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168 'Embrace the Darkness'

CD audio adventure released April 2002, 4 episodes

Writer: Nicholas Briggs
Director: Nicholas Briggs

Roots: Pitch Black, 2001 A Space Odyssey (a computer in charge, governed by logic), Nightfall by Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg (a planet of perpetual daylight is thrown into terror and chaos when its six suns are eclipsed). ROSM's name is a play on Karel Capek's 1924 stage play R.U.R Rossum's Universal Robots. The Cimmerian people were mentioned by Homer in The Odyssey (11;19). The Doctor refers to the ROSM unit as Billy Goat Gruff, while the robot itself is similar to Gort from The Day the Earth Stood Still. The Doctor quotes Romeo and Juliet, Act III, Scene v ('Night's candles are burnt out and jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountain top') and the song 'Yes, We Have No Bananas', and possibly Nigel Havers' George IV in The Madness of King George ('what what what?').

Goofs: Ferris can feel the warmth of the sun on his face, yet he is inside the ship and with, at best, the sun been shown on a screen, which he can't see [it's a high-tech screen?].

If the returning Solarians are essentially a well-intentioned archaeological expedition, why do they open fire without provocation and board with obvious hostile intent?

Double Entendres: 'You just make it up as you go along.'

'Oh, fellas, help me get out of this suit.'

Dialogue Disasters: 'That'll take the wind out of their sails.'

Dialogue Triumphs: 'I've spent most of my life being told I'm mad.'

'Why do you people always assume the worst?' 'Because it's safer that way.'

'There is no way back from death.'

Technobabble: Type 70 TARDISes emit a particular temporal energy discharge signature.

Continuity: The Throxillian explorers on Cimmeria IV are 'several hundred light years' from their home. Earlier expeditions of Throxillians (likely led if not conducted by a Professor Astrov) gave the system its name and determined it rich in minerals and [incorrectly] declared it devoid of life.

ROSM stands for Rescue Operational Security Module.

The 'Solarians' (the Doctor knows of several races by that name) were a colony of Cimmerians (including some who are archaeologists) who had left the planet ages before. However they lost the ability to heal themselves (or were overwhelmed by the strength of the plague which struck them) and so they returned their sick back to their home planet to be treated. However these came in such numbers that the 'healers' on their home world themselves were weakened and nearly died out. To protect themselves, they shut the planet down (by 'turning off' the sun that had attracted the solar-powered ships) and during hibernation evolved instead into beings that lived in darkness. In the meantime the off-planet Cimmerians maintained their solar powered technology, resulting in the original race being split into two species.

Their sight being useless, the Cimmerians' primary sense has become that of taste. They are small and childlike, humanoid with grey skin and large, flat black eyes. Their history is stored, appropriately, in a sort of 'stew' which looks like boiling mud pie and smells like roasted potatoes - it is therefore drunk in order to be consumed.

Every race has a 'healer' legend of individuals who can heal at will, according to the Doctor.

The origins of the Throxillians is not mentioned [according to Nick Briggs they were originally going to be Morestrans from 'Planet of Evil'], although Halliard and Ferris play draughts and mention canaries, while Ferris attempts a US 'cowboy' styled accent. Upon losing her sight Orlenza doubts their surgeons could help her.

A flotilla of 'shiny new' Type 70 TARDISes are seen floating through the vortex by the Doctor and Charley. According to the Doctor it is unlike the Time Lords to travel in large number. He refers (though may be joking) to Rassillon's Flag Day.

ROSM's scans of Charley may imply that something is going on in her body beyond what one would expect in someone from before the age of genetic modification [cf 'Seasons of Fear']. Upon seeing the Solarians' solar sailed spacecraft Charley likens the scene to the Kells Regatta, suggesting she may have witnessed this at some time.

The Doctor creates the first sunrise in the Cimmerian system for a thousand [Cimmerian?] years.

Future History: Throxilla's 'early space pioneers' used solar sails on their craft - they aren't used any more by the time of this story [nb, the function of the Solarians' 'solar powered' sails would appear to work differently from conventional [i.e. solar wind capturing] sails, as the Solarian craft can be seen speeding towards the planet. They are likely similar to solar panels with the larger surface area of the 'sails' collecting solar energy and somehow converting it into a motive force. Even so they would still appear to be billowing the wrong way].

Links: 'The Sirens of Time' and 'Genesis of the Daleks' (Type 70 TARDISes)

Location: Cimmeria IV, the Cimmerian System.

The Bottom Line: 'Reality is uncertain.'

'Embrace' is an interesting diversion - initially claustrophobic sci-fi horror, eventually something almost the opposite. The Cimmerians are original and work well on audio and their voices are possibly the most creepy since 'The Spectre of Lanyon Moor'. However, the ROSM unit is one of the better characters, which works really well in that it doesn't fall to the Doctor's charms and provides an admirable and threatening foil. While the resolution is low key and almost off-stage, the dedication to direction and sound effects throughout is the story's salvation.

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