AUDIO DRAMA
Doctor Who
Terror Firma

Starring: Paul McGann
Big Finish Productions
RRP: 14.99
ISBN 1 84435 137 8
Available 18 August 2005


Throughout time and space, the Doctor and Davros have battled - a fight that ended with the Time Lord's destruction of Skaro and the Daleks. But Davros survived... alone, in the dark, with only thoughts of revenge keeping him alive. Now the Doctor has returned to his home universe, and Davros is waiting for him...

WARNING: THE PENULTIMATE PARAGRAPH CONTAINS SPOILERS!

Big Finish's Davros inhabited the space between Resurrection of the Daleks and Revelation of the Daleks. The Juggernauts filled in the gap between Revelation and Remembrance of the Daleks. Now Terror Firma, the Eighth Doctor's (Paul McGann) first adventure following his return from the Divergent universe, is a sequel to Remembrance, thus completing Big Finish's loose Davros trilogy.

Following the intense character study that was Davros and the lightweight fun of The Juggernauts, you might have cause to wonder which angle writer Joseph Lidster was going to take with this story. In fact, the tone is pitched somewhere in between those two poles.

On the one hand, we have the split personality of the demented Davros (Terry Molloy) veering erratically between vengeful Kaled scientist and dedicated Dalek Emperor, pleading for the Doctor's help one moment, while also springing a cruel trap for the Time Lord. Molloy swings skilfully between the two personalities, illustrating the differences between them, which you might not have noticed before from his few minutes on screen in Remembrance.

On the other hand, there are eccentric characters and odd situations that seem to have taken their inspiration from the Dalek epic Jubilee. Intercut between the Doctor and Davros' intense scenes is a shindig whose dysfunctional attendees would not have seemed out of place in Mike Leigh's Abigail's Party. Julia Deakin plays a drunken matriarch once again, though her upper-class accent couldn't be more different from her role as Marsha in Spaced. Meanwhile, even when facing the prospect of imprisonment or extermination, the Doctor also has his lighter moments. So pleased is he to be back in his home universe that the presence of Daleks only serves to remind him that the old times are here again!

As well as being a sequel to Remembrance (and a proper one this time - none of the ridiculous retconning that fans endured in the novel War of the Daleks), Terror Firma is also a prequel of sorts to The Parting of the Ways. Whether deliberate or coincidental, Davros' delusions of godhood and his ultimate fate add weight to the possibility that the Emperor we saw in the final Christopher Eccleston episode might be the last vestige of the Daleks' ancient creator. Unfortunately, two key plot elements from Parting are also repeated here: an army of Daleks engineered from human beings and the fact that humanity's sad fate is largely the Doctor's fault.

Though far from flawless, Terror Firma is a firmer addition to the Eighth Doctor audio series than we've had for a long time.

Richard McGinlay

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