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'Plague of the Daleks'

CD Audio adventure released December 2009. 4 episodes.

Writer: Mark Morris
Director: Barnaby Edwards

Roots: Zombie movies - particularly Hammer's The Plague of Zombies, The Birds, Westworld. Oliver Goldsmith's The Deserted Village. The Doctor misquotes Algernon Charles Swinbourne ("the hounds of spring are on winter's traces") and quotes the nursery rhyme Rain, rain, go away. Silent Night plays while the Doctor and Nyssa enter The Green Dragon.

Intertextuality: The local church, St Justinians, was first named in the DWM strip The Tides of Time.

Goofs: If the Mrs Withers the Doctor recalls meeting (and placing somewhere in her seventies) in 1982 is Alice and not her older sister Marjory [possibly actually her clone - it is left vague], how can her son Philip have died in 1989 aged seven? On the other hand, if the seventy-year old Mrs Withers from 1982 was Marjory, this would, according to Eternal Summer's hazardous chronology put Alice in her twenties in 1982 and therefore quite capable of bearing a child, albeit also having a fifty-year age gap between her and her sister. Either someone's adopted, or the Withers family is superhuman. And why do two sisters (at least one married) share the same surname (Alice's maiden name is Evans), and why does a clone of Marjory from 1960 express sympathy for "poor Alice" when Alice's tragic loss occurs nearly thirty years in her future? Gaaah!!

Dialogue Triumphs: "-This is suicide!" "Quite possibly, but at least if you're right you'll have the satisfaction of being able to say 'I told you so'. And I'll have the satisfaction of not being able to hear you."

"What's the matter, got a fog in your throat?"

Technobabble: A bergeron manipulator. The shuttle's comms system uses a WN-9 filtration system (the Doctor's anticipated WN-5 apparently "went out with the Ark")

Double Entendres: "See? The Time of the Daleks is long gone"

Continuity: "Centuries" before the mid-45th Century the main Dalek fleet has been wiped out in Earth's quarter of the galaxy by a combined war effort comprising a hundred different worlds, leading to the popular and erroneous belief that the species is finally extinct. A 'critical age' has arrived, during which solar flares have all but finished off Earth as well, although the population survives in many off-world colonies which have existed for centuries.

The Daleks here are the remaining three survivors of a six-strong survey team charged with securing the Doctor's TARDIS and entrapping the Time Lord in Stockbridge, a known place of return for him by now. Ensuring the village's survival and using drones and aerial surveillance units (artificial carrion crows) they have played out a long game, waiting for his return. In the intervening seventeen centuries natural age and decay has brought about the deterioration of three units in their cryo-chambers, necessitating in the extermination of the last of them.

The Stockbridge Heritage Experience is one of only three world heritage sites still in existence and comprises an environment bubble with four seasonally-adjusted quarters through the original village; including a snowy Winter Quarter (St Justinians, the "village pub" - The Green Dragon, and the high street), a rainy Autumn Quarter, and sunny Spring Quarter (the village green and surrounding cottages). All wildlife is represented by artificial life forms (ALs), while the villagers themselves are nth generation clones with limited autonomy and a deteriorating lifespan over each generation. There is an environmental control kiosk on the village green, disguised as a bakery. Witches' Run is a gravelly path leading to a concealed pond where suspected witches were subjected to trial by water. A pump nearby was forged at the local smithie. According to Lysette the Village Green was the battle between Sir Roland's knights and the Rutan clones in the 12th century, which would place Stockbridge a lot closer to the Castle than suggested in The Eternal Summer (but it does allow for the epicentre of that story's spatial bubble to be located on the green). The Green Dragon Inn is located on Stockbridge's high street, while the middle of Wells Wood is described as being some five kilometres away.

Phillip Withers (aged 7) died in the Stockbridge School fire on 24 June 1989 (see: Goofs), while Jane Potter died, aged 18, on 11 May 1964 and Lizzie Corrigan died aged 112. Other names in the cemetery include [Dudley?] Jackson, [a] Grubb, and three Sinclairs (see: Links). Mr Linfoot has ancestors in the village, namely an Edward Linfoot who died in 1872 aged 56 while a Mrs Sowerby ran the Post Office.

Isaac and Lysette originate from Satellite 16, an Earth colony in the Hammer Nebula, where Isaac had previously worked as a technician in a munitions factory.

Lucereans are a scholarly race with purple skin and tentacles. They have a reputation for being blunt and humourless, but are otherwise good-natured. During mating they use bioluminescent proteins in their skin to attract a partner in a ritual display; their dead are 'reabsorbed' as a source of protein.

Nyssa identifies the statue within St Justinian's [correctly] as Sir Justin [suggesting the Doctor has filled her in on the events of The Tides of Time], although the Doctor refers to it as 'Saint Justinus' - which doesn't help explain the church's name. According to the tour information it dates back to the 11th Century (which means it would have been standing during the Rutan occupation of Stockbridge Castle in the 12th Century). Nyssa says she finds Earth currency, with its geographic and temporal differences, utterly baffling.

At the Academy the Doctor was known for being "incorrigibly proactive'. The Doctor claims he picked up his talent for breaking and entering from the Great Omani [the same artiste performed on Brighton Pier - perhaps this is connected with his experience of the place as recounted in Pier Pressure?]. He orders a ginger beer at the Dragon (Nyssa orders water), carries matches in his pocket and is partial to a jam

Future History: Skimmers, small aerial craft, were developed in the Fortieth century, while the tour party's 'refresher' packs contain pills to envigourate members. "Creation!" is invoked as an exclamation, seemingly replacing traditional religious figures. The Doctor says that both the technology for the environment control bubble and weather station within it are not achievable in this time period.

Links: Mister Linfoot discovers the graves of Alice and Harold Withers and their son Philip, plus that of Lizzie Corrigan, Jane Potter and Dudley Jackson (The Eternal Summer) Also found are graves marked 'Grubb' (see previous Stockbridge stories) and three graves for Sinclair, suggesting that future companion Izzy (The Company of Friends) is eventually buried in Stockbridge.

The Bottom Line: "Evidently history isn't what it used to be."

A great and atmospheric opening two episodes is let down by a very routine second half once the signposted Daleks appear ('surprise!'). Despite claims in the production interviews to the contrary (Mark Morris based the village geography on that of the comic strips - but gets everything round the wrong way), there's an ignorance of past BF stories (life forms in the rain versus Daleks also appeared in The Genocide Machine, Sarah Sutton calls this her second Dalek story - it's her third), too much we've heard before elsewhere and, frustratingly, a sense that nothing has really been wrapped up - the Viridios storyline goes unmentioned, and the Doctor and Nyssa neatly leave the village, stepping over the bodies of every other member of the cast as they head back to the TARDIS. Bah.

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