‘EARTH QUAKE’ (SOL)
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Can our heroes survive the danger and excitement of this ‘Soldiers of Love’ episode?
Before I talk about ‘Earth Quake’, I’d like to mention something on a sad note. This CD is dedicated to Steven Degattis who passed away in 2002. Steven played Didelious Davenport and Gladrag Sausage in the ‘Soldiers of Love’ series and starred in ‘The Actor Speaks – Volume 1’ CD from MJTV.
The CD begins with a heartfelt tribute by Mark J. Thompson who talks about Steven Degattis’ contribution to the ‘Soldiers of Love’ series and MJTV Productions in general. I couldn’t help feel be moved by this tribute, as the cast and crew of ‘SOL’ must have been like a family behind-the-scenes.
With that said, ‘Earth Quake’ is the tenth episode of the ‘Soldiers of Love’ series. I had vague memories of this episode when I came back to re-listening to it since I first heard it in 2014. This was where I drifted from the ‘SOL’ audio series, as my favourite actress Sarah Sutton was no longer in it.
Sarah Sutton made her last appearance as Colonel Franklyn in the previous ‘SOL’ episode, ‘Breaking Loose’. In that episode, Sarah’s character of Colonel Franklyn tragically died after being killed by an evil washing machine. I found it so touching when Gamak mourned Franklyn as the episode started.
I wondered how I could continue listening to the rest of the ‘Soldiers of Love’ series after such a horrible but dramatic death given to Sarah Sutton’s Colonel Franklyn. It felt depressing for me, especially since Sarah was the highlight of these ‘SOL’ audios, even if she wasn’t a regular character.
I’m amazed I plucked the courage to listen to ‘Earth Quake’ after hearing ‘Breaking Loose’. But like with ‘Enlightenment’ after seeing ‘Terminus’, I couldn’t keep my attention as I felt so devastated by Sarah’s departure from the series. I didn’t even continue to listen to the rest of the series after this.
But now I have revisited these ‘Soldiers of Love’ episodes for a second listen, I’ve been able to gain a clearer understanding of some of the characters and the plot compared to the first listen. I hope I’ll be able to do the same for the remaining four episodes when I listen to them for the first time.
The episode, ‘Earth Quake’, has our heroes escaping death, danger and destruction when machines on Medicworld attack them. Eventually, Turnidus, Cilla, Hywell, Cindy, Yztabub, Gamak and Frag get aboard The Nick of Time spaceship where they escape from Medicworld and head back off to Earth.
Just to divert from the synopsis part here, you may be wondering what happened to Colonel Franklyn’s corpse. Well, it got stolen by one of the machines of Medicworld! Seriously! Haven’t we Sarah Sutton fans been tormented enough?! 😀 I wonder if Gamak will ever find Franklyn’s corpse again.
Here’s something else to add about Gamak in his first scene when he mourns over Colonel Franklyn. He promises to avenge her as well as to find their long lost son. At this point, I wonder if Gamak will discover that Crispin Caelys is his and Franklyn’s son. I’ll have to wait and see if that will ever happen.
Anyway, back to the story. Whilst journeying to Earth, our heroes discover that there’s a stowaway aboard The Nick of Time spaceship. It happens to be Galactovision Song Contest DJ, Mr. Mansions. Meanwhile on Earth, things have gone worse as the Pallbearers have taken over and caused trouble.
Incidentally, this episode is written by Mark J. Thompson and Nick Kirby, rather than just Mark J. Thompson. In fact, the first four tracks of this 12-track CD are by Mark J. Thompson and Nick Kirby. I’m not sure what the behind-the-scenes reasons was for Mark to co-write this episode with Nick.
I assume it’s something to do with the tragic death of Steven Degattis who played Davenport in the series. Or it could be that Mark J. Thompson was giving Nick Kirby a chance to write something at MJTV productions. I don’t know what the reason is, but it’s unusual it’s co-written by Mark and Nick.
I do like how this ‘SOL’ episode focuses mainly on the main heroes of this audio series. The cast has changed considerably since the beginning, but it was nice to hear how Turnidus and everyone else worked together in getting to Earth safely. It was also nice hearing how they care about each other.
