Doctor Who – How Important are the Time Lords?

In the earliest days of Doctor Who back in the 1960s, everything about the Doctor was a complete mystery, from his name to his planet of origin. It is difficult to imagine now that back then people had no idea that the Doctor was even a Time Lord, and they certainly had no idea that they came from Gallifrey. In fact, one could argue that this was one of the main things that made the show so fascinating to viewers, the mystery of who and what the Doctor actually was.

However, over the course of Classic Who the many questions about the Doctor’s origins were answered one by one, to the extent that we not only know that the Doctor is a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey, but also that he comes from the Prydonian Chapter, that he attended the Time Lord Academy, and that the TARDIS he stole is a Type 40 with a malfunctioning Chameleon circuit.

It goes without saying that the Time Lords are a powerful race, as they are responsible for assuming the role of custodians of time and space, protecting the established web of time, and maintaining the delicate fabric of the universe. The Time Lords are capable of wiping entire races from existence, retro-engineering the evolution of their enemies to ensure that they do not achieve sentience, and if necessary removing entire empires from history.

In recent years, however, the Time Lords have diminished in importance. Episodes set on Gallifrey, which were once a fascinating insight into the Doctor’s homeworld and history, became tedious slogs through dense lore and bureaucracy by the end of Classic Who. Russell T. Davies wisely side-stepped having to write Gallifrey episodes by destroying the entire Time Lord race in the Time War, which was controversial at the time but is now generally considered to have been a good decision in the long-run as it opened up new narrative opportunities for the show.

This was obviously done to provide some emotinoal weight to the Doctor’s story, but this proves just how disposable the Time Lords are as a plot device, as the entire species was wiped out – presumably for good – just to give the Doctor a tragic backstory for the revived series. This was definitely the right move, as it gave the Doctor a strong character arc the likes of which the series had never seen up until this point, and it meant that there was an aspect of mystery to the Doctor’s character once again.

By the time Steven Moffat took over as showrunner, the Time Lords were in an interesting narrative flux. Although they were essential to Doctor Who lore, with characters like Romana, the Master, the Rani, Rassilon and many others being closely linked to Gallifrey, the Time Lords also presented a massive amount of narrative baggage as they were so closely linked to the Doctor’s past, and with the effects of the Time War added into the mix the writers were backed into a tight corner when it came to expanding the show’s backstory and lore.

When the 50th Anniversary came around, the writers took the opportunity to do something potentially controversial in order to free future writers from the narrative weight of the Time War. Moffat was able to bring Gallifrey back in a way that did not invalidate Russell T. Davies’ earlier work, as the Doctor’s psychological scars from destroying Gallifrey at the end of the Time War remained even though the Time Lords were able to survive the war and hide Gallifrey away at the end of the universe. The fact that the War Doctor cannot retain the memories of saving Gallifrey means that the character development of the Ninth and Tenth Doctors was preserved whilst also restoring Gallifrey to the forefront of the series lore once again.

Nonetheless, it was clear that the Time Lords still presented a narrative problem, as Hell Bent proved that the Doctor held little nostalgia for his lost homeworld, particularly after the horrors that the Time Lords unleashed during the Time War. In fact, the Doctor banished Rassilon and the other members of the High Council and took the role of Lord President before promptly leaving the planet after rescuing Clara, demonstrating just how little attachment he had to Gallifrey at that point.

Chris Chibnall’s decision to once again remove the Time Lords from the equation by destroying Gallifrey and then revealing that the Doctor is actually far more than just another Time Lord restores an aspect of mystery to the character of the Doctor that has arguably been lacking since the 1960s. Though fans now will inevitably complain and cry heresey as the long-established lore of Doctor Who is ‘destroyed’, as we have seen from previous controversial decisions taken by showrunners this change can only be good for the franchise.

In the long run, the show can finally shed the narrative baggage that the Time Lords present after so many years of being tied to the same backstory and lore. Doctor Who has always been about change and this philosophy has kept it alive when so many other shows have finished or been cancelled. There are few shows out there that could theoretically go on forever, and Doctor Who is one of them. But in order to continue, it has to change, and the longer it stays on air, the bigger those changes will have to be. Fans can either accept the change and move on, or reject the change and be left behind.

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Doctor Who – How did the Daleks Survive the Time War?

The Daleks are the Doctor’s most fearsome enemies, and are well-known for their brutality, their ingenuity and above all, their survivability. The Daleks have survived everything from an attempt by a temporal race of demi-gods to avert their creation to a civil war that rendered the surface of their home-world a charred cinder, but one conflict that the Daleks seemingly could not escape was the Time War.

This huge temporal conflict saw the Daleks fight an all-out war with the Time Lords, a war that would destroy the Dalek race and leave only a few scattered survivors, including the Emperor and the Cult of Skaro. One by one, however, these survivors would be killed, usually due to the intervention of the Doctor.

The last Dalek drone known as the Metaltron would kill itself after absorbing Human DNA, as we see in the episode Dalek. In the Series 1 finale The Parting of the Ways we see that the Emperor Dalek was killed trying to invade Earth in the year 200,100. Finally, in Evolution of the Daleks, all but one member of the Cult of Skaro would die during the disastrous Final Experiment in New York in the 1930s.

The last member of the Cult of Skaro, Dalek Caan, went back into the Time War to rescue Davros and rebuild a New Dalek Empire, but in the process he saw the Dalek race for what it was and in the Series 4 finale Journey’s End we learn that we decided to wipe his own kind out, engineering the destruction of Davros’ empire to apparently ensure a final end for the Daleks.

However, just like every ‘final end’ the Daleks had suffered so far, the destruction of Davros’ empire would prove to not be the end of the Daleks, as three surviving Daleks would go on to uncover a lost Dalek Progenitor and create a New Dalek Paradigm, as seen in Series 5’s Victory of the Daleks. The new breed of Daleks created from the Progenitor would escape via time travel and begin rebuilding the Dalek Empire.

Exactly what happens next for the Daleks is a bit murky because each episode they feature in seems to tell its own story in terms of what the Daleks do next. The Paradigm Daleks essentially disappear after Series 7’s Asylum of the Daleks, and now the Daleks have established a Parliament, perhaps in order to keep peace. The Magician’s Apprentice implies that Davros has rebuilt a new Dalek race on Skaro, though the Dalek City is later destroyed.

