Recap: Doctor Who 2007 CS "Voyage of the Damned"

"Information: full scream ahead."

Heavenly Host: Information: the Titanic is en route from the planet Sto in the Cassavalian Belt. The purpose of the cruise is to experience primitive cultures.
The Doctor: Titanic. Um... who... thought of the name?
Heavenly Host: Information: it was chosen as the most famous vessel of the planet Earth.
The Doctor: Did they tell you why it was famous?

Just as we exoticise other cultures, apparently, aliens exoticise ours. Or the parts of Earth culture they like, stuck together willy-nilly, so that the end result is a charming Old Earth Christmas pleasure cruise... set aboard a spaceship recreation of Earth's most famous ship, the Titanic.

The Doctor, who's appeared aboard after accidentally crashing into it (picking up from the last episode), can recognise a dire portent when he sees one. He quickly repairs the damage to his interior and then properly materializes on board the ship. Sure enough, it's not long before trouble arises: the ship's mechanical servants start to malfunction and harm people. However, the calm before the storm allows him to befriend several of the guests on ship, including the lovely Astrid Peth, a waitress that has taken this job to further her dream of travelling through space and seeing the stars. Although he's a stowaway, the Doctor dons his best tuxedo and poses as a passenger with privilege... Now if only his tuxedo weren't a calling card for bad luck...

Mr. Copper offers to show a group of people on board the Titanic a tour of Earth, using a teleporter system and matching bracelets for those who want to explore the planet as the ship orbits the pretty blue world. Except, Mr. Copper has horribly misinformed knowledge about the Earth after spending his life on Sto. The Doctor goes down to London, which is all but totally deserted. Can you blame 'em? They've had two Christmases visited by angry extraterrestrials, and are now Genre Savvy to the holiday season's knack for insane alien activity. Apart from the Queen and a news reporter, London's a ghost town. But there is one friendly face still kicking around. He's a newsstand owner. Meet Wilfred Mott. He's going to be an important fella later. At the moment, he's an ordinary person whom the Doctor takes a liking to. Wilf is keeping vigil in the city like the brave Queen, even though the rest of London is running scared. The Doctor assures him, "Far as I know, this year, nothing to worry about."

Uh-oh...

Just when the Doctor and company return to the Titanic and are all set to enjoy a relaxing cruise around the Earth, the ship's captain, Hardaker, sets the trouble into motion. He deactivates the spaceship's shields, then magnetises the hull to purposely attract three blazing meteors so they crash against the ship. He's in league with someone's evil plan to destroy the Titanic starliner. The captain is bound and determined to kill himself; he's already terminally ill, and because of the life insurance being offered for his family as compensation, that's all it takes to extinguish whatever hope is left for him to keep on living. The Doctor notices the meteors and tries to alert the captain, but a steward forces him away from a system he isn't authorized to use. He rushes over to a singer's microphone and at least manages to make a few heads turn with the warning they're in danger. These smart few people follow him safety. Midshipman Frame tries to stop the captain, from destroying Titanic, but gets shot for his efforts. The captain reaps his death wish, while many, many more people are decimated by both the resultant meteor rain creaming sections of the ship... and the once docile Heavenly Host start carrying out orders to kill off everyone on the Titanic. From this point on, all hell breaks loose. The Doctor tries to mount a rescue operation, but the damage to the Titanic jars his TARDIS loose from the wreckage and it floats off into space. Now, he has to do things the hard way and navigate everyone through the forsaken vessel while Heavenly Host are running amok.

The Doctor has the usual motley collection of eccentrics around him: nice waitress Astrid (who the Doctor picks as his next companion), Happily Married contest winners Morvin and Foon, Jerkass Rickston Slade, Mr Copper, the alleged Earth expert, and Bannakaffalatta, the spiny red cyborg (though don't tell anyone). They first try to make their way to the bridge, which is now under the inexpert if enthusiastic command of one Midshipman Frame, after the captain's untimely death. But one of the evil Christmas angel robots is coaxed into revealing that the real source of evil leadership is on Deck 31. Now they must defy the dying ship and the creepy angel robots to get there.

