Monday, June 30, 2008

Doctor Who - The Planet That Cried "Bad Wolf"


Hear of the fallen rain
Coming down like an Armageddon flame?
For shame, the ones who died
Without a name?

Hear the dogs howling out of key?
To a hym called "Faith and Misery"?
And greed?
The Company lost their war today

Hear the drums pounding out of time?
Another protestor has crossed the line
To find
The money's on the other side!

Can I get another "amen"? AMEN!
There's a flag wrapped around a score of men!
A gag
A plastic bag on a monument!

I beg to dream and differ
From the hollow lies!
This is the dawning of the rest
Of our lives...

DOCTOR WHO! Hey! Doctor Who!
DOCTOR WHO! Hey! Doctor Who!
DOCTOR WHO! Hey! The Daleks!


This is a "part two", is it? Cause to me it looks a lot more like a "part one". And if I were to compare it to another "part one", it'd be The Leisure Hive. Not that the opening shot has Donna hurling abuse at the Doctor on Brighton Beach because her tamagotchi got wet, but there is a palpable sense of a line being drawn in the sand. This is the same show, after all, who expected new viewers to randomly arrive to see a Dalek/Cyberman war, a dystopian future Earth and even Eccleston perish. Even with that they provided a handy catchup summary, working on the premise that every episode should make sense to a new viewer as long as they watch all of said episode. No such thing here. If the Doctor and Donna babbling about Rose Tyler (who?!) and dimensions collapsing (what?!) before running away from this info dump to leave a passing milkman to suffer an earthquake puts you off, chances are, the rest of the episode will too.

Of course, is there REALLY an excuse to be so ignorant nowadays? Are there any viewers TOTALLY unaware that Doctor Who is in its massive season finale? Aren't they all capable of looking up wikipedia to get the references? Doesn't anyone read the Radio Times any more? And, with the series GUARANTEED another year or so, RTD can cheerfully - for the rest of the season anyway - give the finger to anyone baffled. If you don't like it, put on a Porridge DVD! HAH!

Yes, before the titles, The Stolen Earth has already sunk its talons into fanwank (i) - that is, you have to be a fan to actually understand any of what's going on. Certainly, you need to have watched Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures to get who these disparate individuals are. Perhaps some casual viewer might try and bluff their way, no doubt simultanously noting that the cheap courier new-fonted captions aren't a patch on the ones from the Eccleston era which used the credits font. Simultaneously, it quickly becomes apparent that bar the last few seconds, Turn Left is more or less utterly irrelevent, a standalone. The whole thing could have been sparked, say, in Midnight, where the Doctor spots Rose on the screen, twigs, and his desperation to get back to the TARDIS makes the passengers turn against him. Hell, the cliffhanger to The Sontaran Stratagem could have worked had the Doctor and Donna checked their voicemail, with her noticing that the blonde woman is the same one who didn't pass the keys on to her mother.

A quick flashback to Doomsday, a bit I noticed on my dozenth viewing and - curiously enough - the moment that broke my masculinity and left me weeping like a baby man and emotionally vulnerable for quite a while afterwards. It also broke the vibe that left me blind to the stories inadequacies, but still...

ROSE (voice trembling) Can't you come through properly?
THE DOCTOR The whole thing would fracture. Two Universes would collapse.
ROSE (only half joking) So?

Thus, Rose's return terrifies the Doctor by the implication the walls between universes are dissolving. Frantic, the Doctor pilots the TARDIS back to Earth (somehow dispelling the Bad Wolf graffiti at the same time) to find... nothing's wrong at all. The world is fine. It's a Saturday. But this doesn't stop the Doctor freaking out and running back inside the time machine, until Donna calms him down, reminding him that despite all the unknowable universe-destroying chaos implicit, that Billie Piper is back. Let me repeat that: Donna calms him down. I can't think of many companions who can do it, bar maybe Ian and Barbara (does Charley count since she was fused to him that one time?). But this touching moment is ruined as, upon leaving the TARDIS the duo find themselves hanging in interplanetary void (lucky that force field stops them being sucked into oblivion, huh?), but the Doctor knows the TARDIS has not moved a millimetre.

The clue's a bit of a title to what the answer is.

And though we still have yet to reach the opening credits, we see the Earth is suffering a worldwide earth tremor. In New York UNIT HQ (ooh, tongue twister), Martha tries to take charge and presumably fight off the deja vu of the whole situation. In the Torchwood Hub, mere moments it appears after the end of Exit Wounds, Jack and his followers - his two remaining followers - wonder what the hell caused it. Meanwhile, Sarah Jane Smith and Luke (quite a while after The Lost Boy) similarly try to take stock after the cross dimensional space transference which has no doubt taken place. Ah, Luke, you gotta love him, while RTD makes the first of "No, seriously, you need to be a fan to get this" gags, like Sarah Jane shaking her head in dispair as Mr. Smith awakens with his Murray Gold tune: "You need to stop doing that fanfare!"

Unless you sat through the whole of her spin off show - which is not a bad way to pass the time - it will mean nothing. Hell, Jack blathering on about the rift would be lost on those viewers who don't remember the events of Boomtown. Of course, it comes as no surprise that Wilf is the first one to guess what's really happening, instantly charging out into the street to shout, "What do you want THIS time, you green swines?!" to the aliens no doubt responsible. Seriously, Wilf deserves his own Big Finish series. More than Bernice, anyway...

The titles finally turn up after Rose turns up with a big fucking gun in a bolt of lightning. Why do they ape Terminator by missing out the most important point: SHE SHOULD BE STARKERS! God, Russell, sometimes I think you forget there are some heterosexuals in the fan base. The Moff will sort this all out, mark my words...

And, yes, it's DAVID TENNANT, CATHERINE TATE, FREEMA AGYEMAN, JOHN BARROWMAN WITH ELISABETH SLADEN AND BILLIE PIPER! not forgetting PENELOPE WILTON, ADJOA ANDOH, EVE MYLES, GARETH DAVID-LLOYD (Note to the Moff: go for an old style opening credits without all the cast names, it's just looking stupid them having to hold back the logo so long. Can you imagine if they had to do this for The Five Doctors?!) in DOCTOR WHO - THE FANWANK IMPLOSION!!

Sorry, THE STOLEN EARTH. Though, The Fanwank Implosion was the name I used for my Yellow Fever And How To Cure It spoof where nine Doctors and their companions fought the Autons, the Master and the Rani... The big joke, of course, was that no proper TV story would ever go so overboard in bringing back characters like that. Oh, I was niave back then, wasn't I? (Note to the Moff: change the logo too.)

Where was I? Right. The Earth has vanished, and Donna shows off her brains by pointing out that even if it's just been teleported elsewhere, there will be no sun to stop it freezing to ice and destroying everything she knows and values. But, keeping it together remarkably well, she doesn't have a screaming fit at the Doctor as he marvels the technology that has been used, but asks what to do. The Doctor admits they're gonna need help.

"Donna... I'm taking you to the Shadow Proclaimation," the Doctor intones, almost lost under me kicking the desk and shouting, "Shadow Proclaimers! Not Proclaimation! NO NO NO! GODDAMMIT!"

Back on Earth, Mal Loup (look, I don't care how she's credited, her name is Bad Wolf in French and that's OFFICIAL!) is once again put on the newsdesk, making her the only on screen regular in every series. She's reported on the Slitheen 'hoax', the Sycorax youtube vid, Saxon's deal with the Toclafane, the Sontaran Smog, the American Adipose and now the "By the way, the stars and suns have vanished but stay calm, people, there's nothing to see here." Does she EVER get the Dead Donkey? And how the hell are the spin offs going to cope with the fallout from this adventure? I mean, UFOs and smog, sudden reversals of the Earth's magnetic field and zombie outbreaks you might concievably get over but... I don't see how ANYONE, even the WELSH will be able to miss this. There are riots on the streets as everyone starts looting and getting wasted in a sequence that simultaneously shows how rubbish End of Days was and also that Billie's finally remembered how to talk normally. Good for her. And if the week-long orgy that is Torchwood 3 ignores it, well, I think that'll be the final word on how highly regarded it is within its own bloody franchise.

However, on the celebrity cameos of ep 12 tradition Richard Dawkins proves he's a thinker not an actor, and Paul Grady wouldn't shut up even IF the Earth leapt frogged into a planetary traffic jam. The latter is only actually embarrassing because calm, reserved and humorless Ianto pisses himself with laughter at the joke, "I saw all them moons and wondered what I was drinking last night - shoe polish?"

Yeah. Hahah. I mean, OK, it's not UNFUNNY, but Ianto reacts like it's Monty Python's Joke of Death...

Simultaneously, Torchwood, UNIT and Mr. Smith detect a whacking great alien space fleet is in their new neighborhood and closing in on Earth. Their message for mankind consists of one word which leaves our ex-companions on the point of complete nervous breakdowns: "Exterminate!"

...come on, you aren't seriously surprised, are you?

Patrick Troughton noted that while he liked the Daleks, he didn't actually find them very frightening as he knew they were just suits worn by his pals (indeed, on several occasions he liked to try out the Dalek props for himself, leading to the infamous "I AM A DALEK!" rampage of 1973). Thus, he made it quite clear that the Doctor was terrified of them. All the joking and the manipulating ended and things became serious. Tom Baker and Christopher Eccleston followed the same rule, albeit 'take-the-piss-out-of-them-when-they-are-in-front-of-you-panic-when-they're-not' variation. The First Doctor took them seriously, but he took most things seriously. Like the Zarbi for Cliff's sake. The Third Doctor wasn't afraid of them, though Jon Pertwee's dislike for them in concept and practise made it clear he hated the bastards. The Fifth and Sixth were well and truly over them and more interested in Davros, though that's more down the writer than anything else (ref: Colin Baker's haunting anecdote of noting the props moving when no one was in the studio), while the Seventh Doctor was sick to death of the bastards and just wanted them gone for good. The Eighth meanwhile starts off with Third-style contempt that deliberately becomes Ninth-style psychotic hatred. My point is, I understand the story reasons for why our human heroes are so scared, but while Jack has good reason to declare humanity beyond help, do Martha and Sarah have the same reason to be scared of them? Especially considering everyone in London will recognize the golden bastards as the ones who seemingly saved humanity from the Cybermen...

Mind you, anyone who leaves an answering machine screaming 'kill! kill! kill!' is going to get people thinking they're not nice. So, tip for the kiddies there.