By the way, speaking of the cast, there’s a list of who’s who on the back of the CD for ‘Earth Quake’. The list identifies which character’s which and which actor is playing them, as well as giving a brief character description about them. A bit of a shame this wasn’t provided at the start of the CD series.
Nicholas Courtney returns as Turnidus in the episode. According to the back of the ‘Earth Quake’ CD, Turnidus is described as ‘fashion conscious, pregnant’ and ‘pacifist King of the half elephant-human human Voltarabians’. Yep, the pregnancy tale for Turnidus continues and Nick Courtney plays it well.
I did find it amusing when Turnidus kept asking Frag questions about pregency and how human women did it. He even asks Frag to take a look at where the baby comes out at her end as a woman. I’m so glad this is an audio series and not shown for TV. Turnidus can be peculiar on odd occasions. 😀
Turnidus even accompanies Gamak down to Earth when they investigate what’s going on. I liked it when Turnidus asks Gamak if he can see an elephant at a zoo. They have elephants in the future then? He’s delighted when he meets the real Mydas who asks if he can stroke his elephant-like trunk.
Here’s something to say about Nick Courtney. If you look at him on the CD cover, you’ll notice he’s wearing a T-shirt with ‘NTL’ on it. ‘NTL’?! Goodness me! That goes back a bit for me. That was the company that provided cable TV and internet before we went to ‘Virgin’. Nick Courtney had ‘NTL’? 😀
Gareth Thomas returns as Hywel Hammond in this episode. He’s not playing Arran this time for this episode. According to the back of the ‘Earth Quake’ CD, Hywel is described as a ‘camp Welsh TV producer and Uncle to Arran. His lover Jake is missing’. Yep! That pretty much sums up Hywel there.
In the episode, Hywel faints after he; Turnidus, Cindy and Yztabub escape a murderous lift. He’s pretty absent for most of the episode as he gets carried around before being taken to the medic bay aboard The Nick of Time spaceship. Thankfully he manages to recover by the time of the second half.
Hywel helps out with keeping the ship in Earth’s orbit whilst other characters are down on the planet. It was fun and intriguing to hear Hywel and his niece Cilla interact with each other. Sometimes they’re under a lot of pressure. Hywel gets anxious when he can’t transmat two people back to The Nick of Time.
Anna Karen returns as Cilla Hammond in the episode. According to the back of the ‘Earth Quake’ CD, Cilla is described as the ‘grump sister of megalomaniac villain Aaran’; ‘from Tsuriel 3’ and ‘Hywel’s niece’. Yeah, that pretty much sums up Cilla too. I’m surprised it’s not said that she likes her fags. 😀
Anyway, Cilla joins the groups of heroes on the journey back to Earth. She does demonstrate an authoritative, assertive edge when things go wrong or when everybody’s under pressure. It was shocking when Cilla uses a dangerous tool to free Galileo Gamak out of some block he is trapped in.
Oh and by the way, Cilla and many of the hero characters trying to escape Medicworld walk around naked at some stage. I’m not sure I’d like to see Anna Karen in the nude 😀 Also Cilla gets concerned about Frag who expresses a romantic interest in Mr. Mansion, since she knows how bad a man he is.
Cindy Rellar returns in this episode, played by Mark J. Thompson. According to the back of the ‘Earth Quake’ CD, Cindy is described as a ‘scientist’, a ‘bouncer and’ a ‘busty horny American babe, with only hours to live’. It was a big shock when Cindy transmats off The Nick of Time during the episode.
Mark Preston returns as Yztabub in the episode. According to the back of the ‘Earth Quake’ CD, Yztabub is described as ‘a brain, trapped in a drinks machine by Arran, searching for his body and real identity’. I thought it was noble of Yztabub when he transmatted off The Nick of Time ship to find Cindy.
Mark J. Thompson returns as Galileo Gamak in the episode. According to the back of the ‘Earth Quake’ CD, Gamak is described as an ‘upstanding Space Patrol doctor with a colourful past and’ a ‘mystery son somewhere’. By the time we get to the episode’s end, Gamak’s past catches up to him.
