Reviewed By: Drew Vogel
Review Date: 7/19/17 1:53 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.
A lot of people describe "Gallifrey" as "political", but there are a lot of different ways for a story to be political. "Gallifrey" is political in only a very superficial way: many of the main characters are politicians, and their motivations and conflicts involve political issues. But the story isn't /about/ politics.
Look at this story for example, and consider Free Time. This is a subversive organization that believes that time should be unregulated. But the story isn't about whether or not should be regulated. There is a line where Romana and Braxiatel differ over whether time should be "controlled" or "regulated" by the temporal powers, but this disagreement (if it even is a disagreement beyond mere word choice) is never elaborated upon. There's hardly any discussion at all of the merits of Free Time's argument, and everyone simply accepts the use of Gryben as a de-facto prison planet. If "Weapon of Choice" was in any significant sense a "political" story, these issues would be at the forefront. Instead, they're just backstory and motivation setting up a standard thriller about thwarting a terrorist plot.
Incidentally, you can tell that this is post-9/11, can't you? Terrorists are simply evil, and there's no reason to even evaluate the legitimacy of their stated political aims, and it is the duty of government to defeat them by any means necessary. Gryben is the US prison at Guantanomo Bay. "Gallifrey" is political after all, in the sense that all fiction is inherently political. And the politics of "Gallifrey" are the Bush/Blair politics of the War on Terror.
But what about this story in particular? It serves as a decent introduction to the series. It introduces, or re-introduces, all of the major characters, and (most importantly) is establishes a particular tone which is very distinct from previous Big Finish series. In that sense, it's a very impressive and highly successful debut. On the other hand, the story makes no sense. What is the point of sending Leela undercover to contact Free Time? Romana sends Leela because she's not a Time Lord, and won't be seen to be acting on behalf of Gallifrey, and that makes perfect sense. Or it would, if Torvald hadn't been sent with her. Napenthe, the Free Time leader they're searching for, has met Torvald and knows that he's a Time Lord with the CIA. It makes no sense at all.