|Fourth Doctor Adventures|
'These creatures have ravaged half the cosmos. They're experts as this kind of thing. Nothing can stand in their way.'
The Doctor and Romana find themselves in the Proxima System, where enigmatic Conglomerate CEO Cuthbert has been conducting his infamous 'experiment'. An experiment which might accidentally rip the universe apart.
Meanwhile, living conditions on Proxima Major have become harsh and hostile. Climate change has turned the landscape into a freezing wasteland and an alien power has condemned much of the population to life inside internment camps. For those still clinging to their freedom, the struggle for survival is now beyond desperate and outsiders such as the Doctor and Romana are only seen as a threat.
What is Cuthbert really up to in the Proxima System, and just how does he expect the dreaded Daleks to fit into his plan?
Tom Baker (The Doctor), Mary Tamm (Romana), John Leeson (K9), David Warner (Cuthbert), Toby Hadoke (Mr Dorrick), Nicholas Briggs (The Daleks)
3 out of 3 found this review helpful.
As a set up for the finale of the second season of The fourth Doctor adventures, The Dalek Contract is a story that certainly fits in with the time period that it's set in. It reeks of the 1970's atmosphere that defines the best stories of Tom Baker's era, and while it's certainly not as quite as good as stories like Genesis Of The Daleks or The Robots Of Death, it's a very good, light hearted story that is packed with action and witty lines and mystery. Basically, Dalek Contract is a fun Doctor Who, that's not be massively groundbreaking or novel, but still really strong.
The plot pretty much picks up after The Sands Of Life and War Against The Laan, which, while good in it's own way, is certainly one of the weakest Big Finish fourth Doctor stories. The Dalek Contract is a good story, with a much stronger plot than those two instalments. It's plot is it's main focus, with everything focused on creating a strong story. Sadly, this means that the dialogue is, at times, rather functional and the plot is rather liner. It follows the simple set up of storytelling in the Doctor Who universe: Doctor and companion land, meet the rebels, Doctor and companion get separated, the companion is threatened and The Doctor is forced into a difficult situation. Certainly, the story ends on a massive cliffhanger (which will be resolved in The Final Phase), but it follows the format of classic Doctor Who. However, considering the mature storytelling that seems to be commonplace in Doctor Who nowadays, it's nice to take a step back and have something which feels much more like a classic series story, with a stronger focus on plot, rather than the emotional journey of the characters, which seems to have become more commonplace in Doctor Who today. However, it does mean that the plot can have the sensation that we have been here before: we know that The Doctor will get out of any danger by using some clever trick and an even cleverer pun. Therefore, some of the danger has been lessened by this. This is only heightened by the presence of the Daleks, who continue to appear in Doctor Who stories by the bucketload every year. Now, I know that the Daleks are The Doctor's arch foes and that they are a big draw on the merchandise front, however, there menace is being undermined by continual return fights with The Doctor. Take this story: they're not being advanced in any way, rather there just being, well...Daleks. Which is okay, but it's the sort of thing which Terry Nation was churning out in the early 70's. What we need, however, is a story like Genesis Of The Daleks or To The Death, which really re-establishes the Daleks as the ultimate threat to the universe. It's something that stories in recent year have failed to do. That said, Nick Briggs knows how to make them interesting at least, with some of the Daleks ruthless cunning on display, that's been lacking in recent stories like Asylum Of The Daleks or The Time Of The Doctor.
The characters are a strong bunch, despite being built up mainly from steriotypical character moulds. None of the Proximan rebels really stand out much, not even Dominic Mafham's Chedak, especially considering the impact he made in 2012's Jigsaw War. The main stars are really Nicholas Briggs, Toby Hadoke, David Warner, John Leeson, Mary Tamm and Tom Baker, especially the latter four, who, it is clear, are absolutly loving this material. Tom, especially, has some wonderfully witty lines, and really goes for it, not in a kind of silly or over the top manner, but it's clear that, where the Daleks are concerned, Tom slightly heightens his performance. To me, it's nice to hear that. The Doctor always needs to be on top form when defeating the Daleks. David Warner is also wonderful as the shadowy Cuthbert, with Toby Hadoke scuttling behind him. They make a good double act, with one dry remark about chips and brown sauce getting a laugh from me. Certainly the cast are fantastic, there's no doubt about that. Big Finish haven't miscast for a while now: there choices always seem to be well selected and well chosen. It's just a pity that the characters couldn't be more interesting on the page, considering the acting talent on display here.
All in all, The Dalek Contract is Doctor Who by the numbers. It's certainly not taking any risks, but not every Doctor Who story has to take risks. However, it would be nice if this could have been more innovating, particularly with regards to it's characters and it's usage of the Daleks. It remains to be seen how this will play out in The Final Phase, but so far, it's a solid beginning of an end to a variable season.
Reviewer Says: Previous stories required!
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.
Cuthbert is a wonderful character; well written and well played. The chemistry between the Doctor and Romana is beautifully portrayed, perhaps better than ever in this one.
Sadly I found the story to be a bit hollow in this one. It does follow on from the Laan stories, yet it is not necessary to have heard them and it is part of the series end double parter and I think it suffers from not being the right story length for the two episodes.
Perhaps I have been jaded by too mant dalek stories as I didn't find them particularly villainous here. From Romana's point of view, this is her first encounter with them, so for her its okay, but for me it isn't?
Reviewer Says: No previous stories required.