Review: Doctor Who – 129 – Plague of the Daleks

Plague of the DaleksAnd so it is that we come to the end of the Stockbridge trilogy, in which the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa travel to the past, present and future of Stockbridge because Big Finish love continuity and it was in the comics in the 80s or something.

We’ve had the past, which tried to be Monty Python and failed, but wasn’t bad when it was serious; then we had the present, which was pretty good apart from a few dodgy performances and odd directorial choices.

Now we have the future. The story carries straight on from the previous one again, except the Doctor and Nyssa appear to have ended up in some futuristic tourist park populated by Northerners and aliens, including Lisa Tarbuck and Keith Barron.

Except, as the title of the story and the cover should tell you, things aren’t what they appear to be.

Stockbridge used to be such a lovely place. The loveliest village in all England, according to the guide books. But hardly anyone visits Stockbridge now: a few tourists, a couple of Trust guides, the odd beady-eyed raven.

But something is coming to Stockbridge. Something which turns village cricketers into ravening zombies – a plague such as the Earth has never seen, falling through history from a time when humanity’s greatest enemy was a race known as the Daleks.

The Doctor and Nyssa visit Stockbridge for the final time, to confront the terrible secret buried at its heart. The storm clouds are gathering…

Brewster’s Story by Marc Platt
As Polly and the Brigadier become acquainted with Thomas Brewster, chaos erupts. UNIT troops are on the streets of London and the Hunter is on the prowl…

Is it any good?
This is easily the best of the Stockbridge stories. Although we start off relatively comedically – which is the usual Big Finish comedic EPIC FAIL – things soon start to get nasty and unpleasant.

Indeed, when you find out what the ‘plague of the Daleks’ actually is, you might feel a little violated, since it almost seems to run contrary to the ground rules of Doctor Who. It’s all wrapped up a little too easily, unfortunately, since the Dalek threat doesn’t emerge until the mid-point of the play, but it does make for a very tense time.

Nyssa doesn’t get a whole load to do beyond get captured, and Keith Barron is in comedy Northener mode for the most part – although there’s a heart-breaking reveal later on. There’s also some duff script-editing at the beginning, since neither Nyssa nor the Doctor go “hang on. Isn’t this just like in our last adventure?” when presented with a Stockbridge with multiple seasons in a day.

But this is still a good ‘un, that evokes the likes of Resurrection of the Daleks (in a good way).

Meanwhile, over on The Three Companions, Thomas Brewster sort of explains his story, all becomes clear, and it turns out it’s all a load more boring than we might have suspected. We also lose track with our metaphors, as the email exchange between Poly and the Brig that became a full cast audio with them talking to Thomas Brewster, suddenly becomes Brewster narrating to the audience for no well-explained reason.

Make up your minds, lads.

Amazon CD: £10.49
Big Finish download: £12.99
Big Finish CD: £14.99

Peter Davison (The Doctor)
Sarah Sutton (Nyssa)
Keith Barron (Isaac Barclay)
Liza Tarbuck (Lysette Barclay)
Richenda Carey (Alexis Linfoot)
Barry McCarthy (Vincent Linfoot)
Richard Cordery (Professor Rinxo Jabbery)
Susan Brown (Mrs Withers/Mrs Sowerby/Computer Voice)
Nicholas Briggs (Cricketer/Dobson)

Writer: Mark Morris
Director: Barnaby Edwards