Monday, July 27, 2009

FFS, Spara (special!)

OK, normally I try to limit any kind of Spara bashing to one post a month but I feel justified this time because, seriously, he's gone apeshit. The fact is he's suffered a devastating psychological blow - Corrination Street are bringing back Adam Rickitt's character... but not Adam Rickitt, who they refuse to allow on Florizel Street so sick are they of Chatham fics over the last half decade.

To Sparacus, this is like the cancellation of Robin Hood times a million, and his grief has... had a noticeable effect... continually being updated, I regret to say...



Should series 5 include a tribute scene to Michael Jackson?

Given the popularity of Michael Jackson and the huge outpouring of grief since his death, it seems to me that it would be a nice gesture if there was a short scene in an episode of series 5, maybe the first, in tribute to the King of Pop. Michael Jackson was a major pop star, a particularly popular and important superstar and the father of three children and it would be nice to have a respectful tribute scene. Many people did respect him and his music. Adding a tribute scene would boost ratings, especially if the press were briefed beforehand. Also it would be in tune with the public mood. There was no sci fi element to the music of John Lennon.

Michael would have to be played by an actor.

I do not see why such a scene would be tasteless. It would work if it was an affectionate tribute to Michael Jackson, a massive cultural star. His Thriller album is acclaimed and the 'Thriller' video defined the classic pop video. Also including a tribute scene would show that Doctor Who it in tune with the public mood. Michael Jackson shared a sense of eccentricity with the Doctor.

I'd envisage something like a scene where the Doctor takes his new companion to a Jackson concert from the 'Thriller' period and then gets to meet Jackson afterwards and do the moonwalk with him. Another idea would be to have the Karen Gillan character be a Jackson fan and the Doctor take her to Neverland . Michael could teach the Doctor the moonwalk while she watches. Michael Jackson popularised the Moonwalk. He made it well known.

Obviously the scene would have to be done tastefully. If the Neverland idea doesn't work they could just have the Doctor attend the Jackson concert and at the end he meets Michael backstage and offers to take him to the moon so that he can moonwalk on the actual thing itself.

My idea was to have the Doctor meet Jackson in his Thriller period to remind viewers how talented he was. How about the Doctor revealing that Michael Jackson is a former companion & his travels with the Doctor gave Michael the idea for the 'Thriller' video. This would fit in well with the Waters of Mars special where there are zombie things in it.

I am not suggesting that the scene deal in any way with the circumstances of his death. It would be a very bad idea if the entire episode featured the Doctor posing as Jacksons dermatologist and prescobe him a lethal combination of drugs. The Doctor would never kill someone by prescribing him a lethal cocktail of drugs. Especially not the King of Pop. Although it would be interesting to have Karen's character want to warn Michael about his medication taking but the Doctor insist that she cannot interfere with history.

Maybe it could be possible to add it to one of this years specials, although since they're finished this might be too problematic.

...

Michael Jackson was not a "freak show". I accept that certain aspects of his life were slightly eccentric however his music was very popular. I intend to do a tribute to Michael Jackson in my own popular Ben Chatham fiction. One idea is to have Michael give a personal rendition of 'Ben' to him. However this might be a tad cheesy. I have no intention of writing anything offensive.

A suggestion for such a scene:

Michael and Ben are alone in the bedroom. Michael strokes Ben's smoothe chest and says "You're very attractive for a post-pubescent boy." Michael moves in to kiss Ben. As their lips meet, Michael's nose becomes like rubber and begins to stretch, consuming Ben's face. Ben tries to pull away, but can't.....

.....To be continued.

Spara's Response:

I think that the above could be construed as mocking Michael's plastic surgery. I'd suggest removing certain phrases as well. See below:

Michael and Ben are alone in the bedroom. Michael strokes Ben's smoothe chest and says "You're very attractive ." Michael moves in to show Ben his gold discs. Then he teaches Ben the moonwalk and they play with Bubbles the chimp.

.....To be continued.

A suggestion from Wilf:

Never mind MJ, what about a Farrah Fawcett tribute? It would be a nice touch if DW mentioned Charlie's Angels should there ever be an adventure set in the 1970s - a bit like the British Rocket Group's namecheck in Remembrance.

Spara's response:

No disrespect to Miss Fawcett but she was not as large a cultural figure.

The problem is that such a tribute scene would be a year out of date if it was in series 5, which is all the more reason to splice the scene into 'Waters of Mars'! It is a cutting edge idea that would show that Doctor Who is relevent to current events!

I accept that the tribute will need to be carefully thought through so that it does not seem tasteless in any way. It would be a good idea to have a scene where Gillan runs to tell Michael that zombies are on the loose, only to discover he has become a zombie himself... but given recent events, this idea may cause offence.

I am not joking.

Nor do I need to go into rehab due to the fact that I am not addicted to drugs or continually drunk.

Amazingly enough, this idea was relayed to David Tennant at the recent comic convention. Tennant didn't have anything to say, but his reaction was caught on camera:

Saturday, July 25, 2009

YOA - Gazing Into The Void (pt 1)

(Andrew, Dave and Nigel are trudging down a path beside the river. It is very early in the morning and all is in twilight. Nigel carries several bags, an easel and some collapsible furniture, and is bitching...)

NIGEL: Why do we have to come down here so early in the morning anyway?

ANDREW: Oh, enough of the complaining Nigel! Are you my faithful gofer or what?

NIGEL: “Faith” doesn’t come into it, Andrew. I’m here for the cold hard cash, which thanks to the blind rage of an angry god, YOU seem to have in abundance while I suffer below the poverty line.

ANDREW: Yeah, and if you want currency of that temperature and consistency, you can stop complaining.

(They continue down the path in silence for about three seconds.)

NIGEL: It’s not fair. It’s just not fair. Why do YOU get all the money when I don’t?

ANDREW: I have a job, Nigel.

NIGEL: Yeah. A part-time job! Which you barely attend. So, maybe I am unemployed-stroke-exploring-my-leisure-potential, but so what? I’m honest about it?

DAVE: You’ve defrauded Centrelink out of thirty grand.

NIGEL: That’s not my point.

DAVE: You don’t HAVE a point.

NIGEL: Shut up, Dave. My point is this: while I may, yes, have got money that wasn’t rightfully mine, at least I worked for it. All the effort getting those dole benefit forms, forging different handwriting, looking up all those foreign names. Do you KNOW how many foreign baby name books I’ve bought? Half the staff of Dymocks think I’ve knocked up half the civilized world.

ANDREW: Mainly because that’s what you tell them to impress the girl on the counter.

NIGEL: I know. I can’t BELIEVE that didn’t work.

DAVE: You weren’t giving her the impression of being a safe bet for commitment.

NIGEL: Nonsense. I was showing I not only make commitments, I make them to a HELL of a lot of people. And, anyway, what do I want to know about female advice from you? You’re still mooning after the girl who dumped you at high school for a Ronald McDonald impersonator.

DAVE: Piss off!

NIGEL: Where was I before the depressing details of Dave’s so-called life got in the way?

(Andrew walks off the path and up the hill, so he can overlook the river.)

ANDREW: You justifying ripping off the social services.

NIGEL: Yes! Of course. My point is, I made an effort. OK, I didn’t get a job and earn the money, but I still went out of my way to get that cash. And you, what do you do? Nothing, that’s what? You do a couple of days work a quarter, and you get a fortune. How is that fair?

(Andrew turns and places his hands on Nigel's shoulders and looks deep into his eyes.)

ANDREW: Nigel. If I gave you a long and detailed explanation for exactly how it works and precisely why it is fair, would that actually satisfy you?

(Nigel is about to speak.)

ANDREW: No. It wouldn’t. You’d still be just as pissed off as before. Now, set up the easel and the furniture while I gather the muse.

NIGEL: How do I know you’ll even pay me?

ANDREW: Because you shutting the hell up will be well worth the cash.

NIGEL: I don’t have to put up with this, you know.

(Andrew smiles scarily.)

ANDREW: Neither do I.

NIGEL: ...good point. (mutters) Crazy hairy bastard...

(Nigel walks off and starts to dump all the things he carries onto the ground.)

DAVE: You know, I did always wonder about why a psychotic like Snugglewolffe would set you up with a cozy job like that. Three days of shelf-stacking and check out for a couple of grand... how DOES that work?

ANDREW: I’m on commission.

DAVE: “Commission”? Get real, Andrew, that never works. Name one careers officer or jobsearch officer to say otherwise!

ANDREW: There’s always an exception that proves the rule.

DAVE: And you’re it?

ANDREW: Uh-huh. See, when I turn up, abuse the customers, hide the good toys... all that. It sends a message to the customers.

DAVE: “Don’t Shop Here”.

ANDREW: To be more precise, “This Shop Is So Desperate For Staff It’s Probably Going To Close”. So everyone super-sizes their purchases, try to get all the stuff NOW instead of waiting for Christmas or birthdays... well, Christmas IS a birthday, so birthdays and birthdays.... and the next thing you know, the store has a whopping huge bundle of cash, so much in fact it pays my wages for the next five months or so. Or, from another perspective, the next three months with a huge bonus.

DAVE: Oh I get it. You then avoid the shop for the rest of the quarter, get the customers all calm, then do the whole vicious cycle again.

ANDREW: And people say there’s an economic crisis.

(Nigel is trying to set up the easel.)

NIGEL: Won’t even the mental rejects who shop at your workplace start to twig you turn up every three months?

ANDREW: They haven’t for the last two years. More working, less chatting.

NIGEL: Chat? That’d suggest I was speaking about something interesting with someone of even vaguely similar intelligence. It’s a quarter to seven, you madman! The sun’s not fully risen yet! It’s cold, damp, dark and we could be safely back at home, in the bright warmth, with Eve. Eve, who even now is snuggled on those silk sheets of hers, her platinum blonde hair crumpled against a pillow she hugs to her pert breasts while the other hand snakes between her...

(He notices Dave and Andrew glaring at him.)

NIGEL: Shutting up now. No, wait, why do we have to be up this early? What are you going to paint, anyway?

ANDREW: Hmm? Oh. Sunrise on the river.

NIGEL: Oh, everyone does that! Everyone does sunsets or sunrises. What mediocrity!

ANDREW: I’m taking this out of your pay cheque, Nigel.

(Nigel lets the easel collapse and folds his arms.)

NIGEL: Fine. I’m standing by my principles, Andrew. ANYONE could do a sunrise, and they probably have! After five thousand years of civilization, it’s been done to death. You could at least paint something vaguely worth capturing...

DAVE: This is going to end with you volunteering to have your portrait painted, isn’t it?

NIGEL: Oh please. As if I could bear to see how a talent vacuum like Andrew could perceive MY godlike looks. It would be getting a warthog to try and do justice painting what’s her name from Naturally Sadie.

ANDREW: Art is never truly appreciated inside the artist’s lifetime, Nigel.

