Friday, December 26, 2008

Doctor Who - A Clue: No


Why must you hurt me, do what you do?
Listen here, girl, can't you see I love you?
Make a little effort, try to be true
I'll be happy, not so blue

If you keep on tellin' me those lies
Still goin' out with other guys
There'll come a day I'll be gone
Take my advice, won't be long

When that day comes, won't be mad
Be free of you, but I'll still be sad
In spite of your cheatin', still love you so
I'll be unhappy if I let you go



The Next Doctor was not the shameful waste of time of Music of the Spheres, nor was it the affront to the existence of intelligent design also known as The Idiot's Lantern. Nor was it Midnight or even The Sontaran Experiment. You know how every Doctor seems to have a story that is completely forgotten, that no one talks about (but everyone mentions in lists, cause we're like that) - The Space Museum, The Faceless Ones, Underworld, Terminus, MindWarp, Search Out Science, Something Inside, The Long Game - and I think that The Next Doctor is Tennant's entry. I don't care enough to hate it. I don't like it enough to rewatch it. Now, this complete lack of emotion might reflect I might have got incredibly passively stoned (which is what happened when I sat through Last of the Time Lords without any reaction of any kind), but a quick glance at the Doctor Who Forum formally known as OG, shows that I am not alone in such a 'who cares?' mood.

In his wholy remarkable (and irritatingly well-illustrated) book, The Writer's Tale, RTD in 2007 made it clear that - whatever circumstances lead to it - the gap year was a brilliant idea. Quite simply, he would have introduced such a limitation anyway. His belief is that the public can only cope with Doctor Who for several years before they'll get sick of it. His solution is to take it off air for a year and get everyone so desperate they'll accept whatever they're given (not, I hasten to add, that they should be given any old crap). It will add to the legend, apparently. RTD was so confident at the time that he considered 2009 barely merited ONE special.

Well, he showed his working, but expecting the masses to scream for more after The Next Doctor is delusional.

Now, Christmas specials (with the exception of The Christmas Invasion) are basically RTD whoring himself. Nothing clever. Nothing witty. Instant popcorn writing to entertain everyone. He admits this himself, and he rewrote Voyage of the Damn repeatedly so that the audience (only watching because they're too fat and drunk to change channels) could appreciate it. Any critique you have of the plot RTD did first. Before he actually wrote the script. There's a lovely ongoing sequence where Rickston continually bitches that his phone isn't working and annoys everyone, in particular the Doctor until he realizes that the phone is a supermobile and should be able to work - ergo, they are being jammed! Evil is afoot.

So, no doubt there's a draft script of Return of the Cybermen that's full of such gems before RTD hollowed it out like a termite. Unfortunately, as I've been saying, he's running dry. He's gone from a brilliant script writer to a brilliant script editor (a big difference, though I doubt anyone would have sat through the version of Fires of Pompeii before RTD worked his magic) and now reduced to a great ideas man. You get the feeling he's done a vaguely decent polish on a very mediocre script. It's like his Season 4 finale - lovely little vignettes, but a collage covering absolutely fuck all. The Daleks are trying to make a really BIG delta wave, then they blow up.

The man's turned into Helen Raynor!

Which, let's all be honest, isn't the worst case scenario. If this was a mid-season episode, or even a season opener, it wouldn't be so bad. But it's not. It's supposed to leave us screaming for MORE. We're supposed to feel EVERY DAMN HOUR until Planet of the Dead screens. I honestly couldn't give a damn if the series was over. No cliffhanger endings. No ongoing story arcs. No reason to tune in. Barely any reason to sit through the bloody thing. Considering how the show can lose such affection from a one week gap, I'll be amazed if the public even remembers what Doctor Who is by 2010.

The problem, methinks, is that with his declining faculties, RTD has decided that he hates fandom and wants them to suffer. So he messes with our minds. Fair enough, I suppose, but this mixture of outright lies is lack his usual cunning and we're left with a truly pathetic spectacle. David Tennant is leaving. No one knows who the hell is replacing him. So the episode is called The Next Doctor.

By this logic, The Empty Child should be renamed The Next Doctor as well. The Doctor arrives in historical London, meets some downtrodden natives and encounters a mysterious know it all who has no name bar "the Doctor". What Moffat considered a throwaway gag, RTD tries to turn into a whole story. Well. Half a story. And not very well done in some respects. The problem of who the hell David Morrisey's character is and why he's chasing Cybermen isn't the flaw in the script, it's the fact we're supposed to be amazed at it. It's like The Creed of the Kromon. Even if you haven't heard several certain Big Finishes, it's still the fact this is the B-plot, the Pilot Fish to keep us occupied until the Cybermen in Victorian London A-plot kicks into gear. But everyone has been grabbed and shaken violently while RTD screams, "IS HE THE NEXT DOCTOR?!?"

Fuckingly obviously, he isn't.

Because that wasn't the point. The point is "WHY does he SAY he's the Doctor?". And when you skew that premise the whole thing becomes a complete waste of time. The story wasn't written to make us fear that the Tenth Doctor would perish before the credits roll. So, when, for the briefest of brief moments it actually looks like the Doctor is caught in an ontological paradox (not dissimilar to the Fourth Doctor and Adric visiting the Pharos Project during the first episode of Castrovalva), it feels... dumb. The audience are being asked to jump on a moment that is a throwaway. That is written, acted and directed like a throwaway. Imagine if The Face of Evil was hyped on the basis that the Doctor's jelly babies had been poisoned: that moment when the Doctor goes "I'll kill you with this deadly jelly baby!" gains ridiculous significance. But he doesn't kill anyone with them. And his confectionary isn't poisoned. And that disappointment is enought of ruin the whole story.

Now, when the BBC revealed just what cheapskates they had become by showing us the pretitle sequence for CIN instead of something original, we saw Dave Morrissey bound in like a parody of David Tennant (yet far more clever and convincing than Jon Culshaw's attempts) and face a very fake and shoddy Cybershade. If, for a moment, Morrissey WAS some future Doctor... why the hell is he a copy of the Tenth? Imagine if the Ninth Doctor and Rose bumped into the Tenth Doctor and Martha - if anyone had DT in a leather jacket with a shaved head and a Northern accent, and then asked you "Is HE the Doctor after Eccleston?" would you actually even stay in the same room?

No, the fans said. It was obvious the camp Morrissey was Banto Zame the Second, a Rob Holmes grifter trying to pass off himself as the Doctor for fame and fortune. RTD was ripping off The One Doctor. While this explained the rubbish Cyberman/gorilla outfit, it doesn't exactly explain why any time traveller would think a get rich scheme would involve dressing up as the least recognizable of Time Lords and loitering away from any witnesses who might provide instant cash transfusions. Of course, we were wrong, but that's what we SHOULD automatically have asked ourselves. But no, RTD and Tennant constantly big up whether or not Doc Ten will live through the night. They might as well begged us to watch out for Daleks in The Lazarus Experiment.


Epic fail on that regard.

But, if we strip away the truly cack-handed publicity and focus on what's actually there... there's not much. It's not BAD, per se. But not much that strikes as original or even innovative. The CyberShades, for example aren't very bad. Their monkey-like body language, snarling, oddly shaped heads... not a bad look. The idea of them being failed conversions isn't really explained, and the Doctor seems to think they are just crude Victorian Cybermen equivalents with animal rather than human brains. Um. Why? Is the conversion machinery not working? Can't they get the parts? Are the Shades just failed experiments? What was wrong with Cybermats? While I respect RTD's belief that the two Doctors should have been focus of the plot, why leave the bloody things in at all?

I have to say, I was chastened at the plot twist of the return of the Cybus men. It's obvious in retrospect: when Rose shattered the walls between realities, anything in the void could have escaped - so the Dalek and Cybermen armies have got loose and their respective genocides undone. Where the Daleks have gone is not revealed but they and the Cybermen were both nuked by the Crucible (erm... except that never happened...) and are both greatly reduced in numbers. In any case, a phallanx of Cybermen have ripped open a Dalek (FULL FIST!) and emergency temporal shifted, leaving themselves in the world of Oliver Twist. Lead by a Cyberleader sounding as un-Nicholas Briggsish as possible (with the alternate black faceplates a lovely reference back to the comic strips, so fuck you Mad Larry, it wasn't SUPPOSED to be a redesign.)

Perhaps it's a bad move that RTD edited the end of Journey's End - originally, sulking over the console, the Doctor was shocked when Cybermen passed, ghost-like through the TARDIS, as part of their escape from the void. With that cut, (and the bits where he asks that urchin about Cybermen), not only does the Doctor seem ridiculously blaise about their return and presence in the past, but we also lose the departure of Donna. Like in The Runaway Bride, this is a Doctor desperate, almost pleading to be distracted. He's also borderline suicidal (as much as he ever is), practically begging the Cybermen to smack his ass down. There is a truly beautiful moment - you know, I'm really starting to like this story now I look back at it - where the Doctor heads off to defeat the baddies. It's NOT a suicide mission but in a subtle moment it's made clear that the Doctor wishes it WAS. His final confrontation with Mrs. Hartigan is a deliberate parallel of The Runaway Bride. The Doctor tells the bitch she's got one chance, she refuses, he lets loose... but he doesn't blow her up or anything like that. It's an ending right out of Wierd Sisters or maybe Terror Firma. As Roj Blake said under the pen of Robert Holmes, "Killing them would be mercy. Do you feel particularly merciful?"

The more I review it the more I realize that the writing/directing/whatever isn't the problem, it's the increasingly insecure and exhausted showrunner. Had they bigged up the story for what it was, a kind of buddy movie, it would have been great. There are lots of lovely subtle touches - the two Doctors laughing at what retards they look like chasing a gorilla gram with a Cyberman voice changer helmet on; the fact that Rositta is clearly a prostitute; that Mrs. Hartigan has clearly had her own issues; the Cybermen continuing their belief they're doing us a favor; Morrisey's TARDIS complete with Cloister Bell; and the final scene linking right back to Tennant's first story (and not just "Oooh! Snow!"). Nothing big, nothing major. Even the crucial scene where the Doctor flips through the Cyberman's (stolen) record of the Doctor and we see ALL TEN DOCTORS, getting good looks at each one (curiously they all seem to be caught at the moment of thinking "Oh, shit!" - Hartnell when he twigs to the Monk in The Time Meddler, Troughton getting trapped in an airlock in The Ice Warriors, the Fourth Doctor going "a crack in time?" in City of Death... even Paul McGann is the moment when he realizes that the Master is the one who is his chauffer for the evening) is short and to the point. It's not there for us to squee over the first shot of Eccleston since Doomsday, it's there quite obviously so we DON'T see Morrissey. That's the point of it. An absence, not a presence. So RTD running around screaming about cameos from every Doctor is just bullshit. He leaves the audience expecting The Ten Doctors and ends up with less than part four of Resurrection of the Daleks.

If the guy hasn't totally lost his mojo when it comes to writing, he sure has when it comes to keeping the public on side.

