Doctor: “I wonder whose bloodhounds they are?”
For decades amongst the more discerning DOCTOR WHO aficionados, Ian Marter’s 1983 TARGET novelisation is regarded as reverently as Rowling’s initial outing for Harry Potter or as Pratchett’s DISCWORLD series, and, to honest, it’s easy to see why. Marter presents an astonishingly accomplished re-imagineering of Eric Saward’s original four-part televised story, ushering the already substantial script & plotline toward the realm of adult science fiction horror.
In this new form, AUDIOGO has re-unearthed a true classic by any definition. Regrettably, whilst Peter Grimwade’s on-screen direction was certainly adept, dutiful and thoughtful but it was flawed, however Marter’s novelisation is the authentic ‘voice’ that will reward fans for further decades.
A timeless audiobook.
The superiority of the novelisation is magnified two-fold by both Peter Davison’s performance and MEON SOUND’s effortless contribution of sound effects & incidental music.
Davison’s performance is dramatic and sensitive simultaneously, deftly leaping from that narrator, to that of paranoid soldier, to petulant Alzarian stowaway, to a sometime patronising Time Lord, to an aging Space Freighter Captain who, in this audio version of EARTHSHOCK, does not believe that her vessel will drive from Warp drive to Acacia Avenue if she turned left at the traffic lights. It’s an achievement, really, as the character list is both extensive and varied, and in the hands of another reader the delineation would be lost and uninspiring.
As I said, the success of this audio version is artistic collaboration founded on Marter’s original text, and supporting Davison’s presentation is an array of peerless sound effects that act in tandem with original incidental music that would not be out of place in the NEW SERIES.
Whether it’s an atmospheric treatment to voices within an organic caves, occasionally dripping with ground water, giving them soft echoes as opposed to the bounced-back echoes within the hard-surfaced interior of the Freighter’s cargo-hold, MEON SOUND has, once again, excelled in recreating the seemingly impossible. From the ‘gulp’ of a soldier hydrating himself, to the lethal laser rifle blast - as it rips through human flesh, eviscerating a liver, micro-waving the heart and disassembling metres of intestine within seconds of the trigger being tensed – to the gentle womb-like hum of the TARDIS Console Room.
However, it the sound treatment of this audiobook works perfectly as it’s restrained and its application judged for maximum effect. When not to use additional sound or music is just as important as to when, and here is where MEON SOUND (with the AUDIOGO Producers) understand the structure of the storytelling and the needs of the listener precisely.
More importantly MEON SOUND contributes in updating the EARTHSHOCK version of the Cybermen, banishing the sound of vacuum-formed plastic chest plates rubbing unceremoniously against nylon, silver paint-sprayed aircraft pilot overalls heard on the televised version to be replaced with a terrifying rhythmically pulsating ‘steam pump’ joints that re-enforces the fact that the aliens are a bio-mechanical pot-pouri of spare parts & genetically-grown implants.
This is enhanced by NEW SERIES stalwart voice-artist, Nicholas Briggs’ voice treatment that is an conglomeration of various incarnations delivering a tonally resonance that achieves a sinister air of superiority not witness in the CLASSIC SERIES (post-EARTHSHOCK).
Chilling. Truly chilling.
AUDIOGO’s DOCTOR WHO – EARTHSHOCK continues the excellence, and excellence has become the byword for their unabridged presentations, but here more so. On reflection, remembering the more recent releases, EARTHSHOCK succeeds as it’s ‘perfectly formed’, not only because of its creative partnership but, more importantly, its overall duration; four discs for a four-part story is unalloyed, and this, if I were to give advice to AUDIOGO, should be the template for future releases.
Fans of the NEW SERIES will thoroughly enjoy DOCTOR WHO – EARTHSHOCK but, whilst they will be absorbed but it, CLASSIC SERIES fans (who originally watched the story in 1982, and had leapt out of the sofa at the end of episode one) will be equally disappointed that Ian Marter’s novelisation contribution was terminated so early by an untimely death and by the fact that 1983 is nearly 30 years ago. Where has the time gone?
Oh, and after listening to disc two chapter 17 you may consider if, in 1983, Ian Marter named a modern-day electronic data storage device decades before Steve Jobs did? A phrase that leaps of the aural page!