‘Ominous Passage’ (SOL) (Audio)

‘OMINOUS PASSAGE’ (SOL)

Please feel free to comment on my review.

Welcome to Xoolian Major

Sarah Sutton doesn’t appear in this ‘Soldiers of Love’ episode, I’m afraid.

‘Ominous Passage’ is the fourth episode of the ‘Soldiers of Love’ series. I’d listened to ‘Genesis’, ‘Deathtraps’ and ‘Metamorphs’ beforehand and was still none the wiser about what direction this series was going. It was getting very exciting whilst at the same time being very bizarre and smutty.

However, this is where my interest in the ‘Soldiers of Love’ series began to dip since Sarah Sutton did not appear in all the episodes as do some of the other cast members. I’m not sure what the recording process was on ‘Soldiers of Love’, but I can tell it was not all for one very specific episode.

I also picked up how rude and smutty the ‘Soldiers of Love’ series could be. Whilst it did have some amusing, enjoyable characters and intriguing storylines to listen to, there weren’t many clear-cut straight-forward heroic characters you’d expect. Many of them seem to have pretty eccentric flaws.

Now whilst I’m okay for imperfect characters in a sci-fi comedy series, there doesn’t seem to be a role model to identify with. This could be due to the fact there’s no clear ensemble set of characters in ‘Soldiers of Love’ apart from Turnidus, Yztabub, Cilla Hammond and Mydas Mydason at this stage.

And again for this episode, there seems to be this leisurely pace about what the structure for each episode of ‘Soldiers of Love’ was about. It makes for intriguing storytelling as you find out what happens in an episode and what happens to certain characters by the time we get to the cliffhanger.

I don’t think ‘Ominous Passage’ stood out for me as well as the previous three episodes of the series. Whether it’s to do with me missing Sarah Sutton (and it probably is), I don’t think this fourth episode was that particularly interesting. There were elements from previous instalments missing in this one.

In this instalment, the episode actually begins not with the resolution of the cliffhanger for Turnidus, Mydas, Yztabub and Cilla crashing to Xoolian Major as you would expect. That happens much later on, I’m afraid. It actually starts with Galileo Gamak meeting with Jake Avara who is Mydas’ brother.

Jake is concerned for the whereabouts of his brother after he was reported dead on the news in the previous episode. Gamak is concerned for the whereabouts for his security officer, Cindy. Gamak and Jake agree to help each other by going to Xoolian Major. They gain help from Hywel Hammond.

Meanwhile, Turnidus, Mydas, Yztabub and Cilla survived the spaceship crash on the planet Xoolian Major. They soon seek help from the nearby town where natives are taxed on character and colour. Also Maureen has this serious sinister condition that grows worse whilst on the passenger spaceship.

By the way, Xoolian Major is the name of the far-away planet that Arran lured Colonel Franklyn to in the previous episode. From what I can gather, this planet used to be lush civilisation once. Now it seems to be a desolate planet with dangerous things waiting to occur. Is Arran responsible for this?

Nicholas Courtney returns as Turnidus in this episode. I don’t think there’s any major character development for Turnidus in this episode, apart from him being helpful with the others and still being fond of fashion. But I still enjoyed Nick Courtney’s performance, as he balances humour well.

I liked it when Turnidus tells the bad news and the bad news to Yztabub, Mydas and Cillia, when the spaceship is being sucked down into the planet by quicksand. Turnidus seems to show a keen interest in the society on Xoolian Major, despite him being naive and far away from his home planet.

Michael Keating returns as Mydas Mydason in this episode. Again like Nick Courtney’s Turnidus, I don’t think there’s any major character development for Mydas in this episode. Thankfully he isn’t rambling anymore, since he got his brain restored and seems to be making sense of what’s going on.

Mydas is full of himself as he recollects his TV show glory days whenever he makes anecdotes. He also seems to form this connection with Cilla, when she’s making rude sex jokes to him. He finds it uncomfortable at times. I would find it uncomfortable if I was in Mydas’ position during this episode.

Cindy Rellar does get mentioned in this episode, especially since she still seems in cryosleep aboard the Tinkerbell spaceship as it gets sucked in by quicksand on Xoolian Major. The others get worried as this happens. I wonder if Cindy will return or if she’ll live to see another day out of her cryosleep.

Mark Preston returns as Yztabub, the human drinks machine. I’m sure you knew this already. I don’t think Yztabub gets any major character development either. He still wants to be free of his drinks machine entombment. I’m surprised he didn’t talk about his human body from the previous episode.

Anna Karen returns as Cilla Hammond, the new regular for the ‘Soldiers of Love’ series. Cilla seems to be one of the goodies now with Turnidus, Yztabub and Mydas. She still retains her snarky rudeness and wanting a fag. She also seems to be to be flirty as she interacts with Mydas Mydason.

Just to say, I later saw Anna Karen in ‘TravelWise’ after hearing in the ‘Soldiers of Love’ series. I didn’t realise that it was Anna Karen from ‘On The Buses’ by the time I was listening to ‘Soldiers of Love’ in May 2014. It was when I saw ‘TravelWise’ I realised it was Anna Karen from ‘On The Buses’.

Gareth Thomas returns to the ‘Soldiers of Love’ series. This time however, he isn’t playing Arran in this episode. He’s playing Hywel Hammond, the Welsh producer who also happens to be Arran’s uncle apparently. I think Arran should have made an appearance in this as well as Colonel Franklyn.

But Gareth Thomas’ performance as Hywel was pretty enjoyable in this episode. Gareth really does sound like a Welshman with a strong Welsh accent. It turns out that Hywel is gay as he joins Gamak and Jake to Xoolian Major. Hywel gets a shock when he finds Xoolian Major has become devastated.

Peter Dean returns as Padrioli Jadra in this episode as well as Alison Taffs as Maureen Mydason, Mark J Thompson as Teddy and Mark Preston as Frag. I wish I could say something standout about Jadra’s character in this episode, but I honestly haven’t found him interesting thus far in this series.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure Peter Dean’s a fine actor and I’m sure he did well in ‘Eastenders’. But I haven’t heard Peter Dean as Jadra do anything significant in terms of character development. Apart from being scared with Maureen, Frag and Teddy, Jadra seems to be a rather bland sort of character.

Jan Chappell returns as Sharliken in this episode of ‘Soldiers of Love’. It turns out that Sharliken had infected Maureen with some alien material of her own species (I think) when she shot her in the previous episode. I’m not certain what Sharliken’s motives are, but they may get revealed next time.

As well as playing Sharliken, Jan Chappell also plays the Mom of Panakol, who Turnidus, Mydas, Yztabub and Cilla meet when they’re on Xoolian Major. It was nice to hear Jan Chappell’s normal voice for Mom compared to her alien voice for Sharliken. I wonder where Mom’s story will go next.

Gary Hailes makes his first appearance as Shek-Izan, a trader who Turnidus, Yztabus, Cilla and Mydas meet on Xoolian Major. For ‘Eastenders’ fans, Gary Hailes is well-known for playing Barry Clark, one half of the first gay couple in the soap opera series. Well as I don’t watch ‘Eastenders’, I didn’t know this.

In this episode, Shek-Izan seems to be a dodgy character when our heroes want to purchase items from him to repair the ship. I’m not sure what his motives are and where his character’s going to go, but I assume it’ll all be revealed in the next episode as our heroes are going to see him the next day.

With regards to the Maureen subplot, I still find it slow-going and it didn’t go anywhere much in this instalment. Well, I take that back. There’s the stuff where Maureen has something alien inside her and she has the annoying Teddy looking after her. But I honestly find this subplot rather hard-going.

Niall Stuchfield returns as Dr. Proctor for a brief scene in the episode as well as Crispin Caelys, who’s actually a likeable character to some including Mark J. Thompson as Galileo Gamak. It would be nice though if he didn’t sound goofy and nerdy, even as he enjoys his crisps and being part of the Space Patrol.

There’s also Peter Ager as Jake Avara, Mydas’ brother as well as Nick Kirby as Helmut Synder, who works for Dr. Proctor. I don’t know why but I’m imagining Helmut Synder as a Herr Flick character from ”Allo, ‘Allo’. This could be due to me watching the TV sitcom as I reviewed ‘Soldiers of Love’.

‘Ominous Passage’ features one song in it. This is ‘The Space Patrol Song’ performed by Niall Stuchfield and Mark J. Thompson. This is performed when Caelys recollects his Space Patrol days with Gamak. The music and lyrics are by Mark J. Thompson with the arrangement by Niall Stuchfield.

There’s also a sequence called ‘Jake’s Heaven’ with a theme tune by Niall Stuchfield. This focuses on a sci-fi TV show that gets promoted, starring Jake Avara…as himself. There are also the voices of Jan Chappell, Alison Taffs, Gareth Thomas, Nick Kirby and Gary Hailes for the characters in the TV show.

The episode ends on a cliff-hanger, except this time not on Turnidus, Mydas, Yztabub and Cilla. It focuses on Hywel, Jakes and Gamak. It’s where they confront an evil robot, voiced by Steven Degatis, that happens to have a sink plunger. And yes. I know what you’re thinking. This has to be a Dalek! 😀

There’s a bonus track at the end of the ‘Ominous Passage’ CD that is a mistamix on the ‘Soldiers of Love’ theme tune. I like listening to the ‘Soldiers of Love’ theme tune when an episode begins and ends. The music is by Mark J. Thompson with this arrangement by Steve Ellerton and Shaun Liddell.

‘Ominous Passage’ isn’t what I consider an exciting instalment for the ‘Soldiers of Love’ series. It has elements missing from previous instalments that should have been in this one, such as Arran and Colonel Franklyn to keep the pace going. I just hope the excitement will return in the next episode.

There are things about this episode that I enjoyed such as the performances of the cast, including Nicholas Courtney, Michael Keating, Gareth Thomas and Anna Karen. I didn’t find a lot of standout character development in this one, but I hope that the CD series will maintain my interest next time.

I’m looking forward to the next episode anyway, because Sarah Sutton’s in it! 😀

‘Ominous Passage’ (SOL) rating – 6/10


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