AUDIO DRAMA
Doctor Who
The Mutant Phase


Starring: Peter Davison
Big Finish Productions
13.99 (CD), 9.99 (cassette)
ISBN 1 903654 21 1
Available now

 

The Doctor and Nyssa arrive on the Dalek-occupied Earth of the 22nd century. They escape, only to find themselves carried along a time corridor to the 43rd century. Why do only a handful of humans survive on this future Earth, and why are Thals co-operating with their old enemies?...

This, the last of Big Finish's thematic trilogy Dalek Empire, is extremely unusual for a Dalek story. Instead of trying to conquer a race, a planet or a galaxy, as they did in every single one of their TV appearances, here the metal meanies fight a more desperate battle: to defeat a debilitating genetic affliction known as the Mutant Phase. In fact, the Daleks' plight has more in common with the perils they regularly faced in their 1960s' TV21 comic strip exploits. Not that this diminishes their menace - like a cornered predator, there are few things more dangerous than a frightened Dalek, and, as the Doctor could hardly be seen to be concerned about their potential doom, the Mutant Phase also threatens countless innocent lives. As in the previous Dalek Empire story, the Doctor and his arch foes are forced into an uneasy alliance, though on this occasion the partnership is one of the main thrusts of the story, rather than being the more minor plot development that occurred in The Apocalypse Element.

Nicholas Briggs' clever and complex tale weaves in popular elements from several TV stories, including the Robomen from 1964's The Dalek Invasion of Earth and the Emperor from 1967's The Evil of the Daleks. Briggs also echoes the Supreme Dalek's connection with a human servant in Remembrance of the Daleks (1988), while the story's resolution adds a twist to the time paradox that was central to 1972's The Day of the Daleks. Unfortunately, even with this added twist, the paradox idea is still too similar to the one used in 1972, while the story's topical moral discussion on genetic modification is glaringly sign-posted from the outset.

Nevertheless the performers, particularly Davison and Sarah Sutton as Nyssa, all lend the tale appropriate gravitas, and as an engaging piece of escapism, this audio drama does the trick very nicely indeed.

Richard McGinlay