Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Bernice Summerfield: Buried Treasures

Buried Treasures is a duo of two stories given as a limited released to subscribers of Bernice's first series. Although not available any more both stories are now obtainaible by various means on the Big Finish's website, one via a podcast and the other included with later Bernice releases.

Making Myths

Now free to listen to as a podcast on the Big Finish website, this little freebie is a light and fluffy taste of early Bernice. Jac Rayner’s Making Myths seems deliberately designed to showcase the character, highlighting her wit and sarcasm in the form of bad, and tasteless, and utterly unfunny jokes.

Which, despite sounding boring, could be hilarious… Depending on your sense of humour. Sarah Mowat and Lisa Bowerman instantly click to give the desired impression of being good friends behind the microphone, but the constant ape-hamster jokes start to drag after a while. All in all this is a fun, light hearted story that adds a bit of depth to Bernice’s life. It just feels strange to hear Big Finish ‘original’ audios refer to the University of Dellah, a place they were never to return to again.

6 / 10


Paul Cornell writes something so startlingly different to Making Myths it’s almost hard to believe for a moment that this is the same series. Then you remember that you just heard ‘Just War’ and ‘Dragon’s Wrath’ back to back and suddenly this seems much more credible.

Whereas Making Myths featured Bernice at her best, a generally happy romp through muddy fields with a good companion for company, Closure shows her at her absolute worst. Lisa Bowerman’s performance is different from the off, she’s instantly on the defensive and somehow that always makes her more dangerous than ever. Arriving out of the blue, with a deep frown and an unusually harsh attitude, she frightens Sarah Mowatt’s Isabella, and the listener, more than a little.

Bernice promised at the end of Just War that she would never use the Time Rings again. According to ‘The Inside Story’, it was considered to be problem for the narrative, whilst trying to build a coherent new world they made it to easy an escape to pastures new. Inside this universe though, time travel seems to equate to unfortunate moral dilemmas and grim, dark thoughts. Here Bernice is full of them.

There is an element of cliché in the story, with the whole ‘would you go back and kill Hitler’ analogy correctly made during the course of the play itself. Paul Cornell’s altered the situation enough though so that it actually makes sense, and the conclusion vague enough to make you wonder how it all works out.

9 / 10

These two stories could almost be considered a perfect prelude to the Companion Chronicles that would follow many years later. Closure in particular features Bernice herself telling a story, with Sarah Mowatt interceding at key points along the tale.
The two stories are polar opposites, one light and amusing and the other dark, grim and utterly enthralling.

8 / 10

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