Monday, February 15, 2016

Whispers of Terror by: Justin Richards directed by: Gary Russell: Political Cacophany...So Just Politics

Whispers of Terror stars Colin Baker as The Doctor and Nicola Bryant as Peri.  It was written by Justin Richards, directed by Gary Russell and released in November 1999 by Big Finish Productions.


Now going by the premise of Whispers of Terror, the story sounds like it was meant for an audio drama.  It involves the Doctor and Peri arriving at the Museum of Aural Antiquities which is devoted to cataloguing anything in the sound medium where there is this creature made entirely out of sound killing people.  There is also political unrest as a popular candidate for Prime Minister who had just died and his running mate Pernell played wonderfully by Lisa Bowerman is trying to take over as like any politician she wants power because she can do it better.  Yet the story is written by Justin Richards who is famous for writing traditional Doctor Who stories which can be a good thing but it hurts this story.  Whispers of Terror could have been a really experimental story yet only uses the audio medium once or twice to have some twist moments.  So yeah the story is one of the weakest elements and it is a real shame as the story could have, no should have really dragged me in and given me social commentary on the nature of politics and how our society views fame and fortune.  With that said the audio as a whole does have enough in it to keep it interesting.


First the sound design and music was done by Nicholas Briggs which is masterfully done especially considering it is still the third Doctor Who audio drama.  There is a lot of pulsing in the design and some of the music intentionally cuts out just so you can get atmospheric moments in the story.  This is helped by the direction done by novelist Gary Russell who does some great work here as he knows where to put in the music to make the story pop and the mixing on the sound is perfect as well.


Second the acting is top notch.  Of course this is Colin Baker’s first full audio drama and he was the best part of The Sirens of Time and he is the best part of Whispers of Terror.  Baker is just as bombastic as ever in his dialogue delivery and of course he is with Nicola Bryant’s Peri which is where I have any gripes with the performance.  This is because in Part One and Part Four he is really antagonistic with her which is even worse than what we got in Season 22.  Also Justin Richards doesn’t really do much with Peri and Nicola Bryant’s performance is definitely down to Gary Russell’s direction and Bryant being a good actress.  The supporting cast is oddly where the story shines the brightest.  You have of course the amazing Lisa Bowerman in a role as political candidate Beth Pernell who is genuinely distinct from her other Big Finish roles.  Peter Miles is back in the Doctor Who universe who you may remember from Doctor Who and the Silurians, Invasion of the Dinosaurs, and Genesis of the Daleks.  His voice is very distinctive from any of the other voices in the story.  Nick Scovell has a minor part in the story and he is great and the sound creature is voiced by Matthew Brehner who is great as the creature takes the form of a politician.  Brehner has a very charismatic voice yet sounds almost introverted which is a paradox.


To summarize Whispers of Terror had the chance to be a really experimental story, yet giving the premise to Justin Richards turns the story into your traditional story.  Traditional stories aren’t bad but they suffer when there are ideas presence that could have set them apart from the other stories of the time.  It makes an alright listen but doesn’t have much to offer on multiple listens.  60/100.

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