A CONCISE AND BIASED GUIDE TO EXPERIENCING BIG FINISH’S BERNICE SUMMERFIELD AUDIOS
For more information on Bernice Surprise Summerfield, read as much of this article as you would feel comfortable with, being wary of spoilers. I’d suggest that, for now, you just go into Benny knowing that she is a kick-ass archaeologist who successfully has her own adventures away from the Doctor, with her own friends.
There are three ways to start listening to Benny. You can start from the very beginning (Oh No It Isn’t!), from season 2 (The Secret of Cassandra), or from season 12 (Epoch). My suggestion is that you start from season 3, story 2 (The Green-Eyed Monster). It is a good introduction to the main cast of characters on the Braxiatel Collection, and avoids some of the continuity problems (Benny’s pregnancy) in season 2.
Below, I’m going to give a brief overview of each season, suggesting which stories you listen to, and which ones you avoid. (Although, as the seasons go on, you’ll find that you’re listening to more and more episodes per season). So, here we goooo…
Stories in italics are the ones I recommend if you want to follow the Benny arc and only get my own personal good stories.
Season 1 - BS Novel Continuity
STARTING POINT #1
The first season of Bernice Summerfield consists solely of adaptations by Jacqueline Rayner of various novels that Benny appeared in.
01x01 - Oh No It Isn’t
01x02 - Beyond The Sun
01x03 - Walking to Babylon
01x04 - Birthright
01x05 - Just War
01x06 - Dragons’ Wrath
On the whole, this season is praised by everyone. It introduces us to Benny, and is a great summation of the novel arc, in an attempt to set up who Benny is for new listeners. Any novels that included the Doctor and Ace (or Chris and Roz), have these characters excised, and therefore make these audios unreconcilable with any actual Bernice timeline.
Which is a shame, because I don’t think that there is a bad story among them, and they are, on the whole, much stronger than the novels they are adapted by. Although I personally am not a fan of Dragons’ Wrath. Pick up the whole season.
Season Two - Character Introductions
STARTING POINT #2 (Don’t)
This season represents the first original audios that Big Finish produced, and was meant to introduce you to the characters on the Braxiatel Collection (Benny, Jason Kane, Adrian Wall, and Irving Braxiatel).
02x01 - The Secret of Cassandra
02x02 - The Stone’s Lament
02x03 - The Extinction Event
02x04 - The Skymines of Karthos
This is an uneven season. Cassandra is thought to be overlong and boring, but I think it has a charm. The Stone’s Lament is a great little story, although, again, others don’t seem to like it. It gives a great little introduction to Adrian. The Extinction Event is Irving Braxiatel’s first appearance, and definitely a story to get; the plot is a bit heavy-handed, but the interplay between Benny and Brax sets up the strained and tragic fate of their friendship. Skymines is good, but nothing much.
The problem with this season, is that Benny’s pregnancy is randomly mentioned in a few of the stories - this pregnancy by Adrian, who had sex with a possessed Benny - was told only in novels from Big Finish that are no longer published, and can cost upwards of $100 used. Much much cheaper if you have the patience, and they are really really good.
Season Three - Population of the Collection
MY SUGGESTED STARTING POINT WITH 03x02
If you plan on starting anywhere, my personal suggestion is this season. It is much stronger with three magnificent stories and one abomination to Benny’s character.
03x01 - Greatest Shop in the Galaxy
03x02 - The Green-Eyed Monsters
03x03 - The Dance of the Dead
03x04 - The Mirror Effect
Green-Eyed Monster is the first audio that really shows the interplay between the characters on the Collection, dealing with Adrian and Jason attempting to take care of Benny’s half human half Killoran child, while Benny is out on a dig. Because of Jason and Adrian’s interplay, you get a better handle on who they are as characters; and a better idea of who they are with, and to, Benny, and the greater Collection family.
Dance of the Dead is a really great Ice Warriors story. And The Mirror Effect sets up who Irving Braxiatel truly is, and begins a chain of events that will carry on for ten seasons. Its also the first full Collection story, and quite rightly as good as you expect. Although, you will shrink in pain trying to figure out what is going on for a good length of the story.
