Big Finish: Doctor Who - Time Lord Victorious GENETICS OF THE DALEKS Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Big Finish: Doctor Who - Time Lord Victorious GENETICS OF THE DALEKS Review

Matthew Kresal takes a trip on Starship Future... Listening to the various Time Lord Victorious audios in recent months has been a joyous experience. Especially having the chance to enjoy some different takes on the Doctor and the Daleks in the Eighth Doctor audios from Big Finish. But just because the Eighth Doctor trilogy finished up earlier this month in Mutually Assured Destruction, it doesn't mean Big Finish has finished. Indeed, their last Time Lord Victorious release of the year features not the Eighth Doctor but an even earlier incarnation: Tom Baker's Fourth Doctor.

Written by Jonathan Morris, Genetics of the Daleks feels in the vein of this month's Eighth Doctor release. By that, I mean that it's channeling a well-known film into a Doctor Who story. In the case of Mutually Assured Destruction, it was Die Hard. In Genetics, from the opening scene of crew members coming out of cryo-sleep aboard a futuristic spaceship to odd happenings and finally the presence of the titular villain, that film would be 1979's Alien. The sense of claustrophobic dread and body horror from the film carries off neatly as well. The latter especially comes across in a heightened way, with sound effects and performances suggesting some gruesome moments for listeners to imagine.

Not that Genetics is a Who based remake of Ridley Scott's classic, if only because Morris is too good of a writer for that to be so. Indeed, Morris uses some shades of classic Dalek stories of the past here alongside invoking Alien. As seems to have been the case with Time Lord Victorious, on the whole, Skaro's finest come across not as mindless drones but as characters in their own right. Capable of conniving and malevolent action in pursuit of their goals, and a legitimate threat to everyone. While the various Big Finish writers for the arc have captured that quality, Morris handles it exceptionally well.

Also nice is how much Genetics works on its own accord. It is, without hopefully invoking an oxymoron, both a prequel and a sequel to the other portions of the Time Lord Victorious arc. Even in that overt connection, it's a neat "aha" moment rather than an essentially vital piece of information for the story to make sense. All the more surprising, it was only listening to the extras that I discovered this is a tie-in to something else, the escape room A Dalek Awakens. Even knowing that it's a companion piece to something else, Genetics of the Daleks works as a fine standalone piece in its own right.

It's also a story that's boosted by two things you can rely upon at Big Finish: casting and production work. Tom Baker is clearly having a good time doing this story, even if it's twenty or so minutes in before he appears. Once he does, Baker is on fine form, echoing some of his better TV performances in the process. The other star, of course, is Nicholas Briggs as the story's Dalek. Even playing just one of the creatures, Briggs brings out a full-on characterization that makes the most of Morris' dialogue. Listening to Baker and Briggs facing off is an absolute treat, as well, and something that both are relishing. Given able backing by the supporting cast Pippa Haywood and Clive Mantle with the atmospheric sound design and music of Toby Hrycek-Robinson, it's all you could ask for from a Big Finish production.

As the last Time Lord Victorious release from Big Finish for 2020, Genetics of the Daleks makes a suitably atmospheric addition to their contributions. From Morris' cross between Alien and classic Dalek tales to Baker and Briggs on fine form, it's also a standalone entry into the arc. One especially good for fans of the Fourth Doctor or those still wishing to dip a toe in before going for a deep dive. If you're still uncertain about the whole Time Lord Victorious idea, you could do a lot worse than give this a listen.

Doctor Who - Time Lord Victorious: Genetics of the Daleks is available to purchase from the Big Finish website.

Matthew lives in North Alabama where he's a nerd, doesn't have a southern accent and isn't a Republican. He's a host of both the Big Finish centric Stories From The Vortex podcast and the 20mb Doctor Who Podcast. You can read more of his writing at his blog and at The Terrible Zodin fanzine, amongst other places.

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