A long awaited pairing of Captain Jack Harkness and Professor River Song lives up to the hype.
When it comes to match-ups in the Doctor Who universe, a meeting between Captain Jack Harkness and Professor River Song would be at the top of most fans’ wish lists. Big Finish have finally answered a lot of prayers with this set and for the most part, it does not disappoint.
Consisting of three separate adventures, this set is the third in a fun series that explores what Captain Jack gets up to when not following either the Doctor or Torchwood around. The scripts are fun and entertaining whilst also managing to hit a few emotional beats along the way. Of course, none of these scripts would work as well without the brilliant John Barrowman giving his all – as he always does- in playing the role he was born to play.
Crush, by Guy Adams, sees Jack go on a date with Jacki Tyler (played brilliantly as always by the wonderful Camille Coduri) on board a luxury cruiser in space. The fun stops when the first dead body appears and the pilot (played with bureaucratic perfection by Paul Clayton) seems wholly uninterested in helping. There’s a lot of shouting in this one so best to keep the volume lower.
Mighty and Despair, by Tim Foley, sees Jack stuck in isolation with a vampire queen and her protégé (played by Jessica Hayles and Joanna van Campen). It is certainly a lot more dramatic than the previous episode (and quieter) but feels about ten minutes too long to sustain the story. However, there is an effective version of a montage which is no mean feat in an audio medium.
R and J, by James Goss, sees Jack and River meet across their own timelines with numerous references to both their onscreen appearances in Doctor Who as well as earlier Big Finish episodes. The chemistry between Jack and River Song (another stellar performance from Alex Kingston) is great and their banter is genuinely fun, yet there seems to be no real plot other than the two of them bumping into each other and helping each other out. This is not a real problem as both actors are amazing and can more than carry the lightweight script they are working with. In many ways, it is a clever piece of writing that allows these two great actors to work to their strengths without having spout off a lot off technical jargon or plot exposition.
Director Scott Handcock makes light work of the director’s chair and steers the affable cast with much enjoyment. As usual, the sound (Steve Foxon and Richard Fox) and music (Blair Mowat) is top drawer and helps immerse the listener in the wonderful worlds created by Big Finish.
This is a joyous release and one that will please many fans of Captain Jack. It is worth it for the performances of Barrowman and Kingston alone, but that does not take away from the other aspects of this release. A great listen for those new to the range.
Reviewed by Rodney Hrvatin
Distributed by: Big Finish Productions
Released: March 2020
Approx RRP: $50 CD, $20 Digital Download