Five Star Five: John Lovell and the Zargon Threat REVIEW

Within the first few minutes of listening, I was expertly transported to a whole new Anderson universe that I had never experienced before.

Benji Clifford’s thrilling opening theme music – check.

Richard James’ exhilarating and deeply imaginative writing – check.

Robbie Stevens’ cool and dramatic performance – check.

All systems go for Five Star Five: an epic sci-fi adventure on a colossal scale!

Unconventional hero John Lovell and a glorious gang of characters are called upon to save the planet Kestra from the evil Zargons. Based on the original 1979 feature film screenplay by Gerry Anderson and Tony Barwick, the universe of Five Star Five is perhaps the grandest concept in the Anderson canon. The ambition and hugeness of this story of space soldiers and ragtag heroes is extraordinary. As a feature film, it could have given Star Wars a run for its money at the time. Unfortunately, it was the sudden and unexpected lack of money that ultimately prevented Five Star Five from reaching the big screen. Needless to say, it would have been an incredible cinematic experience. 

Richard James superbly brings all the details of that original feature film script to life and builds upon them. The characters are unmistakably Tony Barwick creations, and the heart-stopping action is pure Anderson, but all elements have been made thoroughly three-dimensional by Richard James’ detailed and imaginative writing. Listeners and readers can prepare to be transported to a rich world full of entertaining characters. In particular, I was hanging on to every single slither of delecticable dialogue from John Lovell, the loveable rogue turned hero; surely, the Han Solo of the Anderson universe. Every character is full of personality which Robbie Stevens absolutely revels in throughout his performance of the audiobook, delivering the sharp and witty exchanges between characters with just as much care as the magnificent descriptions of epic space battles full of action and tension. As the plot escalates, the stakes are raised, the heroes and villains become hyper-focussed on their goals, and the mission becomes a matter of life and death right up to the final moments in the spirit of the best Anderson television series.

As expected from Anderson Entertainment and Big Finish, the production values of the audiobook are of the highest standard. The music and sound effects crafted by Benji Clifford serve to build, still further, this spectacular world and guiding the listener through the action and intrigue.

It’s difficult to compare Five Star Five to any other Gerry Anderson production just because of how much there is to take in, but I’ll try. Think of Space Precinct or Fireball XL5, absolutely packed full of vibrant and diverse characters who have seen so much of the universe, and where intergalactic adventures are commonplace but always exciting. Couple that with some of the outlandish humour and colour that one immediately links with Terrahawks or Dick Spanner. Meanwhile, the most brutal battles of UFO or Space: 1999 come to mind when one is in the heart of an action sequence. As a whole, Five Star Five is most certainly something Anderson, but like the best Gerry Anderson formats, it’s unlike anything else that has gone before.

Anderson Entertainment’s release of Five Star Five: John Lovell and the Zargon Threat is an opportunity to enjoy a Gerry Anderson production that never was, but now most definitely is. It’s a big, bold, bombastic space adventure that’s a joy to experience thanks to the talents of a team that, quite simply, know how to tell an excellent story. Pick up the hardcover book or audiobook from the Gerry Anderson store

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