AUDIO DRAMA
Professor Bernice Summerfield and the Poison Seas

Starring: Lisa Bowerman
Big Finish Productions
RRP 9.99
ISBN 1 84435 042 8, BFPCD18
Available now


Under cover of visiting an Earth Reptile friend, Bernice attempts to discover who is working with terrorists to threaten a Sea Devil colony on the planet Chosan. But beneath the surface of the ocean, she realises something else entirely has pitted itself against the colonists...

Professor Summerfield's previous adventure, The Draconian Rage, recalled the work of one Malcolm: 1970s Doctor Who writer Mac Hulke. This story goes one better, by paying homage to not just one Malcolm but two: Sea Devil creator Hulke and The Sea Devils musician, Malcolm Clarke. Sound maestro David Darlington does well to evoke a flavour of Clarke's infamously experimental burbling electronic score to the 1972 Jon Pertwee serial, while managing to avoid it sounding crap... which is some achievement!

The Sea Devil voices (the Whispering Bobs of the monster world, as writer David Bailey describes them) are also well realised. By comparison, the voice of the native menace of the planet Chosan (which Benny has visited before, in Bailey's The Secret of Cassandra) sounds conspicuously human. Just occasionally, though, the modulated Sea Devil voices are practically impossible to understand.

The plot is a considerable improvement on The Draconian Rage. The alien setting effectively removes the Earth Reptiles from their usual "trying to reclaim the Earth from the humans" type of narrative, while also providing a neat running theme about the mutable concept of home. However, the story still feels rather lightweight, and the ending seems too easy.

Nevertheless, this oceanic tale is worth immersing yourself in.

Richard McGinlay