DW: The Scream of Ghosts Review

DW The Scream of Ghosts.jpg

The Fifth Volume of the Third Doctor Adventures concludes, and now I’m more used to the new Brig I feel I can comment on this story easier, though I am happy to say that Sgt. Benton joins the cast in this story as well, not recast or anything, but it’s a nice addition that makes it feel all the more authentic. The Scream of Ghosts also features the return of something else as well, but that would be for the spoilers section…

Synopsis:

When the Brigadier and Jo are called in to look into a breakthrough in the field of portable communication, the Doctor has to stay behind with communications problems of his own – a strange signal coming through the TARDIS console that’s burned out its circuits.

When Benton approaches the Doctor with an odd story about an old friend, the Time Lord realises his troubles and the Brigadier’s investigations may be connected, and hot-foots it in pursuit.

Soon they discover that terrifying sounds are walking in the woods of the English countryside… but what lurks behind those sounds may be even more dangerous…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

The Doctor (Tom Treloar) – The Doctor is playing around with his TARDIS speakers, interested in a sound that doesn’t seem to be coming from Earth… or even this dimension…

Jo Grant (Katy Manning) – Jo has been drawn to the Doctor’s lab when she hears an awful sound, but little does she know how such an innocent start to the day could get so much worse…

Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Jon Culshaw) – The Brigadier has been tasked with viewing a demonstration of a new wireless phone technology being developed, not the most exciting mission ever, though he may soon wish it was as boring as it sounds…

Sgt. Benton (John Levene) – Sgt. Benton has been talking with several people over the HAM radio, and just recently his buddy known only as Concrete has had some disturbing news over the airwaves

Professor Caldicott (Rosalyn Landor) – Caldicott has developed a revolutionary new mobile phone technology, decades ahead of its time… literally. How she’s managed this is a secret, even to the Professor herself…

The Vardans (Guy Adams) – The Vardans exist as radio waves and can manifest themselves in their humanoid forms as well as what appears to be static. They have no issues with invading planets and enslaving, or killing, the local populace.

Plus more!

The Good:

DW Third Doctor Adv Vol5 Cover

So that’s sort of a Vardan on the Brig’s chest, and a soundwave kind of thing across the middle, but otherwise it’s all about Primord!

Once again it was great to hear a full cast audio with the Third Doctor, Jo and the Brig, but with this we also had Sgt. Benton along for the ride! While his voice was noticeably deeper and, well, older sounding (I wonder why?) it didn’t take long to acclimatise to it and we soon had some great Doctor-Benton banter going on.

It all starts when The Doctor passes on the Brig’s offer to look at new mobile phone technology (imagine!) and Jo goes with him instead, but soon the mysterious sound The Doctor has been hearing on his radio has attacked Benton’s HAM radio friend “coincidentally” in the same area, so the two of them head off as well. It’s a simple enough set up, and gives us two fun pairings to start with (even if Jo and the Brig were paired off for most of the previous story as well…)

This is where we meet the rest of the cast, Benton’s friend “Concrete” is a good friendly chap who you don’t want anything bad to happen to, Prof. Caldicott is a miserable and impolite scientist who is dedicated to her work, and her assistant (whose name escapes me) is… just a normal guy who is well aware of his boss’s mood. Eventually the mysterious sound starts sucking people into an alternate dimension, often through their TVs, and its here we find out the Vardans are the ones behind it all, though given it’s all soundwave based, I guess it shouldn’t have been much of a surprise…

The story comes to an end in typical UNIT era fashion as The Doctor (with the help of Jo) builds a contraption that frees everyone from the Vardan static dimension and traps his foes, so nothing groundbreaking, but  very of the time. The story is good, full of good dialogue and fun characters…

The Bad:

That being said, it does suffer from a similar problem to the previous story, in that it’s quite slow to start. Not to mention, given a lot of people listen to these stories via headphones or earbuds, I don’t know who thought having a loud and unpleasant sound being a key part of the first half of the story was a good idea. I don’t want to feel the pain our protagonists are going through, thank you!

The Continuity:

The Vardans first appeared in the Fourth Doctor TV story “The Invasion of Time”, though it was heavily implied he’s faced them before (and it turns out he has, retroactively!). They were also the key antagonists in the First Doctor Companion Chronicle “The First Wave”, which saw them take the life of companion Oliver, a fact that The Doctor mentions in this very story.

Overall Thoughts:

The Scream of Ghosts sounds quite generic, and it is, in fact, quite generic. A bit talky and a predictable ending don’t take away from the fact that the whole cast are good and therefore the talky bits are often entertaining. It’s good, and very on-era, but it won’t blow you away.

4 Star Listen

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