Synopsis: 1930s Berlin is throwing a party before the end of the world. The city laughs at the gathering storm. Bernice Summerfield and the Doctor investigate a mysterious alien signal. What are the Cybermen doing in Berlin? Who are the Ancient Vril? What horrors lurk beneath the city’s most infamous nightclub?
Review: Doctor Who: The New Adventures of Bernice Summerfield Volume 07: Blood and Steel told a bleak, yet necessary tale. The story’s power lay in straightforward allegory.
Each story in this seventh set was built around an aspect of the Nazi horror. It’s actually surprising that no writers had explored the historical inspirations for the Cybermen before.
“Willkommen” by James Goss injected the Cybermen into Germany’s economic collapse and obviousness. I loved the unapologetic Cabaret homage.
I also appreciated meeting the POV character. The way Goss filtered the world-building through him was particularly effective.
“Wulf” by Aaron Lamont centered on jingoism and othering. Moreover, Lamont thematically tied the Cybermen to the rise of Hitler Youth.
“Übermensch” by Rochana Patel was an archeology story centered on early Eugenics theory and Nazi occultism. Of course, Bernice was in her element.
The Doctor was in his element, too. That was the problem.
“Auf Wiedersehen” by Victoria Saxton was both an extremely cerebral and yet unsettlingly visceral finale. Bernice and the Doctor were isolated, vulnerable, and completely themselves.
Saxton used the Cybermen to foreshadow the Nazis’ terrifying grip on Germany and parts of the world during World War II. Needless to say, Bernice and the Doctor resisted. Moreover, the Doctor gave a speech that defined his incarnation.
Lisa Bowerman and David Warner were absolutely superb as usual. For their parts, the supporting cast shone in various roles that added depth to the storytelling. That said, several performances stood out.
First, Jack Forsyth-Noble was pitch perfect as POV character Wulf. Second, Natascha Slasten played an excellent professional foil for Bowerman’s Bernice.
Last, but not least, Andrew Pepper stole the show as The Compère. Pepper’s cabaret experience added a level of flamboyant authenticity.
Thank you, Big Finish, for allowing David Warner to play the Unbound Doctor. He’ll live on in that role and many others.
- You can purchase Doctor Who: The New Adventures of Bernice Summerfield Volume 07: Blood and Steel here.
- Audio Production10