Review: Bernice Summerfield: Big Finish Audio Box Set 5: Missing Persons

Missing Persons coverA time-travelling archaeologist is the sum of her friends; Bernice Summerfield, even more so – but why isn’t she noticing that they are disappearing from her life?

Catching up belatedly with this box set prior to listening to the New Adventures set released recently, Missing Persons is an interesting combination of standalone adventures and ongoing threat – the first four stories are each very different, but all the loose ends from them (and a whole lot more that all but the most dedicated may have forgotten) are tied up neatly in the finale.

Big Dig kicks things off with some good use of audio in an often comedic adventure by Hamish Steele, while Martin Day’s The Revenant’s Carnival is considerably darker – and provides some very interesting mental images along the way. David Llewellyn’s The Brimstone Kid is quite irritating at times (you’re either going to love or loathe the character of Toothless Bob), and although it feels as if it’s going to descend into cliché, it manages to provide some emotional moments. James Goss’s The Winning Side is another inventive use of audio, as Benny pieces together the fate of a civilisation – which has apparently been destroyed by one Bernice Summerfield.

You are likely to kick yourself when you hear Scott Handcock and Gary Russell’s In Living Memory, and its (in hindsight) obvious explanation for the mystery in The Winning Side. This veers perilously close to being too clever for its own good at times but you’ll find yourself smiling at the way Big Finish itself plays a part in proceedings.

Revenant's Carnival, The coverThere’s a strong cast lined up across the set alongside the regulars, who are on fine form (with Lisa Bowerman in particular given some unusual challenges) : Geoffrey Beevers as a scheming courtier, David Warwick as Willem van der Heever and Susan Vidler as Krige stand out in particular and as directors, Handcock and Russell give each story its own aural flavour, while still maintaining a continuity – not always the easiest thing to do.

It’s no secret now that this wraps up the latest chapter in Benny’s life, and it’s had more of a unified feel than some of the earlier releases. The door is left open at the end for this group to reunite for future adventures, and although there have been a few hiccups, I hope that their paths will cross on audios yet to come.

Verdict: A varied and enjoyable set. 7/10

Paul Simpson

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