Wednesday, June 30, 2010

If *I* Had Written Paradise 5

The following was uncovered in the dusty and oft-corrupted 3 1/2 floppy disks of the previous century and shown to the world for the first time. I'm not saying it IS better than the Big Finish version, just being psychotically arrogant enough to suggest it...

The story so far: The Doctor has been captured by the Time Lords and put on trial for his complete screwup on Thoros Beta. The Time Lords are not impressed by his actions, and the Valeyard shows a future where the Doctor's adventures get even worse. Maybe I'll reprint that one too...


The Valeyard has just finished his tirade against the Doctor.

Doctor: [beside himself with fury] Are you quite finished?

Valeyard: I rest my case.

Inquisitor: Doctor, while this particular instance can be avoided, you have still committed these crimes as accepted by Gallifreyan law. If you are found guilty, the penalty can only be death.

Doctor: I take it is I can now present the case for the defense?

Inquisitor: [nods] Proceed.

The Doctor activates a control on his dock similar to the Valeyard’s desk. The Matrix screen alight up to show a solar system.

Doctor: The Paradise System. Nine moons orbiting the dead, desolate world of Paradise. They have been recently transformed into a vast leisure complex for the wealthy and influential...


We see the planetary system.

Doctor: [VO] The first moon, Paradise One, is the reception and administrative centre. The other eight satellites cater to the every whim and desire of the clients. Each moon boasts its own delights – and its own secrets. Visitors will have the time of their lives, one way or another...

We can now see five humanoid figures floating in space – obviously dead. At this distance, they resemble astronauts.

Doctor: [VO] My evidence concentrates on Paradise Five.


A lean, dark man called Gabriel strides down a corridor. He is followed by two beautiful women, almost twins – Stella and Bella.

Gabriel: ...and make sure the Cherubs fix the ultranet connections in sector twelve. We’ve had complaints for several weeks now. We don’t need this just as a new intake is arriving.

Stella: Noted. The ship docks in 512 seconds, Mr. Gabriel.

Gabriel: Send the new pleasure hostesses to greet them, Bella.

Bella: [nods] Yes, Mr. Gabriel.

Gabriel: And Bella?

Bella: Yes?

Gabriel: I want the security scanners in the Avalon Apartments restored to full operational capacity by the time the new guests reach their rooms. That is all.

Gabriel turns and strides off while Stella and Bella split up.


A shuttle flies towards Paradise Five.


A pleasantly-styled chamber with corridors leading off. Two women, dressed like Stella and Bella are present. We can see one of them, an attractive blonde woman called Lorelei. We do not see the other. A few moments later a large group of humans and a few humanoids arrive.

Lorelei: On behalf of the Paradise System, we would like to welcome you all to Paradise Five. You are all here for a period of well-earned relaxation from your various lives, careers and cultures and I can assure you that you all will have the time of your lives.

The holiday makers move towards the hostesses.

Lorelei: If you’d just like to follow us, we’ll give you a quick tour of the facilities that Paradise Five has on offer. Before you ask, I am Lorelei Sapphire and...

We can see the other woman for the first time. She’s more than familiar, to us at any rate.

Melanie: [smiles] ...and I’m Melanie Bush. This way, please.

Valeyard: [VO] Stop the Matrix!


The image freezes and breaks up.

Inquisitor: [surprised] Valeyard?

Valeyard: I must protest. The Doctor has ‘placed us into the story’ clearly after its beginning. How are we to make a valued judgement when denied full evidence?

Doctor: My Lady, if you would be prepared to bare with me, all shall be revealed. [to Valeyard] Unlike some people I try to focus on the relevancy of material before I include it.

Valeyard: You have put Melanie in terrible danger.

Doctor: [arches eyebrow] What makes you think that?

Inquisitor: Yes, there is no evidence that she is threatened.

Valeyard: [swallows] Apologies, My Lady. But the Doctor is unlikely to have chosen a part of his life without danger, and Melanie is apparently alone. He has abandoned her – just like Peri.

The Doctor leaps to his feet.

Doctor: Objection! That is slander, and hearsay!!

Valeyard: Just why are you so interested in Paradise Five, Doctor? You are not there on holiday, so why?

Doctor: [to Inquisitor] Madam Inquisitor, may we continue?

Inquisitor: Indeed, Doctor. And kindly don’t interrupt again, Valeyard.

The screen shows...


Only a few of the holiday makers remain, and Melanie leads them towards a wing marked AVALON apartments. Doors line the wall every so often.

Melanie: ...and these are the guest bedrooms. All are fully equipped for humans and humanoid life forms with all luxuries and pampering available. If you check your ID bracelet, you find the particular suite assigned to you.

The guests begin to do this and move off in various directions, leaving Melanie alone. Hastily, she scrambles to room 412 and slides her ID card into a slot by the door.


The Doctor is reclining on a heart-shaped bed, supping champagne and eating from a section of fruit and pastries on silver platters. He is reading several reams of notes. He looks up as Melanie enters.

Melanie: [annoyed] Having fun, are we?

Doctor: The time of my life. According to all this paperwork, I’m doing what every other visitor in the solar system is doing. Of course, that could just be good publicity. [grins] Seems accurate, though.

Melanie: Honestly, Doctor, why did it have to be like this?

Doctor: My dear girl, I’m quite well-known in this part of time and space. Can’t risk being recognized. That’s why you do all the spying.

Melanie: I don’t mind the spying.

Doctor: Good. Have a peteki cake.

He hands her a pastry. She shakes her head,

Melanie: I mean, why do I have to be a servile hostess?

Doctor: Because I don’t fit the hostess uniform.

Melanie: You might if you actually took some exercise. All this food and lying around is doing your figure no good whatsoever. Why couldn’t I be a wealthy business woman or something?

Doctor: Because they would notice, by checking their files, that the Melanie Bush visiting her was born some thousand years ago and might get suspicious. Don’t forget what we’re here for.

Melanie: [more sober] I do. Anything interesting?

She indicates the print out.

Doctor: Takings and outgoings for the whole system over the last sixteen years. The closest thing we have to interesting is the reports from Paradise Five – unsurprisingly.

Melanie: You checked all the other planets out first?

Doctor: [grins] I don’t just sit around all day, do I?

Valeyard: [VO] This has gone on long enough!


The screen goes blank.

Valeyard: How long are we do wait for answers? We still have no reason why the Doctor is acting with such uncharacteristic subtlety. Why are you on Paradise Five? Perhaps you have some sort of financial interest in the system?

Doctor: [rolls eyes] Oh, what would I need money for?

Valeyard: Precisely. I think, my Lords, the Doctor is telling us more than he realizes.

Doctor: You delight in scoring easy victories. Very well, if you promise to stay quiet from now on, I’ll cut to the chase.

The screen lights up.


The Doctor, in his shirtsleeves, is brooding over the console. Melanie stands nearby, talking to him.

Doctor: [VO] It all started several weeks ago, when the TARDIS fetched up in orbit around Paradise Five. I was considering availing myself of the facilities when I saw something rather disturbing on the scanner.

The Doctor moves over to the scanner as the screen opens.

Melanie: Where are we, Doctor?

Doctor: Quite a way out in both time and space. The Paradise System. Set up by your descendents some eight hundred years after your time, Mel. Used mainly for...

Melanie: [frowns] Doctor, look. What are they?

On the scanner, five shapes can be seen.

Doctor: Five figures lost on the astral tides.

Melanie: Are they dead?

Doctor: I think so.

Melanie: Astronauts?

The Doctor crosses to the console and activates a control and the image zooms in to show the bodies are dressed in smart casual clothes.

Melanie: They’re not wearing any protection at all.

Doctor: [frowns] They’ve been spaced. Flung off a passing space ship – one of the worst forms of execution around. Look at their clothes, Mel.

Melanie: I know, they’re – wait a minute. They’re dressed...

Doctor: [nods] Like the rich and famous. Like the visitors to the Paradise System!


Similar to the one on Paradise Five. The TARDIS materializes in the corner and the Doctor and Mel creep out.

Doctor: [VO] We arrived on Paradise One where I quickly managed to forge documents proving Melanie was a pleasure hostess, stole a hostess uniform and the shuttle it came in...


A shuttle moves through space.

Doctor: [VO] ...and then went straight to Paradise Five. Once there, I went into hiding while Melanie went about her new job whilst keeping her eyes and ears open.


The Doctor pauses the image.

Doctor: Satisfied, Valeyard? This near-paranoia about Paradise resolved now?

Valeyard: Not quite. You are on trial for your life, but in your defense you show us committing numerous criminal acts.

Doctor: My defense is that, despite two admittedly disastrous setbacks, I improve. That level of interference is so petty not even you, sir, could twist it against me. Also, I check every fact entirely before acting. I will not meddle.

Valeyard: [grins] You. Not meddle. This, I must see.

The Doctor rolls his eyes and sighs.

Inquisitor: Continue your evidence, Doctor.

The Doctor reactivates the tale.


Melanie emerges from the Doctor’s apartment and move on down the hall. It is utterly deserted and alarmingly silent. She moves across it, but she is clearly unnerved. A hand falls on her shoulder and she cries out. She whirls to see it is Gabriel.

Gabriel: Are you all right?

Melanie: Yes. Sorry. You startled me.

