Review: Doctor Who – 121 – Enemy of the Daleks

Enemy of the DaleksOh joy. Another Sylvester McCoy story. There’s another one out this month, too.

But wait. Just like the last one, Enemy of the Daleks isn’t bad at all. In fact, it’s pretty good and nips along at a decent pace thanks to writer David Bishop, former editor of 2000AD and writer of several Doctor Who novels.

In it, the Doctor and co land on ‘Bliss’, only to discover it’s anything but. The Daleks are coming yet there are dead bodies already. And an atrocity’s about to happen, but the Doctor’s the one who’s going to cause it.

If I’m not careful, I’m going to start looking forward to Sylvester McCoy plays and that will never do.

Bliss used to be a paradise planet. The Galapagos Islands of space. But when the TARDIS brings the Doctor, Ace and Hex to Bliss, it’s been over-run with ironweed plants, and the air is heavy with the stench of burnt silk and static electricity.

Worse, the Daleks are coming, on the trail of a lost patrol of starship troopers. Holed up in the Roarke 279 research facility, Lieutenant Beth Stokes is preparing her last stand against the invaders.

But there’s a secret on Bliss, a secret guarded by the obsessive Professor Shimura…

This time, could it be the Daleks need saving?

The Companion Chronicles: The Three Companions – In Memoriam by Marc Platt
The Doctor, Polly, Ben and Jamie are trapped on a doomed world that is scheduled for cremation. But what are the coffin-loaders and why does Lethbridge-Stewart remember them too?

Is it any good?
This is a definite action-adventure story with some decent sci-fi ideas thrown in to the mix to keep the intellectual content up. To a certain extent it relies on that old trope – the mad scientist who clearly hasn’t thought through the ramifications of his ideas for more than a minute – and doesn’t really add much that we haven’t seen provided by the Mechanoids or the Movellans, for example. But it’s still quite cleverly done, with character development for the regulars, who all put in good performances for a change. The ending is pretty inevitable, so you won’t be too surprised, and the last episode seems to lose momentum, but it’s a good piece of work all the same.

In a break from tradition, we also have hardcore Ace from the New Adventures here, rather than soppy old Ace from previous stories, and Hex appears to be channelling Tegan for some reason. Not quite sure how the continuity all matches up, particularly since the Daleks appear to have metal travel units without forcefields, rather than the nu-Who tanks, but Who cares, even if it does seem to baffle our Sophie in the extras.

Supporting cast are largely average and Eiji Kusuhara is slightly incomprehensible at times, but Big Finish stalwart Jeremy James does some good vocal work.

Over on the Three Companions, a new episode of which will be on the end of all the regular Doctor Who releases for a while, things have settled down into familiar Companion Chronicles territory. All attempts to stick with asserted medium have gone, and Polly is now pretty much reading out a book, with the occasional interjection of the Brigadier, rather than trying to recount something via email.

And what a dull story it is right now. No real hint of why the Brigadier’s involved at the moment, or why the dastardly yet not-interesting Thomas Brewster is keeping an eye on the exchange (he doesn’t even show up for this episodes); the second Doctor’s team of companions are also wandering around a planet where not much is happening at this point in the story. If you’re thinking of buying Enemy of the Daleks purely to see what happens next in The Three Companions, don’t worry: you can safely skip to the next release.

Overall, a good release, and one worth getting if you like a little action in your audio play.

Big Finish Download: £12.99
Big Finish CD: £14.99
Amazon CD: £14.99  

Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor)
Sophie Aldred (Ace)
Philip Olivier (Hex)
Kate Ashfield (Lieutenant Beth Stokes)
Bindya Solanki (Sergeant Tahira Khan)
Eiji Kusuhara (Professor Toshio Shimura)
Jeremy James (Sistermatic / Kiseibya / Male Patient / Male Voice)
Nicholas Briggs (Daleks)

Writer: David Bishop
Director: Ken Bentley