Big Finish: UNIT 3 – Silenced

As the year draws to a close, Big Finish brings another bumper UNIT epic to warm the cockles. This time, an investigation of an energy buildup takes Kate and Osgood into conflict against one of the more insidious alien threats that the earth has faced – and once it’s time for a Silent Night, will anyone involved Remember Christmas, or anything else?

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In truth, this isn’t really a Christmas story at all, though across the four episodes several months do get covered. Despite the longer timeframe than may be usual, the flow is still natural and the timing and nature of the story feel more current than ever! There have always been politically prescient elements in UNIT stories, but some of the skewering here is so accurate as to have me keeping going back looking for when this was recorded. From the personality traits of the likes of Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn and potential hints of Donald Trump to sideswipes at things like Brexit, the political climate involved in the alien plot often feels uncomfortably similar to the one we have ended up with in 2016! That this is done without feeling patronising or overtaking the rest of the story is impressive by writers Matt Fitton and John Dorney, and they have crafted a exciting and pacy tale that manages to keep things small when they need to be as well as impressing the larger scale of threat when needed.

 

This isn’t the first time that BF-UNIT have faced threats that have previously appeared in televised Doctor Who – the first enemy faced was the Autons, and BF’s first ever UNIT special, The Coup (which is free, so check it out!) included the Silurians – but there’s a much more direct linkage this time. It isn’t entirely essential to have seen The Impossible Astronaut / Day of the Moon but it does help, some parts of the first episode could lean towards frustration without any prior knowledge of the Silents. On their subject – before I forget – their realisation on audio is excellently creepy, and the sound design through the whole set (by Peter Doggart and Howard Carter) is impressively immersive along with a rousing score by Howard Carter. Performances across the board are first-rate, and Ken Bentley pulls everything together to result in a tight thrilling piece that like the other BF UNIT releases would make for a cracking TV miniseries.

 

If having to nitpick, the slightly confused backstory of the Silents that never felt quite consistent on TV does creep in slightly here – for a group of Confessional Priests they aren’t particularly moral towards humanity, especially where there is patently no sign of Doctor involvement! And that things get as far as they do can feel a bit strange that the only hint of any wheezing groaning sound is going to come from Osgood’s phone ringing… They’re soon forgotten though as you get swept up by the story and UNIT: Silenced is another blockbusting entry in a brilliant Big Finish series. I’d say it was unforgettable, but…

hang on, what am I doing in the post creator tool? And when’s the new UNIT story coming out? Shhhh…

 

UNIT: Silenced is available now from BigFinish.com

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