Synopsis The story that became 'Dalek' on TV. Although the televised episode in 2005 (starring Christopher Eccleston) ended up being very different in many important ways, this is the core of the idea that Russell T. Davies wanted writer Rob Shearman to develop. Find out how it all started...
Hurrah! The deadly Daleks are back! Yes, those loveable tinpot tyrants have another plan to invade our world. Maybe this time because they want to drill to the Earth's core. Or maybe because they just feel like it.
And when those pesky pepperpots are in town, there is one thing you can be sure of. There will be non-stop, high octane mayhem in store. And plenty of exterminations!
But never fear. The Doctor is on hand to sort them out. Defender of the Earth, saviour of us all. With his beautiful assistant, Evelyn Smythe, by his side, he will fight once again to uphold the beliefs of the English Empire. All hail the glorious English Empire!
Now that sounds like a jubilee worth celebrating, does it not?
Written By: Robert Shearman Directed By: Nicholas Briggs and Robert Shearman
CAST Colin Baker (The Doctor); Maggie Stables (Evelyn Smythe); Martin Jarvis (Nigel Rochester); Rosalind Ayres (Miriam Rochester); Steven Elder (Farrow); Kai Simmons (Lamb); Jane Goddard (Presenter/ Mary); Rob Shearman (Presenter); Jack Galagher (Movie Star); Georgina Carter (Movie Star/Judy); Nicholas Briggs (Dalek Voice/US Prime Minister/Announcer)
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Half of Jubilee is brilliant, no doubt about it - the half with the captive Dalek. And especially the scenes between the Dalek and Evelyn, which are simply superb and a credit to Nick Briggs that he can really act through the vocaliser, giving the Dalek - astonishingly - a nuanced personality. And with Maggie Stables excellent as usual they play out a gripping encounter, for me much better than the Dalek/Rose scenes in the later TV version. Isolated, trapped and disarmed, with only the power of its voice and the strength of its will, the last Dalek on Earth is manipulative, curiously vulnerable and still dangerous. Even though all it wants is someone to give it orders...
That half of the story is phenomenal and totally gripping to the end, and in this I'll include the story of the Two Doctors and Two Evelyns - seeing the 'other' Doctor reduced to such a pitiable state and killed right in front of us is unforgettable by any standards. If the rest of Jubilee had been along similar lines, it would have ranked for me with the very very best of Big Finish - and as one of their darkest and most gripping dramas.
But the rest is comedy and what I thought was hit-or-miss satire in an England which defeated the Dalek Invasion of Earth (in 1903) and then, living off that glorious victory, went on to ruthlessly expand the Empire using Dalek technology to conquer the world! Parts of this worked well; I enjoyed most of the macabre comedy and most of the one-liners, but I can't say the same for most of the satire. For me, satire needs to be close to the truth to score properly, and this expansionist, imperialist England was so much the reverse of what actually happened after WWII that it seemed surreal more than satirical. Though where there was close contact with reality, I liked the satire - 'Dalekmania' with their image on everything from cereal to soap and the Dalek war as the only war people were proud to talk about, spawning endless films and an unhealthy fascination with the defeated evil enemy it's always OK to hate. (Think of the extraordinary number of TV documentaries about WWII and the Nazis to see the Dalek=Nazi parallel working well as usual; I thought this point was excellently made.)
And I wish the Rochesters had been better motivated than both simply being 'mad' (though their name does signal this I suppose, from 'Jane Eyre'). Martin Jarvis and Rosalind Ayres give wonderful performances but I thought their characters would have been better written with more rational motivations and fewer twists and turns. For example, Miriam is (1) an oppressed, brainwashed woman with a trivial mind. No, she's (2) a clever, ruthless schemer planning to seize power in a palace coup. No, she (3) wants power but only so she can overthrow her husband because he's not evil enough and she wants a real man to oppress her properly. Because in fact, she's (4) an oppressed, brainwashed wife who wants to live as if she has a trivial mind even though she clearly hasn't... I think!
So for me it was a truly great story in parts, but overdid some of the comedy side to make 'Jubilee' less than it might otherwise have been. But... Evelyn and the Dalek - wow!
And I wish the Rochesters had been better motivated than both simply being 'mad' (though their name does signal this I suppose, from 'Jane Eyre'). Martin Jarvis and Rosalind Ayres give wonderful performances but I thought their characters would have been better written with more rational motivations and fewer twists and turns.
I think that actually worked well for me here, with the two of them ending up seeming much less tritely one-dimensional characters than they easily could have for it. (Also, I'm getting the feeling that if I were to dwell on things a bit more, I'd probably discover an under-appreciated poignancy to much of this). Bravo to both the author and to the performers that I manage to find a story like this as tremendously engaging (and moving) as I have.
Just listened to this story. It was another one of the 99p downloads that I got in the sale last month. Although Jubilee has been on my list of stories that I've wanted to hear, I had deliberately put it off as I'd seen the TV episode upon which it was based and didn't really come away from that viewing feeling totally enamoured. As a result, I put any listening plans on the back burner (probably far, far longer than I initially intended).
I found Jubilee a bit like the Holy Terror - a deliciously dark satirical piece that makes the listener think. For me, this is what makes Doctor Who (or any piece of drama/literature) worth investing time in. Although the themes of nationalism, patriotism were still relevant in 2003 - I found the whole premise of Jubilee (the English Empire trading off of a victory in 1903) far more relevant in the post-Brexit era than it probably would have been upon release. Without getting into a a political rant (or drowning the Board in politics), the approach of Rochester's government in promoting the Jubilee was very akin to some of the ideas and commentaries that have been spouted since 2016 and the Brexit Referendum. It is quite conceivable that just as Rochester uses fear of the Daleks to keep his brutal regime in power, 'fear' of a variety of other things (terrorism, immigration, poverty, etc.) are used by politicians to support their view of Britain either 'in' or 'out' of the EU.
Similarly, the way in which the story gets the reader to think about the 'portrayal' of History and the 'heroes' and 'villains' within it, is effective. The discussion between the Doctor and Evelyn at the start of the adventure about the role of history and depiction of historical events is well developed here. The Doctor is able to see, quite effectively at the end, that dismissing the Daleks as 'evil' is a clumsy stereotype and the speech (given effectively by Baker) in Episode 4 is striking in comparing the worst of the Daleks with the worst of humanity and pointing out the extent to which the ideas of the Daleks are not that different from the worst aspects of humanity. The reaction of the Doctor to seeing his athletic and muscular physique atop of the Nelson's Column statue is also nicely done and shows that even heroes can be portrayed a little bit too simplistically. Again, with the use of social media (especially the use of Twitter and hashtags) - the story demonstrates the danger of trying to simplify people into the categories of 'goody' or 'baddie' - things are more complicated than that.
For Baker, whose Doctor was seen as 'shouty', 'aggressive' and 'unpleasant' - his character change and development demonstrates nicely how the Sixth Doctor should have been shown. He never loses his moral compass and the outrage he shows, even though he doesn't trust the Daleks, again supports what a great Doctor he could have been. Stables is excellent as Evelyn Smythe and shows what an influential force her character is in developing and, restoring, the Sixth Doctor. The chemistry between the two actors is fantastic and a real joy to hear. It also shows how the Sixth Doctor could have positive relationships - yes they argue, but it is based on respect for each other's intelligence and knowledge. The Doctor never bullies Evelyn here (as he does in the TV episodes) and the scene where the aged Doctor explains he continued to talk to Evelyn's skeletal remains 'until they moved them', underlies the importance of their relationship.
Jarvis comes across excellent on audio. His portrayal of Rochester is quite exhausting to listen to. Personally, I think Rochester comes across as quite, quite mad and shows the extent to which absolute power has corrupted him. There are far too many examples to show the extent to which he is simply mad and I never found the character sympathetic. Even during the Dalek Invasion the idea of him 'enjoying' being a victim shows a shallow, weak and self-centred man, who cares for little else. Miriam is little better and, whilst I like the scheming aspect of her character, it would have been great to have seen her develop her alternative regime a bit more - an excess of coloured bunting isn't exactly a reason for a revolution.
The use of the Daleks works here. The single Dalek, alone and without orders, is just as frightening as the millions of others that exist waiting to exterminate the universe. The fact that Evelyn and the Doctor are the only ones who actually 'fear' the Dalek makes a solid point about trivialising and banalising evil. I found it interesting that the Dalek actually 'respects' Evelyn for fearing it and wish this had been developed more in the dialogue. The pure cunning of the Dalek is shown by the way it manipulates events and gets Lamb to kill Farrow - power is about getting people to do things you would be willing to do yourself. The Dalek's logical point about wanting to switch one group of humans for another is also interesting and just shows the extent to which the characters underestimate the seriousness of the threat. It is great to see an alternative approach with them that harks back to Whittaker's approaches in Power/Evil - the Daleks are more than just 'exterminating' machines.
Great release. Far, far better than the 2005 Adventure. I should have listened to this earlier! It is also a good start to an experimental year of releases for Big Finish.
'Well now I know you're mad. I just wanted to make sure."
Post by fantasticalice on May 26, 2018 18:58:07 GMT
I have always found it funny how many people just assume this is just like the tv episode. Indeed, unlike Human Nature(although someone wrote a fanfic linking them) There's really not enough similarities to make continuity weird. I have always found this story utterly horrifying and it's surprisingly dark for a sixth Doctor tale. It's also damn good.
Every time I see the back of it I start to forget how they f ixed things as it was really messed up and it will be interesting to see if August's monthly range accomplishes what this did in a sense of peril.
I also saw shades of Project Lazarus and even Diary of River Song 2 in this. The Doctor failing on such a grand scale is not something we get to see very often and it's terrifying here.
