on 30 September 2004
Originally broadcast over 12 weeks in 1965 and 1966, this now mostly "lost" TV story represents some of the best DOCTOR WHO of the early 1960's. Only episodes 2,5 and 10 are still extant in the BBC's TV archives, with episode 2(DAY OF ARMAGEDDON) only just re-discovered in January of 2004.
Released now as a soundtrack with a linking narration by Peter Purves - who played the Doctor's companion Steven in the original production - this is a highly enjoyable way to experience Terry Nation and Dennis Spooner's superbly written adventure. Not only do you get the full 12 episodes, but also the bonus episode: MISSION TO THE UNKNOWN; which was broadcast a few weeks previous to the start of MASTER PLAN as a prologue to the events of the story. This unusual episode has the distinction of being the only TV episode in the history of the show not to feature either the Doctor, the TARDIS or any of his companions.
Essentially the plot consists of the attempts by the Daleks and their allies to gain possession of a rare element (known as the Tarranium Core) which will power the Time Destructor - a device enabling them to conquer the Universe. The Doctor gains possession of the Tarranium, and there then follows a game of cat-and-mouse around time and space.
This is an improved version of the formula used in a previous Dalek story - THE CHASE (1965). Here we have a similar plot with the Daleks chasing our heroes around steamimg swamps,lush jungles, futuristic cities, historical settings and harsh alien deserts. What makes MASTER PLAN so successful is the way that these whizz-bang, boy's own absurdities are taken so seriously by director,cast and writers. There is an added poignancy to proceedings in that many of the good guys die, including 2 of the Doctor's travelling companions. This gives the whole an edge of tension and tragedy that makes for compelling story-telling. Here then is what DR WHO has to offer at it's best - an exciting children's adventure series that adults adore.
The Daleks themselves sound great, and are as ruthless and devious as they have ever been. When you listen to stories like this you get a small insight into why the Daleks were as much an icon of 1960's Britain as the Beatles and the mini-skirt.
Added to this mix are some superb performances by William Hartnell, Jean Marsh, Nicholas Courtney (in his first DR WHO appearance, before his later better known role as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart) and the marvellously camp Kevin Stoney as the Daleks' power-hungry ally, Mavic Chen. A magic "chemistry" between the actors is evidenced here, making the audience really care about what happens to the characters.
The sound quality is excellent and this set of 5 CD's would have got 5 stars from me were it not for the rather crass episode 7 (THE FEAST OF STEVEN)- a "comedy" episode played for laughs as it was broadcast around the Christmas period of 1965. Thankfully, this silliness doesn't last and is probably forgiveable in light of the populist nature of Christmas episodes of well-known shows.
This comes highly recommended not only to fans of DR WHO, but to anyone who likes '60's telefantasy or the other work of Terry Nation (e.g. SURVIVORS and BLAKES 7).
on 27 October 2001
5 discs, 13 episodes, and digital bonuses! It's almost as if this could have been a DVD audio release.... Disc 1 contains "Mission to the Unknown" which sets up the rest of the story, and also contains a wealth of digital goodies. PDF files of all of the narrative voiceover scripts, as read by Mr Purves, before and after MP3 files demonstrating the audio restoration AND 13 further MP3 files of each of the complete episodes (without the voice-overs). Just about the only thing missing is some sort of text or audio documentary on the restoration process, and/or interviews from any of the actors (Mr Purves, Mr Courtney, etc) who are still around. Perfect for listening to in a car stereo however as it certainly makes commuting go by easier, and one almost wishes one would get stuck in traffic so as to let the episodes keep playing!
on 11 April 2006
I don't know quite what I was expecting from this twelve part story, but I have to admit that I found it remarkably drawn-out and occasionally hard to get through. The audio format may not have helped, even with Peter Purves' carefully paced narration, and the three surviving complete episodes (which I watched on the "Lost in Time" DVD set) were a relief from that format; but at the end of the day, the story is simply too long to maintain its pace throughout in any medium.
