I've decided to start relistening to all my Eighth Doctor Big Finish audios, and I figured as I'm doing so, I ought to write some reviews for the O-deck as I go. I did start writing this on my phone last night, but then it decided to lose it all when I switched tabs. Not doing that again. Anyway! Without further ado, here is my review of Storm Warning!
October, 1930. His Majesty's Airship, the R101, sets off on her maiden voyage to the farthest-flung reaches of the British Empire, carrying the brightest lights of the Imperial fleet. Carrying the hopes and dreams of a breathless nation.
Not to mention a ruthless spy with a top-secret mission, a mysterious passenger who appears nowhere on the crew list, a would-be adventuress destined for the Singapore Hilton... and a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey.
There's a storm coming. There's something unspeakable, something with wings, crawlingacross the stern. Thousands of feet high in the blackening sky, the crew of the R101 brace themselves. When the storm breaks, their lives won't be all that's at stake...
The future of the galaxy will be hanging by a thread.
What did I think?
This is how you reintroduce a character. At this point the Eighth Doctor's only performed appearance was in the movie, and Big Finish couldn't rely on anyone to have read the novels. So they pretty much had to re-establish the entire character of the Eighth Doctor. How did they do? Fantastically. From the word go you really get a sense of who he is, and it seems that the Big Finish writers have more of an idea of his character than the movie's writers ever did. So does McGann himself, who plays him perfectly. You can tell he's revelling in having another chance to play The Doctor, and loving every minute of it.
India Fisher is introduced as The Doctor's newest companion, an Edwardian Adventuress called Charley Pollard, and she also excels in the role. Her performance doesn't quite have the polish that it does in later stories, but it is obvious just how quickly she's got to grips with her character. The dynamic between Doctor and companion is established very quickly, and they have a fantastic relationship, brilliant banter between the two of them.
Special shout-outs for guest cast this story go to Barnaby Edwards as Rathbone, and Gareth Thomas as Lord Tamworth. There is also a blink-and-you'll-miss it appearance from Mark Gatiss before his involvement with the TV series (which had yet to be revived at this point).
The story itself is written by Alan Barnes, and follows the classic Doctor Who formula of taking a historical event, in this case the voyage of the R-101 airship, and adding a sinister mystery to it. However, as the R-101 isn't as well-known historical event, they had slightly more artistic license to do what they wanted with it, and they concocted a fascinating plot, though it's hard to describe without giving away too many spoilers.
The music of the story seemed great at the time, but I can't say I've been humming it afterwards. It does the job of setting the tone, but that's about it. The sound effects are great, however. Despite the lack of visual cues, it was clear at all times what was going on, and on a couple of occasions when I was listening to it while walking, I turned around, thinking there was somebody behind me, only to realise I'd been reacting to footsteps on the soundtrack.
Overall this is a fantastic start to the Eighth Doctor audios. Great main characters, great one-off characters, and great story. I give Storm Warning an 8/10.
Next time: The Sword of Orion!