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< 1. The Lives of Captain Jack - The Year After I Died
3. The Live of Captain Jack - One Enchanted Evening >

2. The Live of Captain Jack - Wednesdays For Beginners

Rating Votes
10
13%
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6
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Average Rating
7.6
Votes
16
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From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
10
Plot Rating:
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Acting Rating:
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Replay Rating:
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Reviewed By: DalekbusterScreen5ReviewsReview Date: 9/26/17 7:24 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

One of the greatest recurring characters during the Russell T Davies era was without a doubt Jackie Tyler, so combining Jackie with the all time greatest recurring character Captain Jack Harkness is a work of pure genius. I hope whoever came up with this idea, be it writer James Goss or the set's director Scott Handcock was given a decent pay rise for coming up with such ingenuity. When this pairing was announced, I was beyond excited and eagerly looking forward to what sounded like a truly memorable piece.

Jackie Tyler (Camille Coduri) has a stalker. Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) has been following her since he moved in at the Powell Estate, as a means of keeping an eye on Rose's mother whilst she's travelling through time and space with the Doctor. One day Jackie finds the Powell Estate totally deserted, with her only company being the stranger who has been stalking her for the last few months. Jack and Jackie team up to find out where has the entire neighbourhood disappeared to, and who is behind the disappearance.

In case you haven't already got the message, the biggest draw about this story is the pairing of Jack and Jackie - and it doesn't disappoint. They are absolutely hilarious together, evoking shades of the Tenth Doctor and Donna as they bicker and form a strong friendship. Jackie isn't shown as completely useless as she was occasionally on television either (I'm thinking of that infamous scene in Journey's End here when the Doctor wouldn't let Jackie help pilot the TARDIS). This Jackie is every much as clever as Donna Noble could be, showing occasional flashes of brilliance. It's Jackie who figures out how to bring the neighborhood back, and the solution strangely involves sausage rolls.

I never thought I'd hear John Barrowman and Camille Coduri form a duet, but that's one of the many pleasures this story offers. It also neatly sums up how much fun Wednesdays For Beginners is, adopting almost panto-like silliness with jokes about a neighbour's extremely boring CD collection and the completely barking mad idea (which works) of saving Jack from the story's monsters the harvesters by pouring a boiling pot of kettle over them. I could easily listen to a whole box set of Jack and Jackie together - in fact, I could listen to a whole box set of Jackie Tyler on her own. She is extremely engaging to listen to, and lights up any scene.

The twist that Jackie Tyler is who the story's monsters the Harvesters are searching for and not Captain Jack is predictable, but in this case I don't really care. The story is more about Jackie's world whilst Rose is travelling with the Doctor, and at times you really feel for this mother left on her own whilst her daughter's on some distant planet. James Goss's decision to isolate her even more by taking her entire neighbourhood away only highlights this even more. It's a good decision that helps us empathise with Jackie by bringing that loneliness to the forefront of the adventure.

You've probably noticed I haven't said much about Jack. Well that's because like the best Doctor Who stories, this Captain Jack story is more about Jack's 'companion' than Jack himself. Jackie Tyler is the main focus here, but Jack is still very much the main character: the hero who helps Jackie in her quest to bring her neighbours back. This story really plays to John Barrowman's talents with the humour and singing in the narrative, and with Jackie as the story's focus he still plays a vital part in the narrative. Without Jack, Jackie would have called the Doctor and Rose, and the Harvesters would have feasted on the time travellers. John Barrowman's presence is always felt when he's stalking Jackie too; you get a sense that Jack is there, even when he doesn't talk.

Overall, Wednesdays For Beginners is just as much fun as you would imagine a story where Jack and Jackie team up would be. It is at times a wonderfully silly story, and at others a character piece that leaves you feeling sorry for the isolated life Jackie leads whilst her daughter travels across time and space. One day I hope Big Finish release a Lives of Jackie Tyler box set; judging by this release, it would be the audio set of a lifetime.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
10
Plot Rating:
10
Acting Rating:
10
Replay Rating:
10
Effects Rating:
10
Has Prerequisite(s):
No
Reviewed By: thisoldcanReview Date: 6/10/17 7:25 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

