I first listened to this first series of Dalek Empire back in 2004 some three years after it was first released. I did wonder whether this series would work as it doesn’t have one ingredient of why they have been successful. The Doctor. Invasion of the Daleks has a lot to do as it has to set characters and also give an idea about what the series will be about. There are references to previous stories in the main range. The Knights of Velyshaa were mentioned in The Sirens of Time (1999). The Kar-Charrat Library was the setting for The Genocide Machine (2000) and the Apocalypse Element was the Sixth Doctor story of the same title (2000). The character of Susan Mendes is a likeable one. She starts of as just a normal researcher who is forming a relationship with Alby Brooks and then soon becomes an act of defiance for the Daleks. Its was inevitable that her defiance was going to get her noticed by the Dalek Supreme. It was almost like she had gambled on this and hoping that this was keep her alive. Kalendorf is a character that isn’t what he seems to be. When we first meet him he seems like an old man waiting to be exterminated. By the end of the story he is a Knight of Velyshaa who is an old hand of telepathy. The relationship between him and Suz was nicely done in this first story and there were trust issues which quickly dispersed. Alby Brooks is a character that I couldn’t quite make my mind up about. Half the time he seems to be a desperate romantic who has fallen in love with Suz and gets drunk soon into the story. Then suddenly he snaps and becomes action man in space. I think that if he continues in the latter then he will be a very good character.
The Daleks were very different in this story from what we are used to. They are being typical in terms of destroying and taking over Vega 6 but there is a cunningness that is more obvious in this story than in previous adventures. They are allowing everyone to eat and rest in the hope that it will make everyone more productive. It’s a logical plan but it does seem very un-Dalek like. But that’s what makes them seem a lot more sinister than in previous adventures.
At the end of the day this first part did exactly what a first story is supposed to do. It sets up the main characters and you firmly know where you stand with them. The Daleks are magnificent and set a new benchmark of how they should be used. Nicholas Briggs has written and directed a fantastic opening story.