Starring Lalla Ward, Louise Jameson, and Seán Carlsen
Written By David Llewellyn, Lou Morgan, Helen Goldwyn
Directed By Scott Handcock
Executive Producer Jason Haigh-Ellery Nicholas Briggs
Released by Big Finish - February 2020
When we last left off on Gallifrey: Time War, Romana and Narvin were banished by the Time Lords and sent packing into the vortex in an old TARDIS (Romana was sentenced to death, but someone didn’t want her becoming a martyr), and despite their predicament, Romana decided the best course of action was to find their lost friend Leela. Their first stop (Hostiles) is a wreckage of a ship, upon which they find a Time Lord and an abominable being with time disruption powers that will kill them all to keep that one Time Lord alive and with him. It’s a decent enough opener, as it has a good monster and some good Time War business.
From there the duo end up on a rural planet, one in which the Time War has also begun to take effect as they deal with time folding in on itself. If I am honest, this one is pretty forgettable. As I sat down to write this review it took me a few minutes to even remember what the details of this one’s plot were. The synopsis I found of Nevernor did not even remotely help me. Finally...something of this story came back, but it just isn’t that great. It’s not a horrendous listen, because if nothing else Big Finish have tremendous production values...but I can’t sit here and pretend that they are infallible, and that they don’t occasionally have stories that can bore and confuse me, and then have the entire memory of the tale just float out of my brain.
The big return of Leela happens in the third episode, Mother Tongue, in which she gets the full focus. She has found herself jumping back and forth through time on a planet that is utterly peaceful with mysterious plants that take root around the whole world and somehow protect them from the outside universe. As she bounces from the past to the future, she finds he has a son, and sees the different paths the world could take. It’s a solid premise and it is executed decently, even if I occasionally wasn’t able to keep up with where Leela was. I also found another actress had a voice similar enough to Louise Jameson that it threw me off once or twice.
The set concludes with Unity as Narvin and Romana finally meet up with Leela, find her living as a protector of a family on the planet Unity, but a guy trying to make a buck steals their TARDIS and lures the Daleks there to buy it (which as you already guessed doesn’t really pan out for him). It all comes to a head with Romana deciding to sacrifice herself via the Chameleon Arch, become human and forget the dangerous knowledge she has to keep the planet hopefully safe from the Time Lords and the Daleks.
But she also doesn’t do that. She decides it is cheating, and gives herself up to the Daleks believing she can maybe outwit them? But while Narvin knows she changed her plans, they seem to feel it is best that Leela doesn’t know. To be honest, right now I am trying to figure out why Leela is so important to their plans. Not that she isn't a fun character, but they seem to act like Leela MUST be saved and taken back to Gallifrey or help in the Time War cause or something...but she is just this Savage girl who could maybe be good on the front lines or something. The whole ending just feels like it is concocted for a dramatic cliffhanger (the Daleks seemingly about to exterminate Romana), but doesn’t really make too much sense big picture to me.
This set has decent episodes and is, as always, wonderfully produced, but I did feel it was missing something. What I enjoyed about the Gallifrey series was the machinations on, well, Gallifrey. This set doesn’t have a single moment on the Time Lord’s home planet. It doesn’t really continue the descent into madness and ramping up the Time War business, and how the Time Lords truly lost their way. Instead this just feels like an Eighth Doctor: Time War set. Two characters bouncing around in an old TARDIS running into monsters and experiencing the effects the Time War is having on the universe. I like the Eighth Doctor sets, but this feels like they lost the identity that made the Gallifrey sets unique. They were about the political intrigue that led to Gallifrey’s downfall. This is just adventures. It is worth a listen for fans, it’s just missing that key element.
Filters: Gallifrey Time War Audio Big Finish