Thursday, 26 November 2015
REVIEW - UNIT: EXTINCTION
It’s well documented that I am not UNIT’s biggest fan. Before The Zygon two-parter, I was no fan of Osgood and even after it, while I grew to like her because of her character development, Kate and the rest of UNIT still put me on the fence given how incompetent the latter is. If I had to select a Big Finish title I was looking forward to least, it would be UNIT: Extinction. I went in with rather low expectations. I came out of it a changed man!
“Everyone wants to talk about dad today.”
I’m going to get the negatives out of the way first because there are so few of them. Big Finish makes the same mistake the TV series does. We get a Brigadier mention under the six minute mark. And then another half dozen throughout the first story. Let it go people. He is dead and she is in charge. Build on that.
And now that the criticisms are out of the way, Vanguard is arguably one of the best box set openers I have ever listened to!! Notice the double exclamation mark? I cannot praise this story enough. It has fantastic pacing and does an excellent job setting up the plot and all the relevant parties. The chemistry between the characters, not just Kate and Osgood (which is one of the highlights). Joseph Carter appears to have taken top spot for me. He shows more recklessness in his first scene than Clara all season. Ouch!
One of the things that the TV Series consistently does incorrectly is purposely dumb down UNIT’s competencein order to give other characters (like Clara for example in the season opener) the spot light. In fact, an element that might alienate fans to this box set is how radically different Kate Stewart and UNIT on audio are to the television series. On television, UNIT often comes across as barely able to tie their own shoelaces, but Big Finish has given them a radical upgrade, showing that they are worthy of being called the last line of defense. They deal with obstacles in much the same manner and with the same level of expertise as a lot of popular crime dramas on TV.
“Here I am turning her on and I’m half a mile away.” Joseph Carter graduated from the Jack Harkness and River Song School of Innuendos and Sexually Inappropriate Dialogue.
One of my initial concerns about UNIT: Extinction was the introduction of a lot of new characters to make up the new team. This saga contains a handful of characters and I’m delighted to report that the writing for these characters is wonderful. Usually with audios, I only remember a small number of characters (those who matter or those I actually like), but here every character feels as important as the next. While Kate and Osgood are billed as the stars, ???’s Joseph Carter and ????’s ????prove themselves noteworthy additions to the team. Investigative reporter ????, who plays something of an anti-villain is also utilized quite efficiently, also serving as that one character in a story the audience hopes will be turned into the butt-monkey.
Joseph Carter and Osgood make an especially lovely pair, the latter sounding as though she might harbor a small crush. Whether or not this pair will evolve into something more is yet to be seen, though it is nice of the writers to give us some much needed foundation.
The dialogue within UNIT: Extinction is exceedingly fluid and entertaining to listen to.As mentioned, the plot is tightly spaced so no scene feels unnecessary. In fact, the four hours felt like two to me and afterwards I couldn’t help but feel sad knowing that I’ll have to wait until May for the next installment.
As for the episodes themselves, like the Zygon two-parter, UNIT: Extinction manages to split its roster up in quite an organic fashion every episode and more importantly, balance the two intertwining plots expertly. Splitting the group up allows for each of the characters to be given the attention they deserve. I do not feel as though Kate has developed much during this box set, but this can be forgiven since the narrative runs on a very tight schedule and as mentioned before, there is no room for non-exposition back story/ character development.
Earthfall feels like the weakest story of the lot, but I’d still rate it a high 8/10 with all the other episodes in the box set scoring either a 9 or a perfect 10.
Rating this box set: 9.5/10. It’s almost unbelievable that this UNIT team is the same as the UNIT we’ve been watching these past couple of years. UNIT: Extinction has completely smashed my expectations (granted they were very low to begin with), leaving me to eagerly anticipate UNIT: Shutdown next year. I can’t recommend this box set enough folks. For any New Who fans or Big Finish noobies out there, this is just the kind of box set to get you addicted.