Roots: There is extensive satire of bad television programmes, including super-hero programmes, soap operas, and daytime television. Robotic pop group Fancy That are obviously a pastiche of Take That. There is more than a whiff of James Bond villainy around the Supreme One, who rules in secret from his submarine and feeds hapless underlings to his pet monsters. The Doctor sings, "I'm forever blowing bubbles". There is a reference to Scooby Doo ("A mad kid. Yeah, I suppose he would have gotten away with it if hadn't been for us meddling adults").
Dialogue Disasters: "Scum!"
"An hour under the vibrometer will cure your impudence!"
"Roger me sideways and call me Mary..."
"Ere long we will summon the hounds of Baal to shred your gizzard!"
Dialogue Triumphs: "Put anything in a cage and it will start to behave like an animal."
"This city is uncannily similar to Western cities of late twentieth-century Earth."
"Hello, we're members of a religious order. Would you like one of our leaflets?"
"I do not think you came here to perform free topiary, no?"
Continuity: The Friars of Pangloss are three beings that rule the entire galaxy of Pangloss. They are based on a planet orbiting two hundred and thirty-five million miles out from a red giant located at the very centre of the galaxy. Nine-tenths of the planet's surface is covered in flame fields. The Friars dwell in a shrine on top of a peak. They are known as the Union of Three. The Immortal Heart of the shrine is decorated in red crystals; the exact centre is empty, and is the location of the red glass that was stolen by rebels of the Quantern group and ended up on Olleril before the Doctor took it away. The rebels stole the red glass fourteen centuries earlier when the Friars' powers were weakened as they strove to control a solar fireball. The three hundred and thirty-seven Bibles of Pangloss are situated on a shelf in the shrine made from timber from the planet Knassos. The Friars are named Caphymus, Anonius, and Portellus, and are immortal. Portellus, according to the Doctor, is one of the most feared of immortal beings. They are psychic, and can transfer their thoughts via the forty-ninth plane. They can also control ectoplasm and generate tunnels of pure thought. They control the whole of Pangloss, an entire galaxy, by sheer force of mental power. Heat is the source of their powers. The TARDIS databank contains an entry on the Friars that cites a theory by Time Lady Pandorastrumnelliahanfloriana that the psychic reduplication processes used by the Friars would suffer severe dysfunction if exposed to areas of space on the fringe of normal space and/or unsimple special interfaces. The Doctor tricks their psychic manifestations into remaining on the Dancefloor of Death until an anti-matter surge repels them, leaving their minds lost forever in the forty-ninth plane; with their powers broken, their planets on Pangloss begin to cool and their slaves destroy their now-mindless bodies, casting them into the remaining flame pits.
The Slaags are amphibious carnivores created by genetic engineering as a biological weapon. They were created from the genotypes of two species from the Agrave hinterlands on Olleril, the Sline Lizard and the Aaglon shark, from which they also derive their name. They exist to eat and as soon as they eat they excrete, meaning that they have an insatiable appetite. They are shaped vaguely like a cross between space-hoppers and Christmas puddings, with pea-grey glistening, scaly, leathery skin. They have two antennae on top of their bodies. They have a pair of flippers on their underside, and an enormous round mouth containing two adjacent sets of dagger-sharp teeth. They don't have eyes or noses, and hunt by detecting movement. They dislike the meat of other Slaags, which is foul and tough. Their blood is purple.
Ernie "Eight-Legs" McCartney is the most feared assassin in the Seventh Quadrant. He is a spider mutant, a two-metre wide giant green arachnid. The Friars of Pangloss employ him to assassinate the Doctor, although he actually "assassinates" the robot duplicate built by the Supreme One's underlings. A Slaag kills him.
Olleril is on the far rim of the Pristatrek Galaxy and borders the void with Pangloss. Olleril has two suns. The planet was colonised six centuries earlier by human members of the cult of Luminus. The natives of Olleril are small humanoids with dark skin and eyes; the humans decided to exterminate seven-eighths of them, since they were useless both as a labour force and for breeding. Prior to the arrival of the humans, their old women ruled the natives. The surviving natives became known as Vijjans. Vijja was the last refuge of the natives of Olleril and was torn apart by Small War Fifteen. The Vijjan Liberation League is a terrorist organisation. Empire City is the capital of Olleril and is located in the continent of Empirica. Other regions of Olleril include Yuvador in the Northern hemisphere. Luminus was overthrown shortly after the occupation of the planet, but the organization still secretly rules Olleril, and uses Toplex Sanitation as a front company. The Supreme One controls Luminus from his submarine Gargantuan. The Supreme One is actually Crispin, a thoroughly obnoxious twelve-year-old child prodigy with five degrees in advanced science. He dies in the destruction of the Gargantuan. Luminus knows of the Doctor, who has interfered on several planets under their control. Robots known as Celebroids are used as actors, singers and presenters. Luminus decided years ago that twentieth century Earth was a perfect model of population control and established a plan to recreate such a society based on the texts The Collins Guide to the Twentieth Century, One of Us, Hugo Young, The Manufacture of Consent, and The Smash Hits Yearbook.
The Doctor has heard of the Friars of Pangloss, although he has never met them before. The Doctor briefly pretends to be Benny's confused old dad as part of an unsuccessful ruse. He claims that his nearest bank account is on the other side of Pantorus. He wears his blue gemstone ring (worn until The Power of the Daleks and then seen in The Highest Science), and temporarily gives it to Madam Guralza as a guarantee of faith. He poses as Councillor Metin Kenniter to gain access to Central. The Supreme One tries to duplicate his mind in order to transplant a copy into a Celebroid copy that will answer questions about the TARDIS, but the Doctor manages to shield parts of his mind from the process. He used to keep Time Logs in the TARDIS.
Bernice learnt how to reset broken bones "years ago". She carries a small book [presumably her diary] in her pocket. She is familiar with Grotski's theory of cultural retrenchment. She poses as Dulcia Joliff to gain access to Central.
Ace hasn't been to the dentist since she was nine, on which occasion she woke up from the anaesthetic with a puffed-up mouth that tasted of blood and resolved never to go to a dentist again. She was given an Abba album as a reward for her bravery. Ace went out with a boy named Paul Wilkinson from the school year above her a couple of times, and snogged him behind the generator at a fairground. Ace's mum is a hairdresser and works in Rene's in the Broadway. In her handbag, Ace's mum typically carries some curling tongues, a copy of Take a Break, and some cosmetics.
The TARDIS has curiosity circuits, which have linear spools.
Merchants on Quique Forty trade in jewels. Other planets mentioned here include Kallak 56, Gholeria, Frinjel 87, and Zeraticus 2. Jauxite is used to make spaceship hulls. The Academia Temporalis offers correspondence courses. Forgwyn mentions the book Druver's Artificial Intelligences: The Moral Dilemma. The consciousnesses of Zhkjantex anemones can be found on the forty-ninth plane.
Links: There is a reference to the First Doctor's pipe (An Unearthly Child). Mortimus is mentioned (No Future). There is a reference to Rutans (Horror of Fang Rock).
Location: The homeworld of the Friars of Pangloss, near the centre of the Pangloss Galaxy; Empire City, Empirica, and the Island of Avax, Olleril, the Pristatrek Galaxy; date unknown [the far future since humanity has mastered intergalactic travel at least six hundred years previously].
Future History: General Stillmun led the first imperial expedition to Olleril and laid the foundations upon which Empire City is built. Olleril is named after Marshall Olleril; the human colonists establish a new metric calendar when they settle the planet. During the six hundred years since humans settled Olleril, there have been four Big Wars, the last of which left most of Empirica desolate wasteland. Empirica's major rival was a communist nation that was largely obliterated during Big War Four. Television programmes on Olleril include Captain Millennium, Martha and Arthur, Whitaker's Harbour, and Captain Spaceship. Martha and Arthur ran for a record nine seasons. Films include They Met On A Surface Car. Tragedy Day is an annual festival held since Olleril year 559, which is designed to celebrate the generosity of individuals towards the less fortunate inhabitants of the planet. Corry's Guides: Empire City is a book on Olleril. Empire Clarion is a newspaper. Companies in Empirica include Sugarmart, the Shinty Brothers organization, National Fuels, Luke Trading, Quickblend coffee, Windrome the confectioners, Linkun Bank, and Dannur frozen foods.
Meredith Morgan assassinated the Prime Motivator of the Rullian Confederacy. Mazumas are a common form of currency in the Pristatrek Galaxy at this time.
Unrecorded Adventures: The First Doctor and Susan visited Olleril, where the Doctor cured the radiation sickness that was blighting the inhabitants and their crops; believing that the red glass was cursed and had brought disaster to the planet, they readily agreed when the Doctor offered to take it away with him.
The Doctor claims that he solved Henry the Eighth's greenfly problem without actually meeting him, and also met Mary Queen of Scots. He also claims to have delivered the baby Genghis Khan. The Doctor once fell asleep on Bognor Regis beach and was swept out to sea by the tide, before being washed up again at Hove.
The Doctor defeated Luminus on the planet Argos three or four galaxies away from Olleril and several centuries earlier.
The Potentate of the Medusoids (Frontier in Space?) ran out of mind extractors in his attempt to drain the Doctor's mind.
The Bottom Line: 'A spider with a Yorkshire accent. I've seen everything now.' With a line-up of villains and monsters including the Friars of Pangloss, the Supreme One, the Slaags, and Ernie McCartney, Tragedy Day has the potential to be a confused mess. In fact however, the decidedly tongue-in-cheek plot handles the multiple ingredients extremely well and the result is a witty and engaging novel.