REVIEW: The Brood of Erys

Written by Andrew Smith

Starring Colin Baker

Out Now

Review by Andrea McGuire 

The Brood of Erys is the latest audio adventure from Big Finish featuring Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor and Lisa Greenwood as sometime companion Flip Jackson.

As the TARDIS materialises in the unwelcoming area around the lonely planet Asphya and its moon, Erys, the Doctor and Flip are overrun by the imp-like, mind-bending Drachee, who spirit Flip away to Erys.

As the Doctor searches for Flip, he encounters Sarra, a woman with amnesia so complete that she doesn’t even know who she is or how she happens to be on a space yacht over Asphya. Arriving at a small village on Asphya, the Doctor and Sarra discover the reason for the planet’s isolation and the Asphyans’ terrible fear of the Drachee; a genuinely sinister horde of malevolent munchkins if ever there was one. Vowing to save Flip from Erys, the Doctor sets off with Sarra in tow.

Flip, meanwhile, is discovering some unpalatable truths about Erys, the living moon (played with a knowing salute to the Great and Powerful Oz by Brian Shelley), and Lisa Greenwood’s portrayal of a brave and resourceful Flip trying to make her escape from a seemingly inescapable situation is both winning and likeable.

Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor as he searches for his missing companion is his usual prickly, Nelly-know-all self, but with echoes of William Hartnell’s gruff but warm-hearted Doctor Who and the final pay-off of this is very pleasing and, I’m not ashamed to admit, a little bit tear-jerky. 

The Brood of Erys moves at a fair pace and has a couple of decent cliffhangers, but spends the third act getting slightly messy and going a bit crackers as Andrew Smith’s script tries to explain what the flip’s going on. There’s a seemingly daft side story about nutrients and a moon-as-a-human-body analogy that’s actually worth sticking with by the time you reach the end of part four. There are even some added gruesome monsters thrown in for good measure and an interesting and unexpected resolution for the people of Asphya.

It’s worth noting that the sound effects throughout this story are wonderful, from the awfully squelchy body process noises to the delightfully 80s beepy/tinkly machine sounds.

But machines and monsters aside, The Brood of Erys is ultimately a tale of the love of a parent for a child. Does a parent protect their children? Indulge them? Sacrifice themselves for their children? Or let them go free to live their own lives? These questions are implicitly asked, but left for the listener to ponder the answers as the story ends with the Doctor’s mind turned to the question of Peri.  But that’s a question for another adventure. One that is, hopefully, as good as this one. 

The Brood of Erys includes CD extra interviews with writer Andrew Smith as well as the lovely, gregarious Colin Baker and his fellow cast members, including Sarra actress Nicola Sian (who also played Clara’s mum Ellie Oswald in the TV series, fact fans) and a kid-in-a-sweetshop bit from Brian Shelley. Very nice.

Thanks to Big Finish

Review by Andrea McGuire

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