Doctor Who: The Conquest of Far Review

The Conquest of Far

The third volume of Third Doctor Adventures (a.k.a. Third Doctor stories with Tin Treloar doing a damn good job doing Jon Pertwee’s Third Doctor) starts off with Dalek story by Nicholas Briggs! … Unique! Seriously though, this does at least feel like a Third Doctor story, even if I would have preferred the Cybermen if we’re going with classic enemies (as the Third Doctor has three good Dalek TV stories and no Cybermen TV stories at all!) It does suffer from the usual Briggs Dalek war tropes, which is why this story sits somewhere between comfortably nostalgic and uncomfortably predictable… Let’s take a closer look, regardless!

Official Synopsis:

Earth Alliance, the future… Fleet commanders receive their orders from the President of Earth. Operation Far is ‘go’. As soon as the planets are suitably aligned, the attack will go ahead.

The Doctor and Jo arrive on the planet Far. The Doctor wants to attend the grand opening of one of the human race’s greatest achievements. A huge Hyper Gateway built to make travel around Earth’s great empire more convenient, bringing relief to many starving outer colonies.

But they land in the wrong time period, long after the Gateway has been in service, and the Daleks have conquered Far! It’s the middle of a war and a deadly game is underway. When everyone has an agenda, betrayal can happen at any time, from any side. The endgame is approaching and maybe this time no one will survive.

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

The Doctor (Tom Treloar) – Having just dealt with the Daleks on Spiridon, the last thing on The Doctor’s mind is to face them again… so of course that’s exactly what happens! In the future he should probably assume the worst, then he’ll get the odd pleseant surprise…

Jo Grant (Katy Manning) – Jo wants to go home after several adventures in space, but is unsurprisingly dumped on an alien planet full of Daleks again… Ah well, such is the life!

Delralis (George Watkins) – Member of the small Dalek resistance on Far. He is desperately in love with his significant other, which given this is a Nicholas Briggs war story… well, we all know how that’s going to end…

Jickster (John Banks) – A former member of the Far military who has been badly mutated in the sewers by the Daleks’ slave driving. He retains enough of his self to be of use though, which is handy!

The Daleks (Nicholas Briggs) – They’re a little bit naughty.

Plus many more!

The Good:

DW TCOF and SOTH Cover

The cover’s good and everything, but it has kind of screwed me over when it comes to a thumbnail for the second story…

First things first, this does feel like a Third Doctor story. Treloar is once again the perfect audio Third Doctor, sounds enough like Jon Pertwee’s take on the Doctor to buy it, but never sounds like someone trying to do an impersonation. He acts like The Third Doctor, but most importantly, he acts at all, not just trying to stay vocally identical to someone else. It’s still such a great combination. Katy Manning is still good as Jo and the guest cast do a fine job as well. In terms of the frame work of good acting and getting the feel of the era right, this accomplishes both.

The setting of the planet Far is at least unique, the large stargate-like ring fast travel system is interesting. I liked the “advanced Robo-men” idea, and even the giant “Robo-tising Weapon”, though I have to question why neither was ever used again given their clear effectiveness!

The Bad:

Shall we get out our Nicolas Briggs Dalek story chart out? Short-sighted military types who eventually come to accept The Doctor’s ways? Check. Struggling resistance group who are afraid all the time but soldier on? Check. A man and woman couple who love each other dearly on the side of the resistance, one of whom dies in the other arms leaving the other to bravely fight on? Check. Dalek interrogation scene? Check. Call back to the events of a TV Dalek story? Pretty much check, although given this was advertised as a sequel to Planet of the Daleks, it barely checks… which is odd, but not unwelcome! Anyway, you get the point. If this is your first Dalek war drama by Mr. Briggs you’ll love it. Me? I’ve heard a lot over the years, and the clichés are starting to drag them down…

I don’t quite get the idea of setting this straight after Planet of the Daleks. So The Doctor and Jo arrive on a planet with a large sleeping Dalek army right after the previous one, but has no connection to it at all. *shrugs* It doesn’t hurt the story, but why not just have it happen later?

As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, I would have preferred a generic by-the-numbers Cybermen story, given the lack of TV Third Doctor Cybermen stories and the wealth of Dalek ones. Especially given currently we get two Third Doctor stories a year from Big Finish, so this seems like a waste…

The Continuity:

As mentioned elsewhere, this story takes place straight after TV story “Planet of the Daleks”, though that actually has no effect on the story. Other than that: it has Daleks in it, but I’m not going to list all the Dalek stories…

Overall Thoughts:

While there is nothing wrong with this story per say, it is on the generic side of things, which is disappointing given how few of these stories we get every year. If this is your first Briggs Dalek story then you might fall in love with it… me? I loved the Third Doctor era feel of the story and the acting, but it didn’t quite save it from predictability and a feeling of “been there, done that”… or “been there, already listened to that”, I guess…? Average score, anyway…

3 Star Listen

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