Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Doctor Who Does The Archbishop

(warning: actual story may not be as disturbing as tag line suggests)

I know for a fact there are more interesting pictures of Tom Baker than the ones they are using. SO BLOODY WELL USE THEM!

Well, having seen The Final Days of Planet Earth (aka The End of Time Parte the First), k9: ReGeneration, and Chelmsford 123, I'm now struggling to download Get Crazy before the new year, the film that looks Paul Margrs in the eye and goes "That's not surreal. THIS is surreal." In the meantime, what about the Fourth Doctor, still stuck in that cellar with the even more awful Asshole Yates?

Hornets Nest IV: A Sting In The Tale

"Rubbish! What are you lot, anyway? Just some sort of space vermin! A swarm of fleas hopping from one host to the next! You've got nothing to offer the universe - you can't even make honey!"

Struggling not to let Asshole get a word in edgeways (though I don't know if his comment of "Unpredictable things, nuns," is supposed to be hilarious or depressingly idiotic), the Doctor continues his story. I myself feel slight melancholy as Asshole will rise to the top in the next adventure and this is our last chance to be in any way free from the odious tosser.

For his next inverse trip in time to fight the mind-eating bugs, the Doctor sets the TARDIS back in time to England during the Middle Ages to check out Tilbey Abbey in 1031 where the all-female order was attacked by rabid dogs and magic wasps. Walking through the snow-covered woods late at night, singing mondergreen-filled Christmas Carols, the Time Lord is almost immediately attacked by hoardes of starving wolves and runs away. This goes on for a while. Until the wolves seemingly get as bored of it as I do and wander off, leaving the Doctor to the mercy of the medieval nuns (who, rather oddly, are so beautiful the Doctor stutters and begs for some booze - "as long as I got my hot totty, I didn't care what she asked me!").

Trying not be sick at the rubbish food (which, unlike Spartha Jones, he pretends to enjoy to be polite), the Doctor realizes that all this shocking young and sexy nuns are hardcore alcoholics who drink so much their breath has rendered the Doctor tipsy, hence his odd behavior. The drunk nuns aren't pleased to find out their new guest is on a mission, and assume he's after their manifestly-possessed-by-hornets Mother Superior. "I'm a doctor, sister!" our hero protests as we discover that night is falling (... it was full moon when the Doctor arrived! Was he so pissed on the fumes he dozed the whole day away? Or are the nuns so drunk they can't tell if it's day or night any more?) and the wolves are back at the door, seemingly hunting the mother superior as well.

The nuns take the Doctor to meet their Abbess... and finds the nuns worship a rather startled pig in a wimple. Unsure if the nuns are insane from their 200% proof homemade altar wine, the Doctor nevertheless quickly works out the hornet queen is buzzing inside its "porcine prison" and unable to get out for some reason.

After this rather awkward meeting, the Doctor watches on as the nuns use slingslots, bows and arrows and cauldrons of boiling oil to keep the wolves at bay. He, like myself, finds this all rather wierd and sits back to enjoy this freaky Buffy-esque display of female kick-assness against the hornet-possessed wolves, who are presumably trying to rescue the trapped hornet queen. After enough teenage nun carnage, the Doctor explains the basic plot of the series to the main talking nun, but it turns out that - like velociraptors - these wolves are badass smartasses who can open doors and things. The Doctor suggests the novel approach of "let the wolves get the pig" which all the nuns are determined to pout cutely, but the Time Lord refuses to be distracted by Zoot and her spankings...

The church-under-siege plot skips ahead with a few sentences until the wolves storm the abbey and chew up the nuns and spit them out and finally this sparagore cracks the nuns' resolve and they accept the Doctor's Plan B. The wolves hunt down the petrified pig and thankfully DOESN'T rip it open (despite all the Doctor's juicy suggestions of what such an event would look like), absorbing the queen and then skips off - pausing only to sneer at the Doctor as it passes. But, with the entire hive in one body (the bad wolf), they are at a tactical disadvantage! The Doctor has some doggy treats which the host wolf cannot resists and yet ANOTHER chase sequence begins as the Doctor leads the pack leader through the snow back to the TARDIS.


(While this goes on, I'll boggle slightly - if the Doctor has captured the entire swarm, he'll surely have to let them go in Venice or else cause a time paradox by changing all the history he's just experienced. Right?)

The Doctor gets the wolf into the TARDIS, but the dog of war does bite the hand that feeds it and the Time Lord immediately starts to flake out - he's very worried about medieval rabies (um, Gallifreyan triple-coded DNA can't deal with some dog saliva?). Like the last/next time he gets bitten by a wolf, the Doctor decides to send the TARDIS into that big white void outside space and time to think of what to do next and try not to get turned into fiction. Meanwhile the wolf is lost in the depths of the TARDIS (a lovely touch is the Doctor rubbing in that Asshole, not being a proper companion, has never witnessed that for himself... heh, loser...).

Dazed and feverish, the Doctor starts scrambling through parts of the TARDIS he no longer remembers, getting more and more out of it with every step. Soon the Doctor begins to wonder if he's been infected by the wasps? The Doctor's spirits seep even lower as he finally twigs that the sheer number of nasty things that break into the TARDIS are beginning to outnumber those that stay outside, but then his Time Lord DNA finally sits up, takes notice and cures his shock and fever. At bloody last.

This Invasion of Time chase through the TARDIS FINALLY comes to an end as our hero catches up with the wolf, who demands to know what in the name of Slitheen buggery is going on with this frikken police box? The hornets reveal they were accidentally marooned on Earth and spent years getting used to taking over the simple brains of animals - and they couldn't conquer the nuns as they were all pissed out of their skulls and the swarm simply can't hold its liquor. With that explained, ANOTHER chase through the TARDIS begins. Thankfully, the Doctor briefly loses the wolf in the kitchens, before losing himself in "the TARDIS's catacombs", before the wolf catches up and disgorges the swarm, which promplty consumes the Doctor... just like that other swarm which took over his brain. Man, twice in a year, that just smacks of carelessness. Oh, and the empty wolf turns out to be Captain, the Doctor's dog from the first episode.

After briefly considering using the Doctor to conquer Gallifrey (again, Season 15 is seemingly the go-to place for plots this week), the Swarm march the Doctor back to the console room, learning on the way all about their future encounters. The Doctor rants that he's survived the Pescatons, the Trods, the Krynoids and the Vogan Slavers, Zygons, Axons, Nestenes and Kraals and he's not going to let some pissy space fleas get the better of him. In fact, he's going to regain control of his body and change history, the Time Lord Victorius!

...any minute now...

...any... minute... now...

Well, it quickly becomes apparent that the wasp-infested Doctor isn't doing that any time soon, so onto Plan C: become the hornets' bitch and hope something turns up. But, with a kind of Rik Mayall/Adrian Edmonsen logic, goes through seemingly half a dozen "OK, I give in"/lunges/gets crap beaten out of him/"OK, this time I give in" routines before the TARDIS returns to reality and the hornets force the Doctor to march out the doors into... is it Venice? Why, yes, it is Venice! What a freaking surprise! The swarm quits the Doctor and surge off to infest Antonio, leaving the Time Lord and his dog hanging around looking gormless and slow on the uptake. The Doctor still hasn't remembered. In fact, it's about a minute after Antonio gets possessed that the Time Lord finally twigs and explains it all again for the audience's benefit. But not for Asshole who presumably is still struggling to understand that the dog Captain is not actually a military officer.

With history back on track, the Doctor and his dog nevertheless search Venice in desperation trying to catch the possessed dwarf: "The Web of Time has healed itself and bent me to its will to make sure everything runs with deadly efficiency," the Time Lord sighs and heads off back to the TARDIS, having caused everything that's already happened.

In the basement, the Doctor (sounding VERY bored and tired) explains all this to Asshole (who chips in with more agonizingly obvious points). But the "companion" of the series is confused - whatever happened to the queen? The Doctor reveals that it managed to live on in Ernestina the ballerina's grandson, Percy Noggins, and their comeback tour in the form of those stuffed animals. Asshole nevertheless finds none of this as interesting as the real estate value of the Time Lord's cottage. "You wouldn't want to know everything about me, would you, Mike?" he sighs in pain, "I certainly wouldn't want to know everything..."

"All right, all right!" Asshole screams defensively. "The point is: we're back where the story began," he concludes with excruciating pointlessness.

"Yes," the Doctor sobs miserably. But, although he'd been caught in a timey wimey predestination paradox where free will is an illusion, but no more Mister Nice Time Lord! "There's nothing to be done about the past, but what we must do now is face the Hornets here!"

"Together?" asks Asshole, suddenly realizing why the Doctor didn't call on Sarah or Harry or the Brigadier - they, unlike him, are not expendable.

"YES!" the Doctor gives that patented deranged grin.

"I suppose the question I must ask is: what can I do?" asks Asshole fearfully, asking the question that I, quite frankly, have been asking for the previous four releases. Go on Margrs, justify his presence, I DARE YOU?! The fact the Doctor begins his explanation with the words "Don't take this wrong way, Mike..." followed indirectly by Asshole's "I'm expendable, you're not!" sob. Oh yeah.

Asshole begs the Doctor to hire Captain Jack, Martha Jones or even Mr. freaking Copper - someone younger and fitter from the NuWhoniverse who can face these unstoppable bug monsters instead of his precious derriere! But dawn has broken, the hornets are at sleep and Mrs. Wimsey is wondering what the Doctor is doing in the basement with the total Asshole (who immediately starts hurling abuse at her). "I don't like the sound of her," he sulks, and then bravely prepares to open the door to the basement - only AFTER the Doctor repeatedly tells everyone that there is no possible danger of any sort whatsoever.

Asshole finally summons up the courage to open the door...


And that's the cliffhanger, ladies and germs.

Well, this sure felt like padding in this series. There's very little actual script, just narration of a very long chase sequence appealing to Tom Baker's love of the infinite TARDIS interior. I wouldn't normally complain about a lack of originality in this series (it's MEANT to be full of homage and cliche), but this is terrible. You could almost play this to the last episode of Invasion of Time and it would be the perfect soundtrack. The Doctor waffling on about how he's encountered much better alien brain parasites doesn't help either.

Weakest of the series so far, I regret to say.


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Doctor Who - The Nightmare Before Christmas


Feels like pain running down my vein
And I don't see anyting but you
No it's true

Feel my bones moving to the phone
Sweating at the very thought of you
Yes I do

My eyes are bright, my throat is tight
Never felt this way before we met
Won't forget!

And I can't remember where I saw your face
And I can't remember how you know my name
I can't remember where we said goodbye
I'd leave you if I could
But it feels so good...
I'd leave you if I could
But it feels so good!

Doctor, you're the only one!
Doctor, you're the only way I know!
Doctor, it's so much fun!
I'd leave you if I could
But it feels so good now!

Well, here we are at the end of the road. The trouble with these epic two-parters is that I'm incredibly bad at reviewing them. I mean, my review of The Stolen Earth, for example, was just a sodding synopsis with some rather heavy sarcasm jammed into it. But how can I review a story when only seeing part one? And this is, for once, a part one. Of two. Yes. RTD's finally brave enough to take the plunge after five years, or specifically twelve months of media manipulation. This time, he's remotely confident people will tune in EVEN THOUGH the dreaded "part two" will appear in the credits. I can only assume Phil Ford has been a good influence on him, since The Sarah Jane Adventures have survived three consecutive years of asking people to tune in next time for the conclusion and NOT instantly been cancelled. Even Torchwood managed it, albeit for a week.

