The Adventure of the Diogenes Damsel

Posted in Audio by - September 02, 2018
The Adventure of the Diogenes Damsel

Released September 2008

Compelled by an unknown force to appear in Victorian London, Bernice Summerfield quickly finds herself paired with the indomitable Mycroft Holmes while looking into a series of crimes seemingly centred around the number seven. As they try to elucidate the connection, Bernice finds that she is not the only temporal traveler here, and her time ring is integral to a plan to leave Earth in ‘The Adventure of the Diogenes Damsel’ that effectively brings in a bevy of expanded continuity.

Bernice, of course, has famously interacted with Sherlock Holmes and John Watson before in the novels The All-Consuming Fire and Happy Endings, and Mycroft quickly pieces together who this strange woman is by her mannerisms that Watson with Bernice’s diary extracts so expertly captured in his account of their first meeting. Focusing on Mycroft at a time when the world assumes Sherlock to be dead after his time at Reichenbach Falls, there is no need for Bernice to dwell on Watson’s obvious feelings for her, and though she is understandably eager to leave this time to get back to Peter and considers creating a tremendous temporal anomaly to gain the attention of the Time Lords to retrieve her, she throws herself into the accumulating mysteries at hand with gusto and provides a practical and sarcastic presence that complements David Warner’s shrewd and calculating Mycroft Holmes perfectly.

Yet as the number seven continues to manifest and gain importance, Bernice’s past comes back to stare her in the face as the Time Lord Straxus from The Eighth Doctor Adventures reveals that he has a malfunctioning time ring that has left him stranded here and that he has been doing exactly what Bernice considered by subtly altering human history through the placement and sale of historical artefacts to gain his peoples’ attention. More shockingly, the Time Lords have created clones of Bernice’s one-time fellow companion Chris Cwej to help them with any number of tasks. Able to feel the pain of death that any of their number experience, they have been trying to draw out a darkness known as Mister Seven that lurks in their mind, but their search for affirmation for their existence given how inferior the Time Lords are capable of making them feel quite effectively portrays the known haughtiness of the Time Lords and references the erstwhile adventures of the Seventh Doctor nicely. In a move fitting of The New Adventures, Straxus’s complex plan has brought a previous version of himself here to save him before he gets into further trouble, a fantastic conceit that makes the most of this story’s temporal basis even with a regeneration unavoidable while Straxus shows his more heroic tendencies.

With the only certainties in Bernice’s life a fountain pen and her journal now that she is fleeing from Braxiatel without her friends and presently even without her son, it’s telling that this time and location that she once considered one of the most alien is now one that she considers comfortably like home. Unsurprisingly, Lisa Bowerman excels with the incredible range of emotion that Bernice experiences as she considers the prospect of never seeing her son again while constantly courting danger at every turn in the most unexpected fashion, and the sheer amount of science fiction imagination and continuity that together transform what begins as a quintessential Sherlock Holmes story into a complex and satisfying Doctor Who tale is deftly handled without ever becoming burdensome or obtrusive. With an evocative atmosphere and an incredible small cast to highlight the intricacies and the dangers of the plot at hand in which not every life is spared, a fitting reference to Faction Paradox from the Eighth Doctor novels given how this story plays out highlights ‘The Adventure of the Diogenese Damsel’ as a perfect standalone story that always surprises and never forgets its focus on the characters while weaving into the incredibly extensive layers of the Doctor Who universe as a whole with remarkable ease, and writer Jim Smith and everyone involved in every capacity deserve full credit.

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