As the Dalek fleet goes all Mars Attacks on the Earth and wonder what the hell the reset button RTD will pull out of his OBE-pinned posterior THIS TIME, the Doctor and Donna arrive at the Triceraton homeworld! Well, that's a bit of a TMNT-in-joke there, but basically the Shadow Proclaimation has totally ripped off the 'upside down volcanos with domed cities on top clipped to ever larger versions of the same. The Tricertons of course were badass bipedal humanoids with Triceratops heads, and not a BIT like the badass bipedal humanoids with Rhino heads, the Judoon. After a Red Dwarf-style exchange of 'ro sho no blow ho' hakas, the Doctor and Rocksteady discover that Earth vanished along with twenty four other planet simultaneously. So presumably (I say presumably cause Donna Super Temp is pointing this out moment after I start typing) the extra three worlds are Pyrovillia, the Adipose breeding planet and... what?! Did he list Calufrax as one of the missing worlds? RTD, come on, FOCUS HERE! That's dangerously close to fanwank (ii), the type that only fans reading program guides will get, AND it's bollocks! Unless the Daleks pulled off this stunt at the same time as Zanak was gobbling up planets to do the old "sneak in a murder during a serial killing spree so as to avoid suspicion" trick from In The Red, it's...


As well as Women Wept, the Lost Moon of Poosh (clue's in the name) and Klom (Daleks verses Absorbaloffs... on second thoughts, no.) and a bunch of other planets, Earth's disappearance has caused a universal uproar. And the red-eyed little old woman who runs the Shadow Proclaimation Space Police ain't happy. Seriously, wouldn't have been cool to have Nathan and the Star Cops? OK, I'm dreaming based on fangasm overload here. The Doctor notes that these planets are being moved for some kind of funky kinetic dance with planetary mass balancing and creating power and I have NO idea where this is going but the Doctor notes "someone tried to move the Earth long ago..."


You're shitting me, Russell. You are seriously saying that Project: Degravitate by the weakest, stupidest and dumbest Daleks ever - even Nick Briggs thinks they're crap! - was actually a try out for this season finale?! Or are you, as before, pretending the William Hartnell story didn't happen but Daleks - Invasion Earth 2150AD did happen? After all, Terry Nation dubbed the plot canon... and it is a great movie... with Bernard Cribbens fighting Daleks... Oh man, my head's spinning. This is like the trailer to The Doctor's Doctor times a thousand! I'm so dazed, I only just register the Daleks are blowing the fuck out of the Valiant! You'd have thought something the Master built might, you know, have some guts to it... is the Master going to turn up to? GAH! FOCUS! FOOOOOOCUUUUUUUSSS!

Martha's right in the middle of the next on the Daleks' 'to maximum exterminate' list, and as they go around gleefully screaming "ANNIHILATE UNIT FORCES!" Martha and her pals realize the only thing that might save their sorry arses is the ominous, untested and dangerous Project Indigo or, as I predict, The Big Great Threatening Red Button Which Must Never Ever Ever Be Pressed Under Any Circumstances that works the exact same way as the Omega 13 device in Galaxy Quest. Think we found RTD's reset button.

Hmmm. Seems Project Indigo is some kind of rocket pack that Martha can use to find the Doctor. Or maybe not. And there's some fucked up "Stockholm Key" or something that she is authorized to use as a last (how last? "Post the credits of Threads" last) resort, while everyone takes a moment in the middle of Armageddon to slag off Torchwood. Go on, fanboys, try and tell me how much RTD loves the show now, huh?

As Martha teleports away, Jack loses it. Big time. So when he explains that Project Indigo is just a rather dangerous teleport bracelet, I'm kinda underwhelmed. Even when he explains Martha is now a random string of dots floating through the universe... like Trillian... in Life the Universe and Everything. Davies, put down your Douglas Adams DVDs and get back to the plot!


Sorry, but... yeah. With an artificial hand, too. Methinks my theory that The Juggernauts was an attempt by the Daleks to rewrite history is right! They got the fucker off Lethe without going Chernobyl on the Black Dalek's ass. And Davros is... worryingly normal. In the sense he's not doing the "ranting like a Dalek" or "laughing insanely". He's having the equivalent of a normal conversation. Outside the audios, you won't find this anywhere else but Genesis. And the new bloke does the voice very well. Mind you, he's doing the voice of Michael Wisher rather than Terry Molloy. Still, it's not the voice David Segal or Witold Tirtze, so... big up.

I'll just jibber for a moment.

Somehow, Dalek Caan - the dullest, most annoyingly-voiced of the Cult of Skaro - has managed to temporal shift in such a way he's rescued Davros and saved a hell of a lot of Daleks. And, with typical gratitude he's been dubbed "the Abomination" (Daleks like that nickname, don't they? I can think of half a dozen things they call abominations), smashed to pieces and chained to the wall. I wonder why? I mean, it's not Davros' usual "I am the Supreme Dalek, you lying mofos!" issues, since he built a bloody Supreme Dalek to handle all the day to day exterminations... Is it because he's not mint green like Sec, I notice, or purple like Jubilee-wannabe, or even burnt orange like half-human ones from the Gamestation? He does look a bit like the half human ones with that vestigial face and bulging yellow eye...

Holy shit. That insane cackling laughter I swore blind was Terry Molloy... was Dalek Caan. It's Nicholas Briggs! Do you realize how important that is? That means there was a VERY REAL CHANCE that they would have got Nick Briggs to voice all the Daleks, all the Judoon AND Davros! Thank goodness RTD knows how dangerous it is to give him that kind of power. Well, anyway, whatever drove Caan crazy, Davros is keeping him as an oracle of the future. Or maybe just a conversation piece of objet d'art. Davros is kinda wierd like that at the best of times, but this version is certainly no dumbo. He warns the Supreme about his pride and refuses to take the chance that when Caan screams, "the Doctor is coming!" he might be just nuts.

I have NO idea what any newbies might be coping with by now. Maybe they've just shut down and watching Daleks blow people up, patiently waiting for the Doctor and Donna to turn up again. Ah, there they are. And Donna is left listening to her own heart beat. Um. OK. And the waitress knows about the time beetle on her back. And she's something 'new'. Uh oh. Obviously there's no time left for subtlety, which is why the waitress is now doing 'I'm sorry for the loss that is to come'. Just in case Rose telling her she's dead meat continuously last week wasn't enough of a foreboder. And...


The bees are disappearing because they're fleeing ala the Dolphins in Hitchhiker's Guide. What? Now I'm bitching about you steal ideas from me and DWM comic strips, you're turning onto Douglas Adams for inspiration?! Well, fine, I think you've just proved you've run out of creative juice, Russell. You got nothing left but other people's toys. If you hadn't quit already, I'd say you'd be retired after this mess...

Similarly enraged at this moment, the Shadow Proclaimation (and the entire universe) declare war on whichever sons of bitches started their own private solar system and since the Doctor's TARDIS is the only way to get there, Creepy Old Lady in Charge demands the Doctor hands over the keys. It's like RTD's remembered the completely redundant bits in New Earth and Doomsday where the Doctor says "right, I have to fight you lot as well", and then five seconds later they might as well have agreed with him at the start? Well, the Doctor has now managed to piss the hell out of... the universe. Basically.

Oooooooh shit.

You know what the worst bit is? We're not even 22 minutes into the episode yet!! We are essentially in part one of four! Only one other opening ep I can think of moved faster than this... and that was Time and the Rani!

Back on Earth, the Daleks are rounding up the humans and indulging in that "oh goodie, you just gave me an excuse to nuke your testicles" sort of thing all good monsters and villains like. But Wilf, the only person who was in Daleks - Invasion Earth 2150 AD knows how to stop the bastards! With his paint gun! (Sylvia's in this, by the way, but she is just the coward asking questions. As such, she's the most bearable I've ever seen her... until she puts the kettle on in the middle of an alien invasion and snaps at the others for talking about the planet Midnight and the Doctor... fucking hell... at least it lets Wilf let loose at her for being so utterly retarded in her life). And after RTD rips off one of my ideas from The End of the Road, our ragged resistance is revived by a regular remembered as... well, Rose turns up again. I was trying to be alliterative, but, you know...

The Doctor's newfound confidence in defying the biggest law enforcement authority EVER is slightly tempered when he finds out where all the planets have been taken - the Medusa Cascade. The place where, as children of only 90 years, the Doctor and the Master visited on holiday; the place where, during the Time War, the Doctor single handedly closed the rift; the place where he lost his name; the place humans should never know about; the place he considers an enticing holiday destination... Helen Raynor came up with that last one, can you tell?

As the twenty-five minute mark comes around, Donna's faith is shattered as the Doctor gives up all hope.


Yeesh. I think that, like Reset, I need a break. This is too much too quickly...

....and back again. Right. Now what? Oh dear. Gwen's doing her 'sits on sofa and silently has a nervous breakdown' acting, for a whole new audience. Ianto's shaking as he cleans up. Jack is sulking. Sarah is hugging Luke. Sylvia is sobbing, but that might be down to someone finally telling her what they think of her. Either way, Wilf's comforting her. Rose is brooding. Humanity has en masse surrendered to the Daleks. It wasn't the death squads, it wasn't their overbearing military might, it was the endless quotes from The Dalek Invasion of Earth that broke the human race. Yes, males, females, decendants, Daleks offer us life, I KNOW!!!

Egads? Is that four-tone pulsing cutting across the Dalek propaganda a tad familiar? Is that drumming I hear in my ears? Rose recognizes that voice and oddly enough, so do I... might have been more of a surprise if she hadn't been in the opening credits. Yes, Harriet Jones has returned! And she's somehow managing to contact Torchwood, Sarah Jane and the Noble household... except that none of them are interested. In unison. I'm sure the law of probability is getting a stress fracture at this point. And Sylvia dooms humanity again as she refuses to let Wilf have a webcam "because it's naughty", thus preventing Rose from contacting our lovable ex-Prime Minister. Cue "Yes, I know who you are" joke. Just in case you thought the big Welshman might let it go.

Ah, hah! Turns out Harriet's rounding up all the ex-Doctor companions, and Rose is slightly put off that she aint on the list but our favorite Dark Lady is. "Who's she?" asks blondie, puzzled. Yes, Martha is NOT dead. In case you thought we were going to do an Andy Frankham Judgement Day slaughterhouse and pointlessly murder one recurring character after another. Instead, Martha has brought in the big guns in form of Francine "Ballcrusher" Jones herself!

Oxygen getting thin... dizzy... only three minutes after I started!

