Gallifrey- Intervention Earth

Posted in Audio by - December 11, 2017
Gallifrey- Intervention Earth

Released February 2015

Following six series comprised of three to five interlinked but also disparate stories that fleshed out the political intrigue and both the physical and conceptual dangers on Gallifrey in the proper universe and others, Big Finish’s Gallifrey returns for its seventh series with a new format that brings it much more in line with the company’s traditional Doctor Who offerings, four half-hour episodes comprising one story subtitled ‘Intervention Earth.’ With Romana approaching her final term in office and concerned about her lasting legacy, Narvin worrying about a controversial precog programme that seeks to predict the Time Lords’ own future, and Ace working as an operative of the secretive Celestial Intervention Agency, an ancient conspiracy and the return of a Time Lord legend threatens the history of Earth and the Time Lord government itself and brings even the most sacred trust into question.

From the very start, it’s clear that ‘Intervention Earth’ will almost completely distance itself from what has come before in the range. Picking up on an idea for Ace that had been mentioned as a possibility had the series continued for a twenty-seventh year, she is here firmly entrenched in Gallifreyan society. It’s difficult to do anything completely new with a character who has been around for over twenty years, but the mystery surrounding her missing memories about how and why she came to Gallifrey before beginning to undertake missions for the CIA with her own TARDIS and Romana’s utmost trust certainly lays the groundwork for some fascinating development in wholly uncharted territory. It is true that Ace as a human among Time Lords does not receive quite the same amount of drama surrounding her heritage as Leela did in earlier sets, but the dynamic here likewise takes precedence as Earth and her previous time with the Hand of Omega takes centre stage.

‘Intervention Earth’ also takes the bold step of forsaking Lalla Ward for Juliet Landau and her third incarnation of Romana who was introduced in the previous series. Though she is very much her own character, the same haughtiness and loyalty to Gallifrey that ran through her previous lives are very much as present and fierce as ever. Interestingly, time away from the Doctor and another regeneration has seemingly brought about a slightly more cerebral and cautious approach to problems in her, here choosing to study the mysterious black hole rather than recklessly running in with little regard. Though she has her enemies that her policies and actions have created over the many years, she will still willingly sacrifice everything for the world she loves, and the intimation that Leela was at the centre of some sort of unforgiveable betrayal creates a fascinating bit of intrigue that will surely be explored in due course.

Though fairly straightforward, the actual plot is an intense focus of this release, and the structure of the set ensures that the audience is always sure of what has occurred through the use of brief monologues from different characters telling their perspectives at the beginning of each episode. Broadly amid the backdrop of the walls of reality beginning to break down and the future bleeding into the past, a secret cult named the Adherence of Ohm dedicated to the return of Omega remains active on Gallifrey at all levels of society. When Ace disappears after undertaking an investigation into disturbances associated with the Hand of Omega, Romana and Narvin follow the trail of clues to ancient Earth and eventually through the singularity and into the antimatter universe itself.

Omega being trapped in the antimatter universe necessitates that his motivations to escape remain the same as ever. That he is finally able to do so without destroying that universe in his wake is a welcome twist, however, and the notion of Romana, Narvin, and Ace working together to topple the might of Omega’s will is a visually engrossing one. Stephen Thorne makes a triumphant return as the powerful Omega here and easily convinces of the pride, resentment, and determination that fuel the character. However, with Ace spending a good portion of the story under hypnotism and the story bringing up a brief moment of mistrust between Romana and Narvin that is hardly discussed, the characterization of the leads does still have some room for further development to fully resonate within this new setting.

‘Intervention Earth’ is a bold reimagining for Gallifrey that takes a more streamlined approach than the more deliberate, politics-heavy approach of many of its precursors. The inclusion of Juliet landau’s Romana as well as Ace boldly takes the franchise into a new era filled with new dangers and stakes, but it ultimately seems like a prologue from something altogether deeper and more character driven given the clues peppered throughout this release that benefits fully from its superb cast and direction.

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