21 May 2012

Audio Catchup: Professor Bernice Summerfield Season 5

written by Jacqueline Rayner
directed by Gary Russell
released July 2004

Lisa Bowerman as Bernice Summerfield
Stephen Fewell as Jason Kane
Steven Wickham as Joseph the Porter
Professor Bernice Summerfield and the Grel Escape (#5.1)

After the harrowing events of Life During Wartime and Death and the Daleks, it’s apparently time for some lighthearted events in the life of Bernice Summerfield. And so Jacqueline Rayner makes a welcome return to the range, having previously penned most of the (almost) uniformly excellent adaptations in the first season, not to mention the novels The Squire’s Crystal and The Mirror Effect. And even better, it brings back the Grel!

The Grel originally appeared in Paul Cornell’s New Adventures novel Oh No It Isn’t!, but truly obtained life in Rayner’s audio adaptation of that novel. They’ve been chronically underused since, though they are the only (I am pretty sure) monster to originate in a spin-off and make it into the parent series, having fought the Doctor and Charley in The Doomwood Curse. They’re simply a delight to listen to (so good choices for audio, then) as they travel the universe looking for facts. “Find facts! Find facts! Find facts!” It’s a nice change of pace to the run of four “monster stories” that preceded this one; we have a monster from Bernice’s own history, rather than an attempt to boost sales by pulling in something from the parent show.

( Read more... )

written by Simon A. Forward
directed by Edward Salt
released August 2004

Lisa Bowerman as Bernice Summerfield
Professor Bernice Summerfield and the Bone of Contention (#5.2)

Professor Bernice Summerfield and the Bone of Contention is the sixth Bernice Summerfield audio drama in a row to feature a “monster,” but like The Grel Escape before it, Bone of Contention switches things up by not featuring a monster that appeared in the classic Doctor Who television series. Rather, The Bone of Contention features one of the alien races Big Finish created itself: the Galyari, who previously appeared in The Sandman with the Sixth Doctor and Evelyn. Bone of Contention is even written by Simon A. Forward, who created the Galyari for The Sandman.

Bone of Conention sees Bernice hired by the Perlorans to visit the Clutch, a convoy of ships traversing interstellar space, on their behalf to recover a precious artefact from the Galyari. Of course, the Galyari claim to not have the artefact, and Bernice soon ends up sidetracked by Griko, the deformed son of Commander Korschal of the Security Directorate. In a move that surprises no one that has ever experienced another Bernice Summerfield story, the plight of Griko turns out to be related to the artefact, and Bernice is quickly brought into conflict with the Galyari.

( Read more... )

written by Stephen Cole
directed by Edward Salt
released November 2004

Lisa Bowerman as Bernice Summerfield
Professor Bernice Summerfield and the Relics of Jegg-Sau (#5.3)

Okay, so this season, Benny has faced two monsters from the spin-off media: the Grel and the Galyari. For the third release of the fifth season, it’s a monster from the parent show, but perhaps not one you’d expect: K-1, a.k.a. the Giant Robot. Appearing in just Tom Baker’s debut Robot, the titular character was not one of a race of evil conquerors, but a lone and lonely creation, destroyed at the story’s end. Nevertheless, Stephen Cole brought back the Robot for Professor Bernice Summerfield and the Relics of Jegg-Sau, where she runs afoul of one after crash-landing on an alien planet.

Despite its seemingly-goofy premise — the Robot’s limp wrists and skinny legs didn’t exactly put it at the top of the monster pantheon — The Relics of Jegg-Sau is actually a fairly grim story. It opens with Bernice imprisoned by the Robot, as she tells the story through flashbacks. And those flashbacks begin with her crashing on an alien planet, rescued by two very strange people: the explorer Kalwell and his daughter Elise. Despite have been trapped on the planet for years, neither is in a hurry to be rescued.

written by Stewart Sheargold
directed by John Ainsworth
released March 2005

Lisa Bowerman as Bernice Summerfield
Harry Myers as Adrian Wall
Professor Bernice Summerfield in the Masquerade of Death (#5.4)

“You can’t have a good climax without some effective shouting!”

Bernice and Adrian are in Spring, where there’s been a murder. Only the Queen of Spring can’t quite tell who’s been murdered. Also Bernice and Adrian are sleeping together. And a mysterious Player has decided to dissect Bernice to prove to everyone that’s she’s fictional. And the dialogue is strange.

The last instalment of Professor Bernice Summerfield’s fifth season, Professor Bernice Summerfield in the Masquerade of Death by Stewart Sheargold, includes not a single returning monster and makes up for it by being one of the most original releases in the series ever. Unfortunately, “original” seems to largely translate into “completely baffling”. I mean, you eventually find out what’s going on on a macro level, but there are lines of dialogue and whole scenes even that still don’t seem to mean anything by the time you get to the end. I don’t mind working to enjoy something, but I do want to know why I’m working, and I don’t think The Masquerade of Death ever gives me a reason.

No comments:

Post a Comment