At one point, it seems as if Big Finish intended to kick off their Fourth Doctor adventures with this tale of the Time Lord encountering his mortal enemies, but wisely they decided to push it back down the order to provide a “mid-season push” – much as Russell T Davies did with the first new Dalek story, back in 2005.
I say wisely, because this is a slight oddity amongst the Tom Baker releases to date. One of the strengths of the season has been the way that Baker and Louise Jameson have sounded like the TARDIS team of old, whereas in this story, Baker definitely sounds more like “Tom Baker playing Tom Baker playing the Doctor”, as he tends to be in the AudioGo stories. This slightly different playing is acknowledged in Nick Briggs’ sleeve notes, and in some of the CD extras – where it’s clear that to an extent, the team felt the “hand of history on their shoulders”. This doesn’t spoil the story, by any means: there are moments, though, where Baker indulges himself in a way that he didn’t in the stories that these are meant to be contemporary with.
Otherwise, it’s an enjoyable tussle between the various time-travelling factions, with Leela encountering the Daleks for the first time and proving a match for the metal misfits. There’s something about the way that Briggs delivers one of the Daleks’ final line just before their inevitable fate that had me convinced that it was going to be, “It is the Doctor – oh bugger!”
Dalek stories are no doubt a good pull for the casual buyer, although of course the danger is that there’s nothing new to do with them. This isn’t up there with To The Death but it’s still a good romp. 7/10
Click here to order Energy of the Daleks from Big Finish