Gabriel: Did I? What are you doing here, Melanie?

Melanie: I was just showing a visitor to their room, Mr. Gabriel.

Gabriel: I saw you come out of room 412. It’s empty, according to our manifest. What were you doing in there, Melanie?

Melanie: The door was open, I was inspecting it. Now, uh, I was just off to take my rest period, sir.

Gabriel: Yes, well, I think you might be needed at the Garden of Eden Restaurant. There will definitely be more enthralling events there. Have fun.

Coldly, he turns and leaves. Melanie sighs and moves off.


The Doctor, munching on some fruit, looks through the forms again.

Doctor: All the victims came from here, but according to this paperwork, they left of their own accord on the return shuttles to Earth. Now, why? There’s no mutiny on the shuttles, so why were they spaced? What did they do?

Frowning, he turns the form in his hand upside down.

Doctor: Or perhaps, what didn’t they do? They must have failed something, but what? Or should that be who? Hmmm.

He walks off, while a security camera on the wall watches on.


A large room with a semicircular desk and a porthole showing space outside. A large screen on the forward wall shows static. Gabriel thumps the control panel on his desk and the picture darkens. Stella and Bella stand to one side.

Gabriel: Why haven’t the Cherubs fixed the security web yet?

Stella: They are trying to do so, Mr. Gabriel, but there seems to be a massive systems malfunction.

Gabriel: Yes, Stella. It’s called sabotage. Someone doesn’t want to let us know what is happening in room 412. Something that redhead knows about. Stella, what do you know of Melanie?

Stella: She is from Earth, sir. She likes happy people, fitness and health. She arrived her three weeks ago, transferred from Paradise Two.

Gabriel: Bella?

Bella: Not much else, Mr. Gabriel. She doesn’t seem to enjoy the more menial aspects of her work, apparently. She gets on well with Lorelei, though.

Gabriel: [nods] Lorelei. Hmm. Stella, Bella, I want you both to keep close watch over Melanie Bush. I shall be making inquiries on my next visit to Paradise One. You can go now.

Stella and Bella: Thank you, Mr. Gabriel.

They turn and leave. Gabriel taps at a control and a mug shot of Melanie, with various details written around it.


Stella and Bella are walking down the corridor as the pass Lorelei.

Lorelei: Enjoy the secret meeting, girls?

Stella: As much as you enjoy being excluded from them, Lorelei.

Lorelei: Oh, did you think of that yourself? I’m impressed.

Bella: Well, it doesn’t take much to impress outsiders.

Lorelei: Whereas it takes nothing to impress idiots like you. I’m surprised you can move one foot in front of another without Gabriel’s sayso and I bet he is, too.

Stella: Shut up, Lorelei.

Lorelei: Oh, very smart Bella.

Bella: [angry] I’m Bella! She’s Stella.

Lorelei: Sorry, I always take idiots at face value.

She turns and strides off. The twins scowl and move off.


A simple chamber with numerous tables and chairs, and decorated like a jungle with lots of pot planets. Melanie crosses to an ornate dispenser and produces a tray of food and drink. She turns and sees Tapp and Aht – two people from the crowd she spoke to earlier.

Tapp: Oh, hello.

Melanie: Hello, Mr. Tapp. Enjoying your stay.

Tapp: Immensely. Have you met Aht?

Melanie: Um, no, I’m afraid not.

Aht: I am not too social. I am pleased to meet you.

Melanie: Same here.

By now, they all have their meals and head to the nearest table.

Melanie: What do you do for a living, Aht?

Aht: Zen diagraphics, Melanie. I am a research scientist from Thactus 7. My friend Tapp is a businessman from Earth.

Melanie: And you’re enjoying your stay.

Aht: Almost.

Tapp: [amused] Almost? What do you mean? I’m wanting for nothing here and don’t have to for the next month. What’s wrong?

Aht: Something is... odd here. Something strange. Do not agree?

Tapp: [shrugs] Well, I suppose. But I can’t pin it down, can you?

Aht: No. I cannot.

Lorelei approaches them.

Lorelei: Mel, Mr. Gabriel has called a meeting. He wants us there, this time.

Melanie: [to Tapp and Aht] Excuse me.

Aht: Of course.

Tapp: See you soon.


Melanie and Lorelei are walking down the hall.

Melanie: So, our evil plans have obviously been discovered.

Lorelei: Probably. Honestly, that Gabriel... I don’t like him.

Melanie: I don’t think anyone does, Lorelei. I don’t know how I cope here, between him and the dull work he makes us do...

Lorelei: I don’t even know why I’ve stayed in the complex so long. I’ve had better jobs, you know. And better bosses than Gabriel.

Melanie: That wouldn’t be hard. When were these better jobs, then?

Lorelei: Oh, my other life. Another suitcase in another town.

They enter a room marked DIRECTOR’S OFFICE.


Gabriel paces in front of the hostesses like a general inspecting his troops. He has clearly been talking for quite a while.

Gabriel: ...I shall be on Paradise One for two solar days. In that time I expect the running of Paradise Five to remain at its present state. When I return, I expect things to have improved regarding maintenance and [glances at Mel] security. That is all.

The girls begin to go.

Lorelei: You off to finish dinner?

Melanie: No, I think I’ll just have a wander.


Melanie heads towards the apartments. Lorelei follows.

Lorelei: Sounds nice. I think I’ll have try. See you later.

Melanie: Bye.

Melanie heads towards apartment 412.


The Doctor looks up from his pacing as the door opens and Melanie sticks her head in.

Melanie: Action stations, Doctor! Time for some full-time investigation.

Doctor: [smiles] Excellent. I’m beginning to get cabin fever.


Lorelei walks down the passage and pauses by a window showing space outside. She sighs to herself.

Lorelei: Why did I ever come here?

A shadow moves on the far wall. Lorelei notices.

Lorelei: Hello? Hello? Who’s there?

The shadow disappears. Lorelei hurries over to the corridor. It is empty. She frowns, and turns to face the way she came. A blinding glare shines on her face and she cries out in horror.


The Doctor and Melanie are heading down the passage.

Melanie: You’re sure this will work?

Doctor: You did the hacking, Mel. I’m just a newly arrived customer, heading for the galley.

Stella emerges from a side passage and spots them.

Stella: Stop! Who are you?

Doctor: Me? A visitor. I’ve heard a lot of good things about this place so I thought I would give it a try.

Stella: Really. And who are you?

Doctor: I am Doctor John Smith, part of the galaxy corps research fund and I am in need of a holiday. That is what this young lady [indicates Melanie] has been telling me.

Stella: Have you indeed, Melanie?

Doctor: Are you saying she was lying, miss, er?

Stella: Stella. Can I see your ID-bracelet, please?

The Doctor shows off the bracelet around his wrist.

Stella: Thank you, that all seems to be in order.

Doctor: I thought so. Now, what’s your name, Melanie, I’d like a quick trip to the Arcadian Bar, if that’s all right?

Melanie: Of course, Doctor.

They move off. Stella watches them suspiciously, before turning to leave. A moment later, Lorelei emerges from the shadows, smiling slightly, before following them.


A shuttle flies away from Paradise Five.


Tapp and Aht are finishing their meal as the Doctor and Melanie arrive.

Tapp: Hey, Mel! How’s it going?

Melanie: Fine. This is a new customer, Doctor John Smith.

Tapp: Nice coat, Smith.

Doctor: [sits] I thought so.

Aht: You are here on holiday?

Doctor: Yes, I thought I needed a rest. My life is unbelievably hectic at times. You take a rest when you’re offered it.

Tapp: You had a choice? Interesting.

Melanie sits down beside them.

Melanie: You didn’t have a choice to come here?

Tapp: Nope.

Aht: Nor did I.

Tapp: I was just working in my office the other day when they collected me. I didn’t have any time to pack or change, they said everything would be provided when we were on Paradise Five. And, believe me, it has.

Doctor: [frowns] So, you didn’t tell anyone you were leaving?

Tapp: Didn’t have time. Besides, someone had obviously thought it would make a good surprise, so everyone else probably knows.

Aht: It is all part of the fun, apparently.

Melanie: Is it?

Aht: Yes. The spontaneity of being selected is the major advertising ploy. Did you not know this?

Melanie: [begins to speak] Well...

Doctor: No. Now, Tapp, Aht. I want you to listen to me. This is in deadly earnest. Melanie and I came to this planet because we know as a fact that some of the visitors here have been killed and their bodies dumped in space. Tell me, Aht, do you have any enemies?

Aht: Personally, no. But my corporation has many competitors.

Doctor: The same with you, Tapp?

Tapp: [frowns] Well, now you come to mention it...

Doctor: I think you and everyone else here has been set up. Just who booked this holidays for you? Your partners, employers, lovers – or maybe your enemies. The sort of people who could make a deal with the management of Paradise Five and make sure you never leave.

Melanie: Steady on, Doc. I know Gabriel’s a bit sinister...

Doctor: The idea is certainly possible and quite easy to make. Apart from anything else – Paradise Five will live up to its reputation. We’re all having the time of our lives – because it will be the very last time.

Aht: That’s it!

Tapp: What is?

Aht: The odd thing. Melanie, how many of us arrived this afternoon on the shuttle?

Melanie: Twenty-five or so. Why?

