04 February 2012

Audio Catchup: Professor Bernice Summerfield and the Poison Seas

I suppose that when I posted my reviews of the first two releases of Season 4 of Bernice Summerfield, I should have waited, since this one was yet to come, and I won't be reviewing the finale for Unreality, as I've previously listened to it out of sequence. (I have a policy of reviewing audios for USF only if it's the first time I've heard them.)

Professor Bernice Summerfield and the Poison Seas (#4.3)

written by David Bailey
directed by Edward Salt
released September 2003 

Lisa Bowerman as Bernice Summerfield 
Miles Richardson as Irving Braxiatel

My ongoing journey through Bernice Summerfield‘s “monster season” brings me to Professor Bernice Summerfield and the Poison Seas, which brings back the Sea Devils, who appeared in Doctor Who in 1972’s The Sea Devils (well, duh) and 1984’s Warriors of the Deep. In an interesting twist on the usual storyline, instead of confronting latecomer humans on Earth, the Sea Devils (here described by the political correct “Earth Reptile” name) are themselves latecomers on the human colony world Chosan, previously seen in author David Bailey’s The Secret of Cassandra. (Hardly the most auspicious beginning, as that story was among the Benny series’ worst.)

Though it’s a noble idea, The Poison Seas is pretty much an utter failure. Foremost among these is that the Sea Devils are nearly unintelligible, the usually reliable David Darlington committing a rare lapse in sound design. You can figure out what they’re saying enough to follow the plot, but I couldn’t tell any of the Sea Devil characters apart beyond that some were male and others female, and because they all speak in a whisper, all the scenes they feature in lack any kind of dramatic energy. Things only get worse when the Sea Devil computer speaks up, as it seems to have an additional electronic effect designed to make it even less intelligible. Come back Ice Warriors, all is forgiven; the Sea Devils are surely the Doctor Who monster least suitable to audio.

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