‘MASTERS OF EARTH’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Daleks in 22nd Century Scotland with the Sixth Doctor and Peri
It’s back to ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’ again! 😀
The 22nd century Earth period of ‘Doctor Who’ has been dealt with before in the Big Finish audio realm. In the Fifth Doctor era, it was dealt with in stories like ‘The Mutant Phase’ and ‘Renaissance of the Daleks’ a bit. And here we are again with ‘Masters of Earth’ featuring the Sixth Doctor and Peri. 🙂
Like the Covid-19 crisis of 2020, the 22nd century Earth period of ‘Doctor Who’ is an era of Earth’s history you don’t want to go to. I’m sure Doc Brown from ‘Back to the Future’ would tell Marty McFly not to go to the 22nd century as well as 2020 on Earth since there are Daleks during that time.
It’s amazing the classic ‘Doctor Who’ story starring William Hartnell’s Doctor called ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’ has spun a legacy since it was transmitted on TV in 1964. I prefer the Big Finish audios set in that time period more than the actual TV story. I also prefer the movie version better. 🙂
Anyway, ‘Masters of Earth’ is the second story to feature Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor and Nicola Bryant as Peri since they reunited in ‘The Widow’s Assassin’. It’s a four-part adventure by Cavan Scott and Mark Wright and it’s a very compelling adventure that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed listening to.
The twists and turns you expect to find in a Dalek adventure are all there for you to hear. Cavan Scott and Mark Wright do wonders with writing the Daleks as well as adding in other elements from Dalek stories like the Slythers and the Varga plants. They also write the Sixth Doctor and Peri here. 🙂
The story takes place in the year 2163 and the Doctor and Peri end up in Scotland. It’s ten years since the Daleks invaded Earth and one year before the First Doctor helps to bring the occupation to end. The Doctor as his current ‘sixy’ self must not change things so severely whilst he’s on Earth 2163.
Now I must admit, I was expecting this to be a story where Peri gets angry with the Doctor when he refuses to interfere too much in Earth’s history that interfere with his own personal timeline. You know, like when the Fifth Doctor was taking a bit of a backseat during ‘The Butcher of Brisbane’ story.
In a sense, it’s touched upon in the story, but that’s not the main focus. Oh no! Instead, the Doctor and Peri end up teaming up with other Earth members that are resisting the Daleks and they head for what seems to be a Dalek-free island that actually turns out to be a place for a future Dalek plan.
I did have to listen to the first episode three times (since I made some false starts with this story) before I heard the rest of the story. There are a few complications to get over, especially involving some twists with characters, but what I found compelling about this story was the Doctor and Peri. 🙂
It was fascinating how the Doctor and Peri interacted with each other, after having not seen each other for a long time between the events of ‘The Trial of a Time Lord’ and ‘The Widow’s Assassin’. In one sense, it’s like they haven’t parted. In another sense, they seem different towards each other. 😐
By the time we get the end of ‘Part Two’, Peri’s life is endangered when she’s infected by a Varga plant and has she a lust for killing people. Peri’s anger does come to the fore when she’s fighting off the conditioning the Varga plant has on her. It often fractures her relationship with the Doctor here.
In some ways, this is a bit of a surprise since Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor has mellowed and he doesn’t have the brash attitude he used to have when he travelled with Peri in the early days. But in another way, Colin’s Doctor and Peri haven’t lost that fire between them, despite caring for each other a lot.
Colin Baker continues to be excellent as the Sixth Doctor in these audio adventures. As well as interacting with Peri, he does well with interacting with other people of 22nd century Earth. I like how Colin’s Doctor copes with the situation he’s in. He gradually works things out in some mysteries.
I enjoyed how he retorts jovially at the Daleks when they interrogate him, even though that might get him into a lot of trouble. Colin’s Doctor cares for Peri very much and I like how determined he is to get Peri’s Varga-like killing instincts under restraint and how he tries to find a medical cure for her.
