Sunday, 13 May 2007

SNS: Dead Man Walking

The last CD of season one: Dead Man Walking by Nigel Fairs.

STEEL: What exactly do you mean by 'contradictions'?
SAPPHIRE: Unresolved timelines. Events that don't follow on from another in any way.

One problem of a two-parter like this is that we don't really get character scenes any more, just plot scenes. We start off with the author (well, one of them) being killed, then we can SnS coming along to find out what the problem is. Michael Kent is identified as a major part of this audio, and I think we have a few scenes that are supposed to make us understand his character (although the scene where he goes on about his tutor bored more than entertained me), but those scenes are overridden by the need to drop the next bits of the plot in.

But what is the plot? Thirty-six years ago someone was checked into this prison, and now we have that someone checking into the prison again today. For the first time. Eh? The main problem here is that with only two parts, some plot points are compressed, and so we know there is more to it than that, and indeed get ahead of our agents in working out some of the details. This is also apparent with the connection of the child, who's last name is a bleedin' give away! (Which isn't revealed in the liner notes, so you'll have to listen to the audio to find out what it is.)

A lot of this audio is reminiscent of All Fall Down. Not only do we get the return of Silver, a call back to the graphaphone, but alsoSteel gets sidelined for a lot of the story, but Sapphire doesn't manage to take command as well as she did back then. It's more Silver who gets to lead, but then the authors (John Ainsworth started this story, but Nigel Fairs finished it) need someone who can dispense a lot of plot devices with the wave of a hand, which they do a lot of.

David Warner is, to me, more gruff here than elsewhere as Steel, not wanting to put up with any irrelevance, such as actually talking to people. Susannah Harker seems more whiney as Sapphire here, her best moment really only involving the teeth. David Collings puts in a workman performance, saying the lines, but lacking in any real Silver emotion.

Trevor Littledale as Michael Kent completes some kind of hat-trick having now appeared in all the main Big Finish streams (Doctor Who, Bernice Summerfield, 2000 AD, Tomorrow People and now Sapphire and Steel), but here continues the theme of whiney characters. As does Athur Bostrom as Richard Hanmore. Jo Castleton and Neil Cole get the best guest performances as Marian Anderson and Ian Jackson respectively, but Marian doesn't get a lot of scenes. And I know it's usual practice to get a woman to play the voice of a young boy, but Suzanne Procter doesn't pass muster for a single second.

Bonus-wise, there is incidental music after the main story (why not an interview), but even with that we only get to 60 of the 70 minutes promised on the back cover. But we also get a whole bonus disk of trailers (54 minutes worth), if you like that sort of thing. It's a nice idea, but these sorts of disk should be given out to the public, not those that are already buying the CDs.

Not a great story, overall, a reather weak finish to the first season. We can only hope the second season gets better...

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