The supplemental material that comes with Energy of the Daleks reveals that part of the intention with the story was to give the Fourth Doctor an opportunity to encounter the Daleks in a more typical adventure than he ever had on television: one that didn’t feature Davros and which involved the Daleks up to their regular galaxy-conquering, exterminating, shenanigans. The story hits this target but it’s not a very high bar to be aiming for. If one doesn’t have built-in nostalgic love for the Daleks and their screechy voices, then there’s not much to raise this story above the “ordinary” level.
The plot is about how some humans in the near future are developing a new energy source, while some other humans are protesting the economic injustices associated with how this energy is going to be distributed. Turns out the Daleks have actually captured and brainwashed the developer of the technology so they can use it to destroy the earth. Why? Because these Daleks are from the future and they want to destroy the human race before humanity can oppose them and help defeat them many times in the future.
The plot is nonsense of course. If the Daleks want to destroy humanity from the future, one would expect there would be dozens of ways this could be accomplished without spending years manipulating humans to build a bunch of solar panels on the moon with the ultimate goal of knocking the moon out of orbit. Surely the Daleks have a more efficient way of destroying planets? It’s all daft silliness, and reminiscent of the original series less impressive moments, like the story could have replaced The Invisible Enemy or Underworld from Season 15 and it wouldn’t really have changed anything.
Now, Tom Baker is Tom Baker, which is to say that he’s always enjoyable to listen to, and Louise Jameson has some good moments as Leela, displaying courage and defiance against the overwhelming power of the Daleks. And the rest of the cast is fine, though unmemorable. And that sums up the whole story: nothing really wrong with it, but nothing that really sticks with you after it’s over. This is a shame because the previous entry into this series, The Wrath of the Iceni, was a powerful character-driven drama. This, by contrast, is a light bit of fluff that relies almost entirely on the novelty of actually featuring the Fourth Doctor (apparently it was the first of this series of dramas recorded, though not the first released) and the spectacle of the Daleks for its appeal. For me, it’s just not enough.