Doctor Who: Brotherhood Of The DaleksThe Doctor is convinced that the TARDIS has returned him to Spiridon, the jungle planet where he’s done battle with the Daleks on more than one occasion. But despite the presence of the planet’s disctinctively deadly foliage, and a desperate band of outnumbered Thals who claim to be fighting a larger force of Daleks, something doesn’t add up – and finally the Doctor discovers that it isn’t Spiridon at all. Worse yet, in this artificial environment, even the beleaguered Thals are not who they appear to be…but who’s behind the deception? Daleks? Thals? Or someone else? Whoever it turns out to be, chances are that they won’t allow the Doctor to escape alive with whatever secrets he learns.

Order this CDwritten by Alan Barnes
directed by Nicholas Briggs
music by Steve Foxon

Cast: Colin Baker (The Doctor), India Fisher (Charlotte Pollard), Michael Cochrane (Murgat), Harriet Kershaw (Tamarus), Derek Carlyle (Valion), Jo Casatleton (Nyaiad), Alison Thea-Skot (Jesic), Steve Hansell (Septal), Nicholas Briggs (The Daleks)

Notes: The Doctor visited Spiridon during his third incarnation in Planet Of The Daleks (1973), though in Big Finish’s universe, the seventh Doctor underwent a more extensive ordeal there at the mercy of the Daleks in Return Of The Daleks (2006). The Daleks mention having met Charley before, a reference to the eighth Doctor story The Time Of The Daleks (2002). The hallucinogenic plants were encountered by the Doctor in his fifth incarnation in the audio story The Mind’s Eye (2007).

Timeline: after The Doomwood Curse and before Return Of The Krotons

LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green

Review: Some of Big Finish’s best Doctor Who stories have been those that have played havoc with the traditional storytelling format expected from the classic series: we’ve been treated to a musical, experiments in non-linear and circular narratives, and red herring stories where nothing is quite what it seems because the story is only being heard. Brotherhood Of The Daleks definitely falls under that last category, though the jury may be out on how successful it is at it.

Structurally, Brotherhood really tries to screw with the listener’s head, including false cliffhangers complete with theme music. The first time, it’s clever. The next time, it’s “ah, okay, I see what you’ve done here.”

By about the fourth false ending, I’m ready to throw a jewel case across the room – it’s trying way too hard to be clever, and it’s getting annoying. Fortunately, while the structural decisions made in the story are exasperating, Brotherhood does have a few saving graces to make it worth listening to (or, depending on how you feel by the time you’ve gotten to the end, enduring). It’s a bit of a cheat, but we finally get a flavor for how Charley might finally inform the Doctor that she’s already traveled with one of his future incarnations. Naturally, it’s not really the Doctor, but a Dalek-made replicant…but this creates the double twist that the Daleks now know of Charley’s true origin. Charley’s travels with the sixth Doctor were already a ticking time bomb; now they could be a deadly loophole for the Daleks to exploit down the road.

The cast is more than convincing enough, despite the script’s attempts to outrun the listener, with some of the depictions of torture and being driven to the brink of insanity coming across as almost disturbingly realistic. The actors do more to make the material accessible than the script itself does, and that’s very much appreciated.

Brotherhood is just another in a long line of Big Finish releases which stretch the limitations and parameters of how a Doctor Who story can be told, but it’s no Creatures Of Beauty. If the false ending card had been played only once, Brotherhood would’ve been a much more welcome addition to the family; a cautious recommendation, if only for the significant forward motion (finally!) in the Doctor/Charley plot thread.