Doctor Who Audios: Reviews by Kathryn Sullivan
Doctor Who Audio Reviews
Reviews on this page: “The Sirens of Time”, “Phantasmagoria”, “Whispers of Terror”
FRIENDS OF DOCTOR WHO Volume 11, Number 2 Fall 1999
reviewed by Kathy Sullivan
by Nicholas Briggs
“The Sirens Of Time” is a four part adventure (with cliffhangers!) written and directed by Nicholas Briggs. The first three parts are three different adventures for three Doctors, each noticing a time distortion, while Gallifrey faces a crisis. Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor rescues a drowning girl on a prison planet, Peter Davison’s Doctor is trapped on a ship just as it is torpedoed by a German U-Boat, and Colin Baker’s Doctor finds himself on a doomed starcruiser. By part four the time distortion brings all three Doctors back to Gallifrey.
All the Doctors are well on form: devious, heroic, polite, sarcastic and manipulative in their own respective ways.
The storyline allows the other characters some good backstory and believability and there were nice touches of humor and fast action–earmarks of a Nick Briggs script. The sound effects are very effective, and the alien and monster voices were especially good. Sound design, post-production, music composition (aside from the theme music from seasons 11-17) were by Nicholas Briggs, and additional post production effects were by Nick Layton and Chris Corney.
I have several favorite lines (cut so as not to give away any details) such as: “Decent phone line”, “big, stupid and ugly”, and “Where’s a handy ventilation shaft when you need one?”
As well as Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy as The Doctor, the cast list includes several regulars from the Benny and BBV audios: Andrew Fettes as Commander Raldeth and Schmidt; Anthony Keetch as Coordinator Vansell; Michael Wade as The President; Sarah Mowat as Elenya, Helen, Ellie, and Knight Commander Lyena; Maggie Stables as Ruthley; Colin McIntye as Sancroff; John Wadmore as Commandant, Lt. Zentner, Pilot Azmendah and Sub-commander Solanec; Mark Gatiss as Captain Schwieger, Captain, and Knight 2; and Nicholas Pegg as Delegate. Nicholas Briggs wrote, directed, and did the voice for a main character.
I quite enjoyed “The Sirens Of Time”; having each of the Doctors on their own was a good way of re-establishing what each was like without a companion to split the listener’s attention. A good beginning for what promises to be a good series.
Doctor Who Audio Reviews
FRIENDS OF DOCTOR WHO Volume 11, Number 3 Winter 2000
reviewed by Kathy Sullivan
by Mark Gatiss
“Phantasmagoria” is a four part adventure written by Mark Gatiss and directed by Nicholas Briggs. The TARDIS materializes in 1720 London inside Dr. Samuel Holywell’s townhouse. While The Doctor goes on a tour of Dr. Holywell’s collection of antiquities, Turlough finds Holywell’s spellbooks. Soon the two travelers find themselves caught up in a case of mysterious disappearances. Are the vanishings due to Holywell’s dabblings with seances or to events at the Diabola, a nearby gentleman’s club? Or is the gentleman thief, the infamous Billy Lovemore, involved in some way?
The fifth Doctor, with only one companion, seems a bit calmer than he did with three, and more willing to explain things. Turlough at first seems unlike himself: he’s obsessed with food and actually rescues someone, although he quickly realizes “This really isn’t me at all” and goes back to his usual cowardice. But this does set up his heroism for later in the televised episodes.
Mark Gatiss has a flare for writing both pseudo-historicals and occult stories, and “Phantasmagoria” is a fascinating mixture of both, with just enough of a twist to keep the listener guessing. The characters he created are varied, interesting and very believable. The cast was fantastic and seemed to have fun with the dialog, which was full of the colorful expressions of the time. The sound effects effectively capture the atmosphere of that time period, and the incidental music by Alistair Lock is wonderfully evocative.
As well as Peter Davison and Mark Strickson, the cast includes Nicholas Briggs as Henry Gaunt, David Walliams as Quincy Flowers, Jonathan Rigby as Edmund Carteret, Mark Gatiss as Jasper Jeake, David Ryall as Sir Nikolas Valentine, Steven Wickham as Dr. Samuel Holywell, Julia Dalkin as Hannah Fry, and Jez Fielder as Poltrot, the Librarian and Major Billy Lovemore.
“Phantasmagoria” is a great single Doctor story, and this team-up of the fifth Doctor and Turlough works very well. The CD also has a preview of upcoming audios as well as a trailer for the Bernice Summerfield audios.
“Whispers of Terror”, a four part adventure written by Justin Richards and directed by Gary Russell, opens with the TARDIS materializing in an audio museum. While the Doctor and Peri take a look around, the unsuspecting curator of the museum is talking with a researcher. At the same time, two people break into the museum, but one of the intruders, misled by strange voices, stumbles into a security field. When the sixth Doctor and Peri are discovered near the body, they find the murder is just the start of the mystery.
Why has a dead actor’s campaign speech been altered? What is the source of the disembodied voices? Is there a connection between the two?
Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor is well on form, with puns, sarcasm, snappy comments, and theatric flourishes. Peri has her share of retorts and insights–and American expressions. It’s nice to hear Peter Miles in a sane ‘good guy’ role for once; his curator works very well with the sixth Doctor. And it’s also nice to hear Lisa Bowerman in a change from her Prof. Bernice Summerfield role; she voices the political Beth Pernell with a definitely nasty edge.
Written by Justin Richards, “Whispers of Terror” is a well- plotted story with nice unpredictable twists. The cliffhangers are very good. The incidental music by Nicholas Briggs is great and would have fitted in well with the sixth Doctor’s televised seasons. Post-production by Harvey Summers is marvellous. When listened to through headphones the mysterious voices seem to be circling around you, closing in, which is wonderfully creepy. The theme has been remastered by Mark Ayres. The trailers for “Land of the Dead” and “Fearmonger” are included on the CD and sound especially good.
Along with Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant, the cast includes Rebecca Jenkins as Amber Dent and Car Computer, Hylton Collins as Goff Fotherill and Computer Voice, Matthew Brenher as Visteen Krane, Lisa Bowerman as Beth Pernell, Nick Scovell as Detective Berkeley, Peter Miles as Museum Curator Gantman, Harvey Summers as Radio Announcer, Mark Trotman as Miles Napton, and Steffan Boje as Hans Stengard.
“Whispers of Terror” is a great sixth Doctor story, and I’m looking forward to “Land of the Dead”.