As the title of this latest (seventh) UNIT boxset from Big Finish suggests, this collection of stories is about things we’ve met before. What this set does is take that idea and put it in the hands of some different writers from the bulk of Big Finish’s recent new-Who releases. How did they do?
First up is a two-part story by Chris Chapman. The title, Hosts Of The Wirrn, tells us what we need to know: the almost unstoppable Wirrn are back and death will surely follow as they try to take over all those they meet. It’s good to see an idea get two discs to develop and Chris Chapman takes his time painting the setting – a secret base dedicated to fighting bio-threats. There’s a new character, Shana Siddiqui keen to help Osgood but, as it must, things soon go wrong. It’s a good story for Ingrid Oliver who gets to stretch the character of Osgood nicely.
The story mixes combat, science, difficult decisions and sacrifices along with too many great performances to mention. Apart from the UNIT team suddenly all being out of London (the story might have been challenging to set in a major city), this is a strong outing for the UNIT team and we hope we get more soon from Chris Chapman.
Second story (and third disc) is Breach Of Trust by David K Barnes. The revisitation is the arrival of refugees from the Kalvyri , a race of aliens who communicate by song. Osgood takes in mother and daughter Vara and Norei who are intent on helping UNIT defeat a forthcoming invasion, but just what are their real motives?
It’s a strong story with powerful central performances and also sets Kate Stewart against colleagues, so Jemma Redgrave gets to deliver some strong scenes as the ethics of capital punishment are to the fore. There’s a real test of ‘right’ versus pragmatic, and military preference against the more humanitarian ideals of Osgood. There are no easy answers in this great story.
The set ends with Open The Box by Roy Gill. The synopsis gives away too much: Captain Chin Lee (from third Doctor story The Mind Of Evil) is back and again played by Pik-Sen Lim. With that hint, a quick refresher puts mind control very much to the fore, and the story plays out largely as could be guessed. The UNIT team happen to visit the Pandora Institute for mental fortitude training, just as they are about to enact a secret plan. All too convenient and in many ways the first half was like an episode of The Avengers rather than UNIT. The story isn’t bad, just constrained by its setup.
Overall a strong set with plenty to enjoy, and a nice change of pace from some of the large screen stories in recent sets.