The final box set of Gallifrey kicks off with a story that you think is going to be a massive battle between the Daleks and the Regenerators (this universe’s version of the Time Lords), but instead makes a neat swerve and becomes a strong character piece about our three heroes – along the way, showing clearly the toll that their adventures over the past few years has taken.
Scott Handcock’s script is not for the faint of heart. These are the Daleks at their all-conquering arrogant best/worst: cruel, vicious, cunning and utterly ruthless. Those who think they can wheedle their way around them find out the hard way that this isn’t the case; those who have faith in their weaponry against the might of Dalek firepower soon learn their errors. The story also finds time to wrap up some of the threads which have been hanging around, in some cases from before Gallifrey started.
There are various solo or two-hand scenes in the story – Romana and a Dalek; Romana addressing the people of Gallifrey; and Leela and Narvin – which show just how much these characters have grown. It’s sometimes seemed as if the pragmatic, harder side of Romana has been forgotten: this is a woman who spent years as a prisoner of the Daleks, and that has informed her actions ever since. Lalla Ward and Nicholas Briggs excel in their scene which is chilling in the extreme in the depth of emotion on display, which counterpoints with Ward’s solo scene. Sean Carlsen and Louise Jameson have a memorable conversation early on, with the silence between the two parts of the discussion neatly judged by director Gary Russell
Verdict: A tremendous curtain-raiser… 8/10