Doctor Who: Time War Series 4 – Dreadshade & Restoration of the Daleks Review

Much to my relief we return to the second half of the fourth Time War box set to find it doesn’t let the side down after a fantastic first half. While neither Dreadshade or Restoration of the Daleks are as great and well thought out as Palindrome, they do up the war stakes and deliver some great moments, including a hell of an unexpected final scene! Let’s take a look…

Synopsis (of “Dreadshade”):

The Time Lords, including the General and the Twelve, adjust to life after the Time War, until the Doctor and Bliss return with a warning.

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

Now THAT’S an attention-grabbing cover!

Restoration of the Daleks was the proper continuation of Palindrome, so let’s start with that. The Daleks begin to break back through to “our” universe and are seemingly unkillable due to the Time Strategist’s … well, strategy to use alternate timelines to replenish his men. The Doctor is once again ready to desert his own people as the war restarts, but he’s quick to help the next planet in the war’s crossfire alongside Bliss. There they find Davros, once again posing as a harmless scientist to the locals, but The Doctor gets him to drop the act immediately, no longer in the mood for his usual games. It’s soon revealed that Davros’ connection to the multiple timelines is what’s fuelling the new Dalek army, and that the Time Strategist keeps periodically appearing to painfully extract some of this paradoxical energy from him. The Doctor soon vanishes with the Strategist, leaving Bliss and Time Lord Rasmus (Chris Jarman) to deal with not only Davros, but a renewed and revived Dalek Emperor and his fleet.

There are some great scenes between the Time Strategist and The Doctor, including the former trying to get The Doctor involved in the war because he foresaw that in many timelines it’s The Doctor who ends up destroying Gallifrey and giving the Daleks the win in that they continue to live, as what sort-of ends up happening in the end! The Doctor still refuses, even though the Strategist tempts him with the contents of a mysterious cryo chamber… Back down on the planet whose name I can’t remember (and it’s not written anywhere as of typing…) Davros reveals he’s turned the entire population into a weird cybernetic gestalt entity capable of wiping out large Dalek fleets and offers this technology to Rasmus, but he turns it down, wisely, showing his hand as one of the few good Time Lords. The Doctor gets in contact and tells Bliss and Rasmus to run and allow Davros to be captured, and sure enough the creator is brought before the Emperor, the two arguing who is the true God of the Daleks, which kicks off the old Dalek Civil War all over again, as The Doctor knew it would. Davros is eventually captured and kept prisoner on one of the moons of Skaro, so he’s free to fall into the jaws of the Nightmare Child in the future…

The Doctor soon escapes from the Time Strategist with the help of Ollistra’s old (or future?) ally Major Tamasan (Adèle Anderson), leaving the confused Dalek to explode though inevitably return somehow. The War is back on, so The Doctor and Bliss take their leave, the mysterious cryo chamber being brought on board the TARDIS. It’s here that the contents are revealed to be none other than The Doctor’s Great Grandson Alex! Or rather, an Alex from another timeline, given the Alex from this one was killed. Heck of an unexpected twist, and it means the Eighth Doctor Time War stories aren’t done yet! (as we all knew they wouldn’t be…)

This on the other hand is a cover of just promo images and one of those annoying “floating hexagons” that have plagued some of Big Finish’s recent boxset covers…

What about Dreadshade? Well, it was still a perfectly good story. As The Doctor and Bliss arrive back in the main universe everyone is suddenly struck with amnesia, the Daleks having been erased from history at of the end of the previous set, all the Time Lords know is they were fighting a war with someone, and that someone has vanished completely. It turns out though that there IS someone who remembers: The Twelve (Julia McKenzie) who was kept in a cryo chamber in the Time Lord’s weapon vault so she couldn’t be potentially used by the enemy. She is freed by a “Dreadshade”, a creature whose fear can be used as a weapon, so long as you manipulate it to be afraid of your enemy, but as it was being conditioned to be afraid of The Daleks and they no longer exist, The Twelve manipulates it to be afraid of Time Lords instead so she can facilitate her escape.

As everyone slowly remembers everything, The Doctor and The General (Ken Bones) both try to save Gallifrey from the terrified Dreadshade and negotiate with The Twelve, but she accidentally reveals her own origin as a Time Lord, causing the creature to explode in fear and potentially offing the mind-muddled Twelve. The Doctor and Bliss (who spent this time getting to know Rasmus, setting up their relationship in the next story) drop the Dreadshade back on its planet before returning to Gallifrey to warn them that the war is about to restart. It was a fun little story, but wasn’t quite as meaty as Restoration.

The Bad:

The only real thing I didn’t particularly like was once again Julia McKenzie’s Twelve, as once again she just doesn’t get the other personalities across like Mark Bonnar’s Eleven always did. Plus to very firmly decree yourself a Time Lord, TWICE, right next to the thing you taught to attack and kill Time Lords was incredibly stupid. I also didn’t particularly like how the straight-laced Time Lords insisted on using the cheesy names for the Dreadshade’s attacks, including The Doctor being corrected that it wasn’t throwing Lightning, it was throwing “Frightening”. Why would they care, unless it was called “The Lightning of Rassilon” I doubt they’d indulge in a bit of humorous pun-naming.

The Continuity:

Once again this cover could just as easily be used for the final part, if you replace The General with Rasmus, anyway…

Dreadshade featured both The General, who first appeared also played by Ken Bones in the 50th Anniversary TV special “The Day of the Doctor”, and Rasmus, a Time Lord who has popped up from time to time in Big Finish stories, first appearing in the Eighth Doctor audio “Deeptime Frontier” from the Ravenous story arc. It also featured The Twelve, who first appeared two sets ago in “Planet of the Ogrons” and who we now know came into life after her previous self tried to make a deal with several Masters in “Day of the Master”…

Restoration of the Daleks meanwhile shows us how the Dalek Emperor was resurrected (and Davros even mentions a timeline where he became the Emperor himself, unknowing that he was talking about the fate of the Davros from the very universe he was in…) and once again reaffirms how a more humanoid Davros existed to return later, as mentioned in the previous review. The Dalek Time Strategist mentions how he doesn’t want to kill The Doctor because he has now seen how important he is to the Dalek’s future history, name dropping The Cult of Skaro and specifically Dalek Caan all first seen in the Tenth Doctor TV story “Army of Ghosts / Doomsday”, and the New Dalek Paradigm which is first revealed in the Eleventh Doctor TV story “Victory of the Daleks”. Funnily enough even with Big Finish’s Dalek-overload, this is the first time either have been named dropped, to my recollection…

Alex Campbell meanwhile first appeared as Susan’s son in the Eighth Doctor audio “An Earthly Child”, and met his end at the hands of the Daleks in “Lucie Miller / To The Death”…

Overall Thoughts:

This boxset overall was a triumph, with Restoration of the Daleks being a great, dramatic finale to a great and thoughtful first half. Dreadshade was perfectly good too, even if slightly less than the other two. It was well worth £20 though, I can confirm that! After a bit of fatigue with the Time War, I’m suddenly looking forward to the revelation of more to come…


Restoration of the Daleks:

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