Reviewed: The Mechanical Planet – A Tale from the Dalek Chronicles

On the deck of the Master Control Room, the Golden Dalek Emperor gazes out at the scene of its latest triumph and holds humanity in contempt. Rather than pressing home the superiority of the Daleks, the Emperor takes envoy Esra Valdis to task for humanity’s part in the conflict that they have eradicated.

Its reasoning goes that, as humanity invented the Mechanoids, therefore they are responsible for their creations’ actions, regardless of the restrictive programming their masters gave them.  To consider the mind of the Mechanoids’ creation is to consider our minds, to see what humanity is capable of, and, in its own way, it neatly sums up our own feelings towards the triumphant return of Vworp Vworp and this impressive audio endeavour. Gazing into the hefty third volume is like gazing into the fandom itself and finding something of ourselves in and amongst all the love, admiration, and inquisitive application… only with less of a body count (I hope).

Although it’s not just nostalgia – admittedly, that plays an important part – The Mechanical Planet: A Tale from the Dalek Chronicles, adapted by Alan Stevens from Terry Nation and David Whitaker’s comic book story from The Dalek World annual from 1965, neatly updates the cold war paranoia of the original tale into a deft political commentary on the avariciousness of the far right.

It goes beyond mere replication to bring us something that’s both anchored to the past and looking outwards towards the world as it is right now. There’s something unnerving about humanity’s relative comfort with unleashing a force they hardly understand to destroy a common enemy (some Daleks just want to watch the world burn, anyone?).

In dual roles, David Graham (one of the original Dalek voices) excels. Whether he is intoning to the gathered masses about the peril, and indeed the promise, of the Mechanical Planet to the awed delegates of New Washington as President Sovard (and very much capturing the spirit of Adam Susan from Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s V for Vendetta, as well as Tony Blair – which is made explicit at the end of the disc), or exposing the dark secret at the heart of these machinations as the Golden Emperor of the Daleks, he gives two very different, very compelling performances.

He’s aided in this task by Alan Stevens’ fantastic dialogue – although some of the best exchanges are saved for those between the Golden Dalek Emperor and Esra Valdis , played with cool detachment by Sasha Mitchell; the explanation of the Daleks’ knowledge of the metric system is wry – and some atmospheric sound design by Alistair Lock, who, with some lovely sci-fi sound effects, captures the wonder that must be the Dalek Master Control Room and the impressive power of the titular planet.

The Mechanical Planet: A Tale from the Dalek Chronicles is a wonderful, compelling adaptation that takes the impressive framework of Terry Nation and David Whitaker’s original tale and adds a modern sheen – complete with impressive sound design and wonderful performances.

The disc also comes with two separate interrogations of Sacha Mitchell and David Graham, the former featuring a Dalek and Mechanoid interrogator which is both insightful and hilarious; ‘TELL. US. ABOUT. THE. MOTHBALLS’.

You couldn’t find a better reason to pick up a copy of Vworp Vworp Vol.3 – and why haven’t you already?