The Pictures of Emptiness
Roots: The Vacants are inspired by cuckoos.
Continuity: The Shadow Proclamation sends an Adjudicator to oversee the Doctor’s trial. Under Article 1768C, any legitimate trial form may be used in a Shadow Proclamation hearing. Trial by a jury of peers is found on 298 member planets and 39761 affiliated worlds. Innocent until proven guilty is a legal standard found on 87 member planets and 12932 affiliated worlds.
Vacants start life as a roughly humanoid blob. They arrive on a planet and start taking body parts from the dominant species, putting their victims to sleep and taking what they need, leaving their own blobby part in exchange. It usual takes a pair of eyes first, so that it can see what it is doing. They also steal personality and usually take these from average beings, so that they end up happily settling down and being content.
The Doctor is familiar with Jason Dungeon and his worldwide hit “Never Love a Vampire”. He dons blue jeans and a red t-shirt in Television Towers. The Vacant tries to steal his personality, but only gets a copy. Megan gives him an admiral’s hat after the Vacant is defeated.
The Darksmiths reprogram Gisella to be loyal to them, resulting in her handing over the Eternity Crystal to them. Their clients are revealed to be Krashoks.
Earth’s Galactic Reference is 297/197AHG.
Links: The Planet of Oblivion, The Art of War. There is a reference to Rose visiting the Prime Minister’s house (Aliens of London/World War III). The Doctor recalls Rose getting him hooked on chips (The End of the World). The Doctor mentions Krynoids (The Seeds of Doom, Hothouse) and the Kandyman The Happiness Patrol).
Location: Karagula and London [the twenty-first century].
Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor once asked Nelson if he could try his hat on.
The Bottom Line: An uninspiring exercise in treading water, the Vacant sub plot rather pointlessly bridging the Doctor’s trial on Karagula and the revelation of whom the Darksmiths’ clients are.