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'Max Warp'

Released February 2008. 1 episode.

Writer: Jonathan Morris
Director: Barnaby Edwards

Roots: 'Laddish' motor shows, especially Top Gear, obviously (many deliberate spoofs), specifically the near-fatal car crash involving presenter Richard Hammond. Lucie calls the Doctor "Sherlock", "Miss Marple" and says later "this is worse than Poirot". A tannoy announcement paging "Flight Commander P.R. Johnson to contact the intergalactic operator" 'answers' a line from RAH Band's song Clouds Across the Moon. Microsoft products "No I don't wish to report an error", Absolute Power (and spin doctors in general). The videogame Epic (the Cobra Mk III), Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy TV series (the Lazlar Lyricon custom-designed ship) Wargames ('the only way to win a war is to not start one')

Dialogue Triumphs: "Sorry, I was thinking aloud." "-I could tell."

Lucie's "What's it stand for again? Time And Relative Dimension in... Shed"

Continuity: Max Warp broadcasts live from the Inter-G Cruiser Show at the Sirius Exhibition Station, which seems to be near a number of moons. Presenter Geoffrey Vantage says it is watched by 'blokes' across the Seven Galaxies. Featuring on this show is the celebrity guest Garfield Lemper who drives the budget vehicle the Umbriel Slipstream, which has a "punishing escape velocity" (it gets put into the Funky Board's 'Unfunky' Section, much to the Doctor's horror), whilst Vantage profiles the "man's spaceship" the Magellan Danube 4000, which has impressive sounding ellipse converters. Vantage later introduces the Skythros Warpshock (asking whether it's the last word in super luminary style or the last word in looking like a total Morok). O'Reilley covers the Nebular Toscanini, "for the more discerning customer", which features the latest in gamma burst regulators and a detachable soft top for maximum class, efficiency and sophistication. He also puts the new Thorndon 90 through her paces and asking whatever happened to the old Cobra Mark Three? As guest presenter Lucie (as 'Lucie Vauxhall Nova) introduces the Freefall Sunstriker, which has the same engine as the Moonstork, "but at a fraction of the cost." The Kith Sunstorm's technology is (according to the Kith Ambassador) incapable of malfunction. Its features include anti-G force residual dampeners, vector generators and power steering. The simulation craft the Doctor and Lucie find themselves onboard is an Epsilon Nova 90.

The Kith are a highly-evolved sponge-like myconid race with tendrils (or fronds) in the place of arms. They sleep in the dark and phosphoresce whilst doing so. Their political structure is oligarchic and they hail from a neighbouring system to the Varlon Empire. They have a thousand-strong battle fleet while the Varlon Empire has nothing.

The Varlon Empire and Kith Oligarchy were at war with each other until twenty years previously; both races were nearly wiped out until a treaty was signed - an uneasy truce has existed since then. Varlon seems to have come off worst in the engagement, having to make reparations and honour fallen Kith heroes. During the war Vantage was a pilot and flew experimental star-jets and tested the latest weapons systems. Varlons are for the most part at least externally indistinguishable from humans (they may in fact be, given that they wear jeans.)

The Doctor says he had his mid-life crisis centuries ago. He gets quite excited seeing Hyperion boosters. His security pass (psychic paper?) gives him and Lucie platinum rank clearance.

Links: The Space Museum (Moroks) The announcer tannoy mentions a "Slithergee Ice Spectacular" (Flip-Flop)

Location: The Sirius System (part of the Seven Galaxies)

The Bottom Line: "I bet they're all male, single and having a mid life crisis!"

Thoroughly amusing, whether you're a fan of Top Gear or you're really, really not. Arguably the Richard Hammond pastiche came a little too soon after the real man's near-fatal accident, but is a key plot point rather than a cheap throwaway, and the play's so well cast you may have trouble not picturing the real people. In all a fun play on the Doctor's restrained bloke-ishness, and a solid comedic overture to a characteristically lightweight season.

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