Thursday, August 8, 2013

Big Finish - Brotherhood of the Daleks

A recent Big Finish sale gave me the chance to pick up another Sixth Doctor and Charley Pollard adventure. Brotherhood of the Daleks, by Alan Barnes, directed by Nicholas Briggs.

The Doctor and Charley are expecting an ice planet but instead find themselves in a jungle, and in a war zone. The local resistance are fighting a losing battle against the Daleks, but there is something very strange about these Daleks, and about the whole situation.

So yes I bought this one just because it was cheap, and because Nicholas Briggs picked it as one of his favourite Dalek stories, and I didn't pay too much attention to the writer until I listened to the CD extra interviews. Alan Barnes is a Big Finish writer whose previous stories I have struggled with. I like what he does as the script editor for the main Doctor Who range, and I have to admire him as a former editor of The Judge Dredd Megazine but his writing has bothered me in the past. The only one I really liked was his parody of 2000AD in Izzy's story from The Company of Friends, and apparently I'm pretty much alone in liking that tale. In this take on the Daleks Barnes references the Vietnam war and draws heavily on the writings of Karl Marx and develops a branch of the Dalek empire that has adopted the principles of Communism. And the funny thing is it all kind of works, I quite liked it.

Admittedly this adventure does play with the dream within a dream, within a dream idea which has cropped up before and can be quite difficult to disentangle for the listener. It is never easy to work out exactly which reality we are in at any one point, but that didn't bother me here. India Fisher works wonders as Charley Pollard and Colin Baker is on infuriatingly accurate form as the Sixth Doctor. The rest of the cast were fine with no particular stand-outs, although there were a few problems when they are required to use the ring modulator to produce Dalek voices. Unless it is Nicholas Briggs doing them they just sound like children playing with something bought from a toy shop.

This Big Finish release is back to full price now and with their recent announcement that all of their earliest fifty stories are going to be available for £2.99 only on download it is difficult to recommend picking this up instead of a cheaper adventure. However it has restored my faith in Alan Barnes. Let me give it 3.5 out of 5 Dalek manifestos and move on to some invaders from Mars.

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