Wonders of wonders I'm doing stuff that's not Benny or Doctor Who this session. When I started this project I wanted to do the entire Big Finish back catalog. Today we move on to Sapphire and Steel, and I'm bringing some new friends along: Jamie and Monica. And let's be honest, if I'm pretentious enough to call myself the Unofficial Benny Pimp I'm pretentious enough to call myself the Unofficial Sapphire and Steel Pimp.
Before we get on to the audio though here's your regularly scheduled pimping that's not Benny or Sapphire and Steel in nature.
For the Bond lover among my loyal 15 check out Simon's latest blog entry, a lovely critique of the Bond literary catalog.
Have you ever hung out with Rob Shearman? Have you ever ridden Splash Mountain? Have you ever ridden Splash Mountain with Rob Shearman and gotten horribly wet while he stayed dry? No? Well, neither have I but somebody did and they made a t-shirt commemorating said wetness.
Speaking of t-shirts how many of you, my loyal 15, would be down with Audio Time Team apparel? Not only am I pretentious enough to gloss myself various nicknames, but I have a big enough ego to think that people might actually buy stuff with our logo on it when I get one. Is my ego right or is it alone?
Now, on to the audios. Today we'll be doing The Passenger. We're hanging out at The Coffee Shoppe getting hopped up on caffeine. After teaching Jamie where the play button is we get things rolling.
Scott: (on the opening theme) Sounds like King Friday is about to show up.
The man speaking finds he can't get a signal and I note he must not have Verizon. Then he gets a signal and starts bitching out some poor bastard on the other line. Which leads to him sporting a chubby when he sees the train is steam powered. Boys and their toys.
Jamie: It's the original intro to the tv series.
Monica: So they (Sapphire and Steel) just appeared on this train?
Sapphire stutters her way through asking Burgess to see his book.
Me: Is she channeling Shatner?
Burgess' chubby gets bigger as he starts going all anorak about trains. Maybe he needs to spend some time with The Station Agent.
Monica: When is this set?
Jamie: That's what they're trying to figure out.
Monica: I know, but I'm assuming he's talking about a cell phone.
Jamie: It's set in 2004.
Things get all creepy when Steel encounters a girl asking about her father.
Me: (sounding like The Empty Child) Are you my daddy?
More creepy stuff involving the girl. Steel wants to see her again and asks Sapphire to find her.
Me: Why don't you find her yourself?
Jamie: He doesn't have the same powers.
Yet more creepy stuff with the little girl. And then we get more people on the train. Mrs. Warburton sounds a bit like Maggie Stables. We cut back and forth between Steel grilling Mrs. Warburton and Sapphire dealing with Creepy Girl and Burgess. Burgess mutters in his sleep about not meaning to kill anyone.
Monica: Is he talking about his daughter?
Jamie: That's part of the mystery.
They've broken these up like they've done the Doctor Who audios as we get to the end of the first audio, learning that everyone on the train is a ghost. The second part opens with Andrews popping a cap in someone's ass. Mrs. Warburton talks about feeling all tingly.
Me: Did Tom Baker look at her?
And Mark Gatiss comes to save the day as Gold. Is he required to sound creepy in all his roles? Or does Big Finish just go to him when they've got a character that's supposed to be evil/creepy sounding? Either way Gold stalks off all pissy when he discovers his services are not currently needed.
Andrews starts to tell his tale and blubbering about how he screwed up. Jamie and I both start making pouty faces. We go from one whiny male to another as Burgess talks about his dream involving the little girl.
Gold makes a horrible pun involving Time when he sees the conductor.
Jamie: For the "time" being.
The train stops again and Sapphire notes she can't read any potential new passengers.
Me: Because Mrs. Warburton won't shut up.
Jamie: Shut your big yapper!
The lightbulb goes on as Mrs. Warburton finally realizes they're trapped in a Sartre play.
Me: God I wish that car had destroyed her vocal cords.
Gold and Steel fight over whether to destroy the train or not.
Me: It would take care of Mrs. Warburton.
Jamie: Maybe not. The car didn't.
All three elements decide they need to protect Burgess. Which of course means they can't blow the train up. They also realize that they're acting out the book and Sapphire notes that Burgess is playing the role of the victim, the one that apparently all the passengers in the book kill. And then we get to the end of disk one.
Jamie: What do you think so far?
Me: I'm liking it.
Monica: He couldn't have killed everyone, but he must've had a hand in some of the deaths, like Mrs. Warburton.
Jamie: That's the thing with these audios. There's no exposition, you just get thrown into the middle of the action like Sapphire and Steel, having to figure things out as they do. You never know exactly who they are or who they work for. All you know is that they need to keep time on track, no pun intended. It's more creepy than the tv show because you can't see what's going on. And that's all I'm saying.
We send Jamie on a pizza run to Little Ceasar's. He returns and we pop the second disk in. Speaking of which, my understanding has always been that Benny is only a single disk because it costs too much and the audios don't sell enough. You can't tell me that Sapphire and Steel sell better than Benny to warrant to double disks. Yes, the stories are detailed, but Benny could be just as detailed if they let it go to two disks. I can't be the only one a twitter with the range of possibilities, say if they ever did a double disk Dave Stone audio for the Benny range.
Gold gets a whiff of whatever everyone else is smoking as he experiences the various dreams Burgess has been suffering from. He and Sapphire realize Time is all bent out of shape and causing the other passengers to blame Burgess for their various deaths.
Then we get treated to more warbling from Mrs. Warburton. She tries to rally the others to form a lynch mob to go after Burgess. Honestly, her voice is working on my last good nerve. Sapphire shuts her up briefly as she forces her to try and remember the real surname of her employer.
Burgess decides that he thinks he's been put on the train as a punishment.
Me: Stuck on a train with Mrs. Warburton?
The wheels on the train go round and round faster as we move from the third episode to the fourth one. Steel starts asking for Gold which leads us to do our best Goldmember impersonations.
Me: God, just let them kill Burgess if it means Mrs. Warburton will shut up.
Gold talks Burgess into sitting at the train controls.
Me: He said throbbing...
Steel continues to talk to the passenger, trying to keep Time from getting back with Morris Day in between Gold being a rather lousy motivational speaker.
Me: He said friction...
Jamie: He said pull the lever...
Burgess talks about going to jail and I wonder if he went to Federal pound me in the ass prison.
The passengers slowly start disappearing until we're left with Mrs. Warburton.
Jamie: (subdued) Ya.
Me: Boo frickin' who. Shut the hell up and disappear already.
Jamie: Even when she's wrong she won't shut up.
She finally does and we all cheer for joy.
Sapphire bitches about Gold's tactics even though she and Steel admit Gold saved the day.
Me: (as Sapphire) Thank you Gold for saving our lives.
We finish the audio and Monica becomes our S&S version of Angelie as she falls asleep. We brief her on how the audio ended.
Not sure when we'll get together again for the next Sapphire and Steel installment but check back on the 30th for the next main Time Team installment.