There were the contracts, the agents, the local sponsors, the pay-per-view broadcasts, the independent verification of results, the laws which made murder legal in carefully defined circumstances... It had taken a long time for the system of freelance duellists to be established, and an even longer time to develop the league of interplanetary superstars the others fought to reach and to challenge. And just when it was all working satisfactorily and profitably someone or something started interfering with the set up.
Pg 14 A service duct, on the unnamed planet.
Pg 17 "Surely the TARDIS hadn't brought them to another storm mine." Robots of Death.
"There were occasions, too many recently, when the old thing went back over new ground, or forward over old ground, constantly round and round as though obsessed." Reference to the similarity of adventures in The Face of Evil/Last Man Running, Robots of Death/Corpse Marker and Image of the Fendahl/Psi-ence Fiction. All written by Boucher, who may or may not be obsessed.
Pg 18 "He could see now that he wasn't in the open ore-scoop of a storm mine." The Robots of Death.
Pg 43 "I have a soft spot for the Daleks myself." You all know who the Daleks are.
Pg 56 "Is this like the god of the Tesh?" The Face of Evil.
Pg 160 Keefer gets stuck in a rapidly filling grain silo and only survives because he has an inhaler, allowing him to breathe until the grain empties. Not entirely unlike an identical sequence in The Robots of Death.
Pg 176 "Had she been taken back and thrown to the horda?" The Face of Evil.
Pg 189 "It occurred to him that he might be able to use the screwdriver to feed enough controlled power into an inert band to reverse the polarity and this might trigger it to open." The fourth Doctor is clearly channelling his predecessor. The Sea Devils etc.
Pg 277 "I know: how would you like to learn to play chess?" We see a lot of chess being played in the TARDIS around this time.
OLD FRIENDS AND OLD ENEMIES
NEW FRIENDS AND NEW ENEMIES
Keefer, Benron, the Minister, the Referee, the Enforcer.
Before we begin, a simple lesson. The word "Let's" is short for "Let us". The word "lets" means "allows". You can tell the difference between the two because the one that's a contraction has an all-important apostrophe. Here's an example: Let's see if Barry lets us enjoy the Pertwee era. We mention this because it is going to come up a few times.
- Pg 27 "Lets see her outrun a bullet." Yes, let's.
- Pg 57 "A colloquialism meaning lets get on with it, I imagine." This wouldn't be nearly so egregious had the correct usage ("Let's get to the gore") not immediately preceded this line.
- Pg 98 "We've got a lock-up to run so lets get on with it shall we." This is terrible, terrible. No question mark and not one, but two missing commas. Oh, and the misuse of "lets" where it should be "let's" of course, but were used to bad punctuation by now arent we.
- Pg 104 "Okay lets go." If you're just reading this guide, you might be tempted to think that Boucher is only leaving out commas only when he uses "lets" instead of "let's". You'd be wrong.
- Pg 130 "Lets have them all down one at a time" Kill me. Kill me now.
- Pg 248 "Lets get to the gore shall we?" This takes the biscuit, given that this deliberately repeats a line from earlier in the book and misuses the word this time around.
- Pg 258 "Of course it scuffling Keefer" The problem with using made-up swear words is that, when you misuse English words next to them, you look like an idiot.
PLUGGING THE HOLES [Fan-wank theorizing of how to fix continuity cock-ups]
- Jarvis is wearing some sort of optical device that lets him see things others can't.
- The Doctor is suggesting that the meaning itself lets people get on with it.
- The day to day running of the lock-up lets the prisoners get on with things.
- Keefer is hanging by a psychological thread and now that he's feeling okay, it lets him go and relax for a moment. (The lack of commas we can't even begin to rationalise away.)
- There's an otherwise unmentioned water slide, that lets people down only one at a time.
- The Doctor misunderstood the idiom and believes that there's an object that lets you get to the gore. He's going to be very disappointed.
- Ronick started to say something else and then swore midway through when he realised that it was in fact Keefer.
FEATURED ALIEN RACES
The inhabitants of the unnamed world are human (pg 110).
Pg 142 A dovetail plover. Well, it might be imported from Earth, or it might be a native bird.
Pg 143 Ornamental waterfowl. Again, they might or might not be alien birds.
An unnamed world, timezone unspecified.
Pg 92 A spaceplane.
Pg 100 The Hakai Orbital Transfer Station.
Pg 125 Piran, a moon of the planet Geewin.
Pg 126 A shuttle.
Pg 178 A spaceborne speeder yacht.
IN SUMMARY - Robert Smith?
The fourth Doctor spends the entire book having self-doubting monologues. Boucher wouldn't know what to do with a comma if his life was at stake. Much of the action centres around Keefer, who is almost entirely disconnected from the TARDIS crew. The plot's yet another retread of a Boucher script, in this case Death-watch, from Blake's 7. And yet... if you can get past those flaws - and they're big ones - there's a lot here to enjoy. Leela's fabulous, of course, as you knew she would be; the story's precisely made for her, and it shows, beautifully. Boucher may be more interested in Keefer than the Doctor, but it pays off: Keefer's absolutely fantastic. Even when there are long stretches of dialogue-free action, you're rooting for him all the way, so efficient is he at ruthlessly taking down everyone around him. And the plot does come together in a satisfying way, long after you've given up all hope that it would. This would have been a fantastic TV script. As it is, it's pretty good, but it could have been so much better, if only there'd been a decent editor somewhere.