Doctor Who: Dalek Universe 1 – The House of Kingdom Review

After an absolute stunner of an opening two parter we get a more traditional affair with “The House of Kingdom”. Bringing the focus in on Anya Kingdom and establishing some backstory for her is the core idea of the story and it does it well, plus who doesn’t want to hear David Tennant face off with the Mechanoids?! Let’s take a look!

Synopsis:

The Doctor and his friends are trying to locate a scientist to help them on their quest… but an attack on a space-station alters their plans.

Rescued by Anya’s grandfather, Merrick, and taken to Neptune, the Doctor and Mark discover her family history. A story of betrayal and loss.

Will the Kingdoms be reconciled? Or are they destined to continue the mistakes of the past?

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

The Mechanoids really have been making a comeback lately…

The story starts off with The Doctor, Anya and Mark Seven waiting to board a space shuttle to find an SSS Scientist familiar with time travel, but the station comes under attack by space pirates with odd guns and the trio have to evacuate in an escape pod. The station explodes and the pod is damaged but they’re rescued and wake up in the house of Merrick Kingdom (Kevin McNally), Anya’s grandfather who lives on a currently-being-terraformed Neptune. The Doctor is woken to a Mechanoid who works for Merrick, having to be reminded that they were created to terraform planets (something even I forgot about, honestly…) and soon he’s caught in the middle of a family argument and finds out that Anya blames Merrick for her mother’s death, apparently she died on a world about to be attacked by Daleks and her grandfather was on a high-ranking SSS committee that knew about it in advance but did nothing, though to be fair he was out-voted so there was, presumably, little he COULD do about it, but as we’ll soon find out he’s not exactly squeaky clean…

After a bit of “finally answering a question fans have been wondering since her debut” revolving around Sara and Brett Kingdom from Daleks Master Plan (apparently they’re Anya’s aunt and uncle, respectively) The Doctor becomes suspicious of a new arrival in Dr. Abigail Crane (Maria Teresa Creasey) and after he sees a Mechanoid go to a hidden area he decides to follow alongside Mark and there they find a hidden lab full of Varga plants. The Doctor figures out the weird guns and bouts of violence on the space station was due to guns that had Varga venom on them and puts two and two together. Due to figuring out the plan Crane arranges The Doctor and Mark to be placed in the middle of a Mechanoid clearing session in hopes they get terraformed to death, a.k.a. flamethrowered I guess, while Merrick tries to keep Anya in his home… forever, so she doesn’t speak to anyone about it. Unsurprisingly The Doctor and Mark overcome the Mechanoids and even reprogram one while Anya is saved by a self-sacrificing Merrick, who takes Crane with him. Our three protagonists reunite and head off back on the trail of the SSS time travel scientist…

The Bad:

Not much to say, though not in the same way as the opening two-parter. This isn’t a twisty turny thrill ride, it has its slower moments and the way they try and tie in Sara and Brett Kingdom just reeked of what it was: a way to let the audience know why Anya has the last name Kingdom, it didn’t feel like it naturally fitted the conversation well. Plus yet another Varga plant / Daleks Master Plan call back! Big Finish really has gone crazy with the admittedly classic story recently…

The Continuity:

A second look at the overall box cover, again very weighted towards the opening two-parter, but rightfully so!

Goes without saying, but this obviously follows on from “Buying Time / The Wrong Woman”, the double bill that started this boxset. I’ll also stop mentioning when Anya and Mark first appeared now they’re pretty much The Doctor’s companions…

The other Kingdoms and Varga plants all come from the First Doctor epic “The Daleks Master Plan”, while the Mechanoids first appeared in First Doctor TV story “The Chase”. I tell you, when I finally get round to reviewing Master Plan it’s going to take forever to create the links on all the pages…

Overall Thoughts:

“The House of Kingdom” is a fine hour of audio drama. It may not reach the same highs are the opener, but few do. It’s still a good story with some needed character development for Anya and a bit of fun with the Mechanoids. A good story, and “Dalek Universe 1” turned out to be an extremely strong box set overall!

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