REVIEW: "Out of the Darkness" Audio CD 

by Zepo
13 August 1999

_Doctor Who: Out of the Darkness_, (London: BBC Worldwide, 1998),
Audio Compact Disc [#ZBBC-2274-CD].

[Image of CD Cover]

RATING: 6 (of 10)


     Now that the BBC has decided to release its own line of audio
productions of new adventures, I decided to take a look back at
the most recent audio release from the Beeb before this new line
of audios appears on the shelves.  The latest was the BBC Radio
Collection's "Doctor Who: Out of the Darkness."  
     This two CD set is read by the actors who played the Sixth 
Doctor and his companion Peri, or Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant 
respectively. It was produced by John Taylor who adapted three short 
stories to the audio format.  The voice work on this CD is excellent. 
Both Baker and Bryant give us vivid portrayals of their characters. 
The adventures actually seem to reinforce the idea that the
adventures of the Sixth Doctor continued beyond what we've seen
on screen. 
     The CD set actually features three separate adventures.  The 
first is 'Moon Graffiti' which was written by Dave Stone for the 
Doctor Who short story collection entitled "Doctor Who: More Short 
Trips."  This story is read by both Baker and Bryant who take turns 
describing the action.  Their trading off during the read gives the 
listener the feel that they are experiencing two separate points of 
view as the story unfolds. This makes the listen rather unique.  The 
story is one of hope when all has been lost in warfare and in a way 
is quite topical with the recent events in South East Europe.  'Moon 
Graffiti' runs about an hour long and fills one of the two CDs in the 
set. 
     The second CD contains two short stories.  The first is 'Wish 
You Were Here' by Guy Clapperton.  This story featured in the first
Doctor Who short story collection "Doctor Who: Short Trips." 
This thirty-four minute story is read by Colin Baker who really 
uses his voice range playing the voices of a number of characters
(including a robotic butler "from Barcelona" who's programming
harks from repeats of "Fawlty Towers").  Landing on a planet with
an alien holiday camp, the Doctor discovers that not everything
operates as it should.  The story features interesting characters
and tells the tale of a Sixth Doctor solo adventure.  The story
is again interesting but ends with a rather cruel and horrifying
ending.  The ending really makes me wonder because the Doctor would 
never have overlooked a fault in any robotic programming.  The dark 
ending of this adventure has me split between really liking the 
adventure for having a good twist, but not liking it because in a 
way if felt very un-Who to me. 
     The last story is entitled "Vigil" and for fourty minutes is 
read only by Nicola Bryant.  Written by Michael Collier, the back of 
the CD lists this story as being "abridged" though it does not 
identify where the story was originally printed (though I know it was 
not in "Doctor Who: Short Trips"). This story featured an adventure 
of time travelling pair told strictly from Peri's point of view.  The 
American companion bumps into an old romantic acquaintance and 
observes as he goes mad due to his own unhappy set of circumstances.  
There is a sub-plot involving the TARDIS bringing dangerous microbes 
to Earth, but the plot involving Peri's friendship is the highlight 
of this story.  Awkward moments that even the listener may have
experienced highlight this narrative.  One interesting moment
includes Peri attempting to describe her relationship with the
Doctor, which many listeners may feel like they've had to do when
describing their own unique relationships to others.  Peri simply
opts to describe her travels with him as a result of his being a
"millionaire."  
     The whole CD set is an intriguing offering.  It features stories 
a bit off of the normal Doctor Who formula.  In a way this is the 
strength of the CD, but it is also its greatest weakness.  With no 
theme music, and much darker and horrifying stories failing to feaure 
the Doctor exerting a truly positive influence, this CD set falls a 
bit short of excellence.  In a way the set weakens the the Sixth 
Doctor's personal character rather than strengthening it.  Still, for 
anyone longing to get a listen to a few Doctor Who adventures before 
the new set of audio adventures hits the shelves this is worth a 
look.

(c) copyright Zepo, 1999.


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