Many Happy Returns

Posted in Audio by - October 04, 2018
Many Happy Returns

Released November 2012

Released to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Bernice Summerfield’s first appearance in the novel Love and War following an audio adaptation of that same written adventure, ‘Many Happy Returns’ is a charity release in which everybody involved in every capacity gave their time for free to help raise money for the myalgic encephalomyelitis (chronic fatigue syndrome) charity Invest in ME. Set between the events of the Legion and New Frontiers collections, Bernice has traveled off of Legion and discovered a museum exhibit dedicated to herself, the prolific list of twelve writers contributing to this celebratory release necessitating that a series of vignettes from throughout Bernice’s life ensues.

It likely goes without saying that this is not a release designed to welcome in newcomers to the range and character of Bernice Summerfield, but no matter the personal experience of any given listener with the events that have come before each will be treated to an astounding range of emotions in short order as previously unseen moments from Bernice’s life are brought to light. With even the more obscure corners of the Bernice mythology making it into the museum exhibit such as her ‘I Dig Archaeology’ badge from Oh No It Isnt! and the first manuscript of her first published book Down Among the Dead Men that proved so vital to her gaining employment at St Oscar’s University, it’s clear from the start that this production truly is a work of passion for everyone involved, and the touching lullaby that Bernice remembers singing to Peter as a child offers a poignantly fleeting retrospective of just how much Bernice has been through over the years.

Naturally, some of the vignettes are more crucial than others to further developing this remarkable woman and her vast assortment of companions, but those detailing just how a manipulative Braxiatel managed to recruit her to the Collection in the first place as well as Bernice and Adrian discussing the aftermath of Peter killing Jason are arguably the most important on display simply in terms of offering perspective on just how much the character has changed and developed throughout her many adventures. Of course, Braxiatel has been such a crucial part of Bernice’s life for so long and for better or for worse that it seems only fitting that she claims she cannot remember when they first met, though she clearly remembers him being at her wedding. Of course, interspersed with the more humorous asides of Bernice awaking to a corpse in her bed and of further exploits with Iris Wildthyme on Artaris are a very emotional final scene with Bev Tarrant and one final message from Jason with a particular letter written in High Gallifreyan, and the end result is an incredible cross-section of Bernice’s audio legacy in particular that even includes Jack, Ruth, and Leonidas from the more recent box sets.

While it’s perfectly understandable that not every actor and character from Bernice’s past could possibly be involved, the sheer scope of this release is staggering, and it’s fitting that none other than the triumphantly returning Joseph should be so integral to saving Bernice from the virus affecting the museum that puts her life at stake. While it would have been nice to hear the written adventures of Bernice that spawned such an incredibly enduring character expanded upon more, there is simply no denying that ‘Many Happy Returns’ is an impressive anniversary release in every regard that celebrates everything the character is and has been, even offering a glimpse of her future in the process as a dying Bernice escapes from her nursing home for one final dig to prove that her spirit will never fade.

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