Reviewed By: thisoldcan
Review Date: 8/30/17 3:54 pm
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In The Conquest of Far, the Doctor (Tim Treloar) and Jo (Katy Manning) have just defeated the Daleks on Spiridon, and are heading back to Earth, when an unknown force pulls the Doctor and Jo to the planet Far. Arriving there, the Doctor expects to find one of the greatest achievements of the human race; instead, he finds an unfamiliar planet conquered by the Daleks, in the middle of a war to take back the planet. Caught up once again in the horrors of the Daleks, the Doctor and Jo must come to face the hopelessness of fighting the Daleks; but they'll have to work to ensure they survive. The Conquest of Far is, on paper, a bit of a useless story. Coming on the heels of two Dalek stories comes a third Dalek story? But this story is important, for showing a different aspect of the Daleks and their relationship with the Doctor/companion group, in that it shows the weariness of the companion, realizing that all their efforts against the Daleks are for naught as, like a cancer, the Daleks simply show up again somewhere else, as strong as ever. In that respect, The Conquest of Far is an excellent story, showing the despair of Katy Manning's Jo Grant as she finds out their efforts to stop the Daleks did nothing to prevent them rising up elsewhere, and her efforts to stop them.
Katy Manning and Tim Treloar star as Jo Grant and the Third Doctor, reprising their roles from the previous two sets. Katy Manning is, as always, absolutely brilliant as Jo Grant. I'm always impressed and a little scared by how well Manning is able to revert to her younger Jo voice so easily, because she sounds a little older, but she has such a youthful quality to her voice here. But Manning was at her best at the start of the story, and as she was trying to solve the problem of the Daleks throughout the story. She shone in the first part of the story, as she was separated from the Doctor, and took charge while still being deeply unsure of herself. Tim Treloar also reprises his role as the recast Third Doctor, taking over for Pertwee here. Compared with the last set, I thought Treloar was a bit shaky here in this first story, kinda shifting in and out of his Pertwee impression. However, he capture the feel and gravitas that Pertwee brought to the role extremely well, even as he mostly sat this story on the sidelines.
The guest cast for this story included a number of excellent actors, namely the excellent John Banks, Amy Newton, and writer/director/producer/actor Nicholas Briggs. John Banks is probably the highlight of the guest cast for me, both in his earnest performance as the person who finds and saves the Doctor, Jickster, but also because it's lovely to see Banks, generally a bit actor brought in due to his versatility, get more of a starring role in this story. Newton is another strong part of the guest cast, as the Daleks' kidnapped scientist Elaquon. She gives a simultaneously sensitive and hardened performance, with her sort of, "stiff upper lip" performance shining through, even as she remains fearful of the Daleks. Finally, Nicholas Briggs joins the cast as the Daleks, in his first appearance in a Third Doctor story at Big Finsh as the Doctor's sworn enemies. Briggs is always excellent as the Daleks, and this story is no exception. He portrays the Daleks, as well as the Dalek mutants, with a mad glee of sorts, making some of the Daleks in this story even more unsettling than they already are.
The story of The Conquest of Far is a type of Dalek story I really like, one that shows the horror of the Daleks, and their disturbing nature. The story starts off with Jo's realization that she her and the Doctor's efforts in the previous two adventures were all for naught, as the Daleks still survived. I think this is an extremely important story for that reason, and Briggs did a great job realizing it. Because of this, Briggs is able to take the character of Jo Grant to new places that we've not seen yet, such as showing her despairing, but very quickly turning around and realizing that she had to work to survive and save the human race. Jo has long been one of my favorite companions of the TV series, and I think Briggs really got to the heart of why I like her so much; while she's continually scared and fears she's in over her head, she always works to come out on top. While Briggs' work with Jo was great, I also really liked the story, as it had the horrific Dalek element to it, much like Briggs' work for the Eighth Doctor Adventures finale, Lucie Miller/To the Death, speculating on the horrors of a million Robomen army from the armies of Earth. Where the script falls a little flat is not actually showing much of that, but instead giving the Doctor and Jo a win in their fight against the Daleks. It makes for a great story, especially given the character work given to Jo, but it doesn't make for the most interesting of endings here.
David Nagel and Joe Meiners collaborated on the sound design work for here, and gave the story a really creepy feel. Lots of echoing steps and noises from far off permeated the story. One of the stylistic choices I appreciated most in this story was the decision to have the Daleks sound far off for the first part of the story, as it gave the story a sort of horrific feel to it. The traditional Dalek elements are all there too, from the Dalek "heartbeat" to the Third Doctor era Dalek gun noises as well. Overall, the sound design really made this story pop, sending me headfirst into the Pertwee era of Doctor Who.
Overall, The Conquest of Far is a very strong type of Dalek story, the kind that I particularly like. It did a lot of great character work for Jo Grant, which was realized brilliantly by Katy Manning, while Tim Treloar did a good job, though was mostly on the sidelines for the story. The guest cast, especially John Banks and Amy Newton did a great job, while Nick Briggs pulled quadruple duty here excellently. It was a great story to start off the set, and another great entry into the Third Doctor Adventures releases.