Well, Big Finish bring listeners three more tales of The Lives of Captain Jack. This second volume brings different aspects of the Captain’s character into focus and are told in very different ways.
For those of you who haven’t already Volume 1 of The Lives of Captain Jack is still available from Big Finish. You can also check out our review here. Volume 2 sees another three tales exploring other periods in the life of the immortal Captain Jack.
Piece of Mind by James Goss
Have you every wondered what Captain Jack would be like as the Doctor? No? Neither had I. Well writer James Goss has. Piece of Mind is an entertaining romp through an adventure with “Doctor” Jack. With Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor unexpectedly on his last legs, Jack steps in to save the day (sort of). Needless to say, things don’t go quite as planned and Jack’s doctoring works as well as a modern train timetable. There are some brilliant jokes in here but if I quoted them I would spoil the fun. We even get to discover the Doctor’s real name! Listen to this story to find out more.
The story presents a curious mix of knockabout farce and claustrophobic drama. Personally, something about this blend of themes didn’t quite hold together for the full hour. However, it still managed to bring a few smiles – and one laugh out loud moment – on the way. Plus who doesn’t want to hear the effervescent John Barrowman and Colin Baker together! We also have the visual of Captain Jack in Sixth Doctor clobber. What’s not to love?
What Have I Done? by Guy Adams
From the lightheartedness of the first episode, we are now taken to Gallipoli, 1915. Captain Jack meets Ata, an injured enemy soldier, in no-man’s-land and they battle together to get to safety. The plot is almost a cliché, having been done so many times before, and yet it works as a very measured character study of two very different individuals. Guy Adams does a brilliant job with the script, keeping the listener on edge and engaged throughout the entire running time.
This is played primarily as a two-hander between John Barrowman and Atilla Akinci. Both put in great performances which convince the jeopardy. A mention must also be given to the sound designers, Richard Fox @FoxYason Studios and Steve Foxon who do an exceptional at delivering the atmosphere of the First World War.
What Have I Done? is easily the best of the three stories on this box set. I’d go so far as ranking it as possibly the best Big Finish story I’ve listened to for some time.
Driving Miss Wells by James Goss
The first story was a comedy. The second was a tragedy. So what about the third? Well, it’s a Torchwood story. In fact, it is so Torchwoody! James Goss is back again but this time with a story more serious and more conspiratorial. Although this is a Captain Jack box set he is much more of a bit player as it becomes the Trinity Wells show. And boy – does she steal it!
For those who don’t remember, Trinity Wells was the newsreader who appeared numerous times in the RTD era of Doctor Who reporting on various alien incursions. This is the same character. But older and more cynical and possibly going mad…
Driving Miss Wells is an odd tale but one with an electric buzz about it which makes it thoroughly engaging.
As a whole, I’m not really sure if this spin off from Big Finish knows what it wants to be. That’s not necessarily a negative as this box set brings together three very different stories with something sure to appeal to everyone. It’s clearly a very flexible format and the diversity of these tales proves there is mileage here for a while yet. I, personally, would be happier if it gelled together a little more. I’d also suggest that it may be more rewarding to listen to the three stories in reverse order. That said, these are three entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable adventures.
I will be very intrigued to see where The Lives of Captain Jack goes from here.
This title was released in June 2019. It will be exclusively available to buy from the Big Finish website until August 31st 2019, and on general sale after this date.
Captain Jack Harkness – time-travelling con-man, saviour of the Earth, and intergalactic adventurer. He has lived many lives. Here are three more of them.
2.1 Piece of Mind by James Goss
When the Sixth Doctor falls dying into his arms, Jack must carry on in his place. Is the universe ready for a whole new kind of Doctor?
2.2 What Have I Done? by Guy Adams
On the battlefields of World War I, something is hunting in the trenches. Jack must try and save the life of a wounded soldier.
2.3 Driving Miss Wells by James Goss
Alien invasions, stolen planets and burning skies – Newsreader Trinity Wells used to tell everyone the world was ending. One day she stopped believing it. Will her new chauffeur change her mind?