Category Archives: Tales From /lost+found

Artifacts from an alternative universe where Doctor Who was successfully revived on US TV in 1996

Tales from /lost+found 114: Children of War

5×12 February 2, 2001
CHILDREN OF WAR (Serial 67)

Setting: Skaro, far-future
Regular Cast: Hugh Laurie (The Doctor), Katherine Heigl (Ruth), Lee Thompson Young (Leo)
Guest Cast: Cam Clarke (voice of the Daleks), Kelley Waymire (B’tan), Matt Winston (Gan’tus), Lawrence Monoson (Phaldotus)

Plot: The TARDIS arrives in a new-growth forest on an alien planet. Leo assumes the forest is regrowing after a fire, but the Doctor sees evidence that the destruction was far more severe, frightening Ruth with a description of nuclear weapons. To calm her, the Doctor uses the TARDIS’s scanners to demonstrate that the radiation levels are safe. However, they show that the radiation is rapidly increasing nearby. The Doctor guesses that a nuclear storage site nearby is leaking, and after handing out anti-radiation drugs, sets out to try to contain the leak to protect the forest. The sensor readings lead them to a city which is technologically advanced, but heavily overgrown. As they work their way through the city, they find pictures, letters and graffiti that tell of a great war between the planet’s two nations. At first, it seems that the warring peoples wiped each other out, but they find stranger things which hint that the city-builders survived the war, but were mutated by the radiation. They learn of the city-builders’ failed attempts to reverse their mutation, as evidenced by cylindrical upright sarcophagi throughout the city. Leo trips an automated defense system and is separated from the others and finds himself in a processing plant where he meets Phaldotus, Gan’tus and B’tan. They are Thals, unmutated survivors from the rival nation, who had come to the city as explorers and gotten trapped. The Doctor and Ruth discover that the city is powered by an atomic pile whose damaged control system is venting radiation rather than using it for power. The Doctor sets about repairing the power source to stop the radiation vent and succeeds just before Leo reunites with them, warning him to stop. As power returns to the city, Leo explains what he discovered from the Thals: the cylinders are not sarcophagi, but protective suits for the mutated survivors. With the power restored, the mutants emerge from stasis, the cylinders extending eight flexible metallic legs, domed lids revealing the one-eyed, pulsating mutants inside. They are Daleks, the ancient enemies of the Thals. Phaldotus is killed when the Daleks recognize him as a Thal. B’tan, Gan’tus and Leo escape, but the Doctor and Ruth are captured. The Thals are pacifists by nature, and do not want to help Leo rescue his friends, but Gan’tus comes around when Leo threatens to offer B’tan to the Daleks in a hostage exchange. By the time they rescue the others, the Doctor has learned that the Daleks have located the Thal village and, obsessed with finishing their war, plan to wipe the Thals out with a nuclear missile. Based on what Leo saw in the processing plant, the Doctor believes they can sabotage the underground supports for the city to collapse it before the Spider Daleks can launch their missile. They sneak back into the Dalek city and evade the now-active Daleks to reach the processing plant. The Daleks attack, and Gan’tus sacrifices himself, baiting the Daleks into shooting through him, igniting a chemical tank which explodes, damaging the city supports. The Doctor, Leo, Ruth, and B’tan escape as the city collapses. The Doctor advises B’tan to return to her people and warn them that the some of the Daleks may yet have survived. As the time-travelers leave Skaro, a long-defunct Dalek space station receives an emergency signal from the collapsing Dalek city and begins to reactivate…

Tales from /lost+found 112: Sideways

1×17 April 11, 1997
SIDEWAYS (Serial 11, Episode 2*)

Setting: San Francisco, California, Present
Regular Cast: Hugh Laurie (The Doctor), Sarah Michelle Gellar (Lizzie Thompson)
Guest Starring: Jerry O’Connell (Quinn), Sabrina Lloyd (Wade), Cleavant Derricks (Rembrandt), Kari Wuher (Maggie), Neil Dickson (Rickman)

Plot: Despite his reservations, the Doctor and Lizzie follow the sliders through the wormhole to avoid being crushed. They find themselves in a futuristic world, but one which seems devoid of life. The Doctor is severely affected because the different temporal constants of this universe affect his Time Lord senses. They soon discover that this world was depopulated by a mutant species of insect. They find a group of survivors who treat them with suspicion. Rickman has already been and gone, leaving one of their group comatose. Despite his own affliction, the Doctor devises a treatment that helps Rickman’s victim make a partial recovery. Having watched from hiding as the sliders arrived, Rickman opens a vent to allow the insects into the survivors’ stronghold. While defending himself, Quinn discovers that the signal generated by the timer repels the insects. Quinn and the Doctor work together to create a defense for the survivors while Maggie goes to confront Rickman. Rickman has also learned to use his timer to fend off the insects, and drives them toward Maggie. The Doctor and Lizzie attempt to save her, the Doctor using his sonic screwdriver to interfere with Rickman’s timer, damaging it. In spite of the damage, Rickman manages to slide away. Despite the risk of losing Rickman’s trail, Quinn agrees to use their timer’s recall function to return the Doctor and Lizzie to their own universe after building a device which will protect the survivors on this world from the insects. After returning to the Doctor’s universe with only a few minutes on the timer, the sliders discover that Maggie has been infested with insect larva, which erupt from her body, killing her. In shock from Maggie’s sudden death and unwilling to condemn this world, the sliders allow the timer to run out. Since the insects are still few in number, they devise a plan to use the sonic screwdriver and the timer together to attract and destroy the insects. The insects multiply more rapidly than they expected, and Rembrandt sacrifices himself, remaining behind to activate the makeshift weapon rather than waiting to get to a safe distance. While it is normally forbidden for the Doctor to change the past, he realizes that his instinctive discomfort around the sliders is because they are not part of this universe’s web of time. Leaving Lizzie behind to comfort Quinn and Wade, he disappears in the TARDIS, then reappears a moment later with a surprise: he has fetched Rembrandt and Maggie from the compactor a moment before they slid. He warns that they should not return to this universe, as it may cause a paradox. Quinn reminds him that, having missed their window, they will not be able to slide again for 27 years. The Doctor reveals that he had pocketed the timer before departing and waited out the delay. It now shows only a few minutes before they can slide. Quinn is still unconvinced about the possibility of time travel, but can come up with no other explanation. Once the sliders depart, Lizzie notices that the Doctor seems older, and he confesses that it took him several tries to get back with the right amount of time on the timer.
Note: This episode aired as part of Fox’s “When Worlds Collide” event. Part 1 of this serial aired as Sliders episode 3×20 “What the Doctor Ordered”.

Tales from /lost+found 111: Lockdown

6×01 (5x19a) January 4, 2002
LOCKDOWN (Serial 75)

Setting: Space Station W-9, 22nd Century
Regular Cast: Hugh Laurie (The Doctor)

Plot: After dropping off Ruth and Leo for a romantic dinner at a swanky restaurant on Titan, the Doctor takes a tour of Space Station W-9, the local administrative hub, renowned for its view of Saturn’s rings. Shortly into his tour, the station is shaken by an explosion and goes into a security lockdown. The Doctor is sealed in an observation pod with two crew members and five other visitors. The others assume the explosion was an attack by rebel colonists seeking independence. When one of the tourists expresses sympathy for the colonists, he is ostracized by the others and treated with suspicion. They find themselves unable to contact the rest of the station, and begin to fear that more attacks are coming. The Doctor himself comes under suspicion when he displays his advanced technical knowledge in an attempt to reestablish communications. The crew force him to surrender his sonic screwdriver. They notice a tattoo on one of the other visitors associated with a mining colony. As their paranoia grows, she is accused of involvement with the attack. The Doctor attempts to calm the tensions, but when he reveals himself as an alien, one of the crewmen panics and attacks him. He is restrained, but the life support system is damaged in the process. The Doctor begs to be allowed to repair the damaged system, but by now, everyone is too paranoid to allow an alien to use advanced technology on the station. Instead, everyone descends into a service area below the deck to reach an emergency hatch. Because of the damage to the station, some of the systems in the service area are damaged, and the hatch is disabled. One of the visitors is badly hurt by an electrified conduit. The former colonist is accused of sabotage and a fight breaks out. The Doctor tries to intercede but is forced out of the way. The others beat the colonist nearly to death when the Doctor retrieves his dropped sonic screwdriver and uses it to open the hatch. As everyone makes a hurried escape, the damage to the pod causes it to begin to rapidly decompress. The colonist sacrifices herself to force the hatch closed from the inside to protect the rest of the station. A rescue team arrives, and informs the survivors that the initial explosion was caused by a faulty part, not a rebel attack. The humans are left ashamed by their actions, while the Doctor is shaken by his inability to defuse the situation.
Note: This story takes place before “Invasion, Part 1”

Tales from /lost+found 110: The Key to Time

8×22 March 5, 2004
THE KEY TO TIME (Serial 133)

Setting: Space Materials Research Center, 2020
Regular Cast: Rowan Atkinson (The Doctor), Scarlett Johansson (Alice)
Guest Starring: Lucy Lawless (Zoey/Zodin), Anthony Stewart Head (The War Chief), Nicholas Brendon (White Guardian), Kelly Donovan (Black Guardian), David Hasselhoff (The War Doctor), Sylvester McCoy (uncredited)

Plot: The Doctor takes the TARDIS to the Space Materials Research Center in the year 2020. Alice is surprised to learn that there is no key segment here. Rather than risk the War Lords finding the last key segment, the Doctor poses as an aerospace researcher in order to use the center’s advanced “3-D Printer” to create a reproduction. While he works on generating a computer model for the missing segment, Alice learns that there is a growing tension among the staff about the use of their fabrication technology to build weapons. Alice befriends Zoey, an engineer who has serious misgivings about using their technology to produce weapons, but fears that a pacifist stance will cripple progress. Later, Alice finds the War Chief has infiltrated the center and warns the Doctor. The Doctor confronts the War Chief, who claims to be on a pilgrimage and promises not to stop the Doctor’s work, so long as they do not interfere with the debate among the center staff. The Doctor is amused at being asked by a War Lord to leave history to take its own course, and agrees that the decision about the center’s future should be left to humanity. The argument among the staff takes a violent turn and Zoey is accidentally killed just before the 3D print of the sixth segment completes. Hoping that a high-quality facsimile will unlock some of the key’s powers, the Doctor assembles the key with the reproduction. Alice, the Doctor, and the War Chief are transported to the domain of the Guardians, creators of the Key. They explain the function of the key: it is a maintenance device for the web of time, able to change the past and rebalance the universe without creating destructive paradoxes. The White Guardian discourages the Doctor from trying to use the key, while the Black Guardian tempts him with the possibility of using it to restore Gallifrey. However, without the genuine sixth segment, it only has enough power to restrain the War Chief from attacking them. The War Chief deduces what the Doctor has concealed: Alice is the final segment. As a fail-safe against abuse, the sixth segment assumes the form of a living, intelligent being, and can only be converted to its true form willingly. The War Chief taunts the Doctor. He can only use the Key by sacrificing his companion. The War Chief reveals the truth about the War Lords: they are not a race, but a philosophy, spread whenever any civilization embraces the belief that conflict is the true driver of history. The Doctor is already too entangled in the war, and if he sacrifices Alice, he will have become a War Lord himself, and would inevitably impose the War Lord ideal on the web of time. While they argue, Alice notices the symbol a piece of SMRC letterhead she was carrying is similar to the War Lord symbol. She flashes back to her final conversation with the War Doctor, and we hear his whispered message. He had decided not to find another way and not use the Key himself. She looks inside the Paradox Box and finds an anachronistic earlier incarnation of the sixth segment. Before either the Doctor or the War Chief can do anything, she assembles the Key, and orders it to undo Zoey’s death. This small act reverses the critical decision by the humans to pursue War Lord philosophy. However, Alice’s change inadvertently undoes an earlier change to history: Zoey had been living a false life. She reverts to her true identity, the War Queen Zodin. She tries to seize the Key, but is stopped by a disembodied voice that declares, “Did you really think I would leave the universe unprotected?”

Tales from /lost+found 109: Golden Age

2×12 February 6, 1998
GOLDEN AGE (Serial 20, Episode 4)

Setting: New Orleans, Louisiana, Near-Future
Regular Cast: Hugh Laurie (The Doctor), Sarah Michelle Gellar (Lizzie Thompson)
Guest Starring: Jonathan Frakes (Blackwood), Bruce Harwood (Swift), Ted Raimi (Dr. French), Dean Cain (Adam Neuman) Paul Eckstein (Voskar)

Plot: Lizzie awakens aboard a space ship, where she is told by its commander, Adam, that she has been in suspended animation for a hundred years, and is currently on a colony ship approaching an Earth-like planet to establish a new civilization. Lizzie becomes suspicious when she recalls the Doctor’s warnings to Rex about the side effects of suspended animation. In New Orleans, the Doctor, Slate and Blackwood search for Lizzie, which eventually leads them to French Technologies. The Doctor recognizes some of the technology they find there as salvage from Jagaroth’s experiments with the time destructor, but is surprised to see Therasapien technology as well. In the space ship, Lizzie finds Adam meeting with Dr. French, who arrives in a space suit, having allegedly space-walked over from a sister ship. When she sees that his scratches have not healed, she follows him out of the airlock, discovering that the “ship” is a simulator. Lizzie takes French by surprise and overpowers him as he confronts the Doctor. French is a radical environmentalist. To save the world from the dangers of global warming, he has built a primitive time machine which will send the unwitting “colonists” millions of years into the past to start over on an unspoilt world. The dinosaurs had been summoned as part of the machine’s calibration process. Swift is part of the conspiracy, having joined French’s group out of guilt after his position as an oil executive exposed him to evidence that the industry had deliberately suppressed evidence of global warming. Voskar comes out of hiding, having been smuggled out of the Therasapien base by Swift. Voskar and Swift had made contact shortly after the Therasapiens awoke, and had plotted the attack as a cover to smuggle Therasapien technology to French. His earlier opposition had been a pose: Voskar wishes to return to his native time, but on his own terms. The Doctor had misunderstood their circumstances; when Greyhorn’s outpost malfunctioned, it caused the other Therasapien shelters to remain in hibernation indefinitely, so Therasapien civilization never awakened after the impact. Voskar plans to travel to the Eocene period and send the activation signal manually, changing Earth’s history so that humanity never evolves. French and Swift are willing to sacrifice humanity so that their colonists can build a better future. The conspirators retreat to the ship and activate the time machine. Blackwood is left behind, but the Doctor and Lizzie are able to fight through the time distortion and enter the ship. The ship is sent back fifty million years, materializing near the entrance to the Therasapien base. With no more use for the humans, Voskar kills French and Swift. He never intended to honor his promise to allow the humans to coexist peacefully with his people. The Doctor, Lizzie, and Adam pursue Voskar into the Therasapien base, but Lizzie goes missing on the way. The Doctor attempts to dissuade Voskar from changing history. Voskar is unswayed, and transmits the awakening signal, but nothing happens. Lizzie appears, and reveals that the base had never malfunctioned in the first place; she sabotaged it. She had easily recognized the sabotage when she first saw the base computers, and discovered a hidden message from her future self giving a cover story to tell. Voskar tries to force Lizzie to undo the sabotage, but in the course of the chase, he encounters his own hibernating counterpart, and the release of temporal energy kills him. With no other way home, the Doctor helps Adam and the other colonists into spare hibernation chambers, where they will awaken with the Therasapiens a century in their own future. The Doctor modifies his and Lizzie’s chamber to activate early, allowing them to discretely slip out during the events of “In Cold Blood”. The Doctor is upset that Lizzie’s sabotage affected the entire Therasapien race, but acknowledges that she had no choice thanks to the predestination paradox. They recover the TARDIS and meet up with Blackwood, from his perspective, only minutes after they left. While skeptical about their story, he contacts his superiors with the recommendation that a permanent taskforce be established to deal with similar matters in the future.

