In Review: Big Finish:The New Adventures Of Bernice Summerfield VOL 03: The Unbound Universe

Synopsis: The wrong Doctor, the wrong universe, a whole heap of trouble – Bernice Summerfield is having a really bad day. This latest set comprises of four new stories, which...

Synopsis: The wrong Doctor, the wrong universe, a whole heap of trouble – Bernice Summerfield is having a really bad day.

This latest set comprises of four new stories, which include:

  • 3.1 The Library In The Body by James Goss: In a dying reality knowledge is the only thing left of value – and the Kareem have come to destroy it. Can Bernice, the Doctor save the last library?

  • 3.2 Planet X by Guy Adams: Bernice and the Doctor land on a planet so dull no one ever bothered naming it. Finally something interesting is about to happen here.

  • 3.3 The Very Dark Thing by Una McCormack: Tramatz is an idyllic world – the rivers hum to themselves, unicorns prance through the emerald forests, and, at the very corner of your eye, is a horrible secret.

  • 3.4 The Emporium At The End by Emma Reeves: The Last Song has been sung, and the final days of the universe have begun. Everyone flees to the gateway – to find that The Emporium At The End is having a closing down sale.

Bernice Summerfield the unbound universe

Review: Bernice Summerfield has the opportunity to work with David Warner’s Doctor Who from the Big Finish ‘Doctor Who Unbound’ Series, which is set in a parallel universe.

This paring of Bowman’s intrepid archeologist and Warner’s more cautous take on the Doctor makes for a lot of fun and David Warner is absolutely brilliant as the Doctor. Which only shows what a missed opportunity it is that the BBC never considered him for the role.

The stories all link together by the theme of it all being a different universe and it all ties up with the final story ‘The Emporium At The End’.

The Liberary In The Body

The opening story ‘The Library In The Body’ sees the Doctor and Bernice on a mission to save all knowledge from an alien raced called the Kareem. I really liked the claustrophobic feel that the sound technicians managed to generate during some of the more tense moments of this story. Which is very much Bernie getting to know this new Doctor who is much different from Sylvester McCoy’s seventh Doctor. There are some great touches to this episode, which include the Doctor discovering the body and being accused of the murder. I also thought that the the Sisters of Saint Beedlix led by their Mother Superior (Rowena Cooper) were kind of spooky. Even though they seemed to be on a somewhat harmless quest.

planet X

The second story ‘Planet X’ sees the Doctor and Bernie going to the ‘Doctor Who’ equivalent of an episode of ‘Downton Abbey’. A planet that is so boring. Nobody bothered to name it.

This planet is truly dull, but there is a sinister edge to it. The mediocrity is enforced by Prime Minister 470 (Julie Graham) and those who show any spark of imagination are mysterious disappeared. Warner is on top form in this story. His verbal sparring with Prime Minister 470 is top notch. In fact you’d think Warner would be a great leader for pretty much any opposition political party. He’s truly brilliant.

the very dark thing

The third story ‘The Very Dark Thing’ is my favourite on the set. It sees the Doctor and Bernie landing on a planet where seemingly fantasy has been allowed to run so rampant that its population is completely oblivious to the fact that the planet is under attack.

In Doctor Who. When a planet is idyllic. There is usually a sinister edge to it and this story is no exception to that rule. The story starts with the Doctor having been on the planet for awhile Enjoying the tranquility of its rivers and the unicorns. Seemingly the only person on the planet that is immune to all of it is Benny whose cynical attitude is protecting her from its effects. It’s just as well to because someone needs to lead an attempt to stop Fleet Admiral Effenish (Deirdre Mullins) final attack on the planet.

This is very much a classic ‘Doctor Who’ trope where imagination is key.

the emporium at the end

The fourth and final story ‘The Emporium At The End’ is a world in which the Free Market, Gambling and Shops have gotten out of control to a point where people’s obsession with consuming is amped up due to the end of the universe sales.

There is a get out clause though. If you are prepared to sell some of your memories for a large cash sum you can enter into a lottery in which you can potentially win an escape to another universe. Presiding over the shop is “The Manager” played by (Sam Kisgart) actor extraordinaire with acting credits that stretch all the way back to the 1960’s. Listening to what he had to say in the Extras is well worth it. The Manager of course is a pretty bad pseudonym for this universe’s version of The Master and the Emporium is the latest in a convoluted series of schemes to keep himself alive at the expense the planets consumers.

I loved the return of The Sisters of Saint Beedlix and the Mother Superior whose job it is to sing the final song as the universe draws to an end.

The pairing of Lisa Bowman’s Bernie with David Warner’s more cynical and grumpy Doctor is fantastic fun. The banter between the two characters is brilliant fun.

I’d love to see this pairing again in future Adventures.

  • You can order your own copy of ‘The New Adventures Of Bernice Summerfield Vol 3: The Unbound Universe here at the Big Finish Site. 
9.9
The New Adventures Of Bernice Summerfield VOL 03: The Unbound Universe
  • Stories
    9.5
  • Acting
    10
  • Sound Production
    10
  • Art Work
    10

Ian Cullen is the founder of scifipulse.net and has been a fan of science fiction and fantasy from birth. In the past few years he has written for 'Star Trek' Magazine as well as interviewed numerous comics writers, television producers and actors for the SFP-NOW podcast at: www.scifipulseradio.com When he is not writing for scifipulse.net Ian enjoys playing his guitar, studying music, watching movies and reading his comics. Ian is both the founder and owner of scifipulse.net You can contact ian at: ian@scifipulse.net
One Comment
  • Raissa Devereux (@RaissaDevereux)
    29 August 2016 at 2:52 pm -

    This was marvelous. Warner rocked, and he’s obviously happy as a clam at Big Finish. I’m genuinely sorry he didn’t get to be the Doctor. It was a major missed opportunity along with them not finding more for Jacobi.

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