Saturday, January 31, 2009

Zygon Pornography!

...for when "Abducted by Daleks" just isn't enough!

"I can understand Zygon porn up to a point as it involves tight rubbery things."
- Sparacus

Yes, thanks to my own cunning I have managed to enter the Valhalla of Doctor Who sites, TinDog, and already stagger under weight of amazing goodies I have found there. Doctor Who Yearbooks! Every single Target novelization! Soldiers of Love (yeah, I wondered what the hell that was too)! The script for The Dark Dimension!

And, eventually, Zygon - the award-losing sequel to Cyberon as part of Bill Baggs' increasing pathetic vendetta against Big Finish for splitting up the Audio Visual gang and stealing all the top talent. Of course, now Doctor Who is back and famous, these tie-in products are more redundant than ever, especially when the biggest draw they have is the actress showing her boobs off on the cover (of course, she has to look completely terrified to kill the mood, doesn't she?) rather than, say, a Zygon, maybe?

It's taken around eight years for Zygon to hit the shelves. Was it down to BBV's increasing incompetence and irrelevence? The full frontal nudity? The fact that no one was interested after Cyberon's brilliant idea of not actually featuring any Cybermen or anything like it and focussing on a blonde woman's relationship troubles? Dude, if I want Single Female Lawyer action, I'll watch Channel 9. If I get a Doctor Who tie-in movie, I want some fricken monsters, OK?

Perhaps it's the realization they cannot provide half-decent Doctor Who material that has made them replace that with porn, split delicately between the same late-30s-blonde-medic-wonders-where-her-life-is-going soapudramamentry. Yes, Lauren's back, boys and girls. Only two years after she stabbed her boyfriend to death to stop him initiating a Cyberman invasion (except, um, it didn't work... so shouldn't we all be slaves of the Cyber cause now?), she's working in a mental ward talking with some young chap who has dreams that he's actually a shape-shifting Zygon monster.

Mmm. I think that's the entirety of the plot out of the way. I mean, what do you add to that? Of course he's a bloody Zygon! It's the only reason anyone would watch this! But no, let's pretend no one has ever heard of the blobby bastards (even though everyone who's watching it will know) and have Lauren try to work out the truth herself, cause she's so closed-minded after the whole Cyberman invasion thing.

In less than a minute into the show, we get to see a guy naked. Yay. Just goes to remind me why I'm heterosexual. But it's really stupid as we see guy in stupid CGI fractal screensaver mode, pan down from his head as he starts to do the lava-lamp-transmogrification, but hastily reverse back to humanity in time to see his bollocks. Near miss there, isn't it?

Thankfully it isn't long before Keith Drinkel turns up. Stalwart of the BBVs, he's only really memorable for being Scobie the pilot in Time-Flight (you know, the one with the porn star moustache who might have been a before-they-were-famous Rik Mayall - mind you, he now looks like Eccleston's granddad). Against the horrible and tedious 'realism' of the main cast, Drinkel is a supernovae of Kieth Allen insanity, as he skips up to Lauren, gets her in a headlock, orders her to get Zygon-boy's memory back and skips away again, as if possed by a mixture of Tom Baker and David Tennant. He's obviously a Zygon himself, but he's a damn sight more interesting and entertaining than what's on offer.

Lauren meanwhile starts going off about how Zygon-boy is just a nutter and lives out wierd fantasies of being someone else in all Fraudien drama. And how does she do this? By going to the women's changing room and staring at her friend's tits as she changes - pity the actress was chosen for her impressive glands rather than her acting ability. Lauren shows what a rotten porno this is by immediately waffling on about her relationships than having a quickie with her fellow psych nurse. "Have you gone all pervy and started thinking about women's breasts?" deadpans god's gift to acting. What, was Lauren normally focussed on male breasts instead, was she?

Anyway, in case you hadn't noticed, Lauren is a neurotic work-junkie and Boob Woman (sorry, but no one seems to have a name in this) and her Supervisor (definitely someone from the AVs but I dunno who cause I've never seen them before) decide that working 730 days straight without any time off is making Lauren go crazy and she is ordered to take six weeks vacation. So she decides to court Zygon-boy in her own free time. Luckily her gay flatmate/link to reality from the last film has buggered off for the evening and she and Zygon-boy can get completely pissed and do the nasty. Wow, just like she did with her last alien boyfriend. Methinks you have issues, Lauren.

(And seriously, Jo Castleton is not what I'd think of casting the lead in a blue film like this. I'm not saying she's ugly, but the makeup people seem to want her to look like she hasn't slept since she turned forty-five. She is a "before" photo, not an "after" photo if you get my drift. Oh well, back to the shagging.)

Only ten minutes into the film and the bonking is about to start (helped no doubt by the fact someone's stuck a new condom to the front door with a post-it saying "IT'S ONLY DINNER". Conflicting messages much?) and with the lady in question showing the most disappointing rack since Helen Baxendale. What a let down. Anyway, the plot tries to get back on track when Zygon-boy's wondering hand starts glowing when it goes anywhere near Lauren's arse. Awkward. But they get back to the shagging soon enough. Why would glowing body parts kill the passion, I ask you?

Having gone straight to the sex, we now get the funky "relationship montage" as mood music plays and they visit a mind-numbing variety of outdoor cafes, recite dialogue from Terror of the Zygons (well, that's what they SEEM to be saying - where else do you mention "organic crystallography"?), then get back to the sex. God that music is awful. But then Zygon-boy has to do something new and unusual with his glow-in-the-dark hands. That's right, strangle his girlfriend! Hell, if she can forgive your radioactive digits on her skin, a bit of autoerotic asphyxiation should be a doddle, surely?

Seems not this time as she feels compelled to hide behind the sofa, and frankly that's probably the best place as nekid Zygon-Boy leaps about the place trying to... actually what the hell IS he trying to do? Appeal to the Gay Agenda? And I notice the woman is the one wearing the dressing gown. Tragic. Anyway, after Zygon-Boy nearly breaks her wrist trying to drag her back to bed, Lauren can only tearfully tell her love "It'll be OK" as she runs for it. More conflicting messages.

Meanwhile, some cartoon drawings of a Zygon glow with pure evil. Riiiiiiiiiiiiight.

Mercifully putting some clothes on, Zygon-boy sneaks out and Gay Flatmate finally appears to ask Lauren if she's been letting herself be used and abused by alien bastards again. Lauren tries to cheer herself up by doing the washing up, but her rubber gloves seem to traumatize her further for some reason. Uh. Yeah. Meanwhile, Gay Flatmate suggests chucking a sickie so he and Lauren can harmonize and bond. This doesn't seem to work, so she suddenly runs into Gay Flatmate's room and finds Gay Flatmate lying dead with throat slit.

"I was wondering when you'd twig," says the non-dead Gay Flatmate. Ahah! You see, Gay Flatmate is Kieth Dinkel and he murdered the genuine article! Of course, this does rather contradict one of the few facts of Zygon biology: they can only copy the bodies of those that are alive and in their bodysnatching machinery. But what does this matter when the narrative has naked women in it?!

Kieth bushwhacks Lauren who wakes up with a CGI blob on the back of her neck. She also mourns the corpse of Gay Flatmate (who I don't believe is dead, since he is somehow able to close his dead eyes on his own), and wanders around in a silent daze that she and the scriptwriters mastered in the previous film. She then finds Kieth's naked corpse sitting at the dining table with candles complete with CGI blob. OK, that definitely CANNOT be a turnon for ANYONE...

Alas, Zygon Kieth is also present. Heh. I love this guy. "What, THIS old thing? I got it up north," he explains, indicating his human form. Then his eyes glow red and he invites Lauren to sit down and, um, I dunno. Listen to the backstory of the whole film, I guess. Zygon Kieth reveals that Zygon-Boy was in deep cover so long he's forgotten who he was (quelle surprise) and despite all the violent threats Lauren did not cure Zygon-Boy but repeatedly bonked him. Not exactly giving him inclination to abandon the human life.

Although these CGI neck blobs allow Zygon Kieth to assume human form (and Lauren form), he thinks it would be all round better instead of him turning into a human, Lauren can turn into a monster. He gives a rather good sales pitch for being a shape changer. Come on, catches aside, who WOULDN'T love to have that power? Lauren cannot come up with a decent argument against, so she takes Kieth's hand and is shoved into a late 1980s CGI rock music video. This causes her to throw up in the toilet a lot. (Seriously, did we NEED to see that in loving closeup? I do NOT want to know who'd be turned on by that! It's just wrong...)

Kieth and Lauren get into a van to find Zygon Boy and Kieth explains that he and t'other fella have been marooned on Earth for 20 years ever since their spaceship blew up (Oh, taking the "1980s UNIT dating" are we, Monsiuer Baggs?) while they kidnap a yuppie to steal his body. It seems the radioactive hand glow is actually the "Zygon sting" so beloved of books and audio. Stripping him, they put on a CGI blob and Lauren can now magically turn into yuppie complete with clothes... even though the stolen body is nekid. The blobs record clothes that aren't even there? Complete with wallet full of credit cards?

OK, anyway, Lauren-yuppie goes on a spending spree as "Staying Alive" plays in the background while she buys clothes and naughty underwear for both bodies, takes a chance to see what the gents is like and generally acts like a crummy sexswap comedy. Um, your best friend is dead, remember? And you're kicking around with his murderer? Tragically, this is sort of demented thing Lauren gets up to long before she starts injecting her brain with mercury or accepting Zygon goo into her genome. She's got in a cycle of addiction, this one. Worst of all, given unlimited money and free from morality, she can't even steal a decent sports car and goes for a people mover. Dear me, if you can't afford to depict a spending spree DON'T WRITE IT INTO THE SCRIPT IN THE FIRST PLACE!

Lauren-Yuppie then heads to the Yuppie's house where his desperate-for-sex lady friend is waiting for him/her. Can you guess what will happen next, boys and girls? Well, Lauren's clearly much better undercover than her boyfriend as no parts of her stolen body glow radioactive at any point, but this leads to the complication of her trying to sneak out before Yuppie girlfriend wakes up. As they are together on the sofa, this is trickier than it sounds... It seems that Keith's evil corruption isn't quite as good as it could be as Lauren returns the Yuppie, removes the blob and leaves the credit card receipts. Kinda defeating the point of theft, surely?

Kieth points out that Lauren can be all moral and superior since she didn't REALLY want to steal the life of the Yuppie, so Lauren decides to go after someone she hates. In this case, boob lady back at the nuthouse. With her form, Lauren intends to convince the boss that Lauren deserves to get her job back. One slight flaw. Boob lady and the boss are lovers and she stole the body on the way to a secret tryst!

Can you guess what happens now, boys and girls?

A completely disgusted and not-quite-walking-properly Lauren meets up with Keith who can laugh about her misadventures. "You have more faces than I have!" he mocks her moral superiority. Deeply hurt at the fact her friends at the nuthouse hated her and were screwing behind her back, she decides to find Zygon-Boy. Showing all her cunning psychiatric skills, she starts babbling like a mad woman that all the Zygon stuff is real and, oh, her new best pal is a serial killer. So she decides to call the police and get them to sort it all out.

How could it possibly go wrong? Unless, say, Kieth was listening in and bodysnatched the copper who turned up to answer their phone call? What are the odds of THAT happening? Seriously?

But where there's a will, there's a frying pan and Lauren Roj Blake's her way to freedom with Zygon-Boy who is conveniently regaining his memories. "I don't want to know," says Zygon-Boy as Lauren tries to make small talk about her bodyswapping sex games. Smart move. They arrive at the police station (I'm sure the coppers are going to be delighted that the woman who turned up saying she stabbed a Cyberman-controlled boyfriend who was found alive and well has returned now saying she's a shape shifting alien being hunted by another such monster. Doesn't "wasting police time" get put on your criminal record?) but Keith has cunningly radioed in - pretending to be a policeman - and blamed Lauren for the death of Gay Flatmate.

Jings.

Lauren reacts to being put under arrest by using her super Zygon strength to knock him out and bodysnatch a CID inspector to clear her name ("Where DO the clothes come from?" asks Zygon-Boy, curiously). Keith turns up for another brilliant moment as he reveals he deliberately dobbed them in, knowing Lauren would have to bodysnatch to talk their way out of it and make the whole 'slide-into-curruption' thing easier, before he bounces away. The campaign of Keith Dinkel to be the new companion starts here, people! He's the best thing about this film which has actually yet to feature a Zygon beyond a line drawing on a sketchpad!

With the manhunt called off, they release the CID inspector (AKA dumping his unconscious body in a bus stop) and immediately get a hotel room. I wonder, I truly wonder what could possibly happen now? Oh, wait, there ISN'T hot Zygon-on-Zygon action. Zygon-Boy bitches that his human girlfriend isn't cute anymore and that since she and Kieth have a mental link, he can never be free while she's around, so he dumps her. And then tries to strangle her, but she's a Zygon now and kick his ass. Apparently not-wanting-to-be-strangled is enough to convince Zygon-Boy to ditch her forever and she starts blubbering. Then has a prudish shower scene before admiring her naked body in the mirror. Again, conflicting messages. So she glows and starts changing into Zygon-Boy, herself with the arm of a baby, herself only much younger, boob lady (though not showing her boobs) and then sulks on the hotel bed. Naked, if that matters, but you can see her ribs easier than anything naughty. Always a turn off.

Anyway, Keith and Zygon-Boy meet up again and agree to sabotage some factory or another, which is really annoying since Zygon-Boy was originally the stick-in-the-mud military officer and Keith the reckless teenager. Keith is not exactly happy to switch roles after 18 years of a Rimmer/Lister relationship. You see, greenhouse gases are all down to the Zygons sabotaging plants, intending to melt the ice caps, flood the planet and make it New Zygor for when that oft-mentioned Zygon battle fleet arrives to take up residence. All explained in a truly awful CGI animation.

No sooner have they achieved their bit of sabotage for the day (with Zygon-Boy setting his sights on bodysnatching Gerri Halliwell), Lauren turns up and points up that they can't be anything other than thieves as they have lost who they really were over the years. Instantly convinced, Zygon-Boy shuts down the factory and saves the day. They beat up Keith and leg it in the hope the evil Zygon doesn't simply press the button that pollutes the atmosphere again while they're gone.

The Zygon lovers flee to another factory where Keith keeps his human body locked in a cupboard. Egads, it's right next to the human body Zygon-Boy possesses! Both naked of course (must be cold in that factory). They rip the CGI blob from the body but conveniently Zygon-Boy can keep his form for another couple of days. They then do the same the Keith's body, but this causes Keith to completely freak out and melt and go all gooey. Ooh, about twelve seconds of actual Zygon in this movie! All filmed like a epileptic fit to try and disguise how monumentally awful the outfit is - it looks like a cutout they're acting around. Keith the Zygon gets run over but, instead of dying, simply reverts back to human form. Why? No idea.

Egads, as they drive off in the van, the star-crossed pair discover the naked men in the back are dying without the CGI blobs and rush the Zygon-Boy one to hospital with the convincing cover story he is Zygon-Boy's twin brother. Fiendish! Nevertheless both bodysnatch-ees end up in beds beside each other with no life support. Or clothes. But then Lauren comes up with a brilliant idea. No idea what it is but it seems to involve shooting Keith's body in the head. Or something. I really don't know. Wait, it's not shooting, it's putting a CGI blob on Keith's body. So in mid-snog Zygon-Boy suddenly starts looking like Keith.

Zygon-Boy reverts back to his previous human shape and steals Keith's body while Lauren returns to the nuthouse where Boob lady and the boss are having an argument. So she stabs HIM in the bollocks with a scalpel and blows his brains out with a shotgun (literally... it goes everywhere) and then slaughters all the patients screaming that they're not real. OK. The thought occurs that this might not be Lauren. The further thought occurs this is grosser than all the comatose male nudity.

After pointlessly rambling about how this is just like The Matrix (this movie shows its age, huh?), Lauren accepts she's been framed for mass murder and runs away while Keith continues to camp it up. She hides in a hoodie and wanders up and down white goods stores until she sees a TV that plays relevant exposition. Must take a while. She returns to her flat for a nice bit of "complete nervous breakdown"ing involving all her photos. Keith turns up, but which Zygon is he? Do we care? Wait, it's Kieth who has apparently fallen in love with Lauren and like all good boyfriends totally ruined her life so there is nothing for her except him.

So Lauren tricks him into assuming her form and kill him, leaving the body for the cops to find. Smart, since the rule that "when dead, Zygons revert to their true form" seems to have been forgotten. Like the ending to so many films, it ends with Lauren making a dirty phone call and wandering off into a deep crowd in a public thoroughfare.

Lame. What's the next movie going to be? Sontaran, where Lauren discovers another fit boyfriend is actually under the influence of hideous aliens and discovers a truly disgusting use for the probic vent? Yeesh...

Oddly enough, this isn't the most insane thing I've found on TinDog. And I found a found a 1966 trading card adventure with the Daleks fighting the Voord, for crying out loud...

Friday, January 30, 2009

Brain Space

For my own amusement I have decided to post some comic book covers. Not my own, but photographic landscape portraits covering the dying days of Cerebus the Aardvark. Why? Why not? I only really gave Cerebus a second look after a friend of the family gave me seven crates of unsold independent comic books in lieu of a Christmas present. I ended up with around 1500 new comics and around 270 of those were Cerebus. As I searched through the crates and put the different comics in order, I was struck by the... well, beauty of the covers. They made me feel sad, in a way, yet nostalgic in another. Maybe they just reminded me of The Legend of Robin Hood (crucial psychological turning point # 23?) or Golden Brown. Either way, they're nice and, I think worthy of a blogpost if naught else.


































...

Look, I like them. Who's blog is this, anyway?!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Retrospective: First Contact

The Christmas Invasion was truly a turning point in my life and my relationship with Doctor Who. In short, it was "no more mister nice guy". For the previous however-old-I-am-good-god-you-expect-the-blog-administrator-to-remember-how-old-he-is, I had been pretty much powerless as how I saw the series. If I liked the content of Dr Who & The Mutants, I couldn't watch it until the BBC put it on VHS and the ABC shop sold it. I had a couple of photos in a reference book and a boring useless DWM archive. Irony of irony, when the ABC screened every single (complete) story (apart from The War Games), I'd seen them all. Apart from getting episodic versions of omnibus stories, or continuing in my neverending quest to get a complete copy of The Android Invasion, it was nothing.

Even with my contacts on OG and the newfound ability for ordinary, NORMAL people to put stories on DVD for me, it was a case of "get what you're given and don't complain". Even when the BBC oh-so-briefly allowed a certain five minutes on their website, I wasn't in control. I had to go to an internet cafe, sit in a darkened room and watch on a tiny, pixelated window David Tennant go apeshit and marvel at his moles, sideburns and the fact he wasn't a lardarse like Eccleston. The Christmas Invasion was the last time that anything other than transmission dates prevented me from seeing Doctor Who when I wanted, how I wanted.

Good friend Chris Hale send me a nice clean, white labelled DVD with the Christmas special. Oh, I was so buzzed. The trailers with their cunning "sod all" approach of a killer Christmas tree, a flying TARDIS, Harriet Jones and Rose freaking out at her lack of godlike super powers. The fan fic! Oh, everyone had a 'Tenth Doctor' first scene and some of them were great ("I have a new lease on life because somewhere a noseless dog is waiting for me!") and some suggested humanity deserved extinction ("Can't you change back?" "Um... OK... I shall! FANTASTIC!"). For some rather odd reasons, I'd managed to ban myself from OG - not officially, but somehow my computer refused to believe OG existed - so I was totally without spoilers.

The bastard thing had no noise!

What the hell!?

The whole special, flattened into letter box format so it was like trying to watch the story from inside a toy chest, and IT WAS TOTALLY SILENT! I was determined to watch it, yet I couldn't watch such poor quality pictures with no noise. So, using my incredible abilities transferred the silent film to VHS and dubbed in two CDs worth of music - namely Icon by the Doug Anthony All Stars and the Cruel Intentions soundtrack.

You know what? It worked. It worked amazingly well. Change the Blades rang out as the Christmas tree went Tasmanian Devil. Dead Elvis accompanied the A-positives marching to their doom. You Blew Me Off exploded in time with the Sycorax and Bittersweet Symphony synched up with such perfection to the season 2 trailer that it bordered, quite simply on the spooky (not to mention the "I'm a million different people from one day to the next but I can't change" mirroring the new Doctor's identity crisis quite well).

The lack of dialogue however showed all the plot's strengths - I could follow it, for a start. The Doctor's all giddy and needs to rest, leaving Rose, Jackie and Mickey at the time they need him most. The Sycorax's death threat is perfectly explained in images as seemingly everyone is possessed and stands on tall buildings. The Doctor's recovery, defeat of the Sycorax, fury at Harriet Jones, all ending in that frankly creepy scene where he first puts on his glasses and stares at the TV showing her downfall. It's impressive that seeing this offensively young and goodlooking Doctor in a boring suit, Rolf Harris glasses and a paper hat can be a genuinely unsettling sight. The man who screamed with passion and whispered with such hate watches Harriet Jones' career plummet down the tube... and doesn't react. Truly, this quality is one of Tennant's best gifts. 90% of the time his hearts are on his sleeves, you know what he's going to do and say - but then, sometimes, he goes blank. And you have no idea what he's going to do. Andrew Cartmel's script editing goal number three achieved by a Paul Darrow esque deadpan expression. But then he's laughing and joking and suddenly he's the same borderline comic relief character we know.

Of course, on vision only some things are a bit different. Has anyone ever got a rather rude thought in their mind as the sweaty, dressing gown-clad Time Lord collapses moaning, staring at Rose's tits, whispers about "something coming" before going all limp? I always assumed the Tenth Doctor would speak his lines in a Scottish accent (thanks to baffling newspaper reports that Tennant had changed his mind and wanted to use his own voice). "Swear on tha blud of ya species!" And the whole angle with the Mars probe doesn't quite come off, giving the impression the Sycorax attacked after a traffic accident, while the Santa's status as scavengers doesn't come across at all. It's obvious they have nothing to do with the Sycorax, but there's no replacement.

It's wrong that The Christmas Invasion is automatically assumed to be the start of a new era, of the next season, when it so manifestly belongs to the year that proceeded it. Like Colin Baker's debut, it only really works in context. The hugging and bigging up of the Doctor are gratuitous and self-congratulatory unless it is seen through the prism of the previous thirteen episodes. The Tenth Doctor deposes the woman the Ninth got elected. He accepts the family the old him avoided like the plague. The Tenth Doctor doesn't go "oh well, everything should sort itself out", he ties up the loose ends. The Ninth Doctor had lost his groove, the Tenth Doctor finds it. This story is the end of Doctor Who 2005, not the beginning of Doctor Who 2006. Apart from everything else, the plot stands up to the vaguest of scrutiny, Torchwood is part of the plot rather than a crude marketing ploy, the main cast aren't selfish pricks and everyone basically seems to be on the same page.

One final point is how it focusses on the characters that the previous Doctor enabled so well. Harriet Jones, Mickey and even Jackie rise up to face the Sycorax the best they can - Rose is the only one that crumbles without the Doctor, a fact that is pointed out by all concerned. Yet this isn't the selfish brat of tomorrow, more an emotional teenager who has a sneaking suspicion she got her best friend killed (which she did, and makes sense she'd think the new version would abandon her). It's a world of difference between this and the Season Four finale, where RTD has to make the threat absolutely freaking unstoppable to ensure that all the characters don't instantly sort it out on their own.

A great story, in short, but not the best one to start with.


What a pity they dropped: the bit where Rose and Mickey shag when they think the world is coming to an end


Thank Christ they dropped: the bits where Jackie poured shampoo down the Doctor's throat, trying to get him out of a coma. I mean, WHAT THE FUCK?! This is Jackie, not Baldrick for crying out loud...


Why does no one understand: why the Doctor is vomiting energy? It's obvious. In POTW, the Doctor sucks in the Vortex, then spits it out again. But not all of it. He inhaled. This is why he dies when Rose lives. The newly regenerated Doctor still has the "poison" in his system and needs to expel it before the fifteen hours are up and his new body stops being able to cope with the stuff. When he finally gets rid of it, he's instantly cured.


What was up with: when the Doctor spits out the first orange cloud, there is a voice whispering something like "you had your chance" as it leaves orbit. What was that about? Why does vortex energy fly off into space? What happens to when it's trapped in the TARDIS?


Oh how I hate: Song for Ten. Someone did a version of the wardrobe sequence on YouTube (The Keffmass Invasion, part of a long term insult to Keff McCulloch by redubbing Nu Who eps with music from Season 24 to make it "hilariously bad") where this scene was accompanied by the Centre of Liesure tune. It was much better than what we got. What the hell is that song about anyway? Some guy who sleeps in on Christmas, finds it busy, gets drunk and tells everyone they love them? Bollocks.


The Wit & Wisdom of My Parents: My dad noticed that the Doctor wakes at the words "Help Me", the same two words he said he could never refuse in The Next Doctor, and thus his lack of reaction when Harriet Jones does her "Where are you, Superman?" speech is what convinces Rose is gone. My mum assumes that, as the Doctor clearly moves the TARDIS back to the estate, he logically would have picked up his severed hand. Unsurprisingly, she's blocked out Torchwood from her memory (oh, if only I could do). But surely that's what we ALL thought until Jack's spin off appeared?


Next: Not Attack of the Graske, because the ABC is full of weak spineless dogs.

Smug Overload 2

"Thanks for that, I remember reading this in the old forum and thinking how good it was, and a shame at what could've been....Good to see it again."

Yes, on the day this blog has apparently been flagged for objectionable material (come on, "spack off" isn't THAT bad) we discover that not only has someone read my work, but actually thought it worth recommending to others!

Indeed, in the Enlightenment section of OG, a lovely bloke called Simon Cooper I can't honestly recall knowing spoke at length on my genius:

One of the most galling things about The Twin Dilemma is that there are actually some good ideas in the script, that got swamped by the surrounding nonsense and the ridiculously bad production. Nearly three years ago now, Ewen Campion-Clarke (who used to post here as Youth of Australia) produced a thread called "If *I* had written The Twin Dilemma..." in which he posted a brilliantly "reimagined" Twin Dilemma script.

Since the original thread is now languishing in the archived forum (and the script is hard to read when formatted as many small posts in a message-board format, anyway), I've gathered together all the pieces into a PDF version, which also incorporates various "writer's commentary" notes posted at the time by Ewen.

If you want to see how
The Twin Dilemma could have been a good story instead of an embarrassment, have a read of this script. There's no cheating, either -- all the stuff like the ridiculous costumes, the po-faced twins, the Doctor's mood swings, his prior history with Azmael, even the dreaded strangling scene, are all incorporated logically into the story, with some excellent twists. The motivation of the villain is also dealt with properly, and the three cliffhangers effortlessly outclass the rubbish ones we actually got (the Episode Two one in particular caught me by surprise, and left me thinking, "Why the hell didn't JNT or Saward think of that..."). And there are some good jokes in there, too (I think the celery one's my favourite).

Admittedly, it's somewhat overwritten in places, and if you actually timed the episodes they'd probably be closer to 45 than 25 minutes, but having too much material is nothing to complain about, particularly with this story. This script shows how
The Twin Dilemma could have worked as an excellent sequel to the previous classic (in Ewen's words, "I wanted The Twin Dilemma to be the Castrovalva to Androzani’s Logopolis, not The Underwater Menace"), and I thoroughly recommend it.


Having read the pdf with my commentary in nifty footnotes, my thoughts are:
a) Simon missed a trick not including my Shada-esque reconstruction hastily pasted there after my initial banning
b) God I was pretentious back then.
c) Hah! Let's ever see Spara get a serious review THAT good...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Thought for the Day

SPACK OFF!






(alternatively, the Fourth Doctor's response to "Which incarnation is Matt Smith playing?)

Friday, January 16, 2009

When Alex Drake Met Kerr Avon

And now the rest of that CD I reviewed earlier, though I doubt I'll be as impressed or entertained. Benji/ELSE, please, try not to be total crap. It would be a nice change. Please. I'm begging you.

Please!


Eye of the Machine

"Is that an agorhythmic equation in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?"

(No, I am NOT taking the piss that is an actual line of dialogue.)

Avon's past before the series as hinted at in Countdown and Rumors of Death are the biggest source of fanfic prelude around, only beaten by PGP stories. Even Paul Darrow himself felt there was a book in it, in the universally-acknowledged not-quite-as-crap-as-it-may-seem Avon: A Terrible Aspect which got the thumbs up from Terry Nation. (Of course, Afterlife got the same from him and Chris Boucher, but no one remembers that because slagging off Afterlife is far too fashionable).

I've read a few of course, but the wonderful thing about B7 is its sheer sparseness of tie-in media. Any fan fic is fair game as long as it synchs up with the TV series. There are no Missing Adventures to contradict, no novelizations to tie in with. Who's to say that Avon DIDN'T have a wife and child who seemingly left him one day and made him the insular git he was when we first met him? Maybe Del Grant really was a Federation agent like his sister? Did they both meet Blake at the canteen for the Aquitar Project? I've no idea and to tell you the truth I'm probably prevaricating so I don't have to listen to the thing.

See what the ELSE has done to me? Given me the ability to see the amazing amount of talent on display (come on, Keeley Hawes has to be brilliant to portray total insanity with such conviction), but not for a moment think it will dent the awfulness of the script. See how Kevin Stoney, John Alberini and the dude playing Moloch tackle Allan Prior's Hostage and don't stand a chance!

Oh all right, stop giving me that look. I'll listen to it. Tch.

Our story begins in some kind of lecture hall with Geoffrey Palmer playing Professor "David" Ensor as... well. As Geoffrey Palmer. He could be the exact same character from As Time Goes By bar the fact he's talking about artificial intelligence rather than his life in Kenya. It strikes me once again they've got a brilliant visual actor and put him on radio. Watch him in The Silurians and then in The Mutants. Amazing. Completely different people despite the fact it's the same actor playing an ineffective beaurocrat out of his depth in both. But it's down to body language, because he keeps his voice level. I sigh. Is Big Finish poaching all the actors who actually are good on audio or something? Should there be some kind of cultural exchange where B7 Enterprizes get Sheridan Smith and Doctor Who get Colin Salmon? The problem is Ensor isn't the waspish, tetchy colour-blind twat who clearly was Orac in human form. OK, this Ensor hasn't spent four decades living in the ruins of Atlantis with no human contact, but that doesn't make the reinvention any more interesting.

Yes, yes, I know, I'm stalling. On with the Motley.

It's taken three hundred years for the Cybernetic School of New Oxford to get anywhere close to a true artificial sentience, which is of course something scientists have been promising since 1963. Suddenly, out of the blue I have an idea that Anna Grant turns out be a sentient android built by Ensor who runs amock who falls in love with Avon. I'm sure that idea's been done somewhere (probably not in B7 though). Sorry. Back on track. Gosh, I'm not a minute into it yet. There's not even the opening music and narration. Speed it up.

Ensor's lecture is interrupted by a heckler insisting that the old man has nicked his best work. The heckler sounds uncannily like Avon but probably isn't as even a brooding hormonal Avon wouldn't pathetically shout abuse from the stalls but most likely do an Adonis Cnut style double cross and break the bastard live on television. Still, that would obviously be too much. Oh look, those opening credits I mention. Hello. You took your time. Now Ensor is making a statement about Kerr Avon, a mystery man from a "hick colony on the frontier" who came to Earth to make his fortune with a half-decent degree. Dude, if you're going to nick from A:ATA, why not go the whole hog? Oh, wait, I remember: Paul Darrow will sue your ass off because he considers this whole audio revival a blasphemy, and a badly-made blasphemy as well.

Ensor's monologue goes on for a long, long time and eventually turns into a kind of narration as we see a gushing young Avon rush up to Ensor claiming he's come up with a brilliant new idea. Ensor however is a snob, dubs Avon a "wannabe" and wanders off for lunch, never letting the guy get a word in edgeways.

Cut to the testimony of Anna Grant - and give her her dues, she sounds enough like the original actress to make me wonder if they be related. She apparently bumped into Avon at university open day, where she's handing out leaflets about the Freedom Party or something, and her insane zeal brings back unpleasant memories of DI Drake. Anyway. Unfortunately, Avon is not a gullible twat and easily points out her 'fight the machine' blathering is entirely missing the point. "Don't concede you've lost the argument, just change what we're arguing about," muses Avon after Anna tries to bludgeon him into submission with propaganda. You know, this isn't as bad as I was expecting. Is this really by Aaronovitch? Oh. So it is. Oh well.

Back to Ensor as he bitches about... pretty much everything. Youth, society, riots, women, masculinity, gosh it's like Lawrence Miles on acid. Off this romantic image we cut to Avon gobsmacked as Anna's taken him home and jumped his bones seemingly minutes after they met. He's as taken aback by "Auntie Anna" (fuck, could that sound ANY creepier?) and her rapid switches from pro-revolutionary propaganda to "GET YER ARSE IN THE SHOWER, COLONIAL BOY!" as I am. Talk about schizophrenic... maybe Anna IS Alex Drake when that evil clown dumps her three hundred years in her future? Wierd.

Anyway, after another vigorous sex session in the shower, Alex, er, Anna goes downtown to her Freedom Party weekly meeting where no one except her speaks. I know it's down to the lack of actors, but it really gives the impression they're all just staring at her in stupefied silence as she blathers on with bitchy comments about people forgetting to appear at every meeting. It rapidly becomes clear that she's not exactly a good orator as her conspiracy rants aren't a bit like what she was SUPPOSED to be ranting about - she's horrified to learn she spent an hour insisting that cow's milk is a tool of the oppressor when she was meaning to critique the War in Iraq, that sort of thing. Is Avon a tad worried at the obvious psychosis of his new shag? He seems to find her amusing as Anna announces she intends to give Avon the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy so he doesn't look like a student and then gatecrash Ensor's private dinner party. There's probably a reason WHY she wants to do this, but I can't for the life of me work out what...

Alas, Anna's cunning plan goes awry because Ensor isn't as stupid as she is and is able to remember slagging Avon off in the cafeteria from the third scene. Awkward! I have to ask though... why does Ensor call them "Anna and Avon" rather than "Anna and Kerr" or "Grant and Avon"? Is there some kind of social thing you only address close friends by their first names? (which begs the question of why Anna called Avon "Avon" - considering she shags total strangers, you wonder why she'd stick to such formality. Paul Darrow was always of the impressiong that "Kerr" is just a really, really stupid name which is why everyone sticks to his last name, even his best friends, brother and girlfriend...)

As it rapidly becomes clear that 300 years of human progress and Oxford is STILL full of bitchy old male academics, Anna explains that Ensor's candlelight suppers offer a veritable who's who of movers and shakers - including torturers, genocidal maniacs and of course fascists. She also seems related to half the faculty, with the top cybernetists in the entire galaxy all having seemingly babysat her at one time or another (for the record, the only rival to Ensor is a woman called Lee and not Muller from the TV series and Bejing is a major political power, not quite as big as Kazakhstan though. Aww.)

After the dinner party, Anna and Avon head home for ANOTHER sordid sex session and discuss the ongoing repeated meme of the Elections. Anna wants Avon to hack into the Electoral computer to prove the votes are working, and to do it on campus so it looks just like a student prank and no one, say, gets deported to Cygnus Alpha. What's the likelihood of that happening, anyway? Avon agrees to this not-at-all doomed plan in return for lots of sex for the rest of his life. Yes, I think we've got the whole "randy student" angle down pat, but come on - they've known each other for a DAY and they want to spend the rest of their lives together? That'd probably terrify most blokes. And while this is a delightful coming-of-age romp for the Nigel Verkoff version of Avon, it's as credible to genuine article as Spara's Eleventh Doctor of Skins...

The next day, Ensor is critiquing his favorite Eighth Doctor novel, The Turing Test, and asks Avon to join his exclusive tutorials (nope, nothing sinister there) and intends to to, in his own words, "make Avon sing for his supper". This is getting kinky and suggests Avon 2.0 has a sex life that might put Captain Jack to shame.

Avon is left disturbingly buzzing after this tutorial which leaves him with a newfound love of group dynamics (well, I guess that's why he programmed Zen that way rather than making himself lord and master) while Alex is already nagging him for eying up other girls. For fuck's sake woman, you only met him YESTERDAY! And if you're such a radical, why are you determined he be utterly faithful to you?! And having Avon nagged over lunch by Anna in a traditional "fine, you obviously don't care WHAT I think" mood is more demeaning to the character than his Verkoffesque libido. God damn it, Avon you are the MASTER of the put down! I did not steal this story to listen to you pussy-whipped by one of the Gene Genie's cast offs!

After a painfully innuendo-laden discussion ("The thingy?" "The thingy. I did it last week. When you were asleep.") Avon meets up with Ensor and explains he's not going to hand in his essay because he's discovered that the entire basis of the topic is completely flawed. Mmm. I should have tried that excuse once or twice. Nice one. Avon proves this by waving what sounds like a copy of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in Ensor's face until he realizes the computer genius is right. Get used to it, old man. Nevertheless, this doesn't actually excuse Avon who STILL has to do the essay. Bummer.

Cut back to Ensor's police statement or whatever as he gives a borderline Nazi-esque eugenics speech, insisting that Avon wasn't a genius but just some dumb nigger who noticed something the white folk shoulda known right from the beginning - he ain't clever, he just got lucky. Fuck you too, Ensor.