Aht: I have not seen very many people – barely ten – and I have toured the whole complex. Besides, where are the holiday makers who are already here?

Melanie: According to the computers, they left on their own shuttle.

Aht: But no collection ships has arrived or departed.

Melanie: [eyes widen] Just Gabriel’s personal planet hopper...

Tapp: What are you saying?

Doctor: What Aht is saying, Mr. Tapp, is that people are disappearing rapidly. If we’re not careful we could join them. Now, Melanie, I would like to see one of these so-called collection ships at some point tonight...

Lorelei: I believe that can be arranged.

All four patrons whirl around to see that Lorelei is standing over them, looking normal.

Melanie: Ah, Lorelei. This is Doctor John Smith, he’s just arrived here a few hours ago...

Lorelei: I know. Dumb and dumber told me. I was just saying that that the closest you can get to a collection ship is the one down in the dry-dock.

Doctor: What’s it doing there?


We see the vessel sitting in a large hanger-type chamber. It is smooth, black and aerodynamic.

Lorelei: [VO] It’s in for repairs.

The Doctor and Melanie approach the craft, showing it to be bigger than a house. They approach a large square segment of hull.

Doctor: Curiouser and curiouser, said Alice. There is far more to this mystery than I first suspected.

Melanie: What do you mean?

Doctor: Oh, come on, Mel! Look at the ship, its design. That isn’t of human origin, and all of this system was constructed by Earth technology. It belongs to an outside party.

Melanie: You mean, Gabriel’s working with aliens?

Doctor: Very alien aliens. Ones as yet undiscovered in this time and place. I wonder if we can get in.

Taking out a square implement, the Doctor begins to feel around the hull for a particular spot. Bored, Melanie begins to walk around the craft. She stops as a shadow moves across the wall. She approaches it and it cuts out. Behind her, a bubbling white glow forms and grows larger and a humanoid shape forms inside it – an emaciated skeletal figure dressed in flowing robes and with two huge wings. Melanie turns to face the creature and screams. The Doctor looks up from the hull as the alien vanishes and the glow dissolves. He runs over to Melanie.

Doctor: Mel? Mel are you all right? What’s the matter?

Melanie: [shaken] I... I saw an angel. Maybe this place IS paradise after all...

Doctor: Snap out of it, Mel. This is just phantasmagoria.

Melanie: Doctor, am I prone to that sort of imagination?

Doctor: You are the one seeing angels. Perhaps its just the strange atmosphere down here. That ship has an unusually low temperature, that might be part of it. Come on, Mel. Let’s get back to the upper levels.

Melanie: Doctor, I’m telling you, I saw –

Doctor: A trick of the light, Mel. Come on.

He leads her out of the chamber. Meanwhile, the hull plate slides back to reveal the strange bubbling glow. Through a distorted haze, something watches the Doctor and Melanie leaving.


A shuttle hurtles towards Paradise Five.


Gabriel sits before Stella and Bella, brooding.

Stella: I hope you had a pleasant journey, sir.

Gabriel: The journey was fine, Stella. Though it was soiled somewhat by the information I discovered. I cross-checked the ultranet and I am certain that Melanie Bush is a fraud. All her papers are forgeries.

Bella: You don’t sound very surprised.

Gabriel: Probably because I’m not surprised. You’ve monitored Melanie’s movements in my absence?

Stella: Yes, sir. She has been escorting a new arrival around the pleasure complex, and is returning from the dry docks.

Gabriel: [frowns] New arrival?

Bella: Doctor John Smith.

Gabriel sits up, surprised.

Gabriel: The Doctor? Describe him?

Stella: Tall, blonde curly hair. His clothes... are distinctive.

Bella: They are multicoloured and clash, totally tasteless.

Gabriel: Yes. The Doctor, indeed. Stella, Bella, I want you to continue monitoring those two. I’m going to contact our... business associates. Go.


The Valeyard rises.

Valeyard: Stop the Matrix.

The screen deactivates.

Valeyard: I fail to understand this defense. True, the Doctor is shown not to interfere unduly, but his conduct in flouting various rules and regulations does not aid him. This defense...

Doctor: Listen, Valeyard – your argument is tired and worn out. If you can show the restraint I showed during the prosecution, and suppress your bloodlust, your concern would be less apparent.

Inquisitor: Concern?

Doctor: Yes. I’ve noticed that the prosecutor is quite disturbed by my choice of defense and in particular why I should be on Paradise Five. He then interrupts the evidence when the moment Gabriel’s backers are brought in the tale. [smiles sweetly] You seem to have something to hide, learned court prosecutor.

The Valeyard is awkward, trying to find a rejoinder.

Inquisitor: The single purpose of this trial is to determine the guilt or otherwise of the prisoner on the basis of the evidence that has been submitted. I suggest we return to Paradise Five.


The Doctor and Tapp pass some grey beings performing maintenance on a junction section.

Doctor: Not a soul around. I think we might be the last paying customers on the planet, Tapp old chap.

Tapp: [indicates beings] What about those?

Doctor: Hmm? Oh, the Cherubs? Oh, they don’t count. They’re staff.

Tapp: Really. [to Cherub] Excuse me? Excuse me, have you seen any other visitors go down here tonight? Hello?

The cherubs continue their work, silently.

Doctor: They won’t talk to you, Tapp.

Tapp: Why not?

Doctor: They’re mute for one thing. Come on, back to the restaurant. Hopefully any remaining holiday makers are waiting there.

Tapp: Aht said the Cherubs were half-human.

Doctor: Did he?

Tapp: Yes, he did. Are they?

Doctor: A species off-shoot, mutagenic DNA, that sort of thing. They perform most of the maintenance around the complex, although they’re probably busy with a little fault I put in the system.

Tapp: But, Doctor, if we’re the only ones left...

Doctor: Hmm?

Tapp: ...and the Cherubs are all worried about your sabotage...

Doctor: Hmmm?

Tapp: ...why are they preparing the place for a new batch of arrivals? And why have those two waitresses been doing all their duties like nothing is wrong?

Doctor: [frowns] I don’t know. Ominous, isn’t it?


The Doctor and Tapp enter. Aht is drinking from a cup.

Tapp: Aht! Thank goodness you’re still here.

Doctor: No others have arrived?

Aht: Just Melanie and Lorelei – until they were called away.

Doctor: By whom, I wonder?

Gabriel: [VO] By me, Doctor.

The Doctor slowly turns. Gabriel walks towards him.

Doctor: Ah, and who might you be?

Gabriel: I am Michael Gabriel.

Doctor: The mastermind behind this... grand scheme?

Gabriel: I run Paradise Five.

Doctor: As I said. I’ve been looking forward to meeting you.

Gabriel: As I have you. Doctor, your holiday is almost over. You should prepare for the journey home.

Doctor: Oh, are you sure? I haven’t been here long enough.

Gabriel: A common lament.

Doctor: I’d like to stay for a few days more.

Gabriel: You have no choice in the matter.

Doctor: Don’t I?

Gabriel: No.

Doctor: No?

Gabriel: No.

Doctor: Well, er, I suppose I should go and pack. [to Tapp and Aht] Would you two gentlemen fancy helping me out? That hand luggage is lethal on a sore back.

Tapp: [cautiously] Yeah, sure. Come on Aht.

The trio head out. Gabriel smiles and turns and leaves.


Melanie and Lorelei are heading down a corridor.

Lorelei: An angel?

Melanie: Yes, definitely. It just disappeared like a ghost. Wait a moment. Lorelei, you’ve been here longer than anyone, right?

Lorelei: [frowns] Right?

Melanie: Do you know if anyone lived in the Paradise System before it was colonized. That ghost – maybe they could be the natives of Paradise Five? I mean...

She breaks off as Bella appears in the corridor ahead. She smiles cruelly. Melanie swallows and immediately turns to run. Stella is waiting for her, and is armed.

Stella: Mr. Gabriel wants to see you, Melanie.

Melanie swallows nervously, before Lorelei sneaks up behind her and clubs her unconscious. Melanie falls to the ground.

Bella: I’m glad you’ve finally worked out what side you’re on.

Lorelei: [grimly] Aren’t we all?


The Doctor is pacing, while Aht broods out a porthole and Tapp snacks on the heart-shaped bed.

Doctor: It can’t be some kind of extravagant assassination service. Why would this third party need or want dead bodies? If was for food or something, why chuck the bodies out of the airlock?

Aht: They must want us alive, then?

Doctor: But for what?

Tapp: Ah, Doctor?

Doctor: Hmm?

Tapp: I thought you said Melanie would turn up here.

Doctor: [absently] Did I? [eyes widen] Mel!


Melanie is tied to a chair. Slowly, she regains consciousness. Stella and Bella stand guard over her, and Gabriel sits behind his desk, facing her, his face like thunder.

Melanie: [dazed] Wha... What’s going on?

Gabriel: Not your employment, that’s for sure. Though, to be fair to me, you were never employed here in the first place. Isn’t that right, Melanie Bush?

Melanie: What are you talking about?

Gabriel: I do try to cultivate loyalty among my staff, but it isn’t essential. However, when my employees start to openly conspire against me – smuggling in spies to my complex, I...

Melanie: Mr. Gabriel, what are you on about? What spy?

