Sunday, 8 September 2013

Doctor Who - Destiny of the Doctor 9: Night of the Whisper (September 2013) Review

Audio Go/Big Finish September 2013 Release
Doctor Who: Destiny of the Doctor 9
Night of the Whisper

Cast: Nicholas Briggs, John Schwab (McNeil)

Written by: Cavan Scott and Mark Wright
Directed by: John Ainsworth
Sound Design and Music by: Howard Carter

Reviewed by Louis Rabinowitz for The Gallifrey Times

This review may contain spoilers.

AudioGo and Big Finish's ambitious 50th anniversary audio series, Destiny of the Doctor, has been covering classic Doctors until now - but with the arrival of the Ninth Doctor, we're into the 'New Who' section of the series.

Night of the Whisper is actually the first original Ninth Doctor story since the flurry of merchandise (and of course, Eccleston's solitary TV series) back in 2005, so the familiar team of the Doctor, Rose and Captain Jack (the audio takes place between The Doctor Dances and Bad Wolf, fact fans) feels like something of a re-acquaintance to this fan. It's also very much a 'New Who' story, with a noticeable spike in the action and pacing compared to the classic Doctors' stories.

The audio itself takes place in a futuristic place known as New Vegas, where the Doctor, Rose and Jack are already investigating a strange vigilante called the Whisper, who's moved from quelling organized crime to killing petty criminals in cold blood. It's an audio that's already well underway by the time the story starts - giving the story a slight lack of opening, but helping the rapid pace to kick off right from the start - along with a nice little pre-titles cliffhanger.

It's a fairly simple story for the most part (aside from the the resolution, which moves into territory usually covered in Steven Moffat's era) - an exciting action-adventure tale which mostly is a classic two-hander between the Doctor and Rose, with Jack separated from the two for a large chunk of the story. It also deals with the usual appearance of the Eleventh Doctor in an interesting (and typically Doctor-y) way, highlighting the noticeable difference between the two and providing another intriguing objective for the Ninth Doctor.

The plot, while enjoyable, isn't without fault - the reveal of the Whisper is a 'what?' moment and the other villain of the story is a one-dimensional, cackling caricature. The main characters themselves are portrayed effectively, but Captain Jack ends up being sidelined for a lot of the time and his infamous ambiguous sexuality is perhaps mentioned a little bit too much, making his characterization feel like it was ripped from a short description of the character and nothing more.

The main voice actor here isn't the traditional companion from the era - it's Nicholas Briggs, the go-to voice actor for aliens in the show (he's voiced the Daleks, the Cybermen, the Judoon and the Ice Warriors). As you'd expect from an accomplished voice actor - Briggs is excellent, nailing the Ninth Doctor's Northern accent and his traditional mannerisms to a tee (he's almost a better Doctor than Eccleston himself, and that;s saying something), and doing a good job of the other characters too. John Schwab is also effective as police commissioner McNeil, if not particularly special.

The Ninth Doctor's era is a short, often overlooked era - but Cavan Scott and Mark Wright create a perfectly authentic Ninth Doctor tale eight years after the last original story, complete with the Ninth Doctor's famous catchphrase ('Fantastic' makes an appearance in a rather different way), emphasis on Rose (who'll be returning to screens this November in the 50th anniversary special), the Doctor's post-Time War guilt, snappy, fast paced action and crackling dialogue. It's a story that left me wanting more original Ninth Doctor stories - and that's always a good thing.

Overall, Night of the Whisper is a cracking action adventure tale, briefly resurrecting the Ninth Doctor era and helped by some fantastic (I couldn't resist) voice work from Nicholas Briggs. If you're a fan of New Who's frenetic style and pacing, it's an absolute essential.

The Gallifrey Times Rating: 9/10
Many thanks to AudioGo and Big Finish Productions for providing the audio for review.
Cover art courtesy of AudioGo.