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159s 'A Death in the Family'

CD audio adventure released November 2010, 4 episodes

Writer: Stephen Hall
Director: Ken Bentley

Roots: The Wizard of Oz ("this isn't Kansas anymore, is it?") Nobody Noone compares the Doctor to Elliot Ness (The Untouchables) and Columbo (the Doctor quotes the latter: "Just one more thing...") Rowan Atkinson's 'Fatal Beatings' sketch ("Mad? I'm FURIOUS!!") John 8:32 ("and the truth shall set you free") Back to the Future (the Doctor goes transparent as he is gradually removed from reality). A cardiograph 'sings' as the CORDIS dematerialises to the popular tune of the Alphabet Song (i.e. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star) The Neverending Story

Intertextuality: The Doctor's description of himself as "a complicated space-time event" has its origin in Steven Moffat's Short Trips story Continuity Errors.

Dialogue Triumphs: "I have a horrible feeling I've just opened a particularly nasty can of words..."

"You're like some kind of intergalactic Elliot Ness fun police" and "You just keep coming back and coming back - you're like Columbo in a hat!"

"The universe is full of Time Lord helper monkeys!"

"Not bothered? Of course I'm bothered - I'm dead!"

"The Doctor is the only person in all history the Doctor won't sacrifice."

"How many years have you been travelling with me now, Ace? Bit by bit you're becoming more of an outsider. Lose that connection with the real world and saving lives becomes like sliding beads on an abacus. You'll do whatever it takes to come out with the number you want."

Continuity: Pelachin has four-winged nightingales and steam-level technology. Steam cars, leeches in the infirmary, and the same gravity and atmosphere as Earth. The Handovale is a living "never-ending" story, believed to be a form of afterlife to those on Pelachim. Reading one's story recreates a person's life inside the Handovale through the Storyspeaker, an individual called to act as an intercessory. The Doctor is one, and Evelyn becomes the last. Two thousand years ago the Champion of Light (the 'old' Doctor) was given the Handovale - this seems to have been around 2192 AC - a future event for Pelachim, to "conquer a great evil." The "relics of the dark pantheon' include an Ice Warrior jawbone a Dalek eyestalk and the arm of a Cyberman. Quite by chance Evelyn discovered the remains of a temporal stabiliser in a coal seam on Vilag, and its residual homing properties brought it and Evelyn across time and space to the site of a time ship's crash on Pelachin five years previously. The craft was many miles across and heavily fortified, presumably either a military vessel or a containment ship, named U.N.S Pelican.

It is not clear whether the Forge is completely wiped out; mention is made of its "remnants." Lysandra seemingly has left the Forge after the conclusion to Project: Destiny. Ace describes her as "gone black-ops." Among the items recovered by the Doctor from the Forge archives is a Makek compensator (burnt-out), a Carpatian worry-wheel (used), a faulty remote neutron polariser and a pretty but broken Mobius Chip. Vaspan space-time stamp - clip it to any package and it will transport the object to any point in space-time. It's more expensive than a planet and works via a single-use hop drive. As its potential was "devastating" according to the Doctor, the stamps were banned by the time Lords. A T-G tablet offers trans-galactic internet access through a 'thought toggle' on the rear of the device. A 'thought lock' - which must be touched with the correct thought in one's head to open it, guards the device. Once operative, the tablet searches via voice analysis.

UNIT are 'helping' in the clean-up of the Crichton Building; their arsenal incorporates off-world tech. The United Nations (i.e. UNIT) have had a monitoring station in the basement of BT Tower - 'WOTAN 1' since the Sixties. It has across the band, no-exceptions data access. UNIT's command level Ultraviolet Nine is for extremely high level threats. The Doctor says UNIT's embalmers are the best in the business

The Word Lord arrives at 4:05pm. In his past he and the Doctor have "battled through space, time and half a dozen dimensions [and] broke a few"; he now wears a scarf resembling that of the Fourth Doctor's. In 1945 he disguised his CORDIS as the Forge catchphrase "For King and Country" ("usually") and, it would appear through the use of this catchphrase, finally catching up with the Seventh Doctor during the events of Project Lazarus (i.e. the future Doctor, setting off their great battle which forms the background of this story). He describes himself as "an unanchored causal intervention" in our universe. Among the worlds the Word Lord seemingly destroys are the Great Telcarthinian Empire and the Hemvalian Collective.

Nobody Noone's CORDIS translates matter for its occupant; it runs best on phonetics, while type and grammar actualisers are "ropey." He regenerated when the Doctor made his CORDIS 'trip' over the lost twenty-seventh letter of the alphabet, causing him to crash into the entire English language and causing what became known as the Great Vowel Shift. The CORDIS has a meme rotor. The Word Lord is "pure language wrapped up in a physical avatar."

'All' was apparently the founder of Word Lord society, a living synthetic reality, made of every language - an entire universe with pocket universes - each containing a miniature Hand of All (Handovale?)

The TARDIS is still white; it begins to die after the Doctor's death. The Doctor operates the temporal slider on the TARDIS console. Years of travelling with the Doctor have allowed her to pick up some TARDIS operations, including its Temporal Runners.

