Back in May (I’m catching up with my backlog!) we were treated to another epic new-series UNIT boxset: UNIT – Cyber-Reality. It promised much, but for me, while it entertained I have some niggles. I’ll explain…
UNIT Cyber Reality discused
The boxset follows the Matt Fitton / Guy Adams sandwich approach: Matt sets it all up, Guy has fun in the middle then passes it back to Matt with several twists to resolve. Oh, and the Derek Jacobi ‘War’ Master appears, add lots of Cybermen and what’s not to like?
It all stars with Matt setting the scene in Game Theory and linking into the Auctioneers idea we had in UNIT – Encounters. Just as we think we know where this is going we have a bigger story, enter Guy Adams and two Cybermen stories.
It’s all action packed and Guy does a good job (Telepresence and Code Silver) of bringing in parallel dimensions and avoiding cyber-conversion for Osgood and co. Tension is high, Cybermen are invading and look unstoppable.
Matt the takes back the reins in Master of Worlds and it’s an appeal for help from Kate Stewart to the Master, a pop round to the Auctioneers secret base, conversion factories and a grand ending. How this gets retconned I’ll leave to the imagination.
Part of the central idea of the Cybermen wanting to take over is based on some very dodgy science (also used in The Matrix). I know 90%+ of listeners won’t care, but I do, and I acknowledge my prejudices. That aside I had also just listened to Guy’s work on the Fourth Doctor boxset for series 7 volume 2 (Kill the Doctor! and The Age of Sutekh). I found the story there analogous to the story here, and preferred the other version (I’d heard it first).
Then there’s the handling of the Auctioneers: it seems the writers got bored of them as a foe and they appear (I may be wrong) to be suddenly swept off the table (as if by magic). Then there’s Derek Jacobi’s War Master. Jacobi is magnificent in this and his character drives the whole of the fourth story. I assume there are good reasons from a production point of view, but it’s a massive shame he didn’t either appear in the earlier stories in the set or be referenced (eg a mysterious off-screen presence or a captive of the Cybermen rescued reluctantly by UNIT).
I wanted him to be more present across the set and felt the set was unbalanced because of this.
It may all seem negative and picky, and there is the usual mix of great sound/ music/ casting / acting… I just had some niggles.
Am I unreasonable? Let me know.