Chapter Twelve - Appropriation

Starring: Lalla Ward, Louise Jameson and John Leeson
Big Finish Productions
RRP: 10.99
ISBN 1 84435 206 4
Available 01 August 2006

In the wake of civil war, Gallifrey stands more vulnerable than at any time in its controversial history. The other temporal powers orbit the planet, poised to take control. Then, as a terrifying legacy, the residual traces of the Pandora virus bring down the transduction barriers. While Romana lies exhausted in the medical station, Lord Matthias fights desperately to negotiate a peace. Is retribution about to be visited upon the oldest civilisation in the universe for untold millennia of manipulation and interference...?

I hadn't fully grasped that the Matrix, the Time Lords' awesome computer network, had been totally destroyed at the end of the previous episode, Warfare. Fortunately, several instances of dialogue in Paul Sutton's script spell this fact out to us. Elsewhere, moments composed entirely of sound effects depicting battles between Gallifreyans and members of the other time powers effectively convey a sense of the chaos that the conflict and Gallifrey's current political vacuum have created.

With President Romana's (Lalla Ward) reforms falling apart at the seams, these are indeed dark days for the Time Lords. Perhaps the folks at Big Finish are gearing up the mythology towards an even greater catastrophe: the Time War described in recent series of Doctor Who.

Sutton also alludes to events further back in the series' past. The possibility is raised of Romana regenerating into a third incarnation, subtly recalling events in the Eighth Doctor novels The Shadows of Avalon and The Ancestor Cell. On a more obvious and fun level, Colin Baker briefly reprises his role as the over-zealous Commander Maxil from the Peter Davison serial Arc of Infinity.

Taking place immediately after the civil war arc of recent instalments, and kicking off the process by which the various characters attempt to pick up the pieces, Appropriation inevitably feels a little less exciting than what has gone before (rather like Season 5 of Babylon 5 trying to follow the Shadow War). It's still worth appropriating, though.

Richard McGinlay