Synthespians (TM)

Roots: Dallas and Dynasty. The Ring may inspire the tiny Autons emerging from the televisions. There are references to Shakespeare, Dallas, the Hubble telescope, Gene Kelly, GAP, Gucci, Prada, Versace, Ronald Reagan, H. G. Wells, Oxfam, Armani, Croesus, Martha Stewart, The Stepford Wives, Culture Club, Prince, Michael Jackson, Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse of the Heart, Sherlock Holmes, Einstein, Joan Collins, Wagner's The Ride of the Valkyries, Disney, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Sesame Street, Armani, Grand Guignol, Shakespeare, Blofeld's hollowed out volcano in the James Bond film You Only Live Twice, Scylla and Charybolis, and Lara Croft.

Programmes and films restored and broadcast from Reef Station One include Dixon of Dock Green, The Sweeney, The Bill, Dynasty, Baywatch, Babylon 5, Falcon Crest, Crossroads, The Forsythe Saga, The Six Million Dollar Man, EastEnders, The Tomorrow People, Juliet Bravo, George Pal's The Time Machine, David Lean's Great Expectations, The Italian Job, Bullett, Day of the Triffids, and 28 Days Later. Several of the fictional television series cited here are obviously based on real shows, including Dusty the Fearless Monster Killer (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Space Journey: Traveller (Star Trek: Voyager), and The Secret Files (The X-Files). The reference to Quarks and their Giant Wasps is a reference to the TV Comic Doctor Who strip The Killer Wasps. Type 70 War-TARDISes first appeared in the Doctor Who Monthly comic strip The Stockbridge Horror. The description of the Nestene energy creature comes from Terrance Dicks' novelisation of Terror of the Autons.

Goofs: Clothing label Vorbe is also spelt Vorb.

TARDIS is again said to stand for Time And Relative Dimensions In Space (though this is probably no longer worth considering as a goof – ed).

On pages 197 to 204, Dominique Delacroix is referred to by her real name in the script extract, rather than that of her character.

Dialogue Triumphs: In a nod to Colin Baker's controversial departure from the series, when sacked actor Marc tells the Doctor, 'Actually, that's not quite true. She just wanted me back for one act just so that I could die', he replies, 'That sounds terribly unfair. I don't think I'd stand for that either.'

'I always expect trouble.'

Continuity: Polymos has a small but stable sun and little tectonic activity. It is implied that it is located within the Milky Way. Unlike the other Great Old Ones, Shub-Niggurath was pregnant when she entered this universe. Dying, she manifested herself on the planet Polymos and gave birth to the Nestene Consciousness before she expired. It grew into a creature of pure psionic energy, which saturated its birthplace, absorbing the life essence of everything that lived there, causing the entire planet Polymos to become the Consciousness. The Consciousness feeds on biological life and mental energy. Planets and species colonized or destroyed by the Nestene Consciousness include Cramodar, Plovak 6, and the Reverent Pentiarchs of Looorn. The polymer chains of both thermosetting and thermoplastic resonate along its psychic wavelength. The Nestene Consciousness communicates with the Autons on the astral plane; sub-etheric beams (Genesis of the Daleks) can disrupt its telepathic control, because they travel through the telepathy dimension. Auton energy bolts are a refined form of telekinesis, ripping matter apart at the sub-atomic level. The Consciousness is capable of deliberately clouding the Doctor's mind. A Swarm Leader is powerful enough to duplicate the patterns of an enslaved person or to create one from scratch, whereas the normal facsimiles require the original template to remain alive (see Spearhead from Space). Skin Deep is a form of literal plastic surgery in which small particles of plastic are injected under the skin and cause the tissue to obey it on both a microscopic and macroscopic level, whilst taking control of the human brain.

