Blood of the Daleks Part 1

Posted in Audio by - August 12, 2017
Blood of the Daleks Part 1

Released January 2007

Big Finish is an undeniably important component of Doctor Who history, keeping the classic series firmly alive between the failed 1996 TV movie and the ultra-successful 2005 relaunch by employing the original Doctors and companions since 1999 and still going strong today. With Paul McGann joining the company in 2001, Big Finish suddenly became the place to go for ‘new’ Doctor Who beyond the brief tease of his one-off appearance, further fleshing out this romantic, kind, and determined incarnation with a series of spectacular and experimental tales that took him to all corners of this universe and beyond. Yet with the arrival of Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor in ‘Rose,’ that unbridled freedom was given at the very least a vague endpoint, and Big Finish found themselves in the position of having the opportunity to form a bridge between their audio adventures and the those on television, and so The Eighth Doctor Adventures arrives, blending sensibilities of both the classic and modern series to offer something wholly unique with the BBC’s full blessing.

Designed originally for BBC7 broadcast, the structure of the episodes in The Eighth Doctor Adventures is very much in line with the norms of the concurrent television series, generally an isolated story lasting one hour with a tease to set the scene before the opening credits and a central mystery to loosely link events across the season together. As an opener, ‘Blood of the Daleks Part 1’ has a tremendous amount to achieve, and it’s no surprise that this opening story has been expanded to two hour-long parts to achieve all that it sets out to do. First and foremost is the introduction of Lucie Miller played by Sheridan Smith, a contemporary, working-class woman who would fit in perfectly with the televised roster of primary companions. Even if the first few moments are a little rushed and combatively awkward as the Doctor finds himself in the presence of Lucie who has mysteriously appeared within his TARDIS and seems unwilling to provide an explanation, the true story about Lucie is primed to be a major foundation for this series, especially as it is slowly revealed that she witnessed something big that warranted the Time Lords putting her in a witness protection setup under the Doctor’s unwitting supervision.

Still, after the initial scenes, it’s clear that McGann and Smith have a natural chemistry and their characters very different outlooks on life, and the post-apocalyptic colony world of Red Rocket Rising is an excellent choice as a setting to begin to develop the nuances of both leads in this new range. The notion of the Daleks arriving at a world struggling to survive under the guise of being a helping force is one that Big Finish has explored before, but showcasing the Daleks in the first story is likewise a brilliant strategic move aimed at targeting the mainstream audience as well as long-term fans, pitting the ever-changing Doctor against the most solid reminder of the unchanging and ever-present prospect death. While the Daleks don’t have a tremendous amount to do in the opening instalment, their reaction to the presence of the Doctor on this world reaffirms their unbridled hatred, and the revelation that a scientist has furtively been developing her own race of Daleks sets the scene for a bombastic second half.

While the ultimate legacy of any first part is intrinsically tied to its conclusion, ‘Blood of the Daleks Part 1’ ends up being a solid effort that firmly catapults the Eighth Doctor more closely to the tone and pacing of the modern television series. With strong supporting performances from Anita Dobson as the weary but hopeful leader of the colony Eileen Klint, Hayley Atwell as the subordinate but surprisingly secretive Asha, and Kenneth Cranham as the doom prophesier Tom Cardwell, the production never misses a beat and flies by easily from beginning to end, buoyed by strong direction from Nicholas Briggs and strong sound design and score from Gareth Jenkins and Andy Hardwick. Though the vital introductory scene is a bit muddled and the overall plot setup is fairly traditional in its execution, ‘Blood of the Daleks Part 1’ is nonetheless a great entry point to the world of this ever-developing eighth incarnation and bodes incredibly well for what is to come..

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