Review: Sapphire and Steel – Remember Me

Remember Me (Sapphire and Steel)

What is it about Big Finish and piers? Every time they want to do somewhere creepy, they send the cast off to a pier to get tormented by comedians and Punch and Judy. Piers are the sandpits of the modern audio horror age, apparently.

This time, though, it’s Sapphire and Steel who have been assigned to the sea-front, rather than the usual Doctor Who crowd. In the company of Sam Kelly from ‘Allo, ‘Allo and plenty of other Big Finish plays (The Holy Terror, Return to the Web Planet), Joannah Tincey and David Horovitch, our heroes, David Warner and Susannah Harker, manage to wend their way through an above-average S&S tale that for once, contains an interesting idea or two.

Plot
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.

A faded sitcom star wanders through the darkness of a deserted pier, haunted by the ghosts of his dead colleagues.

Is it any good?
As with most Big Finish Sapphire and Steel plays, it doesn’t really kick off until the second half. Until then, it’s more than a bit tedious, as we have to deal with relentlessly stupid people, rubbish stereotypical comedians and "issues". 

The thing that was good about the TV show was the alien nature of Sapphire and Steel. Here, though, as always in the Big Finish plays, they’re too human. Steel’s not bright and the first metaphor he can construct for their situation when discussing it with Sapphire is of a "game of snakes and ladders", rather than "that time loop like you stuck the policeman in in Adventure 1", for example. Play a lot of snakes and ladders, do you, Steel?

But apart from the uncharacteristic nature of Sapphire and Steel, the play’s not bad once we hit the second half. Indeed, unlike with certain plays, there isn’t a clear quality jump going from part one to part two: it’s better, it’s just that the first half isn’t so poor the second half stands apart from it in quality.

Another thing that distinguished the TV show was the nature of the enemies: they were invariably a concept almost independent of the action and the human characters. Big Finish, however, almost always make the baddie a product of the human’s actions – and pick a solution that requires the humans as a result. I won’t tell you what happens here, except suffice it to say the less satisfying standard is in operation.

There are some clever ideas involved though and perhaps the most surprising part of the play is that Sapphire and Steel manage to destroy the enemy. The ending is also good, even if the play is once again too long by 15-20 minutes.

Kelly’s performance is a bit too crusty, Tincey’s a bit weak but Horovitch is excellent as the multi-faceted baddie.

One of the better plays in the range.

How much should you have to pay for it?
Actual price: £14.99 (£10.49 from Amazon.co.uk)
Actual worth: £8.99

Cast
David Warner (Steel)
Susannah Harker (Sapphire)
Sam Kelly (Eric)
Joannah Tincey (Kate)
David Horovitch (The Nostalgia)

Writer: John Dorney
Director: Lisa Bowerman

Available from Amazon.co.uk and the Big Finish web site




  • Anthony Barker

    Generally a fair review, and the Snakes on Ladders thing is bang on – but I’m a little bemused by the notion of Sapphire and Steel’s villains inevitably being independant.
    For my money, I think it’s only two stories out of the six that have villains like that – stories one and four. The others are very much related to the action and the human’s (albeit, in one case, there are no humans actually in the story).

  • In Adventure Two, the baddies are the spirits of humans killed in wars when they should have lived. Tully didn’t fight in the war and didn’t instigate them, and there’s nothing he did to bring the ‘ghosts’ out – they’re just there. The fix doesn’t involve him doing anything – Sapphire and Steel just sacrifice him as part of a deal (although he has suspicions that he’s going to get killed so there is the interpretation that he might be sacrificing himself).
    Same again with three, where the people being picked on didn’t actually do the vivisection, although they did benefit from it thanks to their time machine. They don’t cause the animal hybrid to break out, either. I forget how it all gets fixed, although I don’t recall the humans having to do anything.
    In six, there’s only one human and she’s on the side of the baddies, who take her there, if I recall correctly. So she doesn’t cause them to turn up. And there is no fix.
    As for five, my recall is a little hazy so I can’t remember exactly what happened, but I think you’re right in that the humans did bring it out. I can’t remember how they fixed the situation either. You can probably tell I don’t like five, the only one not written by PJ Hammond.
    So in general, the summing of the baddie in the TV stories has nothing really to do with the humans’ actions (except in the sense that they find a trigger) and their dispelling doesn’t require some sort of ‘atonement’ or fix related to their previous actions.

  • Anthony Barker

    Well, couple of points there – firstly, the baddy in the second story is surely not the soldiers. It’s the Darkness. The soldiers are the victims, trapped by virtue of their bitterness – they’re the humans who generate the problem (Tully is incidental, effectively no more part of the plot or what it wants than Silver or Lead.). Now, for my money, that’s no different to the villain in Remember Me (who is feeding on the humans, generated by their emotion and is defeated by a sacrifce that doesn’t require human atonement, a la Tully). The ghosts cause the Darkness to turn up.
    Six – I disagree with the assessment that the woman is human. I don’t think she is (I could be misremembering). But again, she’s definitely one of the bad guys.
    The situation in five is fixed by the old woman being forced to deliberately shoot the man she accidentally shot before.
    Three you may have a point with, though the bad guy is still directly relevant to the human’s actions in a ‘sins of the father’ way.

  • Two: I take your point re: the Darkness. To my mind, though. the ghosts aren’t the human protagonists of the piece and S&S don’t really interact with them much. And to fix the Darkness, S&S don’t cure the ghosts’ bitterness, ask them to make a sacrifice or sacrifice them. They take, effectively, a bystander and sacrifice him. Whereas in Remember Me, it’s the comedian’s nostalgia that ‘summons’ the Nostalgia, it’s by wiping his memory that they get rid of it and it’s by teaching the humans that living in the past is a bad thing that they reduce its power. They teach the ghosts in two nothing.
    Six: My reading of it was she was human. Certainly, when Edward de Souza and co suit up and go on a S&S hunt in episode four, she’s notably absent from the hunt and doesn’t change costume, despite the fact it’s a forced change (at least, that’s how I read it).

  • Anonymous

    Interesting. I see what you mean about the comedian thing, though I’d argue that he only loses because he doesn’t move on. Though having said that, I think they do basically tell the soldiers to let go.
    As for the woman in six, my assumption is that she doesn’t change because she’s the trap. Just as much a Transient as the others, she hides. She’s smartened up in the last scene, isn’t she?

  • “She’s smartened up in the last scene, isn’t she?”
    And I think Edward de Souza has “de-suited” into something more like his original costume, so it’s not necessarily a Transient outfit. All the same, I think I’ll have to watch the last story again and see if you’re right!