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Gallifrey, series 1

Am sitting on Eurostar en route to London and ultimately Bath, where I am staying tonight and speaking at a conference tomorrow. I managed to get through the four plays in the first Gallifrey sequence this week, and they are fun and enjoyable if not necessarily great works of literature.

Let's face it, for someone like me who is a child of the Fourth Doctor era, the only two companions who matter, apart from the incomparable Sarah Jane Smith of course, are Leela and Romana. And K-9. And, er, K-9. The idea of putting Louise Jameson, Lalla Ward and John Leeson (and John Leeson) together with a half-decent script is so obvious in retrospect that you wonder why it wasn't done as a series much earlier (OK, it had been done in Marc Platt's novel Lungbarrow, and in a Big Finish play I haven't heard yet).

The four plays have the common themes of President Romana grappling with the difficulties of a stolen "time-onic fusion device", and of Leela trying both to come to terms with and to solve the disappearance and probable death of her husband Andred. Much flinging around of Time Lord lore, the rivalry between the Celestial Intervention Agency and the Chancellery Guard, and the Borusa-like character of Cardinal Braxiatel.

However each has a quite different setting. 1.1 Weapon of Choice has the Time Lords dealing with a crisis on a refugee planet, and reflected interestingly on the topic of humanitarian military interventions. 1.2 Square One features Leela going undercover as an exotic dancer at a summit of the Time Lords and their fellow time-travelling powers; it also has the gimmick of certain scenes being repeated due to a time loop. 1.3 The Inquiry has certain resonances with both The Deadly Assassin and (I suspect) the Trial of a Time Lord (with which I remain blissfully unacquainted); I felt it was the thinnest of the four. And finally 1.4 A Blind Eye has the peculiar but well-realised setting of the Vienna to Calais train on the outbreak of World War II. (And here am I on the Brussels to London train writing this, and hoping for a less eventful trip.)

It's fun, but not very deep. There is a risk of turning Leela into a one-joke character, which is generally just about averted (except, frankly, in Square One) by giving her the Andred back story. Romana as president is as sharp and sassy as ever, but we lose a certain amount of potential narrative tension by knowing that she is always in the right. K-9 is as ever, and the other characters give their best.

I particularly liked the first and fourth of these four plays, both of which are by Alan Barnes, who hadn't previously registered on my consciousness as a Who writer. I will look out for more of his stuff, and listen to more Gallifrey as well.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 12th, 2007 05:51 am (UTC)
Is it available on line or do I need to buy a CD?
Apr. 12th, 2007 06:54 am (UTC)
I've quite enjoyed these so far; have listened through the end of the second season, though haven't felt too inclined to go for the third yet as it's getting a bit silly. I listen to them in chunks while at the gym or cleaning the house so it's just something interesting to occupy my brain, but not too much of it. :)

There's a community for the series now: gallifrey_fic, not all for fic despite the title. I've rambled a bit about both seasons' ends in two posts there.
Apr. 12th, 2007 01:42 pm (UTC)
> the Trial of a Time Lord (with which I remain blissfully unacquainted)

That nearly put me off Doctor Who for life; the stories, performances and... well... everything reeked of desperation. Even Michael Jayston who's normally brilliant...

i never cared for Baker (C), his performance epitomized everything that was wrong with the 80s - and TOATL was so bad it put the whole show under a big cloud for me... I don't think I gave McCoy a fair chance at the time when he took over, it was only seeing his last season and a half again some years later that made me appreciate that there were interesting directions in his performance...
Apr. 12th, 2007 10:43 pm (UTC)
> the Trial of a Time Lord (with which I remain blissfully unacquainted)

I loved the first season because ti was so light, just wait 'till you get on in the second season.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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