Really, had they screened this after Journey's End we'd like it much more. It's the calm after the storm, the taking stock. Not as obvious and well-structured as The Runaway Bride, but the same theory: the heartbroken Doctor tries to pick up the pieces, along with some lovely comedy as Morrisey's Doctor is found to have a fob watch which proves to reveal his true identity... and not the way our Doctor expects. Or even fandom would. The snow-swirling graveyard scene is good too. The only trouble is it's small scale; the Cybermen don't even pretend to be in a position to kick ass until the last quarter of the show, and the do so in the dumbest manner possible. No, let me rephrase that, RTD does it in the dumbest method possible. There is a bloody good reason that in Cloverfield the monster appeared before the last ten minutes to smash up Manhatten. The only real reason that the Cybermen don't open a can of whupass is simple: there needs to be the faintest hint that the Doctor can stop them and leave history intact. (Though there is a hint that he failed in that regard)

As Buffy style epilogue to Season 2008, The Next Doctor is at worse adequate. As a Christmas Special featuring the final destiny of David Tennant, a complete reboot of the Cybermen and a 24-carat reason to watch Doctor Who forever and ever and ever? I'd rather check out Spara's time meddler/WOTAN/BOSS/Cyberman season four finale. That, at least, sticks in the memory.

4/10 (in context)
7/10 (out of context)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Christmas Evasion...


We see a reflection of Andrew’s eye, zooming out to see his face is being reflected in one of two glass-fronted meters at the junction box outside the front door of the house.

ANDREW:, when the mesotonic reactor shorts out, all you have to do is check these dials, make sure they’re in the red zones, and reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.

We zoom out further. Dave stands beside Andrew, bored and tired. It’s quite early in the morning, and Dave is half-asleep. Andrew, as ever, acts like he was breast-fed caffeine.


ANDREW: [OPENS PANEL] What was that, Andrew?

DAVE: You're Andrew. I'm Dave. And how do I reverse the whatchamacallit of the thingamabob?

ANDREW: The green button, dumbo.

He presses said item beside the meter. There is a crackle and, through the open doorway, the lights flicker on. Andrew closes the panel and dusts his hands, happy.

DAVE: Well, thanks a lot for that, Andrew.

ANDREW: You’re welcome.

DAVE: You didn’t have to blow all the fuses for the demonstration though, did you? You could have just explained it all to me. Verbally. [RUBS EYES] And why are we doing this anyway?

ANDREW: Did you know what to do if the fuses blow?

DAVE: [SIGHS] No, I didn’t.

ANDREW: Well, you do now.

DAVE: But why did we have to learn about it now?

ANDREW: Well, I won’t always be here to save your sorry arses, Dave. One day, you might have to do without me.

Dave looks up at Andrew, aghast. He is now wide awake. Without turning his head or taking his eyes off Andrew, he shouts out:

DAVE: Nigel! Get out here!

NIGEL: [VO] Piss off, you mongrel! Some of us are trying to sleep!

DAVE: Andrew says he’s going to die soon.

Nigel bursts out onto the front porch, dressed in hideous pink sink pajamas that are stained shamefully.

NIGEL: Leave out nothing!





Dave closes the door. Nigel shivers, rubbing his arms.

NIGEL: So, what is it? Degenerative brain disorder? Hereditary illness? STD? [LAUGHS UPROARISHLY] No, just joking! So, what is it?

ANDREW: Nothing, dudes.

DAVE: Don’t go like that on us, buster. You’re doing that whole ‘last-episode-of-David-the-Gnome’ crap to me and I for one want to know the reason why!

NIGEL: Oh, cock-a-doodle-doo, Dave. W.T.F. are you on about?

DAVE: You remember the last episode of David the Gnome, when he and his missus are complaining of arthritis and then they ride their pet fox to their best mate, who’s another gnome that we’ve never seen or heard of before, and HE’S got backache as well!

We cut between Andrew and Nigel. They are both confused at this.

DAVE: So, all three gnomes ride out into the middle of the forest and then, they say, ‘go away, Mr. Fox!’ and it’s so sad, because the second he does, all of the gnomes turn into trees and so the fox has to join up with a normal-sized guy and his own lady fox and it was SO SAD! [DAVE BEGINS TO WAIL SADLY] Oh, the rapture! [NORMALLY COMPOSED] Anyway, back on topic, what the hell’s wrong with you, Andrew!

ANDREW: Nothing! I’m in the peak of health.

He coughs and splutters loudly while Nigel and Dave talk.

NIGEL: Thanks a lot, Dave, you got me up out of bed for nothing!

DAVE: Dude, he was going on about how we needed to learn how to cope by ourselves if he suddenly went walkabout.

NIGEL: So? I want a funeral ticket before you start trying to excite me like that from now on, understand?

DAVE: [TO ANDREW] So, what WERE you talking about?

ANDREW: Dude, us living here is just another step on the road.

NIGEL: Road? Road to where?

ANDREW: To where we’re all going. So, who knows what will happen today? This minute? Anything can happen and it’s best to be prepared, you know.

DAVE: Well, DUH! So what? Sure, a bomb could drop on us in three minutes’ time, or we could win the lotto, or Nigel might develop an irritating skin condition – it doesn’t mean it will, does it?!?

NIGEL: Yeah, I mean – there’s a chance a beautiful woman might arrive at the front door, fall in love with you and carry you off into the sunset forever and ever. Is THAT going to happen? IS it, Andrew?

There is a knock at the door. Andrew opens it. Beyond it stands a girl of seventeen in a leather jacket and blonde streaks in her neck-length dark hair. She wears a John-Lennon-style pair of sunglasses. Andrew stares at the girl and visa versa for a long moment.

ANDREW: Morning.

GIRL: Morning.

They embrace and kiss passionately for as long as our stomachs can cope – and then pull apart, breathless. Andrew turns to face the others, grinning happily.

ANDREW: [SHAKES DAVE’S HAND] Thanks, Dave. And goodbye.

Andrew turns to Nigel, who holds out a hand ‘low-five-style’. Andrew moves to low five, but Nigel whips his hand out of the way.

NIGEL: Too slow, my ma--

Without missing a beat, Andrew punches Nigel’s lights out with the remaining hand. Nigel collapses and slumps, unconscious. Andrew turns, slips an arm around the girl, and they leave. Dave crouches over Nigel, face drawn with worry. In the distance, we hear a car start and veer away. Dave sighs.

DAVE: Things certainly change quickly around here, don’t they?


Fade up on a caption: THE NEXT DAY. We see Nigel’s room is lined with Christmas lights and decorations. Nigel sits in his bed, facing the TV. He wears a festive hat and some of the decorations. On the TV, the Queen’s speech begins. Nigel pours himself a tankard of sherry.

NIGEL: Merry Christmas! God save the Queen!

He begins draining the tankard. There is a banging at the door.

NIGEL: [STARTLED] Oh, crapola.

DAVE: [VO] Hey! Nigel! Hello! Are you in there?

Nigel leaps off the bed, ejecting a video from his VCR. It has QUEEN’S SPEECH 2003 written on the label and begins to haul down the decorations. The door bursts open and Dave enters.

DAVE: There you are! [LOOKS AROUND] What the...

Nigel looks up at him while trying to haul down his Christmas tree.

NIGEL: This isn’t what it looks like!

DAVE: You’ve been celebrating Christmas again, haven’t you?

Nigel sweeps a pile of half-opened Christmas presents off the top of his mantle piece. Muchos smashing noises. Nigel tries to look casual as he rips off his festive outfit.

NIGEL: So? What’s wrong with that, man?

DAVE: It’s July! The fourth of July!

NIGEL: OK, so I got my public holidays mixed up, so sue me!

DAVE: What are you talking about? You hate America!

NIGEL: Uh, I try to celebrate other cultures.

DAVE: Oh, really? So what does one DO on the fourth of July?

NIGEL: [WINCES] Ah. Oh dear. I know this.

DAVE: Does it involve a Christmas tree? And lights?

NIGEL: [SWALLOWS] Doesn’t it?

Dave crosses to the TV. Nigel leaps in front of it, trying to block his way but Dave shoves him side and checks the video. His face falls.

DAVE: [DISAPPOINTED] Oh, no, Nigel. Not the Queen’s speech.

NIGEL: [SHIFTS UNCOMFORTABLY] Look, this is just...

DAVE: Why? I thought you were getting better?

NIGEL: I just made a mistake, all right? Don’t get upset!

DAVE: A mistake? Like on the twentieth of January? When you locked yourself in here, decked the place with bows and holy, and started watching the Queen’s speech. Why? Why, Nigel, why?

NIGEL: I don’t have to justify myself to you!

DAVE: Look mate, we’re all we’ve got left now! And when you start hiding in here, pretending its Christmas every single day... You have got a problem, Nige! We covered all this in March? Remember the 24-Step Guide to Accepting That Christmas is Over? Remember that? Oh, we were so pleased when you finally chucked out the tree.

NIGEL: Andrew MADE me!

DAVE: It was for your own good!

NIGEL: I’m nineteen, Restal! I’m old enough to do what I want.

DAVE: That’s not what you said when the police came round. [SAD] Can’t you see you’re not right? This isn’t natural. You’re doing nothing but harm to yourself. Why, though?


DAVE: No, I mean, why now? You were cured!

NIGEL: Yeah, well, Andrew isn’t here to stop me, is he?

DAVE: And if he was?

NIGEL: Well, I don’t have to answer that question, do I?

DAVE: And what if he turns up tomorrow? What will you do then? Shit yourself? Try and hide your foul addiction like now? it won’t work! You’ve got to see a professional!

NIGEL: If you don’t like it, get out.

Dave tries to grab the Christmas tree, unbalancing it. And incredibly-pathetic girl-fight begins between Nigel and Dave, ending with a nipple-cripple that floors Dave. He scrambles out, crying.

NIGEL: [CRUELLY] Yeah, get used to it, Dave! From now on –

He turns to face camera.

NIGEL: - the Big N is head of THIS household!

Behind him, the loose tree falls on top of Nigel, crushing him and dragging the Christmas lights with it. That, in turn, knocks over everything in the room that was upright. A long pause.

NIGEL: [VO/MUFFLED] Uh, a little help here? Hello? be continued...?

Andrew Takes On... Party Animals

An evil bald Russian bastard has fled Russia and plans to escape extradition by stirring up anti-Russian feelings in the public. Hiring Andrew Beeblebrox to start this, the evil bald bastard reveals he will having Andrew murdered in secret lest he not continue working. Andrew helps start it...

[Int. A pub. Andrew and EBB are present.]

ANDREW: Consider that your favor done. I'm out.

EBB: No you're not. You're good at your job. I want you working for me full time.

ANDREW: Sorry.

EBB: I'll have a word with Stephen...

ANDREW: I don't have to do whatever Stephen says, you know.

EBB: You will do what Stephen says. And he will do what I say. That is how it will going to be. Yes. This is a country I can do business in.

ANDREW: You're not quick on the uptake, are you? This braindead confidence of yours is what got you on the run, remember.

EBB: You should learn respect, boy.

ANDREW: You should too. Maybe then you won't be worried about EXTRADITION!

[EBB looks angry.]

ANDREW: Ah-ah-ah. You can't disappear me. You need me, remember. You're utterly screwed without me, you said so yourself. Of course, I suggested someone else but you were too thick-headed to follow my own advice. You just want me around so you can do the exact opposite of what I say, don't you?

