Nicola Bryant) is, ironically, the only high point. Most of the wit on display in the story is found in the sometimes wonderful dialogue delivered by Baker and Bryant.
Otherwise, the story stretches the listener's tolerance with a questionably voiced computer, which doubtlessly was intended to be funny but comes off as stilted and annoying, and a convoluted cast of characters with sometimes unbelievable motives, few of whom the listener ever cares about making the outcome somewhat irrelevant (and its the worst kind of deus ex machina outcome after backing the plot into a corner anyway, which I find annoying).
Aside from some minor wittiness in the dialogue, Slipback ably illustrates the problems the show was facing at this point in its history.
This is an original audio drama produced by the BBC in 2001 and broadcast online. There was talk at the time about continuing the Doctor's adventures in this format, so this could be seen as testing the waters on some level.
As a fan of the show, it is hard to be objective reviewing this radio drama as it does a fair bit of "re-imagining" of the premise of the show. The Time Lords are presented as "Gods of the Fourth", supremely powerful and unable to interfere with the machinations of the universe without destroying it (and given all the killing with a single word stuff, is paying homage to Frank Herbert's Dune).
We encounter a Doctor who has dealt with the issue of unpredictable companions by literally building his own, who of course is not aware of his own origins (which I admit leads to some lovely scenes when The Doctor has to deal with the loss of Antimony). TV companion Ace is back, voiced by the gorgeous Sophie Aldred, but now even she is something more than we remember and has a difficult path ahead of her as she moves away from The Doctor.
The plot follows the conquests of the brutal General Tanis, while the 7th Doctor is busy pulling strings behind the scenes to manipulate his downfall. The production becomes almost surreal at times with wonderful characters such as the "Minister of Chance" weaving themselves in and out of events. In coming to resolution, The Doctor is forced to make some very difficult decisions, some of which change the universe (and by extension, the nature of any adventures that might have followed in this canon).
Personally, I loved this drama and found the bizarre quality of the story and characters genuinely engaging. That being said, I can see how the story might be too confusing for someone not a fan, and ironically may put off the die-hard fan due to its rewriting of continuity.
Fans of the series who can deal with speculative treatments of the material may find a hidden gem here.
Doctor Who: Yeti Attack! is a boxed set containing the audio soundtrack from two Doctor Who serials: "The Abominable Snowmen" (1967) and "The Web of Fear" (1968) - starring Patrick Troughton as the second incarnation of the venerable Time Lord. These stories no longer exist (as video) in their entirety in the BBC archives, as they were among those deleted when the BBC was purging its video archives in the early 70's.
The Abominable Snowmen sees the TARDIS arriving high on the Himalayas where a visit to the Abbot of the local Monastery quickly sees the adventurers embroiled in a plot by The Great Intelligence to invade Earth making use of a legion of robotic Yeti which quickly take to terrorizing the locals. This is a very atmospheric story, with the voice of Padmasambhava/Great Intelligence being particularly otherworldly and effective. Even in audio form this story doesn't dissapoint, drawing the listener into the unfolding mystery in Detsen Monastery.
The second story, The Web of Fear, was a quickly commissioned sequel to The Abominable Snowmen, and is highly regarded by those who remember seeing the original broadcast. The Great Intelligence and its Yeti minions attack Earth via a staging point in the London Underground and the entire production comes off as slick, confident and extremely atmospheric, the subway tunnels providing a wonderfully claustrophobic environment. Unfortunately, due to the extensive use of the setting for atmosphere, this story makes a less satisfying transition to audio, with linking narration playing a far more significant role in conveying the story.
Even with the less effective presentation of The Web of Fear, this boxed set contains two classic stories and is highly recommended for fans of the era. The BBC makes available photgraphic reconstructions of these stories on their web site (http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/classic/photonovels/index.shtml), which can be viewed alongside the audios if desired.
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