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143f 'The Reaping'

CD audio adventure released September 2006. 2 episodes

Writer: Joseph Lidster
Director: Gary Russell

Roots: Night of the Living Dead and Return of the Living Dead. The Doctor calls Peri 'Oscar Wilde' (ironically), quotes Tommy Cooper ("Jus' like that!") and The Generation Game ("...a cuddly toy...") misquotes Henry V ("Once more unto the breach and so forth") and mentions 1984 and Battleship Potemkin - in his pockets he has two tickets to the premiere of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Peri refers to Barbara Cartland novels, while her news scan mentions the debut of TV series Miami Vice (c.f The Gathering), while Mrs Van Gysegham mentions James Bond. The Gogglebox offers such televisual delights as every Police Academy movie and the debut of The Pussycat Dolls. The opening broadcast includes references to the 1984 and 2012 Olympic Games, the 2006 Commonwealth Games, Neville Chamberlain's "Peace in our Time" speech, the dawn of a new "Millennium" (presumably the year 2000), the death of Princess Diana and the assassination of President John F Kennedy.

Intertextuality: The phrase '86,87' may be a reference to the Big Finish number of this story (number 86), and that of The Gathering (number 87) both by Joseph Lidster.

The catchphrase "There is nothing to fear" attributed to the Cybermen was used throughout the Big Finish series Cyberman.

Goofs: Daniel Woods sounds surprisingly youthful of voice for a man in his seventies living rough.

The Doctor's (and Peri's!) conclusion that, as the two of them will meet Cybermen in 1985 (Attack of the Cybermen) suggests these 1984 Cybermen are time-travellers is a rather large deductive leap.

Dialogue Disasters: "A pod, from space. A 'space pod'."

Dialogue Triumphs: "So this is Baltimore. How very grey. With an 'e'..."

The Doctor on his costume: "I'm meant to be undercover... as an American."

"Don't come any closer. I've got coffee, and I'm not afraid to use it!"

"Party. I no longer require parties."

"The universe is chaos. We will bring order."

Cyberleader: "You Are Inferior!"

Mondasian Cyberman: "Negative...We are Cybermen."

Continuity: The Gogglebox, "deep, deep down inside the Moon" is one of the human race's greatest achievements, an access system that lets visitors view every recorded media event from human history. In this story it is said to be up to or over two thousand years old, and staffed by one hundred and four clones of the original Alan Fitzgerald. Visiting it the Doctor seems to recall leaving a book behind, but not its title or significance (see: Links.)

The Cyberleader has been on Earth for 630 days, his stolen Time Lord vessel having crashed unpiloted landed back in 1982 with him aboard. The Ship appears to be dimensionally transcendent and was found abandoned on a planet, destroyed by fire. Unaware that Time Lord technology is based on a connection between the pod and its user, the Cyberleader wasn't protected against the energies of the Vortex and was fatally wounded. It claims to be the last surviving Cyberman in the Universe, a refugee from future "wars" in which the Doctor [or a future incarnation of him] brought about a final end to the race. The remaining refugee Cyber army is currently waiting in the Vortex. The Cyberleader has access to the entire Cyber-history and knows of the Doctor's relationship with Peri, so engineered events to lure him to Fell's Point. Anthony Chambers stumbled upon the injured Cyberleader and it killed him, to be partially converted him and then reactivated later.

The Cyber conversion unit is adapted from future Time Lord technology (which the Doctor wishes to know nothing more of) and looks like an egg that can be split in half; by placing one disc-like half on either side of a subject's head, their flesh is transformed into metal. The Doctor says Cybermen "have long memories and very good records."

The White Rabbit pub (see: Links) is on the Embankment in London and was for a while managed by Mrs Van Gysegham's husband. St Gart's Hospital (see: Links) was opened by a prince (presumably one of the Windsors). VNTR is the local news station in Fell's Point.

Four months have passed on Earth since Peri disappeared in Lanzarote, although it seems closer to "years" to her. Peri's old high school friends included Eunice (who married another friend, Jason), Candy (presumably Candy Tyler, see: Links) and Paula (a reference to Attack of the Cyberman writer Paula Moore?). She briefly dated Katherine's brother Nate. Her mother Janine ("a striking woman", according to the Doctor) remarried after the death of Peri's father Paul Brown, and took Howard Foster's name - they parted shortly after Peri's disappearance, which seem to have been explained altogether too glibly by Howard as Peri opting to travel further with two men.

The Doctor takes "just a dash of milk" in his coffee (or possibly in his cyanide.) His pockets' contents include an oyster card (the concept of which he is unfamiliar), an apple ("you know that they say..."), a cuddly toy, a pair of socks and two tickets to the premiere of The Rocky Horror Picture Show (see: Roots). On the Gogglebox he confesses to an odd memory of leaving a book there, but is unable to recall any further detail (see: Links)

Location: Fell's Point, Baltimore, 29 September 1984

Future History: The Gogglebox originated from one of the periods when the people of Earth had temporarily left its area of space, either due to solar flares or intergalactic war.

The opening radio broadcast (as in The Gathering) refers to humankind's "first steps on the Red Planet", World War Five and a loss of contact with "outer colonies". Among the documentary footage of events offered by the Gogglebox are the creation of the Euro Combine, the opening of the Jupiter colonies, and mankind's first encounter with 'the Mysterious Mim.' Mention is made of World War Five (see: Links), a war involving the Solar System [the 22nd Century Dalek Invasion?]

Links: This story is picked up again in The Gathering (including Katherine, Nate, "8687" and the Gogglebox as well as 'Alan' and the Doctor's 'lost' book), Attack of the Cybermen, Planet of Fire (Mrs Van Gysegham), The Caves of Androzani, The Harvest (St Gart's, the White Rabbit and the Euro Combine), Spare Parts (Commander Zheng, the Doctor says of Mondas' destruction "I was there when it happened"). The TARDIS' intended destination were the Ice Caves of Shabadabadon, which are again an intended destination of the Doctor's in The Gathering and are eventually referred to having been visited in Terror Firma. In the Gogglebox's opening broadcast the crash of the R101 is mentioned (Storm Warning); Peri mentions her friend 'Candy' and an incident around their school prom (The Veiled Leopard). The Doctor attempts to bluff his way into the police station using his UNIT standing. The Jupiter colonies referred to at the Gogglebox may include Valhalla (Valhalla.) The Cyberman phrase "You will be like us" (Tomb of the Cyberman). Doctor Who (the Millennium), Frozen Time and Fear Her (2012 Olympics), Ambassadors of Death (the first manned Mars mission). The Doctor's claim that he has visited Earth's prehistory "a few times now" may refer to, variously, 100,000 BC, City of Death and/or Time-Flight.

The Bottom Line: "1984 - it's never as good as the book."

A solid companion piece to Lidster's Gathering, this is the better story, with a rounding out of Peri's home life - proof that setting off for adventures with the Doctor can sometimes lead to terrible things. Claudia Christian manages to escape the stunt-casting potential to deliver a far-from maternal performance. Very good.

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