Just think, if RTD had had the guts we would have been spared all those tedious arguments about naming stories - and, seriously, I believe Moffat will not back down on this momentous occasion as the man himself considers his "extra" titles of The Doctor Dances and Forest of the Dead actually quite crap. As, indeed, do I. Let's face it, if The Empty Child or Silence in the Library were REALLY any good, people would not have tried to bluff the public they were one-parters, would they?

And, for the record, a story's full and official title is the one that's first announced so it's
Aliens of London
The Empty Child
The Parting of the Ways
The Rise of the Cybermen
The Satan Pit
Army of Ghosts
Daleks in Manhattan
Human Nature
The Sontaran Stratagem
Silence in the Library
Journey's End

Not ones I myself would have chosen, but it's the rule. RTD said so.

But rather than summarize events in my usual pseudo-satirical manner, I shall, instead, take a leaf out of the apparently defunct I, Who franchise (can we really blame him for giving up in 2005? Hell, he's probably still working on that year, there's so much material to review from Big Finish alone...)


The Tenth Doctor and Wilfred "Forged from Pure Awesome in the fires of Mount Coolio" Mott, with guest appearance by Donna "Flippin" Noble.

The Ood-Sphere in 4226, London in the days leading up to Christmas, 2010.

According to the Doctor, it's a huge amount of time after The Waters of Mars so we can cram in all the spin-off comic strips, annuals audiobooks and that bloody awful BBC Ident (Rusty, when TV Comic look mature and sophisticated in comparison to your work, it's time to get up and get the hell out of BBC Wales). Personally, I believe this occurs not long after the previous story, and the Doctor is talking bullshit to Ood-Sigma so he doesn't look like a complete loser.

As a Discworld-style gravelly-voiced narrator notes, Wilfred Mott is having LSD flashbacks of the Master sucking his trousers and laughing. Meanwhile (relatively speaking), the Doctor finally accepts Ood Sigma's summons to the Ood-Sphere, a hundred years after his previous visit with Donna. Ood Sigma reveals every Ood is suffering nightmares of the Master returning to life and the Ood Elder concludes these are all symptoms of the encroaching apocalypse...

On Earth, Lucy Saxon is confronted by the new governor of her prison - who is leader of a doomsday cult set up by the Master to ressurect him. Before the process is complete, Lucy manages to corrupt the potions and the newborn Master explodes with enough force to level the prison. But, as always, he survives, albeit more deranged than ever before and barely able to complete a sentence. Fleeing and hiding, the Master lies in wait for the Doctor to hunt him down. Before the Doctor can, though, he is intercepted by Wilf and his groupies. The Doctor finally confronts the fact he is doomed and tells all to Wilf, before going to confront the Master one last time - and immediately has nine colours of crap kicked out of him, but for the first time realizes that the drumming in the Master's head is not merely a sign of insanity. But suddenly a squad of armed soldiers attack and kidnap the Master, leaving the Doctor for dead.

The next morning, Christmas Day, Wilf gets a copy of Joshua Naismith's book Fighting the Future from Donna, who has no idea why she bought it him such a present. During the Queen's speech, Wilf recieves a vision of a woman who tells him he must take up arms and must not mention this to the Doctor, a course of action that might yet save him. Moments later the Doctor arrives, needing Wilf to help him track down the Master. The Doctor realizes that Donna's subsconscious has sensed the End of Time somehow and bought Wilf Naismith's book as a clue to help: Naismith is part of the unfolding cataclysm.

Naismith is the one who has kidnapped the Master, believing that he is the only man to complete reparation of "the Immortality Gate" - an archway designed to regenerate the living tissue of those within. However, Naismith is unaware that the Gate is actually designed to treat entire planetary populations simultaneously, and by the time the Doctor and Wilf discover the truth from some alien scientists working with Naismith, the Master has sabotaged the Gate. The Gate activates and every human being on the planet bar Wilf (who is sheilded in the Gate control chamber) and Donna (who isn't entirely human) are transformed into perfect copies of the Master, while the real Master completes his ressurection. With the human race gone and Donna's mental block starting to falter, the Master is triumphant.

But this is all irrelevant...

"And so it came to pass, on Christmas Day, that the Human Race did cease to exist. But even then, the Master had no concept of his greater role in events, for this was far more than humanity's end! This day was the day upon which the whole of creation would change forever! This was the day the Time Lords returned - for Gallifrey; for victory; for the End of Time itself!"

Wilf spotting the TARDIS in a stained glass window in a cathedral. The Ood-Elder tossing aside his extra brain. The Master going skeletal as he notes the irony that he, the master of disguise, keeps getting recognized as Harold Saxon - and is later seen, hiding in a warehouse, gnawing on a human bone. The Doctor thinks "Donna Noble-Temple" would sound like tourist spot. The first appearance of the Narrator. The Master is left speechless when the Doctor asks for his help. The Master's Hannibal Lector treatment. Barack Obama's cameo. The final scene.

The Doctor muses his recent marriage "was a mistake". Mrs. Trefusis conspires to force Lucy to rub up against her as she leaves her cell. Lucy and the Master were so close she's covered in his biodata, even after years in jail. Kinky. The Master is reborn stark naked. Naismith refers to himself in the third person as "Daddy", which is plain wrong no matter who you're saying it to. Minnie has screwed someone in a police box. One of Naismith's tech's has a very naughty expression on her face as she prepares to open the Gate. Wilf is seemingly the only member of the Silver Cloak NOT determined to shag the Doctor and indeed Minnie sets out to make Captain Jack Harkness look like an assexual prude. Wilf describes Donna's marriage to Shaun as "making do" to which the Doctor replies, "aren't we all?" Naismith's daughter is visibly turned on by the Master in bondage, though the Master's lustful expression is more down to a desire to eat her flesh than get up to any sexy stuff. Sylvia gets a Christmas card of a male bodybuilder wearing nothing but a Santa outfit which even she describes as "rude". The two techs sneak off together... but because they're aliens rather than oversexed Torchwood operatives, which makes a change.

The Doctor's egomania takes a massive metaphorical kicking from Ood Sigma, whose silent treatment breaks though his general displays of displacement assholedom and makes him confront how fucking serious things are. The Master skips away as a firestorm levels a prison, and intends worse for the rest of the "disgusting Human disgRace". The Master draws the Doctor out by whacking an empty drum with the four-knock beat four times and then screams mindlessly at him before flying away. The Doctor's resolve cracking when Wilf muses he is likely to die soon and pleading with him, "Don't you dare!" and he actually breaks down in tears of what he did to Adelaide on Mars. The confrontation in the warehouse. Sylvia watches as the Doctor takes Wilf with him in the TARDIS on the grounds neither want to stay with her.

There are flashbacks to The Sound of the Drums and The Last of the Time Lords as the Doctor remembers his last encounter with the Master and Lucy, and Donna has visions of Davros, the Rachnoss, the Pyroviles, the Vespiform and others as her memory starts to return.

In an impressive failure of communication, this makes this the second adventure the Tenth Doctor has experienced called The End of Time. The closest equivalent are two TV Comic strips for the Third Doctor called The Metal-Eaters. I won't go into that "Mutants Daleks" business though.

Danny Glaze (Shaun Temple) previously played the Fourth Doctor (and rather well it must be said) in the 1980s children's comedy sketch show Your Mother Wouldn't Like It, where he crossed over into Minder and got Terry to protect him from the Daleks, leaving Arthur to be exterminated. This makes him the third person after David Warner and Derek Jacobi to appear in the bona fide TV series after playing the main character elsewhere. Unless you count Nicholas Briggs. Or Mark Gatiss. And why would you?


The Tenth Doctor: Although initially arrogant and slightly contemptuous, the Doctor quietly admits he was loathe to return to the Ood-Sphere after Sigma predicted the Doctor's song would end. He remains aloof and rude, even to Wilf - who finds this new Doctor rather uncomfortable company, leading to quite a few awkward silences. He is very, very shocked to find the Master is alive (presumably because the Master chose to die, and the Doctor went to such lengths to ensure his body STAYED dead this time). Nevertheless, he totally loses his cool when there is even the VAGUEST of implications Donna may be in danger. Even in the vortex, the Doctor can sense the return of the Master and can even "smell" him ala the Family of Blood when he's close enough.

The Doctor notes he has been lucky so far, in that he has managed to regenerate before dying since it is possible to be killed before the process kick-starts. He believes that regenerating "feels" like dying, since "everything I am dies" so "some new man goes sauntering away and I'm dead". Even so, the thought of allowing Donna to burn up upsets him far more than his own demise.

He has more than one brown suit (or can repair the one the Master ruins) and he can spot a disguised alien a mile off.

Wilfred Mott: When Wilf saw military service in Italy, he did not kill anyone (something he is passionate about) as he was apparently too late to make a difference and the war already won. He keeps his wartime belongings (and pistol) in a suitcase under his bed. Though he's never one for churches, he thinks seeing the Doctor would "make his Christmas". He promised the Doctor to never reveal to anyone his knowledge about the Time Lord. He demands the Queen's speech get due respect.
He unsurprisingly knows about the TARDIS's interior (not only did he catch a glimpse in Partners in Crime, he also had lots of time to discuss it with Donna and Rose), but is surprised at how untidy it is.

Donna Noble: Her personality at least is unchanged, but she suffers inexplicable depression (or very explicable depending on who you are). She has found love in the arms of a black guy called Shaun Temple (a "bit of a dreamer" according to Wilf, "but sweet enough"), lives with him in a tiny flat, and intend to get married to in the Spring of 2011. Although they are quite poor, they are happy together and Donna intends that her surname will come AFTER Shaun's, which is surprisingly generous for her. Seeing her fiance and mother turn into clones of the Master is enough to break the memory lock (but not, say, talking to the Doctor or hearing the TARDIS take off so only incredibly wierd alien batshit insanity can affect her... showing that 2010 was a very quiet year, alien chaos wise. But how did she cope during 456 week? Is this yet MORE evidence Torchwood isn't canon?!)

Sylvia Noble: Makes a clear effort to be pleasant around Donna, and is clearly getting on better with her than ever before. Still thinks the clothes from her daughter are crap, though. She is horrified at the Doctor's return (though she DOES try to be polite) for the risk it puts to Donna - she even swallows her pride and pretends to be an idiot so Donna doesn't suspect the thin air she was shouting at was previously occupied by the TARDIS. She seems terrified of the Doctor, unwilling to confront him. Wilf and the Doctor still don't enjoy her company.

The Master: No one apparently twigged who "Harold Saxon" really was, (maybe no one heard the Toclafane call him their Master?) and since his body was stolen by the Doctor and Lucy was off in cuckoo land, no one even twigged he was an alien (between Jack's amnesia drugs, D-notices and of course the Cult of Saxon conspiracy wiping out all witnesses, this isn't entirely unbelievable. Apart from the Joneses not being taken out by a hit squad).

The moment the Doctor learns about the wedding ring surviving, he doesn't doubt for a second that it can somehow be used to bring the Master back (so they've both seemingly watched Flash Gordon).

The reconstituted Master is very different: has a stubbly beard, can also fly and leap with unnatural speed and strength, and can somehow reduce human beings to microwaved skeletons (presumably the ravenous hunger is an attempt to complete the interrupted ressurection). He can also fire bolts of energy from his hands at will, but this seems to cause his body to short-out the more he uses it. More of this in STUFF YOU NEED.

