The Lives of Captain Jack Volume 3 features three more adventures for the immortal, sometime companion of the Doctor. While the last release brought us a remarkable encounter with the Sixth Doctor, this time the headline story brings a collision of vortex manipulator wearers Captain Jack Harkness and Professor River Song.
Jack’s plans to take Jackie Tyler out for a night of dancing go awry. Instead of a star cruiser, they find themselves playing sardines on the interstellar equivalent of a rail replacement bus service. Cramped conditions and unfriendly fellow passengers are just the start however, as people soon start dying.
Reteaming Jack and Jackie, after the excellent ‘Wednesday for Beginners’, Guy Adams’ story may seem like entrée in this set. However, it is far from insubstantial, taking plenty of shots at the social mores of public transport and customer service culture. He also digs into Jackie’s feelings of isolation in widowhood, now that Rose has left the nest.
Camille Coduri is simply glorious; whether grumbling about pen knives or empathising with the villain, she brings Jackie to life so vividly. She also has terrific chemistry with John Barrowman. Paul Clayton (Torchwood’s Mr Colchester) is along for the ride too, playing a wonderful, bureaucratically bound robotic pilot.
Mighty and Despair
Having sought solace on a desolate hidden planet, Jack’s heroic reputation has swelled to mythic proportions. Meanwhile, he has focussed on higher things. Such contemplations however, are interrupted by the arrival of an injured Queen and her fiercely loyal handmaiden.
Tim Foley’s chilly gothic tale is one of friendship and loyalty which slowly grows over a lifetime. As Jack’s heart thaws and he puts aside prejudices, an unlikely familial bond grows between the trio who are all stranded on the planet.
Almost a three-hander, it features two terrific guest performances; from Jessica Hayles as the icy Carla and Joanna Van Kampen as the devoted Persis.
The inevitable coming together of John Barrowman and Alex Kingston’s characters has been an enduring fannish wish; so long-awaited in fact, that we rather feared a single story might not do it justice. Or indeed leave enough time for a plot in amongst the torrent of relentless sexually charged badinage.
Naturally writer James Goss considered this too, as he has delivered a suitably epic, temporally out-of-sequence story. Weaving its way through the timelines, we loved how this tale skirts the edges of onscreen episodes such as ‘Boomtown’. If rather light on narrative, it is driven by character; River is initially suspicious of Jack’s motives, while Jack remains concerned at River’s plans to fulfil the murderous task for which she was bred. Of course, the pair are perfect for each other and the story addresses that, as well as the Doctor-sized elephant in the room.
This was a tale of star-crossed lovers, but we hope the pair might meet again – perhaps in The Diary of River Song – for something a little more conventional. That said, to draw them together surely demands a foe of universe shattering proportions!
John Barrowman’s leading man status is never in doubt and director Scott Handcock helms another set of diverse adventures for Captain Jack. A meeting between Jackie and Jack always promises fun, and the encounter with River was both mind-boggling and brimming with innuendo. However, despite not having the high-profile returnees of the other two, for us, the haunting ‘Mighty and Despair’ is the standout tale of this set and not to be missed.