❉ Let’s Do The Time War Again!
Although Big Finish’s Gallifrey series predates the concept of the Time War, the idea of it has loomed over it for much of its life. So naturally once Big Finish acquired the New Series license, it was only a matter of time (pun possibly intended) before it landed on our Gallifreyan friends’ doorsteps.
We’ve heard the Eighth and War Doctor’s struggles in the conflict, as well as the Master who flourished within its confines, but what about Romana II and her comrades? Most of their time spent in the series has been either avoiding catastrophes or cleaning them up. Since we already know, as the audience, that Romana, Leela, Narvin etc don’t prevent the war nor end it, it should be interesting to see just what parts they play here.
Celestial Intervention by David Llewellyn
Following the events of ‘Enemy Lines’, Livia is now President and Romana II has assumed control of the CIA. However, things are not at all well. The Daleks are coming, and the War Council has secrets that will change the foundation of Time Lord society forever…
‘Celestial Intervention’ serves as a wonderful opener for the set. What at first seems like business as usual quickly devolves to a race against the inevitable confrontation with the Daleks, and Gallifrey’s worst enemy: themselves.
Soldier Obscura by Tim Foley
Ace, teamed up with Irving Briaxatel head to the Obscura searching for a weapon of great import. They both discover things they wish they hadn’t.
What a fascinating idea to combine Ace with Briaxatel! Out of all the people on Gallifrey she ends up with the one other Time Lord most like the Doctor to go on a mission with. (They are family after all.)
This story turns almost into a chamber piece with Briaxatel, Ace, Danna and a few Daleks, with some intriguing tidbits of Irving’s backstory. Special marks to Zulema Dene who turns in a splendid performance as Danna.
The Devil You Know by Scott Handcock
When the renegade known as the Doctor refuses to help, Romana turns to the only other regenade she knows who might be of any help: The Master.
Serving as a bridge between the first and second ‘War Master’ stories (one of Big Finish’s best releases of last year), we see just what Gallifrey wants with him.
Ultimately, it’s a three-hander with the Master, Leela and Finnian Valentine (who’s brilliantly named) and it’s just as superb as you can imagine. Louise Jameson and Derek Jacobi let the sparks fly. And that ending is a stunner!
Desperate Measures by Matt Fitton
The War Council have a candidate in place for President and Romana decides to put her name back in the ring to try to stop them. The Daleks prepare to strike at a key Time Lord outpost…
There’s a nice bit of parallels here between Romana and the other Presidential candidate Valerian. For those who followed the US Election in 2016 it will have a have a faint taste of deja vú.
Honestly, the less said about this episode the better. Let’s just say it’s not called ‘Desperate Measures’ for nothing…
The ending makes me believe there’ll be some interesting casting news in the future.
Each story in the set leads directly into the other with some of the best cliffhangers Big Finish has produced in a long time. Filled to the brim with moments that will make your jaw drop, ‘Gallifrey: Time War – Volume One’ take no prisoners and delivers over and over again on it’s promises to be as epic as it should be.
The performances from the main cast are as strong as ever and the guest actors (namely Jacobi and Dene) shine as well.
‘Gallifrey: Time War – Volume One’ is an ultimately exciting and entertaining set that just vibrates knowing full well at how fantastic it is. It’s well made from top to bottom. A key example of how a product can be when all of cast and crew are on the same page. One could easily absorb the set in one sitting. It’s the beginning of the end and it feels so good!
Let’s just hope ‘Volume Two’ doesn’t take as long as this one did to come out.
P.S. Make sure to stay after the end theme on some episodes for a little something extra.
❉ Ian McCann is a regular contributor to We Are Cult and editor of The Casual Nexus, home of the ‘Chronological Hysteresis’ series.