DW: Static Review

DW Static

A little late with the main range this month, but that was solely due to not wanting to “over-Who” my blog by putting the audio releases up at the same time as the Regeneration Marathon. Anyway! Static concludes this three release… “season”? … of Sixth Doctor stories with Constance and Flip, and does so in a really well told, creepy fashion! Let’s take a look…

Official Synopsis:

Deep in the heart of nowhere, near a place called Abbey Marston, there’s a caravan site. The perfect place to get away from it all. Close by, there’s a stone circle they used for human sacrifice in olden times. A little further afield, there’s an old RAF research station, where they did hushhush things in the War.

There’s only one rule: the use of radios, cassette recorders and portable televisions is strictly forbidden.

People come here to get away from it all, you see. No-one wants to hear the noise.

No-one wants to hear the voices in the static…

No-one wants to hear the ghosts.

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

The Doctor (Colin Baker) – The Doctor is getting worried, both his current travelling companions are talking about wanting to return to their own times and lives again, meaning he’s soon to be alone again… Oh what he wouldn’t give for a sudden stop at a dangerous location that they couldn’t ignore…

Constance Clarke (Miranda Raison) – Constance is feeling home sick and wishes to return to the post World War II world she now comes from. Of course, The Doctor still needs to check on a few things before she is returned…

Flip (Lisa Greenwood) – Flip is still technically in the middle of her wedding’s after-party, and not wanting to be rude, but she would like to get back to it sooner rather than later… Oh okay, maybe later then…

Percy Till (David Graham) – A soldier who died in World War II… who found himself alive again… and then saw possessed beings run rampant across a military base… and then was told to stay there and look after it… He’s had a weird life.

Joanna Nash (Pippa Nixon) – Joanna and her boyfriend Andy have been having a tough year after the death of her sister Susannah, but when Andy suggests to go on a holiday in a remote location with no electricity, she… well, is rightfully baffled…

Andy Clover (Scott Chambers) – Andy has heard rumours about a place where the dead can be brought back to life through remembrance, and so takes his would-be wife to it in the hopes to bring back her lost sister…

Plus more!

The Good:

DW Static Cover

Top marks for the genuinely spooky cover!

This is a well paced and interesting story, with the opening half being about creepy things in the fog and a suspiciously acting old man (good old horror clichés!), while the second half adds an interesting sci-fi concept onto it. Joanna and Andy bring back the former’s sister from the dead, but everyone is trapped, surrounded by fog and unable to escape, even time has stopped dead. The Doctor and Constance eventually head back to WWII where there was a military base posted nearby and investigate, and it turns out the place was where alien technology was used to bring back dead servicemen, get them to tell what they saw in order to help with reconnaissance, and then send them back through the fog to their deaths. What an eerie concept, and an interesting one.

Of course there’s a catch, and an alien race known only as “the Static” soon hitch a ride on the soon-to-be-corpses and try to use another nearby alien machine to transfer themselves into clones of the near-deceased so they can live on while the actual humans go their allotted deaths, and therefore not bugger up the timeline. Which when you think about it, isn’t that bad really… but I guess they had evil intentions? I can’t remember if they specifically stated they’d take over Earth or whatever, but I hope they did, otherwise… well, they got screwed, really. Anyway, at this point I’ll mention poor Percy Till, who had died in his plane but thanks to The Doctor’s curiosity, he was transferred to a new body while his old one was sent back to die. He survives the Static onslaught but the Doctor tells him to keep guard and not let anyone summon the dead until he gets back… which turns out to be 40 years!

Anyway, this all leads to a big showdown in the present, where the resurrected Susannah and Constance (who had seemingly died in the WWII base when it was sieged by the Static), and Percy, who has been possessed all along, try to complete their plan, but they make that classic mistake of trying to possess The Doctor, who is of course too mentally strong to control. The Doctor saves the day and puts the actual, non-Static consciousnesses of both Susannah and Constance in new bodies, saving them as well. It’s a good ending, though one we’ve seen/heard many times before (I wonder how many mental beings are still swimming around in the Doctor’s brain?)

So yeah, overall it was a bit complicated to write about, but it was a fun story with plenty of twists and turns. The lead trio were back to playing off each other well, Flip hadn’t reverted to being super-annoying like she did with the previous release, and the guest cast were all good… mostly.

The Bad:

I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but Andy Clover, and I’m afraid to say the actor who played him, just sounded bored throughout. Even in moments of panic he just sounded mildly upset. I get that he was supposed to be the stereotypical idiot boyfriend type, but… nah, he killed a few scenes with his lack of showing fear or worry, kind of like what Flip used to do at the start of her run…

I also have to point out that I found it slightly annoying that the enemy referred to themselves as “the Static”, because… well, surely they’re not called that, and that they just happen to talk like they’re talking through what we call static… Unless they use that name so humans can better understand where they come from, maybe? Well, I won’t let it bother me, it’s not as bad as the Ice Warriors calling themselves that rather than Martians, anyway…

The Continuity:

No direct links to other stories, beyond The Doctor and his companions mentioning recent stories or plot threads, obviously.

The Ninth Doctor story “The Unquiet Dead” saw gaseous creators using the recently dead bodies of people to gain physical form, a process The Doctor had no issues with… until they turned out to be evil, a plot that has quite a few similarities with this. Likewise, the just-aired (as of this writing) Twelfth Doctor episode “Twice Upon a Time” deals with a process of extracting people moments before their deaths, getting memories and information from them and then putting them back into their deaths, which again has similarities to this story, but isn’t actually connected.

Overall Thoughts:

Static is really good at creating a creepy, tense atmosphere, and then throws in a good sci-fi concept to boot. The lead cast and guest cast get plenty to do, and with one exception are all great. Really, it’s the one cast member and the rather generic ending that stops this from being an out-and-out 5 Star classic, but this is still highly recommended listening!

4 Star Listen

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