Greatest Shop in the Galaxy isn’t a Bernice Summerfield story. It is a misogynistic piece of garbage, that disrespects Benny as a series, and gives the finger to Benny as a character. It just happens to have a character called Bernice Summerfield as the main character. There is not a single moment that Benny is in character, and there is not a moment where the author doesn’t remind us “OMG GUYS BENNY IS A WOMAN, AND LIKES SHOOOES.” In the midst of danger, she’s worried that she won’t be able to carry all her shoes with her. The conclusion, because I don’t mind spoiling this horrendous piece of garbage, is that she gets angry because she can’t have her shoes, and solves the issue of the day because they’ve ruined her shopping trip. Don’t bother with it. Pretend it doesn’t exist. It’s not even well written, which could possibly have saved it (although not really).
Season Four - Setting Up The Collection
Season 4 is odd. It is the last season where events in the books are important to the events in the season. It also has one story that YOU CANNOT UNDERSTAND AT ALL. Because the Sea Devils’ voices are hidden under so much modulation, it just isn’t worth it. I come out with a headache every time I’ve tried. Thankfully, it is not important.
It also introduces Bev Tarrant. Who is, quite simply, the best.
04x01 - The Bellotron Incident
04x02 - The Draconian Rage
04x03 - The Poison Seas
04x04 - The Axis of Evil / Death and the Daleks
Bellotron introduces Bev, and is a cracking good story. A reminder that Beverly is introduced in Big Finish’s main range, traveling with Seven and Ace during two stories, whose names I have forgotten at this exact moment. Draconian Rage is a sequel to a Seven-Ace-Benny audio The Dark Flame, although it is not necessary to listen to it to understand Draconian Rage. Its also a much better story than Dark Flame.
Death and the Daleks is a major arc piece, and while I haven’t read the accompanying book, I feel all the events are understandable. The intricacies of Paul Cornell’s script ellude me because of it, but I feel like it is a solid production, and sets up the anxieties and thematic manipulations to come on the Braxiatel Collection.
Season Five - Doctor Who Monsters
This season continues last season’s attempt to draw in new listeners to Benny, and therefore deal with two monsters who have appeared in various capacities throughout different Doctor Who media (The Grel, and Jegg-Sau, a robot from a Doctor Who puzzle). They’re all fantastic. Even Bone of Contention, which is a contentious story amongst fans. (I just want to point out how bad this pun is, and the fact I still used it).
05x01 - The Grel Escape
05x02 - The Bone of Contention
05x03 - The Relics of Jegg-Sau
05x04 - The Masquerade of Death
The Grel Escape is hilarious, and is written by Jac Rayner, who is one of Big Finish’s most underused, and greatest writers. It stars the Grel, and gets to play with the strain in Benny’s relationship with Jason, and how she deals with Peter on the Collection and in her life. I think of the Grel Escape as Greatest Shop in the Galaxy done right. Bone of Contention is good, although there isn’t really a lot to say about it, except that it feels like a thematic brother to Draconian Rage.
You may be hesitant about Jegg-Sau, because the monster comes from a Doctor Who puzzle, but it is one of the best stand-alone Benny stories ever written. Masquerade of Death is a lovely piece that is meant to mirror The Grel Escape, dealing with Benny and Adrian’s strained relationship.
A solid season overall, and the beginning point in Benny where you should listen to almost every story from hereon in, because they’re all important, and all so very very good.
Season Six - Developing Benny and Jason’s Relationship
A very strong season, that starts with a love-it-or-hate-it story, and hits all the high notes of a greatness. I believe this is when Simon Guerrier starts as producer of the series, and the quality of storytelling makes that quite obvious. He is much more focused on stories that explore character and relationships, rather than stories that thematically explain characters to us.
It also contains the most horrifying Cyberman story in any form.
06x01 - The Heart’s Desire
06x02 - The Kingdom of the Blind
06x03 - The Lost Museum
06x04 - The Goddess Quandary
06x05 - The Crystal of Cantus
Heart’s Desire sees the return of a much talked about Fifth Doctor enemy. A fandom hated story, but one I kind of like because its bad. The Lost Museum is a strong little standalone story, whose exploration of Benny and Jason continues in the equally strong Kingdom of the Blind framed inside a good and solid piece of pulp science fiction. I have nothing to say about The Goddess Quandary except that it is good, although it does see Benny’s use of the word “Goddess” toned down quite a bit.
