Writer: Stephen Cole
Director: Nicholas Briggs
Producer: Gary Russell and Jason Haigh-Ellery
Executive Producer: Jacqueline Rayner
Companion: Evelyn Smythe (Maggie Stables)
Running Time: 2 hours, 12 minutes
Summary: The Doctor and Evelyn discover that his old companion, Romana, now President of Galifrey, has been missing. To make matters worse, the Daleks are mining for the titular Apocalypse Element and set to invade Gallifrey.
Review: This story had all the elements to be good. Romana returns, setting the stage for the Gallifrey spin-0ff (so that’s two spin-offs being set up this time) Smythe, who’s becoming my second favorite Big Finish companion, is getting her first Dalek story. The Sixth Doctor is more similar to his TV portrayal, which I actually don’t mind when it’s properly written.
And yet, there are glaring flaws. Romana doesn’t seem like her TV persona, and is far too serious. There’s no chemistry between her and the Doctor. Smythe is far too cheerful. There were times I wanted to shout “Evelyn, those are buckets of hate! Why aren’t you scared! They could kill you!” (Heck, even Ace, one of the Doctor’s bravest companions, is terrified of them.) She almost seems oblivious to the danger.
I didn’t enjoy this nearly as much as part 1, but I’m not ready to say avoid. The effort is pleasing, but this doesn’t play to everyone’s strengths. And if you’re interested in the Gallifrey spin-off, you’ll need this story, so it seems.
Overall Review: 6/10
Continuity: This is the story that sets up Romana in her position of power that she has in Gallifrey. Vansell was introduced in Sirens of Time. The “Etra Prime Incident” referenced in the story is one of the opening skirmishes of the Time War, according to Russell T. Davies. In the TV movie that introduces Paul McGann, the Eye of Harmony required a human retinal pattern to open it. Evelyn does it here to explain that element.