Big Finish Productions is back with another instalment of The Lives of Captain Jack. In Volume 3 we get a story from the more recent past, one from a far-flung future, and then a finale with glimpses of all the bits in between. It’s a collection all about love, hope, family, and the woes of a career in customer service.
Crush by Guy Adams
It’s a bottle episode, folks! Jack decides to take Jackie Tyler out for a night of drinks and dancing on a high-end dinner cruise in space, but things can never go right for poor Jackie so they get stuck on a replacement shuttle ship instead. Space is just not as fun when it’s more crowded than a rush-hour train and that’s even before the other passengers start dropping dead. This detective duo come up with theories ranging from assassination attempts, to a soap opera story-line and their banter is, as always, hilarious. Big Finish knew that fans were clamouring for more of this team up after their last outing and Crush does not disappoint.
John Barrowman and Camille Coduri are clearly having a great time and Paul Clayton joins them as a robot pilot, who is equal parts exasperated and exasperating. As our two detectives solve this mystery they end up being cast as an alternate version of The Doctor and Rose. Jackie in particular has to confront the ways in which her life and her opportunities differ from her daughter. It’s fitting that she created such an easy friendship with Captain Jack, as they are both the ones who were left behind. This story shows, however, that they can still have plenty of fun together, even if the universe is against them!
Mighty and Despair by Tim Foley
This next story slows things down a bit for us. The Jack we have here is so far in the future that at the start he really isn’t much like Jack anymore. Angry, unhelpful and with no hope. He is of course the only hope for a deposed queen and her young handmaiden who crash-land in search of him. The handmaiden, Persis, is the real heart of the story. She is earnest and adoring, played by Joanna Van Kampen. It would be all doom and gloom with just the bitter Jack and ancient Queen Carla. Persis adds a needed youthful energy and determination. She drives the story forward, even when it seems like all the story wants to do is stay put.
The pacing can be slow at times, our characters are stuck alone on a planet for a very long time with not much to do and so the runtime could have been shorter. The one thing they can do though, is grow closer to each other. It’s nice to see this once disparate and combative group as they form bonds and become a family all on their own. Jack becomes more and more himself as the story goes on and he is forced to remind himself of why he cares about people. Since it’s not as thrilling a premise, the middle slot on this collection is a perfect place for it. Not all of Jack’s lives are fast-paced, but it’s the bonds he forms that make them worthwhile.
R & J by James Goss
R & J is my personal favourite of this set and I know it will be for many others as well. It’s the long-awaited team up of Captain Jack Harkness and Alex Kingston’s captivating River Song. The universe is far too small for such large personalities to stay away from each other. This isn’t a story of one meeting, but rather a collection of vignettes exploring their version of a love story. James Goss did a fantastic job crafting a temporally tricky relationship. We are taken on a journey through the lives of both Jack and River, passing through many memorable Doctor Who moments along the way. It also includes an unexpected and delightful cameo, which I won’t spoil. Maybe most importantly, we get to listen to a litany of Jack’s most ridiculous accents, guaranteed to charm no one but us!
The story is so full of life, just like it’s main characters. It has the ups and downs of any relationship and of course, Jack is once again in a story which constantly compares him to The Doctor. It’s interesting to hear River’s thought on them both, especially seeing just how important they both are to her in their differences. Much like the play that inspired the title of this adventure, their ending can’t really be considered a happy one, but there are still lifetimes to explore with these two.
The number one take away message from this box set is that we need more River and Jack stories! There’s so much history still to explore and they’ve thankfully left the door wide open to do so. Volume 3 starts off strong and ends with a bang! It’s a fantastic addition to this series that has me excited for more.
This title was released in March 2020. It will be exclusively available to buy from the Big Finish website until May 31st 2020, 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. These are three more of them.
3.1 Crush by Guy Adams
Captain Jack takes Mrs Tyler on a luxury cruise in space.
3.2 Mighty and Despair by Tim Foley
On a distant planet in the far future two travellers have come looking for a mythical hero.
3.3 R&J by James Goss
From ancient battles to eternal wars.
A pair of time-cross’d lovers take the stars.
- John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness)
- Camille Coduri (Jackie Tyler)
- Alex Kingston (River Song)
- Aaron Anthony (Zyman)
- Vikash Bhai (Priest)
- Samantha Béart (Passenger)
- Paul Clayton (Pilot)
- Laura Dalgleish (Nurse)
- Jacob Dudman (Snorvlast)
- Jonny Glynn (Assassin Pilot)
- Jonny Green (Passenger)
- Jessica Hayles (Carla)
- Joanna Van Kampen (Persis)
- Harley Viveash (Student)
- Maeve Bluebell Wells (Nun)
- Script Editors: Guy Adams and James Goss
- Sound Design: Steve Foxon and Richard Fox @ FoxYason Studios
- Written by James Goss, Tim Foley and Guy Adams
- Theme Music by Ben Foster
- Senior Producer: David Richardson
- Cover Artist: Lee Binding
- Director: Scott Handcock
- Executive Producers: Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs
- Music: Blair Mowat
- Producer: James Goss