‘The Mutant Phase’ (Audio)

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‘THE MUTANT PHASE’

Please feel free to comment on my review.

Nyssa meets the Daleks

‘The Mutant Phase’ is of my favourite Dalek stories in ‘Doctor Who’ from Big Finish!

It stars Peter Davison as the Doctor and Sarah Sutton as Nyssa (my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ companion). It also sheds a new light on the Daleks and what they represent. It was the second Big Finish audio drama of ‘Doctor Who’ I purchased with ‘Circular Time’ and ‘Renaissance of the Daleks’.

The story is about the Doctor and Nyssa in the TARDIS being dragged to the planet Earth in the 22nd century in Kansas, America. It’s a period of history the Doctor knows, as he foiled ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’. The Doctor and Nyssa try to escape, before a Roboman captures them and a Dalek arrives.

The Doctor and Nyssa manage to escape from Kansas and get into the TARDIS, only to get caught in a time corridor. They end up in the 43rd century where the Daleks have been waiting for the Doctor. They want him to sort out a new menace that is wiping out the Daleks called…’the Mutant Phase’!

I’ve had the CD cover of ‘The Mutant Phase’ signed by the lovely Sarah Sutton and also by Nicholas Briggs. This four-part story is from the brain child of Nick Briggs who does everything on this as the director; writer; producer; sound designer; music maker and voice of the Daleks (with Alistair Lock).

This is truly a remarkable story by one man running things. Nick Briggs is a truly nice guy. I’ve chatted to him at conventions and told him that Nyssa’s my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ companion. Nick finds Sarah lovely and I was delighted to hear him say that. He writes Nyssa remarkably well in this story.

Nick Briggs came up with the question of ‘what if there was something far more terrifying than the Daleks, and what if the Daleks were afraid of it?’ It’s an inspired idea and it has gone to be the template for some of the new series episodes of ‘Doctor Who’ with the Daleks in them like ‘Dalek’.

Here the Daleks are afraid of something happening to their mutant forms and they want to stop it happening. It shows a side to the Daleks we rarely see since they tend to be monotonous. I’ve done my own Dalek story where they face an enemy far powerful than they are and they become afraid.

N.B. Check out ‘Doom of the Daleks’ by Tim Bradley, where the Daleks face the menace of the evil Dwaxi.

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The cast of ‘The Mutant Phase’. From left to right: Peter Davison (The Doctor); Sara Wakefield (Delores); Christopher Blake (Professor Ptolem); Sarah Sutton (Nyssa); Mark Gattis (Professor Karl Hendryk); Andrew Ryan (Albert) and Jared Morgan (Commander Ganatus)

I’ve chatted to Sarah Sutton about this story when I asked her to sign the CD cover for me at the ‘Regenerations 2013’ convention in Swansea, 2013. I told Sarah how thrilled I was that Nyssa had met the Daleks at last in this story. Sarah was pleased too since she was denied meeting the Daleks from the TV series. It seemed right that Nyssa should meet the Daleks during her travels with Doctor.

Nyssa is amazing in this story as she proves her worth as a ‘Doctor Who’ companion. She works well with Peter Davison’s Doctor and works things out like escaping the Daleks’ time corridor and using the TARDIS database to find out more about the wasps in the 22nd century. Nyssa does gets stung by a wasp which is very painful for her but becomes significant about what’s going on in the adventure.

Nyssa also shows how strong she as she gets to ‘kick butt’ when being threatened. She questions the Doctor about interfering with history and makes a reference to Adric when they couldn’t save him in ‘Earthshock’. This is material that I’m sure Sarah enjoyed doing when she played Nyssa in this story.

Peter Davison is brilliant as the Fifth Doctor in this. He gets to face the Daleks in his first chronological encounter with them. The Doctor is bothered by the Daleks and the mutant phase connecting to a time paradox. He gets to use his sense of humour and I loved his scenes with Nyssa.

This story has three of the best cliff-hangers I’ve heard on audio. My favourite is in ‘Part Two’ when the Doctor is forced to surrender when the Daleks threaten to kill Nyssa. I wondered what would happen next. Another is ‘Part Three’ and one I didn’t expect. I won’t reveal it to spoil the surprises.

