Big Finish Terrahawks – series 3 review

Since its revival in 2015, Terrahawks – the audio continuation of Gerry Anderson and Christopher Burr’s 1980’s puppet show – has delivered two impressive series packed full of entertaining call backs, appallingly bad puns and some not-so-subtle digs at the wider Anderson universe.

Masterminded by Jamie Anderson, who directs, produces and also writes some episodes, the second run culminated in an almighty space battle and the apparent deaths of Hawkeye, Kate Kestrel and Dr Tiger Ninestein when the Terrahawks allied themselves with the vile Zelda against a greater foe.

While the opener of this 8-part continuation, No Second Chances, necessarily unpicks that ending, it does so in a fascinating way. With the others saved, Ninestein falls heroically (referencing Doctor Who’s ill-fated Adric as he goes), and the subsequent stories build on one of Terrahawks central conceits; that Ninestein can simply be replaced by one of his fellow clones.

Thanks to Zelda’s previous murderous attempts, and the destruction of Hawknest, there are only a few options and these new recruits cannot be programmed with Ninestein’s hard-won experience and memories as designed. We tear rapidly through the alternates; the inept joker Twostein features in a frankly bonkers tale of Zelda’s attempt to take the Earth by supplanting the Queen at Buckingham Palace, while the hot-headed Sixstein, a clone who has been waiting all his life for this moment, gets involved in the tussle over a new super weapon.

This brings us to Threestein, the pacifist who struggles to square his outlook with the responsibly thrust upon him. As we follow his story, we are treated to the return of some of Zelda’s colourful menagerie; ep. 5, Living Legend, brings back Uri the telekinetic space bear, while the next – The Prisoner of Zelda – plays with the setup of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village and sees MOID return, even revealing the shapeshifter’s real name. The series concludes with another dramatic finale, one that could not be more different from Series Two as both Zelda and Threestein consider the unthinkable… peace.

While most of the characters are voiced by the hardworking principal cast of Jeremy Hitchen, Robbie Stevens, Denise Bryer and Beth Chalmers, we were thrilled at the casting of Anderson legend David Graham (Thunderbirds’ Parker), who sparkles in the dual roles of famous space explorer Elias Crick and mildly unpleasant inventor Professor Otto Maddox.

As with the previous series, Terrahawks maintains its distinctive and complex level of sound design, with much credit to Richard Fox and Lauren Yason (and the former contributes some interesting notes to the CD Extras on the subject.)

Throughout, Terrahawks retains its big heart and its comic chops too; there are plenty of truly atrocious puns and silly voices on offer, the debut of a new vehicle Seahawk, plus some on-point satire as Zelda gets to employ ‘alternative facts’. There is even an utterly daft subplot which sees Yung-Star become the winner of a ghastly X-Factor style show!

Displaying a real confidence throughout, Series 3 evolves the show past the its traditional ‘monster of the week’ format and into something more satisfying; Terrahawks on audio has, in our opinion, grown far beyond its beginnings. If you enjoyed the show on television, you’re in for a real treat here.

@IanMcArdell

Big Finish Series 3 Video Trailer