Review by Doctor Squee (Host of Gallifrey Stands Podcast)
This release is a special one for me. Not only does it take place in one of my favourite times in Doctor Who with the 5th Doctor (Peter Davison) and Tegan (Janet Fielding) but it goes against conventional logic to really satisfying results.
The conventional logic I speak of concerns the Doctor becoming president of Gallifrey; for real. Not just so he can use the office for another purpose or to become president to keep someone happy whilst he runs away again. To actually have him take office and be stuck there for a time. I think most people, me included may have said this wouldn’t work. The whole point is the Doctor manages to sneak out of it. But if you stop to think about it, what if the Doctor couldn’t wriggle out of it? What would his rule over Gallifrey actually be like? Writer Eddie Robson obviously has stopped to answer these questions to great results.
I don’t want to give anything away; but it’s perfect to see all the changes the Doctor wants to make. He instantly becomes the outsider who takes office and actually knows what to do with it to really effect change for the better of all. To make society fairer and to give everyone a shot at making it. The real genius comes where Peter Davison gets to play the 5th Doctors funnier side. When some people are shocked at the changes he makes or others think him not radical enough now he’s sold out to the man; the 5th Doctor can on one-hand rub some diplomacy on it, on the other he can say, ‘oh well, sorry I’m not who you want me to be, but this is why you shouldn’t make me be president’ or words to that effect.
Janet Fielding also gets to have a lot of fun here. Tegan’s brash, unapologetic approach to life rubbing up against the stuffy Timelords and her ability to do what needs to be done when they won’t. All this and we also get Louise Jameson turning up as Leela; as Big Finish have established she now lives on Gallifrey. She has some great elements of the original tribal Character but with a new more learned edge. She guides Tegan through the world she finds herself in but you also get the feeling having another ‘off-worlder’ around reminds her it is still fun to ’tilt at windmills’. The supporting cast is also really strong and no one really puts a foot wrong.
The pace and direction by Helen Goldwyn is outstanding and is heavily praised by the whole cast in the extras.
I really want anyone in the Doctor Who world who has in the past said they think the Timelords can make life boring for the Doctor or aren’t interesting enough characters to listen to this. This was the claim of some when RTD killed off the Timelords (or so it seemed) when he brought Doctor Who back. But stories like this show you how what seems like a solemn pious race can have undercurrents of intrigue, that the Timelords for all their talk of non-interference will interfere if it suits them, that if you throw the Doctor amongst them, it can shake them up and throw chaos into the order they have built around them.
The structure of this set is also amazing. Each part is it’s own story but adds to the bigger story and leads to the events of the next.
This is bold and fun storytelling and adds something to the 5th Doctors time I never would have thought I wanted, but it turns out I really did. 10/10.
Available on CD & download here https://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/time-in-office-1260