And creepy they are. When a pocket of survivors comes to Midshipman Frame's attention, he can't do much more than watch helplessly as the angels kill them.

Still, they haven't spotted the Doctor et al yet, as the motley crew sneaks through the ship's secret passages.

There are deaths. Morvin falls to his death in a reactor, followed by Foon, who refuses to survive without her husband and decides to take the plunge, too, with taking down a Heavenly Host with her. Bannakaffalatta gets over the cyborg prejudice he faced and makes a Heroic Sacrifice by using his power core to disable the Heavenly Host, which drains it and causes him to perish only minutes later, saying goodbye to his crush Astrid. Mr. Copper takes Bannakaffalatta's core to use as a weapon against the Heavenly Host. Rickston continues to bitch and moan and get in the way, being insufferably selfish. The Doctor discovers that he gets to ask the Host (the robot angels) three questions by prodding around and discovering a protocol loophole that forces them to reveal information at his request, but, he wastes two of them. Eventually, Deck 31 is reached and proves to contain the Titanic's ludicrously wealthy yet cyborgified and unhappy owner, Max Capricorn, who is bent on crashing it into Earth and riding out the collision in an impact-proof chamber, in a complicated revenge scheme against the board of directors which owns the ship and locked him out of the company. And the Doctor is powerless in the arms of the robot angels, so Astrid has to take the Heroic Sacrifice on herself.

With Capricorn dead, the Doctor now has full command of the Host, who have defaulted to the next highest authority, and messianically spreads his arms to have the angels carry him up into... the control room. It's time to stop the Titanic from crashing. The Doctor comforts the wounded, Midshipman Frame, and asks what his name is... to his wonderful delight, it's Alonso! With an, "Allons-y, Alonso!", the Doctor does everything he can with Alonso to regain control of the rapidly crashing starliner before it creates a nuclear catastrophe, while the surviving passengers- and Rickston- hang on for dear life. The Doctor really knuckles down when the ship crosses through Earth's atmosphere. He calls Buckingham Palace to have it evacuated, and even manages to keep the Titanic from crashing into London. The Queen waves at him as he sails past. Poor Wilfred Mott shouts in outrage at the site of the ship as those aliens threaten to antagonize a third Christmas in a row.

After the storm has been weathered, the Doctor learns that Astrid still has a chance of survival. The teleporter system has a safety feature. In case of an accident, it stores a passenger's molecules safely. Astrid had on a teleporter bracelet when she fell to her doom. The Doctor desperately sonics the teleport system, but the disaster that befell the ship has severely damaged the system, and it isn't responding. Unfortunately, when the Doctor tries to recover Astrid to a physical body, she gets stuck in between life and death. Mr. Copper has to make the Doctor stop trying in vain to get Astrid back as she was- the system is just too far gone to make it possible. All that's left is an echo of Astrid with the ghost of consciousness. Astrid gets a final kiss from the Doctor and becomes stardust as he scatters her remnants into space, so Astrid can enjoy her dream of seeing the stars and travelling the universe for eternity.

Rickston, being an opportunistic slimeball, has pulled up his stakes in Max Capricorn Cruiseliners. Instead, he invested all his shares in Capricorn's rivals, making the ungrateful turd filthy rich. Luckily, Rickston takes the best course of action in the whole time we've known him- he leaves. Mr. Copper tells the Doctor that although people like Rickston may survive, it would be wrong to decide who lived and died. Such power would make somebody a monster. If only the Doctor didn't forget so easily.

The Doctor and Mr Copper finally walk away from the crash and step onto Earth, gazing at the site of London by the water. As luck would have it, the TARDIS knew where to land, too. It is right there, waiting for the Doctor. Once again, it is not snowing on Christmas. That's ash falling through the atmosphere as debris from the Titanic dissolves. The Doctor properly educates Mr. Copper on Earth knowledge, this time letting him stay in a place where he's sure to get it right. Mr Copper asks if he can come along in the TARDIS as the next companion, but the Doctor really doesn't want any more companions right now, after having all the of the previous ones either lost forever or in love with him or both. However, Mr Copper also happens to have one million pounds sterling in his bank account, so he probably won't be struggling in the future. It's the end result of a life as a travelling salesman and lying about a degree in "Earthonomics" that netted him the job of Ship Historian and a credit card that would pay for anything trinkets the passengers wanted when they teleported onto Earth. In fact, he's jumping for joy. See? Karma works both ways. But neither Mr. Copper nor the Doctor will ever forget Astrid. The Doctor goes on his merry way, wishing, "Merry Christmas, Mister Copper."

Information: This episode contains examples of the following tropes

  • Actually Pretty Funny: Max can't help himself but approve of the Doctor's puns.
  • Anyone Can Die: Many of the Doctor's new friends die in this episode, including Astrid, who appears to be the next Companion. It's subverted with Slade and Midshipman Frame who despite having Asshole Victim and Red Shirt, respectively, writen all over them.
  • Artistic License History: In-Universe, "To repeat, I am Mr Copper, the ship's historian, and I shall be taking you to old London town in the country of U.K. ruled over by good King Wenceslas. Now, human beings worship the great god Santa, a creature with fearsome claws, and his wife Mary. And every Christmas Eve, the people of U.K. go to war with the country of Turkey. They then eat the Turkey people for Christmas dinner... like savages." Don't worry, this is what you get for trusting someone who has a first-class degree in Earthonomics.
  • Badass Boast: "I'm the Doctor. I'm a Time Lord. I'm from the planet Gallifrey in the constellation of Kasterborous. I'm 903 years old, and I'm the man who's gonna save your lives and all six billion people on the planet below. You got a problem with that?"
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Titanic doesn't crash and no one on Earth is killed. The Doctor even manages to avoid hitting Buckingham Palace and Mr.Copper gets a wonderful retirement. On the other hand, most of the Titanic's crew dies.
  • Boring Insult:
    The Doctor: All of them slaughtered, and why? Because Max Capricorn is a loser.
    Max Capricorn: I never lose!
    The Doctor: You can't even sink the Titanic!
  • Bow Ties Are Cool: The Doctor dons one as a part of his outfit to blend in on board.
  • Brick Joke:
    • The Doctor being pleased when he finds out that Midshipman Frame's first name is Alonzo and then saying "Allons-y, Alonzo!" is a reference to "Army of Ghosts".
    • When the Doctor gets to meet Max for real, the same tooth twinkles with the "my name is Max" bit. "It really does that?"
  • The Captain: Captain Hardaker is the authority on the ship and gives leave to the other crewmen. He has also been paid off to wreck the Titanic.
  • Chest Blaster: Bannakaffalatta produces an EMP from his chest to take out several Robot Angels at the cost of his life.
  • Christmas Episode: "Look, I don't know where you're getting your information, but you're completely wrong. Christmas isn't a barbaric festival of blood. It's about love and thanksgiving and generosity and... who am I kidding, all of my Christmases are like this."
  • Crush. Kill. Destroy!: Information: Kill! Kill kill kill!
  • Cyborg:
    • Bannakaffalatta had an accident and his chest reveals cyborg parts
    • Max Capricorn is nothing but a head on wheels.
  • Damage Control: Frame does what he can from the Bridge to keep Titanic in orbit and to keep the power up.
  • Deadly Disc: The Robot Angel's halos.
  • Despair Event Horizon: When Morvin falls into the engines, his wife Foon doesn't see much to live for and does a Taking You with Me with a Host as she jumps into the engines herself.
  • Disappointed By The Motive: The Doctor's reaction to Capricorn's "retirement plan". It's petty and unoriginal.
  • Disorganized Outline Speech: The Doctor's rescue plan can't decide whether to use letters or numbers.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Max Capricorn gets ousted by his own board of trustees and blamed for the company's failure so he contrives to crash the Titanic (2000 killed) into Earth (6 billion killed) and get the trustees jailed for mass murder. Wow.
  • Distressed Dude: David Tennant gets manhandled a lot in this episode.
  • Doomed Contrarian: Subverted in the case of Rickston Slade. He's a rude, selfish asshole, and there's little doubt that the audience is just waiting for the sweet catharsis that his death/comeuppance will bring. He's one of the few people who live, and he walks away from the whole thing ever richer, because he just invested in the rivals of the spaceliner that had the accident. The look on the Doctor's face when Slade is thanking him and explaining his good fortune was probably shared by more than a few audience members. Then he literally just walks away from it all. No last-second comeuppance or anything.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Poor Foon jumped into the engine because her husband already fell into it.
