Blurb: The Doctor and Leela find themselves in the middle of London at the time of a new energy crisis. The GlobeSphere Corporation seems to have all the answers – but several thousand protestors beg to differ.
What is the connection between the National Gallery and a base on the Moon? Has radical thinker Damien Stephens simply sold out, or does he have a more sinister agenda?
The Doctor has detected a mysterious energy reading. Could it be that the most evil creatures in the universe have returned to claim ultimate victory once and for all?
Format: Full-cast audio drama starring Tom Baker and Louise Jameson published by Big Finish Productions and released April 2012.
Setting: Earth: London, England on January 30, 2025.
Continuity: This story takes place between The Talons of Weng-Chiang and The Horror of Fang Rock and after the audio story The Wrath of the Iceni. The Doctor refers to Janis Thorns (see The Face of Evil). Leela mentions that the fog made it hard for her and the Doctor to see when they in London in the 19th century. She also refers to the police as "blue guards" (see The Talons of Weng-Chiang). The Doctor remembers that the Daleks can convert humans into robomen (see The Dalek Invasion of Earth). The Doctor states that the Daleks were made in a lethal cocktail of war, hatred, and technology.
Canonicity Quotient: The sonic screwdriver exhibits some magic properties here being more like the new series than the classic. The Doctor is able to use a public access internet kiosk by just pointing the sonic screwdriver at it. He's also able to get Daleks to tell him whatever he wants with the screwdriver. The Daleks also seem out of character. They've always feared changing Earth history because of the ramifications that it'd have on their own timeline, but here they have no issue with exterminating the human race before their first contact with the Daleks. 0.93
Discussion: Doctor Who and the Daleks are like steak and potatoes. They just go well together. So,Big Finish decided that with this first season of Fourth Doctor Adventures that they'd need to have the Doctor face off against his best known menace. Apparently, they were originally working on a story with the Cybermen, since Tom's only outing with them, Revenge of the Cybermen, is not remembered with fondness. Yet, they also realized that his two Dalek stories were more or less dominated by Davros. The opportunity to tell a story with the Fourth Doctor facing off against the Daleks in a story where they were dominant was to good to pass up, so Big Finish proceeded with Energy of the Daleks.
Energy has just that - energy. The story keeps moving along and keeps things interesting throughout. There are some beautiful and memorable moments such as Leela having to where 21st century clothes and deciding that the heals are impossible, so she puts on sneakers. There's the Doctor being nonplussed that someone saw the TARDIS materialize and is completely unphased because "he's seen it all before" with holograms. There's Leela screaming defiance at the Daleks. Her lack of fear is so wonderful because the Daleks do look idiotic and it always made me groan when people who hadn't seen them do anything yet would just be scared as soon as they saw them. Her dismissal of them as "metal cones" is the best. We also have a nicely topical story talking about an energy crisis, which is just as appropriate today as it was in the 1970's. I also have to say that I get a little bit of a thrill at the return of the robomen. It's one of the creepier Dalek related topics that they turn people into mechanical zombies that do their bidding but the concept has rarely been used since even in the expanded media. I was really happy to see them here and John Dorney does an excellent job voicing them.
This script kind of shows up Briggs' earlier Destination: Nerva and convinces me that he must have written the latter story in quite the hurry. Energy of the Daleks was the first one written and was meant to be the beginning of the season but they later decided that the return of the Daleks might overshadow the return of the Fourth Doctor, so they moved the story to the fourth in running order. Briggs clearly "gets" the Fourth Doctor and Leela and he knows how to write a good story, so I think that the Nerva disaster is best explained by a tight schedule. Some have speculated that they should have kept Energy at the front of the season, but I'd rather get the bad episode out of the way quickly so I'm glad that they dispensed with Nerva quickly.
Ok, so the Daleks have a time machine. We don't know when these Daleks are from but let's say they're from the absolute furthest forward in time of Daleks that we've ever encountered making them Daleks who might even be willing to mess up their own timeline if it means destroying the Earth. First of all, their plan stinks. While it is sure to cause a huge amount of death and devastation there is no way that it guarantees the complete extinction of the human race. The other issue is that this is ridiculous plan to use if you have a time machine. Why not take some neutron bombs back to a pre-Industrial point in Earth's past and blanket the world with them and turn it into Skaro 2. The Daleks will have a place to build summer homes when they go back to their present. Why take the time to convert people, slowly build up infrastructure, and wait to get the energy beaming plan underway? The whole thing is just dumb really and while some may argue that the Daleks had some dumb plans in the past that isn't an excuse to keep doing it. There's also some other ridiculousness with the sonic screwdriver acting like a magic wand and doing whatever the Doctor wants it to do. The other really goofy thing was the idea that three people could transport into a bed and not notice that there was a fourth person in there with them. How big is the bed supposed to be? It's a scene that could only work on audio because the whole thing was basically dreamt up only to have a few seconds of cheap comedy.
The production values on this one are great. Even though this is the first one that Tom and Louise recorded they sound much better than they did even in some of the earlier stories in the range, which were recorded later. The Doctor is equal parts grave and zany like he should be. Leela is the indomitable innocent whose belief that the Doctor will beat the Daleks cannot be swayed. John Dorney does a great roboman. Mark Benton is good as Jack Coulson. It's kind of amusing that he keeps talking about how crazy the Doctor is and even starts asking Leela if she's crazy. I kind of like the arc with Coulson as he realizes that he doesn't really hate Stephens, but he ends up losing his friend anyway. I also got very excited to hear the authentic late 70's Dalek firing sound effects.
Final Rating: 7/10
Recommendation: You won't find anything new or terribly exciting in Energy of the Daleks but you will find a pacey jaunt with the Doctor and Leela being as awesome as they ever are. There are far worse things in life. I recommend giving it a listen.