Gabriel: The Doctor, of course! And stop this stupid pretence. I have been to Paradise One, Melanie. I have cross-checked all records – officially, you do not exist. Your papers are forgeries.

Melanie sighs, beaten.

Gabriel: What have you uncovered?

Melanie remains silent.

Gabriel: Who are you working for? [beat] What are you and the Doctor planning to do? [produces gun] Don’t think I won’t use this, Melanie. Your subversive activities are threatening everything, and you are quite easily disposed of – until now.

Melanie: [surprised] What?

Gabriel: Stella! Send every Cherub in the complex to search for the Doctor. Send a couple specifically to Avalon Apartment 412. [smiles] Melanie is now expendable, should the Time Lord refuse to answer my questions.

Melanie looks anxious.


The Doctor heads for the door. Aht stops him.

Aht: Doctor, we agreed. It is too dangerous out there!

Doctor: And Mel is out there. I have to help her!

Tapp: And if you vanish, where does that leave us?

Doctor: They’ll find us eventually, Mr. Tapp. This is a situation we cannot win. All we can do is try and limit the damage to our side. Now, if you will excuse me...

The Doctor opens the door – and two Cherubs are waiting outside. The Doctor turns to run, but a Cherub grabs him, the other using a blast of energy from its fingers to down the Doctor. It then blasts the shocked Tapp and Aht, who collapse to the ground.


Paradise Five hangs in space.


The Doctor is being hauled by the two Cherubs towards the collection ship. Two others carry Tapp and Aht. The Doctor groans as he recovers consciousness, looking around. The procession enter the craft.


A dark metallic chamber, mainly empty. Tapp and Aht are carried out through a second hatchway, while the Doctor is thrown to the floor by the guard Cherubs. The Doctor manages to get to his feet – and finds Gabriel standing before him.

Gabriel: I did say your holiday was over, Doctor.

Doctor: [rubs head] So you did. I was getting ready to leave.

Gabriel: A transparent excuse for delay.

Doctor: Such things warm my hearts. [rubs arm] Unlike this place. Why’s it so cold in here, anyway?

Gabriel: A necessary requirement.

Doctor: Ah, I thought it might have been a malfunction. The reason this ship is in the dry-docks. Have you repaired her yet?

Gabriel: She was never damaged, Doctor.

Doctor: [shrugs] Surprise, surprise. Why was it here, then?

Gabriel: It has merely been waiting for a full cargo hold, Doctor.

Doctor: How lazy of it. No wonder this operation of yours is such a shambles, it’s so haphazard. How long have you been trying to fill this ship up? Years? Decades?

Gabriel: [smiles] You arrogant fool. This operation has been planned down to the finest detail. Even your presence was instantly compensated for and adjusted.

Doctor: You don’t say?

Gabriel: For a man staring directly at death, Doctor, you are remarkably flippant.

Doctor: Or I know something you don’t.

Gabriel: I’m not surprised.

Doctor: Modesty? I hadn’t thought you capable. After all, how humane is someone who participates with criminals to kidnap innocent – well, fairly innocent – businesspeople and hand them over to some dirty aliens who like the cold? I assumed you thought it up yourself, as this is the biggest dog’s breakfast I’ve seen since...

Gabriel: [frowns] You think that only I control Paradise Five? You think this operation has the backing of only a few pitiful humans and the owners of this ship? You’re a fool, Doctor. And this mistake will cost you your life!


The Time Lords watch the screen. The Doctor watches the Valeyard, who then returns his gaze. The Doctor shrugs and starts watching again.


Dark and metallic like the rest of the ship. A dozen or so businesspeople, human and alien are present. They are all staring around them in fear as bubbling glows drift past them, randomly solidifying into skeletal angels. The Doctor is shoved in by a Cherub and the hatch glides closed behind him. Tapp and Aht approach.

Tapp: Doctor? Are you all right?

Doctor: Fine. Is everyone else here?

Aht: Bar the hostesses and Melanie.

Doctor: Mel... She wasn’t imagining things, was she?

He turns to the door when an angel-ghost appears before him, hissing softly. The Doctor laughs halfheartedly and he and his companions back away from the door.

Doctor: Where is she, anyway?


Melanie struggles in her bonds. The door opens and Lorelei enters.

Lorelei: I’m sorry about this, Mel.

Melanie: You tricked me!

Lorelei: And what good would it have done if they tied me up as well, eh? Come on, time’s a wasting. [unties Mel] I’ve checked the security web – all the visitors have disappeared, including you’re friend, the Doctor. We’ve got to go.

The two rise, turn, and leave the chamber.


As Melanie and Lorelei run off, Stella watches.


The Doctor, Tapp and Aht have been forced into a corner.

Tapp: [shivering] It’s so cold down here!

Doctor: Yes. I wonder why?

Tapp: Are they going to freeze us, or something?

Doctor: Not now. It’s not cold enou – of course! These creatures, they must require a constant temperature if they’re to maintain an equilibrium and shift spectrum! If the temperature rises, they will be jammed in either plane – solid, or insubstantial!

Aht: It is logical, but how can it be done?

Doctor: You’re not cold, are you Aht? Your biochemistry is far more efficient than a human’s, or even mine.

Aht nods, confused. Meanwhile, a bubbling glow forms against the wall.

Tapp: [shouts] Aht! Oh my god! He’s dead!

The glow forms into an angel, which floats over to the trio. Aht lies sprawled on the floor, pale and still. Hissing, the creature reaches out a skeletal hand to touch Aht’s neck.

Doctor: Now!

Aht’s colour turns healthy. There is a sigh and the angel hisses in agony, convulsing. Its hand bubbles with an energy pulse. The Doctor, Tapp and Aht waste no time. They scramble to their feet and run to the cargo hatch. The Doctor stabs the opening control and they run through.


Dodging past the two Cherub guards, the trio leave the ship.


Lorelei and Melanie run down the passage. Suddenly, the Doctor, Tapp and Aht appear the other way. Both parties turn to retreat, but pause.

Tapp: Melanie!

Melanie: Doctor!

Doctor: Mel! Thank heavens you’re all right!

Lorelei: What is going on here?

Doctor: Corruption, perversion, murder, you name it. The collection vessel in the dry dock is nothing more than an alien slave-ship. All the holiday makers bar ourselves have been imprisoned on board.

Melanie: [eyes widen] Doctor, those bodies we saw in the TARDIS...

Doctor: Yes, they were probably rejects from this little scheme. Either they resisted or they weren’t strong enough to be sold into slavery. Either way, they were spaced.

Lorelei: What is Gabriel getting out of this?

Doctor: Money. He’s charging for the disappearance service and then selling the poor unfortunates on to the aliens. You saw one tonight, Mel. I apologize for not believing you. Yes, it’s a rather profitable little double-deal for Gabriel and...

Aht: Who?

Doctor: [nods] Who indeed. Come on, back to the holiday area.

They move off.


The screen deactivates.

Doctor: [wearily] Yes?

Valeyard: Doctor, your insistence that there is some... unknown force behind Paradise Five is irrational. It is not inconceivable that Michael Gabriel planned the whole operation himself, or, if he did not, killed the partner that did.

Doctor: Just as conceivable that the whole thing has been masterminded by the player as yet unidentified. A rather odd choice of inquisition, Valeyard?

Inquisitor: Doctor, this interruption is unwarranted. Valeyard, unless you have serious points to raise, this is the Doctor’s testimony and he may display it as he sees fit. Continue, Doctor.


The Doctor, Melanie, Lorelei, Tapp and Aht run inside.

Melanie: Doctor, where are we going?

Doctor: Looking for somewhere to hide.

Lorelei: The whole leisure centre’s deserted! Who are we hiding from, anyway Doctor?

Tapp: Believe me, you don’t want to meet them.

Melanie: Aren’t you looking for the shuttle, Doctor?

Doctor: Yes, we’ve got to get back to Paradise One and into the TARDIS. They we can try and hijack the collection ship when it leaves here. Well, Melanie, you have the memory of an elephant. Which way?

Melanie: [looks around] That way.

Lorelei: No. Melanie, that leads to the Happiness Rooms. The shuttle bay is on the other side of the complex.

Melanie: No, it isn’t. I’m sure...

The Doctor stares at Lorelei. She stares back.

Doctor: Mel, get back. Tapp, you too.

Tapp: Why, what’s wrong?

Doctor: I was just thinking – what happens when an insubstantial wraith engulfs a living humanoid being: in this case, Lorelei.

Lorelei smiles and places her hands on her chest.

Lorelei: Who? Little old me?

She flickers with energy. Two ethereal wings sprout from her back, her hands growing talons and wrinkling. Her face shrivels into a skull-shape shape, her long blonde hair dissolving into loose strands. Suddenly, an angel-ghost wearing a wrecked hostess uniform, stands there, hissing.

Lorelei: [dist] Infiltration has been an art I have excelled at. Many of us can wipe humanoid minds clean, reside in the emptiness, take over your forms. Lorelei was chosen a few hours ago.

Melanie: [shocked] She’s dead?

Doctor: As far as we know the term. And I suppose you’ve infiltrated quite a few of their workers here. Until something trapped you in those forms – mutated them into Cherubs.

Lorelei: [dist] A ploy by Gabriel to gain control.

