The second instalment of Star Cops from Big Finish is in an unenviable position. A short-lived BBC series from 1987 inspired a strong first release, Star Cops: Mother Earth. That story continues with Part 2 and maintains the same high standard and delivers more thrilling sci-fi adventures.
When Star Cops was announced by Big Finish over a year ago, many (this reviewer included) merely shrugged it off as an interesting, if non-essential release. Then, as the weeks and months proceeded into May, more and more tantalising teases were released that intrigued. The debut set delivered an excellent continuation of the original Chris Boucher series, but was also a brilliant release in its own right. It combined a solid mix of ‘realistic’ science-fiction with a healthy sprinkle of political and social commentary. The question now is, has the second volume maintained the momentum?
Dead and Buried by Guy Adams.
Guy Adams helms the first tale in the set, which sees Devis (played by Trevor Cooper) sent out to investigate a lunar graveyard where instead of bodies going missing, there seems to be far too many. Meanwhile Nathan Spring and Pal Kenzy (David Calder and Linda Newton) are called to look into a burglary where the assailant has ended up dead. The team soon uncover what’s going on, and it’s a race against the clock to save as many as they can. Adams’ shows off his penchant for writing a story where not only are you hooked in by the main stakes of the tale, but also by the perfectly captured interactions between the characters. It also provides a good reintroduction to the new team, giving all the members a chance to shine.
The Killing Jar by John Dorney.
The next instalment, penned by award winning Big Finish legend John Dorney, sees the Star Cops being called to the space station Charlie Chaplin. Once a shining station of Earth research, it is now a bustling space hotel and tourism spot for the super-rich. But when accidents start happening that threaten the safety of everyone, it’s up to Paul Bailey (Philip Olivier), Priya Basu (Rakhee Thakrar) and others to find out who’s behind the attack. But the answer might just surprise them, if they manage to survive to tell the tale…
Dorney plays to a strength, perfected in a number of previous releases in giving us a base under siege story with a difference: a base under siege from itself. Mixing in more high stakes drama, a killer supporting cast, including Will Chitty as a ruthless hotelier, and a neat little bit of relevant discussion about indoctrination and journalistic ethics. Dorney’s tale is a fast-paced entry, and a firm favourite so far.
Moonshine by Roland Moore.
After proving his talent with a number of releases over the last year, Roland Moore takes on the next episode which sees Kenzy’s life turned upside down. An old friend is caught in possession of illegal alcohol, subsequently fired, and ultimately commits suicide. When she and Devis head to the land down under to investigate, the come across the Police Superintendent, who just so happens to be Kenzy’s former flame.
Meanwhile there is the imperfect timing of Nathan having to deal with both a dignitary visit to Star Cops HQ and a fatal incident that could mark the return of Mother Earth. Like most of Roland’s work over the last year, this has veered more to the personal side of the characters, rather than relying of a huge plot device. Although it does use one such device, potential homebrew alcohol, it is used as a catalyst for the characters to reveal more about what makes them tick, and why they do what they do. After only a few cameos in the previous set, it’s good to finally get a story where Linda Newton’s Pal Kenzy is the focus, allowing for a masterclass of a performance.
Hostage by Andrew Smith.
Finishing off the set is a good auld staple of the crime drama scenario. Mother Earth has returned, and is now more violent than ever. Explosions at a moon outpost have needed the Star Cops to investigate. Alongside all of this, a worker called Mary Ward (Sarah Sutton) snaps and takes a hostage. She has demands, but those demands will reveal some very dark secrets. Secrets that can kill…
Writer Andrew Smith delivers a belter of a finishing story that once again mixes the personal drama of the characters, with the high stakes drama of the plot, and balances the two well to keep you hooked. The cast are on top form again, and a special mention has to go out to Sarah Sutton, stretching herself away from Doctor Who companion Nyssa. She excels in the new role that is a far cry away from what we have known her for…
Volume 1 was a nice surprise, with good writing, amazing acting, and impressive work from all involved. Volume 2 gives us more of that. Good writing with a healthy bit of social commentary, expert directing from Helen Goldwyn, top notch performances from all the cast, both main and secondary, paired with spot on music and sound design from Howard Carter and Martin Montague. It has been brilliant to return to the world of Star Cops after first discovering it those months ago. Here’s hoping “it WILL be easy” to return in the near future!
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.
It’s been months since the last attack by Mother Earth, the activist group opposed to mankind’s expansion into space. It’s believed that the group is finished. But instead, Mother Earth is about to renew its campaign. This time with even more ferocity and violence.
2.1: Dead and Buried by Guy Adams.
At Lunar Interments, the moon’s graveyard for the wealthy, the caretaker has noticed something odd in the burial records. Odd enough for him to call in the Star Cops.
Devis isn’t happy at being assigned to what he thinks is a mundane case. Not when Nathan and Kenzy are off to investigate a burglary at the home of billionaire businessman Ben Alexander. A break-in where the burglar has finished up dead.
But in the lunar resting place of the dead, Devis will find himself racing against the clock to save his life and hundreds of others.
2.2: The Killing Jar by John Dorney.
The Charlie Chaplin is a second-hand space station operated as a space-tourism hub by entrepreneur Martin Thane. When Nathan receives reports that serious accidents and even a death have been caused by Thane flouting safety laws, he decides to investigate.
An accident investigation soon becomes a murder enquiry. And as the Star Cops hunt for the killer, the station becomes a death trap threatening everyone on board.
2.3: Moonshine by Roland Moore.
A friend of Kenzy’s on the space station Coral Sea has been dismissed for possession of alcohol and sent back to Earth. She believes his claim that he was framed, and when she learns of his subsequent suicide she and Devis travel to Australia to investigate. A difficult enquiry is not helped when Kenzy’s former fiancé, a Police Superintendent, appears on the scene.
On Moonbase, Nathan is expecting an official visit from a powerful dignitary. So it’s not a good time for there to be a fatal incident that may be the work of Mother Earth…
2.4: Hostage by Andrew Smith.
The Star Cops are under intense pressure in the face of continuing Mother Earth attacks. The very existence of the International Space Police Force is in jeopardy.
Kenzy and Priya are responding to a murderous Mother Earth explosion at a moon outpost when one of the workers, Mary Ward, takes a hostage and makes demands, accusing others of trying to kill her. She appears to have snapped under pressure.
As the crisis develops, dangerous secrets are revealed. Secrets that some will be prepared to kill for. And die for.
Written By: Guy Adams, John Dorney, Roland Moore, Andrew Smith.
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), Nimmy March (Shayla Moss), Andrew Fettes (Mac Thirwell), Vikash Bhai (Ben Alexander), Amy Downham (Lyra Fox), Will Chitty (Martin Thane), Tor Clark (Rebecca Driscoll), Timothy Hofmeier (Phil Bovey / Vernon Hollis), Craig Armstrong (Barney Hillier / Theodore Gallow), William Gaminara (Godfrey Miller), Sarah Sutton (Mary Ward), Emily Carewe (Sally Newell). Other parts played by members of the cast.