Saturday, 15 March 2014
REVIEW - DOCTOR WHO - THE BROOD OF ERYS (SPOILER-FREE)
An even better installment to Antidote to Oblivion.Personally, I believe there is tremendous pressure involved in how Big Finish decides in which order to release their titles. The first and last installments are always the most important as you want to excite your fans by releasing something great first, as well as end things off on a high note.
While I enjoyed Antidote to Oblivion, The Brood of Erys is just that much better. Like Sil, I found the Drachee aliens annoying, I love the idea of a quarantined moon, a bunch of pesky imp-ish aliens and an amnesiac who is hiding something. Yes. This story has all the makings of being great. And it is!
Mind you, it does borrow a few elements from other stories, but if you think about it, so does every other story. Fans of The Doctor's Wife (which is like 99% of the fandom) will no doubt recognize the resemblance between House and Erys. Both are live astronomical bodies with sinister intentions. Erys breeds the Drachee, imp-ish aliens who are very childish and had me wanting to put them in their place more than once. Thankfully the Doctor is in his sixth incarnation and knows better than to 'play' along with these pests. Indeed, the Doctor here seems very much like his old TV self. Perhaps serving as a border between his brash, rude self and his later Big Finish mellowed down version. A good combination indeed and as always, Colin Baker slaps around the script and makes it his bitch with every page.
Special mentions go out to Flip. I might have mentioned that she is an okay companion - not my favorite, but still pleasant enough. Big Finish are clearly upping the anti by evolving her personality and it really shows here. There are quite a couple of scenes where Flip proves that she deserves to travel with the Doctor. She even gets her own showdown with a really bitchy Drachee called Lona. I won't spoil how things go, but suffice to say, it's worth me teasing the encounter.
One thing that I have noticed and wondered about is the constant references to the Doctor's previous companion Peri. Peri's memory was moderately involved in Antidote to Oblivion and here she is touched upon again. I'm aware that Flip comes along right after, but I can't help but feel that Big Finish are deliberately throwing the Peri lines out there on purpose. Perhaps Big Finish is planning to do a Six-meet-Peri after the trial story. This has been done before in Her Final Flight, but as fans who have listened to that tale will know, it wasn't quite what it seemed.
One thing that did bother me in this story is the memory of Susan Foreman being touched upon by both Erys and the Doctor. If you've listened to the story, you'll understand why the memory is discussed, but it just felt so out of place for Six to talk about her plus it didn't really add to the story at that point. If it had been done earlier on, then it wouldn't have felt so 2-dimensional.
What was really nice about this title was the background sound. Big Finish usually do a good job, but their sound effects engineer should get a raise for their arrangement here. From mud monsters to slime dripping to echoes - it really fits in well with the rest of the tale.
Speaking more about Erys - the villain - not the moon itself, he does remind you of House from The Doctor's Wife, but sufficient changes are made to set them apart from one another. One of these is Erys' remarkable ability to read thoughts and use them to induce pain based on a person's memories. This is a rather inventive super power, as his predicament, which has a tendency to dupe listeners (like myself) into believing that things are going to turn out exactly like House. Kudos Big Finish!
Rating this story: 8.5/10. A strong follow-up and sets a high bar for Scavenger to beat.