In The Diary of River Song Series 4, River Song finally encounters the legendary Fourth Doctor, after her adventures with the eighth, seventh, and sixth Doctors. Emma Reeves and Matt Fitton’s Time in a Bottle presents a fascinating story concept of a place in space where time has vanished. However, the story’s potential is limited by the box set format, which would have benefited from a longer runtime. Nevertheless, the story serves as a solid introductory adventure that introduces the main villain and pits River against her intellectual rival, showcasing her Doctor-like qualities. It’s a good old-fashioned pulp adventure with a James Bond-esque feel and receives a rating of 7/10.
Kings of Infinite Space is the strongest story in the set, featuring a well-paced, paradoxical, and fun adventure with action, humor, and great use of the vortex manipulator and time travel locations. Alex Kingston and the rest of the cast are on top form, making it feel like a Moffat-era Doctor Who story. It’s highly entertaining and rewards repeat listening, earning a rating of 8/10.
Whodunnit is an interesting story with thought-provoking philosophical discussions, well-rounded characters, and good pacing. However, it doesn’t quite fit in this box set, and given more time to explore the premise, it could have been great. It’s still an enjoyable listen with a fun take on murder mystery cliches, rating a 7/10.
The season finale, Someone I Once Knew, delivers an exciting and unexpected spin on the River/Doctor dynamic. John Dorney’s writing subverts expectations, and the chemistry between Tom Baker and Alex Kingston is natural and brilliant. It’s a promising pairing that fans will hope to see more of in the future, rating a 7/10.
Overall, Series 4 of The Diary of River Song successfully combines the unique styles of the Steven Moffat era and Big Finish originality. While not every story works perfectly and some suffer from prequel limitations, the set is an absolute joy to listen to and leaves listeners eager for Series 5.