EBB: You are just nervous.

ANDREW: Not half as nervous as you should be. Are you TRYING to get caught? You want ME to work for you. I don't like you. You're an abomination. I despise you. And YOU want ME to work for you? Presumably under pain of death, so I've got even more reason to hate you. To be, perhaps, less than good at my job. Of course, you'd kill me for failure, so then I have to ask the question, what do I have to lose?

EBB: Would you like to find out?

ANDREW: I'm giving you one last chance to back out.

EBB: I reject.


[Andrew drains his pint. Then smashes it over EBB's head.]


[He tackles EBB.]

[Ext. Pub. Andrew and the dazed EBB are being bundled into a police wagon.]

[Int. Police cell. Andrew is relaxing. A police woman enters.]

POLICE WOMAN: All right. Because you helped us track down a Russian war criminal and hand us over the authorities, we're not going to take things to a trial but you're on a good behavior bond for the next 18 months. Do you have anything to say?

ANDREW: Yeah. Lateral thinking is a wonderful thing, isn't it?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Speaking of 10

The Ten Doctors with Eye Level Problems!!

From left to right -

Kevin Eldon as the Second Doctor
Victor McGuire as the Fourth Doctor
Jennifer Saunders as the Eighth Doctor
David Tennant as the Third Doctor
Rik Mayall as the Tenth Doctor
Orlando Bloom as the First Doctor
James Marsters as the Ninth Doctor
James Nesbitt as the Sixth Doctor
Jim Carey as the Seventh Doctor
Asian Female Porn Star as the Fifth Doctor

and so... IT ENDS! (2)


Nigel is trembling. His hair is standing on end and smoke is wafting off him. There is a nasty crackling sound. Andrew stands, staring at his watch-free wrist, pressing the button.

ANDREW: [SINGS] I saw the sign
And it opened up my eyes
I saw the sign
Life is demanding
Without understanding
I saw the sign
And it opened up my eyes
I saw the sign

He nods and releases the button. Nigel jackknifes back and forth for a minute, then collapses, gasping.

NIGEL: You know... [SHUDDERS] that was kinda turning me on...

Andrew grimaces and looks at the hand he used to press the button and shakes it free of invisible disgustingness.

NIGEL: Well, I’m not going to help you.

ANDREW: Dave needs your help, Nige. You can’t let him down.

NIGEL: You bet your ass I can let him down. If it wasn’t for him, I’d be safely home now. It’s his fault I fell out of that warehouse just when I was chatting up that chick.

ANDREW: Oh, come on, Nige – forgive and forget.

NIGEL: Forget? Forget?!? FORGET!

ANDREW: It was ages ago.

NIGEL: It was yesterday!

ANDREW: No, it wasn’t.

NIGEL: [FROWNS] It wasn’t?

ANDREW: [MOCK SERIOUSNESS] Nigel – you have been in a coma for the last seventy-three days. Dave and I have been taking turns of coming in here, reading you stories, waiting for you to wake up. They would have switched you off ages ago if it hadn’t been for us.

NIGEL: [PALE] They would? [CAUTIOUS] Then how come I’m awake now?

ANDREW: [SMOOTHLY] We needed you so badly I decided to try and bring you out of the coma myself. We need you, Nige.

NIGEL: Tough! You’ve done nothing but electrocute me since I’ve woken up. I’m not going to help you – or Dave – ever again. It’s a cock-and-bull story! I’m staying here. One of the nurses MUST have seen The Singing Detective.

ANDREW: Nigel, this is serious. We don’t have much time.

NIGEL: Correction: YOU don’t have much time. I’m going to get some rest, all right? I don’t want to see you again unless you have armfuls of cash for me and willing Indonesian prostitute under the age of twenty.

He rolls over. Andrew sighs.

ANDREW: OK, let’s start again.

He presses the button. Nigel gasps in pain, current surging through him. We cut to the outside of the bed – through the curtains we can see the flickering blue flashes as smoke curls around the edges.


The group is gathering as the time for the speech approaches. Dave looks at the artist, who strikes a disco-pose with a thumb’s up sign. Dave nervously crosses to a heap of papers and takes away a few, leaving one peace of paper with DAVE’S SPEECH (REVISED VERSION) written on it. As Dave crosses over to the others, we see he is carrying the drunken scrawl Katy did the previous night.


Andrew holds the button down, studying his invisible watch.

ANDREW: And the man at the back
Said, ‘Everyone attack!’
And it turned into a ballroom blitz!
And the girl in the corner
Said ‘Boy, I’m gonna warn ya,
It’ll turn into a ballroom blitz!’
Ballroom blitz...

He lets go of the button. We see Nigel is now blackened and covered in soot. His hair is white and on end. Steam wafts from his skin and he can’t do much except twitch for a moment.

ANDREW: Now, Nigel, I think I’ve convinced you of the urgency of this matter. So, are you going to come with me or shall I put Phase TWO of my plan into action!

Nigel looks at him oddly and manages to make a pain-wracked grunt.

NIGEL: Graze koo?

ANDREW: Yes, phase too. And I can assure you that it will split your little Yuppie brain RIGHT DOWN THE MIDDLE! And unless you want to be disemboweled by a homicidal hermit on the steps of the town hall, you will prepare yourself to leave, all right?

NIGEL: Furk goo, Nandroo! Gime stayin glere und dere’s nottin gu can goo avvout it, sorright?

ANDREW: You’re going to abandon me, Dave, everyone?

NIGEL: Bram rite guy yam. Gu hand Drave cungo thuck onna gamster!

ANDREW: This hospital isn’t the place to be, Andrew!

NIGEL: Wotta minut, GOR Nandroo! GIME NIGREL!

ANDREW: Oh yeah. Sorry. I’m telling you, stay here at your peril.

Andrew rises and, straightening his coat, turns to leave.

NIGEL: GATE! Gerroya goin?

ANDREW: Not my problem anymore, Nige. You want to stay here, fine.

NIGEL: GY? Gy roo goin nor? Was garra atten?

ANDREW: [CHUCKLES] You’ll find out.

He pats Nigel on the head condescendingly. With a brittle snap, all of Nigel’s hair crumples to dust, leaving him bald. Nigel lets out a startled cry at this.

ANDREW: Let’s just say that, beds are needed here Nige. And you know the quickest way to get a bed?

NIGEL: Gnor, wavkiza nikkest gayta hetta bed?

ANDREW: Waiting for a patient to die. Or ‘disappear’ as they say around here. Goodbye, Nigel. Forever.

He turns and opens the curtains – to reveal a real doctor and two nurses. Nigel squeaks in pain.

DAVIDSON: Who are you?

ANDREW: I might ask you the same question.

DAVIDSON: I am Doctor Hillary Davidson. Who are you? A medical student or something?

ANDREW: [HASTILY] Hell no, I just like white coats. Murder to clean but, man they’re worth it. I was just paying a last visit to my dear friend here. Be gentle.

Andrew waves at Nigel, who is definitely scared now. The nurses cross over to the monitors and check them over – frowning at Andrew’s sabotage. The man himself whispers at Davidson’s ear.

ANDREW: [SOTTO] He’s a bit dazed. He refuses to switch off his mobile phone, and I warned him you’d make it disappear if he didn’t. See if you can have more luck.

Davidson nods his thanks and Andrew leaves. The doctor smiles at Nigel cheerfully. Nigel cringes.

DAVIDSON: So, Mr. Verkoff. I think we know what happens now?

NIGEL: Gvat?

DAVIDSON: Somebody disappears...

Nigel’s eyes widen in horror. Andrew stands outside Nigel’s area, which is curtained off. He hums to himself idly as muffled grunts appear from behind the curtain.

ANDREW: The ball-bearing bird, the ball-bearing bird
It’s never been seen, never been heard
But it’s known to be
Shown to be
Roaming around
Cause it leaves ball-bearings all over the ground...

Davidson staggers out from behind the curtain. He has a black eye.

DAVIDSON: The son of a bitch!

ANDREW: He gets a bit frisky, doesn’t he?

DAVIDSON: [FROWNS] He’s like this a lot?

ANDREW: Frequently. Sort of schizophrenic-Tourette’s syndrome. We’re amazed he’s lasted this long. [BEAT] He’s an organ donor, you know. Quite prepared for all of him to be used for the greater good. He doesn’t mind donating them BEFORE he dies, you know.


ANDREW: Just curious – do his nearest and dearest get financial remuneration for the organs sold? Doesn’t have to be much, though. Say... $50 bucks for the digestive system? $300 for the lot?

Davidson isn’t paying attention.

ANDREW: What’s is it?

DAVIDSON: Hmm. It seems your friend has a terminal irritable bowl syndrome. This piece of paper indicates the patient requires a continual program of cold enemas...

ANDREW: [“SURPRISED”] Does it? Well, I’ll lower the price, as he’s damaged goods - $250, no questions asked, eh?

DAVIDSON: Well, we’ll have to check his records before you can start selling off his body, Mr. Er...

ANDREW: [SHAKES HIS HAND] Hornblower’s the name. But you can call me Rasputin – Czar Nicholas does. Well, he did.


ANDREW: I killed him.

Davidson stares at him and then ducks back behind the screen. Andrew grins as Nigel’s muffled shouts fill the air.

DAVIDSON: [VO] All right, hold him down while I apply the injection.

Nigel’s panicked grunts.

DAVIDSON: [VO] Now, sister, apply the equipment.


There is a sickening, slippery, popping noise. Andrew winces. A hydraulic pumping noise starts up, getting louder and louder. Then a warping, stretching noise. A hideous farting noise and a hideous splattering noise.


ANDREW: [SHRUGS] At least he’s got his jaw working again.

He takes a deep breath – and gags. Looking quite ill, he stumbles away, waving aside the air as the stench from Nigel increases.


All the artists have gathered in front of a podium. Dave stands there, in front of a microphone. He takes out the speech, swallows and coughs. He notices what he has to read and pales with fear. Everyone is looking at him. He swallows.

DAVE: Uh, in the meantime, who fancies a quick sip of my Patented Elixir or Bang-a-Jang-Bang?


The curtain is still drawn. In one corner sits a bucket of some foul, lumpy green-brown muck that hisses and steams. Nigel lies in bed – actually, strapped to it, now wearing a hospital gown and a Silence Of the Lambs-style mask over his mouth. He is ghastly pale and no longer has any hair. He stares around him in a daze. A male nurse is taking a blood sample via syringe.

MALE NURSE: [CONVERSATIONALLY] Just another routine blood sample, sir. Apparently, the stuff we took from you before wasn’t real blood, some kind of globulin covered in sweat. It wrecked half our microscopes.

Nigel makes a weak groan.

MALE NURSE: And your X-rays, don’t get me started on them. According to the X-rays, you’ve got two hearts, no liver, four stomachs and a fetus growing in your armpit. Ah, well, I’ll be back in a minute with your lunch. [THINKS] Shepherd’s Pie and chips is today’s special, I think.

Nigel looks hopeful, then slightly ill.

MALE NURSE: Cause of your X-rays, it will have to be through an intravenous drip. Still, can’t have everything, can you?

Nigel sighs painfully. The cheerful nurse leaves. Nigel closes his eyes, trying to get some rest.

ANDREW: [VO] Baby’s good to me
You know she’s happy as can be
You know, she said so
I’m in love with her and I feel fine...

Nigel’s eyes snap open. Andrew re-enters.

ANDREW: Hello, Nigel! How are you?

NIGEL: [VERY WEAK] You... bastard...

ANDREW: [SITS DOWN] Hmm, I did warn you. Perhaps you’ll learn to trust me in future. Now, if you remember, I was offering to take you to a quick getaway and in return, a few hours work from you at a refreshment stall.

NIGEL: You... set me up... ya arsehole...

ANDREW: The offer’s still open, you know. Not for long.

NIGEL: [SLIGHTLY LOUDER] Get these things off me... I’ll help you.

Andrew shrugs and pulls out his novelty screwdriver. He quickly unties Nigel’s bonds and removes the mask.

ANDREW: I’m glad you’re being sensible. This IS all your fault after all. If YOU hadn’t interrupted me making dinner on Tuesday, I wouldn’t have had to pass it off as Rum Punch at the art gallery.

He finishes up and turns to unplug Nigel from the heart monitor. Nigel suddenly leaps up from the bed and lunges at Andrew, who is turned away from him. However, Nigel is still sedated and so promptly collapses onto the ground with a cry. Startled, Andrew turns around and accidentally leans on the button.

ANDREW: What the f--

Nigel makes a strangled gurgle as he is electrocuted again. Andrew realizes what he is doing, and gets off the switch. Nigel collapses onto the floor, sobbing in pain. Andrew helps him up and sits him on the bed. Nigel, still dazed, promptly falls over again.

ANDREW: Come on, Nigel. Put your clothes on let’s get out of here. We only have a few more minutes. [RUMMAGES IN BIN] Let’s just hope Dave can cope with the first few minutes.

Nigel – slightly more sober – fingers his clothes. They are stained, dirty and have rubbish from the bin scattered all over them. Andrew takes out his mobile phone and begins to dial.

ANDREW: I’ll try and get Eve to make a distraction for us.

Nigel frowns, half-way through taking off his gown. Andrew’s hand is lying over the electro-convulsive cable – which is still plugged in. Grinning, Nigel climbs up on the bed and crawls towards the control. His gown slides off, leaving his naked arse bobbing in the air. Grinning, Nigel presses the button – the wrong button.

NIGEL: Vengeance [VEN-GEE-YANCE] shall be mine...

We cut to the main aisle. Suddenly, the curtain slides back to show what appears to be Nigel mooning the whole hospital. Everyone reacts with fear and horror. A couple of alarms go off and there are screams. Fade to black.


Caption: 2.3 MINUTES LATER. Nigel lies on the bed. In a straightjacket, mask and strapped down. There is a now a second IV drip attached to him. The bars around the bed have been raised, effectively trapping him in. A butch orderly stands guard over him.

NIGEL: [MOANS] What happened?

ORDERLY: You sick bastard. Shut up, ya pervert.

Nigel begins to weep. Suddenly, a jelly baby flies over the top of the curtain and lands at the orderly’s feet. He growls and looks down at it. Another jelly baby is thrown into the area. And another. Then, a bag of jelly babies. The orderly bends down to pick it up – just as Andrew bursts in and bashes him over the head with a bedpan. The orderly collapses and Andrew begins to untie Nigel.

ANDREW: You are DETERMINED to make this difficult for me, aren’t you? I’ve got half a mind to leave you here and let you rot. [BEAT] Nigel? Nige?

He notices the second IV and pulls down the bag. He sniff it.

ANDREW: Adrenaline and soma. You’re drugged, you lucky bastard!

He rips open the bag, emptying out the liquid. Then, he blows into the bag, inflating it. He then crushes the beg, forcing the air down the drip into Nigel – who screams in agony until Andrew clamps his mouth shut and raises a finger for silence.

ANDREW: Look, you micro-cephalic donkey gonad apostate, we have to be elsewhere urgently. Now, you can either come with me or stay here to your twice-an-hour enema, IV drips and Hannibal Lector impersonators. Do you understand me?

Nigel nods.

ANDREW: You’re not going to cause any trouble, are you?

Nigel shakes his head.

ANDREW: You will obey me in all things, won’t you?

Nigel glares at him, but nods.

ANDREW: Now, get dressed.

Nigel nods. Andrew turns and takes off his white coat then turns it inside out – it is now a dull brown. He puts on the coat and picks up the steaming bubble of after-enema. He carries it out of Nigel’s curtained area then crosses down the aisle towards a window overlooking the carpark outside. He places the bucket precariously on a doorstop. He ties a piece of string to the doorstop and ties the other end to the lip wrist of the orderly. Nigel is now wearing his soiled clothes.

NIGEL: [HOARSELY] Now, what?

ANDREW: We wait for Eve.


Eve moves Mission Impossible-style across the corridor towards the hospital ward. She pauses, and then back tracks a few steps. Lying on the floor is a large pen.

EVE: Oh, baby – YOU’RE BACK!

She dives and scoops it up. She begins to sob with joy.


Andrew and Nigel sit on the bed, resting their feet on the unconscious orderly’s back. Andrew plays with a yo-yo.

ANDREW: Come on, come on, come on, come on!

NIGEL: [WEAK] Where is she?

ANDREW: No idea, but we don’t have long to make our move.

NIGEL: [PALES] You don’t mean...

The curtain swishes open and Eve enters, looking relaxed and refreshed.

EVE: OK, boys, I’m here.

ANDREW: Great! Only half-an-hour late! Dave will kill us.

EVE: Jaysus, just relax already. Come on.

They turn and hurry out of the curtained area and into the aisle.

NIGEL: God, another few minutes and then they’ll be here!

EVE: Who’s they?

ANDREW: The enema department.

They leave. The orderly groans, still attached to the string.


The trio emerge from the hospital. Andrew dials on his phone.

ANDREW: [INTO PHONE] Pick up, pick up, pick up.


We see a close up of Dave sitting in his chair. His phone starts to ring, so he answers it. He speaks softly.

DAVE: Hello?

ANDREW: [VO] Dave? It’s me, Andrew. The vulture is free, man.

DAVE: What?

ANDREW: [VO] Nigel’s out. We’re on our way there. Stall them for a few minutes and we’ll be as right as rain houses.

DAVE: [AWKWARD] Ah, Andy, I don’t think you have to worry.


DAVE: Well, er, I’ve made a few alternative arrangements...

We pull out to see he is sitting in a theatre with all the artists. They are all pissed out of their heads and have swapped hats and scarves drunkenly. They cheer and point at the screen as the film starts. GOAT SHIT BY NIOTAN YRRET.


Andrew is on the phone.

ANDREW: Ah. OK. I’ll see you at home, then.

He closes the phone and puts it away.

EVE: What is it?

ANDREW: Change of plan. We don’t actually NEED Nigel after all.

Nigel rounds on Andrew.

NIGEL: So it’s all been for nothing?!? ALL of it?!


The orderly groans and opens his eyes.


Andrew and Eve back away.

NIGEL: I have been thrown out of a seven-story building...


The orderly sits up and moves to rub her head, pulling the string taunt and making the bucket shift in the window sill.


NIGEL: ...nearly been drowned...


The orderly tugs at the string, befuddled.


NIGEL: ...felt up by deviants in nurse costumes...


The bucket rocks back and forth, threatening to fall into the aisle.


NIGEL: ...electrocuted until I have no body hair...


The orderly angrily wrenches at the string.


NIGEL: ...had freezing cold water pumped up my lower intestines - the wrong way...


The doorstop comes flying out from beneath the bucket.


NIGEL: ...I’ve been beaten, tied up and drugged...


The bucket spins for a moment, then flies out the window.


Andrew and Eve are pressed up against the car by the furious Nigel.

NIGEL: ...FOR NOTHING?!?!??!!!?

The bucket drops into view towards Nigel’s head. We cut to the others as we hear the dull thud, the metal clang, and the revolting, bubbling noises. We pull out to see Nigel is now lying unconscious on the ground, smothered head-to-toe in goo, with a bucket on his head.

ANDREW: [SIGHS] Karma’s a bitch, isn’t it?

He grins.




On the 10th Day of Christmas...

...I managed to get two train stations away before noticing that maybe it might have been a good idea to bring my Santa suit with me

...I met a cowboy from the Blue Mountains with a lazy eye and a cracked filling searching for the mythical Oxford street to get a dentist

...I missed breakfast

...I got an email from suggesting I quit my job as Santa and try and go for the job of "children's party host and hair stylist" or, dare I even to dream, go for a work experience program... twice...

...I discovered that Santa's bottomless sack works by the opening stretching further and further from the bottom of the sack until it finally tears free, staining everything red like a gore flick

...I realized that my previous photographer who spent the whole time reading newspapers, doing crosswords, shopping, wandering around and generally revelling in the anonymous freedom non-Santas get allowing her to schive off a day while I had to sit in a chair doing absolutely nothing. For less pay.

...I created a new reindeer, Oliver, who lost one of his antlers when Rudolf had a violent cocaine rage (what? You thought that red nose and all the white "snow" was a coindicence?)

...I boggled that they play Do They Know It's Christmas? followed by Greenday's Holiday in a strange montage of Who theme tune rip offs...

...I officially reached the "I am sick of this job and no longer care if this entire building burns down as long as I get paid" stage

...I realized I had no idea if I was really being paid or if the time sheets were going in right

...I nearly destroyed my copies of Time's Crucibal, The Ultimate Evil, Terror of the Vervoids and He Died With A Felafell In His Hand with a leaky water bottle.

...I realized this will be the first Christmas without Dogrooter or Vila the insane self-harming cat.

...I wondered if those bastards at a certain conferencing company had shut down for the year, and whether anyone I knew still worked there and whether or not they deserved to live, let alone get any presents.

...I concluded I am still bitter about the events of last year.

...Idly wondered if one of my YOA episodes would ever be allowed to be shown anywhere, as it features Nigel idly chatting about his hoby of taking the anal virginity of small children. I mean, he's JOKING... Well, actually, he's just trying to be really offensive, but it still might be too much.

...I discovered that Kenneth Muir's A Critical History of Space 1999 Sorry Doctor Who is now on sale for $50, a tenth of its original hardbacked price. Why didn't I buy it? How can I honestly expect to enjoy life without a book that's critical analysis of Mindwarp is "dark and ugly" and has clearly been written by someone who not only never watched the story, but has barely heard of it...

...I also learned that the hologram cover on The Complete Season 2 of Robin Hood is like a Chupacubra and inspires diziness and nausea in the beholder as some kind of defense mechanism

...Mused on the terrifying titles of Jonathan Creek episodes. The one where he teams up with Lucie Miller is called The Grinning Man. Just typing that scares the shit of me. What about Jack in the Box, The Reconstituted Corpse, Time Waits for Norman, Danse Macabre, The Eyes of Tiresius, Ghosts Forge, Angel Hair... even The Scented Room where NO ONE dies or hurts anyone is still creeps me out. Except The Coonskin Cap.

...Noticed that the Freeview adds have cut out all the bits with Doctor Who in it. Bastards.

...Boggle at the horror of a 17-year-old boy getting stabbed to death with a fish knife at Marrickville station for absolutely no reason. Four days till Christmas. And people wonder why I'm cynical.

...Met the bloke who plays Bobo in Pizza on the train home. Surprisingly not a psycho in real life (but he's got the same intense mother relationship). Seems Paulie IS like that all the time, though. And surprisingly aggressive and spoiling for a fight.

...Remembered that, even after EIGHT YEARS, I still haven't finished the YOA Christmas Special. Indeed, barely started it last year.

...I got a Christmas card from Louis "Hahah, I just fucked your DVD player" Hall. He calls me "Ewin" and does he mention the incident? Or give us a present as recompense? A clue: did he fuck.

...All in all, a bit of a downer day.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Remind Me When to Laugh


Dave looks around and spots Eve looking through a rubbish bin.

DAVE: Eve! Er, I mean, Miss! Hey!

Eve looks up at him as he goes over to her.

EVE: Dave, have you seen my pen anywhere?

DAVE: Um, no, sorry. Look, would you like to help me out at the refreshment stand tomorrow...

EVE: Only if you help me find my pen.

DAVE: But...

EVE: No pen, no help!

DAVE: [SIGHS] OK, when did you last have it?

EVE: When we were at Rasputin Goes To Happy-Flappy Burgers. I gave it to you in the scene before the E-Coli gets out of control and goes off hunting for new victims.

DAVE: Uh, you didn’t hand it to me, miss.

EVE: You were sitting next to me, weren’t you?

DAVE: Ah... [GRIMACES] Actually, I, well, I went to...

EVE: What?

Dave lets out a scared noise and runs away. Eve shrugs.

EVE: Men. Though, come to think of it, the guy who took didn’t look much like Dave. Hair was too long. And he was black. And he was wearing lipstick... [FROWNS] Why would Dave be wearing lipstick to the movies? Maybe, maybe so he could steal my pen without retribution! Nah, Eve, you’re getting carried away. He’s probably just a poofter.

She continues rummaging through the bin.


The sun sets, shrouding the guy’s house in darkness.


Andrew is making dinner. As he talks, he grates some cheese into a saucepan. Katy stands by a heavily-depleted wine rack now mainly holding bottles of apple-juice.

ANDREW: Blood museum attendants. Cockier than God and twice as ugly. I’m not bitter though. I’ve been thrown out of better art galleries than that, you know. Not that I make a habit of it, you understand...

Dave comes in, looking frantic and disheveled.

DAVE: Doomed! Doomed! We’re all doomed.

Katy notices a bottle called MICROWAVE INTERIOR STRIPPER. She pours some into a shot glass and sips it. Tasty.

ANDREW: [GOING TO FRIDGE] What was that Dave?

DAVE: We’re all doomed.

ANDREW: Oh, right. Thought you said we were all roomed. [OPENS FRIDGE] What’s wrong now? The TV’s broken again? Don’t worry, I’m sure I can rewire it.

He takes out a packet of pasta butterflies and puts them into a saucepan of boiling water. Dave runs a hand through his hair.

DAVE: No, Andrew, it’s not the TV. Thankfully. I doubt you could rewire it if it WAS broken.

ANDREW: [GRATES MORE CHEESE] Doubt it? Me? I could rewire it blindfolded. Of course, it’s a delicate business. Like repairing a watch with a hammer and chisel. I should know, I do it all the time.

DAVE: [TRYING TO KEEP UP] You repair TVs a lot?

ANDREW: What? No, I just get terribly upset when my watch breaks.

Katy begins to set the table. As Dave and Andrew talk, they go into the kitchen area and Andrew drains the pasta with a sieve and empties it into the saucepan with the cheese.

ANDREW: So, what’s the problem?

DAVE: Doug wants me to do the speech tomorrow night. But I need someone to look after the refreshment stand – but you’re barred, Nigel’s in hospital and Katy won’t go near the stuff in case it makes her sterile! I am so screwed!

ANDREW: I wouldn’t say that.

DAVE: What would you say then?

ANDREW: I would say you were COMPLETELY screwed. Still, there must be someone who can help us out. What about Doctor Spoon?

DAVE: Oh, HIM. Uh, he’s out of town until November 23.

ANDREW: Okay, how about Chamber?

DAVE: He’s at Ultimo all day tomorrow.

ANDREW: What’s he doing?

DAVE: He’s the front doormat for the Youth Centre’s production of A Streetcar Named Desire.

ANDREW: [STIRRING MIXTURE] That’s a bit of a step downwards for him, isn’t it? Normally he gets to be chief mascot.

DAVE: Yeah, he said he was trying to get back to his roots.

ANDREW: Do a bit of soul-searching, eh?

DAVE: That’s what he told me.

There is a beat as Andrew crossed to a badly-made spice rack.


ANDREW: Daria? She must be free tomorrow.

DAVE: She’s going to a frustrated nymphomaniac’s workshop.

ANDREW: [INTERESTED] Oh. Where’s that?

DAVE: She wouldn’t tell me, no matter how much I offered.

ANDREW: Damn. I know Mitchell’s trying to get back onto the poetry circuit. He’s double-billing with Norman and Great Arsehole up at Gore Hill. Odd that. He hasn’t been in the spotlight for simply ages.

DAVE: Not since falling out with his ghost writer.

ANDREW: I think Norman and the Great Arsehole are repaying an old favor, working with him like that. He gave them a mention at the Existentialist’s Cafe before they hit the big time.

He closes his eyes and pulls out a few spice jars.

ANDREW: What about Lucy?

DAVE: She’s taking some time off in Bermuda for the next financial year, but she’ll probably be back for the flu season. She’s a trooper, always career first.


DAVE: Oh, you mean Shit-Faced Megolomaniac? He and the band have gone down hill. Only touring three cities this year. Bit of a heart condition now, these days.

ANDREW: Yes, he’s on his last legs to be honest. Melanie?

DAVE: She joined the Commies For Christ group.

ANDREW: So? She’s always had a soft-spot for you.

DAVE: Yes, but you know what the CFC are like? They have so much cash, booze and sex-crazed groupies lying about the place they’re far too horny and hung-over to come over and help us out tomorrow – or, indeed, ever.

Andrew goes to the fridge and takes out a carton of milk.

ANDREW: What about Jodafra, her boyfriend?

DAVE: [FROWNS] He’s dead, Andrew.


DAVE: Yes.


DAVE: Smiling accident.


DAVE: Last year.

Andrew shrugs and pours all the milk into the saucepan. There is an explosion and white mist fills the room, getting thicker and thicker. Coughing and spluttering, Andrew runs over to a glass-fronted box on the wall marked ONLY TO BE USED IN EMERGENCY. He breaks it open and pulls out a jar marked TARRAGON. He opens it and pours it into the smoking mixture. The smoke gets thicker.


The guys are sitting around the table. Andrew is serving out Chinese bowls filled with a kind of high-cholesterol version of Macaroni and Cheese. Katy – who has served out several glasses of microwave stripper – is slightly tipsy.

ANDREW: Well, that’s used up all your options.

KATY: [SLURRED] I know! We get Doug to do it!

DAVE: Brilliant! That would definitely work!

ALL: Hurray!

They cheer and down their glasses. Andrew and Dave nearly throw up.

ANDREW: Um, gak, dear heart, what IS this?

KATY: Who cares? It’s wet and alcoholic.

Andrew looks like his about to object, then he shrugs and sips it.

ANDREW: Good choice. I LOVE this woman!

DAVE: [TO HIMSELF] Brilliant! Get Doug to look after the drinks while I do the speech. Hey, Katy, can you write me a speech about Australian art in the twenty-first century?

Katy giggles and gives the thumbs up. She grabs a notebook and begins to write in it.

KATY: Sure. Right. Woo. ‘Australian art has come a long way since two Aboriginal handprints ended up on the cave wall. But that was graffiti and so the offender, who was called Bill, was prosecuted. But things weren’t always that good...’

ANDREW: Mention Paris, Katy. The Louvre and all that.

Katy writes down ANDREW, then, PARIS.

ANDREW: Leonardo, Picasso... Just write down everyone in Paris.

Katy writes down EVERYONE IN PARIS.

ANDREW: And sex. That’s in art a lot. And you have to talk about you, so write ‘I’ every so often. And mention eight generations of your family...

Katy writes this down too. Meanwhile, Dave smiles, totally relaxed, and leans back in his chair.


The dead of night. A light comes on in the house.



Andrew and Katy have fallen asleep on the couch in front of the TV. The light comes on and Dave runs in, wearing only his underwear. Andrew and Katy wake up, startled.

ANDREW: Wha... what is it?


KATY: Not again.

She rolls over and tries to get to sleep.

ANDREW: I thought we’d settled this! Doug’ll help you out.

DAVE: Why am I doing the speech, Andrew?

ANDREW: Cause Doug can’t make it tomorrow?

DAVE: And that’s bad because...?

ANDREW: [GETS IT] Ahhhh. Smeg. OK, Plan B.

DAVE: What, run away?

ANDREW: No, ‘follow my lead’.

DAVE: What’s your lead?

Andrew smiles evilly.


The sun rises over the city.


The place is packed with beds and busy nurses. Nigel lies in one such bed, fast asleep smiling happily. He is surprisingly clean and only has one bandage over his eyebrow. A heart monitor beeps in the background to the tune of Fleetwood Mac. We cut to the doors at the end of the ward, Andrew and Eve are hiding. Andrew wears a white coat.

EVE: Is THIS where my pen is?

ANDREW: No. I threw your damn pen down the waste disposal chute!

EVE: You... bastard!

ANDREW: Look, are you going to keep watch or not?

EVE: I want my goddamned pen!

ANDREW: And I want to be able to transmit pork sausages through telephone lines – WE ALL HAVE TO LIVE WITH DISAPPOINTMENT!

He turns and creeps, Ninja-style, up the ward. A nurse looks up from a patient and notices him doing backflips down the aisle.

NURSE: Can I help you?

ANDREW: Ah, yes. [GETS UP] I’m looking for N.V. Gilepsie. Admitted yesterday, attempted suicide? Calls himself Nigel.

NURSE: Ah, yes, there’s a Nigel here. Are you some kind of doctor?

ANDREW: [PROUDLY] I am EVERY kind of doctor. [SOTTO] I’m not good at any one medicine, but I’ve seen every episode of Surgical Spirit. [LOUDER] Now step aside!

The nurse shrugs and walks off. Andrew moves down until he finds Nigel, fast asleep. He pulls the curtain around them and relaxes slightly. He takes off his coat and picks up the treatment chart.

ANDREW: A few witty remarks...

He takes out a green highlighter and starts to adjust the chart.


The artists and Virginia are setting up their artworks in the background. Dave sits at the refreshment stall, downcast. Katy nudges the still body of the artist/disco godfather. Through the scene, she re-writes her speech on a fresh notepad.

KATY: Told you there’d be side-effects.

