The Phantom Piper

Posted in Audio by - April 29, 2022
The Phantom Piper

Released April 2022


Having arrived as a human visitor to the idyllic world of Sora in Martin Day’s ‘The Phantom Piper,’ Jamie has had a device implanted which allows for perfect memory recall. However, the Doctor soon develops concerns about his friend, leading to the office of local scientist Doctor Hunter and an exploration into the very foundation of this society and the past of Jamie himself.

Disregarding the fact that it seems unlikely at best that the Doctor would willingly allow his friend to be implanted with something he didn’t know to be completely safe or that Jamie- who is wary of technology at the best of times- would allow himself to be part of this, the technology on display is an impressive one that asks just what a society would be like if judges could simply access perfect memories to pass judgements based on absolute facts. Notably, it’s not lost on the Doctor that such a marvel only creates a society afraid to do anything, and so while it is possible to consider that he is using Jamie as a pawn to evoke change and take down a society from a small room as he so often does, this interpretation also does seem a bit out of character for the Second Doctor. Nonetheless, while Jamie is interrogated following the Doctor’s concerns and memories show Jamie acting strangely out of character, it’s quite clear that this technology’s protesters who claim that people have changed after receiving implants have a valid point that has been callously disregarded for far too long.

Unsurprisingly, the power of memory is the underlying foundation and theme for ‘The Phantom Piper,’ although the title is terribly misleading by suggesting a visceral threat and instead delivering only a momentary figure that represents something of a memory block that paves the way to the revelation of individuals’ memories effectively being erased. However, any excuse to learn more about Jamie is a welcome and valid one, and this journey through his earliest years and the glimpses of his time with his family as he looked to carry on the family tradition is presented earnestly and with the needed range of emotion that Frazer Hines delivers so confidently. The threat of losing memories and thus a sense of genuine self is a brilliant one that leads nicely into the pervasiveness of this danger within the society at large, but it’s unclear why no interest has been shown in investigating others’ claims before this since even the argument that certain memories and thus followup actions are being purposefully erased doesn’t quite absolve responsibility given the multi-day process on display here. Even more sadly, the Doctor at the end hints that perhaps Doctor Hunter unknowingly has had a much larger role in these events given her amazing abilities, and this is an avenue that absolutely should have been explored in more detail to avoid leaving such a gaping hole in the overall narrative. Simone Lahbib is wonderful in the role of empathetic scientist who can’t help but follow the developing information in front of her despite what she believes to be true, but leaving such a tantalizing thread dangling that could add so much more context to this society as a whole is a tremendous missed opportunity.

Despite its many shortcomings in failing to explain how both this society and Jamie came to be in this state, ‘The Phantom Piper’ nonetheless manages to succeed solely based on its fantastic central performances that tap into a wealth of emotions while providing the deepest look yet at Jamie’s early life. The sound design is strong even if it doesn’t truly attempt to capture the traditional Second Doctor tones, and the direction capably keeps the action moving along, but it’s truly Frazer Hines who is the biggest highlight by far with Lahbib capably supporting to provide a wholly moving and poignnat affair that succeeds despite its relative lack of context.

This post was written by

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.