The Paternoster Gang return for three new stories in the third installment in the Heritage series. Read on to find out my thoughts on each exciting tale!
1. “Family Matters” by Lisa McMullin
The first story in the set, Family Matters, sees Jenny reunite with her parents as their travelling circus comes to town while Vastra investigates a mysterious break-in at Paternoster Row. It soon becomes clear that these two events are more connected than they seem, and it all comes to a head in a shocking confrontation between Vastra and Jenny’s family.
We haven’t really heard much about Jenny’s past in her previous appearances, so this story serves as a welcome exploration of how she got to be where she is today. Catrin Stewart puts in a strong performance as always, and it’s great to hear her show a more vulnerable side to her character here. Neve McIntosh also impresses, similarly showing off Vastra’s vulnerabilities, particularly her insecurities about living as the sole Silurian in a world full of humans.
The guest cast in this story are quite strong. Issy Van Randwyck and Ignatius Anthony give good performances as Jenny’s parents Ma and Pa Scarrity, while Jack Shalloo is compelling as Barty Crump, a mudlark with a dark secret.
Unfortunately, despite some great performances, the character work didn’t quite hit the mark for me. I found a lot of the scenes, particularly those involving Vastra, to be quite heavy-handed and repetitive, which made the story quite a drag. Had the plot been more interesting, this might have been overlooked, but sadly I found it rather uninspiring and frankly quite dull.
Overall, Family Matters is sadly not a very strong start to the set.
2. “Whatever Remains” by Robert Valentine
Thankfully, Whatever Remains is a far stronger story. Robert Valentine makes his Big Finish debut with this exciting tale, which sees the Paternoster Gang travel to Dorset in search of a mysterious creature sighted there. Each member of the gang gets their own little subplot, there’s a great mix of action and humour, and we finally begin to understand the overarching narrative of the Heritage series as Vastra comes face to face with her own kind…
Jenny and Strax (Dan Starkey) spend much of this story working together without Vastra, making for an interesting dynamic. Jenny gets to show some initiative in solving the mystery, which is great, while Strax forms an hilarious relationship with Annette Badland‘s Mrs. Slinger.
Meanwhile, Vastra has a thrilling subplot where she encounters a long-buried Silurian secret: one that will have a big impact on the Heritage series as a whole. The Silurians have always been one of the most fascinating monsters in Doctor Who, so it’s great that their society gets a little expansion here.
All in all, Whatever Remains is a great story, with a strong plot and some great moments for all three of the main characters.
3. “Truth and Bone” by Roy Gill
The final installment in the set, Roy Gill‘s Truth and Bone, is another strong story, following the Paternoster Gang as they reunite with some old acquaintances and come face-to-face with the might of the Sontarans, who have come to Earth to requisition Strax back to Sontar. Meanwhile, threads from the previous story come to the surface as Vastra seeks out something very old and very powerful…
Christopher Ryan and Arthur Hughes return as Stonn and Tom Foster, the human-Sontaran couple who we last saw in A Photograph to Remember in Heritage 1. They were such memorable characters in that story, and continue to be so here, and I hope we hear more from them in the future.
John Banks plays Requisitioner Skark, the Sontaran in charge of finding Strax, and he does a great job. It’s fantastic to hear a more villainous Sontaran, as opposed to the more comedic Strax and Stonn, and Banks’ performance (along with Gill’s writing) reminded me of just how formidable the Sontarans can be as an enemy.
Overall, this is a brilliant conclusion to the boxset, tying up loose threads from the other stories while leaving some tantalising hints about where Heritage 4 will go…
Despite a flawed opening episode, Heritage 3 is the strongest Paternoster Gang set yet, with some great plots, brilliant performances and fantastic development for the main characters. After this, I’m very excited to see how Heritage 4 wraps up this exciting series in October. Recommended.
The Paternoster Gang: Heritage 3 is available on CD or as a download from http://www.bigfinish.com
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