Reviewed By: thisoldcan
Review Date: 9/12/17 4:41 pm
2 out of 2 found this review helpful.
In Time in Office, the Presidency of the Time Lords is vacant, following the events of Borusa's disappearance. With disagreement over who should become Lord President, the Time Lords decide to call back the person they think is best qualified: the Doctor (Peter Davison). The only issue is that the Doctor would rather strand himself in a dimension where time runs backwards then be Lord President. But the Time Lords are adamant, and so the Doctor and Tegan (Janet Fielding) must navigate the politics of Gallifrey, aided by the Doctor's old friend, Leela (Louise Jameson). But through it all, the Doctor is in danger at ever turn, from the past, the future, and the present. Time in Office is an extremely rompy, hilarious release at every turn, with some excellent performances throughout. A lot of the humour of the story comes from Davison's exasperated performance and Fielding's forcefully funny performance, and how that clashes with Time Lord society. The three main cast members all give excellent performances here, with Fielding and Jameson as the highlights of the entire story, and Davison doing stellar work throughout. Similarly, the guest cast, namely Sheri-An Davis and Julie Teal, are all excellent additions to an already excellent story by Eddie Robson that wrings a lot of humour out of the Doctor and Tegan's situation, while giving us an enjoyable story about what happens when the Doctor and Tegan come to Gallifrey.
Peter Davison returns to the role of the Fifth Doctor once again. Coming off July's rather mediocre Empire of the Racnoss, hearing an energized Davison once again is a delight, improving on the story even more than normal. Davison is excellent here as the Doctor, bringing a contradictory air of uncertainty and confidence to the role, mixed with an exasperated sense of humour. Davison is consistently funny throughout the story, alongside co-star Janet Fielding, especially in the first part of the story. Janet Fielding also reprises her role as Tegan Jovanka, the "mouth on legs" Australian of the TARDIS, in a downright excellent, comedic role. As with Davison, a lot of humour is wrung out of her interactions with Gallifreyan culture, from being dragged away from the Doctor to start, to being threatened with the removal of all her memories, all the way to her being a diplomat and the poor job she does at that. Fielding relishes the opportunity to be the sole companion for the Fifth Doctor for the first time in 11 years, taking Davison's Doctor to task a few times, but mostly, just being really damn funny. Also joining Davison and Fielding is Louise Jameson, reprising her role as Leela, a former companion of the Doctor, now a Gallifreyan citizen. Jameson is delightful here as Leela, establishing an instant rapport with Davison that carries them through the entire story. The sometimes antagonistic relationship between the Fourth Doctor and Leela is completely gone, and Jameson portrays that aspect joyously, playing a Leela who is sure of herself and happy to help her old friend.
Joining the main cast are several members of the guest cast, but in particular, Sheri-An Davis is Castellan Lowri and Julie Teal as Chancellor Vorena, two members of Time Lord society. Davis is consistently a highlight of the cast throughout, as the mistrustful but law-abiding Lowri. It's clear she dislikes the Doctor, and would much rather have elected someone democratically, but she's still willing to follow him, because he is her president. And throughout each story, she proves herself an important part, a fact proven when the Doctor gives her the presidency of Gallifrey at the end of the story. Teal is also another delight as the Vorena, a chancellor in Gallifreyan politics who wishes to use the Doctor for her own beliefs. At first, she's clearly set up to be the villain, and she technically is, but her position isn't one that comes from a place of evil. This story can almost act as a prequel to the Time War, given the character of Vorena and the idea that there are enough Time Lords that agree with the Doctor's personal ideas of intervening in worlds, and that's what makes her character so great. She's a follower of the Doctor's ideals, not inherently a bad thing, but her plans would corrupt the Time Lords, and make them too big for their britches. She's a more compelling character as such, and she's brilliantly portrayed as such by Teal.
Time in Office is very similar to previously released anthology stories, such as The Memory Bank and Other Stories and You Are the Doctor and Other Stories, but it's also completely unique from those. I would almost liken it to The Keys of Marinus, where the first three parts of the story are bound by a similar theme (the Doctor taking the office of the Lord President) that examine aspects of that theme, with an overarching story underneath each story that culminates in the final part of the story. Eddie Robson created a rather excellent story from this concept, filled with humour and a lot of heart, all underscored by a rather interesting arc that culminates in an excellent ending to the story. Each part of the story focuses on a different thing: the first part is about the future of Gallifrey coming to haunt the Doctor, the second part is about the past doing the same thing, the third part is about a remarkably similar set of circumstances to the Doctor's own flight from Gallifrey coming to pass, while the final part is about a grand plan for the Time Lords to become more like the Doctor. I felt that each part of the story was an excellent mini-story; the first part, I particularly liked the humour and the resolution of the story. I loved the callbacks in the second story, and the way that Tegan saved the day by destroying the power of a god, and I thought the third part was an interesting look at the other side of the Doctor's flight from Gallifrey. Finally, the fourth part was an excellent look at a pre-Time War Time Lord society, and the conflicts that arise there. I particularly liked the final part, as I explained a little above, because it really did feel like something that could eventually lead to the Time War. The idea that the Time Lords eventually felt like they should control the universe is a topic discussed in The End of Time and other stories, so it's interesting to see the seeds of it in this story.
The final aspect of the story I'd like to mention is the sound design and music work by Andy Hardwick who, throughout the story, did an absolutely stellar job with it. He combined aspects of several Gallifreyan musical cues, such as the heavenly choir and the organ sounds, mixed with aspects of the Fifth Doctor's era, with that electronic music. That resulted in just an absolutely incredible soundtrack for the story. Likewise, Hardwick's sound design work was similarly excellent. Big Finish has long employed excellent sound designers for their stories, and Hardwick, who has been with the company since 2000, is no exception. His sound design work here is great; from little echoes in the halls of the citadel to the crunching sound and the wind blowing on alien planets, it's lusciously sound designed from top to bottom.
Overall, Time in Office is a wonderfully enjoyable story. It's got an excellent premise to it, with the idea of the Doctor taking over the presidency of Gallifrey, and it's got some excellent writing to back it up. Eddie Robson's script was enjoyable, with four very distinctive stories, and an excellent ending that could act as a prelude to further adventures. Likewise, the cast did a great job here in this story. Peter Davison and Lousie Jameson were on top form in this story, while Janet Fielding was an absolute delight as the hilarious Tegan throughout the story. The guest cast too was stellar, with Sheri-An Davis and Julie Teal in particular standing out as two of the better members of the guest. Top to bottom, Time in Office was a great release, with some excellent writing and a great TARDIS crew that I would love to hear again in a heartbeat.