NIGEL: And you’re not an artist. I was in Art at high school, remember? With you? I thought you were crap. Dave thought you were crap. The teacher thought you were crap and, when they finally realized she was senile and she got replaced, her replacement thought you were crap too. That’s why the school refused to put up your artwork for the HSC, remember?

ANDREW: No they didn’t. I handed in empty frames.

DAVE: (awed) No! Seriously?

ANDREW: Yeah. I said it was Minimalism taken to the next level.

NIGEL: ...you still flunked, though.

ANDREW: That’s where the “lack of appreciation inside the artist’s lifetime” comes in.

NIGEL: Maybe. But your staggering lack of artistic talent...

ANDREW: ...which was entirely down to the crude materials on offer at high school. The paint, awful. The canvases, second hand, the creative atmosphere stifling and the art teacher convinced it was 1937. Now with my huge pay bracket, I’ve got proper materials and the perfect setting.

(Andrew indicates the stuff brought, including a brand new paintbox set.)

NIGEL: To paint a sunrise.

DAVE: And what would YOU suggest, Big N?

NIGEL: Oh, I dunno. Do that statue.

ANDREW: Nigel, no one ever wants to look at a painting of a statue – they’d rather have the statue itself. Statues are free to look at, and if the painting is better than the original sculpture, it begs the question of why the hell the painting needed to be based on a rubbish subject in the first... what statue?

NIGEL: That one.

(Nigel points. Further up the hill, near some trees, is a statue of someone flinging their arms up in front of them, looking terrified.)

ANDREW: Where’d that one come from?

(They approach the statue.)

DAVE: Well, Andrew, when a sculpture and a block of stone love each other very much...

ANDREW: I mean, it wasn’t here yesterday.

(An uneasy silence. Nigel recovers first.)

NIGEL: Oh don’t pull some Weeping Angels shit, Andrew. Look at it. It’s not even covering its eyes.

(They look at the statue of the terrified man.)

DAVE: ...it’s trying to, though.

NIGEL: Well. Obviously that was the characteristic pose of the subject.

DAVE: Who was...?

ANDREW: Someone who hated publicity if that’s how people think of him. You know, I might have seen this guy coming out of a courtroom like that...

DAVE: Why erect a statue out here anyway?

NIGEL: He’s probably famous or something. Killed all the “Abowiginuls” who owned the land and was immortalized forever.

ANDREW: Trying to cover his face?

DAVE: I dunno. Sculpture’s so damn difficult. I mean, one mistake and you need a whole new block of marble. Makes sense that you’d make it so you didn’t need to get the face right. I myself know the deep frustration of getting a subject just right in the medium. Like when I did that painting of Phoebe? I spent ages on that. Every time I was just about finished getting the silhouette, her waistline would expand and I’ve have to start all over again.

NIGEL: Well. She was pregnant.

DAVE: Hey, I don’t need to be told. I did a hundred half-finished sketches at the time which proved it!

ANDREW: You should have kept them, you know. It could have been a series of paintings. Very deep.

DAVE: (blinks) Yeah. That would have got me top of the class, easy. Shit!

ANDREW: Wait a minute. Someone’s carved this statue of someone and put it down by the river in a position where hardly anyone can see it.

DAVE: Civil planning?

ANDREW: But where’s the plaque? Huh? Where’s the stone plinth. I mean...

(Andrew gestures to the stone feet standing amongst the grass. Dave leans on the statue to better peer down at its feet, but the statue falls back under the weight and crashes into the grass. The others jump back in surprise.)

DAVE: Hey! It’s not even attached to anything!

NIGEL: Take the night off, Sherlock! It must have been dumped down here.

ANDREW: Oh, sure, that makes a lot of sense.

(As they chat, something is watching them from the undergrowth.)

ANDREW: Someone carves a brilliantly detailed statue, then decides to dump it in public, and does so without leaving any tracks or anything?

NIGEL: (shrugs) It’s a free country.

DAVE: No. It isn’t.

NIGEL: OK. We pretend it’s a free country. Look, you want to do a painting, do the painting. I don’t want to have dragged all this crap here for nothing.

DAVE: Cause such futility would be a real break in your behavior pattern.

NIGEL: Dave, you really should consider the consequences of your actions.

(He kicks at the back of Dave's legs, causing him to collapse, roll down the hill, over the path and crash into the fence stopping you fall into the river. Andrew is putting a canvas on the easel.)

ANDREW: I’m fining you twenty bucks for that, you realize.

NIGEL: (amazed at how unfair this is) Oh, COME ON!

(The thing in the undergrowth moves away...)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The YOA/Sparacus Chat Show!

Freak me sideways. Someone finally animated me and Spara arguing...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Same Man, New Clothes

The Doctor fingered the elegant garments sadly for a moment and frowned. They looked as if they’d fit all right, but, he didn’t like them. What sort of a chap would go around dressed up like that? Still, it didn’t matter. He had lots more clothes in the TARDIS. In his old body, he’d never bothered about clothes, but now garments that would complement his regenerated appearance seemed rather important to him.

"Holy shit, he's wearing the Nick Briggs' Doctor's outfit."
- Miles Reid-Lobatto, Man of Awesome

And you were worried about the Valeyard...

As you can imagine, getting an email with that message about Matt Smith was far from cheering news. Of course, as outfits go, Briggy's General Frontbottom Doctor didn't do too bad out of the deal, but it caused the same sort of "Oh no" reaction we would have had if DT had turned up in a long scarf, floppy hat and offering people jelly babies. The Dave Segal Factor, mayhaps it should be called?

After all the effort of rebuilding the TARDIS following her destruction, the Doctor realizes too late he's still forgotten to get the windows the right size...

But, bar the bowtie, Matty less resembles the Briggs Alt-Sixth Doctor but the Robert Hardy Alt-Eighth Doctor from Bullseye Books. Or maybe just John Smith from Human Nature if you're not sad. (Mind you, Hardy's Doctor DID start out as an amnesiac human schoolteacher ignorant of his Time Lordiness... no, never mind.)

"I got to beat Sylvester McCoy's head in with a spanner so he'd regenerate into me, you know! Can you tell that the author has a few issues with the JNT era?"

I have to say I'm not exactly overjoyed. I liked his understated black number for his initial photoshops (not least because that's how I drew him in my magnum opus), and with his hair seemingly undercontrol he looks like, well, a total geek than the anarchist punk rocker who seemed to have had too much coffee in The Eleventh Doctor special. What was wrong with that, I ask you? And, seriously though, those boots and trousers unnervingly remind me of Vyvyan from The Young Ones. Indeed, looking at him, it's easier to see Matt Smith playing Ford Prefect than the Doctor.

But hell, what do I know?

Wait, I know what I know. The new companion's name is rubbish. While I get down on my knees and worship the Moff for NOT bowing to peer pressure and deciding to make her Jamie's descendant (there is only one person over the last three hundred years worthy of being a companion from Scotland?), her name...

"Amy Pond"?

"Pond"?

I can't think of a worse name! Pond scum! Pond life! Bottom of the Pond! Slough of desPond! See if she is a witch by throwing her in a Pond! I mean, haven't we suffered enough with a retarded hiccup "River Song" - two randon nouns nailed together like dissidents to a crucifix - and now we get a similar damp squib. Pond? River? No doubt there's a female villain in the works known as Tanya Puddle.

But then again, maybe, just maybe, her stupid name is a point. People DO have stupid names. Look at mine. Is it that Amy and the Doctor get on so well because he doesn't take the piss out of her moniker? Even without the aquatic ecosystem implications, it's an ugly sounding name. There was a reason she was called Martha Jones rather than Martha Plop. There's no cellar door linguistic beauty there.

In Other News That I May Or May Not Have Made Up...

The Eleventh Doctor's first story features the return of the Silurians and Sea Devils!

Hah! You're going to die horribly and spend the rest of eternity in an artificial afterlife fit only for Stepford Wives, you insufferable Benny Summerfield wannabe!!

Prufessah Reevah Songh is back!
Worse, she's STILL played by Alex Kingston!
In a two-parter!
Which is the very first story Matt Smith will be recording!

The Doctor is as pleased as I am with the return of River Song...
And yes, that is what she looks like out of her space suit.

The story arc will be subtle and NOT end with a surprise appearance by the Daleks!

Amy Pond (?!) will NOT leave in episode thirteen.

Captain Jack will pop up with his usual embarrassing tendency and introduce new Doctor to new companion.

Lawrence Miles is NOT writing an episode for the series.

Tom Wallace will finally appear on TV!

Nightshade will be adapted for television starting Tom Baker as Professor Bernard Oh Wait We Can't Do That Let's Call Him Nightshade Instead I Love Quatermass Don't You Oh The Nostalgia I Could Just Bathe In It. By Mark Gattiss.

Steven Moffat fears getting arrested as a pedophile in 1969 when he attempts to brag to his six-year-old self that he gets the job of his dreams and this is taken entirely the wrong way by passers-by.

The Doctor, a cute redhead, a police box and a quarry. The more things change...

The pics you see are from an epic midseason two-parter from the Fifth Series. An alien spacecraft called the Byzantium has crashed upon a certain beach in Norway, and near the wreckage the TARDIS arrives carrying the Eleventh Doctor and Amy. But they are confronted by none other than Professor River Song Archaelogist, who has been waiting for them in her own sartorial nightmare. Yes, it's the Crash of the Byzantium as mentioned in Silence of the Library (providing the first major continuity cockup of the new era as it was described there as being a Tenth Doctor adventure, not an Eleventh one - goes to show how much attention Moff's paying nowadays). But who are the armed troopers after River Song's blood, and why do their uniforms have the symbol for "Omega" sewn into them?!

Handcuffs? No thanks! I'm not into that kinky stuff in this body either...

Anyway, back to the outfit.

Amy tries not to react to the New Doctor's impressively large sonic screwdriver - which, remember, Moffat himself established as having three settings long ago...

Could have been worse...

"The difference between you and me is I make this look good!"

Amy Pond banishes all memory of... Rose something? I forget...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Doctor Who - Planet of Dust

DOCTOR WHO: PLANET OF THE DEAD

Look at me looking at you
There ain't a thing that I can do
You are lost, your mind is a whirl
Baby, such a stupid girl!

Coz I'm stranded on my own!
Stranded far from home!

Livin' in a world insane!
They cut out some heart and some brain
Been filling it up with dirt
Do you know how much it hurts?

To be stranded on your own?
Stranded far from home?


This particular special of Doctor Who was in April. I didn't bother to review it then for some reason. It boils down to the dilemma - which is worse, Creed of the Kromon or The Next Life? A spectacular failure to be an epic adventure or a boring runaround not even trying to be anything beyond itself? I tend to side on the Kromon being worse angle, as I am generally willing to forgive a failure if the heart was in it, which is why I rate The Twin Dilemma over The Monster of Peladon. But then again, maybe an interesting failure is better than a boring success?

The Next Doctor wasn't really that bad a failure, on its own terms. Certainly it worked better than Planet of the Dead - perhaps the most perfect evocation of the Pertwee era. I'm not saying that because it's got UNIT and monsters and stuff, but that the show's successful status leads to everyone resting on their laurels. It's the mindset behind The Time Monster, a greatest hits package with little to no imagination or anything new to say. They can get away with it, so why bother? There's more chance of Ben Chatham getting on television than Planet of Dead being made in the Eccleston era, when no one was sure if the show would sink or swim.

With this in mind (and it's hardly a secret, since RTD's quite honest that this is a disposable romp whose only reason for being is that it's the LAST EVER disposable romp Tennant's Doctor will have, all the spin off media notwithstanding), I might have enjoyed Planet of the Dead. Or at least reached an understanding with it like I did with Love & Monsters.

The problem, really, fundamentally is a case of two writers not on the same page.

Considering RTD has worked brilliantly with other writers, and he and Gareth Roberts achieved a better-than-decent rapport for Invasion of the Bane, this was a total surprise to me. But now I suspect Jared is right and Invasion of the Bane was Roberts rewriting Rose rather than writing with RTD. Because this clash is awful. Truly, truly awful. All the flaws are magnified and all the strengths have buggered off home early.

RTD wants a cynical, tense thriller. He wants, basically if not literally, Voyage of the Damned.

Gareth Roberts wants a fun, lightweight bit of frippery nonsense to zone out to. He wants, basically if not literally, Delta and the Bannerman without the Bannerman.

(Of course, I hasten to add, I could be completely wrong about who wanted what but while I have seen RTD do shiny happy people I have also seen him murdering children in cold blood... er, figuratively.)

So... my problems are...

Firstly, the companion.

She's supposed to be sexy, apparently, but then so was Lilith and Miss Hartigan. At least in RTD's land, he leaves any "sexiness" down to the given actress and instead focus on characterization, which is why eminent bachelorette Miss Mercy scores low compared to blackamoor prostitute Rosita. Rather dispiritingly, the only time I have seen anyone describe Christina (rather than Michelle Ryan) as being remotely shaggable is when she appears to sit on the camera half-way through the story. Turtle-neck black sweaters and gloves don't exactly scream pheremonal fertility either, but even during those publicity photos of her posing with DT under the hot, hot sun she barely scrapes in as "cute". "Zero on the hornometer," as Rik Mayall would say.

My point being that saying "Christina is sexy" isn't going to cover ANY sins, and there are a few.

It's quite clear that one writer doesn't like Christina, and doesn't want us to like her. But the other one does. Scenes alternate with her as a manipulative psycho bitch or just generic wisecracking babe. Here's a bit of trivia I know for a fact: during Voyage of the Damned, RTD considered not killing off Astrid, but having the Doctor refuse to take her with him when she kills someone. She doesn't quite make the grade, not because of cowardice, selfishness or stupidity, but just a bit too ruthless to trust. And, since he's clearly cannibalized his original Season 4 opener for this story, I think he reused this idea as well. Christina was never going to be allowed into the TARDIS, because, deep down, she's just nasty.

With my oft despairing of female companions like Lucie Miller, Dara Hamilton or... er... Katie Ryan, I do sometimes wonder if I might be a misogynist. But not this time.

Watch, if you can, the opening of the story. Chris pulls off the robbery (I will vent over that later), and leaves the museum where a man waiting for her has been caught by police. "Goodbye, lover," she sneers, and then runs off.

BITCH!!

There is but one way to interpret that scene - she left her partner to face the music, with no intention of returning. Either she was sleeping with him to help her scam, or else he was her genuine boyfriend and abandoned nonetheless. Our companion character betrayed and abandoned someone that close to her.

Now, that's hardly nice. I can't off the top think of any companion who would be as cruel as that (wait... NA Ace, but that's not the point). But I can think of a character in Nu Who who acted in such an asshole manner, and that was Lance in The Runaway Bride. A guy so utterly nasty, even the Doctor doesn't regret him dying.

This scene pretty much made me hate Christina and put a real slant on her actions since. Does she really give a rat's arse about anyone else on that bus? True, she takes command and acts nice, but as the bint keeps telling us, she's aristocratic and the one thing all aristocrats do is act diplomatic and hide their true feelings. She uses everyone on that bus to get her home. She has no interest in the fact that all life on San Helios died. She doesn't give a toss about the Tritovores dying. She significantly only asks to go in the TARDIS when she sees the copper closing in on her - she doesn't want to see the universe, she just wants a getaway.

And then there's her "the Aristocrisy, ready for everything" Chathamesque attitude (which prompted more than myself to shout "Tell that to the French, you stupid cow!") which annoys the hell out of the Doctor. And if the Doctor thinks she's a nasty piece of work, well...

The trouble is, mainly, that DT plays it like The Runaway Bride, a romantic comedy. The Doctor's interest in Christina is trying to work out what's up with her, but its portrayed as the usual flirty companion audition. All those scenes where they compliment each other, as apparently being a great team, don't sit well - he's apparently all but in love with her, yet we see him furious at her dismissal of the aliens and reckless attempts to get a crystal, her moronic belief she knows better than him. The mandatory kiss scene is treated with the same joy de viere as Astrid standing on a box to snog the man she's clearly fallen in love with, yet I cannot bring myself to believe it. Christina snogs the Doctor as a reward for saving her. She thinks he wants a snog. Is she that stupid? Or is it just the usual way she rewards people? Like her "lover", now rotting in jail?

Apart from anything else, FOR FUCK'S SAKE WOMAN HE IS TRYING TO DRIVE A FLYING BUS!!!

This is the problem: not Christina being a heartless bitch, but the story not seemingly being sure if she is a heartless bitch. We see all this evidence of her being a borderline psychotic, but the ending has her applauded as she escapes justice - it's like Camille in Red Dwarf, where Rimmer hears and sees a different girl to the one Lister is talking to. All concerned treat Christina like she's Vila Restal, gentle-lady thief, not quite a Robin Hood but someone they all think is cool and fun. Why?

Well, it's obvious: it's a Sunday Night Christmas special. We don't need any bleak dark subtext in an adventure story, do we? The idea is clearly a take on The Ribos Operation, with Christina being the First Romana, opposites attracting, the Ice Maiden melting and lightening up. It's such a pity they didn't do a total rewrite and make her so. Hell, cutting the "Goodbye, lover" line would have helped.

It all reaches saturation point. Christina, desperate to escape the cops, puts on an obviously fake "jolly" mood and asks the Doctor to take her with him. He, to put it bluntly, tells her fuck off. This bit of the script and story is clearly the "Christina is an untrustworthy bitch and the Doctor has not fallen for it" part. But then its suddenly "Christina is a cool babe", so the reason the Doctor has to get some OTHER reason to tell her to fuck off. Since he can't do a "Sorry, I'm turning into Matt Smith soon, apply next year" or a "Sorry, I need to be companionless for The Waters of Mars" we get the now cliched Mopy Doctor.

"I lost them all," the Doctor all but sobs of his earlier companions. Now, at first glance this seems to be a cut and paste of The Next Doctor where our hero admits all his companions break his hearts when they leave. But come on. "LOST" them all? What crap is this? How did he lose Jackson Lake? Or Mickey? Or even Rose, who he deliberately told to take a hike with a copy of himself. According to the licenced media, he's had at least two companions since Donna left. Are we supposed to believe Magenta Price and Heather McCrimmon both met nasty ends? Surely the whole point of Journey's End was him parting with his friends on good terms.

Is the Doctor just talking crap to spare Christina's feelings? Is he just talking crap because it seems the entire ending of the story was re-written at the last second? Christina's a thief, stealing for pleasure and with no interest in whatever pain she may cause. To quote Servalan, "I think you're lucky to have your life". The Doctor saved her more than once, brought her back to Earth. He owes her nothing and a bit of jail time would probably give the uppity ratbag a bit of common sense.

But that would be a downer ending (and Planet of the Dead is the last time they can apparently avoid one) and thus instead Christina escapes justice and flees in a flying bus. With alien technology. And this is the Doctor who refused to even let Captain Jack have a fucking teleport. I know we're not supposed to worry about such niggles, but aren't you worried she'll crash into a plane or something? That's ASSUMING she knows how to drive a bus, let alone a FLYING bus.

And I tell you this, wherever she's going, it's NOT to rescue her lover from police.

Right. What next? Oh, I know. The Tritovores.

Firstly, I'm delighted to see that the rape and pillage of the 1986 Doctor Who Annual continues apace. The book gave us the idea of a time rift accessable in a sewer (later in Torchwood), the Master hypnotizing the population of Great Britain (Sound of Drums), different time zones accessible from a single building (Girl in the Fireplace), evil statues that move when you look away (Blink), a Utopean society based over a sacrificial race of plague victims (New Earth) and now, finally the Tritovores!

If JNT had made Planet of the Dead...

I actually quite like the Tritovores. It's nice to meet a race of friendly aliens nowadays - the Adipose adults were amoral murders, Pyroviles parasitic scum, Ood schizo serial killers, Hath aggressive pushovers, Vespiforms either horny or insane, and don't get me started on Vashta Nerada. Even the Shadow Proclaimation turned bad. But these bug-headed spacemen who literally eat the shit off the ground were nice - one of them is clearly as smitten with the Doctor as Astrid was, and the other refuses to leave its friend to die, and the Captain refuses to abandon his ship.

But these lovely little aliens, easily the most endearing "hideous monsters" since the Moxx of Balhoun or Alpha Centauri, are killed off in a pathetically obvious way even though the audience is more likely to sympathize with them than the bunch of losers on the bus who only have the "innocent bystanders" card to stop them turning totally invisible.

OK, so the stingrays needed more than their past reputation with Steve Irwin to impress us, so we had to see them kill someone rather than remain a conceptual menace. But killing the Tritovores rather than the humans just felt cheap, especially after the token bus driver was atomized - if we needed a happy ending where no humans died, why kill off the bus driver? Basically, when your alien monsters are more obvious companion material than the genuine article, you're in trouble, and the Tritovores definitely needed a better exit than our hero the Doctor going, "Oh well, YOU'RE obviously stuffed so I'll be off now!"

Would it have been so difficult for one of them have made it to Earth? To see the Doctor turning down the token hot chick but travel with the walking house fly would reinforce the 'don't-judge-by-appearances' angle Planet of the Dead seemingly can't make up its mind up about. The Tritovores were good people. Christina is not. Yet we're supposed to applaud her as she pulls a Christopher Skase...

And then there is some problems I just have with the whole thing...

- Planet of the Dead is a title used more than once and conjured up a far cooler story than the one we got. All the fans wondered if it might be Skaro or Gallifrey or a world of ghosts of all those the Doctor had failed to save... but no. Just a very generic alien place that was nuked to a desert. As a big part of the story seems to be about fluke bad luck, why not just have San Helios a desert planet all on its own? Dying of dehydration is as dangerous as being attacked by flying sting rays. Anyone who's seen Pitch Black will see a Doctor Who story struggling to get out and the idea that the entire population and every geological feature was turned to dust... that psychically screamed for all eternity... was a waste of time. Planet of Dust? Another annual nick, but it makes more of the idea, a less utterly generic title...

