THE DIARY OF RIVER SONG Series One
Hello again Sweetie
released OUT NOW! 230 minutes
Publisher Big Finish
She’s one of Doctor Who’s most distinctive ( and divisive) recent characters; now Big Finish is continuing Professor River Song’s adventures with their latest spin- off. While the last Christmas special seemingly wrapped up River’s saga, her non- linear life means there’s plenty of potential for additional tales, and this new quartet of one- hour episodes is entertaining, if something of a mixed bag.
It’s not always entirely clear where The Diary Of River Song fits into the character’s fiendishly complex chronology ( we could be post-“The Husbands Of River Song”, or post-“The Wedding Of River Song”). The overall plot sees River encountering the Rulers of the Universe, a gang of rich elites fond of interfering with planetary civilisations. The stories stretch from ’ 20s Egypt to the far future, and ultimately lead to an encounter between River and the Eighth Doctor ( Paul McGann)…
As with other Big Finish box sets, each episode functions as a self- contained adventure as well as part of an overall arc, and the end result is a colourful time-twisting drama that feels like a satisfying continuation for the character. It’s very much a game of two halves, however – the first two episodes veer so closely to traditional Who- style romps that they sometimes feel a touch generic, especially the second episode’s spacebound whodunit.
It’s in the last two episodes that things really click into place, as the focus shifts onto River’s relationship with the Doctor. The stronger, more characterful material is matched by a reliably impressive performance from Alex Kingston, and putting her alongside Paul McGann’s Doctor is a great idea. Ultimately a worthy and enjoyable spin- off – even if its flaws also suggest that there aren’t an unlimited number of River Song stories left to tell. Saxon Bullock
River also features in Big Finish’s next Eighth Doctor box set, Doom Coalition 2, due for release in March.