1.3 – All Fall Down
Ring a ring of roses
A pocket full of posies
We all fall down
– Traditional English Nursery Rhyme
Sapphire and Steel are summoned to a condemned warehouse in the City area of London. There is a team in the warehouse transcribing documents and cataloguing artefacts found beneath the land the warehouse sits on. The warehouse was built over a plague pit dating back to the Black Death.
As expected, the past starts to creep in and affect the present. Why is Sapphire’s voice stored on a wax cylinder recording from 200 years ago? What is in the book that Dr Webber keeps to himself? And why is everyone coming down with what appears to be bubonic plague? Sapphire is trapped and Steel is falling ill. How can our heroes save the day…?
The early episodes of the audio series can feel a little stilted. It is clear that Big Finish were trying to do three things at once: stay faithful to the original television series; create their own series that didn’t rely too heavily on the original series; extend the Sapphire and Steel universe. Because of these limits, the writers feel as though they haven’t been allowed to properly stretch themselves: when you have lead characters who can manipulate time and go “anywhere” there is a breach, keeping them in the UK seems, to me, to be needlessly trapping your characters in a self-imposed box. However, it has to be said that Sapphire and Steel is a very British show and, like the new series of the BBC’s Doctor Who, the characters do have a special affinity for the UK.
With that said, the writers are able to play with the format. Nigel Fairs should be congratulated for his leadership in bringing the television series to the audio realm and doing so so neatly. As with all the episodes the musical score is wonderfully creepy and the audio special effects bring the episode to life – whether it is evoking a small claustrophobic room or bringing 19th Century London to life, imagining the scenes requires no great stretch on the part of the audience.
As well, this episode returns Silver (David Collings) to the series. Collings is wonderful reprising his role as the bumbling but very English – almost eccentrically so – Silver. In the television episodes he was almost a hindrance: he was allowed to come up with sufficient gadgets and technical brilliance to move the plot along, but he was never allowed to exist in his own right. The audio plays fix this and we have several scenes where Silver has his own conversations with the other (human) characters to do his own detective work.
Despite it’s very minor failings, this episode helps to cement the characters in our minds and to re-establish Sapphire and Steel as our only defence against Time’s incursions. Far more than that, with the atmosphere and the ‘feel’ of the episode, it helps to keep a continuity with the television series.
Posted on 22 June, 2010, in Sapphire & Steel and tagged big finish, david collings, david warner, detective, Doctor Who, ghosts, Nigel Fairs, sapphire, Sapphire & Steel, sapphire and steel, silver, Special effect, steel, susannah harker, television, Television program, time travel. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.