Right, so as Sarah Jane smacks down Jack's flirting (ooh, did I predict that or what?), cue "Stop it" joke, and Harriet reveals that she got this formidable "tracking down ex-companions without being detected by bug eyed monsters" software from a nice old man by the name of Copper. My brain... hang on, this is very convenient? Why do I get a feeling Ms Jones is going to stab them all in their backs? Uh, Harriet Jones, I mean. Not Martha. Or Francine. Or Ianto in drag. This was always gonna bite you in the ass, RTD and I CANNOT BELIEVE WHAT I AM ACTUALLY WATCHING! (A conference call between Doctor Who, SJA and Torchwood, I mean, Harriet hasn't revealed she's actually Romana or anything... but I wouldn't be surprised.)

Martha's Ultimate Weapon is rejected by Harriet as never to be used, despite Jack's awkward requests to know what it is (hah, so-called know-it-all Torchwood suck!) and thus settles for flirting with Luke.... Moving on. Thus, they work on a new plan. Using Martha's superphone, Mr. Smith's telephone abilities and the Cardiff rift, they will contact the Doctor and get him running back to save their sorry butts from complete Dalek carnage! One drawback, anything big enough to reach the TARDIS will attract the attentions of the half-million Daleks who now rule the Earth, and ergo Harriet is toast. Nevertheless they go throough with it and...

...what? What is that? Is that my computer? What's that noise? Like sleigh bells and a 1980s power soundtrack of "ooh-hah!"s! My god, Murray Gold, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!? That's music for Inspector Gadget, or the Goodies or, at a pinch, Satyricon... and I might actually like it. It does feel like three TV theme tunes jammed together in stereo. But the point is, this is like Fatboy Slim in the middle of The Aztecs, music-wise. Not a bit like anything heard before in this episode.

Trivia: if the world is in danger, simply dial 07700 900461 and ask for "Theta Sigma".

Well, the SFX from Destiny of the Daleks are in full flow as the signal is sent with the distinctive oscillations of a Movellan space ship as Skaro Central Alarms go off and Davros takes the Supreme Dalek down a peg or two, cause whatever the "Children of Time" are up to, our favorite blind, one-armed wheelchair-bound cripple is ready, willing and able to deal with. Mr. Smith and the Hub are doing their best 'dying Scorpio' impressions, the Daleks storm Harriet's place, and the TARDIS bursts into flame as we watch the heroes of the world... phone for help on mobiles across the country.

God, it's the ultimate Ben Chatham moment, it really is.

Well, as the Doctor finally gets in contact with his "outer space facebook" and the flirting REALLY begins, Rose glumly realizes she's been left out of things. Oh, it's like Blake, where they continue not to bump into each other. And as Dalek Caan giggles and does a happy tentacle dance as he predicts the death of the 'most faithful of companions', Davros decides it's time to add himself to the conference call of time and space.

"Your voice is different, yet its arrogance is unchanged," muses Davros - proving a real buzzkill to the Doctor who was kinda hoping to talk to something a bit more Billie Piper-shaped. Sarah is the only other person to recognize the voice, even though, you know, that voice has changed too... forget it. Davros comes into the light. Whoa.



Just... just whoa.

With Harriet gone, Torchwood now controls the software, so the Daleks head there to kick some serious arse. Armed with his defabricator gun and favorite coat, Jack teleports to find the Doctor while Gwen and Ianto mind the stall from the xenophobic cyborg bastards of hell. Hopefully they'll use the bloody weevils for canon fodder before pulling out the singularity scalpel and frying the mutants out of their casings... no? Darn, seeing zombie Owen recover from a Dalek blast would be great to see. And as the familiar sound of Nick Briggs in ecstacy echoes throughout the Hub, Sarah Jane Smith similarly ditches her own spin-off format to find the pratt in the blue box that started it all. Rose too ditches her companions (with Sylvia actually wishing her good luck... at gunpoint) to find the TARDIS.

4 minutes and 22 seconds until the file stops...

The TARDIS drops to Earth in the middle of a ghost town (everyone's been taken by the Daleks) and as the Doctor and Donna get one last chance to explore their surroundings, at the other end of the road, Rose appears. It says a lot it took me a while to remember 'Rose's tune' from the end of The Christmas Invasion as the star-crossed lovers run towards each other, and a million fan ficcers symbollically torch their 'alt-Doomsday endings' (have you READ some of those? AWFUL!!!!)

And in slow motion a passing Dalek watches this and decides it's getting too soppy, and so, in slow-motion blasts the Doctor to the ground. Donna gasps. Rose gasps. Jack teleports in. Blows up the Dalek. And gasps. I myself have gasped so much I risk hyperventilating. And it's all gone Planet of the Spiders as Rose tries to revive the bloody-obviously-dying Doctor and...


...that's my cat, who was screaming at me for milk throughout this incredibly emotional scene.

Meanwhile, Gwen STILL hasn't quite regained her sanity as, out of all the weapons in the Hub, she chooses the ones Ianto tells her DON'T work on Daleks. Because she wants to "go out like Tosh". Actually, deliberately putting yourself in fatal danger on principal is more like "going out like Owen". Nevertheless, if anything's going to scare off a Dalek, it's Psycho Cooper screaming louder than her Uzi submachine gun. Elsewhere, poor Sarah accidentally backs into two Daleks in her car. Skaroine road rage leads to a predictable response.

In the TARDIS, Jack orders Rose and Donna away from the agonized, convulsing and gurning Doctor. He's dying and they all know what happens next. Well, not Donna, but she gets a bloody good idea as the Doctor starts to glow orange... seriously, this is very close to The Night Walkers... and with the final words of, "I'm sorry... I'm regenerating..." he does the full fireworks...




Like that. Big metal letters thudding into place like a Cyberman footstep.

For the first time, I think I'm glad about a week's break between episodes. I should be just about recovered...


(I don't quite trust myself to give a final rating. Twas good though)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Doctor Who - Hell on Earth


She looked over twenty-two
A man could drown in eyes so blue
Standing tall and satisfied
Like to try to run but I just might die

Up in Indiana where the tall corn grows
I do a little thinking bout a girl named Rose
Hair blonde as hay and long as a rope
Up in Indiana where the tall corn grows

I do a little thinking bout a girl named Rose
Hell don't care, but Heaven knows
Just give me an hour with a girl named Rose!

It's a three parter. It's the biggest fanwankarama since Divided Loyalties. How am I supposed to review it?

I'll just have to rip off Jared's method...

Finish Download - is it that rare for an story featuring Billie Piper, Freema Agyeman and Catherine Tate? Even before this season we had Army of Ghosts, which featured all three. No one ever thinks of that, do they? And what does Adeola say to her victims? "Just go to the left..."

0:00 - Curiously, I've been able to download Turn Left incredibly quickly, able to see it the day I started downloading rather than two days later. Thus, as the episode unfolds before my spectacled eyes, the TV in the next room shows Billie Piper as Fanny (down, Nigel, down) in Mansfield Park. I consider watching her as a problem child in pretty dresses, a change from her depressed loner Sally Lockhart. Then I say bugger it and click play...

0:02 - The story opens on Shan Shen, a disappointingly small scale alien world. It's basically a street filled with Chinatown cliches and some dodgy CGI that seems to think Howe's Moving Castle is the be all and end all of freaky outer space. Ironic that RTD is the one that comes up with the planet that might as well be Earth. And it's not often I whinge about this, but... bit yellow peril, isn't it? On an alien planet and Chinatown is full of cliched, pigeon-English-speaking vendors, con artists and dark mystics. Since the TARDIS translates languages, do we NEED "choppee choppe best in all Shan Shen pretty lady" type rambles.

0:59 - Chippo Chung sans beetle makeup. Am I wrong to think she was cuter with antennae? Mind you, she's definitely a good actress. No hint she's anything other than cold calculating pure evil. Which does mean Donna looks damn stupid when she falls for the "free palm-reading" business. I mean, it's not like she's ever had a bad experience with soothsayers... hang on!

- before I go any further, I'll muse on OG Theory. This is the theory that spectacularly failed to get Bad Wolf right and instead came up with the infamous Adam Mitchell Is Davros Theory. Now, this has corrupted via Chinese Whispers or Messaline History, so people forget the very sensible and logical starting point: Adam, a self-confessed genius with a head full of anachronistic technology is left in 2012 with a rather nasty grudge against the Doctor and Rose. Since he also has detailed knowledge of the Daleks and a passing acquaintence with knowledge of the future, the idea that the season finale would have the scorned companion reviving the Daleks, withered into a wheelchair and a third eye was, in all honesty, a missed opportunity. If there's one obvious "you shouldn't have done that" plot idea, it was that. The idea being they can use Davros without actually getting the convoluted character, as well as getting the irony of the Doctor noting that Van Statten would like Davros, having hired his successor unwittingly...

- OG Theory for this season finale was just as logical and entertaining. Quite simply, the omnipotent and powerful Trickster from Whatever Happened to Sarah-Jane Smith? fulfills his promise to look up the Doctor, and erases him from time, thus allowing a superhero team up to restore him. What lead to this theory? Footage of Donna living an impossible family life and shouting to someone in long black robes. Who turns out to be Miss Evangalista in River's Run, in a completely irrelevent B-plot that ultimately has sweet FA to do with anything in the same story, let alone the rest of the season. Since that idea is out of the window, we have to ask, did RTD and co miss a trick or have they got a better idea. I better actually watch the damn thing and find out, eh, comrades?

2:32 - "I see the future. Tell me of the past." says the fortune teller when Donna points out a flaw in her act. I'd like to see Richard Dawkins take on Chippo Chung. She's smooth at improvisation, you gotta give her that.

2:43 - Ooh. Flashbacks. I wonder if anyone might mistake it for new material. Gullible idiots, as Kamelion would say.

3:41 - Been watching Planet of Spiders have you, Rusty? Or Babylon Five? Deals with the devil, changing whole histories in single moments, parasitic insectoid monsters, creepy psychics and evil shadowy darkness? Still, you're not ripping me off for a change. Which is nice.

3:45 - Oh, that is clever. Seriously, that is very clever. A title that means so much yet so little. Bonza!

3:50 - Dear fucking Christ, Sylvia, SHUT THE HELL UP! Turns out she's always been this bad. I can't imagine how Donna is so well-adjusted, but it clearly explains why she's so desperate to find a man and get married... I myself would shave my head and take over Chas' role in Chaser stunts if it got that palsied harridan off my back. How fascinating to learn that Sylvia's bitchiness will ruin history as we know it, huh? Seriously, RTD, did you get left with a horrible woman next door as a baby-sitter or something?