DAVE: [SIGHS] Yes, Katy, you’ve made your point. God, it starts in twenty minutes and there’s still no sign of Nigel. Oh god, oh god, this is not happening...

KATY: Give Andrew a break.

DAVE: [CLUTCHES HEAD] Why? Why did I send in Andrew and Eve?!? I mean, is there anyone less suited for this kind of situation than those two? Is there?

KATY: King Havoc the Imbecile and his inbred half-brother?

DAVE: [SIGHS] APART from them.

KATY: None that come to mind. Give him a ring, find out what’s happening if you’re so worried?

Dave looks like he is about to ridicule her, but brightens.

DAVE: Brilliant.

He gets out his mobile and begins to tap out at it.


The chart is now coloured entirely green. Andrew has taken out a black pen and is crossing out tiny remarks and changing them. He crosses to a small table where a folder bugles with various items. Andrew is about to look through it when there is the dialtone version of Urban Spaceman. Wincing, Andrew takes out his phone – shaped like an apple – and opens it by pulling away a bite-sized chunk.

ANDREW: Yes, Satan?

DAVE: [VO] Andrew! What’s happening?

ANDREW: Uh, I’m on the phone, talking to you.

DAVE: [VO] What about Nigel? The festival starts in a quarter of an hour! You have to get him down here now!

In the background, the heart monitor image begins to spit and crackle.

ANDREW: I’ll get him there, Dave, I just have to take some precautions first. If I know him, he’ll probably want to stay here for the rest of his life.

DAVE: [VO] Andrew, we have fifteen minutes until zero hour. If Nigel is not here in time [SNAPS] I will shove your head up your arse and laugh as you spend the rest of your life crawling round on all fours, looking for the light switch!!!

By now, the picture on the monitor is jumping and spinning.

ANDREW: Look, why do we even NEED the refreshment tent anyway?

DAVE: [VO] SOMEONE has to get rid of this muck you made!

ANDREW: Hey, that Caesar Salad would be fine if Nigel hadn’t interrupted me! All right. He’ll be there!

DAVE: [VO] If he isn’t, Andrew, you will learn the TRUE meaning of emasculation! Get on with it!

Dave hangs up. Andrew is about to, when he notices a bank of red lights flashing on the heart monitor. Andrew smiles and puts the mobile down, leaving it open. He crosses to the folder and looks through it – X-rays, blood samples and Nigel’s clothes. He dumps the last in the bin, rubs the slides under his armpit and then folds the X-rays in half and starts drawing over them. More lights are going off.


Nigel is strutting his funky stuff surrounded by women. Suddenly, there is a massive alarm and Nigel is struck by lightning. He screams and, singed, falls over. Lightning hits him again.


Nigel convulses on the bed. Several cables connecting him to the heart monitor are jerking every few seconds. Andrew laughs for a while, then closes his phone. The red lights cut out, the monitor stabilizes and Nigel gasps in pain – but he is now wide awake.

NIGEL: Argh! Where am I? [SEES ANDREW] You! Oh my God! I’m in hell! I’m in hell! And it’s even worse than real life because YOU’RE still here! No!

ANDREW: You’re not in hell, Nigel.

NIGEL: I’m not! The last thing I remember was falling into infinity, my last thought: I’ll never screw that babe in the tuxedo. Then, a kind of warm, light peace. [EYES WIDEN] I was in heaven! And you and my legion of fans have brought me back, just like Buffy!

ANDREW: Nigel, shut up.

NIGEL: I knew I would be appreciated if I died! Hah! Beat that, Mao Tse Dung! I am the Cult of Personality!

ANDREW: The Cunt of Personality, more like.

Andrew crosses to the heart monitor.

ANDREW: Now, if a mobile phone interferes with the circuits, it automatically revives the patient by electro-convulsion. So all I have to do is...

NIGEL: Bow down before me, girls! Bow down before me, men! Bow down all the weird ones where it’s hard to tell if they’re a boy or a girl! I am Omni-Potent!

He notices Andrew is fiddling with the heart monitor.

NIGEL: No! Andrew, you mustn’t!

ANDREW: [SIGHS] Nigel, I must!

He presses a button. Nigel convulses. Smoke rises from his chest. Andrew releases the button and leans over the singed Nigel.

ANDREW: Are you paying attention to me now?

Nigel nods.

ANDREW: We have got places to be and things to do.

He lifts the covers, then drops them in fright.

ANDREW: OK, I’ll get your clothes and then we can leave.

NIGEL: Screw that for a game of soldiers, buster!


NIGEL: You think I’m going with you after what you just did! Well, you can go hang. I am not moving one inch.

ANDREW: Then I shall be FORCED to MAKE you move an inch.

Nigel folds his arms and shakes his head firmly. Andrew shrugs and presses the button again. Nigel is electrocuted.


Dave is talking to someone behind the counter.

DAVE: Right, so you’re sure you can run this place for the next few minutes until my friends get there?

We see it is the sixth artist.

ARTIST 6: [SMILES CHARMINGLY] I am an annoying Danish freak.

Dave nods and crosses over to Katy, who is watching the others.

DAVE: God, has he rung yet?

KATY: Not yet. Look, I’ve got to go. My free period ends in twenty minutes. So, good luck with the rest of your life.

Katy smiles, kisses him on the cheek and leaves. Dave swallows.

DAVE: God damn it, Andrew WHERE ARE YOU?

...a very good reason not to be continued...

Friday, December 12, 2008

12 Days Till Christmas...

I can survive twelve days of honest employment, can't I?

Can't I?


See ya round.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Surviving Survivors

The Christmas of 1993 conspired to scare the hell out of me. As was custom, I got two VHS tapes for Christmas care of the ABC shop - The Twin Dilemma and Blake's 7: Gold/Orbit. Despite having been forewarned by Saward's superlative novelization (which goes into some unnecessary detail on the subject, IMO), seeing the Doctor go ape and trying to kill Peri terrified me - though arguably it was the Silence of the Lambs "Piri" discussion, as the actual strangling bit is rubbish and you can clearly see his hands are on her shoulders than around her neck. But nothing warned me about the events of the B7 eps where first we are told gruesomely about the mummified corpses of Avon and Soolin, not to mention poor Kieller's off-screen death and Pinder and Egrorian going all Dorien Gray. But then Avon tries to kill Vila - and no unconvincing strangling there, just the Silence of the Lambs stuff cranked up to 11 because we know he will do it. (Another odd link - when the Doctor is looking for his new outfit, he considers a silver jacket with ZVP on the back... worn by everyone at the base in Gold). But the one thing that broke me was some enterprising young so-and-so decided that instead of a blurry add for a Doctor Who video or the usual copyright notice, we should see a special trailer for Survivors before the Scorpio escapades.

Between this and the grim content of the Blake's 7 episodes, it makes that tape one of the least viewed presents of my childhood.

With that crashing, thunderous music clearly composed with the words "almighty wrath" in the tone meeting, that anonymous Japanese scientist causing the death of mankind (presumably accidentally), shots of depressed extras getting flu shots, and then a church full of silent, unmoving people as a woman leaves the church and whimpers, "Please God, don't let me be the only one left!" (Oddly, it works given how stupid it looks written down). And then, the ridiculously-deep voiceover guy shouts over the final crescendo...


So, when, several years later I got my hands on a Survivors VHS I was slightly apprehensive. I put it on and to say I was disappointed was an understatement. It was rubbish! All shot on video (unlike the trailer), no one I recognized (from the trailer), no incidental music (unlike the trailer), and while I enjoy levity the end of human civilization is treated with less gravitas than the stock market. That terrifying score really doesn't work in context (you don't play Wagner over shots of people playing fetch with dogs, do you?) and it's all so bleeding dull and silent. OK, the silent might be a subtextual statement about the death of society, but it sounds like you've got an inferior dub. With everything shot on location it feels bloody cheap too.

The two eps I had were Starvation and, er, something else. With the Evil Half Nelson from Warriors of the Deep leading his might-as-well-be biological family to find someone called Peter (except... they give up in the first scene) it turns out that the handful of human survivors aren't just all within spitting distance of each other, they all seem to know each other. They all move into a country house with the traditional grandma and sheltered granddaughter, sleazy Welsh stereotype from the Pertwee era, the village idiot and then Chancellery Guard Commander Andred turns up with an Aussie accent and a cowboy hat and reminds everyone that the world is ended and their blind optimism things will sort out is stupid. They then get an eccentric millionaire staying while some poor crippled Fewsham pads out the episode by trying to kill everyone with guns before admitting his heart's not really in it. This stark, depressing and realistic drama ends with the family dog (last seen joining a wild pack of rabid feral wolves) bounces back and plays with the kiddies.

Yeah, I lived without seeing the rest of the series.

But now the BBC has brought it back as part of the subcultural zietgiest and lots of other complicated words that no one really understands. Having not really cared about the original Survivors, I wasn't really fussed - who cares if they change everything? But Freema Agyeman's in it, and maybe Doctor 11 is in it, and I need SOMETHING to keep the folks happy now Sarah Jane is over... Of course, the moment I mentioned it, my dad instantly turned down the suggestion, even though I have no idea if he knows what Survivors is. Mind you, checking out a series about global devastation isn't much of a turn on, especially now I know it not only refuses to work on DVD, but the picture quality is rubbish and it lacks the faintest spark of self-aware humor I look for in... well... anything.

Having checked out Terry Nation's material on more than one occasion, I can safely say this new series keeps his blunt, minimalistic, some would unkindly say hackwork, style. You get the bare bones and no matter the fact they form a great looking skeleton, without Chris Boucher/Dennis Spooner/Rob Holmes/Douglas Adams to add the meat, you can't hold the attention. Of course, Nation seemed to have a real love for the idea of a post-apocalyptic society struggling to survive. Not only does he use it in all of his Dalek stories, but the original pitch for Blake's 7 was worryingly similar - the London gang end up marooned on an alien planet and have to fight to survive as aliens wipe out life on Earth. But then you get the problem: a bunch of people complaining about farms and food rations is dull. But if you go too far with Futurekind savages and the like, it gets too damn depressing. Having watched the original Survivors, there was the painful feeling that the main cast were somehow being supernaturally prevented from any kind of realism which surely would involve them wiping themselves out over the last packet of biscuits.

So, anyway, after Jared kindly shows me the script for the first episode, I decide to see what the finished article is like.

Ooooh boy. Well, we're not talking Ben Aaronovitch, but there's a similar "missing the freaking point". It starts off with the title sequence showing the sun rise, fast-forward of life in London, huge crowds, traffic, interspersed with molecules subdividing and other 'plague' shorthand, finally ended with this animated cell division consuming all the images (the last of course, being a cute baby), then the sun setting, then the sun rising. Wow. I wonder what that little montage could represent. Even Torchwood knew it was best to avoid the title sequence on the first episode if it explained the whole point of the series.

