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Apr 25, 2005

2 Romanas, 2 K9s and a Leela

Those fans who are grumbling that there isn't enough continuity in the new tv series should pick up a copy of Big Finish's latest Gallifrey play Lies which takes things to the other extreme.  It requires the listener to not have heard the past four plays in the series, but also have a decent knowledge of most of the other audios which have mentioned Gallifrey including the Paul McGann audios, the Eighth Doctor novels, the Tom Baker era on tv and a daresay other stories I've missed completely.  I don't think I've heard anything which relies so heavily on knowing who travelled the galaxy with whom and in what order.  If I mention that one of the central trunks of the plotline is an attempt to explain why Mary Tamm's Romana decided to regenerate into Lalla Ward of her own free will at the start of Destiny of the Daleks, you'll have  some understanding that if you're looking for an entry point into the rest of the universe of the series this is not the best place to start.  I was farely bewildered and I've been a fan for years.

What's clever about the new series is that it's understood the mistakes of the tv movie and only throwing in continuity if it furthers the plot or the emotional core of characters.  The utilisation of UNIT for example in World War III in no way diminishes what's gone before and actually more coherently sets up a future engagement when the new viewer will get the chance to meet this covert organisation in a more fleshed out manner with a story which is worthy (with an appearance by The Brigadier the icing on the cake for fans).  But the difference is you don't actually need to have the Pertwee era locked in your brain for all that to work.  Similarly we know The Doctor is an alien, he's a timelord and that his home planet has been destroyed.  Other than having a time machine, that's really all new viewers need to know about him because we're still discovering him through Rose.  Yet, with all the history, we're still discovering this Doctor and what's been happening to him.  It's a freshing change not to know exactly who our hero is, to look into his eyes and not know what he's thinking -- and without the artificial histrionics of the late McCoy era.

Next week's episode, which if it was an old New York sitcom would be The One With The Dalek, is going to be the most fun because it's bound to the new approach's greatest extrapolation.  As The Doctor and Rose step through this new space museum, we'll all be sitting there shouting and pointing: 'Cyberman!' 'Mechanoid!' 'Krynoid!' (maybe) 'Kandyman!' (maybe not) while the newb will see the hand from a Slitheen but also marvelling at all these different alien races, each step of our heros adding life to this universe they're just stumbling into.  According to the trailer the Dalek's dropped through time.  Personally I'm hoping it's one of those which went astray in the Big Finish audio Time of the Daleks, but the point is they probably won't tell us -- it'll be up to the viewer, no matter how much they know about the series, to make up their own minds if they want to.  But is probably doesn't matter.

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