October 17th, 2010


Audio Review: Doctor Who: The Whispering Forest

The Whispering Forest (Doctor Who)The Whispering Forest by Stephen Cole

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In the CD extras, writer Stephen Cole says that the 5th Doctor/Tegan/Turlough/Nyssa lineup was really "his" TARDIS team when he was younger, and that affection shows in this story. Even more so than the average Big Finish story, this has the vibe of the era in which its set. It really feels like a story that could have been filmed by this team in the 80s.

If it had been filmed in the 80s, though, I think it would be remembered as a good solid story, but not a classic. The story starts with a venerable Doctor Who set-up: the descendants of the survivors of a crashed spaceship, clinging cargo-cult fashion to the technology and lifeways of their ancestors, having kept the form of various practices long past the point where they lost all understanding. It's a device that makes for a good story, but it's no longer as surprising as it was back when I was 9 years old and seeing "The Face of Evil" for the first time.

Cole elaborates a bit on the basic concept by adding in some mysterious Shades haunting the planet, and linking the story in a tenuous way to Nyssa's quest from the previous story. I didn't think that this fully paid off - by the time we get the revelation of what the Shades really are, so much else is happening that we don't really get the full impact.

Still, there's something to be said for being able to slip on a pair of headphones and be transported back into 1983.

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