In a recent release, Big Finish brings back Liv Chenka (Nicola Walker) as she returns home to Kaldor for a ‘gap year’ from the Doctor. She reunites with her sister Tula (Claire Rushbrook) and works and lives around the Robots that are part of the planet’s daily life – but the Robots are changing and advancing, sometimes not for the better.
The Robots of Life by Roland Moore
Liv returns to life at home but she needs a job, which comes working with her old mentor in the medical centre. When patients start dying Liv wants to know why?
First of all, I love a good name that plays on the history of the show. Secondly this show hits the ground running, instantly establishing Liv’s relationship with Tula, as uneasy. You get the feeling of coming home to a place you’d avoided and coming to terms with your past that many of us have some experience with. The story focuses around a Robot that seems to have had a part to play in recent deaths in the hospital and Liv’s mentor, Varren (Eric Carte) and how he might be connected to said deaths. It’s a strong open into this world and from the start Walker shows herself more than capable of carrying her own set.
The Sentient by Robert Whitelock
Vissy (Venice Van Someren) is a sweet young lady and a credit to her creator. As an artificial life form she was made to be so. But when she starts seeing the world differently to her human counterparts, is she as sweet as she seems? And can her creator stop her?
Someren gives an often chilling performance as a character that see the logic of a situation over human emotions. The script from Whitelock explores some very ‘of the moment’ fears over AI and where it might lead and how we might end up laying way for our replacement if we cede too much control of our lives to robots.
Love Me Not by John Dorney
Liv and Tula go to visit a scientist Volar Crick (Anthony Howell) who is grieving the loss of his wife. He seems to be coping ok, circumstances given, but Liv fears something is up when his Robot seems a little unusual. These fears seem founded when the grieving husband talks of his wife in the present tense.
This is a great study in grief and what we might do to bring a dead loved one back in any way we can. Howell plays the grief stricken widow, driven insane by his loss, to perfection. Without giving away too much, Crick finds ways of recreating his wife with the use of visual and audio technology and the help of the Robot sent to assist him at home and slowly loses his grip on reality along the way.
Walker and Rushbrook are wonderful in there interplay between suspicion at what is going on, empathy for this man in a state of grief and need to know what is behind the Robot who seems just a little too eager to help in this moving and tense script by Dorney.
This a very well realised set that straight away seems to know exactly what is it. Director Ken Bentley and series producer David Richardson have found a great blend of what he want to see explored in the world of the Robots first seen with the Forth Doctor and the current fear or suspicions of how AI could be used over time in the real world in the future. Walker is a wonderful lead (which will be no surprise to anyone who has seen or heard her in anything). The addition of Rushbrook as her sister gives Liv something to play off and gives us a rich relationship of two sisters trying to forgive each other and re-establish their relationship.
The box set is available on CD or digital download at BigFinish.com.