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Idly travelling alone in his TARDIS, The Eighth Doctor is interrupted by the materialisation of Lucie Miller, a nineteen year-old northern lass from 2006. Affronted by this intrusion into his home, the Doctor attempts to return her back to Earth, but is blocked by some kind of barrier, sending them spiralling onto the human colony of Red Rocket Rising - a planet that has been ravaged by asteroids and suffering from an Impact Winter. But things are set to get worse for the inhabitants of Red Rocket Rising and its recent visitors, when the Daleks arrive under the guise of rescue...
These Eighth Doctor Adventures form their own Range outside of the monthly Doctor Who releases and are set later in the 8th Doctor's timeline than his other adventures with Charley Pollard. This range also featured on BBC Radio 7 and is set out in 'seasons' which make them feel more compatible with the relaunched series. In fact, the 8th Doctor and Lucie's relationship is similar to that of 10th Doctor and Donna, even down to the very similar entrances by both ladies. There is a nice bit of banter between the two, added with the intriguing mystery of where she came from, and what she knows and can remember.
I really enjoyed the characterisation of both the 8th Doctor and Lucie - Paul McGann's Doctor was seldom explored in his one and only TV appearance, featuring more heavily in book and comic strips during the series' absence between 1996 - 2005. These audio adventures (and the earlier ones from the main range) are the closest thing to an actual canon appearance for the 8th Doctor and delve more into the personality of this incarnation of the Time Lord. I like his whimsical soul and the gentle humour he possesses throughout the story - he doesn't feel as hardened as his subsequent incarnation, but judging by this Doctor's alluded involvement in the Time War, he is set for more difficult decisions ahead.
Lucie, as I mentioned, feels similar to Donna in as much as she is a brash, opinionated and distrusting of the Doctor. While she fits the same age as Rose Tyler, she is totally different in personality and doesn't seem as in awe of the cosmos as she did - even feeling disappointment at the state of her first alien world. She is a great companion to entice new listeners to the audios, as she does represent much of the New Series' popularity, so it's an easy transition to go from the series to this audio and not feel the cultural divide between 'Classic Who' and 'New Who' as much as some people do.
The Daleks are an obvious choice to use to draw people in to a new series and they are utilised well here - as with 'Evil of the Daleks' and 'Victory of the Daleks', they adopt a benevolent and peaceful façade to their victims, in order to lure them into a trap. I like this approach as it showcases the intelligence and cunning of the Daleks, which isn't highlighted enough, in my opinion.
The side characters are pretty intriguing, although I did find it a little bit tricky to tell the difference between Klint and Asha at times as both actresses had similar voices and when they were talking to each other, I would occasionally get lost in who was saying what and had to replay those chapters. I'm not sure whether this is something anyone else would experience, but I found everyone else to have more distinctive accents or voices, apart from those two.
The sound effects and score are really good - I am a sucker for audio effects and love turning the sound up and getting sucked into the visual world that the sounds conjure in my mind's eye. The score evokes the mood perfectly and in some places reminds me of the initial Resident Evil game - it's strange how certain bits of music stick in your head.
Overall, this was a great starting point! As this is the initial release for the Eighth Doctor Adventures, it is frequently on offer and has introductory prices, so it is worthwhile following Big Finish on Twitter to see if they are having any sales on these discs, but I would recommend it even at full price, especially if you're a fan of the current series and have never experienced the Classic Doctors properly - it's very new listener friendly and doesn't feel tied up in both TV or Big Finish continuity. As long as you know who the Daleks and Time Lords are, you can enjoy this first part of Blood of the Daleks! I purchased the second part at the same time, so I shall be reviewing that shortly.