Plastic or part-plastic products animated by the Nestene Consciousness here include toothbrushes, razors, 3DTVs that work by extruding plastic to create 3D versions of a television programme, microwaves, rubber car deodorizes, shower curtains, fake pearl necklaces, dentures, megaphones, breast implants, vacuum cleaners, duvets, pillows, and light fittings. The living celluloid that allows the Redux restoration process to work contains subliminal telepathic messages designed to make humans less resistant to the Nestene invasion. Circa 10,764AD, the Time Lords attack Polymos using Type 70 War-TARDISes, destroying any swarms of energy units launched from the planet. Their reasons for attacking the Nestene Consciousness are not explained, but the CIA under the control of Vansell organises the attack (Divided Loyalties, The Sirens of Time, The Apocalypse Element, Neverland). As a consequence of this attack, the Nestene Consciousness plans to transfer its entire self to the New Earth Republic, downloading itself into a single, incredibly advanced Auton facsimile. During its transference to the Republic, it manifests as a ten-mile wide greeny-yellow amalgamation of spider, crab and octopus, with a single eye. By arranging for the real Dominique Delacroix to awaken at a critical moment, the Doctor traps the entire Nestene Consciousness in the dormant facsimile.

The Doctor again adopts the alias John Smith and briefly pretends to be an undercover Republican Guard. He knows how to perform first aid on a human. Whilst in the cinema, he demands popcorn, chocolates, a hot dog, nachos and dips, and a super-size fizzy drink. He eats toast with strawberry jam for breakfast, with a pot of Earl Grey tea. He drinks Glen Garioch whiskey offered by Matheson. He pockets the late August DeValle's mobile phone, which he later makes use of, although he generally dislikes mobile phones. He suspects that his knack for finding trouble is a Time Lord gift, but has never been in a position to discuss it with other renegades. The Doctor carries a claw hammer in his pocket. Annoyed at the Doctor's unwitting intervention in the attempt to destroy the Nestene Polymos, Vansell arranges for him to be placed on trial (Trial of a Time Lord). The Space Station on which the Doctor's trial is held is called Zenobia.

The Doctor and Peri eat waffles, maple syrup, eggs-over-easy and coffee in the TARDIS. Peri lived for a time in Los Angeles, where she enjoyed shopping in malls. She grew up in a house in Pasadena, with a huge garden. At the age of eight, she visited her parents' favourite Italian restaurant in Baltimore, where she ate clam chowder, steak, and chocolate ice cream. Her mother's name is Janine. Her father Paul died in an accident when she was thirteen years old, drowning underneath a capsized boat. Howard had children of his own when he married Peri's mother. Peri eats avocado with prawns on Reef Station One, and drinks espresso crème brulee served with a single fig. She dons a slinky black Vorbe dress, a black pearl choker, and black stilettos, and later changes into a hooded sweatshirt and grey jogging bottoms. She later dons a charcoal-grey trouser suit, a white blouse with a black frilly cravat, and a black pillbox hat.

The TARDIS has an arboretum. It has a means of preventing jet lag, which the Doctor describes as 'one of the old girl's little gifts'. The TARDIS's outer plasmic shell has altered shape over the years due to age [a reference to the changes in the Police Box props used throughout the series]. There is a director's chair in the TARDIS. The TARDIS is capable of tapping into Reef Station One's telephone network and impersonating the Republic Hilton Plaza, Room 6, as well as doctoring the hotel's records to prove that it is a vacant room, in order to provide the Doctor with an official address whilst he is on the Station. The Doctor can detonate the Eye of Harmony on board his TARDIS to prevent the TARDIS falling into enemy hands (The TV Movie, Attack of the Cybermen).

The planet Tranicula on the edge of the Thomas Exultation in the New Earth Republic is perfect for vineyards due to the sunlight that it receives. Other planets in the Republic include New Regency, Bel Terra (previously known as NER-887), Paxas, New Aspen, New California, and New Alaska. Reef diamonds are formed from the remains of a super-Jovian planet in the Caledonian Reef that exploded a million years earlier; they are very rare and valuable. Minerals found in the Republic include Duranium and Matricite. The Reef Station Enquirer is a local newspaper. Satellite Homes and Gardens and Republic Times are magazines.