Other Dalek appearances are even stranger. The fact that Bronze Daleks are attacking the Movellans in Series 10’s The Pilot seems to indicate that the Daleks are either interfering with their own history or resuming their past conflicts with post-Time War vigor. The fact that various Classic Daleks are present in the Asylum and Davros’ Dalek City on Skaro would seem to indicate some kind of temporal shenanigans, but it is unclear exactly what they are up to.

Other recent appearances for the Daleks in episodes like Into the Dalek, Resolution and Revolution of the Daleks state that the Daleks have a roaming fleet that serves as their headquarters, and as the Dalek saucer that was destroyed in The Time of the Doctor was apparently the Dalek Parliament, it could be that now the Daleks are ‘between empires’ at the moment and are instead rampaging around the Galaxy in a nomadic fleet. We can only wait and see what the future holds for the Daleks, but needless to say that after surviving the fires of the Time War they are now here to stay – and are more powerful than ever.

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Doctor Who – What Happened to Rusty?

As the focus of the second episode of Series 8, Into the Dalek, Rusty was a one-of-a-kind, a character that initially seemed like it could be the universe’s only example of a Dalek that was morally good. That is, until the Twelfth Doctor discovered that it was simply suffering a malfunction, cured the problem, and instead accidentally taught Rusty to hate the Daleks. At the end of Into the Dalek, we see Rusty leave for parts unknown, but what happened to this unique Dalek?

Escaping the Dalek Fleet

At the end of Into the Dalek, Rusty leaves the Human hospital ship Aristotle and joins the rest of his kind in their saucer, and he then presumably stays undercover until he reaches a strategic position. Interestingly, early drafts for Into the Dalek depict Rusty self-destructing to destroy the saucer in a manner similar to the Metaltron from Dalek, though this was cut from the final episode.

What we do know is that Rusty would survive and live among for the Daleks for a while before defecting and waging an unending war against his own race. Rusty would go on to destroy countless Daleks, and he became somewhat of a legend both among his own people and in the wider universe in general. According to the Twelfth Doctor, Rusty would go on to live for billions of years, slaughtering Daleks and becoming a quasi-mythical figure.

Waging War against the Daleks

After meeting the First Doctor in Twice Upon a Time, the Twelfth Doctor would eventually reunite with Rusty after travelling to his fortress on Villengard. Rusty has clearly been busy since his last encounter with the Doctor, as there are dead Daleks strewn around the entrance to his tower, and he has been living there for so long that the scattered Dalek survivors have adapted to live outside their casings and latch onto the faces of humanoids in order to feed, implying that Rusty had been there for hundreds of thousands of years, if not millions.

A former weapons production facility, Villengard was perfect for Rusty’s purposes, and he not only installed himself atop a tower with external weapons, but he also tapped into huge Dalek databases in a bid to become one of the most intelligent life forms in the universe. The Doctor would tap into this knowledge to learn more information about the Testimony, eventually discovering its benevolent nature. The Twelfth Doctor was then teleported away and Rusty is left alone once again.

Rusty’s Future

Twice Upon a Time is the last time we see Rusty, so what he gets up to after this and what eventually becomes of this Dalek is unknown. His unending hatred of the Daleks that has lasted for billions of years will undoubtedly motivate Rusty to continue his crusade against his own kind, and perhaps he will appear in a story in the future and shed some light on how he has managed to evade destruction and wreak havoc on the Daleks for so long.

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Doctor Who – What is the Cult of Skaro?

In all of Dalek history there are few individual Daleks save perhaps the Emperor himself who can claim to be as important or influential as the Cult of Skaro, as they are some of the most interesting Dalek characters ever created and were the first Daleks to reappear across multiple episodes. These four Daleks were created by Russell T. Davies for the Series 2 finale Army of Ghosts / Doomsday and went on to become the first individual Daleks to have names and unique personalities.

We are introduced to the Cult of Skaro during the climactic cliff-hanger ending of Army of Ghosts and their names and personalities are expanded on more in Doomsday, in which they are revealed to have escaped the Time War in a Void Ship along with a mysterious Time Lord artefact called the Genesis Ark. These four Daleks are capable of imagination, something that most standard Daleks lack, and as such they are able to out-think their enemies and made exceptional tacticians during the Time War.

Each member of the Cult can be identified in several ways. The first and most difficult way of identifying each member is by their unique tag located underneath their eyestalk, as in theory each Cult member has an associated tag that is printed onto their prop. Unfortunately, however, during filming of the two main episodes in which the Cult of Skaro appear, the props were routinely switched up, sometimes even between shots, so this method is all but useless in practicality.

The easiest way to tell the Cult members apart is by their voices, as Dalek voice actor Nicholas Briggs gave each member of the Cult their own unique voice and personality. Dalek Sec has a standard Dalek voice with an authoritative tone, Dalek Caan’s voice is very deep and rasping, Dalek Thay has a low-pitched voice with a nasal croak, and Dalek Jast has a high-pitched, staccato voice with a very fast line delivery.

Dalek Sec is easily identifiable. But can you tell the other three apart?

Who is Dalek Jast?

Jast is perhaps the least developed member of the Cult, as he has the fewest lines of the group and does not get any notable scenes on his own. He is the Dalek that first notices that the Doctor is present at Torchwood by analysing the communication with the Cyber-Leader, and he is seemingly the one in charge of directing where the Genesis Ark should move.

Dalek Jast’s greatest claim to fame is assisting Dalek Caan in the aerial attack on Hooverville in Evolution of the Daleks, and then later accompanying Dalek Thay to the theatre where he is later killed by the Human-Dalek hybrids. Jast is identifiable by his high-pitched voice and fast, energetic line delivery. Dalek Jast’s reserved nature is due to more than just Nick Briggs wanting to minimize the amount of squeaky Dalek dialogue, however, as Jast comes across as one who only comments when he feels his eye for detail is necessary, to voice a concern that the other members of the Cult may have missed.

Who is Dalek Thay?

Thay is the most prominent Cult member early on, as he is the first of the group to be introduced by name and is also the Dalek that starts the war with the Cybermen in Doomsday. He is identified by his medium-pitched voice that has a distinct nasal croak, and he is often the first Cult member to speak his mind during group discussions.

After starting the war with the Cybermen, Thay doesn’t do much for the rest of Doomsday, but he becomes prominent again in Daleks in Manhattan as he is the Dalek who sacrifices his three back panels for the Final Experiment, making him the only Cult of Skaro member other than Sec who can be easily identified from a distance.

After spending most of the two-parter skulking around in the sewers, Dalek Thay accidentally kills the hybrid Dalek Sec before being destroyed by the Human-Daleks. Overall, Dalek Thay is quick to voice his mind and also quick to fire his weapon, and this more often than not ends up getting the Cult into fights, either with the Cybermen or with the Human-Dalek hybrids, which eventually ends up getting Thay killed.

Dalek Thay’s missing back panels are clearly visible in this shot

Who is Dalek Caan?

Caan gets only one line in Doomsday, his booming announcement of his own name. As the Cult member with the deepest voice, Nicholas Briggs chose to limit Caan’s lines early on when voicing the Daleks, but in Daleks in Manhattan / Evolution of the Daleks Caan becomes more prominent.

He is the Dalek who liasons with Mr Diagoras on behalf of the Cult, and in Daleks in Manhattan he laments that his planet has been destroyed and that the Daleks must now look to the Humans for inspiration. It seems as though he is in favour of the Final Experiment at first, as he does not participate in the debate before Sec absorbs Diagoras and he later gives the speech about the Daleks needing to evolve in the climax of the story before the Hybrid emerges.

Caan clearly begins to show doubts about Sec, and he even asks Dalek Thay if he shares those feelings in a great little scene between the two in one of the sewer corridors. The two Daleks guiltily swapping treasonous thoughts in what passes as a Dalek whisper illustrates how the Cult members are more individual and less drone-like than standard Daleks. Caan eventually takes over the Cult when the other members deem Sec to be inferior, designating himself Controller.

Dalek Caan’s voice changes from deep to high-pitched when he takes on the role of Controller in Evolution of the Daleks, as Nicholas Briggs wanted to take advantage of Caan’s new role to justify a voice change. Dalek Caan was given a guttural, rasping voice in Doomsday because he had only one line, but Briggs began to find the voice difficult to maintain after the extended conversations between Caan and Diagoras followed by a speech Caan gives to Martha and the other Humans in Daleks in Manhattan.

After being left as the final surviving Cult member at the end of Evolution of the Daleks, Caan goes insane when he rescues Davros from the Time War. Seeing the Daleks for what they truly are, Caan betrays Davros by instigating the fall of the New Dalek Empire in Journey’s End.

Who is Dalek Sec?

Arguably the most famous member of the Cult of Skaro, Sec is immediately recognizable because of his jet black casing that sets him apart from the other Daleks. Sec is the one who exchanges verbal quips with the Cyber-Leader over the comms in Doomsday in an iconic scene which illustrates his razor-sharp wit and sense of humour, which is unusual for a Dalek, even a high-ranking one. After losing the Battle of Canary Wharf, Sec and the other members of the Cult travel to 1930s’ New York and there Sec merges with the Human Diagoras and becomes the Dalek Sec Hybrid.

Evolution of the Daleks deals with Sec coming to terms with his Human emotions following his transformation, and he eventually develops into a kind and pacifistic man who genuinely wants to save the Daleks from their constant cycle of death and destruction. The other Daleks see Sec as impure, however, and betray him. Sec is demoted and treated as little more than a pet by the Daleks, but he continues in his efforts to convince them to change their ways. In the end, Sec sacrifices himself to save the Doctor’s life by standing in the way of a blast from Dalek Thay that was meant for the Doctor, proving in the end that he was a good man despite his Dalek nature.

Before his death, Dalek Sec tells his Daleks that their efforts to spread death and destruction will inevitably turn against them, and he is proven right mere minutes after his death as the remaining Human-Dalek hybrids choose to turn against their masters and destroy Dalek Thay and Dalek Jast, leaving Dalek Caan as the last surviving member of the Cult.

Why were the Cult of Skaro created?

According to Dalek Sec during his conversation with the Doctor in Doomsday, the Cult of Skaro was created by the Emperor in the latter years of the Time War to ensure the survival of the Dalek race at all costs by imagining new ways to survive. This explains why Dalek Sec is willing to go to such extreme lengths during the two stories in which he appears as he risks corrupting the timeline by invading 21st century London, and then he chooses to alter Dalek DNA during the Final Experiment.

The creation of the Cult of Skaro proves how desperate the Dalek Emperor was getting towards the end of the Time War, as the Cult are given authority above anything within the existing Dalek hierarchy and Dalek Sec uses this authority to justify the radical alterations to Dalek DNA during the Final Experiment. The other members of the Cult are less convinced that Humans are a species that Daleks should learn from, but we already know that the Emperor himself reached the same conclusion.

The Daleks created by the so-called ‘God of all Daleks’ that we see in Bad Wolf / The Parting of the Ways are created from cells harvested from Human bodies, and the Dalek Emperor builds an entire army of impure, Human-bred Daleks that he uses to invade Earth. Whilst the Emperor is clearly insane, it is interesting to note that Dalek Sec and the Emperor both reach similar conclusions of how to perpetuate the Dalek race.

What Happened to the Cult of Skaro?

Following the disastrous Final Experiment, three members of the Cult of Skaro were dead and the last surviving member of the group, Dalek Caan, was sent hurtling into the Time War by his own Emergency Temporal Shift. Caan intended to rescue Davros and save the Dalek race, but in the process of falling through the Time War the last member of the Cult of Skaro saw his race for what they were – genocidal killers.

Caan chose to rebel against the Daleks and eventually brought about the downfall of Davros’ new Dalek Empire by tricking his creator into gathering the Doctor and his friends on the Crucible to ensure the Daleks’ destruction. Caan was presumed killed during the destruction of the Dalek Crucible but Davros suffered the same fate and was later revealed to be still alive, leading many to question if Caan did truly die.

Whether Caan died in the fires of the Crucible or not, it is safe to say that the Cult of Skaro itself is dead. Their ultimate goal was to out-think their enemies by imagining, but unfortunately their imagination made them enemies of each other. Both Dalek Sec and Dalek Caan both individually reach the conclusion that the Dalek way of life is wrong, and the two members of the Cult who remained loyal Daleks to the end, Thay and Jast, were destroyed by their own hubris.

The Cult of Skaro arc is probably one of the most insightful Dalek storylines both for fans and potential writers for the show, as it not only delves into an interesting aspect of Dalek lore, but it also illustrates the folly of the Dalek race as each member of the Cult is destroyed by their efforts to either uphold or influence Dalek doctrine.