Mark Preston also plays Frag Timpkin in the episode. According to the back of the ‘Earth Quake’ CD, Frag is described as a ‘middle aged cockney dental nurse’, ‘unlucky in love’ and ‘Turnidus’ confidant’. I thought it was getting ridiculous when Frag kept falling in love with men she meets within one day.
This ‘SOL’ episode features a proper appearance of Mydas Mydason, played by Mark J. Thompson. Mydas is described, according to the back of the ‘Earth Quake’ CD, as an ‘elderly gameshow host’ who ‘just escaped from 20 years’ incarceration by an evil double’. Why didn’t Michael Keating return?! 😀
The episode also features the return of Alison Taffs as Mrs. Blubber. According to the back of the ‘Earth Quake’ CD, Mrs. Blubber is described as an ‘overweight, forthright, gusty TV celebrity’ who is ‘looking after Mydas’. I can’t imagine Mrs. Blubber as overweight, since Alison Taffs is playing her. 😀
There’s also Nick Kirby who returns as Helmut Synder. According to the back of the ‘Earth Quake’ CD, Snyder is described as a ‘Germanic Space Patrol officer with a secret health problem from 20 years on Fandilox’. Synder himself sees the horrors of what the Pallbearers have done to the planet Earth.
The guest cast also includes Mark J. Thompson as Mr. Mansions. Apparently Mansions somehow escaped from Medicworld during the chaos of the evil machines. He got his eyes gouged out in the process and is now blinded. Frag has sympathy on him and falls in love with him, which is ridiculous.
Alison Taffs also returns as the monstrous Retsab/Maureen, who again spares Frag’s life before she goes inside The Nick of Time spaceship and devours the dead cat (seriously that’s still there?). There’s also Mark J. Thompson as Teddy Timpkin who has another Mr. Pubus puppet to annoy Maureen.
For this CD, there is only one song featured. This happens to be ‘Cindy’s Song’, although surprisingly it’s not performed by Mark J. Thompson as Cindy. It’s sung by Alison Taffs with music and lyrics by Mark J. Thompson and the arrangement by Lawrence Oakley. It is a rather lovely song to listen to.
The episode ends on a cliff-hanger when Turnidus and Gamak meet up with Mrs. Blubber and the real Mydas, before Synder turns up. Snyder and Gamak confront each other, before Snyder knocks him out. Gosh! What did Gamak did do to Synder back 20 years ago? Was Colonel Franklyn involved?
Before I finish, I’d like to share some more interesting insight about the advertising for the next CD release in the sleeve notes for ‘Earth Quake’. There’s a ‘coming soon’ advert for CD11 and again it happens to be a double CD release called ‘S.O.S’. And it was first set to be released for Autumn 2002.
This is different in real life as the next episode in the series happens to be ‘Sting In The Tale’ and is actually a single CD release. ‘S.O.S’ is actually the next one after ‘Sting In The Tale’. I do wonder what the thought process behind the making of ‘Soldiers of Love’ was and why things were changed.
And if that wasn’t enough, on the back of the CD cover for ‘Earth Quake’, it claims that ‘Soldiers of Love’ is ‘now a 12-part season’. That’s different today as it’s a 14 part series. Surely Mark J. Thompson could have planned the series out clearly at the beginning before it ended up what it was.
I’ve enjoyed revisiting ‘Earth Quake’ as the tenth episode of the ‘Soldiers of Love’ series. I did drift from the series after I originally heard the episode, following the absence of Sarah Sutton as Colonel Franklyn. But now I’ve heard the episode again, I’m able to enjoy hearing the rest of the ‘SOL’ series.
One makes me wonder what will happen next to our heroes and what will become of Gamak? Will all be revealed between him and Snyder? Will the truth be known about what happened 20 years ago? Will it involve Colonel Franklyn in some form? And will Gamak discover Caelys is really his son?
‘Earth Quake’ (SOL) rating – 7/10
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