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159f 'The Harvest'

CD audio adventure released June 2004, 4 episodes

Writer: Dan Abnett
Director: Gary Russell

Roots: Coma Hex likens the wing to 'Frankenstein's laboratory'. The Doctor quotes from Macbeth Act V, v ("sound and fury"). Ace mentions "recreational dentistry" as a means of torture (Marathon Man) Monty Python's 'Nudge Nudge' skit ("say no more...") Alice in Wonderland/The Matrix (The White Rabbit as an entry point to a new world)

Intertextuality: Hex first appeared as a name among a list of the Doctor's companions in Gary Russell's Unbound audio He Jests At Scars...

Technobabble: The Doctor's Gallifreyan tech includes a data retractor, a hard-light crypto-fire, two booster cells and a flux inhibitor (plus his sonic screwdriver). He, Ace and Hex use micro-voice transceivers (in-ear walkie-talkies) to stay in touch.

The ability to lie convincingly is, according to the Doctor, an organic trait.

Dialogue Disasters: "Polk - verify your function!" "-He looks very fried to me"

Dialogue Triumphs: Ace on her 'cloak and dagger' life with the Doctor: "It's been anorak and baseball bat a few times, Panama hat and jelly baby. Usually it's your basic shambling horror and nasty claws... Just promise me, if it gets all eyestalks and sink plungers warn me and run like hell."

Double Entendres: "Oh, Human Resources - I get it"

"You're going to have a hard enough time not saying 'Oh my God' when you see what I'm going to do next."

Continuity: 'Subject One' is a Cyberleader of a seven-strong expeditionary force which crashed in the Pyranees and was recovered by a European Council team. Striking a deal with their rescuers the Cybermen are part of 'C-Programme', an attempt to boost the Council's space programme with cyber-enhanced astronauts needing little to no life support. This crude form of Cyberman is a prototype called a Cyberhuman, a characteristic being that parts have been tailored to fit the form of human donors (contrary to the usual Cybernisation process). There are enough resources at St Gart's to convert up to thirty thousand Cybermen; to convert the entire world would take as little as six weeks.

St Gart's Brookside belongs to the Euro Combine Health Administration. Its internal voice-activated administrative and security system is called 'System' or 'Sys'. Totter's Lane is a commercially-zoned area of Shoreditch, largely office blocks (it is implied that the Foreman's Yard location is now a parking garage).

The Doctor's identity is encoded into the engrams of every Cyberman, being part of the Cyber race's data archive (although Subject one recognises the Doctor despite being cut off from the archives themselves).

Thomas Hector 'Hex' Schofield is a staff nurse at St Gart's Hospital, Bankside. He was born in Steelybridge[?] 12 October 1998, educated at Aigburth, Merseyside and obtained his medical degree from Middlesex. It is implied that the Doctor finds some interesting data on his personnel file at the hospital (see: Links). While at St Gart's his local is The White Rabbit.

The Doctor and Ace have been undercover for three weeks. Ace has been with the Doctor for "a surprisingly long time". It is implied that neither are wearing their old TV series uniform (see: Dialogue Triumphs). She always 'aced' multiple-choice at school (perhaps that's where she got her nickname?) Despite her insistence Hex calls Ace 'Ace' rather than McShane. This is the first appearance of the new sonic screwdriver in the Seventh Doctor's lifetime.

Links: The Reaping, the Doctor refers to the Cybermen's genesis (The Tenth Planet, Spare Parts) Remembrance of the Daleks (the location of Totter's Lane in Shoreditch, plus Ace's broad reference to Daleks). The circumstances of Hex's birth and past are detailed in Thicker Than Water (see there for further links). The source of the alien technology used at St Gart's is revealed in The Gathering. The Wheel in Space (the Doctor mentions the 'W' stations as a US programme). Mark's fate is revealed in Project: Destiny.

Location: St Gart's hospital in Shoreditch, London October 12th, 2021

The Bottom Line: "Build your own Cyberman: small parts not suitable for unsupervised humans, danger of genocide"

A new beginning, of sorts. There's a real frission in The Harvest between its 'thirty seconds into the future' theme (which Big Finish have admittedly touched on previously with The Fearmonger), 'contemporary' companion Hex (contrast him with previous 'contemporary' companion Ace), and a refreshing and calculated treatment of, frankly, one of the least calculating traditional Doctor Who monster races. In short it's very good - great dialogue, a recognisable setting, a clever Doctor and some promising team dynamics. Lead on...

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