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Destination Nerva

Released January 2012. 2 episodes

Written and directed by: Nicholas Briggs

Roots: Doctor Foster Went to Gloucester. The Flashman novels (Lord Jack may be an analogue of the titular hero). Kipling's The White Man's Burden. The Doctor recalls the opening to Bulwer-Lytton's Paul Clifford ("It was a dark and stormy night") Alien. Zulu

Intertextuality: Briggs reuses his Drudger robots, which appear in the Dalek Empire audios and originated in the pre-BF Audio-Visuals fan audio series.

Goofs: ...see The Foe From the Future, though here it's not strictly a Goof, just evidence for the prosecution.

Dialogue Triumphs: "I could travel in the TARDIS for a billion, billion years and still scratch the surface of eternity."

Continuity: Nerva is a space dock orbiting Jupiter (as postulated by the Doctor in The Ark in Space) and is in its first incarnation, still being assembled.

The Epiderm is a biological weapon created by the Drellerin and spread by touch. It develops very rapidly, forming a skin that smothers and overtakes its host; it can interrupt machinery and electronic systems too.

Drellerin are ten feet tall and have luminous yellow skin. They dress in orange overalls, and their culture enjoyed millennia of peace until war was brought to it by Lord Jack Corrigan's theft of their stricken probe, which crashed into a house in Kent in 1895. Access to Drellerin technology extends the lifespan of Lord Jack and his crew.

Drudgers can hover and float; security drudgers fire paralysing rays.

Leela experiences space walking for the first time.

The Doctor has an umbrella and, lacking a torch, a 'lucifer' from Professor Litefoot's matchbox. As they have just left Professor Litefoot's residence they are still dressed in the clothes they wore in Talons of Weng-Chiang (see: Links) The Doctor identifies a broken vase from the Song dynasty. He's always had a soft spot for Butlers.

Links: This story directly follows The Talons of Weng-Chiang, continuing the previous story's closing scene, while the Doctor and Leela refer to Professor Litefoot and Henry Gordon Jago. The Neva beacon stories (Ark in Space and Revenge of the Cybermen). The butler named Butler goof in The Foe from the Future originates here. He's said it before but human beings are quite his favourite species

Location: Kent, 1889 and Nerva Dock, [late 29th or early 30th century]

The Bottom Line: "'Emergency' - this is a message from space?" "No, from Kent!"

Tied to a televised story (two if you count Ark in Space), this is an odd choice for a season opener. Neither comedy not thriller, it falls between stools when it should be drawing new listeners in. That said, Tom Baker's never sounded better, and the music is a superb imitation of Deadly Dudley's best moments. It should have been better, though, as either of its audio neighbours show.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF NERVA

Destination Nerva marks the third visit the Doctor has made to Nerva Beacon in its many guises, although not necessarily in order. As told in this story, Nerva originated as an orbital dock near Jupiter around the turn of the 30th century, and once completed was employed for a thirty year assignment by the Interplanetary Space Command as a manned warning beacon (one of an apparent network, if the also-mentioned Ganymede beacon is any indication) for craft nearing Voga, a planetoid which appeared in Jupiter's orbit fifty years previously (Revenge of the Cybermen.)

"Thousands of years" later and forecasting the threat of solar flares rendering Earth uninhabitable, the World Executive re-purposed Nerva, moving it to Earth's orbit and powering it with solar stacks to serve as a cryogenic 'ark' containing archives, DNA samples of Earth's flora and fauna, as well as the bodies of selected human volunteers (The Ark in Space.) Originally intended to house these specimens for up to five thousand years, a malfunction in Nerva's central system saw the ark disappear into legend, it human inhabitants "overslept" ten thousand years, many falling prey to an infestation of Wirrn near the end of this sleep. At the same time, Earth's Empire pushed out to other galaxies, including GalSec and Andromeda (The Sontaran Experiment, Dalek Empire I: Project Infinity) who later warred with the Wirrn in their new territories (Wirrn Dawn). In time, the Wirrn reached Earth and found places to hibernate there (Wirrn Isle)

In 16807 the sleepers on Nerva awoke and Earth was properly recolonised, with Nerva City, the new capital, built on the former site of New York City - the temporary home of a genetically-controlled human population (Wirrn Isle.) Though expediency has required occasional contact with GalSec and genetic reintroduction from the colonies to the new Earth population, the creation of Nerva City marks the return of humanity to Earth and, it could be assumed, after an incredible thirteen thousand or so years, the final role played by the original Beacon (once again referred to only as a 'space station' in Wirrn Isle) in Earth's history.

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