Which is sad.
The season finishes off on one of Benny’s strongest stories. I want to rave about it so much, but anything I say would be spoilers. It is, though, the best Cyberman story in any medium, with any character.
Season Seven - A Brax-less Collection
This season’s strength is how it deals not with Braxiatel’s presence, but his lingering power and control over the universe. The atmosphere is tense, the characters are in a state of fear, and Bernice is an archaeologist again. It is also the strongest standalone season in all of Benny’s history.
07x01 - The Tartarus Gate
07x02 - Timeless Passage
07x03 - The Worst Thing in the World
07x04 - Summer of Love
07x05 - Oracle of Delphi
07x06 - The Empire State
Tartarus Gate looks at the fallout from Crystal of Cantus and is a very important story in relation to next seasons arc. Timeless Passage is a fantastic story - I think it was Jane that pointed it out, that it is Stephen Moffat’s Silence in the Library, done so much better, and was written a year before River Song’s introduction was.
The Worst Thing in the World is, literally, the greatest thing in the world, with a lovely little unexpected ending that will have you singing for weeks. Summer of Love is one of the most stereotypical science fiction stories used to explore how everyone on the Collection is coping without Braxiatel’s heavy hand. It is either stupidly brilliant, or wonderfully bad; I can’t tell.
Oracle of Delphi is continues to explore Benny and Jason’s strained relationship, and again set up next season’s characters arc, while the Empire State ends the season with an unexpected surprise, and puts the entire universe where it needs to be on the board for next season’s arc-heavy story.
Season Eight - The Second Occupation of the Braxiatel Collection
This is the strongest and most heartbreaking season of any Doctor Who spin-off, let alone just of Benny. No character is spared the effects of the Draconian-Mim War, or the return of Irving Braxiatel.
08x01 - The Tub Full of Cats
08x02 - The Judas Gift
08x03 - Freedom of Information
08x04 - Jason Kane: The End of the World
08x05 - The Final Amendment
08x06 - The Wake
Tub Full of Cats is the oddest of Benny stories, but is a fun little story that introduces the lengths Brax is willing to go for small little objects. The Judas Gift is a Bev-centric story, and finally gives her the opportunity to shine. Freedom of Information explores how the Collection Cast is dealing with the Draconian occupation, and does it so well. Jason Kane is how one writes a strong, character-plot hybrid arc story that spans the multiple previous seasons.
The Final Amendment is a heartbreaking interlude to the arc-heavy season, and sees the return of Kadiatu Lethbridge-Stewart. The season ends on The Wake with Lisa Bowerman’s strongest performance as Benny ever; it is manipulative, disgusting, and it hurts your heart so much. But is daring, and so so well written.
I didn’t make too many quality comments for this season, because the season itself is perfect. And to not listen to every story… well, you’re just not a person.
Season Nine - Independent Benny
This season has Faction Paradox, Mycroft Holmes, book worms, corrupt Braxiatel influences, and Lawrence Miles. It’s pretty solid, if all standalone.
09x01 - Beyond the Sea
09x02 - The Adolescence of Time
09x03 - The Adventure of the Diogenes Damsel
09x04 - The Diet of Worms
What I love about this season, is that we finally have a sequence of stories that deals with how Benny and Peter feel about each other - Peter is old enough now that he can be his own character, and it is lovely to hear Benny act the part of mother without falling into the typical mother tropes.
Beyond the Sea sees how strained and confused Peter is at being alone, away from the Collection, and makes Benny come to terms with the fact that no one she has or will ever met is safe from danger. Adolescence of Time is a character piece that explores the potential that Peter has, set against a wonderful science fiction story that only Lawrence Miles could conceive so vividly.
