Imperiatrix (2005)

This second series of Gallifrey has been brilliant. The difference in quality compared to the first season is vast and I was hoping that this final story was be a fitting way to sign off. It’s clear that they mean business on the duration alone because at 100 minutes, its by far the longest story in the Gallifrey series so far. Written by Stewart Sheargold this story has a lot to live up to and a long time to fit it in. Thankfully he does this well.

The story does a good job in keeping my interest throughout the whole 100 minutes, despite the action really only getting going in the latter half of the play but even in the first half it doesn’t feel like their just playing for time. The story has Romana battling against Darkel and trying to fight against the future as told by Pandora and Leela who has to try and track to the Free Time terrorists. Leela also has to come to terms with the death of Andred who had been killed but Leela chooses now to admit her feelings and avenge his death.

I am going to repeat myself again here by praising the performances of Lalla Ward, Louise Jameson and Lynda Bellingham. Lalla Ward is fantastic as she has to fight harder than she ever did and excels in the role. Louise Jameson has more emotional stuff to do in this one as she tries to deal with the loss of Andred. I am continuing to be impressed by how the character has developed over the course of the nine stories. Lynda Bellingham is in danger of becoming my favourite character of the series. Considering how two dimensional the character was in Trial of a Timelord it hard to believe that the character we get in this story is the same one. That said, Bellingham appears to be having a ball. The character is totally horrible but brilliantly played.

There are numerous scenes that I thought were very strong and shows what is so good about these characters. One that instantly comes to mind is when the bomb has gone off and killed lots of people and one of the K9 units. There is a lovely quote that accompanies this scene;

“Look out there Romana. Look at that wasteland of ash. That is what we will become under your rule.”

The story goes mad towards the end with Romana declaring herself a dictator after the Great Key has been found. With the return of Romana 1 it was a shock to think that Romana 2 had killed Romana 1 and at the end there was a moment where Romana 2 asks Leela to kill her. It’s a this point the story cranks up the tension. It was good to have Mary Tamm back because as one of the Romana’s she should be in it more but there can only be one Romana. I was listening to this in my car and I was surprised at how abruptly it seemed to end. It’s clearly a cliffhanger to series three (only time will tell) but if this is the case then the first story of series three should be a humdinger. We have Romana effectively locked up and her relationship with Leela which has been one of the highlights of the entire series is very fragile and it’s made even more noticeable thanks to Ward and Jameson. Overall the second series has been a delight to hear with some solid scripts and some superb direction but most importantly the acting has been high rate.

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