Doctor Who: The World Beyond The Trees - Review

Last August, the short story, Damascus hinted at a larger story that was coming, and The World Beyond The Trees, the first story from the Short Trips range of audio adventures brought that story to a worthy conclusion, something which felt like a fairy tale.

The Eighth Doctor's audio companion Liv Chenka is anything but a princess. This was my first proper encounter with her character, I haven't listened to Dark Eyes and Doom Coalition beyond what episodes have been made free in various special offers and I really liked her frank and direct approach to each situation. I can clearly see why the Doctor has her as a companion, though his presence in this story is more sensed than seen. Their friend Molly is also incommunicado throughout this tale, leaving Liv all alone trying to solve the mystery of a sleeping London.

I particularly liked how Liv reported 20th century London as a archaic and primitive epoch. She really does regard its technology and culture from a detached, outsider's perspective, commenting on it as if we still lived in the Middle Ages. But that particular day in 1970s London has a otherworldly feel to it, captured beautifully in Liv's matter-of-fact narration.

Like someone from a fairy tale, Liv receives a call, steps out onto her quest, a meets a stranger. To give anything else away would spoil the story for you. It is a hard story to review and not give away anything, especially in this short stories as they don't have the time to develop massive twists. Liv manages to inadvertently fill the Doctor's role in this story, all the way down to the way she greats the stranger with, "Take my hand."

There really isn't a lot of story to this adventure and like Damascus, a lot of it relies on atmosphere to get the point across. It feels a little like the Peter Capaldi adventure, In The Forest of The Night, only with much more subtly and restraint. The plot will be hard to follow, not because it is bad, but because you get so caught up in the way which Liv is telling the story that it kind of gets lost. There are so many good character moments and beats to her character here that we really get a great insight into seeing how she ticks. There was evidently a lot of love given to this tale, which really focuses on family and bereavement.

It is a strange mixture of soothing and melancholy, but is just the sort of thing you will be looking for to escape from our darker world for half-an-hour. This is a stand alone story which doesn't require you to go out and purchase Damascus for you to understand what is going on, but no doubt that they both enrich each other when listened to as one...