Monday, March 12, 2007

My Incredibly Inaccurate Predictions: Aliens of London - The Long Game!

104: Aliens of London
1: Aliens of London 2: 10 Downing Street
by Russel T Davies

Roots: The X-Files, Yes Minister, James Bond, The Secret World of Alex Mack (people reducing themselves to puddles and back again), Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the Harry Potter Books.

Fluffs: Christopher Eccleston seemed a bit... ALIEN... in this story.

Asquith snaps "I said, "Good day, sir!"" despite the fact he didn't.

"You're a stool, a fad and a cimpleton!"

Goofs: The cameraman can be seen reflected in the puddle.

Several of the cast (no need to name names) can be seen smirking around the Slithereens. Who came up with a name like that, anyway?

The sonic screwdriver mysteriously swaps hands during the boat chase.

The Master's explanation of the TV Movie doesn't quite square with what we've seen [The Master's memories are clearly degrading from the expulsionof the Eye of Harmony].

Fashion Victims: Mickey. Enough said.

Technobabble: The Master had become a "chronon-charged bio-matrix". The Slithereen star cruiser works on "blind-headed energy refraction". The Doctor... sigh... reverses the polarity of the neutron flow.

Double Entendres: "He's got to come out!" "And if he doesn't come out?" "Then he'll die. And so will Sato."

"This never happened to the other fellow," mutters the Doctor when arrestedoutside the MI5 building.

The rumors of David Jason appearing in Doctor Who were finally justified when Jackie watches the Custard episode of Danger Mouse, the cartoon that all TV characters watch on BBC TV at one time or another - and, oddly enough, it has a Doctor Who reference in it as well!

Dialogue Disasters: Andrew Marr.

Old Chinese Lady: "There's something evil going on in these 'ere parts."

"Finally! A dishy young man who travels through time and space in a policebox... and he prefers my daughter!"

"He'll be smashed to Slithereens!"

Dialogue Triumphs: The vicious Doctor/Master confrontation... "What is it you want? I mean, really? Why are we here? Is it forgiveness you want? Is it absolution? Or do you want to end this now - to kill me? Finish what you started so long ago, what you almost succeeded in doing on many occasions? No more fighting for survival, it's all down to just finishing the job now, isn't it? Doing what you've wanted to do all this time. It must be tiring, shooting after the same goal all your life." "You think you know." "Of course I do! But why do you do it? Why do you have to murder me? Would it really make that much of a difference to your life if you were to letthis job go unfinished?"

Links: The events of Rose, The End of the World and The Unquiet Dead arereferred to. The Master still laughs about nearly wiping out creation in Logopolis, and mentions Castrovalva and the events of the TV Movie. Asquith mentions UNIT.

Untelevised Adventures: "Perhaps it's time we put our differences aside. I'd like to think that things could go back to the way they once were." "You know that can never happen! Not after what you've said, what you'ved one... Not after who you've killed." "You couldn't be more specific? I've killed a lot of people and a number of them good friends of yours, and I have intended to kill many more if it weren't for your interference - so to whom, in particular, are you referring?" "You know damn well who I'm talking about. You went too far on that occasion!" "Only on that occasion?"

Continuity: The Earth's solar system is under a heritage protection list by the Slythereen empire who travel to Earth in response to the Auton incursions. Slythereens are lumpy pink aliens but can disconnect their heads in high-gravity environments. Their flesh can change colour and cause intense nausea in most humanoid life forms. They have a symbiotic relationship with the "Chuckacubras", who are driven near insane by human air pollution.

The Master was expelled into the Time Vortex after the movie and eventually managed to hide in mind of Dr. Sato. At the end of the adventure the Doctor downloads him into a pneumonic crystal but it is unknown if he destroys it or not [probably the latter]. According to the Master, the Doctor was a political figurehead on Gallifreyand turned a blind eye to the corruption of his own side. The Master triggered a civil war, sacrificing his own family for "the greater good". It is implied the Doctor did something similar, but more out of personal vengeance. When the Doctor fled his home planet, the Master followed - using the Doctor's chaotic adventures as a smokescreen to hide his own activities. When he found out what he needed to know, the Master began a campaign of idiotic, ludicrous schemes in the hope the Doctor would capture him and return him to Gallifrey [presumably, he sidestepped his plan during The Trial of a Time Lord to adapt the Valeyard's] but it was in vain.

Anette Badland postulated the first suggestion of the time vortex, but was eventually talked out of the whole thing when a "man in a hat with an umbrella" suggested she concentrate on more tangible areas of science.

Location: London, 2006.

The Bottom Line: "You want to make amends? Forget it!"
The first two-parter, and it's epic. The return of the Master (especially in a female body) was a dangerous gamble, but it's more than made up for by theAuton/Slythereen fight to the death. Its nice to see Rose have to re-evaluate her relationship with the Doctor, but the revelation that the crap Master stories of the 1980s were just a trick smacks of John Peel style revisionism. But we'll let RTD off. This time.

105: Museum Piece
by Robert Shearman

Roots: A lot of Shearman's previous work in particular his Dalek audio Jubilee, the Aliens saga, Independance Day (Area 51 amongst others), Babylon5 (the Dalek mutant resembles a Drakh keeper - especially when its eye snaps open).

Fluffs: Christopher Eccleston seemed a bit decietful in this story.

"Rose, I am here to save planets and eat jelly babies and I just ran out of planets!"

There is mention of "Skaros" and "Jallifree".

Goofs: The SFX man can sometimes be spotted amongst the crates during the battle sequence.

A "stiff neck" makes the Dalek look like its doing a double take on more than one occasion.

The toilets are marked XX and XY.

Double Entendres: Rose hanging around a gold Dalek in a tight white sweater... Brings back good memories, eh, Jo?

"I was expecting something a little more... Gothic." Were Geocomtex expecting the REG Doctor?

The Doctor, trying to prove his identity, shines a torch under his face and hums the theme tune.

Dialogue Disasters: Self-justifying claptrap from the Dalek: "We must work together against the evils that surround us!" and awkward retconning from the Doctor: "I wasn'tquite myself [when I blew up Skaro with the Hand of Omega and hoped for thebest]"

"We should get the Doc and Dalek on Jerry Springer. Bet you anything theaudience will side with the Dalek."

Dialogue Triumphs: "Help me." "I'm sorry, couldn't make that out! Enunciate!ENUNCIATE!"

"Statistically speaking..." "37% of all statistics are useless!"

"You're nothing and nobody!" "Yes, but I have perfect pitch."

"It's just a heap of junk! Something you'd hide behind the sofa out of social embarassment."

"...and so, the Rabbi says to the Dalek, 'All Hail the Big Talking Bird!'and the Dalek says..."

The Doctor: "Tell me, Dalek - has it ever occured to you that you might be wrong?"

And many many more.

Links: Rememberance of the Daleks gets a mention, as does Aliens of London and Rose. Glass Daleks are also discussed.

Untelevised Misadventures: We never do find out if the Dalek is telling the truth, but maybe - just maybe - Gallifrey got destroyed sometime between the TV Movie and now.

Intertextuality: The possible destruction of Gallifrey and the Time Lords may link the series to the Eighth Doctor Adventures published by BBC Books. Or maybe not. Geocomtex have also developed Pylene-50, the pacification drugused in the last series of Blake's 7.

Continuity: Following the destruction of Skaro, the roving bands of Dalek unified into a Galactic Alliance and decided to trigger a third world war in the 1980s. Geocomtex, in a way unspecified, wiped out the whole movement, leaving only one survivor. This was not a single battle as both the Dalekand Geocomtex refer to "wars". However, a Dalek factory unit exists somewhere in the solar system awaiting the final reactivation signal - with"new and improved models care of Kaiser Davros" instead of the golden, tank-like version here.

The Dalek is insane, but clearly knows a lot about the Doctor and considers itself the last of its race, like the Doctor. [The Doctor appears to agree on a philosophical point; he is the last Time Lord willing to do what is right rather than sit and observe]. A Dalek mutant can survive up to two hours outside a casing when detached properly. The Doctor comments that the mutant in this story is "one of the more attractive ones" and Rose should be grateful she hasn't seen one of the "naturist Daleks made of glass".

Several less-scrupulous aliens stranded on Earth have joined up with Geocomtex and there is a Non-Terrestrial Sector with special locks and atmosphere - to which the Doctor can adapt 'like a chameleon'. He has had at least one adventure with UNIT in his present body and he is quite dismissive of his eighth self: "Not long ago, I probably would have blubbed looking into that eye-stick and let you go on the promise you'd be nice. But then, time changes people."

Location: A secret bunker, probably on Earth; 2006.

The Bottom Line: "Of course they can climb stairs - what a stupid bloody question!"
There's only one real flaw in this story, and that is it's only one episode. Pretty much anyone who's heard Jubilee probably was hoping for a bit more "myth-busting" about the Doctor and the Daleks, but Museum Piece is a worthy successor to Remembrance in making the Daleks a terrifying force, with even one damaged unit using enough brute strength and sheer cunning to make the Nation Estate proud. A slap in the face to critics, Museum Piece balances between old and new and reaches for greatness.

106: The Long Game
by Russell T Davies

Roots: Big Brother, The Mole, Room 101 and other such reality TV shows; Jean-Paul Satre's observation "Hell is other people - and both of them areyou", Pirates of the Carribean (Captain Jack), Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, and the Red Dwarf episode Meltdown (the famous historical figures fighting). Parental Advisory Lyrics is also mentioned.

Fluffs: Christopher Eccleston seemed doupleplusgood in this story.

The Moxx of Balhoon's lisp is murder on the ears after a while.

"Big Brother? Pah! If you want to be frightening, 'Older Sister' would be abetter name!"

"Oh, Doctor, never again I thought you'd see!" Er, yes, Rose. That's nice.

Goofs: Einstein moves to punch a wall, then changes his mind and punches a table. Clearly, RTD wasn't on hand to hold up the set walls. The 'Big Brother'-style Doctor Who music at the end makes K9 and Company sound good, and even worse it fades out half-way through the credits before starting up again. There's a bit of CGI breakdown towards the end of the episode.

Technobabble: The space station works on a "random dispersion fold" meaning it manages to be half-way across the galaxy from wherever anyone else happens to be. Like the Zygons, The Long Game uses organic crystallography instead of, say, the national grid.

Fashion-Victims: Those silver jumpsuits and bright orange Long Game logos are bad for the eyes and worse for the soul.

Double Entendres: "Why would anyone watch this?" "Have you seen what's onthe other side?"

"Hah! Missed BOTH my legs!"

Subtext rapidly becoming text: "An eighteen minute... hiatus. Why should I let my life be dictated to by television ratings? Have you never heard ofVCRs!?"

"I was in The Greatest Show in the Galaxy, once." "What happened?" "Didn't score too well with the demographic and got taken off the air a season later..."

Dialogue Disasters: Captain Jack: "Space is in my blood." Rose: "You should see a Doctor, mate."

Dialogue Triumphs:
Einstein: "Have we met before?" Doctor: "Oh, nothing worth remembering, Albert..."

When Jack breaks the fourth wall - "The trouble is, most audiences arevaccuous wasters who don't appreciate what they're viewing. No offence."

"We've been voted off!" "Well, you were the one who wanted democracy..."

Rose: "Who the hell is Eric Blair?"

Links: The script goes out of its way not to mention Time and the Rani.You've got to admire it for that.

Untelevised Adventures: The Doctor pleaded with Eric Blair/George Orwell toreconsider writing, as countless reality TV shows would be spawned from his work - Big Brother, Room 101, Animal Farm...

Continuity: During the major schisms of the twenty-seventh century, several [Geocomtex] industries were looted. Such techonology eventually lead to the Moxx of Balhoon, the Droge of six star systems, creating a new entertainment industry to distract the workers of his slave mines. He hijacked the Adherants (alien parasites in the time vortex) and got them to 'adhere' tothe minds of popular historical figures, and then download them into "unsophisticated" androids for a Big Brother-type show. At the end of this story, there is a popular revolt against Balhoon and he flees into the vortex aboard a second-hand time machine that seems to be the Doctor's TARDIS [More info in Season 2].

The Doctor's mind can reject an Adherant transplant, and he (jokingly?) suggests his mind is bigger on the inside. The Doctor considered building a Sonic Hairdryer but no longer needed its default setting [presumably because he has shorter hair when he regenerated].

Rose hates kelp pudding, lost a tooth during her first kiss and thinks a lot about Mickey. She is quite up on temporal theory and deduces on her own that an individual can change the course of history...

Captain Jack is an "entreprenour" and, it appears, a genuine time traveler. He is "as human as [the Doctor is]" and has a good line in extra-terrestrial insults, including "Meherevvia" (someone with a head full of sky) and "Gahlagamuschus" (which the Doctor refuses to translate on the ground there might be children watching). He also implies that the Doctor's Venusian Lullaby is the equivalent of Parental Advisory Lyrics. At the end of this story, the Doctor agrees to drop him off "home", but we do not know wherethis is.

Location: Balhoon's The Long Game space station, in the depths of the timevortex.

The Bottom Line: "Is anyone really watching this?"
The first real failure of "Season 1", The Long Game goes out of its way to show what utter trash reality TV is - but the trouble is, we know that already! The famous figures don't do much in the way of interest, and we ultimately find out none of them were real in the first place. Background details seem more interesting in this story, including the big question marks over the Eighth Doctor's fate, Captain Jack's origin and Balhoon's angle. The implication that Geocomtex were ultimately responsible for this story drags it down a bit, like the Master in Season 8. On the bright side, John Barrowman makes a surprisingly effective debut. Pity he didn't do a Kieth Richards-style swagger. That would have been worth watching.

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