This is a great Benny Summerfield box set. If you are not familiar with Benny, or with her previous adventures, this is a great point to join the party. Benny is a character, larger than life, with her own stories and adventures in the Doctor Who universe. But she knows the Doctor well – or she thought she did – and in this box set we get a chance also to investigate Benny’s life as she gets caught up in the Doctor’s deeds.
Each of the four stories in this box set are about 60 minutes each, on single cds, each packaged individually. In the fourth cd case there is a fifth cd, with a bonus disk on ‘the making of’.
The Revolution: Why is Benny lying on the floor of Renk Van Magnastein’s bar on the planet of Arviem 2? And why is there a Timelord hanging on the wall? More to the immediate point, why are homicidal robots chasing Benny and trying to kill her? This is a great story; it starts off with the listener thinking ‘what the heck is going on’ and there’s a whole lot more of that, before the end pay-off is so far-fetched that it can only make complete sense, and you think ‘ah, that explains that so well then!’. Brilliant.
Good Night, Sweet Ladies: Benny’s ship crash lands on the Moon of Adolin, searching for Ace. What she finds instead are two survivors, Steven Day and Claire, and a labyrinth-like structure of a Cathedral. And why does that Dalek keep chasing her down the corridoor? A very labyrinthine story itself, this story seems to start at the end and then go back to the beginning before we find out what’s been going on. Layers of Benny’s life are revealed, and the poignancy of the story is not lost on the listener. Great stuff.
Random Ghosts: This is a most remarkably cleverly presented story, given to us entirely in snippets which have been ‘thematically’ woven together by the editing software used by a film crew on a planet of ‘ghosts’, a Forbidden World. We hear Benny, and later Ace, interacting with one of the film crew, and then others who appear to believe they are inhabitants of the mysterious planet. But nobody’s really sure what’s going on; because every day they wake up and find themselves having to re-learn everything all over again. Using the cameras that are always with them, and always filming, they try to record important information for themselves for each new day. And these snippets of camera recordings are all we hear. But that’s enough for us to slowly piece together a story that becomes a complete nightmare. Because the planet’s nowhere near as benign as some might like it to be.
The Lights of Skaro: The secret of the planet has been uncovered. But there are still plenty of secrets to be found. And Benny must face the worst nightmare of her life, while finding out that there’s more to her own life than she had thought possible. Can the Doctor get to Skaro in time to save her? And what has Ace done? This is an astonishing story; Benny faces up to something that you just don’t see coming, and there are still plenty of horrifying revelations to come as the story progresses. This is like a Dalek nightmare, this story; once you start listening, you will see why.
I would thoroughly recommend this box set to anyone who loves the Doctor Who universe stories. The Doctor makes cameo visits in several places in these stories, but they really are Benny stories, and she is a character who fully deserves her own place in the spotlight. If you haven’t heard Benny before, don’t worry, you will be able to pick it up no problem. Just sit back and enjoy the ride. A fantastic box set of Benny stories, I am really looking forward already to the next box set which features the return of Sutekh the Destroyer – can’t wait!