Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Project Infinity written and directed by Nicholas Briggs

What’s it about: The Seers of Yaldos have a sad story to tell, but Alby and Kalendorf know they must listen. Meanwhile, the Daleks seem unconcerned by their recent defeats. They have their sights firmly fixed on Project Infinity. In the hands of the Daleks, the human race's only hope of victory could signal the destruction of the entire universe...

Angel of Mercy: As she approached the stand to give her speech to the slaves Susan feels apprehensive. She had always given them hope and now she was going to ask many of them die and she knows that she has to lead by example. However a last minute twist leads us to believe the Suz might not be dead after all...

Anti-Hero: He’s been drowning his sorrows since he found out that Suz was dead. He breaks down when Kalendorf tries to convince him to crack Project Infinity and tells him the only reason he fought all this time was to see Suz again and now she’s dead he simply doesn’t care. Alby thinks sneaking a peek into another reality to see how they defeated the Daleks sounds a lot like cheating. He never liked Tanlee even when he wasn’t working for the Daleks.

Knight of Velyshaa: Gareth Thomas gets to play the lead in the climax and Kalendorf gets to display an impressive amount of bravado in the face of insurmountable odds. He accuses Alby of sulking and even when he is damaged by the mind link with the Emperor he retrains a sense of humour and derring do.

Sparkling Dialogue: ‘What are pickled onions doing halfway up a mountain?’
‘Empires will rise and fall, it is the nature of history.’
‘How much death can you watch before it becomes meaningless?’

Great Ideas: An arc of rebellion travelling across every world that Suz and Kalendorf visited for the Daleks ending on Yaldos. The Daleks are trying to make them lazy, letting them win over and over again when they have no right to – what devious buggers they are! As soon as the Seer starts telling her story to Alby and Kalendorf you realise that she is the one who has been narrating the story throughout. Once Suz left Kalendorf at the lake she went and saw the Seers of Yaldos and a permanent link was formed between them. Despite their might, the Dalek Emperor knows the complexity of human thought and emotional instincts will eventually always defeat the Daleks. The Daleks have known about Project Infinity for centuries thanks to the library on Kar-Charat (at least something useful can come from The Genocide Machine). A rebellion on the move, years in the making finally swarm over the Dalek army. Mirana turning out to be a Dalek agent is entirely unexpected and makes of a great scene, makes you want to go back and listen to her scenes again and see if there were any hints. Tanlee proves to be a Dalek agent, leading the psychotic pepperpots straight to Project Infinity. I loved the scene where they started picking up Dalek transmissions, spying on their battle plans and as they are readying to attack them. For once the Earth Alliance has the upper hand (and I laughed out loud when we cut to the Dalek ship and one of them is boasting ‘We have the element of surprise!’). They also manage to hack into the Dalek tactical positions, showing up every last one of them. They are such wimps those Daleks, as soon as they realise they have lost they go straight for the greatest weakness of their enemy, their humanity, taking hostages from the facility and threatening to kill them. Project Infinity was set up after the last Dalek War, the Earth Alliance figured they would learn from their mistakes if they tried again and very probably succeed. So scientists pondered what if there was a parallel universe where we defeated the Daleks for all time? If they could see into that universe and find out how they did it then they could apply that to our universe. A dimensional fissure broken through with an Infinity scan until they find the right alternative universe. The Daleks attacked the Vega system first because the beam is powered by Veganite. The Daleks aren’t just going to find the reality they want, they are going to create a gateway between the two realities – to bring Daleks through into this universe from a reality where they have become invincible.

Audio Landscape: The techincal side of this series has been astounding and despite the wealth of action each set piece feels diffent. Pouring a drink and very special Alby burp, a ship landing, heavy alien breathing, a ringing clock, crunching on a pickled onion, strong winds, Daleks screaming, submerged beneath a sea of screaming slaves, tinkling bells, gunfire, the wonderful meld that twists between Mirana and the Emperor, there is an awesome action sequence which basically consists of both sides revealing their tactics and plenty of swooping fighters and explosions but its pieced together with such sharpness it feels breathlessly exciting, lots of screaming and people being massacred, smashing up a Dalek.

Musical Cues: The drums of war are unleashed as the galaxy goes mad and begins to fight back against the Daleks.

Isn’t it Odd: I’m not usually a fan of telling your audience what has happened and then showing them the events at a later date but holding Susan’s betrayal of the Daleks until the last instalment means that this story gets all the unforgettable scenes and makes it unmissable.

Standout Scene: This is a story that unloads one shock after another, first aiming for your leg (Mirana is a Dalek agent!), then your stomach (the Daleks have invaded the galaxy as a sideshow to their real plans) before finally scoring a double whammy to the heart (shit, the Daleks are breaking through into alternative realities!) and brain (the Daleks they have brought through…are a force for good?)! Briggs has structured his story to ensure that the climax of Dalek Empire leaves you gasping with shock and whopping with joy throughout, right up until that unforgettable cliffhanger.

Notes: After listening to this first season of Dalek Empire Nick Briggs has proven that you don’t need the Doctor to tell a really good Dalek story. If you had told me that before I listened to this I would laughed in your face. What a feat.

Result: Only the Daleks would go to the lengths of invading the entire galaxy and subjugating and murdering so many people as a diversion from what their real plans are. Once again this story leaps forward five months making the scale of the overall piece extraordinarily vast (taking place over several years and via thousands of worlds). The climax to the first series of Dalek Empire takes you right into the heart of Project Infinity and the revelations do not disappoint. The character drama takes a backseat in this instalment to ensure that the ride is furiously and vibrant and you will race through it in what feels like 30 minutes not over and hour. My one complaint is that far too much is left hanging (is Suz still alive and what are the consequences for the Daleks facing their angelic alternatives?) but it does leave me hungry for the second series. Overall this first series of Dalek Empire has been a total success, creating a fascinating galaxy to play cowboys and Indians in and developing a memorable cast of characters. More please: 8/10

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