An attack on a space cruiser they’re visiting forces the Doctor and Melanie to evacuate by any means necessary. Mel manages to make her way to an escape pod, which takes her to a research colony on the planet Lethe. The Doctor and the TARDIS, however, are captured by the Daleks, who offer to send the Doctor to Lethe too…so long as he reports back on what their creator, Davros, is doing there. When the Doctor arrives, he finds that Davros has managed to conceal his appearance and is calling himself Professor Vaso – and worse yet, he has unearthed specimens of one of the Daleks’ worst enemies, the Mechonoids. Davros has quietly set up self-replication facilities for the Mechonoids, aware of their potential for battling the Daleks, claiming that he hopes to atone for his past by ridding the universe of his creations. But even with this claim of a noble mission, the Doctor sees Davros up to his old tricks, leaving a trail of death in his wake. But when the Doctor fulfills his end of the bargain and alerts the Daleks, who still want to capture Davros and try him for crimes against them, things only get worse, with an entire colony of innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire of a new Dalek-Mechonoid war.
Cast: Colin Baker (The Doctor), Bonnie Langford (Melanie), Terry Molloy (Davros), Bindya Solanki (Sonali), Klaus White (Geoff), Peter Forbe (Kryson), Paul Grunert (Brauer), Julia Houghton (Loewen), Nicholas Briggs (Dalek and Mechonoid voices)
Timeline: after The Trial Of A Time Lord and before Catch-1782
Notes: The Doctor mentions Evelyn in the past tense here. If one follows the generally accepted view from the novels that the Doctor dropped Melanie – a future companion he hadn’t met yet – off in her own post-seventh-Doctor timeline after The Trial Of A Time Lord, only to encounter her and begin their travels together at a later date, it’s reasonable to assume that the stories with Evelyn Smythe take place in the interim.
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: For the longest time, Big Finish confounded fans’ expectations by not including Davros in any of their Dalek stories (including Dalek Empire), and in the character’s one previous showing in a Doctor Who audio (2003’s Davros), the Daleks were, perversely enough, nowhere to be found. Now expectations are being confounded once more, because this is a straight-up, late-80s-style Daleks-with-Davros story – with a twist. This time the Daleks are facing off against their oldest arch enemies – the hulking, destructive Mechonoids, whose first and only appearance in TV Doctor Who was in 1966’s The Chase. Dalek/Mechonoid face-offs are nothing new, though – the geodesic dome-shaped adversaries of the Daleks were almost ubiquitous in the Doctor-less Dalek comics of the 60s. Now they’re back – sounding very much like they did nearly 40 years ago – and they mean business.
The real development in this story lies with Melanie. The Doctor is almost pushed into the background in the first half of the story, and we get a feel for Melanie’s ability to get by without him and even find a useful function for herself among the colonists on Lethe (after years of lip service about how she was a computer programmer on Earth, we finally get some story development that backs that up). She also shows some very interesting ethical development toward the end of the story, but going any further down that road would be telling. This isn’t the one-note Melanie of the TV series, that’s for sure. Her supporting cast of “colonists” only helps Bonnie Langford stand out in this story.
But on the whole, it feels like John Nathan-Turner era Doctor Who – in both good and bad ways. The continuity-bound nature of it all – the story is slotted into the 80s’ ongoing series of interconnected Dalek epics, and features an enemy other than the Daleks which only a fan (or a Mechonoid’s mother) could love – is very JN-T-era, as is the high body count of supporting characters, some of whom were so flawed you almost cheer for their exit. On that level – almost a tribute to Eric Saward-written Dalek epics of the 80s – The Juggernauts is authentic Who. And who doesn’t like to see the Doctor go another round with the Daleks?
Well, ask again after the ninth Doctor has tangled with them.