After the events of Season 3, the Master's gone right off humanity as a species after it turned against him and the Toclafane proved useless and has genocide very high on his to do list. He definitely isn't a vegetarian.He makes it clear, as in Sound of the Drums, "Master" isn't any kind of title but his name. He looks distinctly frightened when the Doctor sneaks up on him and the mere thought of his enemy causes him to freak out. He is rather disappointed at how both he and the Doctor have turned out since their promising childhood and simultaneously weeps and screams for joy when someone else hears the drums. He decides that the drums signify someone/something calling him and vows to find out what, but gets sidetracked in wiping out all humanity, as he often does.

Lucy Saxon: The Doctor calls her as the Master's Wife, rather than as an individual, though he considers her an innocent bystander who was corrupted against her will (well, he knew her for a whole year, and he seems to be right that she turned good). Following a secret trial sans jury, Lucy's catatonic defense got her locked up in jail and weeping ever since, presumably for helping assassinate President Winters rather that putting a bullet in the Master (she should have been made an honorary UNIT officer for managing that). She was NOT the one who scooped up the Master's ring, and at least some of her fugue was a bluff, as she knew all about the Cult of Saxon and laid a trap. She is presumably killed in the resulting boom.

Ood-Sigma: He still wears his Ood Operations uniform, even after 100 years. He's as inscrutable as ever, but nevertheless is far less impressed with the Doctor - though whether this is because he knows about Adelaide's death or simply annoyed the Doctor isn't taking things seriously when the universe is about to end, is not clear. He does not join the circle of the Ood Elder.

Joshua Naismith: The Doctor has no idea who he is, so his mental wikipedia clearly isn't reliable any more (if it ever was...). He and his daughter live in a grand mansion with a large staff as well as a bunch of armed troops and white-coated lab technicians. He's a billionaire with fingers in alien collecting pies, and has collected xenotech from the ruins of Canary Wharf. The Master admires him as a ruthless bastard with delusions of philanthropy.

Mrs. Trefusis: As befits a namesack of Vivien Fey, she looks like a lesbian nazi in her late fifties. Henchman to the far more important and unnamed Cult Leader, it was her red fingernails what scooped up the dreaded wedding ring of the Master. She happily sacrifices herself like all the rest of the Cult, even when the Master out and out gloats their deaths are not inevitable and he's only really killing them for the sheer hell of it.

The Woman: A mysterious woman with greying hair, a necklace and a white trouser suit who can manifest in Wilf's consciousness but no one else's. She knows Wilf's history and future events, and seems concerned about the Doctor's welfare. Assuming she's not a pathological liar and really evil. The Doctor seemingly suspects she (or someone/something like her) is involved in this mess.

The Narrator: A poetic sort in a black void who is darkly amused at the idea of the world ending. He's also the leader of a LOT of Time Lords and spits a lot when he gets excited.


The Ood-Sphere: Over the last one hundred years, the plateau the TARDIS landed on has been turned into a fairy tale ice city with lots of bridges and icicles. Lighting mainly comes from candles, but maybe it's best not to wonder where they get the wax from.

Gallifrey: The Master's father had estates with pastures of red grass on Mount Perdition, where the Doctor and the Master played as children.

The Ood:Thanks to "time bleeding", they've evolved a hell of a lot in a century, and are now lead by an Ood Elder who has a brain-shaped head along with his secondary brain. They don't have fingernails, and their secondary brains can be dropped in their lap without causing seizures or brain damage - so that explains one nagging problem, like how Oods can do anything requiring two hands. There are male and female Ood, judging from their voices anyway, and they can speak without translator globes (more telepathy?), and send visions into minds of others through physical contact. The Ood are now capable of sending psychic signals through time and space, though they still don't have much of a sense of humor. In their own words, they can see (but not understand) all. Ood Sigma is well over a century old and isn't even going grey in the tentacles, so they're quite long-lived.

The Vinoccini: Distant relatives of Bannakaffalata's people, they are normal sized humanoid but bright green with spikes. Non-hostile, they send a salvage team to Earth to collect the Immortality Gate, and they infiltrate Naismith's base under "shimmers" that make them look human, a process that's very uncomfortable. They're rather naive and gullible.

If we believe what he says, after seeing Ood Sigma the Doctor took a detour via the Phosphorus Carousel of the Great Magellan Gestalt, saved a planet from the Red Carnivorous Maw, named a galaxy Alison, had a failed marriage and earned the wrath of Queen Elizabeth I, picking up a straw hat, flower necklace and sunglasses before finally accepting Ood Sigma's summons.

Broadwell Prison: A very gothic-looking penal establishment, now in need of a new governor after the last two died in very quick succession. They also allow their prisoners to have lipstick and let their hair grow, so it's a lot nicer than, say, Cell Block H. It is levelled when Lucy sabotages the resurrection spell.

The Cult of Saxon: Seemingly set up for a laugh, the order of devout Master-worshippers was created to resurrect him should he die, using the ring. When time was re-set, they worked out what was happened and Mrs. Trefusis was sent to collect the ring. Their holy bible is a multi-volume work called The Secret Books of Saxon and they're more than happy to sacrifice themselves. (As they've infiltrated a women's prison, the ones we see here are understandably all female, but there could be other members).

President Obama: After presumably getting in power thanks to the Master nuking Winters, he announces at Christmas 2010 he has a cunning plan (AKA the Initiative) to solve the global financial crisis. The folk on the street automatically believe his plan will work, but merely restore the status quo. He never gets to tell anyone what it is.

The Silver Cloak: A network of restless pensioners and their friends and family who are only in it all for a laugh (and possibly some sex). Wilf uses them to locate the Doctor.

Slade: Merry Xmas Everybody is played one last time for a David Tennant Christmas episode. Now THAT is tradition.

The TARDIS: The Doctor has adapted it so it beeps like a car alarm and flashes its lantern via the TARDIS key - apparently just as a cheap gag to amuse people. It doesn't make Ood Sigma laugh. He nevertheless needs to UNLOCK the TARDIS with it again to gain access, and can also shift the TARDIS out of phase with time to keep it out of the Master's clutches (a reversal of the trick in The Keeper of Traken).

The Resurrection Shebang: Known and understood by the Doctor without being told. Some blue and purple "elixirs of life", the Master's ring and the catalyst (a biometrical signature which is left on Lucy) can ressurect a Time Lord, but it needs the life essence of seven women to finish it off. It leaves the newborn Master ravenously hungry though (as per The Lazarus Experiment, regenerating can leave you with a blinding apetite). Time Lords (or at least one half-ressurected like the Master) can make themselves achieve incredible physical feats by "burning up life energy" (presumably like the Ninth Doctor stepping through the fans) which is, most disturbingly, the exact same premise of the DWAD story Dark Dreams where a Time Lord can mentally fling aside nuclear missiles by thought alone.

The Immortality Gate: Medical technology salvaged from the ship that crashed into Mount Snowden (where Torchwood got the Magna-Clamps from) which is, even when half-broken and powered down, able to zap away lifelong scars. The device can scan an entire planet and cure an entire species, and is considered well worth salvaging by alien civilizations in 2010.

The Doctor might have become Good Queen Bess's enemy after he briefly got married to her (though it's not clear, he could be talking about River Song for all that matters). There's a legend about a Sainted Physician in a Blue Box arriving at a 13th Century Abbey to smoke out a demon that fell from the sky, but that's probably just a coincidence. In August 1962, Minnie was locked in a police box for misbehaving, but that didn't stop her.

The Doctor isn't really surprised that the Ood have mastered such amazing mental powers, but is worried they managed it in such a short space of time. He rightly suspects an outside force is accelerating their development, which is actually a side effect of the universe falling apart.
The drumming stopped when the Master died and it's only a few moments after he's reborn that he hears them again, louder than ever before - and he likes it.
The Doctor finds it deeply suspicious that Wilf keeps oh-so-conveniently stumbling into his life, instantly tracking the Time Lord down with some gossipy pensioners, and without Dalek Khan manipulating history, this IS rather dodgy. Wilf apparently stands "at the Heart of Coincidence", giving him a unique perspective.

The Doctor notes that interfering with his own timeline in established events would unravel the causal nexus (so this is a different law of time to the one he broke on Mars, though the Doctor actually has learned his lesson).

"Christmas is cancelled!"
Initially eschewing the apocalyptic conclusion to the previous story, The End of Time makes a change from previous Christmas specials by laying down from the very start dark crap is happening rather than have everyone taken aback that the yuletide festival is being undermined by marauding robots. Barely getting any dialogue in the first half hour, David Tennant nevertheless spends every second making damn sure we'll miss him and even though - tortured by noises in his head and capable of more super powers than the entire Marvel comic franchise - the Master is basically Sylar from Heroes in a hoodie, John Simms manages to show a very different Master from the cheerful psychopath of 2007. Both he and Bernard Cribbens effortlessly merit their place in the opening credits. The only real downer is that we hardly get any material with Donna and a wealth of less-funny-than-it-thinks-it-is comedy horny old gits in a bus. They could have simply repeated the final bit of The Waters of Mars if they needed padding THAT badly...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Counting Down

First off, a change of Chathamological pace.
Drew that in a bored moment several weeks ago. Probably should post the next episode, where the Big N indulges in seduction, sadism and something else beginning with S (no idea... hang on, SPIRITUALISM, that's it). The bit where he goes Varos on the school bully should be exciting.

What else?

I've definitely gone off the boil over The End of Time. Sorry, Rusty, but you can only milk it so long before I just stop giving a shit. And it's been over a year promised, and frankly, it's not worked. At all. The gap year is a spectacular failure by any real judge. I enjoyed The Waters of Mars, but would have been impossible to do as part of a normal 13 episode run? Oh, and RTD's claim that the Tenth Doctor is "cured" of his insane goodhood at the end of the story is transparent garbage. If so, why's he acting like such a prick in all the scenes offered to us? And seriously, Rusty, do you think anyone was really enjoying your exclusive preview of the story which took the form of David Tennant seemingly being threated with gang rape by some OAPs of both sexes? June Whitfield might carry it off, but that old bloke is more disturbing than Dayna's boyfriends...

Whenever I've been asked why I chose Santa Claus as a career, I never once considered the answer of "you get to see folk naked". Well, consider that option locked in, Eddie, at least under "why you should NOT do it".

First some hairy mutant with a leer tried to outstare me and then, over the course of half an hour, slowly turned around and dropped his pants to allow me to admire his even hairier backside, and then a Benny Hill skit ensues with a recalicitrant toddler, unwilling to leave his mother's arms, decides to rip her dress off when the father takes hold of him. Just goes to show, no matter how hot it is SEMPA UBI SUB UBI - always wear under wear.

(I won't go into what this might mean about the mysterious brown substance spattered over the green "lawn" where my throne is placed... mainly because I'd throw up.)

Next off, I'm sure there's at least ONE person who's watching Doctor Who for the first time on ABC2 and thus thoroughly boggling as the Doctor's adventures with Donna on Monday are spoiled by his solo jaunts on Friday, where he's being all lonely and emo. So while there are points for trying to show Doctor Who on Christmas Day, showing Planet of the Dead of all things is terrible. And not because it's the wrong religious festival (I remember them screening The Vicar of Dibley Easter Special at Christmas, three years after it was made, so we all knew which main character would die in it...)

Speaking of TVs to avoid, my TV died on Sunday. Leave it for one day and... mind you, it HAD been on the way out. The remote didn't work, and for quite a while we had to turn it on hours ahead of time so the screen would focus properly and warm up. Then one day, no picture. Everything else worked, so whatever was wrong was bloody fundamental. So, I think, typical - a TV dying the week before Christmas, when they're at their most expensive.

