|YMMV • Radar • Quotes • (Funny • Heartwarming • Awesome) • Fridge • Characters • Fanfic Recs • Nightmare Fuel • Shout Out • Plot • Tear Jerker • Headscratchers • Trivia • WMG • Recap • Ho Yay • Image Links • Memes • Haiku • Laconic|
Josiah Smith: "The 'cream' of Scotland Yard..."—A remark heard upon the unveiling that a policeman we were just introduced to was also just reduced to a primordial soup. And no, that's not figurative. I mean a literal one.
Ok, sit down and be prepared to be confused.
To make a long story as short as humanly possible, the Doctor takes companion Ace back in time to the Victorian era for some form of training that is never fully specified. The TARDIS lands in a mansion of the era, and the Doctor and Ace soon find themselves the guests of a "Josiah Smith" who proudly proclaims the wonders of the Darwin concept of evolution. Also there is a Rev Ernest Matthews, who despises evolution, a maid service that refuses to stay in the house after 6pm and... a neanderthal butler named Nimrod. The maid service is apparently also taking care of a Redvers Fenn-Cooper, who has recently lost his mind by "seeing something he cannot comprehend." There's also a pair of women, who are supposedly the wife and daughter of Josiah.
Still with us? As the story unfolds at a breakneck pace, it's soon revealed that the disturbingly creepy house might be haunted. Only it's not. It's the base for an alien surveillance force, the leader of which (Josiah himself) wishes to integrate themselves with the Human race. In his opinion, that's best done by having Fenn-Cooper assassinate Queen Victoria and taking over England as its new King, as that's how evolution works in his mind.
The Doctor and Ace soon stumble across the fact that Josiah is not the leader of the expedition--that's another being, who's being held prisoner within his own ship, which is currently beneath the mansion. This being is, best put, an Angel (No, not a weeping one, thankfully.) going by the name of "Light" (no, not that one.) Light is dismayed to find himself back on Earth, particularly at the fact that everything has changed. As other plot threads, which include a commentary on evolution itself, as well as a lovely side-discussion of Java, resolve themselves at a breakneck pace, Light essentially suffers from a blue screen of death as he comes to the realization that change sucks. His answer to all this change? Utterly eliminate all life on Earth.
The story finally comes down to the Doctor and Light having a verbal sparring match - the Doctor finally talking Light into ending his own life so that he will no longer change. The space ship beneath the mansion decides to recruit a new crew, and enlists a being known as 'Control', who was formerly locked within the ship with fellow prisoners Light, Fenn-Cooper and Nimrod. Ship and crew then depart for places unknown while the Doctor talks to Ace about any regrets she may have in her life.
As it turns out Ace encountered this place in her youth (in the future, with respect to the story's Victorian setting) and the evil feeling left behind from Josiah and Light pushed Ace into burning down the mansion. Ace's only regret after all this? That she didn't blow it up instead.
If you didn't follow any of that, don't worry. The script was considered too long for the traditional four part story and was then compressed to three parts. The DVD release contained a 45-minute documentary, a 30-minute interview and commentary that slowly filled in the gaps in what was missing and not entirely clear.
- All There in the Manual: and how!
- Archive Panic Light gets a severe case of this.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "Let me guess: my heresies appall you, my theories outrage you, I never answer letters, and you don't like my tie."
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: subverted in the case of Nimrod the Neanderthal butler, who is probably the nicest character in the serial.
- Bifauxnen: Ace in Victorian men's clothes.
- Camp Gay: Light, the angelic Sealed Evil in a Can
- Cat Fight: Ace and Gwendoline. Twice.
- Creepy Housekeeper: Oh yes, and does she have a secret.
- Don't Wake the Sleeper: Nimrod refers to Light as the 'Sleeping One' who must not be woken.
- Go Mad From the Revelation: Redvers Fenn-Cooper
- Ham-to-Ham Combat: Just name someone who isn't chewing the scenery in this episode. Now realize that all of the scenery-chewing just plain makes the adventure even more awesome.
- Haunted House: Played with. Even after the creepy occurrences in Gabriel Chase have been explained (well, sort of) by the story, in the events still leave a sense of evil and creepiness about the place which inspires Ace to burn it down in the future.
- Kindly Housekeeper: The daytime housekeeper fits this trope to a T, hitting all the checkmarks on it. She won't stay past 6pm though, because no one in their right mind would be there then. Which should tell you almost to the second when the TARDIS arrives.
- Light Is Not Good
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The Doctor frees Light believing that he can stop Josiah... not realising that he's trading from a fairly pathetic guy who wants to take over the British Empire to a full-blown Omnicidal Maniac.
- Our Angels Are Different: Light.
- Promoted Fanboy: Writer Marc Platt was one of only two writers in the entire history of the series (the other being "Full Circle" writer Andrew Smith) to have a script accepted with no professional writing experience whatsoever, and no writing background beyond Doctor Who fanfiction. And the result is one of the Seventh Doctor's most high-concept and original adventures.
- Shout-Out: Q: "Who was it who said Earth men never invite their ancestors round for dinner?" A: Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, former script editor for Doctor Who and author of such episodes as "The Pirate Planet," "City of Death", and the sadly unfinished "Shada."
- Sufficiently Advanced Aliens: The Doctor, obviously, but also Light, Smith, Control and Nimrod.
- Taken for Granite: Gwendoline and her mother. In what turned out to be the last scene ever filmed for the original series, bringing an extra dimension to the words "Well... you'll never change again."
- Talking the Monster to Death: Light is infuriated by the fact that the Earth has changed, making the inventory he was working on meaningless. He resolves to destroy the Earth so it will stop changing. The Doctor points out the idiocy of thinking that you can stop change, and that everything in the universe is changing, including Light. Light commits suicide because he considers change a Fate Worse Than Death.
- Tempting Fate: "While we have the lamp, we're safe!"
- What the Hell, Hero?: Ace was horribly traumatised by the creepy atmosphere of the mansion in her own time, so the Doctor decides to take her back to find out what happened without informing her beforehand. She is obviously somewhat upset about this.
- When the Clock Strikes Twelve: The house's inhabitants come to life when the clock in the hall strikes six. When the Doctor's plans come to fruition a little early, he puts the clock on by a quarter of an hour so they're all there to see it happen.