The Great White Hurricane

Posted in Audio by - December 31, 2017
The Great White Hurricane

Released December 2017
SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Following the very distinct and contrasting nature of the serials in the William Hartnell era of Doctor Who, The First Doctor Adventures Volume 01 shifts its focus from the science fiction stylings of a futuristic colony world in ‘The Destination Wars’ to a pure historical where the natural environment and the good and bad of humanity are the only external forces at play in ‘The Great White Hurricane.’ Arriving in New York in March 1888, the Doctor, Susan, Ian, and Barbara soon find themselves caught in the crossfire and separated in the streets that local gangs have turned into a battle zone. But as the snow continues to fall, they soon realize that nature itself can be just as deadly as any weapon or act of violence.

Writer Guy Adams uses the oppressive sense of entrapment and claustrophobia created by the continuing snowfall of the Great Blizzard of 1888 to spectacular effect, allowing a certain scope that New York intrinsically affords a script but by necessity keeping events focused on the very human emotions as those involved try to come to terms with their changing surroundings and the unchanging conflict within them. With the leads separated and intimately involved in dangerous territory, ‘The Great White Hurricane’ goes far beyond a simple gangster story and wonderfully brings out the dysfunction, failures, successes, and hope that form the foundation for the families and communities at this time. Although understandably tradition proves to be a motivating force for the locals, the distinctively human desire to bring about change for a better place is never far beneath the hardened souls, and the neutrality of nature’s assault and the influence of the Doctor and his friends who come from a time and place so far removed from this one provide the impetus for the shackles of tradition to be dropped and for a more unified and humanitarian approach to community to take hold.

Emotions very much form the heart of ‘The Great White Hurricane,’ and that sentiment far surpasses the intense feelings that both the presence of and the involvement in the local gangs create, even as personal ghosts of events past continue to haunt. The televised adventures of the Doctor during this time in his first incarnation intimated a lot about the loving relationship between the Doctor and his granddaughter, the burgeoning relationship between Ian and Barbara, and the growing sense of camaraderie and fondness that the two groups formed for each other, but oftentimes true emotional exploration was sacrificed in order to advance the plot with danger and spectacle. Here, however, those sentiments are boldly celebrated as the leads try to overcome the physical and emotional obstacles before them to survive and reunite. Though again there is no pretense that this is the original cast in any capacity, David Bradley, Claudia Grant, Jemma Powell, and Jamie Glover bring the essence of the beloved television characters to life flawlessly and are able to imbue their performances with such heart that the differences in voices and mannerisms are only a minor footnote that are easily forgotten within the context of the story.

The pure historical remains one of the most beloved but also underappreciated genres in Doctor Who, but its importance to the First Doctor era cannot be overstated, giving the Doctor a direct glimpse into the very best and the very worst of humanity as he developed his own moral code and ability to relate with those he came upon on his travels. With an evocative setting that the direction and sound design bring to life spectacularly, ‘The Great White Hurricane’ overcomes a bit of a more deliberate pace to deliver an emotional triumph that doesn’t rely on the known drama surrounding a famous historical figure, instead focusing squarely on the everyman and his propensity for good in an environment where every day is a struggle for survival.

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