Review – Big Finish Doctor Who #15: “The Mutant Phase”

This is the next in line of my Big Finish Productions Doctor Who retro-reviews.

#15 – “The Mutant Phase” (Dalek Empire Part Three)

From Big Finish’s site:

In the 22nd century, the Daleks have occupied planet Earth. By the 43rd century, only a handful of humans survive. Still further into the distant future, a Thal scientist must choose whether to betray his heritage, or see the universe destroyed.

When the Doctor and Nyssa find themselves trapped in this deadly chain of events, they must decide who their real enemies are. What is certain, however, is that no matter where the Doctor turns, his arch enemies, the Daleks, will be waiting for him.

What could possibly be worse than that? The Mutant Phase…

Written By: Nicholas Briggs

Directed By: Nicholas Briggs


Peter Davison (The Doctor); Sarah Sutton (Nyssa); Christopher Blake (Professor Ptolem); Jared Morgan (Commander Ganatus); Andrew Ryan (Albert); Sara Wakefield (Delores); Mark Gatiss (Professor Karl Hendryk/Roboman); Alistair Lock (Dalek Voices/Technician); Nicholas Briggs (Dalek Voices); Jason Haigh-Ellery (Lieutenant)

***minor spoilers ahead***

If there is a truly saving grace to this adventure, it’s that it proves the point that the current TV series keeps missing: a Dalek that becomes something else is inferior in the eyes of another Dalek.  This is a truism within the Whoniverse that should never be ignored.  This is the very point of the Mutant Phase, for when the Mutant Phase begins to evolve Daleks into something even they cannot imagine, it is quite literally a race against time itself as the Emperor Dalek forces the Doctor’s cooperation in curing this plague that could mean genocide of the Dalek race within two generations… and a fate far worse for all of space-time.

As the third part of the Dalek Empire trilogy… to be honest, this one doesn’t hold up nearly as well as the first two parts, which were glorious in their inception.  The good news is that just because the trilogy is completed, it doesn’t mean there isn’t more Dalek Empire to be had, for there are mini-series arcs as well.  It’s just as well, because this story also has nothing to do whatsoever with the build-up of the Dalek power base that we’ve seen in the first two parts.  In fact, I’m not even certain why this is a Dalek Empire adventure, beyond trying to brand it for merchandising purposes.  Hey, I like things to make sense on that front.  And just because it doesn’t live up to the promise of Dalek Empire, it doesn’t mean it’s not a good standalone adventure.  Nicholas Briggs understands Doctor Who far better than any man alive in my humble opinion, and even if one of his works doesn’t quite live up to others, it always keeps its promise of hinting at something with even bigger ramifications in the tradition of classic Doctor Who.  “The Mutant Phase” is no exception to this.

This is a good episode that takes full advantage of both time travel and the Doctor’s rather long history with his oldest nemesis.  It is, however, not for uninitiated fan in this case, as it does harken back to the old William Hartnell storyline, “The Dalek Invasion of Earth.”  New fans will be a bit in the dark, but it does encourage the listener to learn more.  Having heard this story as both a newbie and a seasoned fan, I can confirm it doesn’t detract from the episode to be lost.  It just means you identify more with Nyssa’s side of things, and it helps the listener truly identify with the concept of what it means to travel in the TARDIS.  Trying to keep up is half the fun.

This episode also marks the last of the first “season” of Big Finish audios featuring the 5th, 6th, and 7th Doctors.  From here on out, there’s another Doctor in the house as Paul McGann joins the lineup.  Tune in next week when I review Big Finish’s first 8th Doctor adventure, “Storm Warning.”