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7P (c??) 'Death Comes to Time'

Web Broadcast audio pilot. First aired 13 July 2001, subsequently 14 February 2002.
Prelude and 12 episodes.

Writer: Colin Meek
Director: Dan Freedman

Roots: The works of Oliver Postgate, especially The Clangers (the narrated beginning), The Star Wars movies (Alderaan, but especially the more recent prequels - the Time Lords, like the Jedi are a dying bred of protecting un-warriorlike quasi-mystical wanderers being manipulated and destroyed by a turncoat in their number; 'The One' = 'The Force'). Casmus' parable of the Artist recalls the legend of Pygmalion. The President of Santiny quotes Zapata 'it is better to die on your feet than live on your knees'. Zen and philosophical theory including Buddhism (the concept of 'the One' was first used by the 3rd-century Egyptian philosopher Plotinus; Casmus's "teatime" remark echoes a famous koan involving the reply, "go and have a cup of tea", in Buddhism, suffering is caused by one making 'attachments', such as the Minister). Jack the Ripper (the Whitechapel location). The parallel of Time Lords with 'giants' borrows ideas from Erich von Daniken's Chariots of the Gods (and other works), which infers extra-terrestrial influence from the book of Genesis. Exodus (the Minister of Chance signals the Doctor via 'burning bushes'), Campion, Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em. The Captain and Tenniel, Sherlock Holmes (the final meeting of the Doctor and the Minister - and the teaser leading up to this - recall the Reichenbach Falls). The Doctor asks of Tannis 'Why hasn't Caesar moved against his Coriolanus?'

Intertextuality: The notion of Ace becoming invested as a Time Lord was first mooted in the theoretical and unmade 'Season 27' plans made by Andrew Cartmel, Marc Platt (in whose story this may have occurred) and Ben Aaronovitch (among others) for the TV series. The concept of the Doctor's past incarnations living on inside his own mind first appeared in Paul Cornell's New Adventure Timewyrm: Revelation. The 'Canisian invasion' is mentioned in Lance Parkin's eighth Doctor adventure Trading Futures.

Goofs: From the TARDIS Databank: 'Timelords', 'Kasterberous', '...but, order to carry out this grand plans...'

Technobabble: One of the main orbital weapons of the Canisian Fleet is the tectonic bomb, launched from superatmospheric craft.

According to the Doctor 'reality is defined by a consciousness impinged upon a quantum wave'.

The Canisians report to Tannis via a compressed superluminal transmission.

Double Entendres: 'Here! I am here! I am... out!'

'Starring Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor' 'Who are you?' (yes, well done...)

'The old man came, and spoke to me, and I did it.'

'Don't go soft on me now, Snake'

Ace's single-entendre to Casmus: 'I think you've got a thing about caves...'

'We have come to Mount Plutarch...'

Fashion Victims: Antimony's Aquaman t-shirt.

Tannis' haircut.

Dialogue Disasters: From the Doctor - 'All right my boy, now you can bash him.'

'I don't know who you are or why you ask, but if I do I wouldn't tell you'

'Bob, have you been experiencing that anal probe again?'

'What the hell is this - Plan Asshole from Outer Space?'

Dialogue Triumphs: 'Resist the Canisians. Breath harder to starve them of air, and as they kill you bleed on their boots. Offer them no compliance, no words, no recognition of existence.'

'All you need to know is that two strangers arrived in a flying box, and hit you.'

Campion and Antimony: 'What do I look like?' 'Well, you look like a human, but with a bigger stomach'

'How do you feel about a spot of escape?'

