I was of two minds going into Poison of the Daleks. On the one hand I love the Third Doctor Adventures, especially now they have the Brigadier in the stories, but on the other hand, The Daleks, again? The Third Doctor already has the second most TV encounters with them out of the classic Doctors and they already appeared a couple of TDA sets ago. Oh well… Was Poison of the Daleks a treat or a retread? Let’s find out!
UNIT has been seconded to handle security at Breathe Industries’ revolutionary new air filtration plant. The Doctor is initially dismissive… but when a man seems to appear out of thin air and die, his curiosity is piqued.
The Doctor soon discovers that the plant is connected to another time, another place. Stranded with Jo, the Brigadier and Benton on a distant planet, the Doctor discovers the terrible truth behind Breathe Industries’ new technology. His oldest enemies, the Daleks.
Can even the Doctor and UNIT manage to save two worlds at the same time?
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
The opening scene, which sees The Doctor, Jo, The Brigadier and Benton all in Bessie as they’re heading to Breathe Industries HQ is an absolute delight. Tim Treloar’s Third Doctor is still great, and Jon Culshaw’s Brig is still eerily accurate, so combined with Katy Manning and John Levene playing their original roles, it brought a big smile to my face as The Doctor began singing to everyone’s dismay.
That was really the big highlight, because otherwise the script was very straight forward, but scenes like The Doctor accidentally Venusian Akido-ing the Brigadier and the latter’s reaction to it just made the experience so much fun. I imagine if this script were given to a more familiar TARDIS team if would just come across as tired and boring, but this foursome is still so new that it was just a great time hearing them all play off each other so well.
The only other thing that stood out was Skwoj (Abigail McKern), an alien even to the planet The Doctor finds himself on. Skwoj is intelligent and stuck up so rubbed our favourite Time Lord the wrong way, but they soon… sort of grew to like each other. Or respect each other at the very least. Skwoj is robotised towards the end by The Doctor manages to undo the conditioning as the two save the day by sending the Dalek fleet back to Skaro’s destructive history rather than to Earth.
An even split for the cover this time, which is nice… Not as nice as two individual covers would’ve been, but hey-ho…
So stop me if you’ve heard this, but this story features The Doctor and his companions ally with a ragtag resistance group led by a brave but unsure of herself young woman (in this case “Red” played well by Alexandria Riley) as they fight their oppressors: The Daleks. Once The Doctor got captured and kept in a cell for interrogation as they planned their Earth invasion I just had to shake my head. Now, shake my head with a smile on my face because I was still enjoying the story, but… yeah. Originality wasn’t key here.
Now admittedly The Doctor and co. get transported to the planet where The Daleks are on because they were investigating a revolutionary new method of getting rid of pollution that turned out to be “send it off to another planet entirely”, which is at least a different way of getting them to and from an alien planet, but at the same time the single-minded and gullible scientists / politicians working with The Daleks to meet this end were extremely paperthin characters themselves. It wasn’t a shock to hear them think they are on equal footing with the Daleks, only to be killed when they made demands, let’s put it that way.
I’m not quite sure how to feel about the story using Robomen, Varga plants and a Slyther. It seems Dalek story reference overkill and just one of the three could’ve done it.
As mentioned above, this story sees Robomen and a Slyther (both first appeared in First Doctor TV serial “The Dalek Invasion of Earth”), as well as Varga plants from First Doctor epic “The Daleks’ Master Plan” (well, really they first appeared in he Doctor-less “Mission to the Unknown”) and while all three have made reappearances, this is the first time all three have appeared at once.
Those are the main things. The rest are a few name drops and The Daleks themselves, who obviously have a long history with just this incarnation of The Doctor, let alone across the history of the whole show!
Now I’ve listened to “Poison of the Daleks” I’m still split on it. I really enjoyed listening to it, but at the same time that was mainly the lead cast and their interactions rather than the story itself. I guess though, in the end, I did enjoy it, and I could see myself listening to it again down the line if I wanted a Third Doctor Dalek story, and that is after all the main thing I rate things on: whether I enjoyed it or not!