This new Big Finish title in their Dark Shadows range reunites private investigator Tony Peterson (Jerry Lacey) with the 300-year old witch Cassandra Collins (Lara Parker) for a series that establishes them as a detective partnership on cases that usually tip headlong into the supernatural. It’s divided into four mysteries that make up this first set.
The opening mystery, Crucifix Heights, finds Tony undercover as security at a secretive, high-stakes auction of arcane artefacts. Whilst there Tony encounters Cassandra who has been hired by someone else to bid on a special item. When a snowstorm cuts them off at the titular mansion the pair call an uneasy truce to try and stop the murders that begin whittling down the auction guests.
After this, they decide to go into business together. Their next case takes them to a run-down theatre in Boston where they encounter a family mystery, some Scooby Doo-style shenanigans and very likely more than one ghost haunting the place. The third case finds them trapped on a plane with a killer creature and a mystery they have to solve if they want to get out alive. Finally, for this set, a case finds them helping a fake medium who has opened a real door to the other side which has let something murderous come through, and it’s killing her clients so fast she will soon have no business left at all.
For the tone, we swerve away from the traditional Dark Shadows gothic towards a pastiche of the style of plenty of television shows of the ‘60s and ‘70s, here featuring a wise-cracking duo who don’t always get on working together to solve cases. It’s a great idea with Lacey and Parker thorough professionals who know their characters well and they are always a pleasure. It’s not always successful; the stories themselves are really quite generic stuff with little in the way of surprises. It doesn’t all hang together as well as it could, with a couple of the episodes outstaying their welcome. Everything necessary is present but there are some problems here and there with tone, pacing and sometimes acting too that means it doesn’t flow as well as it could.
That’s not to say this isn’t enjoyable. For the most part, it moves along nicely and when those areas mentioned above are working well, it’s an agreeable and exciting way to spend time with these characters. Some tightening up and smoothing that tone will help with Series Two. It’s a decent start to this new venture and the good outweighs any negative, so roll on that second season.
THE TONY & CASSANDRA MYSTERIES / DIRECTORS: DAVID DARLINGTON, DARREN GROSS, JOSEPH LIDSTER / AUTHORS: PHILIP MEEKS, ZARA SYMES, ALAN FLANAGAN, AARON LAMONT / LABEL: BIG FINISH / RELEASE DATE: NOVEMBER 30TH