Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Eye of the Scorpion by: Iain McLaughlin directed by: Gary Russell: All Hail Pharaoh Erimem

The Eye of the Scorpion stars Peter Davison as the Doctor and Nicola Bryant as Peri.  It was written by Iain McLaughlin, directed by Gary Russell, and released in September 2001 by Big Finish Productions.


The TARDIS team of the Second Doctor, Jamie and Zoe is one of those teams that worked because of the dynamic of the two companions with Jamie being from the past and Zoe being from the future allowed for some interesting perspectives on time periods.  Big Finish have replicated that by introducing the companion of Erimem to supplement the Fifth Doctor and Peri.  Erimem is a pharaoh from Ancient Egypt who is introduced in today’s story The Eye of the Scorpion.  Being from circa 1400 BC, she knows nothing of modern technology or sensibilities which will allow for an even larger dynamic between her and Peri.  Her introductory story involves the Doctor and Peri rescuing her from being captured on a chariot so she takes them to her palace for a feast.  Hijinks ensue as the three uncover a plot to depose her from the throne led by a telepathic alien.


That is literally what the plot of this story holds spelled out for you and in all honesty it is a very basic plot that would have little to interest potential listeners had the intention for this story not have been to be a character and set piece.  The story is there to be an introduction for Erimem and a way to establish her relationship with the Doctor and Peri.  Erimem is played by Caroline Morris who gives a good first impression coming across as a competent young woman who has been thrown into the situation of being a goddess without any time to catch her breath.  Her character arc for at least this story is very similar to the arc of Peppin from The Holy Terror but here Erimem confronts her godliness and becomes a better person for it.  Erimem also works well to highlight Nicola Bryant’s Peri.  The two girls immediately have a very sisterly relationship not far off from that of Nyssa and Tegan except with less of the shouting.


This is beneficial for Peri as well who gets to be more independent here as the Doctor is knocked out for the middle portions of the play.  She has to figure out the mystery with Erimem becoming almost her sidekick for the story.  The Doctor is also served very well in the story as he has a more teacher like dynamic to Peri and Erimem which suits Peter Davison very well.  He is out of action in the story for quite a bit which is a bit of a downside, but when he returns it is great.  The supporting cast of this story make up its flaws as almost everyone besides our main three and Jonathan Owen’s Antranak is one note and boring as hell.  The villain doesn’t make any sense even if the way it is defeated is extremely entertaining and interesting to hear defeated as Nicola Bryant has to give a powerhouse of a performance.


To summarize, The Eye of the Scorpion is a promising start to a wholly new TARDIS team that shows just how interesting it is going to be with Erimem on board.  The plot is not much to write home about but that isn’t important as this is meant to be a character piece.  The three regulars are characterized extremely well with Nicola Bryant in particular being a powerhouse.  The supporting cast is extremely boring and the direction doesn’t help matters stopping this audio from being more than just plain good.  70/100

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