Anya Kingdom is back! But her reunion with the Doctor is complicated by time travel, space plagues and Daleks!
The Dalek Universe is coming. Though by no means the behemoth that Time Lord Victorious was, it nevertheless feels like a huge event. The presence of David Tennant as the Doctor, even now, still feels like a special treat. While the idea of throwing him into the massive, sprawling, world of Terry Nation’s peak Dalekmania immediately excites. And its tendrils snake discretely out from those core boxsets in some interesting directions. The most recent series of The Diary of River Song featured the Doctor’s new allies, the Space Security Service agents Mark Seven and Anya Kingdom. The upcoming DALEK TERROR! vinyl record collects readings of some of Mark’s classic adventures from the 1960s Dalek books. And then there’s this prelude, The Dalek Protocol, in which Tom Baker’s Doctor the two secret agents meet.
Positioned in a web of other stories as prequel, sequel and prologue
Welcome back to the planet Exxilon. Yes, from Death to the Daleks. Once home to one of the mightiest civilizations in the cosmos, before descending to barbarism when their city’s AI rebelled. And now possibly on the road to recovery. The Earth Empire have been trading education and technology with the Exxilons in return for the precious, life giving
The Dalek Protocol seeks to do many things at once. Depending on where you’re standing in the web of surrounding stories, it’s a sequel, prequel or prologue. It acts as an origin story for the Kingdom and Seven team seen in Dalek Universe and River Song. But also as connective tissue between Anya’s earlier appearances in Syndicate Master Plan and that upcoming reunion with the Doctor. On each level it’s a neat optional extra for listeners – nobody going in cold to the Tenth Doctor series is going to miss out by skipping this story, but it enhances the experience. Similarly, you needn’t have watched Death to the Daleks or listened to Syndicate Master Plan to follow the action here, but it helps. (Sadly, the Doctor’s bullet point recap of the plot of Death doesn’t include the phrase “And, there was a floor! Remember, Bellal? A tiled floor!”)
Slavin and Jameson bring an emotional depth to their scenes, while Joe Sims gives an intelligent and skilled performance of the man machine Mark Seven
It’s particularly effective at spelling out the depths of Anya’s regret about parting ways with the Doctor before. Having learned her true identity as an SSS agent he refused to let her travel with him any more. But due to the story’s nature it was left unclear how much of her affection for him had been real. But, in no small part due to Jane Slavin‘s incredibly affecting performance, Anya’s betrayal of the Doctor is revealed here as the biggest regret of her life. Indeed, she goes to extreme lengths to protect him in The Dalek Protocol. It’s complicated by the fact that he hasn’t met her yet and she has to avoid meeting him directly. We do get a wonderfully written and acted scene between Anya and Louise Jameson‘s Leela, though. One which solidifies just how much both women care for him.
The team building between Anya and Mark Seven is also well done. Their adventures together, going above and beyond the call of duty for each other, is easy to foresee establishing a bond in the best cop movie tradition in time for Dalek Universe. While Slavin is as dependably brilliant as ever, Joe Sims deserves special praise. The role of Mark Seven presents a difficult task for any actor. Seven is an android, after all, but one so sophisticated that his complex web of programming, experience, and directives creates something like emotions. Sims’ performance of a character who thinks and feels in a distinct way from humans is thoughtful and convincing.
The Dalek Protocol is not the story its shopping list of ingredients suggests, but something bolder and more satisfying
But the biggest surprise in The Dalek Protocol is how masterfully it teases expectations before subverting them. Being honest, sitting down to listen to a sequel to Death to the Daleks written by Nicholas Briggs, featuring a human base under siege from iconic monsters without and potential traitors within, you’re likely to think you know every plot beat before you even hit play. Briggs’ script tees up the relevant elements, like a brusque and sceptical commander.
But at every move the story does the unexpected instead of the obvious. Meanwhile it smartly keeps elements like the reborn Exillon beacon, and conflict among the Exillons about the future direction of their race, around only exactly as long as the plot needs them. It’s an ingenious approach that kept Blogtor Who guessing more than even a completely original setup would have done. Meanwhile, the four part format gives the changes of setting and action room to breath.
Like Mark Seven himself, The Dalek Protocol exceeds the sum of its parts to be something quite special. Much more than a quick return tour of Exxilon, it’s an exciting introduction to the widescreen action and drama of the Dalek Universe. While its touching meditations on the nature of being the Doctor’s companion, and the inevitability of losing him, are reminiscent of School Reunion.
Doctor Who: Dalek Universe – The Dalek Protocol
The Earth mission to Exxilon is nearing completion after many long years. Enough parrinium has been mined to stop the spread of the deadly space plague. But suddenly, the power-draining beacon from the Exxilon city is inexplicably reactivated, stranding the humans.
The Doctor, Leela and K9 are stuck too, right on top of the remains of the city – under attack!
Somewhere nearby, the android agent Mark Seven is enacting his secret orders while the Doctor’s estranged future companion, Anya Kingdom, is hoping for redemption.
And heading inexorably towards them all… the Daleks!
- Tom Baker (The Doctor)
- Louise Jameson (Leela)
- John Leeson (K9)
- Jane Slavin (Anya Kingdom)
- Joe Sims (Mark Seven)
- Nicholas Briggs (Barnard / Bellal / The Daleks)
- Jez Fielder (Gislen)
- Anna Mitcham (Ellasi Craig)
- Cover Art Ryan Aplin
- Director Nicholas Briggs
- Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery, Nicholas Briggs
- Music Jamie Robertson
- Producer David Richardson
- Script Editor John Dorney
- Sound Design Jamie Robertson
- Writer Nicholas Briggs