Bernice Summerfield (Lisa Bowerman) and the unbound version of The Doctor (David Warner) have shaken off his dying world to land back in the universe Bennie knows and loves for four new adventure, this time revolving around people’s memories. As an added feature was also have four brand new writers to Big Finish scribing the stories.
Pride of the Lampian by Alyson Leeds
What more could a Timelord in a new universe want than to look around a car boot sale on another world? Bernice is looking some objects over, and one she is drawn to feels ancient and important. It may just be the key to a long lost race … and the Doctor doesn’t believe a word of it.
This is a great opener to this set. It shows a rare occasion of Bennie being won over by her ego and the Doctor from another universe showing cynicism, yet a thirst for the truth (even if partly to prove a point about him being right). There is a lovely joy to Bernice in this well told story at her finally discovering something that seems to be what she thought it was. This is nicely brought out by her pairing with an archivist, Drolla (Jessica Hayles) who is equally excited by the discovery, even if she is at a loss to explain it.
Clear History by Doris V Sutherland
Civitas-G is a world where everyone lives in a virtual environment and wants for nothing – unless people forget you. If that happens, you must fight for your survival, and you may even have to bend the world around you to do so.
Where as on one hand a virtual environment being manipulated sounds like something that has been done before (and I can think of some examples) no one has done what this story does. It has not only a really cool sci-fi idea, but as with the best stories it has an amazing human drama at the centre. The story deals with issues of oppression and rebellion using the state’s own tools against a tyrant – if, when you have the perfect world, who’s idea of perfect is it? It’s also very timely to have a story of a distorted reality in an age where anything the state doesn’t like is branded as “fake news.”
Dead and Breakfast by April McCaffrey
The Doctor and Bennie are playing husband and wife whilst staying in a town where people are disappearing, and anyone not adhering to strict social norms is an enemy of the state. Needless to say, acting normal alone could be their greatest challenge to date.
It’s another very tight script. The idea of enforced normality to someone ideal version of how people should behave is really fascinating. Where is the line drawn in such a totalitarian state? I’m sure most Whovians can think of examples of where we have gone against the social norm and might end up being locked away before breakfast.
There is also a wonderful guest turn by Jacqueline King as the one military cyborg landlady at the B&B where our hero’s are staying and the enforced pleasentaries between the Doctor and Bernice as a would be married couple, delivered at times through gritted teeth as perfectly played.
Burrowed Time by Lani Woodward
A train goes through pathways it creates beneath the surface of the Byrinthians home world. Everyone on the planet has died years ago, but there is still one passenger left on the train and the train seems to want to keep it that way when the Doctor and Bernice arrive.
This story is a lovely mystery, so I don’t want to say too much to give anything away. There is a really strong emotional pull to this tale, and it addresses the question of the nature of who we truly are. Are we our physical presence, or are we something else if our memories outlive us? Add to this a train’s AI which keeps you guessing if it’s
“just following programming” or has evolved beyond, and you have a great closer to the set.
I am very impressed how four new writers to the world have brought out really original and different interpretations on the theme of the set. Warner and Bowerman are, as before, a great match. Warner’s Doctor, who is still working at being the Doctor, really allows Summerfield to take centre stage in her own set, whilst still being an amazing male lead worthy of the title, The Doctor.