The Dalek Masterplan [or The Dalek Master Plan if you prefer], is one of those Missing Stories that, for some reason, fandom seems to obsess over, though to be honest I’ve never really understood why. It’s really just another one of those B-Movie type plots, with characters in possession of a fabulous object being pursued by other characters who want aforesaid fabulous object, and how many times have we seen that? Loads, and this is just another runaround, a rewrite, on an admittedly bigger scale, of The Chase, which itself is a rewrite of The Keys of Marinus! If nothing else you have to admire the ability of Terry Nation to get paid more than once by the BBC for the same thing.
Despite the fact that it’s overlong and underwritten, and the best bits aren’t by Terry Nation but Dennis Spooner, there are some positives. The death of Kurt Gantry, for example, is a good suspenseful sequence [that looks great in colour!] and it’s nice to finally get to see more of Katarina than her screaming her head off before she snuffs it, even if she is only plugging the narrative gap left by Vicki’s departure until Sara Kingdom comes along and does a much better job of being the companion.
And speaking of Sara Kingdom, despite the pleasure of Day of Armageddon being returned to the archive, I’m sure we all wish the final episode, where she ages to death after getting caught up in the field of the Time Destructor, had turned up instead. But the surviving episodes do have some fan fun value. There’s Nick Courtney and Kevin Stoney as Bret Vyon & Mavic Chen, who would later be reunited – sort of – in The Invasion and there’s the return of Peter Butterworth as the Meddling Monk as well. But although there are some good individual turns from the cast, the story itself is a bloated, meandering mess.
And that’s the biggest single problem with Masterplan, it’s way too long and there simply isn’t enough story to spread out across that many episodes. As the fan edit demonstrates, it works much better when it’s about half the length it is. If there had been just that bit more surviving footage a video edit may have been possible but it can’t be done with what there is at the moment. Of course if more eps were to turn up that might change, but I doubt it. And it’s essentially a story of two halves…
Despite what the numerous episode guides may tell you, The Dalek Masterplan isn’t really one huge twelve episode long epic. It’s really a single prequel episode, followed by six more episodes, then a single episode cutaway, followed by the final five episodes. Which looks like this:
After six episodes of James Bond In Space Against The Daleks, The Feast of Steven is the first episode that doesn’t lead into the next one, ending instead with the infamous “…Merry Christmas to all of you at home!”. So you can see TFoS as the point where the Doctor, Steven & Sara start having Non-Dalek Adventures, such as those released by Big Finish, that plug a plausible story gap between DMP Part One and DMP Part Two….
Rick Lundeen’s graphic novel is just the latest of the numerous adaptations of both this and Mission To The Unknown there have been over the years, including the Loose Cannon recon, may they rest in peace, but they all serve to highlight just how dull this story would be to watch if all 12 eps existed. I suspect the story will continue to be just as underwhelming as Lundeen’s adaptation suggests it is if we ever get to see any more of it. Mind you, am I the only one who would really, really, like to see Adrian Salmon tackle the story as a graphic novel? Now that’s a version I’d like to see more than any other!
So with a video edit not a possibility an audio edit was always on the cards as both the Soundtrack and Novelisation had been released. The only reason I tackled the story at all was because it was Anniversary year and I wanted to do a few of the “biggies” I hadn’t yet got round to. One of the other main reasons for doing the audio edit, apart from the fact that I got part one for a fiver off Ebay, was that Nick Briggs was doing the Dalek voices on the Audiobook. I’ve never been a great fan of the Peter Hawkins and David Graham versions, although they sound a lot better in the movies than they do on the telly. Personally I don’t think Roy Skelton can be beaten but Briggsy runs him a very close second.
Speaking of actors’ voices, Kevin Stoney puts in a bloody good practice run for Tobias Vaughn in a few years time but WTF is that makeup job all about? He looks like a weird mix of African and Oriental and don’t start me on his handwriting! You have to wonder what the hell they were thinking of but thankfully we don’t have to see his rather weird appearance in an audio version!
Perhaps it was the deliberate intention of the production team was to have him look like a villain, or maybe there was some underlying racism going on, but either way, I reckon it would have been much more effective to have him look more Vaughan-like. The biggest villains are usually the ones who look the least villainous, and a Guardian of the Solar System who looks trustworthy would have given his treachery more impact. That said, with episode one missing we can’t be sure how Stoney’s performance would have helped sell Chen as a nice guy before revealing him as a bad ‘un.
For this combined audio edit I’ve essentially cut the story in half, losing as much padding as I could, including the utterly dreadful The Feast of Steven! This is a combination of the best bits of both the soundtrack and audiobook versions, spread over four parts and including my earlier Mission To The Unknown edit for completeness, that can either be listened to in isolation or as part of this much tighter, pacier version of the original larger narrative.
Viewing The Dalek Masterplan as Part One and Part Two, with the side trip of The Feast of Steven inserted in the middle, even though it’s meant to be part of the ongoing odyssey, is, to my mind, a much better way of approaching the story than as one big epic. Or you can do what I do, ignore the Xmas episode altogether and treat Mission To The Unknown as the first episode instead of The Nightmare Begins. That was the approach I adopted for this fan edit and I think it’s one that works far better.