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135d 'The Eye of the Scorpion'

CD audio adventure released September 2001, 4 episodes

Writer: Iain McLaughlin
Director: Gary Russell

Roots: The Mummy (1998) (audible insects attacking en masse). Peri calls Horumshep 'Kojak', Anthony and Cleopatra (Egyptians with British dialects), Christian Jacques' Ramases books (treachery and intrigue in the Egyptian high court) L.Rider Haggard and Tintin - Prisoners of the Sun (and lots of others) use of an 'eclipse' to escape execution at the hands of sun worshipers. The Lord of the Rings (the use of flies as flying eyes).

Fluffs: Horumshep: 'It's a twick - a lie!'

Goofs: The Doctor tells Peri the TARDIS has materialised before we hear it materialising.

Upon being rescued Erimem's accent 'changes classes' quickly.

After the Doctor rescues Erimem, Peri's welcome on his return sounds like she breaks a jar over his head.

Despite poisoning himself, the Doctor's assassin lasts long enough to be tortured.

Feyum kills a sentry with an arrow, although his voice suggests that the range would be too short to do this.

The time it would have taken to travel between Thebes and Giza on horseback is underestimated.

How can the TARDIS be big enough to block the sun when it can't alter its outer shell? (see: 'Continuity')

Technobabble: The Doctor reverses the Inhibitor Cache Control of the stasis box's Telepathic Inhibitor.

Double Entendres: Erimem tells Antranak that she will visit the Palace of Concubines: 'Prepare the Escort'

'I didn't expect it to be so huge!'

'We will all go down together.'

Dialogue Triumphs: Peri: 'I'm allergic to decapitation. It's bad for the circulation'

Dialogue Disasters: ''Ere, 'oo are yew?'

Continuity: The Doctor has just been showing Peri around the TARDIS, suggesting that this is something she's wanted to see for a while, yet hasn't had much opportunity to do. Among the rooms they visit are a smaller library and the Main Library (which presently has a lake in it due to the TARDIS rearranging some of the rooms). The ship appears to recognise when the Doctor has piloted it at least. The Doctor uses the stasis box's telepathic inhibitor to contact the TARDIS and reprogram it by remote control; reaching into the past and, getting the TARDIS to just the right distance between Earth and the Sun, constructing an enormous energy field large enough to create an artificial eclipse. This causes the 'jolt' which the Doctor and Peri experience in the TARDIS at the beginning of the story, leading them to land in Egypt.

Some years previously a prison ship crashed near Thebes, containing a 'stasis box' which in turn held a dangerous prisoner - a gestalt entity of pure mental energy. Freeing itself, the prisoner possesses local mercenaries, passing from one host to another upon touch, and communicating telepathically with its previous hosts as it does so. Strong willed individuals can resist the creature's control momentarily, but eventually the host's personality and memories are gathered into the gestalt.

In Giza the Doctor, Peri and Erimem take refuge inside a secret chamber at the base of the as-yet undamaged Sphinx. The Doctor tells Erimem that the well was constructed by the Atlanteans to house a weapon four thousand years previously (when she asks him after it becomes apparent that it may in fact not be genuine, he neither confirms nor denies it). On the Doctor's suggestion Erimem has the Sphinx's face reconstructed, after Peri's description of "the one King from Memphis - Elvis Presley. The face will still be destroyed at a later date by Napoleon's army.

Erimem's full name is Erimem ush Imteperem, 'Daughter of Light'; she is the daughter of the Pharaoh and Rubak, one of his sixty concubines. She is seventeen and had three half-brothers (all of whom died in suspicious circumstances the previous year), plus of course a true brother, Fayum. Her father always used to scold her for not being regal enough. She doesn't believe in the gods.

Peri is a vegetarian. Her mother used to worship Paul McCartney.

The Doctor can name every Pharoah that Egypt ever had and can drive a chariot 'like a true warrior'. There are any number of university chancellors throughout time and space who owe him favours. During his self induced sleep, his mind 'wanders', detecting another telepathic presence nearby.

Links: 'Planet of Fire', 'The Romans' (The Doctor says 'I was at a bash they threw for Nero once')

Location: Egypt, circa 1400 BC (this would appear to put Erimem among the 18th Dynasty, during the rule of one of the Amenhoteps, though as Fayum himself isn't mentioned in our history, this could conceivably and sensibly be thrown out the window).

The Bottom Line: Diamond Giza. A well paced story, with a good sense of atmosphere and some nice turns and twists (especially the climax to episode three, and of course Erimem's inclusion as a new companion). The absence of the Doctor in episode two recalls the Doctor-less episodes of the Hartnell era, and SF elements aside, Big Finish are debunking the 'historicals aren't interesting' claim admirably. Even better, there's a great deal for both Peri and Nicola Bryant to do, a welcome contrast to 'Scorpion's immediate predecessor.

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