In Review: Big Finish: Dan Dare Volume 01

I’m an American who had never heard of Dan Dare before.

Three audio adventures based on the Eagle comic strip “Dan Dare” created by Rev. Marcus Morris, written and drawn by Frank Hampson

Episode 1 – Voyage to Venus by Richard Kurti and Bev Doyle

Brilliant test pilot, Dan Dare, is chosen to fly the Anastasia – a new experimental spacecraft – on its maiden voyage to Venus. This isn’t exploration – it is to make first contact with a mysterious civilisation that has sent technological secrets as a goodwill gesture.

However, what Dan, Digby and Professor Peabody find on Venus isn’t goodwill, but a terrifyingly intelligent, cold-hearted ruler, the Mekon. A creature destined to become Dan Dare’s nemesis – and Earth’s greatest threat…

Episode 2 –  The Red Moon Mystery by James Swallow

Unable to return to Earth, Dan Dare and the crew of the Anastasia head to the desolate planet Mars, where Dan’s estranged Uncle Ivor is part of a research team working on a top-secret archaeological dig; but when they find the base wrecked and the scientists missing, Dare, Digby and Professor Peabody soon discover that the Red Planet is not nearly as dead as everyone thought and that Ivor’s expedition has woken an army of deadly insect-creatures that threaten to swarm and engulf the Earth… Dare must stop the aliens, but can he really resort to genocide in order to save the human race?

Episode 3 – Marooned on Mercury by Marc Platt

When a distress call summons the crew of the Anastasia to the burning wilderness of Mercury, they are reunited with their old ally, Sondar. He tells them of the beleaguered Mercurians who are held in thrall to a cruel new taskmaster – the Mekon! The exiled Mekon is rallying his forces, plotting a desperate revenge against his former homeworld of Venus and his hated enemy, Colonel Dan Dare!

Review: I’m an American who had never heard of Dan Dare before. My taste in  entertainment runs retro, though. I’m extremely fond of Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, so after some background research, I knew Dan Dare would be right up my alley.

There is one problem that plagues all those lovely fictional futures from the past, however. They are simply out of synch with the actual future. The original Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future comics  from Eagle came out in the 1950’s and took place in the 1990’s. Writers Richard Kurti, Bev Doyle, James Swallow, and Marc Platt all knew not to open that can of worms. Instead, they set the trio of updated stories in an unspecified future, combining modern understanding of outer space with the pulp sensibilities of yesteryear. Once the writers did that, the whole narrative flowed really well.

My favorite theme was corporate privatization of space exploration. It’s something all fans of NASA and the other space agencies wrestle with. Heida Reed brought sincerity to Peabody as she functioned as the mouthpiece for the marvelously obvious easter egg of Eagle Corp.

I also really enjoyed Geoff McGivern. He gave former batman stereotype Digby three dimensions. It’ll be interesting to hear how or if the ship’s name, Anastasia, is still tied to him and the secrets he’s keeping.

Ed Stoppard rocked in what could have been the thankless titular role. He had to play a modern variation of the lantern-jawed hero. In an age rife with unhinged antiheroes, I’m glad he made the superb effort. I’m truly over the grim and gritty existential crises that drive current entertainment. Stoppard’s Dare just got on with things. Thank you very much!

I can’t wait for the second volume of stories. Three more tales are scheduled for 2017.

  • You can purchase Dan Dare Volume 01 here.

Written By: Richard Kurti, Bev Doyle, James Swallow, Marc Platt

Directed By: Andrew Mark Sewell

Cast

Ed Stoppard  (Dan Dare), Geoff McGivern (Digby), Heida Reed (Professor Peabody), Michael Cochrane (Sir Hubert), Raad Rawi (The Mekon)

Bijan Daneshmand (Sondar), Amber Aga (Treen General), David O’Mahony (Flight Engineer), Kelly Burke (Flight Control/Ergulux), Dianne Weller (Onboard Computer), Hugh Fraser (Ivor Dare), Jake Maskall (Sergeant Scott), Jalleh Alizadeh (Corporal Dajani), Alistair Lock (Crewman Galloway/ Treen Captain), Greg Keith (Doctor Harlan Stoll), Diane Spencer (Teacher), Ryan Sewell (Flamer Spry), Nicholas Briggs (Garlock)

 

Associate Producer Fiona McAlpine

Development Producer Patrick Chapman

Series Script Editor Colin Brake

Executive Producer Simon Moorhead

Producer/Director Andrew Mark Sewell

Executive Producers for Big Finish Nicholas Briggs and Jason Haigh-Ellery

A B7 Production in association with Big Finish

9.7
Big Finish: Dan Dare Volume 01
  • The Good: Story, Performances
  • The Bad:I have to wait for Volume 02
  • Story
    9.0
  • Performances
    10
  • Audio
    10

Raissa Devereux became a life-long genre fan at the age of four when she first saw The Wizard of Oz at a screening at Arizona State University. Years later, she graduated from A.S.U. as an English major, History minor, Whovian, and Trekkie. Now a Florida transplant, she loves the opportunity Sci-Fi Pulse has given her to further explore space travel, time travel, masked heroes, gothic castles, and good yarns.
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