Burnt Out completed the story cycle that had started with Unfinished Business. I could have left it there. But I was having so much fun by now, I didn’t want to. So we rejoin our heroes a few months later enjoying a little R&R while they can. The Doctor and Rose enjoy a unique piece of intimacy when he shows her pictures of his home world through the psychic link that still remains after the blood transfusion in Vampyres of Tara. This is significant because in the 2005 TV series, although The Doctor talked about his home planet, his world, home, and his people, more than once, he never named the planet. This, therefore, represents the first time Doctor #9 mentions Gallifrey by name.
Then we get to the main plot, and The Doctor
returns to San Francisco for the first time since the millennium. He is
strangely reluctant and Jack and Rose correctly guess there was a woman
in his life here. He doesn’t intend to have anything to do with her
this time, but when he is captured by the
Initially, Grace and Rose are suspicious of each other in much the same way Sarah Jane and Rose were in the 2006 TV series. Grace initially thinks Rose is The Doctor’s daughter and when he finds out their real relationship displays a certain jealousy. Rose is fiercely protective of The Doctor and distrustful not only of Grace but of her boyfriend, Simon, who is the officer in charge of the military base where The Doctor was interrogated and tortured. He is inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.
The Presidio, for those who want to know, USED to be a major military centre in San Fransisco. It was virtually a town within the city for military personnel and their families. It DID have a hospital and medical research centre. The American military has been scaled down since the end of the cold war, despite the Middle East situation, and The Presidio is no longer used for those purposes. Part of the area is a public park and the old buildings are used for various other functions. For the purposes of this story, though, I depicted it as still being very much up and running. The location of The Presidio right there in the bay by the famous bridge just lent itself to being written into this story. Besides, using a real, functioning military base is perhaps not a good idea in the interests of national security.
As to that operation. I drew on some basic knowledge of how heart operations are performed learnt from a friend who had open heart surgery. The scars left by such surgery are usually so large that the organisation set up to help people cope with the aftermath of their operations is called the Zipper Club. I had come across some notes about Time Lord physiology that suggested it was possible for him to give up one of his hearts and grow a new one in a few months, and since Grace Holloway is a cardiologist, the two things fell into place. My first thought was to have JACK the injured man receiving the Doctor’s heart. That would have given up some interesting possibilities, of course. Given Jack’s feelings already for The Doctor, how would he be if he literally had The Doctor’s heart in him? But Simon, the man he and Rose had both disliked, the man his former love, Grace, was now with, provided a more ironic subject, and made The Doctor seem all the more generous and heroic, subjecting himself to an agonising operation, giving up a piece of himself, to save the life of a man he has no love for.
And yes, of course, I am aware of an irony in that Christopher Eccleston played a man who received a heart transplant in ‘Heart’ several years before he was the Ninth Doctor.