4:30 - That claw is so freaking fake it's painful. Maybe if they didn't waste all the CGI on a skyline, they might have had some left over. This Box-of-Gavrok-style back-hugger looks like something from my Mighty Maxx toys...

5:00 - OK, I get the villains can rewrite time and space. But Sylvia doesn't react at all to her daughter suddenly changing her decision. Not even a "about time you listened to me, you shrivelled old sour titted wench" which is as affectionate as I can imagine. Please, RTD. Kill her. We'll all swear it was drammatically justified. It'd certainly balance killing Owen and Tosh. Even Hitler would agree.

5:26 - GOD DAMN IT! "and BILLIE PIPER"?! IT LOOKS BAD! Surely someone's noticed it by now?!

6:00 - Slade's Merry Christmas Everybody... I swear it gets played more in Doctor Who than anything by Murray Gold. Good thing I like it then, huh? Still, given all the party hats, reindeer antlers, Christmas decorations, the illuminated "MERRY CHRISTMAS" banner and Donna saying, "Christmas, huh?", you'd think that maybe, just maybe we've got the idea that this is set around December 25. Enough to put The Stowaway on the jukebox, at any roads...

6:49 - Donna knows a freak-out blonde girl with telepathic abilities. How convenient. Maybe if I rewrite my own timeline, one of those bodacious babes in Chris Hale's harem will be able to spot it in a cryptic enough way for me to notice, huh? Jeez, she's a freak though...

7:09 - More anti-Ken-Livingstone gags. After being blamed for a UFO crash and then exploding in such a way as to blow up the Tate Modern, I think we can cut the guy some slack. And I'll put down the non-post-Doomsday stuff (which I ranted about earlier) down to the whole new history thing...

8:10 - Bloody hell, is that David Troughton in that tank?!

9:11 - So... the Doctor was genuinely suicidal in The Runaway Bride then? And he drowned? Is that what we're supposed to think? Mr "Respiratory Bypass" can't cope with some river water? Not even regenerating? But, if the Doctor dies now, he never visits Malcassero, never releases the Master, the Master isn't there to organize defence against the Rachnoss. Yet the tanks are all there. So, wait, I'm really confused now... I guess I better keep watching. Points for the 'distorted Flavia music', though...

9:20 - Hello, Rosie. My, you look tired... especially as you read letters of 'gentle yet chaste' on the TV over there...

9:44 - Um, Billie, are you wearing false teeth or something? You sound like Duane Dibbley! I can barely understand what you're saying...

10:50 - Ah, RTD finally thinks of the human cost that comes when the Thames be drained...

11:26 - Oh dear. Martha J!! I wonder how many casual viewers are wondering if the vanishing hospital is new amazing material or a continuity reference? Like my parents, for a start.

12:00 - Damn it, I wish I'd been as cool as Donna when I got sacked. I just went into shock...

12:19 - Oliver??!? THAT git was allowed to live by Judoon? No justice. No justice whatsoever. Oh. Wait. That makes sense. Oh, my poor Martha J, why couldn't you have been more selfish...

12:50 - Wilf rocks. Donna doesn't (but that's the point). Yet even at her worst, she's still a saint compared to Sylvia "My Continued Living Proves The Non-Existence of God" Noble.

13:19 - "To be honest, Donna, I've given up on you." Now, I'm sorry, that is just out of fucking line. Sylvia manages in one sentence to be more despicably nasty than John Simms' Master managed in The Year That Never Was. She no longer deserves to live, in my opinion. That has to be the most hurtful thing I've ever heard. You see that line, that is the anti-matter opposite to everything I have ever lived my life by. Sylvia Noble, I never want to see you ever again. Especially since in this reality Donna's been doing what you told her all along! GET FUCKED, SYLVIA! Christ, Alex Drake, where are you when I need you.

13:32 - Holy shit, not Sarah too! And Maria, Clyde and Luke too?!? What a massacre! Chris Boucher wept! (I hope everyone noticed this clear and unambigious SJA reference makes their whole series canonical. Will anything from Torchwood get referenced?)

14:52 - You're fooling no one, Rosie.

15:36 - Nice. Really picking up the 'experienced time traveller' stuff from Army of Ghosts where Rose was quite capable of handling stuff on her own. She's up to something, but heaven knows what...

16:10 - Is that the health clinic place from SJA: Eye of the Gorgon? And Rose is using the trick from School Reunion as well! Oh, Sarah, Sarah, rest of the lyrics I cannot recall...

16:19 - Fuck Sylvia, say what you like Wilf! Honestly, if Sylvia was blasted dead to reveal Ben Chatham and Operation Delta, I'd STILL consider this an improvement.

16:55 - Sweet Jesus! Russell, are you TRYING to make me smash my expensive monitor in an attempt to strangle the bitch!? She makes Wilf sleep on the sofa, lounges around in bed while hurling smug abuse at Donna for ENJOYING CHRISTMAS when she was a KID! I FUCKING HATE YOU SYLVIA!

18:00 - Just WHY are you so desperate to get Donna to watch this, you Insane Mega-Bitch?! Is it SO difficult to shout "Fuck! The Titanic's falling on Buckingham Palace!"

18:21 - Well, that should cheer Mad Larry up. Bye bye Buckingham. Is this the bit where every living thing on Earth perishes, as per Max Capricorn's Master Plan?


19:22 - It's the Evil Monkey from Chris Griffin's Closet!!

19:23 - You know what I said 31 seconds previous? I get that a lot from hereon in. Still not sure why Earth is still in one piece when it's supposed to be a barren rock...

20:28 - Oh yeah. Don't throw your crap on Donna unless you like washing your own clothes. And good to see that Wilf can cope with the apocalypse better than Sylvia who has been mercifully silent. Just a damn pity Wilf and Donna didn't ditch her and let her be vaporized with all her horrid friends...

20:58 - I like this guy. He does a Drax-like flip on the whole apocalyptic mood. He might even cure my Threads complex. It's the mirror opposite of the scene in the film where the clearly-derranged old man refuses to let any refugees into his hotel and forces them out into the nuclear winter the moment the soldiers aren't looking. I really like this guy.

21:45 - "Nobody lives in the bathroom." Scratch that, I love this guy. Whenever the Doctor does his "humans are brilliant" speech, he's talking about this guy.

20:30 - Mal Loup, do you think she's jinxed? Does she ever report normal things?

20:35 - Oh well. At least we don't have to SEE a certian female villain this time. One for Jared there.

23:02 - Oh, no, nice try RTD, but Sylvia's hurled too much crap for me to feel sorry for. Oh, now she's going on about being a refugee. Boo freaking hoo. You still got a pulse bitch. No wonder Donna lashes out against poor Drax. Frankly, those sea shanties would help me sleep...

24:30 - I definitely love this guy. He should be the new companion. Bohemian Rhapsody! Classic!

25:00 - Ah. I think that might be the syndicated cliffhanger moment... Seriously have no idea how they're going to get out of this. But wasn't Rattigan nuked with London? Did he start before Christmas 08?

25:31 - Oh yeah, Wilf rocks too. I did mention that, right?

25:59 - Yeah, I finally see what Jackie meant in Army of Ghosts. And even though this is very 'newbie friendly', since none of the characters have lived through the events before, I still wonder if it's complicated. This is definitely Blood Heat, that wonderful NA with Tom Wallis...

26:21 - Sigh. Oh well, I survived it the first time...

26:35 - Torchwood 2 is canon! Ianto and Gwen get namechecked!! This has to be the first time the show has been referenced by RTD without mercilessly taking the piss out of them... though I don't know if Tosh and Owen are ignored coz they died in Exit Wounds or not...

27:11 - Billie OPEN YOUR MOUTH! Dear God, I'll need subtitles to work out what she's mumbling...

27:52 - Seriously, you could phrase this a lot better if you want to get Donna to understand.

28:46 - This is all Sylvia's fault. Even if creation weren't at stake.

29:13 - She has REALLY been studying DT's performance. This is like when India Fisher played the Doctor in Natural History of Fear... well, I THINK that's who she played... anyway, that's why she's always talking through her teeth.

29:36 - Please be wrong. Please be lying. Please be wrong.

29:53 - This guy can do no wrong for me. And it strikes me this is part one of three. How am I gonna cope?

30:24 - It is all down to Bernard Cribbens that this scene in any way feels bleak and tragic. Please, Moffat, keep him on as a companion! Puh-lllllllllllllleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease?

31:06 - Jesus Christ, it's actually getting WORSE than Threads... I never ever thought that could happen.

31:52 - Kill her. Kill her now. I want her dead. I want her gone. Kill her. Get Lemon Bloody Cola to be head writer if necessary. Kill her. Now. That Adric died for this bitch soils my soul.

32: 19 - Ah. Donna and Wilf by the telescope. No matter how badly directed, it warms the cockles of me heart.

32:41 - I know what she's going to see. Yeah. This does have the edge over Threads...

34:03 - Oooh! Causal nexus! Bet that means sweet FA to everyone who didn't read the novelization of Logopolis... and the lights are out in the TARDIS. I am reminded of Cloud of Fear... but thankfully not Omega.

34:13 - Oh well, better than Mace, not as good as Bambera and Jesus Christ it should have been the Brigadier. I mean, come on!

34:51 - "No... way!" Yes, way!

35:38 - Now I'm getting flashbacks to Blake and Tarrant in Scorpio's wreckage for some unfathomable reason...

36:11 - Yeah, I can hear them squeeing, too.

36:33 - What is this? Kinda?!?

37:29 - Yeah. Kinda. Definitely. Except of a snake, it's one of those horned beetles... with a dash of weeping angel thrown in. And the Trickster. OG Theory could work.

38:10 - "It's the sort of thing the Doctor would say." Yeah, sums up your performance to a T, Billie. In a good way. You're doing a hell of a better job than Jon "Limited Repertoire" Culshaw anyroads.

38:54 - Again, this is all Sylvia's fault. That's the moral - be bitchy to your kids and the universe ends. Oh, and Catherine Tate ritualistically removes the skins of anyone that accused her of bein unable to act. There are none left after this scene. They gone to join the bumblebees.

39:50 - Oh, very funny. Well, it was when Ford Prefect did it, but not so much here.

40:13 - Oh, so it's Evil of the Daleks mirror magic rather than Kinda mirror magic. Mea culpa. And it works like Day of the Daleks and Terminator. Just so we're all on the same page...

41:17 - Rip off The Wish, why don't you, Russell. You couldn't have, say, Martha as an evil dominatrix leather-clad omnisexual sadist, though, could you? You take everything except the core premise and pour in recycled Threads! You know, if I want, I can watch Buffy on my own bat, I don't need your remakes, pal! You even rip off the violin creaking noise from their pre-credit sequence for the love of Led Zeppelin!

42:30 - Uh oh.

43:44 - Seriously, I so relate.

44:25 - You Have Got To Be Fucking Kidding Me. Paul Cornell is gonna rip you a new one, Rusty!


45:48 - Sweet Onion Chutney, didn't you get this out of your system with TW: Adam?!

46:02 - "It's one of the Trickster's Brigade." Well, fuck me, we were right all along...

46:26 - "First the library, then this." What?! You mean my abuse against Moffat padding is unwarranted?!

46:40 - Holy crap, this smacks of Faction Paradox... Mad Larry may not survive to blog about it...

47:35 - Utopia inside a minute... DT goes for 'smashing the Doctor's worldview' to beat the record.

47:47 - DT looks like he's going to wet himself. And I'm not much better to be honest.

47:56 - BLOODY HELL!

48:03 - WHAT!?!? This is like Jekyll on acid!

48:04 - WHAT?!?!?!?!?

48:13 - This is not a good sign. Not a good sign at all...

48:18 - Well, someone was definitely watching Logopolis.


48:52 - I know that laugh... I'd know that laugh anywhere... it can't be him, surely? Can it?

49:06 - Why is the voiceover guy talking like that?! What is this, they're doing that Dead Ringers think where the guy talks about all the Friends episodes on TV, and starts to grate like a Dalek screaming about "TOTAL FRIENDS SATURATION WILL OCCUR!!"

49:12 - Ruby in the Smoke is on next? ARE YOU TAKING THE PISS?!?

49:23 - How am I supposed to get to sleep? ANSWER ME THAT!!

Next Time: "The Children of Time are moving against us... but everything is falling into place."
"Ladies and gentlemen, we are are war!"
"It can't be..."
"There's nothing I can do."
"Oh my God!"
"What is it? Who are they?"
"What are we going to do?"
"It's impossible!"
"It can't be!"
"I'm sorry... we're dead."
"Doctor, come back!"
"And it's only just beginning."
"Welcome to my new empire, Doctor."


The Youth of Australia Bamboozled!

As I mentioned earlier, I once attempted to write a bottle episode for The Youth of Australia, the idea being it would follow the formula of a Bottom stage play being set in one location in more or less real time. I managed to finish half and the first act of the "Special-End-Of-Season-Insanity Special… Um, Extravaganza!!" is reprinted here. Exclusively. No one else has this. BWAHAHAHAHAHA!

Act. 1

[Lights up on the open-top of a Sydney Touring Bus. In the background, a set pattern of landscapes glides from right to left and there is the background noise of an engine running. There is no one present. Then, the sound of someone running up some stairs is heard. Then a cry and a crash. A few seconds later, Dave scrambles into view, rubbing his face.]

Dave: Oh, my head!

[He looks around, left and right, then runs to the end of the bus and dives in front of the chairs and lands heavily. He winces and clutches his head.]

Dave: Argh! Note to self: stealth and subtlety is overrated. Man, I can hardly see. Wait a minute! [peers over the chairs] Hah! I’ve lost them! Free! Free at last! Free from the stink and stupid comments! I can think at last! I can think... and I think I am in pain!!

[He clutches his head and rocks back and forth for a moment. Gritting his teeth, he bangs his fist against the railings in frustration. He gasps in horror and stares at his fist.]

Dave: Why did I do that? WHY? Am I some kind of masochist? Oh, no, I’ve been around Nigel too long! My God, is this my future? Am I destined to spend the rest of my life in leather and chains? Will I ever be able to watch a serious drama about corporate punishment without getting turned on? Oh, the humanity! Oh, the humility! [smacks his forehead] Oh, the PAIN!

[He blows on his hand, wincing. He stops and looks around, suspicious. He gets up, looks around, starts to duck down, then rises and looks around again. Nothing. He sits down on his chair, looking very tired.]

Dave: Still, at least I’ve lost them. No more strange, wandering conversations. No more occasional beatings. No more ‘prove you killed JFK games’ after meals. Freedom to do whatever I want to do. And what I want to do is... um, er. No, come on, Dave, you’ve got your freedom, don’t waste it. What to do first? Um, I know! I’ll try and spot license plates.

[He leans over the railing and stares at unseen traffic.]

Dave: Hmm. There’s one. There’s another. Oh, and another! Fair dinkum, that’s three of them in one go! And two more there. [points] A couple parked there. My God – a street full of them! If I didn’t know better, I’d say that EVERY car has a license plate! [looks pleased with himself, then his face falls] Maybe I’ll try and see what’s on them. Ah, SDP 250... TDK 397... OHM 201... Look! LOOK! ANO 218! Hah! This is definitely got to be the most, the most... BORING pass time there is! I mean, what’s the point? [in a nasal voice] ‘Look, a serial number! Look, another serial number with absolutely nothing in common except it’s a serial number! I shall write that down!’ GET A LIFE! [sighs] God, I’m bored. And it’ll be ages before we even get close to home, knowing my luck.

[Dave gets to his feet and starts to pace, irritably.]

Dave: Luck? Luck! Don’t talk to me about luck. I’m the unluckiest person I know, so how unlucky is that! I had any luck, I’d at least know someone who sucked more than I do. Well, now you come to mention it, two names leap to mind. But they’re still luckier than I am. Luck! Hah! It doesn’t rhyme with another four letter word for nothing, you know. Luck... Only I could do the HSC and come out with the grand total of 11 per cent. I mean, how? I’m not stupid, am I? [points to audience] Now, shut up, you lot. [sighs] I wrote pages and pages and pages. I used up all of those stinking yellow booklets they gave me. I wrote my student number so many times, it’s locked in my nervous system. I have to be careful if I’m writing because, I get distracted, I suddenly write it out again. Oh, [starts to mime writing] Hey! Stop that! Bad hand! [smacks hand] Not that it was exactly difficult to remember! I mean, 123 456 789! What were the odds of getting that student number?

[He heads back to the front of the bus.]

Dave: What did I do wrong? I wore the uniform, I got there early, I revised right up to the minute they said, ‘Oi! You! Put that HSC textbook down and start the damn exam!’ ‘But,’ said I, ‘it’s the reading time!’ ‘Yes,’ reply they, ‘you’re supposed to read the question booklet, not a textbook!’ [sighs] Thank god I had the trials. Half the English exam I stared at the answer booklet. It was blank! Every single page! Even the multiple choice! I should have sued them. But I still did great in the trials. Not a single mark below 80. Well, EVERY mark below 80, but dammit I still passed. Yes, like the three other people at school, I passed the trials. Why did I screw up so badly at the real thing, though? I went to my chair...

[Dave goes to a seat.]

Dave: I sat down... [sits down] Picked up the paper and the pen, [mimes doing this] read the question... now, what happened next? I’m sitting at that horrible little table, on a creaking chair – and my nose starts to run. Some invisible goblin is shoving boiling, ice-cold gunge up my nostrils and then blowing gently on my nose hair. Odd how I could live with that. Hah! No problem. Three hours with that, I could take it all and laugh. But then, the goblin takes out my brain, soaks it in warm shampoo, wraps it cotton wool and slides it back in! My skin went icy cold and my ears... What happened to my ears? I could here this noise... It was so loud... Boom-boom, boom-boom. And I turn around and snatch a glance at everyone else – they’re all having fun, writing away merrily. That bastard goblin doesn’t hate them, does he? Damn my luck! Stuck in that frozen gymnasium, staring at blank piece of paper, my body rebelling... And that noise, boom-boom, boom-boom, getting louder and louder... Like the heartbeat of the undead victim of an axe-murding psychopathic serial killer! [calmer] Not that I speak from experience, of course, but smeg that’s what it sounded like! Boom-boom-bam-boom, boom-boom-bam-boom, boom-ba-da-ba-da-boom... And then, I heard a voice... So far away...

[Dave stares into the distance, as though trying to hear it.]

Dave: It was old, tired, brittle... It was so sad... And somehow, I was the only one who could hear it. It was whispering in my ear, but I knew that the whole gym was as silent as the grave. Well, as silent as a particularly silent grave. And the voice was speaking to me. And I tried to shut it out, I swear to god, I tried, but it was no good. I HAD to listen to what the voice was saying... And do YOU know what it was saying?

[He clears his throat and sings.]

Dave: I lost my shirt
I pawned my rings
I’ve done all the dumb things...
[bitterly] I’ve melted wax to fix my wings
I’ve done all the dumb things!

[He shakes his fist at the sky.]

Dave: Damn you, Paul Kelly! Damn you! Why did you pick on me, your most faithful of disciples! How could you? Oh, that first question was a bitch. It was all about Big Yellow Taxi – the original version, not the crappy remake. Oh, why did they choose it for the exam? Within hours, every so-called trendy radio station was playing it! And not even the good version! God, who even knows what DDT stands for nowadays, anyway? And I couldn’t even concentrate on the lyrics – all that stuff about apples and parking lots for the people... Every time I ran through the words in my head, it just warped and twisted and suddenly I was hearing
I threw my hat into the ring
I’ve done all the dumb things
I thought that I just had to sing
I’ve done all the dumb things!
The question says, ‘what does the composer suggest about ‘cutting down all the trees and charging people to view them?’ Easy, I think. She means, uh, er... She means
I lost my shirt
I pawned my rings
I’ve done all the dumb things!

[He groans and pulls at his hair in frustration, then whimpers.]

Dave: God, I was so screwed. Every time I tried to peer through the fog at my paper, I found myself singing along mentally while my hand just wrote out my student number again and again and again! Oh, why didn’t I follow Andrew’ example and just drink an entire keg of beer before going into the exam hall? At least he didn’t have Paul bloody Kelly crooning in HIS ears! [scowls] No, the bastard was humming the theme tune to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy at the top of his voice, wasn’t he? I mean, the moment, the second I got a little bit of lucidity, and that bastard Kelly leaves me alone, what do I hear?
Dah, doo-da-dar,
Dah-dar, dah-da-dah-dad-da-da-dar
Dud-dar, dud-da-darrr!
Bastard! [brightens] Look on the bright side, though, Dave! He’s gone now. You’re free of him and his odd smells, those jokes that only make sense to him, that stupid way he always has a quote or a quip for every occasion... [sighs] Oh, I shall miss him. He was my only friend, you know. Apart from Jadi. And Maurice. And Mitchell. And Katy. And Phoebe. And... Oh, dammit, I suck! I have NO friends! I am sad and lonely...

[He rubs his eyes, sadly.]

Dave: No, no, no. Be positive, man. Never give up. If you don’t have friends, you can just make some up. Do the whole Drop Dead Fred thing. Er, OK. Ah, [looks at seat next to him] Hello. I’m Dave. [mimes shaking hand] Oh, yes, hello. My name’s Dave. What’s yours? Go To Hell Herman, eh? Interesting name. Are you Hungarian, by any chance? No? Oh. Well, there goes that conversation. Oh, no, it’s just I’ve never met anyone from Hungary before, I hoped you could tell me about it. Oh, nothing in particular, just what is it like to live there? ‘Starving’. Uh, yeah. Very funny. No, I’m not being sarcastic, why? Well, excuse me! I was just saying I thought you were being funny, so I said so! Get off my case! Honestly, you think you’d be civil to me, at least. Because I created you, Herman! You are a figment of my imagination. What do you mean, ‘prove it’? You’re not real. There. Hah! I’ve got you there.

[He folds his arms, happy. Then, he frowns, and slowly he turns and looks at the empty chair next to him.]

Dave: Don’t be cheeky, Herman. Yes, you are! I’M a product of YOUR imagination? Get real. Get real! Yes, I’m the real one on this bus and you’re the imaginary friend, so get real? What’s that, Herman? You’re just repeating everything I say! Oh, it’s for dramatic effect. Sorry. Do go on. Uh, huh. Uh-huh. Uh? Huh. Uh... Can I get a word in edgeways here? What a load of utter crap! I’M a figment of MY OWN imagination? What are you on, Go To Hell Herman? I’m the real one. How can I imagine myself to exist? ‘With difficulty’, oh, yes, very funny, Herman. But if I don’t exist, how can I imagine? Look, I don’t exist, right? I am a figment of imagination, right? So, if I don’t exist, how can I imagine myself? It’s a Catch 44, man. No, I did not make a mistake. No, Catch 44 is LIKE Catch 22, only much, much worse. Oh, now you’re being reasonable. Yes, YOU are the imagined one. What are you saying? You’re playing ‘devil’s advocate’? Don’t be stupid. Why would I imagine you? Because I’m lonely and bored and stuck on top of this bus with no one in the entire multiverse to talk do. Yes, I AM pathetic, you don’t have to rub it in!!

[Dave looks up, then ‘watches’ something moving towards the stairs.]

Dave: No, Herman, don’t go! Please, stay! I enjoyed our little chats. Yes, I know it was just one round of verbal abuse after another, but what relationship doesn’t have it’s ups and downs? What is this? It’s an up, of course! [panicked] No, don’t! Wait up! Wait for me! Herman!!

[He runs up to the stairs and mimes grabbing someone.]

Dave: You can’t just up and leave me. Well, I only created you because you WOULDN’T do that. Yes, I know I need to get a life, but, in the meantime, you can stay here and keep me company. I never insulted your mother! You don’t have one! No, no, that wasn’t an insult either, don’t go! Where are you going to go, anyway? You’re not even a physical presence, what are you going to do for your life, eh? Oh, good answer. Yes, you are perfect as Simon Creen’s personality stunt double, but, you could be more! Yes, you could stay with me on the bus, have some conversations, go home and watch TV... It’s not ALL repeats, Herman. Herman! You can’t get off the bus, we’re moving. You’ll just have to stay with me and keep me company. HERMAN!!

[Dave suddenly runs over to the rails and peers over the edge. He wails in anguish, and slumps into a seat, sobbing.]

Dave: Oh, why, Herman, why?? You had everything to live for! Who’s going to tell your parents? Oh, Herman, you threw it all away. You fool. And worst of all, worst of all, [swallows] worst is... is... I’m STILL bored! Oh, what I wouldn’t give to hear another human voice.

Andrew: [offstage] Da-ave? Dave?

Dave: ...apart from Andrew’s. What I wouldn’t give to hear another human voice APART from Andrew’s. [to sky] Pay attention, dumbo! Oh, shit, he’s coming up here. What to do, what to do?

Andrew: [offstage] Dave? Daviekins? Hello? Dave?

[Dave jumps up, runs left, right, and realizes there is nowhere to go. Footsteps are heard ascending the stairs. Dave swallows, panicked, and runs to the seat up against the stairwell and hides underneath. Andrew emerges, blinking, into daylight and looks around. Dave is hidden from his view.]

Andrew: Dave? Hello? That’s funny – I’m sure he ran up here. It was odd just how fast he was running, though. Nearly lost him twice, and the way he jumped onto this bus while it was still moving... Dave? Dave, it’s me! It’s me, it’s... damn, I’m forgotten. Uh, come on, come on, I know this.

[He closes his eyes and rubs his temples.]

Andrew: [sings softly] Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday dear Andrew...
Andrew! That’s it! [calls] Dave! It’s me, Andrew! Hellooooo?

[He moves up and down the aisle, missing Dave completely.]

Andrew: Come on, Dave – don’t make me count to one hundred again! This is so childish! What to do, what to do? Uh, best sit down. All this excitement is rushing all the blood to my head. I don’t want a balance problem.

[He sits down on the chair beneath which Dave is hiding.]

Andrew: Now, what to do? Dave came up here before me. There’s no way he could have left without me noticing. Did he jump off, maybe? No, I would have heard the noise. So – he came here, and he hasn’t left, so, logically, he must be...

[He grins at the audience, and fakes a ‘disappointed’ expression.]

Andrew: SPACKING HELL, THIS IS DIFFICULT! Where in Zarquon’s name is Jonathon Creek when you need him?!? What shall I do without Dave to banter with? Well, I guess I might as well – sing! Yes, sing Dave’s favorite song!

[Dave, beneath the seat, stiffens in horror. Andrew stands up.]

Andrew: So, how does it go? ‘Shapes of things before my eyes...’ No, that’s not it. Uh, ‘what costume shall the poor boy wear’? No. More anthemic. Uh, ‘There’s a distant star in a distant sky...’ No, that’s wrong...

[Dave slowly, silently, creeps out from behind Andrew and creeps slowly but surely across the floor towards the stairwell. Andrew is too busy to notice.]

Andrew: Uh, - Ah-hah! [clears throat]
Welcome strangers
To the show
I’m the one who should
Be running low

[Dave, on the floor, tenses and grits his teeth.]

Andrew: Saw the knives out
Turned my back
Heard the train coming
Stayed out
On the track
In the middle, in the middle
In the middle of a dream...

[Dave, out of control leaps to his feet and starts to sing.]

Dave: I lost my shirt
I pawned my rings
I’ve done all the dumb things!
Caught the fever
Heard the tune
Thought I loved her
Howled my heart out at the moon
Started howling
Made no sense
Thought my friends
Would rush to my defense
In the middle, in the middle
In the middle of a dream...
I lost my shirt
I pawned my rings
I’ve done all the -

[He stops and turns to face Andrew – who has been sitting on a chair, arms folded, and smiling throughout.]

Dave: Oh, er, hello, Andrew.

Andrew: Afternoon, Dave.

Dave: Er, hi.

Andrew: Nice to know you’ve finally noticed me.

Dave: Oh, ah, what?

Andrew: [smiles] I called for you for quite a while.

Dave: No, you didn’t!

Andrew: I have.

Dave: [rubs ear] Well, I didn’t hear you, that’s for sure.

Andrew: Yes, I’m sure the insulation in these chairs would make it very difficult to hear anything, wouldn’t it?

Dave: Yes, actu – wait a minute! What are you saying?

Andrew: Just that you seemed to be hiding under this chair when I came up here. Have you lost something? Your house keys? Your marbles? Your mind, maybe?

Dave: I was just feeling a bit ill, that’s all.

[He sits in the seats in front of Andrew. Andrew leans behind him.]

Andrew: Yeah.

Dave: It’s true!

Andrew: Of course. You must be knackered after running all that way. Naught to sixty in seven seconds – a pretty good speed. Tell me, David, just why did you put on that massive burst of speed?

Dave: The bus. Ah, we were going to miss it.

Andrew: Yes. But then, it was two blocks away from us at the time. Going in the wrong direction. It was as though you had, dare I say it, some extra-sensory perception – to sense a bus leaving its stop two blocks away, and then run there in all of twelve seconds and leap aboard. You left Nigel and me for dead.

Dave: [awkward] Um, yes. Sorry about that, Andy. I though you two were keeping up with me.

Andrew: At the speed you were going, I doubt Sonic the Hedgehog could keep up with you. I can still smell most of the shoe leather you burnt getting here. I’m surprised you didn’t tell us to follow you.

Dave: I did! Honestly!

Andrew: Oh, yes, you did shout something over your shoulder, now you come to mention it.

Dave: You see.

Andrew: What was it, now? Oh, right. [remembering] ‘Oh god, I can’t stand it anymore. Wait for me, for the love of god.’ [frowns] That was what you said, wasn’t it, Dave?

Dave: [wipes forward] It probably sounded LIKE that, but...

Andrew: And the way you jumped inside and shouted at the driver.

Dave: I was telling him to stop for you.

Andrew: And how would the words, ‘put the pedal to the metal, bitch’ help you out in that regard, Dave? I suppose you ran up here to try and talk to us and tell us just what the hell you thought you were doing, maybe?

Dave: Yes. But, a, I felt really ill and had to lie down. How exactly did you manage to get aboard the bus, Andrew?

Andrew: Oh, I’m an old hand at running.

Dave: Running away, more like.

Andrew: Ah, such is the human condition, Dave. Every Olympic athlete is spurred by the racial memory of the first caveman to walk upright – because he was running away from a hideous arse-biting monster. You want a reason to run? To save your own arse. It’s amazing how fast you can move.

Dave: But how did you get on board? The bus hasn’t stopped anywhere.

Andrew: I know. I managed to grab the bumper bar and climb through the back window. I wanted to see if you were OK. After all, from these wandering clues, I thought you were trying to avoid me.

Dave: Well, er, I needed some personal space.

Andrew: How much? Because you seemed to think that half a kilometer is the minimum. Would you like me to sit further away from you. Seriously now, come on, Dave. Something’s troubling you, isn’t it?

Dave: [sighs] Yes.

Andrew: Well, you can tell me, can’t you?

Dave: Yeah. Andrew, how long have we known each other?

Andrew: Uh, does this include reincarnation?

Dave: [thinks about it] Uh, yeah.

Andrew: Since 97.

Dave: So, nearly ten years now, eh? I must have told you a lot of stuff over the decade, I expect.