Tapp: I’m surprised you let him live after that.

Gabriel: [VO-dist] She didn’t.

The Doctor, Melanie and the tourists whirl to see three other angel-ghosts floating in mid-air, surrounding by Cherubs.

Gabriel: [dist] We were claimed a month ago.

The alien contracts and warps, as do its companions, becoming Gabriel, Stella and Bella.

Gabriel: We have waited long enough. Take them away.

The Cherubs close in around the foursome.


The collection ship silently emerges from Paradise Five and flies off into the depths of space.


Gabriel, Stella and Bella, watch on, amused.


There are two angel-ghosts guarding the door. The holiday makers are far less freaked out, but are grumbling loudly. The Doctor throws his hands up, as if in despair, and crosses to Melanie, Tapp and Aht.

Doctor: This band of pen-pushers is not going to be the easiest of mutinous rabbles. We’re going to have to think up another plan.

Aht: We could try burning the guard?

Tapp: No, that won’t work another time. The other one would zap up before we could do anything. They might even possess you to make sure you keep quiet.

Melanie: Burn them? What are you talking about?

Doctor: Tell her, Aht.

Aht: As far as we can tell, these aleins are composed of super-condensed gas that needs to be kept as near-zero temperatures.

Melanie: That’s why its so cold in here!

Doctor: Yes, it also accounts for the rather odd design of the ship. It’s a honeycomb of small ventilation ducts that continually supply cold air. In fact...

Melanie: Doctor?

Doctor: Hmm?

Melanie: [grins] I’ve got a plan!


The collection ship moves through space.


The same d├ęcor as the rest of the ship. Two cherubs set controls as the Lorelei-wraith watches on, toying with a golden bracelet it wears.


The prisoners –including Tapp and Aht - now no longer wear the jackets or trousers and look very cold. The Doctor has shed his jacket and waistcoat, and Melanie her uniform.

Tapp: This is stupid, Doctor!

Doctor: This, Tapp, is the only chance we have to escape. Now, you, Aht and I are going to do something else. Pick up the clothing, will you. [sotto] Besides, this is the perfect excuse for getting out of this humiliation and it will a long time again before I get to use it, so come on!

The Doctor, Tapp and Aht run off with bundles of clothing. Melanie watches them, frowning, having heard every word.

Melanie: Right everybody. If you want to get warm, follow my movements. All right, now!

She starts doing some simple exercises with appropriate chants. Some of the braver holiday makers follow while the others refuse to do it – until the cold starts to get to them. Meanwhile, Aht shoves a small grille full of clothes until it is blocked. The Angels watch the group doing aerobics. The Doctor and Tapp block two more grilles. Aht blocks another. The Doctor uses the last of the clothes to fill a grille.

Doctor: Right! Come on!

The Doctor runs past the angel-ghosts, and begins to circle the chamber. Tapp and Aht follow. The whole chamber is filled with people moving - and creating excess body heat.

Aht: [exhausted] Are... you... sure about... this... Doctor?

Doctor: [still running] No. Come on!

The Angels begin to hiss menacingly. A low, evil-sounding alarm begins to ring in the background, faster and faster. The ghosts begin to close in on Mel, and the Doctor runs towards them.


Alarms and sirens are going off. The Cherubs concentrate on the controls while Lorelei turns to face some other wraiths. She speaks in a strange hissing and the others leave. She regresses into her humanoid state looking very, very worried.


Five or six bubbling glows glide towards the entrance to the cargo hold, and manifest into skeletal angels. One lets out a loud hiss and the door glides open. There is a blast of steam and the creatures begin to scream and howl before evaporating. The Doctor and Melanie emerge.

Melanie: It worked!

Doctor: Of course it did, Mel. How can you doubt yourself. The warmer air is lethal to them and is now spreading throughout the ship. Tapp! Aht! Come on, the flight deck.


More alarms are sounding. One of the Cherubs starts to gasp and splutter. A wraith by the door begins to writhe in agony. Lorelei looks around, anxiously, then shakes her head.

Lorelei: Plan B.

She presses her bracelet, shimmers and vanishes. Just then, the door opens to flight deck and the Doctor and Tapp enter, steam surrounding them. The remaining Cherub collapses as the wraith dissolves.

Doctor: Tapp, you know basic flight-procedures, don’t you?

Tapp: Just about?

They shrug aside the bodies of the Cherubs and start operating controls. Some alarms go off.

Doctor: Right, I want you to plot a course for Paradise One.

Tapp: Ah, I’m not that good at navigation.

Doctor: [annoyed] What?


The collection ship spins aimlessly before jerkily changing course.

Doctor: [VO] If there’s one thing I hate it’s front-seat drivers!

The collection ship flies off.


The screen goes blank.

Doctor: We eventually managed to arrive back on Paradise One and with the evidence and testimony of those prisoners, the whole Paradise operation was closed down. Gabriel and his cronies tried to escape in a shuttle craft but, unfortunately, negated to adjust the atmosphere controls so they just melted away.

Valeyard: [bitter] Very commendable, Doctor.

Doctor: And there you have it. I came across an irregularity and began to investigate – not meddle. When I became an active participant, it was to rescue those unfortunate victims and expose Gabriel’s hideous slave-trade: something which would have justified such interference anyway!

Inquisitor: It is accepted, Doctor. And you cannot refute it, Valeyard.

The Valeyard is about to reply when a door opens and a Chancellery guard enters with a message pod. The Valeyard takes it and thanks the guard. It opens to show a CD which he plugs into his terminal.

Valeyard: My Lady, I have new evidence. The Matrix has yielded a new probability study – a future which will definitely come to pass if the Doctor is to leave this court a free man.

He presses a control. Surprised, the rest of the court whirl to face the screen as it shows a burnt-yellow planet in space.

Doctor: [stunned] That’s Skaro!

The image zooms in on the planet.


A large circular chamber with glass panels on the upper surfaces to show a silver city outside. A large screen is set against one wall. The Supreme Dalek – black with white spheres – glides into view. Suddenly, the TARDIS materializes in the corner. We cut to the Doctor and the Supreme Dalek facing each other.

Supreme: You cannot be trusted!

Doctor: I have never been more serious or honest.

We cut to screen showing an orange planet surrounded by hieroglyphs.

Doctor: [VO] The space-time coordinates of Gallifrey.

We see the Supreme Dalek.

Supreme: Soon the Dalek Empire shall become the masters of time!


The screen turns white. Everyone turns to face the Doctor, who is utterly shocked, unable to say a world.

Valeyard: Whether or not the Doctor has proved himself innocent is no longer the cardinal issue. He is guilty of a far greater crime – the betrayal of his whole race!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

What-EVAH, Mad Larry (slight return)

(Note, there are some spoilers for The Pandorica Opens. Like I care...)

I had almost completely given up checking out what ML had to say, my interest now solely for retarded quotes for the guides (I've nearly done Enemy of the Daleks, you know). But his latest post really does redefine all possible boundaries. Yes, my author avatar for Lawrence Miles is now Alex Drake. Specifically very early Alex Drake, like when she's inspiring suicide bombers and calling people fictional constructs. I defy anyone to read it and believe that Larry's either taking his medication or said medication is strong enough.

He starts off by altering his headline to describe his blog as a "self-parody" (given he hasn't updated it all year and the few changes he has made are all deleted, I wonder what exactly can be parodied) and then bitching it's not as bad as the new series.

Now, Douglas Adams believed that Doctor Who achieved self-parody status before he actually started watching the show, let alone wrote for it. I certainly believe this, since it's hard to believe Doctor Who was still a serious, non-post-modern entertainment saga after series two ended with The Chase and The Time Meddler back-to-back. These stories revealed that the TARDIS is not some unique magical transport and literally any old fecker with a dematerialization circuit can build them, and that not only can history be rewritten, if it weren't for mad monks and demented Daleks we wouldn't have Stonehenge or the Marie Celeste! To top it all off they ditch Ian and Barbara for some nutter with a teddy bear who appeared in ONE episode and spent most of that episode talking to thin air and trying to commit suicide! The final episode of the season has the Doctor break the fourth wall and staring into camera announcing, "I am familiar with the medium of television, my child!"


If anything, Moffat's taken the show far more seriously than even RTD did!

But ontothe true depths of insanity Mad Larry purports. Best analyze it Spara style before the sod deletes it...


S'okay, I didn't actually bother watching the second half. So this will be largely hypothetical.
Since he didn't watch the first half properly, I was pleased at this and also note that he makes no real predictions about the next episode anyway.

...five days ago, I was standing in front of the window of the local newsagent's. There was a poster advertising "Archaeological Adventures: Dinosaurs" (I've mentioned this on Twitter, but if you don't already know, then it's the perfect thing for an intelligent child or autistic adult who wants to whittle while watching an unfulfilling World Cup match or BBC drama), and also a poster advertising Doctor Who stickers. I ignored the latter, because I'm really not joking when I say that I can't even look at the gormless foetus-face of Matt Smith without wanting to slap it.

He's such a tolerant and open-minded bloke, isn't he?

"You are ugly, I must resort to violence!"

That thing with Van Gogh looked like the most interesting episode this year, but as soon as he did the "could you breathe a little more quietly?" schtick in the trailer, I literally made an effort to be out on Saturday.
Dear God. You could simply have rented a DVD. Or unplugged the TV. But he couldn't bear to be in a place where he might watch a show. This doesn't say much for his self-control, does it? Especially given he avoided watching the ten episodes prior without difficulty.

(Sidestep One. ITV did a remake of The Prisoner which, by all precedent and reason, should've been unbearable. It was quite good. Jesus! ITV is doing a "cult" reboot, but uses proper actors - Ian McKellen and Ruth Wilson, the latter of whom steals the "Most Attractive Woman in the UK Who Looks Like a Fish" crown from Miranda Sawyer - while Doctor Who does a piss-poor Harry Potter impression with a footballer and a blow-up doll? Gutted.)
Good. I hope you cry yourself to sleep you ungrateful ratbag fuck.

So I'm in front of the window. And then a little girl, of the kind that Moffat pretends to like when he's stuck in a narrative corner,
So Moffat hates little girls now?

Note: this is from the bloke who hates all small children and considers them a waste of food and resources.

pulled her mum up to the glass and pointed at the poster.
'I saw that Doctor Who on Shannon's widescreen!' she said. 'It was scary. The Girl One had to run loads'...but the Boy One had to save... something.'

The narrative slip is, of course, acceptable from a seven-year-old. However: the Boy One? And, yes, I did indeed turn eyes-left to make sure she was pointing at the photo of Matt Smith. Then I turned eyes-right, sharpish, beacuse I was scared of looking like a paedophile.
A sensible move there, as we all know he resembles a serial killer. And that's not any kind of hyperbole on my part. Though I can freely say I can look at images of people I don't know and not want to slap them.

The Boy One?
Yes. I fail to see the logic here. It is acceptable for the seven year old critique to dwell more on the actual television it was watched on than any kind of plot, but not that she might be unable to remember the names of the characters. The fact Mad Larry is so out of touch he doesn't know that there is a second companion in the show is presumably why he assumes the girl was not actually talking about Rory.

About a week and a half ago, Stephen Fry (defined by a sometimes-wise critic as "a stupid person's idea of what a clever person is like") attracted venom by critising Doctor Who in the era of Steven Moffat (defined by me as "oh, what a complete arse"). Yet in this epic cage-fighting battle between drivelling self-involved pretend-intellectuals,
More evidence showing how out of touch Mad Larry is.

While it's true there was an Armstrong and Miller style "Pru, it's kicking off!" it was actually done by the media. When fans actually found out what Fry said, they definitely did not "spew venom". For the record Fry went on at length about how much he likes Doctor Who, he just hates the fact the BBC act like they can dumb down anything and use Doctor Who as "proof" they're better than ever. A viewpoint Moffat agreed with.

the most important point seemed to be missed. Fry talked about programmes "like" Merlin and Doctor Who.
Actually no, he mentioned them specifically because they were the shows the BBC was bigging up.

Christ, Larry, is it REALLY so hard to do basic research?!

If you can use those two titles in the same sentence, then something's gone terribly wrong.
Which was the point Fry was making, you dumb fuck (TM Silent Bob).

But then, this is what I've been saying for a loooooong time:
Oh joy. Little Miss Jocelyn catchphrases. What next? A treatise on the Stalinist Purges using the expression "I DON'T FINK SO!!!"?

Moffat stated that he didn't want to be remembered as "the man who killed Doctor Who", and yet he already did kill it. He killed it in "The Girl in the Fireplace", a rather good episode if you concentrate on what the author genuinely likes - robots and temporal screwing-around -
How, exactly, does Larry know what Moffat genuinely likes? He admits their "relationship" (translation: Moffat's occasional chats to the wierdo at a pub) was 90% Larry boggling that Moffat didn't share his love for a fecking puppet show and was actually popular with other people! So where does this divine insight come from? If you've listened to the commentary for TGFP (which I recommend, it's hilarious), you'll note that Steve has plenty to say about the non-robot-timey-wimey bollocks. Which he also uses a lot in sitcoms and Press Gang.

There is, therefore, the slightest chance that Moff doesn't mind the story elements he uses a hell of a lot.

but an abysmal and emotionally-extorting one when you understand that he's trying to redefine the Doctor as a Sexy Immortal and himself as the Sexy Immortal's Agent.
Ignoring the fact that this idea was done by Toby Whithouse in the immediately previous episode. And the idea was from RTD in the first place. These are not hidden truths, nor are they theories. They are bloody obvious facts you could get from the booklet of the Complete Season Two boxset.

Of course, Mad Larry is such an intellectual giant he'll just shoot his mouth off without any hint of "checking facts", which makes me pine for Nyder... well, briefly.

I wasn't kidding when I said the the series in 2010 is competing with Twilight, y'know.
...when did you say that?

And anyone with a brain cell would point out that if Season Fnar is competing with Twilight, the previous five years were competing with Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Thus my point of "SO FUCKING WHAT?!" springs to mind.

Doctor Who at its best has been awkward, experimental, and unpredictable.
Hmmm. So that's the Second Doctor era onwards that's been complete crap then? Or did Mad Larry miss the base under siege, the UNIT era, the Hinchliffe remakes, the Saward Daze, the Cartmel Masterplan or the Gay Agenda?

Moffat's version, as laid out in "Silence in the Library", is slick, conservative, and entirely founded on things that have been proven to work. In short... it's like Merlin. Only even stupider.
...well, we can't really deny that, but Moffat himself isn't exactly bigging up SIL as his magnum opus, is he? His "let's talk about anything else" atttitude in Confidential and actually ADMITTING it wasn't that good says as much. And as someone who actually had the cahones to watch the series, I can say it's better than SIL.

Here's the grand irony, though -
(Sidestep Three. How many times have I used the phrase "here's the grand irony"?)

Too many times. Get a freaking thesaurus.

- by attempting to squee-up the Doctor, Moffat has destroyed him as a meaningful figure. In "Forest of the Dead" (the Doctor defeats the shadow-nasties by saying "do you know who I am?", thus removing any possible dramatic tension and making him look like the petulant celebrity he's bltantly becoming) and "The Pandorica Opens" (the monsters have spent ages planning this, yet a version of the Doctor of whom even I wouldn't be scared gives himself breathing-space by telling them that he made their mums wee themselves),

How can Mad Larry criticize the plotting of a story he didn't watch?! Seriously? Else he'd know that that the Doctor's "breathing space" (one huge Xanatos gambit in itself), was not down to him saying "I'm so badass, run away!" It was him saying, "I have beaten every last one of you before, so the chances are whoever strikes first I will beat easily!" Thus, he was provoking a battle between the monsters (and the monsters pretended to do so).

The Doctor even admits his speech just got the bad guys "squabbling".

we're shown a Doctor who can do anything he likes because he's... well... famous.
More brilliant logic from someone who, and I cannot emphasize this enough, WAS TOO MUCH OF A SPINELESS NO-FIST LOSER TO WATCH THE PREVIOUS TWELVE EPISODES WHICH WOULD HAVE PROVED HIM WRONG! Damn it, there is a straw man, a huge straw man, and inside that straw man is Mad Larry and I shall be the Christopher Lee to set the fucking thing aflame!

He never proves he's clever, or brave, or moral, or indeed, anything at all. We're just told that he always wins, and we're expected to swallow it without question. His fandom-strength makes him the weakest hero in history.
Whereas Mad Larry's reluctance to watch or listen to anythng that challenges his pathetic and cynical worldview makes him the weakest reviewer in history. Yes, with this post, he finally steals the crown from Gabriel "RTD IS AN ABOMINATION! SAY IT!!" Chase.

That's what I meant by "irony": Moffat tries to make the Doctor a fetish-object, because that's how we think of him as long-term Doctor Who viewers, and because we're the ones to whom he's pandering. (Well, not me. But you know what I mean.)
Yeah, two TV tropes for the price of one. The other is Or So I Heard, BTW.

What the author's actually doing is ensuring the Doctor's worthlessness. If you make someone all-powerful, then power's worth nothing at all, especially if you do it just to reinforce fan-opinion of the safe and clean-cut Boy One.
Hmmm. This seems to be the logic behind Ben Chatham... has Sparacus' true identiy been revealed?!

And of course, the really horrible thing is that this might - I stress "might" - be my fault.
Yeah... this is where it became something I had to record for posterity...

Over the last week, I've been informed by numerous people that "The Pandorica Opens" was a lot like "Alien Bodies". This never occurred to me while watching it,
Since you didn't actually watch the whole thing, this is to be expected.

I don't think it's true. At least, not in the way they meant: technically, "Pandorica" is a lot closer to "Dimensions in Time" than "Alien Bodies". No, screw technically, "Pandorica" is like "Dimenions in Time". Only on a big budget. And without Big Ron.
And, you know, actually makes sense.

So it's Dimensions in Time, only good. I fail to see how this could POSSIBLY be a bad thing.

Still... I remember what Moffat said he liked about "Alien Bodies". He specifically drew attention to the end of Chapter Five, claiming that it was the best cliffhanger he'd ever read. Since he was still capable of wit in those days, I remember the exact way he put it: "And that includes 'Mr Holmes, it was the footprint of a gigantic hound'."
Now, that's a compliment and a half, and I felt duly chuffed. Yet I can't help wondering about the consequences. we go...

