40! Blimey – we’re that far in already? In fact, we’re closing in on the last (chronological) batch of 5th Doctor tales now, which means it should be New Year New Doctor. Meanwhile, we’ve got the distinctly uneven Erimem tales to continue through.
The Roof of the World, by Adrian Rigelsford
In which the Doctor attempts to respond to an invitation to a cricket match, and winds up embroiled in the plotting of an Ancient Evil buried high in the mountains of Tibet. An Ancient Evil that is very pleased to see Erimem and use her in its grand scheming…
Technically this tale was recorded years before The Emerald Tiger but, listening chronologically, it sounds and feels very much like a retread of that (far superior) story. Ancient mystic powers? Check. A Tardis companion compromised by said evil? Check. A frantic dash into unfamiliar terrain to save the day? Yup, it’s all there. The major difference is that here the story is rather disjointed, the characterisations less than fluid. Rather than a straight chase against the Evil, the second episode derails itself to take place entirely in Erimem’s mind, derailing any momentum that the story had gained in the first episode. It struggles after that to regain any sense of itself.
The Evil itself is also a bit bizarre. Apparently it was entombed in the mountains – in an icy pyramid, no less – by Erimem’s father way back in the BC, which begs the question of how on earth Amenhotep managed to take so much time away from Egypt in the first place. If the story had been constructed with a faster pace, I might not have spent the second episode wondering about it all. As for the loose characterisations, the Brits are thinly drawn. A curious mixture of details that never quite gels into a convincing tale.