It’s time to get old school. With new school. With the oldest school possible. That’s right, this week on GallifreyArchive, I’ll be reviewing the four tales featuring both new and old UNIT teams in a battle with the oldest team the Earth has to offer, the Silurians and Sea Devils. Today, I’ll be reviewing the second story in the set, Tidal Wave.
When an experimental tidal power generator needs its eco-friendly credentials checked, Kate Stewart calls in an expert.
Soon, Jo Jones is bound for ‘Project Charybdis’ in the South Atlantic, along with an awestruck Osgood.
But out at sea, a treacherous plan is set in motion to awake an ancient race. Beneath the seabed an army is sleeping – an army of Sea Devils!
Sh*t’s about to go down. You can tell within the first twenty seconds. What a way to start a story. And then you have Kate Stewart being at her most badass. 80 seconds in and this story is in very good stead. Then you hear that familiar voice of Jo Jones (formerly Jo Grant). Within 110 seconds, I’m sold. Tidal Wave has one of the strongest starts of any Big Finish story ever. We’ve not even had the title sequence yet.
If there’s one thing that you’re guaranteed to hear in a UNIT story which contains both Osgood and someone from the Doctor’s past, it’s fangirling. We had it in Call To Arms briefly, and we’re getting it in Tidal Wave too. Petronella Osgood loves Jo Jones, but then again, who doesn’t?
I don’t know if it’s just me and my familiarity with the matter, or if it’s noticeable to everyone else who’s a regular Big Finish listener, but it’s becoming more and more apparent when you’re listening to a Guy Adams script; it’s almost like he has a trademark sense of humour and timing. It’s in no way a bad thing, personally I love it, but I wonder whether it’s because Guy has become more comfortable writing for Big Finish. He has a load coming out in the next month, so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
Also, I hope y’all are ready for twists. Because if you thought that Call To Arms was twisty enough, you’ve not heard anything yet. I mean, if you’ve listened to Call To Arms (which you should have done if you’re listening to Tidal Wave) then it’s not the twistiest of twists, but it’s a twist nonetheless.
What I love about the first twenty minutes of Tidal Wave is that, even though other characters are present and are used, it’s essentially a two-hander between Jo and Osgood; and their chemistry is just electric. Then, when you’re at peak Josgood (yes, they’re called that now)(and yes, we’re teased a little bit about Jo’s… bedroom life) , the meat of the story kicks in, and it’s a rather rude awakening…
Considering that you’re listening to a UNIT story, and you’re reading my review of a UNIT story, I think it’s safe for me to assume that you’re a bit of a Doctor Who fan. By a bit I mean a hell of a lot. In that case, chances are you’re somewhat familiar with a base under siege style story; even if you’re relatively new to Doctor Who, you’ll know about Under The Lake and Cold War. Tidal Wave feels very much like a claustrophobic base under siege story. If you’re into those, you’re going to absolutely love this.
There’s a great conversation between a Sea Devil and a slightly terrified Jo Jones, which brilliantly manages to put Katy Manning in the spotlight once again; she’s not the most confident in this situation, but why should she be? She’s trying to keep peace between humanity and Sea Devils for goodness sake. I know for a fact that if I had that responsibility thrust upon me, I’d be crapping myself. Jo Jones really is an everyperson, and Katy Manning absolutely nails it.
I never thought that I would be sat in my room during the evening almost crying at a Sea Devil and their actions. I thought wrong. In Tidal Wave, Guy Adams has not only written a beautiful story about how humanity can try and better itself, but also showing the humanity in other species. We are not the only beings in the universe capable of compassion, and Guy Adams hammers that point home.
Overall, Tidal Wave is a small story in terms of cast, interactions and scale, but it’s clear that the repercussions are going to be a lot larger than I think I anticipate. Special praise has to go to the brilliant Katy Manning for one of my favourite Jo Grant (or Jones) performances in any medium, she really does knock it out of the park.
Should you want to purchase UNIT: Assembled, it’s currently available from Big Finish here for £20 for a limited time for either the CD or digital download.