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 penultimate story in the set, One Enchanted Evening.
Captain Jack and Alonso Frame have only just met. But why did the Doctor want them to be together?
You remember the closing scenes in The End of Time Part Two? When the Tenth Doctor goes to a space-bar and seemingly sets up Captain Jack and Midshipman Frame on a date? Did you ever wonder why? I certainly did, and, even though I doubt that we’ll get the steamy idea played out on audio, I’m glad that Big Finish and James Goss will give us some of the answers in One Enchanted Evening.
Within the first two minutes we’re reacquainted with both Jack and Alonso, as they plan to go into Alonso’s room for a night of… well, that’s up to you really. Like I said, that’s what they planned to do. Planned. Of course, with the Doctor involved in any capacity, you can be sure that things aren’t always going to go according to plan. Alonso and Jack are separated early on, and neither of them are really sure why.
Considering I knew that One Enchanted Evening was going to be an episode about the relationship between Harkness and Frame, whatever the dynamic, I can safely say that I did not expect to be so caught up in Alonso’s life so early on. It seems as if his time aboard the Titanic wasn’t the only disaster for Midshipman Frame, and Goss, with his understated dialogue, really makes you empathise with him as a character.
I have to say again how much I’m loving the way that Goss has written Alonso Frame in this story; he’s so much of an everyman, just like Jackie is the everywoman in Wednesdays For Beginners. It seems that Goss has a great knack for pairing these seemingly ordinary people with an extraordinary tour de force like Jack. The more remarkable thing though, is that it’s these ‘normal’ characters that often appear to come out on top, they’re not below the godlike prowess of Captain Jack Harkness. To me, that is the sign of a great writer.
The threat in One Enchanted Evening on the other hand, seemed ridiculous from the off. They’re overtly camp and they relish in the theatricality of death. Think of Eric Roberts’ Master from The TV Movie crossed with a Racnoss. I know, it’s an odd match, but it somehow works. That is the Mother Nothing.
If I had to criticise this story, I’d say that it seems to sag in the middle a little bit; it seems a bit slow and repetitive, especially if you’re used to the classic Doctor Who tropes; which is a shame because it started off so well. I can’t help but think that this release could potentially lose ten minutes and be all the better for it.
Can you imagine if the Xenomorph’s from Alien could talk? What would they say? I think that’s a great way to get into the mindset of Mother Nothing in the latter half of this release. The concept behind her, whilst familiar to the Racnoss, could have worked incredibly well in this story, if it weren’t for her constantly talking, revealing her plan. Maybe she could have been slightly more like a Xenomorph, considering the story is very much like one from the Alien universe.
Saying that though, I absolutely adore Katy Manning’s performance as Mother Nothing, I think that it’s safe to say that Manning is a great voice actor, as it’s incredibly difficult to tell it’s her performing. If you know her as Jo Grant/Jones and Iris Wildthyme, you may not even recognise that it’s her.
The ending of One Enchanted Evening is by far the most bittersweet that I’ve ever heard from Big Finish. The conversation between Captain Jack Harkness and Midshipman Alonso Frame is one of the cutest things I’ve had the pleasure of gracing my ears. Sometimes though, the couples that are destined to be together are the ones that never can be. Think of Romeo and Romeo. It’s a lot like that.
To sum it up, One Enchanted Evening is a love story. Like all good love stories though, things don’t always go to plan. Personally, I thought the second act really lagged and dragged the story as a whole down, which is a shame. Russell Tovey as Midshipman Frame was by far the strongest link in this episode; and James Goss has managed to make me crave a spin-off of his own. The Misadventures of the Midshipman anyone?
One Enchanted Evening is not the strongest story in the set, but it does answer a question I’ve had for years about the Tenth Doctor and his plans for Jack and Alonso, so I have to thank Big Finish for that. I just hope that, like Jackie, we’ll see Alonso 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.