Doctor Who: The Helm of Awe Review

Helm of Awe

Volume Three of the Phillip Hinchcliffe Presents series of audio dramas is now in the books, a range that has varied greatly in quality. I can say safely that this falls somewhere in the middle… want more detail? Click below!

Official Synopsis:

The TARDIS arrives on the remote Shetland isle of Bothness and the Doctor and Leela find themselves threatened by Vikings! Only all is not as it seems. The locals are celebrating the old Norse fire festival of Up Helly Aa, so there’s nothing to be worried about. Or is there?

For, unknown to the islanders, the TARDIS crew are on the trail of an ancient artefact invested with mysterious powers that has recently been stolen and brought to this remote location.

Somewhere on this island lurks something ancient, and evil, and alien. The Doctor and Leela will have to stop it. Only on this occasion time might not be on their side.

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

The Doctor (Tom Baker) – Large, curly-haired jelly baby man. Otherwise known as the Fourth incarnation of The Doctor, time travelling Time Lord.

Leela (Louise Jameson) – A simple savage that has been travelling with The Doctor in time and space for a while now. Still can’t shake those savage instincts though!

Joanna Renwick (Joanna Vanderham) Grew up on Bothness and is destined to take over from her father as both a leader and as a slave to an alien presence…

Professor Angus Renwick (David Rintoul)Leader of Bothness and a collector of Viking curios… and a slave to an alien race, which might not be the first thing you put on your C.V.

Plus more!

The Good:

Helm of Awe Cover

Even the cover looks rather dull. Nicely made, but dull.

The setting of a small Shetland Island is a unique idea, and the combination of small island rituals and Viking mythology is a good one. The soundtrack in the background is not only very of-the-era, but sets the mood nicely.

Leela is given a lot to do, she leads a group of women in a boat race, has a premonition of her own death that properly scares her (something that doesn’t happen that often!) and then… nearly dies in the same manor she foresaw. It’s good to see, she often gets left to have “doesn’t understand technology” jokes and then pull a knife on someone…

The guest cast in general is on good form, no one stood out as being poor.

The Bad:

Well… to be blunt, it’s not very memorable. It’s one of those stories that you hate to review, because if it was really bad you could make fun of it, and if it was really good you could gush over how great it was. This is neither, it was just… alright. It’s been less than 24 hours since I listened to it and I’ve already started to forget things that happened.

The alien voices are on the generic side of the scale, and although the mental image of a walking suit of armour-type thing swinging axes around was good, the constant “swoosh” sounds over and over was not so much.

The Continuity:

Nothing, really. One of those rare cases where there isn’t even a verbal call back to a past adventure. The Brigadier is the one who calls them to the general area / time period, but he’s never actually appears, for obvious (and sad) reasons.

Overall Thoughts:

As I said in the “Bad” section, it’s okay. For £15 on download you get two hours that will keep you entertained, but never make you break out in a big smile or get you to the edge of your seat. Given the vast, vast catalogue of Big Finish audio dramas this is only recommended for big fans of the era or completionists.

3 Star Listen

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