THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE BIG
BIG FINISH CD#16
RELEASED IN JANUARY
THE R101 SETS OFF ON
HER MAIDEN VOYAGE
TO THE FARTHEST-FLUNG
REACHES OF THE BRITISH
EMPIRE, CARRYING THE
HOPES AND DREAMS OF
A BREATHLESS NATION.
NOT TO MENTION A SPY
WITH A SECRET MISSION,
AN ALIEN PASSENGER IN
CABIN 53, A WOULD-BE ADVENTURESS DESTINED
FOR THE SINGAPORE
HILTON... AND A TIME
LORD FROM THE PLANET
A STORM IS COMING.
WITH WINGS CRAWLING
ACROSS THE STERN.
THOUSANDS OF FEET
HIGH IN THE SKY, THE
CREW OF THE R101
WHEN THE STORM
BREAKS, THEIR LIVES
WON'T BE ALL THAT'S
AT STAKE - THE FUTURE
OF THE GALAXY WILL BE
HANGING BY A THREAD...
After having survived five years in the world of literature and comics, Storm Warning sees the eighth Doctor brought to life in the altogether more vibrant medium of audio drama, and brought to life by the man himself, Paul McGann.
Aided and abetted by David Arnold’s new, haunting rendition of the series’ theme and an engaging script from former Doctor Who Magazine editor Alan Barnes, McGann acquits himself commendably here. This story’s traditional four-part structure affords him the time needed to truly establish himself in the role, which sadly the fact-paced and concise TV Movie simply couldn’t do. That said, when I first listened to Storm Warning, it had been a long time since I’d watched the TV Movie and my view of the incarnation had been sullied
by some gloomy adventures in print - I’d completely forgotten just how much zeal McGann injects into the part. At times here there are even flashes of Tom Baker in his performance, though they are quite controlled and coherent.
Furthermore, India Fisher’s Charlotte
Pollard (“Charley” to her friends) is
an intriguing new character with an
attractive background, and it’s going
to be very interesting to see how she
develops, particularly as the pseudo-
cliffhanger ending to this story’s final
episode suggests that the Doctor’s
saving her from certain death aboard
the doomed R101 might not have
been a good idea after all. There is one glorious moment right at the death where you can see the cogs turning in the Doctor’s head – he is seriously considering taking Charley back to the flaming wreck of the airship and leaving her to die. It’s thoroughly absorbing stuff, and potentially rather inflammatory.
The main thrust of Barnes’ plot is a little less ambitious, but it is still thoroughly entertaining nonetheless. The R101 airship is a fantastic setting for an audio play as it has a very tense, claustrophobic feel; a feel that is of course buoyed by the listener’s (and, within the fiction, the Doctor’s) knowledge that its maiden voyage is destined for disaster. Even the relatively corny idea of the mysterious alien passenger in Cabin 53 plays out well, though the aliens’ means of destruction is, quite frankly, farcical.
Indeed, Storm Warning is abounding with clichés, and whilst a couple of the characters (like the imposingly bombastic Lord Tamworth) do eventually turn out to be more than just mere stereotypes, by and large this story’s supporting characters are written rather playfully. That’s certainly no bad thing though, particularly when taking the inexorably grim dénouement into account. Being able to listen to Tamworth play fisticuffs with an alien is worth the purchase price alone in my view.
However, perhaps the most arresting aspect of Storm Warning is the superlative standard of the production - Alistair Lock’s sound design is absolutely sublime. To use a cliché myself, this play really does sound like a big-budget movie with the picture missing. The newsreels, for example, are a real touch of class; they just sound so authentic, and better still, they allow the writer to convey a lot of information in a very simple and effective fashion – a fashion that feels far less contrived than having the Doctor talk to himself for the duration, which for a dark moment at the beginning I thought he was going to…
And so from listening to Storm Warning, I get the strong feeling that this McGann ‘season’
of audio plays is going to be something really special. The Doctor feels clean and dynamic, and his new, self-styled ‘Edwardian Adventuress’ companion, Charley, looks like she might just be his ideal foil. They’ve even got a pet Vortisaur – what more could you want for your money?
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
As established in the later audio drama Terror Firma, immediately prior to this story the Doctor spent an indeterminate period travelling with brother and sister team Samson and Gemma Griffin. Their unchartered adventures took them to the planets Porteus and Murgatroyd, the Ice Caves of Shabadabadon, the court of Queen Elizabeth I, prehistoric Earth, and Studio 54. However, these travels were brought to an abrupt end
(and the Doctor’s memories of them temporarily blocked) aboard a Nekkistani time cruiser shortly before
the events of Storm Warning’s opening scene.
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