Big Finish has released The Worlds of Big Finish, because it can.
Over the many years since their first ever audio, many ranges have come and gone, and even if some of them come from the universe of Doctor Who, they don’t rely upon it for their vitality. With The Worlds of Big Finish, writer David Llewellyn and director Scott Handcock have constructed a story out of vignettes drawn from across many Big Finish ranges.
Although on paper this resembles a Big Finish version of Avengers Assemble, it differs in that this isn’t a monster mash-up of stories, nor a set of crossovers; in fact, the amount of crossing between ranges is small though the individual adventures do tell a larger story.
The various stories cover the sisters from Graceless, Vienna Salvatori (Big Finish spin-offs from Doctor Who), Iris Wildthyme, Bernice Summerfield (spin-offs from Doctor Who, not originated by Big Finish), Sherlock Holmes and Dorian Gray. If you don’t know, the latter are Big Finish created stories based on the classic characters.
Each story is thirty minutes long, and works independently while also constructing a story centred on a book from another universe. This book is central to each tale and takes the action from Edwardian London, the casinos of Mars and the terrifying dessert of Sisyphus IX. The writing manages to capture something of each included range yet makes them a whole; this is no trivial success given the disparate nature of the component parts.
Not every story will work for every listener, but at a mere thirty minutes, none of them should be judged a reason not to indulge in this release. In many ways this collection has the opposite effect with the contrasts between characters adding (in some ways) to their enjoyment.
The second disc is a case in point: Dorian Gray (Alexander Vlahos) takes over the narrative from Sherlock Holmes and spins a bleak tale of possession and sacrifice, then moments later we have Katy Manning as crazy-seeming Iris Wildthyme leaping large from the speakers and saving the world from her bus while dealing with an American journalist and sundry mysteries. Wonderful stuff.
A cynic might conclude Worlds of Big Finish is essentially a shop window, tempting fans to broaden their consumption of Big Finish characters. In actuality, it is a collection of tales given the flavour of various characters and like a themed collection of short stories is a set of opportunities to enjoy some diverse entertainment. It may not be the greatest piece of audio drama ever made, but is keenly priced and produced to the usual high standards.
Perhaps a longer production with hour-long stories would have greater depth but then it would be a different beast and would as like not resulted in such a readily digested piece of entertainment.
Released on Friday 15 May 2015 by Big Finish.
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