UNIT – Extinction
by Andrew Smith and Matt Fitton
Starring Jemma Redgrave and Ingrid Oliver
Out Now – Buy HERE
Review by Nick Fraser
Emphasising that these days there really is no separation between the audio and televisual iterations of Doctor Who, and a jolly good thing too, Big Finish releases another bold and punchy addition to the universe occupied by our favourite Time Lord. OK, so I’m trying to avoid the use of the word “Whoniverse”…
Anyway, making the fullest use of the medium available, this adventure spans four episodes, with Matt Fitton and Andrew Smith sharing writing duties. Setting off at a cracking pace, the plot developments come thick and fast, revealing a truly global threat. Humanity versus the Nestene Consiousness; and this time there’s no northern-speaking TARDIS lad hoving into view to wave around a handy tube of antiplastic.
Fresh from tidying up after an attack by an outer space crocodile, it’s straight back to work for Kate Stewart and her team. Kate investigates some intriguing developments at an official event hosted by the slighty-too-smooth MD of Devlin Futuretech, Simon Devlin. Osgood, Colonel Shindi and Captain Josh Carter chase after a mysterious meteorite which appears to be changing course on its way to landfall.
Devlin proudly unveils his company’s revolutionary new product, an enhanced 3D printer, with seemingly limitless potential. Meanwhile undercover reporter Jacqui McGee and her cameraman are also investigating what lies behind the Devlin façade. Jacqui decides to tail Kate Stewart, who’s called away by Osgood. Leaving her cameraman colleague behind, he becomes the first victim of Autons, secreted away in the Futuretech’s factory.
UNIT and Osgood arrive in time to discover, and destroy, an apparently rogue Nestene sphere. Unfortunately Geneva HQ is soon in contact: Nestene spheres are approaching Earth from every direction. The invasion is under way.
Packed off to the Gobi Desert to track down an errant Nestene “swarm leader”, Osgood meets up there with Lieutenant Sam Bishop, hoping to capture the sphere and retrieve the valuable information it contains. They arrive to discover a small, but suitably deadly team of Autons led by Devlin’s henchwoman, the equally deadly Jenna Gold.
Help is at hand for Osgood and Bishop: although the Autons are in situ, the sphere isn’t, having already been nabbed by a local Mongolian tribe.
Convinced that there’s more to Futuretech than a decent line in plastic medical components and … things, Kate Stewart decides it’s time to meet the suave Mr D at his office, providing a cooler but no less dramatic counterpoint to the desert firefight between the UNIT contingent and the Auton squad on the other side of the world.
Being a billionaire businessman has its benefits though, allowing Devlin some quality gloating about the protection afforded by his high-powered contacts list. Kate realises that she’s going to provide the braided suits at Geneva with solid proof before they can act against Futuretech.
But time is fast running out, as the SECOND wave of Nestene energy unit starts arriving all around the globe.
Struggling to track the worldwide arrival of the Nestene spheres, the race is on between UNIT and Devlin’s Autons to track and secure them. Against the relentless efficiency of the inexhaustible plastic men, it’s a losing battle.
With Simon Devlin seemingly untouchable, UNIT takes a two-pronged approach: Captain Carter goes undercover while Colonel Shindi co-ordinates efforts to gather enough evidence to present to the ever-sceptical Geneva bigwigs that Futuretech intentions go further than printing up…guns and geegaws.
With Osgood struggling to crack open one of the control spheres, Kate decides to have another crack at Devlin in his lair. Devlin’s extra-terrestrial employer has grand designs for her of the plastic fantastic kind, which she narrowly escapes. Not so Josh Carter though, who discovers the extent to which the Nestenes intend to exert direct control.
And then the pressure ratchets up another notch, as the 3D printers all around the world start printing… AUTONS!
At this stage, it’s looking pretty grim. UNIT HQ has fallen. Captain Carter is under Nestene control and giving a direct link to UNIT’s secrets. Armies of Autons are in control all over the world. Devlin Futuretech is secure beneath an impenetrable plastic dome.
Each episode of Extinction raises the stakes, thrillingly building towards a seemingly unwinnable end against an unstoppable foe. Just when it seems things can’t get worse, the Nestenes truly grisly intentions for humanity are unveiled. Humanity’s long term survival is not part of the Plastic Plan.
Thankfully the Doctor’s resourcefulness and improvisational skills have been absorbed by his sometime employers. This is an adventure which is testament not only to all involved in its making, but also to those who introduced UNIT, when the Brigadier and his team defended – well, the Home Counties mainly – back in the nineteen *mumbles decade incoherently*.
The cast is uniformly excellent, the writing is top notch, the incidental music lends a sense of scale and drama to the unfolding events.
With the seeds apparently sown for further adventures to follow, there’s much to look forward to.
BLOGTOR RATING 10/10
Thanks to Big Finish