6 March 2011

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Mike Maddox

RRP: £14.99

Release Date: 28th February 2011

Reviewed by: Matthew Davis for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 6th March 2011

Bringing back an old foe in Doctor Who is always risky, especially if that villain is as iconic as Axos.  With characters like this, simply rehashing old storylines is an easy trap to fall into and one that this adventure seems at times perilously close to.

The sentient parasite is brought back in the latest Sixth Doctor audio and one of the most exciting things about this release is the return of Bernard Holley to the role of Axos, 40 years after playing the role in The Claws of Axos.

The story picks up immediately after the cliff-hanger from The Crimes of Thomas Brewster, where Brewster has hijacked the TARDIS demanding the Doctor take him back to his own time. Of course things don’t go according to plan when they land in the time loop where The Doctor originally trapped Axos many ages ago. Inside the parasite they find a group of astronauts working for Space Tourism billionaire Campbell Irons, intending to revive Axos and use its energy to solve the world’s energy crisis. But of course the newly awakened Axos has other ideas.

What follows is, to put it simply, a slight inversion of The Claws of Axos.

In that story, Axos intended to feed off of Earth’s energy and now the Earth intends to return the favour. Despite an interesting current event twist, it becomes somewhat lost as Axos’ intentions are essentially the same as before though I suppose one can’t ask much more of a space parasite with a large appetite.

What seems to be the focus here are the characters, with the focus shifted onto Brewster yet it all seems a bit of a retread. At end of the previous audio there was potential for a sparky team relationship with The Doctor, Evelyn and Brewster however once again the characters are separated, leaving Brewster to get up to his old tricks. The potential for these characters with such differing personalities working together more is tantalising but to have them separated yet again is somewhat of a let down.

In The Crimes of Thomas Brewster, Thomas was in cahoots with a sentient planet to try and save it from destruction by emulating the heroic nature of the Doctor. Now Brewster, angry and hurt turns his services over to a sentient parasite to punish the Doctor but of course with his own gains in mind. For once I’d like to see Brewster in a non-scheming mode. I know it is a driving force of his character, but it is becoming a little tiresome.

The supporting characters, although serving their parts well, tend to get lost in much of the noise and Campbell Irons, a potentially great villain, seems in the end to be a bit wasted.

Despite this, there are some lovely moments with the Doctor and Evelyn and a rather distressing cliff-hanger to Episode Three however the stand out of this audio is Bernard Holley.  Sounding every bit like he did in 1971, his rich voice really serves well on audio and the impact of Axos, a very strong visual presence in the original television serial, loses none of its impact here, although the same cannot be said of the Axonites. He is so good that he almost dominates the whole adventure.

Despite some flaws there is a lot to like in The Feast of Axos, but like Axos himself, you end up wanting a little bit more.

 

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