1. Recorded Time
Writer: Catherine Harvey
Roots: The Tudors. Greensleeves (Peri sings this, and the soundtrack contains musical motifs from the tune). The Doctor recites from Shakespeare's prologue to Henry VIII (but is stopped before he can come to the bit about "a fellow /In a long motley coat guarded with yellow")
Double Entendres: "Your awesome presence has wiped the usual store of lavatorial humour from my mind."
"Believe me, there's nothing you can show me that I haven't seen before."
Goofs: The Doctor's confusion over the term "motley" for his garb seems strange given the song "On with the Motley" is later said to be one of his favourites.
Continuity: The Scrivener's quill pen is Vionesian technology, made from the feather of a temporal phoenix, a long extinct immortal bird whose wings is said to have beaten the seconds of time itself. Its ink is made from time drawn from the user, drawing life from them every time it is employed. Henry found the pen when he was a little boy, brought to Earth in a 'falling star', forcing the Court Scrivener to write his brother dead so he could become King.
Unlike in The Macros, Peri can sing. She studied British History in high school
Location: England, 1536 (the Doctor reckons it to be the 4th of May)
The Bottom Line: "England. I wasn't expecting that"
Pleasant, if a little routine. The Doctor's machinations with the house of Tudor begin here, but it's with the doomed queen Anne Boleyn that the closest links to the likes of The Marian Conspiracy can be found. This aside, there's some story here, and enough to fill the allotted time.
Writer: Richard Dinnick
Roots: Star Wars (Sendos' armoury is the subject of rumour in space cantinas) Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus and other popular gender-based psychological theory. Peri quotes from Helen Reddy's 'Woman' ("I am woman, hear me roar!")
Dialogue Triumphs: "I don't want bolshy Vosci in the skirting boards"
Continuity: The Volsci are highly functional and practical in outset, eschewing all but the most functional in the interior of their spaceship the Kalgiamofu. Among their armaments are two particle cannons and the Abdeema device. Volscine titles include Senturia and Inquisor; the Inquisor's crown is fitted with its own mind probe. The Volscine Abdeema device is a bio-weapon which attacks the nervous systems of all mammalian life forms - with it the entire population of Sendos was annihilated within weeks. The Volscine ship can teleport its crew remotely.
The lost world of Sendos is, according to the Doctor, the planetary equivalent of the Marie Celeste; According to their legend the Sendoza civilisation flourished with no external influence for millennia until the arrival of the Volsci brought it to an end. Their armoury, repited to contain a stash of 'some of the most powerful weapons ever built' was created in haste (hence the out of character, concrete look to it) and by a greatly-depleted population as a means to undo their aggressors, the survivors fleeing the blasted planet in the Kalgiamofu and broadcasting Peri's warning signal across the cosmos, creating the legend of the weapon within the armoury, but ensuring that its crystalline locks could only be undone by a Volscine weapon signature.
Atmospheric instruments aboard the TARDIS have been interfered with by some external influence. Among its effects is a pair of gas masks from the second battle of Ypres, 1915. According to the Volscine mind probe's scan of the Doctor, the TARDIS "apparently" cannot operate without his biological presence.
Peri displays some knowledge of classical architecture; likening Sendos' ruins to those of Neoclassical Roman design (the Doctor dubs them "ultra-Classical")
The Doctor creates a dimensional mis-phase in the Volscine ship Kalgiamofu, causing it to crash, He knows "a little" of the Volsci.
Links: The Doctor mentions past puzzles he has faced, including the Death Zone (The Five Doctors - mind probes are also used), the Exillon City (Death to the Daleks) and the Cybertombs on Telos (Tomb of the Cybermen). He likens Sendos to The Marie Celeste (The Chase). The explanation for the necessary biological presence of the Doctor (or, conceivably, another Time Lord) may be due to the imprimatur (The Two Doctors) or its isomorphic controls (Pyramids of Mars)
The Bottom Line: "Justice is served"
Twisting and turning, but like a Moebus Loop, disappointingly lacking in depth. Paradoxicide is your reliable paradox story in search of some engaging antagonists. Unfortunately the Volsci (a Drahvin race with the name filed off) aren't quite that.
3. A Most Excellent Match
Writer: Matt Fitton
Roots: The works of Jane Austen, particularly Pride and Prejudice, but also Persuasion and Northanger Abbey. Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Moll Flanders, Jane Eyre ("state of the attic..."), Wuthering Heights, plus the speculative essay "Was Heathcliffe Black?" The Doctor quotes from Cervantes ("faint heart never won fair lady"), David Cooperfield's Mins Micawber "to live in a perfectly new manner" and expresses his admiration of Charles Dickens quotes.
