Big Finish are out to impress with their handling of the new series characters that they’ve so far been able to acquire – after a fun outing for Strax, and strong additions to the Torchwood saga, they’ve turned their attentions to UNIT (whose original Big Finish series from a few years back gets a very crafty quiet reference in this, I’m pleased to hear). Dealing with the change in the command structure of the organisation a little better than the main series did in the Zygon two-parter recently, this fast-paced story grabs the listener from the opening pre-credits through to the explosive finale.
It may be told over four discs, but this isn’t a four-hour tale: each episode is closer in length to the standard new series version (a format change that I think suits the audio medium), and the storytelling benefits from this conciseness. As the Series 9 UNIT stories did, it emphasizes the international remit of the organization, with a lot based around the Home Counties, but also side trips to Puerto Rico, Mongolia and other places. However, writers Matt Fitton and Andrew Smith and director Ken Bentley ensure that the bangs, flashes and espionage antics don’t overshadow the character development – both for the original characters and those brought in from the TV show.
Jemma Redgrave and Ingrid Oliver are on top form, clearly enjoying the chance to bring more depth to their characters; producer David Richardson along with Bentley, Fitton and Smith have created some intriguing new UNIT members, many of whom start off a little over-familiar (the officer who’s too headstrong, the colonel who’s trying to rein him in), but who get some neat twists along the way. We also get a reporter by the name of Jacqui McGee (if Josh doesn’t do the “don’t make me angry, Ms McGee, you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry” line in the next set, I shall be a bit surprised given the throwbacks to other familiar lines within the scripts!), whose character goes through some interesting developments – particularly at the end of the set…
Verdict: An enthralling story that combines nods to the past with a new series storytelling ethos very successfully. 9/10