Saturday, March 22, 2014

Fun in the Sun: Bernice Summerfield - Beyond the Sun Review

Out of the six adapted New Adventures novels, Beyond the Sun is the only novel to be adapted by its original author, Matthew Jones. Much like with the original novel, here Jones examines human society through the two contrasting alien societies - the Ursulans, who obviously have no rules within their culture except making up rules of their own which gives them the freedom to define individual codes to live by; and the Sunless, who have only conformity and have invaded Ursu in a quest to recover technology stolen from their home world.

Jones also manages to incorporate Benny's habit of adding entries to her diary as the story continues. Unfortunately, this is the only Big Finish release to include this practice as the other stories that would follow do not include it. Throughout her time with the Doctor and in her own solo novels, Benny’s diary was such an integral part of her character because it provided us with insight into who she really was. However, it tends to turn up again several series later.

As with the previous release, Lisa Bowerman is at the top of her game as Bernice, demonstrating the depth of feelings she still has for her ex-husband despite the breakdown of their relationship (depicted in Eternity Weeps). In his first appearance as Jason Kane, Stephen Fewell succeeds in bring the roguish ex-husband to life even though Jason's role in this story is limited. As for the students, Emile Mars-Smith is portrayed well by Lewis Davis, whereas Jane Burkes' Tameka Vito comes off annoying in some scenes (except the ones including Nicholas Pegg as Scott, and Barnaby Edwards as Leon). Sophie Aldred (Ace) appears to have enjoyed her role as the over-the-top villainess Miranda, and Anneke Wills (Polly) as the Ursulan Doctor Kitzinger comes off as very believable. Indeed, both are a far cry from their recognisable roles on Doctor Who.

Beyond the Sun might not be the strongest of the Big Finish adaptations, but with both its enduring appeal and Benny revealing her own code to live by, it is a great testament to the appeal of her character.

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