Review: Sarah Jane Smith: 3 Test Of Nerve
Test Of Nerve: The Skinny: The third episode of the series sounds as though it's been ripped right from the headlines. This one shines. Outstanding performances and sensational sound design make this a memorable widescreen audio event.
HEADLINE: GERM WARFARE TRIALS HELD ON SIXTIES TUBES
Liner notes: Sarah Jane Smith receives a mysterious gift with a cryptic message. The London Underground will suffer an horrific terrorist attack during rush hour unless Sarah can find and stop those responsible. As rush hour draws closer, the terrifying reality of the threat becomes all too apparent. One friend is murdered and another abducted. Sarah must be willing to sacrifice everyone and everything she holds dear to save the city. This is one deadline she cannot miss!
And now, the rest of the story...
Liner notes and art tempted me to listen to this story first for I've been a railway fan since a very young age. I resisted the temptation. This episode refuses to sit still. Lots of action and plenty of very clever audio effects which deliver the story to your mind's eye (and ear) in such a way that you'll swear you were on location (not in a studio) with the cast and crew on recording day.
While the entire cast performs at the level one comes to expect of Big Finish Productions; Roy Skelton as James Carver turns in a brilliant performance, making his plight and dilemma all the more real. For a moment or two I saw a replay of a classic Doctor Who scene in my mind's eye as I listened in on Carver's seemingly impromptu visit to Sarah Jane's flat during which he threatens to.... well now, that would be telling a little too much, so instead here's a little dialogue from Genesis Of The Daleks:
DOCTOR: Davros, if you had created a virus in your laboratory, something contagious and infectious that killed on contact, a virus that would destroy all other forms of life, would you allow its use?
DAVROS: It is an interesting conjecture.
DOCTOR: Would you do it?
DAVROS: The only living thing, a microscopic organism reigning supreme. A fascinating idea.
DOCTOR: But would you do it?
DAVROS: Yes. Yes. To hold in my hand a capsule that contains such power, to know that life and death on such a scale was my choice. To know that the tiny pressure on my thumb, enough to break the glass, would end everything. Yes, I would do it! That power would set me up above the gods. And through the Daleks, I shall have that power!
Excerpted from transcript of Genesis Of The Daleks, courtesy of http://www.chakoteya.net/DoctorWho/12-4.htm
During a meeting she's having with her friend Claudia, we hear Sarah open the zipper of a case in which she's carrying the only real clue to the deadly puzzle that's unfolding around her, Natalie and Josh. A subtle effect that makes a well crafted script like this crackle with life.
Harris (as portrayed by Robin Bowerman) takes smarmy to a new level. Self-assured and vicious, Harris is a complete and total bast_ _ _. You fill in the blanks. This Forum is still an extension and reflection of what is generally accepted as a family friendly show.
This story has a very plausible plot which makes it more than a little bit scary. Add to that a number of very convincing performances plus the usual top notch production values of Big Finish and you've got an excellent excuse to give it a listen. I did and will again.
The addition of a newsreader as part of the narrative at this juncture of the series seems a no-brainer and is a feature that will return in later stories. A nice touch and without being overdone if you ask me.
Test Of Nerve earns a 5 MOBILE Rating
PRODUCTION NOTES: Cast: Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith); Jeremy James (Josh Townsend); Sadie Miller (Natalie Redfern); Robin Bowerman (Harris); Caroline Burns-Cook (Claudia Coster); Juliet Warner (Ellie Martin); Mark Donovan (DI Morrison); Roy Skelton (James Carver); Alistair Lock (Newsreader)
Writer: David Bishop; Director: Gary Russell; Music: Davy Darlington; Sound Design: Davy Darlington
Trailer link: Trailer_3_Test_Of_Nerve.mp3
Product link: http://bigfinish.com/Sarah-Jane-Smith
Detailed synopsis: http://www.drwhoguide.com/sj_03.htm