The Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) takes Peri (Nicola Bryant) to a really remote world, with only a couple of stars visible in the sky. When they explore the place they landed they find people living in fear of “the Watch” and “the Masters” they serves. Where as the Watch are native to this land, the Masters turn out to be the titular oppressors the Doctor has come to know and defeat on many occasions. But as the Daleks use fear and the planet’s own populous against themselves, the Doctor and Peri must fight not only the physical Daleks (Nicholas Briggs) but the physiological scars inflicted upon a people who aren’t even allowed to write of their own past when they were free.
The Daleks, for me, can be somewhat of a poisoned chalice. They are one of the greatest foes ever created for not only Doctor Who, but for TV itself – but with that comes them being used so much that it’s difficult to find a new take on them. The Time War story arc gives them greater opportunities to wreak their devastation upon the universe, but when you are dealing with a straight up Dalek story, how do you add a new wrinkle? This story answers that handily.
The script from Andrew Smith features a mother, Magister Rega (Saskia Reeves) who works with the Daleks in the hopes of saving at least some lives in exchange for all those she cannot, yet her son Aldo (William Ellis) fights against the Daleks no matter what.
Reeves plays the woman who has made countless deals with the Devil to a tea. She is strong and believes the ends justify the means, but there is a weariness to her and you can feel the toll her actions have taken on her. When her son is at risk from the Daleks and the Daleks continue to push their hand, the pressure on her mounts and the tension in the story reaches a fever pitch.
The Doctor and Peri also get to do something different. Instead of being caught just battling the Daleks, they are in the more morally difficult position of fighting what the Daleks has made some people become.
Nicholas Briggs is the voice of the Daleks, powerful as always, and has some great lines to play with. Director John Ainsworth has a lot to balance in this story and does so to great effect.
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