It’s time to go back to that planet so good they named it twice, New Earth. With a release comprising of four stories set in humanity’s future, Big Finish have brought back some favourite New Earth characters, as well as introducing us to some new ones. Today, I’ll be reviewing the first story in the set, Escape From New New York by Roy Gill.
Devon Pryce has lived all his life in the high rises of New New York. A child of the Elevator Guild, he now receives a new calling – from a cat.
Senator Hame is trying to rebuild society, to make it stronger for future generations, but there are those who would stand in her way.
There is a new danger on New Earth, and Devon’s work is only just beginning…
I’m going to preface this review in the same way I plan on ending my final review of Tales From New Earth; by admitting that I’m coming into this box set filled with scepticism. When Big Finish obtained the rights to New-Who, it opened the floodgates for countless new spin offs and ideas. Nobody in the Big Finish fanbase could have guessed that Tales From New Earth would be a release that was one of the first box sets using the New Who license, and I know a fair few fans have dismissed it before hearing a second of it. I’ll be honest, I have my reservations, but if anybody can create brilliance from obscurity, it’s the Big Finish team.
We start with Senator Hame, one of the most soothing, calming voices to grace Doctor Who. She’s Kindly giving us a nice bit of exposition, telling us what’s been happening in New Earth (more accurately, mainly in New New York), and setting the scene. Then, we’re abruptly introduced to Devon, the new character in the box set, who is seemingly going to be our protagonist for the next four hours.
Devon is soon our narrator, and we get a bit of backstory about him. His parents were originally some of the infected from New Earth, and then they found themselves stuck in the gridlock of Gridlock. It seems that they’re the two main events in recent New Earth history, and they both involved the Doctor. It would have been nice if something else had happened in between Gridlock and this box set, to ground the world some more, but it’s something that I can’t change.
After the title music (Tales of New Earth doesn’t get it’s own theme I’m afraid), we’re introduced to Devon’s spiky friend, Thorn. Thorn is a tree-person, and seems to be an orphan, a lot like Devon. Thorn is a great character, and he’s written well, I just hope we get to hear more from him in the future, as he reminds me a lot of me.
There’s a few great little scenes with Hame, where she gets to speak with the President, and talk about a few more events of New New York, like the Hipster Rebellion. It’s an unnerving thought, that in millions of years, hipsters will still be a thing. They’ll be so ironically un-ironically ironic, that it will undoubtedly create a whole new level of meta-irony.
I have to commend Roy Gill, within the first 15 minutes, he manages to do a heck of a lot of world building, and all of it is interesting. Some of it is kinda cheesy, especially the character of the Duke of Brooklyn, a cool jazz cat, who sets Senator Hame off with some sleuthing, people are going missing from New New York, and it’s up to Senator Hame to get to the bottom of it.
I have to admit, I had no idea that Tales From New Earth would make me feel all philosophical when thinking about lifts and lift shafts, but here we are. It seems like a true Moffat idea if anything, that nobody ever sees the shaft that’s transporting them, just the metal box they confine themselves to, and put all their trust in. A temporary metal coffin as you ascend or descend. What a terrifying thought. For Devon, who’s training to work as a lift maintenance worker, it does seem as if there’s something more in the lift shafts than meets the eye.
Devon and Hame’s path’s crossing is a really interesting scene, and it’s not too long before Hame manages to win Devon round. There’s a nice mix of action and conversation, and the two actors perform the scene perfectly, and it really draws you in. I have to admit I’m surprised how much I’m drawn to Senator Hame and Devon.
When Hame decides to bring the matter of the missing people to the attention of President Grosseteste, there’s a scene, that if you’re into any kind of thrillers, will be rather predictable. There’s even a pun for the revelation too. It’s ever so slightly reminiscent of a previous Doctor Who monster, but it’s enjoyable, so I’ll let it pass.
Once we learn some of the truth, we get a nice scene between Hame and the Lux, and there seems to be a lot more going on than initially appears. Between the Lux and the Lumen, it seems that light may be on it’s way to blind everyone from the truth.
Back with Devon, and he’s trying to find Thorn again, and help him. It’s never explicitly stated the relationship between the two, if they’re friends or something more, but I quite like it being up for interpretation. Gives us fans something to talk about, doesn’t it?
The conclusion of Escape From New New York brings the title to the fore, with Devon being recruited by Senator Hame, allowing him to finally escape from New New York.
Overall, I have to admit how much I enjoyed Escape From New New York, it’s one part political thriller mixed with one part Doctor Who story. Roy Gill does a stellar job of reintroducing us to New Earth and Senator Hame, as well as introducing us to Devon, one of Big Finish’s best everymen in recent memory. There are some great moments of wit and humour, and some moments of true, raw emotion. If the rest of the set lives up to this, we may just have something special on our hands.
Should you want to purchase Tales From New Earth, it’s currently available from Big Finish here for £23 on CD or £20 for a digital download for a limited time.