Chapter Seven - Pandora

Starring: Lalla Ward, Louise Jameson and John Leeson
Big Finish Productions
RRP: 10.99
ISBN 1 84435 123 8
Available 20 June 2005

A rogue TARDIS that should not exist; a mutilated, comatose Time Lord who cannot be identified; a new Castellan desperate to make his mark... Evils from the past, events of the present and echoes of the future conspire to attack the very heart of Gallifreyan civilisation. With both Narvin and Darkel waiting for the President to make a mistake, Romana must take decisions that will change her world forever...

The Gallifrey series has been described by its makers as an extra-terrestrial, trans-temporal version of Spooks (that's MI-5 if you're reading this in America). One similarity that is undeniable in this instalment is represented by the squabbling over jurisdiction that takes place between Castellan Wynter (Ian Hallard), who is in charge of internal security, and Co-ordinator Narvin (Sean Carlsen), who oversees off-world security matters as head of the Celestial Intervention Agency. This is analogous to the friction that exists between MI-5 and MI-6 in Spooks.

The issue of demarcation is central to this chapter. While Wynter and Narvin bicker over who is in charge of the security arrangements surrounding the enigmatic mutilated Time Lord from the future, Inquisitor Darkel (Lynda Bellingham) stirs up trouble by arguing that with no one fulfilling the role of Chancellor - a title that Braxiatel (Miles Richardson) craves - no one really knows who is responsible for anything these days.

Despite its recurring themes of demarcation and ambition, this chapter is very much the middle bit of the second series rather than a self-contained story in its own right. Various things happen that drive the series arc forward, such as Leela (Louise Jameson) and her K9 unit (John Leeson) examining the "broken man", and the return of Andred (Andy Coleman), but there's a certain lack of dramatic unity to the events in Justin Richards' script.

Which isn't to say that these events are not dramatic. There are some particularly gruesome sound effects for one thing, and the revelation of the identity of the "broken man" is riveting stuff, despite the fact that I worked it out before any of the supposedly super-intelligent Time Lords did.

All in all, it's worthwhile opening up Pandora's CD box.

Richard McGinlay

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