I bought this in March 2014 when i first discovered the MR 1-50 £2.99 Downloads. It was one of the first three Downloads I chose and it was listening to this that I could not believe what a treasure trove of past releases i was missing. I found it dark and a bit grim (the Doctor as a Prisoner with no legs to prevent his escape? - ugh), As a slice of alternative history it was well realised and commanded my attention too well - i have not felt a need to re-listen to it since though, which is unusual, given my tendency to revisit certain discs over those on the to-do list.
I have since spent over £2,000 on Big Finish (got carried away with the £5 sales back when the postage was 50p), and generated too much of a back-log. That's not a boast - i suspect it's conservative to what many on this forum invest in the range, and I have reined it in this past year to just the occasional release, Like J&L Series 2 for £3.96 to keep them in business. I suspect that the more you have, the more there is 'on-tap' that not all get the attentiveness and concentration on listening that I gave to this and the earlier CD only releases that I bought occasionally from 2003. Perhaps it's just that i have had more on my plate these past few years work wise, but i miss listening to the likes of Jubilee, Spare Parts, Storm Warning and -yes - Chimes of Midnight and being blown away by the way in which they stood out as amongst the best Doctor Who Classic Series and yet no one bar fans had heard of them. Every dozen or so released there are classics like these, that are more than bread-and-butter Doctor Who (not a criticism) but not so clever that many struggle to keep hold of the proceedings. Jubilee keeps it distinctive, memorable and clearly plotted so that you stay engrossed without the audience having to 'pay attention there at the back' for fear of feeling slow witted.
This is such a famous story, I really wish I had more to say about it. Ultimately, it's very ambitious, and tries to do a great many things... but it's adapted form in Dalek benefits greatly from being a much simpler, more laser-focused narrative. Maybe I'll feel differently after a second listen, someday, but Jubilee just tries to do so much.
Like, you know, instead of adapting this story into a single episode for RTD's reboot, Shearman could very easily have expanded it into a 12-13 episode season/series. Back in 2003, with Doctor Who dead, I can really see why his story left such a monumental impact on the fandom, and why it's legacy has endured for so long. Even today, with our superfluity of Doctor Who media, it's an astonishingly impressive narrative achievement.
And normally you'd expect a story this a,but IOU's to lose the thread somewhere, right? But no, it nails just about every aspect of a good Doctor Who story there is: engaging dialog, compelling human drama, tantalizing mystery, surreal characterization, bizarre temporal mechanics and most importantly biting--perhaps uncomfortably applicable--humor.
If you don't immediately break out into a wild grin upon hearing, "Evelyn 'Hot Lips' Smythe" then what is even the point of you?
Or Colin Baker's perfectly abhorring delivery of the line, "You've taken evil... and merchandised it?"
Which brings us to the big flaw of Jubilee: it tries to do so much that it loses focus. Between the delightfully insane president and his wife (loved that reveal), the insane Dalek and the ultimate message that humans can be worse than Daleks... it's easy to forget that this story also flirted, briefly but memorably, with other potentially ripe themes like the dangers inherent in the commodification of fascist iconography.
And, I mean, have you seen the state of Star Wars? This is a startlingly relevant topic, far more applicable and perhaps meaningful now than it was then. (Though yes, I'm well aware that this trend started decades earlier.)
Oh, and then there's the fact that this is also a multi-Doctor story. Just because. It's crazy. Today, if Big a finish produced Jubilee, it'd be a Boxset and each episode'd be an hour long.
"WOULD YOU LIKE TO HEAR OUR DALEK SONG?"
Why, yes, I would like that. Very much so. I didn't appreciate the tease, but thank god they delivered on it in the end--and the song? Fantastic.
So I'm blown away here. Clearly. But I still said the TV adaptation was stronger, right? If you'll pardon some very, I hope, understandable hypocrisy, I think it's possible to appreciate media on both objective and subjective levels. I think Dalek functions better as a story, but as insanely ambitious and multifaceted as it is, I personally enjoy Jubilee much more. It's a roller coaster, and roller coasters can be fun as hell--but they can also be scary to some people, and sometimes folks puke.
That said, while the 9th Doctor has a much more interesting (and compelling, and meaningful) relationship with the lone Dalek, Evelyn's--perhaps unsurprisingly--relationship to the Dalek works much better than Rose'. Especially considering that, as the audience, we already hold an immense amount of respect for Evelyn (one of the finest companions we've ever had) it's very easy to empathize with the Dalek. In almost any other context, I think, we wouldn't be able to reconcile a Dalek respecting any non-Dalek, or even caring about any other non-Dalek to any extent. But we believe it here because it's Evelyn. If anyone in the universe has the capacity to affect a Dalek on an emotional level, it's her.
So, despite having so many to pick from, for me the defining moment in this story is when the Dalek saves Evelyn's life. It is built up to, properly, but at the same time it's an utterly out-of-character moment in gross defiance of decades of characterization. And yet it works beautifully.
If there's any one flaw with Jubilee, it's the absence of a single, core emotional throughline. In the TV adaptation, that throughline became the Doctor and the Dalek: in an ideal world, it would've been Evelyn and the Dalek.
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