The Diary Of River Song series 3 by Nev Fountain, Jacqueline Rayner, John Dorney and Matt Fitton (audio review).

I’m working my way through River Song seasons mostly backwards. That’s a time travel twist if ever I saw one. What’s notable about these series is that there is a constant stream of fresh ideas. The character of River continues to intrigue and Alex Kingston throws herself into the role.

The Lady In The Lake by Nev Fountain 

When River comes to Terminus Prime, she’s seeking answers. The planet offers an exclusive service for those seeking death in a thrilling fashion. There are lots of ways to go but River has found that some clients are making repeat business in an area that is usually a one-off.

Terminus is a theme park of death and there’s plenty of choice for your demise.

There is an intriguing story arc running through these four episodes which resolves at least partly in the final one. It takes some of the small detail from the TV series and presents it in a fascinating and morally interesting fashion.

A Requiem For The Doctor by Jac Rayner 

River joins the Doctor (Peter Davison) and his new companion Brooke (Nina Toussaint-White) in Vienna. There seems to be another issue with death and the late, great Mozart might well be the origin of the problem.

It’s not easy being the third wheel and River is obviously not happy sharing her Doctor with Brook. But just who is this little tributary anyway? Maybe River will just have to go with the flow to find out.

My Dinner With Andrew by John Dorney 

The Doctor enters a mysterious restaurant which promises an amazing menu but he might not like his dinner companions. River Song is also there but can’t risk him knowing what she’s trying to do to save his life. The complex plot may well keep you guessing or it might be that I’m a bit thick.

Definitely shades of Douglas Adams here with that restaurant setting but this is much darker and even if you might see the end coming it’s a cold hard smack in the face. Again, it’s cracking writing here and the cast are happy to give it all they’ve got. Davison is particularly superb.

The Furies by Matt Fitton 

This one I’m going to leave as it’s impossible to discuss without obvious spoilers. It follows more directly on from the last episode and digs a little deeper into River’s history before the Doctor. For River Song, it’s an origin story and for us a chance to revisit our thoughts around her birth and being stolen from her parents that really didn’t sit well in my mind.

I found that aspect of River’s birth and kidnap very dark indeed, especially in the context of a programme that I still considers a family show. It seemed like it was brushed under the carpet and there was no space for Rory and Amy’s grief. That plotline defined that season for me and left with a nasty taste. I don’t think Rory and Amy’s story ever recovered and, despite its originality, I felt let down.

River Song continues to rule the worlds and these adventures proved to be very intriguing to listen to. I’m so impressed with the writers who must have huge storyboards and big brains to pull out all the stops in these stories. This is very lever and entertaining and manages to raise huge moral questions along the way. The storylines are complementary and each is a mini-mystery to get your heart and brain pumping. I’m really loving the River Song character in this series.

Sue Davies

January 2023

(pub: Big Finish, 2022. 5 CDs 597 minutes. Price: £35.00 (UK), $42.51 (US). ISBN: 978-1-78703-493-8)

cast: Alex Kingston, Peter Davison, Frances Barber, Pippa Bennett-Warner, Sophia Carr-Gomm, Ian Conningham, Jonathan Coote, Julia Hills, Joanna Horton, Teddy Kempner, Rosanna Miles, Leighton Pugh, David Seddon, Nina Toussaint-White, Issy Van Randwyck and Francesca Zoutewelle

check out website: https://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/the-diary-of-river-song-series-03-1724

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