Saturday, 20 June 2015
REVIEW - DOCTOR WHO: THE ADVENTURES OF BERNICE SUMMERFIELD VOL 2
It was very hard for me to decide whether or not I should even do this review. In part because of the regret and disappointment I felt at the end of the previous Doctor Who: New Adventures of Bernice Summerfield box set. I’m not gonna lie. I was less enthusiastic about the second volume than I am for another season of Clara Oswald. So did this second installment fare any better than volume 1?
PYRAMID OF SUTEKH
Well, it seems we’re not going to learn our lesson. The exact same thing that plagued the previous volume is present in this first story in which Benny stumbles upon Sutekh’s tomb and has to keep the titular mummy from being reborn. This story is lackluster at best and the only thing I can praise about it is the characterization of Sutekh and the fact that he is in this story.
The first ten minutes is just Benny talking to herself in monologue. If only the script would give her some kind of sidekick to speak to and wouldn’t drag this plot development out for ten minutes before actually doing so. Unfortunately the Doctor is locked out of the plot (AGAIN!) by the writer and the eventual companion we are introduced to is about as one-dimensional as a robot. That’s a joke only those unfortunate enough to have listened to this story will get. Haha!
I take major offense to the title of this series starting with ‘Doctor who’ but not actually giving us a proper team up like proper crossovers are supposed to. Has no one watched say The Avengers, or Flash/Arrow or even Raildex? I understand that this is the adventures of Bernice Summerfield, but if you’re not going to use the character of the Doctor properly or at all, why brand it as ‘Doctor Who’? Why not ‘The New Adventures of Bernice Summerfield…featuring the Doctor’?
This story also seems to adjust how powerful Sutekh is depending on what the plot needs at the time. This can get grating as one moment he can think away a space attack fleet and in the next has trouble moving a couple of rocks. The technobabble in this tale also reaches ridiculous heights even for technobabble. Nobody really wanted to explain all the crazy stuff that goes on so if you get a handwaved explanation, don’t expect it to make much sense.
Rating: 5/10.THE VAULTS OF OSIRIS
Ironically, this story proves just how well these crossover box sets can work without reducing one character to sidekick/buffoon status. Benny teams up with Ace McShane as they search for the Eye of Horus. Justin Richards proves that you can have two main characters from different corners of the Whoverse work together and treat both as equal stars.
I will say this: The flashback sequence at the start which leads to the two characters meeting up is good! I’m talking Series 6 good. Not the astronaut on the beach bit, but the montage of Eleventh Doctor exploits before that. This is a pro, as well as a con as that flashback could’ve easily been a great story on its own.
The Doctor is even less involved in this story, but Ace is there to pick up the slack. Benny is worried about Ace’s TARDIS driving skills and has a right to be…Ace has only had one at the Academy and it didn’t go well that time. Likewise, Benny kissing up to the TARDIS deserves its own mention. The dialogue in this story is fantastic and the adventure itself is nothing to sneeze at. This feels a lot like Indiana Jones meets Relic Hunter inside Doctor Who. Just a simple adventure with two contrasting, yet very complimenting main characters who can get the job done. Now why can’t we do the same for the Doctor and Benny damnit?
THE EYE OF HORUS
Now this is I’m talking about! This right here. The Eye of Horus. This is what I expect from these boxsets! This series climbs with each adventure and this story is utterly brilliant. Benny winds up in ancient Egypt and runs into…the Doctor?
Ah Egypt! We need more Doctor Who stories set in Egypt. It’s a setting with a rich and exotic environment and great mythos to explore and I would love to actually see it as opposed to hearing about it. Wouldn’t you? Like Eye of the Scorpion, this is a masterful tale full of conspiracies, revenge, tragedy, love and lots of drunken Egyptians.
But the biggest advantage is the fact that it contains the Doctor and he is not under siege or pushed to the sidelines. He is a prominent figure in the story and he is used expertly. The Seventh Doctor has always been dark, but some of his actions here will add another degree of suspicion and disgust for the Doctor’s seventh persona. It is fantastic to hear Sylvester McCoy add another layer to his Doctor that at the same time doesn’t interfere with our normal perception of him. And did I mention prominent role?
This story also makes good use of Benny, but I mean in how it treats her in respects to the Doctor. She is justified when she’s right and she’s justified when she’s in the wrong. While she still feels more prominent than the Doctor, it is lessened to the degree that I can accept it as the distance between them is very insignificant.
Hats off to Sutekh who just hams up every scene he’s in and just goes with it. It is brilliant listening to Gabriel Woolf recreate Sutekh in each of these stories. A worthy foe indeed.
However, this story isn’t perfect. It has two issues. For one thing, the source of the conflict is created by the most unlikely set of plot conveniences I have ever encountered. It is staggeringly bad. It’s like the universe wants this to happen. Screw logic or suspension of disbelief. Secondly, the first and last scene of this story distracts from the plot and serves literally no purpose at all.
The Tears of Isis
How does that saying go? Out with a whimper, instead of a bang? Sums up this last story perfectly. The second volume of Doctor Who: The New Adventures of Bernice Summerfield comes to a crashing crescendo as the Doctor, Benny and Ace face off with not-Sutekh. That’s right. There is no big grand battle. Instead, we are treated to a dull black comedy which lacks humor.
And the same problems that plagued this series at the start is back again. Benny is talking to herself because the plot can’t wait to split her up from the Doctor and Ace. The only problem, I don’t know which plot is duller, hers or the TARDIS duo’s. Benny encounters a cult dedicated to Sutekh and we learn what cults do when their apocalyptic predictions come true.
What did the Doctor do to be treated this badly by the narrative? He is the star of this universe and this story just treats him like a helpless coward, completely disregarding his personality and tossing him aside for two thirds of the story. And Ace…oh Ace. She about as involved as the Doctor in this story. Thinking about it, I can’t recall her doing anything even remotely useful to the plot. So why are both of them in here? This is the Doctor and Ace McShane damnit! They deserve better.
And let’s not get started with Sutekh. Like every other main character that isn’t Benny, he doesn’t really show up until half the story is finished and even then, he becomes just another cartoon villain. This is sad people. The plot is paper thin. The guest characters are awfully unlikeable and uninteresting to listen to. In fact, this story is so bad; I actually turned it off midway to listen to The Secret History (absolute cracker of a story) before coming back the next day to see how everything gets resolved.
And it gets resolved with not one, but TWO incredibly dull and unimaginative Deus Ex Machinas both in the same five minutes. What a way to sort things out?
Rating: Rating: 2/10. One point for Lisa Bowerman and one point for the fact this series is finally over. Thank Sutekh!
I am afraid I cannot recommend this box set. I respect you guys/girls way too much to recommend you spend 30 pounds on a box set that is only about fifty percent worth it.