Not content with creating timey-wimey Doctor Who stories for Big Finish long before they were popularised in the Steven Moffat era of the TV show, Jonathan Morris has started playing with time in a new way for this fun start for a new spin-off series featuring Chase Masterson’s bounty hunter introduced in the recent Sylvester McCoy audio, The Shadow Heart.
As soon as the eponymous device is used the first time, you can guess at some of the subsequent shenanigans, but that doesn’t make them any the less effective. The boxes create a very neat way to have four people hired for the recording but somehow involve considerably more characters without doubling up, and hopefully, like the Doctor’s psychic paper, they will be part of Vienna’s arsenal in future, without being quite so critical to the resolution of the story.
Making an apparently ruthless bounty hunter and assassin the focus of a series means that there’s plenty of room for some grey areas of morality, which are touched on very briefly in this story. Masterson gets put through her paces in this tale, with similar vocal gymnastics for erstwhile Torchwood star Tom Price.
There’s a little bit of ‘as you know’ dialogue at the start which even my 10 year old daughter queried (if, as she explains ten seconds later, everyone has heard of the late lamented, why is the sergeant surprised that her captain recognises the name?), and some distorted phrasing that’s very difficult to make out, but overall this motors forward nicely.
Just please, Big Finish: keep Vienna away from Benny. Or Iris. Or Brax. Or the Counter Measures Group. Or the Grace twins!
Verdict: A fast-paced opening romp that’s complicated but easy enough to follow! 8/10