A routine mission for the new UNIT team rapidly turns into the first act of a massive Auton invasion. Kate Stewart, Osgood and the rest of UNIT have only 48 hours to stop it!
Last month saw the fourth volume of the new UNIT series hit the web. ‘UNIT: Assembled’ united the Pertwee-era personnel with their modern series counterparts. It was a terrific box set and you can read our review here.
To celebrate, Big Finish has made the very first episode of ‘UNIT: The New Series’ available as a free download. While you can read our original review of ‘UNIT: Extinction’ here, we’re taking a closer look at part one – ‘Vanguard’.
For their first foray into the new series since Big Finish’s licence was extended, it’s surprisingly devoid of fanfare. Especially for a story featuring the fictional daughter and spiritual successor of the much-beloved Brigadier. But this does a really good job of letting the story and characters speak for themselves. In particular, Kate’s parentage is referenced a couple of times but she dismisses it. Not out of disrespect, she just doesn’t want to be given any credit she didn’t earn herself. And the series feels like it’s saying the same thing.
Cast & Characters
Jemma Redgrave is on form recreating Kate Stewart for audio. It would have been too easy to play her as an ersatz Brig but Redgrave injects humour and life into the character. Also returning is Ingrid Oliver who slips back into Osgood with no fuss. They’re joined by a supporting cast who get brief introductions here but go on to greater development over the series.
Steve John Shepherd gives Simon Devlin, a smooth-talking businessman with sinister motives, the right level of guarded charm. Meanwhile, Tracy Wiles plays Jacqui McGee, an ambitious journalist who becomes a reluctant ally to UNIT as the series goes on.
Osgood 1 and Osgood 2
A quick(ish) note on continuity for these releases in relation to the TV series. Where the UNIT series takes place in the continuity of the TV series isn’t entirely clear, seemingly by design. Since late 2014, Big Finish has been allowed to use elements up to and including ‘The Time of the Doctor’. But how that applies to characters from that era with ongoing TV appearances like River Song or Osgood we can only guess. Regardless, this means that there are no direct references to Zygon integration or duplicate Osgoods. On the plus side, we now have a whole new UNIT dating controversy to argue about!
‘Vanguard’ is definitely a part one but it sets up a lot for the box-set and doesn’t skimp on action. As an introduction to the UNIT series, it establishes every major character neatly and holds back intrigue for later. The final moments set off the ticking clock, giving the release a breathless pace that a UNIT series needs to sit alongside New Who.
Keep an eye out for our updated full review of ‘UNIT: Extinction’ coming soon.
Available as a free download from June 1st 2017.
Check out the link here for special value deals collecting all 16 episodes to date.
1.1 Vanguard by Matt Fitton
From a state-of-the-art bunker beneath the Tower of London, Kate Stewart leads a secret army protecting the Earth from extraterrestrial threat. Crashed UFOs, strange meteors, a giant lizard in the Severn – all business as usual for UNIT.
While Scientific Advisor Osgood attends a ‘skyfall’ incident with Colonel Shindi and Captain Josh Carter, Kate’s duties take her to visit Devlin Future Tech, and reclusive billionaire Simon Devlin.
Journalist Jackie McGee is also on FutureTech’s case, and nothing’s going to get in the way of her story: a product launch that will change the world…
Written By: Matt Fitton
Directed By: Ken Bentley
Jemma Redgrave (Kate Stewart), Ingrid Oliver (Osgood), Warren Brown (Lieutenant Sam Bishop), Ramon Tikaram (Colonel Shindi), James Joyce (Captain Josh Carter), Steve John Shepherd (Simon Devlin), Karina Fernandez (Jenna Gold), Tracy Wiles (Jacqui McGee), Derek Carlyle (Tim Stevens) and Nicholas Briggs (The Nestene Consciousness). Other parts played by members of the cast.
Producer David Richardson
Script Editor Ken Bentley
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs