Released April 2012
It was an inevitability that arguably the most iconic Doctor would cross paths with the Daleks, his most iconic foes, when The Fourth Doctor Adventures audio range was announced with Nicholas Briggs’s involvement. After all, the Daleks have been a recurring force for evil almost since the very beginning of Doctor Who itself, and the Fourth Doctor was quite literally present at the very beginning of the Dalek menace as he considered destroying their threat before it could even manifest. ‘Energy of the Daleks’ finally gives Leela an opportunity to confront the universe’s ultimate evil, creating a successful- if rather straightforward- Dalek entry in this fledgling range.
The Doctor and Leela land in 2025 London where protests against the GloboSphere Corporation are intensifying. The company has successfully set up solar panels on the Moon that are capable of generating all of Earth’s energy needs, but it has since made deals with terrestrial energy companies to delay utilizing them. As the protests are broken up and the Doctor and Leela are separated, Leela soon discovers that the Daleks are behind the technological advancements and that they plan to use the vast power supplies to against an unsuspecting Earth.
Part of what makes ‘Energy of the Daleks’ so successful is that it marks the first time that the Fourth Doctor and Leela are thrust into a more contemporary setting with a sort of realism that could only be produced at this point in time. Otherwise, ‘Energy of the Daleks’ safely hits all of the familiar notes present in most Dalek tales as the companion is taken hostage, Robomen and advanced technology feature, exterminations abound, and the Doctor exploits the one flaw in the Daleks’ complicated plan to save the world. The decision to have the Doctor discover the Daleks’ presence during the cliffhanger of a two-episode story, though, does mean that the first episode suffers from some spinning in place as the Doctor rushes around the city trying to discover the truth behind the conflict. Leela, unsurprisingly, gives as good as she gets from her captors, and Louise Jameson showcases great range as she channels the more savage side of her character as well as the immense anguish and torment of being tortured during the tale’s darker moments.
Perhaps surprisingly, ‘Energy of the Daleks’ was the first-recorded story for this range, and the strong performances, chemistry, and plotting here call into further question the shortcomings of ‘Destination: Nerva’ which formed the first release. Nonetheless, ‘Energy of the Daleks’ successfully captures the spirit of the best Dalek stories and is unafraid to revel in nostalgia even as the moral messages are somewhat glossed over due to the short running time. Following the immense drama of ‘The Wrath of the Iceni,’ ‘Energy of the Daleks’ provides a bit of simple fun, highlighting the versatility of this range within the confines of Doctor Who and unafraid to blend old and new. This is a story that could have benefitted from being extended to four parts to further hammer home the danger and horror the characters find themselves in, but the quick pacing that results undeniably works to the story’s benefit as well.