The Sphere (2010)

With the second series of Graceless having just been released, I thought that I would start from the beginning to see whether its any good. Amy (or Abbey as she is oddly known as) and Zara who had appeared in 2009’s series of Key 2 Time adventures. It’s always great when Big Finish have created something that go on to form they own spin-off series. They have done loads of spin-offs over the years that have come from established history but this is their own created characters. The opening story is set sometime after the events of ‘The Chaos Pool’ and we find our main characters on something called The Sphere which is some sort of seedy place that revels in gambling. It’s like Las Vegas in space. Abbey and Zara are trying to get away from the sphere but dont have the funds to do so. Zara is trying to cheat the system but as the story progresses, she falls pregnant and Abbey is the one that has to go against her morals to try and help her sister.

I have to be honest and say that I have issues with any Big Finish productions that have adult content despite it clearly stating this on the page advertising this. It’s just that I dont think that they need to lower themselves to this sort of thing. Dont get me wrong, I’m no prude but I just think that it could be better without it. The ‘adult’ content was thankfully quite brief and the end result was someone getting pregnant which will probably have consequences in future stories. I found the whole story to be somewhat lacking in a killer punch. I think that any first story should arguably be the best because it is quick and action packed whereas this was the exact opposite. It was very slow and methodical and yet whilst the narrowtive was there and was all well and good, I could have done with there been some sort of superior threat. The setting is quite a good one because the idea of some sort of entertainment planet/spaceship does offer some great areas of conflict between good and evil. The idea that the sphere grows every week is quite a clever one and the fact then it pretty much pulls you into the way of life there is something that doesnt get used very often in sci-fi.

I thought the casting was very good indead. Ciara Janson and Laura Doddington were very good in the Key 2 Time series and continued that in this story. I thought that Janson was perhaps the stronger of the two due to the content of the story. She went from being a nice good person who didnt like anything that Zara was doing at the beginning of the episode to be willing to do anything to help her sister, especially after she became pregnant. Laura Doddington is still good despite her character not having as a developed journey as Abbey’s. I thought that Colin Spaull was possibly the best of the supporting cast as Uncle Lindsay. He has an instantly recognisable voice and puts it to good use however I thought that his threat to Abbey and Zara wasnt as strong as it could have been despite Spaull’s hard work. I thought. As the man who got Zara pregnant, I thought that Marek was relativley well written for but I just found Fraser James’ performance to be too much like a cockeny gangster and found it to be not as strong as others.

The Sphere has it’s moments but ultimatley isnt quite the opening episode it should be. Hopefully over the course of the series, it will be an upward tone in quality.

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