All irregularities will be handled by the forces controlling
each dimension. Transuranic, heavy elements may not be used
where there is life. Medium atomic weights are available:
Gold, Lead, Copper, Jet, Diamond, Radium, Sapphire, Silver
and Steel. Sapphire and Steel have been assigned - to the
Cairo Hilton in December 1926, or so it would seem. An archaeological
expedition has arrived from England, ready to uncover the
secrets of a long-lost Pharaohs tomb. But someone isnt
what they appear to be. Its lucky, therefore, that when
the first impossible murder takes place, two of the other
hotel guests turn out to be quite the detectives...
WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS
This audio drama is full of dreadfully descriptive dialogue,
with characters telling us things that they should plainly
be able to see but that we cannot. Many of the performances
are pure ham, and the actors keep on fluffing their lines.
Fortunately, this is all intentional, because Sapphire (Susannah
Harker) and Steel (David Warner) are actually trapped inside
an audio drama.
To be sure, there is much fun to be had, including a stereotypical
Irish character who keeps saying to be sure and
a jaunty remix of the signature tune, but writer Joseph Lidster
and director Nigel Fairs allow the joke to go on for far too
long - for three of the four episodes of this 140-minute production.
To make matters worse, the series did trapped in fiction
very recently, in the Christmas story Water
Like a Stone.
There follows some extreme weirdness as the detectives experience
distorted sound and silence, and interact with the actors
themselves, including the sixth Doctor Who Colin Baker,
who plays the narrator, and Superman II star Sarah
Douglas, who plays Lady Marjorie, before the whole thing starts
to make sense.
I MEAN IT: IM NOT JOKING ABOUT THOSE SPOILERS!
This is, in fact, the last ever assignment for Sapphire and
Steel, or at least the last to be released by Big Finish -
a fact that took me by surprise just as much as when the television
series came to an abrupt end in 1982. Just as in that final
television adventure, the audio series concludes
with the time agents finding themselves trapped with apparently
no means of escape. Sapphire takes some comfort in her belief
that There will always be a Sapphire and Steel.
This would seem to suggest that some different agents might
assume their duties and names. This in turn implies that the
Sapphire and Steel of the audio dramas might not be the same
agents that Joanna Lumley and David McCallum played on TV
- which would certainly explain the discrepancies that have
been noted between the two series.
To be sure, I will miss Warner and Harkers Sapphire
and Steel. Its just a shame that their final assignment
couldnt have been a less rambling affair.
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