Presidential Babe: I’m starting to wonder about Romana. During the first three seasons I always thought she was something of a revolutionary, a woman who is willing to go against the tide and do her own thing despite popular opinion going against her. At times her sanity threatened to crumble in the face of such overwhelming resistance. But it strikes me that now she has tried to set up shop on an alternative Gallifrey and they are turning against her decisions too that perhaps she just isn’t cut out to be Lord President. Whilst they are stuck on this Gallifrey this is their reality and they might as well make the most of it. Sometimes Narvin feels that he has to protect Romana from Romana.
Noble Savage: ‘Never underestimate a Leela of the Sevateem…’ Leela has always been an impulsive sort of woman and led with her heart but it seems a little naïve even for her to have been given so many rights and privileges for the Outsider for her to risk them all by kidnapping and threatening to murder Zacker. Has none of the politicking of her peers rubbed off on her over the years? Narvin asks Leela if she has lost her mind when she talks of taking action against the military considering the Outsiders would be wiped out in a flash given the overwhelming numbers of the opposition. She really isn’t thinking straight at the moment and she needs Narvin to remind her that these Outsiders that she has invested so much of her time and energy to protect aren’t her people.
Dreadful Dialogue: ‘Its like fighting fire with paper!’ More intriguing David Llewellyn dialogue said without a hint of sarcasm.
Great Ideas: The former slaves (or Outsiders) have put forward a convincing argument that they should be entitled to mining rights. Well I say a convincing argument, they threatened to take them if they weren’t given them. It’s a familiar discussion when giving rights to the poor that the richer classes feel hard done by, they feel that the inequalities of one section of society are being foisted upon them.
Audio Landscape: I honestly couldn’t tell you what has gone wrong with this season with regards to its sound design and music because David Darlington has provided memorable examples of both in the past. Was this season rushed through post-production to get it released early? There is very little of note to mention and only a handful of scenes across the three hour length that provided any kind of aural clue as to the nature of this universe and its surroundings. The music is mostly muted and dull with the occasionally dramatic crash bang wallop thrown in for good measure. Given Big Finish’s increasingly cinematic approach to audio storytelling (compare this to the recent three box sets over in the Bennyverse and Gallifrey is left severely wanting) I was awestruck at how meagre the soundscapes were this year.
Result: Thank goodness that is over. I had to force myself to listen to the concluding part of Gallifrey V this morning because I knew if I left any reasonable amount of time nothing would compel me to return to this particular series. Given my allergic reaction to Llewellyn’s contribution to the previous series I didn’t hold out much hope and whilst there is nothing particularly abhorrent going on in this story its still nothing but lifeless running on the spot until the surprise cliffhanger. Leela is shown the error of taking on somebody else’s cause without thinking out her actions. Romana is exposed as an imposter. And Narvin…well he’s there but he doesn’t seem to be doing anything but telling everybody else how wrong they are all the time. These developments should have taken place in last seasons climax and there really hasn’t been a good reason to defer until now. It feels like this series has been a deviation from the storyline that Gary Russell has wanted to tell. As far as I can see nothing of worth has occurred across this entire box set in until the final five minutes of this installment and it genuinely feels as though this is where the producers wanted to take the series from the word go but an extended visit to this dreariest of Gallifrey’s has been foisted upon them. The Daleks were always going to be the major threat to this series given what the future has to offer (the Time War) and pretending that anything on this alternative Gallifrey has any relevance is nothing but self delusion and prevarication. Basically what I am saying is that if you have forced yourself to listen to Forever from Gallifrey IV then forget about listening to the first two hours and fifty-five minutes of Gallifrey V and just stick the last couple of tracks on. On my oath you wont have missed anything vital. None of the dwindling regular cast are developed in a significant way. There are no running plot threads that capture the imagination. And there is an extreme dearth of incident which instead is filled with endless dialogue scenes discussing dead end ideas that are going nowhere. Think of putting your fingers in your ears and going ‘lalalalalalalala…’ for over three hours before having a surprise sprung on your at the last minute. That’s what Gallifrey V feels like. I’ve just spent 210 minutes in this universe and I sill have no proper understanding of the place and given its sparse sound design I haven’t even had a sense of it aurally (its nothing but sliding doors and bleeping consoles…how boring). A crushing disappointment, not just for me but for the likes of Lalla Ward and Louise Jameson who deserve far stronger material than this. Let’s hope this new direction will provide some kind of fitting closure to the series. This two season diversion has long outstayed its welcome: 2/10