‘The Stuff of Life’ (Audio)

‘THE STUFF OF LIFE’

Please feel free to comment on my review.

A ‘Star Cops’ story read by Trevor Cooper

It’s been a while since I did a ‘Star Cops’ review, isn’t it?

When I reviewed the ‘Star Cops’ TV series and the two ‘Mother Earth’ CD box sets back in 2019, it was with the intention of getting to hear Sarah Sutton (who plays Nyssa in ‘Doctor Who’) make her guest star appearance in the episode called ‘Hostage’. It was so well-worth it in hearing the episode.

Of course, as times goes on, Big Finish have made more ‘Star Cops’ audios including ‘The Stuff of Life’ audiobook and the two ‘Mars’ box sets. ‘The Stuff of Life’ audiobook and the first ‘Mars’ box set were released in December 2019 whilst the second ‘Mars’ box set was released a year later in July. 🙂

It’s taken me a while to get around to hearing the latest ‘Star Cops’ audios by Big Finish. It’s not that I’m uninterested in the latest ‘Star Cops’ audios. I ordered ‘The Stuff of Life’ audiobook and the two ‘Mars’ box sets as downloads from Big Finish on Christmas Day, December 2019 with other audios. 🙂

It’s just that ‘Star Cops’ isn’t like on the top of my priority list when it comes to hearing some Big Finish audios including ‘Doctor Who’. I would get around to hearing the ‘Star Cops’ audios eventually, but it was not with the same urgency as I had with getting to hear the ‘Hostage’ episode.

It was after listening to the ‘Timeslip’ Big Finish audios that featured Sarah Sutton as Charlotte Trent that I decided to tackle the latest ‘Star Cops’ audios by Big Finish. I also re-watched the ‘Star Cops’ TV series and re-heard the ‘Mother Earth’ box sets to familiarise myself with the characters and such. 🙂

You probably picked up that I decided to purchase the two ‘Mars’ box sets as downloads compared to when I purchased the ‘Mother Earth’ box sets as CDs. I’m assuming the ‘Mars’ box sets don’t contain behind-the-scenes photos, which was the case for the ‘Mother Earth’ box sets in CD form. 😐

‘The Stuff of Life’ audiobook isn’t available as a CD release. It’s a digital download release only. This is fine for me, although it was a challenge to download the 389-minute audiobook onto my Android tablet. I imagine I’ll face the same challenge with downloading the two ‘Mars’ box sets on my tablet.

Just to give you a recap on what I think of ‘Star Cops’ overall, I will say that it has grown on me. I can’t say I’m as excited about ‘Star Cops’ as I am with ‘Doctor Who’. The series does have some great ideas behind it, especially in terms of being an edgy cop drama set in outer space. It has its appeal. 🙂

In re-watching the ‘Star Cops’ TV series and re-hearing the ‘Mother Earth’ audios, I’ve been able to gain more insight into the series and its characters. It was a struggle when I started back in 2019 with watching the TV series for the first time, but as I got into the Big Finish audios, I was enjoying it a lot.

I would prefer it if ‘Star Cops’ was more geared for a wider audience and didn’t contain adult themes since the PG rating on the ‘Star Cops’ DVD misguided me into believing it was fairly suitable for any age range. Also the swearing and blasphemy featured in the ‘Star Cops’ series tends to put me off. 😐

Regardless, I was keen to hear more ‘Star Cops’ audios after enjoying revisiting the TV series and the ‘Mother Earth’ audios recently. I hope to share more thoughts on what I think about ‘Star Cops’ as we go through ‘The Stuff of Life’ audiobook and the two ‘Mars’ box sets to review them on my blog.

I hope to learn more about Nathan Spring, Colin Devis, Pal Kenzy, Priya Basu and Paul Bailey as characters whilst getting to hear more ‘Star Cops’ audios. I’ve certainly picked up more about them as characters from re-watching the TV series and re-hearing the ‘Mother Earth’ audios quite lately. 🙂

Let’s start off with talking about what I think of ‘The Stuff of Life’. Like I said, it’s a downloadable story only from Big Finish. The events of ‘The Stuff of Life’ take place after the ‘Mother Earth’ audios and before the ‘Mars’ audios. So I had to listen to ‘The Stuff of Life’ before hearing the ‘Mars’ audios.

‘The Stuff of Life’ is a story by Mike Tucker. Mike Tucker is well-known to ‘Doctor Who’ fans for being a visual effects assistant in the Sylvester McCoy era and a model unit supervisor on the new series. He’s also written plenty of ‘Doctor Who’ stories whether it’d be books, short stories or audio drama. 🙂

For Big Finish, Mike Tucker has written ‘Doctor Who’ stories such as ‘Order of the Daleks’, ‘The Warehouse’, ‘The Genocide Machine’ and ‘Dust Breeding’. It’s fascinating that he’s the writer of this ‘Star Cops’ audiobook and this is his first contribution to the ‘Star Cops’ series in the Big Finish world.

‘The Stuff of Life’ is a 389-minute audiobook divided into 22 chapters with a prologue at the beginning and an epilogue at the end. It was nice to listen to the audiobook on my Android tablet and absorb each chapter for about three weeks. Mind you, I am curious why this was an audiobook.

The story is read by Trevor Cooper, who plays Colin Devis in the TV series and Big Finish audios of ‘Star Cops’. I enjoyed Trevor’s reading of ‘The Stuff of Life’. Before ‘Star Cops’, Trevor Cooper was in the ‘Doctor Who’ story ‘Revelation of the Daleks’ and he has been in the ‘Call the Midwife’ TV series.

Trevor has also done a number of Big Finish audios of ‘Doctor Who’ over the years including ‘The Haunting of Thomas Brewster’, ‘Castle of Fear’, ‘The Emerald Tiger’ and ‘Judoon in Chains’. Unless I’m mistaken, this is the first time Trevor Cooper’s done a full-on novel-like audiobook for Big Finish.

It’s clear how Trevor gets into reading ‘The Stuff of Life’ audiobook, knowing the series inside and out as well as the characters. He doesn’t do exact recreations of the characters’ voices, but I could easily visualise Nathan, Pal, Priya, Paul and Colin when Trevor read them as characters in the story. 🙂

The story of ‘The Stuff of Life’ goes like this. Nathan and Colin go on a fact-finding mission on the Edgar Rice Burroughs space station. Pal Kenzy meanwhile is back on Moonbase on the look-out for a juicy case. She gets more than she bargained for once some strange death occurs in Venice on Earth.

Priya and Paul become involved in the mystery too. The routine trip that Nathan and Colin are on soon rapidly turns into a nightmare! Can these investigations be linked somehow? Things become dangerous when the Star Cops get closer to the truth and it could mean disease and explosions here.

I like how Mike Tucker writes for the characters and gets into the world of Star Cops. He’s able to pitch right for Nathan’s character as we’re allowed to know his mind processes of how to deal with crime and space. Mike Tucker also reiterates how Nathan Spring isn’t fond about doing space travel.

I enjoyed how Mike writes Colin’s character. Trevor Cooper plays to it well in the story’s narration and there’s even a Laurel & Hardy reference which echoes Trevor Cooper’s character in ‘Revelation of the Daleks’. I wonder if the other character that Colin meets here could be played by Colin Spaull.

It was fun to hear Pal Kenzy’s snarky behaviour when being a Star Cops, especially in terms of how Trevor Cooper did the Australian accent, matching Linda Newton’s performance. I also enjoyed Priya Basu’s frustration of handling things on the Moonbase when Nathan’s absent and away with Colin. 🙂

There’s a new Moonbase co-ordinator after the death of Shayla Moss from the last ‘Mother Earth’ episode ‘Hostage’. Priya has to attend to the new Moonbase co-ordinator in order to help him to settle in. I enjoyed Paul Bailey being an undercover agent once he had to go to Venice to investigate.

It’s clear that Mike Tucker researched heavily into the TV series and the Big Finish audios of ‘Star Cops’ to understand who the characters like Nathan, Colin, Pal, Priya and Paul are. ‘The Stuff of Life’ does feel like a good direct continuation of the ‘Star Cops’ series following the end of ‘Mother Earth’.

I also liked it when Mike Tucker referred to previous ‘Star Cops’ characters who were in the TV series e.g. David Theroux (played by Erick Ray Evans), Anna Shoun (played by Sayo Inaba) and Alexander Krivenko (played by Jonathan Adams). Nathan’s deceased girlfriend Bea gets mentioned in the story.

It’s nice to have those nods to previous ‘Star Cops’ characters in the TV series featured in ‘The Stuff of Life’. Mind you, I feel a missed opportunity was made here. It would’ve been nice if David Theroux, Anna Shoun and Alexander Krivenko made appearances in ‘The Stuff of Life’ audiobook. 😀

How amazing would it be for David, Anna and Krivenko to return and meet up with Nathan, Colin and Pal as well as meeting Priya and Paul for the first time? It would be an interesting crossover of previous ‘Star Cops’ characters from the TV series meeting up with the new characters in the audios.

