Monday, 13 August 2007

SNS: The Mystery of the Missing Hour

The last story of Season Two: The Mystery of the Missing Hour by Joseph Lidster. (Note: This will be the last review I use white space on. From now on I'll hide reviews below the fold.)

SIXPENCE: I do love this.
SHUFFLE: And I love you! Come here, my dear!
<They kiss!>
SIXPENCE: Mark, what is it?
SHUFFLE: I don't know. That felt wrong.

Joseph Lidster brings us a tale of two very different halves. The first CD is very much a rip off of the most basic of Agatha Christie style stories, with an odd small group of people, random deaths, and two detectives by the name of Shuffle and Sixpence (evoking her previous pair of Tommy and Tuppence). It's a very casual murder mystery, more intent on the soap opera aspect than the actual murder, and might be preferably summarised as Carry on, Sapphire! (That Steel and Sapphire seen to be playing rather bizarre roles evokes more Adventure 5 than anything else, but I'm not sure if Joseph was hoping for that, or wanted the audience to feel uneasy. If it was the latter, I think that would have made the first CD interminable.)

The second CD is a different beast as Sapphire and Steel finally arrive, and we find out the truth behind this radio play set in Cairo, Egypt, Land of the Pharaohs. There are hints set up that refer to the previous two seasons of SNS audio plays, right to the first play, but the main links are to Water Like a Stone. However, I think it would have meant more if we hadn't found out that there was a Season Three, evoking as it does the ending of Adventure 6.

It's quite the challenge that Joseph attempts, and, certainly on a first listening, when the true nature of events unravel it's quite exciting. On the second listen, the clues placed in can be spotted, but also questions are raised about how the mechanics of the trap actually work, making more the novelty than any real sense of horror, that grabs the listener. (Not that PJ was ever forthcoming about what the hell he was doing either.)

The cast probably thought the whole thing quite surreal, especially Sarah Douglas I'd be bound, and I do wonder how the original script read without the cast having been set. Stirling performances all around, and Colin Baker remains quite the treat to listen to.

This would have been a decent episode to end the series on (and I hope Joseph fully realised just how more enjoyable the fun stories are over the suicide inducing ones). There is, however, a Season Three in the works, so we won't have to go without them just yet. (However, recalling some of my previous reviews, I do hope Big Finish to take an opportunity to sort out just what they are doing.)


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