In Review: Big Finish: The Lives of Captain Jack

There are four stories in this box set. All of them enhance existing mythology, but that’s not the point.

Synopsis: Big Finish chronicles the early adventures of Captain Jack Harkness in a new series looking at his pre ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Torchwood’ adventures.

The Year After I Died by Guy Adams

Set in the year 200,101, on an Earth ravaged by the Daleks, Jack struggles to save humanity from its oldest enemy.

Wednesdays For Beginners by James Goss

Jack and Jackie Tyler must unite to rescue the Powell Estate from a force whose name Jackie can never say.

One Enchanted Evening by James Goss

Captain Jack and Alonso Frame have only just met. But why did the Doctor want them to be together?

Month 25 by Guy Adams

He’s the young star of the Time Agency, and his whole life is about to fall apart. But that’s not going to stop him winning.

Review: There are four stories in this box set. All of them enhance existing mythology, but that’s not the point. The point is John Barrowman. The point is Russell Tovey. The point is Camille Coduri. The point is Katy Manning. The point is that writers Guy Adams and James Goss constructed tales with just enough plot to keep things moving, but they otherwise got out of the actors’ ways. In return, the actors filled the spaces the writers left them, making their characters live.

“The Year After I Died” by Guy Adams covers events after “The Parting of the Ways.” Adams’ narrative allows Barrowman to play with dramatic irony. Jack doesn’t know he’s immortal, yet, so listeners are treated to a much less confident version of him. Barrowman explores fear, self-doubt, Post Traumatic Stress, and heroism.

“Wednesdays For Beginners” by James Goss brings Jack Harkness and Jackie Tyler into each others’ orbits. What’s more, the reason he’s there is completely organic. Barrowman and Coduri literally become the perfect double act when Jack and Jackie actually burst into song to try and defeat the aliens. All the while, they explore loneliness and self worth during an adventure that saves Jack’s past and future selves.

“One Enchanted Evening,” also by James Goss, gives listeners the adventure of Jack Harkness and Midshipman Alonso Frame after the Doctor introduces them in “Journey’s End.” Alonso is in a bad place, and it takes a trial by fire during a psychotically fitting first date with Jack to bring him around. Barrowman and Tovey bounce off each other so perfectly that only Katy Manning could hope to play the Big Bad third wheel with any success. Manning does a superb impression of Carol Channing on acid as she portrays a huge beetle hankering after human flesh and a giant diamond. Listening to her and Barrowman eat the scenic soundscape together is worth the price alone.

Finally, Guy Adams returns to give Captain Jack’s fans what we and Barrowman himself have been clamoring for in “Month 25.” We get the story of Jack’s missing two years! It took over a decade, but the riddle is finally solved by Jack and Jack. That’s right. Barrowman acts with himself, and he does it with gusto. I’m torn on the ending, though. I wanted Jack to remember meting himself, but Adams needed to explain why Jack didn’t recall throughout Doctor Who and Torchwood.

Bring on Volume 2!

  • You can purchase The Lives of Captain Jack here.

Written By: James Goss, Guy Adams

Directed By: Scott Handcock


John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness), Russell Tovey (Midshipman Alonso Frame), Camille Coduri (Jackie Tyler), Sarah Douglas (Vortia Trear), Shvorne Marks (Silo Crook), Scott Haran (Malfi Pryn), Aaron Neil (Gorky Sax), Katy Manning (Mother Nothing), Ellie Heydon (Ginny), Jonny Green (Station Computer), Hannah Barker (Female Passenger), Conor Pelan (Male Passenger), Ellie Welch (Bay Guard), Kristy Philipps (Colby), Joe Wiltshire Smith (Pods), Sakuntala Ramanee (Maglin Shank), Kieran Bew (Krim Pollensa), Alexander Vlahos (The Stranger), Chris Allen (The Council), Christel Dee (The Council), James Goss (The Council)


Producer James Goss

Script Editor Scott Handcock

Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

Big Finish: The Lives of Captain Jack
  • Story
  • Performances
  • Audio Production

Raissa Devereux became a life-long genre fan at the age of four when she first saw The Wizard of Oz at a screening at Arizona State University. Years later, she graduated from A.S.U. as an English major, History minor, Whovian, and Trekkie. Now a Florida transplant, she loves the opportunity Sci-Fi Pulse has given her to further explore space travel, time travel, masked heroes, gothic castles, and good yarns.
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