It’s a shame Erick Ray Evans and Jonathan Adams passed away before the ‘Star Cops’ series got revived by Big Finish lately and it’s still a mystery as to what’s become of Sayo Inaba. Even Trevor Cooper in his Q&A session at the end of the audiobook doesn’t know what’s become of Sayo Inaba.

Another missed opportunity featured in the audiobook is that the five ‘Star Cops’ characters don’t get to meet up as a fivesome in the story. Nathan and Colin are mostly together in the story on the Edgar Rice Burroughs space station whilst Pal, Priya and Paul are often at Moonbase or they aren’t.

Mind you, ‘Star Cops’ stories do tend to have the main characters split up from each other for most of the time. Which makes me wonder why was ‘The Stuff of Life’ an audiobook. It could’ve easily been a full-cast ‘Star Cops’ audio episode with David Calder, Trevor Cooper and Linda Newton in it. 😐

Had David Theroux, Anna Shoun and Jonathan Krivenko actually appeared in the story as characters, it would make sense for ‘The Stuff of Life’ to be an audiobook since the characters can’t be in a full-cast audio episode without the actors to play them. As is, ‘The Stuff of Life’ as an audiobook is peculiar.

There’s no ‘Star Cops’ theme music to accompany the beginning and the end of ‘The Stuff of Life’. It was amusing from Trevor Cooper’s Q&A how Trevor often sang ‘It Won’t Be Easy’ by Justin Hayward to annoy David Calder; and David Calder in his Nathan Spring tone would often say, “Devis, shut up!” 😀

But yeah, it’s peculiar that ‘The Stuff of Life’ doesn’t have any sound and music. It’s presented as a straight-forward audiobook reading by Trevor Cooper; much in the same manner that ‘The Moon Stallion’ audiobook was read by Sarah Sutton as a straight-forward reading by Fantom Films. It’s very bizarre.

With ‘The Moon Stallion’ audiobook, I enjoyed it immensely since it was Sarah reading the story and I knew what was going to happen from watching the TV production. With ‘The Stuff of Life’, it was a challenge considering it was a brand-new story by Mike Tucker and I had no idea what was to happen.

I did find myself enjoying the story for the most of two thirds, getting into the characters and such. When I got to the last third however, I did find myself getting lost in the plot. Things did seem to be rushed and confused, especially with regards to how the criminal schemes were being unravelled. 😐

I also thought characters like the American doctor on the Edgar Rice Burroughs space station were going to be unveiled as villains and such. I did get a sense that things hadn’t been fully followed through, which is a shame. I was enjoying the audiobook and I hoped for an exciting dramatic climax.

I could say that the s##t word and characters saying Jesus’ name was often utilised at certain points in the story, but then I shouldn’t be surprised as it’s what I’ve come to expect with ‘Star Cops’. I didn’t expect one of the characters that Pal and Priya met in the story to utter the F-bomb though. 😮

I’m thankful Sarah Sutton’s Mary Ward in ‘Hostage’ didn’t utter swear words. It was tense when hearing Nathan and Colin getting away from a bomb explosion as well as Nathan having a fight with one of the criminals in an airlock. Action sequences like that are really well-written by Mike Tucker here.

Like I said, at the end of ‘The Stuff of Life’ audiobook, there’s a Q&A session with Trevor Cooper. Trevor is asking the questions himself which he reads from a list, given to him by ‘Star Cops’ fans, I presume. It’s intriguing that the producer Xanna Eve Chown didn’t ask Trevor Cooper the questions.

‘The Stuff of Life’ audiobook has been pretty enjoyable to listen to. I like how Mike Tucker continues the ‘Star Cops’ story in this audiobook. It’s interesting Mike Tucker wrote this audiobook considering he hasn’t written a ‘Star Cops’ audio episode before and this is his first contribution to ‘Star Cops’. 😐

Trevor Cooper is excellent as the reader for ‘The Stuff of Life’. I wonder if more ‘Star Cops’ audiobooks will be made as well as more ‘Star Cops’ audio box sets. Perhaps Big Finish could adapt the late Philip Martin’s ‘Death on the Moon’ episode into an audiobook. That would be interesting to hear. 🙂

Well, that’s ‘The Stuff of Life’ done! Now it’s onto the ‘Mars’ box sets next! 😀

‘The Stuff of Life’ rating – 8/10


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