Doctor Who
The Juggernauts

Starring: Colin Baker
Big Finish Productions
RRP 13.99
ISBN 1 84435 101 7
Available 15 January 2005

Separated by space and time, the Doctor and Mel find themselves in very different predicaments. Mel is employed on the mining colony of Lethe, while the Doctor is imprisoned aboard an alien spacecraft. Both situations are inexorably linked, and at the apex sits Davros and the threat of a new force even more powerful than the Daleks...

Individually, the Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) and the Daleks usually bode well for an entertaining adventure from Big Finish. The last time they were together was in the magnificent Jubilee while Baker previously went head to head with their creator in the instant classic Davros. Add to all these ingredients the Big Finish debut of the Mechonoids (from the television serial The Chase and the TV21 Dalek comic strips) and we must have a winner on our hands, right?

Well, almost.

Newcomer Scott Alan Woodard's script betrays his unfamiliarity with the audio medium. Many scenes, particularly near the beginning of the play, have the characters describing their surroundings to us. Conversely, the Doctor fails to realise that he is aboard a Dalek ship, despite the presence of the familiar Dalek control room "heartbeat" effect, though this is more likely the fault of sound man Steve Foxon than Woodard. Following such master works as the Dalek Empire series, Jubilee and Davros, this story seems a little lightweight by comparison.

In its favour, however, the narrative makes good use of Mel (Bonnie Langford), a character who, even more so than the Sixth Doctor, has been dealt with better by Big Finish than she ever was by the original television series. Woodard treats her like an adult, allowing her to exhibit the kind of technical prowess that you would expect from a much-vaunted computer expert, and to toy with the idea of a mature relationship with one of the Lethean colonists. Langford makes the most of the opportunity she is presented with.

One of the objectives of this adventure is to bridge the gap between the television serials Revelation of the Daleks and Remembrance of the Daleks, by suggesting how Davros (Terry Molloy) escaped from his Dalek captors to become enmeshed in the casing of the Dalek Emperor. This it does, to an extent, though the ending might lead some to wonder how Davros could survive to become Emperor - well, he's escaped from such situations before... The drama steps on the toes of the similarly themed Doctor Who Magazine comic strip Emperor of the Daleks, though we can always assume that the strip took place afterwards. The writer also makes the mistake of referring to the anti-Davros Daleks as "renegades", even though there is no evidence that Davros' Daleks have become the dominant faction as yet. They can't be renegades if they are still the dominant force.

As usual, Terry Molloy delivers the goods in the role of Davros, as does Nicholas Briggs as the Dalek and Mechonoid voices. Between them, Woodard, Foxon and Briggs get the sounds and eccentrically coded speech patterns of the Mechonoids just right.

Their excavation by a mad scientist also brings to mind another '60s six-parter: The Power of the Daleks.

Despite its flaws, The Juggernauts is a very entertaining escapade, full of crowd-pleasing elements.

Richard McGinlay

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