Doctor Who: Respond to All Calls – Girl Deconstructed & Fright Motif Review

After a rough and “out-of-period” three-part story we get some Ninth Doctor audio stories that are not only more tightly written and edited but feel far more like they belong alongside the 2005 series this Doctor originated from. Thankfully Christopher Eccleston is still on fine enthusiastic form behind the microphone so it makes for a fun time to listen. Want to know more? Of course you do!

Synopsis (of “Girl, Deconstructed”):

Marnie is missing. But she hasn’t run away, as her dad fears – Marnie is still very much at home. But not quite as she was.

The Doctor joins forces with Missing Persons detective Jana Lee to help solve the mystery of a girl who’s gone to pieces.

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

A simple but effective cover for a simple but effective story.

Episode 1, “Girl, Deconstructed”, is a tale based around a troubled teenager living with a single father and their often complicated relationship, in other words a very Russel T. Davies feeling script! Marnie (Mirren Mack) was doing the sulky teenage thing of wishing she weren’t stuck at home and instead out free and enjoying herself but sadly for her an incorporeal race called the Serapheem were passing by, felt her longing and tried to take her with them. They broke her down into microscopic parts but she was still too heavy so they left on their way, leaving her a disembodied voice that no one can hear. The Doctor picks up her voice though as he tracks the Serapheem in the TARDIS, worried that their migration cycle had been disrupted (Time War fallout…) so arrives to help. This is where we get plenty of The Doctor being cheeky and sarcastic as he deals with both Marnie’s Dad and a local DC called Jana Lee (Pearl Appleby) while fiddling about with machines and visiting old haunted houses (which had left other people with the same issue, including an old friend of Jana’s, coincidentally) The Doctor uses Marnie to commune with the Serapheem and together with another piece of technology manages to put her back together again. There’s some really good dialogue and the relationship between not only Marnie and her Dad but even Jana and her long lost friend are really enjoyable.

Episode 2, “Fright Motif”, sees The Doctor land in post-war Paris and meeting a talented American pianist called Artie Berger (Damian Lynch) who has lost his knack due to personal tragedy and those who support him can’t find the cause. The Doctor soon does though: a sound-like creature from another dimension has latched onto Artie due to his ability with music and his strong negative emotions and it had begun to feast on those around him. The Doctor, Artie and Artie’s love interest Zazie Vincent (Gemma Whelan) spend the episode on the run from the creature, using various means to try and stop it, from the echoing halls of Notre Dame to a dull scratch of a vinyl record in a small apartment. As I’m sure you’ve probably figured out by now the ending comes when Artie regains his ability to play and does so on a big stage, weakening the creature enough for The Doctor to capture it. Artie and Zazie go off together as The Doctor leaves, so it’s a pretty standard run-around, but it was still a fun listen.

The Bad:

There were many times I forget this was set in Paris, given the abundance of Mr. Lynch’s American accent… attempt.

The only real bad (apart from possibly Damian Lynch’s American accent) is the fact that neither story felt like they had any impact or staying power. It felt very of the era, during RTD’s time on the show you got those episodes in the middle of the series that told good little stories but you’d pretty much forget them a few months later, and that’s what these were: good little stories well told and acted but I they don’t have any real shocking impact or staying power. When “Good but not great” is the only real bad I can think of then you’re doing well!

The Continuity:

The overall boxset cover, which is always nice to be able to say…

Not much. The Doctor has faced creatures made of sound before in the Sixth Doctor audio “Whispers of Terror” and the Eighth Doctor audio classic “Scherzo”. There are also similar creatures in the Tenth Doctor comic story “The Singer, Not The Song”.

Overall Thoughts:

“Girl, Deconstructed” was the stronger of the two but there isn’t much in it. Both are fun ways to pass an hour and fit perfectly into the time period its set. Throw in Christopher Eccleston giving it his all in his performance still and the first two thirds of this boxset has already made the £20 price tag more than worth it.

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