    • All the same, Hardaker, who has six months left and went out with a bang.
  • EMP: Used to take out the robot angels by Bannakaffalatta and then with the piece salvaged from his cyborg body.
  • Expy:
    • The Hosts look and act like the antagonists of a serial from the Tom Baker years, "The Robots of Death".
    • The Hosts also resemble the "pilot fish" from the other Christmas episodes.
  • Fantastic Racism: Against cyborgs. At least they are allowed to marry now.
  • Fascinating Eyebrow: The Doctor, during Mr. Copper's lecture on Earth history.
  • Flat "What.": At the Cold Open, the Doctor's trademark escalating "What? WHAT? WHAT?!" ends with a lifebelt rolling into his hands with the word "TITANIC" written on it. Cue this.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Information: It's a ship called the Titanic, surely this will be a smooth voyage with absolutely no danger at all. It even hits something in the very first scene of the episode — the TARDIS!
  • Forklift Fu: Astrid uses one against Max Capricorn.
  • Genre Savvy: At last, the people of London have remembered the weirdness that seems to happen around Christmas and fled en masse. London is now a ghost town. Only a lone newspaper vendor and the Queen herself are holding vigil.
  • A God Am I: The Doctor's anguished cry of "I can do anything!" Then he must confront the fact that for how often he's ranked himself with gods, he really isn't, and really can't.
  • Going Native: The Doctor indirectly admits that Earth is the closest thing to a home he's got without Gallifrey.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: It's only assumed — but with very good reason — that the trapped technician is decapitated by the Host's halo.
  • Gravity Sucks:
    • Without engine power, the Titanic will crash into Earth because of it's gravity.
    • The TARDIS is an aversion. It's not being sucked in; it's programed to descend to the nearest planet if set adrift.
  • Happily Married: Morvin and Foon don't let a little outer space trouble or 5,000 dollar phone bill break their marriage.
  • Heroic Sacrifice Lots of these. Poor Foon (Taking You with Me on a host), Bannakaffalatta (Cast From Life Span) and Astrid (Taking You with Me on the Big Bad)
  • Hope Spot: Astrid was wearing a teleporter bracelet! Surely those must have some kind of safety feature! They do, but it got broken in the chaos and the Doctor only can reassemble half of her, leaving her as a ghost. He's forced to Mercy Kill her, turning her into stardust so she could fly through the universe as she always wanted to.
  • Human Aliens: Apart from Bannakaffalatta, does anyone on board really look like they're from another planet?
  • Humans Through Alien Eyes: New Zealand may be beautiful, but this is just a street. Astrid thinks it's riveting.
  • I Always Wanted to Say That: Twice.
  • Inconvenient Summons: The Doctor is teleported back to the ship while in the middle of a conversation with Donna's grandfather.
  • Insistent Terminology: Bannakaffalatta, takes it personally when the Doctor tries to call him "Banna".
  • It's a Costume Party, I Swear: The higher-class passengers tell Morvin and Foon the Christmas party is Fancy Dress.
  • Jerkass: Rickston spends the entire episode with one Kick the Dog moment after another, trying to leave people to die and insulting people and insisting that, e.g., he be the first one across the dangerous bridge. However, even he gets a Pet the Dog moment witnessing the death/recording of Astrid. Then he spoils it at the end by talking about how much richer he is. Jerk. If nothing else, part of the reason he seems happy is because it screwed over the other batch of Capricorn's Board of Directors who share responsibility for the disaster.