‘Haunted Lives’ (SOL) (Audio)

‘HAUNTED LIVES’ (SOL)

Please feel free to comment on my review.

Questions, Questions

This has got to be the best ‘Soldiers of Love’ episode so far!

‘Haunted Lives’ is the sixth episode of the ‘Soldiers of Love’ series. This is where things got interesting for me as I found Sarah Sutton’s performance as Colonel Franklyn at its best here. Also there are things about this episode that kept me asking more questions and wanting to know more.

I have to say, these ‘Soldiers of Love’ episodes are quite lengthy and have a lot of story going on in them. The episodes I’ve listened to so far in the series have run up to over 70 minutes in length. In this episode, I found there was a lot going on to keep my interest and I didn’t even notice the time had passed by.

This episode is interesting as I found there was a relatively small cast, since most of the actors like Nicholas Courtney, Gareth Thomas and Michael Keating were not present in this one. The main cast includes Anna Karen, Sarah Sutton and Jacqueline Pearce. It’s surprising since this is the ‘SOL’ series.

Maybe that’s why I enjoyed this episode so much. There was more of Sarah Sutton compared to previous ‘SOL’ instalments and the episode focused on three small groups of characters for us to enjoy. I didn’t feel that things slowed down in this episode, as story and characters were developed.

Like I said in previous reviews, had they focused on one set of main regular characters and not just have characters popping in and out now again, things could have been great with the ‘Soldiers of Love’ series. In my personal opinion, Sarah should have been one of the main heroes with Nick Courtney.

I’ve had the CD cover of ‘Haunted Lives’ signed by Sarah Sutton at the ‘Stars of Time Film and Comic Con 2016 @ The Tropicana’, Weston-super-Mare, August 2016. I showed the CD covers of ‘Planet of Death’ and ‘Haunted Lives’ to Sarah when I saw her in Weston-super-Mare.

I do wish that I subscribed to the newsletters from MJTV about the making of the ‘Soldiers of Love’. That way I could find out how the series was devised and crafted by writer/producer/director Mark J. Thompson. It would’ve also been nice to learn whether there were interviews with Sarah Sutton.

This episode, ‘Haunted Lives’, begins surprisingly with a recap of the previous episode, ‘Planet of Death’. This is unusual since the usual ‘SOL’ episode would begin with the opening title music for the series. But it does help the listener to venture back into the series and recall what happened before.

Saying this, ‘Haunted Lives’ is an episode that features lots of explanations on what happened to certain characters in the series. Characters like Cilla, Gamak and Frag have to tell someone what their story was in the previous episode. Cilla even suggests recording the stories on CD to save time! 😀

Anyway after the recap, Galileo Gamak wakes up to find himself in this most unusual dress sense and in complete darkness. He wonders where he is and is alone for a while until he finds Cindy in cryosleep and before Cilla Hammond enters in. It seems they’re now on The Nick of Time spaceship.

Meanwhile back on Earth, Madame Deephole comes out of hiding and seeks assistance with her cleaner, Major Grondlepuss and ‘Search Out’ representative Violet Goodgrip. Also, Colonel Franklyn’s law enforcements cause riots. Could Colonel Franklyn honestly be Crispin Caelys’ mother?

This episode is the first time that Nicholas Courtney doesn’t appear as Turnidus. I wondered what had become of him and whether he was still on Xoolian Major on his pogo stick during that race. It seems two days have passed since the events of ‘Planet of Death’. What could’ve happened to him?

Mydas Mydason doesn’t feature in this episode at all either. There’s no explanation on what happened to him and whether he survived the gun shots from the Pallbearers in the previous instalment. I guess Mydas is dead, as Michael Keating doesn’t return to the series. I could be wrong.

Oh I mustn’t forget that Michael Keating’s Mydas is in fact an imposter and that there’s a real Mydas in Mrs. Blubber’s house when Helmut Synder comes to see her. I wonder if the real Mydas will ever speak in the series again. How can Mark J. Thompson keep up with giving many voices to characters?

Speaking of voices, Cindy Rellars returns at last to the series. But she’s not played by Sammie Winmill, which was disappointing. She’s instead voiced by Mark J. Thompson. There’s an explanation for why her voice changed, but honestly! I cannot see why they couldn’t get Sammie Winmill back?

Meaning no disrespect to Mark J. Thompson, but I prefer Sammie Winmill’s voice for Cindy. I’m sure Mark J. Thompson is trying to recreate Sammie Winmill in his voice for Cindy, but the American accent sounds grating and annoying. I still imagine Sammie Winmill’s face and body as Cindy though.

Anna Karen returns as Cilla Hammond. She meets up with Gamak, also in unusual attire when they’re on The Nick of Time ship. Cilla and Gamak try to find a way to get off the ship. They try the transmat systems; try the airlock and try the communications. But nothing seems to work on the ship.

Eventually, Cilla and Gamak find the dead cat on The Nick of Time ship (that’s still there?!) as well as Frag Timpkin who is buried inside the dead cat’s earwax (Yuck!!!) One wonders how Frag got there, since the last time we saw her it was when Peter Dean’s Jadra was shot by Jan Chappell’s Sharliken.

In this episode, Cilla comes across as a rather forthright and determined character. She still has the snarky behaviour and wanting a fag, but she does show an interest in wanting to know what’s going on. I like her interaction with Gamak in this episode and enjoyed some the wry remarks she makes.

Eventually, Mark Preston as Yztabub turns up aboard The Nick of Time ship. Yztabub is none the wiser for how he got there either, especially since he as the drinks machine was ‘rolling’ all over the spaceship. It felt like a happy reunion with Cilla, Gamak, Frag, Cindy and Yztabub on board the ship.

In this episode, the Probus returns, voiced by Andrew Conway. I was wondering who the Probus was after I heard him in the previous episode. But when Major GrondlePuss, Madame Deephole’s cleaner meets him, it turns out that the Probus isn’t the Probus at all. He…she is actually Madam D herself!!!

WOW!!! Yes! That’s right! Jacqueline Pearce returns as Madame Deephole in the series. Long time, no see! I was wondering what became of Madame D as she was absent since her first appearance in ‘Deathtraps’. But of course, Madam D has done a lot in the time she was absent with her disguises.

It was interesting to hear what Madam D had been doing as she explained it all to Major GrondlePuss, who I think is a funny character when she interacts with him. Madam D also meets with Violet Goodgrip, as she asks for her help in finding her son. He happens to be on Xoolian Major.

When I saw Sarah Sutton at the ‘Stars of Time’ convention in August 2016, she looked at the CD cover for ‘Haunted Lives’ and recognised Jacqueline Pearce. I don’t think Sarah had any scenes with Jacqueline in ‘Soldiers of Love’. She would later work with her in the ‘Doctor Who’ audio, ‘Hexagora’.

The standout performance for me is of course Sarah Sutton as Colonel Franklyn. I was wondering what was going to happen in this episode since Crispin Caelys had discovered his mother was Colonel Franklyn. In this episode, Franklyn seems to have become cold-hearted and a mean dictator.

I was shocked by some of the things Colonel Franklyn did in this episode, as her law enforcements seem to upset people. She also doesn’t seem to recognise people like Helmut Synder, who tells her they had this relationship 20 years ago. Franklyn refuses to acknowledge Snyder and dismisses him.

It was also gut-wrenching when Caelys couldn’t take it anymore with Franklyn’s seemingly cruel ways, as he tells her that she’s his mother. But Colonel Franklyn refuses to acknowledge Caelys as well and calls him ‘a bloody fool’. Yikes! I’ve not heard Sarah swear like that before on audio.

It gets worse when Colonel Franklyn orders for her Space Patrol forces to be executed by the Pallbearers, sent to her by Dr. Proctor. She also sees the masses outside executed by the Pallbearers. She’s even determined to see Crispin Caelys executed in his prison cell. Has Franklyn gone too far?!!!

Thankfully Caelys throws a glass of water at Colonel Franklyn and she turns out not to be real at all. She’s in fact a robot/android. I was shocked by this revelation and didn’t see that coming. I anxiously thought Colonel Franklyn became evil. But it made sense as Sarah Sutton’s performance is fantastic.

When I saw Sarah at ‘Stars of Time’ in August 2016, I shared with her that she played a robotic evil version of her character. Sarah laughed at that, but she couldn’t remember. I wish I could play these ‘Soldiers of Love’ episodes to Sarah someday to prove to her how superb she is as Colonel Franklyn.

I am wondering what’s become of the real Colonel Franklyn and where that evil Arran’s keeping her. This robot duplicate of Franklyn is clearly working for Arran and she seems to have this hatred for anything fleshy. I wish Sarah could play more villainous roles like this. She does a good evil laugh too.

The guest cast also includes Mark J. Thompson as Galileo Gamak and Major GrondlePuss. There’s also Niall Stuchfield as Crispin Caelys and Dr. Proctor. There’s Nick Kirby as Helmut Snyder; Alison Taffs as Violet Goodgrip and Mrs. Blubber and there’s also Mark Preston as Frag Timpkin. A variety!

There aren’t any songs featured in this ‘Soldiers of Love’ episode. This was a surprise and a nice change for me. It also allows me to enjoy the episode more without any songs to slow down the story. I wonder if Mark J. Thompson realised the mistake of including these songs in these episodes.

This episode ends on two cliff-hangers. Aboard The Nick of Time ship, Cilla, Gamak, Yztabub, Cindy and Frag get a visitor who maybe their captor. It turns out to be…Turnidus?! Meanwhile on Earth, Madam D, Major Grondlepuss and Violet are about to be killed by robotic Pallbearers! The suspense!

I must say I like the behind-the-scenes photos of Sarah Sutton on the front cover, the inside sleeve and the back cover of ‘Haunted Lives’. There’s even a photo of Sarah Sutton with Anna Karen. Sarah and Anna don’t appear together in this episode, which makes me wonder if they will meet later on.

‘Haunted Lives’ was gripping and thrilling to listen to. Sarah Sutton stood out for me in her performance as Colonel Franklyn. I like how things got tense, especially when Franklyn turned out to be a robot. I wonder what’s become of the real Colonel Franklyn and whether we will hear her again.

I look forward to the next instalment in the ‘Soldiers of Love’ series. As well as Sarah Sutton, I look forward to finding out what Turnidus’ appearance at the end of ‘Haunted Lives’ was all about and hear Nick Courtney’s voice for him. I also wonder what that villainous Arran has been up to recently.

‘Haunted Lives’ (SOL) rating – 9/10


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