Before we move on to a new Sixth Doctor trilogy, the Main Range take a one-release detour and gives us the Fifth Doctor, but not as we know him! Time in Office is actually a genuinely funny story focusing on the idea that The Doctor has been caught and forced to become President, a role he accepted in the past. Four distinct parts and plenty of fun, with both Tegan and Leela along for the journey… Let’s take a look at it then!
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!
Rassilon save him. This time, there’s really no escape.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Cast of Characters:
The Doctor (Peter Davison) – After dropping off the Gravis, The Doctor and Tegan are on their way back to Frontios to pick up Turlough… although, the idea of a straight journey was obviously a pipe dream! The Doctor’s recent past has come back to bite him on the backside…
Tegan (Janet Fielding) – Tegan, who alone came with The Doctor to drop off the Gravis, is now trapped on Gallifrey as the former takes the position of President. Well, if he can take a fancy new position, why can’t she?
Leela (Louise Jameson) – After having settled down on Gallifrey with her new love, Leela has been used by the Time Lords to help clean up several messes, including the one left behind by Borusa and his multiple Doctor antics. Now she finds herself with The Doctor again, but still on Gallifrey…
Castellan Lowri (Sheri-An Davis) – A strict follower of the rules, even if that means having to serve under known renegade The Doctor…
Chancellor Vorena (Julie Teal) – A Chancellor who is secretly a supporter of The Doctor and his ways, and wishes to find a way to have him lead the Time Lords “properly”.
A very modern looking Gallifrey in the background! Nice to see a little continuity between new and old…
The story is loosely four individual stories with an obviously strong linking narrative, but before we look into each part I’d like to praise the overall performance of the lead trio of Doctor, Tegan and Leela, as well as the guest cast. They all had their work shoes on here, the script is properly funny, and the lines are said brilliantly by the actors themselves. Top marks all round!
The first story is mainly focused on The Doctor getting forced into the position and Tegan struggling with Gallifrey immigration. There are some fun scenes with The Doctor and the two female higher ups, but the scene stealers are The Doctor’s reaction to Leela’s idea that he should marry Tegan so she could stay of Gallifrey, and Tegan’s eventual appointment to “Earth Ambassador”, which she takes great pleasure in.
Episode two sees The Doctor and co. on a diplomatic mission to a rather unpleasant God-like race that once warred with the Time Lords but are now permitted to live (or from their perspective, they fought the Time Lords to a draw). Sadly for the Doctor and Leela, the head of this race is the brother of someone they had killed back in the day on Earth, leading to negotiations coming to an obvious standstill. Castellan Lowri’s reactions to finding out what had happened and her confusion at how the Doctor and Leela could have forgotten such an epic confrontation is great, but the highlight is Tegan trying to make conversation with the leader. Tegan eventually goes back and stops the people that believe in the God-like race (forgot the name, by the way, sorry about that) from believing in them, causing them to vanish. Tegan feels a bit off about accidentally causing genocide, but The Doctor assures her they were evil and arrogant… so… hooray, I guess?
Episode three is pure fun, with The Doctor walking around his old school dorm, a failed protestor who tries to make a dramatic point about The Doctor having “sold out” and joined the upper-class bureaucracy with his “Time Drill”… that never works, and Tegan going on an trip with a weedy sounding guy who thinks he can be the next Doctor by stealing a TARDIS, only to get everything wrong. The latter guy gave me a proper laugh, especially when he somehow found a planet seemingly made of toothpaste and then wrote about it dramatically in his journal.
While I had some problems with Part 4, it still had some good moments, although in a more serious way. The idea that Chancellor Vorena is actually a supporter of The Doctor and gives him a super-powerful new TARDIS so he can literally lead the Time Lords to intervene on all the planets that need saving is a great idea, and the fact that really she didn’t do anything wrong, per-say, apart from not seeing the bigger picture of what The Doctor does. Plus the fact that the TARDIS turned into a giant robot for seemingly no reason was also funny!
Part 4 did feel slightly less fun overall, and Tegan was a bit of a non-event. The idea that someone secretly turned the whole of Gallifrey’s central building into a TARDIS without even the architect knowing was a bit too much to take as well… Still, not bad, just not as fun.
This is a sort-of direct sequel to classic multi-Doctor story “The Five Doctors”, where President Barusa is … dealt with and the Time Lord council anoint The Doctor as new President, leaving to him “going on the run again”. The actual story takes place in between scenes in the TV story “Frontios”, where The Doctor and Tegan are shown to have dealt with principle menace the Gravis off-screen in a trip in TARDIS.
Leela is on Gallifrey and makes mention of both her partner Andred and the K9 The Doctor left her being away. She left him and stayed on the planet in the Fourth Doctor TV story “The Invasion of Time”. Leela at one point mentions she dealt with the Raston Warrior Robot that was left in the Death Zone on Gallifrey, another reference to “The Five Doctors”.
This is a properly fun story, that kept me interested and smiling the whole way through. Sure it comes apart a little at the end, but in general I had a blast. This gets a 5, not because its necessarily “Perfect”, but because I definitely will “Listen to it again… many times!”.