Business as Usual

Continuity: In a slight refinement of their approach in Spearhead from Space, the Nestene Consciousness takes control of plumber Winston Blunt, to whom they impart the secret of a new method of bonding carbon atoms. Blunt then sells the rights to this process to Interchem for six million pounds, and then uses the money to build Dolman and set up Galaxy Plastics Inc. As a result of all of this, Blunt becomes well known in the business world and nobody bats an eyelid when he appoints a successor shortly before committing suicide. All of which is marginally subtler than taking over an established plastic factory and firing all of the staff, which does rather show that the Consciousness has learned a thing or two about humans. As before, they arrive first via a shower of six meteorites and send more later once they have established a base.

Autons seen here include Dolman, who can pass for human, and plastic toy soldiers only a few inches high but with working guns. Fischer smashes Dolman's face with a spanner and causes an explosion in Galaxy Plastics Inc that melts much of Dolman's body; in both cases, this reveals mechanical components inside the Auton in addition to the handgun. Dolman builds a tank to house a portion of the Consciousness (as in Spearhead from Space), which resembles a huge brain with an eye and tentacles [and is presumably an artificial form also as in [TV]Spearhead from Space]. Having killed Fischer, the Dolman Auton adopts his form and identity and starts over with a new plastics factory, Stellar Plastics. Amusingly, the Fischer Auton occasionally leaves plastic flowers on the real Fischer's shallow grave in the grounds of the plastics factory, implying that the Consciousness is not without a macabre sense of humour.

Links: The Autons and Nestenes first appeared in Spearhead from Space and returned in Terror of the Autons. Despite having only appeared in two television series at the time this strip was written, they've remained popular; they've starred in BBV's Auton trilogy on video (and more recently DVD) and appeared in the BBC Sixth Doctor novels Business Unusual and SynthespiansTM. Most recently of course, they've also returned to the television series to usher in the Ninth Doctor in Rose. Business as Usual is their first appearance in the Doctor Who comic strip, but they would return in the Seventh Doctor strip Plastic Millennium.

Location: The United Kingdom, 1989 to August 1990.

The Bottom Line: Largely a retread of Spearhead of Space minus the Doctor and UNIT and one of those "Or is it?" endings that the back-up strip often liked to include. Because of the quality of the source material, it can't really go far wrong, and David Lloyd again shows off his ability to make everything look very sinister, especially when his villains smile...

Discontinuity Guide by Paul Clarke

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