This month doesn’t have a Big Finish Originals title being released but there is a new license in town, Star Cops! If you’re not familiar with this prematurely cancelled classic television show, don’t worry. You’re in capable hands with Big Finish.
New listeners don’t need to know a thing about the original Star Cops before plunging into this set. It is a continuation with returning characters but also a new beginning with plenty of new cast members. If you know the series, then purchase your copy pronto! It’s that good.
David Calder returns as Nathan Spring and couldn’t be more amazing. It’s the same Spring from the classic show only more comfortable in his role. Trevor Cooper is back as Devis and is as sleazy as ever, while Linda Newton manages an appearance as Kenzy!
There are new members as well. The primary new leads are Rakhee Thakar as Priya Basu and Phillip Olivier as Paul Bailey. They’re welcome additions, their characters highlighting updated, 21st Century concerns. In short, you won’t find a weak performance in this set, no matter how large or small the part.
There are four individual stories that build towards a wider arc. Over the course of the set, world issues of today will be touched upon while remaining enjoyable tales that don’t side with political agendas. A difficult task handled exceptionally.
One of Our Cops is Missing
The first story, ‘One of Our Cops is Missing’, is written by Andrew Smith, a former cop and co-script editor for the series. With his understanding of the law and his knack for science fiction writing you can be sure his skills are well utilised.
The hook at the beginning works well. One-sided updates delivered by phone to an unknown person end with the speaker leaving nervously. It will come back to be important but it is left hanging for a while as Nathan Spring is re/introduced. Despite having the difficult tasks of introducing our lead characters, telling a story, and setting up the major arc, it all flows effortlessly.
What could have been a dull procedural drama is interesting and informative. There’s world building happening, but without force. Instead the mystery of the missing agent and the near-fatal spacewalk pull the listener in. This is less science fiction and more science eventuality.
Not a breath or beat is wasted here and this first episode is over before you know it.
Tranquillity and Other Illusions
This entry is written by Ian Potter and blends seamlessly into the grander plot. It begins on the tranquillity base moon location as the wealthy Phillip Hughes is looking to develop the area as a tourist destination. However, when he’s discovered dead the Star Cops have to uncover the mystery.
This is a prime example of Big Finish taking great source material and revitalising it. Sure, Star Cops was targeted towards adults and dealt with mature themes, but it feels more relevant than ever. For example, Colin Devis, as played by Trevor Cooper, is perhaps better utilised than in the original. Then, Devis was intolerable with his already outdated slurs. Now he’s been toned down, as if his character has been threatened by HR for the last time: same guy, he just knows how to better pick his words. This mirrors our own world of political correctness. Devis will be a likeable figure to some for ‘speaking his mind’ and revolting to others, depending on personal views. This adds to the reality of character development.
The story is tight and interesting with a lot of great dialog, humour and plot development. It sets the fire for what really brings us into the Mother Earth banner.
If the second story ignites the fire, the third has the wood burning. Written by Christopher Hatherall, ‘Lockdown’ is a base under siege story that puts everyone in jeopardy. Set in Paris, on Earth, Spring and Priya attend a conference on how to combat Mother Earth defensively. Of course, Mother Earth appear to be well ahead of the curve and lock everyone in to make a point.
It feels real despite the fiction, especially being set on Earth. Everything is approached from a point of reality, including action sequences, which aren’t over the top. There are people out there now who are against space exploration, so anything is possible and it’s handled wonderfully in the writing.
Director Helen Goldwyn, no matter the material, brings a grounded level of reality to everything she does. Devis may be the most cartoonish character, but everyone knows someone like him. Taking time for him to complain about limited space in an office and allowing him to squirm his way in, works. It could be funny or passed over, but it’s a genuine moment reinforcing the illusion of reality.
‘Lockdown’ is tense and builds upon what we’ve learned. It may not be the most action packed, but it’s likely to be the fan favourite story. It’s impressive that after 3 stories the major arc is still only getting underway.