So, after having been visually told of all life dying in one day... we cut to a busy airport. Oooh, let's see it again, but in slow motion. We get to see our face of humanity - Pete Tyler in an unconvincing Peter Davison wig and Megan Hartnell from At Home With the Braithwaites, except she's left herself go and is trying to be sympathetic (hereafter referred to as Robo Slut). Turns out that Pete and Robo Slut's son has only just recovered from a bout of lukemia and they have wisely sent him to a rough and tumble boy scouts camp for whitewater rafting. Pete is particularly pissed off at the fact Robo Slut has spent the last two weeks worried about her son's health, especially with "European Flu" on the loose. Is Pete a total bastard? Is Robo Slut suffering from Munchousen's by Proxy? Does anyone care?

We then follow some painfully unsophisticated exposition as newsreader tell everyone that London is grinding to a standstill with all the flu going about, while Pete's neighbours come round specifically to chat about how suddenly this flue epidemic popped up... before changing the subject. Now, having lived through the Bird Flu scare of the earlier part of this century, I am amazed at how casual everyone is. OK, they don't expect the human race to be annihilated, but you think they'd be a bit more worried. But RTD isn't invovled, so there are no vox pops, theories, people with definable personalities. Zilch. There is, however, Martha Jones who has undergone a spontaneously biological metacrisis and turned into three people - one looks like Freema Agyeman, one is a medical student, and one has a personality. They take turns in wandering around as more and more people look sweaty and ill and complain of being sick, like Shaun of the Dead without the irony. God damn you, the Pestilence is upon the Earth! PAY ATTENTION!

Proof positive we are screwed occurs when the government declare their spokesman is Nikki Anna-Bird (I think), also known as the Abbess of Kirkleys in Robin Hood and the titular Torchwood Sleeper. Now, this actress has a unique gift of being unable to say a single word and sound convincing. That is a true skill. Not many people can say, "Of course I'm not an alien suicidal bomber with a split personality!" and sound UNCERTAIN. With her monotone voice, nervous eye action and the body language screaming stage fright, the Abbess (as I now refer to her) pretty much sells the imminent end of everything as she takes a press conference and insists that everything is fine, just fine, and the worst they have to face is a couple of delayed trains and traffic jams. It's no wonder that within an hour of her 'don't panic' speech the entire Muslim community (apparently) decides it's time to cut their losses and pray for a miracle, even though there's no obvious reasons for them to assume armageddon is knocking at the door.

At this point, the Martha Jones triumvirate meet up at an overcrowded hospital turning away patients. Medical Student says that Personality is doomed while FA finds that at least a dozen people have died from the disease since they've been talking. Medical Student explains to FA that the virus causes the immune system to go crazy and destroy the victims from the inside out, that there is no time to catch and cure and that, all in all, it'd be better for them all to drop dead than suffer the premise of this entire series. By the time she's finished speaking, Personality is dead and FA says she has a headache and the lumpy armpits of bubonic death.

The Abbess visits her increasingly-depleted emergency room as, with similar subtletly we see TV screens showing a red blob spreading across the USA with the caption "FLU CRISIS NOW GLOBAL" (but sadly no Mal Loup/Trinity Wells karking it on air). It says a lot that the quite admission that the Prime Minister (mere moments after the Abbess declared him in perfect health) has died in the plague and mobiles are unlikely to stay working than the "we're looking at 90 percent of the Earth's population is dead." With one last moment of raging incencerity ("What's that, love? You're ill? So is the entire family? Granny's in a coma? Of course it's nothing, just a bug going round. See you tonight."), the Abbess tells the population of Great Britain to suck it up and not act like it's the end of the world as suddenly all the power cuts out across the globe, symbollically noting the death of 5.9 billion people. [The Abbess seems to survive to become a regular character, for what it is worth, but she might as well perish here as far as this episode is concerned.]

And, oh god, who cares?

I don't. Everyone except the main cast dies. Pat Joseph might have been decent as the Doctor. Boo hoo. Turns out Danny from The Satan Pit released the virus in the first place. The end.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Another YOA Flashback

... to the times when I was rubbish and but the plots weren't too bad. I'll be honest, anything that might reach the level of "merit" is by Damian. But Nigel's scene is all mine.


We see a huge movie poster showing a demonic sheep’s face rising out of the ocean into a thunderous sky. The title is GOAT SHIT. Zoom out to see that Andrew, Nigel, Dave and Eve are standing in a line.

ANDREW: It... SOUNDS interesting.

NIGEL: Andrew, anything would sound interesting compared to what we have to watch.

He indicates the poster above the theatre their line leads to: RASPUTIN GOES TO HAPPY-FLAPPY BURGERS! They both sigh.

NIGEL: Why are we even watching it, anyway?

ANDREW: Eve wants to and she needs us for a group discount.

DAVE: Why didn’t we tell her we couldn’t make it?

ANDREW: Well, I tried, but you kept hitting me over the head. You guys are scared of her, man. You’re wimps. WIMPS! Why can’t you be honest and objective, like me?

Eve moves up to them.

EVE: What do you think of my hair?

ANDREW: Damn it! Did a cat die up there?!

Eve rolls her eyes and heads back for the theatre. The guys are about to follow, when Andrew stops them. We see the theatre for GOAT SHIT is now open and the moviegoers are leaving – all are looking rather ill.

ANDREW: Dude! Escape route!

NIGEL: What? Go to that film instead?

ANDREW: Why not? We can just say we got lost!

DAVE: Andrew, that film is R-rated! It features gratuitous violence, nudity, adult themes, scenes that will disquiet people of nervous dispositions and erotic natures...

He realizes that the others are staring at him.

DAVE: All right. You’ve talked me into it.

They turn and hurry into the theatre opposite.


The guys find some seats. The place is filling up.

DAVE: [UNCERTAIN] We can take this, can’t we?

ANDREW: Of course we can. We’re old enough to watch it.

NIGEL: And we’re mature enough, aren’t we?

Dave is about to answer.

ANDREW: [INTERRUPTS] Of course we are. Heck, this stuff is for fluffy-cheeked amateurs considering the stuff Nigel keeps under his floorboards.

NIGEL: Exactl – wait. How did you know about it?

ANDREW: I didn’t. [GRINS EVILLY] But I do now.

DAVE: [TO HIMSELF] Yeah, we can take this.

ANDREW: You bet your ass, we can.

The lights dim. The movie starts. The guys are lit by a strange red glow. On the screen, two muppets are making out.

PUPPET: Havver froggin’ law onnum, shouldnum? Eh? Eh? Arn I? Oh ar?


We can hear the guys screaming. Continually.



Near the harbor, with a lot of derelict-looking warehouses dotted around the shore. We see an artist, wearing a painter’s smock, a beret and a long, multi-coloured scarf, stride confidently towards one particularly decrepit building. He carries a sculpture built out of old beer cans under one arm.


Lots of chain-link barrier block various doorways and holes in the walls. It looks like an abandoned construction site. The artist enters and heads up the only real doorway.


Bare, concrete walls mingling with boarded-up holes. Very dusty and dirty. The artist moves up them for a long time.


A bare chamber with grubby windows overlooking the harbor beyond. Most of the light comes from here. It is subdivided by arches and a run-down partition looks as though it was used as an the office once. The Artist arrives, looks around, and puts down the sculpture. He pulls out an envelope with RSVP written onto it.

ARTIST 1: ‘Gallery opens on 8/7/05.’

There is a pause. He looks at his watch: 8/7/05.

ARTIST 1: Where is everyone?

Fade to black.


Caption: 7/8/05. Fade up to show the place is now full of designs and designers. Artworks include paintings, sculptures, comic strips and a few video clips shown on wide-screen TV sets. We move past various pompous-looking artists.

ARTIST 2: So, Falstaff, you made it here after all?

ARTIST 3: Luckily. I realized the date was written in that horrible American style on the invite.

ARTIST 2: Oh, you mean Month/Day/Year and not Day/Month/Year?

ARTIST 3: Quite right. What do you call this costume again, Holmes?

ARTIST 2: The ‘Mini-Mini-Oh-Please-Bend-Over-And-Tell-Me-That-You-Love-Me Skirt’, Holmes. Note how it goes so well with the wombat-shaped haircut.

ARTIST 3: Yes, old bean. Not enough people go around wearing wombats on their heads these days. It’s a crying shame.

ARTIST 2: What, a man pretending to be a woman?

ARTIST 3: No, crying SHAME, old chap.

ARTIST 2: Ahh.

They move out of sight. We cut to Andrew and Katy wandering around the outer walls, pacing various Damien Hurst-style Dog-in-Concrete-type artworks.

ANDREW: [READS LABEL] ‘Exploiting The Typical Weakness Of Death Stars’.

KATY: Andrew, that stuff is just... inappropriate.

ANDREW: Well, yes.

KATY: Wildly inappropriate.

ANDREW: Indeed. But it’s also fantastic.

KATY: Fantastic?

ANDREW: In its realism. And accuracy.

We see there are staring at a painting of two Teletubbies firing guns at each other as they sink into quicksand. They move on, touring the art gallery.

KATY: Oh, why couldn’t we go to a proper art gallery?

ANDREW: Because Dave’s brother is running this and he needed our help with the catering. Besides, what’s wrong with this one? It’s the greatest art gallery I’ve seen.

KATY: What about the Stellarc Academy in Sydenham?

ANDREW: What about it?

KATY: It’s better than this stuff.

ANDREW: Perhaps, but you are absolutely not allowed to take pictures in the Academy. Here, people can take so many pictures the flashes could make you go blind.

KATY: What about the Glasshouse Pinocotheca in Surrey Hills?

ANDREW: No gift shops. Here, we can get any artwork of your choice on a T-shirt, mug, or even lighted-up Christmas card with tinny classical music.

He passes the ‘office’ with NOVELTY GIFTS in a lit sign above the door. Various artworks are displayed on T-shirts and posters.

KATY: What about the Guggenhiem? Huh? Beat that.

Andrew looks at her and takes a deep breath. He does not exhale. Katy rolls her eyes as Andrew begins stomping his feet. He is turning blue.

KATY: [SIGHS] OK, OK, I take it all back.

Andrew breathes out and coughs loudly.

ANDREW: [COUGHING] I knew I could convince you.

KATY: Why do you always do that when we argue?

ANDREW: It doesn’t matter how you play the game, as long as you win, Katy. Who told me that? What was his name? Base? Chase? Mace?

They wander off.

ANDREW: [VO] Skase! That’s it! Christo Skase the millionaire.

Another pair of artists, one dressed like Eddie Izzard, the other in black PVC. They stop by a sculpture.

ARTIST 4: Quite right. What do you make of this, Colon?

ARTIST 5: Hmm.

Another artist comes up to them.

ARTIST 6: Ah, admiring “Die, Sanity Clause, Die!”, I see?

ARTIST 4: This is your work?

ARTIST 6: That is true. I have spent four years designing it out of matchstick shavings, held together with Burmese adhesive and camel spit. It is my greatest achievement.

ARTIST 5: Yes, we can tell.

ARTIST 6: What do you think of it?

ARTIST 4: Well, it’s hard to put my opinion into actual words. Suffice it to say, your work is like watching paint dry...

ARTIST 5: ...while being whipped with barbed wire.

ARTIST 4 & 5: It’s immensely dull and painful at the same time.

They laugh sickeningly and then wander off. The sixth artist sobs sadly and walks off, shaking with emotion. He stops by a homemade lemonade stand with REF-RESHMONTS written above it. Dave sits behind it in a working-class manner.

