It’s been over 32 years since the BBC’s “Dirty Dozen in space” last came together to fight the Federation. Sure, there’ve been other audio productions: two late-‘90s radio productions featuring a couple of stand-ins; reboots and prequel series; and, most recently, six volumes of audiobooks. But Fractures marks the nearest thing to a full crew reunion since 1981; the only absence, inevitably, is the late Peter Tuddenham (voice of the computers Zen and Orac).
Some things have changed over those three decades, including the voices of some of the cast; just occasionally, it’s a bit like listening to Blake’s Grandad’s 7 . What haven’t altered one jot are the uneasy relationships between the characters, always central to the show’s appeal, and effortlessly captured here by writer Justin Richards.
Set during series two of the '70s TV show, Fractures takes place entirely on the Liberator and (with the exception of a brief cameo from eyepatched baddy Travis) features only the main cast. The story, which sees an alien entity infiltrating the ship, then sowing suspicion amongst the crew by imitating their voices, is utterly predictable, to the point where you become impatient with Blake and co’s inability to catch on.
Still, fans have waited so long to hear these five voices playing off against one another that arguably the more they do the better, and it’s an approach that lays out the key character dynamics rather well. All the same, given the boundless possibilities of the audio medium (unrestrained, unlike the original TV series, by penny-pinching BBC budgets), it’s disappointing to be delivered such a trad bottle episode. Hopefully future instalments will expand the series’ horizons.