Dalek Empire III
Chapter One - The Exterminators

Starring: David Tennant, William Gaunt, Ishia Bennison and Laura Rees
Big Finish Productions
RRP 9.99
ISBN 1 84435 082 7
Available 28 May 2004

Two millennia ago, Susan Mendes sent a destructive impulse through the Dalek Command Network. The result was utter devastation: what came to be known as the Great Catastrophe. Twenty years ago, Galactic Union envoy Siy Tarkov set off from Velyshaa with vital information about an imminent Dalek invasion. Today, the only evidence that Tarkov ever existed is a garbled message, calling for help...

The Daleks are back! And it's great to have them back. It's all change this time around, since this new six-part miniseries takes place 2,000 years after Dalek Empires I and II.

There's a host of new characters, including security chief Georgi Selestru (played by The Champions star William Gaunt), whose fears regarding the Daleks do not appear to be shared by his superiors, and Kaymee Arnod (Laura Rees), a trainee game warden assigned to an alien planet. This is not Gaunt's first foray into the territory of the evil exterminators - he previously played Grand Master Orcini in the Colin Baker Doctor Who serial Revelation of the Daleks.

Rees is extremely endearing as the eager but nervous and inexperienced raw recruit Kaymee. Her performance reminded me of Nicole deBoer as Ezri Dax in Deep Space Nine and Parminder Nagra as Neela Rasgotra in ER. The scenes in which the terrified trainee endures a free-fall drop from a transport ship to the planet's surface - without the aid of a shuttlecraft - are truly exhilarating.

Sarah Mowat, the star of the previous two miniseries, makes a brief reappearance in a flashback sequence as Susan Mendes, in her guise as a sentient destructive impulse. However, I must say that this response to the Dalek threat is rather too similar to Starfleet's solution to the Borg incursion in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode The Best of Both Worlds.

Writer/director Nicholas Briggs has packed a lot of good stuff into this opening instalment. Other intriguing ingredients include some curiously intelligent primates and some suspiciously helpful Daleks (a la The Power of the Daleks). I haven't got much idea how all these disparate elements fit together just yet, and that's exactly the way it should be at this stage.

Bring on Chapter Two... or you will be ex-ter-min-a-ted!

Richard McGinlay

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