The Doctor and River trio continues as we get our first “traditional” story with the characters, though admittedly one that takes them across different time periods rather than a single adventure in one place. Does a more familiar, almost Doctor-Companion set up work with River Song and the Tenth Doctor? Let’s find out!
When jewels become lethal in the London of 1912, both River and the Doctor turn up to find out why.
A mystery takes them centuries into the past, and onto the high seas, where a superstitious crew edges towards mutiny.
The star-crossed couple are about to find out that, while gemstones inspire jealousy, love can be the deadliest treasure of all…
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Both The Doctor and River arrive in 1912 when a bunch of jewellery unearthed by some local workers start exploding. They trace the jewels back to their source in 1632 and find out they were created by a man named Gerrard Pulman (Barnaby Kay), or at least so the story goes. The duo find extremely volatile and definitely unearthly material on his shelf, showing that there was something more to this tale. He isn’t in at the time mind you, and the TARDIS databanks tell them that he’s on a ship, taking a journey that will be his last.
Mr. Pulman takes a coffin full of jewels on board the ship and his selfish manor and the general “he won’t miss a few jewels” feeling of the ship’s crew lead to some tense moments, but it’s when the weather turns bad that cause the crew to think it’s Pulman’s fault, that his selfishness is a curse. The Captain tries to dissuade them, but it doesn’t go well, so when The Doctor and River arrive on the ship Pulman is hiding in his cabin, waiting for the end. The Doctor talks to him, specifically about his wife Omara (Anjili Mohindra), who as it turns out Pulman had killed. Omara was an alien who was soon to leave Earth, so Pulman killed her for no other reason than he didn’t want her to leave. River’s attempts to keep the crew at bay fail and soon Gerrard, River and The Doctor and thrown overboard, along with the TARDIS. As history told, Gerrard Pulman didn’t survive, but The Doctor and River manage to get back into the TARDIS and trace the source of their trouble to a spaceship buried under a mine.
Nice photoshop job on River’s attire, even if the rest of the cover is a bit… random explosiony.
The spaceship belonged to Omara and despite the body having withered away the A.I. of the ship had kept a copy of her as a holographic projection. The alien tells The Doctor that her race plant planet-exploding bombs disguised as treasures on all planets with the potential to become a threat to the galaxy and then detonate them if they reach that level, and while the majority go undetonated, there’s no stopping it when it starts. The Doctor makes a copy of the A.I. print and takes it to the TARDIS, trying to convince it to live on and see how the humans evolve, but instead the A.I. saves the Earth but destroys itself. During the sequence when Omara begins to save the Earth David Tennant, perhaps for the first time on audio, becomes 100% The Doctor as he gets excited and shouty, it was great to hear him get so firmly back into the role. There was also a classic “the audience knows the whole story” bit as River says Omara chose death because living as an A.I. construct is no way to live at all, which, you know, is exactly what The Doctor did to River when she died in his first official meeting with her…
I enjoyed the story, but the pace didn’t seem like it knew how to tell the story. The complete location shifts made it seem a bit light, like the writer knew a basic story but didn’t know how to stretch it out for an hour. It was still enjoyable, but I can’t help but feel 10 or 15 minutes could’ve been trimmed…
Not much! Again Omara being given the offer to live on as an A.I. construct and River’s disliking to the idea is a reference to “Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead”. That’s about it though!
Precious Annihilation is a perfectly fine story and had some great moments, particularly with a fully on-point David Tennant, but it also struggled to justify its running time, constantly shifting locations and time periods seemingly just to keep things fresh instead of writing anything to keep it that way. Still, a good story, if not more standard than the stand-out one that preceded it.