I have been meaning to post here for a while now, but haven’t got around to it. In the meantime, I have been listening to a lot of different series.
I mentioned Pilgrim: Collected Series 1-4 before. It is written by Sebastien Baczkiewicz, with whom I was hitherto unfamiliar, but I loved this. It is a collection of BBC Radio 4 afternoon plays about an man who was cursed on the road to Canterbury in 1185, by the King of the Fairies, for denying the existance of the world of magic. He is given immortality and is forced to work as an emissary of the fairies (or Greyfolk) in the world of men.
Based in the modern day, I initially thought that this was a bit like Hellblazer, and while there are parallels, it is quite different and the show evolves as it goes on. William Palmer (the Pilgrim of the title) isn’t a ducker and diver like John Constantine. He has a conscience, but mostly he is a bit world weary. He wishes to finally have his death. He doesn’t want to get involved a lot of the time.
I also thought that this was going to be an urban fantasy. I’m not sure that the holds true either. The stories happen at a very mundance, almost kitchen sink level, but it has an element of folk horror to it. It is about old magic coming from the dark places that people have forgotten about, and bargains struck long ago and long forgotten.
One of the things that I like about Pilgrim is that the story doesn’t stay static. The character and his circumstances are changed by what happens to him throughout.
I listened to this in the car over the course of a couple of weeks and absolutely loved it. There are 16 disks in the first box set, making up 12 hours approx of listening. I have already ordered the box set for series 5 - 7.
So if that sounds like your own particular cup of Earl Grey, give it a shot.
Big Finish are currently doing a series of HG Wells adaptions. They did The Invisible Man recently with John Hurt in the title role and the second release in the series was The First Men in the Moon. While I have read some Wells (The Time Machine and the War of the Worlds), I wasn’t familiar with this story at all. So I was a bit surprised about how funny it was. It is a bit of a satire on British colonialism,
The performances were great, including Nigel Planer as Professor Cavor.
The next HG Wells adaptation on the agenda is The Shape of Things to Come with BF Stalwart Nicola Walker in the lead. I have downloaded it but will get around to listening sometime next week.
I also listened to a series called Hood from Spiteful Puppet. The series has 4 separate stories (Noble Secrets, The Scribe of Sherwood, Warrior’s Harvest and Kings Command). Of those, all but Scribe of Sherwood are full cast audios.
The series is yet another take on Robin Hood. The main protagonist is Philip DeNicolet - Sherrif of Nottingham. He is basically a good man, but naive and a little blinded by love. The initial story sees him being robbed by a servant of Nottingham’s taxes for the year. In order to keep the woman he loves, and regain his position, and avoid execution, he must turn to outlaws to get the money back. Things do not quite go his way.
I liked the opening story. It had a neo-noir feel to it. Philip is a man trapped in a world, where he doesn’t quite grasp how dangerous things are. Friends are not necessarily friends. Lady Marian isn’t necessarily all sweetness and light. He has to make compromises to try to get himself clear. And he has to adopt an alias (two guesses what the alias is ).
The Scribe of Sherwood has a smaller cast and goes into backstory of the characters. Rather than a full cast story, it is mostly played as a tale told to Alan A Dale by the fireside,
The last two stories have a bit more of a straight adventure feel to them, with fewer complications. The characters are in a very different place. Warrior’s Harvest has a hint of bringing the band back together. King’s Command is a riff on Star Wars/The Hidden Fortress with the Philip, John, Will and Co. attempting to rescue Queen Eleanor from a besieged castle. And just to remind you that they are riffing on Star Wars, they refer to an ale house as a “Wretched hive of scum and villainy” and they get passage on a ship owned by a Captain Han. Not so subtle.
I found this show enjoyable. The dialogue and the acting are a bit rough in places. I suspect that I am a little bit spoiled by the production values on Big Finish. I would give this a qualified recommendation.
In closing, if campy soap opera horror is your thing, Big Finish is doing a 50% off offer on their Dark Shadows range this weekend.