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

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"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?

Original air date: December 25, 2007

The One With… the cyborg cactus. Ohh... sorry, that's racist. Let's try again.

The one where if Jack was around when the ship went down, we wouldn't have to worry about him freezing to death. ...No? Hey, at least this Jack can come back to life! And he wouldn't drown in the cold vacuum of space, either! He'd just... die repeatedly and come back to life... each time with his blood freezing in his veins and the fluids in his eyes boiling... This is getting us nowhere.

*sigh*... Okay. One last time. The one with the Titanic. IN SPACE!
There we go!note 

Written by Russell T Davies.

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

The Doctor, who's appeared aboard after his TARDIS accidentally crashed into it at the end of the last episode, can recognize a dire portent when he sees one. He quickly repairs the damage to the TARDIS' interior and then properly materializes on board the ship, donning his tuxedo (in spite of his bad luck with wearing them) to blend in with the crowd. He befriends several of the guests on the 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...

The ship's historian, 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 very little accurate knowledge about the Earth after spending his life on Sto (it later being revealed he got his degree from a diploma mill). The Doctor goes down with the party to London, and is concerned when he finds the normally packed streets are totally deserted. Except for the newsstand vendor on the street where they've landed, Wilfred Mott, who tells them that after two prior Christmases with alien invasions, the populace of central London has chosen to flee to the adjacent home counties, leaving the shopping district a ghost town. A newscaster is reporting that the Queen is also staying put in Buckingham Palace this year to show the public that there's no reason to fear, and Wilf is probably the only other person besides her willing to take a chance. The Doctor assures him, "Far as I know, this year, nothing to worry about-" only for him and the rest of the landing party to be instantly teleported back to the Titanic. "Then again..." Wilf mutters.

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 magnetizes the hull to purposely attract three blazing meteors so they crash against the ship, in league with his boss' evil plan to destroy the Titanic. 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 and carry out this kamikaze mission. 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 to safety. Midshipman Alonso Frame tries to stop the captain from destroying the 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 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, where it follows its programming to head towards the nearest source of gravity, in this case Earth. Now, he has to do things the hard way and navigate everyone through the forsaken vessel while Heavenly Hosts are running amok.

The Doctor has the usual motley collection of eccentrics around him: Astrid, Happily Married contest winners Morvin and Foon van Hoff, 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 rogue Heavenly Hosts is coaxed by the Doctor 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 listen 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.

Of his bunch, they are quickly picked off. 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, taking 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 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 his company's board of directors who cast him out. 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 to... the bridge. 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, Alonzo!", the Doctor does everything he can with Alonzo 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, thanks him, and wishes him a "Happy Christmas". Poor Wilfred Mott, who still remembers what his granddaughter went through last year, shouts in outrage at the sight of the ship as those aliens threaten to antagonize the 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 was wearing 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 traveling the universe for eternity.

