Big Finish has decided to draw something of a line across the main range after 200 releases, and allow the next few trilogies to form jumping on points for new listeners. We know Sixie is due a new companion later this year, but July gives us the Seventh Doctor with Melanie Bush starting a range needing no knowledge of story arcs running over the past decade. Written by Jonathan Morris, We are the Daleks gives an opportunity to freshen up the range.
How well does it manage? Let’s find out…
The Big Finish product has this to say:
The year is 1987, and Britain is divided. In Bradford, strikers are picketing and clashing with the police. In the City of London, stockbrokers are drinking champagne and politicians are courting the super-rich. The mysterious media mogul Alek Zenos, head of the Zenos Corporation, is offering Britain an economic miracle. His partners wish to invest – and their terms are too good to refuse.
While the Doctor investigates Warfleet, a new computer game craze that is sweeping the nation, Mel goes undercover to find out the truth about Zenos’s partners.
The Daleks have a new paradigm. They intend to conquer the universe using economic power. The power of the free market!
The story unfolds against a late 1980s background, bringing in some obvious political angles as the Daleks join with the forces of capitalism to offer Britain a chance at an economic miracle. The Daleks are behind the game Warfleet and anybody who has read the Orson Scott Card novel Ender’s Game (or seen the film) will guess a large chunk of the story. The plot splits the Doctor up from Mel, takes us to Skaro and plays a couple of tricks with assumptions and ends with a confrontation, some puns and references to earlier stories. It moves along at a pace and even if there are just one too many coincidences, it does work well as a piece of entertainment.
This story captures not only the comic book take on politics common in the 1980s (see my Happiness Patrol review, for example). It also manages to ask modern (UK) listeners questions about the future of the European Union and does all this with a decent range of characters and plenty of Dalek mayhem. Jonathan Morris even works in a dreadful near-pun and treads a good line between serious drama, dark humour and solid fun.
The story entertains and as Bonnie Langford says in the extras, she much prefers an older version of Mel to the one she played in the 1980s. There is a lot I have left out in the notes above — not because it was forgettable, more to leave it to the listener to discover. I realise there are those who aren’t massive fans of Mel, if this is you, do give this a chance.