In Review: Big Finish: Doctor Who: Shadow of the Daleks 1

The Fifth Doctor is lost in the Time War, heading for an encounter with his oldest and deadliest enemies... the Daleks!
Shadow of the Daleks

Synopsis: In Shadow of the Daleks. Something is very wrong. The Fifth Doctor is lost in the Time War, heading for an encounter with his oldest and deadliest enemies… the Daleks!

Review: Doctor Who: Shadow of the Daleks 1 proves that Big Finish can still find new angles to explore in the Time War. Writers Jonathan Morris, Simon Guerrier, Dan Starkey, and James Kettle anticipate listeners’ questions about the premise. They allow the Fifth Doctor to voice those questions himself. The result is an engaging, intelligent mystery.

The Story

Doctor Who: Shadow of the Daleks 1 is structured like an anthology release. There are four half-hour stories with through lines. The pacing is excellent throughout. Additionally, the plot elements and character work don’t overpower each other. Unfortunately, I can’t discuss the central mystery. It’s enough to say there is a mystery and that it’ll be resolved next month.

However, I can discuss the four individual stories and the narrative tissue connecting them. The Fifth Doctor meets variations of the same four people across time and space. Is it a version of the classic era’s “City of Death?” Is it the modern “Impossible Girl” arc on a larger scale? Is it something else entirely? Big Finish has a tendency to find surprising new twists in established tropes. Therefore, I’m rather hoping for something else entirely.

“Aimed at the Body” by James Kettle centers around a real cricketing scandal. Kettle provides a perfect jumping-off point for the Fifth Doctor. The juxtaposition of Dalek creepiness and real-life stresses is very effectively realized.

“Lightspeed” by Jonathan Morris is a story he’d been trying to pitch to Big Finish for ten years. I’m glad it wasn’t greenlit until now. The story is the perfect vehicle to establish the ever-shifting larger mystery. Moreover, I doubt the ship’s central computer would’ve been so wonderfully realized a decade ago.

“The Bookshop at the End of the World” by Simon Guerrier centers around a question at the heart of the premise. What happens to the Fifth Doctor when he realizes he’s facing the horrors of the Time War too early in his time stream? How he and those he encounters embody the shock sums up 15 years of storytelling perfectly. 

“Interlude” by Dan Starkey is inspired by Hamlet and the Bard’s Italian plays. This story is my favorite thematically. Listening to the Fifth Doctor over act badly is worth the price alone.

The Acting

Peter Davison returns in top form. He plays the Fifth Doctor on the back foot, yet defiant. It’s a heartwarming performance throughout. For their parts, Dervla Kirwan, Glen McCready, Anjli Mohindra, and Jamie Parker are also superb in multiple roles.

Overall

Doctor Who: Shadow of the Daleks 1 sets up next month’s concluding set wonderfully. I can’t wait to hear how the Fifth Doctor makes a difference in the lives of these four people. I’m also curious about how his memory will be wiped when all is said and done.

You can purchase Doctor Who: Shadow of the Daleks 1 here.

9.5
Big Finish: Doctor Who: Shadow of the Daleks 1
  • Story
    8.5
  • Performances
    10
  • Audio Production
    10

Raissa Devereux became a life-long genre fan at the age of four when she first saw The Wizard of Oz at a screening at Arizona State University. Years later, she graduated from A.S.U. as an English major, History minor, Whovian, and Trekkie. Now a Florida transplant, she loves the opportunity Sci-Fi Pulse has given her to further explore space travel, time travel, masked heroes, gothic castles, and good yarns.
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