The Time of the Daleks (2002)

The Time of the Daleks is quite an unusual story to say the very least. It’s the first time the McGann has ever faced the Daleks so it was a release I was quite looking forward to. Justin Richards is responsible for the Eighth Doctor’s first meeting with the metal monsters. The story starts off with Charley not knowing who Shakespeare which baffles the Doctor. With Shakespeare being one of the most famous writers in the history of the world its feasible to think that everyone would have at least heard of the Bard. The Doctor arrives on Earth and finds that no one else has heard of him either. This is partly due to Mariah Learman who rules Britain and despite being a Shakespeare enthusiast has also been doing time travel experiments. Now normally this would form the basis of a good story, trying to stop someone from damaging the time line would make a good four parter. Then Richards throws in the Daleks for good measure. Now I was expecting them to just try their normal invasion thing but the Daleks we get in this story are in fact fans of Shakespeare. Only in Doctor Who!

The Daleks in this story are used in perhaps the most original way for quite sometime. The mere thought that they are fans of Shakespeare stops instantly gets my concentration. The way that the Daleks interact with the Eighth Doctor was very well handled and that line that previous Doctor’s use that “They don’t feel like the Doctor until they’ve met the Daleks” now applies to Paul McGann. There is a mini twist that I didn’t see coming. The Kitchen boy that we meet in this story turns out to be a young William Shakespeare who is dislocated from his own time.

Paul McGann in a really good performance. It was always important that his first encounter with the Daleks went well. McGann really threw himself into this story and had some wonderful scenes with the Daleks. India Fisher also puts in a sterling performance. Of the guest cast I found Dot Smith to be the best as Mariah Learman. I found the Learman character to be a fine example of people who think they are very clever but are actually quite stupid when it comes to something like time travel. Jem Bassett on the other hand is not as impressive. It’s quite obvious that she is trying to play a character that is a pre-pubescent boy. I just found it slightly disappointing.

At the end of the story I found myself not entirely happy with it. I think that some of the elements about it worked quite well such as the setting with was something different but unfortunately aside from the Eighth Doctor’s first encounter with the Daleks there is nothing really in this story that grabbed me. Justin Richards has written a story that couldn’t never be classed as terrible but neither could be compared as good as The Chimes of Midnight or Embrace the Darkness. What he did do was extend the major story arc which was a relief. The Time of the Daleks is a story that should be listened to but ultimately its not going to rank as one of the best Dalek stories of all time.

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