Doctor Who: Whispers of Terror (BF 003)

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The Doctor and Peri find themselves in the Museum of Aural Antiquities, where every sound is stored for posterity — from the speeches of Visteen Krane to security service wire taps and interrogation tapes. But they also find an intruder, mysteriously changed recordings, and a dead body.

Before long the Doctor realises that there is more going on than a simple break-in or murder. How can he defeat a creature that is made of pure sound?

The is the first outing for the sixth doctor and as you may have guessed from the description is a far more self aware outing for the series. I’m not saying this couldn’t have worked on the television but having a creature made of sound works probably far better in audio than it does on screen. This extends to the Doctor and Peri as well. Yes the sixth doctor could be egotistical, arrogant, and a bit of a blow hard but that works very well when you need a bit more personality to keep the listener engaged. Right from the get go the pair are arguing semantics in a way that yes sounded  petty and more like bickering than friendship at least filled up the screen as it were. Plus unlike the show it feels like Baker doesn’t dominate so much here. Sometimes Peri is allowed to get the last word in or score the upper hand. Speaking of over the top characters even Visteen Krane, the greatest actor of his time, while not sounding like a great actor sounds like a great actor as it were. He sounds decently old school, with years on the stage behind him. 

The rest of the case are decent too playing their parts well but it’s the story that shines here. More than say the last offering where you could picture the sets in use here you may have a slightly harder time to visualise the world and this allows you more time to focus on the story and get invested in the mystery. Though maybe mystery is too strong a word. When it turns out that Krane’s speeches are being reworked even the Doctor has the suspect pegged within their first meeting with the why as clear as day. In fact this would be an open and shut case if it weren’t for the sound monster echoing down the halls. The whole case of the sound monster is left a little less clear with some hand waving explanation for it by the end but if you’re after some solid science fiction behind this, or like when Star Trek explored aliens via silicone based lifeforms and the like then you may be a little disappointed with what you get. Though while they don’t do much with it’s creation the way they handle it once they have it is great. The notion that any sound heard could be the creature does wonders to amp up the tension for us and the charatcers. The way they imprison it and even, when it comes down to it, torture it are perhaps a little simplistic but I’m not sure if that is me or the writer. Just deleting the middle section is great torture to a sound file but I know that if you just right click and deleted the middle section of me I wouldn’t be answering any questions a I’d be dead. As I say I’m not sure if this is just a section that works fine so long as you don’t think too long and hard about it, a part that is genius when you grasp how alien this life truly is or if I am just overthinking this whole thing and this is just an episode of Doctor Who which did this to advance the story onto the next bit. Though, in truth, that felt in keeping with classic Who to me. Lisa Bowerman, normally of Bernice Summerfield fame, plays a decent villain convinced of her own actions and the reasons behind them which stops her from feeling too one note in all of this. This is probably the first episode I would recommend to fans of Doctor Who looking to get into the audio side of things.

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