Aka Big Finish using the fact they finally got license for the New Who characters, big time. This audio series consists of four episodes, about an hour long, each written by a different writer and with an overreaching story arc, though each adventure is more or less self contained as well. Continuity-wise, this seems to be post-Demon's Run, pre-Library (obviously) in River's time line. It also was conceived and produced before The Husbands of River Song
was broadcast, I'd wager, because this River on her own while still capable of ruthlessness has a much stronger commitment to ethics than the one from the most recent Christmas Special.
Overall impression: enjoyable, Alex Kingston is great, of course, the guest voice actors are good, and so far it navigates around the inherent prequel problem of us knowing River's ending and the way she can't come face to face with any pre-Ten Doctor in a memorable way pretty well. When I heard that the Eighth Doctor guest stars in one of the episodes, I assumed he'll get yet another case of amnesia (because this keeps happening to Eight), but no, the writer of the episode in question solves the continuity problem another way. Go him! The season also, like Doctor Who itself, uses the opportunity to try different types of tropes.
Individual episodes:The Boundless Sea
, written by Jenny T. Colgan: allows River to start out depressed and shaken, instead of being the unflappable-no-matter-the-trauma guest star she usually is on DW. This not being season 6 of Buffy
, she gets over it in the course of the episode's adventure, which is essentially a classical Universal horror story with walking mummies in Egypt (if you've read my Penny Dreadful
reviews, you know this part satisfied an urge), complete with clueless (OR ARE THEY?) archaelogists and civil servants. The episode's "monster" is more like a tragic antagonist and also an obvious reflection/counterpart of River herself (originally entombed for the sake of her husband), though I'm not sure I buy what the script seems to be getting at. Introduces Alexander "Mordred from Merlin
" Vlahos' character Bertie Potts. I went to a marvellous party
, written by Justin Richards: introduces the season's true antagonists, the self-styled "Rulers", who are the classic type of rich privileged callous bastards you love to boo-hiss at. Also a Christie-homage paying murder mystery and a con story. Alexander Siddig's character is a bit of a let down in that he's not around for long and doesn't interact with River much, but River solving the mystery while also tricking the "Rulers" and screwing them over was very satisfying to listen to. Signs
by James Goss: co-starring Samuel West, and essentially Gaslight
in space. Very creepy for what is clear to the audience though not River (for plot reasons) from the start. Also inadvertendly supplying an additional explanation as to why River has trouble realising Twelve is the Doctor in The Husbands of River Song
. West is good in a role that's ( spoilery, sweetie )
. Not one to re-listen to, I don't think, though not because it's not good. The Rulers of the Universe
, written by Matt Fitton: in which the various plot threads from previous episodes come together, there's a showdown with two antagonists at once, both the "Rulers" and the ones introduced in "Signs", and River manages to work with the Eighth Doctor to save the day without actually meeting him, and yet they interact, sort of. (It's great team work, btw.) Both how River foils the Rulers and how the Doctor foils Those Other Guys are classic for the characters, and it's a good conclusion to this audio-season.
Wishes for season 2: has Big Finish the rights for Amy and Rory, too? Because I really truly want an episode long interaction between River and her parents post-reveal.