- the burglary. In a scene that might have had some kind of cultural reference in the mid-1990s but now feels braindamaged from its lack of a punchline - see how The Lone Gunmen did wonders with this Mission: Impossible shite of dangling upside down on wires. Not only is Christina so mentally damaged she leaves a squeaky cat toy that gives her away, when the alarms goes off she takes off her mask so absolutely EVERYONE can see what she looks like and identify her. I contemplated taking my own life in this sequence, and pray for the deleted scene that reveals her "lover" was the owner of the museum and it was all an insurance scam, which was why the cup was placed just where anyone could steal it with useless guards all facing the wrong direction. This sequence has crappiness rivalling Battlefield, The War Machines and The Idiot's Lantern for reasons why we should be ashamed of Doctor Who.

- the wormhole. Did ANYONE give any thought to this? It apparently forms at the exact moment that the bus can fly through it. Fair enough, but then all the cops drive through the exact spot and find nothing. Then the wormhole reappears and apparently has a circumfrence of TEN MILES, but is barely large enough for the bus to enter... at ground level... despite flying in the sky on the other side.

- why didn't the Doctor ask for a tank or something on a long chain driven through the wormhole, get everyone inside and have it dragged back? Or at least have a scene explaining why he COULDN'T?

- The Doctor tells Bambera the Second that the two guys on the bus should be given jobs at UNIT. I thought he hated the military? I mean, shouldn't he consult them before saying, "BTW, you are now in the army and likely to die on the front line the next time aliens turn up?" I know one of the kids was depressed and unemployed, but the other had his own life to lead. Considering niether of them got screentime long enough for me to even remember their NAMES, this screams of "ooh, must give everyone a happy ending" without doing something normal like, I dunno, having the Doctor say goodbye to them?

- Malcolm screaming "I love you!" at the Doctor. Dude... calm down. And where's the punchline? He just stands there screaming "I love you!" like Nick Briggs noting his vision is impaired, the Doctor smiling indulgently and... um. That's it? It seemed totally out of the blue. Maybe if Malcolm was suddenly, "Ooh, I'm not GAY though, Doctor, though not that there's anything wrong with that..." it might have had a point. Or if Malcolm was so tongue-tied at seeing the Doctor in the flesh, he couldn't talk, and then did that as the Doctor was about to leave in the TARDIS, taking his last chance, well, that might have made sense too.

My biggest problem... bar Christina anyway... is the Ominous Foreshadowing Scene. Am I the only one COMPLETELEY AND UTTERLY FUCKING SICK of this scene where we bump into a random woman who tells us "Dark Shit Is Going Down" in a way that manages to be oh-so-spooky-and-doom-laden but actually totally meaningless? How many times have they done this?

From Gwenyth to the Doctor to the Face of Boe in to the dueling soothsayers to River Song to Chantho's Evil Sister to that Albino Chick, there seem to be an endless array of totally unhelpful bits of forewarning. It reminds me so much of that special trailer to Season 17 where the Fourth Doctor confronts such a bit of ridiculous scaremongering...

"You will be pitted against an evil force!"
"Is that all?"
"Forewarned is forearmed!"
"What sort of gibberish is that? Go away!"


Perhaps my big deal with the scene is the actress. I love that actress. She was brilliant as Dilbert Wilkin's mum in The Lenny Henry Show, the butch nurse in TLC, Claire in Teachers, and the Clockwork Woman in The Girl In The Fireplace. And when she finally appears in my favorite show and she plays a totally useless and seemingly brain damaged pensioner who sits, doing absolutely nothing babbling about death since absolutely sod all interesting is happening. Her sole purpose is to hint that maybe things might be dangerous on an alien planet (duhhhhh) and that the Doctor is doomed to die when someone knocks on the door and then runs away or something.

Does she ACTUALLY think that is going to help? "Be careful"?! What the fuck?

Apart from anything else, her amazing abilities are seeming to see the future on Earth while on San Helios she can only detect the present. What utter crap. Everyone knows Tennant has quit. Everyone knows who's replacing him. What in the name of God's bollocks lead to them pulling this stunt, already done three times in consecutive stories, to try and ramp up tension for a story that wouldn't be screened until the end of the year?

It's the most pathetic part of the episode, and indeed the RTD era, despite the truly brilliant acting of all concerned as DT looks like he's just realized he's given every puppy in the world cancer and Carmen shakes with fear... but then they jam this scene in the MIDDLE of the end. What should have happened was the story ending right there, but no we get some comedy as the Doctor releases a felon and she escapes and everyone's laughing... like none of it happened.

Why not? Absolutely none of it mattered, did it?

This may be The Creed of the Kromon of the new series, but like The Next Life, the trailer for the next story is the only reason to see it...

3/10


Next Time:
"Water always wins!"
It's like 42 only wet! Dripping taps turn ordinary human beings into clones of Burn Gorman with perpetually damp handshakes! And ask not for whom the bell tolls... lest Adrian Edmonsen run into the Cloister Room screaming "SHUT UP YOU BASTARDS! IT'S ONLY ELEVEN O'CLOCK! TURN THE BLOODY BELL OFF!!!"

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Torchwood 5/5 - Nowhere Left To Run

Let's go and see the stars!
The Milky Way, or even Mars!
Well, it could just be ours!

Let's fade into the sun!
Let your spirit fly!
For we are one!
Just for a little fun?

I want to get away... I wanna fly away...

The finale of Torchwood begins with Gwen's doom-laden video diary as the PM declares the new "innoculation scheme" to gather up all the children while UNIT try to communicate with the less-than-gracious 456, who reveal they will milk the kids for their pubescent hormones - yes, the 456 are space junkies and they need a fix STAT! Well, this explains their violent mood swings, constant sneezing and smoking the place up like a bong championship in Redfern.

Despite this revelation, the child-snatching plan still goes ahead while Mr. Frobisher bluntly reminds the remaining members of Torchwood they are no longer major players in events, and no one has to suck up to them any more. Even if they spills the beans, all they can do is cause utter anarchy a few days earlier than it will eventually break out.

"That's what Torchwood does... it ruins your life."

All hope is officially abandoned, and even Aunty Terrorist is feeling the angst, while the PM decides that having Frobisher's daughters as victims of the 456 would be good publicity for the "Oh, boy, were WE suckered! That innoculation stuff actually turned out to be mass alien abduction! Still, what can you do?" campaign the world's governments are trying to pull.

Frobisher's solution to the idea of his children being sacrificed involves a fully loaded gun and going home early.

Unable to pull off their bluff convincingly, the government decide to stop fannying about and go hardcore, with the army raiding preschools, day care centres and also the Jones' 10 Quid A Kid Scam. It seems that since Moffat is now ruler of Doctor Who, RTD doesn't feel obliged to his advice of "lighten up and stop melting all the interesting characters you write for", as Jack's last-ditch attempt to fight the 456 involves teaming up with Aunty Terrorist and her shock troopers who are as gun-happy, psychotically ruthless and quite possibly as insane as those Welsh lesbians he teamed up with when he joined Torchwood.

Well, cut a long story short - the world doesn't end, the 456 get long-awaited karma, and Prime Minister Brian Green gets completely screwed over by the lady from The Last Train. The last seven minutes of the episode occur six months later, with Captain Jack coming to the conclusion that after two and half thousand years, he's pretty much sick to death of the Earth and everything on it and so - with his miraculously-recovered Vortex Manipulator - Jack decides to do the whole Ford Prefect thing and start hitchhiking the galaxy and get away from a world where he can't look anyone in the eye any more. "I've lived so many lives," he muses as he takes his leave of Terra. "Time to start another one."

When it's pointed out that he can't go round life running away from his mistakes, our greycoated hero retorts:

"Just watch me."

Well. That ends the series on the moral tone I'm sure the audience needed. Of course, RTD is banging on about a possible fourth season of Torchwood - but lest Jack returns, or else Torchwood focusses on his galactic manwhoring across the Milky Way, I don't see it happening. The entire cast are gone now, the sets destroyed, and both Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures were sick of the premise to start with. Are we honestly supposed to expect Torchwood 4 will be the Cardiff based adventures of Aunty Terrorist, PC Andy, Alice and Lois being completely useless with a few funky laptops? Actually, that's about as retarded as the original pitch, so the Mythbusters would dub that "Plausible". But with RTD and Chris Chibnall both washing their hands of the show, you have to wonder: what TW stories remain to be told? With a thriving audiobook business and a magazine, Torchwood is doing a hell of a lot better than Robin Hood which had the huge advantage of having a story left to tell with a regular cast.

To misquote the Goodies: there's no point going on, especially as the rapidly-encroaching Matt Smith era clearly has no desire to hang around its predecessor (though, I note, some say Jack might be a regular guest in the new season which is still possible, as Moff after all likes the character). After three seasons of corruption, inappropriate sex, drug-use, lies, blood, death and incredibly poor internal-series continuity, I suspect Torchwood has told us all it has to tell. The 21st century has changed, let's move on. Or perhaps move back? There can be no denying that Torchwood's past is far more interesting than its present (which is now non existent, though apparently the Institute is revived as the Torchwood Archive in twenty-two centuries time), so maybe they'll finally tackle that Jago and Litefoot style spin off - which, if nothing else, would mean far less ability to rip off Joss Whedon. In fairness, however, I can't think of any Buffy or Angel episodes ripped off this year - mind you, with the titular hero freaking out and running away in shame, I suppose it COULD at a pinch, nick the end of "Becoming Pt 2".

Children of Earth has been pretty much a success, though I despair at fan reaction - the death-loving suicidal emo bastards fall over in writhing ecstasy at anything that can be sold as "gritty", "dark" and "adult", which is why every single OGer on this planet was praising Midnight as Best Episode Ever before the bloody thing was finished, which is why Resurrection of the Daleks was the most popular story of Season 21 (a reaction that horrified even Eric Saward), and why people prefer Dragonfire to the rest of McCoy's first season despite the writing being total trash. People might wail and moan predictably "why oh why oh why did RTD wait so long to write a story of this calibre?", missing the point that he has clearly done this in the week-long format to specifically shut everyone up and hopefully leave them in such a state the longer the wait till the apocalyptic and doomladen Tenth Doctor finale, the better.

Bluntly, if you enjoyed Children of Earth, you completely missed the point.

Man, after that backlog of five years worth of angst and cynacism, I need something to cheer me up...

I wonder what Lawrence Miles has to say about Torchwood on The Randomness Times? Oh, wait, silly me. He decided to abandon the whole blog after forgetting to update it for a month, as he explained in that last post about how he one got barred from a pub when he anally violated someone in public after they said they liked Babylon Five... Hang on - that lengthy essay has been replaced with, and I'm not making this up:

I don't know what goes here, and I'm sorry. I started writing an essay to explain everything, but even I couldn't understand it.

Oh, God. I'm actually fucked, aren't I? I mean, not just in a jokey way. I'm genuinely losing it.

Why is this blog's number of followers slowly increasing, though? Are you taking the piss, or are you just trying to make me panic?

Well. That's lightened the gloomy atmos if nothing else, huh?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Torchwood 4/5 - Collatoral Damage

We pass upon the stair
We spoke of weres and when
Although I wasn't there

He said, I was his friend
Which came as some surprise
I spoke into his eyes:
"I thought you'd died alone,
A long, long time ago..."

"Oh, no, not me.
I never lost control
You're face to face
To the man who sold the world!"


Who knows? Not me
We never lost control
When face to face
With the man who sold the world!


Well, Sparacus has been going to town in his belief RTD is ripping off his work with the idea that Jack offering up sacrificial children to aliens is somehow a homage to Ben Chatham. This is of course bollocks - even aside the fact that Jack did the exact same thing in Small Worlds, if RTD truly wanted to capture a Chathamological flavor, this whole series would have been set in the Hub while Jack lay on the sofa, getting drunk, listening to Bowie and texting Doomwatch to sort it out all for him before demanding people ruffle his hair and sing what a jolly good fellow he is. So, once again Mark Goacher's fevered rantings are disproved, and this time even LBC thought he was talking very disturbing crap.

Indeed, Jack's offering of children was crucially not his idea - also, the children were promised to be made immortal rather than dissected, and the 456 were going to let humanity perish from a lethal plague if they didn't get their kids. Furthermore, Jack was only there because the British government assumed he didn't give a rat's arse what happened, as niether the 456 or even their lethal plague could kill him; an assumption that, even at the time, Jack found rather insulting. Another distinction between Jack and Chatham is that his pals are disgusted when they find about his actions, and he wasn't proud of them either.

Matthews isn't impressed either, and blows a hole in the man who has haunted his nightmares for the last 44 years. Jack's immortality gets in the way though, as Gwen notes, "You get to shoot first AND ask questions later!" But, yeah, Jack's not in anyone's good books as not only did he sacrifice children, he did so in a blatantly untrustworthy protection racket. Ianto's definitely not happy and wants the truth, so Jack reveals the whole "by the way, I have two generations of family I never told you about - deal with it" and storms off.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Frobisher is trying to haggle downwards with the 456 who may or may not have twigged Torchwood is watching. Agreeing to go "off the record", Frobisher orders a camera man to don a biohazard suit and decides to talk to the aliens mano-a-monster about what the 456 actually NEED six million kids for. Nick Briggs watches on, acting in a far less human manner than he normally does. He's not even swigging tea and wallowing in self-pity. The cameraman discovers the 456 resemble giant, drooling, slime-coated maggots with beaks, and that there is a hideously mutated "Grey"-looking child keeping the
monster company - one of the kids from 1965. The 456 goes a bit mental, blowing the original deal with Britain to media while simultaneously gutting the poor cameraman in the best Drop the Dead Donkey tradition. The 456 want the children and give humanity a day to choose them or else, Terracide.

As the fourth day begins and the UN make it clear they're not happy with PM Green, Jack contacts Frobisher
and threatens to reveal the whole game to the rest of the world - his descendants be damned. But the Prime

Minister has a plan: get rid of all the asylum seeker children, offer them up to the 456 and prevent the utter annihilation of the human race. The 456 consider the offer of 6700 children from across the planet, and decide they want 325, 000 children and every child on the planet starts chanting the number to make it clear to the audience. And that's just in the UK, as Briggsy reveals to an increasingly-freaked out committee meeting - but, on the bright side, that would prevent overpopulation and help conserve the Earth's resources. OK, Briggsy, you've convinced me. Now justify The Vengeance of Morbius.

As the carving up of the child population is discussed, working on the principles that lead to that delightful future in Threads - only the useful may live. So, basically, that's me stuffed, along with the chavs, the poor, the immigrants, the mentally disabled and everything in between. The fact the speech is made by the barren lady from The Last Train (who saw a world where all the children died out) is just... creepy. Bet you anything RTD knew about that connection. The kids will be rounded off under the cover of giving them "anti-possession-by-aliens jabs", then tell everyone the 456 lied and stole them in secret and, well, what can you do?

With this beyond-incriminating evidence that could set the British government back a century, Ianto and Jack set off to deal with the aliens the Captain submitted to back in the 1960s...

...well, once they can get past the traffic jam, anyway...

...which leads to Lois having to take the initiative and reveal her diabolical secret ("Bwahahah! I've recorded all of this! Your arses are mine! TORCHWOOD NOW RULES BRITAINIA!!") as Aunty Terrorist turns up to find, once again, she's no match for Psycho Gwen.

Ianto and Jack confront the 456 and tell them, in strict chronological order, no way, get stuffed, fuck off. The 456 go, "You wanna piece of me?" and immediately flood Thames House with a lethal airborne pathogen, dooming to death everyone within, simultaneously sending out a silent scream to fry poor Matthews' brains. As they start to drop like flies, the humans within the locked down Thames House trample each other in a futile attempt to escape. Jack, of course, is completely unharmed.

Just Jack, though...

Next time: the conclusion
"Civilization's about to fall..."
Gwen begins her video blog as life as we know it on planet Earth ends. As you do.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Torchwood 3/5 - Up The Ante! (oo-er)

Feeling sensations
That you thought were dead?
No squealing - remember:
It's all in your head!


I ain't happy, I'm feeling glad!
I got sunshine in a bag!
I'm useless - but not for long
The future is coming on...

Last episode ended more on a dramatic peak than a cliffhanger per se, with the mysterious alien 456 due to land tomorrow and with Torchwood on the defensive, with no allies, base or technobabble to help them. Good, the bastards need taking down a peg or two. James Moran has joined writing duties (well, I've finally noticed him in the credits, anyway).

As Mal Loup/Trinity Wells and other newsreaders hype up the arrival of whatever the hell it is speaking through the children as today is the day they're due, Jack, Ianto, Rhys and Gwen find themselves a new base - an empty warehouse once used by Yvonne Hartman and Torchwood 1 as... well, a warehouse. Getting out a sofa and setting fire to some rubbish is all that's needed to make the place feel a bit more homely, and Gwen has to tell off our heroes for their Chathamesque laziness when the apocalypse is due any freaking minute. This however leads to a predictable fight when Rhys discovers that Ianto and Jack knew about Gwen's baby long before him, the father (presumably...), found out. Gwen defuses this with a suggestion that since they've become criminal fugitives, they might as well start acting like them - a plot twist which reminds me of a generic Goodies episodes, as our heroes take up totally ludicrous and random approaches to things. But they were being funny, whereas Gwen is doing her not-blinking-creepiness.

The new PM declares an under-18 curfew which the Joneses immediate turn into a get rich quick scheme ("10 Quid A Kid," their motto as they babysit for worried but working parents), Torchwood begin a crime spree that combines the simplest of Hustle with the most embarrassing Chaser stunt - Ianto the waiter nicks people's credit cards, Rhys nicks briefcases while Gwen distracts people with her teeth, Rhys and Ianto pick a fight in the middle of the street while Gwen pickpockets people, Jack steals a car... yes, boys and girls, these are the upstanding moral guardians you're supposed to trust. I didn't see the Doctor go klepto when similar crap happened in Sound of Drums, did he? Torchwood immediately put these funds to good use - coffee, toilet paper and expensive clothes, including a ridiculously convenient bit of army surplus to get Jack his coat. Yes, I agree Ianto would have wanted to get one for Jack, but the idea he would have succeeded begs the imagination. It would have been far more realistic for him to go, "Sorry, I tried..."

Meantime, Aunty Terrorist has discovered Jack's daughter Alice (despite her cunning use of other people's mobiles, Jekyll-style, to deflect the conspiracy). Lois meanwhile - the token black chick hastily written in when it became clear that Freema Agyeman was too good for this subSpooks shite - is given Martha's hand-me-downs: the funky contact lenses you can text through. Lois may be a moron, but she's not so stupid that she thinks being Torchwood's Judas Goat is a particularly good career move.

Her misgivings are not assuaged as we see, back at "Hub 2", Ianto and Jack musing that "the world's always ending" so they might as well take the day off and get some kinky gay sex going - only held back by the fact that Rhys is unintentionally being a gooseberry and forcing them to do actual WORK that might save lives. And so they discover that the other people assassinated on Monday were actually people Jack knew back in the 1960s, when poor Matthews and the other kids were abducted by aliens. Deep dark scary crap is occurring... but to be honest I'm more interested in the fact that Jack's dues ex machina Vortex Manipulator was destroyed along with his original clothes. No more Time Agency for him, huh, unless he manages to bump into Spike again. Which would, admittedly, be cool.

With Lois' blind luck allowing her truly cretinous plan ("Can I go to the secret lair? The boss fancies me!") to work, Gwen uses PC Andy - who is impatiently waiting for Godzilla in a spaceship to arrive - to allow her to rescue Matthews from the police when his random sniffing/licking/shouting in pubs got him arrested. Just then all the kids are possessed and, across the planet, all point their little digits in the direction of Thames House (not far off the Nestene, er, London Eye). A pillar of fire smashes through the overcast sky, skewers said building and floods the alien gas chamber on Floor 13 while Mr. Frobisher sensibly... er... puts a comfy chair in the lift. Gah what now? I can't think of any way that would help at the best of times, let alone during Armageddon - does he think the 456 get tired easily and need to sit down in lifts?!

The 456 remain obscured OOV in the gas chamber. Is it to make them appear more alien? Or is it just cheap? I think it's cheap as they communicate in a mixture of Nestene bad wolf squawks and Krillitane screeches and sound oddly enough just like Nick Briggs in a deep voice. Didn't see THAT one coming, did we? One think I didn't see coming was them sneezing all over the inside of their chamber. Mind you, the green snot gives the impression they look disturbingly like one of MLock's avatars, you know the Evil Bird Demon?

PM Green (is that it? What a dull name!) is getting his bollocks roasted as UNIT, the USA and the UN demand to know what in the name of Slitheen buggery Britain is doing, forging secret deals with alien ambassadors... yet again... and whoever was lucky enough to replace John Winters as President of the USA isn't happy about this either. Well, NO ONE is going to be pleased that potential assassins are having tea and biscuits with the nation who got your predecessor killed, rogue Time Lord or not, are they? Cunningly, PM Green somehow manages to convince the nations of the world to let him keep putting Frobisher in the front line of negotiating while the British leader gets the hell out of here. Um. OK. Maybe that will make sense when I'm older.

Maybe not.

Jack meanwhile phones Frobisher - Jack was part of the operation in 1965 when the 456 first visited Earth and left promising not to return. But now they're back. Jack demands to be allowed to see them or he'll blow the truth to the civilized world. Frobisher points out that they've captured Jack's family. Jack points out that he can do the same to Frobisher's. "You won't do that, you're a better man than I am," says Frobisher cunningly - but without a certain pinstriped time traveler present to be his moral compass, is Jack REALLY so reliable?

