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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Doctor Who: We Are The Daleks Review



Doctor Who: We Are The Daleks (Big Finish Audio)
Reviewed By Jesse Kiefer

Written By: Jonathon Morris

Director: Ken Bentley

Sound Design: Wilfredo Acosta

Music: Wilfredo Acosta

Cover Art: Tom Webster

Number of Discs: 2

Duration: 120' approx.

Available on BigFinish.com

Listen to the trailer.


"Me? Oh, I’m just an interested party. Call me the Doctor."


Doctor Who Main Range Big Finish #201! Hot off the heels of their 200th release celebration the folks at Big Finish wanted a story that was a good “jumping on point” and they started us in some very familiar territory with our old foes the Daleks.

The following synopsis comes from bigfinish.com:

“The year is 1987, and Britain is divided. In Bradford, strikers are picketing and clashing with the police. In the City of London, stockbrokers are drinking champagne and politicians are courting the super-rich. The mysterious media mogul Alek Zenos, head of the Zenos Corporation, is offering Britain an economic miracle. His partners wish to invest – and their terms are too good to refuse.

While the Doctor investigates Warfleet, a new computer game craze that is sweeping the nation, Mel goes undercover to find out the truth about Zenos’s partners.

The Daleks have a new paradigm. They intend to conquer the universe using economic power. The power of the free market!”

So fast forward to the year 2015 and big finish is writing a 7th Doctor story for the actual time period that a 7th Doctor story would have been actively filming! It’s a little meta but I’m digging it! 

The story goes on to include all sorts of elements that the solicit synopsis only barely hints at. A lot of this story is a love letter (or at least a nostalgia piece) written to encompass the trappings of the era. From a budding computer game industry, to a re emerging stock market, and a spotlight on economic growth. What better time for the Daleks to swoop in and try to manipulate the human race than the good ole ‘80s? And what better companion than Mel to help the Doctor infiltrate and foil those plans in this time period?

Before I get into it I always like to start with…. Some of my favorite parts:
  • One Doctor One Companion, I missed it a bit, I’ve enjoyed the stories lately but many of them have centered around a Tardis crew that was over whelming in its population or at least spent a fair amount of time bickering with each other. If you’d told me that I’d really be enjoying a Mel and 7th Doctor story even 10 years ago I’d likely look at you skeptically but much like the Sixth Doctor, the magic formula of Big Finish scribes mixed with quality actors given adequate time to simmer and reflect back on their original run has really turned out a story where the duo of Mel and Seven have so obviously gotten better with time. This version of Mel is still fun and forward but her role has evolved beyond the screamer who forces Carrot Juice on the sixth Doctor. She’s very active in this story, utilizing her skills in computer programming and playing a bit of the spy in this. Bonnie Langford is really asked to play several different moods in this story. This story really gave her a spotlight to show off what everyone has always said… that Bonnine Langford is an incredible pro! This approach was so refreshing compared to the TV performances which always seemed just a little too over the top. In this tale Mel and the Doctor felt like a proper team I could cheer on!
  • The Dalek’s plan, okay at first I thought this story was going to annoy me because it seems quite like every other Dalek plan where the Daleks show up “to help”. You know the one,  the ruse where the Daleks are totally there as the friendly alien benefactors when truly they’re there to conquer and enslave and we’re just waiting for the other shoe to drop.  We know that story because Big Finish loves to tell that story…. but here’s the thing… Big Finish is SO good at it. Even though I’ve heard this basic premise before once again the writer is able to  throw a slight spin on it so I’m not just slogging through a rehash of an old standard type of Dalek story that I’ve listened to before. This time the Daleks are using human ambition against them, they are using Human ingenuity and even Human addiction to Video Games to their advantage, very Dalek and surprisingly fresh ground to tread.
  • The story is completely unburdened by any kind of necessary lead ins or tie ins (which has been a common criticism I run into when I listen), you don’t have to know any back story to jump in on this. When Big Finish says this is a good jumping on point they are 100% right! It’s a great one off that works without any help press play and simply enjoy.
  • The Oncoming Storm, the 7th Doctor does a lot of his classic turn of a phrase and the rolling R’s but he also faces down the Daleks with a fierceness that we really wouldn’t be surprised by leading up to an eventual time war the 7th Doctor has a dark side and we get to see a bit of it in this story.

I liked this story, Sylvester McCoy and Bonnie Langford slip seamlessly back into their era of Doctor Who but with the improvements you can only make by having the experience and confidence that the passage of time can give you. I was honestly never much of a Mel fan, in fact she’s one of the companions I know and care about the least, but in recent Big Finish stories I’ve really come around to her. This Character didn’t seem to get a fair shake on TV but the world of Big Finish is the perfect place for redemptive second chances and they really give us a chance to enjoy Mel in this one. (I also greatly enjoyed how Big Finish took a stab at fixing her chronology in the Sixth Doctor story The Wrong Doctors). She’s spunky and independent all while still being worried about the Doctor and what needs to be done.

Nicholas Briggs continues to deliver perfect Dalek performances just as we’ve grown to expect. It’s easy to take that for granted but we shouldn’t, because a bad Dalek performance can really mess up an otherwise brilliant Dalek story.

This story nods at modern Doctor Who stories such as Asylum of the Daleks by having a giant Dalek building, as well as a reference to the title of “The Oncoming Storm” which the modern Doctors have been known to bandy about.

This story is really pretty great, they take a very common Dalek story trope and give it a twist, nothing overly new about it but still solidly done earning this story a solid 4.5 stars from me in that nothing tripped me up and I found myself finding more than a few things in the story to be generally impressed with. Good Jumping on point? Yes mission accomplished Big Finish, this was a good jumping on point indeed!

What do you think? Who is your least favorite or least known companion? How did Mel stack up for you?

Leave us a comment below and let us know what you think! Or let us know via e-mail: letters(at)grawlixpodcast.com.

4.5 Stars



Doctor Who: We Are The Daleks (Big Finish Audio Play)
Reviewed by Jesse Kiefer on Jul 15, 2015
Rating: 4.5Hot off the heels of their 200th release celebration the folks at Big Finish wanted a story that was a good “jumping on point” and they started us in some very familiar territory with our old foes the Daleks.

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