UNIT is back! Kate Stewart and Petronella Osgood are back in a new box set entitled UNIT: Shutdown! Over the next four days, we’ll be reviewing each story one by one, starting, as one often does, with the first story; Power Cell. The question is, is Power Cell a powerful story, or should it be locked up in a cell?
Osgood and Captain Josh Carter are sent to investigate the disappearance of a UNIT scientist.
Meanwhile, alien technology has fallen into the hands of Lyme Industries, and Kate Stewart can’t persuade the company’s CEO, Felicity Lyme, to give it back.
But UNIT find themselves fighting a third battle when innocent people start to die. Who are the mysterious assassins? And what does Felicity Lyme want with top secret alien technology?
It’s weird. I first listened to the first “New” UNIT boxset, UNIT Extinction, on the train down to London for the Doctor Who Festival last year, and it made the four hour round trip much more enjoyable. Now, as we’re onto the second box set, I find myself booking yet another trip, which is similar but different. Maybe when UNIT Silenced comes out in November, I’ll find myself on yet another journey; who knows? There’s no such thing as coincidence after all…
The pre-title sequence does it’s job perfectly, adding a great sense of mystery and intrigue into the story, reminding the listener that in UNIT, nobody is really safe. Then there’s the theme tune; wow. It’s bold, it’s epic and it sounds a lot like the opening credits for a blockbuster movie or video game. Now I come to think of it, a UNIT video game could be a lot of fun.
Now, I love Osgood, I think she’s a great character that’s filled with intellect and awkwardness and intrigue, much like the Doctor Who fanbase; I must admit though, that until Matt Fitton wrote the scene that comes immediately after the title sequence, I never had her down to be on my dream pub quiz team. Now I do.
After being reintroduced to Osgood at a pub quiz, we’re reunited with Kate and Josh back at UNIT HQ. The lines that are given to Kate are written especially well I think, as we get some more slight detail about her family life, learning that she has an eldest child whose cooking can be questionable. I think we all know someone like that though.
When Kate and Josh are investigating the events of the pre-title sequence, we’re soon introduced to Felicity Lyme, of the seemingly infamous Lyme Industries. Felicity seems to regard UNIT as business partners with Lyme Industries, however Kate seems more than reluctant to agree with her. Straight from the off, you can tell that Felicity Lyme is the type of person who is so business-oriented that humanity and compassion seems to be buried in the depths of her mind. A woman with a clear objective and strong motivations; the type of woman you don’t want to have to cross paths with.
It seems that the government have given Lyme Industries access to all kinds of highly sensitive UNIT technology and findings, making Kate rather annoyed. I can’t help but wonder if this is an allegory for the UK government wanting to privatise a lot of what used to be the public sector to try and save on money; if it is, Matt Fitton has done an incredible job of making the matter interesting and engaging to listen to.
Kate, Osgood and Josh seem really suspicious about Lyme Industries, and quite rightly too; it seems that Felicity Lyme knows much more than she’s letting on. It seems as if UNIT itself is corrupt on the inside too, meaning Kate doesn’t know who she can really trust. I love it when everyone is suspect.
Osgood’s quiz buddies are seemingly embroiled in whatever is going on, anyone that comes into contact with Osgood is seemingly disappearing, which makes this whole mystery a lot more personal for her. Personally, I love it when the personal and professional become entwined in a story like this, as it allows for normally rational characters to make totally rash decisions.
There’s a great scene which is against the clock in which Kate and Josh are trying to save Doctor Eastwood; the music is very foreboding and intense, which really adds to the sense of hurriedness and panic. It transpires that Lyme Industries are wanting to move all of the research that UNIT has been doing to their other base of operations in Canary Wharf; I wonder if Lyme Industries bought the space from Torchwood?
When we learn about the menace in the shadows (Another good title for a story, “The Menace In The Shadows”) we only get drip-fed information, which makes them a lot more intriguing, as we don’t learn everything about them all at once.
Felicity Lyme is an absolutely great villainous character; she’s not the type of evil human from Classic Who, who would only be considered to be moustache-twirling, nor is she a human villain with a redeeming factor, or at least not yet anyway; if you want to imagine her as someone from the televised Doctor Who, think of her as a Miss Kizlet from The Bells of Saint John. One thing that is rather odd is that it seems that Felicity is getting bored of UNIT chasing after her and the stolen artifacts, so she relinquishes them back to their rightful owners.
It seems that the Tengobushi are wanting to hunt Osgood for some reason, or wanting to find something that Osgood owns; and they’ve followed her back to her home. Luckily Josh is at Osgood and Jay’s rescue, just in the nick of time; although it seems as if not everyone will be able to get out of this situation unscathed…
The conclusion of Power Cell is rather sombre and bleak; it seems that UNIT really is on the brink of falling apart. Oh dear.
Should you want to purchase UNIT: Shutdown, it’s currently available as a physical box set and as a download from Big Finish, both for £20.00 which you can purchase here.