A review of the Big Finish audio drama “Davros”

This is one of the standalone star villain dramas Big Finish produced in 2003.   others include “Omega” and “Master.”

In this the titular Dalek creator takes centre stage without his creations.  It’s part origins story, part standalone adventure with Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor.  The Doctor is brought by a reporter called Willis to a world in which a company called TAI has a huge domed complex and is apparently exploiting and about to fire a lot of its workforce.  It’s this story of corporate greed that reporter Willis (Eddie De Oliveira) is investigating. Willis may or may not be a companion type role from other stories I’m not sure, I haven’t listened to enough Big Finish.   Willis is primarily interested in TAI’s CEO Arnold Baynes (Bernard Horsfall, a more familiar name including from previous Who tv adventures).  But Baynes and his historian wife Lorraine (Wendy Padbury, another familiar Who name) have brought to their company from deep space a resurrected figure from the past, Davros himself, for whom they are both apologists, believing him wronged by history, and potential beneficiaries as they intend to put him to work for their company, harnessing his twisted genius to the markets.

Of course the Doctor sees the flaws to this plan based on his own history with Davros, and joins Baynes “blue skies thinking” team to keep an eye on his old nemesis.  It’s a cracking adventure that at times treads a precarious line between satire on corporate greed and management speak, origins story for Davros and sci-Fi thriller, also seeking to capture the flavour of the era of Colin Baker’s Who, with its high body count and sudden shifts in tone.

Of most note are Terry Molloy returning as Davros,  including his flashbacks to his former life as Kaled scientist.  Molloy brings back the maniacal hysteria and twisted grandeur and even pathos of his chair bound creator.  The origins story is intriguing and a lot is told in a short snippets of drama.  We learn of Davros’s paranoia and mania to be the top scientist, and how he is horribly disfigured.  We learn of the importance to him of a colleague, Shan, and the terrible impact and legacy she has on his life and events.  There are some surprises.  Some of this material was developed further in a subsequent Big Finish Davros origins series.

Colin Baker is also great value.  Big Finish did a great job in rehabilitating his sixth Doctor from the fraught days of his tv productions.  He has a dry wit, and juggles pomposity, jocularity and deadly seriousness.   Bernard Horsfall does a good turn as a corporate kingpin and the rest of the cast turn in satisfying performances that propel the adventure along.  Production values are good, rooted in 90’s Who.  All in all a recommended listen for genre fans.

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