Roots: Sunset Boulevard (the narrative device), Cabaret, particularly the stage version (Mickey lives in a Berlin bedsit with an American student, unlike the reversed nationalities of the movie). Pianist Heinrich apparently does a bad impersonation of Noel Coward (we never hear him speak, although it is presumably him singing throughout), The Doctor's "glass of water" comment attributed to his friend "Douglas" is from Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Allis mentions having spoken to Albert Einstein. Bellis and Allis may be an homage to the characters Julian and Sandy from Round the Horne. Henry says in episode four You Can't Stop The Music. Bianca says "the swan must go on until it drops", recalling The Dying Swan.
Intertextuality: Iris Wildthyme returns from her multi-media existence [see: Excelis Dawns]. The theme music to her series is an instrumental reworking of her feature song in this story. Iris' mention of meeting the Doctor while Jo Grant was absent may be an in-joke at both roles having been played by Katy Manning. Her Las Vegas' incarnation (which sang anachronistic songs) may be her assumed identity of Scots-Caribbean lounge singer Brenda Soobie in the BBC Book Mad Dogs and Englishmen.
Dialogue Triumphs: "Bianca will have my guts for garters" "Well she might as well, the state of the lingerie in 'ere"
"Well that's the chaise lounge shot to buggery"
Dialogue Disasters: "When you've met as many camp-pains as I 'ave" (Oh, Iris)
Double Entendres: "Are you averse to a good strong 'licker' Doctor?"
"Henry, did you enjoy my little entrance - impressive, was it not?"
"When she was sitting on her hands she was fiddling with it!"
Technobabble: Chronopathic equilibrium is generated through an extradimensional conduit.
Continuity: From the outside Bianca's is a bolthole for radicals and intellectuals, where the persecuted can drink the night away away from the crumbling world around them. The club itself is what remains of Iris's TARDIS. Its shielding has been modified, so that within the dimensional nexus it is both everywhere and nowhere at once. Other dimensional entry points to Bianca's are numerous and include Astridia (from whence Ballis and Allis came), Garganon and Sagius Minor where Bianca's 'house special' is distilled. The only way into Bianca's is by special taxi [part of the TARDIS incorporating dimensional stabilisers]. Leaving a solid object in a dimensional nexus point is a bad thing to do. Codium links form part of a TARDIS's time rotor.
The worms evolved on a world affected by the dimensional instability of the nexus point, and developed the ability to foresee their own future. Repulsed by a vision of themselves having evolved into hairy, appendaged creatures, they divided themselves into two opposing factions. The 'pro-faction' intend to freeze the Universe in a single perfect moment (through Bianca's voice and amplified psychic resonances), ensuring that nothing ever changes again. Their counterparts the 'anti faction' intend to freeze the Universe in a moment of utter violence, in which everyone lives for the moment with no regard for the future, thus also never changing. The shadows are the stranded spirits of the potential future creatures the worms would have evolved into, jealous of the lives stolen from them.
Vertigo Ballis and Andre Allis hail from Astridia and wrote (Ballis) and rewrote (Allis) the book on interstital anomalies in eleven-dimensional structures. One of their multidimensional collaborations collapsed an entire star system [possibly Sirius B]. Henry mentions the Andromedan Sisterhood having some knowledge of the properties of codium links.
Iris initially doesn't fancy the Doctor much in this incarnation (but all the other ones she does), although seems to find him cuddly enough later. 1930s Berlin happens to be one of her favourite spots. There is no record of her ever having existed on Gallifrey, according to the Doctor - nobody ever claims to have met her. Iris counters this by saying she erased her existences. Some time ago, Iris found herself on the planet where Bianca's 'house special' (a liqueur which smells of tequila) is distilled, and she stole a crate of it. In a different body Iris had a regular show in las Vegas thirty years from now (i.e. the 1960s) Much to the Doctor's chagrin, as the Valeyard is to his self, Bianca is an embodiment of the dark sides of Iris' personality, and in a similar ploy intends to steal Iris's remaining regenerations for herself.
The Doctor wears size ten shoes and carries an illuminating device in his pocket. He was once fond of fishing but then thought it wasn't fair on the fish and gave it up. He confesses that he was deeply hurt when his people put him on trial. Though it was a sham, he still feels that nobody is ever grateful for all he does for the Universe. Recalling the events of his trial and his adversaries leading up to it ("militaristic cyborgs, hell-bent dictators and lunatic computers, lizard men and Yeti...") he wonders whether he externalised his inner demons through them. He once, as a small boy wrote a treatise on the chromosomal origins of love, proving categorically which genes began it, which enzymes carried it and which electrochemical receptors translated it - but his tutor said he'd missed the point entirely and gave him a 'rubbish' grade. It took all the fun and mystique out of love for him. He says he has met Iris "all through my times in all the wrong places."
The Seventh Doctor revisits this story as a "Mr Ashcroft', to whom Mickey the waitress tells her tale. He promises to 'take care' of the recordings made by Bianca of the events leading to her TARDIS' destruction.
Links: The Doctor recalls his alter ego the Valeyard and speaks extensively on his recent trial (Trial of a Time Lord) - the Andromedan Sisterhood Henry mentions may be related in some way to the Andromedan subplot of that story. The Time Ram was introduced in The Time Monster. Bianca quotes the Doctor's description of himself "walking through eternity" (Pyramids of Mars). The Doctor's love of fishing in evident in The Two Doctors.
Untelevised Adventures: The Doctor recalls liaising with Iris in his third incarnation whilst in Venice "at a loose end" just after Jo had left him. He suggested they 'team up', but Iris took it as a marriage proposal.
Location: Bianca's TARDIS and one of its entrances in Berlin 1930.
The Bottom Line: "What's got to him?" "Lashings of tequila and the love of a bad woman!"
Great fun, and probably Paul Magrs' best Big Finish script. With no story arc behind it it's a better introduction to Iris and though he's a little sidelined, Colin Baker's dilettante Doctor is quite at home in its bohemian setting. And the last line is a great surprise too. Recommended.