Night of the Whisper

Posted in Audio by - January 01, 2018
Night of the Whisper

Released September 2013

Big Finish and Destiny of the Doctor boldly tread into modern Doctor Who territory with ‘Night of the Whisper,’ stepping into the Ninth Doctor’s tenure with Rose Tyler and Captain Jack Harkness at his side as they arrive in New Vegas in the twenty-third century for the promised trip of a lifetime. With a vigilante known only as The Whisper terrorising the underworld of crime that lies beneath the city’s glitz and glamour, the Doctor finds himself helping the local police department while Rose waitresses at the Full Moon Nightclub and Jack poses as a reporter at the Daily Galaxy.

Writers Cavan Scott and Mark Wright and irector John Ainsworth manage to capture the energy and spirit of the 2005 series of Doctor Who expertly, the dangerous world and the mystery surrounding The Whisper introduced succinctly before the action and settings speed by with a surprisingly strong emotional core to support them. The Ninth Doctor is one riddled by survivor’s guilt who encourages people to take action to save themselves rather than taking direct action himself, but he’s also an incarnation who struggles to control his anger, and that intriguing dynamic is never shied away from as the heartbreaking tale of McNeil turning his daughter into a soulless weapon for justice gradually becomes known, especially when the Doctor’s future self requests that he keep McNeil alive no matter the cost. Christopher Eccleston brought so much nuance to the character that supported the demonstratively animated actions and expressions, and it’s quite amazing how well the character translates to the audio medium with strong writing and a surprisingly strong performance from Nicholas Briggs who more than ably steps into the role with an excellent recreation of Eccleston’s inflections and intonations.

With ‘New’ in the setting, a casual mention of digital rewind, and a consortium known as Bad Wolf Holdings sitting in the background, this is a tale that revels in the burgeoning continuity of the modern series without ever becoming obtrusive, yet it fortunately remains the very human dynamic of all involved that provides the major driving force for the narrative as The Whisper threatens to bring justice to all by bringing down the New Vegas containment bubble. John Schwab is wonderful as the morally complicated McNeil struggles to come to terms with his actions as the scope of The Whisper’s actions go far beyond his original intent among the well-developed criminal underworld, and though Briggs understandably can’t quite recapture the voices of Rose and Jack, he certainly captures the great camaraderie of the three leads and brings to life Jack’s flirtatious confidence and the fact that Rose is the Doctor’s capable and emotional anchor who steers him away from poor decisions. Fittingly, though, it’s the Doctor’s ability to empathise with McNeil because of his own drastic actions taken during the Time War that allows a sort of common ground and understanding to be found, a wonderful moment of character development for a figure who still remains so relatively unexplored compared to other incarnations.

The extra fifteen minutes or so compared to the standard Ninth Doctor television episode allows the script to breathe and to truly develop its characters and settings without ever sacrificing the blistering pace that became such a hallmark of the era. Indeed, it’s a testament to Big Finish just how well this foray into the modern era works in terms of tone, pace, and characterization. Though at this time it seems unlikely that Christopher Eccleston will reprise his role for further audio adventures, ‘Night of the Whisper’ offers a tantalizing glimpse of just how much more the era has to offer and how well it can continue to come to life independently or as part of a larger story arc.

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