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The Doctor: "There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, and the sea's asleep, and the rivers dream. People made of smoke, and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice, and somewhere else the tea's getting cold! Come on, Ace, we've got work to do!"—The final monologue from the Seventh Doctor for this episode, rather fitting for his character. Sadly, it's also the final line of the franchise until 1996.
The Doctor: "If we fight like animals, we die like animals!"—The Doctor's revelation on how fighting works.
After adventuring throughout time and space, Ace finally asks the Doctor to take a visit to her home town - Perivale. As it turns out, not much is the same since Ace left the town originally and many of her friends have just up and left. As the Doctor meanders around town, Ace finds herself poking around a playground when (out of friggin' nowhere) an anthropomorphic cheetah-person riding a horse chases her around the park. Not long after this scene, the Doctor and Ace are whipped away to an exotic alien planet where the Cheetah people come from - and where Ace's friends and a few other extras have been whipped away to. The Doctor is then escorted to the Cheetah people's leader... the Master (come on, you saw that one coming)!
As it turns out, the planet is some sort of living entity (maybe?) that is slowly infecting the people on the planet with an urge to fight, kill and destroy one another. The Master has already been infected, sporting some neat cat eye contacts, and simply desires to leave the planet. Meanwhile, Ace and her friends are hunted by the Cheetah people and do their best to simply run away. The Doctor and Ace finally meet up again just in time for the Cheetah people to pull an ambush and kill a few of the extras - but not before Midge (a before-now-unimportant minor character) kills one of the Cheetah people and turns more and more feral.
Separated from the Doctor (again - this is really her story guest-starring the Doctor and the Master, though), Ace meets one of the Cheetah people and kinda befriends her. As it turns out, Ace is also slowly starting to fall to the spell of the planet and is now also sporting those neat contacts. Meanwhile, the Master uses Midge to escape from the planet back to Perivale. The Doctor also uses Ace, after warning her of possible consequences that don't apply to her as she's a main character, to get everyone back home. Waiting for them is the Master, who has taken the time between the two groups arriving to harness the awesome power of... a scrawny male youth group to challenge the Doctor to motorcycle-jousting. Come on, Master. We know that it's not easy continually coming up with plans to kill the Doctor or rule the universe - but this is the equivalent of using the Death Star to rob a corner store bakery! At least wear a funny disguise and go under an anagram for no explainable reason!
Either way, the Doctor and the dreaded feral... Midge drive at one another and randomly blow up their bikes. The Doctor survives without a scratch while Midge suffers a Critical Existence Failure and dies. Randomly, the youth group advances on Ace, until that Cheetah person from earlier shows up and tries to chase off the Master. By hugging him. Of course, the Master kills her and meanders off to go steal the TARDIS. There, he encounters the Doctor - and then drags the Doctor back to the now-collapsing-for-some-reason planet where they fight it out in hand-to-hand combat. The Doctor himself sports those adjusted eyes until he realizes that the fighting is killing the planet (somehow) and that the only way to win is to not fight. The Doctor is whisked away back to Earth and the Master is supposedly left for dead (like that's the first time that's happened).
Ace mourns the loss of her newfound friend, while the Doctor comes up behind her. Ace takes a few moments to collect herself before saying it's time they go home - back to the TARDIS. The Doctor gives a wonderful monologue as they walk off into the distance, and Ace and the Doctor then go on to have many mor-
The Master makes one last appearance, and this time Anthony Ainley was finally allowed to play the character in a more understated way. Ace is also extremely well developed for an old-series companion, culminating the final part of her three part story arc.
According to the writing team at the time, they were putting together scripts for a 'Season 27' when the axe fell. This season would have seen Ace's departure (to study to become a Time Lord at Prydon Academy on Gallifrey) and the introduction of a new companion, a high-class safecracker. Following Big Finish's adaptations of the 'lost' 1986 season, they'll go on to adapt some of the stories from 'Season 27'.
- Actual Pacifist: a very rare Who story to endorse absolute pacifism, as opposed to the usual Martial or Technical kinds.
- And the Adventure Continues...: The story -- and the original run of Doctor Who -- ends with the Doctor and Ace happily walking back to the TARDIS to continue their adventures, with a monologue from the Doctor (written at the last minute, when it was learnt that this would be the final episode indefinitely) to reinforce this.
- And Then John Was a Zombie
- BBC Quarry: Appropriate lighting and decent use of scenery makes this a lot more subtle. Sylvester McCoy actually called this a 5-star quarry at one point.
- Catfolk: Played surprisingly straight with the Cheetah people in that they're more Cheetah than human.
- Though the original intention was something much more human.
- Cats Are Mean
- Caught in a Snare: Ace and her gang set a snare to catch one of the Cheetah people. Unfortunately, the next people to pass that way are the Doctor and Sergeant Patterson.
- Disney Death: The Doctor.
- Distracted By the Shiny: Invoked. And justified - they're cats.
- Empathic Environment: the violence of the Cheetah people is literally causing their world to break apart.
- Executive Veto: Midge's somewhat unexplained death is because the original script had the Master inciting the other youths to tear him limb from limb for showing weakness, which was vetoed as too horrific even for Doctor Who.
- Evil Is Petty: The Master apparently goes out of his way to kill the cat of a child he never met before
- Faux Affably Evil: The Master here is much less the cackling madman viewers had come to expect. In previous stories, Ainley had been told to amp up the ham by production staff, but here was finally allowed to give a much more restrained, brooding and ultimately rather vicious portrayal.
- Fisher Kingdom: Cheetah World
- For the Evulz: The Master's motivation in this episode, apart from saving his own skin from the Cheetah Planet.
- Gadget Watches: The Doctor has a fobwatch, which he uses to discover the safest nearby part of the planet.
- He Who Fights Monsters: Literally, in this case.
- Killed Off for Real: The Master, again. This time it was supposed to be for really real, but First Law of Resurrection + Joker Immunity = Like You Would Really Do It.
- Les Yay: Invoked -- the script and performances are intended to suggest a lesbian subtext developing between Ace and Karra, one of the Cheetah People. One of the reasons that the writer disapproved of the eventual costumes for the Cheetah People was that this was obscured.
- Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: Perivale
- One Word Title
- Pressure Point: The Doctor briefly paralyzes the Sergeant by poking him in the forehead.
- Rearing Horse
- Retroactive Recognition: Lisa Bowerman. See above. Also, Adele Silva
- Stock Episode Titles: 55 uses
- Trash Landing
- What Could Have Been: Originally, the Cheetah People were supposed to be a lot more human-looking, with their possession by the cat-spirits of the Cheetah World represented by false eyes, teeth and some skin-colouring to suggest cheetah spots. Then, someone decided it'd be a good idea to make them actual Cheetah People. The writer, Rona Munro, was less than impressed by the result, describing the end effect as 'puss-in-boots'.
- ↑ It should be, it was edited in once they knew the show had been cancelled.