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Review: Sarah Jane Smith: 4 Ghost Town


Blue Box Bill's picture

Blue Box Bill - Posted on 21 May 2012

Ghost Town Cover

Ghost Town: The Skinny: The fourth episode in the series has the ring of truth about it despite supernatural overtones.

HEADLINE: PEACE CONFERENCE TO BE HELD IN ROMANIA

Liner notes: Sarah and Josh set off for a well-deserved break in a remote Romanian village, hidden deep in the Carpathian Mountains. Sarah has arrived at an appropriate time -- the place has become the location for an International Peace Conference. When Sarah is awoken in the night by a terrifying apparition Josh is forced to wonder whether it’s a ghost or just a figment of Sarah’s imagination? But conference delegates are being terrified too -- literally scared to death. Is there something deadly about this little village?

And now, the rest of the story...

Having only just arrived with Josh at the home of her old friend Yolande, while Sarah and Yolande catch up after dinner, Yolande remarks that she likes classical music because it helps with digestion however it isn't classical music we hear in the background of this scene but instead what can best be described as a ghostly choir. The effect is a little heavy handed. Classical music would've been fine. No point in a ghostly overdose even if it is in the background.

Have you ever caught yourself whistling in the dark? How about as you've walked past a graveyard on a foggy night? I have. A few reviews back I commented about musical nods to Doctor Who in the soundtrack of this 9 part series. There's some transitional music in this particular adventure that may get you to humming or whistling the theme tune of Doctor Who if you're not careful. Go ahead. Whistle (or hum if you don't know the words). After all this is a ghost story.

The transitional music I'm going on about isn't some grandiose symphonic Pomp and Circumstance segue but rather an unassuming little audio accent in the form of a guitar riff. At first I wondered why it had the effect it did but after listening to the story again it sounds and therefore seems rather intentional. Doctor Who has a long standing reputation for being a bit campy if not in a humorous way then for sure in a sentimental way so hearing an echo of the theme music in a spin-off series doesn't seem inappropriate. About a minute into Track 6 Josh and Dmitri are engaged in conversation about Dmitri's memory loss, a conversation which ends when we hear Dmitri say, "I don't know anything about anything." The riff follows.

A recurring event in Ghost Town is preceded by a series of audio cues which have me wondering whether Davy Darlington might be a hard-core Pink Floyd fan for it sounds as though we are on the very cusp of "Breathe In The Air" from the band's 1973 release entitled Dark Side Of The Moon. Sorry to be a little vague. No spoilers here but it musy be said that subtle sound design details like the creak of a chair as one rises up from it elevate productions like this above others for you can see the action before your very ears.

Josh and Sarah take good humored friendly jabs at one another throughout this rather spooky romp. Many of the jokes are cliché but then so are many of the ones we make with one another when we find ourselves in similar situations which is to say that a lack of originality in their verbal exchanges brings a sense of authenticity to the banter. Saying something, anything, even if it's corny helps to break the tension and suspense. Sort of like nervous laughter.

This story isn't as substantial as others. That's not a ghost joke. A good story? Yes. But there could've been more to it. I like to hear trailers for other Big Finish projects but too much of this CD was devoted to promoting other lines. Total CD run time is just over 67 minutes. Almost 11 minutes of the 67 were trailers.

Ghost Town earns a 4 MOBILE Rating

What's this?

PRODUCTION NOTES: Cast: Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith); Jeremy James (Josh); Ingrid Evans (Yolande); Brian Miller (Abbotly); Robert Jezek (Jack McElroy); Elizabeth Faulkner (Candice McElroy); Mark Donovan (Professor Vodanski)

Writer: Rupert Laight; Director: Gary Russell; Music: Davy Darlington; Sound Design: Davy Darlington; Cover Art: Lee Binding

Trailer link: Trailer_4_Ghost_Town.mp3
Product link: http://bigfinish.com/Sarah-Jane-Smith
Detailed synopsis: http://www.drwhoguide.com/sj_04.htm

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