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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 9 April 2016
This is the 32nd story in the Main Range series by Big Finish, first released in 2002. Written by Justin Richards, this story features the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann), travelling with Charley (India Fisher). In the last few stories, where the Doctor and Charley have been travelling together since the Doctor rescued Charley from the destruction of the R-101, the Doctor has been growing increasingly concerned with odd anomalies in the timeline. Could any of this have anything to do with Charley’s rescue from her apparently certain fate in Earth’s timeline?

This story is also the fourth and final in the Dalek Empire arc, which started with The Genocide Machine, and continued in The Apocalypse Element and The Mutant Phase. It’s also the first story in the BF range which has the Eighth Doctor meet up with those oldest of the Doctor’s enemies, the Daleks. So the story is notable for a number of reasons, and important within the Doctor’s own timeline.

When the Tardis is caught up in some temporal disturbance, the Doctor makes a quip, which he is somewhat startled to find is not picked up on by Charley – surely she’s heard of William Shakespeare? But when it appears that she hasn’t, the Doctor knows that something quite impossible is going on, and follows the clues to where the trouble appears to have started. On Earth, General Mariah Learman is determined to quash opposition to her dictatorship. And the rebels are determined to make her bring Shakespeare back, before he’s forgotten completely.

This is a story which could have worked, but which turned out to be a bit of a jumble, with too many ideas which don’t really come across well, or don’t come across in an audio format. There is a lot of confused action, with people, groups of people, travelling through time conduits, and fighting, much of which gets a bit muddled in a purely audio format, and which leaves the listener trying to catch up with what’s going on.

The storyline with the Daleks is good in so far as the Daleks are always good value, and pitting them against the Eighth Doctor allows for a great interaction between these two implacable foes, who know each other so well. But the involvement of the Daleks in the other goings-on which unfold in the story remained a bit obscure, and over-complicated.

The parts of the story which involved the ‘master clock’ and the mirrors seemed all too silly to be believable for one moment, and the subplot with Shakespeare really stretched any credibility.

The story is redeemed, barely, by a great performance by Paul McGann as the Doctor, and by the Daleks, who are, as always, amoral and totally driven by their own evil schemes. The Emperor Dalek’s booming voice always sends chills down the spine.

The story is important for being an Eight/Dalek story, for following the thread of the impact of Charley’s rescue, and for being the last part of the Dalek Empire arc, and also for leading then into the events in the BF audios #33 Neverland and ultimately #50 Zagreus. It’s those things which hold the audio together, not the plot, sadly.
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This is the thirty second release from Big Finish in their range of full cast audio adventures starring classic Doctor Whos. It stars Paul McGann as Eight and India Fisher as Charlotte Pollard. There are four episodes, roughly 25-30 minutes each, complete with original theme music between each, and cliff hanger endings. Two episodes per disc on 2 discs, and a short booklet with some pictures of the cast and production notes.

This release is the fifth in the second miniseries of Eighth Doc stories, through which there is a loose story arc revolving around Charlotte Pollard's rescue from the R101 by the Doc back in their first adventure. The arc has a greater presence on some stories than others, and here it starts to come to the fore in the effect that Charlie's existence is having on the fabric of time. There is also a reference to story 30, Seasons of Fear, which explains a brief cameo in that story.

The Doctor and Charlie are following a rather worrying rift in time, which has resulted in Shakespeare being removed from history. The follow it back to a dystopic near future earth, where England is ruled over by a seemingly benevolent dictator, there are improbable time experiments going on and Daleks are wandering around, spouting Shakespeare quotes and even more improbably being incredibly helpful...

It's a tale of two halves. On the one hand there is a lot of fun to be had with the tinpots quoting the bard rather than their usual motivational speeches of `Obey!' or `Exterminate!' There's some genuine intrigue as the Doc gets stuck into trying to figure out just what the pepperpots are up to and tries to convince people that they are not benign. But on the other hand, things get confusing as the tale starts to get wrapped up in time paradox and hard core SF. On this level the story does not work well, and is a bit of a confused mess.