The Thousand Ton Bomb
Guy Adams concludes the first set of stories with ‘The Thousand Ton Bomb’. Devis foils a bomb threat which gives the Star Cops a momentary advantage. This is a busy plot that keeps listeners on their toes and puts Paul Bailey to the test. Not wanting to say much of plot on this one, rest assured, it’s a whopper.
From the original series, Pal Kenzy, as played by Linda Newton, makes her return! This is a treat for longtime fans and good story telling for new listeners.
Remember, don’t expect a final resolution as this is part 1 of 2 under the Mother Earth banner.
‘Start Cops: Mother Earth Part 1’ is bound to exceed the expectations of anyone who takes a chance on it. Grounded in reality, there’s not an extravagant performance to be found: it’s all genuine. Every character is believable, even the despicable. The writing is sharp, balanced throughout, and escalates appropriately.
David Calder is a master. His performance is so believable you would swear he was a Star Cop. Olivier as Paul is dynamite and often steals the show.
Martin Montague’s sound design is stunning. Immersive would be an understatement. Helen Goldwyn has brought out the best elements of the story, cast and crew, as she always does. She’s such a talented director that you may forget you’re listening to stories.
It’s the near future, and mankind has expanded its presence in space. Maintaining law and order among this network of space stations, satellites and moon outposts is the responsibility of the International Space Police Force, known colloquially as the Star Cops. Their leader is Commander Nathan Spring.
While dealing with crimes including drug smuggling and murder, the Star Cops find themselves facing a new and sustained threat. The activist group Mother Earth, ideologically opposed to humanity’s presence in space, has been quiet for some time. But no longer. The group returns with a vengeance, prepared it seems to go to any lengths to achieve its aims.
1.1 One of Our Cops is Missing by Andrew Smith
As construction of the Vasco da Gama, the largest space station ever put into orbit, nears completion, Nathan is visited by an old friend, who asks for his help in tracking down a missing undercover officer.
Meanwhile, Inspector Priya Basu is investigating a near-fatal spacewalk accident on the space station Rakesh Sharma that may be no accident at all.
1.2 Tranquillity and Other Illusions by Ian Potter
A murder at the historic scene of the first Apollo moon landing offers few clues for the Star Cops. Why would anyone want to kill Philip Hughes, a property entrepreneur? And what has become of the mysterious woman who was with him at the time? The investigation leads to a moon outpost, where anyone may be the killer.
1.3 Lockdown by Christopher Hatherall
Tech Tower is a state of the art, high-security, high-technology building located in Paris. It seems the ideal venue for an international conference on how to counter the growing threat from the Mother Earth group.
Nathan and Priya attend as representatives of space policing. Soon, they and everyone else in the building find themselves in danger as a disruptive attack by Mother Earth coincides with a plot by criminals to carry out a high stakes robbery.
1.4 The Thousand Ton Bomb by Guy Adams
A failed bombing of Moonbase provides the Star Cops with an opportunity to strike back at Mother Earth. Paul Bailey is called on to use his undercover skills once more.
But Mother Earth is about to escalate its campaign of violence with a spectacular attack. And the Star Cops are among those in the firing line.
Written By: Andrew Smith, Ian Potter, Christopher Hatherall, Guy Adams
Directed By: Helen Goldwyn
David Calder (Nathan Spring / Box), Trevor Cooper (Colin Devis), Linda Newton (Pal Kenzy), Rakhee Thakrar (Priya Basu), Philip Olivier (Paul Bailey), Andrew Secombe (Brian Lincoln), Ewan Bailey (Martin Collyer), Nimmy March (Shayla Moss), Delroy Atkinson (Charles Hardin), Zora Bishop (Armina Hamid), Mandi Symonds (Caroline / Mother Earth), Tim Scragg (Ashton / Hughes), Amerjit Deu (Rez Varughese / Gish), Gabrielle Glaister (Joanne Stack / Janine), George Asprey (Alby Royle / Steven Moore), Andy Snowball (Danny Neal / Pan-Pacific President), Sophie-Louise Dann (Simone Babin). Other parts played by members of the cast.
Producer David Richardson
Director Helen Goldwyn
Script Editor Andrew Smith and Guy Adams
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs