Last dance time for the Ninth Doctor. Put on a little melancholic Glenn Miller to set the mood as we look into The Stealers Of Dreams! If you've seen The Happiness Patrol, when the Time Lord spoke with a Scottish burr, rrolled his rrs & favoured a pullover over a leather jacket when it came to matters of fashion, this might be familiar territory.
A form of government interference of sorts in individual imagination? Been there, done that. Helen A would approve, of course. No prizes for guessing which former Prime Minister she was based upon. This last novel, then, could be read as an attempt to say something about the Blairite Britain of 2005, as pirate TV fights back against governmental propaganda.
The Ninth Doctor, Rose and Captain Jack have landed, and find they're on Colony World 4378976.Delta-Four. That's a fact, and that's all there is to know. Because to imagine anything else would be fiction, and that's lying, and that's against the law. Anyone caught breaking that law ends up in the Big White House, and you don't want that. But if someone is out there trying to show the inhabitants of Colony World 4378976.Delta-Four that there's more to life than just fact and what is `real', should the Doctor help him? And if Rose wants to help someone who's on the run from the law for propagating fiction, there couldn't possibly be any real danger of fiction becoming more real than is comfortable - could there?
The Doctor makes a telling point upon arrival in 2775, though even the far future can tell us rather a lot about the politics of the past. ''Don't you think its odd? That these people escaped Earth, found their brave new world, and all they've done is copy what they left behind?''. He even finds time for something of an impassioned speech. ''This wasn't the deal. By the time your race had mastered space travel, you were supposed to have the technology and the maturity not to repeat your mistakes. You've no right to destroy another world!''. Clearly he learned something from facing off against that Thatcherite Helen A. There's also something of The Long Game in how the media is used to reinforce control of the population, and looking even further back the Doctor has had similar to contend with in Vengeance On Varos, in which Big Brother is seemingly predicted several years early!
CHIEF: For sedition, thought rebellion, and incitement of other rebels to organise, to unionise and to terrorise the workforce of Varos, the vote of the people was for your death to take place by laser obliteration.All of which might have informed a sort of zeal for alternative politics in his next regeneration...
JONDAR: The Governor was to consider my appeal!
CHIEF: Our Governor bows to the will of his people. As Systems Arbiter and Chief Officer, I confirm that the conditions of the Constitution have been complied with. I therefore permit your execution to proceed.
JONDAR: When will this be, Chief Officer?
CHIEF: At eight o'clock. You have ample time to compose yourself for eternity. All of five short minutes. It isn't exactly certain when obliteration takes place. Stand clear of the execution site. You have your anti-hallucination helmet?
MALDAK: Yes, sir.
CHIEF: Good. Switched on?
MALDAK: Yes, sir.
CHIEF: Good. We wouldn't wish for one of my guards to succumb to the phantoms of the Punishment Dome. Not with all of Varos watching.
MALDAK: No, sir.
ACE: Oh, well, can't win them all.Thatcher's then given even more of a kicking!
HAROLD: It's all right. I don't like winning.
ACE: Why is that?
HAROLD: First of all, I'm a killjoy, and secondly, I don't like the prize.
ACE: Why, what is the prize?
HAROLD: You're about to find out.
HELEN A [on screen]: Congratulations and well played. Here is your prize joke. Did you hear about the killjoy who won an outing with the Happiness Patrol? He was tickled to death! Enjoy yourself.
DOCTOR: I see what you mean. The delivery's terrible.
HAROLD: The joke's not much good either.
DOCTOR: You're right. It's awful. It's tasteless, smug, and worst of all, it's badly constructed, I mean, who writes that stuff?
HAROLD: I wrote it.
ACE: You wrote it?
HAROLD: I used to be her gag writer, when I was Harold F. Then my brother disappeared. I went to look for him. I heard of other disappearances. They caught me in the rocket port zone, trying to contact Terra Omega, and brought put me here where I was regraded to Harold V.
ACE: But what's keeping you here? I mean, why don't we just leave?
DOCTOR: So what you're telling me is that Helen A punishes anyone for wearing dark clothes?So by the time he's reached his Ninth body (and one he doesn't talk about...yet) obviously the Doctor is on the side of anarchy and freeing the people from their shackles. Three cheers for our favourite Time Lord, raising his dissenting voice for the downtrodden & leading the fightback....
HAROLD: Public grief, she calls it. It also covers listening to slow music, and reading poems, unless they're limericks, of course.
DOCTOR: This is terrible.
HAROLD: Walking in the rain as well, if you're on your own and don't take an umbrella.
ACE: Why don't people stand up to her?
HAROLD: People are scared.
DOCTOR: Remember the Happiness Patrol, Ace.
ACE: Bunch of ratbags.
DOCTOR: Ratbags with guns.
HAROLD: The Happiness Patrol were the nice side of her regime. Do you know who the Kandyman is, Doctor?
DOCTOR: He sounds like a sweetie.
HAROLD: He's dangerous.
HAROLD: He's doing experiments. That's why we're here. He needs guinea pigs. Guinea pigs like you and me.
ACE: What sort of experiments?
HAROLD: I can't find out.