So we take our 1st "Side Step into Virgin Territory" and its a showcase for Bernice Summerfield. Its her singular perspective that drives the narrative but that's not a bad thing. After the Doc is seemly naturalized she sticks her boots in Sarah Jane style (aided by a couple explosive Ace distractions)
Possibly a bit too deliberately paced at the beginning with character backstory given the issues their dealing with are resolved with quick fix options.
Another Plus point it does one of the best one-liners ever by the Doctor in reference to Shakespeare
It’s enjoyable and fun but it does that irritating “invents a bit of TARDIS tech that is convenient for the plot and is never referenced again” thing that I dislike. The setting is great, though, and the regulars are on good form.
So I feel like this is my first 'proper' exposure to a Benny/Doctor story. My prior exposure is in the NABS range, which is difficult to consider valid--David Warner plays a Doctor, but not really one of THE Doctors; likewise, the second set involves the 7th Doctor, but it's not really that good and there's a bit of a gimmick to it. So: exciting times!
So Sophie Aldred and Lisa Bowerman only share a handful of scenes in this story, but they have excellent chemistry, don't they? In retrospect it shouldn't be surprising: both actors tend to deliver utterly fantastic performances no matter the context. Bowerman was, I think, born to be a voice actor; and Aldred, meanwhile, is perhaps, I think, the one TV actor best-suited to audio, with the one possible exception of Colin Baker.
So Benny has this little story about her pet turtles being killed by police being sent to arrest her... is this a thing that happened? It seems equally likely she's just making random stuff up, which wouldn't seem terribly out-of-character, but at the same time she's also a character with a very colorful history, so it may well have happened.
The Doctor is described as having, "many faces, some hidden." I assume that, at the time, this was a reference to the Cartmel Masterplan (which, it seems to me, is frequently referenced--very obliquely--in 7th Doctor audios.
This story is a bit of a mixed bag for me overall. The back half just isn't very interesting, what with all of the funny voices and whatnot, but the first half is extremely engaging--you've got the Doctor calling the police on a murder that hasn't happened yet, and interacting with these invading aliens who (in a very refreshing change of pace) treat him as an independent third party instead of, as is usually the case, just another human. Nevermind all that lovely stuff with the fake psychic. Really wish they'd focused more on the 'human' characters instead of the Doctor's weird telepathic nonsense in the latter set of stories, but even so, I found everything quite engaging and enjoyable.
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