Another day, another Dalek story we suppose… with the latest instalment in Big Finish’s Fifth Doctor range. This four-part story sees the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa once again encountering the Daleks, who have orchestrated some new methods of conquering planets, as well as some old ones. We start off with the TARDIS duo investigating the destruction of ten worlds, which only escalates into a spiral of unexpected twists and turns at every corner, nobody is trustworthy, and the Daleks are one step closer to world domination.
The first story, Alien Heart, tells a pretty standard base-under-siege story as a small outpost on Traxana’a moon gets overrun by green arachnoids known as Cell-Spiders, who can overwrite and mess about with the temporal motion of their environment, sending it backward or forwards in time. These mini Dalek puppets are an ingenious creation, and fit in well with the Daleks’ methodology of using various methods to ensure victories, correct past mistakes and find new ways of survival. However, this story does get bogged down somewhat thanks to an unnecessary little side-plot involving Nyssa tagging along with deranged Theebee, whose plans are as predictable as they are lazy and contrived.
The last story, Dalek Soul, is where things start to pick up, and what’s accomplished here is very surreal and unexpected[re, so much so that it requires multiple viewings in order to gain a full understanding of what the full story is. Even when you’ve got things figured out, you’re still left pondering over questions that are left hanging, which may or may not infuriate some fans. Without spoiling anything, the situation the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa are in is something that is new, surprising, and while out of character, it makes complete sense once you understand the full story since it recycles a crucial plot device last seen in 1984’s Resurrection of the Daleks.
Overall, while nothing special or memorable compared to some of Big Finish’s best efforts, Alien Heart/Dalek Soul is a solid story that adds a new fresh twist on, not just the Daleks, but also on the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa’s relationship. Stephen Cole and Guy Adams’ scripts shine when they need to, and both Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton both do great jobs as usual, but whether or not this is an essential purchase is up to you really.
DOCTOR WHO ALIEN HEART/DALEK SOUL / DIRECTOR: KEN BENTLEY / WRITERS: STEPHEN COLE, GUY ADAMS / STARRING: PETER DAVISON, SARAH SUTTON, EVE WEBSTER, GEOFFREY NEWLAND / PUBLISHER: BIG FINISH / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW