The Apocalypse Element

Doctor Who: The Apocalypse ElementThe Doctor and Evelyn arrive on the planet Archetryx, which is playing host to an unprecedented summit meeting of major powers in the universe with time travel capability…including the Time Lords, represented by the Lord President and CIA operative Vansell, whom the Doctor is less than pleased to see. But despite elaborate security measures taken for the summit, odd things are happening – the gravity wells on Archetryx are acting up, and one of the delegates is practicing mind control on the local security forces. The Doctor is immediately suspicious of the entire situation, especially when the phantom planet of Etra Prime suddenly appears, headed straight for Archetryx. The Daleks are behind this incident, attempting to harness the knowledge of the time-travel-capable species to perfect their new doomsday weapon. But the Daleks don’t count on one thing: a Time Lord named Romanadvortrelundar, who has spent 20 years of her life in the Daleks’ clutches, escapes with knowledge of the Daleks’ plans…as well as the transference crystal they need to focus their new weapon. Romana’s reunion with the Doctor is rushed as they evacuate Archetryx and retreat to Gallifrey, only to find that Vansell’s lust for inside knowledge of the other powers’ time travel vessels has given the Daleks a foothold on the planet of the Time Lords. Even without the focusing device, the Daleks settle for an uncontrolled demonstration of their new weapon – and the resulting massive reaction, if left unchecked, will consume all matter in the entire universe in a matter of hours.

Order this CDwritten by Stephen Cole
directed by Nicholas Briggs
music by Nicholas Briggs

Cast: Colin Baker (The Doctor), Maggie Stables (Dr. Evelyn Smythe), Lalla Ward (Romana), Karen Henson (Monitor Trinkett), James Campbell (Assistant Monitor Ensac), Andrea Newland (Commander Vorna), Anthony Keech (Coordinator Vansell), Toby Longworth (Monan Host), Michael Wade (The President), Alistair Lock (Dalek voices), Nicholas Briggs (Dalek voices), Andrew Fettes (Vrint / Commander Reldath)

Timeline: after The Spectre Of Lanyon Moor and before Bloodtide

LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green

Review: While I dare say that Apocalypse Element is better than the earlier Dalek Empire story, The Genocide Machine, it still seems to be bogged down by some of the same problems. While the Daleks do posess the kind of arrogance needed to make the leap of logic that they do here (if the test of their weapon starts an uncontrollable chain reaction throughout the entire universe, they will be able to conquer whatever advanced planets are necessary to acquire technology that can control the reaction), I can’t see them being quite so wild in their strategic thinking. These are the same Daleks who, in an admittedly pathetic plot twist in 1979’s Destiny Of The Daleks, couldn’t break a stalemate with the Movellans because they couldn’t come up with a strategy original, daring and unpredictable enough to catch the other race of robotic villains off guard. And yet these same Daleks are going to take a wildly uncalculated gamble on a doomsday element which can only be contained if they can subjugate a world with the necessary technology before the entire universe is consumed? C’mon!

Doctor Who and the Apocalypse ElementBut vast leaps of Dalek reasoning aside, The Apocalypse Element is very entertaining, even with the kind of Gallifreyan political plot elements that hearken back to the JN-T era of the TV series. Lalla Ward makes a welcome return as Romana, and it’s interesting to hear her paired with a Doctor other than her ex-husband Tom Baker. Maggie Stables also returns as the sixth Doctor’s audio-only companion Evelyn Smythe, getting quite a juicy part in this adventure when the Doctor rewires the entire Gallifreyan security net to respond only to Evelyn’s retinal scan. Which brings me to another point: this is the first of the Audio Adventures to explicitly reference the 1996 TV movie. At one point, to open the Eye of Harmony on Gallifrey, Romana instructs Evelyn to look into a mirror on a column, despite the reflection of a blinding light, a clear reference to how Grace was forced to open the Eye of Harmony in the eighth Doctor’s TARDIS. And as for Colin Baker himself? The Apocalypse Element provides some moments of high drama and outrage that give him the material to do his best work. He also gets to exercise some comedic muscle as well.

Though I tend to tire of Gallifrey-based epics (or attempts to do them, at any rate), I thoroughly enjoyed The Apocalypse Element. The Daleks got to be thoroughly ruthless bastards, at one point cutting an eye out of the head of a Gallifreyan guard who is still very much alive – and awake! – with which to trigger the retina-scan-based security systems in the Capitol. There’s also lots of fun with Dalek mutants outside of their casings, and other nastiness. The Daleks, while they are pursuing a wildly illogical plan without even the remotest guarantee of success, do get to be their nastiest in this story, even nastier than the mass-murdering Daleks of The Genocide Machine.