Panem et Circenses is Latin for Bread and Circuses, as The Doctor explains. A political strategy in which the public are bamboozled into thinking all is well by the scattering of a few inexpensive crumbs of entertainment. In this case a sinister form of hypnosis helps things along.

The idea of this story is very much inspired by the fact that the town I live in is such a mundane place with a main street is just like every other main street and county hall, which DOES block by Freeview signal as Susan’s parents complained about in the story has hundreds of employees working in dull offices like the one “Dave” gets stuck in. Just up the road from it there USED to be a shoe shop next to a bus stop but it became a Japanese Sushi restaurant a few months ago, against all expectations. The greasy spoon café is a little further away, and nowhere near as horrible as described in the story. The NICE café pictured in the HTML version of the story is called Mocha and one of its decorations actually inspired an alien for one of the New Lords of Time stories.

The Doctor hypnotised into thinking he is an ordinary man in the street, was just such an interesting idea it almost wrote itself. The idea of the TARDIS standing on the street corner, ignored, just as the Ninth Doctor had said it would be in Parting Of The Ways was irresistible. And the idea that Dave would pick up the phone and ask for assistance was fun. How often has anyone READ the notice? Even The Doctor takes it for granted. Can you remember what it says?

His memory slowly returning along with Wyn’s as they sit in the café making the café owner do all the cleaning is deliberately drawn out. The Doctor has a lot to remember. When he does get his memory back he is appalled by the plot to stifle individuality. The Doctor has always been a supporter of individuality. His response is totally him. The spray painting of the County Hall sign and the satellite are an expression of his own rebellious streak. The idea of “Heaven is a Half Pipe” as a slogan written in Gallifreyan is ludicrous. The actual words of that song are not really something The Doctor would go with as it condones drug use, but he would support the broader sentiment of freedom of expression.

Lewis WAS meant to fall to his death, but it would have made the kids all chatting in the coffee shop after a bit unreal and The Doctor would have felt guilty. So instead he rescues him and explains WHY he didnt' let him fall.

Watch out for Araminta Rawlings, also known as Susan. She’ll be back.

 

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