Roots: Quatermass (the beams of light). The Bernard and Paula who took the Doctor to the RPS in 1969 are presumably meant to be Professor Bernard Quatermass and his daughter (Quatermass II). Rock star turned astronomer Brian “Ahab” Melville is probably inspired by Brian May.
There are references to the Trumps, the de Rothschilds, the Gettys, Oliver Cromwell, Big Brother, The X-Factor, Sherlock Holmes, Popworld, Dolce & Gabbana, Coronation Street, Dad’s Army, Ozzy Osbourne, eBay, Donald Duck, Winnie-the-Pooh, Dr Spock, Star Trek, Moby Dick, Patrick Moore, Casanova, Derren Brown, the Kennedys, Martin Luther King, Winston Churchill, Donny Osmond, Yellow Pages, Children of the Damned, Rupert Murdoch, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Shakespeare, Dusty Springfield, the Carpenters, Abba, Dr Hook and the Medicine Show, Jo Stafford, Helen Reddy, Countdown and Star Wars.
There is a reference to the Fishmen of Kandalinga from the short story of the same name from The Dr Who Annual.
Dialogue Disasters: All of Madame Delphi’s irritating, bitchy dialogue.
Dialogue Triumphs: Crossland: “I thought you were meant to be clever?”
The Doctor: “I am. But, like all clever people, I can only learn things when people give me straight answers to straight questions and not sarcasm.”
Continuity: The Masque of Mandragora is dated to 1492. The Mandragora Helix escaped from the Dark Times and made its home in a Nebula [is it a Great Old One?]. It is able to influence the Doctor’s psychic paper, making it display misleading messages for him. The Mandragora Helix notes that it has made other attempts to invade Earth since 1492, but the alignments have never been perfect, so it has never been able to fully transmit itself to Earth. Specific attempts mentioned here include those involving the Sacred Mountain of Xi’an (The Eleventh Tiger), the Orphans of the Future (Buried Secrets, Snow Blind, Fatal Consequences, Dreamland), and the “Mandrake nightclub stuff” (The Doctor Who Magazine comic strip The Mark of Mandragora). It refers to the Doctor as the Chaos Bringer. It can draw on the power of belief generated by astrology. After the Doctor earthed it in San Martino, it passed into the soil and survived as a biological entity, attaching itself to the chromosomes of the people of San Martino and being transferred from generation to generation; it is thus able to control the descendents of the people of San Martino. It has decided to stop trying to halt human progress and instead turn humans into its tools, using them to spread it throughout the stars. It reached out to Earth and possessed Callum Fitzhaugh, using him to create an empire and giving him the anagrammatic alias Dara Morgan. It directed him to build Madame Delphi, a computer capable of housing its intelligence. It can house itself completely in a human body, but the strain causes the body to deteriorate rapidly; it wants the Doctor’s body, which is capable of providing a permanent avatar. It brings its entire self to Earth for the first time here in the form of the Chaos Bodies. The Doctor tricks it into taking over Netty’s body, whose Alzheimer’s causes it fragment; it flees Earth to return to its own domain, but seemingly disintegrates completely before returning home.
The Doctor wears his blue suit here. He changes into a dinner jacket and black tie for Wilf’s dinner at the RPS. He mentions the Shadow Proclamation again (see The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End). He used to like Countdown. Attempting to cover up the fact that he is an alien, the Doctor briefly claims to be from Nottingham. He starts reading a paperback called A Dark and Stormy Night, but gives up on it. His current sonic screwdriver is destroyed here. He is able to resist the Mandragora Helix’s attempt to possess him.
Following her return home after The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End, Wilf told Donna that the trip she took to Egypt to get over the trauma of Lance’s death (The Runaway Bride) lasted much longer than it actually did, and that is where she has been all the time; when the Doctor took her memories, he enabled her mind to accept this. Whilst travelling with the Doctor, she has managed to send Wilf postcards and emails. Much to the Doctor’s surprise, she also managed to send him a Verron medal. Donna stole some sweets from Woolworths when she was eight; her family made her take them back and apologise. Donna’s friends include Mooky, Susie Mair, and Veena, who does martial arts. She borrows a dress off Veena here, which gets ruined, and later changes into a T-shirt and old tracksuit from her room. When she was twelve, she opened a note from her headmaster to her mum; when she was fifteen, her mum opened a letter from Martyn Hart to Donna. Neil Bailey once made a pass at Donna in the Odeon. She gives a letter to Lukas Carnes to pass on to her mum before she leaves, explaining what she’s really been doing with the Doctor.
