The Ninth Doctor has joined Big Finish! Well… kind of. Christopher Eccleston hasn’t joined (yet (we can pray)) but Big Finish are giving us four new stories set within the Ninth Doctor’s era. The closest thing we’ve had so far was The Oncoming Storm from The Churchill Years box set last year, but now, Nine has a box set of his own. Today, I’ll be reviewing the final story in The Ninth Doctor Chronicles, Retail Therapy.
Jackie Tyler is a success. Every home should have a Glubby Glub, and Jackie is star saleswoman on the Powell Estate. At last, she’s found her calling and it’s only a matter of time before she can give Rose the life she deserves. But the Doctor isn’t impressed. Jackie Tyler isn’t just filling peoples’ houses with useless clutter. He believes she’s launching an alien invasion…
I love Jackie Tyler. I need to preface this review by saying that. Jackie Tyler, in my opinion, is the strongest companion parent in Doctor Who. I’m delighted that Camille Coduri is returning, not only in this story, but in next months The Lives of Captain Jack box set too. Anyway, let’s get on with it, shall we?
The Doctor and Rose are going to visit Jackie with some of Rose’s washing, and they stumble upon something that nobody could have ever predicted. Jackie Tyler is now one hell of a saleswoman. Sure, she’s selling Glubby Glubs, the latest craze, but the money is good.
Of course, the Doctor is skeptical about the Glubby Glub, and quite rightly so. They make people feel better. And look better. And be better. It’s very rare that something potentially alien that seems to be doing good to Earth is doing just that though, and the Time Lord tends to know best.
I have to confess that in Series 1 especially, I absolutely loved it when the Doctor and Rose found themselves back on present day Earth, back when present day was 2005. It’s so odd to think that the Ninth Doctor and Rose gallivanted around a whole twelve years ago. It’s rather depressing. I have to thank James Goss for bringing this iteration of the TARDIS team back to where they belong though. It might have taken three stories beforehand, but now it feels like the Doctor and Rose are well and truly home. And it’s on Big Finish.
Whilst listening to this story, I realised something; Jackie Tyler needs her own Big Finish series. She’s such a lovely character, and I almost cried when she gives an absolutely beautiful speech to the Doctor whilst the two of them are alone. Jackie though, her heart is constantly in the right place. She cares about her daughter, and to a lesser extent the Doctor. We all need to be Jackie Tyler.
When Jackie learns the truth about Glubby Glub, she’s quite rightly outraged. Not necessarily because of the nature of the Glubby Glub, but I feel because she knows that the Doctor was right. The last thing Jackie Tyler needs is the Doctor saying “I told you so”.
I have to give it to James Goss for finding a really interesting way to raise the stakes of this story in it’s final act. Usually, there’d be lots of explosions and whizzes and bangs, but in Retail Therapy, it’s a lot more calm and sombre. It really packs a punch.
The conclusion of Retail Therapy is a rather nice happy ending; I don’t normally enjoy happy endings, but in this case, I think it works well, both in regards to the story and to round off the box set.
Overall, Retail Therapy is a great conclusion to The Ninth Doctor Chronicles, with the absolute star of the show being Camille as Jackie; I really hope we get her back in much more soon. The story is fun and extremely well paced, and it might well be one of my favourite Ninth Doctor stories ever.
Should you want to purchase The Ninth Doctor Chronicles, it’s currently available from Big Finish here for £23 on CD, or £20 for a digital download for a limited time.