Set in a time when Doctor Who fans only had the Time War to worry about, Gallifrey: Time War 3 is now the eleventh set of stories in this range released over a period of sixteen years. Following events in previous boxset, our heroes Romana (Lalla Ward) and Narvin (Sean Carlsen) are now exiled from their home world in a damaged TARDIS. It’s a very different setting for the range, and while leaving the planet Gallifrey to future sets (and the machinations of Rassilon) it does allow for exploration of the effects of the Time War.
David Llewellyn starts off with the story Hunted. It’s set on a damaged Time Lord battleship, complete with areas of broken time, a mysterious entity lurking in the corridors and ventilation, as well as a lone survivor of battle – Trellick (the excellent Leah Harvey). As a story it has lots of tension, lots of action yet the lead characters are often reduced to stereotypes. Every obstacle brings the same responses from each and it’s left to Trellick to bring real depth. The story sets expectations – war is grim and surviving may not be worth the cost, but is a little disappointing all the same.
Lurking in the Vortex
No such reservations with Lou Morgan’s Nevernor. Romana and Narvin arrive on Njagilheim looking for Leela. Here they are sheltered by locals and soon realise something is wrong. Beasts from the Vortex, long assumed extinct, are after them – the Orrovix. There are elements of Groundhog Day but more notable Romana and Narvin aren’t sharing quite the same reality. There’s more at stake than surviving a single night in the wilds of Njagilheim and it’s an excellent story all round, even if the trail for Leela is a bit of a red herring.
Warrior and Mother
There are no such deceptions in Helen Goldwyn’s Mother Tongue. It’s all about Leela and what she did after being thrown into the Vortex. She is on a planet seemingly isolated from the Time War and allowed to live another life. Sadly (a little like Slaughterhouse Five) she doesn’t live in the correct order but is a mother. She has to watch her son grow and change while the threat of war does indeed manifest. In a high stakes ending, Leela has to make some difficult decisions. It’s a powerful story with a powerful performance from Louise Jameson.
Destiny of a Time Lord
David Llewellyn is back to wrap things up in Unity. Unlike his other story, we have a lot from Romana and Narvin as they finally find Leela. Years have passed since Mother Tongue and apart from her increased maturity, you have to wonder if there comes a point where the warrior instinct begins to fade. Leela has her own ideas: she has no interest in Time Lords or their war and is happy to stay on the obscure mining colony of Unity. Fate has its own plans and soon we learn of Daleks, disease and destiny. The story focusses on Romana and in its final scenes we realise she has reached a point in her life where she (like Leela) wants to say no more. It’s a strong ending and rearranges the pieces nicely.
After a wobbly start Gallifrey: Time War 3 comes together well and even if it skims over what could be a lot of storytelling. It moves the overall series on, raises questions and leaves the listener waiting for the next instalment (about which no news).
Gallifrey: Time War 3 is available to buy on CD or download from the Big Finish website.