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Demon Quest III: A Shard of Ice

Released 4 November 2010

Writer: Paul Magrs
Producer & Director: Kate Thomas

Roots: The Snow Queen. The Doctor names the coach horses Bucephalus (after Alexander the Great's favourite horse), Copenhagen (after the Duke of Wellington's steed), and Neddy. The Dark is Rising (the Doctor intones this once again). Albert compares the vision of the Demon cradling a wounded Mike to Michelangelo's Pieta. The Demon's fourth 'relic', a comic book, features a parody of Superman ("It's a bird!" "It's a plane!" "No, it's-")

Intertextuality: The Doctor's suggestion of telling his story of what we know as Colony in Space name checks its Target novelisation Doctor Who and The Doomsday Weapon.

Dialogue Triumphs: "These writers are always getting tongue-tied in the presence of a beautiful lady... you are a lady, aren't you?"

Continuity: A night has passed at Nest Cottage before the Doctor and Mike begin this tale, the Doctor and Mrs Wibbsey relating their adventure thus far over dinner.

Albert Thiermann's father Ernst was a renowned storyteller. Albert himself was barely acknowledged by him and has reached the age of forty here. To date he has never seen his works committed to print.

The Demon has been in the Murgin Pass for forty years, manipulating Albert's life and journeys while ensconced in an ice cave, its Dematerialisation Chamber housed in Frau Herz's guest house. The creature is better described here, with silver wings like a bat's, shining purple skin and a twisted fanged maw and face — it reeks of rotting flesh and brimstone. Its throne is biothermic and made of diamond within a grotto of sapphires. Once again the clues the Demon leaves turn out to be unreal — in this instance the fairy tale illustration includes the body of Mike Yates, though he is noticeably absent from the scene itself. The Demon announces its home as 'Sepulchre'.

The Doctor describes a Dematerialisation Chamber as being like a "primitive TARDIS". His spatial geometer is now half-repaired, meaning travel in time is easier, and to a degree movement in space, but not short hops. He says he hates moving people around in the TARDIS all the time and that it has been a "very long time" since he last faced a dragon in its den. Inside the Doctor's coat pockets are various items of brass and wood, an apple core and a piece of string. Once again (see: Hornets Nest) he displays a skill at calming animals.

Mike has in the past year visited the Brigadier, Liz Shaw and caught up with Jo Grant who has been 'in country' for a while, relating the previous Christmas' adventure to them. He didn't meet the Yeti during his time with UNIT, and is still carrying his revolver from Hive of Horror.

Links: The Doctor recounts the events of The Relics of Time, while Mike refers to the "space hornets" of A Hive of Horror. Among the stories the Doctor considers telling Tiermann are those of The Keys of Marinus, Colony in Space (see: Intertextuality), Genesis of the Daleks (most of it) and potentially Pyramids of Mars. The Doctor refers to the Yeti (The Abominable Snowmen — in either case, although he may more likely be referring to those in The Web of Fear)

Location: The Murgin Pass (probably in the Alps), over a day's ride from the summer palace of Saint Clemence, 1847.

The Bottom Line: This is more like it! Atmospheric, evocative and quite creepy in places. Sam West's uncertain and dispassionate narrator works well, constantly alarmed and bewildered by the Doctor who works very well here with Mike Yates. The fairy tale trappings are used more lightly than you might expect, and for once the Doctor seems more directly in peril once the Demon unmasks him/herself. Probably the best story of the series so far.

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