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'Earth Aid'

CD adventure released July 2011, 4 episodes

Writers: Ben Aaronovitch and Andrew Cartmel
Director: Ken Bentley

Roots: Star Trek The Next Generation. Live Aid. Gulliver's Travels, the Codfish Shanty ('Cape Cod Girls'). Surfer speak

Goofs: Victor's surname changes between episodes from Espinoza to Mendoza.

Technobabble: 'Bio-energy' scan technology is still a few generations in the future.

Double Entendres: "Captain, it's the bogie - we've got it on my instruments"

"I am vast and fertile"

Dialogue Disasters: "This is totally bogus! Muuuum!"

Continuity: Safenesthome is the Metatraxi homeworld. It is an ideal ecosystem pre-famine: forest is still there. It is not the first sentient planet the Doctor has encountered (see: Links), but its status is still classified. Intelligent planets are invariably female (right on, man). Ravaged by its previous dominant species (the Grubs), the planet ensured that the succeeding species were turned into a warrior culture (the Metatraxi) to distract their focus and destructive instinct, and encourage them to acquire the minerals vital to the world's survival. A rich blend of "resins" secreted by the Grubs acts like a glue. Their "spores" are virtually identical to the silo grain.

Six grain silos (containing nine million tons of grain) attached by umbilicals to the Lilliput, with escape shuttles at the opposite end.

Metatraxi are not known in this time period. The Doctor surmises (or has heard) that they've developed rudimentary time travel.

In investigating her father's death Raine travelled to Johannesburg to crack a hotel safe and find some of his documents, but in a trap set up by the Metatraxi was captured and locked up with her intended victims. She once liberated an entire set of platinum false teeth from a safe in West Kensington and has been honing her computer skills (but not that much).

The Doctor's scanner can pick up the presence of proteins and detect injuries. He credits Raine with his safecracking skills. He (still) drinks Earl Grey tea

Links: Ace's "will everyone stop calling me small!" recalls similar lines from Remembrance of the Daleks. The Doctor's claim that Safenesthome is not the first sentient planet he has encountered is borne out in The Crimes of Thomas Brewster.

Bottom Line: "Planets always have interesting things to say"

Another good idea - the Metatraxi's dual redemptive species, is wrapped in an uneven and in places infuriating story. The humour isn't funny, the tension is nonexistent, and Raine's return (while offering a neat inversion of her first appearance) doesn't add much to anything. Patterson Joseph is wasted in his role, too. Here's hoping there's more to come from this team, though; things can't have been meant to end like this!

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