Monday, February 22, 2016

The Genocide Machine by: Mike Tucker directed by: Nicholas Briggs: Wetworks of Genocidal Knowledge

The Genocide Machine stars Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor and Sophie Aldred as Ace.  It was written by Mike Tucker, directed by Nicholas Briggs and released in April 2000.


You really can’t have Doctor Who without the Daleks.  They were introduced in the second story of the TV series, appeared in every Doctor Who stage play, had their own two theatrical films, and have been just as popular, if not more so, than the show itself and ten months after beginning their Doctor Who audio dramas, Big Finish Productions had their first story to feature the Daleks, The Genocide Machine.  This story has an interesting history as it is the beginning of a four story arc of loosely connected Dalek stories as a prelude to the spin-off Dalek Empire.  Dalek Empire was Nicholas Briggs’ pet project at the time and led to four successful series wrapping up in 2008.  And to write the first part in the prequel Briggs brought in visual effects advisor and Past Doctor Adventures novelist Mike Tucker to write the story.  The story sadly doesn’t work very well in its own context or as a prequel as it went through a sort of development hell.  What we eventually got was a remake of Planet of the Daleks with elements of Resurrection of the Daleks mixed in for good measure that would have very little setup for the Dalek Empire story arc.


I do have to congratulate Tucker for an honestly brilliant script character wise.  It may just because I was listening this as a remedy for Strange England (that review is coming), but I loved some of the comedy in the script.  The Doctor is as manipulating as ever, but when he realizes he has some overdue library books he freaks out and frantically tries to explain to Ace why the library is so important.  McCoy is great at pulling off his Doctor and has a balance between the drama and the comedy inherently in the script.  This is where Tucker really succeeds and where I feel his writing partner, Robert Perry is definitely better with the plots of their work output while Tucker does the characters.


Sophie Aldred does a great turn here as Ace and the Dalek duplicate of Ace.  She really steals the show with very little artificial modification of her voice.  She’s clearly having a ball here.  Louise Faulkner plays the recurring character Bev Tarrent who I’ve never really warmed to as a character.  Bev is basically trying to be Bernice Summerfield and it really shows here as Tucker obviously wanted to include Benny.  I know Bev is her own character and she gets better in her other appearance and the ones in the Bernice Summerfield solo series, but here she’s a complete rip-off of Benny.  Faulkner is still a good actress and is clearly still giving it her all and trying not to be Lisa Bowerman.  The rest of the supporting cast fares a lot better with a rather Robert Holmesian duo with Bruce Montague’s Elgin who is very similar to Henry Gordon Jago and the silent Prink played by Nicholas Briggs, who eventually gets some of the best lines in the play.  The Daleks however are really off as the modulation for Alistair Lock is really quite off while Nicholas Briggs has it going strong from the outset.  The way the Daleks are defeated is pretty creative and most of the twists are what keeps the story going.


To summarize, The Genocide Machine is still a step down from The Marian Conspiracy and The Fearmonger, but is at least able to provide listeners with a decent story with some excellent characterization. 70/100

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