Diogenes Damsel sees the return of Straxus (from the Eight-Lucie EDAs), and Chris Cwej, as well as Mycroft Holmes that explores how Benny has changed as a character from her days in the novels up until now. While The Diet of Worms gives a nice lighthearted ending to the season, where Peter and Benny work together to solve a problem.
Overall, a good solid season that is definitely worth picking up. You could skip it, but you’d be missing some strong character interplay and cracking stories.
Season Ten - Preparing the Forces
This is an interesting season. It starts on one of the best episodes of Benny - and a reunion of some much missed Collection characters - and ends on a rather confusing note, that sets up the final fight against Irving Braxiatel.
10x01 - Glory Days
10x02 - Absence
10x03 - Venus Mantrap
10x04 - Secret Origins
As I said, Glory Days is one of the best stories that sees Bev, Adrian, Benny, Peter, and Brax all come together and face off against each other. It isn’t a necessary piece of character exploration, but it is a damn good one. Absence continues Benny’s attempt to find out more about how to stop Brax, but is a Peter-centered episode to see how he is coping - or not coping. It’s very good, if inconsequential.
Venus Mantrap is garbage - but its good garbage, and its nice to see Jason’s influence come back up, no matter how you feel about Jason (I dislike him, but I’ve come to at least sympathise with him). It should have been titled Summer of Love (Part II) for all their similarities. The season ends on Secret Origins, which is a baffling science fiction piece that is average (which is below average for a Benny story at this point in the game), and absolutely integral to next season’s conclusion of Braxiatel’s long game.
Season Eleven (Part I) - Collections End
This season is split in two, only because the first episodes of the season end the Braxiatel arc, while the latter two set up the New World.
11x01 - Resurrecting the Past
11x02 - Escaping the Future
This season gets mixed reviews by fandom, but I find it to be a character epic. The threat - Braxiatel’s long game - comes to an end. What he has spent his years manipulating to do is let loose, and is ravaging history.
All of the Collection comes together to stop it, to stop Braxiatel. To stop Benny. The threat may seem disappointing, but it is such a strong symbol, to show that even Brax could not control the outcome. It ends heartbreakingly, and if you don’t cry at Braxiatel’s final line, no matter how much of a bastard you think he is, you may want to check to see if you have a soul.
Season Eleven (Part II) - The New World
These two episodes see the next arc set up. Big Finish have said that Epoch is a good starting point for anyone to jump onto Benny, but I’d suggest that you start here if you plan on doing that. I think you can make heads or tails of Epoch anyway, but this is just a little note.
11x03 - Year Zero
11x04 - Dead Man’s Switch
Year Zero is a lovely piece of work, where, after so much science fiction, so much arc-heavy story telling, you have one story that explores Bernice’s job. She’s an archaeologist, and with nothing - no baggage, not friends, no family - she has to go back to doing what she faked her degrees for. I cannot recommend it enough.
Dead Man’s Switch on the other hand, is overlong, unexciting, and is unfortunately bad. I wanted to like it, but after such a series of strong, wonderful Bennys, an audio that is below average really feels like a kick in the balls. But it does set up Epoch a bit, and I should recommend it. Ish.
Season Twelve - Epoch
STARTING POINT #3
This is the first of the Benny boxsets, and was Gary Russell and Scott Handcock revitalising Benny after years of arc-heavy Braxiatel manipulation. Its very good, albeit very confusing.
12x01 - Epoch: The Kraken’s Lament
12x02 - Epoch: The Temple of Questions
12x03 - Epoch: Private Enemy No. 1
12x04 - Epoch: Judgement Day
This is a lovely boxset, and while each episode is its own story, I feel that talking too much about it will spoil you. I think Kraken’s Lament is the weakest story, but that isn’t saying much when the quality is so high. We also get introduced to Ruth and Jack; characters you will be seeing again in the future.
Tumblr fandom seems to have reacted really well to Epoch, but this is not universal. Many find it confusing, and doesn’t answer a lot of questions about its own plots. I think that the questions it doesn’t answer are fine - they’re better to speculate. I’m not one for knowing everything. Other questions, such as about Ruth or Jack will be answered in further boxsets, and one cannot judge the seeds of future character development
Season Thirteen - Road Trip
A lovely little stand-alone boxset that sees Bernice and Ruth travel from the Epoch home-world to Legion, where some old friends are waiting.
