The only thing better than a murder mystery on a space station is a murder mystery on a fake space station. PC Andy Davidson gets to play (or more accurately is forced to play) detective, as the crew members of this practice Mars habitat are killed off one by one. Add in a very logical robot, corner-cutting businessmen, and the potential for reality TV stardom and we get Torchwood: Red Base.
PC Andy was the perfect character choice for this story. He’s great at playing the only sane man among weird workaholics and it’s amusing to see him attempt to solve multiple murders as the remaining crew try to go about their experiment. I also can’t imagine anyone else asking a potential murder robot, who controls the whole environment, point-blank if they can be trusted. Huge credit must go to Tom Price who continues to make the character so fun and easy to listen to.
Speaking of potential murder robots, his name is Dave. Dave is the base computer, played by Jeremy Ang Jones, and is the perfect foil for PC Andy during his investigation. The two could have their own show and I would watch it. I would also watch Dave as the host of a reality show on a fake space station if that were an option. As the base computer his whole personality is that he doesn’t have one. Except maybe he does? Do you think Dave is broken? Do you trust him? It doesn’t matter because you’ll love him.
Big Brother is Watching
A couple of the best moments are when a door closes and the audio changes to allow us to hear the conversation as if we are just outside the room, eavesdropping from Dave’s perspective. The base computer is omnipresent and so the characters are living not only in a confined space with limited comforts, but also with no privacy. It’s interesting to see how the constant surveillance adds to their stress and states of mind.
However it’s also what they signed up for as the base was meant to host a reality show. One crew member says it was cancelled two weeks in but another firmly believes it is still happening and that dead crew mates were really just voted off (a great reference to Bad Wolf and the horrifying game station). The confusion over the reality show just adds another layer to the complete lack of privacy and lack of trust between the crew. Everything we learn slightly alters the dynamic in an enjoyable way.
The ‘whodunit’ keeps you guessing. Is it ‘Mars madness’? Someone attempting to win some twisted reality TV show? Did the robot really do it? That last question really is the sci-fi equivalent of, “The butler did it”. The story does follow a predictable format, but that in itself is not a bad thing as it’s Andy’s particular investigative style that makes the mystery fun. The themes of surveillance, trust, and reality are present throughout, though I almost wish the story had more time to delve deeper into them. Still, James Goss’ script keeps things moving and gives us an enjoyable mystery with a fun cast of characters. PC Andy fans will be happy to hear him in action again. Not everyone has listened to an Andy story yet and Red Base is a perfect opportunity for those listeners to hear what he has to offer.
This title was released in August 2020. It will be exclusively available to buy from the Big Finish website until October 31st 2020, and on general sale after this date.
Mars is the next giant leap for mankind. Starr Base is the first small step. A practice Mars base has been set up in a quarry in Neath, just off the A474. Its aim is to see if humanity can survive on the red planet.
The problem is that the crew are dying. The survivors are terrified, paranoid, and wondering if something alien has got inside Starr Base. Sgt Andy Davidson has come to find out what’s gone wrong.
- Tom Price (Andy Davidson)
- Kae Alexander (Mina)
- Jeremy Ang Jones (Dave)
- Rakie Ayola (Emma)
- Ronak Patani (Faisal)
- Senior Producer: David Richardson
- Additional themes by Ben Foster
- Cover Artist: Lee Binding
- Director: Lisa Bowerman
- Executive Producer: Jason Haigh-Ellery & Nicholas Briggs
- Music: Blair Mowat
- Producer: James Goss
- Script Editor: Tim Foley
- Sound Design: Joe Meiners
- Written by James Goss
- Theme Music by Murray Gold