For an immortal franchise that sometimes seemed to be doing its level best to get killed off on the cinema screen, the TV spin-off of the Highlander franchise was a landmark achievement, running for six seasons and creating a complex mythology of its own. Quickly evolving from its ‘decapitation of the week’ format to a more nuanced study of immortality, it balanced old-fashioned sword-play and character-studies of the ensemble regulars – most of whom couldn’t die unless you took their heads.
Considered by many to be one of the most ambitious stories the Comes a Horseman/Revelations 6:8 two-parter revealed that the enigmatic regular Methos (Peter Wingfield) had – in ancient times – been a rapist, murderer, thief and such a general scumbag that his ‘exploits’ inspired the dark legends of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Together with Kronos (Valentine Pelka), Silas (Richard Ridings) and Caspian (Marcus Testory) they had ridden all over the world, feeding the myth and leaving carnage in their wake.
It was really only a matter of time before the concept was revisited – the only surprise that it’s taken well over a decade to do so. But Big Finish’s audio set takes the opportunity to look at their shared and individual histories, the ties that bound and the agendas which propelled them. While it’s a great premise, there might have been initial concerns that Silas and Caspian were hardly the most erudite of the group – memorable and well-played by the actors, but perhaps not the stuff of an audio-based adventure. Thankfully, some inspired ideas and solid performances lead Ridings and Testory to give as good as they get and Riding’s Silas outing (‘All the King’s Horses’) begins full of intrigue and ends in genuine pathos.
The prolific Wingfield has made no secret that he considered the role of Methos as a landmark role and both he and Pelka bring their silvery cadence to roles they made their own. Kronos’ voice drips with duplicity and Methos, once again, feels the weight of centuries on his shoulders when a loved one gets in the way of an enemy.
All the stories are linked, threaded together by a nemesis with his own agenda, one who manipulates the Horsemen through the centuries – sometimes you even feel sorry for them! Only when you listen to all four adventures do you get the big picture – one that is perhaps a little over-complex and contrived, but clearly also quite epic in scale.
Verdict: While some scenes work better than others in a non-visual format, most hold together extremely well and in the absence of any more live-action Highlander projects (except a remake trapped in development hell) these adventures are ambitious, interesting, fun and highly recommended! 8/10