Once again for this series of Doctor Who, Blogtor Who is looking at all the nods and references to adventures which have gone before. This time its the turn of Praxeus. So even if you are not already a Mastermind expert on all things in the Whoniverse you can appreciate the little detail as well. Perhaps you are a very knowledgeable Whovian already but did you spot them all?
Plastic (Not So) Fantastic!
Some will no doubt see Praxeus’ use of plastic pollution as part of a new-fangled agenda. But plastic has long been a nemesis of the Doctor. It was way back in 1970, that the Nestene Consciousness and its ability to inhabit and manipulate plastic made its debut. And it’s returned several times since. The Ninth Doctor in 2005’s Rose even made the link that it’s humanity’s pollution which draws them to the Earth.
But if we look beyond the TV show itself, there’s some even more explicit links to Doctor Who of years past. Russell T Davies’ novelization of Rose expands on his original script to hit similar notes too. When the London Eye transmitter is activated to turn the world’s plastic lethal, Davies shows us events beyond London. In Praxeus, the aliens have established their underwater base directly beneath the Indian Ocean Garbage Patch – the collection point where debris from around the Indian Ocean is drawn together. This is actually just one of five such oceanic garbage patches around the Earth. And in the Target novelization, one Garbage Patch comes together to form a gigantic monster and attempts to make its way on land.
Torchwood may be gone, but it’s not forgotten
The Big Finish audio play Torchwood: Sargasso hits similar notes too, with the North Atlantic Garbage Patch appearing. Again it really is the Autons at work, using the plastic in the water to attack passing ships and replace their crews with replicas. Micro-plastics, as mentioned by the Thirteenth Doctor this week, also feature in Sargasso. And the Nestene, like Praxeus, realizes it can weaponize them to attack humanity from within. Plus, despite being aimed more firmly at adults, Sargasso features one of the most Doctor Who image imaginable. The survivors coming under attack by a swarm of vicious rubber ducks!
With the Nestene, and its avatars the Autons, so embedded in Doctor Who culture, it’s no wonder Praxeus writer Pete McTighe feels the need to establish early on that it’s definitely not the Autons this time.
The TARDIS’s Odd (Bob) Ring Tone
As mentioned in previous Blasts from the Past, Graham O’Brien isn’t the first Whoniverse character Bradley Walsh has played. He guest starred in The Sarah Jane Adventures story The Day of the Clown as the villainous ‘Odd Bob.’ With a striking similarity to another evil clown you may have heard of, Odd Bob is a shapeless, formless entity which crashed to Earth millennia ago. Feeding on fear, especially those of children, it can take whatever form it thinks will most terrify kids. Sometimes a ringmaster or a pied piper, it usually settles on the shape of a clown.
Responsible for countless child disappearances down the years, often leaving only his trademark red balloon behind, Odd Bob has one unexpected weakness. A Mobile phone ring ton3. And the particular ring tone which causes Bob to glitch and be paralyzed shows up again in Praxeus. It’s the Doctor’s! Yes, when Suki calls the TARDIS to summon the Doctor back to Madagascar, the console gives a distinctive old fashioned ring tone sound. The very same one, in fact! Almost certainly one of the most obscure call backs (so to speak) in Doctor Who history.
The Tsuranga Comm Dots
The Doctor has a history of picking up bits and pieces whereever they go. And sometimes they continue to pop up in later adventures. Perhaps most famously, when the Doctor wound up with two spacesuits from Sanctuary Base Six at the end of The Satan Pit, they turned up repeatedly afterwards. But Praxeus features the return of a different bit of scavenged technology. Last season, while helping defend the Tsuranga hospital ship against the P’ting, the Doctor gets given a comm-dot communicator. Applied just behind the ear they allow everyone in The Tsuranga Conundrum to keep in contact as they roam the corridors in search of the hungry little space gremlin. But it would seem the Doctor never quite got around to giving them back, as the TARDIS team use them again here.
Doctor Who continues at 7.10pm next Sunday on with Can You Hear Me?
From ancient Syria to present day Sheffield, and out into the wilds of space, something is stalking the Doctor and her friends. As Graham, Yaz and Ryan return home to see friends and family, they find themselves haunted by very different experiences. Who is the figure calling from beyond the stars for help, and why? And what are the fearsome Chagaskas terrorising Aleppo in 1380? To find the answers, Team Tardis embark on a mission that forces them to face their darkest fears.
Series 12 stars Jodie Whittaker (The Doctor), Bradley Walsh (Graham), Mandip Gill (Yaz) and Tosin Cole (Ryan), with Chris Chibnall as Showrunner and Matt Strevens Executive Producing. Can You Hear Me? guest stars Clare-Hope Ashitey (Rakaya), Buorn Tihngang (Tibo) and Ian Gelder. It’s written by Charlene James and Chris Chibnall, and directed by Emma Sullivan.