Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Bernice Summerfield's New Adventures.

One of the biggest genre surprises for me of the last year was the Return Of Sutekh. Bernice Summerfield Boxed Set from Big Finish. Surprising in the sense of just how good it was.Bernice may not be a character who is faniliar to all bu I first met her way back in the days the Doctor only existed on paper(When it came to new adventures.That is where he literally turned up; in The New Adventures) It is amazing to think after ten years of New Who and so many different events and whatever that for a very long time many of us believed The Good Doctor would never return to our screens.He did however have a surprisingly engaging existence in the world of Virgin canon..er,so to speak.It really did feel as though that lovely old blue box was still spinning through a vortex far,far away.  Having adventures and picking up strays along the way. Benny being one of the most memorable and fondly remembered.Big Finish know a good thing when they see one so they have brought her along through novel adaptations and a long running series of her own books and audio adventures.I still remember looking forward to the boo kin which she got married.This was way before the Ponds and their rebooted universe wedding reception.Now there was an episode in which the title The Doctor Dances would have made a lot more sense to me.
             Lisa Bowerman is the actress who has brought Benny to life for the listener.Just check out the short video trailer for the Sutekh stories to see in a minute or two the levels of reality she brings to this fantastic character.She is in very impressive company in this quartet. It is only David Warner, David Bloody Warner himself, playing a version of The Doctor from another universe. An else world universe as D.C.Comics was so fond of calling them.The lovely Mark Gatis is also involved playing..Well, you will hear.
              The first story is a set up story which it does without any fuss or preamble. Barely an introduction but it is enough when your choice of transport is a time an space machine.You do not need more than this as your brain as a Doctor Who fan is already hard wired as to how to get on board.It is a great start, a mysterious library in deep space where pilgrims have traveled across vast distances to avail of its contents, shelves filled with the accumulated history and wisdom of hundreds of worlds some now long gone. This Doctors universe is that sort of universe. On its last legs after som terrible conflict.The two leads are fantastic with David Warner bringing a huge amount of gravitas and dry charm to the Doctor of this universe whilst Lisa Bowerman more than holds her own. She deserves to have her ame atop these adventures.The friendship between the two is very believable and not at all some contrived topsy turvy lop sided relationship as the two bravely face dangers together. The support cast is also spot on, nuns with guns and gloomy robots included. While sme one else new and yet familiar awaits his moment to step into the light.
                The second story continues as the two friends travel through space("but not time") to a world where..actually the situation on Planet X needs o heard and experienced as part of the narrative. I was reminded of the Pat Mills and Dave Gibbons Doctor  Who Weekly comic strip Planet Of The Damned. I am also reminded of when I loved Tom Baker as The Doctor and David Warner brings much of the same lived in charm as Tom managed. Only two stories in and I am waxing lyrically about this Tardis Team.
                By the third story we hear David Warner put the Who back into Who as he strides through The Very Dark Thing as though he is the only person who understands what is going on.
                Well we, the listener, knew it was coming.A showdown between the characters dramatically displayed on the cover of this box set. Poor Benny. As if she does not have enough on her plate she also finds herself the center of attention from someone she really would be better off avoiding. Lost in a different universe, kidnapped by a best friend she has never met, seperated from friends and family and dependent on the vagaries and good will of a brilliant but flawed time-lord.
                The whole proceedings have a very different tone to the box set before it, no Doctor or Ace. But it is a fantastic direction to take.Like the Tardis's travels through E-Space anything seems possible in a universe where things seem to be running down.
                 I for one will be running to keep up.