Roots: Catch 22, Jane Eyre (an apparent 'mad woman in the attic')
Goofs: Given the commonly held belief that Mel is from the 1980s, why is she invited to an event perhaps fifteen years after her joining the Doctor and without comment as to her being away? And how exactly did it get to her in the first place?
What causes the apparitions? It can't be the canister as the stories seemingly predate its existence. Maybe it's the prototype buried in the garden?
Dialogue Triumphs: "Brain and mind disorders are my speciality. Mania, schizophrenia, hysteria, delusions, neuroses, dementia - all these I see with regularity in my line of work."
Double Entendres: "There's something wrong here, I can't put my finger on it" "-All I can feel is a sense of panic"
Continuity: The National Foundation for Scientific Research is located in Hallam Hall, Berkshire; its director is Dr David Munro. Mel's uncle John Hallam works for the Foundation as a historian and sometime chemist. Hallam Hall has been in John's family for 300 years; its upper floors have a reputation for being haunted. Mel ancestor, Henry Hallam outlived his first wife Jane and remarried Eleanor (neither marriage produced children).
A time capsule, constructed from a new alloy developed at the Foundation is to be buried in the Hall's gardens. Its prototype is constructed from an unstable alloy developed for the space programme, but having unusual properties, which cause it to react to the close proximity of the TARDIS, shortening out its telepathic circuits and damaging the console.
Mel experiences the reaction as a consequence of the TARDIS telepathic circuits first attempting to 'warn' her of imminent danger, before interacting with the canister and attempting to relocate her to a place of safety informed by what she is thinking at the time (in this case the story of Eleanor Hallam in 1782). As she travels Mel is unable to move, feels cold and hears the sound of the carbon dating machine close by.
Unprotected travel through the Vortex can have serious side-effects on a person, such as disorientation and confusion [c.f. Winter for the Adept]. The close proximity of the Ship and prototype cause a sensation of disorientation in Mel, though not the Doctor.
An alarm [The interferometer?] on the TARDIS console alerts the Doctor presence of a kink in time.
Mel has a BSc (Hons). She used to visit her uncle at the Foundation during her school holidays and says he's to blame for her interest in science. Because of the damage to the TARDIS console and turbulence in the Vortex caused by the unstable canister, six months of her life pass while the Doctor is searching for her. She later recalls little of her time at Hallam Hall.
The Doctor has a pill he picked up as a hangover cure from Zanthas IV which successfully counteracts the effects of laudanum. He says he is a doctor of medicine "among other things". He implies that some attendees at the Foundation function are old acquaintances. In his pocket he carries a portable time sensor which detects time distortion and can ascertain whether something has travelled in time (and, seemingly, in which direction)
Links: Trial of a Time Lord (Mel's eidetic memory), Gallifrey as a place in Ireland originally appeared in The Hand of Fear.
Q.v. 'The Doctor's Doctorate', 'A Brief History of Mel', 'Ghosts and Apparitions', 'The TARDIS' Telepathic Circuits'
Location: Hallam Hall, Berkshire, 12 December 2003, June 1782
The Bottom Line: "I feel like today has gone on forever. I need a drink!"
At the centre of this story is one of unrequited love and mourning. There's no villain here, no monsters or aliens, and no ticking time bomb. It should be a better story, though. It suffers from being overlong, under-complicated, and weird cliff hanger placements. Well-intended, but in serious need of a trim.
GHOSTS AND APPARITIONS
"I don't believe in ghosts", the Doctor has said on several occasions, and there's little evidence so far to disagree with him.
Ghosts and apparitions in the series to date can roughly be sorted into one of three categories: psychic phenomena (already established as very real, although rare, in the Who universe), alien or extra-dimensional activity, or a consequence of temporal disturbance - an echo of the past or future. In fact, some established examples in the various audio series us these in combination.
The nature of ghosts is alluded to by the Doctor in 'The Wishing Beast' as something of an insubstantial existence - a 'layer' of an individual given form by 'psionic" energy. In this manner, we might infer that anything with a psychic aspect - even a latent one - could reasonably manifest as an apparition given the right circumstances. Psychic activity and apparitions are matched when psychic individuals impact on the structure of time and space, allowing extra-dimensional beings to enter our universe (Winter for the Adept), manifest through latent psychic awareness (Phantasmagoria) or indeed when beings from outside our dimension use psychic energy to manifest in ours (The Ghosts of N-Space, The Haunting of Thomas Brewster). If we assume that a degree of psychic energy is latent in all living things, and that some structures are able to 'record' traumatic events through psychic residue, then we have the explanation offered in 'Excelis Rising'.
When temporal energies are involved what results is somewhat similar, but involving a limited projection of a past or future event, presumably fuelled by the spillage of time from a relative continual displacement zone (a hole in time - 'Image of the Fendahl') - a rift. This is the closest to an explanation we might find for the apparition of Mel in 'Catch 1782', a past echo amplified by the close proximity of a temporally-volatile event.