Mobile phones in the Republic work by using sub-etheric beams, since these are the only communications medium that can penetrate the ambient exotic radiation that permeates the Republic. Sub-etheric beams can have a deleterious effect on the human brain by affecting the part of the brain responsible for humanity's dormant telepathic ability, causing blood clots and tumours in that area.

Links: The Doctor is still fiddling about with the Zeiton 7 he obtained on Varos, setting this story between Vengeance on Varos and The Mark of the Rani, and after Grave Matter and probably More Short Trips: Moon Graffiti, but before Burning Heart. The Autons and the Nestene Consciousness first appeared in Spearhead from Space and Terror of the Autons (in a reference to the latter, the Doctor muses that he's been in far too many cars with Autons at the wheel). Polymos and Shub-Niggurath were first mentioned in Millennial Rites. Peri recalls being physically transformed during Vengeance on Varos and combating murderous cyborgs (Attack of the Cybermen) and deformed slugs (The Twin Dilemma). She still has a scar on her forehead sustained on Dorsill (Grave Matter). There are references to Howard (Planet of Fire) and allusion to his sexual abuse of Peri (Shell Shock). Peri recalls shopping at the Garazone Bazaar (Nekromanteia) and visiting seventeenth century Paris (The Church and the Crown) and ancient Egypt (The Eye of the Scorpion). There is a reference to her brief tenure as a warlord (Warmonger). Professor X is one of the series restored and broadcast by Reef Station One (Return of the Living Dad and other New Adventures). Fans are arguing whether the latest incarnation of Professor X is the ninth or tenth, a reference to the arguments surrounding the canonicity of Scream of the Shalka. Monsters battled by the Professor include XTerminators (Daleks), Snow Vikings (Ice Warriors) and Cybs (Cybermen). The Doctor bemoans the destruction of his sonic screwdriver (The Visitation). There is a reference to Ben.

There are references to Block Transfer Computations (Logopolis), Silurians, Quarks (The Dominators), Mavic Chen (The Daleks' Master Plan), Draconians (Frontier in Space), Selyoids (Dying in the Sun), Valethske (Superior Beings), Sontarans, Ice Warriors, Earth Reptiles, the Master, the Rani (The Mark of the Rani), Sil (Vengeance on Varos), Sharaz Jek (The Caves of Androzani), the Doctor's presidency of the High Council (The Invasion of Time, The Five Doctors), the Zarbi, Menoptra and Animus (The Web Planet), the Great Intelligence (The Abominable Snowmen, The Web of Fear), Monoids (The Ark), Susan, Ian, Barbara, Vicki, Tegan, and Turlough. The Doctor makes a sarcastic comment about travelling through time using static and mirrors (The Evil of the Daleks). He recalls visiting Tombstone (The Gunfighters). The checklist of alien incursions on Earth mentions the Jagaroth (City of Death), the Xeraphin citadel and Concorde Golf Victor-Foxtrot (Time-Flight), the Dæmons (The Daemons), and the Eternals (Enlightenment). The Doctor makes use of a Laserson probe (The Robots of Death). The Doctor recalls his response the last time Peri stammered I I I (The Caves of Androzani).

Location: Reef Station One, c10,764AD [there are references to The Crystal Bucephalus].

Future History: A new series of James Bond films were made during the twenty-fourth century.

In 5720AD, in the aftermath of World War Six (The Talons of Weng-Chiang), deep-core archaeologists found the crushed and near-fossilized remains of a Khorlthochloi starship (Superior Beings).

The decaying Union still holds sway across as a political force across vast swathes of the galaxy, despite the fact that the human race has splintered into factions as a result of a centuries-long civil war (see The Crystal Bucephalus). The Union is forced to broker peace treaties and non-intervention pacts with other races and powers, and fight off occasional opportunist invasion attempts. Several centuries earlier, a fleet of ark ships fleeing the war went wildly off course and passed through an area of space full of exotic particles and gravity wells (a region known as the Great Barrier), which prevented communication with the rest of the galaxy. The colonists settled in the region, which turned out to be extremely rich in mineral resources, and formed the New Earth Republic, isolated from the rest of the galaxy by the Great Barrier.

