There are some clever parallels in Nick Briggs’ script for The Exxilons with the race’s first appearance in the Jon Pertwee story Death to the Daleks – the opening scene is a distorted mirror version, and some of the attitudes of the visitors to planet E9874 (does the E stand for Exxilon?) are not that dissimilar to the blinkered approach of the humans in that story. Couple that with Alastair Lock’s score, which tips the hat periodically to Carey Blyton’s very different incidental music, and you’ve got an evocation rather than (as we’ve had with some stories in recent times) a direct reworking of the original.
This is a romp, rather than one of Briggs’ more introspective scripts, such as Destroy the Infinite. After a short while you’re pretty clear who the good guys and the bad guys are, even if some of the details of their machinations aren’t yet obvious (unless you’ve read the back cover of the CD, that is!), and it’s great to hear audio stalwarts Jacqueline King and Hugh Ross let loose on more melodramatic dialogue than they sometimes get. The reason for King’s American brogue is given in the extras but I think that her native accent would have been as effective, for exactly the same reason. Tim Treloar has to cope with “caveman” language – no explanation is given why the Doctor and co. don’t understand the native speech as normal – and Daisy Dunlop gives her rebellious youngster the necessary spark.
Reuniting Tom Baker, Louise Jameson and John Leeson in the studio works as well as separating their characters in the storyline. Baker and Jameson are both given some strong scenes with the guest cast, although there are a few moments where the former might profitably have been reined in a little bit more.
Verdict: An enjoyable romp. 8/10