Why did the Cult of Skaro fail?

Although Dalek Thay and Dalek Jast make the point that the Final Experiment was contrary to Dalek doctrine and would ultimately have weakened them, the fact that the other Daleks in the Cult of Skaro chose to use their powers of imagination to rebel against Sec exposes the fatal flaw in the very concept of the Cult of Skaro, in that four Daleks with the power to imagine will inevitably turn on each other when any one of them imagines something a bit too far outside the Dalek sphere of thought.

The ultimate tragedy of the Cult of Skaro is that the only two Daleks of the four to actually utilize their imagination to the extent that they break free of Dalek conditioning only manage to do so once they are corrupted in the eyes of other Daleks. Dalek Sec becomes a compassionate man by fusing his DNA with Humans but is cast out by his comrades as a result. Dalek Caan learns the truth of the Dalek race but in doing so is blinded and deemed an insane abomination by the Supreme Dalek.

Into the Dalek would later give us a natural evolution of the Cult of Skaro, the essence of the two best Daleks of the Cult galvanized into one Dalek. Rusty experiences similar epiphanies to Dalek Sec and Dalek Caan, in that he learns the value of humanoid life and also fosters a growing hatred of other Daleks. However, Rusty retains his Dalek casing and weapons, and is able to not only rebel against his own kind but also establish his own sanctuary on Villengard, slaughtering any Daleks that come to destroy him.

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Custom Classic Series Daleks – Part 3

As Character Options are slowly releasing History of the Daleks figure double-packs in B&M that each contain two Daleks from each classic episode from The Daleks to The Daleks’ Master Plan, it is only a matter of time before all the Classic Dalek stories are represented in figure form, so there is no better time for me to showcase my collection of Custom Classic Daleks before they become completely superfluous. On the upside, having all these Classic Daleks out on the shelf does mean that the History of the Daleks sets can be kept mint in box. These Daleks have been customised to resemble Daleks from the classic stories Destiny of the Daleks and Revelation of the Daleks, and each one started out life as a more common classic Dalek figure before being modified and painted to stand in for rarer Dalek figures that are not commonly available at the moment.

Custom Destiny of the Daleks Drone 1

Although Destiny of the Daleks is far from being my favourite classic Dalek story, (it is in fact my least favourite classic Dalek story) the unique light-grey colour schemes of the Drones make customs inspired by Destiny of the Daleks particularly interesting. The oddly bright grey base coupled with the huge variety in detailing on each individual Dalek definitely makes ‘Destiny‘ Daleks stand out from the crowd, which is ironic given how shoddy the Dalek props looked in this story. By the time Destiny of the Daleks was filmed, most Dalek props owned by the BBC had been rotting away in a storage for years, and this coupled with some particularly poorly-made stand-in props makes the Daleks in this story look shoddier than one of my early customs, meaning that despite the occasional paint errors on these customs they actually look better than the Daleks they are based on.

Custom Destiny of the Daleks Drone 2

This Dalek showcases the variety in paint detailing on the original Destiny of the Daleks props, as the previous Dalek had black slats but this one has the slats, mesh between the slats, the front circle and the band around the midsection all painted black, perhaps because this Dalek is a higher rank (though the episode doesn’t bring attention to this). Citadel paint was used for the grey base, black detailing and white dry-brushing on the mesh, and the glossy effect on the hemispheres was achieved using a black Promarker pen. Unlike the previous custom, in which the dome lights are coloured orange with Sharpee, this Dalek has dome lights that are painted block orange, it is up to you which looks best. Unfortunately, due to the paint used for this custom, a degree of the articulation had to be sacrificed as the ball joints are painted over which locks them in place.

Custom Necros Dalek 1

Unlike Destiny of the Daleks, which had a combination of shoddy old props and poorly-made newer ones, Revelation of the Daleks was lucky in that the old Dalek props had been recently refurbished for the previous story, Resurrection of the Daleks, and several new props were made to represent Davros’ new faction of Daleks being built on Necros. They are essentially standard Daleks but with an Imperial Dalek colour scheme, and that is exactly what this custom is representing. White gloss paint was used for the base and gold, metallic Citadel paint was used for the detailing on the neck grille, slat meshes, gunstick, manipulator arm and hemispheres. This Dalek started out as an Emperor’s Guard, meaning it is actually a 1960s Dalek with the base replaced. Unfortunately, the dome lights and eyestalk rings are innaccurate to actual Necros Daleks. Some artistic licence that I took with this particular custom was that I painted the neck grille gold, whereas on actual Necros Daleks (including my other Necros customs) the grille is black. This Dalek could also double as one of Davros’ guards on Lethe from the Big Finish audio, The Juggernauts.

Custom Necros Dalek 2

Like the previous custom, this 1960s Dalek base has been heavily modified with spares in order to resemble the base of a Necros Dalek. The dome has been replaced so the dome lights are accurate this time, but unfortunately the eyestalk is still slightly innaccurate as 1960s Daleks have the rings pushed forward to just behind the eye, whereas later Dalek props from the 1970s onwards have the rings pushed back to be more in the middle of the eyestalk. Aside from that, this Necros Dalek is a bit more accurate that the previous one, and like the previous one it has been painted using white gloss for the body, gold metallic Citadel paint for the detailing and black paint for the base. One final finishing touch on both of these Daleks was the addition of the dot in the eye, as the 1960s Daleks lacked this feature. I applied this using a very precise, tiny ink applicator to ensure that the pupil was tiny and perfectly rounded.

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Custom Classic Series Daleks – Part 2

Although Character Options are releasing Classic Dalek figures for each episode in order, it seems as though it will be years before we get the complete collection of Classic Dalek figures. As such, we have bolstered the ranks of our Classic Dalek figure collection with some custom figures, each of which have been created using Daleks from the Dalek Collectors’ Set #2, which was extremely common several years ago, and from which many Dalek spares and customs have been created from. This set included the Saucer Commander Dalek from The Dalek Invasion of Earth, the Emperor’s Guard Dalek from The Evil of the Daleks, and the Supreme Dalek from Day of the Daleks.

Custom Planet of the Daleks Drone

This first custom uses the Supreme Dalek from Day of the Daleks, which uses the same basic mould as many other Daleks from the 1970s era of the show. For this custom I used more matt colours compared to other Dalek figures released in this mould, in an attempt to emulate the matt grey colours of the Daleks from Planet of the Daleks. The Drones in this story take extra care to be stealthy, and as such it makes sense that the would use dark, matt colours. This figure was painted using Citadel paints and the detailing on the hemispheres was done using a Pro Marker pen. The glossy finish on the hemispheres makes an excellent contrast with the matt finish on the casing, and the metallic silver finish on the eyestalk and manipulator arm stand out on this figure.

Custom Planet of the Daleks Supreme

This custom is much more elaborate than the previous one, and was created using the pieces from several Daleks. The base of this Dalek is from a Drone from The Dalek Invasion of Earth, but the body is an Emperor’s Guard Dalek from The Evil of the Daleks, which I repainted with black paint and detailed with bright gold. The actual Supreme Dalek from Planet of the Daleks was created using mismatched Dalek prop parts from Terry Nation’s private collection, so this method of construction is surprisingly appropriate. The large light pieces are actually LEDs which have been painted pinkish-purple, and the eyestalk has been painted white with a red light to emulate the Supreme Dalek’s illuminated eyestalk. Hopefully this Dalek will be released as part of the History of the Daleks sets from B&M, but until then it is only available as a rare collectible from the elusive Dalek Collectors’ Set #1.

Custom Death to the Daleks Drone

This Dalek is another custom made from the Day of the Daleks Supreme, except this custom is far more detailed. The Gold and Black colour scheme has been replaced with the distinctive Silver and Black design of the Daleks from Death to the Daleks. In order to create this custom, a complete disassembly of the figure was required as each piece of the neck rings and the midsection had to be painted independently with Citadel paint. Each section of the Dalek required multiple coats of paint to ensure the silver coat had full consistency. The dome lights were coloured using orange Pro Marker, and the eyestalk and gunstick have been recoloured to resemble the unique colour scheme of the Death to the Daleks drones.

Custom Genesis of the Daleks Drone

Perhaps one of the most iconic Dalek designs of them all, the distinctive gunmetal-grey colour scheme of Genesis of the Daleks is not to be underestimated. This custom was created using the Day of the Daleks Supreme, painted over with a gunmetal grey paint from Citadel with the detailing painted over with silver. This Dalek is meant to resemble the one that exterminates Davros and assumes the role of Dalek Prime, or Dalek Supreme, at the conclusion of Genesis of the Daleks. The silver pieces between the slats on the midsection are the giveaway artistic licence on this figure, as the majority of the Daleks from this story have a completely monochrome design, but the silver slats helps differentiate this particular Dalek from its subordinates.

Doctor Who – The Night of the Doctor Review

The Eighth Doctor is perhaps one of the least appreciated Doctors of them all, as in the entire tenure of this Doctor there has only been one major TV production, that is the TV Movie from 1996 that has a mixed reception in the fanbase to say the least. Nonetheless, The Eighth Doctor played by Paul McGann had a romantic charm and swashbuckling confidence that stole the hearts of many would-be fans of Doctor Who in the 90s, and he continues to amass a legion of loyal fans to this day with his impression collection of audio productions that Big Finish have been producing since 2004.

However, during the 50th Anniversary celebrations that took place in 2013, Steven Moffat graced the fandom with a one-off mini-episode released online that featured the Eighth Doctor in a live-action role for the first time since the TV Movie in 1996. Paul McGann returned to the role of the Eighth Doctor once again for this short webisode, entitled The Night of the Doctor, which depicts the final moments of the Eighth incarnation of the Doctor during the Time War.

This special proves that Paul McGann can slip easily into the role of the Doctor as if he never left, as he effortlessly plays the role after more than 15 years away from the role on-screen. Fans of the Eighth Doctor Big Finish audios will know that he has been playing the Eighth Doctor continuously since 2004, and as such has had more than enough practice in characterising the Doctor. The Eighth Doctor has had many different eras during his reign, but The Night of the Doctor ushered in a whole new universe of stories for the Eighth Doctor, as it established that he had been active in the Time War for a while now, and this led to Big Finish’s range of Eighth Doctor: The Time War audio stories with his new companion, Bliss.

The Night of the Doctor takes place at the very end of the Eighth Doctor’s life, however, long after his adventures with Bliss have concluded. Judging from the state of not only the TARDIS but the Doctor himself, who despite sporting a new outfit is looking considerably bedraggled, it is clear that the Time War has been continuing for some time. The story begins with a ship spiralling uncontrollably towards Karn, as the final remaining crewmember, Cass, is rescued from certain death by the Eighth Doctor who promises her a trip through Time and Space in a ship that is bigger on the inside. Cass, however, recognises the Doctor’s ship as a TARDIS, and immediately recoils in horror as she realises that the Doctor is a Time Lord.

This subversion of the classic revelation of the Doctor’s alien nature from throughout the show’s history makes The Night of the Doctor notable in itself, but Cass’s reaction to the Doctor’s Time Lord nature serves another purpose, as it shows just how far the Time Lords have fallen this far into the war. The Doctor’s attempts to reassure Cass that he isn’t a Dalek, and her rebuke that there is no way to tell the difference between a Time Lord and a Dalek anymore proves how the universe has come to view the Time Lords during their destructive conflict with the Daleks that has come to affect almost all of Time and Space.

The Eighth Doctor’s death is quite a small-scale affair, as he dies refusing to abandon Cass even as she practically condemns him to die with her. The ship crashes on Karn, and the Sisterhood of Karn from the Fourth Doctor story The Brain of Morbius recover the bodies of the Doctor and Cass and temporarily revive the Doctor to ensure his regeneration. This is where Paul McGann’s acting ability comes to the forefront, as in the Eighth Doctor’s last moments we are treated to some great dialogue, some really poignant moments and a great final line: “Physician, Heal Thyself”, as the Eighth Doctor finally accepts his death and embraces his role as a warrior in the Time War, regenerating into John Hurt, the War Doctor.

The Night of the Doctor serves as a prelude to the 50th Anniversary Special, The Day of the Doctor, as it shows how the War Doctor came to be and also illustrates just how terrible the Time Lords have become as the odds of the Time War turn against them. However, it also serves as a prelude to the Twelfth Doctor story The Magician’s Apprentice, the opening story to Series 9, as the Sisterhood of Karn is led by Ohila who returns in Series 9. This mysterious character seems to know more about the Doctor than most, and it is implied that she has a history with the Doctor that extends beyond her introduction in The Night of the Doctor.

Overall, this short ‘minisode’ proves just how much potential the Eighth Doctor has on-screen. Paul McGann is incredible in the role and there is still a lot of potential for an Eighth Doctor Time War TV Series later down the line. In the meantime, there are dozens of Eighth Doctor Big Finish audios to enjoy, which depict the adventures of the Eighth Doctor with his companions Charley Pollard, C’rizz, Lucie Miller, Molly O’Sullivan, Liv Chenka, Helen Sinclair and Bliss. The best part is, many of these companions that are exclusive to audio are actually named in the The Night of the Doctor by the Eighth Doctor before he regenerates, which solidify their status as true companions of the Doctor despite the fact that they only appear in audio dramas.

The Night of the Doctor is a wonderful treat for Eighth Doctor fans, and it makes great bookend for his era that completes the set of Doctor regenerations from incarnations 1-11, just in time for the 50th Anniversary. Not only is this short story a great addition to the Doctor Who universe, but it is also a great study for future Eighth Doctor TV stories, if the BBC is planning on making any expanded universe Doctor Who TV shows in a shared cinematic universe then the Eighth Doctor is a great place to start, as Paul McGann slips into the role easily and his there is a huge gap for potential storytelling in the Eighth Doctor’s life that Big Finish have already taken advantage of. If nothing else, The Night of the Doctor proves that there is still huge potential in the character of the Eighth Doctor.

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Doctor Who Big Finish Audio Review – Master

Having recently discussed Geoffrey Beevers’ incarnation of the Master in Planet of Dust during our Eighth Doctor Big Finish Audios Review – Ravenous 4, it seems fitting to review his most prominent audio appearance in Master, a Seventh Doctor story from Big Finish’s Main Range. This story forms part of the villains trilogy with Omega and Davros, and like those audios it explores the character of a Classic Doctor Who villain – in this case, the Master. This audio is undoubtedly controversial as it sheds light on the nature of the old friendship between the Doctor and the Master and also adds some interesting ideas of its own to the Doctor Who universe. Nonetheless, it remains one of the most celebrated audios in Big Finish’s back-catalogue, and one of Geoffrey Beevers’ best performances as the Master.

The setting for this story is odd indeed, as the Master is living as a Human called John Smith on an Earth colony from the future called Perfugium with seemingly no memory of his previous life. He invites his friends Victor and Jacqueline Schaeffer for a dinner party, during which the friends discuss death, murder and other macabre things. There is a constant talk of death in this story, from local murders that are a talking point among the colonists to the motivations that drive people to commit terrible crimes. The small-scale nature of this story is somewhat reminiscent of J.B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls, as each of the characters are duplicitous and superstitious which creates some interesting dynamics for conversation.

This is where the choice to include Geoffrey Beevers’ incarnation in this story becomes clear, as he is a phenomenal voice actor who gives a very distinctive performance. His incarnation is immediately recognisable to most people because of his burned or rotten appearance, as Beevers’ first appearance in the role was as the decaying Master in The Keeper of Traken in 1981. On audio, however, he is distinctive for a completely different reason, as Beevers’ voice has almost become the definitive voice of the Master as he is the last living actor who played the Master in Classic Doctor Who. His delivery of classic cackling villain dialogue is excellent, but in this story what really shines is his range as an actor as he plays a much more reserved character here.

Another aspect of this story that comes into play often are the mentions to Zagreus, Doctor Who’s 40th Anniversary Special, which is the audio that the villains trilogy leads up to. We reviewed this story in our Eighth Doctor Big Finish Audios Review – EDAs Series 4, Part 2, and discussed its reputation for being inaccessible to those who are not versed in the lore of early Big Finish and Classic Doctor Who. Small references to the Time Lord nursery rhyme about Zagreus appear throughout Master, which seems somewhat incongruous, but this doesn’t impact the story. It also makes some sense considering the controversial revelations that this audio contains, though to explore that too much would delve into spoilers.

Some people might have already noticed the comparison between this story and the New Series TV story The Family of Blood / Human Nature, despite this audio being released over four years earlier. Both stories feature a Time Lord seemingly becoming Human and forgetting their previous life, almost taking on a completely different personality in this new form. Both this audio and that TV story are loosely based on a novel called Human Nature, which also features the Seventh Doctor. The key aspect of this story is that the Master takes on a completely new persona, and the Doctor has some fascinating conversations with ‘Doctor John Smith’ about the nature of evil, adding to the richness of this story’s repertoire of interesting dialogue.

Sylvester McCoy is fantastic in this audio as always, and his distinctive performance lends itself really well to the subtle and withdrawn nature of this story. Combatting malevolent forces and dealing with schemes thousands of years in the making are two of the Seventh Doctor’s favourite things to do, and so he is on form in this audio. The iconic scene of the Doctor appearing at the window in a bolt of lightning, disrupting the dinner party with an ear-splitting scream, is certainly one of the most unexpected and dramatic cliff-hangars in a Big Finish audio to date.

Some of the discussions between the Doctor and the Master delve into some quite serious psychological topics, from intrusive thoughts to what could make someone completely forget their identity. John Smith’s situation as a Human who is haunted by the spectre of the Master’s evil yet is devoted to saving lives and discovering his true self makes for a tragic setup for a story, as the nature-versus-nurture argument of what makes the Master who he is drives the narrative to an unexpected conclusion. Overall Master is an atmospheric listen that is great for die-hard fans of the character. This audio delves into the character of the Master like no other and provides insights into his history with the Doctor that puts the fan backlash to the lore-heavy nature of The Timeless Children into perspective.

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Eighth Doctor Big Finish Audios Review – Ravenous 4

The final box set of the Ravenous series features a plethora of psychopathic Time Lords, from the Eleven to various incarnations of the Master. At the time of release, Ravenous 4 featured more incarnations of the Master in one story than any other piece of Doctor Who media, with Geoffrey Beevers, Eric Roberts, Derek Jacobi and Michelle Gomez all making an appearance as their respective incarnations. The Ravenous series was initially marketed as a saga revolving around monsters, and there are few monsters in the Doctor Who universe who can rival the Master, let alone four Masters in one box set. The eponymous Ravenous also make a return, and we are finally given some explanation as to their origins way back in the early history of Gallifrey.

4.1 – Whisper

Despite this box set’s obvious focus on the Master, the first story focuses primarily on the Eleven. Unlike in the previous box set, we as the audience are aware of his ultimate intention to betray the Doctor, so Liv’s continuous mistrust of him is now more sympathetic than in the previous box set. Whilst Ravenous 3 was focused around the question of whether the Eleven could be an ally to the Doctor, Ravenous 4 has no such pretence following the ending of the previous story, so whilst Liv’s hostile attitude towards the Eleven could have come across as unwarranted in the previous box set, here we are rooting for Liv because we as the audience know that she is right. Nonetheless, the Eleven being his usual devious and deceptive self desperately trying to keep a lid on his previous incarnations is great to listen to. Over the course of the Ravenous saga the Eleven has developed a lot as a character since his early days as a manic villain, as here he takes on a much more subtle, sinister approach and it is interesting to see how much control he has over his other selves when he unites them in a singular purpose.

The premise of this story is relatively simple, yet it is an ingenious concept for an audio story. The TARDIS brings the Doctor, Liv, Helen and the Eleven to the Still Foundation in response to a distress call, only to find that the facility is under siege by predators who hunt by sound. As such, the characters have to communicate in whispers whenever the creatures are near, and this combined with the exceptional ambient sound design makes for some really atmospheric listening. Whisper is unique in that it is a base-under-siege horror story but with a very small main cast, with just a handful of supporting characters. The primary focus is on the Eleven and Liv’s volatile relationship as they try to work together to survive the situation. Helen is appalled as Liv chooses to carry a firearm when travelling with the Eleven, and she desperately tries to reason with her friend as she threatens to kill the Eleven to prevent him from killing anyone else. This audio tests Liv in a way that no story in the series so far has, as the Eleven almost goads her on and Helen has to hold her back.

The Doctor spends most of the runtime exploring the facility and attempting to understand exactly what the creature is and why it is attacking the facility. The fact that Liv has brought a gun to the party does not go down well at all, and this audio gives us a rare example of the Eighth Doctor being genuinely disappointed, perhaps even angry, with one of his companions. This is made even worse by the fact that, due to the monster hunting them by sound, the TARDIS team have to work out their differences in a whisper. The Doctor finally realises that the time has come to cut ties with the Eleven, as his altruistic desire to help the Eleven puts his companions in constant danger. The Doctor agrees to take the Eleven on one final trip, to a place where he can meditate and heal. The Eleven, however, has other ideas.

4.2 – Planet of Dust

This audio features the return of the Master, who hasn’t been in an Eighth Doctor audio story since all the way back in the Dark Eyes saga. This is also the first appearance of Geoffrey Beevers as the Master in an Eighth Doctor audio, for those who don’t know Beevers played the Master in one TV story of Classic Who, The Keeper of Traken, in which he played the decayed version of the Master who steals a new body to become Anthony Ainley at the end of the story. Despite only appearing once in the Classic series, Geoffrey Beevers has returned to the role for multiple Big Finish audios and his interpretation of the Master has since gone on to become a fan-favourite incarnation. Beevers’ Master is sly, cunning and manipulative, but also vulnerable and at times desperate, and no audio exemplifies this more than Planet of Dust.

The Doctor, Liv, Helen and the Eleven arrive on the planet after the Eleven is finally allowed to fly the TARDIS by the Doctor. He claims he wants to come to the desert planet Parrak to meditate but all is not as it seems. The population of the planet is being controlled by the ‘Provider’, who seems to be the only being on the planet capable of giving the residents water. Robotic Rangers patrol the deserts and supply the population with a meagre supply of water in exchange for their co-operation on dig sites throughout the desert. The Master attempts to force the population into abject slavery in order to scour the desert for an ancient tomb. There is a great scene midway through this audio where the Master and the Eleven discuss the Master’s knack for escaping death, and the Master quite frankly tells the Eleven that he is no longer sure how long he has lived, and the Eleven gradually realises that the Master is finally dying.

It is great to hear the Eleven and the Master finally meet, but one of the best moments in this audio is between the Doctor and the Master, though to explain too much about it would spoil the plot. Needless to say the critical condition that the Master has found himself in makes him desperate, and he is more vulnerable now than ever. The ever-compassionate Eighth Doctor seems to genuinely want to help his old friend, and there is a great moment between the two near the end of this story that proves that the two are still friends in a strange, twisted sort of way, despite everything that has happened between them. In the end though, it is the Doctor’s old friends Helen and Liv who pull though for him in this story, as they both show their independence and self-determination by assisting the citizens of Parrak while the Doctor and the Eleven go tomb raiding. Planet of Dust is one of those audios that needs to be listened to, as for fans of Geoffrey Beevers’ Master and the relationship between him and the Doctor this audio is a real treat.

4.3 / 4.4 – Day of the Master

Unusually for an Eighth Doctor audio story, Day of the Master is formatted as one story split into two parts, rather than two or more stories sharing one overarching narrative as is customary with Eighth Doctor saga finales. Whilst the previous audio focused on Geoffrey Beevers’ incarnation, Day of the Master includes three more Masters – the ‘Bruce’ incarnation, the War Master, and Missy, played by Eric Roberts, Derek Jacobi and Michelle Gomez respectively. With three Masters comes three separate plotlines across three separate timelines, and the Doctor, Liv and Helen are separated for the majority of this two-part story with each character being paired up with a respective Master.

Following on from the events of the previous audio after being lured away by the sound of a vortex manipulator, Helen is kidnapped by Missy after initially mistaking her for River Song, and she is transported to a future Earth where the entire planet is a barren wasteland. Helen is seemingly the only one who can guide Missy to her goal by reading a prophetic book that writes out everything they do as they do it, which is an interesting setup that allows for some fun interplay between the characters. Missy’s habit of not taking anything seriously contrasts heavily with Helen’s caring and compassionate attitude, and the two clearly do not get along. Hattie Morahan and Michelle Gomez are clearly having great fun with this audio and it is really fun to hear these two characters trade quips with each other.

The Doctor arrives on the planet Kolstarn in search of the ancient proto-Time Lord Artron, who is unknowingly being assisted by an earlier version of the Master who has a personal history with the Eighth Doctor. This meetup of the Eighth Doctor and the Master from the TV Movie in a time period that predates the foundation of Time Lord society is a showdown that has been in the making since 1996, and this alone makes Day of the Master a worthy finale to the Ravenous saga. Hearing Paul McGann and Eric Roberts trade verbal spats once again is wonderful to hear, and both actors are on top form in this story.

