27 January 2012

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Jonathan Morris

RRP: £14.99

Release Date: 31st January 2012

Reviewed by: Matthew Davis for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 27th January 2012

It was just over a year ago that Philippa “Flip” Jackson found herself on an alien world being chased by giant robot mosquitoes in the company of a man known as “The Doctor”.

Now, stuck in a dead end job and relationship with her boyfriend Jared, she feels her life is going nowhere. So imagine her surprise when during a night on the town, a flying saucer crashes into the middle of London carrying one occupant, the Doctor.

However there is something not quite right about him; he is acting strangely and it doesn’t help that he is being hunted down by his old enemy, the Daleks.

With the Doctor a fugitive, Flip will soon be thrust into the real heart of the Dalek’s schemes; plans which are taking place two hundred years in the past on the fields of Waterloo. The fate of Europe hangs on this one moment in history and its outcome is threatened by the interference of the deranged creator of the Daleks; Davros.

This is a new year and we start the first release of the Big Finish Doctor Who main range with a brand new companion. To see Flip again, a character that originally appeared in The Crimes of Thomas Brewster, is a surprise to say the least. As returning characters go it was certainly not one I was expecting but after hearing the performance of Lisa Greenwood, it is soon obvious what a good decision it was.

Greenwood is utterly charming as Flip. Her streetwise attitude and accent could put you in mind of Rose from the new series, but she is so good in the role that any thought of comparison is brief. The character works as a great counterbalance to the Sixth Doctor, whose companions have been more of the, without wanting to sound snobbish, educated kind. Since Peri was a graduate and Evelyn an academic, it is nice to see that Flip is cut from a rougher side of the tracks. I have high hopes for her character working well with The Sixth Doctor.

Colin Baker is once again proving just how good a Doctor and skilled an actor he is. Without giving too much away, his performance of a Doctor not quite acting himself, is played with brilliant subtlety. He makes you question everything he does throughout so when the twist comes at the end of part two, even if you do figure it out before then, you appreciate just how well the actor kept you guessing.

This release is even more noteworthy for the return of Terry Molloy to Big Finish as Davros. Molloy is always a joy to listen to as the Dalek creator, particularly when the character is up against The Sixth Doctor. Baker and Molloy play off each other so well as they have done in previous Big Finish stories Davros and The Juggernauts, that the plot twist in this story only serves to strengthen that interplay.

The Curse of Davros is lucky to have an excellent supporting cast, and with special mention going to Jonathan Owen as Napoleon. His performance is a real highlight of this audio, especially towards its conclusion, as Owen’s very human but flawed Bonaparte is refreshing change to many previously unsympathetic dramatic portrayals of the French Emperor.

Nicholas Briggs holds the directing duties and once more voices the Daleks and to hear them again with their creator is great fun. One of the dangers of having Davros and the Daleks together is that sometimes their threat and menace can be lost. The Daleks can easily just become drones, and lose some of their cunning and malevolence. The Daleks in this story are indeed servants of Davros, but what is interesting is that they appear to be utterly terrified of him. One scene is particularly striking, when two Daleks admit their failure and are taught a lesson by their creator in a shockingly cruel way.

This simple twist helps to give Davros a much more dangerous edge and it is a credit to Briggs’ skill with the Dalek voices that he makes the fear of their creator very believable.

Jonathan Morris has written a fun and exciting story with some excellent character moments and an intriguing insight into the Davros character. It is difficult to find fault with this play, except to say I have some disappointment that the very well written character of Jared will be absent from the future audios, as Ashley Kumar was very good in the role.

Overall The Curse of Davros is a fantastic audio adventure and an excellent introduction to a what I’m sure will become a memorable companion.

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