This year, before we get Series 11, I’m going back in time thanks to Big Finish, to review the Eighth Doctor Adventures, following the story of (unsurprisingly) the Eighth Doctor and Lucie Miller. Today, I’ll be reviewing Blood of The Daleks Part 1 by Steve Lyons.
“People of Red Rocket Rising, my fellow citizens. Our long night is over. I’ve been contacted by a benevolent people. They too have known great trials, but they have overcome them and made it their mission to help others do the same. They have offered us refuge, and passage to the nearest human worlds. They have the resources, and the patience and compassion, to evacuate every one of us. My fellow citizens, my friends, rescue is at hand!”
This is exciting, isn’t it? The Eighth Doctor is my favourite Doctor, the first Big Finish I ever purchased was Dark Eyes, and now I get to experience the Doctor and Lucie Miller’s adventures from the very beginning, thanks to the lovely folks at Big Finish. I’ll be honest, I’ve listened to Blood of The Daleks before, but I’ve never paid my full attention to them like I do when writing my reviews; so this should be fun. Anyway, without any further ado, let’s get on with it.
How do you kick off a new Doctor Who range with one of the most illustrious Doctors, a new companion and the Daleks involved? You make Lucie Miller teleport aboard the TARDIS, with the Doctor having no clue how she got there. This concept might seem somewhat familiar, as it’s exactly how Donna first entered the Tenth Doctor’s TARDIS at the end of Doomsday, which aired six months before this was released. (Although, the scripts were probably written at the same time, it’s funny how the universe works.)
Lucie’s frustration to give the Doctor her point of view is brilliantly written; I can’t help but feel like Lucie was the prototype for future TV companions like Donna in Series 4 when she’s more fleshed out, and Bill. Sheridan Smith, as you’re probably aware, is one of Britain’s finest actors, and having her be the Doctor’s companion is a genius move.
The Doctor’s persistence to drop Lucie off approximately from where she lives is great, and shows how the Doctor has to prioritise everything he does, with Lucie not being at the top of his list. Maybe this is what happened with Sarah Jane, maybe he just thought it was close enough and assumed he couldn’t do any better.
We quickly learn that Lucie was on her way to the first day of a new job before she was whisked away unwillingly and dumped in the Doctor’s TARDIS; and, if I’m being honest, it’s one hell of a thing to talk about at the water cooler whilst you’re introducing yourself. Then again, people would probably think you’re insane, and rightly so.
It’s not long before the Doctor springs into action and becomes more Doctor-like, aiding those in need and trying his best to help out in whatever way he can. Even if it’s not perfect.
I think that the most interesting aspect of this story is how quickly Lucie plays the role of the companion; nothing seems to phase her; the TARDIS, the time travel, the Doctor, the fact he’s an alien, what to do in a crisis. She seems to be the perfect companion. Considering she claims she had no intention to join the Doctor, Lucie Miller almost seems born for the role. She seems to good to be true…
Of course, the Doctor brings Lucie to a planet with acid rain, and we learn that the planet is called Red Rocket Rising. The planet is in disarray, and it seems rather apocalyptic. A planet where everything is dying, food is in short supply, and one nutter with a metal umbrella believes that there are aliens amongst the people.
It’s around halfway through the story when we get our first hint of a Dalek, who’s offering to help the people of Red Rocket Rising. Of course, as listeners, we know that this isn’t going to be as simple as it seems; and that the Daleks don’t offer olive branches. But desperate people will do offer help from anyone regardless.
We learn a bit about how Lucie managed to join the Doctor in the TARDIS; and the idea that the Time Lords have put Lucie in a witness protection scheme for an unknown reason and dumped her on the Doctor is an interesting one. The Doctor’s reluctance to help Lucie just to spite the Time Lords is really juvenile, and honestly, I love it.
Once the Doctor realises that the Daleks are attempting to “help” the people of Red Rocket Rising, we see a much more volatile side of him; and rightly so. The outburst of the Doctor is similar to the one he gives in The Beast Below, but instead of trying to convince the people to save the Star Whale, he’s trying to convince the people to turn their backs on the Daleks. It’s infuriating as a listener, because you know that the Doctor is right, but sadly; this isn’t a pantomime, and the people of Red Rocket Rising can’t hear you.
There’s a moment where the Daleks hear the Doctor’s named mentioned, and I never thought I’d say this, but Nicholas Briggs manages to do a nuanced performance whilst playing a Dalek. Bravo, Mr. Briggs, bravo.
The fact that Blood of The Daleks is a two part story means we have the privilege of having a cliffhanger, and boy, is it a great one. The Doctor learns that the leaders of Red Rocket Rising has been experimenting on their people, attempting to create beings not dissimilar to the Daleks. Not dissimilar at all…
Overall, Blood of The Daleks- Part 1 is a great way to kick off the Eighth Doctor Adventures; Paul McGann is on top form, as is the wonderful Sheridan Smith. The intrigue to Lucie’s character and her origins aren’t explained right away, but we get a taste of the whole truth which, in turn, makes it more and more intriguing to learn about this companion. I think it’s a great idea to bring the Daleks into the range straight away, as it allows both the Doctor and Lucie to be put in some of the most dangerous positions possible in the Whoniverse, and I can’t wait to review Blood of The Daleks- Part 2 soon!
Should you want to purchase Blood of The Daleks- Part 1, it’s currently available from Big Finish here for £8.99 for the download, or £10.99 for the CD.