01/02/2010. Contributed by Sue Davies
pub: Big Finish. 120 minutes 2 CDs. Price: CD: £14.99 (UK), Download: £12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84435-431-3) cast: Peter Davison, Sarah Sutton, Mark Williams, Pam Ferris, Roger Hammond, Susan Brown, Nick Brimble, Abigail Hollick, Barnaby Edwards and Nicholas Briggs.
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'The Eternal Summer', the second instalment of 'The Stockbridge Trilogy' sees the Doctor wake up to an idyllic existence in the village of Stockbridge. It seems he has been there as long as anyone can remember and is the local doctor known as John Smith. He rushes out to find Nyssa to confirm his and hers suspicions that something is not right because in the first instalment of this trilogy, 'Castle Of Fear', the Doctor and Nyssa were teetering on the edge of a cataclysmic cliff-hanger.
Determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, the pair enlist the help of local UFO nut, Maxwell Edison, who has a strong feeling that the village is enduring a trauma. The villagers are all going through the events of their lives over and over again. There are births, deaths and marriages and not always in that order.
Maxwell plays out his own personal drama as he is forced to relive the moments when he was rejected by his pregnant girl-friend. He also tells the Doctor about the ghosts in the woods which appear at the same time every night. When the three go to the woods, Nyssa disappears and the Doctor is summoned to see the Lord and Lady of the Manor who are providing the village with this eternal tormenting summer.
This unusual story relies heavily on the two main characters narrating and believing in what is happening that we can only hear. It is more serious than the first in the trilogy with the lightness effected by the character of Maxwell voiced by the wonderful Mark Williams. Other cast members provide support as they narrate their experiences as they happen again and again. I thought it worked well, apart from the logic of the plot in the cold light of day which probably doesn't hang together in the world of temporal physics. Just for a change, there is a darker edge to the Fifth Doctor which allows him to get a little bit more serious. I have hopes that the final instalment might be more dramatically testing and give the Doctor something to chew on. With a title like 'Plague Of The Daleks, that's a strong possibility.
'The Three Companions Part 9' is included and although this has been entertaining it needs to be scooped up into a collected works so it can be listened to all the way through. On the downloads, it is difficult to locate the file for the extras as they are numbered rather than named, and therefore repeat listening of all the sections becomes a bit of a chore. Hopefully, his will be issued at some point as a complete tale and as an extra to subscribers. Nick Briggs continue to tell us on the marvellous Big Finish podcasts, a brilliant and free listen, 'Subscribers get more at Big Finish' and I agree they really do. Support your local/global business and they will keep making them!
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