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Serpent Crest: Aladdin Time

Released November 2011

Writer: Paul Magrs
Producer & Director: Kate Thomas

Roots: Aladdin, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Sherazade and A Thousand and One Nights. The story's title is likely a pun on the David Bowie album Aladdin Sane (itself a pun, of course). Persian myth (ghuls and afrits); Wibbsey recalls the Gryphon from Alice in Wonderland (although it too is a creature of Persian myth). The Doctor quotes The Wind in the Willows ("Poop poop, Mister Toad!"), and Harold "Kim" Philby ("To betray you must first belong")

Intertextuality: Hyspero

Dialogue Triumphs: "I don't like to be narrated!"

"That egg isn't the only precious thing I've got hidden away in that old house of mine."

The Doctor describes an avalanche of coins "It's what you might call an economic downturn"

"Ah, the treachery of knitwear"

Double Entendres: "Have I missed the great uncorking?"

"I've heard it all before - there's always someone looking for something. Don't go thinking you're doing anything novel."

Continuity: Two days pass for those who are trapped within the fabulous world inside the Skishtari egg. The Doctor describes the world as a projection, a fifth-dimensional hyper-reality created by a Skishtari gene egg, created through the psychic link it shares with Alex (and ruled over by the embryo within the egg. The Scarf too, is a construct of the Egg, sharing a 'genie' role with the Doctor and imbued with some of his personality. The Scarf say that even is a hairline crack were to appear in the shell of the egg, a defence mechanism would trigger, causing the egg to explode, scattering Skishtari gene spores for miles around.

Upon arriving back in Hexford all those who were swallowed by the egg are fully restored with their original bodies and effects. The White Hart pub has now been named The Dragon, the actual creature having disappeared the morning following the villagers' defence of Hexford. There is a local builder called Hammer and a solicitor called Monson, through whom the Doctor acquires the title deed to the land on which Nest Cottage will soon be built. In the space below what will be its foundations he plants the Skishtari gene egg.

Mrs Wibbsey is rather adept at holding her breath for long periods and was a breast stroke champion. She doesn't like insects (see: Links) and hasn't cried in forty years (possibly after the death of the unmentioned Mr Wibbsey?) This is the first mention of her neighbour "Dierdre Whatsit", who attends to Mike Yates after he spends the night in hospital after the Servo Robot attack (Tsar Wars)

The Doctor says Gryphons are very particular about their ablutions. He read the Arabian Nights as a Time Tot. He carries a device like an electronic radar and capable of detecting electronic radiation (presumably he also carries a torch, as described by Aladdin on their first meeting.)

Links: This story follows directly on from The Broken Crown. The Doctor mentions Time Tots. The Doctor's refrain "There are worlds within worlds" recalls A Hive of Horror, while Mrs Wibbsey's loathing of insects' likely springs from the Hornet's Nest encounters. She refers to her home as Cromer (The Dead Shoes)

Untelevised Adventures: The Doctor claims he visited the markets of Hyspero once and bought a Wellington boot and a wonderful parrot called Nelson (he may be lying through his teeth, but see also: Intertextuality). He was taught everything she knew about voice projection by Dame Nellie Melba ("an absolute peach!")

Location: An underground cache of treasures below the deserts outside Aleppo - but actually within an imagined environment inside the Skishtari egg.

The Bottom Line: "This is fairy tale logic, is it not?"

This is more Magrs' stomping ground, clearly. A child's imaginings - the room full of adult whispered conversation ("all the knowledge in the universe") is an inspired addition. The Sherazade super-plot, where the story takes off ahead of its teller isn't as well realised, although the final pay-off with the teller confronting the destroyer of her domain, is rather moving.

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