Doctor Who: Redacted episode four, written by Catherine Brinkworth, and produced and directed by Ella Watts falters slightly as it reshifts focus to appeal to fans’ nostalgia.
The Doctor Who: Redacted audio drama continues, with episode four almost entirely set on the mystery of Wester Drumlins and the statues that move only when unobserved.
With Abby McPhail (Lois Chimimba) becoming a lead character this week, set primarily in Scotland, works favourably in dealing with Abby’s personal fascination with the conspiracies that the Blue Box files seek to uncover.
Though given the emotional weight of loss that Cleo Proctor (Charlie Craggs) is still revelling in, following the disappearance of brother Jordan (Jacob Hawley), I was disappointed slightly that this wasn’t expanded on further given the emotional crutch Jordan was for Cleo’s tumultuous family dynamic.
Instead, what we get, in addition to an expansion to Abby’s character, is a reminder for fans to download the mobile app game The Lonely Assassin which Doctor Who: Redacted assumes audiences have played and remember.
Speaking as a fan who had played the game, I still had to check the backstory for a character online, as my headcanon and actual canon got muddled. This worries me, as while I, as an avid fan of Doctor Who can easily recall information, for casual viewers, this may confuse them slightly.
Despite this, it is always a delight to add more life to Larry Nightingale (Finlay Robertson), the male lead from Steven Moffat’s famous episode Blink, though unfortunately for the first time in this series, more time was spent contextualising the supporting cast than was spent fleshing out the leads.
This episode also became the first where I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what was happening in a scene, an issue masterfully avoided thus far.
As the episode concludes, our protagonists are tasered and apprehended by authoritative men.
Upon first listening, I thought these figures, with a shoot first ask questions later mentality, were the local police, but only after checking the manuscript did I see that they are members of the formerly-disbanded Unified Intelligence Task Force (UNIT) run by Kate Lethbridge-Stewart (Jemma Redgrave).
What could have helped in this instance could have been a singular piece of dialogue from these officers reporting back to UNIT HQ or to Kate herself, as the significance of UNITs interference, I believe is a monumental acknowledgement that there is a greater threat than the trio realise, and would make audiences more feared for their safety when compared to the authority of the local constabulary.
Though, to give credit, the eerieness of the possibility of the Weeping Angels making a reappearance is frightening. The way Abby describes the foe, whilst the sound design alludes to creaking and moving rock is genius.
Interestingly, I wanted more from this episode than was delivered. An argument between Shawna (Holly Quin-Ankrah) and Abby faded out all too soon but would’ve added further details to Abby’s infatuation, and it felt as though it was teetering on leaning more into what the show has proved it does best.
Given the success of the first three episodes, I am disappointed that episode four hasn’t managed to maintain that level of buzz, especially when pulling reference to one of the most popular villains of recent years.
However, when the episode utilises its strengths in character beats, you become absorbed into the world, placing you within the Doctor Who story and should be praised for how it accomplishes all this using only audio.
Doctor Who: Redacted episode four is available to listen to now exclusively on BBC Sounds.
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