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Audio Review: Mindset - Ep2.3 of Big Finish's 2nd Classic Audio Series

BLAKE'S 7 - THE CLASSIC AUDIO ADVENTURES - Episode 2.3: Mindset
Review by Jackie Emery

Starring: Paul Darrow, Steven Pacey, Jan Chappell, and Michael Keating, with Tom Chadbon as Del Grant, Alistair Lock as Zen and Orac, and featuring Geoffrey Breton as Reno.

Written by Jacqueline Rayner
Sound Design by Martin Montague
Music by Jamie Robertson
Cover Art by Grant Kempster
Directed by Lisa Bowerman
Produced by Cavan Scott for Big Finish Productions


A voice is calling in the darkness. A voice that only Cally can hear. Vila has abandoned his crewmates, searching for the mythical water of life. With Cally acting suspiciously, Tarrant and Grant face danger at the heart of paradise. A gift is being offered. A gift that will cost one member of the Liberator crew dearly. But will Cally accept?

In Episode 3 of Big Finish's new all-cast series, the search for Dayna is used again as the on-going series arc and starting point, as Vila uncovers information on what Dayna had been looking for. However, a reference to the mystical Waters of Life diverts him to the planet Karwen, where he abandons the crew, apparently in order to fulfil what he told Cally at their first meeting: "I plan to live forever - or die trying." The ensuing search for Vila leads the two Dels into mortal danger, while Cally encounters Reno, a fellow Auron with a mysterious past.

This episode feels very much in keeping with the style and tone of the original Season C. It is character-based, in this case focussing on Cally, and it contains fantasy elements that are credible within a B7 context. In the extras, it's mentioned that the instruction to writer Jacqueline Rayner was to 'channel Tanith Lee', and she has done this very successfully fans will pick up echoes of both Sarcophagus and Sand. There are some very amusing moments in the banter between crew members, as well as lyrical descriptions of the location and emotionally-charged interactions between Cally and Reno. Although there were a couple of slightly iffy references to 'sibling groups', Mindset manages on the whole to avoid the recent tendency to depict Cally in a way that owes more to B7Media's reimagined version than to the original. Overall, I thought that Jacqueline's script was excellent, and I hope she will write more B7 for Big Finish.

The performances by the regular cast are as good as ever, with special credit to Jan Chappell because this is very much her episode. Special mention must also go to Geoffrey Breton for his portrayal of Reno. He has a lovely voice, and his performance made the lonely Auron one of the most compelling of all the B7 guest characters introduced by Big Finish. The episode ends on a slightly ambiguous note that did leave me wondering whether we might hear from him again.

Sound designer Martin Montague has once again provided rich and detailed soundscapes for the locations, as well as giving the Aurons' telepathic voices and 'mindscapes' their own distinct quality. Enhanced by particularly gorgeous cover art by Grant Kempster, this episode is my favourite so far of the new series.


Extras:
These include the latest issue of Vortex magazine, a trailer for Episode 4, an amusing outtake and interviews with director Lisa Bowerman and script editor Justin Richards. Sound Designer Martin Montague talks about creating the atmospheres and sound effects, while producer Cavan Scott mentions certain throwaway lines in the episode that actually hint at things to come...


Mindset is available from Big Finish on CD and digital download here:2.3 Mindset.
Details of forthcoming episodes in this series are here:B7 Classic Audio Adventures.
The full range of Big Finish's B7 range is here:B7 from Big Finish.

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