In "Alien Bodies" (and on the off-chance that anyone reading this doesn't know what happens in it, I'll be vague regarding the end of Chapter Five),
Fuck that. The Doctor discovers this cut price Curse of Peladon alien convention are bidding madeupnames of awesomeness so they can buy the corpse of the Thirteenth Doctor and do naughty things to to him.

Showing what a gutless tool Mad Larry is, the final chapter reveals the Thirteenth Doctor is alive and well and living with a Brazillian supermodel and Pharlap the Horse on a different plane of reality. Actually, it doesn't, but it IS a copout ending.

the Doctor becomes the subject of Doctor Who rather than its medium. I wrote it that way for a specific reason: a lot of very silly people, mentioning no Jon Blums, were trying to "redefine" the Doctor's past after the "half-human on my mother's side" blather of the TV movie. Like the editor of the books at that stage, I didn't give a rat's minge about his past, and thus wrote something about the future. Not just his future, either.
But in doing that, I... sort of... turned the Doctor into a fetish object. Literally, in fact, according the the dictionary definition of "fetish".
And Moffat read it. And liked the end of Chapter Five!


And now he runs a version of the series in which the Doctor is a living fetish object.
Even though it completely destroys the series' (pardon me) Prime Directive, by making it about an all-powerful all-male hero-figure rather than a traveller who's just interested in things.
And to an extent, I admit it: "Alien Bodies" was stupidly popular because it made the Doctor the subject rather than the medium.
Especially because of the end of Chapter Five.
And Moffat knew that.
And his Prime Directive is to be liked.

Yes. So Moffat not only responsible for making Mad Larry a mysanthropic alocholic psychotic, but he stole Mad Larry's most popular book and used it to destroy Doctor Who. In a script out of baby skin written the blood of freshly-slaughtered fluffy kittens.

But Mad Larry has no bitter or unreasonable vendetta at all.

And the crucial thing to realise about the "Pandorica" arse-fest isn't the plot (if you've found one),
Did a better job than you, arsewipe.

but that it puts the Doctor at the very centre of the universe: there's a box, and you're primed to think that he's going to be in it, but it's actually a trap so that he will be in it. It's pitched not as a prison for the Doctor as a character, but for the Doctor as an icon of modern-day telly.
Um. No. It isn't.

You moron.

So I find myself asking. Did Moffat get that from me?
No. Next question

Despite what's been said elsewhere, "Pandorica" isn't structurally similar to "Alien Bodies" at all.
Wrong. Both involve the Doctor being lured to a famous and magical real-life location by cryptic clues as a chain of events in timey-wimey order allow the biggest bads ever to gather specifically to deal with a universal crisis by getting hold of the Doctor's body. The Daleks are expected to turn up but they arrive with the lamest and most forgotten of monsters (yes... the robot Santas!), and the Doctor discovers he is doomed in a huge multitemporal conspiracy based on things he hasn't done yet.

The major difference is the companion doesn't spend the entire adventure sitting on the stairs, reading a magazine and wishing she was a dark-haired junkie badass.

Yet his vision seems... uncomfortably close, if for all the wrong reasons.
Indeed. Alien Bodies was rubbish in everything bar E-Kobalt-Prime, who spent the whole story bigging up how badass he was in an episode of Doctor Who the BBC forgot to make. That's Earth Aid for those lucky people living in a world with Kate Tollinger and Tony Robinson as the Master.

Oh, you know: like Neil Gaimain ripping off Alan Moore, then wearing sunglasses and pretending to be a rock star in LA.
...get... a fucking... life...

This is the question that's bothering me. If you like the eejit but don't like me, then please feel free to say no, I'd honestly like the reassurance. If the reverse, then please lie and say no anyway.
Weak. Spineless. Dog.

Otherwise, I'm going to apologise, just on the off-chance that I'm right. Doctor Who is now more awful than at any point in its prior history, not because the chief-writer-stroke-producer is vastly more inept than any of his predecessors (he clearly isn't), but because he's vastly more cynical. I, for one, would rather have a bad programme that's attempting something - anything - than a programme designed specifically for BAFTA judges and fans of superhero movies [see previous blog-entries]. And if there's even a 1% chance that I laid 1% of the groundwork for this, then I'M SO, SO SORRY!!!

Yes! Don't you see, Mad Larry isn't some disorganized passive aggressive asshole unable to do much more that twitter bitterly about how unappreciated he is - he's the most important person in history! He destroyed Doctor Who, making him bigger than Michael Grade (or his sex slave RTD if you answer to the name "Kyron Mallett")! Some people could get the show cancelled, or churn out crap stories, but Larry Miles single-handedly annihilated any iota of "pure" Doctor Who and left it a worthless televisual zombie of shame!

This is Mad Larry's ultimate victory, my friends.


Yeah, course you are, Larry.

Whatever makes you feel special.

I know such things are in very short supply.

You n00b.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Doctor Who - Room To Let


I don't need pleasure,
I don't feel pain
If you were to knock me down
I'd just get up again

I wake up every morning
With a smile upon my face
My natural exhuberance
Spils out all over the place

I never let my friends down
I've never made a boob
I'm a glossy magazine
An advert in the tube

I'm the Urban Spaceman, baby,
Here comes the twist
I don't exist!

I was going to begin with a rant about the possible mental problems that Gareth Roberts possesses - I mean, OK, reusing your own material isn't the greatest sin in the world but even Terry Nation at his most unoriginal hackjobiness waited six years before selling us the anti-novelty of Planet of the Daleks! Robert's first episode was based on a comic strip LESS THAN A YEAR OLD. I mean... gah! It reached truly hideous heights with The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith, which was an almost word-for-word rewrite of the story it was a sequel to and the only 'new' material stolen from Sapphire and Steel. It boggles the mind! When people claimed Ian Marter had nicked the end of a Bond film for his magnum opus Harry Sullivan's War, the author intelligently defended himself on the grounds he wasn't stupid enough to steal something millions of readers would know. Roberts seemed to suffer the other extreme - even The Unicorn and the Wasp was, in affect, Doctor Vs. Doctor only with some real people in it!

But I should be fair. I liked The Shakespeare Code, even though it is impossible to reconcile with its inspiration A Groatsworth of Wit. I liked The Unicorn and the Wasp. And his first season SJA material was great. It's quite possible I would have liked his original version of Planet of the Dead with Chelonians, space hotels and more exploding spaceships you could wave a metaphor at. As I might have mentioned earlier, Roberts' work turns to warm crap if it's last-minute-panic, and he was clearly given plenty of time to sort this out and has a naturalistic grasp of the regulars that shows you why he's the go-to bloke in books, audio and comic strips. It is an unacknowledged fact he wrote more material for the Doctor and Rose in 2005 than RTD did.

Now, The Lodger was a 2006 comic strip and a bloody good one at that - it put the "characterization" of the TV show to shame and ended with the Doctor getting a dressing down from Mickey the Idiot about the Time Lord's arrogance and snobbery and (brace yourself) the Doctor actually paid attention. No auto-reset like that rubbish season. It was a lovely character piece as Rose's boyfriends finally dealt with the issues they had with each other since day freaking one. It was a nice "take that", much as Jackie's quiet retort in Army of Ghosts ("I've worked in a shop, what's wrong with that?" when Rose goes off about how much better she is than anyone else on the estate), which pointed out that some people are genuinely happy with their lot and not frustrated potential-wasted losers desperate for escape.

This remake sadly lacks this depth, but it's simply that neither the Eleventh Doctor or Craig need to learn this lesson. They simply don't have the friction of the RTD Doctors and Mickey. So, the background of the comic (the Doctor crashes at Mickey's place for a week due to a broken TARDIS and outshines him at absolutely everthing) is cranked up to eleven, as the Bernard Black aspects of the Eleventh Doctor are cranked up to... well, Eleven. If you aren't reminded of Dylan Moran when the Doctor puts a telemarketing client on hold so he can eat a delicious biscuit and TELLS the client this, before blowing him a raspberry and hanging up then you clearly don't know who Dylan Moran is and this entire paragraph is a waste of time.

Fascinatingly, this is exactly the sort of plot I might have expected Simon Nye to pull off - Time Lords Behaving Peculiarly - assuming I thought Nye was a one trick pony unable to come up with anything new. Bit like Roberts. HAH! No, seriously, Gareth, you and I are kindred spirits. I myself put down Kerr Avon, the Fourth Doctor and the Goodies as childhood inspirations. Alas, I don't look like the offspring of their hidous love affair like you do, and I'm not a hugely successful author who comes up with some genuinely hilarious comedic material.

There are so many brilliant moments as the socially not-all-there Doctor tries to go undercover as an ordinary bloke with such ease and subtelty that I'm clearly a liar. I couldn't imagine any other incarnation doing this story, or at least being so entertaining. The First Doctor would have been easily able to bluff his way; the Second probably would have been banned from trying to fix the toaster (and would have to answer awkward questions about why he's sharing his small bed with a butch Scottish teenage boy in a kilt); the Third Doctor would have been horrible company for entirely different reasons; the Fourth would most likely never been in the flat, too busy at art galleries, industrial estates and of course pubs; the Fifth Doctor did it all the time and would have blended into the wall paper; the Sixth Doctor would have gone to a hotel; the Seventh would have sorted it all out in ten minutes; the Eighth would have most likely slept through the story; and the Ninth would have been unable to spend two minutes in the company of these Colchester chavs!

