Although there’s some nice work from Paul Darrow and Alastair Lock in this piece, as Avon and Orac effectively go head to head trying to solve the disappearances of various people, this isn’t one of Big Finish’s stronger B7 offerings. The characterisation of Avon varies between being very clichéd or actually feeling wrong – there is no way that he would leave Orac in the hands of someone he doesn’t trust in the way that he does here – and the other members of the Liberator crew don’t come off much better; in fact, on more than one occasion, it felt more like a Blake’s 7 comic strip than anything else. The producers are to be commended for trying something different – as Justin Richards points out in the extras, Blake’s 7 and mysteries aren’t a natural mix – but the dialogue needed further polishing before it hit studio. There’s a fine line between heightened reality and arch dialogue, and this unfortunately falls the wrong side.
Another experiment that doesn’t come off is a fight sequence in which Del Grant would have been pulverised in seconds had he actually done what the script suggests (you’ll know the part when you hear it). Again, it’s great to try something new but the Orac we know and love would probably much prefer one of the human nuisances to be out of the way so it can concentrate on the finer calculations in which it’s immersed rather than try to assist. There’s some very heavy-handed satire in here as well, which I suspect will date the play quickly.
Verdict: The bar has been set very high for these releases – and the production side lives up to it, I hasten to add – and it’s a shame that this story doesn’t quite reach it. 5/10