'Activate missile defence' '--Uh, we already did sir. It missed'

Ace puts it best: 'Spare me from cryptic old men'

Continuity: The Republic of Santiny is a planet in the system of Saiph; one of its cities being Annit, population approximately nine million. Santiny is a mining planet, and is defended (being a peace-faring society) by its very mining ships. The Santinians' vow is 'may you find the One'. They have a planetary President and apparently ascribe to something called 'the U.P. [United Planets?], which Tannis also acknowledges. The Canisians base their prison camp in a place called Luria. Nearby is a mountain and waterfall. Plants mentioned as being on Santiny include lilies, ferns, and sequoia trees; Sala calls the Minister 'snake' and refers to the Canisians as 'pigs'.

The Canisians are warmongering plunderers from the Alpha Canis system. Their campaigns are based on funding and strict discipline [as these things usually are]. Their activities are in breach of the Treaty of Carsulae, which Tannis signed after dropping a plague on a world in Alderaan. There, after a few days, he became suspicious when the population recovered unaccountably. Returning to the planet he came across a shrine to a god the locals named "Manastur". The seat of Canisian power is Canis Major, a cold planet, home to their leader Bedloe and his family. Their symbol appears to be a form of the constellation Canis, and their slogan 'Canis Rising' (or is that 'Tannis Rising'?).

Anima Persis is a geopsychic world, its inhabitants having died hundreds of years ago from the results of biochemical warfare. Nothing living now dwells on its surface (although the Kingmaker mentions cacti that hiss curses to passers by). Vengeful ghosts are apparently all that remain of its people, although Ace discovers that the ghosts take more than one form. Casmus and the Kingmaker routinely send pupils to the world as a test, to see if they will use their powers to defeat the spirits or defeat them according to the Time Lord code (the Doctor says everyone fails - it is designed to be this way to teach pupils a lesson). Presumably this is how Tannis knew of the planet.

Mican Island was once a populated world where the Time Lords ('the giants') intervened upon the affairs of its inhabitants. As a result, chemical and biological warfare devastated the population utterly. It would appear that this was the [first] instance of Gallifrey's acknowledgement of its responsibilities and the beginning of their policy of non-intervention. On the ruins of the planet the Time Lords constructed 'the Temple of the Fourth', a memorial which includes large effigies of Time Lords ('some of them' were known to the Doctor, if not necessarily contemporaries of him) and the Oath of the Faction (see: 'The Bottom Line'). After the events of Mican Island the Time Lords scattered in repentance. Time Lord society appears to have changed - certainly the Time Lords do not appear to be in as great number as in previous stories. According to Tannis (though he may be proved wrong) you can't make Time Lords (or perhaps, none had been 'made' up to that point). Investiture appears to involve a series of lessons and challenges (mostly mental and psychological) before presentation to the Kingmaker.

From Mount Plutarch the Time Lords are moderated by an aged hermit woman, the Kingmaker. This office appears to be a neutral one, concerned with the balance of power between light and darkness. Seemingly only the Kingmaker can invest new Time Lords, giving them " gift of TARDIS", and ordering the destruction of those who abuse their power. She calls the Doctor 'crow' and 'little truth-seeker', and says she summoned him once before, but he never came.

Some areas of Gallifrey's wilderness are seen, including the Lune forest, which is near 'the inland sea', and Moutn Plutarch, two days' walk from Casmus' garden. Flora mentioned include nitvil, a slimy plant that has healing properties (there are plants similar to it on most planets). Salinite, found there, is like water, but red [and judging by its name possibly salty].

Casmus and the Doctor presumably know each other from their past (the Doctor implies that he also failed Casmus' test to Ace). He is 'extremely powerful, even for a Timelord' (sic); the Kingmaker calls him 'Castellan'. Both he and the Doctor introduce themselves as a "god of the Fourth". He has a cat called Midas, and in his homilies mentions lilies, roses, bears and minnows. He indicates that he knows he will die, giving his TARDIS to Ace (although Ace doesn't pick up on this).

