“The Dalek Occupation of Winter” is a Doctor Who audio play from Big Finish Productions. Peter Purves and Maureen O’Brien share narration duties as well as reprising their roles of Steven and Vicki, respectively. Purves also delivers a very solid impression of the First Doctor, as played by the long departed William Hartnell. David K Barnes writes this latest release from the Early Adventures range of the vast catalog of audio dramas produced by Big Finish. Although I can weary pretty quickly of the Daleks, this is one of the stronger efforts in the series.
O’Brien seems to have done well with finding her younger voice since she first Vicki in the mid-1960’s. Purves also does well to distinguish his various roles in this release from each other.
All of the guest cast did well, but I thought Robert Daws was quite effective as the sycophantic Ganus Majorian , the leader of this isolated colony who seem to have entered a peculiar cooperative relationship with the dreaded Daleks.
The Doctor and his companions arrive in a city called Winter which is located on some unnamed distant planet somewhere in the universe with another group of citizens who sound remarkably British. Actually, the story is good enough for me to forgive these implausible circumstances quite readily, but it amuses me to point them out anyway. The lack of background on the locale isn’t all that troublesome either, or all that unusual in Doctor Who. Anyway, the Doctor and company are further perplexed and then suspicious when they find the Daleks there as well apparently being in service to this colony. Also, the planet is perpetually frigid with 500 year long winters. Only one city seems to have been established on this world. I love these sorts of settings in spite of the unlikelihood. Besides it gives the Daleks a great locale to cause some trouble.
Anyway, the Daleks haven’t really changed as much as things appear in this story, but I thought there was real effort to have a little originality to their appearance in this story. If it’s one thing the Daleks need these days, it’s a bit more originality.
The performances were just solid and engaging all around. There were some very creepy and appropriately horrific moments that unfolded that were realized well by the writing and sound production. I thought there were some moments that sort of went a little beyond what audiences would have seen on television during that era, but don’t take that as criticism. I liked the effort to really stoke my imagination beyond what I would have expected to have seen if this episode actually aired during the appropriate era of the television series.
I really enjoyed this release and would encourage any other fan to not give this one a pass.