Big Finish Productions
Time in Office
|Written by||Eddie Robson|
|Starring Peter Davison, Louise Jameson, Janet Fielding|
|Synopsis: The Doctor's adventures in time and space are over. The Time Lords have recalled him to Gallifrey - but what he faces on his home planet is worse than any trial. Following the disappearance of President Borusa, the High Council condemned him to the highest office - and he can't evade his responsibilities a nanosecond longer. So all hail the Lord High President! All hail President Doctor!|
Rehabilitation by Stephen Maslin 5/9/21
During all the coronavirus hysteria, it seemed at times that all other ailments had evaporated; that there was only one way to get sick, and previous medical conditions that had bedevilled the human race for millennia had ceased to exist. I am here, luckily, to tell you that at least one of them had not.
I woke up in the "not-coronavirus ward" of a hospital, alive and conscious, though with annoying things like sitting up and focussing the eyes having become a bit of a stretch (and intensive-care nurses can get pretty fierce if you try and do things you're not supposed to do). Thankfully, my hearing was still in good order, so what better, then, than a friend bringing some listening materials to pass the time: lectures mostly (as requested) plus... Oh. Some Big Finish downloads. But I've been trying to distance myself from all that! They stopped making half-decent product years ago, didn't they?
About a decade previous, I had decided to stop giving BF the benefit of the doubt, and acquired a good deal less of their output by the application of certain rules, including:
AVOID anything with a stupid alien name in the title or that has the whiff of hard sci-fi;
AVOID any new companion unless accompanied by a "real" one;
AVOID certain writers (I shall spare blushes as to which ones);
and above all
AVOID the Daleks.
As Time in Office did not fall foul of any of the above, I took a deep breath and plunged in...
I need not have worried.
The script is quite simply wonderful; not a Caves of Androzani portentous kind of wonderful, but an Androids of Tara breezy kind of wonderful. With his encyclopaedic knowledge of all things Who (and with a merry wit indeed), writer Eddie Robson envelopes us in a cozy blizzard of clever nods to the past, none of which falls flat. He also realises that what entertains us is not whether the Doctor and his friends will prevail (of course they will) but how they will do so.
We have Peter Davison taking over the mantle of best audio Doctor ever (now that Paul McGann post-NEDAs has "sombre" written into his BF contract), sailing through every scene effortlessly and showing off some brilliant comic timing. We have Louise Jameson in a spot-on secondary role, capturing perfectly the tone of a former "savage" who has her spent time on Gallifrey maturing into a "savant". Beautifully played. We have a great support cast too, notably Julie Teal as Vorena, Tim Sutton as Scandrius, and Sheri-An Davis as Lowri (though the latter pronounces -ing words without the 'g' and, rather charmingly, calls students "shtoodens", both of these idiosyncrasies making her Castellan sound about 14).
Best of all, we have Janet Fielding in one of her best performances to date: proactive, strident and, when need be, really bloody funny. ("I'm cross!"). In the earliest days of Big Finish, then-producer Gary Russell spoke of having a shopping list: namely Paul McGann, Bonnie Langford and Janet Fielding. All three proved themselves to be among Big Finish's best voices, but Ms Fielding, the last to jump onboard, has massively outstripped all expectations, finally getting the quality of scripts that she deserves.
THE DIRECTOR and THE COMPOSER.
The snappy first-time direction from Helen Goldwyn is top drawer, making the whole thing fly, and (now here's a rarity) the music is marvellous too (all the more so for being understated and unobtrusive), with none of that perky-perky-cheeky-n-chirpy naffness that stifles so many attempts at humour. Andy Hardwick, take a very big bow.
If you're a classic Doctor Who fan and Time in Office doesn't put a smile on your face, then you are clearly closer to death than I was.
Humble pie is hospital food, so Big Finish, I owe you an apology. I've been less than charitable about some of your output in the past, but once in a while, you can still come up with gold. Time in Office is unrelentingly fab.