Please feel free to comment on my review.
The Tenth Doctor reunites with River Song and the Fifth and Sixth Doctors are Involved
I had the inkling that David Tennant’s Doctor might meet River Song again someday. 😀
Like with ‘Out of Time’, ‘The Tenth Doctor and River Song’ audio adventures were something to look forward to during tough times in 2020 and 2021. It can be argued that ‘The Tenth Doctor and River Song’ audios are ‘Volume 4’ of the already established ‘Tenth Doctor Adventures’ range by Big Finish.
Before Covid-19 happened, David Tennant was a busy film and TV actor and had to find spare time to do Big Finish audios of ‘Doctor Who’, reprising his role of the Tenth Doctor. During the pandemic, it’s terrific that David Tennant is able to afford a lot of time to make new audios playing his Doctor. 🙂
It’s a chance that’s likely not going to last long once the pandemic is over. It’s interesting how Big Finish have tackled recreating the Tenth Doctor era on audio during a pandemic. They haven’t gone for more audios with Rose and Donna like they’ve done before. They haven’t even done Martha yet.
Instead, so far, they’ve gone for opportunities where the Tenth Doctor is travelling alone between Series 4 and during the Specials era. Here we have a collection of three stories where David Tennant’s Doctor meets up with River Song whom he first met in ‘Silence in the Library’/’Forest of the Dead’. 😐
I’m not really a River Song fan as I feel she had too much exposure in the Steven Moffat era and her true identity was a disappointment. But I was intrigued to hear what these audios would be like and it was great to hear David Tennant and Alex Kingston back together as the Tenth Doctor and River. 🙂
There are three episodes on the first three discs of a 4-disc CD box set. They are ‘Expiry Dating’, ‘Precious Annihilation’ and ‘Ghosts’. There’s also a behind-the-scenes disc looking into the making of the three audios featured in ‘The Tenth Doctor and River Song’ box set. Let’s venture forth, shall we?
The first episode called ‘Expiry Dating’ is by James Goss. He’s contributed quite a number of ‘Doctor Who’ stories over the years for Big Finish. His storytelling can often be uneven for me (more later). 😐
In this episode, David Tennant’s Doctor stumbles across a space bottle which contains a message written on ‘psychic paper’. It’s from River Song, who wants him to meet her at the Apocalypse Crypt.
This is inside the Quantum Vatican somewhere. The Doctor refuses as he knows the location is a fixed point in time, meaning the end of the universe. River is determined he keeps his appointment.
This audio adventure involves a lot of flitting about in space and time as well as a lot of correspondence between the Tenth Doctor and River. Sometimes that could be rather distracting. 😐
I hate to say this, but James Goss, in recent years, has become one of those marmite ‘Doctor Who’ writers for me. There are stories by him that often work for me and then there are stories that don’t.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed his novelizations of ‘The Pirate Planet’ and ‘City of Death’ and how he novelized ‘Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen’. His episode ‘Death and the Queen’ was pretty excellent.
I say that because it was a challenge to keep up with what was happening with the Doctor and River when they were corresponding with each other. And yes, I know River’s not exactly straight-forward.
But it’s a struggle when there doesn’t seem to be much jeopardy as all River’s trying to do is to make the Doctor do something for her that could mean the end of the world. And that is played for laughs.
It also makes River more a villain when she’s doing dastardly things to get the Doctor’s attention and he’s not willing to trust her. Maybe that is the point considering the Doctor doesn’t know her here.
There are also the flirting aspects between River and the Doctor which didn’t really appeal to me, even when I was watching the TV show. I know it’s what people want, but I just found it unsettling. 😐
The Doctor and River Song meeting each other isn’t so straight-forward as the Doctor is ‘sort-of’ meeting River backwards in her life. He had seen her die in the Library during ‘Forest of the Dead’. 😐
The emotional connection between them is less so for me. River’s constant flirting with the Doctor makes me less worried she’s going to die in the future. Maybe that’s why she doesn’t work for me.
I still enjoyed David Tennant’s performance as the Doctor in the adventure especially when he reacts to River and he doesn’t quite trust her yet. It’s a reaction that I find most believable in David’s Doctor. 🙂
Alex Kingston is equally good as River. Even though I have reservations about her character, Alex gives it her all into her performance as River and bounces off well with David Tennant’s Doctor here.
The story also has Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor appearing in it as he comes to River’s beckoning call to steal a scroll from the Tenth Doctor. Peter’s Doctor seems to have been manipulated by River.
Peter’s Doctor being manipulated and drugged by River might explain why the Tenth Doctor forgot meeting her as Four, Five, Six, Seven and Eight during ‘The Diary of River Song’ audio spin-off series.
I would need to hear ‘The Diary of River Song’ audios to be sure. Speaking of which, Colin Baker makes a small appearance as the Sixth Doctor when he leaves an answerphone message in the TARDIS.
David Tennant’s Doctor also finds a message from the First Doctor in the TARDIS. Incidentally, in one of his correspondences to River, David’s Doctor mentions about meeting Jane Austen on his travels.
Glen McCready guest stars as four characters in this audio episode including Borslav, Bird King, Maxim and an assassin. I enjoyed Glen McCready’s waiter-like Maxim when he was serving scones. 🙂
I can’t say ‘Expiry Dating’ was an excellent adventure featuring the Tenth Doctor and River with the Fifth and Sixth Doctors popping in. It was fun to listen to, even though some of it was quite distracting.
‘Expiry Dating’ rating – 7/10
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