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174 'The Natural History of Fear'

CD audio adventure released February 2004, 4 episodes

Writer: Jim Mortimore
Director: Gary Russell

Roots: Dark City, Total Recall, the Star Trek: Voyager episode Workforce, Nineteen Eighty-Four, THX-1138, the movie version of The Quiet Earth ("For the common good!"), Cypher, The Prisoner ('why?' used as a means to an end), The Matrix: Reloaded (Every so often a revolution is required).

Goofs: Why is the spinning top decorated with pictures of the TARDIS, the Doctor, Charley and C'rizz? Charley hasn't seen the toy before, so when did the Doctor obtain it?

Why do three of the Light City denizens sound like the Doctor, Charley and C'rizz?

[It's surprising but not impossible that when the three travellers arrive in Light City there's no comment on the number of limbs the people there have]

Dialogue Triumphs: 'Someone has let the truth out of its cage'

'My job is to act on what is currently real.'

Continuity: Light City has a strict control over its worker populations (known as Proles) in order to keep them productive and happy. Among the things banned are questions, non-state-sanctioned music, names (for Proles at least, who are known by their profession: "the Nurse", and so on), words such as 'evolution' and 'change', free thought. Proles have to watch a mandatory amount of 'infotainment' broadcasts. There is also an upper class of Citizens. The inhabitants are fairly short-lived and have eight limbs.

Light City is policed via Proles reporting transgressors to the Conscience. Transgressors are reprogrammed or "revised" with a new set of memories by the Editor and returned to the work force. The brainwashing is so complete that people are unable to perceive anything not within their worldview. The Censor and the Board oversee the system.

Jubilee day is the only day every quarter during which Proles can engage in banned activities.

Programming of the infotainment system is done by the Disc Jockey, who maintains a library of well-indexed propaganda stories partly based on the Doctor's adventures. Stories are repeated to reinforce their messages. A number of early stories are missing. The current DJ has been in the post for a long time. The rebellion used recorded broadcasts to reconstruct the Doctor's original personality, with the aim of placing the memories into a Prole.

The Editor claims that a particular banned piece of music causes cellular damage in certain biological life forms, the composer being its final victim.

Rats (or some analogue thereof) live outside the city under the pier.

The Doctor, Charley and C'rizz passed through Light City briefly during a Jubilee day, and contributed their memories to the pool used to program the Proles. They also left behind a spinning top in which the revolutionaries hid the memory tape containing the Doctor's memories.

The Doctor carries a spinning top, at least two pairs of Raybans, a toy robot and assorted other unidentified items in his pocket.

C'rizz's eyes work differently and he claims to be able to see Charley's skeleton if he stares hard enough.

Location: Light City, the Divergent Universe

The Bottom Line: 'Memory is such an unpredictable process.'

A somewhat unique audio, quite absorbing, very well-crafted, and written with skill and panache. Unfortunately its nature means that it never plays the same on a second listening, and it's hugely derivative of previous (and superior) memory-alteration tales. Equally unfortunately it also means that it contributes very little to the character of C'rizz - given he's still in an introductory phase, we need all the characterisation we can get. The best Eighth Doctor audio adventure by some way thus far, all the same.

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