The story guest stars Christopher Blake as Professor Ptolem, a Thal scientist who is working for the Daleks. He is torn between working with the Daleks and betraying his heritage. He’s joined by Jared Morgan as Commander Ganatus who work to capture the Doctor and deal with the ‘mutant phase’.

Mark Gatiss guest stars as Professor Karl Hendryk. Mark has gone on to be a writer on the new series of ‘Doctor Who’. Karl is a German professor, who prefers to be in the dark. He shows the Doctor a dead mutant creature and reveals what happened to Earth when it was attacked in the 43rd century.

I enjoyed the Daleks in this audio story. They reminded me of the new series Daleks, especially with Nick Briggs as the voices for them. They get hyper and psychotic when giving out orders. The Daleks are on a panic attack when one of their units breaks out and it ends up as a ‘mutant phase’ creature.

I was terrified when a Dalek was inside the TARDIS and it commands the Doctor to pilot the TARDIS to Skaro. I couldn’t help think of the Daleks in their bronze forms from the new series when I listened to this audio adventure. My mind is spoilt by new series Dalek atmospheres and settings these days.

Here’s an impressive video of two Dalek scenes from ‘The Mutant Phase’ that have animated amazingly well by Dark Raven Productions on YouTube. These scenes allow a glimpse of what ‘The Mutant Phase’ could look like if it was fully animated for a webcast.

The Dalek Emperor appears in this audio story. I can’t help think of the Dalek Emperor from ‘The Parting of the Ways’. The Emperor commands the Doctor to go back to 22nd century Earth to stop the ‘mutant phase’ happening. It’s a request that the Emperor doesn’t trust the Doctor to carry out.

In my opinion, the climax is the weakest part of the story. The paradox folds in on itself and there’s a slow-motion sequence where the Doctor and Nyssa escape. Leaving in the TARDIS, Nyssa demands an explanation on what’s just happened. The Doctor gives her an explanation and it’s pretty weak.

Like Nyssa I couldn’t get what the Doctor was on about. It didn’t make sense as the end was rather rushed and I’m sure for many fans, it left them unsatisfied. I’m still not clear about what the story’s final moments were. I’m glad Nyssa was there to say it ‘didn’t make sense’ and that it wasn’t just me.

The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Disc 2, there’s a ‘coming soon’ trailer for ‘Storm Warning’, the first audio adventure with Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor and India Fisher as Charley Pollard.

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‘The Mutant Phase’ is one of my favourite Dalek stories from the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa adventures. It’s an exciting adventure where Nyssa meets the Daleks and is a truly interesting take on something that’s rarely seen in the Daleks. The conclusion is weak, but for the most part this is a gripping tale.

Check out my CD review – ‘The Mutant Phase’ (Doctor Who Adventures).

‘The Mutant Phase’ rating – 9/10


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2 Responses to ‘The Mutant Phase’ (Audio)

  1. Timelord007 says:

    Brilliantly reviewed Tim, I’m in complete agreement about the climax, surely this could’ve been fleshed ut & expanded upon a bit better, surely Nick Briggs hearing a rough cut of this must have thought his ending needed more explanation?

    On the whole though a very enjoyable audio drama, I’d rate it 8/10

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tim Bradley says:

    Thanks Timelord Simon.

    Glad you enjoyed my review on ‘The Mutant Phase’. This is one of my favourite Dalek stories with the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa.

    Yes the climax could have been better, and even from listening to it recently I’m still unsure about what went on in those last few moments and pleased that Nyssa said the Doctor’s explanations didn’t make any sense.

    I don’t know whether Nick Briggs meant for the story to end like that on a confusing note. Perhaps he did, as it is very thought-provoking and makes you think about went on in that ending. His second story for the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa, ‘Creatures of Beauty’ is more thought-provoking than ‘The Mutant Phase’ isn’t it?

    Glad you enjoyed my review, Simon. Thanks for your comments.

    Tim. 🙂

    Like

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