Big Finish treats us again to three tales of daring-do in Victorian London for our three hero’s the great detective Lady Vastra (Neve MacIntosh), Jenny Slate (Catrin Stewart) and Strax (Dan Starkey).
Family Matters by Lisa McMullin
When the gang’s dwelling’s in Paternoster Row get broken into, the search for who broke in leads them back to Jenny’s past, to a traveling circus and the family she hoped not to see again. They say you can’t choose your family, but Jenny is reminded why she chose Vastra and Strax over the one she came from.
In this opener, it’s nice to get some back story to Jenny and see how she got to be the person she is today. Her parents’ circus shows a disregard for others in their “freak show” circus that is a direct contrast to the loving family Jenny herself chose. Although she hoped never to go back, it seems to serve as closure. This is a great episode for Catrin Stewart, who more than rises to the occation. The alien menace of the week is well realised but, as in the best episodes, serves the greater personal journey of our hero.
Whatever Remains by Robert Valentine
Vastra takes centre stage as the great detective when our trio are led to the Jurassic coast, where a local has vanished and there is evidence of a gigantic creature. Meanwhile Strax must face his most feared of all foes: a landlady who has taken a romantic interest in him!
The Sherlock Holmes parallel is always great to play with when it comes to Vastra and it’s done very nicely here. This story not only gives a suitable mystery with a Silurian twist but also with great deal of humour provided by Strax warding off romantic advances.
Truth and Bone by Roy Gill
The Bloomsbury bunch, seen in the last Paternoster set are back, minus one of their number. Stonn (Christopher Ryan) and Tom Foster (Arthur Hughes) work with Strax to stop a potential Sontaran invasion whilst Jenny must try to find out why Vastra is acting strangely and seems drawn to her Silurian past.
In turn with the Jenny heavy first episode and the Vastra led second, this episode gives a lot for Strax and Dan Starkey. We see him deal with his past as a warrior, with a great parallel provided by Stonn and with who he choses to be now. We also get a satisfying pay off, of a story line woven throughout this set involving Vastra.
This is a well-structured set, with each episode giving a different core cast member centre stage, whilst still well serving them all. There is a nice through line but each episode works individually and really speaks to the ‘Heritage’ in the title of the set. The guest cast is chalked full of great performances from Christopher Ryan, Annette Badland, Beth Charmers and a everyone involved. All writers have taken the stories in different directions, but all fell part of a whole, under director Ken Bentley.