So, I decide to replace it with the TV from the dining room, a TV given to me by my grandfather in his will (and it's a bloody good TV too). We wire it up... and it doesn't understand how to work with a DVD player. Despite it working fine with the one in the dining room. So I swap the machines round. That works. But that leaves me bereft of TV while cooking or food preparing, so... out of sheer "what the hell" ness... I try wiring up the TV from my bedroom, over ten years older than any other TV in the house. I've tried on innumerable occasions to get it working with a DVD player in my bedroom, never worked once. And this time... IT DOES!

I have no idea why. Guess the old ones are the best.

Oh yes, and I dreamed of another episode of Son of Dr Who. Well, another episode of The Daleks would probably have driven me to suicide and Oak & Quill would have left me insane. No stuff about downloading it or anything, just the fractured narrative in my head.

"Curtis" lands his TARDIS (shaped like one of those planet hoppers from The Ark) in a deserted city, and is pretty pissed off as he has no idea where or when he is - and he needs to know to plot a course. He wanders around the city, looking for someone to tell him such details, but nothing. Then he finally enters this arcade of statues (freaky abstract stuff, no weeping angels) and sees another man at the end of the arcade, who seems almost catatonic and afraid of him. "Curtis" puts on the charm... very badly... and tries to chat to the guy and find out little things like where the hell are they and where the hell is everyone else.

The man runs away and finally Curtis catches up to him and is forced to be even more diplomatic. The man, slightly calmer, explains he lives alone in the city and has been building the sculptures for want of something to do. There is no one else there, no one to talk to. "They went away," he keeps saying simply and soon "Curtis" twigs the guy is saying all he knows. Despite being a typical 60s silver metropolis of technology, nothing works. There's power, but the lights don't glow and the doors don't slide open, and there's nothing but silence.

Working out it's a colony of some kind, "Curtis" goes back to the TARDIS to try and fix position by the stars and the man, having nothing else to do, follows him. He is calm one moment, almost normal and slightly self-deprecating, the next he's a wide eyed freak staring in silent horror at things we can't see. "Curtis" has little or no patience and, taking a sextant from his ship, heads out the city to look at the sky... but there's no sky, just a mess of feedback howlaround. "It's been like that since everyone went away," the man explains sadly.

"Curtis" is freaked out and decides to cut his losses and run, but the man gets disturbingly creepy at this point, effectively bitching that "Curtis" has a choice about how to leave and will never stay and face anything he doesn't care for, whether he deserves to or not. "Curtis", a bit insulted, offers to take the man with him, but the man refuses to leave the city like everyone else. Indeed, he starts to suspect that "Curtis" may not actually be real, but some sort of ghost.

"Curtis" tells the man to stop his whiny-ass cry-baby impression and decides to explore the city for answers - like why the man chose that arcade for his artwork, when he could have chosen anywhere. He soon finds lots of cables lead to that arcade, and the head artwork is actually covering an electric chair of some kind. This arcade was the execution yard. "And your frankly unhealthy obsession with it speaks volumes," "Curtis" broods. "So who are you? The executioner? Or the one who would have been executed?"

A disembodied voice calls out across the arcade. Oh, and the sun has set (I know there's no sky, tell my dream that) and since the city has no lights everything's gone dark. "Curtis" accuses the man of lying and storms off to find the owner of the voice, despite the man's desperate efforts to stop him. Finally "Curtis" loses his patience and just decks the man and heads off with a pen torch, searching the corridors. The voice rambles on about punishment and not being able to give freedom or rehabilitation. "Curtis" finds the room the voice is coming from, but when he manages to get the door open... the room's empty.

Deciding this is all some Scooby Do shite, "Curtis" head back to the TARDIS. He finds a hooded figure barring his way. Furious, "Curtis" tells the reaper to get the fuck out of his way and the figure lifts the hood to reveal the man, but his face is painted white, his eyes are screwed shut and his mouth open in a scream. "Curtis" flinches as a cheer is heard and, looking away for a second, the figure is gone.

"Curtis" returns to the arcade and finds the man sulking, ignorant of the vision. "Curtis" is fairly certain that he knows what's going on - the ghost is the man, who was executed at this very spot. At that point "everyone went away" and he was left alone in the city. Somehow, everyone except him perished in some ghastly rewiring accident. But that doesn't explain the sky, does it?

Things blur at this point. "Curtis" works out the truth. The TARDIS landed at the exact same second the electricity was turned on, and has royally buggered up time: the city is frozen in a split second, which is why everyone has vanished and nothing works. Only the man, at the heart of the chaos, is left, in the split second between life and death. The "weight" of the TARDIS is keeping reality paused, allowing the man to be free.

"Curtis" decides to leave, setting the TARDIS in motion, even though this will cause time to snap back and the man to be executed. "Curtis" coldly ignores the man's pleas, insisting that his own society chose for him to die - who is "Curtis" to argue with such a legal system. "I have already been scolded for interfering in the affairs of others," he announces, powering up the TARDIS.

The man falls to his knees and begs for mercy.

"I think, my friend, you are confusing me with someone else," "Curtis" says icily, (clearly referring to the Doctor) and dematerializes the TARDIS. The man fades away, reappearing in the electric chair in front of a crowd who cheer as he is fried alive. In the TARDIS, "Curtis" chuckles to himself. "There may be some satisfaction from inaction after all!" he laughs.

And, the episode at an end, I fell out of bed and eventually woke up.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Night Thoughts

This heat wave is making a mess of me, I cannot deny. And, when you're like me with a surprisingly high average body temperature in an insulated house full of hot, furry animals who love nothing more than sitting on you when you're trying not to expire from heat delirium, it's hard to sleep. The previous night was a case in point, as I slipped into a feverish twilight realm between consciousness.

The dream started off in a traditionally deranged swirl of Monty Python-style digressions: my room was suddenly hidden behind the television in the living room, where I held a party for friends. They complained at the lack of the song "Good News Week", but luckily I had a CD with that very tune inside my Ninja Turtle action van toy, which I was rather lamely attempting to repair. And then I managed to watch The End of Time, which turned out to be a strange montage of explosions narrated by Stuart Milligan with a Judoon stuck in a Saw-style torture chamber, to be roasted alive if it didn't dislocate its arm and activate the off switch.

But then the dream took on a different form, to the point where I was awake enough to wonder if I was dreaming, but not awake enough to be certain of the answer. While idly looking through a few sites, I came across torrents for a heap of 1960s Doctor Who spin-offs. I was mildly surprised, for, like Jon Pertwee in The Ultimate Adventure, it was never something I'd expect to see let alone get a copy of. Of course, part of me was troubled that there were NO such spin-offs, but very obviously I was wrong as I was downloading them.

And then I watched them, noting with distate the poor picture and sound quality, and the number clock jammed in the upper left-hand corner, which was just plain distracting. I remember trying to note down thoughts so I could review them in my very blog, only to be distracted when my phone bleeped at me about paying the 3 bill...

So, what were these spin-offs?

First off was The Son of Dr Who.

The idea was pitched by Hartnell himself back in 1965 (as a story for Doctor Who and as a spin-0ff, but no one is entirely sure which was focussed). The idea was cannibalized in The Chase (where there is an evil doppelganger of the Doctor), The Time Meddler (another Time Lord trying to change history) and The Massacre (where an evil doppelganger of the Doctor is apparently trying to change history). Of course, it was never made... but try telling me when I'm REMing.

I hungrily read the information page for the torrent - apparently, the idea had been knocking around in William Hartnell's head for a while and some nervous BBC executive, expecting Patrick Troughton to fail mighteously, commissioned a 35 minute pilot episode for the series. I recall being pissed off, since making a spin off with the outgoing Doctor was not going to do much for the new bloke's chances, would it? Alas, it was clear that Hartnell's health had deteriorated too much for him to appear in a full series. That, low ratings, and the phenomenal success of Troughton sealed the show's fate. It was never repeated and some rights or other meant, like Dimensions in Time, it would never be on DVD.

Watching it, I remember being a bit disappointed at the linearity of it all. It was almost entirely told from one perspective with lots of long dialogue-filled scenes of which little happened. There was only one action scene, and the picture was so poor I could barely work out what was happening. It reminded me a bit of the BBV audios, desperate to be proper Doctor Who but avoid being sued. William Hartnell's character was referred to throughout as "old man" (though I recall he did mention he was a doctor), there was no sign of the TARDIS inside or out and it was referred to as "the ship". Yet the references to Susan made it clear this was meant to be the same show.

The plot? Well, I'll transcribe as much as I can remember...

Interestingly, there was no title sequence but the music was Space Adventures (ie, what you hear when the Cybermen emerge from their tombs) with just a caption saying "THE SON OF DR. WHO" then "THE BANDITS IN THE WOODS" and "BY BILL HARTNELL".

In a studio-bound forest, a party on horseback bump into the First Doctor who is wandering the woods having lost his "companions" and "ship". The riders agree to lead the Doctor to the nearest town, and the old man tries not to be too pissed off at their rudeness. They then spend seemingly ages moving through the forests without exchanging a word, before suddenly they are attacked by those damn bandits the titles warned us about. The Doctor, I was shocked to see, lets the riders get massacred and (since he's wearing a handy cloak) manages to mingle with the bandits and not get killed. Alas, he can't sneak away and is soon discovered by the leader of these roustabouts: Robin Hood himself (played by Grendell from The Androids of Tara).

The Doctor pleads he's just a harmless old git and Robin agrees to let him live in return for gold, as a toll for passing through Sherwood Forest. The Doctor manages to bluff and digress and turn the conversation onto the fact Robin Hood is a complete bastard and not the philanthropist that his PR suggests. "You really should never rely on what minstrels have to say," Robin muses, drawing a knife. It turns out his "merry men" are ruthless cutthroats, that Robin is actually useless with bow and arrow (he managed a fluke shot once and has been trading on the anecdote ever since) and his "patriotic" robbing from the rich to give to the poor is only because the poor will immediately get taxed and the money go straight to the Crusades. Robin is fighting the Sheriff of Nottingham and his cronies simply to get in the good books of King Richard, and if he's restored to Earl of Huntington, he can give pardons to his merry men.

The Doctor is unimpressed, finding this "most immoral and cynical", but just when the cutthroats realize he's penniless and about to kill him, the equivalent of Friar Tuck arrives and recognizes the Doctor as "Sheriff Curtis of Shropshire". Believing the Doctor's famous, Robin decides to ransom him to the Sheriff of Nottingham...

The plot cuts to Nottingham Castle. Here we see Nottingham (played by the bloke who was in The Keys of Marinus and Beyus in Time and the Rani) is actually a rather fey and weak-willed bloke, pretty much the bitch of Guy of Guisborne who is a badass French bastard with a genetically in-built sneer. Nottingham is a day-dreamer and keeps going on about his grandfather who was a pirate and, like Rimmer and Alexander the Great, Nottingham longs to be a cool kick-ass outlaw like Robin Hood. A servant rushes in telling them that "Curtis" has been captured by Robin Hood. As they haven't seen the genuine article all day, Dumb and Dumber instantly believe it and agree to pay the ransom. Idiots.

The next scene is outside the castle where the Doctor's been gagged, bound and put on a donkey. I remember baffled at the lack of any scene where Robin gets the money, or why they agree to hand the Doctor over at all, since he knows where their secret hideout is and their numbers (not me being picky, as Robin listed these as the reasons why he had to kill the Doctor in the previous scene!). Guisborne finds the Doctor and takes him inside.

Over dinner, the Doctor plays dumb and pretends to be "Curtis" as Nottingham and Guisborne unwittingly reveal their cunning plan in as expositional a manner as possible. It turns out they have teamed up with Prince John to assassinate King Richard upon his imminent return from the Holy Land. "Curtis" has volunteered to provide magic which will destroy Richard's ship upon landing, which will then be declared an act of god. Guisborne, however, doesn't trust "Curtis" an inch and has stolen his "magic talisman".