McGann and Fisher are their usual excellent selves. Especially McGann, who portrays the happy go lucky Doctor slowly coming to realise just what a mistake he has made and becoming very worried in a very convincing manner.

A partly entertaining romp with some great ideas, but partly confused mess, so only three stars for this story.
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on 10 September 2015
‘The Time of the Daleks’ was directed by Nick Briggs and written by Justin Richards who also wrote the dismal ‘Red Dawn’ and the inspired ‘Whispers of Terror’, so a bit hit and miss in terms of the main range but has quite an illustrious writing career outside of the Big Finish main range. This audio drama was recorded on 22 and 23 January 2001 and 27 February 2002. Orson Welles did not recognise a Shakespearean quotation when the Doctor met him in New York City on 30 October 1938 – ‘Invaders from Mars’. The Doctor comments on this incongruity by referring to the fact that Welles made several Shakespearean films in the proper timeline.

Half the world has forgotten Shakespeare. The Daleks have damaged their ship and landed on Earth in the 2050s where they have stuck up a deal with General Mariah Learman. In exchange for her cooperation they agree to save Shakespeare from disappearing from time. Meanwhile after discovering a massive crack in time running from 1752 till the 2050s it becomes apparent that Charley has had her memory of Shakespeare wiped. The Doctor decides to investigate.

The soundtrack by Nick Briggs with pulsating beats, whistling flutes and howling synths plays an active part in generating a strong atmosphere for this story. Unfortunately it’s completely the wrong atmosphere for this story. The atmosphere is creepy and laid back, yet this supposed to be an exciting story with a few gun battles at the end, there is nothing creepy about it. It’s a total tonal mismatch. I do wonder what Nick Briggs is thinking sometimes.

Justin Richards had written Mariah Learman as a man but Briggs changed it as he wanted to cast Dot Smith in the role. Smith also plays Milvas in the Dalek Empire series. Unfortunately she gives a rather stilted performance and lacks any maniacal glee when she reveals her plans; probably because she knows they are bulls*** – more on that later. Charlie does nothing except ask questions till the last ten minutes having little or no impact on the story. I don’t know how Paul McGann would have kept a straight face during this, and the Daleks lack any real menace. The acting on the whole is rather lacklustre.

So the Daleks are operating under the pretence that they want to fix their temporal stabiliser and in exchange are using mirrors and clocks (à la ‘Evil of the Daleks’ and ‘Wrong Turn’) to create time corridors to save Shakespeare for General Learman. What is really happening is that they are linking corridors to a fleet of suicide ships to blow a up the crack in time and destroy time because….well just because…And General Learman is helping because the empire is on decline so she wants to be the only one who remembers Shakespeare so his memory won’t be lost and he live on in her memories. The Daleks betray Learman but feel compelled to keep their promise so when they turn her into a Dalek the fit a memory device with the complete works of Shakespeare in her casing.

Half-baked basic science is crammed into explain certain things and it really does feel crow barred in at times. By the way orthopositronium is a real substance. Great! But the plot is still utter dross and one of the daftest things I have heard. There are lots of Daleks quoting Shakespeare.
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VINE VOICETOP 500 REVIEWERon 24 August 2006
This comes right after the audio embrace the darkness, which had a superb first episode but became a very disappointing runaround of a story afterwards.

And alas, the same thing happens here.

What a set up!

Future britain under a military dictator. The daleks. Who recite shakespeare. Time travel via mirrors. And a mysterious young boy. Who is he?

