The audio adventures of Dan Dare Volume 2 continue with three more episodes, each building upon the last, but now there is a wider focus on intrigue, politics and humanity. It’s a credit to the writers who manage to balance a reduction in action/adventure without hindering the excitement. In fact, Volume 2 ups the stakes in a big way and at times even gets quite dark.
Returning are our favourite heroes Dare, Digby and Peabody, along with supporting characters like Sondar and Sir Hubert. There are also some new friends we meet along the way, who we hope to hear more of in future volumes. If there’s one thing that Dan Dare does well, it’s casting.
Ed Stoppard as Dan Dare is out of this world! What he does is no easy task. Taking a character as brave and noble as Dan Dare and making him believable and relatable should be impossible, but Stoppard delivers. And, of course, he’s not alone. Geoff McGivern as Digby makes a side kick feel like a friend and Heida Reed as Peabody takes a corporate scientist and makes her a compelling person that’s caught between a rock and hard place.
Dynamic Sound and Music
Of course, the cast couldn’t do it alone. Director Andrew Mark Sewell has surrounded himself with a talented team and has led them all phenomenally! The music by Imran Ahmad is the stuff of Hollywood. Dynamic and as daring as its lead character. The music, and sometimes the absence of, is perfectly executed for maximum immersion. The tag team partner of music is sound design, which is, in itself a tag team, consisting of Wilfred Acosta and returning sound designer, Alistair Lock. Creating futuristic sounds that don’t feel too distant or foreign while aiding the story and performances seems like a daunting challenge but they make it look easy.
Writers Simon Guerrier, Patrick Chapman, and Colin Brake have delivered three separate scripts that all work together so cohesively that one might believe these were all written by the same person. The one exception being Reign of the Robots by Simon Guerrier which is quite a bit darker but helps set the tone for the stories to come.
Reign of the Robots by Simon Guerrier
BLOGTOR RATING – 9/10
Episode 4 of Dan Dare picks up immediately after the incredible cliffhanger concluding ‘Dan Dare Volume 1’ and delivers a grittier story than the previous episodes had been. Humanity has, seemingly, vanished, at least from London and our heroes are pitted against a powerful robot army that is cruel and unrelenting.
This episode is cold, and surprisingly brutal, at times. Writer Simon Guerrier delivers a different kind of action/adventure than we had previously experienced. It’s a harsh story that pushes the boundaries of our heroes and the world of Dan Dare. It may not be as “fun” as its predecessors but it does a great job building upon the characters and expanding our expectations for what’s to come.
Operation Saturn by Patrick Chapman
BLOGTOR RATING – 8/10
Earth has been cleaned up after the robot invasion but a new threat, though coming from Saturn, is closer to home than ever. Dare, Digby and Peabody are sent on a mission to retrieve the remains of crew and ship, the Nautilus, and discover new dangers in the Solar System.
Again we have a different type of action/adventure story from Volume 1. This time, writer Patrick Chapman, gives us more of a thriller. The thoughts and reflections towards the end by Dan Dare are excellently written and performed. Ed Stoppard carries the weight of each new adventure as if genuinely affected. However, it is guest star, Jonathan Rhodes that steals this show with his performance as the arrogant Blasko.
Prisoners of Space by Colin Drake
BLOGTOR RATING – 9/10
The closing story is fittingly the most exciting. Seeds had been planted through the previous stories that allow Episode 6 to be all it deserves to be. When a Fleet student and Digby get pulled into an unexpected scenario Dan Dare and the gang take action which leaves us with a conclusion that will leave listeners eager for more.
It should be said that Raad Rawi as the Mekon delivers an exceptionally solid performance here. While Rawi is constantly excellent he somehow makes the evil, alien villain, human. The writers have done a terrific job of interpreting and moulding the character of the Mekon but it’s Rawi’s delivery that carries weight and meaning that just make the Mekon believable.
Script Editor Colin Brake does a standout job of taking everything that’s been building up over the last 5 episodes and paying them off while still contributing to the possibilities of more stories. With a growing cast of characters, we’re treated to some exciting moments and a final battle worth the wait.
Now with 6 episodes of Dan Dare in audio form we seem to be only picking up momentum. The cast and crew constantly deliver top grade material and each episode enriches the next. The stories have depth and reflect our present, past and future but at no point taking focus from the great science fiction fun. Dan Dare Volume 2 is a must!
Final Blogtor Rating – 9/10
Episode 4 – Reign of the Robots by Simon Guerrier
Dan Dare and his crew finally return to Earth. Landing in central London, they find the city deserted – or that’s how it seems at first. But soon Dare faces an army of ruthless machines, robots who have conquered the planet and placed the surviving humans in slave camps. The robots are too powerful and too numerous to be resisted, and their invasion is complete. With limited resources, Dare, Digby and Peabody face their greatest challenge yet – to liberate planet Earth. But the task becomes more desperate than ever when Dan discovers the alien force behind the robot invasion…
Episode 5 – Operation Saturn by Patrick Chapman
As work begins to rebuild planet Earth after the devastation of the robot invasion, Dare and his friends in Space Fleet remain vigilant, certain that it is only a matter of time before the Mekon launches a fresh attack. When the wreck of the Nautilus – an experimental ship lost over a decade before – appears in orbit of the moon, Dare, Digby and Peabody are sent to investigate. They find the ship and its crew were destroyed by advanced alien weapons. All clues lead them to Saturn’s moons. With Earth still vulnerable our heroes must journey to an unknown world – to discover who sent the Nautilus back, not realising that for once the source of their latest conflict comes from a lot closer to home. Not all would-be conquerors of planet Earth are alien…
Episode 6 – Prisoners of Space by Colin Brake
After a sequence of near non-stop adventures Dare, Digby and Peabody find themselves in a strange limbo of paranoid calm. Whilst there’s been no sign of the Mekon anywhere in the solar system, Dare is certain Earth hasn’t seen the last of the evil alien. Mysterious spaceship disappearances near Venus, an Academy student accidentally launching a prototype new spacecraft, and a floating prison cell in space… reveal themselves as all part of the Mekon’s latest plan to defeat his arch-enemy Dan Dare once and for all. The first season of Dan Dare concludes with daring space action, fearless heroics and the revelation of devastating secrets concerning Space Fleet…
A fourth bonus disc contains a documentary about the making of this series.
Dan Dare features some mild swearing and content which may not be suitable for younger listeners.
Written By: Simon Guerrier, Patrick Chapman, Colin Brake
Directed By: Andrew Mark Sewell
Ed Stoppard (Dan Dare), Geoff McGivern (Digby), Heida Reed (Professor Peabody), Michael Cochrane (Sir Hubert), Raad Rawi (The Mekon)
Amy Humphreys (Eko), Dean Harris (George Bryan), Dianne Weller (Onboard Computer), Bijan Daneshmand (Sondar), Jonathan Rhodes (Blasco), Nicholas Briggs (The Vora), Matthew Turmaine (The Prime Minister), Diane Spencer (Flight Control), Fiona McAlpine (Maxwell), Robert G Slade (Old Timer), Noof McEwan (Cadet Flamer Spry), Alistair Lock (Treen Captain)
Associate Producer Fiona McAlpine
Development Producer Patrick Chapman
Series Script Editor Colin Brake
Executive Producer Simon Moorhead
Producer/Director Andrew Mark Sewell
Executive Producers for Big Finish Nicholas Briggs and Jason Haigh-Ellery
A B7 Production in association with Big Finish