Jenny- The Doctor’s Daughter: Still Running

Posted in Audio by - November 16, 2021
Jenny- The Doctor’s Daughter: Still Running

Released November 2021

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

More than three years after the release of Jenny – The Doctor’s Daughter that brilliantly gave further life to Georgia Tennant’s vivacious and audacious soldier with Time Lord heritage that so lit up screens alongside the Tenth Doctor, the second series- subtitled Still Running- has finally arrived to reunite the Doctor’s manufactured daughter of sorts with the boy from nowhere as they instinctively fight to save the day.

Still Running opens with Adrian Poynton’s ‘Inside the Maldovarium’ as Jenny and Noah pursue a priceless item up for auction. As the title suggests, this quickly leads the duo to the realm of Dorium Maldovar with a most welcome appearance from Simon Fisher-Becker who perfectly recaptures the incisiveness, charm, and smugness of a man who always seems to know much more than anyone else. Indeed, when he reveals that he is in possession of a TARDIS in a universe all but devoid of Time Lords and Gallifreyan technology, he perfectly allays the fears of Jenny and all other bidders alike as he deftly fields questions and assures each that he only has their best individual interests at heart. For Jenny, of course, this represents a firm connection to her very foundation, and although the source of the artron energy isn’t quite what anyone except Dorium expected as Noah deftly sees the truth of the readings around him, Dorium takes on something of a noble presence as he reminisces about how indebted to the Doctor he is and assuredly will be in the future, at the same time proving again and again that he cannot fully be trusted. Dorium is a self-interested businessman to the tee, and Fisher-Becker perfectly plays the nuanced layerings of a man who has everything within his reach and yet begrudgingly needs others’ help along the way. Of course, the final scene and Jenny’s fairly significant sacrifice and noble gesture given the ultimate freedom to run she ends up attaining brings into question just how far in advance Dorium has planned as he and his furtive business empire escape assumed dereliction, and that cliffhanger bodes well for the remainder of this series following an energetic and emotional opener that spectacularly highlights the charisma of and chemistry between Georgia Tennant and Sean Biggerstaff.

Following a lead to a world in need of help, Jenny and Noah arrive on the utopian world of New Damson in ‘Altered Status’ by Christian Brassington and Matt Fitton. With life guides, juice bars, and amazing views, this is a world that has everything for its population that works towards its worthy cause. Yet when a quick scan assigns Jenny to the grey zone and Noah to the platinum zone, the hidden secrets of a world that has changed so much gradually become known. Attaining limitless clean energy is the noble goal at hand, but the physical labour required to mine precious materials, the rations that are more easily eaten in the dark without seeing them, and the calls for performance reviews whose subjects are never seen again paint a grim and arduous picture for a world that still exudes its utopian reputation. Georgia Tennant and Deeivya Meir form a quick chemistry that captures the constant hope that breaks through the ever-increasing sense of danger their characters face, and the dark and gritty underside of this society is a perfect dichotomy for the splendour in which Noah finds himself. With his every need catered for as he deftly make suggestions and alterations that hasten the ultimate realization of the cause, he fully comes to believe in the work this world is so close to completing. Unfortunately for him, not all is as it seems, and the seemingly innocuous suits portend the presence of a far more sinister individual looking to amass his own converted forces. The cover of this set makes no secret that the Cybermen are the focus here, and while it is disappointing that Noah does not immediately believe Jenny’s concern, the ease with which Noah’s best intentions are played upon is a frighteningly effective tactic for the powerful Department Head to employ. ‘Altered Status,’ perhaps unsurprisingly given the foe, follows a very logical progression with few surprises, but the exploration of this split world and the effective utilization of the Cyber race on the verge of conquest helps to reinforce the very best of its two leads and the strong relationship they have already formed during their travels.

‘Calamity Jenny’ by John Dorney is something altogether different for this range, depositing its leads in the Old West and a town where the most notorious outlaw just so happens to look exactly like Jenny. Of course, the doppelgänger storyline has been used and abused in countless franchises, Doctor Who included, and while the ultimate explanation of just how this situation came to be is a bit convoluted, it creates an immense amount of fun that emphasizes the incredibly visual nature of its setting and the stereotypes within it. A saloon with gambling and drinking, a sheriff’s office with a somewhat dubious sheriff, and horseback and trains aplenty, ‘Calamity Jenny’ is a whirlwind of western tropes that mostly hit their mark to create an engaging if ultimately fleeting experience. Instead, it’s the tale of bad luck and the unreliable narrator who admittedly takes some liberties with the story that become the more memorable components, and the manner by which luck and how to avoid the inevitable bad luck Jenny has attracted helps to create a more unique angle to a plot that can’t quite realize the ambitious highs it sets out to reach. Nonetheless, Tennant and Biggerstaff are once again utterly superb, and their fantastic chemistry and energy are more than capable of sustaining interest even in the story’s less weighty moments. Nobody can fault this series for stepping outside of its more typical confines to do something wholly different while still making use of the vortex manipulator and the drama that allows, and while the ultimate result isn’t quite on par with what has come before, the clever twists on typical plot points within a brilliantly visual setting that is all too filled with expected character types and tropes still allow for a well-paced and light-hearted sidestep within Jenny’s more consequential journeys.

Lisa McMullin closes out this second Jenny series with ‘Her Own Worst Enemy’ as Jenny looks to escape cyborg bounty hunter Colt-5000 once and for all. On a world where individuals must assess the value of their lives and where those found wanting are converted into cyborgs for optimization, Jenny’s plan involving cybertech founder Seavus Colt is an audacious one that ultimately pays homage to the brilliant A Wonderful Life. Siân Phillips gives an enthralling performance as her character is shown in quick succession just how consequential her life has been given her small actions that continued to parlay into more and more acts of good, and this sends a strong message about the importance of staying true to oneself even in what may seem to be a completely insignificant and inconsequential moment. Unfortunately, just as Jenny and Noah witness how one action can change the world for the better, they also witness the opposite as unintended consequences of their travels manifest and come to a head in a monumental cliffhanger. Given the duo’s recent events on New Damson and the old technology from that world that has made its way here, it’s little surprise that the ease by which the Cyber threat can infiltrate an advanced society becomes another focus, but the strong balance between morality and immortality at the heart of this civilization and the emotional consequences that unfold as past and present intersect present a suitably strong backdrop for a surprising yet effective concluding story that clearly still has so much more to tell. Even with Siân Phillips rightfully receiving so much focus and with Okorie Chukwu and Cavin Cornwall likewise featuring to bring this locale’s core conflicts to vivid life, Tennant and Biggerstaff very much retain their share of the spotlight, and that enduring vocal presence and energy by each ensure a wholly enthralling experience while cementing this duo as one of Big Finish’s most captivating.

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