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The Sands of Life

Released February 2013. 3 episodes.

Written and Directed by: Nick Briggs

Roots: The Doctor refers to Duck and Cover, the 1950s A-Bomb preparedness film.

Intertextuality: The Doctor refers to Nematodes- presumably a reference to Briggs' Audio Visuals story The Secret of Nematoda.

The character of Cuthbert and Conglomerate originated in Audio Visuals' 'Conglomerate' audio stories.

Goofs: What the hell is the scene with the TARDIS parrot all about? Does anyone know?

Double Entendres: "You'd better stay put in the TARDIS. The heat and sand will play havoc with your bits."

Continuity: Cuthbert is the chair and sole owner of Conglomerate, an enormous corporation with interests in IT, military hardware and infrastructure. Among their many notable achievements for Earth's government is providing aid during the Baltic famine, the collapse of the US economy, the Silesian floods and the UK badger extermination operation. Conglomerate on a remote outpost in space was performing an experiment with space/time technology when the Laan were attracted to him like moths to a flame. Cuthbert says he is known in fifty-nine civilised systems. Half of the Conglomerate space platform Fortune is destroyed in the Proxima IV system.

President Sheridan Moorkurk is the fifteenth President of Earth and in seventy-five years the first non-partisan president, elected largely by a protest vote against Conglomerate. There is a presidential palace on Earth.

Laan move by manipulating matter instinctively- warping the very fabric of space-time. They travel the Vortex (where they live) and materialise on planets to give birth, like turtles. Their materialising is done in such a way that they can avoid atmospheric burn up. 7.5 billion Laan, by the Doctor's reckoning, but while all are pregnant and ready to birth, only the three eldest will do so first to 'test the waters'. The birth of a single 'pup' (the Doctor's terminology) creates enough temporal distortion to destroy a military helicopter and all on board. Laan move in formation- their presence causes time phasing in the TARDIS, leading to the Dr recalling speeches from Genesis of the Daleks (the child speech) Laan have beaks and large, bulbous eyes. They resemble manatees. Telepathic contact with the Laan is extremely painful for Romana- the Doctor says unwanted telepathy can be dangerous. The Laan live in the time vortex but materialise on the Earth (or another sandy planet) to give birth using temporal energy the Doctor says they are the size of pilot whales (so not that big, then).

The Doctor enters a TARDIS room he hasn't been in "since I last wore a frilly shirt". It contains a signed portrait from the Duke of Wellington (the Doctor says the nose is wrong), and the Doctor says he has one from napoleon, too. The Doctor says the TARDIS' helmic regulator shouldn't be used in cases of massive energy override. The randomiser cuts out.

The Saharan sand plays havoc with K9's wheels. He can detect Romana's presence remotely. K9 remains unrepaired for more than a month following his circuitry disruption in this story.

Romana really was at the top of her class in temporal mechanics. Telepathic contact with the Laan is extremely painful for Romana- the Doctor says unwanted telepathy can be dangerous.

The Doctor adores badgers; in his jacket pocket he carries some binoculars. He hasn't heard of Cuthbert.

Future History: Earth technology still includes jet aircraft and helicopters, with bazookas in common arsenals. The Earth government has an interrogation centre in Algiers, and there is a presidential palace. The planet is currently experiencing crises in food, power and population levels.

Links: While under the influence of the Laan the Doctor recalls his "indomitable" speech (The Ark in Space) and his "Harry Sullivan is an imbecile!" remark (Revenge of the Cybermen) During the time phasing he calls Romana 'Leela' (her presence on Gallifrey is recalled by K9) and K9 "Sarah'. The Doctor's parasol is a free gift to visitors to Florana and features a low-level force field against UV rays. The last paper he read was dated 1929 (The Auntie Matter).

Unrecorded Adventures: the Doctor reminisces about a particular donkey on Blackpool Pleasure beach.

The Bottom Line: "I suppose you're right out of hard-boiled eggs?"

The first of (presumably) four interlinked stories here defies the notion of the Fourth Doctor audio adventures being exactly like the television series before it- unless you're counting the Key to Time season, of course. Sands is noisy and repetitive in the Laan scenes, and wallows in a very thing caricature of Williams-era Bakerisms (all hard-boiled egg cravings and a weird padding- sorry, parrot in the TARDIS for no apparent reason.) Three episodes is more than enough, and knowing of her poor health it's a little uncomfortable to hear Mary Tamm's voice when Romana is called to shout, panic, or cry out in pain. The inclusion of David Warner is promising though, and fingers are crossed for some effective verbal sparring between Cuthbert and the Doctor to come.

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