Created by former Doctor Who and Blake’s 7 writer Chris Boucher, Star Cops was an attempt to combine the best of science fiction and the wave of British police dramas that had proven their popularity in the late 1980s. It had a strong cast and a decent budget but outside factors (such as strikes and poor programming) led to the series being cancelled after screening only nine episodes.
Big Finish have taken up the challenge and created a fun and engaging serial that keeps things as gritty and real as the original series. It is not necessary to have seen the original series to enjoy this release at all. Although the original series was set in 2027 (30 years from when it was first broadcast and now a lot closer), the current series does not give us a timeline only that humans are now roaming the galaxy and that interplanetary police (known as Star Cops) help maintain order in the area.
The scripts by Andrew Smith, Ian Potter, Christopher Hatherall and Guy Adams are strong and compelling and do not push the limit in terms of length (most run about 50 minutes). They all involve the appearance of a fringe group, Mother Earth, who preach non-violent protest but seem to always be around when things go wrong and explosions happen. The stories are self-contained but have an over-reaching story arc that will conclude later this year with Part 2. From the four scripts of this current set, the middle two (Tranquility and Other Illusions and Lockdown) are the best while the other two are entertaining if a little underwhelming.
Of the original cast, David Calder reprises his role as leader Nathan Spring, Trevor Cooper slips into the un-PC shoes of Colin Devis again and Australian Linda Newton returns in a fleeting cameo (recorded in Australia) as Pal Kenzy. All three actors are wonderful in their roles and they show little signs in their voice of advancing years. The scripts also allow them to explore some of the more unpleasant aspects to their characters (especially Cooper’s Devin who is forced to confront his antiquated behaviour head on).
Director Helen Goldwyn has also assembled a good team of fresh faces to fill out the cast including Rakhee Thakrar (Priya Basu), Philip Olivier (Paul Bailey), Andrew Secombe (Brian Lincoln), Ewan Bailey (Martin Collyer), Nimmy March (Shayla Moss), Delroy Atkinson (Charles Hardin), and Zora Bishop (Armina Hamid). They all support the story well in their roles and keep the older cast members from stealing the show.
The sound and music by Martin Montague and Howard Carter is up to the usual high standard we have come to expect from Big Finish. As a bonus there are interviews with the cast and crew after each story.
Fans of Blake’s 7 and Doctor Who will enjoy this set, as will fans of the original series. It is another feather in the already burgeoning cap of Big Finish Productions.
Reviewed by Rodney Hrvatin
Rating out of 10: 8
Distributed by: Big Finish Productions
Released: May 2018
RRP: $50 CD, $25 Digital Download