REVIEW: Doctor Who – The Dalek Contract (2013)

A Big Finish Audio Production

I’ve normally been listening to these Doctor Who Big Finish Audio Dramas in release order by way of the monthly line – I am currently only NINTEEN years behind, which I’m sure will take an insane amount of time to get through. I only decided to listen this one because it was one of a handful of audio dramas from Big Finish on the Libby App, something I only recently discovered. I realize that jumping to season two, episode six of an ongoing season is probably a stupid idea, but I had not heard what a Tom Baker audio from Big Finish might sound like so I was curious. I feel like what this showed me was that this particular line is a great representation of the classic show, but not a series where the individual episodes stand on their own.

“These creatures have ravaged half the cosmos. They’re experts at this kind of thing. Nothing can stand in their way. The Doctor and Romana find themselves in the Proxima System, where enigmatic Conglomerate CEO Cuthbert has been conducting his infamous “experiment”. An experiment which might accidentally rip the universe apart. Meanwhile, living conditions on Proxima Major have become harsh and hostile. Climate change has turned the landscape into a freezing wasteland and an alien power has condemned much of the population to life inside internment camps. For those still clinging to their freedom, the struggle for survival is now beyond desperate and outsiders such as the Doctor and Romana are only seen as a threat. What is Cuthbert really up to in the Proxima System stem, and just how does he expect the dreaded Daleks to fit into his plan?”

I actually forgot just how much I always liked Mary Tamm as Romana, which isn’t a dig at her successor, Lalla Ward, but a realization that she was only given such a small amount of time on the show, but did wonders with it. I could be being nostalgic as The Key to Time was always a series I enjoyed watching on DVD when I got back into the show, but it had to be good for me to do that. Sadly, we never got to hear much from this “TARDIS Team” this time around either, as Tamm passed away not too long after this particular story was released in 2012. We also hear the late David Warner here as a character named Cuthbert that might be the main antagonist of this series, I will have to listen to more to tell. Tom Baker and K-9 fill out the rest of the cast, and Tom honestly has not missed a beat in playing The Doctor one bit. For someone that went to great lengths to leave the show behind at one point, you would never know listening to this. It seems like his zeal and interest in bringing back what made his version of the character THE DOCTOR for many kids really shines through at every turn.

Honestly, while this feels straight out of a Terry Nation script from the past, I can’t say that it’s bad or anything, but it doesn’t wholly stand out either. Perhaps it’s because I’ve seen the plotline of “The Daleks pretend to be nice and provide security to an egotistical guy to hide their real plans” more than a few times in the last decade, but I guess in 2012 it wasn’t as played out. The strength of this episode really hinges on the great performances of the cast members, and the plot seems more like an afterthought. It’s because of this that it sadly falls a bit short, and just comes across as adequate.

I am interested in hearing more of these sometime, perhaps I can find some sort of deal of Big Finish’s website in the future or some such? No matter how “middle of the road” this was on its own, I’m sure that had I started with episode one I would have been able to enjoy this that much more. This feels right at home as a classic episode of the show which should be a goal of any episode to be quite honest.

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