‘Forced Entry’ (SOL) (Audio)

‘FORCED ENTRY’ (SOL)

Please feel free to comment on my review.

The Galactovision Song Contest Begins

Things must be getting exciting for our ‘Soldiers of Love’ characters by this point!

‘Forced Entry’ is the eighth episode of the ‘Soldiers of Love’ series. I wondered how the series would continue in this instalment, as I was looking forward to hearing more of Nicholas Courtney, Anna Karen, Jacqueline Pearce, Sarah Sutton and Gareth Thomas. Would my expectations be met in this?

I’d like to share with you a brief production history about the series. These audios were made in certain years and weren’t released in a monthly fashion as you would expect the Big Finish audios of ‘Doctor Who’. I don’t think Mark J. Thompson had a consistent schedule of release dates for the audios.

If you’ve been following my reviews and paid attention to my photos, you’ll notice the dates for the release of these ‘SOL’ CDs. ‘Genesis’, ‘Deathtraps’, ‘Metamorphs’ and ‘Ominous Passage’ were released in 1999. ‘Planet of Death’, ‘Haunted Lives’ and ‘Exegesis’ were all released in the year 2000.

‘Forced Entry’ is the only episode of the ‘Soldiers of Love’ series to be released in 2001. I know I’m jumping ahead here, but the next episode ‘Breaking Loose’ would be released the following year in 2002. I’m not sure what went on behind-the-scenes with the inconsistency of these audio releases.

But in any event, it surprises me how Mark J. Thompson managed to keep the storytelling flowing and consistent, even if it was at times leisurely paced with the characters. It also saddens me since Sarah Sutton didn’t appear in all the ‘SOL’ episodes as she did hers between the years 1999 to 2002.

I’ve had the CD cover of ‘Soldiers of Love: Forced Entry’ signed by Sarah Sutton at the ‘York Unleashed’ event at the York Racecourse in York, August 2017. I showed the CD covers of ‘Exegesis’, ‘Forced Entry’ and ‘Breaking Loose’ to Sarah when she signed them at the ‘York Unleashed’ event.

I honestly wish that I could devise my own drama series starring Sarah Sutton, as I would have given her a meatier role compared to how she fares in the ‘SOL’ series. I’ve enjoyed Sarah Sutton’s appearances in ‘Soldiers of Love’, but I don’t feel there has been enough of her to enjoy in the series.

The episode ‘Forced Entry’ begins with an opening teaser and not a follow-up to the cliff-hanger scene in the previous episode. It actually starts on Medicworld where the Galactovision Song Contest is taking place. Yeah if you’ve been following the series so far, it has been building up to this.

It starts with radio announcer played by Nik Rawlinson, not by Mark J. Thompson for a change as in previous episodes. Then it goes onto Mr. Mansions, who is played by Mark J. Thompson and with an Irish accent. I couldn’t help think of ‘Father Ted’ when I heard Mr. Mansion speak away as he did so.

Anyway, the episode has Madam Deephole with her friends Major Grondlepuss and Violet Goodgrip on a rescue mission to save Crispian Caelys from his prison cell. They have to get through the vicious android pallbearers who have taken over the planet Earth and led by that android Colonel Franklyn.

Meanwhile with our ‘SOL’ heroes, Cillia Hammond and Galileo Gamak are about to take part in the Galactovision Song Contest. Turnidus, Cindy and Frag receive shocking life-changing news from Didelious Davenport. And Colonel Franklyn’s been taken to Medicworld to meet with the evil Arran.

Nicholas Courtney returns as King Turnidus. I like how Turnidus wraps everything up with what happened to Yztabub, Gamak, Cndy, Frag and Cilla in the previous two episodes. One wonders why it wasn’t all wrapped in one episode, but it was interesting how Turnidus and Hywel saved everyone.

Turnidus receives some shocking news from Didelious Davenport, the Chief Surgeon of Medicworld. It turns out Turnidus is pregnant. I couldn’t help smile at Nick Courtney’s gasp as Turnidus at that moment. This is obviously from the sex incident Turnidus had with Dr. Proctor in the previous episode.

I found it interesting that Turnidus doesn’t know how to deal with his pregnancy and asks advice from Cindy and Frag on the matter. Turnidus is pretty naive as a character. It was amusing to hear Turnidus obsessed with fashion and that Voltarabians don’t have music or sing songs on their world.

Gareth Thomas returns in this ‘Soldiers of Love’ series as both Arran and Hywel. The two haven’t met each other yet so far in the series, although Hywel has met up with Cilla. I like how Hywel and Cilla reunite. Hywel is the good guy by his Welsh accent and Arran is the bad guy by being so OTT. 😀

I like how Hywel interacts with our heroes and gets to reunite with Gamak. Hywel becomes very helpful and friendly, especially disapproving of Arran’s actions. Arran on the other hand is totally bonkers and villainous, as he pushes forward his evil plans involving the Galactovision Song Contest.

It was interesting to discover that Arran knew Maureen in the series. What is the connection between them then? How does he know her? Arran is distressed when he sees that Maureen has become the monstrously, evil Retsab. But it does not distress him too much to carry on with his evil.

Anna Karen returns as Cilla Hammond in this episode. Now in the previous episode, I felt a lack of absence of Cilla when Turnidus was telling his story to everyone. She finally speaks once Turnidus has told the story. Okay, she was keen to listen to the story and not make any interruptions herself.

That sounds fair, but she could have let us know she was still there in the room in the previous episode. Anyway, Cilla gets paired up with Gamak to take part in the Galactovision Song Contest. This is something they must to do before they can depart Medicworld along with their other friends.

