Chapter Thirteen - Mindbomb

Starring: Lalla Ward, Louise Jameson and John Leeson
Big Finish Productions
RRP: 10.99
ISBN 1 84435 207 2
Available 01 August 2006

Gallifrey's first presidential election for millennia is about to be held, but in the wake of civil war, can even an election restore calm and order? And what of the candidates? Darkel: determined to win at any cost. Matthias: a dark horse with his own agenda. Romana: impeached for high treason. Even as the contenders manoeuvre and plan, an assassin stalks the galleries of the Panopticon. Gallifrey will soon have a new president, but at what cost? How many people will have to die and which - if any - of the candidates will survive...?

My "Season 5 of Babylon 5" feeling continues (see my review of the previous release, Appropriation) as, despite the civil war arc supposedly having come to an end two CDs ago, this instalment yet again harks back to the Pandora virus.

That aside, there's plenty to enjoy in Mindbomb, despite an enormous level of legal bafflegab. Writer Justin Richards has crafted a labyrinthine game of lawful and political traditions, codes and loopholes. That he succeeds in resolving the story without tying himself up in knots is impressive enough, but he also manages to link in legal precedents from previous stories, such as Article 17 from the Tom Baker Doctor Who serial The Deadly Assassin, while keeping the whole affair internally consistent.

The spirit of The Deadly Assassin is also evoked by the presence of gossiping Gallifreyan bystanders commenting sourly on the current political situation. And, of course, there's an assassin - though not necessarily a deadly one (you'll see what I mean). Other references to Gallifrey-based television episodes include a visit to the lead-lined room from The Invasion of Time.

It's just a shame that Paul Jerricho's Castellan (from Arc of Infinity and The Five Doctors) couldn't have joined in the fun and declare, "What? No, not the mindbomb!"

Richard McGinlay