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144a 'Excelis Rising'

CD audio adventure released April 2002, 1 episode

Writer: David A McIntee
Director: Edward Salt

Roots: Alice in Wonderland ('Curiouser and curiouser.'), Hamlet ('Something rotten in the state of Gatrecht?') MR James, 1970s Pan Books of Ghost Stories - Reeve Maupassant is named after writer Guy de Maupassand, Inquisitor Danby is named after editor Mary Danby. Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner (the Doctor's malapropism that the Reeve is 'hanging around [his] neck like an albatross'). Arthurian legend ([King] Grayvorn will return at the time of Excelis' greatest need). Jack the Ripper ('the Eastern Slums prostitute strangler'), The Brick Moon, Verne's De la terre à la lune, The Stone Tape (ghosts are 'structural 'recordings' made by buildings), The Importance of Being Earnest ('a handbag?'); plus some knowing plays on the Doctor Who Restoration Team. BBV's Stranger series (a character called Solomon), Curse Of Fatal Death (Pryce is named after Jonathan Pryce). Khem is the ancient Egyptian name for Egypt. Carmilla (one's immortality revealed through their presence in ancient paintings).

Fluffs: Artaris is occasionally pronounced 'Ahtrus'.

Goofs: The thief comes in just after the Curator leaves and he and Solomon steal the Relic soon after, setting off the alarms. Yet no one responds until the next morning?

How does the Doctor know it's 1000 years after 'Excelis Dawns'? [he read it before exiting the TARDIS]

Dialogue Triumphs: Doctor: 'When you've been falsely accused of serious crimes as often I have, you learn to recognise the oncoming inevitability of the next one.'

'I always saw you more as saltpetre than as Saint Peter'

Continuity: A thousand years have passed since the events of 'Excelis Dawns'. Grayvorn has been officially declared a myth, although a few know the truth of his existence. He is also referred to as King Grayvorn. It is said he will return at the time of Excelis' greatest need. Although the Relic was recovered from the swamp after a few days by the Little Sisters of Excelis (the nuns of 'Excelis Dawns'), the bodies of Grayvorn and the Mother Superior were never found. Most of the gold has rubbed off the outside of the bag (although microscopic remnants were recovered), and its sun-symbol clasp has since rusted shut. The Relic is a gateway between life and the afterlife, through which every soul must pass.

Grayvorn is now known as Reeve Maupassant, although after fusing with the Mother Superior it's now debatable as to who is in control of his body, as she lives on in his mind and now wishes to control his body. He hasn't slept in ten centuries - a pay-off for his immortality. He worked his way into the status of reeve from a lowly street warden. Reeves were the first formal enforcers of law, have existed for three hundred years and are in charge of the wardens. There are few women warders - females in positions of authority are rare on the whole, although there is an Empress Regent.

The most valuable articles in Excelis are kept in the secure sanctum of its Imperial Museum, secured by iron doors and an alarm system. The Imperial Archives, elsewhere in Excelis, have a black museum of their own, which Grayvorn has access to by imperial edict.

Artaris has recently undergone a mechanical revolution - steam power is at its height, gyrocopters are in use and dirigible fields are located nearby. They also have an artificial red brick moon, to which men are sent by means of a giant cannon built into Mount Excelis. Communication is available via the innovation of the wireless telegraph. Spiritualism (a new science) is popular in Excelis. Seances are conducted by mediums, psychometrists exist, and the Etheric Minister presides over these sciences in government. Other societies on Artaris include the jungle kingdoms, Calaanite civilisation ( 'Calaan lover' is considered an insult) and Gatrecht (the two have skirmishes on the borders and are trying to organise a peace treaty). Other areas of the planet include the Kreplachan Archipelago (where a dreadnought recently crashed). The antidiluvian jungles were the subject of a recent address to the Imperial Society by Margrave. Animals mentioned include rats and field mice, plus moor spiders, which can grow quite large and may be venomous. Sheep or goats can be heard in the background of the ornithopter scene.

It is thought by the Doctor that the zombies of 'Excelis Dawns' were animated through the power of the Relic.

Teragonan dream monkeys, a species of proto-marsupials that feeds on the electrochemical charge of small animals and excretes interference on a psychic wavelength. In humanoids it causes the mind to be filled up with useless random thoughts that even the thinker can't understand. Concentration is impossible under those conditions. Their home is a million light years from Excelis.

The Doctor hasn't visited Artaris since the events of 'Excelis Dawns'. He loves dinosaurs and only reads the cartoons and does the crosswords of newspapers. He is a little uncomfortable with authority these days and is 'a mere stripling' at 900. He expresses skepticism at the idea of psychic powers (surely a feint given his numerous encounters with psychics, eg. 'Winter for the Adept')

Location: The city of Excelis on Artaris. The Doctor is 900 (qv. The Doctor's Age). Unless he is rounding down again, this would place the story between 'The Mysterious Planet' and 'Mindwarp'

Links: 'Excelis Dawns' (notably, the Doctor plays 'piggy in the middle' with the Relic and Grayvorn as he did previously, 'this is becoming habit-forming...'), 'Paradise Towers' (corporal ectoscopy)

The Bottom Line: 'The Relic caused their fusion. Presumably it's capable of causing their fission as well.'

Given the less than desirable prospect of writing the 'middle' episode, McIntee succeeds in bringing some new elements to the Excelis saga, notably in establishing other cultures on the planet and the development of Grayvorn's character - otherwise rendered lightly in the 'Excelis Dawns'. Considering he wasn't present for their recording sessions, Head's fellow cast members do well acting 'around' him. It's a pity this episode couldn't have been longer, as the idea of Ataris in a steampunk era is a beguiling one, the suddenly larger world being all the more interesting than in the previous installment. Ed Salt's direction is seamless, and combined with David Darlington's spot-on score, the atmosphere is appropriately spooky.

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