Sunday, 24 January 2010
Whispers of Terror written by Justin Richards and directed by Gary Russell
American Attitude: Oh Peri, Peri, Peri….do you know I can never deicide if Peri is an integral part of the show or a complete turd. I love Nicola Bryant and think she is extremely game, she rocked in her two stories with Davison and managed to be the best thing about The Twin Dilemma. Season 22 saw her turn into a hysterical hang along, not really contributed to the series and just there to get into scrapes and moan. It is such a waste of her character so it is nice to see that Big Finish have given her a new lease of life on audio. Peri is pretty quiet in this story; she has her initial longing to get back to the TARDIS (of course), reveals a curious eye for detail but still runs off blundering into trouble.
Great Ideas: Having a blind character is a stroke of genius and rather than taking the obvious route of having all the characters explain what is happening visually he uses Gantman to conceal the plot twist that Napton is really Crane.
A life form that has manipulated itself as a sound wave, that can escape through any medium that carries sound has so many possibilities. The only thing it can’t do is be absolutely quiet because it exists as sound (I love how this creature could have been any sound that was running through our ears…very creepy). Having the Doctor capture him by taping him onto a CD is inspired Purnell torture his by deleting parts of the disc and stretching others is just horrible. The creature plans to manifest a version of itself everywhere that the broadcast is received – millions of mad, homicidal waveforms.
Purnell’s death scene is a surprise ending, tricked into opening a sound file sent by (the apparently dead) Stenguard and ripping her car to pieces.
Standout Performance: Lisa Bowerman who I simply adore as Bernice Summerfield makes a surprisingly uncharismatic villain which is quite refreshing in Doctor Who. She is a plain speaking, conniving, political Nazi. I love her casual ‘How dare you!’ when the Doctor starts accusing her of manipulating the speeches – she can’t even be bothered to sound genuinely hurt!
Ham Fisted: Rebecca Jenkins is a little too hysterical in places. Sometimes less is more.
Sparkling Dialogue: This is a Justin Richards script so I expected some gems…
‘Something grand and theatrical from the old school of acting no doubt, loud, bombastic, not my sort of thing really.’ – The sixth Doctor!
‘I think there’s more to this than meets the ear!’
‘Strange, I was there when Barclay searched you but some how he missed this knife. Those voices must have really screwed you up.’ This was a really creepy scene.
‘If you don’t like it, don’t listen to it!’
‘I hope it gets better than this.’
‘Democracy – an outdated, unworkable system that disperses power so thinly it hardly exists. A morally justifiable way of doing nothing. Procrastination made politic!’
‘We’ll drop by in a few years to hear how you’re getting on.’
‘Now I’ve heard everything.’ The TARDIS dematerialisation sound.
Musical Cues: This is an genuine 80’s score, intrusive, synthesised, bold and occasionally atmospheric. Even Nick Briggs hates some of it but apparently it was written in quite a rush. Big Finish are still taking their baby steps, soon they would abandon trying to imitate what has been and forge their own path.
Isn’t that Odd: That the middle of the CD booklet is a disgusting sickly yellow colour. Whose idea was that? The end of episode three is really badly directed – it feels like it should be an important moment but its plain with a minimum of sound effects.
Something I learnt from The Inside Story: Justin Richards read the first episode to test its length and it came out at 45 minutes long! When he asked Gary Russell if he could do another audio and what he was after, Russell replied ‘Something simpler!’
Standout Moment: Purnell causing her own political suicide was punch-the-air good. The Doctor secretly broadcasts her confession to murdering Crane.
Result: An interesting story written by a good storyteller who has put some real thought into how to construct a tale on audio. You have a Museum of Aural Antiquities, a sound creature, speeches holding the narrative together and a blind character disgusing plot twists. At times the story is a little too authentic to the time period it hails from as the music drones on and the Doctor and Peri bicker but the plot and direction are good enough to see you though. Colin Baker seems to relish being back in the driving seat but his best work is still to come and butts heads memorably with Lisa Bowerman here, a world away from their very different roles in Birthright. I like experimental stories and Whispers of Terror stylishly commits to telling a audio tale as forcefully and as intellectually as possible: 8/10
Artwork by Simon Hodges @ http://hisi79.deviantart.com/