Doctor Who review: The Lives of Captain Jack Volume 3 is another fantastic box set in the series

The latest volume of Doctor Who spin-off series The Lives of Captain Jack gives us three very different stories. But how strong is the box set overall?

I’ll be honest: last year, I wasn’t exactly in a rush to get the second volume of The Lives of Captain Jack. While I had greatly enjoyed the first volume of the Doctor Who spin-off, there wasn’t anything that quite grabbed me about the second. Also, while Jack meeting the Sixth Doctor sounded fun, I was a little skeptical over another meeting between characters where one of them would have to forget about it by the end. (I must admit though that when I eventually did listen to the box set, it was enjoyable overall.)

However, while the second volume didn’t initially grab my interest, that wasn’t true of the third. Early last month, Big Finish announced some major news – after much demand from both the fans and even the actors themselves, Captain Jack and River Song would finally share a story together!

This was a huge hook for the box set and certainly ensured that this fan would check out the series straight away. But what of the volume’s other two episodes? And could a story that featured both Jack and River really live up to years’ worth of fan expectations?

Doctor Who

John Barrowman and Alex Kingston finally share a story as Jack and River. Has this been worth the wait?
Image Courtesy Big Finish Productions

Crush

The box set begins with Crush by Guy Adams, reuniting Jack and Jackie Tyler. This in itself was a fantastic move for the box set, as the pair had worked well together back in volume 1’s Wednesdays for Beginners.

The same proves true in this opening story. Guy Adams makes sure to focus on the two as much as possible, putting them in a situation that’s both alien and, at least for people living in a city, far too familiar. There’s a lot of great banter between the two, but there’s also some fantastic exploration, too. Especially of Jackie, as we learn what it’s really like to be the mother of one of the Doctor’s companions.

Mighty and Despair

Unlike the other two episodes in the volume, Mighty and Despair didn’t really have a clear hook. Featuring no major characters from Doctor Who history other than Jack, there’s a sense that writer Tim Foley was given free rein to tell any kind of story he wanted.

The result was a fantastic three-hander that gives us a glimpse of a very different Jack. One who’s been living for too long and has given up on being a hero. It also explores how immortality can be more of a curse than a blessing, even when it’s shared. It’s a radically different story for the series. More than that: it just might be one of its strongest episodes yet.

R&J

I stress “one of” the strongest, because the third and final story – R&J – easily matches it. While it’s extremely different, James Goss does an excellent job of not just revealing how Jack meets River (and vice versa). But he even creates an entire relationship. One that’s just as emotional as the one shared with the other man in River’s life. It’s an absolutely beautiful story, and easily lives up to years of fan expectations.

Overall, The Lives of Captain Jack Volume 3 is a fantastic anthology box set. If you haven’t listened to previous volumes, but you really want to hear Jack and River together, this is an easy box set to jump on board with. More than that: in just three episodes, it’s a fantastic depiction of the radically different lives of Captain Jack.

Next: Russell T Davies has written a sequel to Rose

Have you listened to the third volume of The Lives of Captain Jack? Have you enjoyed previous entries in the series? Are you glad that Jack has finally met River Song? Let us know in the comments below.