Like "The Chase" before it, Master Plan is too much of a compilation show, with an eclectic mixture of locations visited for one or two episodes at a time. The supporting characters specific to these locations are given token roles, and the actors concerned must have wondered exactly what they were doing there. It's the overarching plot that's the most interesting, and frankly it could have been dealt with in half as many episodes as this.
The story thread with the Varga plants, set up well in Mission to the Unknown, disappears at an early stage, as does the somewhat pointless character of Katarina. Sara Kingdom, who appears for the remaining eight episodes, is a far more effective addition to the cast. Sara might have made a good companion if allowed to continue for longer.
I'm glad to have experienced The Daleks' Master Plan, even if in an incomplete audio format, and I'm sure that I shall listen to it again in the future (maybe as part of a trawl through the stories in timeline order). Despite its flaws it is worth a listen - except perhaps for the extraneous Christmas episode, The Feast of Steven (what on earth were the producers up to with that one?).
This release also includes Mission to the Unknown, the one-episode "teaser" story broadcast before "The Myth Makers", the previous serial. Mission to the Unknown, even in soundtrack, is an enjoyable teaser for the epic story to follow. It's most remarkable for its complete lack of the regular cast, and whilst I was expecting it to be poor, I actually quite enjoyed it. Time passes pretty quickly and the sound design is unusually rich for a story of this era (thanks to the jungle setting of the planet Kembel).
The guest cast do their jobs pretty well, the Daleks are a familiar menace and Peter Purves' narration of the audio release isn't too intrusive, allowing the dialogue and sound effects to speak for themselves.
on 7 October 2001
The second largest Dr. Who story, 'The Dalek Master plan', has now been released in audio form, due to the fact this Dalek story only has episodes 5 and 10 serviving in the BBC Archives. The story stars the original doctor, William Hartnell, and marks the return of the Daleks and the Meddling monk. The story, being 12 episodes in length, somehow manages to avoid being too dull half way through, and the Daleks remain a joy to hear throughout. The story marks the start of Nicholas Courtney's Dr.Who relationship, as Brett Vyon. Jean Marsh also stars, as does the narrator, Perves. The story is written by the Dalek Creator, Terry Nation. The only fault with it is the fact that the story takes a bit to long to get started, but is still a worthwhile purchase, especially because it contains 'mission to the unknown', a single episode that was not part of the real story, but sets the scene well.
on 26 June 2014
Back for a 4th story, the Daleks are considerably more Daleky than in their 3rd one-The Chase, They even exterminate small mammals at one point! They form an alliance of planetary systems, although they happily despatch any members that outlive their usefulness. they have a doomsday weapon the Time Destructor for which they need a core of rare mineral tarranium, only found on the Planet Uranus (long before the corny joke destroying new pronunciation of "oorinus!"). Thus they need Guardian of the Solar System Mavic Chen(he's revealed to be a baddy so early on this is only a neo-spoiler).
Their banter with him is actually a (possibly unintended) comic highlight as they berate him "You make your incompetence sound like an achievement". This almost makes him Baldrick to their Blackadder. That aside they do get some classicly Skarosian lines "One Dalek is capable of Exterminating all!"
This story is 12 episodes long with an one off prologue ep "Mission to the Unknown" (*1), featuring neither Dr and companions or tardis, making Edward de Souza as Marc Cory Dr Who's 2nd leading man , albeit for an episode only. It's an exciting & tense prologue as Cory battles to find why the Daleks have been active near the Solar System.
The rest is similarly enjoyable if really rather overlong (more on that later). Terry Nation grew up during the 2nd World war and memories of that plus the movie serials he enjoyed as a child are evident throughout his work on Dr Who. The Dalek/Nazi parallel is well trodden ground so I won't go into it, but his 60's work on Who in particular follows Flash Gordon's 3 Laws of Movie serials;
Law one: Use a good title even if it's irrelevant to the story, witness here The Mutation of Time, does time mutate?