Tales From /lost+found 108: In Cold Blood

2×10 December 19, 1997
IN COLD BLOOD (Serial 20, Episode 2)

Setting: New Orleans, Louisiana, Near-Future
Regular Cast: Hugh Laurie (The Doctor), Sarah Michelle Gellar (Lizzie Thompson)
Guest Starring: James Horan (Greyhorn), Paul Eckstein (Voskar), Bruce Harwood (Swift), John Vargas (Rex), Jonathan Frakes (Blackwood)

Plot: Assuming that the reptilian creature is sensitive to low temperatures, the Doctor uses his sonic screwdriver to open the coolant pipes that run along the corridor. The creature is forced to retreat to avoid falling into a torpor. The Doctor reasons that the creatures are aliens whose ship had crashed on the ocean floor and perceived the drilling platform as a threat, but can’t figure out why they are only attacking in person now. He tries to modify the platform’s sonar to make contact in hopes of brokering a peaceful solution, while the company men simply want to destroy the creatures so that drilling can continue. The roughnecks reckon that there’s more money to be made by capturing them instead and assist the Doctor, until he sends a message to the ocean floor offering his help in leaving the planet. More creatures attack and several of the roughnecks are killed. The Doctor and Lizzie are locked in a storeroom where they find a cache of dinosaur fossils that had been churned up by the drills. Lizzie realizes that the sabotage to the platform was human in nature: the company men valued the oil more than the fossils, and sabotaged the radio to cover up the find, while the workers, wanting fame, sabotaged the drill to protect the fossils. The Doctor finds a vaguely humanoid skull among the fossils and realizes that the creatures, which he dubs “Therasapiens”, are not aliens, but a sapient species of dinosaur that had been somehow preserved for millions of years. They would have interpreted his offer of help as an eviction notice, prompting their violent response. The Doctor escapes using the sonic screwdriver, finds a Therasapien, and surrenders to it, offering the skull for burial. The Doctor and Lizzie, along with several other captured humans, are taken deep below the surface to meet with the Therasapien leader, Greyhorn. The Therasapiens were the dominant species on Earth sixty-five million years ago. When they detected a comet on a collision course with the planet, they placed themselves in suspended animation deep underground. Greyhorn had commanded a scientific outpost designed to study the force of the impact. Lizzie spots a flaw in the outpost’s systems which caused them to radically over-estimate how long the surface would be uninhabitable. The Doctor hypothesizes that the rest of their species had awakened millions of years ago and had since gone extinct. The Doctor suggests that he could use the TARDIS to return them to a period when their species still existed, but the Therasapiens are divided, with many wishing to remain in the present and reclaim Earth from the humans. Greyhorn persuades a majority of the clan to go with the Doctor, but he is betrayed by his ambitious lieutenant, Voskar. Voskar imprisons the humans and plans to use Therasapien technology to detonate the oil deposit near their base, creating a tsunami that will destroy New Orleans. With help from the dying Greyhorn, the Doctor rigs the base to return to hibernation mode, forcing the Therasapiens back into suspended animation for a century. Rex sacrifices himself by remaining behind to activate the hibernation sequence. The Doctor and the surviving humans escape back to the platform where they meet Blackwood, a government agent dispatched to investigate their disappearance. Swift agrees to work with the government to protect and conceal the Therasapiens until they can be peacefully awakened. Blackwood brings the survivors back to port to make arrangements, but upon arriving in New Orleans, they discover the city is being menaced by a Giganotosaurus.

