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'The Raincloud Man'

CD audio adventure released December 2008, 4 episodes

Writers: Eddie Robson
Director: Nicholas Briggs

Roots: Men in Black (again), The Cooler. Menzies mentions The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Back to the Future, City of God and quotes from Kylie Minogue's I Should Be So Lucky ("Lucky, lucky, lucky..."); Top Trumps Star Trek (the High Strait's Scottish engineer)

Technobabble: The Doctor looks for a "type seven enhancer plug-in" for his etheric beam locator, which he uses as a form of lie-detector on Carmen (see: Links)

Anything that is displaced in time carries potential temporal energy, a faint form of energy that tries to 'pull' the object back to its proper time (but is usually too weak to succeed in doing so). This energy can mildly disrupt electrical fields.

Dialogue Triumphs: Menzies calls the Doctor out on his newspaper reading: "I prefer my newspapers to actually contain news. I see you go for topless models and greyhound racing" (her bone dry reading of the paper's article, punctuation and all is rather amusing too)

"Hand over your ship, or I'll use this unnerving weapon to kill you."

Double Entendres: Let's hear it again for "Have you not heard of coming quietly?"

Continuity: The High Straights is a floating casino that hops instantaneously from planet to planet, but only at night so it's always full of people. Its clientele is exclusive and its owners careful about who they invite aboard. The High Straits' 'cooler' Lish is humanoid, but not recognisably human. Due to a disease on his planet his people can affect their immediate environment in different ways, but though they can focus their powers, they can't stop it happening. He can shield his power of 'luck' transference is a disease to an extent, aided by the technology aboard the High Straits. The High Straits' casino boss Brooks is a humanised Tabbalac. Brooks' storage technology is organic, and he has been on Earth for around two hundred years.

The Tabbalac are tall, orange, and wear uniforms. They are not active in this time zone, according to the Doctor. By their nature they are aggressive and hard to deceive (being attuned to reading the body language of others), and are known for their advanced tracking of matter transmitting technology. Tabbalac travel units work instantaneously. They are not aware of TARDISes and cover the Doctor's TARDIS in a voice-activated sentient sludge ("Vishti") which they use to analyse objects and learn their properties.

The Tabbalac have been 'quiet' lately since their neighbour rose up against them, not destroying them but forcing them to remain on their home world and live in peace. At the point upon which the Tabbalac threaten another species they are confronted by a race 'equal and opposite' to them, brought into being by a hyper-intelligent virus: the Cyrox. The Cyrox create and replenish themselves spontaneously and seemingly infinitely; they exist only to fight, from the point of their creation, and literally know nothing else. They appear neither evolved nor designed, have no history, no culture, and no names. There are always more Cyrox than there are Tabbalac

Menzies is currently based at Longsight station in Manchester. She isn't yet aware that the Doctor and Charley are time travellers. Her 'specialty' isn't yet known by the local force, although resident aliens in Manchester know of her and have begun seeking her out for help; in return she makes sure things stay low-key and sometimes gets them to do things for her in return.

Among Menzies' contacts is a gaseous being Menzies has nicknamed 'Sparky' (because he looks like football manager Mark Hughes) who can, when not stressed, assume humanoid form. Kelsa McArthur is an alien time traveller who Menzies met after word got out about her assistance in the Shinx case. Kelsa is able to sense disturbances in time, and suffers an intense headache as soon as he meets Charley (he has to take dampening medication). He tells her that her timeline is "all snarled up in an unresolved paradox" - its 'flavour' is "common" and "quite distinctive."

Charley drinks tea (white, with one sugar) and coffee.

The Doctor says he gets asked whether he's a time traveller "about four times a year". He knows Tabbalac by their appearance, but hasn't heard of the Cyrox. He prefers to keep the TARDIS away from the attention of the police (for obvious reasons). The Doctor says he's been to 2012 before.

The TARDIS puts HADS on standby.

Future History: The Doctor judges from Carmen Preminger's time machine that she's a human and probably comes from the 108th or 109th century

Untelevised Adventures: The Doctor says he has visited the year 2012 before [and will again, of course, in his Tenth incarnation] and has crossed paths with the Tabbalac "several times".

Links: The Condemned, Return of the Krotons (this story follows it directly with Charley blaming her 'memory loss' on the mind machines and hypoxaea; presumably the breakfast she and the Doctor enjoy at the story's opening is the aforementioned Al's Diner), HADS

Qv: 'Earth and Time Travel', 'Meeting Menzies', 'The TARDIS Defences'

Location: Manchester, the events of The Condemned took place only 'months' ago. Presumably closer to Christmas, give the Doctor's need for "a nice warm scarf" and Menzies' mention of "last minute shoppers"

The Bottom Line: The return of D.I. Menzies is still a welcome thing, placed as she still is in the hands of her creator (the more forced version of her character in The Crimes of Thomas Brewster not yet being as apparent). Coming from Eddie Robson there's wit and invention again - the use of Top Trumps as a high stakes game is genius, but sharing many of the same references and ideas as it does with The Condemned, it's hard not to see Raincloud as being a simple follow-up in Menzie's world, which is already beginning to warp under the weight of its own self-reference. Maybe the Doctor should have taken her in the TARDIS after all, if only to get her out of the sub-Men in Black/Hitchhikers scenario she's been lumped with?

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