Donna’s dad Geoff died in a filling station on 15th May 2008, having been ill for several months. He and Sylvia had been married for thirty-eight years when he died. He died three months after the family moved to their new house in Chiswick. Sylvia’s mum and Wilf’s wife was called Eileen. She was a Land Girl when she was young, but is now deceased. Donna has an Auntie Maureen. Wilf has recently started dating an astronomer friend named Henrietta “Netty” Goodhart, who is suffering from second-stage Alzheimer’s. She lives in Greenwich and helps out at the Observatory. The Mandragora Helix possesses her here, temporarily improving her Alzheimer’s. The Nobles’ neighbours include Mrs Baldrey, Mr Lyttle (who has a dog), and Mr Webb, whose transit van Donna steals here. Wilf used to put a nip of Jack Daniels’ in his flask until Sylvia found out! He has discovered a new star, which has been named 7432MOTT after him. Netty arranged for him to become a member of the Royal Planetary Society. Netty was married for three days to Richard Philip Goodhart; he was killed in the bombing of Singapore, and she vowed never to marry again.
The current Prime Minister (after the Master) is called Fairchild.
The Verrons have a brilliant air corps, but haven’t fought a war in millennia. Astrologers on the planet Hynass do not believe in coincidence. The Doctor mentions the Bendrome/Sendrome War.
Links: The Masque of Mandragora. The opening and closing chapters take place after the events of The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End, with an amnesiac Donna back home with her family. The main events here take place after Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead (the Doctor’s line about “spoilers”). For Donna’s family, these events take place one month after the events of The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky. There are references to the Titanic (Voyage of the Damned), the Adipose and Matron Cofelia (Partners in Crime), Pyroviles (The Fires of Pompeii), the Ood (Planet of the Ood), the Carrionite-Eternals war (The Shakespeare Code), and the Judoon (Smith and Jones, Judgement of the Judoon). Musing on his ability to handle mothers, the Doctor recalls Jackie Tyler and Francine Jones.
Location: London, Essex, New York, Moscatelli in Italy, Greece, Connecticut, 15th to 18th May 2009.
Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor knows somebody named Loretta who owns a shop in London; he can’t remember what type of shop it is in 2009. He and Donna have stopped generational wars and ensured that Charlemagne met the Pope. They have also stopped a robot civil war and ridden six-legged horses in the Garazone Bazaar. They have visited Ylum, Helios 5, and the Moulin Très Rouge, at one of which places Donna met a Verron, who gave her a medal. They have met someone named Ventraxian Gol-Zeeglar. The Doctor recently upset someone with an army, a big axe, and ten legs, resulting in a swift departure for Donna and him. They visited a five star hotel on Cassius.
Something once tried to bite off the Doctor’s toes on the coast of Kal-Durunt in the Keripedes Cluster. He had a meal at the Royal Planetary Society in Vauxhall in 1969, when Bernard and Paula took him there to watch the moon landings.
Professor Brian “Ahab” Melville works at the Copernicus Array and is an old friend of the Doctor. They met in 1958, when Melville was in a skiffle band called The Geeks; the Doctor played washboard for him and Joe Meek was going to produce the album. The Doctor never learned his real first name. He is one of the few people on Earth who can call the Doctor for help, having been given a telephone number that the TARDIS can receive. The Mandragora Helix kills him. He lived with his mother and had a cat called Dolly, which Miss Oladini looks after following his death.
The Bottom Line: The Doctor might not do domestic, but Gary Russell unfortunately does, resulting a tedious amount of soap opera masquerading as a character development. The Mandragora Helix goes from being a powerful alien entity to a bitchy computer, and we get all the usual Russell clichés, with irritating consequences.