21 January 2015

ARA 2014: Big Finish

Jonathan Morris' exceptional Psychodrome opened August's Fifth Doctor Box Set, which we named yesterday as our single best piece of Doctor Who merchandise of 2014. That it is our favourite story from all of Big Finish's many ranges is no small feat. Our other favourites all triumph in later categories.

There was some fierce competition amongst last year's sixteen main range stories, but Una McCormack's excellent An Eye for Murder managed to best her closest rivals The Rani Elite and Scavenger. This tale of '30s intrigue, released as part of the Morris-curated Breaking Bubbles and Other Stories was stunning, and gets a regular airing at Artron Towers. Our original review is here.

Yep, it's the Flat Cap Man again. As if there was ever any doubt in our minds, 2014 was another strong year for Mr M with The Monstrous Menagerie, Second Sight, Last of the ColophonExodus, the aforementioned Psychodrome, and Revenge of the Swarm all receiving high praise upon release. As if that weren't enough, the many titles Jonny's script edited have also been rewarded with success (Dark Eyes Series 3, the Seventh Doctor trilogy and Vienna Series 1 amongst them). It looks set to be another great year for Morris fans (read: everyone) with The Entropy Plague, Damaged Goods, We Are the Daleks, Vienna Series 2, The Cloisters of Terror and much more due before too long. And all this on top of becoming a father. A deserved award.

Despite only being twelve years old, Scott Handcock continues to make a name for himself in the worlds of Big Finish (see what I did there? *). Although his efforts on The Confessions of Dorian Gray and New Adventures of Bernice Summerfield series were widely praised by critics the world over, it's for his excellent work on Frankenstein that Scott wins the award of Best Big Finish Director. Bottom line is: he's a real find. He's got a massive year of releases lined up with Gallifrey: Intervention Earth, New Adventures of Bernice Summerfield: The Triumph of Sutekh, The Confessions of Dorian Gray Series 4, The Wizard of Oz and more on the way, and we can't wait to get our ears around it all! The one notable omission from his schedule seems to be a main range Doctor Who story...

As Jago and Litefoot, Trevor Baxter and Christopher Benjamin are (rightly) lauded. Their spinoff series - the cunningly-titled Jago & Litefoot - is arguably Big Finish's strongest (and probably most commercially successful!) and with its ninth series due any day now, their longest-running. Despite the fact that it's a showcase for some really excellent storytelling, at the heart of the series are two central performances to be reckoned with. Long may the extended adventures of Benjamin and Baxter continue.

Tom Webster is very good at his job. Bursting onto the cover illustration scene last year with some incredible work including The War to End All Wars, Revenge of the Swarm, The Worlds of Doctor Who, The New Adventures of Bernice Summerfield and many, many more, he immediately brought a dynamism and vibrancy unseen since the days of Simon Holub. It pleases me greatly that he has been signed up to do so much this year too, and I fully expect to see his name at the top of this category in twelve months.

Another sprinkling of Morris Magic helped bring about what's been called Big Finish's strongest anthology yet. Collating LM Myles' Breaking Bubbles, Mark Ravenhill's Of Chaos Time The, Una McCormack's An Eye for Murder and Nev Fountain's The Curious Incident of the Doctor in the Night-Time, this really is excellent value for money. All of these stories are of considerable quality (though the second half are on another level) and at just £3.50 each, this might feel a bit like stealing. But don't worry, that's Big Finish for you.

Dark Shadows went from strength to strength last year, and looks set to increase its popularity further still with the twice-weekly Bloodlust series we're currently in the middle of. Showing off a totally different side of Big Finish's abilities to Doctor Who, this is a worthy winner, and surely one to watch.

Join us tomorrow for our final category: The Media!

My thanks to Matt Michael (Twitter | Season to Taste Podcast). And I'm on Twitter too.

* The Worlds of Big Finish is a release due in May 2015 directed by Handcock.

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