The Mutant Phase
The TARDIS is torn out of the vortex by a time tunnel and arrives to find an army of Daleks stalking the ruined remains of Earth in the 22nd Century. Attempting to escape a doomed part of history that the Doctor had already visited, the time traveler finds himself at the other end of the time corridor in the 43rd century, when only a small group of humans have survived the onslaught of a deadly menace alien to the Doctor. What is this strange new monster that is so dangerous even the Daleks fear it? What is the ‘Mutant Phase?’
The second installment of the Dalek Empire ‘crossover’ is an oddity. It’s very well crafted and features some sterling work from Peter Davison and Sharon Sutton, but he plot is a run around of the weirdest kind.
A science expedition Thal craft is caught in the middle of a galactic disaster as bizarre creatures cause uncanny amounts of damage that leads to Skaro, home of the Dalek Empire. In the time vortex, the TARDIS is caught in a time tunnel leading to the Earth during a Dalek assault during the 22nd Century. Desperate to escape an army of robomen and Daleks along with a vicious strain of deadly wasps, the Doctor manages to dematerialize but due to the time tunnel arrives at a later point in the time line, but the same location. However, the time line has not progressed as it should have.
Confronted by a trio of survivors, the Doctor finds that he has jumped past the Dalek Invasion only to find that history has taken a turn for the worse. The planet Earth is nearly completely uninhabited, wiped out by a menace that the Doctor assumes to be the Daleks, if only anyone knew what a Dalek was. Thal scientists eventually catch up with the Doctor and recruit him for an unlikely mission, to save the Daleks from extinction.
The Thal scientists explain that a mutant strain is passing through the Dalek race, causing them to become monstrous creatures resembling massive insects. The mutation must be stopped because the new creatures are unstoppable and pose a threat to all life. Of course the Doctor is difficult to convince that he must save his deadliest foes, but in the end concedes, though his brain is obviously turning over some clever ideas as to how and why he will help.
Amazing fan animation based on The Mutant Phase
Like the Daleks in the Dalek Empire series (highly recommended), these are the conniving and brilliant versions of the Doctor’s arch enemies before they became second-stringers for Davros. The big development point in this take is that the Daleks are terrified of the Mutant Phase to the point of mania. It makes sense that a deviation in their genetic makeup would be abhorrent to them, so this is an interesting idea but it doesn’t exactly get played out as well as it could have in my opinion. However, I cannot get enough of these Machiavellian Daleks as they are portrayed in Big Finish Productions and find that I often steer my attention toward them, skipping over other releases to get to their next appearance.
Additionally, the return to the Earth of the Dalek Invasion period is a very appealing concept for me as I hold that classic story in high esteem. The audio adventure filled my head with droning robomen, the human survivors scurrying for shelter in a bombed-out charred city and the Daleks soaring by on hover sleds. This is the kind of material that the BBC Wales version of Doctor Who should explore as it builds on the ideas developed in classic Doctor Who that never made it to the screen due to budgetary restraints. I’m often frustrated that the classic series had magnificent ideas that ended up looking like a bunch of Marx toys while the new series has a bigger budget and the advantage of CGi yet seldom offers up the same level of quality scripts to go along with the stunning imagery they are capable of.
The narrative structure, like the plot, is a bit of a mess. Parts of the story take place in different time zones and involve situations that are caused by events that occur later in another time zone on Earth of the distant future, or during the Dalek Invasion. It asks a lot of the listener to keep up with all of this and as it is a Dalek audio adventure, much of the experience is full of screeching and explosions, along with the new sound of the roaring bug-like monsters dubbed the Mutant Phase.
Even with these limitations, The Mutant Phase is quite good if only due to Davison’s performance. A restrained actor, he humbly tip-toes through many parts of the story only to emerge as a genius at the end when he reveals what he was doing all along. Of course, the resolution is part of the time paradox that caused the Mutant Phase and the alternate time line which is a bit annoying, but Davison’s quip at the end makes it rather charming.