Writer: Paul Cornell
Director: Gary Russell
Producers: Jason Haigh-Ellery & Gary Russell
Companions: Ace (Sophia Aldred), Bernice Summerfield (Lisa Bowerman)
Note: This is one of Big Finish’s “Side Steps” stories. Although Bernice Summerfield is featured, it is separate from their established stories for her, and more in keeping with what was in Virgin Books’ version of the character.
Running Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes (4 parts, 2 CD’s)
Summary: The Doctor, Ace, and archaeologist Bernice Summerfield travel to the Pinehill Crest Hotel, where they find a dead body that has been resurrected as a vessel for an alien race called the Scourge. The Scourge feed on despair and seek to create it, using the hotel as a starting point for an invasion.
Review: I’ve been meaning to check out Big Finish’s spin-offs for the Doctor Who universe, and yes they will be reviewed on this page as well. One of these spin-offs is Bernice Summerfield, a character introduced in the Virgin Books adventures featuring the Seventh Doctor. When Virgin was eventually no longer able to use the copyright for the Seventh Doctor, they compensated by making Summerfield a breakout character. She became so popular that it seemed natural for Big Finish to make their own stories with her as well, and adapt the original books. I thought this would be a good introduction to the character, even though it’s not connected to Big Finish’s own stories. (Note: because this is a “Side Step”, I’m not including continuity nods)
Bernice Summerfield seemed like a great character. She has a sarcastic edge to her, and plays off both the Doctor and Ace well. Their interaction and cooperation as a team intrigued me enough to actually try out her series.
The Scourge were a great enemy. They are a hive mind, and as I stated in the summary, they feed on the despair in others. They are telepathic, and read people’s minds to remind them of their regrets. No one is safe, not even the Doctor can resist their influence. No matter how much he tries to ignore them, he still hears their voice within his head, and has to rely on Ace and Bernice to keep his spirits up. And then they have to keep their own spirits up as well!
If you’re not sure if you’ll enjoy Bernice Summerfield’s stories, this might be a good place to start.
Overall Review: 9/10