A bunch of TNT with an alarm clock strapped to it. And it's actually ticking.

The Doctor nearly spits out his wine in horror at this Inspector Gadget like cliche. The old bloke ducks out into the corridor and bumps into a servant who reveals, being a true monarchist, he can't abide his employer's plans to kill the king and begs "Curtis" to defeat them. The Doctor tells him the only way to do it is to contact Robin Hood and get him and his merry men here STAT! The servant rushes off to do so (God knows how), but not before the Doctor asks how many storeys the castle is, as he noticed an extension on the main building.

Heading up the stairs, the Doctor finally comes to a locked door he just happens to have the key for. Inside is a neo-futuristic black-and-white void space, kind like the inside of a Kroton spaceship and about as un-TARDIS-like as you can imagine. It doesn't even hum (though it does have that bubbly noise you get when the force field is on for some reason). The Doctor, needless to say, is not surprised, but he didn't expect to find another person hiding just behind the open doors - himself!

Well, William Hartnell dressed as a Crusader, anyway. In a series of painfully obvious jump cuts, the two time travelers confront each other. "Curtis" suspected what was going on the moment he heard he had somehow been captured by outlaws. The Doctor is angry at "Curtis" deliberately trying to upset the established course of events, but "Curtis" is very clear he knows precisely what he is doing. "You have said that before!" the Doctor rages. "And how many died because you knew 'precisely what you were doing'?" "Curtis" retorts that the Doctor is the convicted criminal, forced into exile. "I chose exile!" the Doctor retorts. "You honestly thought you fooled anyone? That they all assumed I was responsible? Hah, you are fool, boy - I deliberately took the blame. I had to invent evidence against me so the trail would not lead to you. I expected you of all people to come up with a convincing alibi!"

"Curtis" doesn't buy this, assuming the Doctor's either lying or mental. "I had hoped you too would stay on our planet - after all, there at least you could be contained. Out in the universe, there was no telling what chaos you could cau-commit." (yes, I remember that fluff exactly) But "Curtis" left anyway, believing that he could use the Doctor as a decoy to call attention. "You really hate me that much?" the Doctor asks, avoiding his gaze. "You deserve worse!" "Curtis" roars - full marks to Hartnell, in my imagination anyway, for sounding so damn angry and growling. This guy is a bezerker. "What I deserve," the Doctor icily retorts, "is open to debate! The question is, I think you agree, what you deserve? You're changing the patterns of time, undermining history, killing senselessly! What do YOU think such crimes deserve?"

"Curtis" doesn't reply, but by now the Doctor and he have circled each other, so the Doctor can just turn and skip down the steps out of his offspring's time ship - which makes "Curtis" go plain out-and-out bonkers and starts screaming. Snatching up a broadsword, he chases after the Doctor down to the dining room where Guisborne and Robin are having a sword fight. A rather puny sword fight in fact. Nottingham watches on, pretty much eating popcorn and marvelling at this excitement while outside we hear that the Merry Men and the castle soldiers are beating the shit out of each other.

The Doctor manages to hide as Guisborne finally runs Robin through with the sword, killing him outright. Triumphant, he knocks back a goblet of wine and promptly drops dead, poisoned. "Curtis" enters and reveals that HE poisoned the wine barrell - intending to kill off his allies once they'd served their purpose. The Doctor steps out of the shadows with the TNT and reminds him their purpose isn't over yet. Setting the timer, he throws the bomb out of the window into the courtyard, setting off a huge explosion. Apparently everyone in the castle flees in utter terror. "Curtis's" plan is totally stuffed (um... can't he just put another bomb down at Plymoth?) and thus he best leave before Nottingham dobs him in to the authorities.

"Or what?" "Curtis" challenges the Doctor. "Or face the consequences!" the Doctor shouts at him. "The one thing it appears you are unable to bring yourself to do! Now, you wicked child, begone!" "There will be other places," "Curtis" grumbles, "other times! My plans will triumph!" "And when they fail, how many more die? Go on. Then, go. I can barely stand the sight of you."

Nottingham makes a joke at this point about them being damn identical, so they see each other in mirrors. But I can't remember for the life of me what it was. Sounds crap.

"If I'm wicked," "Curtis" adds as a parting shot, "then you are to blame." "Nature versus nurture?" the Doctor scoffs. "Nonsense. Utter nonsense. If that was so, Susan would be as bad as you are!" "Where is she?" asks "Curtis" quietly. "I took her with me. You made it impossible for her to stay." "Where is she NOW?" "Thankfully, well beyond your reach and outside your influence. Now get out of her, for your life!"

"Curtis" heads up the steps and out of sight. Outside, Nottingham and the Doctor watch as a chunk of the castle fades away with a freaky non-TARDIS noise. The Doctor explains "Curtis" is his son, and will at least not return to England for many years. Perhaps he might even see sense. As the old man heads off to find his own companions and ships, Nottingham muses that the Doctor's son will continue to cause mayhem his father will invariably get the blame for. "Oh, I don't think so," the Doctor chuckles. "After all, I won't always be wearing a face he can trade off..."

The end.

Jeez, I thought. No wonder it never made a series. The titular son makes barely a cameo, his wickedness is hardly defined (he came across as closer to Irongron than the Master), he was rather stupid and the nature of the editing meant all he could do was stand on the other side of the room to the Doctor and exchange bitchy comments. What would the series be like? "Curtis" lurching from Westerns to space operas trying to be Time Lord Victorious and his dad arriving to bail him out? The whole enterprize felt stuffed, really, unable to do any cool things (you'd never see "Curtis" teaming up with Daleks, would you?) yet basically having quite a cool idea at its heart, a kind of Darth-Vader-in-reverse thing. I was certainly eager to hear more juicy details of what "Curtis" tried to pull on Gallifrey, which left rioting mobs out for his blood (or his daughter, as the episode implied), and a moment where Curtis asks the Doctor about "the others" - clearly meaning their family - immediately leapt out as sequel fodder.

Yet simultaneously it was one-note, dull, full of some rather cliched dialogue and some fight scenes that make the pub brawls in The Olden Days look like a Tarantino slaughter fest. The idea The Son of Dr. Who had simply slipped by everyone for being so unmemorable made sense - it wasn't half as good as, say, The Incredible Robert Baldrick. But it wasn't as bad as K9 and Company.

I was, nevertheless, bummed when I finally twigged it didn't exist and I would never see it again.

Next, Oak & Quill.

For those who don't know (and who the hell would), Mr. Oak and Mr. Quill were a double act from Fury from the Deep. They were two North Sea Gas workers who unluckily got some alien seaweed around their hands, which ass-raped their DNA, turning them into telepathic zombies capable of breathing toxic gas and living underwater. Mr. Oak was a short, chubby camp tit who did all the talking while Mr. Quill was tall, skinny and looked like a postal worker on the verge of homocide just after being given a wedgie. The two are immortalized in the only surving sequence of the story - where they creep into a woman's bedroom and grin at her in the reflection of her mirror. When she confronts them, Mr. Quill opens his mouth ala Munch's The Scream and fills the whole bedroom with top quality North Sea Gas while Mr. Oak opens the door to let in a mass of seaweed and foam that engulfs her unconscious body while the duo grin idiotically at each other.

Yes, undoubtedly hardcore fodder for nightmare fuel, but do they deserve a show on their own?

After loitering in the first few episodes of the story, the Doctor finally twigs they are evil and (off screen) rips the seaweed off them and apparently they get better. Victor Pemberton and a few others thought the duo might merit a show of their own (considering the utter chaos the Troughton years were produced in, it's reasonable to assume some were trying to jump a sinking ship via spin-offs). But what were you going to do about two personality-free losers, one of which doesn't talk and whose only interesting feature is that they were brainwashed by evil seaweed?

Well, as Mad Larry pointed out, it could be the 1960s equivalent of Jay and Silent Bob...

Back to the whirling unrealities within my head. The torrent data revealed to me that Oak & Quill was a children's comedy series in 1969. It lasted but six episodes and garnered mixed reviews - those who were confused by it and those freaked out by it. Bar the names, not a single person from Doctor Who was involved in the production, which apparently had been a boon and a burden: it meant the show was fresh to the audience but it meant the fact the pair were seaweed zombies was never explained, and thus the premise - Oak & Quill are still possessed by the weed creature and trying to aide its conquest of Earth - was never made clear. Thanks to various reasons, the series was burnt like the story that spawned it and only two episodes remained.

The title sequence simply showing a cartoon version of the pair walking down an endless highstreet which overgrows with weeds as they pass, would be freaky even without the backwards-sounding music and wierd heartbeat noises, and gets downright disturbing when the pair skip, hand in hand into the waves and the bubbles form the gothic logo. (See what sleep deprivation can do to your mind? You come up with crap like this!)

Small Consolations is apparently the more typical of the series, which was kind of like those pre-title sequences of Lano & Woodley where our heroes find (and lose) a new job every episode. It was also very much like Mr. Bean in the fact there was next to no dialogue and some slapstick. But whereas Bean is sympathic (at least in as much as we understand WHY he does what he does) Oak and Quill are just... freaks.

The episode begins with them joining the staff of a kind of garden centre with a sideline of marine plants. Immediately, Oak drops a piece of evil seaweed into a tank and tries to get it to grow. The silent Quill proves pretty useless left to mind the cash register, since not only does he just stand there with cold dead eyes, he doesn't react when some kids steal some pot plants. Of course, Oak sets him straight on this so, the next day, when the kids come back he opens his mouth and gasses them all... and he and Oak drag the bodies and hide them in the compost mound. It's like The Young Ones episode Sick, only living up to its title. There's even an identical bit with one of the kids' arms sticking out of the mound so Oak has to distract the owner while Quill shoves the offending limb out of view.

Well, to cut a short story even shorter, the owner decides to put Oak in charge of the front desk because he at least can speak to the customers, while Quill is left to tend the plants. Since the seaweed isn't growing very fast, Quill gets bored and starts reading body-builder magazines which, I kid you not, causes a cartoon lightbulb to go off over his head. He then pops down to the local chemist and comes out with a bag full of syringes of steroids. Oddly enough, I might by the fact you could get anabolic steroids over the counter in 1960s Britain, but given to a guy who can't ask for them? I boggle.

So Quill starts injecting all the plants with steroids while Oak channels Kevin Eldon's Cleaner from Black Books by silently stalking all the customers and scaring them into either running away or frantically buying things. Seemingly by the end of the lunch break, all the plants Quill has injected have grown into huge monstrous Lovecraftian shapes. Quill smiles idiotically even as a very fake-looking sparrow lands on a huge venus fly-trap and is immediately eaten. And Quill just keeps smiling, the freak.

The next day the owner is stunned at all the huge vegetation and how all the birds and insects have disappeared. Oak insists all the plants are now very healthy and happy... and also moving and pulsating and very spookily alive. The owner goes to lunch, having somehow swallowed their assurances, not noticing that the plants can now MOVE and are EATING all the compost heap and if those kids weren't dead before, they sure are now. Oak snatches a stray sneaker from the "mouth" of an octopus-like plant and hastily pockets it. It's quite clear this steroid-addicted mutant plants are damn hungry, but Oak and Quill are more interested in the seaweed. Quill injects it with steroids and in a matter of seconds it is huge and trying to flop out of the tank.

