River Song is back! Big Finish is giving us a peek into her diary once again with the second series of adventures focussing on River’s travels. Today, I’ll be reviewing the third episode, World Enough And Time.
When it comes to bringing down corrupt and exploitative regimes, there is no-one quite like River.
Until she arrives at Golden Futures and discovers that someone else has already taken on her job. Someone with almost as much style and panache as herself.
The Doctor is about to get the shock of his lives.
River Song is channeling her inner Donna Noble, who is being led by a man who sounds a lot like a camp Strax into her new temp job. River Song is filing dreams. The problem is, River has her own opinion on which dreams should be approved and which ones shouldn’t, much to the dismay of the Managing Director’s Personal Assistant (Or MDPA for short). We’re quickly introduced to the Managing Director of Golden Futures, a John Smith who sounds an awfully lot like the Sixth Doct- oh. I see. I love it when a stories pre-title scene makes you ask questions, and James Goss has got me asking one within three minutes. Just what is the Doctor doing managing a menacing sounding company?
It seems as if Golden Dreams, whilst being a company owned by the Sixth Doctor, is full of mysteries, even to the man in charge. A company that puts the elite and the rich in a dream state and pumps their mind with artificial dreams, tailor made for them, can’t be nefarious at all. Right? Right?!
Of course it’s not long before River starts to snoop where she shouldn’t be snooping, as it appears that something sinister is indeed afoot at Golden Dreams.
I have to admit that after the deeply emotional story that was Five Twenty-Nine previously, I’m glad that World Enough And Time seems to adopt a somewhat more comical approach, using the Sixth Doctor’s dry personality and disinterest in wasting his precious time as a source of a fair amount of humour. If there was one incarnation of the Doctor that shouldn’t be in charge of a lot of people, it’s probably ol’ Sixie. There’s thankfully a whole scene that proves this point. The Sixth Doctor is definitely not the next Donald Trump.
One thing I love about the Doctor in this story is that, even though he’s the big cheese at Golden Futures, he isn’t blind enough to not realise that something is going on behind the scenes. Speaking of the Doctor, I can’t really believe that the Sixth Doctor calls River a “really remarkable woman” having only met her for a few extremely brief moments. If there’s one Doctor I would have thought wouldn’t have had any interest in River whatsoever, it’s probably the Sixth.
Considering this story is all about Dream Pods and the like, I can’t help but draw comparisons to the episode Sleep No More. I know how polarising Sleep No More is, so I won’t draw parallels too much; what I will say though, is that I’d rather have had this story with River and the Twelfth Doctor on the TV than the episode we were actually given.
River’s anger towards the Sixth Doctor when it seems as if he’s part of the awful goings on at Golden Futures is a brilliantly scripted scene from James Goss, showing just how much faith River has in the Doctor and what happens should that faith ever be shaken or damaged. Personally, I feel like the relationship between River and the Doctor is one almost like worship. Imagine if your every moment was thinking about someone, then, out of the blue, you realised that they’re not the hero you perceived them to be. They’re flawed, either with malice or ignorance. That would really unsettle you, and River’s reactions here perfectly encapsulate that.
We learn a bit about why the Doctor is suddenly at the helm of Golden Futures, and how he yearns to be back out in the universe saving planets, destroying Daleks and doing what the Doctor does best. The Doctor is so upset at the thought that he was unable to save people whilst at Golden Futures, and he seems even more sorry that he hadn’t been there for River when she needed him. I think it’s easy to remember the Sixth Doctor for being somewhat prickly, but, at his hearts, he’s still the Doctor.
With a countdown to the end of the Earth ticking down, an alien invasion getting ready to use the dead planet as their new home and the Doctor and River busy flirting (and even kissing) attempting to halt the apocalypse.
The cliffhanger of World Enough And Time is so brilliant and absolutely superbly acted; this may well be one of my favourite performances from Colin Baker to date.
Overall, World Enough And Time is a fun, somewhat lighthearted story in the first half, followed by a cataclysmic and dark final act. The rapport between River and the Sixth Doctor is absolutely stellar, and I have a feeling that the events of this release will fuel what happens in the next story in the box set, The Eye of The Storm. It’s not a perfect story, but then again, what is? I will say though that listening to World Enough and Time provides you with an hour of bloody good entertainment.
Should you want to purchase The Diary of River Song 2, it’s currently available from Big Finish here for £20 for a limited time on digital download, or £23 for the CD box set.