The Robots returns for Volume Two, along with returning names, both friend and foe, for the turning point for Liv’s year on Kaldor…
When Big Finish announce a new spin-off to their range a faint but recurring thought of “a spin-off too far” is often heard. That could be said about The Robots on its initial reveal in late 2019. Then Volume One came out!
Universally well received, everyone remembered why the Kaldorian Voc Robots are some of the best remembered and engaging additions to Who lore. Even before the series was a concrete idea, the three adventures The Robots appeared in (Robophobia, The Sons Of Kaldor and Escape From Kaldor) all expanded on the ideas presented by their introduction on television and allowed them to evolve. This series has continued that trend with Volume One being a look into the emotional relationship between humans and robots. Now Volume Two takes the approach of morality and the greater good, and plants seeds for the directions that future sets might take…
The Robots Of War by Roland Moore
Liv and Tula are invited to a graduation ceremony at the Kaldor Military Training Base, at the behest of Tula’s ex. But when one of the students decides to “update his ranking”, a chain reaction of events is set off that locks everyone in. Not everyone will make it out alive. But there’s a reason for what is happening. Will anyone get to understand it before their time is up?
Diving straight into the thick of it, Roland Moore gives us a classic base under siege tale, akin to The Robots’ original debut all those years ago. Everything is so intricately pieced together that even when you think something is revealed, when you discover the true reasoning and motivation it feels so natural and perfectly connected that it never strikes you as if the story is trying to out-do itself. Everything makes sense and that can sometimes be a terrifying realisation…
As well as the stellar writing, the story boasts a brilliant supporting cast of Silas Carson, Harley Viveash and Homer Todiwala, all of whom get their chance to shine alongside returning regulars Nicola Walker and Claire Rushbrook. It’s a great story to start the set, and things only get better from here…
Toos and Poul by Andrew Smith
Deep in the Kaldor forests an horrific murder is committed, leading to conflicts between a colony of farmers and the newly formed robophobes, the Sons of Kaldor. Despite both their claims of peace, Company representative Toos knows that someone must be responsible. With a damaged but important robot in tow, she seeks help from the only person she can trust with this, her Sandminer cohort; Investigator Poul. Only thing is his robophobia has not improved since the Sandminer incident…
Taking a sidestep from the journey of the Chenka sisters, Andrew Smith gives us a story that brings us back to the other genre of The Robots’ introduction; the whodunit. This time however instead of the claustrophobic Sandminer, we have vast open spaces and more names to point fingers at. As well as the ongoing mystery, the personal lives of our main characters are delved into in a way that the original serial simply didn’t have time to do.
Alongside the writing, the cast help immensely to engage the listener in the mystery. Ian Conningham, Satnam Bhogal and Indra Ové flesh out the supporting players with Conningham excelling as V11 in particular. However, the star performances have to go to Pamela Salem as Toos and the late David Collings as Poul. Both slip back into their roles from over 40 years ago, and help build upon their original characters in the short time available. It feels a shame that this is the last performance from Collings, as it felt like he had more to give in subsequent sets, if that was indeed planned. But at least his performance here, matched with Smith’s strong script, means Poul got to go out on a high.
Do No Harm by Sarah Grochala
The world of Kaldor is about to be turned on its head. Following a tragic explosion at a research laboratory, with huge casualties, the legal prosecutors of Kaldor have found their prime suspect; a Robot. The perfect fall-guy, in a sense. But thinking that things do not quite add up, Liv decides to act as defence for the accused. But as more details are brought to light, many begin to wonder if something bigger is at play here than a simple murder trial…
Following her UNIT episode for the Eighth Of March box, Sarah Grochala returns with her second script for Big Finish, and it is a hell of a script to make your return with! Not much further can be said without going into potential spoiler territory, but rest assured, it is absolutely worth listening to.
Engaging, tense and expertly researched on the legal proceedings front, the material is handled brilliantly by the case. Regulars Walker and Rushbrook along with the supporting cast of Tracy Wiles, Rachel Atkins and Kieran Bew give it their all. It is a perfect episode to conclude this set on. It does however leave some interesting questions about where the series will go from here…
On top of the skilful writing and wonderful performances, the music and sound design by Joe Kraemer remains top notch as always, taking what was done from the previous set and cranking it up to eleven. With the expertise of John Dorney on script editing duties and the directing prowess of Ken Bentley, this set further proves that The Robots is not one spin off too far. It definitely gives us our money’s worth with some amazing stories. A knowing tease from the pilot in Ravenous 2 leaves us to wonder what could happen in the next set…
The Robots: Volume 2 is available to purchase on collectors edition CD and Download from the Big Finish website, and other stockists.
During the events of Doctor Who: Ravenous 2, Liv Chenka left the Doctor and the TARDIS behind. Just for one year. A year during which she would live on Kaldor, and get to know her sister Tula all over again.
But Kaldor is going through a period of tumultuous change. Technology is changing at an advanced rate – the robots are evolving, artificial intelligence is adapting, and with these changes so politics is altering too. Dangerously.
Can Liv and Tula make a difference during the most turbulent time in the world’s history?
2.1 Robots of War by Roland Moore
A visit to an old flame goes badly wrong for Liv and Tula and soon they find themselves locked down in a military training base, surrounded by traitors and robots designed and built for war. As they attempt to get everyone out alive, is there a chance they’ve missed something important?
2.2 Toos and Poul by Andrew Smith
When a murder takes place in an isolated outpost, there’s only one man who can look into the crime. Investigator Poul, newly reunited with his Sandminer colleague Toos. But can he over-come his fears and prejudices and solve the case?
2.3 Do No Harm by Sarah Grochala
After an incident in a laboratory leads to a tragedy, someone needs to be found accountable. And who better to be prosecuted than a robot? But when complicated ethical questions arise, the outcome of the trial becomes bigger than a single case. What if somebody else is working behind the scenes?
- Nicola Walker (Liv Chenka)
- Claire Rushbrook (Tula Chenka / SV22 / SV104)
- David Collings (Ander Poul)
- Pamela Salem (Lish Toos)
- Rachel Atkins (Zarda / V225)
- Kieran Bew (Lunk / V97)
- Satnam Bhogal (Jabel Tyrus / Prospector)
- Silas Carson (Captain Garlon Rosh)
- Ian Conningham (V11 / Kaden Olsen / Nomad)
- Indra Ové (Tayna Vandermoy)
- Homer Todiwala (Rax Heron)
- Harley Viveash (Frenton Cal / V90)
- Tracy Wiles (Ren / SV66 / Gat)
- Cover Art by Ryan Aplin
- Director: Ken Bentley
- Executive Producers: Nicholas Briggs and Jason Haigh-Ellery
- Music: Joe Kraemer
- Producer: David Richardson
- Script Editor: John Dorney
- Sound Design: Joe Kraemer
- Written by Roland Moore, Andrew Smith and Sarah Grochala
- Based on characters created by Chris Boucher