Oak congratulates Quill and offers him a cigar, but then gets them to go outside. Not sure why, but I assume it's because the seaweed belches out flammable gas (...just like Quill. Probably not good for him to be near exposed flames either, surely?). While they're out, a big woman with a yappy dog enters and looks around for service. Seeing the seaweed monster, she and her dog run into the garden out the back - the one filled with huge monstrous proto-krynoids. It what is doubtless the freakiest bit in the episode, one plant tries to grab the dog and then deliberately takes off its collar while another plant grabs the woman. The first plant shows her the dog collar as if to say "I just ate your fucking dog, bitch!" whereupon the woman faints and the plants start to eat her for real as the dog runs out the back gate.

This dog attracts the owner who rushes in and finds the plants munching on the prospective customer. Horrified he calls for help and with Monty-Python-timing a squad of bobbies burst in and confront the owner. Despite being able to see the woman being torn apart by the plants, they all decide that the owner is to blame and a Benny Hill chase occurs. Outside, while Quill doubtfully looks at the lit cigar, Oak casually throws the lit match through the door of the shop, which is now filled with gas.

A cartoon explosion leaves Oak and Quill covered with soot and they sigh and wander off, with the camera lingering on the "ruins" of the shop (which doesn't look a damn thing like the shop at all) with the owner, woman, policemen all lying dead (but not covered in soot). After a while the theme music starts.

I needed a good long break before I checked out the remaining episode, Extenuating Circumstances.

I enjoyed that episode far more. It was a courtroom drama, with Quill under arrest for trying to break into a chemist (why? He gets on so well with the staff!) and his refusal to answer questions only gets him into more trouble, forcing Oak to become his defense lawyer. It quickly becomes apparent that despite all the mutative superpowers granted to him by the alien weed, Oak hasn't grown himself a law degree. He manages to get in deeper trouble every time he opens his mouth, and it's not long before he ends up charged with contempt of court and attempting to pervert the course of justice. The regular gag of Quill opening his mouth to gas the court, only to be told to shut up and wait his turn, is pretty funny and doesn't go on too long. Oak finally attempts to call in their former employers from North Sea Gas, but they're already prosecution witnesses. Oak finally decides to go for a plea of insanity and tells them all about the mind-controlling weed.

It doesn't work

The episode ends with Quill to be executed for mass murder and Oak sent to a lunatic asylum. But the humor turns freaky again as, once he's been hanged, Quill comes to life, opens his mouth and gasses the hangman, breaks free and leaves a trail of corpses busting Oak out of jail. This is just plain disturbing, especially with their theme tune played over folk choking. I'm amazed Mary Whitehouse didn't die of heart failure watching this stuff...

Apparently the lost last episode had Oak and Quill on a cruise ship which managed to revive the weed monster, which promptly killed them both and everyone else on the ship in the aptly-named Just For The Feel Of It, and the series ended with the weed-controlled ship sailing right into the Bermuda Triangle before it could conquer the Earth. That spooks me just typing that sentence out.

After switching off my damn alarm phone and slumping into semi-consciousness, my mind drifted to the next Doctor Who spin-off of the 1960s, the spin-off that defines all others...

...the one and the only The Daleks.

Now, I wasn't at all keen on the 1960s pitch. For a start, the Daleks themselves were hardly in it, and mainly featured for scenes of them slaughtering people. The series focussed on the frankly unlikeable SSS with their stupid crystal knives, exploding kidney stones, secret underground base and a bunch of sexist fascists and androids in leather. Sara Kingdom being a pathetic, blubbery feminist "constantly trying to prove herself in the man's galaxy" was almost enough to put me off entirely. In attempting to whore out the series to the late-60s spy fetish like Man from UNCLE, The Avengers and other bollocks, we got a frankly tedious-sounding space spy saga worried about "humanoids" (ie, evil Dalek duplicate clones) and a string of ridiculous plots about Daleks drilling for oil or bollocks like that.

I was interested to see that the saga ended in its penultimate episode with the Special Space Security Service Squad (the SSSSS) defeating the Daleks, who - in a truly display of No Fist - surrendered and agreed to just kick around on Skaro not bugging anyone and letting all their gun-sticks be removed. Because there's absolutely no way a devious and highly-advanced technological species could find replacements for parts they BUILD BY THE MILLION EVERY DAY!!! God damn it, Nation, when you're slacking, you really slack out! Oh, for the Annuals of the 1970s which were Blake's 7 with Daleks... Blake, Jenna and Avon were even in it!

So, to the last episode of the season (which bombed in America and didn't do well in England either, due to the unpopular spy stuff meshing badly with prick-tease appearances by the eponymous dustbins) which was set a mere 500 years after The Defeat of the Daleks. It's worth noting that this series had absolutely fuck all to do with Doctor Who, what with Sara Kingdom being completely different (...and alive...) with a completely different lost brother to get emo about, and the Daleks flying their planets around the universe with gay abandon... all in the 25th Century.

So, our 30th Century shinanegans begin (and end) with Crisis Point. It begins with some, even for the time, crummy model work as a spaceship travels through space and some bored pilots provide voice overs. Basically it passes a planet that shouldn't be there, and then a laser beam blows the model up in a cheap negative effect. Then we zoom out from the Wierd Planet in a way that leaves me uncertain if it's hurtling into the distance or if we're just leaving it behind.

On Earth, the intervening centuries of peace and prosperity are hastily revealed to us in as subtle a manner as possible. For a start there are statues of the main cast of the previous twelve episodes, fountains, and everyone is wearing sillier outfits with capes, jumpsuits and mirrored sunglasses. A bald black guy with a goatee is now the Leader of Earth and he and his aides are organizing an emergency conference with the other leaders of the "nine planets" in the Solar System, the first one in five hundred years. Cause it's sure been peaceful, yes sir, it sure has indeed.

Standing around in the middle of a garden with a bunch of planetary leaders (different races and colours, but all men) we are told by the handful of speaking parts that lots of trading ships are going missing of late, or found smashed up and there doesn't seem to be any kind of connection. A planet hurtling through the galaxy zapping things just doesn't register on the radar any more, it seems. I remember annoyance when someone protests that "we only have weapons for war and defense", as if anyone would have them for OTHER reasons. Maybe they look good above the fireplace? The leaders agree they need to saddle up a posse and find out who's wrecking their ships when a golden spaceship lands in a model shot that really insults my dreaming intelligence. It seems you can park anywhere unnanounced at a top secret interplanetary meeting at Earth HQ nowadays... even when you're the freaking Daleks!

Looking really rather puny and pathetic without their guns, these shiny movie-style Daleks bitch that they count as one of the Human Empire's planets since they were screwed over half a millennium ago and they demand recognition at this conference. The humans are unimpressed. Wow, Nation, it's a good thing no one else was treating your creations without the respect they deserve. The Black Dalek points out that, since every Dalek is a potential killing machine, they can be used to fight this new danger without any human loss of life and pledge allegience to the humans. The humans laugh in their faces. Well, if they HAD faces. You get the drift. The Earth Leader then makes a boring and tedious speech about how Sara K and her pals defeated the Dalek Menace "twenty generations" ago and they're not going to undo that over a few cargo ships getting blown up for no apparent reason.

The Daleks are told to sod off back to Skaro, but the Black Dalek insists he has info: the spaceships are getting nuked by the alien planet, which is on course for Skaro. Thus, the humans must give the Daleks back their guns or else be responsible for allowing a (just this once) innocent race to perish. The leader (hilariously I recall he was named "Brit Sorvad" - work it out yourself) retires to chat with his cute girl secretary and bodyguard android and, after some agonizing, agrees to do it. The Black Dalek urges everyone to "FORGET THE PAST!" and I'm reminded of that Alexei Sayle skit ("HIS grandfather was a Nazi torturer! HIS father was a Japanese serial killer! HIS father fought and died for Britain in two world wars! But that's all forgotten now!")

The Daleks are shipped individually (?!?) into a huge orbiting space vault where all their gun-sticks were kept and one by one have their guns re-attached by two Americans who say things like "I don't like this, Jay!" "Orders is orders, Clem!" "One day, we're gonna regret this!" (oh, you THINK?!) while meanwhile more spaceships are blown up by the planet, which seems to randomly use laser beams and also artificial comets (?) and soon a mighty spacefleet of human and Dalek ships head off into space. Mainly off-screen.

Finally, the planet's advance to Skaro is halted by some funky tractor beam the Daleks built on the off-chance and the shocking truth is discovered: the planet is mechanical, a mobile gun using "neutron rays" and soon Daleks and humans are being blasted. "INTERESTING!" the Black Dalek notes, telling off the human flunkies for getting all emotional about acceptable casualties. The Dalek fleet descends onto the planet, eager to "crush" the inventive geniuses what built it. Luckily, there happen to be some living on the surface in the model city from The Chase (pity, it's ugly dull and grey in colour). But as the Daleks prepare to try and break into the city on stilts, a truly awful shot has a toy Dalek snatched by a test-your-skills claw.

The other Daleks, ignorant of this, sneak into a lift and rise up into the city where they are met by... another Dalek! "ONE OF OUR OWN KIND?!" boggles the Blue Dalek leader. "IMPOSSIBLE!" It turns out he's right, the Dalek they see is a robot copy made by the builders of the city: yes, the Mechanoids. Turns out they're bright green in colour, and a fair bit smaller too. The Mechanoids nuke the Daleks in an ambush and are in something of a party mood, intending to zap the fleet, but the Black Dalek uses "atom dividers" to destroy the stilts of the city and bring it crashing down. All that trouble to keep the prop and then they smash it to pieces. Tut tut.

But, even as one surviving Mechanoid rises out of the rubble shouting "I will rebuild... and avenge!", the Black Dalek (and for once this is no joke) reverses the polarity of the neutron flow. The neutron rays of the mechanical planet go backwards and the entire planet is blown to smithereens. It then comes as no surprise that the remaining Daleks turn on the human ships and blow them all up except for the regular cast, who are allowed to live long enough to speak to the new leader of the Dalek race (...did something happen to the last one?), which is a large square yellow block. Suddenly, it turns transparent revealing the Dalek Supreme - a golden Dalek with a whacking great spike out of the top of its dome, like German helmet.

The Dalek Supreme gloats that the Daleks aren't just pitiless badass mofos, they can outwait eternity and to them waiting five centuries to snatch back their guns was a piece of piss! Unlike, say, building some more? Anyway, the Dalek Supreme goes on to compound this stupidity by letting the important planetary leaders and their aides wander off to their spaceship and return home. Instead of keeping them hostage and causing chaos. Or, you know, maybe just EXTERMINATING them?! (Oh yeah, the Daleks have fire extinguisher guns here, BTW). "WARN ALL THE PLANETS IN EVERY SKY!" the new leader shouts. "THE DALEKS ARE RETURNING TO CONQUER THEM!" (Who needs the element of surprise?) "THE GREAT STRUGGLE CONTINUES AGAIN, TO MAKE ALL THE GALAXIES ONE WORLD: A DALEK WORLD! NOTHING IN THE UNIVERSE CAN STOP US NOW!!!"

It then cuts to a truly embarrassing animated thing of a Dalek shouting things like "DESTROY WITHOUT PITY! ATTACK WITHOUT FEAR! LIVE WITHOUT CONSCIENCE! EXTERMINATE WITHOUT WORRY! KILL! KILL! KILL! KILL!" until "DALEK" is spelt out and the thing finally finishes with the credits rolling over a shot of an endless stream of Daleks heading down a corridor. Interestingly enough in groups of four. The last Dalek turns to face us and freeze-frames with the caption "NEVER THE END!"

Thankfully it was.

Good god, give me Briggsy any day.