Evelyn has been on Pelachin for five years, and ten years have passed since the death of her husband Rossiter (see: Links). Her heart condition has seemingly never been resolved, a matter well known to the Doctor.

Hex has with him a solid gold doubloon (an Untelevised Adventure?), while Ace has Reichsmarks (Colditz?) He is on Pelachin for six months, while ten years pass for Ace in her time. Hex (and we might therefore also assume Ace) hasn't heard of Vilag, which might suggest that the Doctor's meeting with Evelyn at the end of Thicker Than Water occurs after this story (during which Ace and Hex are shopping as the Doctor visits the hospital.) Ace thermospanners an ATM and finds work in "a top-secret alien investigation unit." (UNIT?) As 'Professor Dorothy Noone' her fictional avatar manifests when the UNIT officer's body signs equalise at 45, a sign that Ace has mastered the CORDIS. Henry Louis Noone was born on the 10th of February 2000.

The Doctor uses a tracking device to locate the Gallifreyan sarcophagus, which he describes as 'more of a hibernation chamber." It has a biomechanical locking system and as it opens it[?] makes a sound not unlike a Cloister Bell. His death at the hands of the Word Lord compounds his established status as "an extremely complicated space-time event"; as the fact of his death resolves itself, his future self (inside the sarcophagus) is able to be revived and remain in a decreasingly-corporeal state before the universe 'catches up'. Feeding temporal energy through the old Doctor's body to revive him doesn't work, and so he is buried under secrecy in a cathedral as a hero and references to his death are expunged. The Doctor reveals to Evelyn that he has a system of knowing the times of each of his companions' deaths, not unlike a calendar one would keep to record loved ones' birthdays.

Links: This story follows immediately on from Project: Destiny. Forty-Five: The Word Lord (in which a thermospanner also appears; mention is also made of the officer Claire Scott). Among Evelyn's memories of the Doctor are her first encounter with the Forge (Project: Twilight), 'Caesar's parents (100: 100 BC), Charles Darwin (Bloodtide), Thomas Brewster, "floating around in space" (The Feast of Axos) and "jumping from steam trains in the Wild West" (the Companion Chronicle A Town Called Fortune.) Project Lazarus (the Word Lord calls the Doctor by his Forge codename, see also: Continuity), Arrangements for War ("I don't always win, Evelyn") and Thicker than Water (Evelyn's departure). Master (the Doctor "burning into existence" occurs in that story) The Harvest (the White Rabbit as Hex's local, Hex refers to Cybermen) and Daleks (Enemy of the Daleks). The Word Lord seemingly also destroys the Sontarans. The Caves of Androzani ("you were expecting someone else?"). Inside the Spaceship (the Fast Return switch).

The T.G. Tablet's snippet include the following story excerpts:

  • "The entire ship will explode!" (The Doctor - Castle of Fear)
  • "I need you!" (Peri - Son of the Dragon)
  • "Fishes in the Thames - you're optimistic!" (Evelyn - The Marian Conspiracy)
  • "Daleks?" (The Doctor - The Apocalypse Element)
  • "Doctor... Doctor?" (Romana - The Apocalypse Element)
  • "To become... something better" (The Doctor - Patient Zero)
  • "We want the Doctor!" (Crowd - The One Doctor)
  • "Built on how many corpses?" (The Doctor - Colditz)
  • "You funny little man!" (Ace - Magic Mousetrap)
  • "These are human beings; you are duty-bound to help them!" (The Doctor - Enemy of the Daleks)

Future History: The evacuation of London due to the Contaminants took place on 25 June 2026. A cup of tea in 2026 will cost you three pounds and twenty-five pence, and a pint costs five pounds twenty. On 24 May 2027 it is reported that the British Government is conducting [further] Mars research - Ace jokes(?) about getting a work transfer to the Moon. Bees will be re-introduced to the planet by 2040, while Ace says Earth gets "new pandas" as well. 'Handcoms' supersede mobile phones, (Henry doesn't even recognise the word.) Mention is made of a new Bletchley

Untelevised Adventures: Hex talks of a planet Saros IV and "things that get in your head". He also recognises an Ice Warrior jawbone. Ace met Lowry and got a sketch from him after an adventure involving the artist and a cotton mill full of polymorphic soot monsters ("that man could fling a loom shuttle when he needed to.") Ace describes a potential TARDIS colour as "Velociraptor violet" - has she visited the Cretaceous Era?

Location: London, 2026 (see: Links), Pelachin, 1871 AC ("billions of years before Earth's time", AC presumably stands for After Creation/Crash?)

Bottom Line: "Some things must stand, Ace. The death of a Time Lord is very much one of them." A bravura performance, and a scenery-chewing turn for former Chief Clown Ian Reddington, playing another classic foil to the Doctor. The Doctor's last moments with Ace are lovely and touching, and the reunion with Evelyn quite heartbreaking. McCoy does well to distinguish between the softer 'old' Doctor and his more hardened future self, perhaps not far removed from his time travelling with Klein. Dizzying and intricate, with an epic score and a plot that rewards several listens. Almost perfect.

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