Welcome to DoWntime’s not-too-regular column, Assessing Stress. That’s where we assess … stress. Or more accurately, talk and debate about the newest episodes to hit the television screen, the new releases from Big Finish, and all these good things.
And today, we are meeting bears, cat people, new humans and gay trees as Tibère and Scribbles grab their backpacks and explore New Earth. So why don’t grab a bottle of sap (and mind spoilers after the ‘read more’ tag) and follow them!
TIBERE: Well, this was a breath of fresh air, really. Big Finish is often summed up as being torn between a “odd, ambitious and experimental” poll and a “curating the tradition” one, but they have an entire branch of stories who don’t really fit these categories and instead just focus on being pure raw fun with loveable and precious characters. Jago & Litefoot is the one that springs to mind – and really, this feels a bit like a continuation of it in a way. Not exactly in tone and aesthetics – it’s bigger and brasher and queerer, as adapting Davies demands – but certainly in that it provides that wonderfully easy-listening feel of sliding into a familiar, fun setting. There are good politics, good characters, good representation, and a lot of really absurd ideas. It’s not the greatest thing ever, but it’s a joy to listen to – that’s certainly helped by a really slick and tight production, too. No, really, it’s just a really nice and enjoyable listen. Good stuff.
SCRIBBLES: I think the word for this set is “fun.” It takes the bombast, campy strangeness that Russell T Davies’ alien worlds were known for and fills it with heart and joy, while finding a few places to talk about the importance of diversity along the way. Does the world need “Tales of New Earth?” Probably not. But we’re very fortunate to have it, and I think it’s one of the freshest and most undemandingly enjoyable spinoff series Big Finish has had. I’d recommend it quite highly, and I think it’s something that should be encouraged and supported to continue into further series. It has, for a weird little corner series, shockingly high production value, with some of the finest music Big Finish has ever had, fine ideas, fine new characters, and some truly delightful weirdness to enjoy. And really, I think, no Doctor Who audio to come in 2018 will be able to match the pleasure of a polar bear strapped to a jetpack while the sickest guitar riff ever blares triumphantly.
TIBERE: I mean, if that image fills you with delight–
SCRIBBLES: And unless you’re a soulless, wonderless monster, it should.
TIBERE: –then yeah, you can go buy this set in all good conscience. It’s full of moments like that. Plus, I mean, bears. And otters. And cats. It’s cute. It appeals to the part of my brain that binge-watches cat videos at three in the morning.