Tales from /lost+found 108: Genesis of the Cybs

I wonder what else was going on in July of 2002…

7×04 July 26, 2002
GENESIS OF THE CYBS (Serial 97)

Setting: Mondas, 44 BC
Regular Cast: Rowan Atkinson (The Doctor), Scarlett Johansson (Alice)
Guest Starring: Alexander Siddig (Hovard Regnos), Peter Cullen (voice of Cyber-Prototype 001)

Plot: To demonstrate the TARDIS’s ability to travel in time, the Doctor sets out to show her the rise of the Roman Empire. But he has neglected to recalibrate the navigation systems after their recent trip to the Outer Wastes. They think they’ve landed in the 1960s, but the Doctor is troubled because the co-ordinate matrix claims they have landed in the right year but on the wrong side of the sun. Stranger, the weather is wintry despite it being July. Alice sees a newspaper headline claiming that the Earth is drifting away from the sun due to a “calamity” when an experimental space drive in a rival country altered the planet’s gravity, and will be too cold to support life within a decade. The last piece falls into place when the Doctor sees the half-completed Monument Rock in the distance. He adjusts the TARDIS translator, and shows that Alice’s newspaper now identifies the planet as Mondas. Alice wants to stay and try to change Mondas’s fate, but the Doctor wants to leave immediately: even after all this time, he has no alternative for the Mondasians. But the authorities discover and impound the TARDIS, taking it to genius industrialist Hovard Regnos, who is leading efforts to save the planet. Before the calamity, Regnos had been the lead developer of Mondas’s space program. To avoid being forced to reveal the secrets of the TARDIS, the Doctor offers to help Regnos stabilize the planet’s orbit. He discovers that Regnos played a hand in the calamity: he secretly and illegally sold the gravity-drive technology to the rival country after his own government decided it was too dangerous. Moreover, Regnos is not really trying to reverse the calamity. His advanced instruments have detected Earth, and, assuming it to be uninhabited, he wants to relocate a group of Mondasians there instead. The massive device he is constructing, purportedly to reverse the calamity, is in fact secretly a mostly-complete colony ship large enough to carry thousands of Mondasians. But he still has not solved the engine imbalance that triggered the calamity, and worse, the Doctor calculates that no human body could survive the g-force of a gravity-drive powered space ship. Regnos had already determined that and developed an armored exoskeleton and cybernetic replacement organs. While the procedure is not fully reversible, the colonists will be able to produce normal offspring on their new planet. After a prototype destroys itself in horror at its condition, Regnos alters his design to include modifications to the brain. The Doctor manages to tip off Regnos’s government liaison, forcing him to accelerate his plans. He had hoped to hand-pick colonists to build a new civilization on Earth, but with time running out, he orders his prototype Cyber-men to the streets to round up anyone they can find for immediate conversion, and Alice is among those captured. Regnos has himself converted, and the alterations to his brain cause him to lose interest in the colony producing normal offspring. He realizes that as cyborgs, the Mondasians could simply remain on their planet, immune to the worsening conditions: he could “save” his entire race rather than a small colony. The Doctor rescues Alice while Regnos summons all the cybermen to the colony ship for new orders. To put a stop to his plans, the Doctor triggers the gravity-drive on the colony ship, narrowly escaping with Alice in the TARDIS. The ship and the prototype cybermen are destroyed in a recreation of the original calamity. This time, though, the Doctor has oriented the force of the gravitational effect to partially stabilize the planet’s orbit. It will not return to its original orbit, but it should slow the deterioration of conditions on Mondas for several hundred years, long enough for the Mondasians to find another solution. The Doctor and Alice take the TARDIS forward in time a century to check on the results, and are disappointed to see that while the planet has not gotten any colder, Monument Rock has been completed, and bears the familiar shape of a Cyb helmet.