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, Tibère and Scribbles get to tell you about one of their absolute favourite Big Finish ranges. Read it. Failure to comply will result in level 3 punishment. Spoilers after the ‘read more’ tag.
SCRIBBLES: This is a genuinely excellent set, let’s just get that out of the way, because we’re going to feel repetitive saying that whatever happens. This is just a very good story. It capitalizes on every aesthetic strength Vienna as a range has previously established (and if you’re not familiar with that, go check out spotify right now) while finding new levels of political and emotional depth to thrive in. Retribution mixes the wonderful, twisty mind games of the range with the crime drama that Vienna has been exploring from series 2 and a newfound moral backbone (hot off the heels of the destruction of space capitalism in “Impossibly Glamorous”; seriously, do yourself a favor and listen to all of Vienna, that one has killer corgis, it’s great). This new series hits hard in all the best ways, while never being anything less than a joy to listen to. And what’s more, I think we both agree, it’s the sort of storytelling we need in the present climate. It’s escapist fun with some fantastic, fantastic ideals, and it’s more inclusive than the range has ever been, matching wonderfully with the activism lead actress Chase Masterson has been pursuing in real life. As a series, this is quite possibly the finest Vienna yet, and I would highly recommend this to everyone.
TIBERE: Vienna is one of the best ranges in all of the Big Finish back catalogue. Straight fact for you. And another – it’s also one of their most overlooked, while it offers some superb satire and social commentary through the prism of fun, incredibly intricate and well-plotted adventures starring a cast of strong, likeable female characters. With any luck, the release of this latest installment, which for the first time adopts the format of three-part overall story penned by a single author, Guy Adams, who had already wrote the stand-out episode of series 3 (“Big Society”, or Space Donald Trump vs Living Architecture, haven’t you got it by now, SERIOUSLY, LISTEN TO ALL OF VIENNA), will change things, because holy mother of god, this is some absolutely incredible audio content. The plotting is great, but that was to be expected; the social elements are biting and corrosive, but that was to be expected – no, where this boxset really surprises is in the way it has of taking the relatively simple set-up of Vienna, with its larger-than-life, purposefully stereotypical characters, and giving them a surprising amount of poignancy, complexity and conflict. It’s quite a big shift for the range, but one Adams pulls off incredibly well and naturally. It feels like a natural extension, like lovely, organic growth that allows leads Chase Masterson and Sam Béart to let their (considerable) acting abilities soar. It’s an absolute wonder, and it needs to be recognized as such. Buy it, spread the word, we need more Vienna in the world, because it honestly makes it a better place. There’s not going to be many audio Who stories this year which will top this.