Ensor and "the Hick from the Sticks" Avon then visit an art gallery to teach him "culture" which they can teach their artificial intelligence. Avon doesn't see the point and Ensor reveals that Orac-style sentiences have been successfully created for centuries... the trouble is they all end up going insane and either kill themselves or trying to conquer the world. Adding a human factor, so to speak, might actually make them work better.

Avon is next seen at Anna's weekly Freedom Party meeting. With the cunning addition of free beer and a rave party, attendence has really shot up and Anna believes this is a sign of the imminant social revolution. Avon points out reasonably that it's more a sign that students like booze, music and shagging. Proving his point, he and Anna immediately start to bonk once again. We NEEDED to hear this, we REALLY did.

Next, Avon and Ensor are arguing on how to develop Orac but every suggestion Avon makes has been done before and failed spectacularly according to Ensor (hey, since YOU know so much about it, why not make a suggestion of your own, dickhead?). Avon thinks an organic brain could helpt the computer think like a human, prompting an anti-religion rant from Ensor, but his next idea - download a human brain off bit torrent and tinker with it - gets an awestruck "It CAN'T be that simple!" from the computer genius. "I feel a Nobel Prize beckoning!!!" Sheesh...

Three days later, Avon finally comes home to Anna (...they've moved in, have they? When did that happen?) and is so knackered from all this meddling with the laws of nature immediately falls asleep, forcing Anna to take advantage of his unconscious body. Yes. They have lots of sex. I GET THIS.

Ensor meanwhile leaves a message on the answering phone (which Anna has recorded for him, cute). To cut a long story short, he's getting sole authorship of the paper on AI they've been working on and doesn't quite promise to acknowledge Avon's contribution... ever. Wow, could this be what causes that truly pathetic bit of protest in the pre-credit sequence? Well, fancy that, we get a replay of the scene itself!

(I have to say I have little sympathy for Avon. Even when doing the HSC for art we had to pile up a shedload of evidence proving we'd not only done the artwork, but all the creative process before hand. The idea that in the future, anyone can print off whatever they like without hard evidence as to authenticate it and that Avon hasn't kept copies of his work... dear me, that's incredibly unlikely.)

Anna bails Avon out of jail for his public nuisance (calling him "Kerr", so it has to be serious) and Avon is rather pissed off that Anna never warned him what an asshole Ensor would be even though she knew. He suspects he has merely been a puppet to aide her revolutionary desires and her response ("It's not ALL about you, you know!") doesn't exactly dispell this particular notion. Anna quickly starts ranting that Ensor's betrayal of Avon is the Federation in miniature - before listing "Gammas" as the lowest of the low, which is confusing for me if you lived through my review of When Vila Met Gan - and tries to turn Avon to the path of communism or something of Roj Blake. I dunno, the idea Avon would be scarred for life by a teacher nicking his work doesn't ring with me. OK, the woman he loved betrayed him, I can get that, no hassle, but a teacher? Avon 1.0 would have downright expected to be cheated, and Anna 2.0 is too much of a casual girlfriend to emotionally cripple Ben Chatham let alone Kerr Avon. Yes, yes, this isn't supposed to be the TV series but the author insists that he wasn't going to change the main troika because they didn't need changing - lying bastard!

Like Torchwood, this series can only get better once it's established what the hell its premise is.

Where were we? Oh yes. Avon's passion for "Miss Grant" (oh, that sounds so wierd and try NOT visualizing Katy Manning when you hear it) has dimmed somewhat as it's clear she's as brain damaged as her Ashes to Ashes alter ego - she has no proof at all that Roj Blake will be a worthy leader, but is confident that she can just vote him out at the next election. Wow, cause that NEVER fails, does it Mr. Mugabe? In retaliation she goes to art gallery with Ensor and discuss culture, art, and the fact Ensor is a cheating bastard. Can he justify himself?

"Optimism is an attractive quality in the young and naive. I was a child prodigy, you know. When I was a young man, even younger and more naive than your Kerr Avon, I studied under Alice Tarrial at the Cybernetics Dept of the University of Boggertar. You should know the name Tarrial, young lady. Tarrial Cells, does that help? It's the key component in any distributive data processing unit. It's what runs everything from the holograms in this room to the thinkpad in your pocket and the life support systems that keep us breathing. I've been rather thoroughly written out of that bit of chapter of Cybernetics. I didn't help create Tarrial Cells, I created them from the ground up! Everything from the basic theory to the final design of the prototype, that cell was ALL my work. MINE! Teachers have always stolen from their students, all the way back to when Socrates corrupted Plato! This time, it's MY turn! Avon can steal from his followers when his own turn comes! My work changed the face of cybernetics! Kerr's work might, just might, solve an intellectual puzzle."

Mmm. I refer you to my "fuck you, Ensor" comment.

Still, remarkably good stuff from Aaronovitch there, it must be said.

Suffice it to say, Anna is not impressed and Ensor uses her own technique of evasion on her by mentioning the elections. He for one does not believe Blake will remain a passive figure if he loses the elections and Anna... well, we've established how blindly loyal and optimistic she is, so she loses the argument and goes away.

Now it is the night of the election, the night that all hell breaks loose and the night that Travis, Vila and Gan spent in remarkably different circumstances. And on Channel English 77, the polling booths across the galaxy are counted up (uh huh...) and Avon and Anna sit and watch it on TV with nibbles. Alas, Avon has voted for the Futile but Cooly Ironic and Well Dressed Party (the undoubted evolution for the Standing At The Back Dressed Stupidly And Looking Stupidly Party) in a fit of joy, having realized that his theory what Ensor stole was actually wrong! HAH! Karma delivers!

Cut to Ensor bitching about how the most powerful knowledge is only held by those without without control or somesuch bollocks, so we cut to him waking up in the middle of the night with Avon holding a knife to his wrinkled neck and a stark reminder to all the redneck jokes he's recieved over the course of the play. Anarchy has broken out and the troopers are killing everyone, while Anna's mother the chanceller has been arrested and Anna is missing. Yes, the corrupt Federation forgot to tamper with the ballots so when Blake won the election, they siezed military control of Earth. Just in case that retarded plot development from WVMG had been blessedly forgotten. Ensor's not remotely fussed about the death toll as he is too useful for the regime for them to kill. "You really are a bastard!" whispers Avon in the lamest insult since the last time that exact phrase was used in these audios. Does someone out there think it's actually a cutting quip?

But twist after twist - not only does Ensor know about Avon's hacking, Avon deliberately sabotaged the theory Ensor stole, and is willing to part with the true formula so to speak in return for Ensor using his links to save Anna! The deal is made and, surely some mistake, Anna is found in time and recovers in the Radcliff Hospital. Well, her right hand is completely stuffed, there's a bootprint on her stomach and her central nervous system is completely and utterly screwed from tazer jolts and mindless brutality. Her idealism finally snaps and she collapses in tears at the horribleness of human beings.

The end.

Er... what? Shouldn't she be dead? Or betrayed Avon? And Avon arrested? Hell, even her injuries can be healed. What kind of crap is this? It was going so well too! What was the point of this story if not to see how Avon became a cold hearted bastard and wanted fugitive? Come to think of it, these Early Years stories really do miss their mark often then not. They seem to get the Blake's 7 Babies mixed up with the genre of origin stories. We end up knowing less about the characters than we should - we don't know how Vila and Gan met or got arrested, what happened to Anna or when Travis got a nasty obsession with Roj Blake!

Despite this total broken premise, I was incredibly impressed by Eye of the Machine. Bar two or three excruciating lines, the dialogue was great and the plotting more or less fine (if the first few scenes occured over weeks rather than hours it'd be a lot better) and I am left with the conclusion that Aaronovitch and the ELSE are clearly not the same person. Either that or there are two Ben Aaronovitches.

All in all, if I could buy this commercially and legally... I would. I was THAT impressed.

The wild track with the rave band didn't quite have the same effect. I can barely decipher the lyrics. It's like the theme to a James Bond film played through two layers of balsa wood. Something about underestimating people for crimes they don't commit or something. I'll take Dayna's Song any day...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

For Fuck's Sake Spara (2010 Prediction)

Scene 1 – At Sea

[Not far from a small but beautifully formed fishing village on the Cornish Coast, a fisherman is examining crab-nets as the sun sets. The fisherman turns to camera.]

FISHERMAN: Evening all! Old Jim Andrews here, Cornish fisherman extraordinaire! You know, it’s at times like this as the wind blows damp air in from the sea that I look forward to getting home to my wife Annie and a cup of piping hot tea. Some people might call it a crude stereotype of a life, but I wouldn’t give it up for any other.

[There is a strange whistling sound. The fisherman stops, looks around, shrugs, and continues to extract crabs from the net.]

FISHERMAN: Anyway, what I’m really trying to say is...

[A hideous creature with diaphanous plastic gills and what look like sequins rises up out of the water, and slashes open the fisherman’s throat, spraying blood everywhere in pointless gore as he is dragged out of the boat and into the water. A pause. The creature leans over the top of the boat and speaks in a porpoise-like burble.]

SPARACUS: And now, for the exciting debut appearance of Matt Smith as the radical cool, young, Skins-style Eleventh Doctor in a darker-than-RTD-while-still-containing-the-essential-characteristic-lighter-interludes-and-a-negative-attitude-to-young-people atmospheric adventure by a dynamic and cutting edge history teacher with extensive fan fiction writing GENIUS!!!

[Another rather awkward pause.]

SPARACUS: And cue the opening titles!



NUDE & MOANING
by SPARACUS “FLAMINGO” JONES and his invisible friend SPIDER


Scene 2 – Generic Cornish Village

[Big, butch Spartha Jones lumbers down a cobbled street wearing a burgundy leather jacket and a mullet wig. She is sulking.]

SPARTHA: Why would UNIT send me to investigate strange sightings and disappearances near this village? Apart from the fact it’s what they do, anyway? I haven’t been so bored by a case ever since I entered into full-time investigative work for UNIT in the UK following the events of Journey till Dawn! Or The Snotaran Strategy, whatever it’s called. In fact, don’t I work for Touchwood now? Irrelevant point. Three weeks I have been in this village. The locals are distasteful and I suspect some of the older ones are rather prejudiced. Not like me at all. Oh well, there’s nothing for it. I shall have to go to the local inn.

[She turns around and sulks back up the street.]

SPARTHA: I wonder why this Cornish village is called Little Bampton when it’s such a home counties name rather than something Cornish? There’s only one Little town and that’s Little Petherick...

[Suddenly there is a familiar sound.]

SPARTHA: That sounds familiar.

[She suddenly notices the TARDIS is standing in front of her in a massive coincidence. The door is flung open with suitable gravitas.]

SPARTHA: Vulgar as ever, Doctor? [mildly surprised] Oh!

[A slip of a youth with floppy hair emerges, dressed in jeans and a casual jacket. He’s not quite as dynamic as the previous occupant, if he isn’t devoid of dynamism altogether.]

SPARTHA: Who are you, whiskerless youth? Where’s the Doctor?!

DOCTOR: Hey, babe. I’m, like, the Doctor. I’ve regenerated, like.

SPARTHA: No shit.

DOCTOR: Wow, it’s great to see you again, whoever you are... Wicked!

SPARTHA: [perturbed] I am perturbed that you’re so... so much younger. You also look, sound and act completely different. But you look younger. That is the most important thing.

DOCTOR: [nods] Yay! It’s great to be a kid again! I’m, like, so gonna get a myspace page. You look great in that jacket, babe! I’ve, like, so got the hots for you. How’s about we get up close and personal on the TARDIS double bed?

[The Doctor coyly lets his floppy hair descend over his eyes as TV viewers everywhere commit suicide. The resulting silence means that when a horrific scream from the distance is made, it is clearly audible. So it’s not ALL bad news.]

SPARTHA: Did you hear that?

DOCTOR: Like, hear what, babe?

SPARTHA: That horrific scream from the distance?

DOCTOR: Like, what horrific scream, babe?

[Another horrific scream from the distance.]

DOCTOR: Oh, yeah, that horrific scream from the distance.

SPARTHA: Hey! That’s coming from the shore! Come on, Doctor!

[Spartha turns and bounces off. The Doctor takes out a mobile phone.]

DOCTOR: OK. But, like, I want to film it all on my phone, so I can, like, put it on YouTube later...

[He skips after Spartha like the barely-functional retard he is.]


Scene 3 – On the Shore

[Deserted bar a beach hut and a bloodstained torn piece of fabric on the ground. Spartha runs up to the evidence, and after a while spots it. The Doctor wanders up, filming everything.]

DOCTOR: I don’t, like, even know why I’m filming this. It’s totally, like, boring, just running through a street. My hit rate will be shameful if I upload this...

SPARTHA: Oh no. Nothing for three weeks! And now this! I miss all the good carnage!

DOCTOR: [closes phone] Never mind babe. Let’s get back to the TARDIS and get hot and sticky!

[He tries to slip his arm around her, but she shakes him off.]

SPARTHA: [scowls] Are you on heat or something? Grow up! Someone has just been killed here! I know I have no reason to think that or any evidence to back me up, but that is the story we’re going with.

[Tears well up in the Doctor’s eyes.]

DOCTOR: [sobbing with self-pity] Look if you don’t, like, like me you could, like, just say!

SPARTHA: Stop weeping like a pathetic stereotyped Emo tool, you indescribably unlikable, useless, cowardly, whiny imposter! If you didn’t look so good and make me all buttery in my dusty and cobwebbed nether regions, I’d have killed you by now!

[Suddenly there is another scream, this time from behind the beach hut. The duo approach.]

SPARTHA: It’s the mangled, headless corpse of an old man! I’d recognize it anywhere!

DOCTOR: Like, is that the dude who just died or another one entirely? I’m, like, lost...

[Something scurries away into the shadows, ashamed of being involved in this show.]

SPARTHA: These claw and teeth marks couldn’t be human. Humans don’t have claws. I learned that in medical school. There are only TWO possibilities! Either this is the result of some kind of leopard or large cat... or, given that UNIT have sent me here and I am rarely used to locate missing leopards, there is something ALIEN involved in this TOTALLY POINTLESS MURDER!!

[She looks at the Doctor dramatically. A beat. He shrugs.]

DOCTOR: Yeah. Whatever. Must be a Weevil. They’re, like, totally into that senseless murder thing in backward 21st century towns.

SPARTHA: But these are not typical Weevil wounds, Doctor!

DOCTOR: OK, like, so it wasn’t a typical Weevil. End of, babe.

SPARTHA: I’ve seen them! Weevils do not resemble large cats and they live off Cardiff sewage, not Cornish bumpkins!

DOCTOR: Yeah, whatever. I’ll, like, just take some pics and then get back to the TARDIS.

[Spartha is puzzled as the Time Lord photographs the corpse on his mobile.]

DOCTOR: Sorted.

SPARTHA: So, what are you going to do? Analyze them or something using the computer database there?

DOCTOR: Nah. I’ve got some mates from facebook coming round for a party like. It’ll be steamin!

SPARTHA: [annoyed] I am annoyed! Act your damned age! Which, let us remember, is well over 900 and not like the brain-dead, sex-obsessed 26-year-old boytoy you resemble!

DOCTOR: Your point being, like...?

SPARTHA: You are not taking this seriously Doctor! I will continue to shout at you until you do so.

DOCTOR: So? I mean, like, just because an innocent human has been cruelly slaughtered, what do I care? Like I’m under 40 and obviously pathologically self-absorbed and unable to act convincingly...

SPARTHA: What we are going to do is contact the local police, simultaneously establishing why the hell they haven’t already come down to investigate the screams. And then pay a visit to the local pub to see if we can find out if there are any rumors among the locals as to what is causing this. I’m surprised I didn’t think of doing this three weeks ago, actually...

[Spartha wanders off.]

DOCTOR: [in his best Harry Enfield impression] Oh, that’s so unfair!

[Nevertheless, he is a spineless twat who acts like a three-year-old and so follows her anyway.]


Scene 4 – The Goat & Poofter

[A vibrant and noisy pub typical of most Cornish fishing villages under siege from invisible monsters, UFOs and people disappearing – and whose occupants, in the best traditions of borderline-illegal-Hammer-Horror-cliches, fall completely silent as the Doctor and Spartha enter. The locals scowl at them. The Doctor is uncomfortable at this complete lack of original thought.]

DOCTOR: How comes you ain’t checked out this dive before now? You, like, done ANYTHING in your three weeks here?

SPARTHA: [shrugs] Maybe I should have done, Doctor. However, I thought I could get all my local gossip from the fishermen which came to nothing.

DOCTOR: And, like, what did you do for the two and a half weeks after that?

SPARTHA: Shut up, numbnuts, I am an efficient UNIT agent with a sense of urgency! I am allowed to complain at the lack of leads!

DOCTOR: Whatever. [looks round] This place is minging.

[A couple of local offensive stereotypes at the bar scowl at him, easily doubling the ratings after everyone switched off after the dreadful first scene.]

ROUSTABOUT: Ere! We don’t like your sort around these parts! Layabout students! Get your hair cut!

DOCTOR: [pulls a face] Like, that’s bound to get me recommending this pub on myspace...

[Fulfilling the desire of the audience, the man goes to thump him. Tragically, however. the Landlord intervenes and saves the Doctor.]

LANDLORD: Ere now Gus, we’ll ave none of that in ere. [to the Doctor] Now what will you be avin to drink you immature and socially inept berk?

DOCTOR: A double vodka like for me, like, I wanna get completely munted!

SPARTHA: I’ll have a glass of water. By which I mean double vodka as well, but in a straight glass.

LANDLORD: [hands over glasses] There yer go, free of charge coz the BBC are payin the bar tab. Now get out of me sight, all of yer!

[The Doctor and Spartha go and sit down at a table, seemingly unaware that it is already occupied by a boy and a girl in their early 20s and thus keeping the Yoof Demographic in check.]

FRENCHY # 1: Elloo! I em Pierre and this is Francoise. We’re over here fram France. We both ztudy eculugy at ze Sorbonne. Do yu mand ef we jarn you?

DOCTOR: Yay! Pull up chairs guys! Oh. Wait. Like, you have already.

FRENCHY # 1: Let airz gev yu air life hiztaries wizzout evan arsken yair names! Yu zee, we are ekulugy ztuzents over here on holiday in ze summer break.

SPARTHA: ...we know. You just told us two seconds ago.

FRENCHY # 1: Actually ve have... vhat’s the English phrase?… an alterior moteev. Ve beth belong to Grenpiss and ve are ovar ere inwestigating ze operations of ze Gastroenteritix Coompany.

SPARTHA: And you think the best way to stay undercover is tell strangers in the pub your life story?

FRENCHY # 1: Wee, mon filly, wee! Yu zee, zey are a majair pollutont en France and zey are using yair coastline to dump zeir vaste. Zey make GM zynzetic rubbair and oil FOR ABZOLUTALLY NO RAISON VATZOEVAIR! Zey ave done a deal with yair govarnment to jare zarm of zeir carmpletely pointaless rezerch ef zey cen dump zeir vaste in yair sea! Iz, ow yu zay, jast like an epizood of Ze Goodies?

SPARTHA: Why are you telling us this, strange expositing Frenchman? How do you know that we aren’t working for the Gastroenteritix Company?

FRENCHY # 1: Vell, ze trooth es that––

DOCTOR: [bored] This is, like, so boring. How about you guys coming to a party at my place? It’s been advertised on Facebook, like. Thou, no one’s actually replied to my add for "wicked party inside police box bigger inside than out" and they, like, think I’m some tragically unfashionable Colchester history teacher in their 40s performing internet fraud...

SPARTHA: Don’t mind him, Pierre, he’s not himself at the moment.

[She kicks the Doctor hard in the shins. The Doctor stares at her for a moment, then picks up her glass, drains it, smashes against the table and drives it into her skull. The Frenchies exchange uncertain looks.]

DOCTOR: Actually, Pierre, never felt better. I’m, like, totally post-modernistic! Word!

[Spartha shoves the Doctor to the floor and tries to peer through the blood pouring down her face.]

SPARTHA: This is interesting. I’m investigating a series of strange deaths near here. Well, one dead. In the last five minutes. But it might be relevant somehow.

FRENCHY # 1: Wart meks yu zink zat?

[Suddenly the door of the pub flies open and a man staggers in. He is covered in claw marks and his left arm is hanging half-severed.]

DOCTOR: Yay! It’s Floppo, like, the adorably drunk clown! Only an alcoholic like him could head straight to a pub with his arm nearly torn off!

[He staggers and falls to the floor screaming. No one moves to help him.]

DOCTOR: Whoa. Rough neighborhood. Especially since, like, he musta walking around the village and no one like tried to help him. Or called the police. Why are the Cornish such assholes?

SPARTHA: It’s a mystery we may never solve.

[As the last remaining viewer swings slowly from a rope, the Doctor and leaps up and nudges the screaming victim with a toe.]

DOCTOR: Wow. People, like, are getting mutilated by monsters within, like, five minutes of each other! This is, like, so random. Wait. Did I say ‘random’? I meant... ‘consistent’. OK, Spartha, you’re the medic, you want to help him or something?

SPARTHA: No fear. I’m texting for an ambulance.

DOCTOR: Isn’t that, like, a tad lazy?

SPARTHA: Grow up, numbnuts! I still haven’t forgiven you for you uncouth domestic violence.

DOCTOR: I SO TOTALLY HATE YOU!

FRENCHY # 1: Hmm. I share iz pasharn, mon fille. Yu are, ow yu say, a tutul man-heting bee-yotch.

[The Doctor looks around the rest of the pub, but no one is paying attention.]

DOCTOR: You guys sure are harsh, you know that?


Scene 5 – Outside the Goat & Poofter

[An ambulance with a destination sign saying "LOCAL HOSPITAL" leaves, revealing the Doctor, Spartha (with a bandaged head) and the two Frenchies standing rather uselessly outside the pub.]

DOCTOR: ...anybody got any pot?

SPARTHA: Act your age, numbnuts! We have to assess the way forward!

FRENCHY # 1: And ow are we zuppozed to do zat?

[They all sit on a bench. A long pause.]

SPARTHA: Well, after three weeks of doing absolutely fuck all, we clearly need to investigate the beach and justify the location shoot. Again. And also the pollution angle, I guess, assuming it’s not too much of a Pertwee rip-off. That man had sand on his shoes and those wounds looked like animal bites.

DOCTOR: What man?

SPARTHA: The dead man.

DOCTOR: Which one?

SPARTHA: The one in the ambulance.

DOCTOR: Like, Spartha, he was still alive.

SPARTHA: It doesn’t matter! He had sand on his shoes!

DOCTOR: Everyone has sand on their shoes, babe, it’s a fishing village!

FRENCHY # 1: Pardon. I em, ow yu zay, keen to help?

DOCTOR: Whatever.

FRENCHY # 1: We ave erd of athar strenge animal atteks round ere.

SPARTHA: How irregular. The Unified Intelligence Taskforce hasn’t and they’ve been monitoring this town for months. I find this strange.

FRENCHY # 1: Owevair, as an eculugy studant...

DOCTOR & SPARTHA: We know! Change the bloody record!

FRENCHY # 1: Pardon. I juz like, ow yu zay, telling people zat I em an eculugy ztuzent. And as an eculugy ztuzent, I fend it ard to believe zat pollutian she could turn animals into ze kind of theng zat card inflict wounds like zat.

SPARTHA: Why should we care what an “eculugist” thinks? Are you an expert in DNA modification or animal experimentation? No? Well shut up, then Pierre!

DOCTOR: Besides, dudes, pollution can turn monsters feral. I’ve, like, encountered giant maggots the size of large rats caused by pollution. It was mingin! In fact like, this whole adventure like, is so totally, like, an amazing massive super rip off of that story, like random man, it’s like we is bein written by some out-of-it fan-fic dude! Totally!

SPARTHA: Ahem! I think you’ll find we were going to investigate the beach. You can lead the way.

DOCTOR: Wicked!

SPARTHA: And if any hideous monsters attack, you can be the first to die.

[The Doctor frowns, thinks for a moment, shrugs and grooves his way down the street heedless of any and all danger. The others follow.]


Scene 6 – On the Shore

[The group pass a car. One of the Frenchies stops and looks at it.]

FRENCHY # 1: Zoot allors! Zis is my car, mes ami.

DOCTOR: Dude, you parked your car within spitting distance of the murder scene. Total coincidence city.

SPARTHA: Puny males, always talking about cars. Come, Francoise, we shall poke about the sand looking for footprints that the tide has yet to wash away on the public beach. And don’t you dare ask what possible good that could do or I shall throttle the very life out of your body.

[Meekly, the other Frenchy follows Spartha as the first Frenchy opens the boot of his car.]

FRENCHY # 1: Merci! Eh, Doctor, look at zis mon braaaav!

DOCTOR: Only if it’s worth, like, taking a photo of with my phone.

[The Frenchy takes out a large bag.]

FRENCHY # 1: I ave, ow you zay, by totul coinsubsidance, packed two divarng zootz in ere. I ed tootorly ferguttan I hed packed zese. Zis convenience allows airz to go und zee where ze doomping is takeen pless, azzuming we ectually knew where zay were doing zu doomping!

DOCTOR: [puzzled] Wow. Suspiciously convenient, like. But how are we, like, gonna get out to sea? How could anyone, like, possibly traverse upon the water without a totally godlike gift? Oh. Wait. I remember. Boat things. And I have a TARDIS. And Spartha can always call in a UNIT helicopter. In fact, like, we’re kinda spoiled for choice...

FRENCHY # 2: I beleef I cahn elp ere...

SPARTHA: My god, you can speak!

FRENCHY # 2: [smiles] We highaired zat boat over zere earlior.

[She points to the only boat on the whole beach and who absolutely no one has noticed.]

DOCTOR: That is, like, unbelievably convenient!

SPARTHA: So. You hired a boat... and then went to the pub?

FRENCHY # 1: Wee.

DOCTOR: [grinning like a twat] Wicked!

SPARTHA: [scowling like a slag] Act your age! We need to be sensible and careful about this!


Scene 7 – At Sea

[The boat hurtles out of control over the water, as we see that the male Frenchy is manning the boat blindfolded and steering the wheel using only his buttocks. All the others are screaming hysterically as they try not to fall out of the high-speed boat.]

DOCTOR: TOTALLY WICKED, YEEEE-HAAAAAAAAAAH!

[Spartha reaches forward and smacks him in the back of the head at the exact moment the boat stop, so the momentum smashes the Doctor against the dashboard. The Frenchy takes off his blindfold.]

FRENCHY # 1: Well ma frenz, it appairs zat we are campletely out of ze fuel ze boat she needz in order to, ow yu zay, move a fucking zinch. Zo we might es well ztart darving here.

[The Doctor gets up, trying to straighten his floppy hair as blood trickles from his nose.]

DOCTOR: Yay, like, this is much better than just flying the TARDIS over the water, you dig? Right babes. Me and Pierre will like do the diving as you, Spartha, can’t know how to dive like, what with being a trained UNIT operative and shit... So, you two keep a look out and, you know, try and find a meaning to your totally pointless lives, like.

[In a scene essential to the for-want-of-a-better-world ‘plot’, the Doctor and the male Frenchy get undressed to get into the diving suits while the girls stare at the Doctor’s slim, smooth limbs and glistening torso. The Frenchy is foreign so no one cares if he has an almost god-like smooth chest.]

FRENCHY # 2: Zat guy yu repeatedly berate and try to physically azzalt is, ow yu zay, very beeyootifarl.

SPARTHA: [to herself] There is certainly a plus side to this regeneration. Especially after his last body, which was like Quasimodo on a bad hair day and who I never found physically attractive. Of course, it’s a shame about his personality, his new-found alcohol problem and his new found uncaring for human life. But with a body like that, it doesn’t matter. Looks are everything.

[The men now wear diving suits. The Frenchy’s doesn’t quite fit.]

FRENCHY # 1: Remind me, Monsieur Doctor, why muzt I wear ze womarn’s wetzoot intended for Francoise in ziz fashiyarn?

DOCTOR: Because, like, I’d lose gravitas and stuff swimming around in a tart’s rubber outfit, wouldn’t I? Sides, it wouldn’t be realistic, like if I happened to fit the suit you just happened to have at the same time as luckily hiring the car, wouldn’t it?

FRENCH # 1: Meh, if yu put it like zat...



Scene 8 – Under Sea

[The Doctor and Pierre dive in and swim about. Luckily the whole ocean is lit up with a lime green glow coming from the bright sludge seeping out of the metal drums beneath them.]

DOCTOR: [muffled] Beep. You know, like, this idea is actually pretty stupid now I think of it. We’re diving into the main concentration of toxic ooze creating, like monsters. How retarded are we, huh?

[The Doctor sighs and takes out his mobile and starts filming.]


Scene 9 – At Sea

[Spartha and the remaining Frenchy sit on the deck not doing anything because they are puny females. Suddenly there is the distinctive sound of another boat approaching. They both look up. Another boat is approaching, hence the distinctive and highly accurate noise. There is a gunshot, then another.]

SPARTHA: [with subnormal intelligence] They’re shooting at us!

FRENCHY # 2: Ow yu zay, no zhit, Zherluck!

SPARTHA: I mean that this evil corporation aren’t just loitering suspiciously around the dumping spot stupidly close next to a population centre so all their pollution will be instantly noticed, but they’re actually trying to kill us in the least-subtle and idiotic manner ever!

FRENCHY # 2: Mebbe zey are trying to get cart?

[More gunfire and the Frenchy tries to start the boat engine.]

SPARTHA: Hang on you stupid garlic-bicycle-rider! We can’t leave the Doctor and Pierre!

FRENCHY # 2: Zoot alorz, Zparza Jjons! I hed, ow yu zay, tutarly forgozzen zat! But, zince we are out ef fuel, we couldent leave zem anyway.

[They stare down into the water but there is no sign of the nauseating adolescents since they’ve dived out of view and even though they aren’t necessarily in trouble, this is given maximum tension anyway.]

SPARTHA: Oh. Wait. We should have given them a line or something so we could tell them they were in trouble, really, should we?

FRENCHY # 2: A little, wee.

SPARTHA: Shit. And I was so smug about being careful about this expedition. Still, if I kill all the witnesses, my reputation shall remain untarnished! NOTHING IN THE WORLD CAN STOP ME NOW!!

[She starts to throttle the Frenchy as the other boat continues to fire.]

...to be continued...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

When Gizzy Met Travis

Yes, my poignant friends, the time has come to once more dive face first into the strange shadowy dimensions of B7 Enterprizes! No, put down the crucifixes, their Second Season of Pain has yet to air and the 'gap' is being filled by flashbacks to the lives of such vital characters as Vila, Gan, Avon and Travis. But not Blake. That'd just be stupid.

You know, I wrote a prequel of similar intent and action for The Youth of Australia. The idea was a flashback at them at school interspersed with them at a school reunion, so there'd be the delight of seeing Nigel Verkoff as the most important and popular person in the past and finds out that NO ONE remembers him in the present, things like this. Yet it quickly occured to me that this prequel was actually a better episode to start the show than the One Where They Look For A House. My point is, if these Missing Adventures were so bleeding good, they should have occured in the regular run, surely? I mean, it's not as if the main series is going to consider them canonical.

Looking back at When Vila Met Gan, well, I enjoyed it as nothing it was meant to be. Character-building? Fail. Well-plotted? Fail. Good dialogue? Fail. Even vaguely fits in with continuity? The wrong guy plays Vila! FAIL! As a mildly stupid way of passing an hour, this A-Man Does "Mr Jolly Lives Next Door" isn't too bad, but the main series goes out of its way to contradict it. At no point does regular Gan 2.0 confirm he's a superhuman mutant, and Vila 2.0 knows Blake best of all from a time when he apparently had no interest in politics.

In a way, it's B7 Reborn Unbound... which is really depressing, as these sidesteps are without doubt better than the main product. If that's particularly difficult.



Point of No Return

"Roj Blake's not my concern. You are."

No nice bite-sized chunks this time round, just 30 minutes and 44 seconds of hardcore James Swallow material. A sentence which sounds downright WRONG now I look back at it. Mercifully, not only is the butch voiceover narration down by the so-over-it Gary Russell impersonator, the music is the usual nuveau remix rather than the awful brass farts that accompanied When Vila Met Gan.

After 50 seconds of rain, helicopters and what sounds like Dudley Simpson on acid, Gizzy - I refuse to call him Travis - arrives as "Security Central" (AKA London) and is as pleased at this development as you're sure I am. There he meets his good pal Adam Garcia for the first time, since JS has decided to eschew the framing narrative that was used so abysmally last time round. Although sick of being treated like he's never done whatever he's doing, Gizzy is glad Garcia has had the initiative to actually look up his new boss on wikipedia.

And so they board the helicopter again to visit some high-risk (but very cooperative prisoner), Gizzy starts to sound less like Monseiur Armitage and more like a seriously pissed off Paul McGann. Very much an exponent of honesty and self-motivation, Gizzy manages to in a matter of moments come across as a more likeable and believable central character than Blake 2.0 managed in three long, soul-destroying hours. Garcia is creeped out that the prisoner has expressly asked for Gizzy, yet Gizzy insists they have never met before. I wonder what that's all about.

We then meet the only other person in the play - the creepy smart bald guy who was in Gladiator and faked the alien invasion in Jonathon Creek: The Omega Man and ominously narrating a nature documentary on penguins on the ABC as I type this. Clearly some kind of pro-revolutionary of the Radical Party, this dude is calm, clever and reasonable. No wonder Garcia's scared shitless of him. It's not exactly Hannibal Lector, but Karl Varon is more on India Fisher's playing field of credibility and professionalism rather than everyone else. He's almost like a mellow Davros.

Gizzy meets Varon and I feel a stab of terror that this could descend into the same self-congratulatory Prisoner bollocks of Kaldor City, with two dudes in a cell playing mind games until my patience runs out and I start getting strange people pretending to be Alan Stevens in the bloggosphere being longwinded and annoying.

Varon has apparently been arrested in an open and shut case, yet he protests his innocence despite CCTV showing him supporting violent terrorism. Interesting that his dismissal of the Federation describes a world from the TV series rather than the dull highrise Cardiff of the audios. Varon insists that the holograms of his Osama Bin Laden party pieces are fake, but Gizzy is not convinced. Unlike Kaldor City: Occam's, suicide bombing is considered horrific rather than a point of humor. Mind you, ELSE probably pissed itself laughing at this scene, so this stuff with Gizzy having the (apparent) moral highground is surprisingly adult.

Varon insists that the majority of his followers are peaceful political activists, and if the government wants to portray anyone as a bunch of psycho terrorists they should stick with the genuinely unhinged Roj Blake. Hah! See how good and consistant the writers can be without script editors - this is the same quality that made the mid-section of Liberator so damn enjoyable.

With the elections only days away, it IS slightly suspicious that such incrimination evidence be so conveniently found and Gizzy (who's been round the galaxy twice and knows for a fact how bloody awful things are) is willing to investigate Varon's claims of lies with somethingly vaguely approaching impartiality. Sure enough, Gizzy and Garcia soon find evidence of corruption and conspiracy - quelle surprise. What really worries Gizzy is how cack handed the government are: they can normally fake stuff to much higher quality, and the crucial evidence they have is legally inadmissable. Gizzy snatches up Varon and takes him to "the Thames Sink" so they can talk alone and be all suspicious.

Gizzy shows off his "King-Ming" sonic blaster in a painfully obvious "I am not actually going to use this to kill you, I'm just trying to get you to shit yourself in terror and judge whether or not you're corrupt" sequence. But, you know, it's not a bad bit in and of itself. This is Big Finish to the regular series' DWAD.

Anyway, using the kind of ruse the Gene Genie would approve of, Gizzy gets Varon to prove he's not a psycho terrorist ala Roj Blake (while Gizzy never once being sucidally insane). Only for, moments later, for apparently genuine evidence against Varon to turn up. Is Varon lying? Is it a conspiracy? Of course it's a bloody conspiracy, this is Blake's 7 - the question is... which side will Gizzy go for. I have to say, it's uncertain. The only thing for sure is that Gizzy will not allow ANYONE to manipulate him. Monsieur Kelly is very good without Servie 2.0. Or ELSE/the A-Man. Let's hope to hell niether get involved in Robin Hood any time ever.

With mere hours to the election - and for those stupid enough to try and tie this to continuity, Vila and Gan are wandering around being stupid in Croydon as we speak - Gizzy plays his hand and must compromise what principles he possesses. Either Varon is a wrong innocent or someone twice as dangerous as Frying Pan Blake! (and if that concept doesn't scare you then you lot haven't been paying attention...)

Without doubt, this is hands down the best thing out of B7 Enterprises so far. Acting, dialogue, sound design, pacing. There's one freaking huge albatross that's been ruining the series and they are curiously absent from this short story which actually improves When Vila Met Gan with the revelation the riots and explosions were not some two-faced Federation trap, and indeed nothing they had any hand in at all. It's the kind of complexity that you don't find anywhere near Aaronovitch's "All Fascists Must Die!" work.

Oh, and look who's decided to rewrite Rumours of Death with Keeley "Alex Drake" Hawes as Anna Grant...