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167 'Seasons of Fear'

CD audio adventure released March 2002, 4 episodes

Writers: Paul Cornell and Caroline Symcox
Director: Gary Russell

Roots: Highlander, The Doctor and Charley (sort of) know the lyrics to Rolf Harris' 'Court of King Caractacus', while Charley's Roman name is taken from 'Daisy Daisy'. Grayle cribs his 'Do what thou wilst...' line from Crowley (cf. 'The Spectre of Lanyon Moor'). Minoan mythology, specifically the fabled 'bull cult' of Minas and resulting Minotaur myths; Mithraism. Charley has evidently read a lot of Jane Austen. The Doctor and Charley have a go at an adaptation of the 'What's a Grecian Urn?' joke. The Mithraist ceremony appears to be based on a Church of England service (complete with 'notices' before the main event). Zagreus, the son of Zeus and Persephone (and 'father' of Dionysus), has horns too.

Intertextuality: The Monks of Falsecar first appeared in Paul Cornell's New Adventure Love and War.

Goofs: If Grayle's invulnerability was such that a fall from the battlements wasn't able to harm him, how then was Charley able to knock him out with the hat stand?

The TARDIS Console room nanites can cure Charley's poisoning, yet doesn't heal the Doctor's cuts and scratches from Grayle's torture [burst eardrums pose no problem in 'Shadow of the Scourge' - does it only work on humans?].

Fluffs: As he is jettisoned by the TARDIS, the lead Nimon seems to say 'The time vortex - it's pulling us off...'

Double Entendres: Edward and Edith's single entendre about Edward's 'misfortune'.

Has Grayle alternative transport? 'My Triumph is still at hand!'

'Pinch me if you like.' 'Oh, I'll do more than that.'

'I don't call that very hard.'

'First I shall do what I ached to do for centuries.'

Dialogue Disasters: '-born within the sound of Boadicea's bells'

'I think I'll keep this sword. It's very jolly.'

Dialogue Triumphs: 'Another opportunity to wear a nice dress!' '-Be a bit conspicuous, wouldn't it?' 'Another opportunity for me.'

'I go stumbling my way through lives like I own a particularly dangerous bicycle'

'Will you please stop believing in things, Dicurian. It's very messy.'

'You learn to see such things when you're used to the bitchiness of Time Lords.'

Charley's 'Jane Austen' scenes.

'Is it too late to suggest a round of bridge?'

Technobabble: The Nimon use a psionic mind beam to transfer their power. They use gravitic distortion, gravitational lensing, phasing energy through the event horizon of a black hole (with this they are also able to grant a form of immortality to Grayle). The Doctor carries a 'power detector' with him, with which he can detect sources of radiation.

Lucy Martin has residual chronon energy on her after traveling with the Doctor.

Continuity: During his time in the Godwins' court Grayle was once bishop of all Cornwall. Between his earliest and following encounter with the Doctor Grayle spent eighty years in penitence with monks on a northern British island, and had twelve wives in succession, all of whom died of old age while he remained young.

In 305 the Doctor takes the name 'Ambrosius Clemenses', and Charlie 'Dasia Dasia'. In 1055, he is the Reverend Doctor of Bruges, and Charlie is 'Lady Charlotte'. In 1806, the Doctor is Sir Peter Pollard, father to Charley.

The colours of the Vortex are described by the Doctor as 'butterfly'-like. A vortex tunnel especially arranged (the Doctor creates one in a matter of seconds using the TARDIS console) may protect normally unshielded beings from the vortex. Once inside the vortex, the Doctor adopts a Gallifreyan lotus posture and meditates, allowing his mind to find the tunnel destination.

His warning to Charley about Zagreus may suggest that the legendary figure seeks out those who indulge in recursion and paradoxes.

The TARDIS has resisted five attempts by the Doctor to arrive at the correct time to leave Alex messages confirming Charley's survival of the R-101. Its genetic sampler can take a microscopic DNA swipe, and feeds the information directly into the console - the Ship can then tease out the patterns of human DNA throughout the space-time vortex. The Console Room has an umbrella stand. The Fast Return switch can be pressed several times to set the co-ordinates back the appropriate number of journeys.