13x01 - Road Trip: Brand Management
13x02 - Road Trip: Bad Habits
13x03 - Road Trip: Paradise Frost
This boxset gets a bit more love than Epoch. Which is quite right, it deserves it. It tells three very stand-alone stories that remind us that Benny as a series can just do standalone stories like it ain’t-no-thang (a phrase I plan to never use again). Brand Management starts things off a little shaky, but moves along quickly, becoming a very quaint little Bernice-has-a-reputation story that mirrors the themes we’re seeing in Stephen Moffat’s Doctor Who right now.
Bad Habits is a terrible low-brow humour story that absolutely hits it out of park. Benny and Ruth are on top form, and you giggle at one or two of the obvious three or four sex jokes, even if you don’t like sex jokes. But it’s clever and upbeat and a nice little murder mystery. Followed by Paradise Frost. Not much to say on it, really, except that India Fisher and Arthur Darvill put in some great performances.
And, of course, the final ten minutes of Paradise Frost sees Benny and Ruth land on Legion and quickly get the lay of the land - of old friends and new…
Season Fourteen - Legion
Our heroes finally reach Legion after all the forewarning to find… a series of stand-alone stories that frame and re-set-up our heroes, Benny and Ruth, with some old acquaintances. Namely, Jack, Brax, and Peter. This is a very good starting point, I feel, if you can get over a couple little things, such as Ruth’s time on the Epoch homeworld or the previous association of Benny and Brax. But I don’t feel that you will be too behind. These stories make it quite clear the relationships between our characters.
14x01 - Legion: Vesuvius Falling
14x02 - Legion: Shades of Gray
14x03 - Legion: Everyone Loves Irving
Legion is wonderful, for the very fact that you assume that you are going to get all your answers and then get absolutely none of them. And this should bother you, but it doesn’t, because this boxset is about re-establishing old friendships, and reevaluating new ones. And that is advancing the plot, and it is answering questions. Vesuvius Falling is a great murder-mystery that deals with Benny and Peter’s strained relationship. Shades of Gray is a really well constructed backdoor pilot for The Confessions of Dorian Gray, and Vlahos hits it out of the park.
Everyone Loves Irving is Greatest Shop in the Galaxy done right. It offers the misogyny that Galaxy does, and then hits it back with everything that has made Benny a great, strong, lasting character for twenty years. It takes stereotypes and bashes them, and takes jokes you can see coming a mile off, and teleport them right into your brain… making you almost crash your car laughing on the way back from the dentist…
Legion is wonderful. Absolute gem amongst gems. Perhaps not as strong as season 8, but definitely one of the highlights of the Benny series.
Season Fifteen - New Frontiers
15x00 - Many Happy Returns
Many Happy Returns celebrates twenty years of Benny, and does it with gusto. Its Benny’s The Five Doctors, or even Benny’s Zagreus. It makes you laugh, cry, and wallow in sentimentality and nostalgia (by its literal definition of being the pain of remembering). Its a great summary for those who start at Epoch or Legion, but it is a great, exciting epic for those of us who have spent years and years - or even days and days - immersed in Benny’s world.
I will try to keep this updated, but feel free to remind me if I get too far behind.
Someone had been in his rooms. Impossible. No one could get past the barriers, not unless he were there. But, sure enough, his vintage Prydonian was missing. At least this thief in the night had good taste.
Brax turned to walk to his desk, intending to alert security, but he stopped with a quizzical smile. Sitting on a silver tray on his desk was his decanter of Prydonian, next to a full glass of the amber liquid. Set to one side of the tray was a small, brightly wrapped parcel and a card.
Cautiously he lifted up the package and rattled it against his ear. It felt harmless enough. Squashy. Slowly he prised away the tape with his thumbnail and the parcel fell open to reveal a pair of garish socks. Brax dangled them at eyelevel and his eyebrow shot upwards at the sight of the Father Christmas urging him to ‘Press Here’. Obeying the instruction, Brax was rewarded with a tinny and tuneless rendition of Santa Claus is Coming to Town that proceeded to play.
