Captain Jack Harkness is back! This time though, he’s without the Doctor and without Torchwood. Captain Jack does have a life y’know? In this new box set, The Lives of Captain Jack, we’re going to hear what our favourite Time Agent gets up to when we’re not normally there. Today, I’ll be reviewing the second story in the set, Wednesdays For Beginners.
Jack and Jackie Tyler must unite to rescue the Powell Estate from a force whose name Jackie can never say.
Jack and Jackie, eh? An unlikely duo, I’ll admit, but sometimes the most unlikely of couples are the best.
It seems to me that Camille Coduri is loving working with Big Finish; in the past two months we’ve heard her as Jackie Tyler in both Retail Therapy and now Wednesdays For Beginners, with her returning with the Tenth Doctor and Rose in Infamy of The Zaross due out in November. It’s a good job that I bloody love Jackie Tyler, isn’t it?
Within the first few minutes of this story, you can tell that James Goss knows how to write Jackie. We get a great opening montage of Jackie having phone calls with Rose, and the humour is just perfect. It kind of reminds me of the best bits of Love & Monsters if I’m being perfectly honest. We need more stories to focus on Jackie; heck, give her her own series Big Finish!
I love the fact that Jackie thinks she has a stalker in the guise of Jack Harkness, it’s great to hear Jackie enjoying herself on her own, and acting like a schoolgirl, giggling at the cute man who’s apparently following her. Even if she does fail at hiding her amusement and wonder. We’re all a bit like Jackie really.
When Jackie wonders through an empty London, her reaction is absolutely priceless; when she wonders out loud (it’d be a rather dull audio drama if she wondered in her head) whether or not she’s slept through an alien invasion. But that’s the world Jackie Tyler lives in. Alien invasions of Earth seem to happen on a weekly basis for thirteen weeks of every year. I’d be miffed if I missed one too.
Once Jack finally kicks into the story, he and Jackie have an absolutely stellar rapport; as we learn that the Powell Estate is being whisked out into the universe by a sinister fog. Of course, with the Powell Estate, and by extension Jackie Tyler, in mortal danger; Mrs. Tyler has one question on her mind. I can guarantee it’s not what you think.
It’s not often I give out Public Service Announcements mid-review; but in Wednesdays For Beginners, I feel that it’s needed. When you get to a scene which mirrors Partners In Crime, regardless of what you’re doing (unless you’re driving), just close your eyes and imagine it. Please. It’s a great mental image to have, and if a smile doesn’t grow from the corner of your lips, then I’m sorry to tell you that you’re probably dead inside.
Who knew that the perfect Wednesday involves the most awkward party, but it really does. Silence in an audio play is usually the sign of bad editing, but here, it’s perfect. Jackie Tyler has willed her party guests into existence. Especially with the most cockney Karaoke starring Chaz and Dave performed by Tyler and Harkness. Who knew chintz could save the world?
Camille managed to do something that not many actors have; Camille Coduri as Jackie Tyler made me shed a legitimate tear. James has written Jackie as one of the most genuine and down to Earth characters in both Big Finish and Doctor Who history. A mothers love is one of the most powerful bonds, especially when it might just bring the end.
On a daily basis, I often ponder to myself the age old question “What is art?” and I think I’ve come up with a definitive answer whilst listening to Wednesdays For Beginners. Art is a process of having your assumptions questioned, and the feeling of self-discovery when trying to find the answer. Art is raw and emotional, art is not afraid to ask you questions that you’d never imagined. In that respect, I think it’s safe to say, that James Goss has written a work of art.
Overall, Wednesdays For Beginners is yet another strong story in The Lives of Captain Jack box set, seeing another side to Jack from what we saw in The Year After I Died. Personally, I think that the combination of Jack and Jackie is a winning one, and I hope that we get to hear them together again soon.
Should you want to purchase The Lives of Captain Jack, it’s currently available from Big Finish here for £25 on CD and £20 for a digital download for a limited time.