Well, that was one demented nightmare of TV reviewing over. Hopefully this thunder storm's cooled things down enough for me to get some sleep.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dabble With Drabbles

Drabbles are word excercises, challenging the author to compose a scene or narrative in but a hundred words, and for reasons too tedious to go into, I've found myself writing quite a few for the SCADs (spit) but they should be as easy to digest and diverting as... I dunno. Peanuts?

The Only Way Up Is Down
When he’d got the phone call from the Prime Minister’s office, politely telling him he was being dismissed as Head of the Pharos Project for gross negligence and being hungover during a terrorist raid, Henry Davenport was speechless. But he hadn’t got to where he was today without recognizing an opportunity when he saw it and, pausing only to finish the Alka-Seltzer, he climbed the top of the satellite tower.
“A new start,” Henry whispered. “It worked for the other fellah in the scarf!”
He jumped.
But this time, it really was the end and nothing had been prepared for.

The Greatest Form of Flattery
The Doctor ran down the alleyway to where the redhead woman was guarding the doors to warehouse. “My lord Doctor!” she screamed.
“Don’t worry, I’m here now!” the Doctor grinned.
“Who art thou?” she asked.
Suddenly another man ran into the alleyway, with a mane of dark hair and handlebar moustache. “No need to panic, Christine, I’m here now!” He regarded the man in the pinstripe suit and trainers. “And who might you be, sir?”
“John Smith,” he replied quietly. “I’ll leave it to you, then... Doctor.”
And as the imposters dealt with the CyberShayde, the Doctor made his plan...

All irregularities will be handled by the forces controlling each dimension. Transuranic – heavy – elements, may not be used where there is life. Medium atomic weights are available. Gold, Lead, Mercury, Jet, Radium, Sapphire, Silver and Steel. But Sapphire and Steel could not be assigned. The transuranics had rebelled. Time boiled, the frozen lake of the past reduced to liquid future.
Only one element was left and so she fled the ruined cosmos, searching for more irregularities.
And she found one. The ultimate irregularity.
Over Kirakis, she attacked the spinning blue box, but it was too quick for her to grasp.

The bar was noisy and crowded. She threw the last 100 Imperial Coin she had at the Gundan robot mixing drinks with its chain-mail digits, and in moments another plikta martini was sliding down the table towards her. It tasted as bad as the others.
“You want anything, K9?” she asked.
“Negative, Mistress.”
She hadn’t thought resolving the problems of E-Space would be so ridiculously simple, or how tedious this universe could get. Still, at least she wasn’t short of company.
“And another drink for my new friend,” she called, waving across the pub at Romana and her own K9.

Incident At Hanging Rock
“Miranda?” called the lost girl in horror. Why were her friends acting so strange? Why had their watches stopped? Why were the three girls climbing higher and higher up the orange mountain? What was happening? Why couldn’t they hear her?
Terror gripped the dumpy schoolgirl, she screamed and ran down the hill out of sight.
A moment later a tall blue box appeared before the three remaining girls. The door opened.
“I suppose you three will be wanting a lift?” asked the Doctor with a smile.

The three girls were never seen again. Their disappearance a mystery till this day.

Percussive Maintenance
The Doctor fell back and knocked his head on a roundel.
"I think I know what's wrong..." he said, wiping his brow and removing his top hat. He took a sonic lance out and zapped a wire. Lights began to flash and the console burst into flames.
"Uh oh. That's not good..."
Grabbing a fire extinguisher, the Doctor doused the console with suds of foam, putting the fire out. He wiped it away and examine the burnt circuitry. Suddenly a green light on the console blinked.
"There," he said. "I knew that'd fix it."

Turning Point
He finally awoke lying on a couch. A figure in long robes watched. “So I have survived?”
“But at cost,” the figure said quietly. “The War Lord’s weaponry has devastated your cells. You will never again regenerate.”
Panic it turned to hate – hatred at the friend who had betrayed him, to the War Lord, the Time Lords, in every way that mattered. His new face twisted under a neat black beard. He would have his revenge on the Doctor, the Time Lords, the whole universe.
The War Chief had been a slave. From now on, he would be the Master.

You Make A Stand
The spinning tornado hovered at the end of the walkway, casting shards of blue light onto the stone cloisters. The Time Lord’s his mind was racing to establish what it was, and whether they could communicate.
All across the Capitol, alarms chimed, klaxons wailed, Time Lords screamed in terror. The one man who could save them was nowhere to be found as the death toll rose and rose. He had faith the Doctor was working on a solution, but right here and now he had to face the invaders himself.
Landon didn’t so much as flinch when Antithesis consumed him.

Fancy Meeting You Here... And I Do...
The space shuttle tumbled and froze in the cold of space. Inside, Sarah Jane Smith huddled among the corpses and waited for death. On Earth, Nat and the others would be trying to organize a rescue, but they all knew it was too late. The air grew thinner and frost formed.
No sooner had she lost contact with ground control, the police box materialized in the cockpit. The man who emerged was a stranger, even though the outlandish clothes were familiar.
“Hello, Sarah,” said the man in the endless scarf. “I haven’t caught you at a bad time, have I?”

Welcome to Earth
The sky vanished, replaced by a golden nebula. The moon was gone, but thirty-seven new planets appeared to replace it. The media went crazy, there were riots on the streets and for the fourth time that year people waited for the end of everything.
It was only when the golden saucers opened fire on Big Ben and Prime Minister Aubrey Fairchild was exterminated live on television, that they realized that this time, things were serious.
Mark Triyad looked at his wife. Serena grinned back.
And they prepared to make the Daleks regret they ever came back into the couple’s lives.

The Sin of Vanity
Mark took the Time Lord to one side. “Doctor, remember that being I told you about, just before we came here?”
“Maybe,” he replied doubtfully.
“I saw him again. In the Prison Complex.”
“What? Here? On Gallifrey?!?”
“He was just standing there. Watching.”
“Watching?” the Doctor gasped. “Watching us?”
Mark pointed at the Doctor. “You,” he said solemnly.
The Doctor shrugged happily. “Oh, he's probably just another one of my many admirers. I'm a sort of Marilyn Monroe figure in this part of the galaxy, you know...”
“Doctor?” asked the soldier with a weary sigh.
“Yes, Mark?”
“Get over yourself.”

Too Little Too Late
“The TARDIS is malfunctioning again!” Mark shouted.
“Quick!” the Doctor called, “Hand me that book over there!”
Type 40 Time Capsule Owner's Manual?” Dara checked the cover.
“That’s it! Now... ‘Congratulations on your purchase of the AZ99/35D Type 40.6-1 time and relative dimension in space travel capsule. If problems should occur or should you have any complaints in general, please contact our home office...’”
“Skip a bit!” Mark cried as the console caught fire.
““Chapter One: So, You Want To Travel In Time? Stek deinen cop en den houten, an hashen nak den den...” Oh no! It’s all in French!”

Power to the People
“Why should we obey you?” the Doctor challenged their captor.
“I don’t have to answer that. I run the place.”
“Of course you have to answer it,” Moira protested.
“Because you don’t run the place. We do.”
You do?”
“Yes, we are the voting public,” Moira pointed out.
“And we didn't vote for you!” added the Doctor smugly.
“So you don't run the place, we do.”
“And we don't have to obey you.”
“...So then why am I running the place?”
“I was kind of hoping he’d vanish in a puff of logic at this point,” the Doctor sighed.

After The Fact
The Doctor shone the torch around the apartment. “I know what happened here.”
“Well?” asked Kevin.
“This man went to Portugal to investigate an apparent demonic possession. He brought her back here, but she wasn’t possessed, she was infected. A disease that drove her into homicidal fury and altered her DNA. He made an attempt to create a vaccine, but that caused the virus to mutate. It became contagious.”
“So,” Kevin concluded, “he sealed the room off and tried to carry out an exorcism?”
“Unsuccessfully, I fear...”
Something thin, pale and bloody crept out of the dark towards the pair...

The Price of Fame
The Doctor was on his way out of the hotel when the manager dived in front of him. “Just before you go, Doctor,” he said with a forced grin under his moustache, “I don’t suppose I could get an autograph?”
The Time Lord confirmed the piece of paper wasn’t a blank cheque. “Autograph?”
“Yes, it’s for my nephew,” the manager explained. “A wonderful boy. Totally blind, you know.”
The Doctor fumbled in his coat pocket. “I’m afraid I don’t have a pen.”
An awkward pause.
The manager shrugged and wandered off. “Oh well. I’ll just TELL him you signed it...”

Cutting the Gordean Knot
The Doctor all but shoved Christine into the TARDIS. “We’ve got to leave now!”
“But we are not responsible!”
“I have a horrible feeling he won’t believe us...”

The Space Commander watched at the body terrorist leader turned into green slime. An alien bodysnatcher, manipulating the rebel forces. And if there was one shape-shifter, there would be others, on all sides of the law. And no way of telling which ones were aliens. There was only one solution.
“Kill them all,” he told his troopers.

Two days later, every native inhabitant of the planet was executed.
Only fourteen bodysnatchers were found.

Plan A
The wood was a dark and mysterious place rarely visited. Christine could hear scratches, but the Doctor was listening to the hollow, empty sound of air escaping something. A dark shape shifted among tall, threatening trees to their left.
They were not alone here.
And then it crashed into the sunlight, a huge shape saddled in long dark rags, its pale face twisted and distorted by the huge gaping mount lined with jagged brown fangs. It tiny button eyes were peeled back in deranged anger. From deep within its torso came a huge, rolling scream.
“Chris,” the Doctor breathed. “...RUN!!”

“I used to work as an apprentice in a concept shop, back on Gallifrey. Everyone thought she was just a kindly old woman... but I knew better. One night, I crept into her quarters... when I heard her hearts beating... So I killed her and buried the body under the house. Then, one night I was sitting at home and then I heard her hearts beating again, coming up from the floorboards, getting louder and louder... I fled in terror, and stole the TARDIS the next day. That’s why I left Gallifrey.”
“Really?” asked Dara, horrified.
“Gotcha” the Doctor laughed.

...In A Built-Up Area During the Hours of Darkness
“Doctor!” Moira was shouting at him. “What do you think you’re doing?”
The Doctor looked up. He’d thought Moira had gone to bed, but now she was back. And Charlie was there too, in his pyjamas. He was shouting too.
“Stop the noise, Doctor!” he wailed.
The Doctor couldn’t hear them. “Sorry?” he raised his voice.
But it was no good. He couldn’t hear them.
The Time Lord switched off the industrial drill he was using on the console pedestal and was nearly deafened by the screams from his companions that he could suddenly hear.
“There’s no need to shout!”

Body Count Redux
The Doctor’s hearts fluttered then stopped.
How many times had he done this? He remembered the Pharos Project, twice; the giant spiders; the exploding warehouse; Grace Holloway trying to heal him; the scarecrows coming to life; the energy drain of Mondas; Androzani Minor; the Cybermen in the Vortex; that nasty bang on the head...
Eleven down. Two to go.
But... he remembered he remembered the Daleks on Karn. Zectronic energy on Terserus. The DEEP. Belphegor. Tranta. The waterfall. The Bad Wolf. Four knocks. Alixion...
Eleven? Not even close!
This was insane. This time had to be the end!
It wasn’t.

Aliens and Predators
The swamps of Klom reeked of decay. The Slitheen hunting party were here to give the children of their next generation, only five years of age, their first blood. In the low gravity they leapt and bounced from marsh to tree to rock, too fast for their prey – with its primitive eyesight – to follow.
On a stony outcrop, the leader of the pack hissed a warning.
A warning too late.
Something dropped from the branches above him, purple body hair against thorny green skin.
The Slitheen children screamed in terror as the Absorbaloff made the first kill of the night.

