Review by Doctor Squee, of the SCIFI.radio Doctor Who talk show, Gallifrey Stands
Big Finish once more dives into the pre Doctor adventures of Kate Stewart (Jenna Redgrave), Osgood (Ingrid Oliver) and the rest of the UNIT team, this time joined by Riversong (Alex Kingston) in this 4 part audio set.
This Sleep of Death by Jonathan Morris
A member of UNIT has gone rogue and is threatening to release a deadly virus upon humanity, but he would rather kill himself than tell Kate Stewart where the virus is to be released from. The only chance to save the day lays in a device in UNIT’s possession which resurrects the dead for a short time – but bringing back the dead always has consequences, and when one person if brought back, so is so much more.
This story goes straight into the action and sets up a really nice sci-fi filled story that at the same time gets to the heart of the human drama. Andrew French Gives a great guest turn Calder, the UNIT Sargent turned bad. This is a classic tale of the road to hell being paved with good intentions in the act of resurrecting the dead to save lives, and it gives Ingrid Oliver to once again play Osgood, but also something else.
Tempest by Lisa McMullin
Threats to the Earth come from many sources. From other planets, from evil geniuses … and now, the wind!
When the weather is out to get you, only one team can stop this seemingly sentient weather system and their new friend Mother McCracken (Alexandra Mathie) has the kettle on.
This is not only a great concept for an obstacle for the team to over come in the destructive force of the wind, but it also turns out that the reason the weather is playing up is actually something not intended to be malicious. This allows for bringing out the best out in Kate Stewart, with a moral dilemma. Yes, they need to stop the threa,t but not at the cost of innocent life no matter where it comes from.
The plot also bring in an offshore oil rig, and with it you get the classic big business profit vs human (or alien) life – an all too relatable theme in these days of climate change being a topic of such urgency.
There is also a wonderful turn by Mathie as Mother McCracken, perfectly eccentric for a woman in the middle of nowhere that isn’t used to visitors. I actually had to check it wasn’t Missy is disguise doing a voice for a moment.
The Power of River Song (Part 1 & 2) by Guy Adams
When UNIT is faced by ruthless business woman River Song, they are sure there is more to her than meets the eye, especially as there is a dead body at her power factory. When time travel, Vikings and Kate Stewart’s corpse are also in play, the latter in the presence of Kate herself, this is going to be a long day and River is going to have some explaining to do.
This two parter brings this boxset to a thrilling finish. The wonder of these Big Finish audios is often times where you get different parts of the Doctors life meeting others. To have UNIT meeting River is a great example. The real trick, which Big Finish seems to manage, is to have such a large character as River and not take away from the fact that it’s a UNIT box set, much in the way they do when the Doctor visits River’s box sets. River and Alex Kingston are great here, but Jemma Redgrave and Ingrid Oliver along with the rest of this version of UNIT more than earn their stripes as the leads.
Stories Old and New …
As always, UNIT takes some themes and ideas from the Doctor Who world, but comes up with something new with these ideas and has some whole-cloth amazing new plots and stories. Each set seems to forward the momentum and build on what went before. This set is no exception, with great writing throughout and direction from Ken Bentley.