‘THE AXIS OF INSANITY’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
The Jester with the Fifth Doctor, Peri and Erimem
This is a very unusual and surreal ‘Doctor Who’ audio adventure!
‘The Axis of Insanity’ is another four-part adventure, starring Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor, Nicola Bryant as Peri and Caroline Morris as Erimem. This is the fourth adventure to feature this Fifth Doctor trio since they were formed in ‘The Eye of the Scorpion’. I have found them an interesting TARDIS trio.
I enjoyed listening to this four-part adventure by Simon Furman. ‘The Axis of Insanity’ is quite a tale to get your head around, but it does contain some pretty mind-boggling and brilliant performances from the cast. The drama also features some particularly strange and surreal soundscapes throughout.
In this, the Doctor, Peri and Erimem visit the Axis. It’s a place where the Time Lords keep broken timelines separate from the universe. The Doctor confronts a malicious Jester, who’s taken over the Axis for his own agenda. Can the Doctor and friends solve the mystery of what’s happened to the Axis?
Simon Furman is very well-known in ‘Transformers’ circles. He’s written plenty of comics for the ‘Transformers’ series as well as for ‘Doctor Who’. This is Simon’s first and only contribution to ‘Doctor Who’ in Big Finish, which is a shame as he delivers a fascinating and creepy tale of surreal proportions.
I’m not sure that I get the overall picture of what the Axis is about and how and why the Jester is doing these malicious things to torment the Doctor, Peri and Erimem. But having listened to this story a second time, I’ve been able to grasp more of what’s going on and the true nature of who the Jester is.
Originally, this story was meant to be written for the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa. I would have liked this story to be for Five and Nyssa. I wonder if there would be any difference to my enjoying it. It turns out the Doctor and Nyssa would have met an older Adric in the adventure. Yes, that’s right! An older Adric!
That’s what it said in the CD sleeve notes for ‘The Axis of Insanity’. This was way before Andrew Sachs got cast to play an older Adric in ‘The Boy That Time Forgot’. A pity that it wasn’t the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa in this adventure, but I still enjoyed this adventure with Five, Peri and Erimen as the TARDIS trio.
Peter Davison is brilliant as ever as the Doctor in this audio adventure. I like how he described the Axis to Peri and Erimem and when he tries to see the Overseer before he dies. The Doctor’s not at all impressed by the Jester’s antics and he tries to find a way to outwit him when he’s clearly so powerful.
Nicola Bryant is lovely as ever as Peri in this audio adventure. I did like how Peri tried to teach Erimem how to read at the story’s beginning and how their friendship gets developed. I enjoyed the wry, sardonic attitude Peri has before the Doctor and how she takes charge when the Doctor is not around.
Caroline Morris is very good as Erimem, the former Egyptian Pharaoh. This adventure plays to Erimem’s curiosity and naivety since she doesn’t understand why she needs to read books like ‘Alice In Wonderland’. She’s duped pretty quickly when the Jester disguised as the Doctor enters the TARDIS.
The story’s guest stars are as follows. There’s Garrick Hagon as the Jester. Garrick appeared in ‘Doctor Who’ before in ‘The Mutants’ and has later been in ‘A Town Called Mercy’. Garrick delivers a mesmerising and chilling performance as the mad Jester as he ranges from ridiculously silly to downright menacing.
In the Axis, the Doctor, Peri and Erimem meet another person – Marc Danbury as Tog. Tog is an interesting character since he comes from another dimension trapped inside this Axis. He helps the Doctor, Peri and Erimem with solving the mystery and why they’re here inside the Axis with the Jester.
The guest cast also includes Roy North as the Overseer; Daniel Hogarth as the Carnival Barker; Stephen Mansfield as the Bird Trader and Liza Ross as Jarra To. As I said before, the cast deliver incredible performances in this surreal story. Can these characters be trusty-worthy once our heroes meet them?
There is a lot of continuity references featured in this. They mostly concern Time Lord lore and some of the concepts are pretty and fascinating to listen to in this audio adventure. This is especially in terms of how the concepts link to the ‘Gallifrey’ spin-off series. The Axis gets revisited in one of those stories.
There are also plenty of twists featured in the adventure when the Jester disguises himself at times from being the Doctor to somebody else. There’s a moment when Peri thinks Erimem’s a fake and certainly when Erimem suspects the Doctor for not who he is when she puts a question to him to test him out.
I did like that moment when the Jester played on Erimem by mocking her as the Doctor’s companion. Erimem refuses to believe that she and Peri are considered pets by the Doctor, even when the Jester mentions other companions from Susan to Nyssa to torment her. It’s a really effective drama moment!
The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Disc 2, there are trailers for the first ‘Gallifrey’ series starring Lalla Ward as Romana and Louise Jameson as Leela. There’s also a trailer with Lisa Bowerman as Bernice Summerfield as she advertises the book ‘Bernice Summerfield – The Inside Story’.
‘The Axis of Insanity’ has been a pretty enjoyable audio story to listen to. It’s an intriguing tale by Simon Furman and it’s quite surreal and scary in places. If you’re into ‘Doctor Who’ in general, you should have no problems with it. I’m very sure you’ll enjoy this story with the Doctor, Peri and Erimem.
‘The Axis of Insanity’ rating – 8/10
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