The Eternal Summer

Posted in Audio by - September 03, 2016
The Eternal Summer

Released November 2009

Jonathan Morris pens ‘The Eternal Summer,’ the second installment of Big Finish’s Stockbridge trilogy that begins following the Doctor’s failed attempt to stop the Rutan ship from exploding in ‘Castle of Fear.’ Unexpectedly, the Doctor and Nyssa are very much alive, finding themselves in present-day Stockbridge where time itself has gone wrong in a story that certainly pays homage to Groundhog Day.

The Doctor and Nyssa find themselves well-known within the village, both being treated as long-term citizens, the Doctor appropriately as the village doctor and Nyssa as the postmistress. The village itself is brought to life incredibly well with vivid but peaceful imagery, and the villagers help round out the locale as they relive moments, unable to escape the eternity of a mysterious time bubble. Each of the characters has an amiable and menacing side, and Roger Hammond, Susan Brown, Abigail Hollick, and Nick Brimble all do admirably in shifting tone and insinuation as needed.

Despite the rather full cast, two characters do manage to rise to even higher levels of importance than the others. The first is Maxwell Edison, an eccentric and avid UFO watcher within Wells Wood who first appeared in the Doctor Who comic adventure ‘Stars Fell on Stockbridge’ and who is memorably brought to life by Mark Williams. Although the comics character Sir Justin was heavily referenced in the preceding story and even gets fleetingly referenced here with a church name, the inclusion of Max within events as well as a flashback scene to their first meeting entrenches this tale within the comic world incredibly well. The second is Pam Ferries’s Lizzie Corrigan, the head of the Psychic Investigation Group who knows that something is amiss in Stockbridge as the village has simply disappeared. Helping to take Nyssa out of the time bubble and sharing some touching scenes with Maxwell, she is pivotal to the plot and shares in a rather sad denouement.

Also featuring a nice reference to ‘Circular Time,’ ‘The Eternal Summer’ makes very good use of its two leads. Peter Davison seems fully invested in this production, exuding enthusiastic glee when reuniting with Max and playing the different confrontations with the villagers reliving time incredibly well. Likewise, Nyssa gets some really strong moments that put her right into the action and even put her psychic abilities to good use, and the fondness the Doctor and Nyssa have for each other is clearly on display. Yet the revelation that the villainous Lord and Lady of the Manner are, in fact, the Doctor and Nyssa as well is certainly the talking point, allowing Davison and Sutton to let loose and play a more sinister and millennia-older version of each of their typical heroes, ones that feed off of the memories of the villagers. Both excel at playing malevolent entities without going over the top, lending a harrowing realism to the overall bizarre events.

‘The Eternal Summer’ blends comedy and lightness with grave and darkness very well, the contrasting tones blending together to create a very enjoyable and engrossing experience as the mystery is unraveled. Although its placement as the middle story in a known trilogy means that there is no real threat of Stockbridge not being returned to normal, the overall experience taken by itself is certainly a strong one.

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