After an absolutely barnstorming pilot episode earlier this year, Average Romp take us back to the time of future with two brand new instalments of audio sci-fi sitcom Dick Dixon In The 21st Century.
With the pilot available for free on YouTube, Average Romp ran a Kickstarter campaign to fund some more adventures of Captain Richard ‘Dick’ Dixon, as he gets to grips with life 100 years ahead of his time, having been flung into the futuristic era of the 21st Century. Thankfully, funding was achieved, so we now have the good fortune of getting further slices of this out-of-this-world comedy romp to enjoy.
‘The Love Bug’ sees our hero and his space-age compatriots come across the SS Tavares, adrift in space, and with a dead crew who seem to have demonstrated that you can have too much of a good thing. As they investigate exactly what fate befell the doomed crew, Dick and his teammates soon learn that while in space no-one can hear you scream, they might well be able to hear you moan…
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In ‘Menagerie A Trois’, Professor Disco has stolen a vessel and gone AWOL, making his way to the distant – and surprisingly rather troublesome to pronounce – Cassiopeia system. With Dick and Gina hot on his trail, Professor Disco ends up setting down on an uncharted planet, and leading them to the ruins of an ancient civilisation. But is this strange new world quite as dead as it first appears? Unsurprisingly, no.
Writer Jonathan Morris has picked two tales which both have a rather risqué theme running through them, and manages to successfully and thoroughly mine each of them for every last ounce of smut, filth and pure innuendo. The great joy of this being an audio comedy is the sheer amount of mileage to be gained from misdirecting the listener, so that even the most innocent of activities can be made to sound so utterly suggestive, without any visuals to ruin the set-up.
One thing which stands out (if you pardon the expression) is the volume of rather dodgy sexual politics which cropped up in shows from the ‘Disco SF’ genre (a term coined by Morris after viewing so many examples of 1970s sci-fi). Here, with Dick Dixon, Morris manages to gleefully deconstruct all the hallmarks of those kinds of tales, while combining them all with a British stiff-upper-lippedness. Buck Rogers, but Dick doesn’t, if he can avoid it.
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Much of the sheer and unalloyed pleasure with Dick Dixon In The 21st Century comes from the fact that it works on more than one level. If you happen to be just a casual viewer of sci-fi, then you will probably pick up on Morris’ use of well-worn genre cliches, many of which are quite absurd in themselves; for more devoted fans, however, there is so much fun when it comes to being able to spot not just what TV series are being parodied, but also the specific episodes too.
Either way, the important thing is that the ‘com’ which goes alongside the ‘sit’ is very funny, quite often uproariously so. Both of these episodes deliver several genuine belly laughs, and make you need to go back for another listen, not simply because they are so enjoyable, but also that you may end up missing some of the jokes as you happen to be guffawing so loudly from the last killer quip or pun, all of which are guided with laser-like precision.
Everything about Dick Dixon In The 21st Century is just top notch, from Morris’ scripts, to the direction by Toby Hadoke – who gets the best out of every performer, and makes sure every joke lands perfectly – and the sound design by Darrell Maclaine. In fact, Maclaine has taken great relish in not just giving us a range of spacey sound FX, but also a score which evokes the era Dick Dixon looks to emulate, complete with remixes of the theme tune which deliberately make it more jarring with each iteration (otherwise known as the ‘Doctor Who effect’).
All the cast members are perfectly suited to their parts, with Kieran Hodgson capturing the suave yet rather prudish Dick, Allyson June Smith just oozing glamour as Gina, Terry Molloy giving a great turn as the scatty Professor Disco, Dan Starkey doing double duty as The Admiral and robot sidekick B-G, as well as Sooz Kempner and Jez Fielder both giving it their all in their smaller – but no less significant, and equally as funny – roles of Fox and Ozzie.
With the quality of the pilot having been easily maintained, Average Romp will hopefully be able to give us plenty more deeply satisfying Dick. As one of the characters might put it, Dick Dixon In The 21st Century is most definitely some kind of work of genius of some kind.
Dick Dixon In The 21st Century – ‘The Love Bug’ & ‘Menagerie A Trois’ are available to purchase and download now from the Average Romp website.