Doctor Who – Revenge of the Swarm
John Leeson, Mandi Symonds, Maggie Service, John Heffernan, Phyllida Nash, Siobhan Redmond, John Dorney, Paul Panting
Our Score – 7/10
Are sequels ever as good as the original? Well there’s the Godfather II, The Empire Strikes Back, Captain America: The Winter Soldier…
Then there is Revenge of the Swarm.
Revenge of the Swarm is the sequel to the 1977 Doctor Who serial, The Invisible Enemy, starring Tom Baker, Louise Jamison and is most fondly remembered for introducing K-9, voiced by John Lesson, (who also voiced the Swarm Nucleus both back then, and now) It was also famous for the fact that most of the story’s third act borrowed heavily from Fantastic Voyage (on a Doctor Who budget), that and it that reintroduced the white console room, with the round things, otherwise it was a fairly average Doctor Who episode. It was one of the first Doctor who stories I ever saw though, so I may be a little sentimental about this one.
Is Revenge of the Swarm an entertaining story? Sure enough. Big Finish can always be counted on to make entertaining content. performed and produced all to the highest level. And this story is no different, especially with its strong guest cast. But is a story that fans have waited to hear? I don’t think so. It is only Hector’s ongoing story, (re)discovering his place in a TARDIS, with the Doctor and Ace that I find engaging.
Actor Philip Olivier started playing Thomas Hector Schofield a/k/a Hex over 10 years ago. (He first debuted in June 2004’s The Harvest). Two years ago, in Gods and Monsters, a mortally wounded Hex sacrificed himself in the vortex, to prevent his dying body from being possessed by the ancient evil, Fenric, only later to be discovered living as Hector Thomas, with no memory of his time with the Doctor and Ace, of his life as Hex.
He seems quite content as Hector. He’s curious about Hex, and the life he had in the TARDIS, but he doesn’t seem to miss it at all. But after his first adventure with the Doctor, we see how different Hector and Hex are. He has to decide if life of being the Time Lord’s companion is for him. If he can reconile the cost in lives it takes to save the world on a daily basis. Because death is the one constant companion the Doctor has.
But did we really have to retread a 37-year-old episode of the original series to find that out? With all of time and space to explore, is there really any need to revisit old foes long defeated? Daleks, Cybermen and the Master are one thing, but the Swarm? Big Finish has created a lot of great new stories. They should continue to find new challenges for the Doctor.