Synopsis: 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.
Review: Torchwood: Red Base by James Goss is a murder mystery, so I won’t spoil it. Before I begin my review, though, I’ll just apologize to the contestants in the very short-lived reality show — Eden — that loosely inspired the story.
As with last month’s Torchwood: Save Our Souls, James Goss had the unenviable job of crafting a fresh take on an Agatha Christie-style cozy mystery. He succeeds admirably, because he doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel. Also, he succeeds because Sgt. Andy Davidson is Sgt. Andy Davidson.
Additionally, Goss’ makes really sound structural choices. First, he starts the action in medias res. By the time Andy comes in, three crew members are already dead, and the remaining crew is massively paranoid. Second, Goss turns the notion of the red herring on its head by very cleverly compositing murder mystery tropes with an on point science fiction homage.
Third, Goss uses reality show tropes to organically provide motives for the characters. Is it the crew member who wants to win the game she doesn’t realize no one is watching? Is it the crew member who does realize no one is watching and just desperately wants to leave? Is there something else festering in a twisted soul left isolated for too long? Listeners are left on the edges of their seats until the very end.
Unfortunately, I can’t detail the supporting roles played by Kae Alexander, Jeremy Ang Jones, Rakie Ayola, and Ronak Patani without revealing more than I should. Suffice to say, they all perform with gusto and complete awareness of the story they’re telling.
For his part, Tom Price is in top form as usual. In his hands, Andy Davidson has truly evolved from unlikely hero to a full-fledged member of Torchwood and the overall Doctor Who universe.
Once again, Big Finish has proven mastery of the genre mash-up. I would enjoy more Torchwood whodunnits in the future.
- You can purchase Torchwood: Red Base here.
- Audio Production10