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Bowl of Cherries
It’s strange that Sammie Winmill as Cindy doesn’t appear in this ‘Soldiers of Love’ episode.
I was really getting into the ‘Soldiers of Loves’ series after I heard ‘Genesis’ and ‘Deathtraps’ for my birthday in May 2014. With Sarah Sutton among a stellar cast of amazing actors and actresses, I wondered where this series was going to go and how the story would evolve in the later instalments.
‘Metamorphs’ is the third episode of the ‘Soldiers of Love’ series written, directed and produced by Mark J. Thompson. I get the impression that Mark J. Thompson stretched the series out at a leisurely pace. It seems to be like that as there’s no definitive structure as to how the episodes begin and end.
More plot revelations mark their appearance in this instalment of the ‘Soldiers of Love’ series. This especially concerns the character of Gareth Thomas as Arran as he seems to know certain secrets about certain characters like Colonel Franklyn, Mydas, Cindy and Yztabub as they’re interconnected.
I couldn’t help but get anxious and frustrated as to what these plot revelations were as certain hints would be made in this particular episode but left unresolved until the next episode or a future episode later in the series. Having a second listen to the series has made it so compelling than ever.
I’ve had the CD cover of ‘Soldiers of Love: Metamorphs’ signed by Sarah Sutton at the ‘Worcester Comic Con’ in August 2016. I showed the CD covers of the second episode ‘Deathtraps’ and the third episode ‘Metamorphs’ to Sarah when I saw her in Worcester, wondering if she remembered them.
I’m surprised Sarah can’t remember appearing in the ‘Soldiers of Love’ audio series as well as the VHS education drama ‘TravelWise’, both directed by Mark J. Thompson. Not that I’m complaining, as I’m pleased she did them. Sarah seems to think that it was a completely different person to her. 😀
The story continues with Turnidus and Yztabub still aboard The Nick of Time spaceship. Mydas and Cindy are still kept in the ship’s sickbay. Turnidus and Yztabub explore the spaceship before they discover a bed which turns out to be a large dead black cat, shocking the living daylights out of them.
Yztabub also discovers that The Nick of Time spaceship’s engines are damaged and are leaking radiation. This would explain why Mydas and Cindy had zonked out, as they’re suffering radiation sickness. Will Turnidus and Yztabub receive unlikely help when the transsexual Cilla comes back to them?
Meanwhile with Maureen and her fellow passengers aboard the spaceship on the way to her lover (which is still yet unrevealed in this episode), they get hijacked by an alien frog-like creature. Colonel Franklyn also gets into trouble when she’s kidnapped by the evil Arran down to his far away planet.
Nicholas Courtney returns as Turnidus in the episode. I find Nick Courtney very funny in this audio series so far. Sometimes Turnidus can be quite child-like especially when he bounces on the bed, before discovering it’s a dead cat. Just hearing Turnidus bouncing and going “Wee!” was hilarious. 😀
There are also moments when Turnidus can be very thoughtful and compassionate, especially in the friendship he develops with Yztabub. Whilst still naive, Turnidus is unwilling to not see people suffer like Cilla when reviving him/her back to life. But can Turnidus fly a spaceship safely into outer space?
Michael Keating returns as Mydas Mydason in this episode. Early on, Mydas is still mad following his ordeal in the first episode ‘Genesis’. Sometimes he seems to be experiencing waking dreams which were explored in the previous episode ‘Deathtraps’ about him and Maureen before they’d married.
Later on, Mydas has his mind restored when Turnidus and Yztabub get help from Cilla. Mydas recounts all that’s been going on since he went mad with Turnidus and Yztabub filling in the blanks. I enjoyed Mydas in this, as he seems to want to know more on what’s going on and who this Arran is.
It’s a shame that Sammie Winmill didn’t come back to reprise her role as Cindy Rellar in this episode and for the rest of the series. I wonder what’s happened to her, since she was put in cryosleep aboard the Tinkerbell, I think. In fact I believe she’s still there by the time the episode comes to end.
Mark Preston returns as Yztabub, the human inside the drinks machine. I must admit now that Yztabub has grown on me by this point in the series. There are times when he can get panicky, but it’s interesting how Yztabub and Turnidus discover more things whilst they explore The Nick of Time.
Things get interesting when Yztabub with Turnidus, Mydas and Cilla discover his real human body aboard the Tinkerbell ship. Yztabub desperately wants to get his mind out of the drinks machine he’s in and put back into the human body. What purpose could Arran want with Yztabub’s human body?
Gareth Thomas returns to the ‘Soldiers of Love’ series as Arran. And for those of you who haven’t been following the series, Arran is the true identity of the Editor who made his first appearance in ‘Genesis’ played by Colin Baker. This episode hints at more on what Arran is up to during the series.
I found Gareth Thomas as Arran’s scenes with Galileo Gamak interesting early on in the episode as I wonder what the grudge is between these two. Arran also seems very interested in Colonel Franklyn, as he lures her into a trap to come down to an alien planet and his devious plans progress.
It was a joy to hear Sarah Sutton again as Colonel Franklyn in this episode. She maintains the no-nonsense edge that she demonstrated in the previous episode. But there are some interesting hints revealed about who she is as a character, as she seems to have this certain history related to Arran.
Colonel Franklyn gets lured into a trap when she joins Arran down onto a far-off planet where they hope to find a certain ring. She soon realises it’s a trap before realising Arran’s identity. I was a little shocked when Sarah as Colonel Franklyn called Arran ‘a bastard’ when he shoots one of her soldiers.
Alison Taffs as Maureen has a rough time of it in this episode when she; Peter Dean as Jadra; Mark J. Thompson as Teddy and Mark Preston as Frag are hijacked aboard their spaceship. I’m afraid I didn’t feel this subplot went anywhere in this episode and I guess it’s going to be progressed for next time.
Jan Chappell makes his first appearance as Sharliken in ‘Soldiers of Love’. For ‘Blake’s 7’ fans, Jan Chappell is well-known as Cally. I don’t know Jan Chappell well. I’ve yet to see the ‘Blake’s 7’ series at this point. Although I do know she starred in ‘Shakedown: The Return of the Sontarans’ video drama.
Sharliken is a frog-like alien creature when she comes to attack Maureen and the others aboard the spaceship they’re on. She knocks out Maureen for a while with a shot of her gun. Hearing Jan Chappell as Sharliken in that alien voice is very eerie, matching to Nick Courtney’s voice for Turnidus.
This episode also features the return of Cilla. Now for those of you who’ve forgotten, Cilla appeared in ‘Genesis’ and was working for Colin Baker’s character as the Editor. In that episode, he was played by Norman Lovett. Early on in this episode, the male version of Cilla is played by Mark J. Thompson.
I can’t understand why they didn’t have Norman Lovett reprise his role of Cilla in this episode. Although to be fair, Mark J. Thompson does a very good impersonation of Norman Lovett in this. Eventually Cilla wants to change back into a woman and gets her wish when goes into this machine.
And she ends up being Anna Karen as Cilla. When I saw Sarah Sutton at the ‘Worcester Comic Con’, she mentioned to me that Anna Karen had been in ‘EastEnders’. For me, Anna Karen is well-known for playing Olive in the sitcom series ‘On The Buses’. I didn’t realise Anna Karen was in this CD series!
When Cilla becomes a woman, she retains the snarky, sulky, ill-mannered traits that were in the Norman Lovett character in ‘Genesis’. She also seems to like having ‘a fag’, which I can imagine Anna Karen doing somehow. 😀 But apart from this, she seems willing to help Turnidus, Yztabub and Mydas.
It gets revealed in this episode that Arran happens to be Cilla’s brother. Now this makes for an interesting plot point and character development and it explains why Arran and Cilla were working together in ‘Genesis’. It’ll be interesting to hear how this plot point gets developed in later episodes.
Madam Deephole does sort of appear in this episode but Jacqueline Pearce doesn’t return for this episode to voice her. I’m sure Jacqueline Pearce is going to appear in later episodes, but I’m curious why she didn’t speak. She also runs away and leaves this pod behind with a valuable message on it.
The episode also features Niall Stuchfield as Dr. Proctor who is a half-lesbian, half-octopus human (?!) and as Crispin Caelys, this rather nerdy pilot who takes over reception. There’s also Tiran Aakel as Crannid, a security officer who accompanies Colonel Franklyn and Arran before he’s knocked out.
‘Metamorphs’ features two songs in it. This includes ‘Bowl of Cherries’ performed by Alison Taffs and Mark J. Thompson as well as ‘Praise The Lord’ performed by Alison Taffs and Gareth Thomas. Again, these songs aren’t memorable and I think they only serve to give the listener a tea break. 😀
The episode ends on a cliff-hanger where Turnidus with Mydas, Yztabub and Cilla pilots The Nick of Time spaceship towards the far-off planet where Arran is. Unfortunately the ship develops a fault and it seems our heroes are going to crash to certain doom. Will they survive in the next instalment?
On the back of the CD sleeve notes for ‘Metamorphs’, there are adverts for merchandise available for ‘Soldiers of Love’ like newsletters, signed scripts and signed photos of the cast. Had I know about this series when it was produced from 1999 to 2005, I would’ve liked to have purchased these items.
I also like how the back of the CD covers and of the sleeve notes contains behind-the-scenes photos of the cast featured in this series. I love the photos of Sarah Sutton by herself as well as with other cast members like Nicholas Courtney and Gareth Roberts. They’re lovely behind-the-scenes photos.
‘Metamorphs’ continues the ‘Soldiers of Love’ series at an exciting and intriguing pace. The story does feel leisurely stretched at the moment, but I’m getting interested in the characters and the story. I want to know how this all works out and what the resolution to this CD series will be later on.
However, the next instalment of the ‘Soldiers of Love’ series doesn’t feature Sarah Sutton’s Colonel Franklyn. I wonder what’s become of her, especially since she seems to be acting strangely and willing to work for Arran. I’ll have to get through the fourth episode first before getting to the fifth.
‘Metamorphs’ (SOL) rating – 8/10
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