1.1 – The Passenger
This is a choo-choo train
Puffing down the track.
Now it’s going forward.
Now it’s going back.
In this, the first outing for David Warner and Susannah Harker, our eponymous heroes meet on a train. Their “target” is Philip Burgess, a steam train enthusiast and antique book seller. While investigating, they realise that each of the carriages has it’s own time and each of the passengers in the carriage has their own story and their own connection with Philip Burgess. An old detective novel appears to be the trigger for the events. A new operative, Gold (Mark Gatiss), is also on the train in one of his first missions – how will his actions affect the resolution of the case? And what is Philip Burgess’ secret?
This is a strong, but safe, first outing for the audio adventures of Sapphire and Steel. Fans of the television series should have no problems with this: it’s set in an enclosed space, there is a single person to be protected from Time, there is mention of the Second World War. And yet, Big Finish have also stretched the material slightly – we have a new operative in Gold; a young, brash, untested operative who has his own way of doing things. This episode, and the ones that follow, appear to be set after the end of the television series but, cleverly, very little about the series is mentioned giving this the pedigree from the television without trying to ride it’s coattails.
This episode is not without it’s faults though. It is obvious that both the actors and the writers are trying to find their individual voices. David Warner plays Steel as a grumpy old man in this outing. I think he was aiming for the inflexible, unbending man of steel, but he came across as the guy you didn’t want to have ask for your ball back from. Susannah Harker as Sapphire seemed to be channeling Joanna Lumley too much for my liking. The supporting characters, with the exception of Gold, were nothing we hadn’t seen before – ghosts from a distant age, WWII and so on. But with all this, the episode and the actors work.
The challenges in creating an entirely new series in a new medium are met head on and Big Finish clearly understand what they need to do. The music and sound effects are wonderfully atmospheric and it is easy to listen to the episode and visualise the action. I was immediately drawn into the episode from the first few minutes of listening.
If you are new to Sapphire and Steel, there is no need to feel that you have to have seen the television series first. You can use The Passenger as your introduction and seamlessly become a fan.
Posted on 5 April, 2010, in Sapphire & Steel and tagged big finish, david warner, detective, ghosts, gold, mark gatiss, regret, sapphire, sapphire and steel, steam train, steel, susannah harker, World War II. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on 1.1 – The Passenger.