Monday, March 31, 2014

Lapdogs and Aliens: Bernice Summerfield - Birthright Review

Picking up from Walking to Babylon, Birthright kicks off part two of the Time Ring Trilogy with Professor Bernice Summerfield thrown off the Time Path and ending up in early twentieth-century London with only one of her Time Rings. Meanwhile Jason Kane finds himself stranded on a dead planet at the other end of time, where the queen of an insect race called the Charrl are demanding that he helps to save her dying species whatever the cost. All this, plus Springheel Jack and a Russian Detective!

Birthright is the first of two Virgin Doctor Who novels to be adapted for audio by Big Finish Productions. The story is the same as the one experienced by both Benny and Ace (while the Doctor was on board SS Elysium dealing with Cybermen in Iceberg!) and so, like Walking to Babylon before it, this adaptation involved some necessary alterations. Ace’s role is taken largely by Jason and the old hermit named Muldwych is excluded, as is Benny living with Margaret Waterfield (Victoria's aunt). Aside from that, Birthright definitely stacks up the Doctor Who-style thrills to a monumental height, surpassing the book in my view.

Lisa Bowerman is superb throughout this adventure but hell, she's certainly on well trodden ground - Victoriana and alien possession helped out so many a Who-girl! Stephen Fewell's Jason is also on top form here. Just like with Walking to Babylon, he may languish in the sub-plot on planet exposition, but there are some great lines and characteristic moments that finally give the character some definition. Guest star Colin Baker gives a wonderful performance as the Russian detective Mikhail Vladamir Popov, with Benjamin Roddy as his sidekick Charlie. Jane Shakespeare does well here too as the Charrl Queen Ch'tizz, as does Barnaby Edwards as he returns for an encore as John Lafayette.

Overall, Birthright is 100% recommended and well worth the listen.

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