Fabled crystals from long-dead civilisations; Jason Kane blundering
into situations out of his control; entombed Cybermen waking
from centuries-long sleep. It's all in a day's work for Bernice
Summerfield. Armed with her endless supply of witty quips,
she'll find the Crystal, rescue Jason, destroy the Cybermen
and be home in time for supper. Except this time it's different.
This time, as the saying goes, it's personal. After this adventure,
things will never be the same again...
my current excitement about the return of the Cybermen in
the new series of Doctor Who, their presence here as
the latest in a long line of guest monsters isn't the only
reason why I have given this audio drama such a high mark.
After all, this isn't even the first time Benny has met the
metallic menaces - she encountered one of them a couple of
years ago in the Doctor Who Magazine freebie CD Silver
contributing to this story's appeal is a challenging multi-layered
script by Joseph Lidster. His narrative is conveyed from at
least three different points of view, and the true state of
affairs turns out to be quite different from how it initially
appears. Some of the characters' arcs tie in with recent developments
in Big Finish's Gallifrey and Cyberman series:
respectively, Braxiatel's (Miles Richardson) departure from
his home world and the revelation that the Cybermen have cryogenic
"tombs" on planets other than Telos.
though in acknowledgement of the debt owed to Nicholas Briggs's
Cyberman series, Briggs not only gets to contribute
the voices of the Cybermen, as usual, but also plays the role
of an innocent victim known as Ronan McGinley. (Incidentally,
I found it quite disconcerting to hear Braxiatel repeatedly
addressing "Mr McGinley". It's spelt differently to my name,
but it sounds the same!) Fittingly, director/producer Gary
Russell, who is also the co-producer of the Gallifrey
range, gets to play his part too, as a Pakhar called Thesanius.
Even Lidster mucks in to play a small role.
with their recent television two-parter Rise
of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel, the machine-creatures
take on some of the more unnerving qualities of Star Trek's
Borg. Trek fans may raise a Spock-like eyebrow, but
it seems only fair, since the Borg themselves owe obvious
dues to the Cybermen. Here the cyborgs combine their Tomb
of the Cybermen catchphrases "We will survive"
and "You belong to us" in a Borg-style chant. They also borrow
one of the Borg's favourite words, "irrelevant".
story, the conclusion to Professor Summerfield's sixth season
of adventures, marks a point of closure in her life that is
far from irrelevant. Things really will never be the same
again. The Crystal of Cantus is a little gem and a
stunning piece of drama.