Blood of the Daleks is a two part story that opens up the Eighth Doctor and Lucie series. This is the first proper series that McGann has had since The Doctor, C’Rizz & Charley came back to our universe in The Next Life back in 2004. In this story we are introduced to a new companion, totally original and never before seen in either the classic or new series. Lucie Miller is a young brash Northerner from Blackpool who is on her way to a new job when she gets taken out of time and landed with the Doctor. This story was written by Steve Lyons who has written in the past The Fires of Vulcan (2000), Colditz (2001) and Gallifrey: Insurgency (2005).
The opening of this story is quite similar to the Christmas Special The Runaway Bride. I don’t believe that was intention able but seen as they both aired within two weeks of each other it’s a comparison hard to not make. This scene sets up what we can expect from the rest of the season. Due to the turbulence of Lucie’s arrival we find the Doctor and his new friend arrive on Red Rocket Rising which is a planet that has been devastated by asteroid strikes and the inhabitants are waiting for some sort of help. Inhabitants include Eileen Klint who is the acting president, Asha Gryvern who is a disgraced scientist and Tom Cardwell who is a bit nuts and also paranoid.
The story reveals that Gryvern who we were led to believe was assistant to a Professor Martez was actually Martez in reality and was creating a new race of Daleks. It’s also revealed that Gryvern is just occupying Martez’s body and it is slowly breaking down. We learn that the Daleks had created the asteroid strikes to try and destroy the new race of Daleks which they must see as some sort of an abomination. It was weird that the Doctor aligned himself with the real Daleks so that he could help destroy Martez’s Daleks. It wasn’t long before he gets help from Tom Cardwell to destroy both Daleks and thus have a happy ending. The Doctor tries to leave Red Rocket Rising without Lucie but soon finds out that he can’t because of the Timelords.
Paul McGann is given a new breath of fresh air with the introduction of Lucie. After five years of Charley and C’Rizz we know get the fresh scenario of a Doctor and a new companion. Having only started listening to Big Finish plays since late 2004 I have never been in this scenario where I am encountering a companion from the very beginning. McGann’s Doctor has to contend with the arrival of Lucie and the encounter of the Daleks. He seems to having a fun time with all the action going on. Sheridan Smith is someone that I have seen on TV from appearing in such shows as The Royle Family (1999-2000) and Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps (2001 to present). It seems that Lucie Miller is going to be a strong companion. She is a feisty individual but isn’t annoying, it’s a fine line which they have managed to get just right. She has some funny lines in this which helps a lot, such lines as wondering whether the Doctor’s hair is real or a wig which is funny because he wore a wig in the TV movie. Her line when they encounter Tom Cardwell for the first time and saying that Tin Hats “Not a good thing!” was also funny and made her seem more human and more real as a result. Anita Dobson is the biggest name of the guest stars. She appeared in the soap Eastenders as Angie Watts from 1985 to 1988, she is also married to Queen Guitarist Brian May. In Blood of the Daleks she plays embattled acting president Eileen Klint who has a hard time getting on with inhabitants. She is too willing to get on with the Daleks and due to the pressures of office she makes a monumentally bad decision. The character was written as weak and Dobson played that brilliantly. Hayley Atwell was perhaps the best of the guest stars as Asha Gryvern and Professor Martez. By creating a new race of Daleks she was the female version of Davros and she played that brilliantly. I was really impressed with the way that she played both roles and how she integrated with the other characters as well as the Doctor.
Other characters in this story include the Headhunter who is a character that will have such an important character throughout the series. The Headhunter is played by Katarina Olsson who also played the computer which is an ok role. Kenneth Cranham plays Tom Cardwell which is a character that is designed not to be taken seriously but obviously is ignored to the cost of the survival of Red Rocket Rising. I did find him a bit annoying but that shows what a good character he was and how he was right in his paranoia. Last but by no means least we have Gerry O’Toole who played Lowell. The character of Lowell wasn’t a particularly standout character but served a purpose and did well.
I thought that this was a really good opening story. There was the classic element of a planet under siege but with a different element. The introduction of a new companion was handled well and this should bode well for the future. Steve Lyons has written a highly enjoyable story which is amazing considering he had to bring in a new companion, bring in the Daleks and adapt to the new format of two 50 minute episodes. Nicholas Briggs does a superb job of directing this story. He managed to keep the intrigued at top notch throughout bout parts. Due to this story I have high hopes of the rest of the season and hope that Lucie’s story is told in a satisfactory manner.