The Fourth Doctor, Romana II and K-9 land in London, post World War I, so that the Doctor can return some library books. All is well, K-9 ensures that this location and time period has historically got no alien invasions or other spooky-going-ons to delay the Doctor, so naturally, guess what happens? Zombies begin invading England, while their leader, an evil cloud, plans to destroy the Earth to abuse his evil power of turning dead people into zombies.
It was released in 1996 by author (and future episode writer) Gareth Roberts, and with his blessing, was adapted into a full-cast Big Finish Doctor Who audio drama starring Tom Baker, Lalla Ward & John Leeson in 2015. It can be purchased here. The book was re-released in 2015, less than two months after the audio was released.
The novel contains examples of:
- Anachronism Stew: The Circle, a group of time travellers using the period as a retirement home, bring some equipment with them from the future, but ensure that the people of the time don't get their hands on it. There's also a portal in a seaside resort, and as per most historical settings featuring this TARDIS crew lineup, K-9.
- And I Must Scream: Zodaal's radmium form has a very long shelf-life, meaning that if he were to stay trapped in a confined area, well, he'd have quite a long time before he'd die. Julia inflicts this fate on him to prevent him from picking up where he left off, albeit at the cost of her own life.
- Big Damn Heroes:
- Romana, K-9 and "Good" Zodaal pull one to rescue the Doctor from Zodaal and reunite the "nice" part of him with the "evil" part. The result only turned him Affably Evil.
- The other time travellers pull a somewhat successful one once Romana fails in her attempt.
- Big "WHAT?!":
- But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Parodied by Zodaal, who deliberately plans to schedule his next genocide on a Tuesday. Immediately lampshaded by the Doctor.Zodaal: I'm going to destroy the world next Tuesday!
Fourth Doctor: How vulgar! Nobody does anything of importance on a Tuesday!
- Continuity Nod: Mrs Chater assumes The Doctor is an artist due to his bohemian clothing style. Her next logical conclusion is that he spends his time in Paris, having misadventures with paintings.
- The Dog Was the Mastermind: Most of the period-specific characters express surprise that the CEO of a biscuit company was behind the plot to destroy the Earth.
- Genteel Interbellum Setting: And characters of the period try not to despair when up to their eyeballs in zombies, zany gadgets and killer clouds.
- Good Old Fisticuffs: The Colonel challenges some zombies to a boxing match to defend one of the female time travellers.
- Grand Theft Me: Zodaal's ability is to turn other humans into outlets for himself/ zombie-like creatures. He attempts to do this to the Colonel, but K9 saves him as he has the ability to store multiple visiting consciousnesses on his hard drive.
- HeelFace Turn: Julia effectively does one over the course of the story, defecting from Stackhouse's/Zodaal's side as she learns his plan. It's zig-zagged a little though, since despite assisting the Doctor and his friends to escape from Zodaal's prison she never joins his side either. Her actions are ultimately so that she still has a planet to live on, much less potentially hold for ransom.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Julia, strapped in Zodaal's spaceship and surgically altered to allow him to siphon himself into her completely, shoots herself with her gun to prevent him from having a body to control deep in space. That said, with wires running directly to her brain, it's hard to think of how she could safely have gotten out of the scenario if Zodaal had been beaten another way.
- Hitman with a Heart: Julia's far more reasonable than any assassin has any right to be. Though she starts off as a lackey of Stackhouse, and very much shoots to kill at the chance, she never holds the Villain Ball or gives into Arbitrary Skepticism despite the strange things she sees and is told. She's downright an Anti-Hero by the second half, working to stop Zodaal's plan to blow up the world without being told to or offered anything in turn (albeit with the potential prize of the seismic stimulator to work for).
- Hope Spot: When Zodaal is reunited with his "rational" part he had jettisoned prior to the story, everyone is pleased that now he is reasonable enough to stop destroying the world. Then he assures them he knows how to accelerate the process to destroy the world with new information "Rational" Zodaal gathered while separated. The Doctor doesn't take it well.Miss Chater: Pardon me, but did or didn't that plan work?
Zodaal: Didn't. I'm still going to kill everyone.
- Immune to Bullets: Zombie!Woodrow is pointed out to be this, with the usual lampshading from The Doctor.
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: The Doctor notes that when Julia shot him, it hit nearby jam instead, and that Julia also shot at Woodrow, who is Immune to Bullets.The Doctor: Have you ever managed to kill anyone when you shoot them?
- Incoming Ham: Upon opening the door to one of Zodaal's warehouses...The Doctor: HELLO, ZOMBIES!
- Insistent Terminology: Zodaal insists his earthquake machine is a sonic stimulator, not as The Doctor calls it a seismic wave generator.
- In the Style of...: The whole book plays out like it was a novelization of a TV story set between seasons 17 & 18. It's even in 4 parts, complete with end-of-episode cliffhangers, instead of a normal layout of a bunch of chapters. Unsurprisingly, the audio adaptation stayed within this format for its release.
- Jumped at the Call:
- The Colonel is more than happy to assist Romana, even when he's aware of the danger that would ensue. Felicia herself is very eager to jump into the fray after Percy, and defers to the Doctor's expertise despite his personality.
- Though she's not happy about it, Julia's first instinct at learning every new aspect of Zodaal's plan is to find a way to stop it, and she makes great use of what she has. Of course, the idea of holding the world for ransom with the machine he has does cross her mind, but she settles for trying to sabotage the machine instead when things progress too far.
- Miss Chater, author of several mystery novels, also jumps at the chance of an adventure of her own.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The Doctor makes fun of many tropes he's previously experienced during this story.
- Lighter and Softer: Word of God stated in 2015 that despite most of the Missing Adventure authors attempting to write stories for an adult/ young adult audience (many stories feature topics of drugs, death, and sex), he wanted to do something more of the 4th Doctor period, because it's the kind of story he would want to watch (or read). When compared to other darker stories in the same series like Damaged Goods, the characters in this story are nicer, there's a bigger focus on comedy and the zombies themselves are Out of Focus.
- Mr. Exposition: "Rational Zodaal"
- Not Using the "Z" Word: Averted, several characters happily call the lumbering, drooling, brain hungry figures zombies.
- Omnicidal Maniac: Zodaal, like classic 4th Doctor villains before him. Unlike those other villains, part of the story revolves around putting the hidden "Fun and Rational" part of Zodaal with the "Jerkass and Omnicidal" part to avert this trope. It doesn't work.
- Our Zombies Are Different: They're possessed by an evil green cloud and need brains to maintain the cloud's stability.
- Retired Badass: The Colonel, who still longs for adventures, jumps at the opportunity of helping Romana reach a seaside town, and then defending her from zombies.
- Right for the Wrong Reasons: Mrs Chater assumes The Doctor is an artist due to his bohemian clothing style. Her next logical conclusion is that he spends his time in Paris, having misadventures with paintings.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: During an meeting between Woodrow, Julia, Miss Chater, The Doctor and Percy, Julia gives up trying to reason with Woodrow, grabs Percy's flying box, then flies out of the window.
- Skewed Priorities: Prof Porteous is pleased that the machine he theorised which got him laughed at by his peers is now being used successfully to destroy the world. Lampshaded by The Doctor (as usual).
- Stiff Upper Lip: The period-specific characters don't seem particularly fazed when faced with K-9, zombies and weird machines. They end up being a bit more confused by it.
- Upper-Class Twit:
- Your Approval Fills Me with Shame:Zodaal: [as soon as Romana arrives to rescue the Doctor] You! You're just as bad as the Doctor!
Romana: I surely hope not!
The audio contains examples of:
- The Bus Came Back: Lalla Ward and Tom Baker finally appear together in a performed piece of Doctor Who, for the first time in 34 years!
- Establishing Character Moment: The Doctor and Romana's first scene where Romana freaks out that the TARDIS is running at 39% efficiency while the Doctor is quite pleased with the result serves as one, since it's their first scene together note in performed Doctor Who for 34 years and introduces them to a relatively new audience on audio.
- Off-the-Shelf FX: The open time vortex entrance in the Episode 2 cliffhanger uses the same SFX as the Time Vortex in several episodes of the TV series, starting from "The Unquiet Dead".