Once having set this up in the first part, the next three have the doctor run around for the course of the episode before everything is resolved at the end with lots of explosions. Justin Richards has done so much doctor who fiction now many of his characters do tend to come over very cliched, and that's true of the supporting cast here. You will either guess the identity of the boy early on and find the story totally obvious as a result, or be compltely fooled and knocked for six as a result. Maybe whether you like this story or not hinges on that, but I'm afraid I fell in the former camp.
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on 13 June 2008
Justin Richards' contribution to the second "season" of Big Finish Eighth Doctor audio adventures clearly wants to be an 'event story'. Not only does it feature the Eighth Doctor's first run in with the pepperpot menace (at least in the audio format) but there are time travel mirrors and the Daleks have picked up a fascination with the works of Shakespeare.

'Event stories' work when they manage to twist and catch you off guard, taking directions you did not expect at the start of the story. One of the best examples is from the TV episode 'Earthshock' which managed to keep its returning villain secret, thrilling its audience. 'The Time of the Daleks' tries hard to surprise us but somehow it feels predictable.

More crucially, the concept of Daleks as Shakespeare buffs is simply too crazy to be taken seriously. The result is a story whose deficiencies simply overpower its strengths (for instance Paul McGann's excellent performance, allusions to 'Evil of the Daleks' or the superb sound design).

'The Time of the Daleks' is not terrible - it simply disappoints by over-reaching itself and being very, very silly.
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on 3 August 2006
Big finish has the ability to wander into some very strange areas which often isn't a bad thing the lack of visual means that there is the ability to go further with a plot and for some reason it gives the daleks more menace. The general plot is difficult to explain in the semi near future the uk is ruled by an originally benevolent dictator who is slowly becoming more brutal against a band of rebels who are very unhappy because people are forgetting shakespeare enter the doctor. who belives there is a fissure in time and when he finds out there is a primitive time travel device using mirrors and clocks he believes that this could be the cause of it all until he sees a few daleks skulking around wanting to protect shakespeare.

As odd as it sounds it does all make a twisted sense and as usual McGann pulls it off with a aplomb, one of his strongest assets is that he takes it seriously and delivers it all with a strange caring tone, unfortunately as usual Charley is superflous but the rest of the characters interact well, the daleks are at there best when they are being devious which they are here. It all kind of works when it could have been crashingly painful and ends up being very entertaining.
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on 22 July 2008
This is such an intelligent and perfect Big Finish story! It is so good, I've listened to it at least a dozen times. Granted, it has elements of a number of other classic television Dalek stories - in particular, The Daleks' Master Plan, and The Evil of the Daleks - but at its core, is Charlotte Elspeth Pollard. Another reviewer said Charley was superfluous; not a bit of it! Whereas "Embrace the Darkness" could equally have been a 5th Doctor & Nyssa story, The Time of the Daleks could ONLY be an 8th Doctor & Charley tale! Why? Because Charley, unlike other companions, is a source of Chronons! Thus, when the Daleks say "Source of Chronons located in Hall of Mirrors...indications are that the Master Clock is fully charged," they actually detected Charley, who is leaking discreet particles of Time. On another occasion, Viola & Charley are on the other side of a Time Portal (a Mirror) and having no success at getting through...until Charley takes hold of the Master Clock, instantly charging it up! OK, the Shakespeare-quoting Daleks are bizarre, but that's what the Justin Richards was going for - and the quotes are often very appropriate; from Rassilon's "The Time is out of joint" in the first few seconds; to the Learman Dalek's "Thus, the whirlygig of Time brings in its revenges" near the story's climax. There are also references to "The Power of the Daleks", with (a) the Daleks pretending to serve the humans, and (b) the same tone of voice as used in that story. There are even references to "The Dalek Invasion of Earth," with Charley and Viola seeing long lines of slaves with a Dalek guard, in an alternate reality. The story dovetails nicely with Seasons of Fear, when an out-of-time Dalek is destroyed by ancient Romans.

All in all, an awesome story - I expect to listen to listen to it at least another 15 times. And I do mean LISTEN - you have to really Listen, to pick up all the plot points. It's not a run-around.
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