Genetics of the Daleks

Posted in Audio by - December 14, 2020
Genetics of the Daleks

Released December 2020

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

As the multi-platform Time Lord Victorious nears its conclusion, ‘Genetics of the Daleks’ arrives as something of a surprise. Serving as a direct prequel to the escape room experience ‘A Dalek Awakens’ while also featuring by far the earliest incarnation of the Doctor involved following so many adventures featuring the Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Doctors, author Jonathan Morris takes on the difficult task of tying these events into continuity that both has and has yet to become established while also creating a satisfying and resonant adventure that can be listened to in isolation as will be necessary for so much of the intended audience.

Twenty years into its long journey to a new home world for its ten thousand humans kept in stasis, Starship Future has recently taken aboard something besides just fuel. Of course, the title and its clever play on the classic serial ‘Genesis of the Daleks’ instantly suggest what the main narrative threat here will be, but Morris wisely takes the time to expand upon the very human conflict brimming upon this ship. In fact, a significant portion of the running time elapses before either the Doctor or Dalek appears, and the resulting backdrop allows for a what is ultimately a fairly well-trodden power grab with necessary substitutions to dynamically develop into something that still feels refreshing. In choosing this approach, the story is also afforded a much greater layering as multiple conflicts intersect and certain motivations fluidly align or cross- knowingly or not- as needed. Given the fairly contained nature of the script and its allotted running time, the sheer number of characters that become wholly relevant to the dangerous mystery on an individual basis is incredibly impressive, and each is afforded ample time to allow a full understanding of where each is coming from no matter how honourable or misguided individual intentions may be.

Naturally, Tom Baker and Nicholas Briggs are the standout highlights of this release, and each brings an energetic zeal to his performance to effectively convey the true danger that even a single Dalek can represent, especially one who knows far more about the Doctor’s personal future than any typical foe would. The Doctor has on many occasions been compared to a Dalek given his actions in the moment and what might become of them, but the Fourth Doctor learning however vaguely about what he is destined to become and then having to choose if he will follow that established path anyway is an incredibly effective storyline that only something like Time Lord Victorious could reasonably present. It’s a shame that this particular element cannot focus more to truly highlight the internal conflict that must be fueling the Doctor in this moment, but the brief glimpses shown are a genuine highlight. The script as a whole, though, is a showcase for everything that makes the Fourth Doctor so memorable and beloved, and Baker is perfectly able to play the feigning fool and the authoritative leader equally effective to prove just how forward-thinking his Doctor is as he always stays firmly in control of whatever is thrown his way. And just as Doctor Who has increasingly shown just how extremely dangerous a solitary Dalek can be, ‘Genetics of the Daleks’ perfectly proves to the Fourth Doctor just how true that is as this sole survivor goes to incredible lengths to revitalize its species with no action considered immoral or a step too far. This is nothing that takes the Doctor by surprise, but the sheer audacity and scope of this Dalek’s plan is ruthlessly cunning and the perfect coda to re-establish the typical dynamic following this saga’s monumental narrative.

‘Genetics of the Daleks’ ultimately doesn’t present anything too completely unique, but the entire production is incredibly confident and polished on every level. However, the ominous ending with the Daleks again proving their everlasting zeal to survive is a fitting endpoint to this story both in isolation and as part of the larger narrative that works whether or not the escape room is ultimately part of the individual experience. This is yet another story within an already ambitious project that definitively proves just how versatile Doctor Who as a whole can be, and although it doesn’t quite reach the heights of its similarly-named predecessor, there’s plenty to enjoy with its dynamic leads and many layers coalescing wonderfully.

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