Mithras' sword is a weapon of rustless pure iron (supporting the belief that iron defeats evil creatures), resembling a sabre. The Doctor imagines that Grayle's unseen masters (known to Grayle as 'Bovis') are limited by planetary alignment. The Nimon are in the Ordinand system, which has a black hole on its doorstop. They scattered themselves through the cosmos, sending scouts to negotiate upon populated planets. Earth is significant to the Nimon for its proximity to other worlds (it occupies 'a focal point in space and time'). The scout sent to Earth arrived in Persia and presented the sword as a relic, but was later killed with it by Mithras, who was ignorant of its science. All three became legend thereafter. Other gifts of the Nimon appear to have been created by and work toward their psionic technology, including the 'horned goblet', to which the Nimon refer as an 'oscillator'. The Nimon customarily adopt the designs of other cultures in their infiltration of civilised worlds. Nimon hide is extremely strong and impervious to many weapons, including most blades. Nimon pods have changed somewhat since the Doctor last saw them - they now incorporate self-directional units, powered by an external plutonium powered focal point (in this case Grayle's 'machine').

Charley dances the Charleston in the Godwin court (she tells Edward and Edith that they dance the Charleston in Bruges). She once went to an orgy - but didn't stay. She has read novels about people being saved when their time is up and knows her Bayeux tapestry. In Singapore Charley kisses Alex Grayle and may have used tongues. Alex is 'such a chum', always having 'something marvellous in his buttonhole' (the mind boggles). Some time ago Charley and Alex were in Alex's attic to get a cricket bat.

The Doctor likes bats. He wears a hat in Singapore, but gives it to Grayle (the DWM teaser for this suggests the hat is that Panama version previously worn by his fifth incarnation). Edward the Confessor's reign is one of his favourite times and places. He considers soliloquising a filthy habit of his, smells of honey, let his tea cool for far too long, and lets Charley win at Scrabble (she thinks). The Doctor prays to whatever gods he has every day and calls the original time line 'Time Classic'. He says he 'rarely' touches meat and suggests that he took to learning swordplay after seeing the weapon's popularity throughout history. The Doctor has heard of Richard Martin and congratulates him in absentia for his success at the Battle of Aboukir. He suggests the Zagreus nursery-rhyme was sung to him by his mother.

The base of the Hellfire Club (it has fallen since its heyday, having had such members as Sir Francis Dashwood, the Earl of Sandwich and 'president' Benjamin Franklin) is in the Wickham caves, the temple kept behind a golden door.

The Abbot of Falsecar is the greatest authority on human genealogy in the Milky Way.

The 'mad genetics' of succeeding rulers after the Godwins are attributed by the Doctor to Grayle's unearthed plutonium in the countryside. To combat some of this, the Doctor leaves Edward and Edith instructions on how it might be safely handled and enough anti-radiation pills for the workers.

The paradoxes the Doctor has created (including, possibly, the survival of Richard Martin and the meeting of the Grayles) has introduced a creature that feeds on time paradoxes and time travellers. It has taken the form of Charley.

Links: 'The Horns of Nimon', 'Project: Twilight' (the Doctor utters (rather than sings) the Zagreus nursery rhyme). 'Storm Warning', 'Minuet In Hell' (the Hellfire Club and Sir Francis Dashwood), 'The Shadow of the Scourge' has healing nanites in the TARDIS console room. The Doctor refers to the Master ('I'm not the one who says 'you must obey me''), the Meddling Monk ('I don't meddle'(!)) and the Rani ('I'm not a glamorous woman at the moment'). 'City of Death' (Edith is a beautiful woman...probably). 'The Edge of Destruction' (the fast return switch).

Untelevised Adventures: The Doctor stopped in Singapore in 1930 and left messages for Alex. The Doctor and Charley spent three weeks with the Abbot of Falsecar between journeys during episode one.

Under the guise of 'the Reverend Doctor of Bruges' the Doctor saved Edward's father Æthelred (he was 'unready' that night too) from a fatal fever. He also met Edith in her father's court, and the two hit it off so well that she proposed to him the following leap year. When he was unable to extricate himself from the situation, the Doctor 'did a runner'.

Location: Singapore, New Years Eve 1930; A Roman camp at Hadrian's Wall 305; The court of Edward the Confessor during Lent, London 1055; Wickham Caves, Buckinghamshire 1806.

The Bottom Line: 'For all my seasons of fear...'

A witty runaround romp styled chase. A foreshadowing of ominous proportions for the Doctor and Charley and the rest of the season. You take your choices. In places 'Seasons' groans with an abundance of exposition - nearly everyone has a back-story and motivation and wants to talk about it. The idea of someone being 'older' than the Doctor (compare Grayle with Grayvorn in the 'Excelis' series), having already bested him is a good one, and the incorporation of Mithraism inspired. But the concept of the Doctor popping in and out of history to find out how he is killed jars in places. The Nimon, albeit clearly signposted, are a novelty; though refreshingly the story isn't really about them at all.

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