Liv is dropped off by the Doctor on a Time Lord station against her will, as he intends on keeping her safe but accidentally abandons her in the middle of the Eleven’s attack on the Time Lord facility in orbit around Kolstarn. The War Master arrives in response to the death of his earlier self, and adopts Liv as his temporary companion as he pretends to be a Time Lord specialist sent to aid her against the Ravenous. The two initially spy on the Eleven, who has allied with the Ravenous and unleashed them on the unsuspecting Time Lord military personnel, and the true horror of the Ravenous is finally revealed as they feast on their Time Lord victims. As the War Doctor gleefully explains, when the Ravenous feasts on a Time Lord then they die an agonising death, one incarnation after the next, as their regenerations are devoured by the nightmarish creatures. Derek Jacobi and Nicola Walker play off each other really well, and when Liv finally discovers the Master’s true identity there is a real sense that the two characters have a lengthy history, as Liv previously faced a much younger incarnation of the Master played by Alex Macqueen in Dark Eyes.

The pacing of this story is surprisingly well-handled, as despite the myriad of plot elements the fact that this is a two-part story coupled with the strong script makes this audio a fantastic listen and a fitting finale for the Ravenous saga. This story has everything you could want from a series finale, there’s a fantastic cliff-hanger for Part One which comes out of nowhere, there’s an exploration into the history of some of the major plot elements that finally answer some of the main questions that have been running throughout the series, and it also gives a satisfying conclusion to the character arc of the Eleven, as his elaborate scheme that he has been planning throughout the series is given a satisfying ending that rounds off the character excellently.

There are also just some really fun moments in this story, and some interesting details that fans will enjoy. Each incarnation of the Master wields their own laser screwdriver, for example. No amnesia is involved with the Eighth Doctor in this story, for once, as he is given only vague descriptions of both the War Master and Missy and so mistakes them for Roger Delgado’s Master and the Rani, respectively. When the three Masters do finally meet, there are some great scenes with banter between the three of them, as the two Masters are constantly at odds and Missy mocks both of them. The meeting between the three Masters is certainly a highlight of the story, and the three of them facing off against the Ravenous and the Eleven is a wonderful ending to the saga.

The recurring theme throughout recent Eighth Doctor audios of the Doctor needing someone to pull the trigger becomes particularly relevant here as the Masters shows up to stop the Eleven from destroying the universe simply because they happen to be currently occupying it. Make no mistake though, the Doctor, Liv and Helen are as fantastic as ever in this story, and despite featuring the Ravenous, the Eleven and three Masters the main cast still manage to shine. It is particularly fitting that the next chronological story in the Eighth Doctor’s timeline is a small-scale character story in the Stranded series, as the trio of the Doctor, Liv and Helen have become a united, cohesive team that can deal with anything. Well, almost anything, as their next series of adventures strands them in 2020.

Custom Classic Series Daleks – Part 1

Welcome to this showcase of my custom Classic Series Dalek figures, all of which are hand-painted and depict various types of Dalek from several episodes of the Classic Series aired in the 1960s. These Daleks are custom repaints of common Dalek figures that are made to represent less common Dalek figures. The vast majority of these Classic Daleks were donated to me in a damaged state, with scuffed paint and often missing appendages. I was able to create a small number of intact Classic Daleks (as in, featuring all three main appendages) using spare eyestalks, gunsticks and plungers collected from all of the Classic Daleks I have acquired over time.

These Daleks are constantly being updated and amended as time goes on, but I have photographed them in their current state as they are all at least presentable in their current state, though there are some that I am quite happy with as they are and will likely not require much modification.

Custom The Dalek Invasion of Earth Drone

This figure was made using a standard The Dalek Invasion of Earth Saucer Pilot Dalek from the Dalek Collectors Set #2, a recurring source of Daleks for customs based on this episode. The figure was spray-painted silver, apart from the base which was spray-painted black, and the cyan colour scheme was added using Citadel paint and a fine brush. A permanent marker was also used for the detailing on the eyestalk and the manipulator arm. This cyan colour scheme is unique to Series 9, and is not present on the standard Dalek figure from The Dalek Invasion of Earth. However, the cyan on the midsection does help to break up the colour scheme a bit.

Custom The Dalek Invasion of Earth Supreme

Like the previous custom, this Dalek was a Saucer Pilot from the Collectors Set #2 only this time it has been customised to depict the Supreme Dalek from The Dalek Invasion of Earth. Ironically, the Saucer Pilot only exists due to the fact that the Supreme Dalek prop was not finished when the episode in which the Saucer Pilot appeared was due to air, but the partly-painted prop was included anyway, thus the Saucer Pilot rank was born. Ironically, in creating this Supreme Dalek custom using a Saucer Pilot, I completed the half-finished paint job that has been immortalised in figure form. The end result is particularly striking – Supreme Daleks are usually decorated with the best colour schemes and this one from The Dalek Invasion of Earth is no exceptional. It is no wonder this particular type of Dalek was chosen for inclusion in the recent History of the Daleks #2 Collectors Set.

Custom The Daleks’ Master Plan Supreme

This figure was originally an Emperor’s Guard Dalek from the Collectors Set #2, but it has been modified to resemble the Supreme Dalek from The Daleks’ Master Plan. Although this Dalek has been depicted as red in some sources, the prop has been confirmed to have been black, and presumably that is the colour it was intended to be. This custom has gone through several iterations, as although the darker blue hemispheres shown in these photos are the same as those on my other The Daleks’ Master Plan customs, I later decided that the hemispheres looked too deep a blue compared to the skirt, so I repainted them with a lighter cyan colour which contrasts with the skirt much better.

Custom The Chase Guard Dalek

This custom is a heavily modified Dalek Saucer Pilot, albeit with the chunky section of the base removed and the figure itself heavily modified with blue Citadel paint on the dome and hemispheres and gold Citadel paint on the midsection. A genuine version of this figure exists, though it is extremely rare, having only been released once as part of the SFX Daleks line. The paint applications are the same as that of a Dalek from the movie Doctor Who and The Daleks, although the ear lights and base are more in line with the Daleks from the Classic TV series. I used blue and gold Citadel paint for the detailing, though the blue paint is slightly darker than that of the Doctor Who and The Daleks Drones, and the gunstick is technically incorrect as this figure retains the gunstick used by the Daleks in The Dalek Invasion of Earth.