Friday, June 13, 2008

TV Comic Action In Exile 9: Dr Who Versus The Gadgetmobile!

The Multi-Mobile! by Roger Noel Cook and John Canning – 5 episodes

Well, it's not like it's technology that can be misused in some way, is it?

Official Plot Synopsis:
A master tractor mechanic has built an incredible armoured vehicle called the Multi-Mobile. As its name suggests, it is capable of one hundred and one amazing feats. During a demonstration, it is dramatically stolen by three foreign agents bent on destroying the British Nuclear Defense Control Centre. They then destroy an army armoured division which attempts to stop them. Dr. Who suggests an ‘airstrike’ be used against the vehicle, but it meets with no success. Dr. Who is the only man with a plan for a last ditch bid to avoid disaster, as he leads an ill-fated U.N.I.T. attack to halt its advance...

The Doctor smiles for the first time since his regeneration. Why, yes, disaster is looming. How ever did you guess?

That’s Kind of Cool:
The Third Doctor and the Brigadier are much more in character and much more to do with the story than before, especially their differing views on military hardware. The Doctor’s working out of the agents’ plans is well thought out and the ultimate solution to the Multi-Mobile reasonable. It's sensible to assume that the vehicle wouldn't have the fuel for a countrywide stampede since it was only prepped for a demonstration session, too. The idea of agents stealing the Multi-Mobile is clever too – no one will be expecting it, no one will have another Multi-Mobile to stop them. What’s more, they stick to civilian population centres so what arsenal that CAN destroy them WON’T be used for fear of collateral damage. And the rationale for the Doctor to be at the centre of events is amazingly well done compared to previous efforts of game shows, Mafia and press tours...

You Gotta Be Fucking Kidding Me:
Why the hell would UNIT need a Multi-Mobile when they’re a security force with investigative sidelines? Are they investigating its possible misuse? Come to think of it, the Multi-Mobiles are ridiculously large and cumbersome, fuel inefficient and hardly environmentally friendly. It’s also odd that it is built with no kind of off switch, security lock or self-destruct considering it is tougher than the combined military might of UNIT, the army and the RAF. Surely just building it kept up the arms race as something fitted with ground-to-ground missiles is far too dangerous for what seems to be commercial use. The Doctor and the Brigadier never bother to quiz the designer of the Multi-Mobile for anything that could be useful, and in fact he vanishes from the plot. And having a tank fight at a petrol station?!

Not so much a "cunning" plan, more a sort of "stupid and suicidally insane" plan...

Stupid Mistakes:
The Multi-Mobile has many parties (including UNIT) interested in its potential as simply conquering rugged terrain. Why does the Doctor never raise the possibility the thieves were only interested in getting the Mobile without paying?

Why is the Brigadier so reluctant to call in UNIT?

Why aren’t there any ‘get out of the way of the great big tank heading down the highway’ warnings?

How can the Multi-Mobile attack the base when it has run out of petrol? They turn up at the station but unless they manage to refill the tank during a firefight... with tanks... they should be dried up in no time! Why doesn’t the Doctor spike the petrol before UNIT attacks? Where does he get the sugar cubes from?

Why doesn’t the British Nuclear Defense Control Centre have more defences than a wire fence and a swamp? Isn’t a swamp a silly place to put the Control Centre?

Words of Wisdom:
“Would you mind explaining why you dragged me away from repairing the TARDIS just to watch this overgrown tractor throwing its weight about?”
“Overgrown tractor? UNIT is very interested in this incredible vehicle for operations in rugged terrain – I thought you might be too.”
“Well, I’m not. I’m more interested in fixing the TARDIS and leaving for another galaxy!”
“If you want me to keep supplying you with the spare parts you need, I suggest you start to take an interest in UNIT affairs!”
– Amazingly enough, a conversation that sounds like something from the TV show.

“I warned you we were wasting time, Brigadier.” – The Doctor gloats as the corpses burn.

The artwork spookily suggests that it is the Multi-Mobile itself, as if the machine has somehow gained sentience... No doubt its voice would be provided by Paul Darrow.

“We’ll soon have weapons and men hidden... then all will be ready for the arrival of the Multi-Mobile!” – The Brigadier sounds curiously like an evil genius when he says this, rubbing his hands with glee...

“The Multi-Mobile’s indestructible! It’s really hammering the UNIT forces!” – The Doctor considers swapping Bessie for some more lethal and sexy hardware...

... quite ...


  1. The seemingly-empty Multi-Mobile starts to move. Realizing someone has taken over the vehicle, the Doctor grins and notes things are finally getting interesting. Next week the incredible Multi-Mobile takes on the army!
  2. The thieves pilot the Multi-Mobile towards the British Nuclear Defense Control Centre, intending to destroy it and leave Britain helpless. Can nothing halt the incredible Multi-Mobile?
  3. The Doctor smugly reveals to the distraught Brigadier he has a plan. Next week U.N.I.T. put the Doctor’s incredible plan to work.
  4. The Doctor’s confidence fades as the Multi-Mobile survives the Brigadier’s ambush and fights back. Next week, the Multi-Mobile takes the upper hand!
  5. The Doctor has a cup of tea with the Brigadier in his office where he jokes about how he defeated the Multi-Mobile. The Brigadier doesn’t get it. Next week, a sensational new Dr. Who adventure...

"Concentrated sonar beam"? This is what I think of your "concentrated sonar beam": you can shove your "concentrated sonar beam" where the sun don't shine!

At The End of the Day:
It’s a vast improvement on The Arkwood Experiments, but then it would be hard to do worse. The Doctor and the Brigadier are left on the sidelines as the major threat spirals out of control, there is a one-sided battle which leaves the Doctor in the position to scupper the plans. However the regulars both have strong characterization with the Doctor with a detached, black humor and the Brigadier uncomfortably realizing that he is way out of his depth – hardly what we saw on TV, but this was written before anyone saw any TV episodes. With only little idea of how the show would develop, it’s no wonder the stories are focussing on simple visual ideas and keeping the new characters to a minimum. Mind you, it’s not difficult to imagine the exiled Second Doctor being part of events and maybe it’d have been better to hold onto the Old Doctor until everyone was on the same page (they tried this with the next Doctor with... varying results). The climax with the Doctor spiking the petrol with sugar is a nifty twist, certainly one that all the readers would understand and appreciate, and then-TV script editor suggesting the Doctor defeat the tank with a ‘sonar device’ instead was rightly ignored. How the hell would sonar stop the tank? And why not use this magic wand earlier. Roger Noel Cook sticks to his guns, and with UNIT now consisting of more than a Private Walker lookalike, it’s a big step closer to the Doctor Who that would turn up on screen that year...

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