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Audio Review: Scimitar - Ep2.1 of Big Finish's 2nd Classic Audio Series

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 Buffy Davis as Karlov and Daniel Brennan as Drince.

Written by Trevor Baxendale
Sound Design by Martin Montague
Music by Jamie Robertson
Directed by Lisa Bowerman
Produced by Cavan Scott for Big Finish Productions

The crew of the Liberator awaken to find one of their own missing. Where is Dayna? Has their friend been taken or has she deserted them? The search for Dayna leads them to a deserted Federation ship in the middle of a dangerous asteroid field. But what is the secret of the Scimitar and can Avon get every member of his crew out of the asteroid field alive?

After the success of the stand-alone episode Warship and Big Finish's first all cast series set during Season 2, fans are now thrilled to have another all cast series, this time taking place during Season 3. Scimitar gets the new series off to an excellent start, kicking off with a mystery and a quest as the crew discover that Dayna is missing and begin to search for her. The trail leads first to a space station and then to the wreck of a Federation ship in the heart of an asteroid field, where they encounter betrayal and danger...

Big Finish tend not to re-cast characters, and as Josette Simon has shown no interest in returning to her role, a major challenge for new audio dramas set during Season 3 is that we do not hear Dayna speak. In The Liberator Chronicles, this is neatly side-stepped by the narrator or secondary character describing Dayna's actions or relaying her dialogue, but it would be more difficult to pull off convincingly in a full cast series. However, Big Finish have cleverly turned Dayna's absence to their advantage by making it the focal point that drives the plot.

The first all cast series fits neatly between two TV episodes of Season 2, and Big Finish are now building on their Season 3 storyline that begins some time after Rumours of Death with The Armageddon Storm and continues in The Liberator Chronicles Volume 9, with Del Grant now as a full-time member of the Liberator crew. It works very well; Grant is a marvellous character, brilliantly played by Tom Chadbon (who sounds no different from when he appeared in the episode Countdown). In the absence of Dayna, the crew has quite a different and interesting dynamic, as Avon and Grant come to terms with their shared past and the other crew members get to know him.

Scimitar plays to all the strengths of classic B7, mixing action and adventure with a nice amount of character interaction. Of special note is the way Grant seems to have an better understanding of Dayna than do her other crewmates, while Cally's grief and anger when Grant is believed to be lost make for a very powerful scene, with terrific performances by Jan Chappell and Paul Darrow. I felt that Vila was slightly underused, but it's inevitable in any all cast episode that some characters will have more to do than others, and Vila does come up with an amusing and very Vila-esque way of extracting information from Orac. All the acting is top-notch; Alistair Lock once again is an excellent Zen and Orac, while the two guest actors, Buffy Davis (Karlov) and Daniel Brennan (Drince) make their Federation characters completely believable, and seem to have had fun doing so.

The music and sound design are as good as ever. I especially liked the 'establishing shots' of spacecraft in flight that provide transitions between scenes. The cover art is by Grant Kempster, and you can see an animation of the creation of the Scimitar here: Scimitar Behind the Scenes.

There is a bundle of extras: cast and crew interviews, funny outtakes, trailers for the second episode, Fortuitas, and for The Armageddon Storm, and a copy of the latest issue of Vortex Magazine which includes interviews with producer Cavan Scott and writer Trevor Baxendale.

If you haven't yet done so, it's well worth getting hold of The Armageddon Storm. As well as reintroducing Del Grant and setting up the current all cast series, it's a terrific piece of audio drama in its own right and well deserves the Scribe Award it won earlier this year.

Scimitar is available from Big Finish on CD and digital download here: 2.1 Scimitar.
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.

Cast photograph courtesy of Big Finish Productions


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