This is the first Big Finish Doctor Who
audio drama featuring the Eighth Doctor.
October, 1930. His Majesty's Airship, the R101, sets off on her maiden voyage to the farthest-flung reaches of the British Empire, carrying the brightest lights of the Imperial fleet. The Eighth Doctor ends up on the R101 entirely by accident, and soon meets an upper-class runaway named Charlotte Pollard (Charley for short), who has snuck aboard in men's clothing. She dreams of being an Edwardian Lady of Adventure
, and was rather hoping to hitch a ride to a romantic encounter on a rooftop in Singapore. The Doctor knows what will happen to the ship, but before he can make his way back to the TARDIS, he's captured and mistaken for a German spy. Playing along as Herr Dr. Johann Schmidt, he realises that a Vortisaur (a vortex pterodactyl) has followed him in from the time vortex, and he tames the beast by letting it drink his blood. It's not the only alien aboard, though — the mysterious special passenger is the Prime of the Engineer caste of the Triskele. The three-caste race is looking for a new Lawgiver, and they have their eyes set on Lord Tamworth. The Uncreator caste, however, are also eyeing Rathbone, an Afrikaans traitor who's easily manipulated. He shoots the Triskele Lawgiver, which sets the Uncreators free of their mental bond with the law and gives them a great excuse to declare war.
In the end, the Doctor convinces the Triskele that they can live without a Lawgiver if their Engineers and Uncreators learn how to work together. It will take time and effort, but it's possible. But Rathbone gets his hands on the Triskele energy weapon. The Doctor needs prevent history from being changed by alien technology. He doesn't need to do anything special to save the day, though, as the crash of the airship makes Rathbone's plans moot anyway. But since he and Charley manage to escape from Rathbone on the Vortisaur's back, Charley is now a living paradox — a girl who shouldn't be alive.
The Doctor briefly considers putting her back on the airship just before the crash so she'll die in her proper time. But he can't bring himself to do so, and they leave for adventures together with Ramsay the Vortisaur. Which, as we'll find out later, was a terrible idea.
start of the audio becomes Harsher in Hindsight
when one has listened to Terror Firma
- Accent Relapse: Invoked by the Doctor when he's pretending to be a German spy.
- Ancient Astronauts
- And the Adventure Continues
- Badass Grandpa: Lord Tamworth. Among other things, he takes on Uncreator Prime in a fistfight and wins.
- Batman Gambit: Everything goes according to Uncreator Prime's plan.
- Bizarre Alien Senses: The Vortisaur can sense time distortions.
- Boisterous Bruiser: Lord Tamworth
- British Accents: Switching around with them as part of an act.
- Cassandra Truth
- Chekhov's Gunman: The Vortisaur
- Clock Roach: See trope below.
- Cold Open: See Ground Hog Day Loop
- Cool Airship
- Development Gag: The airship crash scenes were originally written for the Eighth Doctor Doctor Who Magazine comic "Endgame", starring the Celestial Toymaker, before that story was taken in an entirely different direction altogether. It's discussed in the "Endgame" author's notes.
- Disney Villain Death
- The Dog Bites Back: Rathbone, who's been reduced to a puppet, shoots the Uncreator Prime
- Dramatic Gun Cock
- Establishing Character Moment: Rathbone gets two. First he's introduced as drugging a defenseless creature, then afterwards he's trying to force himself upon Charley for "Protection"
- ET Gave Us Wifi: What Tamworth planned, and Rathbone tries after the climax
- Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: The story introduces Vortisaurs, pterodactyl-like creatures who live in the time vortex.
- Everything's Better with Spinning: SPIN that Tardis into rescue, Doctor!
- Felony Misdemeanor: Shouting is barbaric!
- Flying Saucer
- Foregone Conclusion: The Airship in question is not a future or alternate history, it's the R101.
- Freudian Trio: The Triskele have this sort of arrangement on a species-wide scale. The Engineers are the Superego, the Uncreators are the Id, and the Lawgiver is the Ego.