Nicola Bryant is equally good as Peri in this adventure. I enjoyed how Peri rushed in to defend Ross who was about to get stoned by Alan and the Scottish locals. I liked how Peri coped with having to work for the Daleks as slave labour in ‘Part One’ before the Doctor came to save her and the others.
Peri’s reaction to the Daleks in this story was interesting. At first, she’s surprised to see them. She wonders what they’re doing on Earth and remarks how different they are compared to the ones she encountered on Necros in ‘Revelation of the Daleks’. Peri’s “Kill!” moments were really mesmerising.
Brain McCardie guest stars as Alan Weir, a magistrate for Lochlan village in Scotland. Brian is a bully who condemns Ross Nicolson for stealing food and tries to have him stoned. He’s caught up in the Dalek business after his actions to hand over Ross to the Daleks also cause him to be a slave worker.
Most of the time, Alan moans and complains a lot when teaming up with the Doctor, Peri, Moira and Ross. He’s the sort of person you wouldn’t expect to survive long enough in a Dalek adventure, like my Colin character in ‘Doom of the Daleks’. Eventually, Alan gets turned into a Roboman Elite in this.
Hugh Ross guest stars as Kyle Inskip, an old man whom Ross stole food from but tried to prevent Ross from being condemned by Alan. Hugh Ross is well-known in ‘Doctor Who’ circles for playing Sir Toby Kinsella in the ‘Counter-Measures’ series. I’ve also seen him in a ‘Monarch of the Glen’ episode.
I’ve met Hugh Ross in real-life at the ‘Timey-Wimey 1’ convention in Brighton, November 2014. 😀 Kyle is only in ‘Parts One and Four’ of the tale, but I liked his scenes with Colin Baker’s Doctor. It was funny when Colin’s Doctor ‘borrowed’ Kyle’s motorbike without him being aware that he stole the keys.
Sean Biggerstaff stars as Ross Nicolson, a young man who was caught thieving food from Kyle Inskip. I’ve heard Sean Biggerstaff play Chris Parsons in the 2003 webcast/audio version of ‘Shada’. He’s done plenty of Big Finish roles in ‘Doctor Who’ including ‘Time Reef’ and he’s in the ‘Jenny’ series. 🙂
Ross seems to be a genuinely nice boy, despite trying to steal food here. He’s clearly scared when he’s one of the slave workers at a Dalek refinery with Peri, Alan and Moira. It’s such a shame he got killed halfway through the story once attacked by a Varga plant. I hoped he could have lasted longer.
Nicholas Briggs once again returns to voice the Daleks in this audio adventure. I like how the Daleks are written by Cavan Scott and Mark Wright with such dynamic dialogue. They still sound menacing and threatening. Even some of the comedy lines for the Daleks sound menacing as Nick voices them.
The Robomen also appear. Nick Briggs voices one of them. They don’t sound like the ones in ‘The Mutant Phase’, but at least they don’t sound dull as in ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’. There’s an intriguing new breed of the guys called Robomen Elite that almost echo ‘Resurrection of the Daleks’.
The cast also includes Tracy Wiles as Moira Brody, who happens to be a legendary freedom fighter but with a twist to her. There’s also Damian Lynch as Curbishly, whom the Doctor, Peri, Moira and Alan meet up when coming to a Dalek-‘free’ island. Both Moria and Curbishly have some connection.
‘Masters of Earth’ has been one thrilling, compelling ride of a Dalek adventure for me. I enjoyed Cavan Scott and Mark Wright’s writing in this adventure and it never ceased to be boring. Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant are brilliant as their characters as well as the rest of the actors in this audio.
The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Disc 1, there are two tracks of incidental music to enjoy. At the end of Disc 2, there are behind-the-scenes cast and crew interviews with director/Dalek voice artist Nicholas Briggs, Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, etc. There’s also a trailer for the next story with the Sixth Doctor and Peri called ‘The Rani Elite’.
If you subscribe to Big Finish for ‘Masters of Earth’ via a 6 or 12 CD/download subscription, you’ll get the following extras. There’s a PDF script and extended extras of ‘Masters of Earth’.
‘Masters of Earth’ rating – 9/10
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