As Day Three draws to an end, Gwen goes apeshit escaping the traffic jam London has become (gratuitously namechecking a similar RTD episode as she does so) and returns to "Hub 2" with Matthews, who immediately causes friction by calling Ianto "a queer". Lois meanwhile finally puts on the contacts in a painful-looking manner that makes her eyes bloodshot disturbingly quickly. As Torchwood find their amazing technology is, of course, shithouse (they can't hear what anyone is saying, Gwen keeps mispelling her instructions, Lois writes notes in shorthand only Ianto can understand), the 456 get rather annoyed at Frobisher's attempts to lighten the mood and soon Kroll-like tentacles are wapping against the glass walls as copious amounts of green snot fly everywhere and the Nestene squeaks get real old, real fast. Then it starts that Midnight-repetition-shite for no apparent reason.

Nevertheless these wierd beasties keep to their promise not to tell the world they did a British tour once before, claiming instead they chose London at random to be "middle men". In return for towing the party line, they want recompense: "your children, 10% of the offspring of the human race." A point made with more thumping tentacles and projectile snot.

Matthews is freaking out - it's just like what the 456 did last time in 1965, and he was lucky to escape the hoarde of children sent to the aliens by a sinister man. A sinister man by name of Captain Jack Harkness...

Next time: just guess...
"3250000..."
Torchwood fight back. Expect massive civilian casualties, interplanetary war and lots of explosions. And either Erato makes his Torchwood debut or RTD is really letting the sexual frustration get to him...

YOA - Coming Soon!

Some definition-of-the-word exclusive pics of the next YOA masterpiece...

NIGEL WAKES UP IN MANGA WORLD... AND HE LIKES IT...

STAGE FRIGHT?

HANG TEN!


And if you can't read my writing, tough, the stuff's too difficult to retype out on the images at the moment.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Torchwood 2/5 - Hit the Road, Jack

Whats up with what's going down?
In every city, in every town?
Cramping styles is the plan!
They've got us in the palm of every hand!

We'll turn the tables with our unity
They're neither moral nor majority
Wake up and smell the coffee
Or just say "no" to individuality

When we pretend that we're dead!
When we pretend that we're dead!
They can't hear a word we've said
When we pretend that we're dead!

Well, the second episode begins with the grim realization the Doctor is going to have to find somewhere else to suck up rift energy as the nifty plaza outside the Welsh Millennium Centre now resembles ground zero. I wonder if poor Myffanwy the Pterodactyl escaped? And what about Betty and Janet the Weevils? And Grey, who was in cryo-suspension? OH THE HUMANITY! One can only wonder who's severed arm, head and leg are scattered over the area.

Concussed, part defeaned and sick with worry about her pals caught in the exploding Hub, Gwen's deranged paranoia saves her life as it turns out that the two paramedics who try to help her really ARE evil government ages determined to kill her. Now, while I might buy Gwen going apeshit with a fire extinguisher and defeating her foes at close quarters, the superhuman ability to hurl said foes into the infrared sights of sniper rifles seems slightly harder to swallow.

But what has happened to Ianto? Well, he's taken the slightly more realistic approach of "running like hell and trying not to get shot" rather than Gwen's "steal an ambulance and leave a trail of corpses in my wake". Yeah, maybe my descriptions of Psycho Gwen might be preinformed by earlier performances, but this time there's NO subtext. She's nuts. She's going Reservoir Dogs on the opposition's ass and ABSOLUTELY STEADFASTLY REFUSING TO BLINK! Dear God, those Weeping Angels would never get near Gwen when she's in this state, emptying her gun into an ambulance's walls to get attention. What a wonderful mother she'll make.

Gwen starts shooting a guy in the foot and screaming, "WHY WOULD THE GOVERNMENT WANT TO DESTROY TORCHWOOD?!" at the top of her voice.

As Kerr Avon would say, how long a list would you like?

Meanwhile, Tough Bitch (or "Aunty Terrorist" as PC Andy wittily dubs her) is working to finish off Torchwood. But since she's only blown up the one that can't die and the mortals have escaped, she's not really up to a good start. In fact, she's bloody clueless - it's only sheer luck that PC Andy is around to tell her Gwen's address. Andy for his part is played totally for laughs, almost Frank Woodley-esque as he sits with the Black Ops wetworks team all locking and loading their guns, chatting about local knowledge and assuming they just want to have a quick conversation with Gwen rather than giving her an instant blood transfusion. But, once again, Gwen's paranoia is up to eleven and she's like Will Scarlet on acid as she barges into her bedroom, grabs her husband and flees the country (while simultaneously never giving the impression she hasn't just gone nuts). Andy's reputation sinks even further when, upon finally catching up with Gwen, she shoots out their tires and flees - rather ruining his protests she's just a slightly-stressed ex-copper, but similarly denting Aunty's claims she's a psycho serial killer terrorist.

Giving up on Gwen for the moment, Aunty sends her troops round Ianto's sister place for a nice bit of home invasion... and checking out Ianto's naked brother in law who takes the presence of SWAT teams aimed at his whale-like blubbery nudity with the excitement of a wrong number. Um, Rusty, I know you're quitting forever, but this is starting to get worrying - I mean, especially as all the naked blokes seem to be the shapes and sizes that Mad Larry prefers (oh, and he's given up The Randomness Times, by the by, the quitter - apparently he's enjoyed this series of Torchwood which has made him question his own sanity, which might be a joke, but as it isn't remotely funny, it's equal odds, isn't it?). Of course, Ianto wasn't so stupid as to go to his only relatives and is instead wandering around Cardiff late at night, rather like Bernard in The Lockout. Blimy, there's a lot of Black Books similarities this year.

The next morning, the children business is rapidly becoming old news. None of the children believed in their demonic posession, and more and more people are convinced it's a government conspiracy - faking Midwich Cuckoo bollocks to take our minds off the more important matters, like the Great Global Warming Swindle or Princess Diana. The party line is this is no more worrying than a hula hoop craze, which of course fools absolutely no one. Not even the Welsh. Especially not Matthews, who's on the run. Even Loony Lois is suspicious, though mind you she needs to look up Torchwood's wiki entry twice before noticing a connection between the Only Remaining TW Base and the suspicious explosion nuking Cardiff Bay. Hmmm. Torchwood Glasgow disbanded uh? I wander what happened to Archie?

Meantime, the 456 have sent a very detailed memo requesting mankind build something for them ASAP on top of the MI5 building - it turns out they can contact Earth quite normally, but do the spooky mojo for a laugh. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister remains sinisterly blunt and honest about damn well everything, like his promotion of Frobisher effectively putting him on the front line to be sacrificed. When "Jack's" remains are taken by Aunty and put into the morgue, our favorite omnisexual begins his own incredibly graphic tribute to the TV movie with much blood, guts and bones, while Gwen and Rhys piss about with ATMs, then flee the country. Ianto's clan meanwhile get their own back by getting the estate to close in on the MIBs, claiming they're pedophiles, allowing Ianto's sister to meet up with him during the uproar.

But no sooner has Gwen finally told Rhys about his fatherhood (on top of a heap of King Edward potatoes in the back of a lorry heading to London), the kids are possessed again - "We are coming tomorrow" - and Lois meets up with the pair to tell them, basically what they already know. Meantime, Aunty pauses only to admire the fully regrown Jack fully naked... Rusty, this is getting painful - will the Moff have Karen Gillan stark full frontal every week? No? Well, you shouldn't get your rocks off that way, either should you?... before burying him alive in concrete. Nasty.

Thankfully those pesky Daleks killed off most of the intelligent military officers, so Rhys and Gwen are easily able to infiltrate the area to get to Jack by bamboozling the biggest bunch of morons outside of a Little Britain montage. I mean, bloody hell, this is a dues ex machina worse than any screwdriver - whenever our heroes screw up, it turns out all the guards are even MORE stupid than we thought. Alas, this makes Gwen overconfident and by the time they realize that Jack is now in a cell-shaped lump of concrete, they are surrounded by more armed troopers and flashing red lights than the season finale of Blake's 7. Totally outgunned, surrounded and with no weapons, Aunty Terrorist rightly assumes that Gwen and Rhys are stuffed.

But has she underestimated Gwen's bowel-loosening insanity...?

Does that even deserve an answer?

With the stupidest escape plan since Double the Fist ended, our heroes avoid Aunty, regroup, recreate the final scene of The Young Ones, give a good opportunity for Jack to stumble around naked bar manacles (seriously, RTD, stop it!!) while the Evil Government Conspiracy complete the 456's request: a gas chamber full of poison. Is it so they can breathe? Is it just to help the feng sheui? Given instructions about alien ambassadors, is this some sly reference to Pertwee's third story?

Next Time: the very same, only this time, MORE violent!!
"You're the only friend we've got at the moment, Lois."
Things are bleak. The 456 have arrived. And Jack has somehow got his coat back - the one that was atomized in the Hub explosion. Um, how the hell does that work?!?

Robin Hood 4.0 - Dreams

Last night, or at least, very early this morning, the hallucinatory phenomenon washing through my exhausted brain took on a rather strange and distinct narrative. I have tried to transcribe it clearly, but there are some floating moments (like when a niave young wife is forced by her husband to trick the local populace into poisoning themselves en masse) that may or may not be relevent.

On a foggy forrest a small band of outlaws has captured a group of travellers and are robbing them of everything they possess - all the proceeds, they assure their terrified victims, will go to the funds to release King Richard from Leopole's Austrian fun palace, as these outlaws are actually working for Robin Hood. One of the travellers gets very upset and, wasting no time, the outlaws give him one of the ever-popular-knife-to-the-guts before starting to wander off, laughing.

The remaining travellers, horrified, call after the bandits - surely Robin Hood isn't party to mindless slaughter? The laughing bandits call over their shoulders, "Oh, didn't you know? Robin Hood is dead! Been dead for months!"

Suddenly, a super human volley of arrows rains down from the trees, pinning two or three of the bandits to the ground. The remainder run for it, one rushing back to take the Pretty Cute Girl (standard equipment in 13th century travelling groups) hostage when a blonde figure drops into view and decks him unconscious. More figures drop from the trees. The grateful travellers quiz their savior, "Who are you?"

"Me? I am Robyn Hood," says Kate confidently. She explains she deliberately uses a male-sounding name so the soldiers are looking for a man, rather than a woman. As she frees the travellers, one of her companions shouts, "Kate! He's getting away!"

Kate, pissed off, reminds Little John, that she is Robyn Hood, but the big guy is lumbering off down the road after the remaining bandit (who of course has all the loot). Kate awkwardly tries to explain why she's passing herself as RH while Archer cheerfully shows off that it was HE who did all the amazing arrow business, not her...

Little John chases the bandit over a hill, but into an ambush. The bandit soon has a knife against John's throat and is about to kill him. John is furious at scum bandits passing themselves off as a hero, but the bandit points out that John's buddies have been doing the same: he's heard of a dozen different Robin Hoods from the day the original destroyed Nottingham. "WE don't have any choice," roars John.

