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 fourth and final episode, The Eye of The Storm.
The Great Storm of 1703 approaches. The fate of planet Earth hangs in the balance.
The only person who can save it is the Doctor. Or River Song. Or quite possibly another Doctor. Or maybe this whole situation is their fault in the first place.
Two Doctors. One River. An infinite number of ways to destroy the world. It’s going to be a bumpy ride…
This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for. By we, I mean people that were waiting for the Sixth and Seventh Doctor’s to team up with River Song in one story.
We start with River being imprisoned, seemingly by mistake; it’s her husband that they’re looking for apparently. The only question I’m asking is, which version of her husband has committed the crime? We get short introductory scenes featuring both the Sixth and Seventh Doctors, and I have to say, they both seem to be pretty unDoctorlike.
It’s not long before we’re reintroduced to the Sperivore, who we first properly met in the first series of The Diary of River Song in The Rulers of The Universe. The premise behind the creatures are brilliantly Big Finish, (which is quickly becoming another way of saying “amazing”) and I highly recommend you listen to Series 1 before you listen to Series 2.
River quickly gets reacquainted with the Seventh Doctor, even if their memory of one another is still somewhat fuzzy after the events of The Unknown. Luckily, they quickly realise that they should trust one another, and they’re quickly going on an adventure in 1703.
Once in 1703, River bumps into the Sixth Doctor, who is now claiming to be a master on the feelings of the heart. Having the Sixth Doctor trying to train a young man, known as Isaac, on how to swoon one Sarah Dean is a brilliant prospect. I can’t wait for the Sixth Doctor to host a dating show in an upcoming episode.
Whilst I love Big Finish’s efforts at the best of times, I have to say that there’s something of an appealing quality when a story makes me do some homework to fully understand what’s going on. Personally, the last time this happened was in the brilliant story The Peterloo Massacre, and it happens again in The Eye of The Storm. I’ve never been too brushed up on history; it was never really my forte, but I must admit that, after discovering that this story was linked to the Great Storm of 1703, I paused the story to do some research for myself. They weren’t joking around when they named it.
One thing that Matt Fitton seems to excel at is making characters turn on a dime, and River Song is no exception. Having her slap the Sixth Doctor and accuse him of certain behaviours in front of Isaac for fear of him altering the timeline is brilliant; I only wish that I could have seen the Sixth Doctor’s face after being slapped. As much as I love the fact these audio adventures leave much up to the imagination, I need to see Colin Baker’s reaction.
River’s conversation with Sarah about girl power is so great to hear, even if it seems somewhat contradictory to the way River has been written before. River tells Sarah that she shouldn’t wait about for a man to do things, yet, in the TV series, River seems to be waiting for the Doctor an awful lot of the time. Obviously, I prefer the way that Big Finish handles River, making her headstrong and an outright feminist; why the Big Finish writers aren’t given a series on the TV, I just do not know.
I know I said this in my review of World Enough And Time, but I feel like I should reiterate the point here, the absolute polar contrast between the way the Sixth and Seventh Doctors interact with River is an absolute genius move. Ol’ Sixie seems to be unknowingly enthralled by her, whereas the Seventh Doctor doesn’t see her in any romantic light at all. I think the fact we get to hear the contrasts right next to one another really hits the point home, but I love the fact that Big Finish decided not to have every Doctor besotted by his future wife.
Matt Fitton seems to be able to bring in a hell of a lot of different themes into one story whilst making them all make sense. We have the historical aspect, the science fiction aspect, the love aspect, and a political aspect, all within the confines of a single one hour story. If Matt Fitton were spinning plates, instead of having plot threads, he’d either need a third arm or be applauded. (I’m terrible at metaphors, sorry.)
I have to admit that, at around the halfway point in the story, there’s a moment that is played somewhat like a pantomime, and it’s very hammy; and it just seemed to pull me out of the story somewhat, as it sounded so off for a Big Finish production. Luckily, it was only a small moment, and it was quickly moved on from.
One thing I absolutely adore from multi-Doctor stories is the fact that none of the incarnations of the Doctor ever seem to like each other very much. Add in the fact we have the Sixth and Seventh Doctors, and the mutual feelings of discontent are ramped up to 11.
If you missed the timey-wimeyness of stories featuring River Song in this box set, I think it’s safe to say that The Eye of The Storm will leave you more than satisfied; there’s lots of jumping back and forth in time and space and alternate realities and the lot. Y’know, like classic River Song stuff? I have to say that The Eye of The Storm feels most like a televised River story out of the bunch.
Isaac and Sarah’s conclusion, to me at least, felt somewhat cliched and slightly off; giving them a happily ever after with a consequence reminded me a lot of Amy and Rory’s end. Speaking of ends, the conclusion of River with both the Sixth and Seventh Doctors are brilliantly written, and wraps up any questions people may have had about how the Tenth Doctor had no idea who she was.
In conclusion, The Eye of The Storm is a fun story, filled with time travel and possibilities. It’s not a perfect story, there are a few moments that I thought were misfires; but, overall, Matt Fitton has written a great multi-Doctor story to end a brilliant box set.
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.