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165 'Invaders from Mars'

CD audio adventure released January 2002, 4 episodes

Writer: Mark Gattis
Director: Mark Gattis

Roots: The War of the Worlds, obviously - both original novel by H G Wells and adapted radio play by Howard Koch, as well as the George Pal movie and Mars Attacks! (death ray/ray gun sound effects).In addition, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai in the Fifth Dimension (an alien invasion being covered up by the War of the Worlds radio play) and the 1988 The War of the Worlds TV series episode 'Eye For An Eye' (in which it is revealed that the broadcast from Grover's Mill was a cover up for a real invasion). The title of course references the 1953 movie Invaders From Mars. The studio scenes may be based on The Night That Panicked America (the 1975 TV movie about the broadcast). V (aliens seeking to steal water from earth) 1950s Detective radio serials (the names, accents and incidental music). Welles and Houseman mention earlier radio plays based on The Shadow and Welles' adaptation of Daunton's Death. Monty Python's Flying Circus ('You will Orson, you will') 1950s radio serials (the soundtrack and caricatures). The Doctor refers to Welles' later film The Magnificent Ambersons. Chaos Theory (beat of a butterfly wing affects the weather). Noel Coward (Devine). Lon Chaney (from whom 'Don' Chaney has acquired his nickname, along with his half-shot nose, giving him the appearance of Chaney's titular Phantom of the Opera). Pocahontas.

Goofs: The story of King Canute is widely remembered wrongly (he was trying to prove he was not all powerful) which the Doctor should know if he was there.

Technobabble: A 24th century pulflidian flood controller was used to help King Canute turn back the tide (see 'Untelevised Stories').

Double Entendres: 'What a silly-' '-Canute? I'd say.'

'That's the trouble with cliches.'

'I'd better get you to a darkened room.'

'They'll be released from their bondage.'

'Junk it, soldier.'

Dialogue Disasters: Some dreadful puns from Houseman and Welles ('not in the state you were in, Virginia-' '-that was the state I was in?' 'No, your wife Virginia...', Devine ('I'm always trying to recapture my youth, but he keeps escaping.') and the Doctor ('Bix Biro.' '-His pen name?').

'Why you shrew!'

Dialogue Triumphs: The Doctor/Charley: 'So Ms. Bee, what's the rumpus? You cracking foxy with me, or is you in trouble with the bricks? They gonna drag you down to the hole because some guy gets shot through the pump with a heater?' '-Are you alright?'

'Failing that, feign death. It always works for me.'

Charley: 'Can't a person walk down the street without being kidnapped these days?'

The Doctor betraying his own fannishness: 'Orson - don't let them cut Ambersons - (no, I mustn't interfere).'

Continuity: A meteor has passed over New York not more than a month ago, in reality the breeding ship for aliens, crashing in Brooklyn. The alien species call themselves the Leder-Placker(sp?)) and have such titles as 'Conserver' (Norium) and 'Destroyer' (Streef). They resemble bats, run a protection racket on planets by launching a 'breeding ship' (mistaken as a meteor by the people of New York in this case) and letting the creatures on the ship breed (by binary fission) and invade the planet. Some time later the alien representatives turn up, 'save' the planet by putting the creatures back to sleep, and then get paid in some form to keep other creatures away (water would appear to be a suitable commodity). Their species has never been to Earth before, though they have heard of the Martians ('a race of warriors', so the Ice Warriors, presumably).

Don Chaney owns a '29 Lamborghini that used to belong to Capone. His headquarters are in the base of the Brooklyn Bridge. He has CIA contacts.

Doctor Stepassion is an atomic scientist, working in the field of heavy water leading to atoms. With the help of the alien technology, he was able to develop the first atom bomb.

The Doctor is puzzled why his companions want to leave him. He has a 'skill' of being able to speak the local patter. The Doctor sleeps 'once in a while'. He finds that feigning death always works as creating a distraction. He has a weakness for Manhatten cocktails and loves Orson Welles' work, having seen all his movies.

Links: 'City of Death' (the Doctor speed-reads a book in seconds by flipping its pages)

Untelevised Adventures: After an 'amoral Time Lord' [presumably the Meddling Monk] interfered with history, allowing Canute to turn back the tide and claim greater influence upon Anglo saxon England than he ought to have, the Doctor reversed his these events, putting historical fact to rights.

Location: New York City, on October 30-31, 1938. The TARDIS lands on the corner of 34th street and Broadway.

The Bottom Line: 'We'll take Manhattan...'

An adequate homage, but not an overly enthralling adventure. The use of the stings is lovingly appropriate to the 30/40s radio play genre, but tends to undercut the tension the scenes generate. Whilst the inclusion of real people Orson Welles and John Houseman (both very well imitated) is a fun inclusion, the aliens themselves are rather grating, comic sidekicks trying to be serious and failing. The American accents aren't half as bad as the Russian ones, but the Charley subplot seems to have been sidestepped, strangely.

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