Big Finish continue to breath new life into Doctor Who’s early days with the latest release in their Early Adventures range.
The Dalek Occupation of Winter kicks off a brand new First Doctor story combining full cast audio drama with additional narration from companions Steven Taylor (Peter Purves) and Vicki (Maureen O’Brien). Having gone up against them together in The Chase, the TARDIS trio come face to face with the the Daleks once again.
Winter is a city that lives up to its reputation: on a planet amidst a near-perpetual winter. The Doctor, Steven and Vicki arrive in the midst of a celebration as its citizens commend the newest recruits to its scientific research centre. But as the city’s leader welcomes “the ambassador” to the stage, the trio realise that things aren’t as peaceful as they seem. Winter is under Dalek occupation, but not quite as you may think.
Over the years Big Finish have produced some truly fantastic Dalek stories that emphasise just how evil they can be, but The Dalek Occupation of Winter takes that one step further and also challenges the idea that they should always be stopped for “the greater good”. Though the Doctor largely takes a back seat to the events that unfold on Winter, both he and his companions influence on its people are what truly drive the story, resulting in a particularly powerful ending that doesn’t play to the usual Doctor Who tune.
Worse than Daleks
The story features the Daleks are their duplicitous best, with only those close to them privy to their real nature and motive. It’s these characters – Gaius Morjorian and Jacklyn Karma (played by Robert Daws and Sara Powell respectively) that steal the show. The pair prove themselves just as despicable as the Daleks themselves and, in some respects, actually worse. Whereas the Daleks know nothing but hate, this pair show off the very worst qualities in humanity as they lie, grovel and betray to ensure their survival. It shows that sometimes its not the Daleks themselves that are most compelling, it’s what they bring out in those around them.
The format of these Early Adventures stories allows for a little more narrative context to be injected through the use of carefully placed narration. Maureen O’Brian and Peter Purves do an excellent job both narrating and reprising their characters in the standard format. In many respects it’s a far more companion-driven story as each go in their own directions. Steven develops up a great rapport with Amala as he discovers just what she and many others do for a living.
The Sound of Nostalgia
On top of featuring Maureen O’Brian and Peter Purves, The Dalek Occupation of Winter is an excellent throwback to Hartnell’s era through some nice references and sound effects that call back to classic Dalek stories. Fans will get giddy at the sheer mention of the pyro flames from The Daleks’ Master Plan, while the 60s Dalek gun and door sound effects aim to plant your ears and imagination right back in time.
It’s just a shame that Big Finish have opted for a consistent Dalek sound across their audio range. As iconic Nicholas Briggs’ Dalek voice has become, the more polished effects and dome whirring dampens the nostalgia slightly. With the Cybermen of various eras being represented across their audios, it’d be great to hear Briggs pull off some of those classic sounds he once teased in An Adventure in Space and Time. Still this is a minor complaint coming from a particularly meticulous Dalek fan, and between the sound and score there’s more than enough to make this sound like a classic Who tale as well as feel it.
The Dalek Occupation of Winter is a unique take on a classic Dalek story format, featuring plenty of interesting developments and reestablish the Daleks as a credible threat. If you’re looking for a story that doesn’t go the way you expect it to, then this really couldn’t come recommended any higher.
This title was released in September 2018. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until October 31st 2018, and on general sale after this date.
The TARDIS lands in the capital city of a planet deep in the midst of an endless winter. The population are celebrating a new crop of candidates winning roles at the scientific research centre. Those who go there dedicate their lives to continued service and are rarely, if ever, seen again. Not everyone is happy to see them leave.
As the Doctor, Steven and Vicki watch, the city leader – Majorian – invites onto the stage in front of the happy crowd their ‘friend who made all this possible’… and a Dalek appears.
The people of this planet seem to be living in perfect harmony with the Doctor’s old enemies. But the TARDIS crew know this cannot be true. So what’s really going on?
Written By: David K Barnes
Directed By: Lisa Bowerman
Maureen O’Brien (Vicki), Peter Purves (Steven Taylor), Shvorne Marks (Amala Vost), Robert Daws (Gaius Majorian), Sara Powell (Jacklyn Karna), Matthew Jacobs-Morgan (Kenrik Vost) and Nicholas Briggs (The Daleks). Other parts played by members of the cast.
Producer David Richardson
Script Editor John Dorney
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs