|Omega by Nev Fountain|
I’ve heard an awful lot of Big Finish productions over the last few years. Some have bored me – I don’t think I’ll ever get that third Gallifrey CD – while others have enthralled me. There have been stories that I have given up on half way through and only returned, braver and older, many months later to finish. There is even one that I have never finished. Try as I might – I’ve tried in bed, in the bath, in the car, sitting quietly and even at work – I’ve never got past episode two. But only once have I gone online while half way through a story and spoken of it as the worst thing BF have ever produced. A story so impossible to follow that it barely deserves to be called a story and should rather be referred to by the colourful but useful word "clusterfuck". Which, sidebar, was the word I used to get my first ever deleted post at the BBCi message boards. Even though I removed the u, c and k and replaced them with asterixes I was still moderated. But back to Omega. Oh m'god would be a better term for it. It was gut shakingly awful. It was teeth rottingly horrible. It was the worst of the worst because it wasn’t dull and it wasn’t clichéd – the crimes the lowest of BF’s output usually commit – it was simply dreadful. It was lots of funny voices, lots of scenes where things happen and none of it made any sense at all. I was never going to put this piece of crap back in my CD player ever again. Not if I lived to be seventy.
Well, I didn’t get any cards or young people telling me I look good for my age but I gave Omega another go after a while and heard the all important third episode. Normally a tricky time to fill between fleshing out the story and setting up the final and usually explosive climax, the third episode is generally recapping and magnifying of what has gone before. It advances the plot but only in the same way that turning a joke into a Ronnie Corbett monologue fills time before the pay off. Then we get the last seconds of part three and it all clicks into place. A cliff hanger of the highest order because it comes out of the deepest, darkest and most communist part of left field. This is on a par with "The Monk’s got a TARDIS" in my pantheon of great episode endings. Unlike Dust Breeding 2 and The Harvest 2 – both of which were spoilered online – Omega 3 took me totally by surprise.
I slogged on to the end, unable to quite comprehend what I’d heard and rated it as one big, classic moment surrounded by silly voices and satire. Much as you would expect from someone who primarily writes comedy for a living. Then I went back, months later, and did it one episode a night with full knowledge of the revelation of episode three. Not only did it now make sense and not sound at all like a clusterfuck but it was a pretty damn good story. It’s still the weakest part of the Villains Trilogy (which is no great shame as all three are excellent) but never before has one moment meant so much to appreciation of a story. For anyone who has given up on Omega, I would advise them to give it another go once you’ve heard what is really going on. That knowledge, unlike the name of the killer in an Agatha Christie, enriches the whole thing like a chocolate coating.
Part 1 - Tracks 1-7
Part 2 - Tracks 8-14
Part 3 - Tracks 1-6
Part 4 - Tracks 7-15