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Reviewed: Big Finish’s Ninth Doctor Adventures – Star-Crossed

He’s battled the Cybermen; he’s been reunited with the Brigadier, Liv Chenka, Tania Bell, and Bernice “Benny” Summerfield. Now, the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) meets his future wife River Song (Alex Kingston) in the final boxset of the range.

This has been on my wish list for a while, after she encountered the Tenth (David Tennant), Eleventh (Matt Smith), and Twelfth (Peter Capaldi) incarnations on screen. Big Finish has answered my prayers by doing a loose three-part arc to close the third 9DA series. And the results are… absolutely fantastic!

(I can confess that River Song gave me permission to read her entire diary, but I’m sticking with my promise to avoid revealing any major spoilers.)

The boxset kicks off with Swipe Right, by John Dorney, where the Doctor and River, via separate paths, investigate the disappearances on the planet Crell. It’s all down to the mysterious Matchmaker who runs a dangerous dating app that pairs people into forced romantic relationships. Dating sites and apps are not my thing, so I love how Dorney’s script touches on how harmful they can be. And it brilliantly establishes the Doctor’s first encounter with his future wife, making their relationship increasingly complicated in the best way possible.

Face of the Apocalypse, by Lizzie Hopley, continues the overarching narrative with River’s face being recorded across history by the Intergalactic Bank’s security system. Yes, her face appears on every painting, including the Mona Lisa; sort of like the Master in The Power of the Doctor, with his Rasputin appearance. Although I won’t go into further details, there are plenty of references to various TV episodes and The Diary of River Song audios in Hopley’s script… as well as a brilliant continuity link to the previous episode.

And Archipelago, by Tim Foley, brings a fittingly fantastic finale for the boxset with the Doctor and River on a timey-wimey voyage across the planet Fortuna. Without giving away anything, Foley’s character-driven script made me feel highly emotional upon my first listen, as I nearly shed a tear towards the climax. It doesn’t disappoint.

When Big Finish announced that Star-Crossed consisted of three interlinked stories, with River Song as the companion, I was completely overjoyed. Eccleston and Kingston’s performances throughout couldn’t impress me enough. In a positive sense, the boxset is a stark contrast to The Tenth Doctor and River Song, as the latter focuses more on standalone storytelling and a different approach to their relationship, which I also recommend.

Overall, Star-Crossed is one of the best boxsets in The Ninth Doctor Adventures range – right up there with Respond to All Calls and Old Friends. It works best having an arc-driven narrative in three parts (similar to Ravagers), hence why it’s my personal favourite volume in the third series, as well as being a perfect starting point. While I’m gutted that this is also Christopher Eccleston’s last for the range, I’ve no doubt he’ll be back to do more Ninth Doctor audios in the (near) future. Maybe some serialised boxsets with Rose Tyler (Billie Piper), set during Series 1?

The Ninth Doctor Adventures: Star-Crossed is available now from Big Finish.

Andrew Hsieh

Aspiring screenwriter with Asperger's syndrome, and lifelong Whovian since (shortly after) Christopher Eccleston's reign, Andrew has written and co-edited short story anthologies for Divergent Wordsmiths. Plus, he lives near Bannerman Road.

Reviewed: Big Finish’s Ninth Doctor Adventures – Star-Crossed

by Andrew Hsieh time to read: 2 min
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