After this years Christmas special, The Husbands of River Song, Big Finish pushed forward their latest New-Who inspired box set The Diary of River Song forward from January to Boxing Day; then, immediately after the episode aired, they pushed it forward even further to Christmas Day. It certainly seems that December is the month of River Song. In this new box set, featuring four hour long stories, we get to see what our favourite Time Lady(ish) archaeologist (part time) gets up to when the Doctor isn’t around. In this review, we’ll be looking at the first story; The Boundless Sea by Jenny T Colgan.
River Song has had more than enough excitement for a while. Deciding the universe – and her husband – can look after themselves, she has immersed herself in early 20th century academia, absorbed in writing archaeological theses.
But when a mysterious tomb is found in a dry, distant land, excitement comes looking for River.
Can Professor Song stop any more members of the expedition from dying? What deadly secrets lie buried within the crypt? And will British Consul Bertie Potts prove to be a help, or a hindrance?
Initially after listening to this treat of an audio adventure; I thought that this story was very reminiscent of the Tenth Doctor story, The Waters of Mars. A being that is totally reliant on water in order to conquer is the protagonist in both of these stories, even if they do work in totally different ways. The best way I can describe this story is River Song meets Indiana Jones meets Tomb Raider meets The Mummy.
This story is set between the events of The Angels Take Manhattan and The Husbands of River Song, or at least that’s where in the timeline I think this story is set due to the fact that River has her Sonic Trowel. Personally, the fact that Colgan knew that River would be gaining a Sonic Trowel in the Christmas special just goes to show how much collaboration Big Finish has with Doctor Who at the BBC; something I hope will continue to grow and evolve.
I have to admit that the River at the beginning of this story seemed a bit lacklustre; the fact that she was attempting to hide herself away from the universe so she could focus on her studies made her seem a bit like the crotchety Doctor we saw in the 2012 Christmas special, The Snowmen. Luckily for me, as the story really began to unravel (yes, that is an Egyptian Mummy joke; no I won’t ruin the story for you) it didn’t take River too long to be back to her old self.
River’s companion in this story, Bertie Potts, played by the wonderful Alexander Vlahos whom Big Finish aficionados will know as Dorian Gray, was one of my favourite companions in Big Finish history, as he seemed to be something different. In the main Doctor Who range, we’re used to having plucky, spritely, courageous companions; but Bertie Potts seemed to be a bit of a blithering buffoon during the story. What made me totally fall in love with the character however was the revelation during the closing few moments in the tale. (Anyone who’s heard this will know exactly what I’m talking about.)
The villain in this story wasn’t the best, but nor did it need to be. It was atmospheric enough, and rather chilling in places, however I don’t think it’ll be a villain we see returning anytime soon.
All of the performances in this story were superb; I have to admit I was slightly worried that Alex Kingston wouldn’t be as River-y in her performance on audio as she was in TV, as some of her best performance is physical as opposed to during her deliverance of lines. Luckily, Alex Kingston’s performance was one of her best River Song performances to date in my opinion. Alexander Vlahos’ portrayal of Bertie Potts was equally brilliant; as was the rest of the cast.
Considering that this is Jenny T Colgan’s first ever Big Finish audio script, it was exceptionally good. The pacing was perfect, the characters were engaging and you wanted to understand their character arcs; the cliffhanger made me compelled to listen to the second story in this box set, I Went To A Marvellous Party immediately after, and, most importantly, made me extremely keen to hear her upcoming Big Finish releases; the Fifth Doctor Short Trip Gardens of The Dead due next month, followed by her Tenth Doctor story Time Reaver which is due in May.
The rating system on the Gallifrey Archive is achieved on a scale of 1-10.
For The Boundless Sea , I will give a rating of: