Time of Your Life

Roots: The Running Man, Godzilla, Star Trek (Two to beam up, straight, away!). There are pastiches of a wealth of bad television, including cheap soap operas, reality television, and DIY programmes. Umbrella-wielding moral watchdog Miriam Walker and her Campaign for the Advancement of Television Standards is a pastiche of Mary Whitehouse. The obsessive Timeriders fans are, of course, a pastiche of Doctor Who fans. There are references to Sherlock Holmes, Dan Dare, and Mark Twain (Reports of my death and all that).

Goofs: The cover illustration of the Sixth Doctor bears very little resemblance to Colin Baker.

Dialogue Triumphs: Television watchdog Miriam Walker on censorship: 'What your audience wants is not the issue. I am talking about what they should be allowed to have!'

'Can we have your autograph? Why don't you ever do conventions? Do you think the series should come back?.'

'It's good to know there is still hope for the intelligence of the human species You're not right, of course, but its an adequate explanation of the concept so far as your brain could understand it.'

'I knew this evil medium would be the finish of me.'

Continuity: Having connected itself to Angela's brain, the techno-organic entity tries the names D[KTRJ;2F, KLRDLKK, KRLTXKK and KRLXKD, before settling on KRLLXK. The body of KRLLXK is attached to the outside of the Terran Security Force shuttle and resembles a mechanical pupa, its surface constantly in motion and reconfiguring endlessly as circuits close, switches trip and programs adapt. It is a datavore, ingesting the information in the computer network of the Network and replacing it with its own substance. Humans created it as an attempt to create machine life programmed for the acquisition of knowledge and designed to absorb data like a sponge. It can produce a biography and genetic breakdown of the human species from its memory banks and regurgitate full details of its own schematics plus the historical and personal circumstances that led to its construction. It was created at a research station and quickly became self-aware; when its human creators tried to disconnect it, it used their mechanical appliances to kill them all, and then escaped into the investigative ship sent by the Terran Security Force, slaughtering the crew in the same way and using the shuttle to escape. After its physical form is destroyed when the Network falls towards Meson Alpha, it downloads its consciousness into the android Nik Calvin, forcing the Doctor to finally destroy it by bludgeoning it to pieces with the TARDIS hatstand.

The Meson System is a binary system. Robotic Peace Keepers enforce the curfew on Torrok. Peace Keepers are hovering pyramid-shaped mechanoids. Meson Primus is richer than Torrok and is the only planet in the system with an almost twenty-four hour day. New Earth is located three systems away from the Meson System.

The Doctor travels to Torrok to become a recluse so as to ensure that he will never become the Valeyard (Trial of a Time Lord). He is paranoid about meeting Mel for the same reason, since he is trying to change his future. The Time Lords wiped his memory of much of his trial, on the grounds that it is dangerous for him to know his own future. The Time Lords send him to the Network. His physiology is sufficiently different from that of a human that a Peace Keepers' disruptor can't harm him without being recalibrated. After his waistcoat is ruined, he dons a similarly garish replacement, striped with diagonal greens and oranges. He later dons denim overalls and blue cap as a disguise. He keeps a torch in the TARDIS. He is shot in the shoulder by Bloodsoak Bunny, and knocks himself unconscious when he ducks. Shepherd later shoots him in the chest. Forced to combat Anjor as a contestant on Death-Hunt 3000, he punches his foe in the face three times to knock him unconscious. He is able to reorder his neural pathways into an analogue of a virus-busting program to expel KRLLXK from his mind. He later shapes his mind to emulate a recursive programming loop to trap KRLLXK in his brain.

Grant Markham grew up in the city of Neo Tokyo on New Earth. He was born on Agora and is a very capable computer programmer by New Earth standards. He suffers from robophobia (The Robots of Death) as a result of Agoran folk tales (see Killing Ground). He is approximately nineteen years old, of medium height and small build. Grant has tousled rusty brown hair, pale freckled skin, and watery blue eyes. He wears spectacles. When the Doctor first meets him he is wearing black corduroy trousers and a brown acrylic pullover. He is transported to the Network when Neo Tokyo is captured in the Marston Sphere during the pilot episode of Time of Your Life. The Doctor calls him George, Geoff, and Gordon.

The TARDIS has currency reserves. The Doctor notes that the TARDIS is semi-sentient and has rudimentary consciousness with a vast store of knowledge available to it.

Various robots seen here include mechanoid humanoid SECURITY robots on board KRLLXK's ship, which are composed of bulky box shapes. Various robots are built for use in television programmes, including Xyrons, robots from the series Timerider, which have no arms and a series of coiled metal tendrils and whips that wrap around their torsos; a seventy-foot tall robot dinosaur; Bloodsoak Bunny, Killer Kat, War Dog and Power Porcupine; animatronic robots designed to simulate death over and over again without sustaining damage; Cricklestone's Mummy; an animatronic knight; Charley's Android; and Nik Calvin. The Death-Hunt sphere contains a Harthi, a wolf-like creature augmented with technology.