Grinning in spite of himself, he tossed the socks onto the table and grabbed the card, ripping it open with the bronze paperknife that rested nearby.
‘Oh, great heavens,’ he exclaimed, taken back by the sheer lack of taste displayed on the front of the card. A badly painted steam train whistled down the side of snow-capped mountain, watched by a solitary robin. How delightfully… tacky.
Giving the scene one last look, he flipped open the card to take in the greeting inside.
Brax plucked the glass of deep amber liquid from his desk and raised it in silent toast, before taking a long, luxurious sip.
Sometime in the next day or two he would visit Bernice, bring presents for Peter, and seek for a few moments to be part of a family once more. And when he did he was going to wear the socks.” —
"…Be Forgot", by Cavan Scott & Mark Wright, from the anthology Short Trips: A Christmas Treasury
In which the Eighth Doctor leaves his brother a Christmas present, because apparently they’ve both been ridiculously over-exposed to human Christian holidays, but it’s still completely adorable.(via theheroheart)
If you went or know anyone who went to SDCC and saw this cosplayer, the police seriously need your help. _
The cosplayer was found at the side of a road unconscious and bloody without her ID and in her costume. The police are unsure what happened to her.
If you have ANY information or saw her anywhere, call The San Diego Police Department at (619) 531-2000 or (858) 484-3154.
PLEASE Spread the message.
Personal note: I am not personally involved with the situation, I have not been to that con nor seen the cosplayer only saw the issue being raised on Facebook, so I’m raising more awareness on here. More infomation: x
Reblogging in hopes this case get solved fast!
come on tumblr this needs more notes
I still want to bulk buy these and adonize batch pink.
And it would still get stuck in my hair…
now THIS is what I’m fucking talking about
EDIT: IT FUNCTIONS AS A FUCKING ORANGE PEELER, AND EVEN A LAMP IF YOU HAVE A STRING AND SOME OIL. SERIOUSLY???
JUST IN CASE YOU APPARENTLY NEED AN EMERGENCY ONE FOR RELIGIOUS SERVICES?
I need these for the zombie apocalypse
…maybe what we need now is a ‘little guy’.
"PALESTINIAN GIRL, YOUNGEST DOCTOR IN THE WORLD"
"When someone enrols in the medicine school that one of the longest schooling required profession, by the time they finish school they will be around 30-or at least on their late 20s. But not for this girl; Eqbal Asa’d is a Palestinian Muslim woman that started the Medicine school when she was just 14 years old, ‘myhijab.info’ reports. Asa’d got her Bachelor degree in Medicine with Honors and was set by the Guinness World Records as the youngest doctor in the World, according to the report. She has been signed to go to Ohio, U.S to continue her education even further and become a Pediatrician." - Source
YOU GUYS SHE IS THE YOUNGEST DOCTOR IN THE WORLD. SHE IS A FEMALE, A MUSLIM AND A MINORITY. AND SHE IS THE YOUNGEST DOCTOR IN THE WORLD.
WHY ARE WE NOT HEARING MORE ABOUT HER?
you know why.
- Evelyn: You're not surprised, are you? How did you know?
- The Doctor: Remember that calendar you had in the TARDIS with all your old friends' birthdays written on it? Let's just say I have something like that.
“There was a moment as they looked at each other. The Doctor spread his hands as if he was about to embrace [the Brigadier] or some other such nonsense. So the Brigadier straightened his back. ‘Ah, Doctor,’ he said. ‘There you are at last. Spot of bother with these Faerie chappies. Good of you to help us out.’ The Doctor stared at him in utter astonishment. Then he leapt forward and hugged the Brigadier anyway, laughing as he spun him round and round. ‘Stop,’ muttered the Brigadier, trying not to be hugged. ‘Stop it at once, Doctor. The men are watching.’”—
The Shadows of Avalon by Paul Cornell (via youre-standing-on-my-scarf)
"Spot of bother with these Faerie chappies" is the Briggiest Brigism I’ve heard in a while.
The first 12 stories are:
- January 2015 - The Flywheel Revolution, featuring the First Doctor
- February 2015…