The Minister of Chance is an old acquaintance. His TARDIS is a later model than the Doctor's - the opening of its doors as the Minister exits suggests something quite powerful behind them. Its chameleon circuit works, naturally, his ship appearing as a tree in one instance. He carries a pair of quantum dice with him, can use his powers to heal, and introduces a virus verbally to all Canisian hardware. He says his name is unpronounceable (it sounds like "fnan'nan-cuh" c.f. 'Slipback') and claims he got his name due to his interest in probability.

First general Tannis is a Time Lord, also known by the Kingmaker and Casmus as 'The Slow Agent'. As general of "the defence forces of the Canisian suns" he celebrated victories in the Centauri system, Altair, and most recently Saiph (among other places). He has a villa on the Thurian coast of Alpha Canis.

Two Time Lords, the Saints Antinor and Valentine have died recently (the Doctor and Antimony arrive to investigate their deaths the following day), killed by the vampire Nessican while they studied a proliferation of black holes via a university research centre in London. The Doctor is 'closest to their work' [being a god of the Fourth].

Nessican and the Doctor know of each other. Nessican suggests that he was previously imprisoned (by the Time Lords?) on a phantom sun. Garlic is fatal to vampires, but a bullet might kill them if it severs the spinal cord. The Doctor believes Nessican's attack on Valentine is uncharacteristic, as vampires usually attack members of the opposite sex.

Ace was born Dorothy McShane in Perivale and developed an interest in explosives at an early age. She once worked in a fast food restaurant in Leicester Square. She usually doesn't remember her dreams. Casmus tells her that she will have no grandchildren, children, or a mate.

Antimony turns out to be an android constructed by the Doctor to help him cope with his loneliness. He has been with the Doctor for only a short time but has already been instructed by the Doctor to 'question everything'. He has been studying Earth's history and languages (he's heard of allosauruses). He can be hypnotized, has grey skin with black eyes and no odour. He moves very quickly and (apparently) feels pain.

The Brigadier (sans beard) still works for UNIT, who are led on the ground by Lieutenant Colonel Speedwell. Interestingly, UNIT appear to answer to the Prime Minister rather than the United Nations, although they work alongside the RAF [and possibly British Rocket Group - or its successor, given the space shuttles in use]. Speedwell's actual experience with extraterrestrials would appear to be limited (perhaps the third Doctor's time on Earth really was the apex of alien contact with the planet). There is little to prove that his position as a detective is a front.

The Doctor is troubled by dreams that reveal he is "on the Edge". During these he hears the voices of his predecessors, most recognisably his first and fourth incarnations. He says he wasn't ever a child and thinks he may have met an allosaurus once.

Temporal disturbances may be caused by a Time Lord misusing his powers.

London's population is around eight million.

The Doctor's costume has changed, as has Ace's.

C.f: 'The War Games', 'Underworld' (Time Lords and non-interference), 'Slipback' (unpronounceable names)

Location: The planets Santiny and 'the Island of Micas' in the great Nebula of Orion; Gallifrey, a university in Whitechapel, London, Salisbury Plain.

The Bottom Line: "Once, long ago, on an island in a seas of clouds, there was a land where giants walked. And the giants lived amongst the ordinary peoples of that land, and used their great strength to help them. Until twilight fell. Until Death came to time...."

Epic, meandering, and at times frustratingly slow and poorly paced, 'Death Comes to Time' offers a spin on the series that few fans (or even the general public to whom it was also touted) could have conceived - for many of the wrong reasons. Perhaps the saddest aspect of this fable on the responsibility of great power and the importance of sacrifice, is that it means so well but in the end comes across as somehow petty and selfish, doing away with so much built by the immediate story and others beforehand. Maybe that's an unfair judgement. There are some lovely scenes here, and the new characters of Tannis and the Minister provide broad polar strokes of colour; Anthony Stewart Head and David Soul are in it so fleetingly you almost forget that their talents have been squandered. Nice artwork, great use of stock music - shame about the execution(s). There is, however, a nice touch in UNIT's cavalry-style appearance from the dark side of the Moon - the hiding place of their very first television enemy.

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