The Apocalypse Element (#11)

Big Finish Main Range

I’ve changed my mind a little on this one—I don’t remember it fondly, that’s for sure. It felt like a mistreatment of the Daleks to bring them back just to plot and subplot their way into Gallifrey. My biggest problem with this audio is that they’re trying to do too much and make every little bit of it adventurous and exciting. Give us a few moments of breathing room, will ya? There’s Arkatrix (sp?), Gallifrey, the TARDIS, and that disappearing planet. I know other stories do a lot of hopping around, like The One Doctor, but they have lulls where things aren’t quite so dire.

And perhaps what’s ultimately the thing that makes this audio not wonderful is that other than the Doctor’s little speech, where he rails against Evelyn not being able to take it all in… “Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!” oiy. Other than that, people are just kind of rushing around, reacting to things. Like the element itself, it’s just a lot of talking about the universe being destroyed but I didn’t really feel the intensity. Not exactly sure why but perhaps because it’s taking place on Gallifrey. If the Doctor, in his own little time lord world, can’t fix it, then there’s no point for this audio, is there? Sometimes the audios have too weak of a bad guy but in this case, it’s the opposite. Everything’s so dire that my puny human mind just can’t believe it. J perhaps the Doctor would lecture me as he does Evelyn but that’s just me coping then!

On the other hand, using a human to lock down Gallifrey? Oh, the irony. Though Monitor Trinket would’ve worked just as well, don’t you think? There’s only one of her! The Daleks are their usual menacing selves, out-thinking and out-scheming everyone. That’s a big chance they take and it does seem a bit risky for the rewards. Depending on someone else to fix it, basically, by letting the Time Lords do the fixing seems a bit risky, even for their maniacal natures.

And these aren’t your normal Time Lords, using the Matrix to look at past, present, and future and rule the galaxy through inaction or “guiding” action! They don’t even notice that Gallifrey is taken over? But I guess if they take heed of it in the Matrix, they will avoid that fate and they can’t do that, can they? They seem to bend the rules to their own benefit, usually. So these Time Lords are definitely your pushover variety that don’t take part in the grand Time War or the Gallifrey serials. The scheming Imperiatrix should just be able to grind them into dust, this lot! Daleks just waltz right in. If they already know that their weapons have no effect on Daleks, wouldn’t they have some weapons somewhere that might make a dent? They aren’t out there being all chummy with the Daleks or avoiding them totally so they must know of/have weapons that can kick Dalek butt.

But then again, in the Sirens of Time, the Knights of Eleysia just waltz right in and take over as well. Gallifrey may be the center of the universe and the Time Lords all mean and powerful, according to some characters in the stories, but they sure can be taken over if you’ve got a good tactician and some time-wares that can get under the shields. Ultimately, it’s all about a Doctor – Dalek showdown in the end. And that’s what it’s geared to. Romana has been imprisoned for 20 years and shows all her usual running around skills with the Doctor. Poor woman! Free and then running around like a maniac. She’s gotta be hungry after all that! Then again, Time Lords never seem to eat. So maybe she doesn’t need much food!

Ultimately, it’s a decent audio but with too many issues to make it great. The Daleks get their own galaxy to conquer, which we never hear a word about later, and we get the return of the Daleks to these “new” audios with a rock-em, sock-em chase audio where Evelyn and the other side characters all get their own little things to do in order to bring it all to a resounding conclusion. Ta-da!

Colin Baker, Maggie Stables, and Lalla Ward

Writer: Stephen Cole

Director: Nicholas Briggs

Release: August 2000

Laura Vilensky 2019