Another month, another Davros play from Big Finish: I, Davros – Purity. Okay, fair dos: it’s part two in a four-part mini-series that started last month with I, Davros – Innocence. We’ve moved on a bit now.
Ostensibly, the narrative link between the various plays in the series is that Davros has been captured by the Daleks to help them out of a hole. Apparently, Davros thinks talking about his personal life is the best way to do this. I like to think he’s sitting in front of an open fire, with the Black Dalek next to him, sucking up mulled wine through a special attachment. I’m not sure why the Daleks are humouring him so far, but they are.
While Innocence saw Davros eulogising about his childhood and how it taught him to be a man (ie sociopath), Purity takes us to Davros, aged 30, stuck in weapons testing, wishing he could be something big in the science corps.
Plot (direct from the Big Finish web site, untainted by Thal genetic impurities)
‘We are Kaleds. We are more than a match for weak, tattered, crippled relics of the war.’
Now approaching his 30th year, Davros is trying to get out of the Kaled Military and into the Scientific Corps, determined to use his mind to create new ways to let the Kaled race survive the never-ending war with the Thals. But first, he must undertake a mission into Thal territory. A mission that will introduce him to technology and hardware he could only dream of. And it just might teach him a few life lessons to.
But however dangerous the Thal City might be, that is nothing compared to the scarred relics that inhabit the Wastelands… Wastelands he and his team have to cross twice.
Is it any good?
It’s a whole lot better than Innocence. For one thing, Terry Molloy is a very good voice actor. He gives various layers to Davros that were missing from Rory Jennings’ performance in the first play.
But the script’s also better and you never feel it’s killing time until the next part. Yes, there are the countless nods to continuity that we’ve come to associate with Big Finish plays: Dals, Varga plants, mutos – they’re all here. But they’re bearable and make sense in context. There is a slight tendency to tie up everything with a neat bow and say “Ta da! That’s why Davros and the Daleks are the way they are! It’s due to x, y and z,” rather than to suggest a gradual evolution of thought over time, but in an origins story, that’s a dramatic device you can kind of forgive.
There are also slight inconsistencies with Innocence, with Davros the boy psycho far less willing to exterminate his enemies now he’s in the prime of his life. And there are a few too many parallels with I, Claudius to make you think “homage” rather than “rip off”.
But nitpicks aside, although it’s not flawless, this is still pretty good stuff. Davros is developing as a character quite nicely and in a more natural way than was suggested in Innocence. There are a couple of interesting surprises. There are some good gross-out moments. Lovely jubbly.
So skip Innocence and go straight into Purity if you fancy finding out why the Daleks really love to exterminate.
Listen to the trailer (Windows Media Player format)
Davros (Terry Molloy)
Lady Calcula (Carolyn Jones)
Colonel Nasgard (Richard Franklin)
Yarvell (Lizzie Hopley)
Young Davros (Rory Jennings)
The Supremo (John Stahl)
Lieutenant Nyder (Peter Miles)
Scientist Shan (Katarina Olsson)
Scientist Ral (David Bickerstaff)
Tutor Magrantine (Peter Sowerbutts)
Councillor Quested (Sean Connolly)
Councillor Valron (Sean Carlsen)
Section Leader Fenn (Daniel Hogarth)
Major Brogan (Richard Grieve)
Major Brint (James Parsons)
Colonel Murash (Lisa Bowerman)
Tashek (Rita Davies)
Baran (Nicholas Briggs)
Renna (Lucy Beresford)
Saboteur (Scott Handcock)
Tech-Ops Reston (Andrew Wisher)
Tech-Ops Ludella (Jenifer Croxton)
Writers: James Parsons & Andrew Stirling-Brown
Director: Gary Russell
Release Date: October 2006