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Night of the Stormcrow (Doctor Who) Audio CD – Audiobook, 31 Dec 2013
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Top customer reviews
Marc Platt’s ‘Night of the Stormcrow’ is a ‘Doctor Who’ horror story in a modern, scientific setting. Most of the series’ monsters are intelligent aliens behaving monstrously, but not this time. Some – things - dark and hungry are hunting their prey and they look like nothing on Earth…
This Fourth Doctor and Leela story combines ‘Gothic’ darkness with a base-under-siege scenario and does the horror side of it superbly. The monsters are brilliantly depicted in words and sound and that’s no mean feat given their peculiar nature – this story would have been difficult on television for reasons that will become clear when you listen to it. And there are moments near the end that could never have been shown as they sound… The sense of presences in darkness comes across very well and Jamie Robertson’s sound design works excellently, creating something out of (apparently) nothing. Out of nothing at all…
Tom Baker and Louise Jameson are terrific as usual, in perfectly written parts for their characters and with great dialogue. There are delightful touches of Fourth Doctor humour with pancakes and pizzas and Leela discovers a new use for her trusty knife that must be a first for one of her tribe! Some of the most memorable scenes are where Tom Baker fills the Doctor’s voice with emptiness and despair. Only Leela stands between him and disaster and we know she won’t ever give up.
My favourite character moment is a speech where Leela contemplates her place in the Universe, beautifully written and performed and a real highlight. Sometimes the quietest moments are the most effective and this one is also pivotal to defeating an enemy; in this story Leela finds that talking and understanding can be as strong as her warrior skills and the Doctor continues this theme for the finale.
Ann Bell is excellent as Professor Cazalet, for whom a chance sighting one night years ago has become an obsession - to prove the existence of ‘her’ Stormcrow at all costs. She is deceptively, politely English in manner but she’s also dangerously infatuated with her discovery and makes the fatally unscientific mistake of projecting her own wishes onto ‘her’ alien.
Assistant researchers Trevor and Erica each have their own close encounters with the alien visitors which affect them in quite different ways, one with very believable fear of the monster outside, and the other with a monster that attacks from within and gives some of the best moments.
However, I wasn’t convinced by the character of observatory director Peggy Brooks, which was well acted, but to me seemed a character that would have fitted better in a lighter, ‘Season 17’-style story and whose motivations I couldn’t believe in. The character is written as bossy and controlling and would probably be the first to crumble when aliens attack. Instead, she’s mainly worried that the Doctor must be a rival trying to steal the ‘discovery’ (and this while it wants to eat them! And it’s not her discovery / obsession anyway) and, at the end, about how to explain events to her bosses as if it’s some administrative problem – a bit more reaction would have been believable after seeing half of her colleagues killed and the observatory wrecked by alien monsters!
Otherwise, the adventure is a very good alien horror story and the Doctor and Leela are (as usual) so excellent that this tale of dark nights on a high mountain is well worth a listen – whether you leave the lights on is entirely up to you… 4*
(2 episodes, 60 minutes. The CD also has documentary tracks following the story, and writer’s notes and cast photos in the booklet.)
This is a great story; a small cast (only four speaking parts of the characters in the observatory) with the Doctor and Leela means that the Tardis crew get to fun the full gamut of emotions and ineractions – the Doctor is momentarily not himself during the course of this story (for reasons that become clear in the story) and it is quite shocking to the listener to hear him this way, behaving so untypically. Leela’s character gets a chance to really shine; she is hugely protective of the Doctor, she is empathetic and caring of other individuals, and she learns about pizza along the way.
I really enjoyed this story; the idea is great; and I like the way the Stormcrow is linked to other scavengers that the Doctor has encountered (he mentions the Coffin Loaders in this regard, who have been heard in other stories). The scenario is really great, on an isolated island, the characters are well thought of and different enough that they offer great opportunities for interaction throughout the story. The changes undergone by the characters as the no-things feed on their despair are really apparent in the story, and offer great chilling listening. Definitely a winner.