Rickston, being an opportunistic slimeball, has pulled up his stakes in Max Capricorn Cruiseliners. Instead, it turns out he invested all his shares in Capricorn's rivals, who have seen their stock prices go up in the wake of this incident, 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 the ballast from the Titanic's water tanks. 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 £1,000,000 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 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. Slade and Midshipman Frame surprisingly survive despite having Asshole Victim and Red Shirt, respectively, written all over them.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: At the end, Astrid becomes stardust to travel the universe.
  • Asshole Victim: Averted: the liar who conned his way into a jobnote  and the callous, self-centered businessman not only survive, but they are the only survivors in the Doctor's party. The other, mostly decent, people all perish. It's discussed:
    "Of all the people to survive, he's not the one you would have chosen, is he? But if you could choose, Doctor, if you could decide who lives and who dies... that would make you a monster."
  • An Ass-Kicking Christmas: Naturally. The Doctor lampshades it.
  • Audible Gleam: The Doctor is astonished to learn that Max Capricorn's tooth really does glint every time he smiles.
  • Badass Boast: "I'm the Doctor. I'm a Time Lord. I'm from the planet Gallifrey in the constellation of Kasterborous. I am 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?"
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: The Doctor is up to his usual exploits running around trying to save people while wearing a "bad luck tuxedo".
  • Big Bad: Max Capricorn.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Astrid surprises the Doctor with her knowledge of Earth Christmas traditions.
  • 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 and passengers die.
  • Brick Joke:
    • After having wanted to since "Army of Ghosts", the Doctor finally gets the chance to say "Allons-y, Alonzo!"
    • Max's advertisement has a Twinkle Smile. When the Doctor gets to meet Max for real, the same tooth twinkles with the "my name is Max" bit.
      The Doctor: 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.
  • Captain Obvious: "Silent night... I believe they call it... ...'a silent night'."
  • Celebrity Paradox: The Doctor had mentioned Kylie and her song "Never Too Late" two seasons earlier in "The Idiot's Lantern", before she appeared here as a guest star.
  • Cheer Them Up with Laughter: The Doctor makes the two bullied passengers laugh by exploding the champagne bottle of their tormentors.
  • Chest Blaster: Bannakaffalatta produces an EMP from his chest to take out several Host at the cost of his life.
  • Creator Cameo: Composer Murray Gold can be seen as a guitarist in the Titanic band playing "The Stowaway" early on in the episode.
  • Christmas Episode: "Christmas is a time of peace and thanksgiving and... what am I on about, my Christmases are always like this."
  • Cyborg:
    • Bannakaffalatta had an accident, and his chest reveals cyborg parts.
    • Max Capricorn is nothing but a head on wheels. He mentions that at one-hundred-and-sixty-odd years, it's to keep him alive.
  • Damage Control: Frame does what he can from the bridge to keep the Titanic in orbit and to keep the power up.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Rickston definitely has his moments.
    The Doctor: Are you alright?
    Rickston: No thanks to that idiot.
    Astrid: The steward just died!
    Rickston: Then he's a dead idiot.
  • Dead Star Walking: Let's face it, Kylie Minogue probably wasn't going to become a full-time companion.
  • 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" is to call it petty and unoriginal.
    The Doctor: So that's the plan? A retirement plan? Two thousand people on board this ship, six billion underneath us, 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!
  • 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 Max Capricorn Cruiseliners' main competitor. 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.
    • At the same time, it's not as though he deserved comeuppance for anything. His only "crime" was being greedy and rude, and by all indication, he was just an average wealthy socialite, just like almost everyone else on the ship. He didn't deserve to die any more than anyone else on board (well, except Capricorn, arguably). It is the fact that the Doctor wishes he died instead of some of the others that serves as an early indication as to how dark he can get when left alone, and shows that many of the audience would fall into the same traps he does later on.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Hardaker, who has six months left and is payed by Max to go out with a bang.
    • Poor Foon jumps into the engine because her husband already fell into it.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Bernard Cribbins as the unidentified newspaper vendor who is revealed in the next series to be Donna Noble's grandfather, Wilfred Mott.note 
  • EMP: Used to take out the robot angels by Bannakaffalatta, and then with the piece salvaged from his cyborg body.
  • "Everybody Dies" Ending: Of everyone aboard the ship, the only survivors are the Doctor, Mr. Copper, Alonso, and Rickston.
  • Evil Cripple: Max Capricorn is now just a head attached to a life-support machine.
  • Expy:
  • Fake Shemp: Queen Elizabeth II appears running through Buckingham Palace, with corgis in tow, and waving at the Titanic after it flies past. Her face is never seen as she's played by a double.
  • Fallen Angel: When the Host remove their haloes to use as weapons, the posts that held them remain, looking like devil horns.
  • Fantastic Racism: Sto has a thing against cyborgs. At least they're allowed to marry now.
  • Fascinating Eyebrow: The Doctor, during Mr. Copper's "lecture" on Earth history.
  • Flat "What": In the Cold Open, the Doctor's trademark escalating "What? WHAT? WHAT?!" ends with a life preserver rolling into his hands with the word "TITANIC" written on it. Cue this.
  • Foregone Conclusion: 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!
  • Foreshadowing: At the end, Mr. Copper says if the Doctor could choose who lives and dies, he'd be a monster. A while down the line, the Doctor does try to choose who lives and dies...
  • 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.
  • Genre Savvy: After two prior alien invasions at Christmastime, the populace of Central London has wised up and chosen to flee to the countryside.
  • 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 its gravity. Mind you, given that this is an act of deliberate sabotage...
    • The TARDIS is an aversion. It's not being sucked in; it's programmed to descend to the nearest planet if set adrift.
  • Happily Married: Morvin and Foon don't let a little outer space trouble or a 5,000-credit 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: If it weren't for Bannakaffalatta or the dialogue, no one on board really looks like they're from another planet. Many of them even have human-sounding names like Astrid, Max and Alonzo. But then there are ones like Foon.
  • Humans Through Alien Eyes: New Zealand may be beautiful, but this is just a street, in London. And it's empty (and it stinks). Astrid thinks it's riveting.
  • I Always Wanted to Say That: Twice, with "Allons-y, Alonzo!" and "Take Me to Your Leader".
  • Ignorant of Their Own Ignorance: While Mr. Copper is mostly aware that so much of his "facts" of Earth are wrong, it takes the Doctor spelling it out for Copper to realize that what, to him, was just "walking around money" makes him a millionaire on Earth.
  • In-Universe Factoid Failure: "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!"
    The Doctor: [with his eyebrow in his hair] 'Scuse me? [Mr. Copper looks at him] Sorry, sorry, but, um... where did you get all this from?
    Mr. Copper: Well, I have a First Class Degree in Earthonomics.
    • "Now, spending money. I have a credit card in Earth currency if you want to buy trinkets, or stockings, or the local delicacy, which is known as beef. But don't stray too far, it could be dangerous. Any day now they start boxing."
    • All this a fine product of the education provided by Mrs. Golightly's Happy Travelling University and Dry Cleaners.
  • Inconvenient Summons: The Doctor is teleported back to the ship while in the middle of a conversation with Wilfred. Right while he's trying to reassure the man nothing weird will happen, even. (What are the odds....)
  • 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 told Morvin and Foon the Christmas party was Fancy Dress. Hence the tacky Western outfits.
  • It's Quiet… Too Quiet: The Doctor knows something's off when Mr. Copper's party lands on what is meant to be a crowded London street to find it eerily deserted. Then he finds from Wilf that the populace has fled because they don't want to risk a third alien invasion at Christmas.
  • Jerkass: Rickston spends the entire episode with one Kick the Dog moment after another, such as insulting people and insisting that he be the first one to get out of danger. 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 Max 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, he's right to insist that Morvin and Foon, the two heaviest members of the group, should go last across the precarious bridge, and even Morvin winds up agreeing with him (with what turned into his last words). 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 he has to leave her to save everyone else.
  • Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk: Rickston solemnly thanks the Doctor and hugs Copper tightly, then undermines this by cheerily talking about how rich the disaster has made him, right before he leaves.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Morvin Van Hoff falls to his death just as he's agreeing that he and his wife should go last across the rickety bridge across the chasm, because the floor he was standing on gave way under his weight.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Mr. Copper, the "Earth Expert", is either totally misinformed or just making it up as he goes along. It turns out later his "degree" was from the equivalent of a night-school (and dry-cleaning service), and he lied just to get away from Sto.invoked
  • Leave No Witnesses: Max has the Host kill the survivors, just so no one can find out if the shields were deliberately taken down before the impact.
  • Legacy Vessel Naming: The cruise liner is called the Titanic in honour of the most famous vessel in Earth's history. The Doctor and Max are the only people to understand the significance of the name.
  • Light Is Not Good: 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 painful.
  • 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.
  • Meido: Astrid wears a little apron and a short skirt.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Averted. The four Titanic survivors (including the Doctor) are all male, in stark contrast to the actual Titanic.note  Indeed, nobody in-universe makes any distinction.
  • Mood Whiplash: Mere minutes after Astrid's death, the Doctor is making "Alonsy, Alonso!" jokes and cheering joyfully at avoiding the crash, then abruptly goes back to being sad for Astrid to get a Deader than Dead coda.
  • 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 by the meteors striking the ship. Then again, Max did want the thing to fail.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: The Doctor and Astrid have a conversation about why she decided to sign up on the cruise, wanting to see different skies, rather than stay on her own boring planet, much like the Doctor did.
