Forever Autumn

Roots: Halloween III: Season of the Witch, It (the clown), The Evil Dead (the Necris). The Doctor quotes Macbeth ("By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes"). There are references to Laurel and Hardy, Hershey Bars, Lord of the Rings, X-Men, Ghost Rider, Spider-Man, Keith Richards, Frankenstein, Saw, Final Destination, Psycho, Superman, Cheerios, Boston, Chicago, Einstein, Sonic the Hedgehog, Sid Vicious, The Twilight Zone, Vincent Price, Lancelot, The Little Mermaid, Scooby Doo ("you would have gotten away with it if it hadn't been for us meddling kids"), Jason and the Argonauts, Jar Jar Binks and George Lucas, and Star Trek.

Technobabble: The Hervoken ship uses kinetic binary fusion and is powered by negative emotional energy. The Doctor subverts the kinetic flow of the energy generated by the Necris to destroy the Hervoken ship.

Dialogue Triumphs: Just because something's impossible that's no reason to quit. I happen to like impossible. Impossible a challenge. Any old chancer can do almost impossible, but the real thing, the genuine article... that's the one that sorts the legends from the wannabes."

When asked "Do you mind telling me what you're doing on my property?" the Doctor replies "We're trespassing."

In order to keep the boys out of harm's way, he tells them: "I need you to look after Martha, make sure she goes easy on the cappuccinos. She has a tendency to run around naked when she's got too much caffeine inside her."

Continuity: The Hervoken are tall and spindly with long, taloned, many-jointed fingers, and massive, squashy, hairless heads. They have black, beady eyes and mouths containing rows of serrated shark-like teeth. They communicate via thoughts, feelings, symbols and incantations. Their technology closely resembles witchcraft and their spaceship seems to be alive. They can animate matter. They are a profoundly insular species and therefore callous. They lived in a different realm millions of years ago and fought a war with the Carrionites (The Shakespeare Code). They were eventually banished from the universe by the Eternals when their war with the Carrionites threatened to destroy the universe: those seen here crash landed on Earth prior to the banishment and have been dormant for thousands of years. The Necris, which resembles a book, is the "ignition key" for the Hervoken ship and is virtually indestructible: the Doctor hypothesises that dropping it into a supernova might destroy it. Iron and salt block and deflect the Hervoken's energy. The Doctor doubts that the Shadow Proclamation would mean anything to the Hervoken (Rose).

The Doctor uses the psychic paper to pose as an Environmental Health and Safety Operative. He eats two banana splits. He later eats two cookies and pockets a third. He and Martha stay in a hotel in Blackwood Falls. He produces a packet of crisps. He drinks hot chocolate with Etta. He uses his sonic screwdriver to ward off the Hervoken-possessed cats. He still carries his Alpha Centauri Table Tennis Club membership card (see Robot). He has never encountered the Hervoken before, but knows of them by reputation. He carries a safety pin, which he uses to prick his finger. The sonic screwdriver can make metal malleable. The Doctor can throw darts with perfect accuracy.

Martha gets several cuts to her hands from the leaf creatures. She drinks a cappuccino. When she was a child, Leo and Tish once buried her up to her neck on Cromer beach. The Doctor wins a toy orangutan for Martha at the funfair.

The Doctor claims that the outlawing of doors was directly responsible for the fall of the Tymerian Empire, but he might be being facetious. He knows Lepscillian massage and claims that bountiful is the favourite word on Lepscillia.

Links: This story takes place between Human Nature (TV)/The Family of Blood and Blink. The Shakespeare Code (the Carrionites). Martha mentions New Earth (Gridlock). The Doctor recalls the Wire (The Idiot's Lantern, K9 and Mickey. He also recalls noting his dislike of cats (Fear Her). He again says "Correctomundo" (School Reunion). The Doctor wonders if his future self is ginger (see the Children in Need Special as well as Happy Endings and the novelisation of Battlefield). Martha recalls Shakespeare's England and witches (The Shakespeare Code), 1930s New York and Daleks (Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks), Volag-Noc (The Infinite Quest), travelling on spaceships (42), Plasmavores (Smith and Jones), and giant, pollution-guzzling crabs (Gridlock).

Location: Blackwood Falls, New England, circa 2008.

Unrecorded Adventures: Horribly, the Doctor went to a Barry Manilow concert in Madison Square Gardens in 1990 and still has the ticket.

The Bottom Line: Fine characterisation of the Tenth Doctor can't disguise the fact that Forever Autumn is hopelessly derivative, not only of the horror stories it pays homage to, but also to The Shakespeare Code, which it shamelessly ties into. Morris' enthusiasm for the series shines through, but it's all terribly banal.

Discontinuity Guide by Paul Clarke
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