Intertextuality: The idea of the Doctor as an analogue of Darcy was widely postulated by Colin Baker himself.
Technobabble: The psychic landscape (a "psychscape") is maintained by a trans-neural damping field with psychoneutrino stabilisers which require an A.I. to process and feed back to a data core - a Transneuro Logical Interface, or TLI (aka "Tilly")
Dialogue Triumphs: Tilly on the Doctor: "He is known for his composure!"
The Doctor on D'arcy: "What an unconscionably arrogant fellow. Can't see what everyone sees in him."
"I have watched you from afar, sir, but 'til now you have never felt the heat of my passion!"
Double Entendres: "My ladies were always happy with bonnets and balls"
"Cranton, you can take me out now!"
"I always like to go full gallop"
Continuity: The Mindsmiths of Asketan were experts in mind control. A data core is a good escape capsule. During the War of '27 - "a dirty little war" [between Earth and Asketan?] the planet Asketan was reduced to a burned-out world. Cranton's 'Austen Experience' simulator uses purloined Mindsmith technology recovered from the battlefields he "mopped up" whilst in the medical coprs. The internal environment is based on the events of the works of Austen, Defoe, Hardy, Thackeray, and "a Bronte or two", with necessary embellishments. Nobody has ever come under the influence of the programme as Peri has although a few gents have offered Cranton a little extra to keep their wives under.
Peri has read Pride and Prejudice, although it was some time ago.
Links: The Twin Dilemma (the Doctor pronounces his alter-ego as "too effete"), The Unquiet Dead (the Doctor being a big fan of Dickens)
Untelevised Adventures: The Doctor's claim that "Jane would not approve" suggests he has met Ms Austen.
Location: The 'Austen Experience', 2351 Galaxy Fair
The Bottom Line: "You've got Thomas Hardy in here? We'd be lucky to get out alive!"
Easily the most outlandish and enjoyable story of the collection, being really very little more than riffing on genre clichés and some good old-fashioned Panto Dame thrown in. Despite it being more of a Fifth Doctor trope, it's surprising how much entertainment can be had from making the Sixth a fish out of water for a change. And if we're never to hear from Sabalom Glitz in the future, then Cranton must return!
4. Question Marks
Writer: Philip Lawrence
Roots: 'Amnesia danger' trope stories, including Star Trek: The Next Generation's 'Conundrum' and Buffy the Vampire Slayer's 'Tabula Rasa'. Star Trek (the ship, plus initial rankings of personnel) Journey to the Centre of the Earth. Genesis 1:3 ("Let there be light!")
Technobabble: The ship has 'monolinear computers', and the Doctor is able to fashion a crude transmit device using a shield generator circuit and a communications unit.
Dialogue Triumphs: "I may not remember exactly who I am, but I'm sure I'm not used to being wrong!"
Continuity: The ship's helm features a navigational wheel atop a central console; hardware includes a 'sonic wrench'. The crew's names are of Earth origin.
The Doctor's lash-up transmit (see: Technobabble) accidentally creates "ghost copies" of the crew is transports, corporeal, sentient and with a limited lifespan but no memories.
The TARDIS has landed aboard the vessel, but threatened by a wave of lava engages is "displacement system" (see: Links) to materialise safely on the planet's surface, stranding the Doctor and Peri aboard a scientific vessel with its crew.
Inside the Doctor's pockets are a torch, a ball of string, a squeaky toy mouse, spare buttons, a half-eaten apple, a paperback of Journey to the Centre of the Earth, and a bag of sweets.
Location: A scientific vessel below the surface of a volcanic planet, presumably in Earth's future.
Links: The Doctor recalls his and Peri's immediately-prior adventures at the 2351 Galaxy Fair (A Most Excellent Match), the planet Sendos (Paradoxicide) and the court of Henry VIII (Recorded Time). The TARDIS' HADS system is implied (The Krotons, et al)
The Bottom Line: "Memory's a funny thing, you know?"
Amnesia stories are two a penny, but the final turn of Question Marks not only satisfies the mystery plot, but offers a note of poignancy. That this most acerbic of the Doctor's incarnations would choose to remain wit a ghost in its final moments is at once an intriguing contrast and the most natural progression for Colin Baker's rebooted Time Lord. A great end to the anthology.