Fear of the Dark
Roots: There are quotations from Shakespeare. There are references to Desperate Dan, Hammer House of Horror, Ping-Pong (the computer game), The X-Men (adamantium), Pot Snacks, and John L. Sullivan.
Goofs: The date on the project records is 2319, which is 63 years before the date given for this story, but everyone talks about the Bloodhunter having been created over 160 years ago [the date given to Tegan is probably a typo, since a date of 2482 is more consistent with the references to IMC and duralinium (Colony in Space)].
Dialogue Disasters: Bunny Cheung's 'All I know is that when this operation's over, I'm off back to Earth and my family for good.' unsurprisingly, he ends up dead.
'Give my regards to the Pot Snack of Evil.'
Dialogue Triumphs: 'Fear of the dark is really just fear of the unknown. What can't be seen. Like the future. But I don't fight the future I fight for the future. And I protect it from the things that thrive on the unknown. Fear. Hostility. Cruelty. Injustice.'
Continuity: The Dark is a sentient evil that is the remains of the void that existed prior to the Big Bang; the creation of the universe shredded it and spread it out across the universe like a shadow; over aeons it managed to reform itself and coalesced amongst the primal matter that became the planet Akoshemon. The influence of the Dark ensured that evil flourished on Akoshemon and the planet's inhabitants were constantly embroiled in war and atrocities. The Dark eventually achieved corporeal form as single living being. Circa 1482 AD, a group of humanoid space travellers arrived on Akoshemon and learned the truth behind the planet's evil; they tracked the malevolent influence that afflicted the planet to its lair, and destroyed its physical form with fire. They buried the ashes of the creature in a crypt on Akoshemon's moon. Because the evil of the Dark exists outside of the natural physical laws of the universe however, its mind survived trapped within the ashes. It knew that it could reconstitute itself if provided with human blood; able to influence human minds, it caused Ravus Oldeman to create the Bloodhunter, which it then used to supply it with blood. It also influences the mind of Nyssa in the TARDIS, drawing the TARDIS to the moon of Akoshemon. The Dark is forced to adhere to some of the physical laws of the universe in order to exist within it. It can only achieve physical existence in complete darkness. Once it achieves full physical manifestation it cannot go back to its own dimension. It creates a vaguely humanoid form for itself in the shape of the Doctor. Once in physical form it is capable of psychokinesis. Having finally achieved physical form in this universe, it becomes subject to the physical laws of this universe and relinquishes its immortality; it is finally destroyed by fire, this time permanently.
The Akoshemon system is located on the very edge of the Milky Way. The system consists of an M46 type star, and three planets; a lifeless rock, a gas giant, and Akoshemon itself. The surface of the planet is blood red; the atmosphere is highly toxic and the surface is a sea of boiling mud and molten lava.
The Bloodhunter is a short, squat humanoid, hairless and with skin the colour of raw meat. When wounded, it oozes a thick, clear jelly. It has long powerful arms with big, clawed hands. Its head consists of a fleshy stump with a small cluster of eyes and a group of tendrils beneath them, which is extends to suck its victims dry. Ravus Oldeman created it by combining DNA samples collected from the surface of Akoshemon with human DNA and force generating the resulting life form, in an attempt to create a creature capable of autonomous self-stasis. Unfortunately, the creature turned out to have incredible physical strength and an insatiable appetite for blood, which it drains from humans using its tendrils.
Luminous rock-worms dwell in the rocks of the moon of Akoshemon. They exude a bioluminescent mucous. The Doctor hypothesizes that they only move about an inch per year, and that they probably can't survive outside of the rock.
A Vegan first appeared in The Monster of Peladon. They have a venerable tradition of honour and respect for proper names. Vega has produced more mining engineers and pot-holers than virtually any other planet in the galaxy. Geology is one of the fundamental skills of the Vegans; Vegan geology relies on a combination of science, mysticism, and ESP. Their religion is the Vega Viniculum, which teaches them to believe in the soil, the ground, and the womb of life. It is their custom to bury their dead. Vegans cross their arms across their chests with their splayed hands over each shoulder and each finger hooked, as a sign to ward off evil.
