Without giving anything of the plot away for anybody who doesn't know it this is a superb novelisation of the first half of the epic Hartnell story `The Daleks Master Plan'. Given that most of the TV episodes from the story are missing from the BBC's archive it's a very welcome release. John Peel does far than just adapt the original script which written by the late great Terry Nation and Dennis Spooner, some dialogue has been rewritten and above all Peel really fleshes out the character of Mavic Chen (one of the main villains of the piece) which is all to the good and works extremely well. The writing is something of a rarity, considered and intelligent as well as being fast paced with brilliant action packed scenes.
The reading is wonderful and has been divided between Peter Purves (who played the Doctor's companion Steven) and Jean Marsh (Sara Kingdom). At first it seems strange that there should be two readers as they have very different styles but you quickly get used to this and it works well, they are both excellent and Purves in particular does a very good first Doctor.
For me this is one of the very best releases in this series so far. I can't recommend it highly enough!
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A very fine reading of the first half of the Daleks' Masterplan. Peter Purves and Jean Marsh share the narration duties, and have very different styles. Purves - particularly when in full "Hartnell", is a superb storyteller, whereas Marsh sounds more like the older stateswoman that she is. The authentic Dalek voices delivered by "Mr Dalek" himself Nick Briggs are a particularly enjoyable aspect of this version of the classic story. Great for any dalek fan. The story is spread over 5 CDs but the pace is fine and the story compelling.
THE DALEKS' MASTER PLAN was an epic story that unfolded over thirteen episodes (the one part MISSION TO THE UNKNOWN followed - after a gap of four weeks to tell the story of THE MYTH MAKERS - by the twelve part epic that was THE DALEKS' MASTER PLAN itself) and as such was a story rather too epic to be told in one of the slim Target novelisations of the 1970s and 1980s. Wisely then, John Peel split the story into two separate books of which this is the first, and the audio option has followed in much the same format. Be warned then, if you buy this rather impressive 5-CD tale, to get the full story you will also probably want to invest in PART TWO: THE MUTATION OF TIME at some point.
However it is worth it because this is a very strong retelling of one of the finer epics of the early years of the TV series and the lengthy running time of the original tale means that some very strong characterisations are possible and that the tragedy of the story of Space Security Agents Sara Kingdom and Bret Vyon and the machinations of the wicked and treacherous Mavic Chen, the Guardian of the Solar System no less, both unfold on a rather epic scale.
This half of the story starts with a retelling of the events of the TV episode MISSION TO THE UNKNOWN the only TV episode not to feature either the Doctor or any of his companions which acted largely as a teaser for the epic tale to follow. We are transported to the planet Kembel where a veritable menagerie of aliens are gathering in an evil alliance and the seeds of a most despicable Dalek plot where the stakes are as high as the destruction of time itself are sown.
The rest of this volume retells the story told in episodes 1-6 of the television story which is something of a journey through space (whereas the second half is more of a journey through time). For once the TARDIS is all but abandoned and yet the story manages to encompass galaxy wide locations such as a future Earth, the prison planet Desperus, Kembel and Mira, and the Doctor and Steven experience more than one significant loss as they struggle to keep one step ahead of the Doctor's oldest and deadliest of foes.
This volume actually manages to be quite successfully self contained as a story in itself because the televised version did have a rather natural break at that point with the first DOCTOR WHO "Special Christmas Episode" which was a bit of light-hearted fun that didn't really progress the plot. The natural end that this volume reaches could quite naturally complete the story, if you didn't know there was more to come, and I think it is the slightly stronger of the two volumes in terms of its dramatic tone and storyline.
Reading duties are shared between actors Peter Purves (companion Steven Taylor in the original) and Jean Marsh (who played Sara Kingdom) and whilst they both have very distinct styles, both read the story very well, each doing a couple of chapters at a time presumably because it would have been rather difficult on both them and the listener to have the same voices throughout. The transitions between the blocks they read are unannounced and can take a moment or two to adjust to, but the story is told in dramatic terms and holds the attention very well. Dalek voices are provided by current TV series Dalek voice Nicholas Briggs which probably avoids a lot of general embarrassment all round. The story is enhanced by some subtle but effective sound effects and music all of which makes for a rather impressive package.
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This epic serial from the 1960s is one long catalogue of death. Only The Doctor, and his companion, space pilot Stephen, manage to escape the carnage - what would today's censors say I wonder; well m'boy? Hmmm. The story is a cracker though; slightly revised from the original Terry Nation script by novelist John Peel in 1989, the story is much more taut and less flabby than that televised. Peter Purves and Jean Marsh alternate narrative duties here, and for me Purves makes a much better fist of it than Marsh. Apart from anything else he manages a creditable impersonation of Bill Hartnell, and this coupled with his own cultured but distinctive tones, make for a great listening experience. The artwork survives from the original Target novelisation, and with five discs inside, this is a highly impressive package all round. The second half of the serial is available as a separate audio book.
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