Archaeological Adventuress: Okay...this is going to get a little bit complicated. In Living Memory chronicles the lives of three different versions of Bernice Summerfield as set up in Judgement Day a million years ago so do try and bear with me. Benny is writing her diary once again and because it has been so long she isn't sure what she is supposed to say. The Epoch say that she is the threat and she is the scheme, whatever that might mean. She can deal with robots, mad scientists, religious nut jobs, intergalactic mobsters, bounty hunters, Gods...anything they care to throw at her really. She can't believe that she would ever forget Peter and is furious that the Epoch would take something so precious from her memory. It was never their intention to take away everything so he never had anything to fight for but it certainly seems to have worked out that way. Apparently Benny exists at al points in time, at the start and end and all points in between. She never shuts up, or at least at any point she is aware of. She always makes it up as she goes along and things usually turn out for the best. The Bernice's have to decide which of them should throw themselves into the vortex for all time and it falls to the one who has been on Legion for months and forged a relationship with Peter to hold back. She's the mum he knows. Before she goes, the paradoxical Benny orders her counterpart to use the Epoch technology to do something for herself for a change. To change the timelines and get back all her friends. The whole of time and space is open for them to re-map and have one last grand adventure.
Super Villain: I hope this version of Braxiatel makes it into the next era of the Bernice Summerfield range otherwise I have to wonder what the point of him was (besides them wanting to continue to use Miles Richardson). We haven't learnt a great deal about him, he hasn't come face to face with his evil predecessor and his story hasn't come to any kind of climax. He was just sort of there because Brax is always there. Weird.
Jumping Jack Flash & Mysterious Girl: A shame that in what could be their last story Jack and Ruth spend the majority of the time as either different personas or caught up in the convoluted plot mechanics at the end of the story. We don't really get to spend much time with them or explore their characters. As such it is hardly a fitting send off for either of them.
Standout Performance: Unusual to hear Sean Carlsen playing a part that isn't Narvin (from the Gallifrey series). I kept expecting a twist that somehow he had wormed his way into the Bernice Summerfield series via Braxiatel. Bowerman excels, as ever and I think she could play this part in her sleep now (although there is never any danger of her phoning it in, she's always superb). It could be the last time that this cast of regulars are all together so relish this opportunity.
Sparkling Dialogue: 'You've sliced a hole in history itself! Have you any idea how dangerous that is?'
'And now it's all over for Bernice Summerfield!'
'This is the first time we've had you all in the studio at the same time, isn't it?' 'Apart from the script I wrote, you mean?' 'Funny enough I always forget about that one' - I had to chuckle at this.
'Would actors have red glowing eyes and look like a Killoran?' ' Tom's...method.'
Audio Landscape: Lading bay doors opening, ship descending, birds chirruping, a cow mooing, a cock crowing, the Epoch stomping about, rain falling, mobile interference, phone ringing, a door opening,
Musical Cues: Enough terrific soundtrack giving the story a good kick up the ass on occasions. The closing piece of music that builds to a dramatic and optimistic crescendo is particularly excellent. The final musical suite was gorgeous and it really feels like an end of an era...more than the story did in fact.
Standout Scene: 'Or we use the Epoch's technology one last time. Use it to find the people we've lost. Bev and Adrian. Jason' 'Antonio' 'Lara' 'Leo' 'My home...' 'There's nothing stopping us now. Nothing at all. We literally have the universe at our fingertips. So come on...one very last great big adventure! Out there...real life! What do you say?'
Result: I've heard some very dramatic things said about In Living Memory, some stating it is a fatally misjudged piece. I don't think it is anywhere near as bad as all that although it is spoilt by one very unfortunate error - there is no way this should have been the season (and potentially the series) finale or the final story of the Handcock/Russell era of the Bernice Summerfield range. If this was a mid season affair and touting the same ideas, I think it would have gone down a lot more favourably. The problem is that these two men have posed a number of mysteries that they feel have to be answered before they move on and so instead of presenting a piece of drama (much like The Curse of Fenman before it) instead we get a series of long winded explanations trying to tie up plot elements that occurred in releases three years previously. If their aim was to push the range forwards away from the complicated arc plots into more standalone territory then clearly they failed because this is precisely the sort of tidying up that Eddie Robson had to do with his superlative two parter Resurrecting the Past/Escaping the Future. Not only that but the finale is hopelessly complicated and technobabble ridden, not so much elucidation of the Epoch/triple Bernice storyline and more a ridiculously complicated way of pushing a giant reset button. It left me wondering if this storyline had been worth pursuing if this was the outcome and pondering whether the series should have simply pushed ahead with an anthology series of standalone adventures. So what did work here? For a start it is fantastic to have the entire cast working together again and as an endorsement of the actors that Handcock and Russell have brought together to front this range, In Living Memory stands proud. Where I imagine Bernice, Peter and Brax always being part of this series, I hope this isn't the last we have heard of Ruth and Jack. Especially since they do nothing of worth here beyond playing other parts. Where some found the fourth wall breaking scenes in the sound booths a chore, I thought they were a rather nice flourish. It is smug as hell with far too many in-jokes but as a piss take of the 'behind the scenes' featurettes and a puzzle within a puzzle for Bernice to try and figure out I thought it was quite imaginatively done. It is another superb opportunity for Lisa Bowerman as well, acting her heart out as multiple Benny's and doing her damndest to try and make this web of explanations make sense. To her credit, she almost succeeds while you are listening, it is only when you start to think about it afterwards that it all falls to pieces. Besides I would listen to Bowerman read a shopping list and she is given plenty of witty lines and moments to shine here. The final scene leaves the series in a state of flux and an opportunity to mould itself into whatever it wants to be. I have no idea what the Bernice Summerfield range has to offer next but needless to say that I am still head over heels in love with the character and am excited to listen to what is coming. Whilst I have some issues with the over arching storylines that they have produced (more often than not promising far more than they ever delivered) over the past five box sets, I have been impressed with the overall standard of individual adventures that have been told. I do feel that Handcock & Russell are departing just as they have hit their stride (the Missing Persons box set has had two standout classics) but it has been a fun ride with them at the helm. In Living Memory is an average conclusion to their tenure, which is a shame, and it doesn't really sum up the enjoyment they have provided along the way: 5/10
The Kraken's Lament: 8/10
The Temple of Questions: 6/10
Private Enemy No.1: 9/10
Judgement Day: 8/10
Brand Management: 7/10
Bad Habits: 9/10
Paradise Frost: 9/10
Vesuvius Falling: 9/10
Shades of Gray: 9/10
Everybody Loves Irving: 5/10
A Handful of Dust: 5/10
HMS Surprise: 8/10
The Curse of Fenman: 4/10
The Big Dig: 10/10
The Reverent's Carnival: 7/10
The Brimstone Kid: 7/10
The Winning Side: 10/10
In Living Memory: 5/10
Many Happy Returns: 10/10