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'Real Time'

Web broadcast audio adventure, first aired August 2002, 6 episodes

Writers: Gary Russell
Director: Gary Russell

Roots: Dramas played in real time (e.g. High Noon, Nick of Time, 24). 12 Monkeys (going back in time to prevent a virus - and the consequences of this). Evelyn refers to the Cybercontroller as 'Dorothy's Friend' from The Wizard of Oz, whereas the Doctor likens him to ' Prester John waiting at the end of time with the Holy Grail'. Goddard evokes the book of Genesis [he refers to himself as Adam 'kicking out' his 'God' - the Cybercontroller], while the Doctor does the same to the book of Daniel ['into the lion's den...']. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (taking the faceplate off to allow the person to see with their own eyes one last time). The Star Trek episode 'All Our Yesterdays' (aliens escape catastrophe by fleeing through a time portal into their own planet's history). The Terminator movies (Goddard is flesh outside, Cyberman inside and reveals this via his forearm mechanics) They Were Expendable. The Doctor refers to Brodies Notes. The computer game Command and Conquer features 'the Chronosphere', a temporal teleport device.

Intertextuality: Doctor Evelyn Smythe comes courtesy of Big Finish's audio plays. The red cyber eye implants may be a nod to the 'ruby ocular crystals' employed to the same effect in David Banks' New Adventure 'Iceberg'

Goofs: The Doctor agrees that Cybermen with time travel is a new and horrible thought, but they've had and used it before (Attack of the Cybermen, though they didn't get to keep the time ship).

Why doesn't the organic-techno virus affect Goddard? [he was already affected by a strain of it]

Isherwood is converted in minutes, yet it takes a long time to do nothing to Evelyn, even before the Cybercontroller orders the change to the process.

The use of Lee Sullivan's drawings is admirable - except when some images are reversed and the archaeologists' asymmetrical tunics follow suit (so to speak).

The Doctor is going to take Evelyn to see the Lindbergh flight in "St. Louis, USA", however Lindburgh took off from Long Island - his plane was called "The Spirit of St. Louis".

Technobabble: People apparently leave residual 'thermo shadows'.

Double Entendres: 'It's giving a bit, like we've relieved some pressure on it.'

'Oh, so that's the end of the story, is it?'

'I've never seen a script like it.'

Dialogue Triumphs: 'I would imagine [the report]'s all true. Unless he wrote it, in which case it'll be rather one-sided and full of self-import but basically sound.'

'My feelings, my love for Evelyn, can never make me inferior.'

Evelyn to the Cybercontroller: 'What's excellent now?'

Dialogue Disasters: Goddard does a Schwarzenegger: 'Renchard got a head start on the carnage that's about to be released here.'

'The Cybercontroller isn't daft.'

Continuity: The [unnamed] planet is light years from the nearest research station. It is devoid of bodies of water, despite having once been covered with it. Surviving is a structure similar to a Mayan temple made entirely of rock. Inside are corridors and one-way doors (the survey team appear to have provided their own egress). Although it resembles a temple, it's more like a palace, somewhere exclusive. Within the temple is grafitti-like writing initially unfamiliar to the Doctor The writing is more of a name than a story. In a central (?) chamber is a temporal portal disguised as a part of the room. It is narrow enough to accommodate single file passage. Following adjustment by the Cybermen it has become translucent with tiny electrical impulses running through it, 'millions upon millions of tiny energy spheres laced through it, and eighty-seven shades of twelve basic colours. The original population used the portal to travel into the future, when their desert planet became a water planet.

A day on the planet measures eighteen hours. At daily intervals a wave of temporal energy washes from the temple, acting like a trawler net that flows out then recedes, dragging anything with it from inside the temple; any other life on the planet's surface is aged to death. Only organic matter can pass through the portal - cyber implants don't survive the journey well, requiring the Cybermen to make the minimum of enhancements (roughly half) to new recruits necessary.

