The Star Cops have reached Mars in a brand new boxset from Big Finish. It features cast members from the original television series in some brand new stories.
Over the last few years, Big Finish have been taking interesting risks regarding original and licensed content. Just this year, three new titles were announced; Adam Adamant Lives, Space:1999 and Timeslip, with a fourth on the way. Another title, Star Cops, has also been a particularly interesting addition. Interesting as the original 1980’s BBC Two series which the range is based upon lasted only one series of 10 episodes. Even one of those stopped by industrial action! Now in retrospect, it is seen as a series ahead of its time and a cult classic. Perfect for the likes of Big Finish…
May and November 2018 saw the debut releases for Star Cops on Big Finish with Mother Earth. These saw returning cast members and new characters trying to preserve order across Earth, the Moon, and, of course, space. Mother Earth proved popular with glowing reviews, but until recently no news was given of anything further titles. That was until the announcement that Star Cops was going where the series had never gone before! Let’s just home they don’t meet any Martian Tripods…
The New World by Andrew Smith
Nathan Spring, Colin Devis, and Pal Kenzy, are moving up in the world. Or at least, on another world. The Star Cops have been approved for set up on Mars, and after a six month journey, the team discover they have their work cut out for them. As friends and foes are made, the team are roped into an investigation of water thefts, which could lead to something much worse if the culprits are not caught…
Andrew Smith returns us to the world of Star Cops in this well constructed opener that covers all the ground needed for this set. It’s a perfect entry-point for newcomers, a brilliant reintroduction for those familiar with the original TV or audio series, and an amazing story in its own right, setting up an intriguing thriller that builds itself up with each reveal. With Smith as one of the script editors of the series, alongside fellow writer Guy Adams, his skills and knowledge from his police days are used to full effect with this series, showcasing not only the working lives of the Star Cops but also the character and mindset. Unsurprisingly it all makes it feel very natural and authentic.
The Shadow Of This Red Rock by Una McCormack
Spring and Kenzy have got their culprit and are on their way back to process them. The only issue? Their transport finds itself marooned in the Martian desert due to possible sabotage. Even worse, their prisoner has friends on the way. Very violent friends. Attempting evasion, they come across help from an unlikely source. But when further help in the form of Devis tries to catch up to them, he experiences some issues of his own. The question is, who will reach the stranded humans first?
From investigative mystery to intense chase thriller, Una McCormack takes the reins in this next story and proves how much of a natural she is with this kind of tale. Taking experience form the eternal chase battle she has helped pen for Blake’s 7, here it is more scaled down but still just as engaging and tense, expertly giving each of the three groups of characters their own plot strand and making each expertly weave their way to a satisfactory conclusion.
Whatever Happened To Gary Rice? by Guy Adams
After making their way back to Barack Obama Base, the ISPF team are thrown into another mystery, as they all receive the same, cryptic message about a missing colonist. But when their investigation takes them from the colonist’s work place in the Argyre Basin, to a farming community that thrives on its produce, and a scientific research base on the verge of revealing a deadly secret, the team are in a race against the clock to find out “Whatever happened to Gary Rice?”
Co-Script Editor Guy Adams closes off this set in the way it started; with a good old mystery. As the story progresses, more and more details become apparent, all leading naturally to a grand conclusion and reveal that we won’t spoil, but is an homage to one of the most memorable reveals in sci-fi history.
Stellar Stars and Marvellous Music
Alongside the work of the writers and script editors, the cast all help the stories to stand out and grip listeners’ attention. Newcomers Heather Coombs, Oliver Dimsdale, Andrew James Spooner, Emma Jay Thomas, Elizabeth Uter, Issy Van Randwyck, Jake Wardle and Carla de Wansey, be them friend or foe, all perform their parts expertly. Returning regulars David Calder, Trevor Cooper and Linda Newton all slip back into their roles as if they never left. The cast are directed to perfection by the talented Helen Goldwyn. Plus, there is more amazing work from sound designer Steve Foxon and composer Howard Carter as they create a believable and realistic world of human beings on Mars, whilst staying true to the original tone and style of the series. Not an easy thing to achieve.