Andrew: This and that.

Dave: So, I guess you’d respect me if I was completely straight with you, right?

Andrew: Of course.

Dave: It’s just, we’ve known each other a long time and, you know, I well, I know we’ve had our little spats... Oh, oh this is stupid! Look, I guess all I’m really trying to say is... is, well...

Andrew: Go on.

Dave: Yeah, you see...

Andrew: Yes?

Dave: I just wanted to say...

Andrew: Yes?


Andrew: Yes?

Dave: Are you deaf as well as stupid?

Andrew: No, I just thought that there was more, that’s all.

Dave: Don’t you care?

Andrew: Oh, of course I do. I’m shocked you have to ask.

Dave: Then why are you still here!

Andrew: [blows out cheeks] What am I supposed to do?


Andrew: It’s moving.


Andrew: Uh, yeah, I know that.

Dave: Do you hate me?

Andrew: No.

Dave: Well, I hate you, so get out of my life!

Andrew: That’s a bit difficult. I live in the same house as you. I cook your meals. I make sure your favorite TV shows are recorded. And I wake you up when you have to go to work!

Dave: Well, you only wake me up for me to go to work because YOU’RE too slack to go to your own job.

Andrew: I work part-time.

Dave: Yeah, and to do that, you need to work at some point! And you tape things for me that I want to watch – and then tape over them again before I can watch any of it.

Andrew: Ah, but I tape over your shows with other shows you like.

Dave: Yeah, I guess so. OK, I’ll call that even. But your cooking...

Andrew: What’s wrong with my cooking?!?

Dave: Oh, thanks to your ‘nouveau cuisine’ I spent ten hours stuck on the toilet, screaming in agony. Bloody food experiments. I told you that putting all that, that, that ‘fibre’ in that stew was a terrible idea.

Andrew: When was that?

Dave: Friday afternoon!

Andrew: I didn’t do the cooking on Friday!

Dave: Yeah! The Mince Pies from Hell!! I thought about selling it to the building industry to use it instead of bricks. ‘Fibre enriched’! It was smegging sandpaper!

Andrew: I didn’t do the cooking on Friday!! It was Nigel!

Dave: What? Then what was that stew you were making?

Andrew: That wasn’t stew!

Dave: Wasn’t it?

Andrew: I was mixing cement.

Dave: And anyway, if you didn’t cook it, you must have eaten it.

Andrew: Probably.

Dave: Why didn’t you complain about that muck Nigel served up, then?

Andrew: I must have been drunk.

Dave: You’re ALWAYS drunk.

Andrew: [nods] That’s true.

Dave: Look, this is getting boring. I’ll just do a quick summary. One, I hate you. Two, I don’t want you here. Three, GET OFF THIS DAM BUS BEFORE I GRAB YOUR HEAD AND SHOVE IT UP YOUR ARSE YOU MASSIVE, SHRUNKEN TESTICLE, YOU!

[Andrew calmly produces a sucker-tipped dart from a dart gun, licks the sucker and them presses it against Dave’s forehead. It sticks there.]

Andrew: There. That’s better.

Dave: [thunderous rage] WHAT is this?!?

Andrew: A sobriety patch.

Dave: A... sobriety patch.

Andrew: Yes. When it is attached, it drains all the panic and confusion and anger out of you, leaving a calm, well-balanced and sober individual. It never fails.


Andrew: Apart from now, I guess.


[Andrew delves into his pocket and takes out a pamphlet.]

Andrew: [reading] ‘So, The Sobriety Patch Isn’t Working?’


Andrew: [reading pamphlet] Uh-huh. Good. OK. Right.

[He puts away the pamphlet, makes a ‘Peace’ sign and strides towards Dave.]


[Andrew jabs his two fingers into Dave’s throat. Dave gurgles, spasms, and then freezes in mid-rant. Andrew smiles.]

Andrew: According to that handy pamphlet, it triggers a sensitive nerve cluster, jams the motive units. [Dave gurgles] With the adrenaline shut off, the individual calms down rapidly. Are you calm now, Dave? [Dave gurgles] OK, we’ll just stay like this for a few more minutes. Heh. Haha. [laughs] Did you know, Dave, that, if I keep my fingers in your throat [more laughter] ha, you’ll be completely paralyzed! [cackles, then wipes eye] Uh, anyway. Are you calm now, Dave?

[Dave gurgles even more frantically. Andrew nods and removes his fingers. Dave clutches at his throat, then collapses, screaming.]

Andrew: [irritated] Now what?


[Dave continues to writhe and scream incoherently.]

Andrew: Oh, yeah. Forgot about that. [pulls out a second pamphlet] ‘So, The Venusian Akido Has Screwed Up?’ [scans page for a moment, nodding] Uh, huh. Uh-huh. Oh, that’s clever. Yes. Ah-hah. Right.

[He pockets the pamphlet, crosses to the writhing Dave, and smacks him about the face seven times. Andrew stops and Dave twitches and flinches afterwards.]

Andrew: Now that I’ve got your attention...


[Andrew jabs his fingers into Dave’s throat, then wrenches them away. Dave howls and Andrew slaps him seven times.]

Dave: [dazed] Huh, uh, ligh, wha...

Andrew: Are you calm now? Because, I would like to – if I may – tell you about some of the things YOU do that drives me... ABSOLUTELY... bananas... [imitates Dave] ‘Oh, my dad is so disappointed, I hate my life!’. ‘Oh, a girl I lusted after for all of five seconds doesn’t want a long term relationship, kill me now!’. ‘Oh, Andrew, I want my house back!’. ‘Oh, Andrew, I want Nigel to drive me to work!’. ‘Oh, Andrew, I want dinner!’. ‘Oh, Andrew, I hate you and want you die!’.

Dave: You’re weird and a freak!

[He grabs Dave’s head – for the first time ever, seriously angry.]

Andrew: NOT AN ALIBI, RESTAL!!! [calmer] YOU wanted me to join you in your little housing scheme. YOU’RE the one who came to me when you flunked the HSC. So don’t pretend I’m some leech on your life because YOU RUINED MINE! I could have quite happily stayed at home with my faithful dog, Pussy-Eater Jones. But thanks to you, I’m stuck with you and Mr. Charisma and every single BLOODY TIME I want to do something, YOU interrupt!

Dave: Look, I –

Andrew: SHUT UP! I want to learn how to juggle, you interrupt. I try and paint my room, you interrupt. I decide to make a bonfire in the living room and YOU interrupt!! Not that I mind but it is NEVER with anything important. No ‘Andrew, the house is underwater,’; no ‘Andrew, there’s a bomb to diffuse’; no ‘Andrew, there’s a hell dimension I need you to crack open like a walnut, do you have any goat’s blood handy?’. You want to know the meaning of life, look in a dictionary because I’ve got my own life – get your own!

Dave: [whimpers] How?

Andrew: [after a long pause] Good question. You must have one buried beneath your neurosis and your drives. Time for our first session.

[He helps Dave up and then lies him down on two seats, then sits in the seat behind him, so he is leaning over a reclining Dave.]

Andrew: Now, [pulls out pamphlet] ‘So, You Need To Be A Psychiatrist? This happens to nearly all of us at certain points in time...’

Dave: Uh, Andrew, have you any idea what you’re doing?

Andrew: [reading pamphlet] Not the foggiest.

Dave: [anguished] Oh, noooooooooooooo.

Andrew: [puts pamphlet away] Right, that seems pretty straightforward. [clears throat] Right, Bruce, let’s begin.

Dave: Dave.

Andrew: Sorry, Bruce, what was that?

Dave: My name is Dave, not Bruce.

Andrew: AH-hah! Our first clue. Your trouble is that you are too steadfast, too stuck in your ways. You immediately reject any new concepts or ideas, you’re too closed in your attitude. We must expand your horizons.

Dave: [cautiously] Um, all right. OK.

Andrew: So, Bruce, the first thing to do is to determine the boundaries of our discussions. Now... Bruce, I want you to answer a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ when I ask you this question: Are You Relaxed? Understand?

Dave: Yeah, well, I guess so.

Andrew: Yes or no.

Dave: Oh. Yes.

Andrew: Good. Now, Bruce, I want you to imagine you are lying on a warm, sandy beach under a clear blue sky. The sun is just far away so it isn’t burning you, but heating your body. It never gets too hot because the cool breeze from the crashing waves wafts over you regularly. Now: Are You Relaxed?

Dave: Yes.

Andrew: OK. Now, Bruce, as you lie in the sand, you slowly begin to sink into the white grains. Your eyelids are very heavy. All you can hear is the air going into your lungs and the carbon dioxide emerging to replace it. You are breathing in and out. You will continue to do this until you die, all right? Now, as you begin to doze off, the warm sand wrapping itself around your slumbering form, I ask you: Are You Relaxed?

Dave: [eyes closed] Yes.

Andrew: You’re gently sliding down into a warm, peaceful darkness. You’re beginning to drift away from your body. Everything is so peaceful. There is no interruption, no trouble, nothing. Just sleep. Deep, peaceful sleep. Are You Relaxed?

Dave: [sleepy] Yes.

Andrew: Good, Bruce, good.

[He leans over until his mouth is just beside Dave’s ear.]


[Dave sits bolt upright, and screams in utter horror.]

Andrew: Now. Are You Relaxed?

Dave: [flinches] N-no.

Andrew: Hmmm. Interesting. Falling asleep on a beach is relaxing, but a shouted death threat into your ear ISN’T relaxing. This quite clearly a deep-rooted psychosis. Now, tell me about your dreams.

Dave: My dreams.

Andrew: Yes, your dreams. You have one dream that repeats itself in particular, don’t you? One that is always there, in the darkness whenever you close your eyes. Isn’t there?

Dave: [nods sadly] Yes.

Andrew: Tell me about it.

Dave: All right. I’m standing on a cliff, you see.

Andrew: I see.

Dave: And I’m walking along the edge. And, er, I realize I’ve accidentally trodden on this huge brown egg. It shatters around my foot and there’s this horrible stinking smell.

Andrew: The egg was rotten. Interesting.

Dave: And, as I step on it, I hear this horrible squeaking noise. Like the one Nigel made when that mousetrap got attached to his genitalia. And, look up and I see this alligator crawling towards me through a thick clump of reeds. And it roars at me and then it and the reeds just fade away. Poof! Gone in a puff of smoke.

Andrew: I see. Well, I don’t, but just pretend I do, all right?

Dave: All right. So, I’m a bit freaked out and I overbalance and, well, the next thing you know, I’m falling off the edge of this cliff. And believe you me, it is an awful long way down.

Andrew: And this when a golden lion appears out of nowhere, breathes out slowly and you are swept away through the land, the sky, the seas, before landing outside Cair Paravel in Narnia?

Dave: Um, no, this is when I grab out for the plants growing on the edge of the cliff and hang on for my very life.

Andrew: Oh. Well, that is significant, too, I suppose.

Dave: And then, I’m happy, because I’m holding onto an outcrop of Dolphin reeds, the strongest vegetable matter known to man and perfect for hanging onto when you’re falling off a cliff.

Andrew: Oh, lucky break.

Dave: That’s what I’m thinking. Then, I realize it isn’t Delphon reeds at all, but instead loose-rooted Terudan grass, that look exactly like Dolphin reeds but couldn’t support the weight of a dusty feather. So, they begin to slide out of the rock, and it’s just happening so slowly.

Andrew: So time is slowing down.

Dave: Maybe. The point is, the grass comes almost totally out of the rock – and do you know what happens then? It suddenly stops. Its rock hard and totally supporting my weight! I’m safe after all.

Andrew: Ooh. Good move.

Dave: Yeah, I’m really happy. Then, Leonardo steps up into view above me and he just –

Andrew: Bruce! Leonardo de Vinci was watching you?

Dave: No, Leonardo the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. And he’s wearing this samurai armor and helmet and stuff. He’s got these weird symbols on his breastplates: a yellow circle with three black dots, like a triangle, in the middle of them.

Andrew: And is that significant, do you think?

Dave: No, not at all, if I’m honest with you. And he just looks at me, and he’s totally amazed to see me. He looks at me, he looks at the grass, he looks at me again, then he shakes his head.

Andrew: Were the other Turtles there?

Dave: Nope – not even Slash or that bitch Venus de Milo. And then, Leonardo opens his mouth and I hear that noise again, like the one the egg made when I stepped on it. Only much, much louder. He takes out his sword – just one of them – and I know, I just KNOW he’s going to cut the grass with his sword. And I shout ‘NO!’ at him. So he just makes that noise even louder and he cuts the grass in one go. And I just fall down the cliff and hit the bottom.

Andrew: And then you wake up?

Dave: No, I’m lying on these jagged rocks, totally numb, and unable to move. And I notice that the cliff I’ve fallen down is actually being used by Bungee jumpers. Two of them jump down to my level and get off there. They run over to me.

Andrew: And who are these Bungee jumpers?

Dave: Amazingly, they’re exact doubles of Alysson Hannigan, stripped totally naked and sweating like pigs. And they bend over me, totally in unison and begin to take my clothes off.

Andrew: And then you wake up?

Dave: [smiles craftily] Hell, no.

Nigel: [offstage] Dave? Andrew?

Andrew & Dave: Oh, shit.

Nigel: [offstage] Dave? Andrew? Are you up here?

[Andrew and Dave exchange looks, then run for opposite ends of the bus and hide under the chairs. Nigel’s head appears at the steps, looking around, then ducks out of sight again.]

Nigel: Dave? Where are you? Da – what?

[Andrew and Dave peer from their hiding places.]

Nigel: [offstage] Look, duckface, I’m busy! Rack off! Look, are you stupid or something, I need to go up top. Leave me alone! Get off, get off, get off! Andrew! I’m a bit inconvenienced here, can you come and – get your hands off my arse! Just try and control yourself, woman! Look, I’ve paid, all right? Now, piss off before I give you the back of my hand, IF you’ve done whining like a bitch?? Right, you’ve asked for it!!

[A loud fight is heard: some scuffles, grunt of pain, some sickening thuds, a girl scream, some shattered glass and some dogs barking angrily. Then, three gunshots. Nigel shouts in pain and there is a clang.]

Nigel: [offstage] Let that be a lesson to you, you bitch-whore!

[Nigel stumbles up the steps, wiping some indefinable mess off his shirt.]

Nigel: Stupid cow. Oh, hi Andrew. [waves] And Dave, too! Cool!

[Andrew, shamefacedly, gets to his feet and dusts himself down.]

Andrew: Afternoon, Nigel. How are you?

Nigel: Fine.

Andrew: [snaps fingers in annoyance] Damn. What happened?

Nigel: A slight difference of opinion I had with the bus driver.

[Dave rises and shakes his head.]

Dave: You didn’t try and chat her up, did you, Nige?

Nigel: Don’t make me laugh. Did you see her face? Face full of clavicles and more facial hair than the last Village People tour at the YMCA! Jesus, she reminded me of Great Aunt Patricia.

[They all shudder at the thought.]

Andrew: So, why did she go after you?

Nigel: [smirks] I’m an attractive guy, Andy.

Andrew: No you’re not.

Nigel: I tell you, she is screaming for my underwear. She sensed my utter and total testosterone wafting from my, er, glands. She lost control of herself and just threw herself at me.

Dave: [fingers the mess on Nigel’s shirt] Fists first?

Nigel: She was overcome with passion.

Andrew: And you’re overcome with bullshit. What happened?

[Nigel sighs and slumps down in a chair. The guys sit around him.]

Nigel: The randy hag said I didn’t pay my bus fair.

Dave: Did you?

Nigel: Of course not, I have my bus pass from school, remember? [he produces a card and shows it off] Unlimited access to public transport, I think you’ll find.

Andrew: [takes card] Uh, I think you’ll find that access is, in fact, VERY limited, if you read the back, Nigel.

Dave: Yeah, it only works on busses.

Andrew: During certain hours.

Dave: On weekdays.

Andrew: On particular busses.

Dave: That go from the home address on this card...

Andrew: the school address on this card.

Nigel: Yeah, well, that isn’t such a big deal, anyway.

Andrew: No?

Nigel: Look, when you realize it’s two years out of date, all those other objections just become nothing, you know. [sighs] Still, I should be all right as long as we stay up here. [beat] Why did you two run away from me?

Dave: [rolls eyes] Oh, like we need a REASON these days!

Andrew: I’m more interested in how you actually got on board the bus.

Nigel: Well, I was walking along when suddenly Dave screams something about God and runs around the corner. You and me followed him and we saw him get on the bus. The bus drove off into the distance, and you ran after them.

Andrew: And you stayed behind?

Nigel: No, I just went parallel to you. It wasn’t long before I reached the next stop while you were turning corners this way and that. Well, then I noticed this gorgeous woman – ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS WOMAN! – get onto the bus when it arrived and I just had to follow her, didn’t I?

Dave: And then you had the fight with the bus driver.

Nigel: There was a degree of disagreement, yes.

Andrew: Why didn’t you pay your fair?

Nigel: I had a buss pass! Anyway, did you?

Andrew: No, but then I was too busy searching for Dave to go to the front of the bus, attract the driver’s attention and pay for the trouble. [to Dave] Did you pay?

Dave: Yeah.

[Andrew and Nigel laugh.]

Dave: Oh, this sucks!

Nigel: To be frank, Dave –

Andrew: [chuckles] Frank, eh?

Dave: [laughs] Yeah, that was a bit of a fiasco, wasn’t it?

Nigel: [embarrassed] Let’s not get into that again.

Andrew: That’s what you said at the time, if I recall!

[Nigel leaps to his feet, scandalized.]

Nigel: Look, it is a FIGURE of SPEECH!

Dave: Figure of speech?

Andrew: Figure of speech?

Dave: Figure of speech?

Andrew: Figure of speech?

Dave: Figure of speech?

Andrew: Figure of speech?


Andrew: Figure of speech?

Dave: Figure of speech?

Andrew: Figure of speech? It wasn’t a figure of speech when you phoned him up, though, was it? A bit more than just a figure of speech.

Nigel: Oh, shut up! At least I didn’t break into the chemist the moment when I found out, did I?

Dave: Let’s just forget it, shall we?

Nigel: Oh, no, we’ve started talking about Andrew! I’m not going to stop! Stealing all those antihistamines, opening them, and keeping the boxes but throwing all the drugs back into the shop. YOU WANT AN EMBARRASSING ANECDOTE? AT LEAST I DIDN’T END UP AS THE ‘DEFENDANT’, DID I? I WASN’T THE ONE WHO ENDED UP ON THE 7:30 REPORT AND KERRY O’BRIEN TRIED TO STRANGLE ME ON-AIR, WAS I? I’M NOT THE ONE – Ga!

[Andrew jabs Nigel in the neck. He freezes.]

Andrew: I could listen to him going on like all night, couldn’t you?

Dave: Easily. What were we talking about?

Andrew: Your dreams.

Dave: Oh yeah, well, the Alyssons take out these salad sandwiches, you see, and then they start looking around and saying ‘Where’s Davey Boy, then?’ And they get the salad sauce and –

Andrew: All right, all right, ALL RIGHT!

[He lets go of Nigel and turns on Dave. Nigel collapses, screaming.]

Andrew: This is only the first session, OK!

Dave: [depressed] But I wanted to talk about that dream.

Andrew: So do I. But not today. Maybe, later tonight. With a bottle of wine beside a roaring fire. Maybe then, then, we can discuss this later but – [notices Nigel screaming in the background] Shall we?

Dave: Let’s.

[They turn and smack Nigel alternately until he stops screaming.]

Nigel: [dazed] Spank me, bitch! SPANK ME!

[Dave and Andrew leap back, rubbing themselves clean of invisible filth.]

Dave: Oh, that is just SO wrong.

Andrew: I feel dirty. The BAD kind of dirty.

Dave: Only one thing for it.

Andrew: Too right.

[Andrew takes out a sucker dart and sticks it on Nigel’s forehead. He sighs and relaxes immediately.]

Nigel: Ahhhhhh.

Andrew: Thank God that’s all over.

Dave: [looks up] Just in time.

Andrew: Nah, we should have done it to him years ago.

Dave: No, it looks like it’s going to rain.

Andrew: [looks up] Does it? What makes you say that?

Dave: The clouds. And that lightning in the distance.

[Thunder rumbles loudly.]

Andrew: All right. You’ve talked me into it. We better go back downstairs.

[Dave wanders down the steps and out of sight. Andrew rips the sucker off Nigel’s forehead. He screams and clutches his head.]

Nigel: Oh, my beautiful serenity!

Andrew: [loudly and clearly] Come on, Nigel! Time to move!

Nigel: [ditto] I’m not subnormal!

[Andrew replaces the sucker.]

Nigel: Ahhhhhhhhhh.

Andrew: You are now. Come on.

[He leads them down the steps and out of sight. Blackout.]

End of Act 1.