An Audio Drama by Big Finish (#33 in the main range)
This audio drama is the point where all of the Eighth Doctor’s actions up to this point in the past two “seasons” finally come to a head. Pulling a person from a death that was a fixed point in time, namely his companion Charley Pollard, The Doctor has caused time to destabilize. We’ve seen bits and pieces of ahistorical things being mentioned in previous stories, such as a mention of Benjamin Franklin being a United States President, and The disappearance of Shakespeare from History, and it seems like The Time Lords are not having any of it. Romana II, serving as the leader of Gallifrey steps in to stop The Doctor even if it means some serious business to makes things right.
“The Web of Time is stretched to breaking. History is leaking like a sieve. In the Citadel of Gallifrey, the Time Lords fear the end of everything that is, everything that was… everything that will be. The Doctor holds the Time Lords’ only hope — but exactly what lengths will the Celestial Intervention Agency go to in their efforts to retrieve something important from within his TARDIS? What has caused the Imperiatrix Romanadvoratrelundar to declare war on the rest of creation? And can an old nursery rhyme about a monster called Zagreus really be coming true?
The answers can only be found outside the bounds of the universe itself, in a place that history forgot. In the wastegrounds of eternity. In the Neverland.”
There are pros and cons to this story, but I generally liked it. On the good side, I enjoyed the introduction of Rassilon, seeing that he’s merely a historical footnote in old Doctor Who television, getting to actually hear him here was interesting. Later on, he pops up in a handful of television episodes in the modern show, but this may be his first acted appearance. I’m sure somebody more well-versed in minutiae could contradict me. Romana II, as portrayed by Lalla Ward is great here, and has all of the gravitas one would expect from the President of Gallifrey.
For the cons, I was quite disappointed to find out that this story was built up as the culmination of the Charley Pollard storyline, only to find out it is basically a prequel to another episode later on. With the extra length and all of the hype rolling behind this, I felt that was a big cop-out in many ways. I also think the entire concept of “anti-time” is kind of silly, and question why Charley, of all people, is the catalyst for all of this chaos. Surely all of the other rogue timelords and other time-travelers actively trying to disrupt time would cause more damage than a single girl saved from an airship crash. It’s never really explained very well here, and I am unaware if it gets explained later on. To me, this was a good episode that could have been great.