Written By: Andrew Smith, Ian Potter, Christopher Hatherall, Guy AdamsDirected By: Helen Goldwyn
David Calder (Nathan Spring / Box), Trevor Cooper (Colin Devis), Linda Newton (Pal Kenzy), Rakhee Thakrar (Priya Basu), Philip Olivier (Paul Bailey), Andrew Secombe (Brian Lincoln), Ewan Bailey (Martin Collyer), Nimmy March (Shayla Moss), Delroy Atkinson (Charles Hardin), Zora Bishop (Armina Hamid), Mandi Symonds (Caroline / Mother Earth), Tim Scragg (Ashton / Hughes), Amerjit Deu (Rez Varughese / Gish), Gabrielle Glaister (Joanne Stack / Janine), George Asprey (Alby Royle / Steven Moore), Andy Snowball (Danny Neal / Pan-Pacific President), Sophie-Louise Dann (Simone Babin). Other parts played by members of the cast.
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Like a majority of more recent Big Finish releases, Star Cops starts with a bombastic theme tune, a far cry from the cheesy 80’s pop song that accompanied it during it’s original television run. One of the benefits Big Finish has with this release however is that probably very few people can remember the original series. Only managing one season, this reviewer must confess to having little-to-no prior knowledge and binge watching a few classic episodes to get the feel for what BF were going for. Having seen that and now heard this, it makes one wonder if BF’s intent was to try and do an ‘Omega Factor’, taking a short lived TV property and trying to fill a gap in the genres their audios currently cover. So instead of horror with a sci-fi twist, in this case its crime but with a sci-fi twist. Whereas the original series felt more like episodes of The Bill in space, this feels far more contemporary with the four stories linked by a growing threat from a terrorist organisation. Several members of the original cast are back but joined by new characters, giving a fresh angle for new listeners.
One of our Cops is Missing- Andrew Smith
This opening story puts a lot of the main plot pieces for the rest of the ‘series arc’ in place, as well as re-introducing old characters and introducing new ones. Not an easy thing to do. So it’s not really a surprise that what results is rather less than perfect. The problem is an awful lot is going on, too much in fact. The character of Paul Bailey, played by the always excellent Phillip Olivier, is incognito until the end sequence, which gives him a darker edge shamefully ignored in other stories. Considering this is his introductory story it’s an odd choice, particularly when another character who’s only in this story is given a lot more air time. The cast is all superb, with David Calder and Trevor Cooper slipping effortlessly back into character and new comers Rakhee Thakrar and the aforementioned Olivier, giving likeable, if not at this stage fully rounded characters. Ultimately though it’s something of a let-down and one really one wonders if perhaps the larger ongoing plot should have been left until later.
Tranquillity and other illusions- Ian Potter
Easily a highlight of the set, this one gives a lot of focus to the always wonderful Trevor Cooper. What results is an interesting (if admittedly obvious) mystery, with a lot of laugh out loud comic moments. Unlike the first story, Mother Earth’s presence here doesn’t seem superfluous to events and their threat begins to become palpable. The one negative is that a lot of the characters relationships are tested here, making decisions which as a listener we are informed are not the best idea, only for them to go nowhere or have no consequences.
Lockdown- Christopher Hatherhall
The only earthbound story sees a riff on such classic films as The Towering Inferno and Die Hard. Unfortunately the story is nowhere near as action packed as those two films and at points the obvious ‘riffing’ gets a little too closer (in one sequence a line from Die Hard is uttered in almost the exact same circumstances). Whilst the lack of action is disappointing, the mystery is somewhat interesting and at least Hatherhall is trying to play with his villains motivations and not making Mother Earth the obvious culprit.
The Thousand Ton Bomb- Guy Adams
Wow- well at least the set goes out with a bang (pun intended). Adams presents us with a gritty, menacing and genuinely intense finale that blows all the previous stories out the water. Phillip Olivier is given some really fabulous dialogue and he doesn’t disappoint, finally rounding his character out just that little bit more. There’s a genuine undertone of grittiness to this one that works wonders and it’s a shame that the other stories could not be up to this standard.
Admittedly I feel I’ve been a little unfairly negative towards ‘Star Cops’. On the whole I did enjoy listening to it and it’s certainly an interesting addition to the Big Finish cannon. Unfortunately just a lot of the stories felt half-baked and needed something more to round them out. Recommended for fans of the original series, but it will be interesting to see where Big Finish take this next.