The Dalek Trap

Posted in Audio by - July 13, 2019
The Dalek Trap

Released July 2019

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Debuting on BBC Radio 7 beginning in 2006 and continuing onto the rebranded BBC Radio 4 Extra in a variety of formats intertwined with physical releases for four seasons of stories, The Eighth Doctor Adventures notably drove the more romantic Eighth Doctor to the darker iteration that would come to feature in the ensuing Big Finish box sets. Alongside the strong-willed and enthusiastic Lucie Miller whom the Time Lords placed with the Doctor as part of a witness protection programme, the two quickly formed an immense bond while encountering foes old and new alike and melding the classic and modern television series like never before. After a hiatus of over eight years following Lucie’s harrowing and dramatic departure from the franchise, The Further Adventures of Lucie Miller Volume One reunites Paul McGann and Sheridan Smith to rekindle that beloved audio relationship in a series of four tales set between the first and second seasons of the original run.

Lucie Miller was originally introduced against the Daleks, and writer and director Nicholas Briggs provides a nice bit of symmetry by featuring the Doctor’s most iconic foe in the opener of this reintroduction, ‘The Dalek Trap.’ Several months after joining the Doctor, Lucie has taken to writing a diary to try to capture the wonders and dangers of her travels, in the process providing a succinct means of familiarizing listeners with what she has experienced to this point in her timeline. However, when the Doctor seemingly goes mad and flies his TARDIS beyond a black hole’s event horizon, she soon finds that any assumptions she had previously formed are suddenly meaningless. Unfortunately, as she steps out of the TARDIS and onto the surface of a mysterious planetoid, she is also the only one in possession of her full faculties in what very much amounts to a race against time for any chance of retaining her memories and for survival itself.

In theory, the idea of a location populated by two crash survivors who cannot remember even the most basic information about themselves but who nonetheless insist on protecting a group so vital to them and known only as the sleepers is a fascinating one, ‘but ‘The Dalek Trap’ does falter somewhat because in practice this means that vast portions of the script are filled with repetitive questions and momentary silences to emphasize the relative lack of information going into their thinking processes. With memories actively failing and even Lucie beginning to succumb after only a brief time here, these sequences are all too frequent and unfortunately feel too often like they have been artificially extended just to fill time. Still, Matt Lloyd Davies and Amanda Hurwitz do well with the material provided, and Jik and Raz provide a unique dual presence with whom Lucie can interact to slowly piece together at least an idea of what is going on as well as how to take the fight back to the Daleks whom her new companions insist will save them now that the Doctor has arrived to assist.

‘The Dalek Trap’ is very much a Doctor-lite story and as such may surprise some looking to jump right back into the unique dynamic of Lucie and the Eighth Doctor, but the Doctor likewise not remembering and acting strictly against type as he willingly walks into a group of Daleks beckoning for his help is nonetheless a startling visual upon which to hinge the drama. Lucie never wavers in her belief that the Daleks are up to something nefarious, however, despite everything she has seen and been told, and the Daleks’ insistence that they are not controlling the Doctor but instead find themselves also working for the Darkness that the Doctor brought and that will save them all is perhaps even more chilling than the alternative. And although the narrative is a bit light on the answers to so many of the questions it poses, the impossible decision Lucie must make to either save everyone including the Daleks or to let everyone die when a mysterious glowing box comes into her hands and the Doctor remains unable to help boldly reinforces the character’s bravery and moral fibre.  

With a deadly environment that shouldn’t exist plagued by dangerous creatures who are becoming braver with each passing moment that simultaneously seems to take away the memories of those present, the unique setting and temporal affairs in play are unquestionably the most memorable aspects of this script that is so filled with fascinating ideas. ‘The Dalek Trap’ is not a typical release by any means and features a much more pervasive and uneasy danger than most within its Cradle of the Darkness. Featuring the strong performances of Sheridan Smith as Lucie and of Nicholas Briggs as this unique group of Daleks who realistically could have been any foe since they never truly show the famed Dalek menace or evoke the Doctor’s most carnal response, a steadying force is always present that thrusts Lucie Miller into the spotlight for a triumphant return and that culminates with the ominous warning that the Darkness will soon control all.

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