One hundred years after the one hundred million colonists formed the Republic, peace reigned, but boredom became a problem. Nine of the greatest businessmen in the Republic joined forces in an attempt to communicate with the rest of the galaxy and find a means of dispelling the boredom before it lead to dictatorship and civil war. They failed to send communications beyond the Great Barrier, but received transmissions from outside and unexpectedly found that they could receive old broadcast television signals from twentieth century Earth, which they started restoring and broadcasting with to great popularity. As the supply of old programmes began to run out, the Nine decided that the Republic could start making and broadcasting new television stories and built Reef Station One, a smoothed off asteroid two hundred miles in diameter enclosed in an energy-enforced plexiglass dome. The Station also has vast shopping malls and residential areas. Programmes and films recorded and broadcast on Reef Station One include As the Worlds Turn, Dreams of Tomorrow, Executive Desires, The Rep, Star Traveller: The Motion Picture, ReefEnders, Liberation Street, Confessions of a Monoid, and This Evening With Phil and Bev.

There is also a reference to the film The Last Temptation of Lazarus, the Doctor wondering whom they cast as him (The Crystal Bucephalus). The citizens of the Republic became obsessed with television, and the growing Republic's architecture and fashion became based on twentieth century television. The Nine are the nine richest men in the republic. The term also refers to the corresponding nine largest corporations in the Republic. The original Nine were the architects of the Republic entire economic infrastructure and included Walter Matheson and Ishmael Bruderbakker; their descendants are also referred to as the Nine and they include Walter J. Matheson III of WJM Inc.; Charles Bruderbakker of Bruderbakker Communications Ltd; August DeValle of Republica Communications Inc.; Garrison Polyceramics; RBM; and NovaCo. Matheson carries out hostile takeovers of the other eight companies during his alliance with the Nestene Consciousness. The Mathesons great-great-grandfather was a successful arms dealer during the galactic civil war, supplying ninety-eight percent of hand-held and ship-mounted weapons to both sides. Fashion designers in the New Earth Republic include Cabri, La Trente and Vorb. Standard history of broadcasting is taught to children throughout the Republic. The Republican Guards are the supreme guardians of the New Earth Republic.

The Union eventually becomes the Concordance, the Confederation, and then finally the Junta (The Crystal Bucephalus), a totalitarian regime ruled by a despotic psychopath descended from Mavic Chen (The Daleks' Master Plan). It attempts to invade the New Earth Republic several centuries after the Nestene invasion attempt, but is fought off. The Republic's obsession with television wanes within a hundred years of the Nestene attack, and it starts a programme of colonisation, sending sleeper ships to the Wolf-Lundmark-Melotte galaxy and Andromeda.

Unrecorded Adventures: Whilst travelling with the Doctor, Peri has seen flowers that only bloom once every thousand years and gas sunbathed under green skies and purple suns. She has been shopping in a twenty-fifth century Wal-Mart and visited the Botanarium on Phyluxus. A being named Tabilibik victimized her.

The First Doctor visited Whitechapel in the nineteenth century and fought off whores and beggars to determine the truth behind the curious tale of the Pale Man. The Doctor also visited Soho in the 1960s, where he met Bacon, Freud, and dear old Jeffrey and stopped another of the Master's schemes, and drank ale with Chaucer in the Tabard in Southwark during the fourteenth century. He has met Samuel Johnson. He once drove a truck from Arizona to Texas.

The Bottom Line: Hinton's soap opera tendencies take over here, making SynthespiansTM an extremely camp exercise, littered with gratuitous fanwank. Nevertheless, his enthusiasm as usual shines through and his use of the Nestene Consciousness is fairly imaginative. The supporting characters, however, are two-dimensional and forgettable.

Discontinuity Guide by Paul Clarke

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