For a while now, I’ve been posting reactions to big “meaty” arcs such as The Eighth Doctor Adventures, Dark Eyes, Doom Coalition and The Collected War Doctor. Some of the stories I plan to listen to in the near future, though, are either one-off adventures or three story arcs. I thought it would be easier on the indexer (Hi, Bob!) if I started one “catch-all” thread and maintain the index in the initial post myself. I invite others to contribute to this discussion as well, and it doesn’t have to be strictly Doctor Who, either; anything from Big Finish will qualify. I’m going to start in a couple of days) with…
The Company of Friends – (Eighth Doctor)
Robophobia – (Seventh Doctor)
Tomorrow People anyone?
“I’m going to start in a couple of days…”
About that… I started this thread last month when I had a few spare minutes, after I had placed the order. Big Finish says to allow 28 days for delivery, but it rarely takes that long. (Some shipments I’ve received in a mere seven days.) Complicating matters is that I had it shipped to my wife’s place of business, and it arrived while she was on vacation. It’s in now, though, so I will soon be ready to begin…
THE COMPANY OF FRIENDS – Four one-part stories
1. Benny’s Story
2. Fitz’s Story
3. Izzy’s Story
4. Mary’s Story
“BENNY'S STORY” by Lance Parkin
“Deep in the mines of Epsilon Minima, Professor Bernice Summerfield is up to her neck in it - as usual. The Countess Venhella has hired her to recover a lost Time Lord artefact: A TARDIS key, it turns out. Guess whose?”
Bernice Summerfield confounded me for a long time, but I think I’ve got a handle on who her character is now. I suppose I could have looked this up years ago, but here is some information from the online TARDIS Data core: “The Dying Days was the final release of the Virgin New Adventures line of Doctor Who novels and the only one featuring the Eighth Doctor. After this novel was published, Virgin Books forfeited the rights to produce novels featuring the Doctor to BBC Books. This marked a transition to a new series of novels featuring Bernice Summerfield as the main character while BBC Books made their own series of novels featuring the Eighth Doctor.”
So she first appeared in the one and only Eighth Doctor paperback from Virgin in the New Adventures series, then went on to be featured in a series of books on her own. I was not-too-surprised to learn that I already own a copy of The Dying Days. (Thanks, Bob!) Her first Big Finish appearance was The Shadow of the Scourge (October 2000), only the 13th offering in the main range. After that, she went on to be featured in a new solo audio series of her own, The New Adventures of Bernice Summerfiled.
“Benny’s Story” is the second ever meeting of Bernice Summerfield and the Eighth Doctor, and it is written by the same author who introduced her in The Dying Days. Here is what he had to say about it: “It’s a while since I wrote The Dying Days, the first meeting of the Eighth Doctor and Benny Summerfield. While it was never discussed, because Virgin knew they’d lost the license to publish Doctor Who books, I’m sure that Eighth Doctor New Adventures would have brought back Benny as his companion—we all know that she’s a popular and enduring character. I think they work well together, and it’s lovely to get the chance to try to demonstrate that with Paul McGann and Lisa Bowerman as my playthings.”
The story itself is narrated by Benny first person. She introduces herself and alludes to her series of solo adventures (“What do you think? That I just sat around doing nothing after I left the Doctor?”) as well as “The Shadow of the Scourge” (“I bumped into the Doctor once again when he was in his seventh incarnation, I think.”). Even though Benny has an established history with which I am unfamiliar, this story does an excellent job of introducing the character.
The plot’s not bad, either.
...the same author who introduced her in The Dying Days...
Note that Benny had appeared alongside the Seventh Doctor in dozens of novels before her appearance in The Dying Days.
So noted. I misunderstood her first meeting with the Eighth Doctor to be her first apearance. (I told you Bernice Summerfield confounded me!) Thanks for the correction.
The initial post-cancellation novels featured the Seventh Doctor and Ace, Benny was the first companion created for the novels (you should have all of these somewhere, it sounds like you haven't had a chance to read them). They brought her back recently for one of the Twelfth Doctor novels. "I'm an archaeologist, but probably not the one you were expecting."
There are alot of elements in "The Dying Days" that make a lot more sense if you've read the previous novels with Benny in.
“(you should have all of these somewhere, it sounds like you haven't had a chance to read them)”
Ha! (I have had time to sort them, however.)
"I'm an archaeologist, but probably not the one you were expecting."
“There are alot of elements in "The Dying Days" that make a lot more sense if you've read the previous novels with Benny in.”
I’m satisfied with her re-introduction in “Benny’s Story.” I think I’ve been given all of the information I really need to know. I really like Lisa Bowerman as Benny. Maybe one day I’ll get around to buying her audio adventures. And Torchwood. And UNIT. And… You know what? I just realized I’ve been conflating “Benny Summerfield” with “Evelyn Smythe.” Ugh.
The “completist” in me is just going to have to realize it may not always be possible to get in on the beginning of everything. Although, I did order Robophobia (up next, after The Company of Friends) because it’s the first appearance of Liv Chenka.
Whoever Liv Chenka may be.
Liv Chenka has been travelling with the Eighth Doctor through the audios "Dark Eyes" and "Doom Coalition."
"Night of the Doctor" has brought audio adventures into canon (AFAIAC, anyway), and The Company of Friends folds print companions/adventures into audio continuity. Does that make the print versions canon, too?
“FITZ'S STORY” by Stephen Cole
“On the planet Entusso, the Doctor and Fitz Kreiner investigate Alien Defense Incorporated - your one-stop shop for protection against extraterrestrial invasion! But which is the greatest menace: the hideous Vermin Queens or ADI itself?”
As one may have inferred, I am more interested in this release for introducing me to new companions than I am in the stories per se (although both of the stories I have listened to so far have been pretty good). Fitz is 27 years old, Cockney, and from 1963. It’s hard to get a handle on his character because he spends most of the story pretending to work against the Doctor and defame his character. Other than that, Fitz and the Eighth have a kind of Second Doctor/Jamie vibe to their relationship.
Fitz was born in Germany in 1936, but was brought up in London’s Archway. He is a drinker, smoker, ladies’ man and a dreamer. He boarded the TARDIS in after helping the Doctor uncover alieans in a mental home in 1963 (I’m sure I have that book, too), traveling alongside Sam Jones and Anji Kapoor. The Company of Friends is his first Big Finish appearance.
Here is what the author has to say about him: “I was glad to be asked to write Fitz into his first Big Finish audio, a decade after I helped create him for the BBC’s Doctor Who novel range. He was still there more than 50 books later, and I think he worked because he was a believable mix of fault and virtue—he was sensitive, sometimes cowardly, a fanaticist, a chancer, a joker, a musician, a would-be Casanova… Best of all, he was fun to write for—then and now!”
Never was wild about Fitz as a character. It was around that time I started losing interest in the novels.