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Serpent Crest: Tsar Wars

Released September 2011

Writer: Paul Magrs
Producer & Director: Kate Thomas

Roots: Tom Baker reprise (in a manner of speaking) their roles as Tsar and Grigory Rasputin from their earlier appearances in Nicholas and Alexandra. Star Wars (the CD cover is a pastiche of the Geoff Love SF soundtrack album, modelled on a Star Wars poster) The Robotov Empire is itself a pun on Romanov. The Doco compares the Robotov decor to Capo di Monte collectable ware, paraphrases Congreve ("the savage breast") and recalls Lang's Metropolis (see: Untelevised Adventures)

Technobabble: "If I invert the rectilinear outflower, and finesse the axiomatic oscillator..."

Goofs: Who knocks on the door of Nest Cottage when the Servo Droids come for the Doctor? The Servo Droids? Really?

Dialogue Triumphs: "If you're not careful, Doctor, you're going to end up in the Tower, with hubby turning the key and eating it."

"Gallumph? I don't gallumph!"

The Doctor on a wormhole generator: "Think of it as a rudimentary tin-opener for an immensely dangerous can of soup."

Double Entendres: "Everybody stand back - let the dog see the rabbit!"

Continuity: The Serpent Crest is an Ouroborous device and the symbol of the Skishtari, who manipulate wormholes. The Skishtari egg resembles a Faberge egg. The Doctor knows a little of the Skishtari and says they have ransacked planets in this galaxy for many decades. Travelling through wormholes is second nature to them. They are one of the most hideously fiendish races in the cosmos. They lay dormant eggs among the populace of inhabited worlds, from which an emperor god rises at an appointed time to overcome the world. The egg within Alex will take thirteen years to hatch They have very sharp tongues, Lucius lashing out and wounding the Doctor during their meeting.

"Halfway across the cosmos", the Tsar and Tsarina rule over the Wholly and Integral Robotov Empire from the safety of their Autumn Palace, a floating platform with generator moons, whilst human workers tend the power plants on satellite planets. It has reigned for "hundreds of years". The Autumn Palace has transduction barriers Baroque decor. Mention of human masters is considered blasphemy in the Robotov Empire. Bio Moon, otherwise known as Rebel Moon, is a stronghold for the human rebels of the Empire, and is a howling wilderness of barren rock. It is deemed appropriate to have a servo class of robots to serve the Robotovs - they are not dressed and seem to be rather crude looking, by Wibbsey's reaction to them. Android technology is highly sophisticated in this quarter of the space-time continuum.

Alexander is a cyborg, created from mechanical parts of his mother the Tsarina, and cloned tissue from father Gregory. His human heart has cooling valves, and cardioplegia is used to freeze his organic compounds, which also include his brain and liver. He has mechanical arms, a metal skull plate. He is three years old.

Only certain races have the ability to harness wormhole technology, including the Skishtari who travel through them in a mother ship. Without shielding, an overused wormhole can cause untold damage to the space-time vortex. Travel down a wormhole makes Mrs Wibbsey "as sick as a parrot."

Nest Cottage is located in the village of Hexford, Sussex. There is a village green, a church and, in Mrs Wibbsey's time, a mini market, from where Nest Cottage can be seen. Up to the Nineteenth Century there were stocks on the green.

The Doctor carries barley sugars. It's been a long time since he put his biomechanical training to use.

Untelevised Adventures: The Doctor claims he was an extra in Fritz Lang's Metropolis.

Location: The Autumn Palace, the Robotov Empire

The Bottom Line: "It's all happening today, isn't it Wibbs?"

A mix of the inventive (a robot Tsarist empire) and the addled (Mike Yates' disappearance, Tom Baker's hammy Lugosi-styled Rasputin). The departure from descriptive retrospective narration is most welcome, however, and the knowing casting of Jayston in a reflection of his earlier non-Who role points to a confident beginning to an intriguing third series. A good start.

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