In Wednesday for Beginners, the second part of The Lives of Captain Jack box set stars Camille Coduri as Jackie Tyler, mother to Rose Tyler. Jackie finds that she has a stalker on the Powell Estate; a mysterious man with "trousers tight as you like, and a chest you can chop onions on". The one day, Jackie is walking around the Powell Estate, looking to show off her stalker to her friends. Only no one's around; everyone has mysteriously disappeared without a trace. Except for her stalker, a man called Jack. Jackie and Jack will have to team up to survive, but will Jackie be able to trust this man, who's so close to the Doctor? Wednesday for Beginners is a delightful story. Any story with Jackie Tyler is going to be a load of fun (Jackie's previous appearance in the Ninth Doctor Chronicles was the highlight of that set), but this story ups the ante with an emotional story that examines Jackie's relationship with the Doctor and her daughter. Both Camille Coduri and John Barrowman shine in this story, with an excellent chemistry and some truly excellent dialogue together. Mixed with a surprisingly poignant story from James Goss, this stands as the highlight of the set so far, and one of the finest New Who based stories Big Finish has done yet.

Camille Coduri is the real star of this story. Big Finish nabbing Coduri to reprise her role as Jackie Tyler has been one of the best bits of casting so far, and here adds further justification to that, as Coduri gives one of her finest performances as the character. What I love most about Coduri's performance is that she's able to change gears, and imply so much with her performance. I loved the opening bits, where she's calling Rose and telling her about her life, because you can sense that Jackie is simultaneously happy to be talking to Rose and missing her deeply, and that she's sad about her lot in life, in some ways. There's a moment in The End of Time that I love, because it shows Jackie switching gears very quickly from happy to downcast, and it's one of my favorite moments for the character. Jackie is a character who feels like a real person, and that's because Coduri is able to breathe so much life into her, and make her a truly special character.

James Goss' script is another highlight of this set. Goss already proved that he's able to capture the character of Jackie well in Retail Therapy, but here, he's able to prove that he's able to capture a different side to Jackie, one that's more implicit. He's able to capture the more tormented side of Jackie extremely well, which I really appreciated. Beyond that, his script was just dead clever. I'm guessing it's fairly easy to write a story when one of the characters is a saucy cougar-like character, and another is an insatiable flirt, but damn, does Goss make it look easy and great. His writing for this story is great; I particularly loved the humour of the story, with Jackie getting several hilarious lines to say about Jack and vice-versa (I particularly liked "Ms. Tyler, the link to our universe is diminishing with every second and you're... staring at my chest... you are a woman after my own heart."). But more than that, Goss excelled at the more emotional bits of the story, such as when Jackie asks Jack how her daughter is, and Jack replies simply with "fantastic". It's a poignant moment, especially given her earlier misgivings about the Doctor. But the best scene comes at the end, when Jackie calls Rose to tell her not to come to Earth, and tells the Doctor exactly what she thinks of him, and for him to stay away unless the universe is ending. It's a fantastic scene, with Jackie really just laying into the Doctor, and explaining exactly what she thinks of him.

Goss' story is also a strong story here. While the performances and the character work take the spotlight of this story, Goss still managed to write an interesting, temporally complex story about bubble dimensions. What I liked most about the story itself was how it worked as a two-hander, with just Jack and Jackie. The villains of the story are mostly silent, apart from random screams and screeches, and it really let the character work shine. Still, the actual story itself was very interesting. I quite liked the idea that the Powell Estate was taken out of reality in an attempt to capture someone, and I liked the idea even more that the Harvesters were looking, essentially, for Jackie, not Jack. It shifts the focus of the story and makes for some of the fine character moments I mentioned above. But certainly one of the highlights of the story has to be the silliest bit of the story: where Jack and Jackie duet to try and bring the world back into phase. It's an absurd moment, but one that works so well because of Barrowman's naturally excellent singing voice, and Coduri's surprisingly fun, enjoyable harmony vocals on the song. It stands out in stark contrast to the rest of the story, but it's nonetheless an enjoyable part of the story.

I'd also like to mention the sound design work, done by Martin Montague, which is on full display here. It'd be easy to take a frozen world and simply not do any sound design, but there's always noise, from an otherworldly breeze on an empty world, to small little noises throughout signalling the arrival of the Wraiths or the actions of Jack and Jackie. Big Finish's sound design work is always top notch, but I think that Montague does a good job here with it, making a frozen, empty world feel alive and well.

Overall, Wednesday for Beginners is an excellent story. Featuring two strong performances by the cast, but an especially strong performance by Camille Coduri as Jackie Tyler, this story is a well-acted entry into this box set. James Goss' writing too was superb; the story itself was fun and interesting, while the character work and dialogue he wrote for Jackie and Jack was absolutely superb. Mixed with some excellent sound design, the story comes together as one of the best things to come out of Big Finish's New Who license, and one of my favorite stories of the year so far.