Audiobook Review: The Lives of Captain Jack Vol 2, by Big Finish

The second volume of this series continues to tell new stories of Captain Jack living his life between adventures with The Doctor and Torchwood.

This a wonderful set that tests different styles and navigates them well.

When the cover image for this release was first seen by the public there were gasps. Captain Jack Harness was wearing the oft-mocked and maligned coat of the Sixth Doctor! This wasn’t just a photoshop job either. John Barrowman had actually posed for pictures in the same outfit.

This series (the first volume of which was released last year) aims to tell the stories of Captain Jack living his life between adventures with either the Doctor or Torchwood but this release sees a twist in that brief.

Trying to stop two warring races, Captain Jack must step into the coat of a dying Sixth Doctor and pretend to be him. That is the premise for Piece of Mind, the first adventure in this set, written by James Goss. The added bonus is the inclusion of Colin Baker himself as the Sixth Doctor.

Both Barrowman and Baker revel in the jokey nature of the script and the banter written for the two characters. It also explores how Jack would treat a situation differently from the Doctor. It is one of the more original script ideas Big Finish have had and it pays off in bucket loads.

The second adventure, What Have I Done? by Guy Adams, is a much more sombre affair set on the fields of Gallipoli in World War One. Jack has to care for a soldier named Ata (played with much emotion by Atilla Akinci) and save him not only from death by his wounds but by an alien creature. It is an almost two-hander and that is quite moving for most of its runtime. It has a very different vibe to the first story.

The final adventure, Driving Miss Wells, also by James Goss, sees the return of Trinity Wells (played, as she was on TV, by Lachele Carl). Wells was the newsreader who announced all the alien invasions in the first few years of the revived Doctor Who. Now she finds herself trying to expose an alien invasion and her driver, Jack Harkness, seems to know a lot more than he is letting on. It is a thriller with an alien twist to it and Carl relishes her chance to shine in the meaty script.

Of course, all of these adventures are hung on the wonderful performance of John Barrowman who continues to show the world why Jack Harkness is one of the best things to come out of the new series of Doctor Who. The supporting cast are also wonderful with special mention to Hannah Arterton (Callista), Vikash Bhai (Robert Corman), and Jacob Dudman (William).

The set is directed by Scott Handcock who manoeuvres his way around the three very different scripts with his usual flair and brilliance, eliciting some of the strongest performances seen for a while from both Barrowman and Colin Baker. He is helped, as always, by the excellent sound and music from Richard Fox and Blair Mowat respectively. There are also bonus interviews with all the main cast after each episode.

This a wonderful set that tests different styles and navigates them well. It will reward the diligent listener and fans of Captain Jack will not be disappointed.

Reviewed by Rodney Hrvatin
Twitter: @Wagnerfan74

Distributed by: Big Finish Productions
Released: June 2019
Approx RRP: $45 CD, $20 Digital Download

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