18 December 2011

Audio Catchup: The Bellotron Incident, The Draconian Rage

Bernice Summerfield and the Bellotron Incident (#4.1)
written by Mike Tucker
directed by Gary Russell
starring Lisa Bowerman as Bernice Summerfield, Miles Richardson as Irving Braxiatel, Stephen Wickham as Joseph the Porter, Louise Faulkner as Bev Tarrant
released June 2003

Here it is — the “monster season.” After a successful outing with the Ice Warriors in Season 3’s The Dance of the Dead, in Season 4 of Professor Bernice Summerfield, all four plays star a monster that previously appeared in televised Doctor Who. The first of these, Mike Tucker’s Professor Bernice Summerfield and the Bellotron Incident, brings back the Rutans, the oft-mentioned but little-seen enemies of the Sontarans — they’ve only actually popped up once, in Horror of Fang Rock.

The Bellotron Incident has a potentially interesting premise, but goes about introducing it in a completely uninteresting way. It opens with a native fellow on Bellotron running around and shouting about something uninteresting, then it goes to the crew of the Earth Empire battlecruiser Rites of Passage having a long debate about the Prime Directive, then the captain of the Rites of Passage calls Braxiatel, and finally, 20 minutes in, Bernice Summerfield shows up in the audio drama that bears her name in the title.

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Bernice Summerfield and the Draconian Rage (#4.2)
written by Trevor Baxendale
directed by Edward Salt
starring Lisa Bowerman as Bernice Summerfield, Miles Richardson as Irving Braxiatel
released August 2003 

The second instalment of Professor Bernice Summerfield’s “monster season” is The Draconian Rage by Trevor Baxendale, seeing the return of the Draconians from 1973’s Frontier in Space. The Draconians would go on to appear in many of Big Finish’s audio dramas, many of them in the Bernice series, and even one appearance in the Doctor Who monthly range, 2009’s Paper Cuts. I haven’t seen Frontier in Space, but the Draconians are often lauded for being one of Doctor Who’s rare attempts in creating a “monster” that is no such thing; rather, the idea behind the Draconians is that they are a complex alien species.

The Draconian Rage takes Benny to Draconia itself, a doubly rare experience, given that she is 1) human and 2) female. She’s been brought in to examine an ancient artefact of human origin unearthed by the Draconians on a world where the entire population committed suicide overnight. Of course, some folks are up to no good, and Bernice is soon embroiled in conspiracies and ancient cults and being tortured.

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