- Friendly Enemy: Spies are received better than Intrepid Reporters.
- Going Down with the Ship: Foregone Conclusion
- Good Old Fisticuffs: Lord Tamworth lives for this
- Go-to Alias: Well not quite, it's Johann Schmidt.
- The Greys: The Triskelene
- "Groundhog Day" Loop: An exploding ship is stuck between a few seconds of exploding, and the explosion itself.
- Harsher in Hindsight: The Eighth Doctor eventually dies trying to save a woman from a spaceship crash in The Night Of The Doctor.
- Heads or Tails
- Historical Fantasy: This story mixes the real life R101 Airship disaster with fictional characters and a rendevouz with aliens during the airship's maiden voyage.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Rathbone tries to reach the alien weapon in the rafters, which he'd just busted up with a wrench.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: They're warmongering jerks.
- Immune to Bullets: Subverted.
- Indy Ploy
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Tamworth first appears as a rather stuffy glory-seeking individual, but underneath it all he has a core of honor and compassion that comes out as the story goes on and becomes an eminently lovable character.
- Klingon Promotion: Tamworth beats the stuffing out of Uncreator Prime, and becomes the leader of the Triskele
- Lady of Adventure: Charley
- Military Salute: When Tamworth is about to leave with the Triskele, the Doctor is heard shuffling about and exclaims, "Sir!", seemingly the radio version of a salute, conveying just how impressed he is.
- The Alien's Eyes Show Your True Self: Charley finds her beautiful, Rathbone finds her hidious.
- Mistaken for Spies: The crew assume the Doctor and Charley are spies from the Zeppelin Company. The Doctor rolls with it.
- Named After Somebody Famous: Explicitly, Ramsay the vortisaur.
- News Broadcast
- Non Answer: The Doctor is a Doctor of "Most things and some things aside"
- Obfuscating Stupidity: The Doctor, once he's been "Exposed" as a German spy starts intentionally botching up English sayings.
- One Last Drink
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Charley as Murchford.
- Pronoun Trouble: The Triskelene seem to lack obvious genders. Charley refers to the one who was on the R101 with female pronouns, but Tamworth refers to the same individual as male.
- Reality Is Unrealistic: The Doctor's "English Accent" is almost good enough, but doesn't quite cut the mustard! Paul McGann doesn't use his real accent to play the Doctor.
- Retcon: In "Terror Firma", the opening sequence was retconned to be the tail end of a rather more lengthy, and rather more important scene. In which the Doctor loses two companions and promptly develops amnesia about it. The reason the Doctor was looking for the TARDIS manual also becomes very important.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Both the Minister and the "Uncreators"
- Shown Their Work: Barnaby Edwards' Afrikaans accent is definitely not bad.
- South Africa: Rathbone is from South Africa and peppers his speech with the accent, and strange De Veldt sayings about lions and such.
- Spell My Name with a "The": The Triskelene get a bit confused by the Doctor's name and call him Doctor The.
- Sweet Polly Oliver: Charley starts out disguised as steward Simon Murchford.
- Taking You with Me: The Doctor threatens this on Rathbone
- Telepathy: The Triskelene. The Doctor is shielded from this because of his own latent Psychic Powers.
- Thinking Out Loud: The Doctor for most of the first episode, until he finally meets someone else to talk to. He even chides himself for talking to himself a few times, calling it a bad habit.
- Ugly Cute: Ramsay, based on people's reactions.
- Villainous BSOD: Rathbone goes through one.
- War Is Hell: World War One
- Whole Plot Reference: The first part seems to invoke "There's something on the wing!"
- Would Hit a Girl: Rathbone.
- Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Yay! Tamworth beat the Aliens! Rathbone has stolen alien technology and at the end is trying to kill the Doctor and Charley.
- You Talk Too Much: "Give it up, with the yak, yak, yak, will you?"