"Well, neither do I," giggles the bandit. He's a psycho, did I mention it. "Like the saying goes: nowadays, it's every man for himself..."

Shunk.

The bandit falls over dead, with a Saracen sword plunged in his back. Much stands over him. "I hate sayings," he grunts, wordlessly helping John back to his feet.

A spinning bullseye later, the group are trudging up the track on their own. Brother Tuck is giving them all a lecture about cooperation, trust and responsibility - they are all flying off on their own. Kate points out that it's getting more and more necessary for them to disobey orders if they want to get ANYTHING done: they might be a crack military unit listening to Tuck, but one that often fails. Tuck points out that they all chose him to be leader, but Kate hints/implies/whatever it was because he was the only one not totally heartbroken by Robin's death.

Tuck insists he has justified all his decisions and generally been a good leader. After Nottingham was demolished, the gang rescued all the food supplies Izzy stole and returned them back to the villages. But with "civilization" effectively ended there, Loxley and the others were free from Prince John and taxes, able to survive on their own. Archer thinks this is the perfect reason they should have stayed, where no one was looking for them. John agrees with Tuck that they go where they are needed, but Kate points out that all they've done since then is tried to stop OTHER outlaws robbing merchants in the forests. Tuck reminds them that they have not encounters villages of size enough to merit giving supplies to, let alone a place they can keep the swag.

Things start to get heated, with demands Tuck finally reveal what his long-term plan is when the group notice Much is not with them: he has gone on ahead. He peers over a hill where horses can be seen, with Prince John's private entourage. The others join him and watch on. Tuck ponders the next move - PJ's presence cannot be a coincidence, but why is he leaving his seat of power? They must play this one VERY carefully...

It's then Tuck notices that all the others have buggered off, intending to get PJ to Stand and Deliver.

Tuck sighs.

The opening titles begin... and not long after I woke up.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

10+11:Regeneration Scene

OK, here is a first draft regeneration scene marking the debut of Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor, shamelessly inspired on the Devious version, but with some new material:

(The ailing Tenth Doctor stumbles into the TARDIS and fiddles with the controls. A clock can be heard ticking.)

Eleventh Doctor: (vo) It's not going to work, you know.

Tenth Doctor: What?

(The Tenth Doctor turns and sees the Eleventh standing across from the console, arms folded, wearing his costume and everything.)

Eleventh Doctor: Guess who!

Tenth Doctor: What?!

(The Eleventh Doctor waves.)

Eleventh Doctor: Hello. I'm who you SHOULD be.

Tenth Doctor: But... that's impossible! You... you can't just...

Eleventh Doctor: I *can* just, and that's why I'm here.

(The Tenth Doctor looks his successor up and down.)

Tenth Doctor: You're a bit young, aren't you?

Eleventh Doctor: Age is what the looked-upon feels, not what the looker-upon sees.

Tenth Doctor: Good answer. I like it. (cheer fades) I take it, then... that time's up?

Eleventh Doctor: Time's up. (shrugs) Sorry.

Tenth Doctor: I'd just got used to the hair and everything, too.

Eleventh Doctor: Yeah, pity about that.

Tenth Doctor: So what happens next?

Eleventh Doctor: Oh, come on, Doctor. I mean, if YOU knew that, where would all the fun be in it for ME, eh?

Tenth Doctor: Do you have an answer for everything?

Eleventh Doctor: You tell me.

Tenth Doctor: Not helpful.

Eleventh Doctor: Tough. That's the way it's got to be.

Tenth Doctor: Jings. (frowns) Hang on, just a second, just a second! How do I know you're real?

Eleventh Doctor: How do you know ANYTHING is real? The Daleks? The Master? Donna, Wilf, Martha, Sarah, Jack, Rose and everything that's happened since you so nearly got to Barcelona?

Tenth Doctor: (to himself) Barcelona. Never did get there in the end.

Eleventh Doctor: Afraid not.

Tenth Doctor: I suppose a quick reprieve's out of the question, then? Just a couple more centuries?

(The Eleventh Doctor shakes his head with a helpless expression.)

Eleventh Doctor: Time to stop dwelling on the past and look to the future.

Tenth Doctor: You're not ALWAYS this bossy, I trust?

Eleventh Doctor: (grins) Only one way to find out.

(The Eleventh Doctor crosses to the console and, acting like he owns it, flips a control. A panel lights up. He places his hand on the panel. His hand glows.)

Tenth Doctor: (sighs) Well. No time like the present, eh, Doc-tah?

(The Tenth Doctor moves to the other side of the console, presses a similar button and places his hand on a panel as it lights up. The Eleventh Doctor reaches out with his free hand, as if inviting a high-five. The Tenth Doctor doesn't look eager. The Eleventh Doctor gives a hopeful grin. The Tenth Doctor sighs.)

Tenth Doctor: Oh well... ALLONZEE!

Eleventh Doctor: Snap!

(The Tenth Doctor gives the Eleventh a high five. As their hands meet, a glow surges up from the TARDIS console and around the pair, crackling and sparkling for a long moment. The Tenth Doctor grins. The pair grow brighter. The Tenth Doctor's expression becomes pained. The Eleventh dissolves into the glow which swirls around the Tenth Doctor, flares brightly and slowly disperses, leaving him swaying unsteadily next to the console.)

Tenth Doctor: ...jings...

(The Tenth Doctor sets the time machine in motion, then sways and falls into the pilot seat, looking totally knackered. His view of the console, time rotor pistoning, blurs and darkens. His eyes close. He is still.)

(We cut to his limp, fighting hand. It glows and gently morphs into a different hand. We cut to his head and his grows younger, hair longer, becoming the Eleventh Doctor in a smooth, unfussy manner. For a moment he sits there, asleep. Then his eyes flutter open and he looks around in mild confusion. He looks down at his body and ill-fitting clothes, and frowns in concentration.)


Eleventh Doctor: Ohkaaaaaaaaaaay.

(He unsteadily gets to his feet, swings over to the console and peers down at the controls, not having a clue what they are or how they work. He sinks his head in dispair as the TARDIS continues on its journey...)

(The TARDIS spins through space towards the site of Moffat's era.)

(The TARDIS lands.)

(Inside, the sudden halt snaps the Doctor and he rises from the console. Moving around the panel he peers at the monitor, showing the world outside. He stumbles down the ramp, his momentum carrying him to the doors. Dizzily, he flings them both open to reveal the landscape outside.)

(The Doctor stands in the doorway, looking around unsteadily. He addresses someone we cannot see as he staggers from the TARDIS.)


Eleventh Doctor: Morning! I'm the Doctor now, you know.

(With a queasy expression, he falls flat on his back... at the feet of a young woman with long red hair and a distinct Scottish accent. Played by Karen Gillan.)

……………… THE END

Torchwood 1/5 - Suffer The Children

I remember when I was young
The world had just begun
And I was happy!
I used to wonder about the Earth
And how it moved around the sun
So snappy!

"Imagination go wild
Makes a very backward child,"
They told me
So back at school, I'd sit around
Just waiting for the sound
So I could go home.

Sometimes I think about it
It happens every day
I should think of the present
Cause the present's now...

First things first - thank god they've changed the opening titles: an acid wash of white with the title in black. Not like that godawful unsubtle pretentious muck of neon signs flashing "TORCHWOOD" over and over again against gritty black gravitas as John Barrowman whispers "Torchwood" over and over again. It's like that South Park episode full of trailers for Rob Schnieder films that get less and less detailed until one trailer is just "Schnieder Schnieder Schnieder! Schnieder? Schnieder Schnieder!!". The music too has lost that stupid whispering, leaving only the original music cue from Army of Ghosts (or the opening theme to Ghostbusters as anyone normal would recognize it).

For the first time since 2006, RTD finally bothers to turn his attention back to the neglected and abused fruit of Doctor Who's loins. Pity that it's at the end of his reign where his mighty powers are failing, but I suppose it's the thought that counts - and that's the problem really. It seems he's trying to make Children of Earth a stepping-on point for new viewers, despite all the signs being this is the last series. This means we get a relatively entertaining sequence where we discover two incredibly camp and unconvincing neighbours of a dead man are actually Ianto and Captain Jack harvesting an alien symbiote from the poor sucker's chest - um, why? Why not just shout "We're Torchwood! Hand over the body!" like they've done so many times before? Is it just Janto having fun? Or has RTD still found it impossible to work his Excalibur pitch after all these years. I mean, why the hell do we get "CARDIFF" superimposed over that same bloody shot of the bay, but not "LONDON" when shown the Houses of Parliament? Did they just forget?

Nevertheless, he has succeeded in making the cast likable and enjoyable and also having the Welsh portrayed as vaguely sentient - as a friendly and seemingly sane Gwen chats with the fishermen down at Mermaid Bay and discuss the chances of sea monsters attacking Cardiff (not entirely jokingly). The Torchwood gang are relaxed in their company, aware of their faults, and not as hair trigger as has been shown - mind you, Gwen kissing a VERY crumpled photo of Owen and Tosh looks rather strange, creepy and no doubt baffles new viewers. Jack and Ianto have returned from their pointlessly-undercover trip to the hospital, where they appear to have considered a passing medic as a possible replacement for Owen (but turn him down on the grounds he's NHS). "You're Torchwood, aren't you?" exclaims the medic at the oversexed gay couple shouting about aliens get into the SUV with the flashing neon Torchwood sign. "Never heard of them," Jack opines.

I'm honestly not sure if this is MEANT to be hilarious or not.

Some plot... admittedly, not a lot, but some: all across Cardiff children seemingly froze in mid-step at the exact same time. Typically, every single adult assumes the kids are winding them up, even Rhys who is the position of seeing a whole school turning into statues. Now, I don't want to bang on about this, but considering it's not that long since the EARTH VANISHED and ALIENS INVADED, that maybe, just maybe anyone over the age of 20 might suspect a non-terrestrial explanation. But after a minute or so, they all came back to life with no ill effects. The people of Wales saw nothing of interest in this but, in a fig leaf of non-Welsh-hatred, apparently everyone else on the planet chalked this one down to experience as well. However, UNIT (as established in the Sarah Jane Adventures, reconstituted with ruthless psychos and nutters after all the cool leaders were exterminated) have worked out from their funky software that this Midwich Cuckoos shite took place across the entire Earth. And they don't want anyone else to twig to this, and the only people that could possibly work it out as well are Torchwood.

Now, last year, did I not predict this in Reset? That the Institute would finally prove too much hassle for the other governments who rightly are sick and tired of these MIB-wannabes and unite against them? Clearly RTD is ripping me off, and I have a lot more evidence to support that theory than the ones Spara is peddling out with the self-restraint of Minime humping a giant death star laser. But is the ditzy Lois intern at Westminster REALLY a moron - does she not realize the big black general is in a UNIT uniform? Does she have no idea what UNIT is? Or is she just playing dumb and really undercover? Who knows?

Luckily, Gwen is the only person to have spotted two children acting zombified and thought it worth researching (that computer of theirs is amazing, just typing in "children" gives you an instant plot rather, say, than Jack's amazing hardcore porn collection he must surely possess?). Quickly working out that this business is global, Jack immediately pulls all his strings and... comes up with fuck all. Martha's on her honeymoon, Colonel Mace is in America, and no one wants to talk to them for some reason (maybe it was the way they immediately surrendered to the Daleks, hid underground and left everyone to their fate?).

That medic I mentioned earlier who I haven't been bothered to work out the name for decides to follow Gwen's example and stalk a secret underground organization - which, worryingly, seems entirely what Jack wanted. Presumably this is some kind of justification for why Gwen of all people was hired, as they need someone persistent, dogmatic, with no apparent social life and also seemingly with a short term memory less than Bernard Black on the piss. Why are we on a traffic island, anyway? As Ianto notes, Rupesh (that's his name, BTW) didn't actually have to look very hard to find them: "Ask someone about Torchwood, they point to the bay." Gwen, for her part, needs to bounce up and down pointing out to these "bastards" that "that's exactly what you first did to me!" which should surely be enough to put them off this course of action in future, but Psycho Cooper skips away, determined to make herself recruitment officer.

Left alone, Ianto gets a bit teary when it's clear Jack doesn't like the word "couple" and acts like the teaboy is stifling him. Way to go keeping with the continuity from the audios there, RTD, you REALLY give the impression you listened all the way through. A clue: no. Why do you even let these things get made if you have no interest in paying attention to them? I tell you, when the complete history of the Torchwood TV series is written, it'll be painfully obvious that production teams took more care and attention tying into TV Comic strips than Torchwood. And, yeah, some Quarks wouldn't go amiss either...

Rupesh (who, in his long blue coat looks way too much like dressing up as Jack) is left far from comfortable at Gwen's meet and greet and her cheerful "You know, ANYONE could have a disgusting alien symbiote inside them? Ain't that neat?" (mind you, as the symbiotes cause an almost psychotic happiness, maybe Gwen IS infected) before going on at length at the AMAZINGLY HUGE paychecks Torchwood gives out. This nugget of info might explain why Gwen stays on, but her admission that she immediately spent it all on clothes she never wears and all hidden under the bed so her boyfriend was kept ignorant starts to crack the "likable" factor we were really desperate for. She's also become a randy 14-year-old again, knocking back coffee disturbingly. Rupesh tries to cover awkward gaps in the conversation by telling us that, yep, everyone STILL believes aliens aren't real because they're all religious and don't want to admit science has won... so all the ones that DIDN'T instantly commit suicide are lost in denial.

Sigh.

You really don't want any of Torchwood to be canonical, do you, RTD?

Anyway, Rupesh is worried about bodies vanishing from the morgue, especially as they AREN'T being nicked by Torchwood for their own sadistic purposes, but suddenly the kids start freezing again. Actually, it's good they got the little actors to try and stand still (which they fail at miserably - just like they would in real life) so you know for sure that they're not using screencaps on pause. This lingers on just long enough for it to stop being wierd, start being funny, stop being funny and then become boring.

And then all the kids start screaming in a clear homage to Delta and the Bannermen. (You'd be amazed at how big some of the kids can get their mouths... while others don't even try (18m 10s in).) Before chanting "Wee-wee" for a few moments and then doing the "We are coming" in ridiculously deep, Nick Briggsian tones. Our heroes react with Gwen suffering acute "WTFitis", Ianto filming it all on a digital camera, and Jack not doing a sodding thing bar looking good in long shots bitching how "this has gone public".

Interesting, Matthews from Hornblower is similarly chanting this at the lunatic asulym (the only adult to be similarly effected) - but I'm more concerned that one of the nurses is more interested in filming this? Does Youtube offer cash rewards for uploaded close encounters of the third kind nowadays? In any case, she doesn't get much film before the effect vanishes: all the children are back to normal and Matthews frantic that they have finally found him... yeah, whatever.

With their usual consistency, Torchwood immediately abandon their new recruit to retreat inside their "gigant science fiction superbase", while the UK goes into chaos (honestly, don't they know a Chaser-style stunt when they see one?) and the British liason with UNIT, Mr. Frobisher, is getting all the crap put on him. Things are so serious, people are exchanging passwords (believe me, that's a HUGE step), and Frobisher's partner in crime Ms Bridget Spears (no relation to Britney, thankfully) gives all her workload to Loopy Lois to field calls from Jack, and even HE can't begin to comprehend the stupidity on offer: "Torchwood? How do you spell that?"

But, egads, Lois discovers Jack is already on the database and is redflagged under "Notorious Bastards We've All Slept With", and with B. Spears' password, Lois is able to access this mighty folder and discover... their wikipedia entry. I boggle. I really do. You cheap bastard, Russell, I have got to admire such half-assedness - given the way he wrote whole articles about Harold Saxon for props to be used, this is just... guh. A similar mindblowing event strikes Loopy Lois as she sees the word "extraterrestrial" and her tiny brain implodes.

Meanwhile, the Civil Service Cockroaches Of Government (a Sir Humphrey Appleby version of Torchwood still using traditional 1970s radar props) have worked out the cause of this extracirricular activity amongst children: a burst of compressed info on the refrequency 4-5-6. Torchwood meanwhile are puzzled at the fact that every single child chanted "We are coming!" in English, when technically speaking, as Ianto reminds us, Mandarin is the most-spoken language on Earth and thus unlikely to be chosen by aliens to communicate. (I feel duty bound to point out that, as About Time notes, aliens trying to communicate would be most likely to use English learnt off transmissions from BBC radio...) while Rhys once again proves too damn clever as he concludes the possessions are being planned for when kids are out of school to cause mass panic. Deeply embarrassed, Gwen immediately flees the country, babbling about how she wants to adopt a Phillipino girl to clean chimneys.

Meantime, the successor to Aubrey Fairchild (the successor to Harold Saxon) is bitching about how earlier PMs only had to deal with the Cold War and Communism, not Daleks and Slitheen, and rejects Frobisher's suggestions about how to deal with Dark Secret Covert Stuff from the 1940s that have here and now come to bite them all in the arse. Jack and Ianto meantime, split up to meet their respective families, and it's both amusing and pitiful to see how the teaboy is so awkward around his own family (the children of whom communicate with him by taking cash from his wallet - well, it's less awkward than chatting, isn't it?). Ianto's sister is a big, generous, common-as-muck Welsh girl who is intensely interested in what her "bender" brother is doing with someone who looks like a movie star...

But Jack's family is even MOTE awkward. Turns out that he unsurprisingly fathered a family who are understandably pissed off the children now look older than the parent, with Jack's grandson assuming he's just a rather metrosexual uncle. Understandably, his ever-aging daughter has politely told Jack to sod off and stop reminding her how doomed she is, which is why she's never been mentioned or even hitherto-hinted at (I have to say, it's a better excuse for Jack to remain in Naughties Cardiff in Last of the Time Lords than the useless tossers he worked with). Jack has a fig-leaf in that oft-mentioned grey hair (hmm, yet after 2000 years, not another grey hair? I think he's fibbing), but the inlaws aren't THAT impressed. Especially as they know Jack is only around to get a kid to experiment on rather than for family time. Indeed, it seems they might overlook his immortality if he wasn't a totally ruthless amoral bastard working for the scum of the anti-alien workforces. Wow, Jack, how many people close to you need to tell you Torchwood is just plain crap before you get the message? Even the Master thought you could do better for fuck's sake!!

Meanwhile, Ianto discovers that triple-deadlock seals on the company car might defeat the Last of the Time Lords, but not common chavs who immediately steal the car for a laugh. Oh, the lack of irony. Especially as Ianto's brother-in-law starts hurling bricks at the idiot showing his arse out the passenger window. Yep, HIS arse. Damn gay agenda.

Gwen turns up at that mental hospital where she goes to chat with Matthews the Totally Unpredictable Nutter that the days about aliens being fake "are long gone" (Rusty, make your mind up), and Matthew licks Eve Myles to establish whether or not she's telling him the truth. Um. Full fist? Turns out Matthews was one of a busload of Scottish children that was abducted by aliens in the 1940s - but Matthews thinks they were all being set up by "the staff" that send them to be collected by Xtro-wannabes. Matthews managed to escape and has been in looney bins ever since, but now those damned aliens have come back for more! Yep, it shows that Gwen works best with the mentally unsound - so that nervous breakdown worked for the best. But what's this? One of Matthews' licks has revealed that Gwen got lucky eight weeks ago and is now up the duff!

The revelation leaves Gwen catatonic (mmm, forget that thing about the breakdown being a good thing) and she unintentionally gives away to UNIT - who are monitoring their phones - that she has found Matthews, who never revealed his real name of Clement McDonald so the conspiracy could never catch up with him. But now they have. Only took Torchwood twenty seconds and that's HIS life screwed forever. New record, Cooper!

While the increasingly-freaking out Frobisher and Spears "white page" people (seemingly by putting a blank A4 page into government files which no doubt has a huge hidden meaning), Lois remains mildly suspicious and decides to hack into the computers AGAIN. This time she discovers an email "blank page" - an assassination order put out on someone called Ellen Page, Colonel Andrew Staines, and Captain Jack Harkness (Active).

Jack (having stolen a car apparently) turns up to meet Rupesh and suggests kidnapping a few kids for medical experiments, wipe their minds, it's all good. But Rupesh is more concerned about another mysterious death, and as Jack examines the body, a woman hereby referred to as Tough Bitch blows Jack's brains out... twice... and then surgically implants something inside his body. You see, Rupesh was in on the conspiracy all along, luring Jack into this trap. Unsurprisingly he is now dispensable and, to cover their tracks, Tough Bitch kills Rupesh as well. When Jack snaps back to life, he assumes there's been a usual machine gun massacre and returns to the hub - where Gwen has somehow found a way for a photocopier to confirm her maternity (um... okaaaay....) while the man who told her is now on the run from Tough Bitch and her men as they storm the looney bin after him. Luckily Matthews' psychic sniffing warns him and he can escape.

Anyone reckon that RTD likes The Star Beast comic strip? He's certainly busy homaging its major cliffhanger, and, I'm sorry, if Jack can reset his body back to life... how come he doesn't expel the bomb (for it is a bomb) along with the numerous bullets, knives, etc? Oh, well, in any case, everyone's far too busy being domestic and congratulating Gwen on her newfound motherhood, until that funky photocopier reveals Jack is primed to explode. As all the children end dinner with more ominous chanting, Jack gets Gwen and Ianto to safety while he locks himself in the Hub for one massive and explosive redecorating job...

Rhoald Dahl Plass will never be quite the same again.

NEXT TIME: Um... MORE Children of Earth
"There are real aliens!"
Gwen's on the run. The Prime Minister's freaking out. The kids are chanting. And Jack's regrowing his epidermis.
So... pretty much the usual then, huh?