‘RETURN OF THE DALEKS’
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The Doctor in the Dalek Empire
This is an exciting and intriguing ‘Doctor Who’ crossover story!
‘Return of the Daleks’ by Nicholas Briggs is a subscriber’s special from Big Finish that was released for Christmas 2006. It sees the Seventh Doctor in an adventure that’s set in the ‘Dalek Empire’ series. This is the first time that Big Finish has done a crossover adventure of ‘Doctor Who’ and its spin-off series ‘Dalek Empire’.
I had this audio adventure for Christmas in 2012 and enjoyed listening to it when I did on Christmas Day. It’s quite a gripping tale and introduces to ‘Doctor Who’ fans who’ve never heard of the ‘Dalek Empire’ series before. I had heard the ‘Dalek Empire’ series before listening to ‘Return of the Daleks’.
‘Dalek Empire’ was produced by Nicholas Briggs of Big Finish as a spin-off series attempting to feature the Daleks without the Doctor. It became a success and has now sprung four unique seasons. It’s been worth a while for ‘Doctor Who’ to have an adventure set in the ‘Dalek Empire’ series itself.
This story is set between the first two stories of the ‘Dalek Empire’ series which are ‘Invasion of the Daleks’ and ‘The Human Factor’. The adventure stars Sylvester McCoy as the Seventh Doctor with Gareth Thomas as Kalendorf and Sarah Mowat as Susan ‘Suz’ Mendez from the ‘Dalek Empire’ series.
The story has the Doctor visiting the planet Zaleria during its Dalek occupation. Kalendorf and Suz are also there too as the Daleks attempt to recover a secret deep underneath the planet. The Doctor comes at first to observe, but he soon realises he may have to intervene in order to preserve history.
I wondered how this story would work with the Doctor meeting Suz and Kalendorf in the ‘Dalek Empire’ story and whether it would be thrilling and exciting as I hoped. Sadly the Doctor doesn’t meet Suz, but at least he does get to see Kalendorf in order to tell him what’s going to happen here.
Sylvester McCoy is enigmatic as the Doctor in this audio story. The Doctor’s not heavily involved in the early part of the story, as he’s really an observer of events and is looking for Kalendorf. But he soon realises that he must intervene, as events need to be played out during the course of the story.
I like how the Doctor knows the future of the ‘Dalek Empire’ series and how vital Suz and Kalendorf’s roles are, since he knows they’ll lead a rebellion against the Daleks. He disapproves of Suz being ‘the Angel of Mercy’, yet he is confident that he can trust Kalendorf when seeking an audience with him.
Sarah Mowat stars as Suz Mendez, who is called ‘the Angel of Mercy’ and works for the Daleks. Suz gets easily frustrated by the Daleks, as she’s none the wiser about what they’re planning on Zaleria. Suz soon discovers the Doctor’s message from Kalendorf about a secret army of Daleks underneath.
Gareth Thomas stars as Kalendorf, one of the Knights of Velysha and a telepath. He has helped Suz in the formation of the Dalek Empire and leads a secret resistance against the Daleks. He meets the Doctor and leads a resistance group when they’re going underground to find the secret Dalek army.
The Daleks are terrifyingly menacing and superbly voiced by Nicholas Briggs. The Daleks are cunning and ruthless when they’re on Zaleria and they treat their slave workers badly. They even threaten Suz when getting information out of her and are shocked when the Doctor’s presence is discovered.
The Ogrons make an appearance in this audio adventure. This was a delight, as this is the first time the Ogrons make an appearance in a Big Finish audio. I wish we heard more of them, but at least they sound good in their grunting voices and they break Suz’s arms which was terrifying to listen to.
The secret of Zaleria is that it is actually the planet Spiridon from ‘Planet of the Daleks’. And the secret Dalek army is the one that got frozen during the events of that story. This was a nice follow up to that story, as it was never dealt with on TV with what actually happened to the frozen Dalek army.
This story takes place towards the end of the Seventh Doctor’s life. The Doctor goes through years of enslavement to the Daleks before he eventually escapes. He remembers his companions Mel, Ace and Hex before he realises that they’re gone and he’s now without a companion, which was moving.
The CD extras are as follows. At the end of this disc, there are trailers for the ‘Dalek Empire’ series. These are trailers for the first three ‘Dalek Empire’ seasons including ‘Dalek Empire I’; ‘Dalek Empire II – Dalek War’ and ‘Dalek Empire III’ featuring David Tennant, before he became the Tenth Doctor.
‘Return of the Daleks’ is a really good and enjoyable crossover adventure where ‘Doctor Who’ meets the ‘Dalek Empire’ series. I enjoyed this audio adventure and I’m so glad that they did a story where the Doctor meets the characters from the ‘Dalek Empire’ series, even if it’s for a one-off opportunity.
Just to say, Sylvester McCoy has done lots of adventures to catch up on his brief three seasons as the Doctor. I’m sure Sylvester is happy to have been given a chance in Big Finish to prove his potential, especially with telling stories depicting the end of the Seventh Doctor’s life before he regenerates…
‘Return of the Daleks’ rating – 7/10
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