'Millennia' have passed since the Cybermen were first engineered. Cyberhistory seems to follow the sequence of [as 'seen' during Goddard's speech] 'The Tenth Planet', 'The Wheel in Space', 'Silver Nemesis/Earthshock', 'The Invasion', 'The Tomb of the Cybermen', 'Sword of Orion' 'Real Time'. The Cybermen recognise the Doctor's TARDIS but not the Doctor. They have the strength of ten men and exceptional hearing. 'Cyberisation' occurs in stages, the first being brain reprogramming and eye implants (see: 'Intertextuality') - the mouth seems to not be affected, although Evelyn compares her early experience to being 'at the Dentist' [must have been a rather disturbing dentist...]. It is possible that removing a Cyberman's faceplate kills it utterly. The Cybercontroller and his troops come from a point in the future when exact measurements of time have less meaning. These Cybermen are ( or believe they are) the last of their kind. In their era the Cybermen fought the various armies of the universe and apparently lost. The Cyberfleet was destroyed, the remaining Cybermen being hunted down by bounty hunters and mercenaries. During this time the Cybercontroller discovered the planet in the future and killed the planet's inhabitants to gain control of the portal, in order to travel back in time and use the future knowledge to avoid defeat. The Cybercontroller cannot go through the portal, as it would convert him to his previous organic state and age him to death. The Cybercontroller was originally Evelyn.

Goddard is from an alternate reality where Earth was consumed by the Cybermen and is the centre of the Cybermen's universe. He is 1300 years old, having been recruited as a Cyberman since birth by means of a doctored retro-virus which mechanised his internal body but left his skin intact. He is therefore known as a 'skin drone'. The Cybermen are initiallu unable to detect his presence, due to his ability to emit an ultra-violet frequency scrambler that foils their visual circuit.

According to Goddard, in an alternative future, the Doctor gives the Cyber race technology advances, including time travel. They go back into the past, to Earth in 1927 and create a virus to convert everyone into techno-organic beings. Animals died, but most humans survived, and they were converted into Cybermen. Later ones called skin drones have flesh on the outside and human brains. By 1951 Daleks, Draconians, Sontarans and Time Lords fell to them. A group of rebels travelled to the nexus point of that time lines' creation (the unnamed planet, 3286) and use an organic- techno virus to destroy the Cybermen.

Evelyn says she pretends to understand what the Doctor's talking about just to shut him up - although he hasn't briefed her on the Cybermen. She understands that he is willing to sacrifice his friends for the sake of the galaxy. She considers the Doctor to be her companion. Evelyn can feel a touch of rheumatism in her hip. At the conclusion of the story she is carrying the techno-organic virus.

The Doctor appears to have answered the call of an Earth body called 'Central' which has access to the Cybermen's 'Chronosphere' (their means of time travel) and files on him. He now wears a blue coat and trousers and has an interactive cat badge that mimics his emotions. He says that the TARDIS is living and self-instinctive, the excuse he uses when he turns up somewhere he didn't mean to.

Location: An unnamed planet [the promotional material and online notes name it Chronos], 3286 and in the far future. A parallel Earth, 1951.

Untelevised Adventures: At the close of the story the Doctor and Evelyn decide to travel to earth, 1927 - ostensibly to witness Charles Lindhberg's flight across the Atlantic.

Links: 'The Tenth Planet', 'The Tomb of the Cybermen', 'Kinda' (delta-wave augmentor), 'Attack of the Cybermen' ('cybergoo' is green and yellow), 'The Trial of a Time Lord' episodes nine to twelve (Article Seven). 'Sword of Orion' ('Great Orion Cyberwars' of the Twenty-Sixth century).

Bottom Line: A vast improvement over its online predecessor, if perhaps a little alienating for non-fans, featuring some big time-paradoxes and Evelyn's non-apparent introduction (though to be fair this doesn't detract from the story itself). As a Cybermen story it is a success, only mitigated by the fact that they say "Excellent" so much, it's like Bill and Ted have been cybernised. Well worthy, and absolutely begging, somewhat unfairly, for a sequel.

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