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Daleks: The compilation show
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.