Another thing about this story that I liked was it was the first adventure since Remembrance of the Daleks back in 1988 that Davros and the Daleks featured in the same story. Also what Scott Alan Woodard had to do was as well as have the Doctor, Mel, Davros and the Daleks was to find a use for the Mechanoids who have only appeared once in Doctor Who history and that was back in 1965 in the William Hartnell story The Chase. They are massive things that don’t really have much of a purpose apart from getting in the way but in this story they served a purpose in terms of plot and emotionally. To be honest, apart from pleasing long time fans I don’t really see why they would be included. That said I did find them strangely useful.
What I like about this story is that the characters are so well written and there is such a good pace to it. The idea that Davros is using the inhabitants as Mechanoids was a stroke of genius and was a nice emotional plot twist that helped elevate Davros’ evil plans to a whole new level. Also the fact that Mel has basically started a new life on this planet and has adapted to the environment that she has found herself in shows a new side to the character that was never shown on TV.
Acting wise this story was very good. Colin Baker was also on top form and his relationship with Mel is not as childish or light hearted as it does in this story. It was interesting where the Doctor tried to convince Mel that the person she thought was Dr Vaso was in fact the evil genius who created the Daleks. He has a relationship with Mel that just never came out during their short time on TV. Bonnie Langford who despite all the critiscm that she has received for the role has come back to Doctor Who and played the Mel that should have appeared on TV. This is her best story to date because she actually spent most of the story doing what her character was originally meant to be good at, being a smart-aleck with computers.
Of the guest stars it is Terry Molloy who is the best. His version of Davros is absolutely fantastic and it worked on TV and also works on audio. When he was Dr Vaso it was also good because it shows that Molloy isn’t just good at playing evil genius’ but can play nice characters. His version of Davros wipes out David Gooderson who played it in Destiny of the Daleks back in 1979. Other roles in this story worked really well and helped create a good atmosphere that made it seem like it was a really nice place to live or at least be based at. Also there should be some credit to Nicholas Briggs who did the voices for the Daleks and for the Mechanoids. Other people of worth include Bindya Solanki who perhaps is most well known for appearing in the BBC soap Eastenders. Here she plays Sonali who is a nice likeable character. Klaus White plays Geoff who is another character who is well written, he forms a… feeling for Mel. Peter Forbes plays Kryson. Forbes has starred in Big Finish plays before. He played Dan Curver in the third series of Dalek Empire back in 2004. I quite liked the character Kryson. Other characters include Paul Grunert who played Brauer and Julia Houghton who played Loewen. Bother characters contributed well and were well written and well acted characters.
If there is a problem with this story is that Mel does very good in the first half of this story and carries it very well. What then happens is once the Doctor arrives and once Mel realises who Dr Vaso really is then her usefulness kind of falls away at the waist side. Aside from that it is a superb first story from Scott Alan Woodard. He has written a story that never gets boring at any point and that is not something that happens very often. Gary Russell also should be applauded for creating an atmosphere that varies from a spaceship to a colony without even dipping in quality.
Overall this was a really good story. The Mechanoids were a weird choice due to the fact of their solitary appearance 40 years ago but it surprised me that it worked and with the Daleks and Davros it served up to be one of the best stories of 2005. It shows that 1) Colin Baker is a superb Doctor, 2) Bonnie Langford’s renaissance as Mel continues and 3) There is a use for the Mechanoids after all.