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Rickston declaring the officer who opens a dead airlock, despite the Doctor's warnings, and insists everything will be alright, an idiot. Also, while it's mean-spirited and in bad taste, even Morvin (as his last words) admits that Ricktson's demand that Morvin and Foon, the two heaviest members of the group, should go last across the precarious bridge, is totally sound and sensible. Finally, he's right-on when he mentions that Foon's request for the Doctor to come back across the bridge to her will just get everyone killed, and even the Doctor realizes it.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Rickston solemnly thanks the doctor and hugs Copper tightly.
  • Just A Flesh Wound: Midshipman Frame does rather well for having been shot early in the episode, albeit spending most of his time painfully clutching a chest wound.
  • Kill 'em All: Information: You are all going to die. Oh, wow, does it ever fill that one.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Mr. Copper, the "Earth Expert" is either totally misinformed or just making it up as he goes along.
  • Leave No Witnesses: Information: It is the plan.
  • Legacy Vessel Naming: The cruise liner is called the Titanic in honor of the most famous vessel in Earth's history. The Doctor and the Big Bad are the only people to understand the significance of the name.
  • Light Is Not Good: Information: Shiny white-and-gold angels! Creepy shiny white-and-gold robot angels that decapitate people with their halos.
  • Literal Genie: Information: The angels will answer three questions. Any three questions? Wait, I didn't mean to do that, can I take it back? What do you mean, "No"?
  • Mauve Shirt: The group of people with the Doctor are not quickly killed off. We learn about their personal backgrounds and get to feel for them. Sadly, that's what makes the deaths of several of those sympathetic people even harder to stomach. The one ingrate who we don't learn or witness anything meaningful, sympathetic, or redeeming about their character survives and makes all of the above all the more raw.
  • Meaningful Name
    • Played straight with the Titanic. The Doctor knows that this will be bad immediately.
    • Averted with Astrid, whose name is an anagram of TARDIS (causing much speculation online), but nothing comes of it.
      • On the other hand, although its etymology is different, the name Astrid evokes the Latin word aster, meaning "star", while peth is Welsh for "thing"; therefore Astrid Peth could be taken to mean "star thing", which is highly plot-relevant.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Averted. The four Titanic survivors (including the Doctor) are all male, in stark contrast to the actual Titanic. Indeed, nobody in-universe makes any distinction.
  • Moral Myopia: Captain Hardaker, while upset that he was given a young man on the crew, still seems to think that the money for his family is worth killing all of the passengers, as well as the billions of people who live on Earth.
  • No OSHA Compliance: This is a Zigzagged Trope. Long two-foot-wide metal bridges as the only way over a nuclear reactor engine but the area was damaged from the whole meteors striking the ship. Then again, Max did want the thing to fail.
  • Oh, Crap: Information: You are all going to die.
  • Overly Long Name: Bannakaffalatta
    The Doctor: Look, can I just call you Banna? It's going to save a lot of time.
    Bannakaffalatta: No. Bannakaffalatta.
  • Pun: The Doctor's joke about "How to get ahead in business" does not go over well.
  • Phony Degree: Mr Copper's degree in Earthonomics, which he eventually admits came from Mrs Golightly's Happy Travelling University and Dry Cleaners.
  • Plucky Middie: Midshipman Frame just qualified and he's very happy to be on the voyage. This is much to the displeasure of Captain Hardaker, who was promised he'd have no young officers on this voyage. Frame ends up holed up in the Bridge trying to help where he can.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: A couple of awesome occasions. Too bad they both precede a Heroic Sacrifice.
    Bannakaffalatta:: Bannakaffalatta stop! Bannakaffalatta proud! Bannakaffalatta CYBORG!

