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 second story; I Went To A Marvellous Party by Justin Richards.
River Song always enjoys a good party, even when she’s not entirely sure where or when the party is taking place. But the party she ends up at is one where not everything – or indeed everyone – is what it seems…
Being River, it doesn’t take her too long to go exploring, and it doesn’t take her too long to get into trouble. The sort of trouble that involves manipulating other civilisations, exploitation, and of course murder.
River is confident she can find the killer. But can she identify them before anyone else – or quite possibly everyone else – gets killed?
If the opening adventure, The Boundless Sea seemed to be more of a standalone River Song adventure, I Went To A Marvellous Party certainly appears to be the beginning of something much, much grander. After the revelation that Bertie Potts isn’t just an ambassador for the twentieth century, we see River attend the party that she has been invited to. On a modular space ship, she finds herself without the Vortex Manipulator, there’s no sign of the Sonic Trowel but luckily for her, apparently her husband is on board.
Whilst The Boundless Sea was more of an archaeological thriller akin to The Mummy; this story seems a lot more like a classic murder mystery. In space. Of course, whilst snooping about to uncover the truth River uncovers something far more sinister than a murder…
I have to admit, I didn’t think it would be possible for me to enjoy a River Song story much more than I did with The Boundless Sea; but I have to admit that I preferred this story slightly more. It’s nothing to do with the writing of the previous story, nor the performances, but I’m a sucker for more science fiction storylines than historical ones (I’m the same with the TV episodes too).
One thing I thoroughly enjoyed in this story was seeing just how manipulative River can be, especially when she hasn’t got the Doctor around to appease; whilst attempting to uncover the identity of the true murderer, we see River lie and deceive more than we possibly ever have on her TV adventures. I feel that this was the extent that we should have seen her go to during The Husbands of River Song as it would have made for a much more interesting storyline.
Even though at the heart of it, this tale is a good ol’ murder mystery, I can’t help but prefer the other narrative strand that was started in this story. As it is such a big part of the narrative; but also rather spoilery, I’m going to warn you now. Should you want to go into this story completely blind, without any spoilery foreknowledge, stop reading this review now. By all means, skip ahead to the end of the review and see my rating, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Are you sure you’ve either heard this story or are happy being spoiled? Alright then.
I loved the idea that there is a set of elitists somewhere in space that can quite easily influence and control entire planets and civilisations. The concept of these godlike people, who can manipulate our ‘free will’ is absolutely fascinating as it opens up dozens upon dozens or moral questions. The idea that someone in a spaceship, sipping a cocktail, can get bored of monitoring a planet and decide that they should have a war to entertain them; or that a certain country should become instantly wealthy on a whim is fascinating, and something I’m sure we’ll get to experience in a future story. Now, I have to admit at the time of writing this, I’ve only heard the first two stories in The Diary of River Song Series 1, but if the titles are anything to go by; it seems like we’ll be revisiting this idea in the final story, The Rulers Of The Universe.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this story; it was quickly paced, showed off different aspects of River’s character than we saw in The Boundless Sea and, most importantly, felt like it was setting up a larger story arc for this box set.
The rating system on the Gallifrey Archive is achieved on a scale of 1-10.
For I Went To A Marvellous Party , I will give a rating of: