Please feel free to comment on my review.
Night Is Safe; Light Is Dangerous
This is the second story in the second season of Big Finish audios with the Fourth Doctor and Leela!
‘White Ghosts’ is another adventure with Tom Baker as the Doctor and Louise Jameson as Leela. It’s a rather eerie sort of tale that requires more than one listen. It suits the audio realm pretty well and it features a really disturbing concept when the Doctor and Leela come to a planet that has white plants.
This is a two-part adventure by Alan Barnes and it is directed by Nicholas Briggs. This is the second story by Alan Barnes for the Fourth Doctor and Leela in ‘Doctor Who’. He certainly writes well for them and he manages to capture the spirit of the Phillip Hinchcliffe era where the Doctor is educating Leela.
This story follows on from ‘The King of Sontar’. In that story, the Doctor and Leela fell out with each other since she did something that greatly displeased him. This adventure continues right from where that story ended as the Doctor looks and finds her in the library and she reads ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’.
In ‘White Ghosts’, the Doctor and Leela come to a dark planet after avoiding a stray missile about to hit it. But something odd is going on since a geographical team conducts a survey there when the Doctor and Leela meet them. Soon it gets serious as well as really dangerous as the ‘white ghosts’ rise.
I must admit I did find this adventure a little uninspiring at first as I didn’t feel it was exciting enough or had any substance to it. But later on as I listened to ‘Part Two’, things were getting more interesting as the Fourth Doctor and Leela discover that the humans seem to be far more than they first appeared.
I like the concept of a planet where daytime is a dangerous period since the white ghosts attack, full of terrible bloodlust. The night-time or the dark seems to be safest part of the day which is unusual, considering many of us would find darkness so terrifying and unnerving to cope with in our daily lives.
Louise Jameson is marvellous as Leela in this audio adventure. I may have said this before, but I’ve enjoyed Leela’s audio adventures as they’re better compared to the TV series. Leela’s more interesting in the audio realm and Louise, like me, is pleased that Big Finish have developed Leela’s character well.
I like how Leela is learning and her education continues, especially when she learns to read books in the TARDIS and is becoming more resourceful. Leela tries to please the Doctor after what happened in ‘The King of Sontar’ and there are some very interesting moments when Leela challenges the Doctor.
There’s a moment in the story where Leela narrates the story from her point-of-view as she describes what she does with fighting the monsters. This was interesting and very unusual as this is something that really happens during ‘The Companions Chronicles’ which Louise Jameson’s had her fair share of.
Tom Baker excels as the Doctor. I found those opening moments funny when he’s trying to look for Leela and he’s clearly superb when giving the explanations about what’s going on his eccentric way. Tom enjoys doing the Big Finish audios since ‘Doctor Who’ is something he clearly misses doing on TV.
This was an interesting story for Tom’s Doctor, since he comes up against a menace that is deadly to the Time Lords and there is still a sense of him being manipulated by them to which he doesn’t like at all. I found it fascinating and interesting when Tom’s Doctor gets clever in a timey-wimey style of way.
Virginia Hay guest stars as Senior Tutor Bengal. Virginia is well-known to sci-fi fans as Pa’u Zotah Zhaan, the blue lady in the TV series called ‘Farscape’, which I’ve not seen yet. It was very interesting to discover how Virginia got asked to be in a ‘Doctor Who’ audio by Nicholas Briggs at a convention in LA.
Bengal is in charge of the geographical survey on this planet where the ‘white ghosts’ dwell. She has been conducting her experiments with the team that involve the white ghosts in them. Her methods seem to be rather dodgy and it soon transpires that she isn’t in control as one would expect her to be.
The guest cast also includes Bethan Walker as Aranda. Bethan was in the ‘Torchwood’ episode called ‘Cyberwoman’ and the Big Finish ‘Doctor Who’ audio called ‘Psychodrome’ with Peter Davison. There’s Gbemisola Ikumelo as Morandi and also James Joyce as Candelli as well as the voice for the Harvester.
There are vampire-like creatures featured in this adventure as the humans in the geographical survey team become mutated with vampire-like traits. This echoes ‘State of Decay’ and this probably would have been the story where the Doctor and Leela confronted vampires in ‘Doctor Who’ if it was shown on TV.
The story ends on a poignant, melancholy note. The Doctor delivers the ‘monsters’ to the ‘dark’ to live for the rest of their lives. Leela questions what the Doctor has done as it echoed her actions in ‘The King of Sontar’. Leela mentioning that happy endings only happen in ‘fairy tales’ was quite interesting.
‘White Ghosts’ has been an interesting audio drama to listen to. I don’t think it’s one of the best I’ve heard, but I enjoyed the Fourth Doctor and Leela together. I probably need to give this one another listen and another chance, but I call this tale rather average and look forward to hearing the next story.
The CD extras are as follows. At the end of the disc, there are behind-the-scenes interviews with cast and crew. They are interviews with Tom Baker; Louise Jameson; Virginia Hey; writer Alan Barnes; etc. There is a trailer for the next story with the Doctor and Leela called ‘The Crooked Man’.
‘White Ghosts’ rating – 7/10
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