After an absence of five years, the Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) and Peri (Nicola Bryant) return to the monthly range in this new trilogy of adventures. “Emissary of the Daleks” is the second in this run, which aims to replicate the style of season 22. But is this story a success? Read on to find out!
Emissary of the Daleks by Andrew Smith focuses on the planet Omnia, which has been taken over by the Daleks. Instead of the Daleks administering the planet themselves, however, they have installed an emissary who serves as their proxy. This is a great central concept, giving a unique spin to what otherwise might have just been another Dalek invasion story.
Smith’s worldbuilding is great; much of the first part of the story is devoted to setting up the world of Omnia, and this ensures that the listener is totally invested in what happens to its people. Through characters like Truthspeaker Gordus (John Rayment), who Colin Baker describes in the extras as an “earthy […] honest working man”, Smith makes certain that, despite its far-flung setting, the world of this story seems immediate and accessible.
Nicola Bryant‘s performance as Peri is particularly impressive in this one. Not only does she get plenty to do away from the Doctor, but there are some fantastic scenes near the end of part three that really show off both the character and Bryant’s acting ability. Of course, Colin Baker is also on point. His chemistry with Bryant is, as always, wonderful, and his scenes with the Dalek Supreme (Nicholas Briggs) absolutely sizzle.
This story features Saskia Reeves as the titular character: the emissary who rules Omnia in the Daleks’ stead. She does a great job, giving her character- Carmen Rega- a sense of ambiguity that constantly leaves the listener guessing as to whether she’s truly a hero or a villain.
The Daleks are, as usual, played by Nicholas Briggs, who is on fine form. This is probably the best Dalek story since The Dalek Occupation of Winter (review here), with Smith writing them at their most menacing, and Briggs performing them with flair.
Simon Power does the sound design and music in this story, and it’s among the best I’ve recently heard. From Dalek guns firing and collapsing caves to fast-paced musical tracks, this story is an aural masterpiece.
A fresh spin on a Dalek invasion story, Emissary of the Daleks is a fantastic release, full of marvellous worldbuilding, giving the Doctor and Peri plenty of action, and featuring lots of great guest characters. Recommended.
Emissary of the Daleks is available on CD or as a download from http://www.bigfinish.com
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