Big Finish are trying something slightly different over the next three months with the Doctor Who Main Range, with having two hour long stories in each release, seemingly related by similar titles. This month, we’re joining the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa with the stories Alien Heart and Dalek Soul; today, I’ll be reviewing the second of the two tales, Dalek Soul, written by Guy Adams.
On the Dalek-occupied world of Mojox, a group of rebels is engaged in a futile fightback against the invaders – but at last they’ve found an ally, in the form of the mysterious Doctor. Elsewhere, however, the Daleks’ Chief Virologist is seeking to perfect a biological weapon to wipe out the Mojoxalli, once and for all.
Her name… is Nyssa.
It’s been a hell of a long time since the Fifth Doctor has encountered the Daleks in Big Finish; in fact, from a quick search on the Big Finish website, (and feel free to correct me if I’m wrong) but the last time that the Fifth Doctor battled the Daleks was in Plague of The Daleks from December 2009. That’s over seven years. It’s time that this Doctor/Dalek combo got paired up again, don’t you think? Thankfully, that is the case in Dalek Soul, and we start with the Daleks themselves.
The opening scene of Dalek Soul is incredibly dark and really draws the parallels between the Daleks and the Nazis. I don’t think that Dalek Soul is one of those releases you’d want to listen to with young children.
Personally, I think that the idea that the Daleks are tying to use biological warfare is really terrifying; especially when you know how ruthless they are. The concept is even more dangerous when you realise that the story is being penned by the sadistic genius that is Guy Adams.
Considering it’s been so long since we’ve had a Fifth Doctor and Dalek story, I must admit that I was shocked as to how the Doctor reacted and behaved whilst in the Daleks presence; it’s something that you don’t see coming, and makes you ask at least a dozen questions, such as what is really going on?
The cliffhanger to the first episode is absolutely brilliant and brutal; I can’t say enough just how twisted and warped Dalek Soul is turning out to be, even just in it’s first half. This is properly dark Doctor Who, and I bloody love it.
During the second episode, we get some (and only some) explanation as to the frankly bizarre events of the previous episode of Dalek Soul, being pieced together by security footage from the past; it makes the exposition scenes that I often get bored of present themselves in a different way; especially when we have Nyssa commenting on them.
Hearing the Fifth Doctor’s usually soothing and comforting voice in this new, darker context really brings to the fore just how much the Doctor’s Doctorliness can balance on a knife-edge. The idea that the Doctor could have easily fallen the other way and become as monstrous as the Master, if not more so, is truly terrifying. I know that we’ve seen what the War Doctor is capable of, but there’s something about hearing the Fifth Doctor, often considered the most mild-mannered, that’s especially jarring.
During the last chapter of Dalek Soul (which is a whopping ten minutes) we learn a lot more about the odd goings on in the tale, and it’s almost like all the pieces fall together and make total sense. I expect a few of you will claim that you worked out the solution before being told, and I expect even fewer of you actually did.
The conclusion of Dalek Soul isn’t the happy ending, tying up everything with a nice bow like I expected; but then again, I should know better, you just have to look at Made You Look to prove that point. Guy Adams knows what you want, and he doesn’t always give you it; and personally, I enjoy being denied happiness in a story once in a while.
To say that Guy Adams knows how to go against expectations is an understatement; you know that there’s a story about the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and the Daleks, so you make a snap judgment as to what that story will entail. What you get when you place this story into your ears though, is totally different; it’s not necessarily an entirely new take, but it’s not going down the easiest route. For people who are expecting a “Dalek story” you might be somewhat disappointment; there are exterminations and shouting in near unison like you expect from a Dalek story, but it’s so much more than that, that’s for sure.
Overall, Dalek Soul is an absolute corker of a story, filled with questions and peppered with answers. If you want a story that’s much more of a character study of the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa, then this might well be the one for you; be warned however, you might never see them in the same light again…
Should you want to purchase Alien Heart/ Dalek Soul, it’s currently available from Big Finish for £14.99 on CD or a £12.99 download which you can purchase here.