Planets mentioned here include Gluton, Leena, and Nostralia. Leena is known for its black asphalt roads. Jooloo birds from Leena didn't take to the colonists and used to attack peoples eyes; the exterminators did a deal with the Network and remaining Jooloo birds were transported to the Death-Hunt sphere. Jooloo birds have black eyes and white plumage, with grey tips on their wings.

The Network contains the Marston Sphere, which is dimensionally transcendental. Neo Tokyo is encased within the Marston Sphere during the pilot episode of Time of Your Life, temporarily removed from the planet in the process.

Links: The Doctor mentions Peri. He recalls the poison vines and acid baths of Varos (Vengeance on Varos, his treatment of Peri on Thoros Beta (Mindwarp), and Lytton's fate on Telos (Attack of the Cybermen). He notes that he hasn't seen a purple horse with yellow spots since the last Intergalactic Peace Conference (mentioned in Frontier in Space). There are references to Florana (Death to the Daleks), Daleks, Cybermen, and Drathro (The Mysterious Planet). When the TARDIS loses its power in chapter two, it has to be opened with a winch, as seen in Death to the Daleks.

Future History: Torrok is located in the Meson system. There are seven planets in the Meson system, including Torrok, Meson Prime, and the recently evacuated Zarnia. Meson Alpha and Beta are the Meson Systems twin stars. It is implied that the system was colonized c. 2091. When Torrok was first colonized, torrodium (a metal with amazing vibrational properties) was discovered in the planets depths and was mined, giving the planet economic influence. The Torrok Television Company was established on the back of this, based in a pyramid constructed out of torrodium alloy, which acted as a transmitter; it became the first TV station to reach the whole Meson system and was renowned for its quality and innovation.

The Meson Broadcasting Service is based on the Network, a space station located midway between Meson Primus and Torrok and was funded by advertising, allowing it to out-compete TTC, which eventually collapsed, ruining the economy of Torrok. The Network broadcasts sixteen channels. Programmes broadcast by the Network by 2191 include Screaming and Kicking, Jubilee Towers, Death-Hunt 3000, Prisoner: The Next Generation, Mister Tom, Life's a Beach, BrainQuiz, Perfect Partners, Private Hospital, DIY Disasters, Cricklestone's Mummy, Timeriders, Suburban Chuckles, Abbeydale High, Shipwise, Variety House, Bloodsoak Bunny, Kartoon Kapers, Horror Mansions, Wally of the West, Charley's Android, Kung-Fu Kings, Wally of the West, and Party Knights. Timeriders is a cult science fiction series with a following of obsessive fans that campaign for its return and publish fanzines. The Xyron Invasion is an episode of Timeriders. There is a Nostralian Society of Cult Television. The Indispensible Network Guide is an inaccurate guide to the Network, including an out-of-date map. Paradox and O-8 are independent companies, the former of which sells programmes to the Network, the latter of which runs Channel 8. The Meson Broadcasting Service annexed the Black Sun Broadcasting station in 2186, attaching it to the side of the Network; the Black Sun Company still occupies it, but does so under the jurisdiction of the MBS.

Cities on New Earth include New London, Neo Tokyo, New Washington, New Paris and Newer York. Because New London was built first, and the local river named accordingly, Neo Tokyo is on the banks of the River Thames. Neo-Tokyo has a Campaign to Speak Japanese and a Culture Day, the latter of which takes place in November. The Old Earth Organization established the colony.

The Galatian Bank tried to establish an outpost on Helio IV, a moon with a sixteen-hour day and only five of them in darkness; because of the disruption to the human sleep cycle, a third of the reconnaissance party had injured themselves in pointless skirmishes before they diagnosed the cause of their restiveness and irritability.

Krllxk's ship is a Terran Security Force ship, an organisation still active by 2191. Flower-patterned dresses were briefly fashionable during the 2170s.

Corporate Raiders were a type of soldier during the mid twenty-first century.

The Bottom Line: Steve Lyons' now-familiar juxtaposition of humour and horror makes a memorable début in a spectacularly violent satire on television violence which makes Vengeance on Varos look tame in comparison. It is perhaps slightly too long, but the fate of red herring companion Angela and the Doctor's reaction to her death makes for compelling reading and the thoroughly likeable Grant Markham makes a promising first appearance. All-in-all, an impressive début and also the first Sixth Doctor story set in the gap between Trial of a Time Lord and Time and the Rani, which thus arguably makes it the starting point for the Sixth Doctor's renaissance both in novel and audio form.

Discontinuity Guide by Paul Clarke
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