  • Oh, Crap!: Information: You are all going to die.
  • Only 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 stomach wound.
  • 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!
  • Pet the Dog: Rickston may be a selfish Jerkass, but once the day is saved, he at least has the decency to thank the Doctor for saving his life.
  • 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 (aka a diploma mill).
  • 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 on 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.
  • Rapid-Fire "No!": Alonso, when Max Capricorn shuts down the ship's engines.
  • 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.
  • Ridiculous Exchange Rates: Not knowing the local exchange rates and apparently expecting something like this, Mr. Copper typed what he thought was a low amount of one of the local currencies into the computer programming the credit card to give his tourist party enough to buy some souvenirs. It's subverted, however, since it turns out to be worth a lot more than he was expecting:
    The Doctor: A million? Pounds?!
    Mr. Copper: Enough for trinkets?
    The Doctor: Mr. Copper, a million pounds is worth fifty million credits.
    Mr. Copper: [utterly flabbergasted] ... H-how much?
    The Doctor: Fifty million and... fifty-six.
    Mr. Copper: I-I've... got... money...
    The Doctor: [handing the card back] Yes, you have.
  • Rings of Death: The Heavenly Host's haloes.
  • Running Gag:
    • Another Christmas, another disaster menacing London. This time the citizens have become smart and evacuated the city to stay safe of whatever could happen. Once again, the "snow" falling during Christmas is actually from a damaged spaceship.
    • Geoffrey Palmer makes his third appearance in Doctor Who and, as in the previous two, gets killed very quickly.
  • Scully Box: Deployed in-universe. Astrid pulls up a box and stands up on it in order to give the Doctor a goodbye kiss.
  • Shout-Out:
    • To Starship Titanic. Russell T Davies stated this was unintentional in The Writer's Tale as he actually was not aware of its existence until legal told him that his working title for the episode was the same as the game and Davies would have to change the episode title.
    • 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.
    • The Heavenly Host's "Information" Verbal Tic might be a reference to HK-47 from Knights of the Old Republic, who prefaced all of his lines with descriptions of his statements.
  • Slow-Motion Fall: Any time someone falls to their death, which happens frequently and to people you like.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Mortality: Subverted. Everything 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 spaceship Titanic even has a life preserver. Not an escape capsule, but a floatation device.
  • Space Sailing: The space Titanic was built to look just like the original, complete with fake smokestacks.
  • 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.
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: At the Titanic's Christmas party, there's a band playing a song called "The Stowaway", all about a man who's lost a lover sneaking aboard a ship and has been found by someone.
  • Taking You with Me: Foon takes a Host with her when she decides to kill herself after her husband's death.
  • Teleportation: Through the bracelets they give to the passengers. It can also theoretically restore 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 (she said it was a "tradition", echoing the fact that him getting surprise-snogged is a Running Gag). Then she dies.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • The Doctor tries to tell Wilf the newsvendor that this year, nothing disastrous is going happen. He gets teleported mid-sentence, and almost immediately after, disaster strikes.
    • The Doctor mocks Capricorn for being too incompetent to sink the Titanic. Capricorn responds by shutting down the ship's engines.
  • Terminally Ill Criminal: The Captain of the Titanic is dying from an illness, so he helps Max Capricorn sabotage the ship in exchange for money for his family.
  • Third-Person Person: Bannakaffalatta, though wouldn't you be if you had a name like that?
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: After swearing to save the entire group, and failing all but two, the Doctor is horrified that Rickston proves to be the Jerkass he appeared to be. Copper reassures the Doctor, however, and proves himself worthy of the Doctor's good graces.
  • Together in Death: Morvin and Foon — Invoked by Foon, who takes one of the Host with her.
  • Triumphant Reprise: After the Doctor successfully manages to stop the Titanic crashing onto Buckingham Palace, an instrumental version of "The Stowaway", which had played during the party, starts playing.
  • Twinkle Smile: Max Capricorn's repeating advertisement has a tooth that does this when he says, "My name is Maaaxxx". And when the Doctor meets Capricorn in person:
    The Doctor: [surprised] It really does that?
  • 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.
  • The Upper Crass: The rest of the first class passengers disdain the lower-class contest winners, the van Hoffs.
  • 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 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.
  • The X of Y: "Voyage of the Damned".
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: The Doctor swears he's going to save everyone. One by one, he fails all but two of them.
  • 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 and is also killed.
    • 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, as "Saving Your Life Fills Me With Shame". 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 employees. This brings the Doctor no joy.
  • You See, I'm Dying: The Captain is dying, and scuppers his own ship in exchange for his family being looked after.