Sunday, June 28, 2009
(aka Something Worth Fighting For - Part Two)
"Number one, it’s OK to cry. I cry all the time." - the Ninth Doctor (attributed)
Well. This is it. The end of everything and... perhaps... the beginning of something new by those lovely people who made At Homes With the Braithwaites, though I have at present sod all idea how they might do this - mainly as I type this at one in the morning, having just finished downloaded the bugger and seen a few moments of it but not heard a thing - my speakers have bust.
The situation: Richard has finished his crusade and returning home, but what with medieval tourist boards, the threat of Turk Flu and somesuch, it'll be a month or so before he finally reaches England. Prince John intends the reception to be somewhat spectacular. In the here and now, however, the survivors of Robin's gang have managed to defeat Izzy and seize control of Nottingham Castle. But their triumph is shortlived as ex-Sherriff Vasey and his army of the rock apocalypse have arrived to overthrow the overthrowers...
While his remaining allies lick their wounds, mourn the dead and generally hog what limelight is left in this rapidly-diminishing episode, Robin and Gizzy ride on horseback to confront Vasey to, amongst other things, try and avoid bloodshed, have one last bitchy exchange, and maybe explain how in the name of sweet onion chutney the Sheriff survived being stabbed through the heart by someone who was manifestly NOT wanting to spare the little bastard's life and allow him to escape and plot revenge. Well, it turns out the explanation was painfully simple - Vasey WAS stabbed, Gizzy DID want him dead, but the wound was hardly mortal and Gizzy was so out of it with the injuries and the blood and the oedopal rage, he didn't realize that Vasey was unconscious. But now Vasey has his army, some nitro-9 hurling catapaults, and all the advantage.
Vasey (for the first time referred to as such by Robin, along with terms like "murdering swine") gives Robin a choice: by tomorrow either hand over the Guisbornes and Nottingham, or Vasey will do unto everything in his shire what the Toclofane did unto Japan. Will our hero choose the lives of innocents over fingering the entrails of his enemy? It's a difficult choice and thus the best place to put in the opening titles (a neat trick I've noticed is they haven't been the same twice this year...)
To be concluded when I've watched the rest of the damn thing. In the meantime, why not check out Larry Miles' Randomness Times and see if he's bothered to update it after three weeks - even if he hasn't his amazing review of the last ten episodes will surely be up there for all to appreciate...
And we're off again. Tuck seems to have recovered from his arrow wounds remarkably quickly and he and Archer realize that Vasey's "Byzantium fireballs" are WAY too powerful for them to cope with (probably shouldn't have sold it to him, huh, Archer?), while Gizzy is left dizzy that Robin didn't immediately sacrifice him to avoid conflict. Indeed, the very idea of being given a choice between helping fight the good fight or legging it seems a bit too much for Gizzy. But he decides to stay since he's got nothing to lose and everything to gain. But a brief visit to his sister, who gives a bottle of poison so she can kill herself quickly and painlessly before either the outlaws or Vasey can set to work on her - and when Izzy finally twigs that this is the ONLY mercy she will be getting from ANYONE, she starts to get scared. And quite right too.
As night falls, Kate - never one to let facts or logic get in the way - decides to sneak out of the castle without telling anyone, nip over to the next county and collect the newly-arrived troops and bring them here to wipe out the Sheriff. Even ASIDE the fact tip-toeing past Vasey's warriors is pretty much certain death, she's rather overconfident that she can persuade an army to listen to her. Robin is certainly not confident at her chances, and comes up with half a plan: take out the catapults before the army can use them to nuke Nottingham back to the Pliestocene Age (or "trebuchets" as they are called - presumably Vasey also has atomic Comic Sans, nuclear Times New Romans, heat-seeking Arial Narrows or ballistic Lucidia Grands with Courier New warheads attached...)
Much is left in charge of Nottingham as Robin doesn't trust anyone else with the responsibility (I of course applaud this as it give Much a better than average chance of surviving the next 35 minutes) and he and his remaining pals sneak off into the night. Unfortunately, the plan kind of relied on Vasey not needing the catapults till dawn, but the Sheriff has decided to attack early (and why not?). Fortunately, everyone present already knows what an untrustworthy bastard Vasey is, and manage to reverse the explosivability of the trebuchet flow before running very very quickly in the opposite direction.
With his WMDs well and truly stuffed and Brother Tuck mixing up enough Byzantium explosives to worry even the Mill, Vasey realizes things are getting a bit serious - you can tell because he loses his cool and starts screaming out quotes from The Dominators (you know, the "DESTROY!!!" ones Toba yodels at the Quarks). Under the command of Samuel L Jackson, the army storms Nottingham with extreme prejudice. 31 minutes and counting. With a volley of flaming arrows and a ridiculously-elaborate battering ram, Gizzy isn't confident but Much and Robin lived through worse and are already whittling down the invading forces due to judicial use of pointy sticks fired at high velocity. With three waves of arrow-shooting peasants on constant rotation, the further the invaders get into Nottingham, the fewer of them there are. In fact, things are going so well Much of all people needs to be dragged out of the battle zone (or maybe he might be covering the retreat, these battle scenes aren't exactly big on subtext... oh was he was staying behind to rescue one of the gang who's been captured? Not sure.)
As the world ends, Izzy tries to flirt her way out of jail with the sort of subtlety you'd expect from Donna Noble at Torchwood. Only, not funny. Just really, deeply pathetic. In fact, the only thing more pathetic is how her horny guard cracks under her insane babble and lets her loose, only for her to stab him with his own knife without even having to snog him. I was hoping for a nifty poisoning at least. "Men are so easy," Izzy sighs, conveniently forgetting how she hasn't actually beaten ANY of her male opponents so far. At all. Still, she's past midnight on the crazy clock, so what do we expect? She tries to leave the castle, only to find it's a bit busier than she expected. While the remnants of Vasey's army try to break their way in, Robin and his ever-dwindling gang are making a suitable reception for them. When the army breaks open the gates, all the archers are protected by the porticulus, and able to fire through the gaps for one hell of a massacre!
One problem: Vasey's captured Kate and has her act as a rather attractive human sheild. He's also got some bad news - not only are the reinforcements not coming, Richard's been captured by Leopole of Austria (but is it a cunning plan of Prince John's?). So no help is on its way and Vasey makes a final offer for Robin to surrender. "I may have been a bit hasty about the 'take no prisoners'," he admits. "After all, who's going to pay the taxes?" Robin refuses, and while Vasey has planned for Robin predictably trying to simultaneously rescue the girl and humiliate him definitely has NOT planned for Much to do that on his own.
The outlaws open fire and only Vasey and Jackson are able to avoid the holocaust that follows. "That is the last time Robin Hood makes a fool out of me!" Vasey screams at no one in particular. 25 minutes and counting. He might get one last prank in. They regroup with the surviving soldiers while the good guys have the pleasure of burrying the dead, and Gizzy wordlessly makes it clear he really found it easier to be an uncaring bastard. Robin knows that winning the battle might be possible, but winning the war is no longer on the cards, and so makes a very ominous and doomladen speech to his troops.
"Loyal comrades, you know our situation. And you know that we are on our own. Now we have already lost friends and loved ones, but England will lose far more if we do not make a stand this day. Yes, some of us may fall, but our fight lives on - in the minds of those who despise injustice; in the hearts of those who cherish freedom! YOU are the soul of England, standing firm against tyranny for real future. Now ask yourself, 'Is that not something worth fighting for?'"
Robin amazingly times this speech so well that the instant the crowd are fired up, the soldiers are back for more (I can only wonder what Vasey's pep talk was like - it probably had him miming along with Robin, only saying "Lah-de-da-de-dah" over and over again). The Sheriff's cunning plan to put the remnants of army up against the castle as a Judas Goat while he, Jackson and some armed bastards sneak in through the secret passage. Like all cunning plans, it has a flaw: said passage is now filled with limestone. Vasey tries to laugh this problem away. Tries. Well, I say "tries" more like "fails miserably and goes psycho". Again.
Up above, the oncoming soldiers are suffering heavier losses than the defending peasants, but the ratio of survival is about the same. Tuck meanwhile announces that not only has he mastered Nitro-9, the base ingredient just happens to be the oil Vasey liked to boil for the torture chamber - in other words, they have a hundred times the explosives they need to deal with the invaders. Ain't karma a bitch, Sherrif?
As the army finally breaks into the castle, Little John stays behind to buy the others time as they retreat. Meanwhile Izzy - remember her? - lures Guy into the aforementioned blocked-off secret tunnel, looking even MORE deranged than she normally does. But why would Little Miss Schizo flee into a dead end and making sure the one person most out to kill her would follow? Guy suspects she might be trying to use the explosives to break through the tunnel and escape the town. Someone is using explosives, all right, but it's not Izzy - Vasey is trying to break his way INTO the castle, with a casual disregard for acceptable OHS that Jackson is double-taking something chronic.
However, the goodguys don't know this and thus the new plan is "retreat down the tunnel, leaving all the bombs to go off, wiping out Nottingham and the army and the Sherriff in one massive CGI fireball", not realizing that their escape route is monopolized by nasty people. Turns out Izzy finally understood the cryptic message Jackson gave her: she has lured Gizzy into a trap, and in return for legally making Vasey Sherriff once more, gets to live. As ever, Vasey REALLY takes attempts on his life very personally, and wants to finish off the fight they started in Do You Love Me? But he really shouldn't get confident, because Gizzy has the EXACT same desire. The only question is: does Gizzy's newfound sanity make him a better fighter? 16 minutes and counting people...
Just then, Archer and Robin arrive and we get one of the scenes that now seems to define Robin Hood - the ridiculous-amount-of-people-with-their-own-agendas-all-fighting-each-other in a sequence that would give most stunt coordinators motion sickness. It's Vasey vs Gizzy vs Izzy vs Robin vs Jackson vs Archer vs Vasey and at that point I just get confused. As Vasey notes, "How appropriate that a battle so huge should come down to the important few!"
"This ends," declares Robin. "Here."
And he's right. Because, if I might digress to The Legend of Robin Hood, the titular hero is prophesized "You will never die - save by a woman's hand." Robin rather optimistically focussed on the interpretation "No XY Chromosone Carrier Can Harm Me" rather than the "Any Woman Could Kill Me" version. And who was the woman that killed Robin Hood? Why, the sister of the late Guy of Guisborne. And how did she do it? Poison. And what did Guy give his sister at the start of the episode?
Yeah. You can work out where it goes from here. If not, watch The Caves of Androzani and use your imagination. I assumed they wouldn't follow that part of the story after the previous poison-related plots in Return of the King, The Angel of Death and Get Carter. Shows how well I can guess what's happening.
"Oh this is too good to be true," whispers Vasey in awe, jaw dropping in amazement at the news that his mortal enemy is not just doomed but will suffer a long, agonizing demise. "Please wait for me," he begs Robin before legging it. "I don't want to miss this!"
While the Gauda-Prime-style slaughter continues in the tunnel, Tuck finishes working on the massive stockpile of explosives. Archer has a plan - well, Gizzy's plan, if I'm honest - hide the good guys in the tunnel (which, despite it's moniker is a veritable underground cathedral full of hiding places) and use it to sneak out after Vasey leads his army right to his throne room (or "Ground Zero" as it will very soon be known). 10 minutes as counting as the Sheriff reminds everyone that "this is no time for sentiment!"
Meanwhile, however, things are far rougher as Much discovers second hand about what has happened to Robin... and suffice it to say it's a lot more tear jerking than anything RTD has managed (which might sound as a knock to the Big Welshman, but it's actually a compliment to Mr. Ashford who wrote this ep). Now, in The Legend of Robin Hood, Robin died alone in the forest, his only remaining allies Marion and Little John who were cluelessly waiting in town for him to turn up. Here, he doesn't die alone, and more to the point has someone to say goodbye to (bar a passing kid who remains endearingly clueless about the whole thing). Quite simply, if Tennant gets as ending as good as this, he'll be lucky.
To quote an unexpected-yet-in-total-retrospect-bleeding-obvious cameo that I did predict a while back, the greatest adventure is yet to come. Season 4 of Robin Hood is planned if nothing else. Prince John needs dealing with, King Richard needs getting his end away and Much STILL needs to get that happy ending he deserves. Gosh he looks young and pale at the end when he stops wearing that stupid hat...
To misquote a completely unimpressive source, Jonas Armstrong's version of Robin was fantastic - absolutely fantastic, who had the best of adventures, and he was our Robin. Let's hope the next person to tackle the role goes with similar thought and gusto instead of Errol Flynn in green tights like most people and yes I AM referring to you, Kevin Costner, you weak no-fist loser unworthy of playing Sir Robert Hode!
And after this bittersweet conclusion, I kid ye not, there was a sudden brief rainstorm around my house followed by a rainbow. A proper rainbow. I ain't seen one of them before, not a FULL rainbow arching from one horizon to the other. I've only ever seen those quarter-bows that begin and vanish in rainclouds. But not today and, for a brief moment, the ENTIRE SKY was the colour of the last Sherwood Sunset Robin ever sees.
Spooky. But kinda cool.
There's not much else to say, but to finish Robin Hood - perhaps the best interpretation of the legend I've seen - in the same way I finished the very first version I saw. I don't care if it doesn't bring a tear to your eye, it does to mine. You don't want to pander to my deranged psychological quirks? Fine! Get your own damn blog while I ruminate on one of the best TV shows the 21st century has so far offered and once more wish it hadn't ended so soon...
Friday, June 26, 2009
When he was young
He didn’t like his face
So he moved his nose
To another place
He underwent surgery
While he sat and played
In his nursery
When he was at home
All his time was spent
In his Wendy House
...Or his oxygen tent
He lost his girl
Said "she had no use"
He never had a screw
That didn't come loose
Once bought the bones
Of the Elephant Man
Along with a llamba
He MIGHT have had a plan
He was a superstar
From another planet
He looked more like ET
Than his sister Janet
He dangled his child
Over a balcony
It made more sense
Than marrying Lisa-Marie
Faced with the media
He tried to have a lark
But he got more respect
When he was in South Park
His burning ambition
Was to be just like Peter Pan
And to live forever more
His Never Neverland!
He didn't get on with humans
His best friend was a chimpanzee
He wasn't just off his rocker
He was completely out of the tree!
HE WAS MAD! MAD! He was absolutely bonkers!
HE WAS MAD! MAD! A toad without a hole!
HE WAS MAD! MAD! There were no slates on his roof!
HE WAS MAD! MAD! A sandwich short of a picnic!
They say he was god
He just seemed right
Not male or female
Nor black nor white
He might be gone
But I will hear him again
When I suffer at Christmas
His "Frosty the Snowman"
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Do you also have the feeling that something is wrong?
The world is turning backwards and today is really yesterday
And everybody is a stranger and we don't even know ourselves
Wherever we go we always end up at the same spot again
There is something familiar about this
Everything is upside down and the beginning is the end
And every answer to a question is a question in itself
We're lost in time and we're calling Dr Who
It seems like every clock in here is always ten to two
And always shows a smiling face no matter what we do
And I'm getting kind of nervous coz I guess we are in trouble
Since the author of this drama is escaping in a limousine
Now is not now
We're lost in time
Want to go home
Calling Dr Who
Will Moffat use these lyrics to accompany Matt Smith's journeys through the cosmos?
I hope not.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
(aka Something Worth Fighting For - Part One)
Events cast shadows before them, but the huger shadows creep over us unseen. When some great circumstance, hovering somewhere in the future, is a catastrophe of incalculable consequence, you may not see the signs in the small happenings that go before. Much did, however. Vaguely.
In retrospect, I think that the third season of Robin Hood has been my least favorite - although even then it's still bloody good, RH has very high standards. The trouble is, of course, that it's incredibly hamstrung by the need to provide thirteen episodes of generic merry men medieval mayhem rather than building on its own awesomeness. If you start looking, it's panifully obvious to see the methods used to try and pull the show back to its generic baseline. Look at Tuck - a character with no past and barely any character, with only Harewood's charisma to disguise he's a walking plot device whose sole motivation is to get everyone acting like it's the usual rob-from-the-rich-give-to-the-poor shtick. He turns up in Total Eclipse and spends it trying to restore the status quo. He and Kate's presence is just there to pad up the numbers, effectively and we've never really got to see an "ordinary day" with this version of the gang, unlike the days of Djaq and Will. How do they put up with Mr Holier Than Now and Stroppy Hormonal Time Bomb Girl? I've no idea, we've only seen thirty seconds of them in downtime and most of that was Much having his heart broken. Repeatedly.
Season Three really does feel like two seasons hastily crammed into one at the last minute realizing that Young Jonas quits next week (and, of course, has to be shown getting on with his life, coz it won't be a tragedy otherwise, will it?). I mean, look at Bad Blood. And boggle. They have to get Gizzy and Robin on the same side so they... get some random nutter to beat them up, chain them together, tell them they're brothers and play nice. In any other show, the sheer UNSUBTLETY of it would blow your brains out your nose. Had this show had time to breathe, it might have done a bit better. The Sheriff-of-the-Week business would work as background to the series (like Marion and Gizzy's engagement), but instead becomes raison d'tre as we get a series of Vasey-substitutes that just make us pine for old Gap Tooth Allan all the more. Allan, John and Tuck have barely had two scenes to themselves throughout the series, and how many times have they done the "months pass" between episodes? A lot.
And so here we are. The penultimate episode (just out in time to compliment the season finale of Paul McGann's 2009 season which the BBC has graciously allowed you to download in the timeslot where DT would normally be sobbing at the loss of his latest girl, but don't worry everyone, PMG and Lucie will return in the traditional Christmas 09 special... but not the Headhunter. Coz she, like the monkey what fell out of the tree, is dead! Pity really as she was rather good this season. Oh well.)
On with the apocalypse...
On the Great North Road, things are very bluntly calm-before-the-storm. Kate's flirting like mad with Robin, in fact, compared to how he and Marion courted, they're practically humping each other in public, which is probably why Much is avoiding them. Gizzy's also hanging around, quite clearly because he hasn't got anything better to do with himself bar be Will's replacement as Mild-Mannered-Super-Strong-Bezerker-And-Eye-Candy-With-Shockingly-Little-Dialogue. The gang are doing what they always do - set up an ambush. This time it's a messenger with a message from Sheriff Izzy: King Richard has pulled out of Jerusalem and returned to England - and Izzy has a handy army of 300 extras ready to help Prince John with that old Shah Mat plan of his. No sooner does everyone realize the sheer Logopolis-level awesome epicness of the oncoming events when Little John arrives with terrible news:
Those 300 are all the male extras from Clom and Nettlestone (hah! karma payback there, people) and Izzy's recruitment drive is heading straight for Loxley!
Meanwhile, Just Archer (remember him? No? Don't blame you) has arrived at Nottingham and trying to woo Izzy herself with his Jerry Springer like revelations about her incredibly messed up family. Archer, however, makes the crucial and fundamental mistake of assuming his newfound sister is not completely and utterly insane. And considering Izzy's gone to extra special effort to bug out her unblinking eyes, Tom Baker style, he really ought to see this coming, and is soon chained up and lead away for immediate execution. Still, Izzy's strength is that she's nuts, not necessarily efficiency.
Back at Loxley, the Merry Men have managed to defeat Izzy's second-in-command-of-the-week, a badass Samuel L Jackson impersonator, and get the men of the village to safety although all the food and supplies are not so lucky (mind you, considering the 'rape and pillage' tax reforms by Vasey, you'd think the locals would be used to such mindless looting by now and put the good stuff somewhere safe...). Tuck thinks Robin's charity has made the locals weak spineless dogs unable to fight for themselves, which is a bit hypocritical from the "inspire the people to help themselves" poster boy.
Izzy is in dire straights - and I'm not talking the band. Without her extra hundred men, PJ will have her hanged, and she decides to come up with a plan to regain her unwilling conscript army PLUS destroy Robin Hood utterly; a plan so devious, intricate and out of left field it would baffle Steven Moffat, Carnell and Baldrick. This is a scheme worthy of comparison with only ONE individual...
SIR ALISTAIR MILES!
You think I'm overhyping things here? Well, brace yourself for Izzy-Crazy?-Yes-She-Is's plan.
1: Kidnap Kate's revolting, hideous and abusive mother
2: Have a nice girly chat with said mother about some jewelry
3: Freak mother out by being crazy stalker batshit nutter ranting Robin Hood really loves her
4: Gives mother aforementioned jewelry to plant on Robin and make it look like he and Izzy are an item
5: Tells mother to give a not-at-all-suspicious unexpected intervention with Kate about her new boyfriend cheating on her
6: Steps 1-5 somehow cause the entire destruction of Robin's band of merry men and makes them return the villagers for Izzy to turn into an army
This plan really is a world beater, as arguably ANYONE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD would have more chance of being listened to by Kate that her beloved is cheating on her. I fancy Chris Lilly would make a more compelling case than the one person Kate rightly distrusts and despises. But I suppose the fact isn't that Izzy's brain-damaged scheme will work, but that Kate's mother (Rebecca, but she has yet to justify herself even HAVING a name) will betray her entire village, daughter and childhood hero to save her own wrinkled skin from the oncoming CGI-assisted armageddon.
But, fortunately for the Bitch in Black, Gizzy happens to be part of the gang and pretty much the only person who can spot the jewelry as belonging to Izzy - if he hadn't identified it, her entire plan would have failed. Who says her brother never helps her out, huh? The trouble is, no one realizes it fell out of Robin's pocket thanks to Kate's mum's awful sleight of hand, so what suspicion there is immediately falls on Gizzy (who points out that identifying it as his sister's in public is not the sort of thing a deep cover double agent would do... or WOULD he?! See Spooks tonight for the definitive answer, folks!).
With that sorted out, Robin announces his new plan: seize control of Nottingham Castle and thus the shire of Nottingham until Richard gets into town - thereby defeating Izzy completely and stuffing up PJ's last best hope for a coup de' tart! The Merry Men tell Robin he's dreaming, but Gizzy knows a secret - the increasingly-paranoid Vasey built an emergency escape tunnel into the castle which no one knows about. With this mighty important bit of lore finally established (though in this version of the legend, Little John wasn't one of the blokes who built it), the gang prepare to war. Well, some of them do - a bit. It all screams "trap" and none of them QUITE trust Gizzy to that extent.
Back at Nottingham, Izzy has realized her cunning plan, even if it works, will just make Kate sulk a lot and have a bit of a cry. Her new plan is this:
1: Announce that Alan is pardoned of all charges and rendered a free man
2: Hope this somehow cause the entire destruction of Robin's band of merry men and makes them return the villagers for Izzy to turn into an army
Luckily, Samuel L Jackson adds the proviso of Alan being pardoned "for services rendered to the Sheriff" - so when word reaches the outlaws they all assume Alan has betrayed them (well, being made a free man wouldn't make Alan quit the gang considering all the times he's rejoined of his own free will). The trouble is, of course, that Alan has form for betraying them, and the gang are hardly in the best of moods when the news arrives as Kate has buggered off, meaning that Much wants to abandon the attack to look for her, which causes tensions with Robin and Alan anyway. Alan's only real defense is that he isn't stupid enough to get such a blatant reward and blow his cover... but the problem is that Izzy IS that stupid to ruin her own plan. Much and John believe Alan is a traitor, Gizzy doesn't care, and Tuck is undecided. Robin decides that he cannot take the chance and, to be on the safe side, has Alan tied up. Assuming there is a happy ending, Robin vows to return for Alan and "sort this out" - a promise that manages to be bloodchilling and reassuring at the same time.
The remaining gang split up for what may the last time (and doesn't Gizzy look sad when he gets none of the hugs and handshakes the others exchange). Little John and Tuck will prevent the supply of food, supplies and props from Loxley leaving Nottingham, while the others will sneak into the Castle and attack from behind. Tuck wants to bring the Loxley redshirts with them, but John refuses to endanger innocents. "It's our job to defeat the Sheriff," he tells the monk in his best fuck-with-me-at-your-peril voice, "if it's the LAST thing we EVER DO!"
Not foreshadowy at all then, huh?
Unfortunately - and this is a big unfortunately - Archer has managed to bump into the one town drunk who ALSO knows all about the secret tunnel, used the secret tunnel to enter Izzy's throne room and done her a deal. In return for a vast fortune, he will turn the tunnel into a death trap when Robin and Gizzy inevitably try to use to break into the castle - and Izzy promises all sorts of creepy incestuous rewards should the plan work... before changing her mind and threatening to drown Archer in blood and tear his body apart with rats for his very existence besmirches the name of Izzy's mum. Twigging that his soon-to-be-only-remaining-relative is completely insane, Archer decides to take the money and abandon Nottingham.
Thus, when Robin, Much and Gizzy creep down the tunnel they find themselves sealed into one section. Much isn't very good at being betrayed, trapped and threatened with death in episode twelves as we know, especially when grains of limestone start to flood their cell. Robin has half a plan: hang on to the grille where the limestone is pouring out, buying survival for a few more minutes enough to think up the OTHER half of the plan. The trouble is, only one person can hang on. Gizzy's still feeling suicidal and, despite Robin's protests, Much refuses to take on the burden of survivor guilt and the duo instead use their last breaths to help Robin stay above the tide. Robin struggles to keep hold of Much's hand when his friend goes under... and when he loses grip, Robin starts to freak out worse than ever as the tide engulfs him as well...
Well, how are the others doing? Kate for her part has returned home - a fate so humiliating and shameful even her own mother is horrified. Of course, this could be because Kate now automatically qualifies for the "get out of Loxley free and survive the season finale by hiding in Sunny Doncaster" reward Izzy gave the Tollinger clan, so this is presumably why her mum instantly reveals she was the one who planted lockets and discredited Robin. Kate turns and leaves without a word, which would be very effective if this wasn't what her mum seemed to want all along.
But what about Alan? Well, understandably feeling a bit in a "well fuck the lot of you, you ungrateful bastards" mood, Alan has easily freed his hands and then washed them of the gang. But, as is always the way it seems, Alan barely manages to leave the camp before encountering an armed posse of soldiers which is just what's needed to reaffirm his faith and loyalty to Robin. When the soldiers charge Alan, they discover to their cost that he is NOT IN THE MOOD and goes "Rason Warrior Robot" on their pale asses - but as he runs to save his comrades, a volley of arrows brings him down.
As Robin once threatened in Lardner's Ring, Alan has ended up filled with enough arrows to pass for a large and dying hedgehog - lying at the feet of someone he never expected to see again...
And what of our remaining Merry Men? Well, Tuck and Little John prepare to single-handedly block the road out of Nottingham when Loxley's finest turn up weilding burning torches, inspired to be fistworthy after all. John points out to Tuck that no matter how fired up they are, they are a bunch of malnourished civilians and walking arrow fodder. But Tuck has a cunning plan... well, in comparison to all the other plans on offer... for them all to turn the other cheek, sit down and peacefully bar the path of the convoy. John's "you have got to be fucking kidding me" expression is worth screencapping, it really is. But this John-and-Yoko-shit proves very effective, as the guards and Jackson find themselves creeped out by this passive resistance and reluctant to slaughter the lot of them. Izzy, however, has no such qualms and decides to use a crossbow and kill the sitting ducks before her like some giant-sized Space Invaders game - and she starts with Tuck.
Just then Kate turns up, in a mood I would personally describe as "scary" and begins a truly nasty catfight. I suppose the sight of Izzy repeatedly trying to knee Kate in the groin COULD be a metaphor for her inability to think outside her gender conflicts, or maybe it's just SUPPOSED to look completely ridiculous and pathetic?
But Nottingham Castle is now not only under seige from outside, but from inside as well - all the denizens have finally snapped and, lead by Archer, revolt against the insane bitch who's been making their life a misery. Izzy retreats, but her second-in-command is unnervingly relaxed about the whole thing and strolls off, leaving Izzy to her inevitable doom unless, so he says, she "delivers Guisborne from the tunnel" - which would be difficult enough to do at the best times, assuming she hadn't just drowned him...The problem is that there is yet ANOTHER army converging on Nottingham, brought here by none other than Samuel L Jackson himself. But he's just helping out his old pal, who everyone recognizes only too well...
The crowds turned towards the entrance again: someone else had come into the Hall. The late arrival chuckled darkly. ‘Oh, no,’ said Robin quietly. There stood a spectre of Nemesis, his most implacable antagonist. With a prickling sense of foreboding, Robin stared into the dark eyes he recognized. The man in black with his white hair and grizzly beard seemed almost benign, but Robin knew him as his oldest and most familiar adversary. Suddenly he knew they were all in even greater danger than he had suspected.
'Why Hood,' the Vasey smiled, 'what an unexpected pleasure. Oh, this shall be so much fun!'
NEXT TIME: SOMETHING WORTH FIGHTING FOR - PART TWO!
"We will have a reckonning, but now? I want my town back. DESTROY EVERYTHING!"
Yep, it's The Parting of the Ways, Robin Hood-style as the surviving Merry Men prepare to defend an outpost against an unstoppable army with a bunch of unreliable civilians as their only asset. Does Izzy have one last trick up her sleeve? Is this Greek Fire I see before me? Where has Prince John got to? Will You Know Who reclaim his castle or see it burn first? And will ANYONE get out of this alive? Don't hold your breath...
Monday, June 15, 2009
(aka The Enemy of My Enemy)
With the finale arc started, Robin and Gizzy pop out to collect some horses to ride to the camp. However, the dynamics of the duo have changed. Gizzy has a huge emotional weight lifted off his shoulders, while Robin has one dumped on him - and so Robin is the one with the hair-trigger temper while Gizzy can get under his skin with a word. It already looks like Sir Guy's claims to be trustworthy are more credible than Robin's, and it's back to the good old days of Tattoo? What Tattoo? as they wrestle through Sherwood.
But what's this? Alan's passing (yes, Alan? Remember him? Was only about six weeks since he was in any way important to the plot) and picks which of his leaders he wants to win - and lucky for Robin too. Alan rounds up the gang and they rush to the rescue. Which of course means a bit of ambivalence from Robin as he has to try and beat up his new ally while simultaneously saving him from Much's arrows, Kate's sword and Little John full stop. You just can't please some people, can you?
Certainly not John, though, who acts as though this new alliance is Robin admitting he's been having an affair: "So that where you've been? WITH HIM!!" like something out of Black Books. Gizzy for his part sits around the camp in a clear state of amusement as Robin tries to explain to his merry men that his dad isn't dead and he has a longlost half brother he and Guisborne need to rescue and, no, actually there ISN'T any proof this wasn't some mushroom-fueled hallucination but it's true. Promise. Definitely. And cue the emotional blackmail as Robin insists he'd do the same insane buddy road trip for any one of them.
But Kate points out rather rightly that she owes Gizzy a dead brother after the events of the second episode (if you don't remember that, I don't blame you - as that entire plot point seems inserted in to try and up the tension here and now). However, Gizzy's brutal honesty and clear desire to get his schizo sister off the throne impress more that Kate's temper tantrum and squeaking "he's pure evil!" at anyone she thinks might care. What's more, in some missing scene, it turns out that Archer the lost brother, is a badass globetrotting mofo collecting weapons undreamed of - their illegitimate gun running sibling is just what they need for an epic season nay series finale.
Much is convinced. He's also convinced Gizzy cannot be trusted and intends to go with Robin, but Robin fights back by ignoring his advice and having a farewell snog with Kate. You know, just in case his best friend didn't feel any MORE wretched about Robin running off with his mortal enemy to find a hithertoo unmentioned brother. No doubt about it, we're heading for Much quitting the gang, and the sooner the better - imagine if Vila managed that brilliant trick before the last three episodes of Season 4, eh?
Meanwhile... York! AKA, Nottingham with ridiculous CGI! It must be a fourth wall joke for us to find this gigantic Atlantis-like medival citadel convincing. While Archer (resembling Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow) is sentenced to execution, and Sherriff Izzy continues trying to bribe people into betraying Robin, Yvonne Hartman cheats on her husband Sheriff of York with none other than Archer, and Robin and Gizzy wander around doing stand and deliver stuff for reasons that don't really grab me. In fact, this has got rather boring suddenly - like they're splitting up the three plot threads because they're simultaneously tedious.
Nope. Completely lost interest in this. And it's a season bleeding finale. Haven't felt this uninterested since The Idiot's Lantern. Obviously...
Okaaaaay. Having taken time to watch the episode properly I can say it's not bad. In fact, it's rather good, a kind of RH version of Whitnail & I crossed with Life of Brian ("I'm Archer and so's my wife!"), with Gizzy's place in the pecking order established as he wins the trust of Little John who was ready to quit the gang - but, like Much before him, barely got down the road before running into Izzy and her guards. Archer, a typical Holmesian conman who can be a good friend as long he gets something out of it, nicks a lot of things, arguable the show itself and seems to be being set up as a new villain. We now have the truly demented family of Robin, Gizzy, Izzy and Archer in a feud that could get very messy as every one involved shows signs of being a bezerker. Much gets sod all to do this week, bar a single background shot where he tries to get a cuddle off Kate and fails spectacularly.
The episode bears more than a slight similarity to Utopia - it's a one-episode trip way off the usual beaten track with lots of male bonding, escapes, captures, bumping into people in dungeons, comic relief ladies who say the same catchphrase over and over, and end with an at-first-glance friendly character nicking our heroes' transport and buggering off to the main place to start chaos with local government. It's also clearly part one of a three parter story arc to finish off the series... and the show.
Despite my hopes (compounded by the sinister theme tunes) the coda scene did NOT reveal that the sinister, silent tollmaster with no dialogue was actually Vasey in a cunning disguise. No fob watches either.
NEXT TIME: THE END BEGINS!
"Hell is coming!"
Robin decides the time has come to kick ass. With the entire peasant population on his side, some insider info from Gizzy, and the news of King Richard returning, the Merry Men decide on their most audacious plan ever - the invasion and capture of Nottingham Castle! It might have worked too... except that Archer and Izzy have a backup plan to wipe out the invaders in one blow. Is it allready too late for poor Tuck?!?
Monday, June 8, 2009
(aka Bad Blood)
This week's episode is something rather unusual as its funky title sequence shows - composed entirely of footage of Robin and Gizzy, at first glance it seems a slapstick sitcom ala Skinner and the Superintendant, with none of the other cast appearing in any form. Coz they're not in it this week. Dare I even to dream they've got Rob Shearman to adapt Scherzo for TV?! Actually, it's best that I don't...
Robin's just taking a wander around his forest when he sees Gizzy stumbling around the forest with a pathetic homemade bow and arrow, convinced he's being stalked by shadowy figures. Robin, visibly feeling an incredible amount of pity for the human wreck before him, insists that no, he's not been tracking Gizzy to hunt him down in cold blood. Frankly he's got better things to do. Gizzy takes him at his word, but decides to kill him anyway - insisting that he's only kept going by the desire to kill off his enemies. Although Robin doubts Gizzy will be able to even stay conscious throughout the fight, he remains about the only dude in Sherwood to remember how dangerous the man in black is. They prepare to fight and...
Gizzy instantly collapses.
Has our antihero had a heart attack? No, he's got a poison dart in the neck - and so does poor Robin, who is bushwacked by the hooded Grim Reaper figure with the Voice of Peter O'Toole. Turns out Gizzy was being stalked by shadowy figures all along.
The duo wake up, tied together and as is traditional in these situations, become more fearful when they realize the other hasn't actually betrayed them and this is something else entirely. The Hooded Man has decided it is time for an intervention between Robin and Gizzy, to settle the bad blood between them. Gizzy is incredibly self-aware, remember, and knows a lot more about their mutual past than Robin does... or wants to. But the Hooded Man points out that Gizzy still doesn't see the big picture...
A flashback 20 years (well... that'll pretty much fuck up every chronology I've worked out for the show) to when England was proud and happy and all the men and women dressed up EXACTLY like you'd think they would in Robin Hood - all studded tunics and tights for the blokes, veils and headbands for the ladies. Loxley's rightful ruler, Robin's dad (Dean Lennox Kelly, AKA Kev Shakespeare), has been moved down the pecking order when the King declares Sir Rojet of Guisborne Lord of the Manor in return for services rendered in the Crusades. Robin's dad is a mellow bloke, and takes it well, especially as this means that while Mr. Thesaurus is off on Holy Wars, he gets to flirt with Mrs. Guisborne and her outrageous French accent.
As such in these situations, Young Robin (who seems to own a Saracen Bow already, not sure) and Young Gizzy (pure unadultered 11th Century Emo) have to hang out together. And by Christ Young Robin's an irritating little twerp - always bigging himself for his shooting skills and going on about how much better he is than Guisborne in that way that makes you wonder if he's being mildly autistic or maybe just really DOES want to be annoying. Either way, it's bloody insensitive as Sir Rojet has seemingly died in the Crusade.
Thus, Mrs. Guisborne becomes Lady of the Manor and defacto ruler of Loxley - which is not what the Bailiff (Ian Reddington - yes, the Chief Clown of Segonax and one of the less embarrassing characters in B7: Logic of Empire) of the town wants. A Daily Mail reader at heart, the Bailiff doesn't want a woman in charge, especially a French woman! Alas, the only alternative is Robin's dad, who is quite happy for Gizzy's mum to keep running things, and so the Bailiff's themes are schwarted. Schemes are thwarted. Whatever.
To celebrate things and take her children's minds off their father's death, Mrs. Guisborne decides it is time to party. Robin's Dad and Mr. Redshirt will take a Catherine Wheel and attach it to the village watchtower, and then the two best archers (that'll be Young Gizzy and Robin) will use it as target practice to set off a spectacular fireworks display. Thrilled that everyone knows HE is the best archer, Young Robin wants to show off to Young Gizzy by firing an arrow between the threadbare ropes being used to haul up the Catherine Wheel. Young Gizzy rightly points out to the twat that this is insanely dangerous, only for, in the inevitable scuffle, Gizzy's arrow hitting the Wheel and setting off the fireworks... which means a spinning ring of fire falls out of the sky and lands on Mr. Redshirt.
While Robin's dad and Gizzy's mum struggle to save Redshirt's life with an emergency tracheotemy, the Bailiff rounds on Young Gizzy and accuses him of murder (the fact Redshirt is alive need not concern us). Young Robin insists that it wasn't his fault, and everyone believes him, cause he's the best archer ever and more importantly, NOT FRENCH. Whipping the mob into a frenzy, the Bailiff is about to hang Gizzy by the neck till dead when a crusader arrives - tis Rojet Thesaurus himself! Rumors of his death were greatly exaggerated, and the execution is off. The Bailiff, high on adrenaline and euroskepticism, tries to kill Gizzy's dad, but like all Crusaders, Rojet's superhuman abilities mean he just gets a knife through the palm on his hand. This act of Double-Fisted Fury pretty much stuns the populace in awe. The Bailiff is sacked and ROJET IS BACK IN TOWN!!
Back at the fire, Robin admits he was an asshole back then, but notes it was a defining experience in his life which has made him a better, more open-minded and responsible man. Gizzy's "No Shit Sherlock" expression is priceless. Buy the DVD box set for it alone.
Another flashback: Robin's dad finally cracks, having tried not to bonk Rojet's wife while the dude himself is in town. Unable to survive without her French salty goodness, he meets Mrs. Guisborne in the forest for some hardcore medieval petting. And of course she's a bit frustrated, as shagging a leper is just not on. Yes, Rojet has leprosy! That's how he was able to take a knife through the hand without wincing (leprosy doesn't really make your flesh drop off, but kills off the nerves and prevents wounds from healing, you know). As the couple chat about how fucked up their lives are - not only must they prevent anyone from twigging Rojet's a leper less the whole Guisborne clan get quarantined-to-death, it turns out Mrs. Guisborne's pregnant with her adulterous lover's baby. And what do you know? The Chief Clown Bailiff just happens to be hiding behind a tree, guaranteed to make the most of this information by the lean and hungry look in his eyes...
Gizzy and Robin refuse point blank to believe this latest plot twist - and Gizzy now believes the Hooded Man is... BAILIFF LONGTHORN!!! (You know, Chief Clown, mentioned him in the previous paragraph). The Hooded Man takes out a knife and... frees Robin and Gizzy, telling them that if they're not going to listen they can just fuck off home. Though tempted, the duo are willing to hear the rest of the story, pack of lies or no.
Robin's Dad suggests Mrs. Guisborne cut her losses and shack up with him - not only does she risk disease, poverty and death staying with Rojet, her husband will be unlikely to fall for the idea that he fathered the child BEFORE heading for the Holy Land. Robin's Dad (having given a disturbing amount of thought to this) comes up with a scheme where she disowns her husband, shacks up with him, has the baby in secret, sends the baby away, she goes on a pilgramige to collect said baby, and claim she's adopting the orphan. This dude puts the Fate into fait complit, and comes across as more of a git than his son ever did.
But what's this? Robin's dad has a name - Malcom Loxley! Hang on, just where does the "Hood" comes from then? Oh and Rojet with his disturbingly Davros voice (ironically though, not appearance) has discovered what his missus has been getting up to. How? Cause, like all Guisbornes, he's got a brain. And like all Guisbornes, he's a bit of a self-pitying Emo, who drives his wife to tears as he selflessly notes that he's brought all this on himself and how he can't blame her for wanting love he could never give and that...
Around the end of this speech he finally shuts up as the Bailiff's told everyone about the leprosy and Gizzy's dad is cast out of Loxley by none other than Redshirt himself! (He got better, you see). While being forced to stand in a pit... this is rather like that Young Ones episode, really... it's time for a quick round of LifeLong Emotional Scarring, as Young Gizzy is ordered by his father to stop being such an Emo, as Gizzy's Mum is forced to declare herself a widow, and everyone has to watch as Rojet has to try and climb out of the pit (now officially a leper), only to find it near impossible. So Malcolm goes to help him. Simultaneously inspiring the altruistic death streak in Young Robin and the rebellious father-hating streak in Young Gizzy. And of course the freaked Young Robin just HAS to bitch about living with a leper's family which, of course, kills off any friendship between him and Gizzy a hell of a lot more effectively than the Arrow Incident.
Malcolm and "Gilane" (seriously, coudln't they have proper introductions so I could get their names?) are bushwhacked by the Bailiff down a dark alley as he gloats about his general evilness and how intends to blackmail them into giving him lands and title and all the usual bollocks medieval peasants dream of. But Malcolm has a cunning plan: a shotgun wedding which will ruin the Bailiff's plans. As Gilane notes, this is kind of insensitive to her kids, who only lost their father five minutes previously.
But if you think THAT could mess Gizzy up further, what about when he discovers that Gilane is secretly nipping off to a leper colony and supplying Rojet with food while all the time ordering him to forget his father. These conflicting messages predictably screw up our Gothic Guy even more! Well, upon confronting his mum in the middle of the forests causes her to go into premature labor (something Gizzy of today smacks himself on the forehead for not twigging at the time, assuming it was a heart attack or somesuch), but somehow this premature baby (which looks disturbingly full grown and healthy) has a distinctive birthmark and is given the name of "Archer" by his proud mum. And on a dark and stormy night, the "fake orphan" plot comes into play.
Young Gizzy sneaks into the leper colony and tries to get his dad to stop the wedding, and being something of a naive jerk doesn't get the complicated business of love and assumes his father is a weak spineless dog that never really loved them. (It strikes me, then, that all of Vasey's gags about Gizzy fancying "lepers" were actually incredibly hurtful - but did the Sheriff know that at the time?) But, shamed into action, Rojet lumbers zombie-like back to Loxley to interrupt the ceremony. And, while shooting things with arrows, Young Robin spots him and warns the village. Which allows the Bailiff to whip up another rent-a-mob, would you believe?
Malcolm tracks Rojet down to the manor house but Young Gizzy is waiting for him and, gripped with righteous rage (and completely unaware Malcolm is trying to save Rojet from a lynching-or-whatever-they-do-to-lepers), snatches up a burning torch and tries to kill his prospective stepfather. In the course of this, the house predictably catches fire (meaning that burning Marion's house probably had huge Freudian implications for Guy in Sisterhood). Young Gizzy and Young Izzy flee while Malcolm rushes upstairs to find Rojet and Gilane in a romantic pose. Thanks to Young Gizzy's winding everyone up, he's managed to create a three way fight in the love triangle, with everyone convinced the other has betrayed them.
Even though the fucking house is on fire, the blokes insist on a swordfight and Gilane refuses to leave without them. Outside, the Bailiff and the mob assume that Malcolm has deliberately set fire to the manor house so as to purge it from disease and despite Young Gizzy's screams, the mob add their burning torches to the fire. Reverend Redshirt stopped Young Robin from diving into the flames to help his dad, but Young Gizzy remained where he was out of sheer pyrophobia.
With the house burnt to the ground, the Bailiff cruelly tells everyone that Young Gizzy was to blame for all the death and exiles them from the village. With Young Izzy in tow, Young Gizzy tries to return to France (but end up so utterly penniless and desperate, Gizzy ultimately sold her to Thornton in the belief it'd be better than staying with him). The Bailiff intends to take over Loxley and tells Young Robin to piss off as well, while "We shall start as we mean to go on: tax collection!"
In a truly strange sequence (which I simply MUST assume is a reference to The Time Monster or throw up at how cheesy it is), the shattered Young Robin flees to his mother's grave, unsure what to do when he hears the Responsibility Talk from his dad in his mind and suddenly -WHAM!- everyone is in glorious technicolour (having been increasingly monochrome throughout the episode). Snatching up his Saracen Bow, Young Robin charges back into Loxley as the Bailiff's... um, bailiffs... begin to trash the town. As he is the legal ruler of the town and everyone hates the Bailiff's guts, Robin takes over to cheers and funy stuff. (While, of course, his home smoulders nearby...)
But the Hooded Man reveals that there was no real point blaming themselves. By the time the Bailiff added to the flames, Gilane was dead (in a predictable tragedy like this I'm sure you can guess how). But how does he know this? Because the Hooded Man is NOT the Bailiff, but Malcolm himself who survived the fire, but was so badly burnt and scorched (his vocal chords transformed into those of O'Toole too, presumably, since it's clearly being dubbed on), and thoroughly aware of what an asshole he'd been, he fled and allowed everyone to think he was dead. The revelation that his dad abanonded him pisses off Robin far more than Gizzy's repeated attempts to murder him throughout the episodes. But the revelationt that Gizzy wasn't solely responsible for his parents' deaths blows his mind in a completely different way
The dying Malcolm insists that the two need to forgive each other after their lives of blaming each other for their parent's mistakes - but as Robin points out, they have plenty of new reasons to hate each other. Gizzy reveals that he has been trying to make amends for killing Marion and indeed he was the one that slaughtered Vasey (a fact Robin at least has been ignorant of all the time). Malcolm explains that he needs them to save their brother Archer, who is to hang in York prison very soon.
Robin and Gizzy aren't a 100% prepared to do this, or even work with each other... so Malcolm blow-darts them unconscious again and leaves them to work out what the hell to do now. He's a bit mental nowadays, did that come across at all?
The duo awake later that day, but Gizzy is now so utterly sick of this touchy-feely wishy-washy show-your-emotions bollocks (and, be fair, so are probably most of the audience), he's willing to help out on the mission as long as they just shut the hell up!!
NEXT TIME: THINGS KICK OFF!
"Guisborne has chosen to join us in our struggles, John."
Didn't I predict that? Didn't I? I so did! The Merry Men head for York to save Robin's long-lost brother, but Sheriff Izzy is on their trail - the Sherrif of York is waiting for them with a very unpleasant surprise. Will they all make it out of this one? And just where are Much and Kate? Hmm?
Saturday, June 6, 2009
The SMH actually had a banner, "The Chaser shouldn't have a war on everything LITERALLY!"
Bollocks to that. And now the most offensive and objectionable material to be found, translated from the original lemon bleeding cola that created them!
Sparacus would never torment the Doctor Who production team again, but a completely different drunken twat would take his place – Joshua Wynne-Cunt and his Ghastly Brain Disease, whose previous unsolicited scripts had been assumed to be poltergeist activity what with all the yellow sticky ectoplasm that dripped from his work.
JWC insisted with a fanaticism that worried even Ian Levine that by using his scripts, Doctor Who could be "saved" from the high ratings, high audience appreciation, high public exposure and high popular and critical acclaim which he believed was wasting its chance to "culturally enrich the nation with dark, mature, educational and philosophical material to appeal to the sophisticated and high-brow".
JWC’s first episode for the new Doctor was entitled The Bachelor of Bullets.
This was set at a prestigious London college where Ben Chatham is providing lectures to an archaeology evening class being taken by Sally Sparrow to broaden her intellectual horizons. In an amazing twist, it is revealed that Sally has fallen in with a group of dirty, filthy, left-wing hippie-type protestors convinced that the college authorities are faking archaeological finds to get more funding. For no apparent reason, Sally thinks that aliens are involved.
Knob-end Ben disproves of Sally’s involvement in left wing subversion and is suspicious of her estrogen-powered reasoning skills, and so tries to shop her in to both UNIT and the college authorities for being friends with communists. Sally reacts rashly to this act of complete arseholedom by heading to the latest dig with her so-called hippie friends where they find a mysterious tunnel leading to a giant capsule full of machine-gun-wielding vegetables called the Magic Punks. The aliens kill all the protesters with bullets that instantly fill their bodies with acid. The hippies all die a agonizing death, blood and pus oozing form their skin, in a sequence JWC maintains to this day has no connection to the fact his own girlfriend dumped him to run off with a left-wing anarchist-Marxist-dope-dealing-hippie-type.
Just before Sally can be executed, the Eleventh Doctor arrives in the TARDIS and rescues her. The Doctor reveals the Magic Punks are time commandos sent here to prevent historical anachronisms threatening the stability of the universe. Which just so happens to take the form of slaughtering hippies for no reason. Then they shriek in fear as they realize who the Doctor is and run away before they can explain what the hell this plot has actually been about.
The Doctor and Sally enter the TARDIS and find Ben Chatham there. Sally slaps the weaselly little scumbag across the face for informing on her, only to be told by The Doctor, "He saved your life, you silly little girl! If he hadn’t texted me and got me to stop them killing you, you’d be dead now, you hippie-loving slut!"
Realizing the truth, Sally is grateful toward Ben, her pulse begins to race as she is struck by attraction for this two-faced cowardly sneak. She immediately texts Larry to say he’s dumped and demands the Doctor allow her to travel in the TARDIS for the rest of the season.
Moffat laughed in terrified hysteria at the wafer thin plot constructed solely to air LWC’s political agenda of snobbery and elitist belief that anyone slightly left-wing is a deviant threat who deserves to die and/or be informed on, but the BNP are just 'harmless cranks'. Moffat told LWC to "get off his right-wing backside and piss off" and take his unlikable, lazy central characters with him.
(If anyone cares, Sparacus noted that this was "an excellent first story which reflects elements of the best eras of the classic series: a fine English setting, engaging characters, an archaeological dig, and a good solid alien menace killing hippies!")
The first was by the stalker of Doctor Who, Joshua Wynne-Cunt, who suggested the second story of the season NOT continue from the first but instead be a sequel to his own work, which the production team had already ignored completely. JWC promised that his "culturally-enriching and educative" script would up the profile of a great writer while sensitively handling the topics of drugs and alcohol in a cautionary morality tale that would not be too preachy for younger audiences.
JWC’s script, On The Road (To Oblivion) featured the Eleventh Doctor, Ben Chatham and Sally Sparrow travelling back in time to meat Sally’s hero, legendary "beat" writer Jack Kerouac in the middle of his similarly-legendary hedonistic hitchhike across America, forming the basis of his seminal (ie, wank-filled) novel, On The Road.
The TARDIS arrives right in front of Jack and his muse Neal Cassady, who are both out of it and assume the trio to be drug-induced hallucinations. Ben is weary and slightly disgusted at their coarse ways, cheering himself by downing absinthe and ecstacy tablets disguised as Fox Glacier Mints. Deciding that the Doctor is a "real out there cat", Jack immediately falls in love with Sally. Unfortunately, he is too drunk to commit rape and has to vomit all over her, babbling pathetically as he drinks himself to death.
Meanwhile, the Doctor and Ben wonder why the duo are nowhere near a road which would make hitchhiking easier. Neal tells them about his druggie babble desert dust of death as creatures made of living tumbleweeds attack the main cast. Fortunately, these creatures are terrified of absinthe and flee at the sight of Ben Chatham while Sally faints. Because she’s a girl.
The tumble weed monsters are the Parasites, survivors of the Temporal Difference of Opinion, who bond en-mass with desert tumbleweeds to war against larger species. The Parasites reveal they intend to conquer the Earth before an unexpected rain storm kills them all in mid-sentence.
Thoroughly disappointed in this act-of-god plot twist, the TARDIS crew bugger off, only to discover that Jack Kerouac has somehow survived his death and in 1984 published a book called The Desert Devils and The English Cunts – history has been altered and our heroes ominously ponder "But how and to what consequence?" in unison like a cheap pantomime.
As ever unimpressed about a writer the audience never heard of, sexist stereotyping and yet another rip off of the Gelth from The Presuming Ed, Moffat turned down this very slight plot before JWC finished telling it.
Still maintaining that Doctor Who "needs to be saved from itself" since its 2005 revival had lead to the show having such good will any old crap from RTD can gain amazing ratings and audience appreciation figures, Joshua Wynne-Cunt insisted that the series should try new, risky things than remain "lazy, mediocre froth failing to live up to its artistic and educative potential" and provided yet another script to rescue the series from "going stale".
The latest right-wing-anti-feminist script was called The Chaser Team Triumphant At The Dawn of The Mara And The Valet of Nightmares which would feature mature, tasteful and above all cerebral explorations of sexuality with a ground-breaking and interesting take on Sally Sparrow while remaining true to JWC’s artistic vision.
This epic features the TARDIS arriving in Cambridge where the Earth is undergoing a full-scale alien invasion by a seemingly unstoppable fleet of warships and since someone has irresponsibly edited wikipedia, no one remembers what UNIT and Touchwood are. Worse, the TARDIS crew are besieged by an army of Ben Chatham’s ex-lovers, all of whom have gone completely insane with self-pity and believe that the world should end because the human race is a malignant cancer in a futile existence. Which is probably what you’d think after sleeping with Ben.
The Doctor meanwhile finds out somehow that the alien race is attacking Earth because of one big Chaser stunt – indeed, the Chaser Team are actually alien warlords who literally feed on suffering for sustenance and survival in the way that humans do with food and water! Luckily, this alien of the week is distracted by a totally random event, just like last week when an alien shoots Chas through the head. The rest of the Chaser Team kidnap Sally and teleport her to a grimy prison cell where a dirty old man tortues her. The Chaser start jacking off to her suffering as they plan to destroy the world as revenge against Ben Chatham for stuff the author doesn’t explain properly.
Sally is in fact entered the dark places of the inside and if she does not allow the elemental Mara to symbolically violate her with its long pinkish snakes, she will be left to be tormented by her abusive grandfather who sexually abused her until the age of twelve (where Sally accidentally killed him with a hedge trimmer). Nevertheless, Sally refuses, which turns out not to make a blind bit of difference as the Mara didn’t actually want to steal her body anyway as she has full control over the Chaser Team to alter reality itself. For some reason.
Suddenly it dawns on Ben that somehow time has been manipulated as he was so blitzed on absinthe he didn’t notice it at the end of the previous episode. Alas, at that moment a race of bald, red-eyed Aryan aliens invade the mansion and start yelling at the Doctor. Ben insists these aliens are just an illusion, so they disappear – after years of absinthe abuse, Ben knows a hallucination when he has one!
No sooner does the alien apocalypse turn out to be a dream then Sally arrives with a funky Mara tattoo, meaning that the scenes of her not being possessed by pure evil were a total waste of time. She tries to stab the Doctor, who bites her nipples until the Mara is exorcised. But even as this baffling plot twist sinks in, the Chaser begin a worldwide campaign of stunts that hack thousands of innocent pensioners and small children to bloody chunks! UNIT is unable to stop the comedy troupe and suffer heavy losses from the lethal Surprise Spruiker.
Meanwhile, Sally is sucked back into her own subconscious... for some reason... and finds herself in her childhood bedroom covered in severed baby heads whose eyes drip blood, in a haunted house in the middle of a wood of trees scattered with severed human limbs and stalked by Weeping Angels. The Mara demands Sally surrender her body to it (cause it made such a difference last time) or else she will be forced to suffer Woody Allen nightmares with her grandfather forever!
Back in reality, the Doctor is unable to do anything before he has been beaten unconscious by a passing common oik, who is possessed by the Mara. Somehow. Ben Chatham defeats the commoner in an epic kung fu battle ending with the thug having his neck snapped for greater good. Ultimately this doesn’t help as the Mara finally decides it’s had enough of this for a game of soldiers and buggers off. Sally is left shivering in a coma of subconscious fear until Ben punches her repeatedly in face and tells her to "pull yourself together, woman!" which not only revives Sally but makes her passionately ravish Ben in hardcore XXXX-action.
In the background however, it turns out Jesus Christ has returned to Earth and banishes the Chaser Team back to their primetime slot on ABC television and unable to harm anyone, so Ben demands everyone toast him for single-handedly saving the world.
Despite the instance of Sparacus "Flamingo" Jones that the concept was exciting, dark, bleak, dramatic, tense and not-at-all offensive, sick drivel – and his belief that it would be perfect for an Autum Friday-night post-watershed slot of late night horror that would stop those "pesky kids" watching and keep the 16-25 suicidal goth demographic – Moffat remained completely and utterly unimpressed.
Of course, none of this was good enough for Joshua Wynne-Cunt who believed that this was yet another tedious self-righteous 'whiter than white' morality tale promoting immature and unrealistic values. As ever, JWC was more than happy to provide a light comedy story showing the Doctor take a more pragmatic and high-collateral-damage approach to life, alien threats and chavs everywhere.
JWC’s latest script – as ever totally ignoring the premise of the season – was entitled The Attack Of The Demon Yobs having the Doctor, Ben and Sally forgo the Fifteenth Broken Moon of the Medusa Cascade, the lightening skies of Cotter Palluni's World and the diamond coral reefs of Kaata Flo Ko to have a bus holiday to an archaeological dig in a quaint and charming rural village full of lovely elderly locals currently under siege by thuggish youths from a council estate terrorizing everything and anything they can.
The TARDIS crew encounter the insane WW2 veteran called Albert who screams about the Hun and legendary forest demons over a cup of cocoa and burning log fire, but he is so boring that, for want of something to do, Sally wanders off into the demonically-infested forest where the thuggish youths are listening to some diabolical monologues from the evil demonic creature. Finding this much more interesting than pensioners, Sally runs screaming up to the yobs and demands to be captured, stripped naked and ritualistically abused!
Meanwhile, the Doctor and Ben find that the archaeological find is a Smeg fridge containing a WW2 fighter pilot and a medieval knight apparently frozen in the middle of having sex. For want of anything better to do, they defrost the duo and then find that Sally’s shoe is, for some unknown reason, in the knight’s underwear. This proves to be a vital clue which leads the group... somehow... to the cave in the woods where the Demon and its yobs are preparing Sally to be sacrificed as she so specifically requested.
Much to Sally’s annoyance, she is rescued and the yobs immediately paint their faces tomato red and go on a rampage ripping pensioners limb from limb. Luckily, the Doctor just happens to know that the demon beast is actually an alien called Diabolical Diablo Dan and spends its time studying each section of society. For some reason it assumes that yobs sum up the average inhabitants of Earth. Luckily, hanging around with the scum of civilization means that the aliens are allergic to that most civilized of beverages, champagne.
As the Demon Yobs attack, Albert, the fighter pilot and the knight start screaming that the yobs are as much a threat to the United Kingdom as the Nazis and in the name of England, they must slaughter all these innocent victims as a heroic deed. Ben urges them on, screaming "DEATH TO THE CHAVVY ONES!" and handing out special fire extinguishers that spurt champagne and all the yobs die in agony. The Diabolical Diablo Dan is allowed to escape since he can create another army of yobs for the main characters to slaughter mercilessly.
"The economic status of the yobs is irrelevant!" Sally Sparrow screams as she bathes in blood in orgasmic pleasure. "Ordinary people should rally around British values and defend themselves against the yobs who plague our communities! Out of control, animalistic and immoral youth is a HUGE threat to the British way of life! We must defend our land from threats interior as well as exterior! MORE DEATH!!"
The story ends with the entire cast giving a stirring rendition of the Sex Pistols’ God Save The Queen, causing a tear to drip down Ben’s face as he reflects on the depth of his love for his country and its values of slaughtering the socially and genetically inferior. The entire cast give Nazi salutes in front of a Union Flag while God Save the Queen plays over the end credits.
Moffat replied that JWC "needed help" and if he ever tried to provide another disgusting "light comedic story" featuring social pogroms once again, Moffat would go "Vashta Nerada" on JWC’s ass.
JWC’s response was to burst into tears and wail, "It’s so hard being clever! It often makes me feel lonely and alienated with so many thoughts with so many intricate layers to them buzz around my head! Sometimes it’s hard for me to condense them to be understood by ordinary people and to find friends who can keep up with me. I’m really frustrated by the simplicity and often stupidity of the common herd! I AM ABOVE EVERYDAY CATTLE, DO YOU HEAR ME?!?"
Moffat responded by hitting JWC over the head with a spade and then burying him in the backyard.
JWC’s erstwhile mentor, Sparacus "Flamingo" Jones, however, considered The Attack of the Demon Yobs to be "an absolutely brilliant and superb story". This "adult, dark, political" tale succeeded because of the "classic English setting, racist supremacist locals menaced by an ill-thought out force of cliched demonic horror" with a "social subtext about modern youth crime that should be punished with mass executions" which in Sparacus’ opinion "epitomizes the ethos of Ben Chatham".
So Moffat hit Sparacus over the head with a spade and buried him in the backyard as well.
They were also happy to accept the infamous "lost" Joshua Wynne-Cunt story, The Multiverse Wept! This thirteen-second long episode involved the Eleventh Doctor, Sally Sparrow and Ben Chatham in a bouncy castle when he finds Sarah Jane Smith hiding in a cardboard box, which he then starts to kick repeatedly screaming, "I am but an echo of my own private mythology! The world is rife with such oppressive economical conditions and state apparatus. One feels as ephemeral as an ant upon a mentally imbalanced giant!" while Sarah reveals she is, in fact, a little teapot. The narrative then cuts to a donkey in a desert dropping dead as it swims in the river of denial out of fear of its own true self.
Gentle readers, who truly is the loneliest donkey? He or you and I?
Was this a thought-provoking adventure challenging the audience’s perceptions of Doctor Who, art and their own lives by noting the random nonsensical circle of birth, life and death that is every human life? Was it a way to open the mind to freedom of reality? Was The Multiverse Wept! a harsh and beautifully disturbing truth exploring the military industrial complex and the concept of the Illuminati/New World Order? Or was it a load of total bilge unworthy of a further word on the subject? I know which option I prefer!
Once more Moffat had to wind his way through a heap of unsolicited manuscripts simply to reach his desk, just beside his throne, Jacuzzi and en suite entertainment centre. Most of them were reprints of an unwanted Joshua Wynne-Cunt story, The Metallic Dove, a crude plagiarism of They Live! revealing that humanity was under the secret control of reptilian aliens. The only difference was that JWC’s story was set in Victorian England and featured the Queen regularly murdering prostitutes by ripping out their throats with her beak. The Doctor, Sally Sparrow and Ben Chatham would eventually turn up, calling each other expletive heavy names like "worthless bloody fools", "useless bloody idiots", "inept bloody faggots" before Ben threatens to "knee Sally in the bally ovaries" to make her shut up.
After noticing the streets are full of rag-wearing peasant orphans, the Doctor complains loudly about humanity’s poverty and neglect for young children, while beating them with a stick when they ask him for spare change. Finally John Christopher’s Tripods come round the corner and attack, but some guy in a track suit blows them up with a bazooka, punches Sally in the stomach and runs away. The Doctor and Ben laugh at her discomfort and go back to beating up street urchins and execute anyone they find who is unemployed.
Despite the script’s promises of depicting the non-existent regulars from a more "adult" and "charged with sexual violence" perspective with "a tension lacking from gutless BBC television shite" and only "over-delicate sensibilities" could possibly be offended by the gore, violence, child-slaughter and misogynist abuse.
As ever, despite being hung, drawn, quartered, burnt at the stake and fed to the crows, Hidden Persuaders PLC continued to demand complete editorial control over Doctor Who, demanding YET AGAIN that Moffat do a story where the Doctor gets a cold and regenerates into Jennifer Saunders for the duration of Christmas special optimistically-entitled The End of Time. Moffat finally discovered that passing holy water on their unconsecrated ashes would nullify them forever and he was left alone for the next financial year.
In the meantime, however, he would have to deal with another loser assuming they knew better than him: Joshua Wynne-Cunt had returned from beyond the grave once more. Desperately he demanded at gunpoint that Moffat accept JWC’s plot for the season finale which would "save" Doctor Who in the way that any half decent serial killer "saves" people.
Shameless Dark Phoenix Rip-Off began with the Doctor, Ben Chatham and Sally Sparrow discovering the recent and pointless changes in history were caused by none other than Jenny and her pedophilic relationship with the Bastard (now regenerated into Gary Oldman). The Doctor is utterly baffled at this unsubtly-implied kinky debauchery, least of all since neither time meddler actually can travel through time.
The bemused Jenny reveals that it was the Doctor himself who sent her to rescue the Bastard in the first place – and after lots of scenes of Jenny and the Bastard having kinky sex, the truth would out: it was in truth it was the Clone Tenth Doctor from Irth behind it all!
Yes, Cloned Tenth Doctor had developed a hitherto-unmentioned hatred of having to live like a millionaire bonking Billie Piper for the rest of his half-life and now wished to become immortal! Thus he has been manipulating Jenny and the Bastard to bring the Doctor’s TARDIS to Earth, where he can get Rose to unleash the Genie Factor and become the Super Chav Time Goddess.
Unfortunately, this cunning plan is completely fucking deranged.
This is evidenced when Super Chav has a nervous breakdown and starts destroying the entire universe in an attempt to kill her mortal enemy: a white swan she met in a pond in Aberdeen.
This cosmic epic battle of ridiculousness ends with Ben Chatham bullying the Doctor into shooting Rose through the head and blowing her brains out for the greater good. Ben is toasted for saving the world, with everyone ruffling his hair and singing For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow before sleeping with the male cast.
The season would end with the lovely visual of the Eleventh Doctor sobbing over Rose’s bloody and headless corpse as one of Ben’s poems is narrated in lieu of the closing credits.
While Moffat admitted he did like the bit where Jenny redeems herself by ditching the Bastard and developing a bondage-obsessed lesbian relationship with Sally Sparrow, the rest was a badly-written misogynistic wank fantasy by a strange and perverted individual.
Defeated, JWC vomitted blood, turned bright green, let out a demonic wolf howl and turned to dust – never to be seen or heard from again. So that was a good start to the day.
JWC may have gone but his mentor Sparacus had managed to escape the six-foot grave Moffat had buried him in some ten months previously. Having finally accepted that his suggestions would never be even listened to by the current regime, the fish-like creature decided to wait for the passing of years until Moffat was replaced by someone sympathetic to the silent majority of 40+ year old elitist, misogynistic Colchester teachers with an unhealthy obsession with Adam Rickitt.
Until then, Sparacus would make do by trying to set up The VELVET Tardis of Sonic Screwing, an exclusive R18-rated pornographic DVD range to appeal to... well, Sparacus himself. These films would be set in an alternate universe where the Tenth Doctor regenerated into a young, dark-haired fop not played by Matt Smith.
Despite his hopes for the adult-themed film company Eurotrash hiring a Doctor from Amsterdam, they simply weren’t interested in thirteen episodes of the Doctor, his gay male companions Jed and Alex and some young blond guy called Jake "making things happen" to the Time Lords genitalia using only a long scarf, the TARDIS shower nozzle set to "soapy", a beaker of Tetrap gokkun, and the Cyberman annex of the planet Rammit noted for its native tribesmen being clones of Adam Rickitt. They then all go to Amsterdam and do it doggy-style with complete strangers by a lake, before a passing backpacker named Ric kidnaps them, drags them to a hostel room and proceeds to do naughty things to them at gunpoint with a jar of honey as lubrication, and then there is a lockdown in a gay nightclub where all five guys on the dance floor knife the Doctor and Jake to death before pleasuring themselves in front of the camera.
When the adult-themed entertainment industry dubs your pitch "smut", you know you’re in trouble, and Sparacus was horrified that people supposedly of education and letters could not see or appreciate his incredibly pure, chav-free imagination, energy, grace and skill. Finally unable to cope with the terrible torment ridicule, Sparacus retired into obscurity. Two years later he died of a broken heart. Well, maybe not of a broken heart but the file’s classified by the CIA so until 23 March 2168, we can only wonder if the rumors are true and it actually involved a snooker cue, three flamingos, His Royal Highness Conrad Westmaas the Prince of Wales, two litres of sarsaparilla, a piece of New Zealand cheese of dubious morality and fellatio with someone called LBC.
But we’ll go with "broken heart" in the meantime.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
And then with a fit redhead Scot cast as the new Doctor's companion by Steven Moffat and his Creep Me Out My Casting Someone Identical To My Cousin Amanda But Who I Might Actually Fancy, the forums predictably went into meltdown. Forever. Yes, the long quest to ban the entire OG population occurs at the end of July, an end-time foretold when the mods finally cracked and en mass told Sparacus to piss off and stop saying everyone under thirty years of age was a braindead chav.
I suppose I best loot the forums for the next month for anything I might need as no one is saying anything about archiving the damn thing - but this means that Ben Chatham will forever be retained to the bloggosphere! The new fans of Matt Smith will grow up in a world free from smoothe absinthe and lucious peachy bubblebuts! Apart from my fic, Barren Earth on Fan Fiction Dot Net, which has got three squeeing fangirls praising it to the sky in the last twenty four hours! On top of that, my cheap hackwork on Carribean Blue has been dubbed "a story which will definately be one of the best of Darker Project's ENTIRE output" by one of the Executive Producers!
But now I've finally found Blake's Junction 7, the fan film done years ago with such verisimilitude that - until anyone actually GLIMPSED the finished product - everyone assumed was a proper rival. Instead it's the B7 equivalent of The Curse of Fatal Death apparently. I say apparently as no one who has actually seen it ever bothered to review it online.
And so I shall!
It starts off with a green-fonted info dump across a starscape, being as generic as ever while explaining the format of the show, almost identical to that of Star Wars in content and context.
We then see Avon (Mark Heap, or Bryan from Spaced) done up in a perfect recreation of his Terminal outfit, with a Liberator side-arm stalking through the mist. But Heap is no Paul Darrow and, despite this visually being a dead ringer, it's clear that this Avon is less the icy tormented soul or even the audio's Only-Remotely-Normal-Person-In-The-Universe: this is a frustrated Peter Davison of a man, stuck in a job he doesn't particularly like looking after people he'd rather avoid. So in a sense he's truer to the spirit of Avon than anything certain audio dramas have done. His lack of spitting, "You tell me," in lieu of dialogue makes up for the unordinary colloquial dialogue he does possess.
Avon is not on Terminal but a grassy noll near a motorway service station (seemingly the one where the Eighth Doctor and Lucie Miller contrived to bore me to suicide in 1977). He returns to his ship... or rather, car with caravan attached and informs his companions they're going to have to cross the footbridge to get to the station. This is met with a generally negative reaction.
Avon's pals are:
Gan - a big, balding bloke who is the driver but tends to doze off and not do much
Dayna - a pissed off black chick who bickers with Vila
Vila - (Martin Freedman) who is only really differentiated from his equivalent by his bladder issues
Jenna - a peacemaker-type woman who until now I always assumed was a transvestite. But no, an actual woman.
Cally - a rather spaced-out ditzy girl who has to sit in the boot with Orac (who I think was Freedman's girlfriend in Hardware)Orac - (Peter Tuddenham, but he sounds geriatric and sleepy, which doesn't help the script which portrays him more as an over-eager K9)
Sapphire & Steel didn't make it out of this place - what chance does THIS lot have?
With, ironically, the only original cast member the one not quite fitting in, the group head across the footbridge, filmed in the kind of loving detail that reminds us their 'futuristic neon-lit surroundings' are pretty much identical to the ones the original series used, except without any pretence it's somewhere exotic. Jenna placates Orac as he tries to tell everyone about the atmospheric compounds, and Vila whines that when Blake was around he got to sit in the front of the car until Avon wearily tells him to build a bridge and get over it.
At the food bar, they act... disturbingly like the real crew probably would. Dayna and Cally split off to find some decent desert, Vila and Orac stock up with food (the computer longing for "brown ale" and Vila trying to make friends with the staff - like most of Freedman's characters, he's awkward, unfunny and talks too much), and Avon struggles to get a coffee dispenser working without losing his temper. Give Heap his dues, he's got the body language of Avon absolutely perfect. Jenna hangs around him, sensibly worried about his stress levels and pointing out that, you know, a broken coffee dispensor ISN'T the end of the world.
But what's this? Servalan and Travis (decked out like they were in Orac) are also at the cafe. I forget who plays Servalan, but he's that creepy jerk from The Office with the crewcut that only Brent likes. And although the makeup is a bit exuberant, it's no more than you'd see in Season 4. Frankly, the only real giveaway is the voice, but he does the 'simmering anger' pretty well. Travis has managed to get them completely lost, and the two token Federation Troopers sit there, silently drinking through straws in their gasmasks, hiccupping.
The heroes meanwhile are sitting down to their meal (bar Vila, who keeps having to go back for condiments for the girls), and Gan and Avon do a crossword ("How do you spell 'inhibitor'?"), and Dayna hides Vila's food while Orac sucks down booze like an extra in Black Books. A rather childish fight breaks out between Vila, Cally and Dayna over where his dinner is until "spoilsport" Gan tells him. It's amusing to note Avon doesn't even take his studded leather gloves off to eat food.
Servalan and her possie are mincing menacingly in best Federation fashion. Through the pokies. Not looking like they have any clue as to what any of the try-your-luck-machines might be for. While the funky Federation March plays in the background. And then Servalan fails to get a fluffy toy. I'm laughing my ass off just typing this. There's no dialogue, just the Bitch in White's facial expressions.
Cally, Dayna and Vila run off to play the arcade games while Jenna lights up a fag (until Orac complains about the smoke and Jenna spills the booze into the computer, causing it to shortcircuit), and Avon heads off to the Little Computer Genius' Room. While the children play the shoot-em-ups, Servalan has a rather naughty-looking go on the drag racing games. Vila is, of course, the only one to twig they're in the same arcade as their mortal enemy, while Avon encounters Blake (Johnny Vegas) in the gents. Not like that, you filthy bastards. Fan fics should know that Blake gets the runs from calamari. Blake is delighted to see Avon again ("I tried to call you a few times! Did you not get my messages?") but Avon just finds this awkward ("We moved... a couple of times..."). Blake hands over his mobile number and uncomfortably asks Avon if he's seeing anyone nowadays? "Blake," sighs Avon reprovingly in an uncanny Darrow impression, and hurries out of the gents, leaving Blake looking downcast.
57 slash fic writers just punched the air...
Pausing only to top up with some petrol, the crew head off with Jenna still worried about Avon's headaches, Vila needing the lavatory, Dayna teasing Cally, and everyone seemingly forgetting about Gan and Orac (mind you, Terry Nation did that himself often enough, so who can complain?).
I have to say I enjoyed it, which is the main thing, but I'm not surprised it sank like a stone. While you don't need to be a hardcore B7 fan to appreciate it... it helps. To the great masses, it's just a rather surreal short film about a bickering family and all the subtle gags (Gan's crossword, Blake's scar, Jenna's eyebrows, the Liberator air freshner, Servalan full stop) probably didn't mean a thing. I dare say some of them watched this and never suspected there was a TV series called Blake's 7 and it was just a generic sci fi parody. The only real problem I have is Freedman's Vila, who just becomes every single character he's ever played from Arthur Dent to whatisname Robinson. He seems to be the only one cast because he LOOKS right rather than he IS right (Simon Pegg would have done wonders). Meanwhile, despite all the indoctrination from Sparascripts, Vegas does well as the past-his-Gauda-Prime Blake, and is genuinely more convincing as the awkwardly-emotional rebel than Derek Riddell (I agree with SFX though, that James Nesbitt could NAIL that not-quite-good-guy character).
It's a far better tribute to the show than anything Mark Gatiss did on Doctor Who Night. For a start, it's funny, and it accepts the basic rule that - bar the shootout - people only remember B7 for the antics of the characters, not the political turmoil of the galaxy. Is there any real difference between this and the scenes in Terminal where Vila tricks Dayna into losing Monopoly against Cally? Or Sarcophagus? Or Sand? True, continuity goes out the window with a fourth-season Blake, first-season Jenna, Gan and Vila, and a third-season Cally, Avon and Dayna, but seriously, who cares? For a bit of frippery, it sums up the reasons we like the show better than anyone Ben Aaaronovitch has tried to smuggle past us and, I dare say, had the camper van been replaced with a spaceship and a few references to this service station being on an asteroid, everyone would clamor for it to be canonical.
The commentary is hilarious for all the wrong reasons. The Steve Moffat/Noel Clarke commentary for Girl in the Fireplace seemed to come from some City-of-Death sitcom starring the two, while this one seems to be Lano and Woodley do Ren and Stimpy - Paul Darrow and Mark Heap seem to spend the whole thing at cross purposes, Darrow seeming to rhyme every word with "What the HELL are you on about?!" while Heap remains firmly in character throughout. Unfortunately, the character is someone with little to no idea about anything to do with either Blake's 7 or even this movie. Despite Darrow's attempts to get some kind of conversation going, Heap sabotages it at every turn, "Can't remember! Don't know! No idea!" he enthuses cheerfully, unable even to remember if he was wearing a wig at the time or who the cast were. At one point he forgets Darrow is even talking to him, and assumes the great PD was "talking at the television" at people who - get this - can't actually hear you!
Indeed, it is only toilet humor that seems to fire Heap's enthusiasm, leading Darrow's embarrassed "well, let's just move on from there." He even cracks at one point and begs Heap not to keep dragging the commentary back to the pet hates of "doing a big job in the pooh-pooh porceline". Darrow manages to get a few strikes in, such as remembering a Brazillian couple who saw the film and couldn't understand why someone as ugly as Heap was chosen to represent Paul Darrow; musing that neo-Jenna is better than Sally Knyvette ("She's awfully attractive, isn't she?" "Well... in a female sort of way..." ""); describing the Blake scene "the most moving part of this epic, at least he washes his hands..."; and his alpha-male snarl of "I'm GOING to the MEN'S room, OKAY?!?!" to describe how Kerr Avon would tell others of his ablutions.
"This is definitely how they felt about each other," he muses over the sight of Vegas' Blake (a bit of casting both agree was surprisingly good). "There's something pitiful about him." Heap observes. "Yes, which is why the performance is so good," Darrow adds, "unlike yours." Then the discussion turns to the fact both Avons lived in the same town and never realized it till now, and how the cheap petrol prices will forever date this production as that of a bygone age. When the film finally ends, there's the bewildering, "Shall we keep talking?" asks Darrow. "Don't know." "Well, why not?" asks Darrow, and they read out the credits, before Heap reveals he's not wearing his contacts and has been effectively blind throughout the entire commentary. "Ooh, that was painful. And on that note... which note are we waiting for? That one?"
"This is a fourteen minute twenty two second film masquerading as a fifteen minute film," Darrow concludes.
Ne'er a truer word spoken.It could be a Ben Steed script... or maybe a rather crap Tanith Lee one...