Shroud of Sorrow

Roots: The Kennedy assassination. There are references to Howard Carter, Lyndon B. Johnson, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, Abbott and Costello, Fidel Castro, The Hobbit, and the BBC.

Goofs: Scientific plausibility flies out the window: the Shroud is described as a wormhole, but at some point this starts to mean an actual giant worm with a rock-like body that the Doctor ties in a knot around the planet Venofax.

Dialogue Triumphs: "If nobody has any further questions, I suggest we drive at full pelt into that brick wall over there and hope we come out the other side on an alien planet."

"It's just about teatime on Saturday 23 November 1963 - and the fun is about to start!"

Continuity: The Shroud is a sentient wormhole that feeds on grief. It has physical and mental tentacles that it can extrude into the real world. When it is feeding on a host, its "tentacles" manifest as human women in blue veils. The Doctor drags it through space and time and ties it around the planet Venofax. Another Shroud attacks Earth in 3006.

The planet Semtis [or at least the part that the Doctor and Clara visit] is covered in snow. The planet is in the Andromeda galaxy. The inhabitants are humanoid. The planet also has sabre-toothed polar bears. The Shroud fed on the grief of the people of Semtis: the survivors became dominated by other emotions, becoming Wanters, Tremblers and Ragers. Those unaffected became clowns and started using humour to rehabilitate the affected. Their clown cars are dimensionally transcendental and, according to the Doctor, inspired by Gallifreyan technology.

The Doctor and Clara pose as a medical doctor and a nurse, respectively, here. The Doctor has Soborian smelling salts in his jacket pocket. His pockets also contain a satsuma, a nectarine, a length of string, a carrot, a large key, a computer mouse, and a baseball signed by Babe Ruth. He still has his recorder and plays "Three Blind Mice", "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and "When the Saints Go Marching In". He claims to have been forty-five years old when he left primary school. He dons a military uniform from the TARDIS and poses as Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart. He builds an emotional amplifier here.

Clara's "Uncle" Reuben was a friend of the family whom she loved dearly.

On 23rd November 1963, Lethbridge-Stewart is on tactical manoeuvres on Salisbury Plain. The Second, Third, Sixth, Seventh and Ninth Doctors attended the Brigadier's funeral, as well as Mike Yates, John Benton, Liz Shaw and Jo Grant.

The TARDIS contains a long length of chain and a freezer room. It also contains a workroom containing lots of wiring, an aquarium, a sauna, and two rooms filled with boxes of multi-coloured scarves. The Fast Return Switch (The Edge of Destruction) is still in the console, but has been hidden beneath a computer keyboard. At the Doctor's suggestion, he and Clara keep a spare set of clothes in the console room in case of emergencies.

The Venofaxans are extinct. The oceans on Venofax smell like avocados.

Links: There are references to Alfava Metraxis (The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone), Mechanus (The Chase) and Metebelis Three (The Green Death, Planet of the Spiders). The helmic regulator was first mentioned in The Ark in Space. The Doctor still grieves other Astrid Peth's death (Voyage of the Damned). The Doctor refers to Autons and Ice Warriors. The Doctor notes that he knew Isambard Kingdom Brunel (see Reckless Engineering) and was at Roswell (Dreamland). He notes that he has visited Pompeii (The Fires of Vulcan, The Fires of Pompeii). He states that he has been known by many names including "Theta Sigma" (The Armageddon Factor) and "The Oncoming Storm" (first mentioned in the novelisation of Remembrance of the Daleks). He recalls accidentally getting engaged to Marilyn Monroe at Frank Sinatra's house (A Christmas Carol).

Whilst letting the Shroud feed on his grief, the Doctor recalls the departures (and/or deaths) of companions Susan (The Dalek Invasion of Earth), Jamie and Zoe (The War Games'), Jo Grant ('The Green Death), Sarah Jane Smith (The Hand of Fear), Adric (Earthshock), Peri (Mindwarp), Mel (Dragonfire), Grace (The TV Movie), Captain Jack (Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways) and Amy and Rory (The Angels Take Manhattan).

Location: Totter's Lane, London; Dallas; and 23rd November 1963; America, 22th October 1962; Earth, 30th September 3006; Venofax, the 51st century.

Future History: [Earth] President Winza is assassinated in September 3006.

Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor and Clara have been helping Professor Holroyde and her team at the archaeological dig on Venofax at the start of this story.

The Doctor and Tegan visited a planet where people can be replaced - he is not allowed back there. He claims to have met a Sontaran stand-up comedian. He also claims to have been known as Mable for one embarrassing weekend. He visited Peter Streete in Bedlam. He met Clark Gable. Mark Twain gave him an original Paul E. Wirt pen after finishing the first draft of Huckleberry Finn.

The Bottom Line: Imaginative, but often very, very silly (the clowns, the Doctor tying the Shroud around a planet). On the other hand the characterisation, especially that of the Doctor, is exemplary and the prose lively.

Discontinuity Guide by Stephen Gray

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