Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Time of the Daleks by: Justin Richards directed by: Nicholas Briggs: Let Loose the Daleks of War

The Time of the Daleks stars Paul McGann as the Doctor with India Fisher as Charley.  It was written by Justin Richards, directed by Nicholas Briggs and was released in May 2002 by Big Finish Productions.


A pet peeve of mine, especially for Doctor Who, is when writers rehash previously used plots without adding anything to them to bolster their substances.  This is one of the main problems that plagues The Time of the Daleks, it borrows heavily from the Second Doctor serial The Evil of the Daleks a story regarded as one of the best Second Doctor stories.  Richards’ story however does add the intriguing element to the main premise of the Doctor’s interference in the R101 has allowed for the removal of William Shakespeare from his natural place in time to a future, almost dystopian, Britain ruled by a Shakespearean fanatic.  The entire story revolves around the paradox and how a race of Shakespeare lovers called the Daleks want to assist in the recovery of Shakespeare.  This premise is an intriguing one and allows for some great lines of Daleks quoting Shakespeare.  Sadly the story reads like a shortened remake of The Evil of the Daleks and it really shows how even when Justin Richards has a good idea he can find a way to make it a traditional story that really just won’t resonate with me.  The Shakespeare stuff is good until about the end of Part Two where it becomes more clichéd and the Daleks do act like regular Daleks, but there isn’t much else I can say I liked about the plot of the story.


Trying not to sound redundant, but Paul McGann is still great as the Doctor and here he sounds even more youthful than usual.  He makes puns about Shakespeare which Charley doesn’t get, prompting the start to this story in a beautifully realized TARDIS scene which just shows how much of a breathless romantic the Eighth Doctor is.  The meat of the adventure actually has McGann lose a bit of his steam, which is a problem as he has to be a lead, but this doesn’t interfere too much with the quality of the story.  India Fisher’s Charley Pollard on the other hand, doesn’t fare nearly as well mainly because Richards writes her as standard Doctor Who companion which she isn’t.  Here she is supposed to be missing information and is supposed to be reacting to the changing timeline, but the script just doesn’t allow it to actually happen to any degree of note.


So with both leads suffering from the lackluster script, let’s see how the supporting cast fares. Well everything is hit or miss in this story with two or three characters really standing out while everyone else just sort of fades into the background and are forgettable.  Mariah Learman played by Dot Smith is the dictator general of Britain where she was elected to rule with an iron fist.  She is also a fangirl about Shakespeare and wants the plays all for herself and even as a human acts kind of like a Dalek  Her best moments are when she actually becomes a Dalek which is a horrifying sequence that you can just imagine in your mind’s eye.  There is also the kitchen boy who I really can’t go into without going for spoilers.  And finally there if Viola Learman who is the leader of the rebels and is actually the General’s niece which I actually find to be an interesting character.


The direction by Nicholasr Briggs is also pretty good for the most part even though he doesn’t fix a lot of the weird line reads from the scripts.  Briggs does add in a sequence stringing together the three other parts of the Dalek Empire Arc which I commend him for as they really haven’t done anything well.  The music on the other hand is really forgettable and what I do remember is again reminiscent of The Evil of the Daleks, which doesn’t help this stories case for being of good quality.


To summarize, The Time of the Daleks for all its faults only does amount to an average story as there are some good things here.  The acting is positive for the most part and Daleks quoting Shakespeare is something to listen to.  50/100

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