Written by Mark Thomas Passmore
Directed by Darren Gross and David Darlington
In which private detective Tony Peterson (Lacy) and his parter-in-crime-solving, Cassandra Collins (Parker) investigate a haunting onboard the recently renovated ocean liner Raven Queen – which, if they are unsuccessful, could turn into a modern-day Mary Celeste…
For a show in which so many characters’ livelihoods depended on the ocean, Dark Shadows rarely had much truck in seafaring vessels – no doubt a consequence of the show’s notoriously low budget and cramped recording studio. But freed of these constraints, The Phantom Bride takes listeners on a luxury liner’s trial run across the Atlantic, staffed by descendants of the original crew in period uniforms to give passengers as authentic an experience as possible. Unfortunately for everyone involved, the refurbishments and deliberate echoes of the past have awakened long-dormant spirits, and the rekindling of old passions and vendettas could have deadly results for those caught in the spectral crossfire!
Over the course of Big Finish’s Dark Shadows audio dramas, Tony and Cassandra have settled into a comfortable routine – investigating infernal incidents amidst back-and-forth banter – but have they grown too cosy? Too complacent?
While initially the goings-on aboard the Raven Queen seem almost by-the-numbers, this soon appears to be a deliberate choice on the writer’s part. After this, things may never be quite the same for this unusual partnership as loyalties are tested and true natures threaten to reassert themselves. After all, “Cassandra Collins” is but a guise that the witch Angelique dons at her convenience. And as far as certain diabolical agencies are concerned, it’s a role she’s grown too fond of playing, to the detriment of her other responsibilities.
With the remainder of 2013’s Dark Shadows releases slated to be more serial in nature and focusing on Collinsport, The Phantom Bride definitely has a transitional feel about it. As a result, events happening far afield from the small fishing village take on a somewhat inconsequential feeling – which is unfortunate, considering the evident efforts of all concerned to make this story as compelling as possible.
Verdict: Despite strong performances from an expanded cast and a knowing take on over-used premises, The Phantom Bride still feels like it’s treading water. 6/10
John S. Hall