Big Finish Folly, Part 114 – The Curse of Davros, by Jonathan Morris
Flip Jackson didn’t think she’d meet the Doctor again, not after that crazy business with the Terravores and that odd Brewster bloke. But she’s reckoned without a crashing flying saucer, mind-swapped Daleks, and a creepy wizened half-corpse in a motorised chair… And this time she’s going to have to stick close to the Doctor – after all, they do say to keep your friends close and your enemies closer…
New “season”, new companion – again! We’ve met Flip before, obviously, as Lisa Greenwood guested in the multi-“nearly-companion” story The Crimes of Thomas Brewster, along with the afore-mentioned ex-urchin and Anna Hope’s DI Menzies. This time she’s still dragging her boyfriend – an audio version of the Ninth Doctor’s Mickey in my opinion – with her, but Ashley Kumar’s Jared has just as much to do in the play, effectively standing in for the Doctor’s viewpoint while he is virtually immobilised.
Well, it’s no spoiler to say that Davros is central to the plot here. He’s in the title, after all. The Daleks have a nefarious plot (as ever) that involves changing the events of the Battle of Waterloo so that Napoleon defeats Wellington, by implanting Dalek minds in the bodies of French soldiers, at which point Davros will be able to… um, actually, I wasn’t paying attention to that bit. That’s the McGuffin: it rumbles along, merrily and nonsensically, and only when you look at it closely do you realise it’s actually a whole bunch of hogwash. Why would the Daleks need to skulk about pretending to be French soldiers? Just invade and exterminate! That’s what they do best isn’t it?
Yes, let’s leave the soldiers running around in the mud for now, as to be honest they are just decoration for the main event – the Doctor vs Davros. Old Sixey has encountered Davros before of course, and the confrontation between the pair in Big Finish’s excellent Davros is an absolute must-listen. If this bout is a lesser affair, it’s only because of the fluff and nonsense going on around them. The premise is one that I’m very surprised the TV writers never cottoned onto – showing empathy with Davros’s situation by having the Doctor and Davros swap places. The pacing of the first two episodes, along with the reveal, are very nicely done, though it’s easy to figure out what is really going on well before the halfway mark. Colin Baker does a good job of mimicking Davros’s speech and thought patterns – Colin playing Davros pretending to be the Doctor, if that makes sense. On the other side, Terry Molloy gets to play a deeper range as he plays the Doctor trapped in Davros’s body. Cue confusion and surprising amounts of emotion.
As a concept, as an event, and as an introduction for Flip as a companion, The Curse of Davros does work quite well (it certainly wouldn’t have worked with an existing companion, who would have known the Doctor far too well to be taken in by the mummery). As an actual complete story, it is less successful in the end, as the scheme is just a little too wild and woolly to withstand close scrutiny.