After the climactic end to the second Mother Earth set, it seemed hard to imagine where the series would go from there, and how it could top that finale. Deciding not to try and top it and go back to basics instead, the Star Cops are now more out of water than ever. With cast and crew in place, it’s not hard to see why this stripped back approach works so well. With what has been revealed for the next set in June, it now has a chance to build towards some new high stakes!
The only issue now? We have to take a six month trek of our own before we return! Maybe the time will just fly by…
Star Cops: Mars: Volume 1 is available to purchase on CD and Download from the Big Finish Website, and will be available from other stockists in early 2020.
It’s the near future, and mankind has expanded its presence in space. Maintaining law and order beyond Earth is the responsibility of the International Space Police Force, known colloquially as the Star Cops. Their leader is Commander Nathan Spring.
There are no Star Cops on Mars, and Nathan Spring intends to put that right. He travels to the red planet hoping to rally the colonists’ support for setting up an ISPF office, but he faces resistance from those who feel Mars has no need of police.
Soon, though, Nathan and his officers are involved in incidents of theft, violence and murder. They may get the chance to prove they’re needed, if they can get through their investigations alive.
2.1 The New World by Andrew Smith
Nathan, Devis and Kenzy arrive on Mars after a six-month journey from Earth. They’ve come to set up a Star Cop base, but Mars is a very different environment from the one they’re used to on the moon. They have their work cut out to convince some colonists of the need for law enforcement. They have no powers, no guns, and few friends.
Nathan sees an opportunity to prove their worth when there are reports of water thefts and disorder at a colony near Olympus Mons. He and Kenzy are invited to investigate, unofficially. Then a body is discovered, and the Star Cops have to work fast to prevent tensions escalating into further violence.
2.2 The Shadow of This Red Rock by Una McCormack
Nathan and Kenzy find themselves marooned in the Martian desert with a prisoner whose friends will soon arrive to attempt a violent rescue. Help arrives in the form of a reclusive colonist. Soon they’re all being chased across the desert by the prisoner’s friends, who seem able to anticipate every effort to shake them off.
Meanwhile, Devis has his own troubles. An attempt to come to his friends’ rescue goes wrong, and he finds himself at the mercy of colonists who hold his life in their hands.
Matters will come to a head in a perilous stand-off on the four-mile-high cliffs of the Mariner Valley canyon.
2.3 Whatever Happened to Gary Rice? by Guy Adams
After the Star Cops receive a cryptic message about a man who may once have worked at a colony in the Argyre Basin, they make their way there to investigate. They find a co-operative community that thrives by growing an organic food source, which it sells to other colonies. But no-one seems to remember the man the Star Cops are looking for.
Nathan visits a neighbouring scientific research base, where nutritionist Dr Julienne Grainger has information that may resolve the mystery of the missing colonist.
As the Star Cops get closer to discovering the truth, there are those who are prepared to kill to keep it secret.
- David Calder (Nathan Spring / Box)
- Trevor Cooper (Colin Devis)
- Linda Newton (Pal Kenzy)
- Heather Coombs (Kristin Mendelson / Cara Hopkins)
- Oliver Dimsdale (Jean Arnaud)
- Jay Thomas (Doctor Stephanie Thrower)
- Andrew James Spooner (Doctor Jess Romay)
- Emma Jay Thomas (Doctor Stephanie Thrower)
- Elizabeth Uter (Grace Kavanagh)
- Issy Van Randwyck (Barbara Holmberg)
- Jake Wardle (Martin Jeffries / LRI Technician)
- Carla de Wansey (Doctor Julienne Grainger)
- Written by Una McCormack, Guy Adams and Andrew Smith
- Senior Producer: David Richardson
- Cover Artist: Simon Holub
- Director: Helen Goldwyn
- Executive Producers: Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs
- Music: Howard Carter
- Producer: Emma Haigh
- Script Editors: Andrew Smith and Guy Adams
- Sound Design: Steve Foxon
- Based on the format created by Chris Boucher