Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of Vince Cosmos. From the decade that brought you a writer who’s a bit of a secret agent on the side (hello, Jason King), a set of fashion-unconscious teens who jaunt around the place (yes, you, Tomorrow People), and some of the most deliberately obscure lyrics in pop music comes a superstar with an agenda, a dwarf with a secret, and a young girl trying to find her way in life down south in London…
It’s all a bit of a jumble to begin with – the focus on the first disc is firmly on young Poppy, and her lack of progress in Seventies London as she fixates on the unobtainable Vince Cosmos. However, through the luck of the gods of scriptwriting, she wins a competition to attend the launch of Vince’s new album. From there, things start to follow a more familiar pattern, as we learn Vince’s secret(s) – or at least, appear to – and discover he’s dealing with something much worse than a clichéd agent who’s diverting his funds for nefarious purposes.
While it’s good to get a chance to know our point of view character, would we really have spent twenty-five minutes of “Rose” watching Rose and Mickey in Trafalgar Square, listening to Rose and Jackie arguing or eating chips before the first proper meeting with the Doctor? There’s a fine line between creating a rounded character and risking alienating the audience, and the first disc comes close to the latter. (How much of the story would have needed to be changed if Poppy had simply come down to London after hearing of the attempted assassination of Vince?)
That’s not to say that the first disc is boring – there are some lovely moments, and Katy Manning creates a memorable character – but it definitely picks up with the second CD. We’re obviously in an alternate reality where Princesses are called ‘Your Majesty’ – although there’s a neatly dropped in reference to certain events in 1898 being history not fiction in this world.
Vince has the ego of Captain Jack and Jason King combined (a terrifying thought!) and the self-awareness sometimes of Hong Kong Phooey – but with focus more firmly on him, this could be another success story for Bafflegab, the company-formerly-known-as-Cosmic-Hobo.
Verdict: Persevere with this – it’ll pay off. 6/10