In the 80s greed is good, and bankers and brokers are the masters of the universe. But supreme among them is the mysterious media mogul Alex Zenos, head of the powerful Zenos Corporation. He is a man who with a lot to offer and he’s offering it to Britain, just when it needs an economic miracle to offset the strikes and riots. He has powerful backers who wish to invest and with the terms they are offering, who can refuse? So while the Doctor is distracted investigating a suspiciously advanced computer game called Warfleet, Mel is left to go undercover to find out just who Zenos’s partners are.
For the Daleks, power is good. The power of the free market will let them take over the earth, and the only shot fired will be inside a game.
This play reminds me a bit of Remembrance of the Daleks. Not in story or structure but instead the way an older time is viewed through a more modern lens. Remembrance was a tale written in the 80’s, set decades before but with a very 80s view of what the 60s were. Here we have a tale set in the 80s but written right now. It’s an enjoyable 80s style romp, but somewhat like a memory 80s episodes rather than how they actually were. Of course, that isn’t a bad thing: we get the fun and frolics common of that time; but we also get a much more layered plot.
What’s good about this story? Well it’s much less work than the previous stories, with their ongoing mystery and out of place Doctor’s, for a start. But it’s still a high energy tale that has a lot going on. Sure, we don’t have massive twists but there are several narratives going on that intertwine nicely.
McCoy and Langford are a great double act. Mel is a much more rounded and enjoyable character than she was on TV. Never a fan favourite back then she’s had the benefit of time to get into the role, made all the easier by BF’s provision of strong stories for Langford to get her teeth into.
Within this story, the Daleks are also a lot of fun – and it’s nice to see them using a scheme that invests in other means than brute force and firepower. It’s a big cast and they are all well used.
There isn’t really much bad about the story either. Ken Bentley keeps the direction brisk and straightforward, which suits this style of tale. Writer Jonathan Morris is an old hand at making the most of the audio format and we’ve got lots of battles mixed with fabulous imagery that the effects of the day would struggle with but which now, in audio, are eminently achievable.
My only grumble was Mary Conlon’s politician character Celia Dunthorpe, whose motivations made her a little bit of a caricature of the ruthless 80s politician, slipping a bit too quickly and completely into evil Dalek human servant mode. It’s a minor quibble and the 80’s always did have elements of pantomime and farce, and this portrayal isn’t nearly either of those.
We Are The Daleks is the start of a promising trilogy and I’m looking forward to the next one. It’s fun and frolics. Perhaps not as sophisticated as others but sometimes you want a burger, fries and a thick shake and this has the guilty pleasure factor of an 80s tale done well.