Big Finish released their crossover / heroes assemble special, Worlds of Big Finish in mid-May 2015. I was surprised at a somewhat mixed reaction from fans on the forum who seemed to judge it according to standards I didn’t feel were appropriate. For me I took this as a well priced 3 CD release covering a host of Big Finish ranges and a chance to enjoy a loosely interconnected set of stories.
On that basis…
The product page gives the following overview:
From the streets of Edwardian London to the corridors of a near-infinite library in the distant future, a single book holds the key to the fate of life on Earth.
Some believe it predicts our future – and the apocalypse – with unnerving accuracy. Others will stop at nothing to destroy it, and will chase it from one side of the universe to the other; from a country house in the Roaring Twenties to the casinos of Mars, and from 221B Baker Street to the terrifying desert world of Sisyphus IX…
All six stories are by David Llewellyn.
Graceless: The Archive — Events (to the listener) kick off in the world of Graceless III and along with Laura Doddington (Zara) and Ciara Janson (Abby) we get Lisa Bowerman as the Archive itself and Barnaby Edwards as Romulus Chang. The story is really a scene setter and introduces us to the book at the centre of the stories, and the Magog. Although I hadn’t heard Graceless III at the time of listening, I still found this an easy listen even if it actually had little of the feel of the Simon Guerrier tales, it worked
Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Bloomsbury Bomber — Worth listening just for the cast (Nick Briggs as Sherlock, David Warner as Mycroft and parts of Barnaby Edwards, Katy Manning and Terry Molloy) this story is firmly of its source, no aliens, no science-fiction just mysteries surrounding a bomber with a fascination for destroying bookshops. So far, so good
The Confessions of Dorian Gray: The Feast of Magog — The first two tales were discrete, so it was a slight surprise to have both Holmes and Dorian at the start of this one, though not in in the sense of passing the narrative baton. Of the six stories, this is one of the strongest for me and Dorian as to wrestle with alien forces and suffer terribly to keep things as they should be (and don’t forget David Llewellyn has written a lot of the Dorian Gray stories for Big Finish)
Iris Wildthyme: Kronos Vad’s History of Earth (Vol. 36,379) — The second of my favourites and plenty of Iris madness, double decker buses, American reporters and a sneaky bit of time-travel to dip Iris into the back-story of Holmes episode. Add a new companion for Iris (Captain Turner) and there is lots here in a great story
Vienna: The Lady from Callisto Rhys — Of all the stories, this was the most vanilla, and that’s possibly down to the writing staying very focussed on the original Vienna brief (nobody hears my name). Chase Masterson turns in her usual high-octane performance as Vienna solving a mystery centred on, yes you guessed, a certain book and ends with her meeting Bernice. They almost cross-over but instead the interaction is limited to swapping stories
Bernice Summerfield: The Phantom Wreck — It rests upon Benny’s capable shoulders to join all the remaining dots back to the Iris story, rescue the book and deposit it back in the Archive for the Graceless twins to… [isn’t this where we came in?] The story is pure Summerfield and brings us to a happy ending.
[pullquote]the production had plenty of energy[/pullquote]
As three hours of entertainment this works. Maybe individual stories don’t explore much of their potential, but they are only 30 minutes long and need to connect to a theme. Could there have been more cross-overs? Maybe but you can’t break certain ranges (ok Sherlock is meeting Doctor Who, but…). I felt the production had plenty of energy and it is at least curious to note the recent announcement of Graceless IV and the upcoming Wildthyme Reloaded. The plot may just have been yet another self-closing loop, but it was an entertaining one.