Vienna: Series 2 Boxset by James Goss, Cavan Scott and Jonathan Morris (CD review).
If you haven’t met Vienna Salvatori (Chase Masterson) before, she is an intriguing woman from the future. Vienna inhabits the same universe as the Doctor but their paths only crossed once in ‘The Shadow Heart’ by Big Finish. The character of Vienna was expanded in the excellent ‘The Memory Box’ and then she moved into full series and this is the second of those with the third in the pipeline.
It makes a nice change for the drama to have a female hero who does not rely on anyone to extract her from situation. She is knowledgeable and sharp and takes no prisoners. In her previous life, she was a freelance bounty hunter but, as we meet her in this series, Vienna has a new career in the police.
The opening of 1. Tabula Rasa see her awake in a mysterious room with no memory of herself, her own name or the person she is sitting next to. He has no knowledge neither and their gradual awareness leads to another mystery for Vienna to solve, before it’s too late.
Although not a new idea, this clean slate works well as truth emerges despite everything and eventually, of course, Vienna triumphs. We also can come in as new listeners and not be weighed down with expectations. The story unravels itself over the three episodes and it forms a satisfying whole.
As Vienna commences the next story 2. Underworld, we find she has a partner now called Jexie Reagan (Samantha Béart) and they try to bring the killer of Jexie’s previous partner to justice. This necessitates a trip down and deep into the Undercity, as whiffy as a sewer along with the necessary nose filters. But Jexie has problems of her own and she’s got an inhibiter on to stop her getting overtly violent. This could be an issue if you need someone’s help in a fight.
Finally, we get to 3. The Vienna Experience which is another interesting story but spoiler-prone and not just for Vienna. She needs to get to the bottom of why she became a cop in the first place as it was unlikely to have been the pension plan. This episode ties up the series nicely leaving it open for the next instalment to arrive.
So what do we make of this unusual bounty hunting female? We just know Vienna will have a wonderful catsuit and a very small handbag of essential equipment. This woman is feisty and independent, doesn’t suffer fools gladly and is a persistent sleuth. The dialogue is sharp and the action moves along nicely with lots going on and, if you have the time, it’s worth a re-listen. Pity the reviewer who rarely has that time.
Chase Masterson currently guest-starring in ‘Arrow’ in the U.S. and has also taken a role in Big Finish’s ongoing audio series ‘Survivors’ and manages to convey a lot of character in her voice alone which is really what you need in audio. Combined with the stories by James Goss, Cavan Scott and Jonathan Morris we actually get quite attached to Vienna and her verbally created character. It makes a change to have a woman in charge and that she mostly only has her own wits and occasionally some big-ass weapons to get by. She reminds me of Sara Paretsky’s sleuth Vi Warshawski as acted by Kathleen Turner on audio and the ‘Vienna’ stories again go a long way to prove that female led drama is viable and should be encouraged. Long live the hero for she is who we want to be.
(pub: Big Finish. 3 CDs 180 minute 3 stories. Price: CD: £25.00 (UK), Download: £20.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78178-431-0)
cast: Chase Masterson, Samantha Béart, Harry Ditson, John Schwab, Tim Beckmann, Duncan Wisbey, Nigel Carrington, Donna Berlin and Regina Regan
check out website: www.bigfinish.com