Cilla isn’t keen to take part in the Galactovision Song Contest, as she and Gamak get ready in their leotard costumes and perform rehearsals for their songs. This of course doesn’t happen in this episode and will carry on into the next one. I wonder if Anna Karen will sing for the next episode. 😀

Jacqueline Pearce returns as Madame Deephole. Thankfully Madame D doesn’t have just one scene, as we continue from where we left off with her, Major Grondlepuss and Violet Goodgrip with rescuing Crispin Caelys. They took their time while Turnidus told his story in the previous instalment.

Clearly Madame D is the leader of the threesome when they try to get past the pallbearers to rescue Caelys from his prison cell. Again, it was amusing to hear the banter between Madame D and Major Grondlepuss as they try to get inside. Madame D seems resourceful and very witty for this episode.

Madame D and Grondlepuss work together to distract the android pallbearers whilst Violet goes off to set Caelys free from his prison cell. It doesn’t go according as they with Caelys get captured by the pallbearers. But Madame D may have a solution to their problem as they are about to get executed.

Sarah Sutton returns in this ‘SOL’ episode, this time playing two characters. As well as playing Colonel Franklyn, she also plays the android Franklyn who has been stripped of her human identity and now renames herself as ‘the Inflictor’. Sarah’s android voice as the Inflictor is quite creepy to hear.

I like how Sarah gets to deliver a villainous performance as the android Inflictor. It seems the Inflictor is clearly hell-bent on wiping out human-kind as she truly hates them. Amazing how an android can feel hatred, especially when built by Arran. Perhaps her reveal of identity altered her programming.

Sarah’s scenes as Colonel Franklyn are very limited in this episode, as she gets taken from Xoolian Major to Medicworld to meet up with Arran. It turns out there’s a dark past with Colonel Franklyn and it involves her having a love relationship with Gamak, since Arran spills those 20-year-old beans to her.

Despite Michael Keating’s Mydas being dead already in the series, there’s no update on the real Mydas in this episode. Mrs. Blubber doesn’t even make an appearance in this one. Turnidus and Cindy are upset about ‘Mydas’ death after Turnidus finishes the story. Will the real ‘Mydas’ return?

Cindy Rellar, voiced by Mark J. Thompson, makes a return in this episode. It’s interesting to note that the reason given for Cindy’s change of voice is that it was originally Panakol’s voice box given to her after he tragically died in the previous episode. I still would have preferred Sammie Winmill’s voice.

Mark Preston also returns as Yztabub. I don’t think much happens to Yztabub in this episode, although he does get to join Hywel Hammond when they’re about to watch Cilla and Gamak in the Galactovision Song Contest. It’s also interesting how memories return to Yztabub in this instalment.

Mark J. Thompson returns as Galileo Gamak. Amusingly, Gamak gets to take part in the Galactovision Song Contest with Cilla and they have to sing a song. I thought it unfair of Gamak to think about abandoning Colonel Franklyn. It will be very interesting to discover more of their history.

Mark Preston also plays Frag Timpkin in the episode. Frag demands to know from Didelious Davenport about what happened to her husband. She becomes shocked and overwrought when she learns that Teddy had been killed. I do wonder how Frag’s story will continue in the next instalment.

The guest cast also includes Mark J. Thompson as Major Grondlepuss. There’s also Alison Taffs as Violet Goodgrip. There’s also Niall Stuchfield as Dr. Proctor and Crispin Caelys. And there’s Steven Degattis as Didelious Davenport. Those Pallbearers are voiced by Nick Kirby and Mark J. Thompson.

Alison Taff again returns as the monstrous Retsab/Maureen. It’s interesting that Retsab/Maureen has become totally evil and devoid of all conscious at this point in the series. I mean, I know Maureen was a bitch in previous episodes. But her unfeeling nature especially towards Arran is so disturbing.

Unfortunately for me, the songs return to ‘Soldiers of Love’ as we have two for this episode. The first song is ‘Reach into the Pocket’ with verses performed by Alison Taffs and Mark J. Thompson and the chorus by Niall Stuchfield as Dr. Proctor and Gareth Thomas as Arran. The music and arrangement for this ‘jolly’ song is by Niall Stuchfield and the lyrics are by Niall Stutchfield and Mark J. Thompson.

The second song is called ‘The Porter’s Song’, written and sung by Mark J. Thompson as Porter Zandarpi. The backing vocals are by Alison Taffs with an arrangement by Niall Stuchfield. Now to be fair, this song is featured in the Galactovision Song Contest, but I still find this so very unmemorable.

The episode’s cliff-hanger involves Madam D, Violet, Grondepuss and Caelys (who is naked) about to be executed by the Pallbearers. Cindy also receives the shocking news from Davenport that her brain is degenerating. One wonders whether Cindy will live to see another day in the rest of the ‘SOL’ series.

Just to mention, inside the CD covers for both ‘Forced Entry’ and ‘Breaking Loose’, there is an advert for limited copies of ‘TravelWise’ on VHS. Seeing that advert makes me wish that ‘TravelWise’ was re-released on DVD. Why isn’t it on DVD?! I wish that Mark J. Thompson would allow this to happen.

‘Forced Entry’ is a decent entry in the ‘Soldiers of Love’ series. It gets the series back on track with our characters getting involved in the Galactovision Song Contest and having shocking twists and revelations along the way. I imagine that the tension is going to increase during the next instalment.

Sadly, this is also the penultimate appearance of Sarah Sutton as Colonel Franklyn in the series. I’ve enjoyed her appearances in ‘Soldiers of Love’. I’m going to miss her as the series continues without her. I hope to make the most of Sarah’s last appearance as Colonel Franklyn for the next instalment.

‘Forced Entry’ (SOL) rating – 7/10


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