We reach the yearly “experimental” trilogy in the main range, this time instead of one linking story or villain across Doctors 5 – 7, this time each of three Doctors gets a two two-parters release. This is a bit odd as I often find, at least in the Fourth Doctor range (made up mostly of two parters) this often leads to rushed stories with poor character development, where as the main range with its four episodes is often better for it. This release shows a good example of the worst and a great example of the best way to handle two part, or 1 hour, stories on audio. Let’s take a closer look at each!
Official Synopsis (Alien Heart):
In the TARDIS, the Doctor and Nyssa stumble across a trail of ten destroyed worlds, all of them obliterated by means of some utterly monstrous but utterly unknown device. The planet Traxana would seem to be next in line to suffer the same fate. But when the TARDIS lands on an outpost on Traxana’s moon, Nyssa is carried away by a tide of giant green arachnoids, leaving the Doctor behind…
And the coming menace is closer than he thinks.
Official Synopsis (Dalek Soul):
On the Dalek-occupied world of Mojox, a group of rebels is engaged in a futile fightback against the invaders – but at last they’ve found an ally, in the form of the mysterious Doctor. Elsewhere, however, the Daleks’ Chief Virologist is seeking to perfect a biological weapon to wipe out the Mojoxalli, once and for all.
Her name… is Nyssa.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Cast of Characters:
The Doctor (Peter Davison) – The Doctor is in his travels with Nyssa phase, meaning he is free of people to snap at or act sarcastic too, which is a great breather for him, I’m sure!
Nyssa (Sarah Sutton) – Nyssa, the last of her kind, has the opportunity to travel and see the universe, which is handy for taking your mind off such things…
The Daleks (Nicholas Briggs) – The Daleks? Never heard of them. Exterminate? Nah, doesn’t ring a bell.
Falex (Vineeta Rishi) – Resident of Mojox who has the unenviable task of helping the Daleks create a bio-weapon that will wipe out her own kind. I’m assuming she’s going along with it hoping to be rescued in time, otherwise… yeah, I’d take the Dalek death ray, thanks!
Something very odd about the super nice and pacifist Fifth Doctor firing a gun! (Yes I know he has resorted to it in the past!)
Dalek Soul is a good story, a great story your first time round without spoilers, though admittedly it was done with better style in the classic 8th Doctor audio “The Natural History of Fear”. Basically we hear an evil Fifth Doctor and a pro-Dalek Nyssa helping to wipe out the Mojoxalli people, soon finding out that the pair were duplicates of the originals created by the Daleks five years ago, and the actual Doctor and Nyssa escaped the base shortly afterwards. It’s a fun twist (and boy does Peter Davison have a great time playing the baddie!) but beyond that there isn’t much here, so I imagine on a re-listen the story will be a lot less interesting.
This is another case of “if there was a middle option”, because Alien Heart isn’t bad, it’s just not very memorable or interesting. Remember when I mentioned the Fourth Doctor range in the intro? This is the classic example of what that range often suffers from, a story that’s too quick to establish the location and characters, to the point that when it’s done you barely remember anything about it a few days later. It’s also weird that the story ends in a cliffhanger that isn’t resolved until Dalek Soul, meaning this special release of “Two two-part stories” actually feels more like a four part story with two very different acts. You couldn’t just listen to Alien Heart isolated because it ends unresolved, though you could listen Dalek Soul easily enough on its own.
As this is my first Doctor / Nyssa only review, I just have to say I often find these stories dull as I personally think the Fifth Doctor is best when he’s a little sarcastic and moody, a.k.a. when he’s with Adric, Tegan or Turlough (or Peri, if we’re going with audios… and given this is an audio review, why wouldn’t we?), these stories with calm and intelligent Nyssa only means both The Doctor and companion are relaxed and often know what’s going on, so they often come across as quite dull unless scripted right (which they have been a few times in the past!)
The Daleks in Alien Heart are involved with the Dalek-Movellan War first mentioned in the Destiny of the Daleks (and coincidentally, shown briefly in the 12th Doctor story “The Pilot”, which aired four days prior to this being released!)
Other than that and the usual occasional planet name-dropping and a reference to The Doctor’s lack of a sonic screwdriver, that’s it!
While the first part is a great example of why sometimes an hour isn’t long enough to establish a good Doctor Who story, the second story shows how someone can write a clever story with that same time limit. That being said, I doubt I’ll re-listen to either story as one was dull and the other will be severely lacking now I know the set up going into it…