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'The Game'

CD Audio adventure released February 2005. 6 episodes.

Writer: Darin Henry
Director: Gary Russell

Roots: Rollerball and other future-sport-as-war (and vice versa) stories. Roy of the Rovers. Football hooliganism.

Dialogue Disasters: 'Hey, I'm kissing here!'

'There are Borloxes all over the narvy pitch!'

Double Entendres: 'Quick, pull me off - these things are almost on top of us!'

And lots of macho sporting phrases 'You're too soft!' 'You're going to go down!'

Continuity: The planet Cray has recently been twinned with Earth, a status which causes much embarrassment to Earth due to Cray's poor reputation (even the generic guides warn travellers against it) and enduring civil war, which has been visited with an Earth delegation to negotiate peace and an end to hostilities. The planet Galtry is on the other side of Cray's galaxy and uses coin currency.

Naxy in its original form was a non-violent team sport, but was marred by its teams' fans brawling outside the arenas. As these brawls became increasingly violent they also took on more public interest, and elements of the brawls and the game combined to create modern naxy, Cray's proxy civil war. Naxy is played with a wand (a stick similar to the hockey sticks of Earth, but with protective cover - the "wand" is in fact a razor-sharp blade.) The game' is played in a locked arena in time periods called 'revs' - the equivalent of forty Earth minutes. Each team is in turn responsible for their rivals' merchandising and sales and put the profits from these sales into better training and equipment for their own team (also made by the wives of players), thus ensuring stability in the game and its resources. Refusal of a one-on-one challenge by a player risks their execution and burial without honour along with the elimination of thirty of their team's strikers. While there used to be a couple of dozen teams, but all save for the Gora and Lineen have been eliminated. There is nothing to prevent outsiders from playing naxy, although this is very rare (most off-world visitors know better). 50,000 players have died this, the game's seventh season alone and of the once two-dozen teams only the Lineen and Gora literally survive.

Earth's Lord High Negotiator Darzil Carlisle is a trusted and firm acquaintance of the Doctor from the Time Lord's future. Having heard of his reputation and no longer putting off the opportunity, the Doctor is eager to meet him - this in fact is the Doctor's first meeting with Carlisle and Carlisle's last. An ineffective negotiator and ambassador, it falls on the Doctor to honour his friend and future history by acting as the power behind Carlisle's false reputation, building it with every successful peace effort - some three dozen are in his future. He resolves to embark on this after Nyssa leaves him, as she is distraught after Carlisle's death.

Velosian bornoxes are dog-like bipeds capable of being tamed and trained to kill. Fortunately, they aren't particularly fast. Mayzerians naturally emit a highly addictive pheromone with effects like a love potion. Residents of the planet Maser secrete a pheromone that is highly addictive to many species.

Future History: Earth has recently been "twinned" with Cray for publicity purposes.

Location: The planet Cray, far in Earth's future.

The Bottom Line: 'We simplify so all we can see is us versus them. Players sacrifice themselves for nothing except to keep the game alive.'

A game of six halves, but pacey enough to sustain an experimental six episodes. The Doctor is tested here by his reluctance and disgust at being hoodwinked into a murderous game, and his realising that one shouldn't meet their heroes. It's a shame the villain of the piece is so two-dimensional in contrast, but this is redeemed by the story's star player, William Russell. To add to that, the series' first out-of-sequence friendship is explored, and not before time.

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