Mystery in Tangalooma is a bit of a fill in story, to be honest. I had in mind for a while a story set in World War One, and involving the other Ben, the one last seen as a street urchin in East London in the story ‘Pied Piper of Whitechapel.’ This story was to have been prompted by the older Ben asking The Doctor to find out what happened to his nephew in the war.

And that was a good enough premise for a storyline, of course. But then I felt that The Doctor needed to spend a bit more time with his friends on Tangalooma before they asked him favours. Not true, of course. The Doctor is always happy to help friends. But the idea of a second story set on that fabulous island was so tempting.

Of course, in this story the island is a little less than fabulous. Bad things are happening. The sort of things that warrant Donna’s reference to the Jaws script. The Doctor is put in a hard position. He knows he ought to tell them to close the resort. He also knows how important the resort is to all four of his friends there. Besides, his concern isn’t just for the Humans. The dolphins are a unique species that he cares for a great deal. And even the non-sentient animals like the shark that was killed before the story began and the pelicans that started dropping from the sky, matter to him.

Before writing this story I knew absolutely nothing about pelicans. When I thought of the word I kept seeing in my mind’s eye a model of one with it’s mouth open that serves as a litter bin outside the Noah’s Ark ride at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. That is about as close as I have been to one. I was surprised to discover that they are one of the world’s most widespread birds, with varieties as far apart as Canada and Australia. The Australian version, is one of the biggest with magnificent wingspans. When The Doctor picks two of them up and asks Donna and Tegan to carry them, it is a bit of a tall order. We’re talking about something as big as a Christmas turkey with a long neck and legs.

The Australian Pelican also has the longest beak of all pelican varieties. That information isn’t absolutely necessary, but having looked up so much pelican information, I figured I might as well use it.

I know very little about the Human brain. I had to look up the ‘limbic-hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis’ to find out it was the part of the brain where the hormones released during periods of aggression are produced. I assumed that adrenaline was one of them, but in fact the stress hormone corticosterone and the aggression hormone, testosterone are produced when people get angry. The fact that testosterone is associated with the male of the species causes a fair amount of confusion, of course. Women have less of it generally but still produce it when they are angry. It doesn’t mean that aggression is less likely in women. And it certainly doesn’t make them less capable of aggressive sports or military operations. What is interesting, is that stress and aggression are closely linked. Perhaps people who man the most irritating call centre lines and other places where people get stressed should bear that in mind if they don’t want to deal with angry customers.

But the idea of draining off those stress and anger levels and casting them out electronically, is pure science fiction. Whatever the answer is for overly aggressive people, that isn’t it. The biblical analogy quoted is about right. Doctor Who fans, of course, will recall that electronically controlling the negative emotions of the Human mind was the subject of the Third Doctor story ‘Mind of Evil’ in the early 1970s when far less was known about the Human mind than now, so it is a subject worthy of exploration. But I really couldn’t have explored it in much more detail than I have here. I don’t know enough about that sort of thing to make it the central theme of a story. Here, it all only came out in the last few pages and I was able to skim the details a little.

The idea that it was a Human scientist causing the trouble came to me quite late in any case. Originally it was going to be some sort of alien influence. But for one thing, aliens had been the problem in the previous story, and just how many of them could there be around one small island. For another, it made a rather more interesting dénouement than The Doctor simply chasing off the aliens and banishing them from Earth’s environs.

Of course, it harks back to the early 1970s and The Doctor’s exile on Earth, when one of the producers remarked that they were restricted to two possible plotlines – alien invasion or mad scientist. This story is a new spin on the latter.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Pelican
http://www.tangalooma.com/info/home/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tangalooma_Wild_Dolphin_Resort
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tangalooma,_Queensland
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moreton_Island