    Astrid: Mr Capricorn... I resign.
  • Recycled In Space: The Poseidon Adventure IN SPACE! It's even lampshaded, since the space ship is appropriately named The Titanic.
  • Red Herring Shirt: Midshipman Alonzo Frame is shot in the first act to reveal the captain's treachery but he hangs on and survives to the end of the episode.
  • Running Gag:
    • Another Christmas, another disaster menacing London. This time the citizens wise up and evacuate the city to stay safe of whatever could happen. Once again, the "snow" falling during Christmas is actually spaceship's ashes.
    • Geoffrey Palmer makes his third appearance in Doctor Who and, as in the previous two, gets killed very quickly.
  • Scully Box: Kylie Minogue's diminutive height is exploited by having Astrid pull up a box and stand up on it in order to give the Doctor a goodbye kiss.
  • Shout-Out
    • To Starship Titanic.
    • Information: The penultimate security protocol number the Doctor tries on the host before settling on 1 and getting a result is 42.
    • The story contains a number of Shout Outs to the work of Doctor Who scriptwriter and later Blake's 7 script editor Chris Boucher. The look and personality of the Hosts is based on the killer robots in Boucher's Fourth Doctor story "The Robots of Death". The damaged Host repeating "Kill... kill", the Host's hand stuck in the door, and the secret room full of Hosts on stretchers are also direct copies of moments from the same story. The teleport bracelets are from Blake's 7, and the Angels' "Information:..." catchphrase is from Zen, the Liberator computer in Blake's 7.
    • The damaged cruiseliner and passengers having to make their way through precarious, badly damaged, collapse-at-any-moment, tilted areas and makeshift catwalks references The Poseidon Adventure and its numerous remakes.
  • Slow Motion Fall: Any time someone falls to their death, which happens frequently and to people you like.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Mortality: Subverted. Every scrap of Genre Savvy says that Rickston will have a bridge dropped on him early on, while Astrid will survive and leave with the Doctor; no such luck.
  • Space Is an Ocean: This space ship titanic even has a life preserver. Not an escape capsule but a floatation device.
  • Stellar Name: Astrid was named as a more subtle version of "Astra". The anagram is apparently a coincidence.
  • Stupid Sacrifice: Foon really didn't need to throw herself off the bridge with the Host once she roped it. It's implied she was Driven to Suicide.
  • Super-Powered Robot Meter Maids: Information: The Hosts are meant to be servants and decorations, yet their halos can decapitate people and they have the strength of ten. It's justified in that they were installed because the owner was planning to use them to kill everyone.
  • Taking You with Me: Foon takes a Host with her when she decides to kill herself after her husband's death.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: Through the bracelets they give to the passengers. It can also theorically recuperate a killed passenger, but when the Doctor tries this with Astrid, the system is too badly damaged.
  • Temporary Love Interest: Astrid quickly bonds with The Doctor and made plans to become his next companion. They even share a kiss. Then she dies.
  • Third-Person Person: Bannakaffalatta, though wouldn't you be if you had a name like that?
  • Twinkle Smile: Max Capricorn's repeating advertisement has a tooth that does this when he says "My name is Maaaxxx".
  • Unflinching Walk: The Doctor does this after Astrid's death with the ship's debris falling around him.
  • Up, Up and Away!: The two Hosts carrying the Doctor takes this pose with their free arms to crash through the deck.
  • Verbal Tic: Information: The Host cannot begin a single sentence without first saying: "Information".
  • Wealthy Ever After: Mr Copper, having no idea about Earth culture or currency, loaded a pre-paid card with " a million" thinking it was only good for trinkets. The Doctor tells him that he now has fifty six million and fifty eight credits. He just has to be careful with it.
  • What Did You Expect When You Named It ____?: A ship called the Titanic! What Could Possibly Go Wrong? is invoked — it was named after the "most famous ship of Earth" — they just didn't know what it was famous for. The passengers, having no idea of Earth culture, had no idea of the original ship's history. It's further justified in that, given Max's plans and depending on when the ship was built, it could've been a sick joke on his part.
  • Whole Plot Reference: The Poseidon Adventure IN SPACE!
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: If 1 million pounds is roughly 50 million credits, that means that the 5000 credit phone bill that Foon and Morvin were lamenting and talking about never being able to pay was roughly... 100 pounds. Perhaps they were making a big fuss about something that wasn't as bad as they made it out to be.
  • The X of Y: The Voyage of the Damned.
  • You Are in Command Now:
    • Midshipman Frame ends up being the only officer on the bridge after Captain Hardaker gets the ship rammed by meteors.
    • After Astrid kills Max, the Hosts latch onto the nearest authority figure and that would be The Doctor.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Played with: Rickston thanks The Doctor for saving his life, and then he goes on to say how much money he made off this venture and goes back to ordering around his employee. This brings The Doctor no joy. "Saving Your Life Fills Me With Shame".
  • You See, I'm Dying: The Captain is dying, and scuppers his own ship in exchange for his family being looked after.