The sixth series of Diary of River Song’s last two episodes are much like the first, and while its safe to say the magic is wearing off with the “visiting classic stories just before they happen” idea, it’s still a fun listen… For the most part. Let’s take closer look!
Synopsis (of Episode 3 “Peepshow”):
Miniscope parts fetch quite a price on the open market — luckily, River knows where she can find one that’s about to be decommissioned. Unfortunately, this particular miniscope is chock-full of aliens, as well as unsuspecting Earthlings.
River must face a carnival of monsters before she can claim her prize – across miniature habitats, Ogrons, Sontarans and Drashigs await!
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Corks! I wonder how many more times Jago has appeared on audio compared to his one TV appearance…
I wasn’t a big fan of Episode 3, “Peepshow”, as you’ll see below, but I will give it some credit. Unlike the other three stories that are set before their classic TV counterparts, Peepshow is actually happening at the same time as “Carnival of Monsters”, complete with River having to deal with the Miniscope being blasted from the outside, and the Drashigs escaping. I liked the brief scene with River and the Third Doctor at the very end, but in general… well, have a look at the bad for the general…
Episode 4, “The Talents of Greel”, set before “The Talons of Weng-Chiang”, is hit and miss, but for the most part I liked it. Angus Wright goes full-on cackling mad man with his Magnus Greel (and rightfully so given Greel in Talons…) which is so much fun to listen to, and then they throw in a weird love story surrounding Chang that makes him actually defy Greel for a time, which makes Chang’s eventual fate all the sadder really… (and conversely makes Greel’s eventual betrayal of him more convincing!)
River’s role in all this is purely that she needed to recharge her vortex manipulator and knew of future tech in the area thanks to, presumably, The Doctor telling her of his adventure with Mr. Greel. When a lady she befriends is killed however, River sticks her nose in Greel’s business just enough to get one over on him without disrupting the timeline. She also auditions and eventually performs for Jago and his theatre, which was fun at least. Overall it’s a bit of fun that doesn’t do any harm to the original story.
This is the second time the Drashigs have appeared this year, after having never appeared at all for Big Finish. They’re like buses! … That try to eat you alive.
Peepshow wasn’t that good, in my opinion (which is what this blog is overall!) It was full of nothing but silly comedy and slapstick surrounding River meeting a dim-witted security guard called Dibbsworth and the two having to negotiate around the miniscope’s equivalent to a recycle bin until they eventually escape with the creatures that The Doctor would have otherwise missed (plus some priceless Miniscope tech!). While I found some of the Sontaran and Ogron banter to be quite funny, Dibbsworth got old fast, and he was as heavily featured in the story as River herself! While Carnival of Monsters itself is far from deadly serious, I was disappointed with the story being so filled with humour that just failed to land. It’s a shame because Carnival is one of my all-time favourites…
A cover so full of continuity should be less pretty than this, so credit to the creator!
… I mean, it’s been said already, but for the sake of future article linking, Episode 3 takes place at the same time as Third Doctor TV classic “Carnival of Monsters”, while Episode 4 takes place just before perennial fan-favourite Fourth Doctor TV story “The Talons of Weng-Chiang”.
The only other bit of continuity would be the Sontarans in Peepshow describe themselves as being from the Sontaran Special Space Service, the SSSS having only previously appeared in the Fourth Doctor TV story “The Invasion of Time”.
These two stories are weaker than the first two, with Peepshow being particularly disappointing. It’s a shame, but if you get the whole series somewhat cheap you’ll have three good-to-very good stories with only one not-so-good story, and that’s not bad! That being said, let’s retire the “River arrives in and around classic Who TV stories” idea this series employed, shall we?
Episode 4 “The Talents of Greel”:
Episode 3 “Peepshow”: