Whisper

Posted in Audio by - October 11, 2019
Whisper

Released October 2019

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

After three sets that have slowly and deliberately set up the fearful menace of the Ravenous as the most voracious and unrelenting creatures to have ever hunted Time Lords, the Ravenous saga draws to a close with its fourth and final set of four stories. With the past, present, and future all plotting against the Doctor as he works to defeat this eternal foe that now has his scent, ‘Whisper’ by Matt Fitton opens with a moment of respite that turns into anything but as the Doctor sets course for the Still Foundation where the Eleven can recuperate.

Over the years, there have been several successful attempts to create enemies that have a unique hook to them, and following the success of A Quiet Place even without knowing when the idea for this story first manifested, it should come as no surprise that Doctor Who would at some point feature an unknown but deadly enemy that reacts to the slightest sound. In theory, this type of enemy seems tailor-made for the audio medium, and the highly visual and claustrophobic environment filled with uneasy tension that results is easily a highlight of ‘Whisper,’ but unfortunately this premise results in the characters simply whispering and sacrificing some of the vocal range and intensity that a fuller volume could have afforded. It’s a necessary trade-off, of course, and absolutely makes sense within the context of the story, but this is an experiment that becomes a little too straining for the listener and arguably for the actors who don’t have the benefit of visually acting and reacting to accentuate their hushed tones.

Still, the sense of not knowing what the enemy is and who or what to trust dovetails into the eventual truth about this planet quite successfully with a fairly unique spin on a trusted science fiction trope, and that sense of unease is mirrored successfully by the Doctor’s own companions’ interactions with the Eleven whom the Doctor is hoping to trust after his one-time foe’s previous saving actions. Indeed, through a certain perspective Liv and Helen act as certain viewpoints of the Doctor about himself, Helen the more optimistic and trusting version who is willing to give the Eleven a second chance like the Doctor hopes to see himself as and Liv the more pragmatic and cautious version who is unafraid to take more direct action as the Doctor so often does. As has become increasingly common amongst the Doctor’s many foes, the Eleven pointedly states that the Doctor even more often gets others to take the most extreme actions in his place, and so decisively being able to attack the Doctor’s perceived peaceful means of action again proves just how dangerous the Eleven can be even without a weapon at hand. Mark Bonnar is superb throughout as the Eleven takes stock of his current situation and never misses an opportunity to subtly strike discord within the Doctor’s current team, and Nicola Walker and Hattie Morahan likewise excel in further defining their well-known characters in this pressurized environment.

‘Whisper’ is a colossal story told on a surprisingly intimate scale, and the small cast of characters present allows the full world and its dangerous mysteries to fully develop without sacrificing any of the genuine honesty and emotion on display. The actual notion of whispering throughout doesn’t really work that successfully in a production that must also rely on its sound design to flourish, but this reintroduction to the current state of affairs within the Ravenous saga expertly sets up the interpersonal drama that is sure to become all the more prominent as the Eleven looks set to truly take centre stage with four more familiar faces looming in the Doctor’s future.

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