Following on from the conclusion of the previous series, Dr. Anne Reynolds and Adam Dean continue their work for Department 7, delving into the world of the preternatural, supernatural and the strange. But things are even darker this time, things are beginning to take shape, monsters and things that go bump in the night are starting to stir and an old enemy is waiting in the wings…
Cancelled in 1979, ‘The Omega Factor’ was a supernatural show that never really got a chance. It seemed it was going to be one of those old shows, a cult classic, that wasn’t going to be in public memory but always there for those who wanted to look back. Then in 2015, the cult classic returned in a brand-new format and was ready to terrify an all new audience. The First Series was a huge success, bringing in new and old fans to the audiobook fold. But following on from such a high, was it possible that Big Finish could surpass it?
Somnum Sempiternum by Phil Mulryne
The first story ‘Somnum Sempiternum’ kicks of the action which gives the second series a much more adult feel. Listening to this set when comparing it to the first, it is easy to see that Big Finish were happy to enough to play it a little safer, making the material suitable for virtually everyone, if you could ignore the swearing here and there. This episode also raises an important question, does Department 7 do more harm than good. This does depend on what side of the fence you stand, but it is interesting that the series is giving us this question so early on. The First Series saw Dr. Jane Wyatt conducting dangerous psychic experiments and this episode sees her return, up to no good, but with someone else pulling her strings.
The idea of astral projection is nothing new to the world of the supernatural but author Phil Mulryne gives it an interesting twist. The idea of using astral projections as a way of killing others is something which has never been done before. In fact, the whole story is interesting and works as a great way of drawing the listener in and keeping them interested in the rest of the series. Alan Cox, who had only really been a side character in the first series, is here again as James Doyle, the man who Anne Reynolds must answer to. It was nice that he is included in on the action, given stuff to do, not only here but in the other episodes, after just being there in the first series to provide the occasional witty quip.
This episode also works at setting up the over-arching story for the rest of the set. Jane Wyatt wasn’t working alone, she hints at something darker going on behind the scenes. And just what is explored over the next two episodes before exploding into our character’s lives in the finale.
The Changeling by Roy Gill
The second episode of this set, ‘The Changeling’, is another interesting story. This story is possibly superior to the first of the set and is really captivating from its opening moments. Set in a prison, the story sees Adam going undercover to find out what killed one of the guards.
With the main bulk of the series set in Edinburgh and the rest of Scotland, this is the first story out of the two box sets to really delve into Scottish folklore and mythology. The Changeling was believed to be a fairy child who was left behind when fairies stole the spirit of a particular child. This would often lead to the abuse or murder of that particular child. What is particularly interesting is that author, Roy Gill, leaves it open to interpretation whether or not The Changeling exists or not. While Adam finds himself in trouble in the prison with things going dark even when the lights are on, Anne is forced to ask if some mothers are just crazy. While members of staff and prisoners are being killed by a mysterious entity, it is left to us to decide if it is the actions of a Changeling or something else.
The cast easily give it their all in this story, keeping everything really captivating. That goes for the rest of the set, Louise Jameson, John Dorney, Natasha Gerson and now, Alan Cox, really give some of their best performances. And the supporting cast is equally as excellent, allowing each story to feel consistent in its quality.
Let The Angels Tell Thee by Louise Jameson
The third story, ‘Let The Angels Tell Thee’, is perhaps the weakest story of the set. Written by Anne Reynolds herself, Louise Jameson, it really serves as a way of setting the stage for the finale. This story sees Natasha Gerson as Morag coming to play as she talks to a number of psychics while trying to deliver a message in the form of mysterious code. Anne Reynolds finds herself facing the possibility of love after Tom Crane while Adam tries to relay Morag’s dire message.
In this story is that nothing really happens. This is nothing to do with the writing from Louise Jameson, she gives the characters a lot of interesting things to do, particularly Anne who is often portrayed as a woman who gets stuff done and never really shows a more romantic side. It just feels that this story only served to set up the finale.
Awakening by Matt Fitton
The finale, ‘Awakening’, sees Adams family thrown into the proceedings, but with a much more personal flavour. In the television series, Tom Crane only found about Department 7 because his wife was killed in a car crash, set up by the evil Edward Drexel. It really is a spine-tingling moment when Anne realises what, or rather, who has come back, is behind everything.
Matt Fitton uses ‘Awakening’, as a way to bring Edward Drexel back into the world of ‘The Omega Factor’. It is a really interesting story, not as great as ‘Somnum Sempiternum’ and ‘The Changeling’, but an excellent way to round the series off, while also setting up events that will no doubt be explored in the possible third series.
So just how does the second series compare to the first? While the first series was action packed, the second series slows things down, allowing for a lot more character exploration. But does that make things interesting? The answer is kind-of. While it is nice to hear some characterisation being given to Anne and Adam, it would surely have been just as interesting to hear them battling the forces of darkness. It is perhaps this slower approach which bogs things down in the last part of this series, giving this set a slightly more uneven feel. But that doesn’t mean that this set doesn’t stand up to the first. The direction is excellent, the performances are rich and writing so damn good that none of this really matters in the end.
This new set has a really good time telling these stories and continuing the stories of this cult classic. Long may they continue…
BLOGTOR RATING: 8/10
Over thirty years have passed since Tom Crane left Department 7, a top secret organisation that investigates the paranormal.
Anne Reynolds now runs the operation, and for three decades their enigmatic nemesis Omega has been silent.
But that peace is about to be shattered. When Crane’s son Adam is drawn into Department 7, the past quickly catches up with Anne and her team…
2.1 Somnum Sempiternum by Phil Mulryne
When a series of impossible suicides affect the establishment, Doyle calls in Department 7 to investigate. From the scene of a grisly death, Adam and Anne discover a trail that eventually leads to someone they’ve met before, once again running dangerous psychic experiments.
Dr Jane Wyatt is back, with an even more lethal agenda. But someone else is pulling her strings…
2.2 The Changeling by Roy Gill
Adam takes on a risky assignment, going undercover inside Tollmire Prison as a murderer’s cellmate. But when the lights go out in these corridors, something else lurks in the darkness. Something that kills.
As Anne tries to unlock decades-old secrets, she discovers that some who believe in the folklore of fairies and changelings will take their faith to terrible extremes.
2.3 Let the Angel Tell Thee by Louise Jameson
Life has rarely been so kind to Anne Reynolds. Her work has gained new impetus as she investigates a psychic prodigy. And she has gained an admirer in the shape of a charming and debonair London official. But Adam is plagued, first by wasps, and then by warnings of disaster from a familiar voice.
Who is the ghost that’s really haunting both their lives?
2.4 Awakening by Matt Fitton
An intricate scheme, forty years in the planning, is reaching completion. When a devastating event affects the staff of Department 7, the final pieces fall into place.
Can Anne convince Doyle that the threat from Omega is real? Where is Morag? And can anyone reach Adam in time to save him from the powers that defeated his father?
Written By: Phil Mulryne, Roy Gill, Louise Jameson, Matt Fitton
Directed By: Ken Bentley
Louise Jameson (Dr Anne Reynolds), John Dorney (Adam Dean), Natasha Gerson (Morag), Camilla Power (Dr Jane Wyatt), Alex Tregear (Kate), Alan Cox (James Doyle), Richenda Carey (Sarah Maitland), Gunnar Cauthery (Edward Milton), Hugh Fraser (Anthony Archer), Alan Francis (Alasdair Reiver), Ben Fox (Graham Stocker). Other roles performed by the cast.
Producer David Richardson
Script Editor Matt Fitton
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs