Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Doctor Who - Rise of the Machines...


You only have to look behind you
At who's undermined you
Destroy everything you touch today
Destroy me this way

Everything you touch you don't feel
Do not know what you steal
Shakes your hand
Takes your gun
Walks you out of the sun

What you touch you don't feel
Do not know what you steal
Destroy everything you touch today
Please destroy me this way

Destroy everything you touch today
Destroy me this way
Anything that may delay you
Might just save you...

For their second ever adventure, the Doctor, Susan Foreman, Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright find themselves landing on a dead planet about as far from London 1963 as it's possible to get. And with the TARDIS completely screwed, our heroes have no choice but to head for the only sign of civilization - an amazing futuristic city that seems almost alive. A platter of consumer goods leads to robotic machines coming out of the walls, as our heroes find themselves up against a race of creatures not quite mechanical, not quite alive, and with one hell of a grudge against a civilization of beautiful Aryans with an unusual moral code...

The question is, if we were spin forward over 45 years into the future, would we find RTD writing Journey's End about the Doctor, the Tylers, Torchwood and Sarah Jane teaming up to fight the Perfect One after his army of derivatrons decimate the Earth, or the machines of Luxor responsible for wiping out the Time Lords? Probably not, but you don't exactly get similar potential from The Daleks, do you? Had the pepperpots appeared in Anthony Coburn's script rather than Terry Nation, who knows what would have happened?

Having read the original script after it was published in 1993 to commemorate the 30th anniversary, I can say that The Masters of Luxor was about a rewrite away from brilliance and certainly deserved being made instead of trash like The Keys of Marinus or Planet of Giants. The six-episode story is rather talky, with a lot of it involving our heroes in various hotel-like surroundings brooding on unseen menaces, and while some scenes are easy to imagine (the flying helicopter TARDIS model shots couldn't be any worse than the ones in The Web Planet), others aren't quite so (the tour of the 'floating' city which gobsmacks our travellers and has them dub it "an architectural miracle"). The Perfect One could have been a creation to rival giant maggots as 'things everyone would remember', but just as easily it could have been Adam Rickitt painted white with a collander on his head. Yet it's hard to imagine them going wrong with a sequence of Hartnell wrestling with the TARDIS console as the time machine goes out of control and Barbara totally loses it and starts screaming "GOD PROTECT US!!" Hell, the image freaks me out just thinking about it.

Well, some American fans have decided to adapt the story into a fan film and it's not hard to see why. Mainly talky, sets, a handful of robot costumes and a few model shots - not to mention the script being in the public domain and having something of a reputation. I can't imagine many fan projects instantly grabbing people's attention: people are always going to be more interested in Shada than "Andrew Denton kung-fus his way around a monastery claiming to be Dr Who", aren't they?

Like a few other fan films I know of, the fact they're recreating something from 1963 means they can legitimately skimp on things - costumes, props, the occasional fluffed line. It's ridiculous to think that bit where the boom mike drops into view was left in accidentally. The black and white choice probably helps too.

There are a few differences, as they've understandably had to streamline the tale, losing stuff like the gang losing consciousness when the TARDIS crashes, the Doctor arguing about using the emergency power system, not to mention the lengthy scene where the Time Lords berate the humans for their infectious paranoia. The first cliffhanger is thankfully dispensed, as it was quite simply rubbish (is that food that Ian ate with no ill effects poisoned? Um, no, actually. Tune in next week), and understandably the army of robots gets dwindled to just two, only one of which talks.

The most baffling change is Susan now being the Doctor's niece and referring to him as "uncle". No idea what that's all about, but maybe it's down to the Doctor being portrayed as more like the Eighth than the First, but this works rather well since 45 year old dialogue works for either character and this guy, who resembles the TV Ford Prefect in more ways than one, isn't half bad. This puts him in stark contrast with some of his fellow actors who struggle to be half-decent. Susan's all right (when she's not being hysterical... but then, that could just be biting satire), and the shaven-haired yank claiming to be Ian Chesterton is understandably hard to cope with lines like "your electronic giggle palace". But Barbara's the worst. She's not Chip Jamison, but the fact she's given the 'spooky woman's intuition and understanding' scenes (and I swear they're not as sexist and crap as the description may sound), she needs to be better. No wonder they didn't let the actress try the "fondled by a dead body" line, since her only skills rely on being bored and annoyed. Oh, and looking good in a white space miniskirt - another thing to note is that these shockingly revealing outfits would have no doubt made this the 1963 equivalent of Baywatch to its audience, but just seem to be an excuse from the girls to change from black clothes to white clothes. Oh, and Ian just looks like a twat in his outfit. If you didn't know better, you'd assume the Doctor kept his outfit out of self respect than the script.

Anyway, the plot. The first episode, The Cannibal Flower, kicks off when the TARDIS's systems are jammed by a 'radio signal' and it crashlands on a lifeless, moon-like planet in the shadow of a huge crystal city floating in mid air [although it just turns out to be a trick of the light]. Curious about it, the gang float the TARDIS (like it does in Time-Flight) over the city when the city's dome opens up and a tractor beam sucks the police box inside. Immediately the power starts draining away and Barbara does one of those patented 'really cool idea that turns out to be better than the one they ended up using' speeches: they have travelled into the future where machinery is alive and feeds off other machinery, in this case the city comes to life as the TARDIS shuts down.

Luckily the TARDIS (a rather decent police box prop though it's painfully obvious it's missing a roof) in the corner of a dining room with food ready on the table. With no real options, the marooned travellers chow down on the food and activate a remote control on the dining table. Two robots emerge from the wall (resembling a cross between a Toxic Avenger radiation ranger and a Gundan) and it's time for the next episode, The Mockery of A Man.

The robots tidy away the dishes, unhelpfully saying things like "You have made us well, O Masters of Luxor" and not explaining what the hell is going on. The robots offer to take the travellers to their bedrooms and in the lift, Barbara has ANOTHER idea: the city doesn't just suck the life out of machines, it turns people into robots!!

In the bedroom, Susan and Barbara immediately run and lock themselves in the bathroom to, er, help clean each other up and get rid of the dirt and crud they've accumulated from their adventures with the cave men. "Doctor, would you mind if I said something so obvious, it's laughable?" asks Ian meekly. "Wouldn't be the first time," the Doctor shrugs.

Ian, Barbara and Susan put on the clothes laid out for them, intelligent white silk clothes that mould to their skins (and thus giving the visual impression that they've put on fancy pyjamas and are about to call it a night). The Doctor, significantly refusing to conform, flushes his outfit down the toilet and keeps his own clothes [sadly, they didn't keep the scene where the Doctor awkwardly tries to tell Barbara how goddam sexy she now looks]. Just then, Proto the derivatron arrives - a mark II robot far more humanoid than the grunts. I have a feeling Coburn was thinking more of Lieutenant Data rather than this, which resembles one of the Sand People from Star Wars with light bulbs for eyes. Nevertheless, maximum props for the creepily polite 'Robots of Death' style voice.

Proto has been sent to find out who the hell the TARDIS crew are, unfortunately it doesn't have much of an imagination (something only Barbara seems to twig) - it has no idea how the TARDIS could have got here, and now assumes that the travellers are from Luxor and have come here to investigate disappearances of some other guests. "They are no more. They would not give up their lives, so we destroyed them." Proto is disturbed by the fact Susan and Barbara are women (and judging by Ian's baffling comments, he seems to think the paranoid android is turned on by their kinky outfits). Unsatisfied by their attempts to explain, Proto storms off to the Perfect One, his boss. Deciding that a place with a history of mass murder isn't cool, Ian comes up with a brilliant escape plan he got from the original script involving breaking windows, tying up curtains and scaling a 300 metre drop. The Doctor points out that Proto left the door open, so, rather self-consciously, his idiotic companions decide to follow him.

They quickly twig that Proto wanted them to follow, as they see a crude lash up where some poor smuck is strapped to a bed and positive-negatived out of existence, leaving his stupid and empty clothes behind. In a bed opposite is the Perfect One, the sort of bloke you can imagine being the good-looking black sheep of some Bold and the Beautiful type soap opera. Smug, arrogant and lacking some social skills, the Perfect One decides to discuss mechanical evolution - the Masters of Luxor created the grunt robots as slaves but decided to improve their intelligence so the Masters could get more fun out of their slavery, creating the derivatrons. But this was not enough, and so they decided to create an android identical in every way to themselves, mainly for the hell of it. The Perfect One is that ultimate android, but has decided to liberate his robot brethren instead.

You know, as you do.

One snag is the Perfect One, like all the machines in the city, runs on the energy of the TARDIS - the city is a penal colony that is powered up by the ships that transport criminals there and the TARDIS has got caught up in the workings - and when that energy is exhausted (well, that's what the Perfect One EXPECTS to happen at any rate), he'll shut down as well. However, he's discovered way to drain the life energy from Luxorites and transfer it to himself, and thus keep him going for brief periods. That's what he's been doing to the others, burning them up to supercharge him and finally give him independence, and that's what he intends to do to our heroes. OK, it's basically a Spara-esque "let me tell you my wikipedia entry" scene, but at least the Perfect One is shown to be desperate for conversation and, more importantly, hasn't told everyone the full story.

Thanks to the compression of the plot, the last five minutes or so of episode two is actually episode three of the original (A Light on the Dead Planet) as our heroes try to argue with the Perfect One that his plan makes less sense than the logic behind The Boy That Time Forgot. Unfortunately, this means wasting passionate, reasoned speeches on Ian and Barbara. Shame. You're supposed to be angry and afraid, numbnuts! The Perfect One explains that Luxor is not exactly a utopia, as it has very high standards of genetic purity. He then changes the subject and starts lusting after the female cast on the grounds that their amazing childbearing skills will mean more life energy to drain out. The Doctor tries to tactfully change the subject from this "Mars Needs Women!" bollocks, but to little avail as the Perfect One reveals his one weakness - he cannot heal or repair any injuries and, rather pissed off by this mortality, has linked his brain up to an atom bomb: he dies, bang bang. Then, he picks up a handy laser gun and shoots our heroes [rather than drugging them with finest French absinthe as in the original.]

And onto Tabon of Luxor. As episode three was one part exposition, two parts escape, the plot progresses relatively quickly. Susan and Barbara are strapped to the nasty electrode machine while the similarly-unconscious Doctor and Ian are taken by a robot to the lift. Susan manages to shove a robot into the machinery and causes a temporary power failure, crippling the robots and allowing our men folk to escape with their worthless lives. They discover that there is an antennae sending out the signal that snared the TARDIS, but said antennae only activated when the power to the city is cut off - someone clearly doesn't want the Perfect One to know they're in the neighborhood. The Doctor and Ian set off towards the antennae, and find it stands over a mauseleum in a graveyard. Spooky.

Back in the city, the 'girls' have run around in their underwear before getting caught by robots and then electrocuted for the Perfect One's pleasure. It seems his ridiculous scheme to become immortal might work since niether Susan nor Barbara evaporated under the pressure, but mind you, the Perfect One is mighty pissed off that Proto doesn't share his enthusiasm for kinky bondage games. Taken to their hotel room to cool off, the thoroughly depressed and humiliated pair drown their sorrows in booze before awkwardly admitting that they kinda liked it. Oh, the shame.

Inside the graveyard, the Doctor misquotes Karl Marx and Ian decides to take up graverobbing - and due to the limited budget, ends up opening a tomb that's supposed to belong to the titular Tabon of Luxor despite the fact there's only one catacomb and it was clearly marked "Drispo III" (what a stupid name). Tabon, (pronounced "Tay-bon" and not "Tab-bon" like I assumed) resembling Del Tarrant in a fake beard dressed as Elvis, revives from suspended animation wakes up, but it's the pure mahogany performance of Ian that ruins what could have been a fairly intense scene...

IAN: Come on, come on! Wakey-wakey, Grandpa! Can you hear me? Wakey-wakey! Nelson's been up since six o'clock!
DOCTOR: You'll break his neck!
IAN: I'll break his neck all right, him and his blasted kind! When I think what they've done in the name of science...
DOCTOR: And what have YOUR people made in the name of science?! A civilization which has almost made up its mind to go in the same direction as this! You don't need ME to tell you the signs! Heaven knows, we have ENOUGH enemies here - we want this man as a friend!!

Imagine Rick James from The Mutants as Ian, and you can see how awful it turns out.

Onto The Flower Blooms, the final episode (the fifth installment, An Infinity of Surprises somehow got lost along the way). Susan and Barbara smash up their room, intending to summon Proto and trip him over. Unfortunately, the Perfect One turns up to discover what their hormonal rampage has been about, and trips and cracks his head. This starts that atom bomb mentioned earlier to start ticking over and, of course, it happens just when the Doctor, Ian and Tabon are exploring said atom bomb. Is this the end?!? No. Not really, as the Perfect One gets up and the bomb stops ticking. Lucky escape there then, huh?

As the Perfect One explains his long term ambitions to become immortal, escape the moon and presumably go on to conquer the universe and take some elocution lessons, Susan and Barbara start giggling at his megalomania. Hysterical laughter's a difficult emotion to capture... and it stays that way. Of course, the Perfect One like anything else in creation, can't cope with the scorn of sniggering girls making fun of him and storms off to big himself up to Proto.

Meanwhile, the others come up with a plan to reverse the polarity of the neutron flow and restore energy to the TARDIS. In arguable the most fundamental change between this version and the original is that it is the Doctor, not Ian, who takes the offensive against the Perfect One. This actually improves the story, as it makes sense that a Time Lord could survive being plugged into the life-sucker, but in the script Ian survived without any explanation. Plus, it means we get a guy who can actually ACT doing the big important scenes. Thank goodness.

While the Doctor prowls around the Liberator-type corridors of the city, our heroines have been stickey taped to the wall. Um. OK. You know this is the sort of crap we all complained about when Peri had to go through it in TimeLash... But Susan and Barbara's spirits are not bowed by this bondage and start singing "99 Bottles of Beer", causing more existential angst for the Perfect One [in the original they sang Jerusalem and the National Anthem - hey, RTD, you could have used used that idea for the DW Musical you promised Billie Piper back in 06!!] forcing him to daterape them into silence, while the Doctor rugby-tackles Proto and starts reversing the sexual equality flow and claiming to be far superier than puny Earth girls [okay, Susan's not human, guess we have to ride with it, as the Doctor is SUPPOSED to be lying...]

As the Perfect One is forced to admit he lied to his bitches about the derivatrons building him (cause that would SO make him cooler), the Doctor is wired up. Seriously though, this war of nerves stuff is done really quite well as the Perfect One is painted into a corner: he is convinced Tabon is dead, yet all the evidence points to him being alive. Turns out the Perfect One has idolized Tabon ever-so-slightly too much, so it won't do ANYONE any good when his creator turns up, ashamed and terrified of what he's made.

Which, of course, is exactly what happens.

"Don't kneel before me," pleads the Perfect One before his brain shatters like glass and he starts sobbing on the floor, screaming for the derivatrons to kill him. But, as has already been established, these robots don't have much in the way of imagination, and since they've been orders to effectively kill themselves (as, if the Perfect One dies, the bomb goes off) they start freaking out as well. In the confusion, our heroes head back for the TARDIS, taking with them Tabon and the Perfect One. As plot resolutions go, driving the entire supporting cast insane is pretty unusual. I can't remember that happening since The Rise of the Cybermen with that insane megalomaniac trying to achieve immortality and... oooh, spooky.

Alas, in a rather poor bit of editing, the gang are ambushed (off screen) by hoardes of unseen robots, smashing the Perfect One's head in and starting off the countdown. But when they finally reach the dining room and the TARDIS, the Doctor's companions show themselves for the cowards by running straight into the police box, leaving Tabon and the Doctor with the dying Perfect One. Assholes. Tabon, feeling pretty-self-destructive himself, decides to stay with his creation and tells the Doctor to leg it while he can. A split second after the TARDIS takes off, the entire moon politely explodes.

Aboard the TARDIS, the Doctor gives a suitably biblical quote and switches on the fast return switch, coz the next episode is The Egde of Destruction... except, that was only ever made because Luxor was cancelled! AGH! My brain! BANG!

Nah, that wasn't too bad. But I still prefer the version in my head.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Some Metaphors From People I Knew At High School...

Sometimes I was glad when I was put into 2 Unit English Advanced...

He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar elipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.

She grew on him like she was a colony of E. coli and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.

She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

He was as tall as a six-foot-three-inch tree.

The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't.

McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.

From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and Nieghbours comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.

The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.

Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Brisbane at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 kmph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 kmph.

They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled my teeth.

John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

He fell for her like his heart was a death in custody and she was the media coverup.

Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.

Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.

The plan was simple, like my brother Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.

The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.

He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame. Maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

It was an Australian tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.

She walked into my office like a centipede with 98 missing legs.

It hurt the way your tongue hurts after you accidentally staple it to the wall.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Blake's 7? Death First!

Continuing the 'forgive and forget' Sparacus vibe I've been endeavouring to create, it's time to get out the big guns. I was not alone in the sheer, naked terror felt when Spara proposed a Ben Chatham/B7 crossover, or nearly collapsed at the Emperor's offhand revelation such a story would have seen the Smoothe Scumbag seduce Toothy Tarrant, that macho hunk of testosterone. Mind you, if he fancied Piri, Chatham probably did stand a chance...

Sparacus hasn't written this tale (thank Christ) but if he had... it wouldn't be the worst B7 idea ever.

For, a while ago - back, in fact, when I had regular employment, a crippling anxiety dissorder and yet to learn the wonder of Donna Noble - I stumbled across "Alternative Series 4", a solo thread on a B7 discussion forum, untouched since 2004. No one replied or reviewed it, and the author (the one called "ORAC") never posted anything else on the forum. Just thirteen episodes, synopsis, a pitch for a Blake's 7 season after Terminal.

Sounding familiar yet?

Though these installments lack anything of Ben Chatham, Adam Rickitt - and indeed, show a kind of imagination Monsieur Goacher would never achieve - they do ring as a kind of "Son of Sparacus" with their baffling pointlessness, confused fanwank and nonsensical endings.

I haven't done a line-by-line deconstruction because... well... it just makes my head hurt, which is why this particular "Season 4 Pitch" is only reproduced installment by installment. It is unaltered in ANY way from how I found it, and anyone willing to try and review it is more than welcome. If you wish to beg me to NOT post the rest, that's entirely understandable. Cause I've read rest the rest of the season...
  1. Rescue
  2. Scorpio
  3. Battlecry
  4. Takeover
  5. Deception
  6. Blake
  7. Revolutions
  8. Shattered
  9. Change
  10. Shockwave
  11. Life Source
  12. Gauda Prime
  13. Judgement

Look upon the desired reality of "ORAC"... and despair...

Here is my own Alternative Series 4 episode guide...

Avon, Vila, Cally, Tarrant and Dayna are left stranded on Terminal and watch on the screen as Servalan finally stole The Liberator and disappears into the depths of space.........



ORAC has been monitoring all space vehicles and sends out an S.O.S as a cargo ship passes Terminal's Orbit.

As the crew go to meet the landed ship a tripwire sets off a huge explosion killing Tarrant and seriously injuring Dayna.

Avon Cally and Vila are shocked to learn that the cargo ship is in fact a high tech rebel base, captained by Avalon, they are welcomed aboard and told of Servalan's further rise in popularity and power.

A fleet of DSV's are already in peliminary construction and Avalon's first aim is to destroy the ship building station - but first she wants to know where Blake is.

Avon explains that it was all a set up by Servalan but Avalon also receieved a message from Blake so say that he was on Terminal and that is why she is there.

ORAC monitors the factory's circuits and discovers that all the new ships are to be fitted with something called A Techyon Funnel - ORAC also explains what the Funnel is capable of doing.

Avon demands that they must make a raid on the factory and destroy the weapons before the ships are ready and armed, Avalon disagrees however and orders the ship out of Orbit only to be confronted by The Liberator which is facing them head on.

The Communication channels are opened and they hear Servalan's voice.

"I hoped that one of you may try to rescue Blake but this really is a surprise. You are now all prisoners of the Federation, surrender immediatly or you will be utterly destroyed"!!!

Orac reports that The Liberator is preparing to fire, Vila suggests that they scramble the weapons but Avon demands that The Liberator is not harmed.

Taking command by pulling a gun Avon surrenders the ship and the rebels - Avalon's troops pull guns but Cally beckons that it's OK and they should trust Avon.

Federation guards are teleported across in force and whilst Avon, Vila, Cally and Avalon are held their troops are killed in a massacre.

Servalan herself teleports aboard and to take control, she orders that the ship's drives are destroyed.

She takes Avon to one side and explains that she is now more powerful than ever and that with the production of the DSV's and of Pylene Fifty - a new drug, the Federation will be invincible, she holds a gun to Avon's head and tells him that very soon he'll wish she had pulled the trigger.

Servalan then demands that she be given Orac otherwise she will kill one crew member at a time...Avon with absolute anger hands over Orac.

Servalan teleports back with Orac whilst the troops fire on all the ships drive systems, they then teleport out and The Liberator leaves.

Back on The Liberator Servalan contacts the ship building factory and demands that all work be stepped up, she tells ORAC to link to the factory's computer and make sure that nothing has been overlooked.

Meanwhile back on the Rebel ship Avalon is furious with Avon and is just about to pull a gun on him when Dayna appears, feeling much better.

Cally and Vila side with Avon, explaining that the Liberator shoudln't have been destroyed, but Avalon argues that Servalan now has The Liberator AND ORAC and can therefore thwart them at every turn.

At the ship building factory Servalan demands that the Techyon Funnel be demonstrated - it is pointed directly at Terminal and the rebel ship, she orders them to fire, both the planet and the ship are completely destroyed!


...OK, I know I for one need a stiff drink after that nightmare...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Don't Call Us...

Perhaps a better reason to blogpost than a rant about the Emperor, instead I've stumbled across an audio script I wrote for Matthew Kopelke's Back to Reality series a while back; Sweet Dreams, Slow Death. He never responded beyond acknowledgement of the episode, and in recent years I discovered why - bar anything else, it had actually been done by them, albeit in a slightly less blatant manner. It's like me trying to get Moffat to commission me for a story set in a giant space library full of air phiranas shaped like shadows...

Still, here it is, written during one of my deep, deep dark depressions circa 2003. I was inspired by BTR's first story, Darkness Falls, when the Master possesses the Eighth Doctor and gets him to murder his never-mentioned-before-or-since companion Thomas Caldwell. My idea was for the ghost of Thomas to come back and want revenge... or maybe an alien using that image. Or maybe the TARDIS itself.

[This entire concept was used in a throwaway line in their story Dominion. No wonder they never wrote back, they probably thought I was taking the piss and after that Sirens of Time/Zagreus unpleasantness... Mind you, I still don't know if I got the female companion's name right, and maybe the refs to the divergent universe, not to mention Nigel Verkoff, were a bit offputting. Maybe Bill Billingsly was too busy? And maybe the Golden Brown stuff is layed on a bit thick, but it's a hell of a lot more imaginative than BF's latest "let's make the monster a female zombie singing Oranges and Lemons - neato" phase...]





ANGIE: (BEHIND DOOR) Come in. Hello?*


ANGIE: Hello? Doctor? Guy? (BEAT) Weird. I’m sure I... (ANNOYED) Guy! If this is another practical joke, then it isn’t funny!


VOICE: No need to fight.

ANGIE: Guy! Where are you? Hide and seek now, is it?


ANGIE: Why is it so dark? Hey, TARDIS, turn up the lights! (BEAT) Maybe the bulb’s gone...

VOICE: Throughout the night. No need to fight.

ANGIE: (STARTLED) Guy! What’s with the funny voice? Are you going to step up where I can see you or what?

VOICE: Finer temptress.

ANGIE: Look, I have no idea what you’re...


ANGIE: You’re not Guy. How did you get aboard? (SHOCKED) Oh, oh God. Oh, no. What – what happened? Are you all right? Stupid question, sorry...

VOICE: Never... a frown...

ANGIE: Oh, so much blood. Look, stay here. I’ll get the Doctor.

VOICE: Stay. Stay for a day.

ANGIE: No, I promise I’ll back in two seconds. (SHOUTS) Doctor! Doctor, where are you? I need your help! (TO NEWCOMER) These injuries, what happened? Who did this to you?

VOICE: Brown...

ANGIE: Brown did this? Who’s Brown, then?


VOICE: ‘Golden brown / Texture like sun / Lays me down / With my mind she runs...’ **

ANGIE: What? No, no, wait, get back! Get back!

VOICE: (GETTING ANGRIER) ‘Throughout the night / No need to fight...’

ANGIE: No, please!



VOICE: (SOFT, SATISFIED) ‘...with golden brown.’





8TH DOCTOR: (WOOZY) Oh, no. Another seven years of bad luck. I’ll never catch up at this rate.


THOMAS: (CONTINUING A CONVERSATION) was not nothing! Something fell over!

NIGEL: Well, it can’t fall any further, can it? ****

THOMAS: Fine! I’ll go on my own!


THOMAS: Hello? Anyone down here? Trespassers aren’t exactly welcome round these parts!


NIGEL: Y’see? Nothing’s down there. Relax!

THOMAS: You relax, Nigel! It’s all your good for!

NIGEL: (OFFENDED) Hey, I resemble that remark!


THOMAS: Ok, burglar. I know the lights aren’t as bright as they could be, but I wasn’t expecting company. Now, I’m sure you can see I’m carrying something. Is it just a baseball bat? Or maybe a second-hand but still pretty deadly samurai sword? Only one way to find out – come on, step forward. (PAUSE) Fine. I guess you’ll just have to find out which one it is when I (FASTER) smash your stupid head in! (SHOCKED) What the – Who the hell are you?

8TH DOCTOR: (GROANS) Not now. Too early in the morning.

THOMAS: What are you doing in my basement?

8TH DOCTOR: Lying on the ground in a great deal of pain.


THOMAS: What happened?

8TH DOCTOR: TARDIS malfunctioned... Nothing out of the usual. Still getting used to the old home universe... *****

THOMAS: What are you talking about?

8TH DOCTOR: (LOSING CONSCIOUSNESS AGAIN) If you don’t... want... to know, don’t... ask...

THOMAS: Hey, come on, wake up. (CALLS) Nigel! Get your butt down here.

NIGEL: OK, OK, get your pants on... ******


THOMAS: That’s it. Up you get. Come on.

8TH DOCTOR: Have we met before?******* Your face is... No, I can’t see your face...

THOMAS: Not surprising. It’s pretty dark down here.

8TH DOCTOR: Uh, what’s your name?

THOMAS: Thomas. Thomas Caldwell.

8TH DOCTOR: (WORRIED) Thomas? No, no that’s not right.

GUY: (DISTANT AND DISTORTED) What do you mean?

8TH DOCTOR: Thomas... No. No, please, I’m sorry...

GUY: Doctor? Doctor?

8TH DOCTOR: Thomas! (BEGINNING TO DISTORT) Where are you? I can’t see you!

GUY: Doctor? Wake up! Doctor!


DOCTOR: (PANICKING) This doesn’t make sense!

GUY: (BOOMING AND LOUD) Doctor!********




GUY: Doctor, wake up!

DOCTOR: (BREATHING SHAKILY) I’m awake! I’m awake! Leave me alone!

GUY: What’s wrong with you?

DOCTOR: Get away from me! (DAZED) The TARDIS? Dream... Just a dream.

GUY: Doctor, what is it?

DOCTOR: Thomas...

GUY: (HECKLES RISING) My name’s not Thomas!*********

DOCTOR: (SNAPS) I know your name’s not Thomas! You’re Guy de Anwar and I am the Doctor. (LESS CERTAIN) The Doctor.

GUY: (GENTLER) Are you sure you’re all right?

DOCTOR: What happened, Guy?

GUY: What do you mean, ‘what happened’?

DOCTOR: I mean ‘what happened’?

GUY: Er, I came into the control room and you were just standing by the controls. You weren’t moving, or even breathing.

DOCTOR: (SOTTO) You should try it sometime.**********


DOCTOR: (QUICKLY) What was I doing?

GUY: Nothing, like I said. You were just staring into the time rotor.

DOCTOR: (CORRECTING HIM) Column.***********

GUY: OK, time column. I tried to wake you up, you screamed about something not making sense and, well... here we are.

DOCTOR: So I did. I’m sorry, Guy. It was some kind of... hallucination. Or maybe something else?

GUY: (CHUCKLES) Have you been trying those samples that hippy in Blackpool gave you?

DOCTOR: (IRRITABLE) Guy, your mocking an experience you haven’t felt by comparing it to another experience you haven’t felt is not as amusing as it once was!*************

GUY: God, you woke up on the wrong side of reality this morning, didn’t you? Look, forget about your nervous breakdown for the moment...


GUY: Come on, Doctor. You think I haven’t noticed?

DOCTOR: Noticed what?

GUY: Ever since the Watcher business, you’ve been acting stranger and stranger.*************

DOCTOR: ‘Strange’ is a relative term, Guy.

GUY: Emptying storage holds and then leaving the stuff on the floor? Rearranging the TARDIS corridors again and again and then back again – even you get lost! Then you start locking yourself in your room for the odd three days, before trying to rebuild the console and now you’re hallucinating about Thomas the Tank Engine –


DOCTOR: Why don’t you have time?

GUY: (CONFUSED) What now?

DOCTOR: You don’t have time for my nervous breakdown, you said. Why? What’s so important?

GUY: Angie.

DOCTOR: What about her?

GUY: I can’t find her anywhere.

DOCTOR: You can’t?

GUY: No.

DOCTOR: Why didn’t you mention it earlier?

GUY: I just thought you’d re-arranged the corridors again.

DOCTOR: Well, I haven’t!

GUY: You’re sure?

DOCTOR: Of course I am!

GUY: All right, I trust you. Besides, isn’t there some control here we can use to find her?

DOCTOR: Er, yes. Yes. Here it is. Detects life signs within the TARDIS interior.


GUY: Well?

DOCTOR: Nothing. Which means either we all are dead and yet still are walking, talking and arguing. Or...

GUY: The detector’s not working?

DOCTOR: A possibility.


DOCTOR: Come on, we better look for her, then.

GUY: Brilliant. Why didn’t I think of that?

DOCTOR: Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, Guy.

GUY: Are you being ironic?

DOCTOR: Oh, ha, ha.




DOCTOR: Right, the TARDIS always ensures the interior conforms to the basic template map. So, all we have to do is take alternate left and right passages... or is it just every second left? Wait a minute, did you check her room?

GUY: Yes. The door was open. No sign of her. You’re sure you weren’t re-arranging the interior back there?

DOCTOR: To be honest, Guy, I’m not sure. But the TARDIS is full of safety-back-ups. If there was a living person in the area about to altered, an alarm would have gone off.

GUY: Would it? With that life detector not working?

DOCTOR: Good point. Still, we’ll just have a good look around before we assume the worst. *14


GUY: Doctor?


GUY: Who is Thomas? (BEAT) You mentioned Thomas before. You weren’t mixing up my name in your confusion. I know you weren’t. Who is he?

DOCTOR: There was once a proud warrior on a distant planet. His name was Tomas (“Tow-maz”) but you could pronounce it ‘Thomas’ if you wanted to. Of course, he would have slit your throat for it.

GUY: Did you mispronounce his name?

DOCTOR: Several times. He let me off lightly.*15

GUY: That’s not the Thomas I’m asking about, is it?


GUY: Are you going to tell me?

DOCTOR: Why should I?

GUY: Why shouldn’t you?

DOCTOR: Good question. Do you have a good answer?


GUY: Is he something to do with Chloe?


DOCTOR: ‘Chloe’?

GUY: Chloe Richards. Did she have something to do with Thomas? Was she his girlfriend or something?

DOCTOR: How do you know about Chloe? (FIRMLY) Answer me. *16

GUY: (TAKEN ABACK) I – I, well, er. When I first came aboard, when we were off to Pandrolyn, I went to the cloak room. There was this woman’s jacket with a name tag, Chloe Richards.


GUY: (PATRONIZING) And the next time I went to the cloak room, said jacket was gone. I think you took it. What happened?*17

DOCTOR: Chloe Richards... has nothing whatsoever to do with ‘Thomas’.


GUY: Will you tell me who she was, then?

DOCTOR: Maybe. Why are you so interested all of a sudden?

GUY: I’m just testing your memory, Doctor. Seems like someone should the way you’re acting these days.

DOCTOR: All right, I’m finding it difficult to concentrate at the moment, I admit that. But I don’t rifle through your private life, so leave mine alone. Whatever theories you have about Chloe, Thomas or myself I can assure you that, even if they are correct, they are not relevant.

GUY: Why are they not relevant?

DOCTOR: Guy, please, just leave it! (BEAT) Guy, get out of my way.

GUY: Something bad happened to them, didn’t it?


GUY: Could it have happened to Angie?

DOCTOR: No, now, (WITH EFFORT) if you’ll excuse me...


GUY: Doctor? Doctor? Oh, no, don’t freak out again –

DOCTOR: (QUIETLY) Guy. Turn around.

GUY: Now what?


GUY: Oh, my god... What is that?

DOCTOR: Blood. The smell’s quite distinctive. (READS) ‘The sound of silence’.

GUY: Why would anyone write that on a wall in blood?

DOCTOR: I don’t know, but it’s probably important.

GUY: Doctor! A Simon and Garfunkle song is not worth spilling blood for!

DOCTOR: Simon and Garfunkle?

GUY: A crap band.*18 You know? The song? The Sound of Silence? The blood’s still wet. Is it human? (BEAT) Is it?

DOCTOR: Yes. But it might not be Angie’s.

GUY: Then who else is there?

DOCTOR: No idea. Don’t recognize the handwriting.

GUY: There’s no one else in the TARDIS! You never shut up about how impregnable the ship is – no matter how many people break inside!

DOCTOR: All right, the TARDIS isn’t perfect. But few people can get inside without setting off all sort of alarms.

GUY: What alarms?

DOCTOR: The Cloister Bell, for one... Oh.

GUY: What?

DOCTOR: I understand. The sound of silence.

GUY: Yeah, I already told you, it’s a crap song...

DOCTOR: No, no, you’re looking too close. Those words... The sound of silence.

GUY: What about it?

DOCTOR: (MUTTERS) Mocking me. Mocking me.

GUY: Who’s mocking you?

DOCTOR: ‘Unless the Cloister Bell sounds like silence’.*19 It’s a quote. (AFRAID) No, please, not again.

GUY: Doctor, explain!

DOCTOR: I can’t. Guy, keep looking for her. I’m off to the console room.

GUY: Why?

DOCTOR: We’ve got to materialize immediately. (RUNNING OFF) Otherwise we’ll be trapped in the vortex!

GUY: (CALLS) How do you know?

DOCTOR: (DISTANT) This has happened before!

GUY: What has? Doctor? Doctor!


GUY: Who’s there? Where are you? Is that you, Angie? Hey, come back! Where are you going?

VOICE: Heading west.


VOICE: Goes far away. Stays for a day.

GUY: What’s happening? That light... Where’s it coming from? Angie? What’s happening??


GUY: What are you doing? No, no, wait, noooo....


VOICE: Never a frown with Golden Brown.




DOCTOR: Co-ordinates... Co-ordinates! Come on, think.


DOCTOR: That noise... Heard it somewhere... before...


DOCTOR: Argh! No, not again, please! Noooooooooo!


THOMAS: Wow! No way, no way!

8TH DOCTOR: Yes way, Thomas.

THOMAS: This place!

8TH DOCTOR: I know what you’re going to say!

THOMAS: It’s smaller on the outside!

8TH DOCTOR: (LAUGHS) All right, slightly out there.

THOMAS: How does it work?

8TH DOCTOR: It’s very complicated. You really want to know?

THOMAS: Yes! Wouldn’t you?

8TH DOCTOR: Well, I suppose I would. Most people just stand there, insisting it’s impossible.

THOMAS: Doctor, unless you’ve slipped me something, then this is real. And if it’s real, I want to know how?

8TH DOCTOR: Oh, well, it’s lucky I’ve got the complete explanation, then, isn’t it? Well, suffice it to say that this room and the complex outside that door across there, doesn’t exist in the same dimension as the police box in your basement. We left that the moment we stepped through the doors.

THOMAS: So this place is another dimension?

8TH DOCTOR: Yes. Relatively speaking. Anyway, this control panel allows me to re-position the police box anywhere in that dimension. Up, down, north, west, south, east, backwards, forwards in space and time.

THOMAS: So this place doesn’t actually move, then?

8TH DOCTOR: Er, well, maybe the explanation isn’t as complete as I thought it was.*20 Would you like to pick a destination?

THOMAS: You’re offering me a trip in a time machine?

8TH DOCTOR: Within reason. It’s my way of thanking you for looking after me, and convincing Nigel not to get the police when you checked my pulse.

THOMAS: I wasn’t expecting payment.

8TH DOCTOR: I know. That’s why I’m grateful.

THOMAS: You never did explain why you were so ill.

8TH DOCTOR: I have! Just not yet, that’s all. (CLAPS HANDS) Now, where would you like to go, Thomas?

THOMAS: The university.

8TH DOCTOR: Right, the univers... (TRAILS OFF) The university? That’s it?!

THOMAS: Well, yes.

8TH DOCTOR: But that’s barely in the next suburb! I’m offering you ANYWHERE in time and space as you can perceive it!

THOMAS: Look, if you can get me to university in the blink of an eye I won’t miss my tutorial and that is payment enough. Three strikes and you’re out, you know.*21


8TH DOCTOR: (SIGHS) The university. Not Majus 17, or Garrazone Central, or Metabelis 3. Fine. No temporal deviation, direct line of flight...


THOMAS: What’s that noise?

8TH DOCTOR: The temporal drives. The engines.

THOMAS: They sound like they need a tune up.

8TH DOCTOR: Thomas, have you ever heard the sound of time and space being ripped apart and then re-seal themselves?

THOMAS: (AT LENGTH) Not lately.

8TH DOCTOR: Well, when you do, you can judge the effectiveness of my ship’s engines, all right?


8TH DOCTOR: That’s your university, is it not?

THOMAS: You even got the right part of it!


8TH DOCTOR: Well, shall we go?



GUY: (IN PAIN) Ugh. You’d think I’d be getting used to concussion by now... What happened. There was that boy and a flash and... Oh, no, now where am I? (GRUNTS) This isn’t the TARDIS. Trees, trees, bushes and trees. Bit hot for this coat.


GUY: Doctor? Angie? Anyone? Hello? Anyone seen a tall blue box with a light on top and corners at the, uh, corners? Hello?


GUY: That sounds civilized. Music, flutes... So whoever lives here must have hands and breathe oxygen, and know a decent tune. Hello? This better not be cosmic lift music.


GUY: Cool. Uh, excuse me? I don’t want to interrupt but... Hello? Hello! Oi! Can’t any of you see me? Hello! Look! Strange man jumping up and down in front of you! (ANNOYED) Are you blind and deaf, or what? Is it me? Am I invisible?

CHLOE: (CLOSE, WHISPERS) Perhaps you’re dead.

GUY: (STARTLED) Jesus! You scared the hell out of me! Do I know you?

CHLOE: (AMUSED) Do I know you?

GUY: Er, that’s the question isn’t it? Well, you’re clearly not from around here, are you? You’re not wearing white. You’re not dancing round that pole like those idiots. And you can see me and hear me. I hope.


GUY: What’s your name?

CHLOE: Golden.

GUY: Golden?

CHLOE: Finer temptress.

GUY: What? Look, where am I?

CHLOE: Far away.

GUY: Obviously. Does this place have a name? Or is it just somewhere over the rainbow?

CHLOE: Distant lands. This is... this is...

GUY: Are you all right?

CHLOE: (ANGRY) No! This is a prison! Hell on what you primitives might call Earth!

GUY: You’re not human, I take it?

CHLOE: I’m not anything! (DEPRESSED) I can’t even stay this way for long. Fading already... Fading.

GUY: Who are you?

CHLOE: I am the Master*23. For what good it is. (GROWING WEAKER) You want to get out of here? Head for the grove.

GUY: Come with me, then!

CHLOE: The Master escaped, long ago. Left me behind.

GUY: You’re talking nonsense – uh, hello? Where’d she go? (ANNOYED) None of you bothered to notice where she went? Or if you’ve seen a girl called Angie... Never mind. The grove, you say.




VOICE: ‘Every time / Just like the last / On her ship / Tied to the mast...’


VOICE: Welcome back from the abyss. *24

ANGIE: Where am I? What did you do to me?

VOICE: Nothing yet.

ANGIE: Who are you?

VOICE: No one you’d know.

ANGIE: No... no one I know can be alive looking like you. How are you alive? Your head...

VOICE: Nauseating, is it?

ANGIE: A bit.

VOICE: Not half as disturbing as I feel it. Do you know what caused this? No? Well, it was this.


ANGIE: A staff?

VOICE: Solid machonite*25. Amazingly dense material. Only took one blow to shatter my skull open – but you’ll notice that my body took more than one blow before it went to my head.

ANGIE: So you’re a zombie?

VOICE: Zombie. Huh. A word to cover ignorance*26. I am wronged. And I have come for my vengeance.

ANGIE: Vengeance? What did I do to you?

VOICE: Nothing. What did I do to deserve this? Nothing.

ANGIE: This is going to be a conversation I’m not going to win.

VOICE: Far from it. Pay close attention to the man behind the curtain.


ANGIE: (DISGUSTED) Oh, oh, my god! No! Oh, Guy! Guy! You’ve... you’ve...

VOICE: ...done to him what was done to me. Oh, I was kinder, though. I killed him first before the rest of it. Ah, breathe in the charnel fumes, girl. (CURIOUS) Do you want me to do the same to you?

ANGIE: No! No, of course not!

VOICE: Then in return for your life I ask a small favor.

ANGIE: You killed Guy! You killed him!

VOICE: What perspicacity. Yes, I did kill him. But do you want to join him?

ANGIE: Guy... (SOBS) Oh, Guy...

VOICE: Do you want to join him?

ANGIE: Guy...



VOICE: You will do what I ask?


ANGIE: (HYSTERICALLY) Yes! Yes! I’ll do it! I’ll do it!

VOICE: No obligation. It will the work of a moment to end it. Trust me on that.

ANGIE: No, please, please! Just put the staff down! I’ll do whatever you want – name it!

VOICE: I want justice.

ANGIE: You got it.



DOCTOR: (CONCUSSED) Charley? What are you saying? You can’t mean... (GROANS) No. That’s over. Aeons ago. Or hence.*27 My head hurts. Guy? Guy de Anwar? I ran in here and... it was like time slipped a groove or, or something.


DOCTOR: Still in vortex, unless the time column’s broken. We should have landed by now. Where’s the communicator links?


DOCTOR: Guy? Guy, can you hear me? I’m sure this thing’s switched on! Are you there? If you can hear me, head for the control room!


DOCTOR: Strange. The life readings are working again... But only one life form aboard. In the control room. I don’t like the look of this at all...


DOCTOR: Ah, Angie! There you are!


DOCTOR: We were a bit worried about you, Guy and I... (BEAT) Angie? Are you all right? What’s the matter?

ANGIE: The matter with what?

DOCTOR: Well, it’s just that we were looking for you and –

ANGIE: (SUDDENLY FURIOUS) Why won’t you leave me alone?!

DOCTOR: I haven’t seen you in ages!

ANGIE: Because nobody likes you, you know! Especially not a know-all Gallifreyan eavesdropper like you!

DOCTOR: What are you talking about?


DOCTOR: I beg your...

ANGIE: Are you deaf or something, you little sod?!? You really ARE an idiot, aren’t you?

DOCTOR: Hey, let go of me! This isn’t funny, you know!

ANGIE: I said, shut up! The pain’s bad enough without having to listen to your annoying voice!

DOCTOR: Pain... What are you – (CRIES OUT IN PAIN) *28


DOCTOR: Like I say, violence never gets you anywhere!*29 Now what is this all about?

ANGIE: Wouldn’t you like to know? Well, you’re not going to find out! Your usefulness has expired!


DOCTOR: Agh! My head! What’s that... noise?! Agh!


ANGIE: (REPROVINGLY) Come on, Doctor, that’s no way to behave! If you don’t forgive me, you’re no better than I!


ANGIE: You stubborn little Time Lord! Didn’t I tell you? You’re all the same!

DOCTOR: Have you gone mad?!

ANGIE: Show some bloody respect! You little sod! Didn’t anyone ever teach you to show some respect for your elders?

DOCTOR: (REALIZING) What? I’ve heard that before! , no!

ANGIE: Huh? I’ll teach you to answer back at me!


ANGIE: (SCREAMING) ‘To distant lands! Take both my hands! Never a frown! With golden brown!’



* - see if you can spot anything that could be construed as distinctive or show signs of personality, cause I really tried to avoid that on the grounds it would probably be rewritten anyway. Angie could be anyone.

** - regular readers of this blog will know that song has great resonance to me, but using it like this was, in retrospect cheap and pathetic. It really should have been something less obviously spooky. Course, nowadays, it would be I Lost My Heart To A Starship Trooper...

*** - I cannot think of a single story that began with a zombie attacking a companion in their TARDIS bedroom, so plus points for originality to me.

**** - Yep. Nigel Verkoff. The bastard just fits anywhere.

***** - the implication here being that the Doctor ditched Charley and C'Rizz in The Next Life and returned home without them. I actually wrote this before the new series was announced. Goes to show what a visionary I am, knowing he'd escape in no time.

****** - I assume I meant to write "keep your pants on" as in "don't panic" but looking back I can't find any possible interpretation not involving kinky sex cames with comatose tramps...

******* - another reference to the Eighth Doctor's rarely used 'ability to read people's futures' last seen in The Stones of Venice, here showing he's realized that the guy is a future companion

******** - Mmmm. Bit similar to The Sevenfold Crown this bit, actually... (NB: not a good thing)

********* - terribly out of character for the mellow stoner Guy, but based on my experience of him (when he was in a script hastily rewritten for the Professor and Alice and also shows a hithertoo unknown love of explosives)

********** - nicked this gag shamelessly from Goth Opera

*********** - shameless bit of sucking up, as I read Kopelke was a stickler for calling the up-and-down-bit-of-the-console the "time column" because the Doctor mutters that at the start of Logopolis. A sycophantic detail I was hoping would appeal to his soul. God I was pathetic back then, wasn't I?

************ - a reference to The Gallifreyan Recommencement and again, getting Guy's character completely wrong. The equivalent of Spartha Jones, basically.

************* - can you tell I had absolutely no idea what the Watcher was or involved? Imagine if Martha and the Doctor went, "I know you're a bit down about that mucky affair with that redhead whoever she was" and you get a similar issue. And the asterixes HAVE got stupid, huh?

14 - eerily similar to dialogue in Terror of the Veroids, huh?

15 - Face of Evil. Am I wrong in thinking this fanwank reference more pallatable than some of Nev Fountain's similar attempts? Maybe I'm just concieted.

16 - While I like this confrontation, as it gives the truly worthless character of Chloe a bit of after-the-fact importance, it was painful to hear in the genuine series the Doctor turn to Guy and say, "Oh, Chloe was the girl before you joined up, you know". Yeesh.

17 - Deliberate denial on the Doctor's part.

18 - vague DAAS Kapital reference. When Tim shouts "You killed my uncle!" he quickly covers this goof by mumbling "Simon and Garfunkle shit band." "That doesn't make sense." "Yes it does. They were a shit band!"

19 - indeed, a quote from the last conversation the Doctor and Thomas had before the former went nuts.

20 - the idea that the interior never moves a bloody inch bugs me for some reason.

21 - see, that year at Uni did SOME good for me. I could create a reasonable background for a character I knew nothing about!

22 - From More than a Messiah, Sword of Orion and Planet of Spiders. Maybe the AV/BF refs were a turnoff as well?

23 - I was so depressed when in Dominion the spirit of Thomas Caldwell mumbles that he chatted to the spirit of the Master, an echo left from the events of the TV movie. I came up with that idea totally independantly, and this is a lot more interesting approach to it than the equivalent of "Steve rang, BTW".

24 - A cool line from Babylon 5 I use a lot.

25 - you probably know what this is a reference to.

26 - and this.

27 - Charley Pollard dumping him. Naturally. Oddly enough there are references to a companion called "Charlie" and "Kathryn" in Darkness Falls. Creepy coincidence, no?

28 - Angie is reciting the 8th Doctor's psycho speech before he killed Thomas if that wasn't obvious.

29 - see 25.

30 - just for the record, I have absolutely NO idea where the story was going after this, or even what the cliffhanger resolution was. Guy turning up, maybe?

Oh well... there's always the DWADs...

FFS, Spara (finale?)

A brief essay composed in reflection on New Morning. Totally uncensored!

You know, it's just struck me - almost every Spara story ends with Ben being praised/toasted/ruffled. Think about it. When does a Doctor Who story end like that? Even aside the fact Chatham aint canon, the show avoids such blatant self congratulation. Nine out of ten stories end with the Doctor saying goodbye to the people he's met, returning to the TARDIS and taking off to places new. I can't for the life of me recall a single Spara story to end in that, the most traditional of ways. And we all know how much Spara loves tradition.

What does this mean?

Why, for example, does NM end with the Doctor leaving in the TARDIS to attend the Skins party he's been drooling over all story? Instead it ends with him sitting in a pub and STAYING where he is. He doesn't move on, he doesn't go anywhere new, he hangs around a Cornish fishing village - a setting used several times in BCland - and stays with Ben in his gang. No new places to see, no new people to meet, no CHANGE. Same place, same time, same smeg happening. The Doctor doesn't leave, indeed, he doesn't want to leave.

Why not?

Well, I can't help but notice that in Spara's season pitches, the stories are 99% set in contemporary England. The TARDIS doesn't travel very far in time and hardly ever in space. Why not? Is it that Spara just prefers rehashing the UNIT era? Or is it because he can't think of anything beyond it?

I have to say there's a fundamental lack of imagination in Sparacus' stuff, as reflected in his reviews. He embraced Midnight for its dark and pessimistic tone... but has never once mentioned the brilliant ideas of an alien sun that turns people to ash and planets to diamonds that are poisonous. That sort of stuff Sparacus can't
seem to comprehend. The one story he had on another planet was a word for word copy of The Long Game and mentioned Von Daniken!

This is why Spara churns up this unoriginal rubbish, and why he's still clinging to Ben Chatham after five years of non-stop ridicule.

He's got nothing else.

He can't use his brain to come up with new ideas or spins on old concepts, he can't come up with original villains or impressive dialogue. Even his canned laughter and stares to camera scream of someone unable to think outside the reference of 1970s television. His "cutting edge" Doctor talks like a Ninja Turtle and randomly uses the phrases "facebook" "myspace" and "Skins" without any understanding. It's not down to some youth hatred or racism or even classism on Spara's part. He literally cannot do anything beyond his tiny parameters.

His next big story revolves around Henry VIII for crying out loud! Not only is it a historical figure, but one he's already used. He can't think of anything new, which even LBC managed with his Apocalypse Chaser. And since he cannot think of anything new, the idea of ending a story with the TARDIS - a machine powered by the imagination of the author - leaving 1970s-style rural England is anathema to him. He cannot comprehend anything beyond it, ergo the TARDIS cannot leave and indeed must not. His giving Ben Chatham his own spin off wasn't about giving Adam Rickitt the limelight, but admitting he cannot work with the character of the Tenth Doctor and thus makes him Pertwee with an obsession for booze and attending lectures on Gothic architecture.

This is why his pitch for Season 5 is a cliched, offensive remake of The Green Death with a yobbo for a Doctor.

It's not satire or humor.

It's because Spara cannot comprehend how anyone at all could do anything else.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

FFS, Spara (con't)

"You just plain suck. Chewetel Ejiofor would have rocked compared to you." - Nigel Verkoff




Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Nuts Doctor

Following my promise to Chris Hale to actually find out how photoshop works, I present my latest efforts. Has the ABC whet your appetite to see Tennant's last-but-fourth adventure?

Yep, that's the one!

If you can't be bothered to read the book, then rent the video!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Quarter Fist, No Mass

One of the few posts Mad Larry has left on his blog is an essay on why Nigel Kneale sucks. Well-written it is too, and I can hardly disagree. Having peered at one of his infamous tales and read the scripts, I do have to boggle at how he ever got in such high regard. True, he pretty much invented huge sci-fi concepts... but then crucial medical advances were found out in concentration camps. Just goes he did it first doesn't make it any good; anyone who's seen The Sarah Jane Adventures will find it unnervingly similar to stuff by Sparacus. Except it's actually good and with less pointless gay sex scenes. By which I mean, none at all, in fact it's the most heterosexual TV show I've ever seen.

Kneale's scripts really do show that his praise as Godfather of British Sci Fi (whatever) is really misplaced. His scripts are eight-tenths characters sit around being drunk, sexists, racist, selfish and miserable as they live their pathetic lives. The remainder are two minutes of token sci-fi which happened to be record breaking. Having read his 'forgotten/less remembered' tale The Road, this formula fits perfectly. The first 24 minutes are 18th century arseholes getting drunk at the pub, then do a bit of amateur ghostbusting while they argue over whether black fellas DO come from the Devil. Then they hear a very oblique and demented radio play about a nuclear war. Apparently the haunted forest they're exploring is actually replaying events from the future, but I'd be blown to tell that until I looked it up on wikipedia. It beggars the imagination how it would have looked on TV as extras panic like the Goodies as disembodied voices say things like "Get out and walk" "Can you hold another baby?" "Four minutes is up!" "Ooh, they missed" before there's a big bang and silence and we're left with the extras STILL panicking.

Wow. The world will end in nuclear war. What an amazing concept you got there, Kneale. Pity it has nothing to do with the irritating skin disease of a central cast who do absolutely sod all for the play. Has this oblique knowledge of the transience of mankind done ANYTHING to their outlook? Why do women always die of fright in your things? Hell, what WAS the entire point?

Look at The Stone Tape. That's not ABOUT the idea of ghosts being recordings. It's about a total dickhead cruelly using an emotionally vulnerable blonde before getting sacked because he's a complete twat. The drama comes from the jerk main character, not the incredibly poorly-thought-out stuff about ghosts. His ex-girlfriend dies and haunts him by becoming a ghost - the only novelty is there's an explanation for her being a ghost beyond "man, she's pissed off at you". People hail it because of it's half-decent explanation of ghosts, ignoring the fact the script is so ridiculously full of coincidence and poor plotting RTD would be lynched if he did it. Not to mention the racism stuff and the fact our heroes beat each other up for kicks...

Is Mad Larry right for once? (by "right" I mean, completely accurate with my own personal world view) Well, there's only one way to find out.

I thus decide to check out the original Quatermass (stupid name, I prefer Quartermass - sounds butcher, dunnit?) and see if it really was scary/intelligent/entertaining and worthy of all the stupid worship Mark Gatiss gave it (edited out of The Idiot's Lantern along with the underage gay molestation, I'm sure you'll be glad to know.)

THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT - Contact Has Been Established

I could be mistaken, but I think this is the oldest bit of TV I've seen. I've seen movies from the 40s of course, and maybe Dinner for One, but as has been pointed out to me, it was TV for a different culture before my parents were old enough to watch TV (or my grandparents rich enough to HAVE a TV). But surely someone, even at the time must have looked at the caption of "a thriller for televsion" and gone "Of course it's for bloody television, I'm looking at the magic picture box, not the bloody radio!"

Accompanied by that Mars, God of War music that worked SO much better in The Leisure Hive (this version stops being recognizable and turns into a broken ringtone tune), we get the opening titles in the style of running writing on a blackboard. People were SCARED by this? Surely not, it should have reminded them of science classes at school. Anyway, the episode starts with some vaguely decent footage of a rocket taking off, accompanied by a bored-shitless voice explaining that the first ever rocket take off in the whole world is taking men out into space for the first time... but this means RISK! (Ahem, that's why they sent up dogs and monkeys first, wasn't it?) The voiceover then reveals that all contact has been lost.

I appreciate cutting to the chase, but methinks you missed out some decent material there. Hell, even The Astronaut's Wife knew you could milk tension out of a space flight gone wrong. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that said movie might be a better tale of alien possession all told. Maybe if Quatermass had Johnny Depp, it might be good. But then not even David Tennant could save it, so maybe not.

Cut to ground control which looks uncannily like something the D-Generation would make for a sketch about the UN, with men and women sitting in raised rows of desks with microphones, looking bored stupid. I would have thought that losing contact with a shuttle would have caused SOME kind of panic, alarm going off or something. Don't they have satellites up there or something? Even if they don't, there MUST have been some kind of contingency plan for this emergency - space race or not, these people are supposed to be intelligent are they not? Some Morse code or something? A rescue rocket? Bloody hell, the Goodies have a better plan B for space disasters! These guys look like they're waiting to see if teacher will turn up or should they just jig?

Suddenly, George Harrison phones in from Australia (man, the British Rocket Group needs its ass saved by the Beatles?!) and very slowly tells us exactly what the narrator did while Bernard stands around with his Diver Dan cravat looking worried and not actually doing anything. Or saying anything. Then George repeats himself and is told to ring back in six hours if something changes, and maybe get Paul to answer the phone this time. A great sense of passion and emergency has been established. A clue: no.

Quatermass shows off his brilliant proactive skill by sighing a lot and asking some female technician what she thinks. In a ridiculously overraught manner (in which she refuses to look anyone in the eye, probably because they'd corpse) she moans that if only the astronauts were in a plane crash then we'd KNOW they were dead. Yes, what a consolation that would be. Them slowly suffering decompression and ashyxiation in interplanetary space is just a demmed liberty! It then strikes Ham-Woman that since they don't know the astros are DEAD, they MIGHT be ALIVE. "Yes," mumbles Quatermass in his I-don't-give-a-shit manner, seemingly absorbed in the Times' crossword.

Realizing that she's pretty much been left holding the show, this appalling actress gives an incredibly stilted monologue about she doesn't know what's gone wrong, but she finds looking at the bizarre space-radar (resembling the time rotor from the Rani's TARDIS) kind of freaky since "those tiny marks on the plastic seemed so reassuring at the time". Oh, for Christ's sake, woman, get an acting class! If I heard shite like that on my radio, I'd switch off! Quatermass seems to agree that getting this talentless harpy to the emotive audience indentification figure was a bad move, but he still seems unable to show any emotion rather than irritated boredom. Then HE does a monologue that reveals this truly stupid ground controller is actually married to the head astronaut! So not only have they got someone who admits she has no idea how to work the machinery, she's emotionally involved with one the guys whose lives hang in the balance?! Quatermass notes that he SHOULD have got rid of the woman but, er, it was just not gentlemanly. Plus she would have bitched at him. This place makes Torchwood Three look professional!

With our main actors unable to grasp the concept of acting, it's time for the Ministry to send an abusive phone call (I don't blame them - that my taxes provided a nuthouse like this to run the space program would make me to move to Russia). Taking the phone from some guy who will one day be incredibly old and appear in Black Orchid, Quatermass confirms for the third time in as many minutes that they can't contact the astronauts and no, he DOESN'T give a damn. The Man from the Ministry (whose 'phone acting' suggests he's either being electrocuted or suffering Parkinson's disease) is similarly bored out of his mind, but mindly apologetic that the total failure of the space program actually means some paperwork is going to have to be done. This guy's the worst actor I've seen so far in this, but at least he sound vaguely concerned by the plot while Quatermass tells him to damn it all and tell the public everything with the passion of tying his shoelaces.

"I've had enough of this crossexamination!" Quatermass adds, obviously sick and tired as I am of explaining that the bloody rocket ship's vanished. That's FIVE times now. Methinks the audience have grasped it by now - and the fact you really don't give two hoots about it. "What do you imagine my concern is?" he adds, noticeably NOT denying the fact he couldn't care less about the astronauts.

At this moment, George Harrison rings up and says that they've found that the rocket is now heading straight back to Earth but NOT responding to the remote control. Ham Lady moves a bit of blue tack around her model of the solar system to plot the location of the rocket according to George's numbers - blogger slams head against table repeatedly... couldn't she have worked it on a map or something slightly less stupid looking? - and everyone reads out phone numbers with ridiculous gravitas, like it actually MEANS anything. For the love of Led Zeppelin, if it's in the atmosphere, surely gravity will pull it back to Earth? Yet everyone acts like if they get one number wrong the rocket will fly off into outer space! This stupid technobabble wank would be a bit more forgivable if Quatermass didn't bluntly remind everyone how utterly screwed the astros are... to the wife of said astro... who is playing the crucial ground controller role. Quatermass, you are an idiot. Even back in 53 when no one knew ANYTHING about space travel, they knew that was a stupid thing to do. What next, you're gonna tell her to toughen herself up?

Anyway, Quatermass suddenly remembers he has a computer... well, a calculator... and discovers that the angle of the rocket shows it must be coming from a point beyond the moon, ergo it went off course three times the distance planned. (And, ergo, must be completely out of fuel by now). Contemporary knowledge aside, it beggars belief they didn't have some kind of way of monitoring beyond ringing the rocket up every five minutes and asking for longitude and latitude.

Suddenly everything goes black. For about thirty seconds. And then we're back in bloody ground control yet again where Quatermass is showing an EMOTION! He's rather chuffed with the notion of being the first man in space (yet surely the astros stayed inside the rocket with no space walks, so...) but he's soon back to his staggering lack of humanity as he and Ham Girl read more telephone numbers. Seven minutes of this. It turns out that Man from the Ministry has turned up and Quatermass starts to tell him to piss off but backs down and goes to meet him. A) Wuss! B) You're a bit busy, remember?

Quatermass meets MM and reveals that, actually, the rocket's reappeared again so the bollocking he was about to recieve is completely unnecessary. Wow, you could have rung ahead since you have such time on your hands, but no. Luckily, MM is a complete retard - despite having been seemingly involved in all phases of construction and design, he STILL doesn't understand the concept of "separation" and needs it explained with an oh-so-convenient model. He also needs the entire PURPOSE of the mission explained and what they were intending to do. OK, I get that the audience might be so brain dead and tuning in late to require such an explanation, but why not do the explaining to character that NEEDS it explained? Was the idea of 'TV news reporting exposition bypass' - done so well in Ambassadors of Death - so amazing a concept back then? Or did Orson Welles scare the hell out of you people too badly?

MM can however see a slight flaw in the plan, which involves leaving a huge atomic bomb ticking dangerously in low orbit. The sort of flaw you would have thought Quatermass should have noticed. I mean, even if it DOESN'T lose orbit, crash and blow up the Earth... it's going to be hanging in the way of the next space mission! Quatermass uses his cunning evasion strategies to point out that the total loss of control with the rocket and allowing it to warp the laws of time and space and slingshot halway to Mars and back within half an hour is probably down to a "valve" going wrong, but he doesn't know for sure and also - brace yourself - doesn't care. And he doesn't let MM get a word in edgeways when he sensibly points out these flaws. Quatermass then goes on to explain that as the rocket is in an elipse it will keep looping around the Earth, before noting that it will only do this once. And, to be honest, they aren't actually sure if what they're tracking is the rocket. Er... what? Is he deliberately being stupid to annoy MM?

Yet there is much more telephone numbers to read as Quatermass runs back in, grabs a microphone and shouts, "DO YOU READ ME?!" waits five seconds of silence and then adds, "IT MAY MEAN NOTHING!" Give me strength, please. He then tunes his calculator which, I dunno, restores remote control or something. Cut to the chase: more phone numbers, separation achieved, wierd close ups of blurry things for no apparent reaons, everything goes black for another twenty seconds, the brakes fail, Quatermass gets disturbingly close to a male technician as he fondles the controls, the rocket crashes in Croydon. All of screen of course.

We then cut to a very pathetic set of a cross-sectioned ruined house which is clearly on a stage with a little old lady on the top floor being able to peer down to the floor below as dogs bark and babies cry. The space rocket sits in the front garden, with absolutely no debris around it. "What is it? What is it?" croaks the old lady as some pigbin josh yokels wanders into the garden and stares at the rocket. "Ooh, the roarin flames! It fell oot of the sky! Aw ma gawd, it's somthun dredful!" as they wonder at the fate of the old woman who is, of course, right behind them but is assumed to be dead. "Ere, what do you think of dis?" they ask a Bobbie who emerges from the ruined house (WTF was he doing in there?). "It's one of dem fings, dey've finally dropped one, it's gunnar go off!" so the Bobbie shouts to the camera for the neighbors to "get some clothes and run away". While the hysterical housewife turns her back on her husband and policeman rescuing the old lady and starts shouting at camera, "Len! Len! She moost be dead, Len, she moost be! Oh, it's gunna go off!"


I'd just like at this point to remind us all of Trevor Ray. WHO you ask? Just one of Doctor Who's less remembered script editors and architect of Season 7 which, as we all know, tried to be all Quatermass-y. Ray notes that the reason for this were sound: Quatermass was phenomenonally successful, even more popular than Doctor Who is today. Therefore, copying it could only be a good thing. But then Ray sat down and actually saw this episode and his reaction was similar to Richard Richard drinking pernod: "THIS IS SHIT!!!"

He was referring of course to this scene. Yet there are nutters in this world who actually think that British sci-fi doesn't get any better than this. And despairingly some of them write for Doctor Who.

So, as we deal with the fact that not only are the populace of Croydon so thick as pig shit they don't even know about the first manned space flight (which would surely be noticed... a bit like the coronation...), they are so subnormal they assume atom bombs don't go off on impact and and unable to notice people right in front of them. No wonder the TARDIS refuses to visit this place. Now let's spend five minutes rescuing old lady and some tape recordings of cats meowing. "I better report this," the Bobbie says at last.


Meanwhile, MM is showing off his staggering lack of talent as he reveals that Britain forgot to tell anyone that they were actually firing off space rockets and that no one in England noticed it smash into Wimbledon Common. Either Mr. Kneale is criminally stupid, or harbors a pathological hatred of his fellow Englishmen's niavete and gormlessness. As further evidenced by Quatermass telling the fire brigade not to pour cold water on a red hot metal capsule - what did the firemen THINK would happen?!

Having established what has happened and there were no casualties or injuries (how convenient) we cut to an old, half-deaf geriatric on the newsdesk who relays THE EXACT SAME INFORMATION as he, for some reason, cuts the head off a rose. Just then, the piggy features of the Marshall of Solos, the Squire of Cornwall and the Chief Inspector of the Police State walks in with an identical rose in his button hole. Worst blind date ever. Turns out the Marshall is actually the star reporter of the newspaper and assumes this is another crappy rainy day article until the magic words "flying saucers" are mentioned. Showing an amazing talent compared to... well... absolutely everyone else in the show, he decides to investigate a crashed alien spacecraft rather than a flower show. At last, someone who reacts like a normal human being!

To remind us of the standard of acting, we cut to the sulking Bobbie and Fireman who talk like gumbies on ritalin and miserably complain that, er, they haven't been allowed to blow themselves up yet. I share your regret, gentlemen. The duo fight off an invisible rabble of reporters, sightseers and locals... fuck me, this is so cheap... as said brain donor locals exclusively reveal that the earth shook and there was a blinding flash as it arrived. For Christ's sake, ANYONE could tell you that! I'm amazed the journos haven't started making stuff up already, it'd be a darn sight more interesting than anything the Croydonians have to say!

Finally the Bomb Disposal Squad arrive in the form of Quatermas, MM and Ham Lady. Who act like they've been unable to see the rocket sticking out of the street until right this second. By god this is ineffable shite. If you're only able to do a stage play, do a proper one! "It looks exactly the same. Except a little darker in colour," it is noted. So it does NOT look exactly the same then?

Meanwhile, it seems that the BRG was trying to remain totally in secret, so all the journos have to piece together the plot by noticing that the eminent scientists are trying to use a "walkie talkie" (that's actually not a walkie talkie) to contact someone inside the space craft. Of course, the Marshall has brain cells and is able to deduce that the head of the BRG being next to a big silver rocket might be relevant. Realizing he faces an intellect far bigger than his own, Quatermass folds like a house of cards and breaks every official secret, telling the Marshall EVERYTHING. Is it a sign of Quatermass' personal distaste of red tape? Or that the author is an overrated moron and the character played by someone who makes Carrie Dobro look considered and animated?

Ham Lady decides to press her head against the red hot metal hull and claims she can hear tapping. Um, shouldn't your head be on fire? The lovely smell of cooking ham? And, given that the rocket's communications system failed in orbit, why does Quatermass assume it will work now, after it's crashed upside down into Hicksville?

Wait! What's this?! It looks like Peter Cushing, a clock and a few microphones! Why, it's the BBC news summary to tell us all YET AGAIN what's been happening. It makes the last twenty-two-and-a-half minutes an even BIGGER waste of time than they already were! I should have started here, with some decent exposition. Oh and the BRG have decided to spill the beans because all the pigshit locals are telling everyone world war three has started and the incredibly ineffective cordon around the ship STILL allows placard-wearing nutters saying 'JUDGMENT IS NIGH!' to walk up to the still-red-hot rocket. FOR FUCK'S SAKE! And, btw, why is everyone so old in this? I don't see ANYONE under 40 in this show, which means all the emergency services are all decrepit old men and, importantly, incredibly bad actors! GOD DAMN!

Yoof Agenda? Bring it on, Moffat, I know how bad the alternative can be.

Helping show off how ball-bogglingly cheap and stupid this production is, radio reporters are wandering around INSIDE THE CORDON describing huge jubilant crowds of onlookers we can't see. How brain damaged were people to enjoy this? I mean, you can't afford a crowd? Fine. Just have Quatermass and everyone indoors listening to it on the radio. I know you should show, not tell, but it's better to just tell than try to do both... Oh great, the Croydonians are back and telling their stories ALL OVER AGAIN. Except now the wife is screaming for a medal on the grounds her husband wasn't stupid enough to think it was an atomic bomb and run away screaming. I fucking hate you, housewife. And now some drunk fucker with a football rattle is attacking the "walkie talkie" operator screaming "WE'RE MAKING HISTORY!"

What kind of idiots are police? What part of 'keep them out' don't you get? Again, if for some reason there was only a skeleton force of policemen for some reason, this could be made sense of, but apparently the entire metropoliton force is out here and being more ineffectual than Chris Lilley full stop! Quatermass is of course showing the press his amazing inability to show any kind of concern for anything to occur, noting that "we've surprised a few people" after his atomic rocket smashed half of Wimbledon Common to pieces. So shit, Bernard. Ham Lady (still NOT on fire for some reason) also decides to forget her inarticulate fear for her husband's safety and blab it all to the press. To the credit of all concerned, the heavy-handed "I told my husband to bring me back a present from outer space" ominous foreshadowing is lost amidst all the irritating time-wasting padding. Is it meant to make us sympathize as we impatiently wait for the astros to get loose? As the Marshall notes, "The longer you wait, the more exciting it gets."

I just want this to END. Is that a success, Mr Kneale?

Well, the shuttle's finally cooled down and the Marshall is having great fun sledging Quatermass, reminding him of all the attention they're getting (simultaneously describing the silent mob watching them from off-screen). The shuttle then opens up in the most ridiculous manner possible, obviously designed by people who've seen flying saucer flicks but do not grasp the concept of an "airlock" as Victor Carroon emerges in a space suit remembling the bastard offspring of Sutekh the Destroyer and a deep sea diving outfit. My god, no thought at ALL went into that! It has huge gaps and is clearly loose! DID ANYONE GIVE THIS ANY THOUGHT AT ALL?!

Oh, fancy that, the first astro out is the only one who's wife just happens to be on the scene. There's lucky. And it turns out he's also the only astronaut who hasn't mysteriously vanished from the space craft. It has to be said the scene of Quatermass and dude from Black Orchid finding the empty spacesuits is kind of creepy, but the latest Jonathon Creek episode tackled a similar premise far more terrifyingly. Indeed, when the duo open a hatch in the floor, peer through and react with horror my first reaction was to assume the astros had hidden inside and were in the middle of hot gay sex. "HOW COULD THEY?!" wails the dude who isn't Quatermass. Well, forgive me if it's a more sensible scenario than just about everything else in this bit of televisual history.

Quatermass violently assualts the dazed Caroon and demands to know what the fuck is going on, and unsurprisingly Carron passes out. The end. No "to be continued" here, and anyone who missed the opening seconds would assume it was a one-off. And an incredibly crap one off as well. The credits roll, with the hilarious reveal that the Marshall's character was named "James Fullalove". Oh, I bet he WAS, sweetheart.

OK, I looked at this as objectively as I can.

It's rubbish. And I'm not talking about the pointless fades to black, the long pauses before being start speaking, the complete brain-damaged science or the logic of creating a huge set of a ruined house and then filming in one tiny corner of it. The dialogue is ridiculously expositional, often occuring in huge monologues. OK, TV was new, doesn't mean they hadn't discovered the ability to be funny or entertaining. The acting is uniformly atrocious and not even Victor Caroon can convincingly pass out. Only Paul Whinston-Jones as Fullalove seems to give a damn and the high and mighty Quatermass has absolutely no personality of any kind at all. He gets irritated when people want to distract him. He has nothing else.

I refuse to believe anyone was terrified by this episode at least. There is nothing even ATTEMPTING to be scary until three second panning shots of empty stupid space suits. Were people somehow impressed at the idea that space ships could crash into suburbia? I doubt it, as even the Croydonians aren't impressed, assuming it's just the blitz restarting. The characters are one-dimensional rubbish and you'd have thought that a wife frantic about the safety of her husband would be a safe bet, but she seems to be on prozac, acting as if it's nothing more serious than his train being delayed. The logic of the plot is totally retarded, with the BRG being a complete waste of time - it could have been an alien spaceship for all their insider knowledge matters. True, the cliffhanger might have shocked people and wanted them to see next week, but there's never so much as a hint the mystery might be resolved. Quatermass doesn't care why the ship went out of control, what happened to it when it vanished or why it's back. Indeed, I bet had the other two been lying there dead, he wouldn't have reacted at all. No one at any point notes the mysteries as anything worth discussing, and the prestige of being the first man in space is considered as important as BeeKeeper of the Year.

Realism? Fail. Excitement? Fail. Likeable characters? Fail. Intriguing plotline? Mmm, two people we never see turn out not to be there. Um, I'm going with "fail". Film this today with the cream of the acting talent and the writing would still be atrocious (even though the 2005 Quatermass did a heavy rewrite and cut all the padding). Yeah, Kneale may have done this before Ambassadors of Death, Invasion of the Moon-Creatures or The Astronaut's Wife.

Doesn't mean he did it well, though.


I have now seen the first twenty-five minutes of the American movie adaptation, The Quatermass Xperiment (sic) made some two years later. A vast improvement, unsurprisingly. Not only does the budget allow for crowds and emergency services the script demands, the movie's ability to tell things visually speeds up the narrative - you don't need fifteen minutes of two old farts babbling about finger prints when you can see said prints no longer come from a human being. Apart from a few poetic moments (like remarking that as no one knows how far the rocket has been, there can never be a word to describe the distance it has traveled... bar "shitloads" anyway).

The movie also gives the script a right royal bollocking in almost every department. No brain dead Croydonians here, and bar the rocket conveniently landing upside down in a wide empty field where it will be easily accessible and do the least amount of damage, is stupidity free. The locals are shown to be intelligent, assuming it to be a meteor rather than the dem Germans at it again, and even the fire brigade seem intelligent. The scene where the senior chastises the junior for his paranoid belief that the rocket's a bomb that needs watering is in another dimension to the TV version where it's clear anyone not a scientist is barely intelligent to keep breathing.

The major change is in the retarded origins of the BRG. Here it is revealed that maverick Quatermass decided his rocket was double-fisted enough and rather than wait for the ministry to give the go ahead launched it in secret without their say-so or even knowledge. Unfortunately, it went out of control and crashed in a meadow - not only has the British space program lost its desired secrecy, they all look like bloody idiots now. There. All my problems with the script solved. The lack of publicity, ignorance of the locals, the cack-handed way the authority handle it... it's all easily explained in a way you wonder while Kneale never bothered.

Quatermass of the movie is an improvement too. He's a jerk. Plain and simple. He's arrogant, impatient, irritable and struggling to achieve a Paul Darrow-esque level of deadpan disdain. He's the guy who acts like he doesn't CARE if everyone hates him, but deep down would really prefer it if people liked it. Despite a slightly robotic delivery at first, this guy has some subtle touches - like his hands shaking with nerves while he verbally fights his corner, or smiling pleasantly whenever he's genuinely insulting someone. Even his sexist attitude is given a bit of depth: if he didn't dismiss Caroon's misses as always, she'd twig how serious things were. He's actually trying to protect her feelings! He's also got a lot of brain cells his TV self lacks. He works out lots of stuff the TV version needed to have explained to him very slowly, and even puts together theories faster than the Brigadier-esque police chief Lomax who replaces Fullalove in this version. He's reckless, unpleasant, and has a deep rooted fear of the unknown - a world away from the wooden cut out that was wasting time on TV. The big difference can be summed up in the scene where, upon realizing the other astros have vanished Quatermass grabs Caroon and demands answers; on TV, Caroon collapses and the question is unanswered, in the film Quatermass is dragged off and shouted at for his ruthlessness.

I'm highly impressed with the film so far, as it seems a lot closer to the demented status of demigoggery that the TV series is supposed to have earned.