Copycat Crime
“This is utterly ridiculous!” Gonji-Yered-Flo-Potch Slitheen cried.
“You can take your plea to the Shadow Proclaimation if you must,” twittered the lawyer. “But I doubt it could help your case. Green reptiles with a proclivity for nudity who disguise themselves in the discarded skins of human beings to help fund your clandestine and illegal crime syndicate? Not to mention your language is so pretentious hardly anyone can understand? No, the whole Slitheen family are being sued for breach of genetic copyright.”
“Get the lawyers!” the Raxicoricofallapotorian commanded.
“We ARE your lawyers,” the Foamasi reminded him patiently. “See you in court.”

Infiltrating Central Control
Parton shifted uncomfortably in clothing now slightly too tight for him. “The gas exchanges are playing up again! There must be more effective equipment than this!”
Stott was patting down the skin covering the zipper in his forehead. “We’re running on a budget, remember? We need to keep things cheap and simple.”
“But there are too few of us! Who’s going to replace Lurena?”
“It doesn’t matter,” Stott shrugged. “Dump those bodies in the closet and began deactivation of the mine field. And if anyone asks,” he called to the other Slitheen, “we’re all Andromedans. Understood?”
Star One was theirs.

Coup de Grace
“Bulic!” the Doctor roared as he stormed around the corner. In his singed and stinking combat suit, looking like he had two black eyes, the Time Lord looked like retribution incarnate. “I told you to TURN OFF THE GAS!”
The orange-garbed soldier was slumped beside the hissing canister. He did not look up or react in any way to the Doctor’s fury. Finally his eyes spotted the small disc of soot on Bulic’s tunic, the discarded Sea Devil blaster, and the slime-caked armor sprawled nearby.
The Doctor still didn’t say anything when Tegan and Turlough finally dragged him away.

Beside The Seaside
“The beaches, Dara!” the Doctor enthused. “They have intelligent sand that dries you off when you’ve been swimming, clears away the litter by night and remembers your sandcastles in the morning. Of course, exactly once a year the beach gets hungry, dissolves all the living matter into a protein slime and drinks it... but you can have fun as long as you keep your eye on the date... and talking fish! I mean, they’re underwater so you don’t have a clue what they’re saying – mostly sounds like ‘Beware the Hunger of the Beach’, but you know what fish are like...”

More Pressing Matters
The TARDIS bucked and then lurched, throwing the Doctor to the floor before it steadied. He blinked in confusion, and looked down at his companion. “Christine, are you all right? I can’t feel my legs!”
“Well, thou certainly can!” Christine replied with a wince.
“Feel your legs?” asked the Time Lord, baffled.
“Feel YOUR legs, you dolt!” she hissed, spelling it out for him. “You’re lying on top of me!” she explained with a sob.
The Doctor thought for a second. “Am I really?”
Christine decided the time for diplomacy had passed.
“GET OFF THEE YOU FAT FOOL!” she roared.

Regen Failure
The Master sprinted down the rocky slope, but there was a Dalek waiting for him. He turned to retreat but three more blocked his path. Their golden leader glided forward. “THE DRACONIA STRATAGEM HAS FAILED!”
“But I served you well!”
The Daleks fired at once. The bearded figure was flung across the quarry and crumbled to the ground. As the Daleks turned to leave, a strange glow suffused his features, burning and coiling away, leaving a hideous skeletal creature in the ruins of the Master’s suit.
Ogrons in the next valley heard the screams it made.

And Who Do These Belong To?
The Doctor grinned broadly as Romana returned to the TARDIS. It had been weeks since they’d been forced to part company on Zaggon Six. Since then he’d managed to repair K9, fight Daleks and Sontarans, flown through a black hole and aged four years. But he didn’t tell Romana, he would have hated to imply he’d been having any fun without her.
No, he kept quiet about it all, especially having temporarily replaced her with another companion. She would never know.
His confidence lasted until she found the underwear (with “SHARON DAVIES” name tag sewn in) left in her room.

We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties
“We’re being told to... evacuate... I can feel the place moving under my feet now...”
Light flickered as the presenter’s voice became a horrid, guttural rasp. Somewhere a woman screamed. The whispering began.
“We’re coming to hurt you...”
A chaotic selection of images were dredged up from the depths of memory. Faces, shapes, voices, crosscutting insanely. A vague, indistinct shape shimmered in the dark, its pale, skull-like face torn apart by static.
The Doctor raised the remote and switched off the TV.
“I never did like live broadcasts,” he concluded.
Head held high, he strode out of the Green Room.

View From Above
It was night on Gallifrey when the two friends exchanged scary stories.
“These things are hideous ripe humanoids – they come in different colours – with useless body hair and redundant quirks like nipples and navels, overactive hormones, sweat glands and a violent temper, ridiculously obsessed with reproduction. happy to use knives, guns, bombs and even their bare hands and bacteria builds up in their mouths and nasal passages, with those teeth designed to tear flesh apart. And do you know what the worst part is?”
“What?” the other student asked.
His friend grinned through his beard. “They look just like us!”

Second Thoughts
They’d sentenced the Doctor to execution, but he had a plan. Well, half a plan. It was the middle of World War I, there was bound to be enough confusion for him to bluff an escape. Get Jamie and Zoe back to the TARDIS and leave. Easy.
Then he spotted the words scratched in the stone.
So. He wasn’t the first to suspect the truth.
But would he the first to live to do something about it?
He thought of all those before who had been silenced.
And shivered.

Infernally Touchy
The explosion was followed by a sound that couldn’t be described, a noise that was simply pain and despair. The doomed inhabitants of the world stared up at the boiling white light of the apocalypse. Hot, wet lava was spilling out, erasing everything in its path, destroying every trace of the civilization that had summoned it.
He was running away. Again. From people who needed his help.
Maybe he could save other worlds, other people.
But it would never be enough to balance out those he’d abandoned.
And if he seemed pompous, irritable and patronizing, there was a reason.

Change of Direction
After Cambridge, the Doctor changed. Romana and K9 didn’t mention it. He’d always been moody, but there was more to this than merely not getting his way. He’d thrown away his colourful scarf, feeling it was mocking him.
For in facing Skagra, he remembered his crime. He’d built the Ultimate Weapon. He’d used it without mercy.
No wonder he’d wanted to forget. But now he was aware of every horrible detail.
He chose a new shirt with question marks on the collar, question marks asking him “What will you do now?”.
He didn’t know.
So they went to Brighton Pavillion.

No More
Adric destroyed. Gus dead. Nyssa rejecting him. Tegan fleeing. Turlough choosing exile. Kamelion begging for death.
So many friends.
And he’d failed every one of them.
He pocketed both vials of bat’s milk. His constitution could keep him going a little while longer. If Peri required two vials to survive then he was going to make sure she got every drop. He was going to get her out of this mess he was indirectly responsible for. Even if it killed him. Even though he’d only known her for a few days.
Because even that was easier than losing another friend.

After The Smoke Has Cleared
The Doctor finally had found the courage to return to Thoros Beta. The citadel of the Mentors was deserted and in ruins, everyone having long since fled. He took his time as he wandered along the beach, into the caves. The stench of rotting marsh minnows was choking.
He finally came to Crozier’s laboratory.
The BTU was a blackened wreck. There were the corpses of the two Kivs, and the pulverized remains of Crozier, Kani, Sil and others. Of Peri, Yrcanos and Tuza, there was no sign.
He wasn’t yet brave enough to go back and see what really happened.

The moment Ace was settled into her new room, the Doctor dropped the act. And tried not to panic.
The time he’d half dreaded was here at last. He’d heard the rumbles of the approaching storm for centuries, but now he was caught in the middle of it without an umbrella. Figuratively speaking. He still had his umbrella, thank goodness.
But not Mel.
She’d gone, leaving him alone. Not that she knew he was alone. She thought Ace was just a normal girl.
And not a wolf of Fenric.
He was going to have to play this one VERY cagily.

Without The Company of Friends
The Doctor studied his face in his rebuilt TARDIS. The Victorian Gothic theme was long gone, leaving raw coral and wires. The regeneration had gone well too, leaving him looking exactly the same as that trip to 1999 San Francisco. The residual energy had been bled off before he could change. A neat trick, but where would he find a chunk of his own living DNA to pull this stunt twice?
The younger Eighth Doctor had been a fluke. A carefree fluke.
He didn’t know he was going to start a Time War.
Or be the one to end it.

What were they doing? They didn’t try to destroy the station, they gave him all the time he needed to complete the wave. They even took time to exterminate civilians and bomb the Earth. Almost like they were trying to provoke him.
But why?
Unless... they wanted him to!
Yes! These insane half-human Daleks wanted to die. Their god-emperor was convinced he was immortal. Using the wave would destroy the suicidal Daleks, annihilate mankind, and prove the Emperor’s divinity once and for all. And prove that the Doctor was just as bad as them.
The Great Exterminator.
The Bad Wolf?

Red Christmas
Good intentions pave the road to hell.
High ideals do the same.
He’d saved three lives that day. Because he should? Maybe. But when he’d succeeded, that had changed. He didn’t care about the humans and the brief extension he’d given their stunted lives. He didn’t even care if they weren’t grateful, if they were scared of him, if they were horrified at his actions, at the power he could wield without restraint.
“The Time Lord Victorious!” he’d sneered at the stupid apes.
Yes, no mere useless Doctor. Not any more.
Now the Valeyard...
And then he heard the gunshot.

So, Doctor, We Meet Again
The Doctor was flabbergasted. To an extent, he’d never believed the Daleks were truly gone, even when Kaan had let loose destruction. He wasn’t truly surprised to find more survivors, but to find them here, now, London in 1941?
The grey colour and the “Ironside” labels didn’t matter at all. What mattered was the Daleks hadn’t recognized him. They thought him just another human.
“I sent you into the void,” he shouted. “I saved the whole of reality from you! I am the Doctor and you are the Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaleks!”
“WOULD YOU LIKE A CUP OF TEA?” the lead Dalek asked.

The Means Justify The Ends
The Doctor went straight to the Volmer household. It wasn’t like he had anywhere else to go. His TARDIS was lost in the DEEP, cut off for the next quarter of a century. Perhaps forever. And he did have a debt to pay the wife and child of the late Professor Volmer.
He met with Volmer’s wife, told her she was a widow, held her as she wept, played with her daughter. He helped the pair every way he could think of. Because he needed them.
Not guilt for being the one to murder Volmer in cold blood.
Never guilt.

Parting Shots
The Doctor blinked, puzzled at the stiffness of his neck, the beard on his face, the way his nice frock coat was far too tight for his bulky frame. What had happened? Had he changed again? Yes, that was good. The last one had gone far too wrong. He couldn’t remember what he’d done, but maybe that was for the best. At least now he could start to make amends.
He looked up and saw a crying teenage girl with a gun standing over him.
“Hello,” he said sleepily. “I’m the Doctor. Who are you?”
“Ruth,” was the reply.

Identity Crisis
It was the least professional behavior Garkbit had witnessed. For a start, the trio did not arrive on time. Then they chose to arrive by means of teleport via a blue object marked “police box”. On top of that they were out of costume and character – the man was too old, the woman brunette and underdeveloped and the girl too light a skin tone. They were woefully briefed as well, and didn’t even seem to realize they were the judges for the Brad Pitt, Pamela Anderson and Queen Latifah lookalike competition.
Garkbit never used that particular celebrity impersonator agency again.