DAVE: Fancy a drink, sport?

ARTIST 6: Only if it’s cyanide.

DAVE: How about some of Dave’s Patented Elixir? Or, as we call it, Bang-a-Jang-Bang?

Dave takes out a lab beaker full of what looks like snot. The artist takes it and looks it over, unimpressed.

ARTIST 6: What’s in it?

DAVE: It’s full of goodness... knows... what.

The artist downs the beaker, and lets out a mighty belch. He staggers slightly, and looks a lot more cheerful.

ARTIST 6: Wow... Pretty good. Tasty, too.

DAVE: Have another! Only five dollars a gulp.

The artist slugs back another and hands over his wallet.

ARTIST 6: [NOW VERY HAPPY] Tell me when it’s finished, minion.

DAVE: Yeah, sure – what did you call me?

ARTIST 6: You are all my subjects. Bow down before your King.

DAVE: [SLOWLY] You think you’re a king?

ARTIST 6: I AM your king and YOU will obey me!

Dave shrugs.

DAVE: [HANDS OVER ANOTHER GLASS] Have another tankard, your majesty.

The artist does so. He goes cross-eyed.

ARTIST 6: Majesty? MAJESTY! I am Emperor of the whole fricking world!

He takes two more of the beakers and drinks them both. There are now no more samples left. Staggering, the artist goes behind the stand and Dave leaps out of the way. The artist finds the keg-style dispenser and sucks the tap hungrily. Eve wanders up to some artists and bugs them.

ARTIST 3: Gurnica painted in fish scales. Very interesting...

EVE: Um, have you seen my pen at all?

ARTIST 2: What? Who are you?

EVE: I’m Eve Markson and you’re nobody. Now, have you or have you not seen my pen? You can’t miss it. It’s the size of a bumper-bar and made out of solid lead.

ARTIST 2: No, we haven’t so why don’t you...

ARTIST 3: Wait a minute, Holmes. Maybe she’s one of those performance artists that threatened to turn up today? [TO EVE] What’s your performance called, then, sweetie?

EVE: [ANNOYED] Look, buster, just tell me: have you seen my pen?

ARTIST 2: Staying in character like that, very good.

ARTIST 3: Very very VERY good.

EVE: Answer the smegging question, duckface!!!!

ARTIST 2: Look at that, Falstaff! Such passion! Much better than those idiots who paint themselves silver and stand in the middle of parks, not moving.

ARTIST 3: Mimes, you mean?

ARTIST 2: No, statues.

EVE: Either you tell me where my pen is or I do something... indescribable to your nostrils.

ARTIST 3: [TO EVE] I’d suggest you do that window-dummy crap. You know, stand in a shop window for two hours, then pretend to come to life in front of a crowd of bemused onlookers. It’s not original but, HAH, what is nowadays?

EVE: What I do to your genitals will be pretty original. Now, have your or have you not seen my pen?

ARTIST 2: I could watch her for hours, couldn’t you?

ARTIST 3: [THINKS ABOUT IT] No, she’s disgustingly fat.


ARTIST 2: Yes, she is a bit of a lard arse.

We zoom in on Eve’s angry face. She snarls.


An ambulance accelerates away from the warehouse.


There are now large bloodstains spattered around the area the artists were talking to Eve. Various other artists and critics look them over.

ARTIST 4: True genius. Exquisite. Don’t you think so, Francis?

ARTIST 5: Yes, indeed. How many annoyed artistes have thrown wine at reviewers who don’t like their work? But to attack critics that DO like their work? That takes imagination.

ARTIST 4: Or Apple Schnapps.

ARTIST 5: Yes, Colon. Apple Schnapps does that too.

We pan over to Andrew and Katy in front of a framed poster of Danger Mouse. Andrew is folding his arms and isn’t breathing again.

KATY: Look, I’m just saying that this can’t be the major exhibit... It’s not even a real artwork! OK, OK, I know about ‘art for art’s sake’ but, this... Doesn’t work for me. That’s ALL I’M SAYING.

Andrew rolls his eyes, but still isn’t breathing. A school teacher with some HSC students wander into view.

TEACHER: Excuse me? Excuse me?

Andrew turns to look at her. He is now purple.

TEACHER: Could you move along, please?

Andrew stares at her.

TEACHER: [SLIGHTLY FREAKED] Other people wish to enjoy this picture.

Andrew’s eyes start to bulge.

TEACHER: [MEEKLY] Maybe you could start breathing while you’re at it?

Andrew opens his mouth to speak – and promptly passes out. We cut back to Dave, who is bent over the drunken artist. Most of the ‘snot’ has covered his head. He is belching regularly.

DAVE: [SOFTLY] Who are you now?

ARTIST 6: Me? I’m... I’m the... the... Avenging Disco Godfather... Obey me... or I will go super-disco on your ass... Staying alive, staying alive... Ah, ah, ah, ah... glow-in-the-dark underwear... Oh, kill me now...

The artist passes out. Dave looks up as shouting fills the air. We see a deeply embarrassed Katy shouting angrily at Andrew, who is gasping for oxygen and making choking noises.

KATY: OKAY! It is the best art gallery in the entire FREAKING WORLD!! OKAY!? Even IF it’s star attraction is some freakish kiddy poster! [STAMPS FOOT] Just start breathing and act your age for once!

Against the far wall, between a mannequin in a phone booth and a camel with a clock for a face stands Nigel (in a bright red waistcoat) and an attractive bisexual artist in a tuxedo and red bow-tie. This is Virginia Braithwaite.

VIRGINIA: And you know what the scary thing is?

NIGEL: Tell me, sweetlips.

VIRGINIA: Just when the umbrella fell down and crushed the tourist into mushy red paste, on the exact other side of the world the OTHER umbrella fell down and crushed a different tourist into mushy red paste! I tell you, if you see Christo, run for a mile.

NIGEL: I know. What kind of idiot gift-wraps buildings? I mean, who is going to open them? And why do they want buildings as presents? Do you know anyone like that?

VIRGINIA: No. I mean, ‘Happy Birthday!’ and the guy unwraps the present to find the town hall building. What is that all about? But did I tell you about the Spiral Jetty?

NIGEL: Maybe. Tell me again, shnookums.

As she talks, Nigel takes out a deodorant can and sprays himself liberally. He then inhales some, like perfume.

VIRGINIA: This guy builds his first-ever artwork, a bright pink walkway just below the water, going round and round and round and round and round and round and round. He gets into a plane to take some photos of it and...


VIRGINIA: ...the plane crashes into the artwork and he drowns.

Nigel laughs bitterly – a sort of pained, coughing sound as he clears his throat. He leans against a doorway.

NIGEL: The fool. I can tell you, babe, I don’t go round making stupid mistakes like that -

The door swings open and Nigel falls through. We realize that there was nothing beyond the door as Nigel falls out of sight.


We see Nigel falling from the doorway in the side of the warehouse and plunging seven stories until crashing into the murky canal over which the warehouse looms. Seconds later, Andrew is thrown out of the foyer entrance. He shouts back angrily.

ANDREW: Fine! See if I care! It isn’t like this is the FIRST time!

He turns and notices Nigel struggling to surface from some sewage.

ANDREW: Hi, Nigel.

Nigel spits out some slime and screams in disgust.

ANDREW: Dude, it’s just water.

NIGEL: [SCREAMING HYSTERICALLY] My god, I’m wet! I’m soaked!! Oh, the humanity!!! Arrrrrgh!

ANDREW: Never mind.

With more melancholic pathos, Nigel sinks into the muck.


A crowd of people has gathered around the open doorway.

ARTIST 4: Spectacular. THAT is true performance art.

Everyone pretty much agrees. Dave’s mobile rings, so he heads over to answer it.

DAVE: Hello, Dave Restal speaking? Doug! How are you? Fine, fine. Yeah, the exhibition’s really kicked off. Manage to get one or two new exhibits. What? You mean your car’s broken down? And you’re stuck in Adelaide? And you can’t get back here in time for the speech? And you want me to do the speech? And while I’m at it, you want me to stop repeating everything you say? Oh, all right. But, I’ll need someone to cover me at the refreshment stand. Uh, no, Andrew’s been barred. Nigel? He’s... indisposed. All right! All right! I’ll think of something!

Annoyed, he hangs up.


An ambulance pulls up and two orderlies get out.

ORDERLY 1: Here again? Is this a slaughterhouse or something?

ORDERLY 2: So, where’s the victim?

Andrew moves into view, carrying a comotose-crap-smothered Nigel.

ANDREW: Over here. Bit of performance art got a bit out of hand.

They begin to dump Nigel’s body on a stretcher and do ER type stuff.

ORDERLY 2: Performance Art, eh? I was there at the Academy when Tommy Alcott finished his career. Shot himself in the foot, really, when you think about it.

ANDREW: Yes. Where did he get than gun from, anyway?

ORDERLY 2: No idea. Wonderful art, though.

ANDREW: I thought so, too.

They finish putting Nigel into the back of the ambulance.

ORDERLY 1: Right. Will you be accompanying [INDICATES NIGEL] to the hospital, Mr... er?

ANDREW: [SHAKES HIS HAND] Tindell Manx Harpooner Mootie Hubbub Smutch Garris Boker Grubby Martha Baltimore Prudent Forkit Nik Nak Tibbin Bantam Podger Mousepork Geerson Woolmicks.

ORDERLY 2: Um, Tindell?

ANDREW: Just call me the Glove Smuggler, thanks.

He scrambles into the back of the ambulance. He takes the oxygen mask and takes a long breath.

ANDREW: [SLIGHTLY DIZZY] Wow. This ambulance is a pretty colour, isn’t it? Um, right. Look after yourself, Nige. I’d help you but, er, I’ve got to cook dinner tonight – after YOU ruined my last attempt. Sweet dreams.

He stumbles out of the ambulance and away.

...hopefully not to be continued...

Dave looks around and spots Eve looking through a rubbish bin.

DAVE: Eve! Er, I mean, Miss! Hey!

Eve looks up at him as he goes over to her.

EVE: Dave, have you seen my pen anywhere?

DAVE: Um, no, sorry. Look, would you like to help me out at the refreshment stand tomorrow...

EVE: Only if you help me find my pen.

DAVE: But...

EVE: No pen, no help!

DAVE: [SIGHS] OK, when did you last have it?

EVE: When we were at Rasputin Goes To Happy-Flappy Burgers. I gave it to you in the scene before the E-Coli gets out of control and goes off hunting for new victims.

DAVE: Uh, you didn’t hand it to me, miss.

EVE: You were sitting next to me, weren’t you?

DAVE: Ah... [GRIMACES] Actually, I, well, I went to...

EVE: What?

Dave lets out a scared noise and runs away. Eve shrugs.

EVE: Men. Though, come to think of it, the guy who took didn’t look much like Dave. Hair was too long. And he was black. And he was wearing lipstick... [FROWNS] Why would Dave be wearing lipstick to the movies? Maybe, maybe so he could steal my pen without retribution! Nah, Eve, you’re getting carried away. He’s probably just a poofter.

She continues rummaging through the bin.