The Fifth Doctor, Peri and Erimem find themselves in the
Axis, the central governing hub of a nexus of damaged timelines.
Attacked by fire-breathing monsters and a cruel jester, they
must find out what has gone wrong with the Axis before its
corruption spreads and reality itself crumbles...
you have probably gathered from the above synopsis, this Axis
has nothing whatsoever to do with the fascistic Fifth Axis
who recently featured in Big Finish's Professor Bernice
Summerfield range of books and CDs.
fact, there's a comic strip flavour to the twisted reality
that the Doctor (Peter Davison), Peri (Nicola Bryant) and
Erimem (Caroline Morris) face here. Perhaps this should come
as no surprise, since writer Simon Furman has a background
in comics and TV animation. Fans may recall his work on Doctor
Who Magazine's comic strip during the latter part of the
Sixth Doctor's era and the beginning of the Seventh's. However,
the bizarre funhouse goings-on with a hall of mirrors and
a cackling Jester (Garrick Hagon) are more redolent of Steve
Parkhouse's work, for example The Tides of Time and
Once Upon a Time Lord, than Furman strips such as Nature
of the Beast and A Cold Day in Hell.
The Jester, as played by Garrick Hagon, is an over-the-top
character, as the role demands. However, he is not particularly
scary, compared to Ian Reddington's chilling Chief Clown in
The Greatest Show in the Galaxy, Jack Nicholson's Joker
or Michael McKean's Clown in the Star Trek: Voyager
episode The Thaw.
The regular cast do their usual sterling work, though at times
Bryant's accent seems a little less convincing than normal,
and Davison is saddled with having to talk about a device
called the Milinski Multifarious... the sonic screwdriver
by any other name. Once again it is Davison's Doctor who has
got the first look-in following the conclusion of a Paul McGann
"season" - a case of "Fly away Paul, come back Peter"? The
character of Erimem is developing nicely, struggling to learn
English as a written language but coping well when isolated
from her companions.
at 105 minutes, which is below average for a Big Finish double
CD, this adventure could have done with a few minutes being
shaved off it, as there are quite a few instances of the plot
running on the spot seemingly just to pass the time. However,
you don't have to be mad to listen to The Axis of Insanity...