There’s No I in TEAM

Big Finish Folly, Part 53 – Davros, by Lance Parkin

Trans Allied Inc is the most powerful business conglomerate in the galaxy. Safe at the top of the world of business, it now casts a beady over over neighbouring galaxies too. But to get there, to expand, to effectively invade, TAI needs help from a real blue-sky thinker. A radical. Someone who can shift the economic paradigm.

Davros.

Recorded as part of the 40th anniversary celebrations back in 2003, this is actually the earliest (chronologically speaking) Sixth Doctor audio story. It stands out from the rest of the range as structurally it has been divided into only two parts, rather than the usual four – this allows the tension to creep upwards more slowly, gives Davros space to indulge in flashbacks and reminiscences, and generally gives the whole story the suitably epic feel of a feature-length episode rather than a serial. A fitting way to start with a new incarnation!

And the story is epic. Not in the sense of whizzing off about the galaxy, quenching nova-blown stars, and piecing together the Key to Time, but more in the sense of massive revelations, horrendous ideas, and terrible consequences. As with Omega (another play that was released at that time) the key conflict is between the Doctor and the titular adversary, but the clever part is how all the characters are affected by the presence of both Davros and Ol’ Sixey.

Terry Molloy revels in his performance, giving Davros a fully-rounded psychosis. Colin Baker is a little less anchored to my ears – flip, irrational, the exact opposite of what I’ve been used to over the last year with Peter Davison. But the belligerence of his Doctor is pretty much all that allows him to compete with both Davros and TAI’s Arnold Baynes.

There are a few silly moments that stop me from giving this play the full five stars treatment – at one point the Doctor escapes an atomic bomb by throwing it down a deep shaft and running hard. Hmm. You can see where Indiana Jones got the idea from. The final scenes don’t have the same emotional resonance that the first two thirds possess, and the play falls a little flat when it really ought to sear the ears through to the end. But as an exploration and celebration of the only Who villain that my partner still can’t bear to watch on TV, this play is really well worth the price.
****½

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