Gallifrey: Time War 3 (Big Finish)Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, 17 March 2020 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
Gallifrey: Time War 3 (Credit: Big Finish)

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.   





The Eighth Doctor: The Time War Series 2Bookmark and Share

Saturday, 21 July 2018 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
The Time War - Series 2 (Credit: Big Finish)
 
 Director: Ken Bentley
 


Big Finish Release (United Kingdom):
Released July 2018

Running Time: 5 hours

The Time War continues in the latest Eighth Doctor boxset from Big Finish, and it is another effort that showcases just how good Big Finish continues to be when the passion is there.  I get the sense that the Monthly Range doesn't have the same passion and excitement it once had from those working on it, while the bigger scope and chance to truly expand on a topic that comes with the boxsets still has a flame of passion ignited. Admittedly, I don't listen to the Monthly Range as much as I used to, so I could be wrong, but this just seems to be an impression I can't shake.  But this boxset keeps my hopes for the company continuing to release exciting stuff for some time alive.  

 

****THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS****

 

In The Lords of Terror, The Doctor takes Bliss to her homeworld, but they find it has already been ravaged by the time war. Instead of the home, Bliss remembers, her city is now encased in a dome, and it seems to be a dystopian nightmare. While the front story is that the Daleks attacked and they have protected themselves and are building a retaliation rocket in order to wipe out the Daleks, the Doctor soon discovers that it is even more nefarious. I rather loved what this story does with the Time War arc.  It seems that the Time Lords are actually behind this plan, and they haven’t created one dome and one rocket, they have turned the entire planet into a missile production plant, with every city put into a dome and forced into slavery to create a rocket...all in the name of winning the war. 

The second episode (Planet of the Ogrons) has the Doctor and Bliss recruited by the the Twelve (a regenerated and more stable version of the Eleven), and an Ogron who believes himself to be the Doctor. They head to the Ogron homeworld, where a mad genius Dalek with hybrid DNA is performing crazy genetic experiments. While I certainly enjoyed this episode, it felt slightly less engaging after the killer of an opening episode. That said, it does still have a lot of fun to offer. 

For the third story, In the Garden of Death, we have the very familiar trope of the Doctor and friends locked up in jail with missing memories.  I feel like the Eighth Doctor has been in this predicament before.  Despite the well-worn territory, it isn't half bad. I like the places it takes the Twelve, and the idea that while in the prison camp no one can remember their captors, and only when taken for interrogation do they recall the Daleks.  But I'd be lying if I didn't admit that though I only just listened to the story, much of it has already faded from my brain. It is certainly an enjoyable listen, it just doesn't leave much of an impact.  

Jonah closes out the set, and it is a tense submarine thriller in which the Doctor is Captaining a sub in a body of water in which no time travel can take place...and beneath the waters a mythological creature that can see every possible outcome of the future, and that is a beast that neither the Daleks nor the Time Lords should get their hands on.  I rather liked this story and felt it was a great closer to the set, and it is about as strong as the opening story, at least more so than the two stories that bridge them.  

While I can't say that the second and third stories are perfect, they are still rather engaging and fun, and with opening and closing stories that really are top notch, it is rather easy to recommend this set.  I don't even want to come down to hard on the two lesser stories, because I still think they work in the long run. Even so, no matter what the first and fourth episodes are really great episodes of Doctor Who, and McGann is giving his usual quality performance throughout the set.  Julia McKenzie should also get special notice for her turn as the Twelve, doing a great job running with what Mark Bonnar began as The Eleven. 

I have a soft spot for anything McGann or the Eighth Doctor, but I also think this set is worth the continued exploration of the Time War (and the weird ramifications of such a strange type of war), and Big Finish always put their all into these box sets, even the weaker stories have something to offer. Recommended.