on 2 October 2015
The Eye of the Scorpion’ was written by Iain McLaughlin and directed by Gary Russell. Featuring the fifth Doctor, Peri and introducing Erimem - the un-crowned Pharaoh Erimemushinteperem, which means "Daughter of Light". Just like in ‘The Church and the Crown’ Nicola gets to play dual roles through being possessed. This audio drama was recorded on 21 and 22 July 2001 at The Moat Studios. According to Big Finish’s ‘The Inside Story’ this was given the working title ‘The Eye of the Beetle’ and Erimem was originally given a pet rat not a cat.
The Doctor lands in ancient Egypt, circa 1400BC, and foils an attempt to kill Erimem in an attempt to thwart Erimem’s succession to Pharaoh. Erimem invites her saviours back to the palace where the Doctor is poisoned and the time travelling duo get caught up in a web of suspicion and betrayal.
David Darlington's score for the story was released on the CD Music from the Fifth Doctor Audio Adventures, alongside the scores for Loups-Garoux and Primeval, and although a little dated now it loses nothing. Being a pseudo- historical, as opposed to a true historical, the atmosphere requires the music to have a light touch and the sound effects are natural sounding.
I’m not sure why it was required to introduce the character of Erimem as we already have Peri who has really been allowed to grow as a character. Erimem is an odd Egyptian in that she is an atheist as well as inquisitive with a progressive attitude. In the context of this story Erimem is a good strong character but can’t help feeling she is out of place in her later stories that I have heard. The Doctor is written out of part two to allow Peri and Erimem to bond and it works well. As you would expect from a historical there is some strong dialogue but some of the characters fall a little flat.
It’s trite in places, with Peri making certain anachronistic comments about Penicillin and Margret Thatcher. Peri may not have been on screen very long but in terms of the Big Finish cannon you think she would have learnt by now, surely? The Doctor uses the Tardis to block out the sun thus faking an eclipse and the only explanation we get is that the Tardis can anything? The serendipitous stumbling on a telepathy inhibitor is deus ex-machina. On the other hand, there is political intrigue, power struggles, great atmosphere and acting. So McLaughlin’s writing debut for Big Finish, which was submitted through their open submissions window when they had one, is a bit of a mixed bag.
This is the twenty fourth release from Big Finish in their range of full cast audio adventures starring classic Doctor Whos. It stars Peter Davison as Five and Nicola Bryant as Peri. It introduces new regular companion Erimem, played by Caroline Morris. There are four episodes, roughly 25-30 minutes each, complete with original theme music between each, and cliff hanger endings. Two episodes per disc on 2 discs, and a short booklet with some pictures of the cast and production notes.
The Doctor and Peri are forced to land in ancient Egypt by a seeming glitch in the TARDIS (plus ca change...). Stepping out of the TARDIS they find a young woman on a Chariot being hunted by some distinctly unsavoury types. The Doctor saves her, to find that she is soon to be Pharaoh Erimem, and that, unsurprisingly, there are other people who want the throne she claims.
What follows is a decent adventure in which the Doctor has to unravel just who or what it is that wants Erimem dead, while countering several plots and performing the odd miracle. For reasons of the plot, Peter Davison is missing for most of the second episode, which is carried largely by Peri and Erimem as they become friends and investigate several mysterious deaths. Surprisingly, this lack of the Doctor for an episode (a regular feature back in the black and white TV days when either William Hartnell or Patrick Troughton went on holiday) doesn't hurt the story, and allows us more time to be introduced to Erimem. Caroline Morris provides us with a great companion, intelligent, articulate, able to stand up for herself and inquisitive about the world. It is a character with possibilities, and it is a shame the character was not put to better use in subsequent releases. I do feel that this story is perhaps one of her best.
Supporting cast do well, especially Antronak, a role that seems to have been written with Nicholas Courtney in mind going by the delivery by actor Jonathan Owen. It's a solid, reassuring part that speaks of reliability and honour.
The play is let down a little in the final episode, with a resolution that is poorly realised compared to the rest of the series. So only four stars. In general it's pretty good.
on 18 June 2006
"Egypt is in mourning. Pharaoh, the great God-King, is dead. The future of the Two Kingdoms of Egypt is shrouded in uncertainty as the Council of Priests debates the claim to the throne of Pharaoh's only heir.
"Out in the deserts around Thebes, Egypt's capital, a warlord chief is assembling an army of mercenaries, waiting for just the right moment to strike at Egypt's heart.
"But not all of Egypt's enemies are outside the city. What is the secret of the strange box discovered in the desert?
"When the TARDIS arrives nearby, it has apparently been hi-jacked... by the Doctor?"
With Ian McLaughlin's "The Eye of the Scorpion", the Fifth Doctor / Peri pairing has finally hit its stride. "The Eye of the Scorpion" is immense fun as a script and both Peter Davison and Nicola Bryant appear to be enjoying themselves and are on excellent form - just in time to meet and greet a major new character, Pharaoh-to-be Erimemushinteperem (or Erimem for short). Of course, the Doctor realises that history has never recorded a Pharaoh Erimem, and that this girl will never succeed in becoming Pharaoh. The question is, what does happen to her?
Caroline Morris is excellent as Erimem, reluctant successor to the crown, imperious one moment but compassionate and inquisitive the next. There are good guest turns from Jonathan Owen as Erimem's loyal defender Antranak and Stephen Perring as conniving villain Horumshep, whilst Jack Gallagher is likeable as junior priest Fayum... until he becomes possessed, of course. Harry Myers is over the top as warlord chief Yanis, but this is nothing unusual for "Doctor Who".
"The Eye of the Scorpion" has a full and eventful plot with well-written characters and good ambient music. The Doctor's incapacitation for much of episode two allows Peri and Erimem to shine through as characters. The only weakness is the slightly unsatisfying climax in the tunnels beneath the feet of the great Sphinx, but it's not week enough to spoil the listener's enjoyment of the story as a whole.
"The Eye of the Scorpion" comes highly recommended.
on 16 April 2009
Egypt is in mourning. Pharaoh, the great God-King, is dead. The future of the Two Kingdoms of Egypt is shrouded in uncertainty as the Council of Priests debates the claim to the throne of Pharaoh's only heir.
Out in the deserts around Thebes, Egypt's capital, a warlord chief is assembling an army of mercenaries, waiting for just the right moment to strike at Egypt's heart.
But not all of Egypt's enemies are outside the city. What is the secret of the strange box discovered in the desert?
When the TARDIS arrives nearby, it has apparently been hi-jacked... by the Doctor?
Featuring the Fifth Doctor and Peri, this story takes place between the television episodes Planet of Fire and The Caves of Androzani.
A decent story that introduces future TARDIS companion Erimem and sees The Fifth Doctor and Peri expolring ancient Egypt.