Wednesday, July 18, 2012

AUDIO DRAMA REVIEW: "Landfall" (BBC)

(Originally posted at OTHERREALMS AUDIO)

Synopsis: When five lost souls, recruited by the Company travel to an abandoned planet, all they know is that they are to retrieve the only known sample of an ore left over from an old mining operation. But their task becomes considerably more complicated when one of their party has a close encounter with the indigenous plant life - plant life which seems to have some very odd, very powerful properties. Soon they are battling not only to stay alive, but to hang on to the very things that make them human.

Another offering from the pen of Mike Walker (I reviewed his adaptation of Rendezvous With Rama the other day) only this time, it's an original work. First broadcast in March of 2011, I caught a re-broadcast last Friday and I thought "Hey! Let's review this one!"

So here we go...

In terms of story, "Landfall" is reminiscent of the first Alien. Rag-tag crew (plus android) sent on assignment to another planet who encounter...something when they arrive on the surface.

Like Rama, it's a very minimalistic, bare-bones production. Music is understated, used mostly as transition between scenes--although there are a couple of instances when a pulsing rhythm provides dramatic tension.

The cast was pretty good. My favorite was Clare Perkins as Hudson. No-nonsense and driven, Perkins gives the role just the right measure of intensity and she's consistent throughout the whole production.

I did have a few issues with Cally (played by Nicola Miles-Wilden). Her performance energy seemed to shift between "engaged" and "bored." I realize she's playing an android, but even Ash*, Bishop**, and, hell, Data***, showed some measure of emotion. When she was "bored," the performance came across as flat. I found this "bored" performance very evident in her scene with J.D. which starts around 33:20 and in the scene that immediately follows.

I thought it was interesting that Miles-Wilden manages only two moments of really inspired performance. First, when she rails against the others at the 42:30 mark, lasting roughly a minute-and-a-half. Then again at the 48:20 mark, which lasts a little over five minutes.

But at the end of those five minutes, she goes back to being "bored."

A sour note for me there.

Sidenote: Intaba (played by Cyril Nri) sounds a tad like Keith David. When I first heard him, I thought, "Hey! It's Goliath! What--Huh?"

Some other nits to pick.****

First: When the ship first lands on the planet, Cally notes that it would be rough coming in. But when they finally land, there's no reaction to such a "rough landing" from the crew. They just...land. And then everything's okay and it's "let's get on with the scene."

Second: About half an hour into the story, a heated argument erupts. Only there's not much heat in said argument. I would've thought otherwise.

Seems like director Marc Beeby missed a couple of good bits there.

Still, it's a good, solid audio drama. I recommend it.

As of this posting, there are 3 2 days left to listen on the BBC i-player (click the "Listen Now" icon).

If you don't get to catch it in time, buy your copy of "Landfall" from AudioGO at this link.


*The android from Alien.
**The android from Aliens.
***Data? You don't know Data? Shame on you!!! You call yourself a sci-fi fan? C'mon--turn in your Geek Card.
****See? Even a BBC audio drama doesn't quite hit all the marks for me.



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