Roots: Westerns. There are references to Rio Bravo, Dances with Wolves, A Fistful of Dollars, Earthquake!, The Towering Inferno, Disney, John Wayne, “Cotton Eyed Joe”, Through the Keyhole, General Custer, Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon, Ugly Betty, Clint Eastwood’s “Man With No Name”, Pony Express, Black Beauty, the Brothers Grimm, eBay, and the Milky Bar Kid.
Technobabble: “Artificially manufactured metal, probably spun from an atomic lattice loom in a zero-gravity environment and there’s a bio-organic component, cultured metastatic cellular membranes for electro-chemical data transfer and energy flux regulation.” The Doctor has, apparently, seen similar structures on Gagrant Necro-Harvesters and Earth Empire bio-colony transporters.
Dialogue Triumphs: “A weapon is only a tool. I’ve heard a lot of people say that over the years. But so is a hammer, and if that’s the only tool you have, pretty soon everything starts to look like a nail.”
Continuity: The Clades were created by an unknown alien species out beyond the Blacklight Marches and the 900 worlds of the Valgari Protectorate, who dwelt in an engineered stellar cluster. Their technology was based on a fusion of organic and mechanical technologies. The Clades are independently intelligent weapons, their development the result of an attack by another alien species, whom various authorities have suggested might have been the Racnoss (The Runaway Bride), the Null, or the Movellans (Destiny of the Daleks). The Clades inevitably turned against their creators, wiping them out so thoroughly that even the time vortex around their civilisation is polluted with weaponised chroniton particles. Following this, the Clades left and went looking for other wars. They resemble guns, but bind with whoever wields them and seize control. They can animate dead hosts if necessary and can heal wounds using bio-energy engrams, although this leads to mnemonic transference, causing anyone they heal to start remembering wars that the Clades have participated in. The command-grade incept Clade seen here has heard of the Doctor. The Command Incept travel between worlds through hyperspace in hard-pods. The Clades seen here were originally destined for the Gagrant Cluster, quadrant nine-five.
The Doctor orders a sarsaparilla in Redwater. His pockets contain pieces of string, a yo-yo, a pencil, a Japanese bus timetable, and his sonic screwdriver. He wins a considerable amount of money playing poker. He poses as a Pinkerton Agent. He uses a Venusian Lullaby (The Curse of Peladon, The Monster of Peladon, Venusian Lullaby) to hypnotise Nathan. He dons a cowboy hat, as well as a leather holster and belt that he puts his sonic screwdriver in. He uses his sonic screwdriver to make several pistols fall apart. The Command Incept Clade blackmails him into letting it use him as a host, but the Doctor manages to reprogram it whilst they are joined. He speaks the Pawnee tribal language. He gives a copy of H. G. Well’s The Time Machine to Jenny, ten years before it was printed.
When Martha was a child, Leo, Tish and she watched a cowboy film every Sunday whilst their Mum was cooking dinner. She bought her favourite jacket in a sale at Henrik’s. She eats honey cake in Redwater. She learns to ride a horse here. She buys corned beef sandwiches in Redhill. She has apparently broken a bone before. She gets shot by a Clade here: the Command Incept heals her in return for the Doctor’s body, leaving no trace of a scar.
The TARDIS control room has a molecular sensor pallet. The TARDIS also contains a medical kit in a white box with a green crescent moon on it, which contains a medical nanogene pod; the Doctor took it from New Earth when he visited the planet with Rose (New Earth). Rose’s jacket is still in the TARDIS.
Links: The Doctor mentions the Ood (The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit). The Doctor offers to take Martha to see The Starship Brilliant Story (The Pirate Loop). He notes that he’s already been to the gunfight at the OK Corrall (The Gunfighters). He recalls Professor Lazarus (The Lazarus Experiment). He alludes to alien entities under churches (The Dæmons, The Awakening) and giant cockroaches (Nightshade), and mentions Dalek saucers in Utah (Dalek). Martha calls her horse Rose. She recalls Judoon enforcers (Smith and Jones), Carrionites (The Shakespeare Code), killer scarecrows (Human Nature/The Family of Blood), and Daleks (Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks). The Doctor mentions the Shadow Proclamation again. He has visions of K-9, Sarah Jane Smith, Rose, Mickey and Captain Jack. The Isop galaxy is mentioned (The Web Planet). He makes an oblique reference to kilts.
Location: Hollywood, at some point after the late twenty-fifth century; Redwater and Ironhill, Colorado Territory, the nineteenth century.
Future History: Hollywood was terraformed in the later twenty-fifth century by a consortium of entertainment business, immediately after the Incorporated Nation of NeoCalifornia was destroyed by a super-volcano. Neighbouring worlds include BollyWorld, as well as several Celebra-Stations, where people can hunt android celebrities. The Doctor describes Planet Hollywood as the movie capital of the Milky Way. Movies of the future include Pirates of the Caribbean VI and The Starship Brilliant Story.
The Pinkerton Agency operates in hundreds of solar systems centuries after the nineteenth century.
Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor defeated an incursion of Geomatide Macros, which used the angles of the ceiling tiles as a mathematical hyperspace vector generator, in the Cinerama on Sunset Boulevard during the nineteen seventies. He has apparently visited Planet Hollywood before.
The Doctor claims that Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea was inspired by an encounter that they had with a group of Silurians.
The Doctor has clearly spent some time with Native Americans, as various tribes know him as Rides in Night, Brother of Coyote, and the man who defeated the Bad Wolf.
The Doctor was on Sierra Secundus after the razing of the sun-tower, where he saw the dead that the Clades left behind. He also rescued refugees from war zones on Tannhauser and New Mitama.
The Bottom Line: “Talkin’ guns? You’re bug-house crazy!” We’ve all seen intelligent weapons systems before, not to mention Westerns, but Swallow manages to bring freshness to the mix here thanks to decent supporting characters, and light handling of the pointed moral message. Great fun.