The Doctor bemoans the loss of his sonic screwdriver (The Visitation). He is familiar with the University of Tyr. Under the influence of the Dark, he sees a nightmare image of himself regenerating time and time again on a blood soaked alter, and sees his himself regenerate into his Sixth incarnation. He hypnotizes Nyssa and leaves an implanted post-hypnotic autosuggestion. He tells Nyssa that he's not scared of Daleks, Cybermen or the Master, but he does fear the harm they cause. He jokes that his greatest fear is being out for a duck. The Doctor says that he has a gift for languages and given time should be able to decipher the hieroglyphs around the crypt housing the remains of the Dark [the TARDIS does not automatically translate written language]. He ties knots in his handkerchief to remember his companions whilst under mental assault from the Dark. He owns a cricket bat signed by [real life Doctor Who fan!] Mike Gatting. The Doctor intends to teach Nyssa and Tegan how to read the TARDIS star charts.
Nyssa has nightmares about the destruction of Traken and the Master's murder of her father (Logopolis). Whilst possessed by the Dark, she goes into cardiac arrest; the Doctor and Stoker perform cardiac massage and artificial respiration to revive her. Nyssa doesn't know what peashooters or elephants are.
Tegan has brief recalls not wanting to leave her room to go to the bathroom during the night when she was a child, unless her Dad answered her call. At night, she used to imagine that the branch of the big tree in the yard outside her bedroom that used to tap against the window on a windy night was a witch who lived in the tree and was part of it.
The Dark's penetration of the TARDIS defences overloads the telepathic circuits. Nyssa is familiar with the Fault Locator (The Daleks, The Edge of Destruction). The Doctor is concerned that the Time Lords, especially Maxil, interfered with his TARDIS whilst he was on Gallifrey (Arc of Infinity), possibly adding or removing components including a directional control unit and a conterminous materialization dampener. Books contained within the TARDIS library include Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time, Wisden's Almanack (Phantasmagoria), and book of poetry by Keats.
The Consortium has interests in the Antares system. There is a reference to Betelgeuse (Destiny of the Daleks). Planets mentioned here include Kaltros Prime, Earth Colony E5150, and Denox.
Neurolectrin is used in resuscitation from suspended animation to help reverse synaptic decay. Kalazak brandy is notoriously strong. Cadwell's gun fires specks of Dwarf Star Alloy (Warriors Gate) and is powered by a single cell of depleted ranidium; it is highly illegal. Zenesium flares are incredibly powerful light sources as beacons used during planetary surveys.
Links: The Doctor ponders that the Black Guardian is bound to catch up with him one day (The Armageddon Factor, Mawdryn Undead). There are references to Daleks, Logopolis, Time-Flight, Cybermen (Earthshock), Terileptils (The Visitation), the Master, Omega (Arc of Infinity), Deva Loka (Kinda), Cranleigh Hall (Black Orchid), and Tegan's cousin Colin (Arc of Infinity). There are several references to Adric's death (Earthshock). The Ogrons are mentioned (Day of the Daleks, Frontier in Space), as is duralinium (Colony in Space). The Doctor mentions the TARDIS fluid links (The Daleks, Power of the Daleks, The Wheel in Space). He remembers visiting caves on Solos (The Mutants) and Voga (Revenge of the Cybermen).
Location: The Moon of Akoshemon, 2382.
Future History: An expedition of human scientists from Earth arrived on the moon of Akoshemon in 2319 (the records found by the Doctor are dated 2319.01.12). By 2319 there is a Human Sciences Academy on Mars and a base on Titan (see The Invisible Enemy).
By 2482 [see Goofs], Earth Reptile dolls are available on Earth (see Original Sin). There is a University of Tyr, which which specializes in temporal compression research. The use of Mechanoids has long since been abandoned (The Chase).
Porizium is a valuable mineral, although not as highly prized as lexium. IMC (Colony in Space, Lucifer Rising) and the Consortium are two of the major mining corporations and are known to steal claims from small independent operators. Galactic Law states that consecrated planets, moons and asteroids cannot be subject to mining operations.
Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor knew John Milton personally.
The Bottom Line: A functional horror story, although it is hugely derivative of other evil from the dawn of time stories. The characterisation of the supporting characters is woefully simplistic, and once the Dark achieves physical form it becomes just another ranting megalomaniac.