Law Two: never be afraid to throw in a device to move along the plot e.g. The Dr and friends are running to escape the daleks and stumble into a room where molecular dispersal experiments send them to another planet.
Law Three: Bring them back next week with a stonking climax and don't worry until writing the next episode how to get out of it!
Nation and co-writer Dennis Spooner were smart enough to know that fast moving action & cliffhangers don't go out of fashion as long as you move with the times, so they mixed Flash Gordon with 60's spy thrillers. The Space Security service (SSS one S more than the Nazi secret police, coincidence?) are James Bond-esque indeed Cory is Connery's bond in Dr No where he's at his most ruthless in getting the job done and Brett Vyon ( Played by the Brigadier himself Nicolas Courtney) is the less cold Connery 007 of his other films.
Jean Marsh's Sara Kingdom is also like a female Bond until the Dr and Steven's influence softens her. The SSS are a fun and well executed idea.
Possibly the alliance scenes may have been influenced by Goldfinger released the year before.
The main humanoid villain Chen is probably more Ming the Merciless than Blofeld. Well cast in Kevin Stoney who knows there are places for subtlety but also when the script suggests OTT, just go with it!
I think this story may also have borne some influence on Blake's 7 because we have rebels striking back at a corrupt administration and there's a penal planet (Desperus-in the 60's Nation was never subtle with planet names) where prisoners are dumped for life Botany Bay style. This idea would resurface in B7 as Cygnus Alpha.
Roughly with a slight dogleg, Nation is writing the 1st half and Spooner the 2nd. Of course at 12 eps (13 including Mission) it's very padded. There was certainly material for 6 eps, maybe 7-8 but not 13. So many episodes feature the tardis crew landing somewhere to escape the daleks and then in the same or next episode leaving as their pursuers arrive.
There's an Xmas episode with no relation to the plot (*2) "The Feast of Steven" where they tussle with Police in Liverpool and then visit old Hollywood, and in later episodes a materialisation in the middle of a cricket match and then the Meddling Monk appears and they go to Ancient Egypt. Spooner having to mark time until unveiling the big climax drew the short straw so you can see why he revived the Monk. However irrelevant, Peter Butterworth's mischeiveous time traveller is fun.
Companions and allies do die giving the story a welcome dark edge to it. It's hard to know what to make of companion Katarina who appears in the last few minutes of myth makers and a few eps here, maybe with a longer stay she could have been a bit like Leela.
Good material for Hartnell hugely enjoying the comic elements, and Steven gets good material too.
The alliance are not great on audio as many do not speak and the Hollywood sequence is too visual to work acoustically (for this Peter Purves narrates with a faux American accent-hard to tell if he's getting into the spirit of it or taking the mick!)
If you like the Daleks I think you'll enjoy it and I urge you to also check out the surviving visual material on the Lost in Time boxset
on 3 February 2015
The first Doctor who was portrayed by William Hartnell appered in 134 episodes of "Doctor Who" from 1963 to 1966. Sadly 44 of those episodes are currently missing and "The daleks Master Plan" was affected badly which only 3 episodes out of the 12 exist, which are episodes 2, 5 and 10. But luckily all the soundtrack exists which the audio is great to listen to and the existing episodes are also worth watching. However before listening to "The daleks master plan", I wasn't sure if I was going to like it or not. Because I had a feeling that the story was going to drag with it being 12 episodes long. But it turned out to be great which Hartnell and Peter Purves sound like they are on top form and Kevin Stoney who would later star as the classic villain Tobias Vaughn in Patrick Troughton's "The Invasion" does an entertaining performance as the evil Mavic Chen. Nicholas Courtney who would later star as the legendary Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart in "The web of fear" and Jean Marsh also seem to be on top form. However the only story I didn't seem to be keen on was episode 7 "The feast of Steven" which was originally aired on Christmas day. The episode involves the doctor, Steven and Sara visiting a police station in England and they also visit Hollywood in the 1920s, which the episode has nothing to do with the other episodes. But overall this is an all time classic story and I would love to see this found along with the classic historical story "Marco Polo" and Patrick Troughton's debut "The power of the daleks".
