Roots: James Bond. Sapphire and Steel 'Adventure Four' (people trapped in pictures). There are references to Laurel and Hardy, Sweeny Todd, Jules Verne, and This Island Earth.
Dialogue Triumphs: "It's my job to like rich people."
Continuity: Canvines are massive lupine humanoids from the planet Canvine. They drink beer and eat dram scratchings on Vega Station, and raw meat on Canvine. They love opera, which was introduced to them by humans. They rarely gamble.
The Doctor suggests visiting the Vega Station, where he and Fitz have a competition to see who can win the most in the casino in a week, each starting with one hundred plaudits. The Doctor drinks ginger beer here. He carries a silver hip flask filled with brandy as part of his survival kit. He takes Sam to opera Return of the Prodigal. He claims to be a notable detective on the Vega Station. He also claims that he is strong enough to break a human in two. He recognises Newark Rappare's Ethanoan manuscripts as forgeries after a cursory examination. He briefly becomes the owner of Vega Station, since the Station couldn't afford to cash his credit chip without going bankrupt: ownership of the Station defaults to Stabilo after the chip becomes trapped in a painting. The Doctor takes the painting with him in the TARDIS.
Sam doesn't drink champagne. She has never been to an opera before. She uses the gym on Vega station. She once visited the Tate, and whilst visiting Paris with her parents visited the Louvre and Musée D'Orsée.
Fitz has read Casino Royale and seen Dr. No, which is where his interest in casinos started. He dons a dark suit and black bow-tie from the TARDIS wardrobe, which apparently has a clothes dispensing machine. He smokes Camel cigarettes. He carries a pack of Swan Vestas. He drinks martini in the casino.
To Fitz's dismay, the TARDIS does not contain a cigarette machine. Whilst drunk and confused, he is accidentally mistaken for Hazard Solarin, and is given a photograph of the Fourth Doctor, Solarin's target. Bigdog hits him across the head.
Spa resorts on Crastis Major include Tamba Bey. Pleasurama is a holiday planet. Various alien races are present on the Vega Station.
Links: The Canvine remind Sam of the Jax (Kursaal). Fitz recalls the Benelisans' technology and Azoth (The Taint). The Doctor notes that he once played Backgammon with Kublai Khan (Marco Polo).
Location: Vega Station, [c2593 - art dealer Newark Rapare reappears in Dragon's Wrath].
Future History: Battrul is apparently an Earth colony. A President rules Battrul. The United Planetary Front or UPF is a political party opposing the peace treaty with the Canvines. A buffer zone two light years across has been established between Canvine and Battrul ever since the peace treaty was signed fifty years earlier. Since then, both planets have suffered massive economic upheaval. Vega station is on the border of the buffer zone and is the only place that the Canvines and Battrulians ever meet. It was set up ostensibly as a cultural centre where Battrualians and Canvines could meet in peace, but its real purpose is defensive, acting as an early warning station for the Battrulians should the Canvines start to demonstrate evidence of a military build-up.
Kamil "Hazard" Solarin is a notoriously efficient professional assassin. He uses dice-throws to choose weapons and courses of action.
Toulour Martinique is a renowned artist, whose first work is called On a Clear Day. Other works include Defying the Angel and Murdering art. Murdering art is supposedly his last painting, which he completed just before his throat was cut, and is therefore his most famous work. He actually survived within one of his own paintings by using a process akin to matter transmission to transfer a copy of himself into the canvas, and painted Murdering art, a depiction of his own murder, after he was killed. He painted over part of the title, which was originally Murdering Martinique.
A Leviathan Red is a rare stamp.
Unrecorded Adventures: The Fourth Doctor visited the Vega Station at least fifty years earlier, just after the war ended and shortly after the station opened, and won millions of plaudits in the casino.
The Bottom Line: Competently written and entertaining, with Richards' trademark Big Twist, but largely forgettable once it's finished. Some scenes, such as Sam getting trapped in the painting, are quite memorable, but sadly none of the characters are. On the other hand, the regulars are supremely well handled, Fitz slotting into the dynamic of the TARDIS crew in interesting ways.