When Bernice Summerfield was invited to participate in a cult archaeology broadcast on the mysterious world of Saravas, she could never have imagined the secrets she might unearth there… or the terrible Truth that would stalk her back to Legion.This was the fifth Bernice Summerfield boxed-set to be released, and it’s…weird. One of my friends tells me that it builds heavily on the first set, which I haven’t listened to. If that’s the case, then I imagine the first set must also be…weird.
With friends and family by her side, Bernice quickly finds herself flung into the face of danger: either combatting deranged despots at terraformed garden parties, appeasing gunslingers in the White Rabbit bar, or simply attempting to survive on a barren desert planet, all alone…
The odds are stacked against her, and this is undoubtedly the end for Bernice Summerfield… but she’s determined to go out fighting!
It’s a collection of five stories that run the gamut from your basic alien possession story, to an old west story, to something almost fairy-tale like. Several of them end with Bernice alone and, apparently, not remembering the people of her past.
Of the five stories, I most enjoyed “In Living Memory”, which not only ties up the set, but also has one of the single most “what the frack?!” moments in all of Big Finish history. Not incidentally, it may have also canonized the legendary Big Finish lunches as being a part of Doctor Who lore. It also had an ending that promises something quite interesting for the next set.
I also truly enjoyed “The Winning Side”, though it is not, as you might deduce from the first five minutes, a very happy tale. It’s a story about love and loss, about alien technology contaminating a planet, and about how rumor and faith tend to be a greater force, at least in the short run, than fact. It contained some of the best performances of the set, particularly from Geoffrey Beevers and Lisa Bowerman.
Beyond that, “The Brimstone Kid” is…well, Big Finish did a western. It works out very slightly better than the average episode of Firefly, but, sadly, that isn’t saying a lot. I didn’t hate it, but it was rather predictable. “The Big Dig” and “The Revenant’s Carnival” were both entertaining, but not anything especially memorable, aside from in the way they ended.
All in all, this is a solid, entertaining set. The weaker stories are still at least ok, and the two best are really good. Now as I said, it apparently follows-up on elements that appeared in “Epoch”, and I haven’t listened to that. Despite not having heard it, I didn’t feel lost with this set. Well, not more than I suspect I was supposed to. A fine entry in the Big Finish back catalog, and worth purchasing.
Chris Swanson is a writer and blogger from Phoenix, Arizona. Read more from Chris on his blog, and follow him on Twitter.