Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Mutant Phase written and directed by: Nicholas Briggs: Confusing, but Paradoxes Almost Always Are

The Mutant Phase stars Peter Davison as the Doctor and Sarah Sutton as Nyssa.  It was written and directed by Nicholas Briggs, it was released in December 2000 by Big Finish Productions.


Before you can really understand where The Mutant Phase came from you have to be familiar with the Audio Visuals fan audio drama productions.  The company produced twenty-four audio dramas in the 1980s and had Nicholas Briggs staring as the Doctor.  Now these audios were unlicensed and didn’t really have that good of a sound quality, but at least it was new Doctor Who.  It could also be considered the forerunner to Big Finish Productions especially as many of the Big Finish Staff got their start in the Audio Visuals productions.  Of course this allowed several Audio Visuals stories be adapted into Big Finish stories starting with today’s story.  The Mutant Phase was one of four Audio Visuals story to feature the Daleks and relies heavily as a semi-prequel to The Dalek Invasion of Earth and connecting some of the comics into the main universe.


The plot involves the Doctor and Nyssa landing on the Earth during the Dalek invasion where much of the human race is dead, but all hope is not lost as Thals have come to rescue the human race.  This is all before the story takes a twist as the Doctor has to help figure out the mystery behind the origin of the mutant phase which is a disease killing off the Daleks.  There are several more twists and red herrings as to how the mutant phase came into being as that is the main drive of the plot.  Sadly, while this is technically the third part of the Dalek Empire Prequel, there isn’t anything really tying it into the other two parts of the miniseries.  Honestly it would have worked better if it was just telling its own story and not trying to tie itself into an already interesting prequel.  The script I can however praise as unlike his efforts in The Sirens of Time he has found his footing as a writer and as a director here.  He pretty much owns the story as he is writing, directing, designing the sound, composing music and taking part as the voice of the Daleks.  He has his hands full and is pulling it off wonderfully.  He introduces many good ideas like genetically mutated wasps and the ideas of Daleks transplanting themselves into humans all will be used in the New Series.


Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton have improved their relationship a lot in their two stories together.  Here they show just how much chemistry they have with each other that was wasted on television.  The Doctor cares for Nyssa almost as the teacher to the student as Nyssa is still young, even with a higher intellect.  They both have a childlike curiosity to see the universe as they have no real home to go back to.  Briggs writes for them so well that they complement each other perfectly.  They both find pieces of evidence for the mystery of the mutant phase and are able to figure out some things leading to the conclusion even through several red herrings. The supporting cast are extremely mixed with some characters like the Daleks, who are completely evil here, the Dalek Emperor, who has had a facelift since The Evil of the Daleks, and the Thal Ganatus played by James Morgan who ends up working with the Daleks. There are quite a few other characters in this story, yet not many of them actually make an impact.  You can easily sympathize with the plight of the humans as the virus has been released, Roboman have been created and the Daleks have begun their invasion.  The desperation can be felt through the acting even when the characters are a bit lackluster.


To summarize, The Mutant Phase can boast at being an improvement of a previous story and actually being part of canon.  It has some great ideas and Davison and Sutton are both on top form throughout the story.  The supporting cast is mixed even with some powerful emotions being conveyed through the story.  The connections to the arc are minimal and cause a bit of anticipation for something, which never really comes.  75/100


  1. "The Mutant Phase was the only Audio Visuals story to feature the Daleks"
    Not at all. Each season of AVs had one Dalek story. They are, in order, The Time Ravagers, The Mutant Phase, Planet of Lies, and Deadfall (which was later adapted, sans Doctor and Daleks, but with the same name, for the Bernice Summfield NAs.)

    1. Yes I fixed my mistakes. It's what I get for writing late at night

  2. Additionally, the AV's just missed the 90's, starting in '84 and concluding in '89 (I think. It can't have been later than '90, as one of the motivations for stopping was the existence of the Virgin New Adventures.)