Doctor WhoMusic/Audio

Bernice Summerfield: Legion Box Set by Tony Lee, Scott Handcock and Miles Richardson (CD audio review).

It’s been a long journey to a new home. Finally on ‘Legion’, Bernice Summerfield’s welcome was not what she expected. Irving isn’t the man he was. Her son, Peter, (Thomas Grant) now the head of security on the domed city of Legion, is bitter and he’s had four years to learn to hate his mother but necessity drives him to ask for her help when a spaceship threatens the safety of those in the protected city.


 1. Vesuvius Falling by Tony Lee

cast: Andrew Hayden-Smith, Kai Owen and Jennie Stoller

The spaceship Vesuvius has two survivors and an unexplained murder. They have also travelled 5000 years into the future and back which does not make for a pretty corpse. If Peter and Bernice can stop squabbling for long enough, they might just solve the mystery and save Legion and they both have big enough egos to fill out this plot.

Guest actor Kai Owen and Andrew Hayden Smith are the survivors in this example of a locked door drama and the voice of the computer is Jennie Stoller.

This is a fairly straightforward mystery story with the added dimension of the huge tension between Peter and his mother. There are some lighter moments and the tension is hyped up by that old standby, a timely prospective warp core breach.

‘Vesuvius Falling’ is by new regular Big Finish writer Tony Lee and is a great nod to many ‘Star Trek: Next Generation’ mysteries. It even has the talking computer which ends up calling Bernie ‘Mum’. It’s much more fun and less po-faced than ‘Star Trek’ itself and makes an excellent first story in this boxed set.

 2. Shades Of Gray by Scott Handcock

cast: Richard Franklin and Alexander Vlahos

Bernice, Ruth (Ayesha Antione) and new friend Jack (David Ames), introduced in ‘Road Trip’, investigate a house outside the protective dome of Legion. It’s reputed to be haunted but no one has ever come back to tell the tale.

Drawn into other realties the trio experience the history within the house and find a trapped entity that has waited to gain its freedom.

Shades of Gray introduces Alexander Vhalos playing the part of Dorian Gray.

The trio are conduits of the dark tale, providing the voices of narrators after being drawn into the historical echo. Many of the tropes used are the basis of the Dorian Gray myth. ‘Shades Of Gray’ has many elements of the ‘Dark Shadows’ stories and is quite removed again from the previous story. It’s held together well by the actors and our expectations of Bernice and her response to a challenge.

Written and directed by Scott Handcock, this is a really creepy take on Dorian Gray which you can follow through by getting the downloads of the series from Big Finish.

 3. Everybody Loves Irving by Miles Richardson

cast: Cameron Blakely, Matt Butcher and Andrew Macklin

The new Irving Braxiatel is so much nicer than the old one. This one runs a bar and wants to take Bernice shopping. The story that follows is again completely different from the previous two.

Brax is different now and he’s certainly not the man that Bernie remembers. Followers of the series of ‘Gallifrey’ will work out who he actually is and there are hints here of a future story perhaps.

Meanwhile, on Legion city, Ruth tries to get to know Peter but is less than successful. Peter is determined that Bernice has failed in her motherly duties and he isn’t going to let her forget it. Ruth and Jack indulge in a little spying but what they discover about Peter is not going to help.

As Irving recruits Bernie to be his companion in buying and inspecting a new home and leaves her to buy ‘fluffy cushions’ you just know that her experience of the new bolt hole is not necessarily going to be all positive.

Miles Richardson wrote this episode with some relish for his revived and renewed character and also affection for the character of Bernice Summerfield.

‘Legion’ is a mixed bag and but not bad for all that as the three stories being so completely different probably means you will like at least one. The stories are also a good introduction to the time travelling professor. The intriguing story arcs carried forwards from ‘Epoch’ and ‘Road Trip’ are intriguing though they are pretty sparse among the main narratives. Bernie’s personal baggage with her son Peter make continues to entertain but new listeners might wonder what his problem is.

Sue Davies

April 2013

(pub: Big Finish. 3 CDs 180 minute story. Price: CD: £25.00 (UK), Download: £20.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84435-600-3)

cast: see below

check out website: www.bigfinish.com

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