A Vintage Year For Scoundrels
Directed by Nicholas Briggs
Written by Guy Adams
Starring Blake Ritson (Adam Adamant), Milly Thomas (Georgina Jones) and Guy Adams (William E. Simms)
What happens if you take a 1902 man and drop him in 1966? In Adam Adamant Lives!, the answer isn’t so much spectacular as it is painful. Adam Adamant has been hit by a car, and he spends most of the first story in Big Finish’s new range in a hospital room, fighting for his life. Georgina Jones was the one who called an ambulance. She’s also the only person so far who’s heard of him before, thanks to her research into the Edwardian period for her book. Adamant was a “gentleman adventurer” in his day, a hero, until he disappeared, and no one knew what became of him.
When you actually look at the dates, we’re never told how old Adamant was when he disappeared but it’s reasonable that he’d still be alive, sixty-four years later. What can’t be explained is how he hasn’t aged a day. In volume one, Adams (who wrote each of the three stories) doesn’t spend much time on that question and, logically, that makes sense. Better to focus on whether or not Adamant is from 1906, before trying to come up with an explanation for how that could be, but because Big Finish is so much associated with Doctor Who, a show where time travel is possible, that might come as a surprise to some listeners.
Then, a lot depends on how familiar you are with the original TV series, Adam Adamant Lives!, which aired for a short time in the mid-sixties. Big Finish was the first I’d heard of the show and I did think this volume would deal more with how Adamant ended up in the 60’s. Episode two, “Death Has A Thousand Faces,” sees Georgina and Adamant investigating a murder, and while it’s not a poor example of detective fiction, it’s not the genre I was looking for, or expecting, from Adam Adamant Lives!
“What Is This Place?” is the highlight of the three stories. Since Adamant is unconscious for most of it (though Adams finds creative way around that, with peaks into Adamant’s unconscious, where 60’s Batman-like fights take place) that leaves the focus on Georgina. I would happily listen to a whole series about her and her friends, Ren (Amaka Okafor) and Sandy (Annabelle Dowler) – independent women working at a time when coming out as a lesbian could cost you your job (not that we’re entirely free of such homophobia in the 21st century).
Adam Adamant’s most famous foe is The Face (he’s voiced by Ritson here, too, and in the cast interviews Briggs talks about how Ritson got into character), but if you loved Paloma Faith’s Bets on EPIX’s Pennyworth then you’re going to love Margo Caine (Issy Van Randwyck), the villain of “What Is This Place?”
“Georgina Jones Dies!” is a clever play on the name of the series but does the final story live up to its title? The answer is yes, ending with a juicy tease for volume two, which comes out in August.
“A Vintage Year for Scoundrels” is available to purchase from Big Finish. It also has one of the best theme songs ever, newly recorded with vocals by Louise M. Kimber.
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