on 5 June 2003
Being a fan of the series, the release of 'missing' stories on audio CD comes as somewhat of mixed-blessing. I have to admit that I was initially very sceptical of these BBC releases, and arrogantly assumed that the audio soundtracks would never recapture the original atmosphere of the show and 'lost' episodes, as I found was the case with the Ice Warriors in 1998 I was wrong...
The Daleks' Master Plan is the first of such CD's that I have brought and it is brilliant. The audio narration by Peter Purves and remastered recordings really capture the story, although no visual material currently exists (we live in hope!) in someways this can be seen as better, as what one sees in the mind is often not what would have been shown - especially with the series' limited budget.
The story chugs along at an excellent pace - with the only dip being the disasterous episode 7, I've only listened to it once and the story makes perfect sense without it!!
Apart from this, and perhaps lacking narration in some places, an excellent example of Doctor Who. Although the TV masters may not exist - if the future of the monochrome era soley exists on such audio CD's, then I certainly won't complain.
A great purchase - I can't wait until November when the BBC re-release restored soundtracks of the Troughton Dalek stories in a tin-set.
Excellent; Doctor Who at it's best.
on 1 November 2014
An amazing episode with several effective moments and many great actors (Kevin Stoney especially). Mission To The Unknown is good and The Feast Of Steven is charmingly pointless. However, there are a few mistakes here and there, and William Hartnell bluffs a lot in this. But overall, a fantastic episode.
on 31 October 2006
This Cd set is a must for any Doctor Who fan. I'm Spanish, and most of my friends say that I must be a freak to enjoy this series, in English, and only in audio in the case of the lost stories. But, man, this one must have been groundbreaking at the time. 12 chapters, and most of them really impressive (Mission to the unknown is a wonderful miniature, and the 5 first episodes are among the best I've seen or hear so far, counting from the First to the Tenth Doctors). Peter Purves linking narration is ideal, very helpful, and the remastering is excelent. The cast excels, with top marks to Mr. Purves, especially in the impressive scene of Katharina's death. And Nicholas Courtney's Vyon is a wonderful character. I am so sorry that most of these episodes are lost forever. These soundtracks allows us to have at least a hint of what they were. And, though some stories like The Macra Terror or Underwater Menace are enhanced this way (We don't have to see bad monsters, only hearing them is better), in the particular case of The Daleks' Master Plan it is a pity, because this set proves that it was a gloriously epic story. Highly recommended.
on 5 January 2004
I bought the Dalek's Masterplan after seeing it in the sale for £13, I admit I was dubious about how well the adventure would translate when having to listen to the action. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the story was as exciting on audio as many of the stories are on DVD.
Peter Purves narration was excellent and explaned the missing action very well. The sound on the discs was also excellent, the remastering process having cleared up the audiable cracks and pops on the original soundtrack. I own the Daleks: The Early Years Video which contains episodes 5 and 10 of the story, so I watched these instead of listening to the action. However I have to say I enjoyed the episodes that I listened to more than the two I saw.
The story itself is a little bit patchy. It was meant to have been a 6 parter but was extended due to the popularity of the Daleks. To be honest you can spot the moments which have been inserted turning a tight focused story into a looser one. Particular mention must go to Episode 7 - The feast of Steven. This is a Christmas episode and must rank as one of the worst Doctor Who moments ever. However as many of the other reviewers mention you could skip over this episode with no effect on the story.
After taking the plunge on this CD I have to say that I would definately buy more, it preserves the lost episodes and makes you appreciate the fans whose dedication have enabled these soundtracks to survive.