Hell, I'll just list the truly awesome moments of amazing genius that make us wish the Doctor didn't leave the TARDIS yet so glad he did...

1) being mistaken for a drug dealer since he's called The Doctor, carries huge amounts of cash in paper bags and is clearly off his face

2) giving a Pertwee-esque morality speech to the football team before twigging their vows to "destroy the other team" weren't to be taken literally

3) yuppie-kissing everyone in the belief that's how you greet people in 2010

4) impressing everyone with his omelette making skills when he was clearly using a random assortment of leftovers and an egg (which, to be fair, is precisely what an omelete was in 18th century France, which is where the Doctor learnt the trick)

5) promising to let Craig know if he comes home late with a prospective shag... by screaming "WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING?!?" at the top of his voice

6) homaging the shower scene from Spearhead from Space, even down to the nonsense song Pertwee sang

7) some more of that crude-yet-effective reverse psychology on the female guest star

8) using psychic headbutts in lieu of explanations

9) saving Craig's life with a tea bag. From the garbage bin.

10) Deciding all this undercover stuff is a waste of time and asking the pet cat what was happening and getting the entire plot explained to him

James Corden is pretty good as Craig, but as I only know him from Gavin and Stacy (you know, that's where the Prime Minister came from), I can't really comment about the wave of Corden-hatred that swept across the nation. Is he REALLY that bad? Apparently he's an unfunny asshole in real life (slightly evidenced by his turn in Confidential where he tells the same gag over and over again, trying to undermine Matt Smith by saying all his footy skills are CGI), but none of it comes across on screen. And frankly, if someone I was giving an award to started insulting me for my weight in front of an audience, I'd diss them as well - Patrick Stewart or not! Certainly I for one would not complain to Craig returning in Series 6, because no matter how much Moffat tries, he'll always be a better regular than River Song.

The B plot feels a bit Moffaty as well. A spooky voice that lures people upstairs, kills them and steals their voice to lure more people upstairs? Effective, yes, but not exactly what you'd call innovative, is it? The Weeping Angels did it earlier in the series. And there's also the exaggeration of perception filters - OK, I'll buy that one would stop anyone noticing an alien spaceship sitting on a house. But if it makes everyone think the spaceship is PART of the house, well, that's when it stops being a FILTER altogether, right? The origin of the ship is so vague and, with anyone other than Moffat as a showrunner, I'd assume it was an ill-thought out one-off plot device... but it could just be crucial in the season finale.

How Meglos is apparently supposed to fit into this plot, I just don't know.

Would have been awesome to see Matt Smith as cactus man, though.

A nice, happy episode that was clearly designed to have a football-based plot shown on the day the Word Cup began and featuring a celebrity in both. It's an upbeat story, and perhaps the only one since The Eleventh Hour. Don't worry, be happy, thank God you're not Kevin Rudd!

Next Time: "What could you POSSIBLY be?"
It's obviously a Doctor-lite episode, cunning disguise as a clip show! You clever bastard, Moffat!


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The YOA Apocalypse Parte The Third (ii)

[The apartment. Nigel looks in disgust at the contents of a bowl.]

Nigel: You have got to be kidding me.

Katy: You know the rules, Nigel. You miss supper, you miss supper. No doggy bags. We all agreed that when LJ got lynched trying to find fresh oregano.

Nigel: What is this stuff?!

[On the couch with Eve, Dave rolls his eyes.]

Dave: Cornflakes.

[Indeed they are. Nigel takes a spoonful and munches it.]

Nigel: And this used to be the breakfast of champions? It's flavorless doritos... IN MILK! I am eating soggy corn chips... in bovine lactose. I might as well chew cardboard. Is this supposed to be nutritious?

Maurice: [vo] Oh shut up and eat it, you tosser!

[Maurice is slumped on the exercise bike, looking annoyed.]

Maurice: So you missed a steak sandwich. Boo freaking hoo! I missed the path to a new life on another planet because of your skepticism!

Eve: You haven't been reading Dianetics again, have you?

Dave: Who cares? More peddling! The DVD player's starting to run out of juice.

[Grimly, Maurice starts peddling.]

Maurice: Nigel was there! He saw what happened!

[Everyone looks expectantly at Nigel, who grimaces as he chews the cornflakes.]

Nigel: [to himself] How could this wake you up in the morning? Surely it'd put you back to sleep... [notices everyone looking at him] Oh yeah. What he said. Bunch of looneys in the car park by the station. Got beamed up into the stratosphere or something.

Andrew: And you didn't think it was worth mentioning?

Nigel: Manifestly not. I brought you the cult leader, didn't I? [rolls eyes] Do I have to do EVERYTHING now?

Eve: Hang on, if Maurice is right...

Maurice: And I am.

Eve: ...why haven't we heard about it?

[Dave switches on an old-fashioned bakelite radio. The March of the Wombats begins, mingling with some sounds of gunfire and screams.]

Radio: Hello, Gladys, Phillip Addams here and I hope you are too. With the end of the world scheduled for this Friday, weather permitting, it seems some people aren't ready to wait their turn. Apparently beams of ectopic ball lightning are striking random points across this wide brown land and within the last few hours apparently 13 thousand people are now missing from New South Wales alone. I have a troubled feeling they're my regular listeners...

[Everyone exchanges worried looks.]

[Night. There are the sounds of dingoes howling and drag races. Thunder rumbles overhead.]

[Inside the apartment. Everyone is huddled between the sofa and the burning rubbish bin, all wrapped in blankets.]

Maurice: ...and these guys at the soup kitchen were going on all about all the fish dying and that story Palestine got turned into a heap of salt, and they kept saying that something wierd was up with the leylines, like they were set to overload.

Dave: Leylines aren't real, Maurice.

Maurice: They are! Pigeons use them!

Andrew: Oh, well if pigeons use them...

Katy: So where did you get this idea you'd get transported to another world?

Maurice: It was a sort of... group decision.

Eve: A group decision?

Andrew: He means a focus group.

Maurice: A SPIRITUAL focus group. Look, when the islands of Fiji are buried in the rotting corpses of every sea creature known and quite a few that aren't, it doesn't hurt to be a bit optimistic.

Nigel: So... what? You thought standing on top of an overheating leyline would be worth a try on the off-chance?

Maurice: Oh, what about your family, Nigel? The Yangs were the first off to the moonbases last year!

Nigel: My family are idiots.

[Awkward silence.]

Nigel: And what's with the awkward silence?

Katy: Something... uh... happened to the moonbases this afternoon.

Nigel: Something?

Andrew: Something apocalyptic. It's been quiet from them ever since.

Nigel: ...oh. [sighs] On the bright side, that means I'm the sole beneficiary! HE SHOOTS, HE SCORES!

Dave: Great. You got three days of being rich.

Nigel: [shrugs] Better than three days of being poor.

Eve: Aren't you worried that your entire family could be dead?

Nigel: In the longrun, probably, but I'm still monumentally pissed off about them "forgetting" to invite me aboard the last shuttle. [yawns] So. We going to check out ground zero tomorrow?

Katy: Why not? If there IS some escape clause from Armageddon, it'd be dumb to miss out.

Maurice: [grumbles] Like I've been saying all along...


[Next morning. It is very windy and cold. Everyone is wearing coats, jackets, hats and scarves as they approach the carpark. There are a few patches of grey sludge.]

Nigel: Did we have to get up so early? It's freezing out here!

Andrew: Oh, stop moaning.

Eve: I don't see any "huge dust-like deposits suggestive of mass translocation matrices" like you so floridly described last night.

Nigel: [irritable] Because it got washed away in the rain you blonde bimbo! Like the water you waste with your accursed ablutions...

Eve: Honestly, Nige, just because I don't let you shower with me to save water...

[Nigel folds his arms in a huff.]

Nigel: But you let Dave! This is so unfair. I wish my family were still alive, just so I could wish they were all dead again...

Katy: So, Maurice, is this thing going to happen again any time soon?

Dave: Yes.

Maurice: Oh, and how would YOU know, unbeliever?

[Dave nods towards the horizon. A white light is forming in the sky, turning into a blazing beam descending. Maurice looks delighted, Nigel looks bored, the others are awestruck.]

Katy: Is that what happened before?

Nigel: Yeah, but it's not quite as impressive the second time.

[Maurice starts to run down the street towards the light.]

Maurice: Come on! If we're quick, we might just be able to...

[The light beam retracts into the sky and the noise fades.]

Maurice: [sighs] Oh I hate my life.

[He stays where he is, disappointed, as all the others move past him up the street.]

[The pub. The doors are open. White dust and ash spills from the doorways. Smoke pours from the chimneys. It's completely deserted and silence. The gang approach.]

Maybe it's Happy Hour?

Katy: Shut up, Maurice.

[They creep into the pub. There is a heap of clothes visible in the dust.]

Dave: You... you think it was the Rapture or something?

Nigel: Why would God choose this place to start? Even HE must have standards...

[Dave spots a huddled shape, roughly human, seemingly made out of ash. He touches it and it collapses completely. He looks ill.]

Dave: [shaky] You know how, in TV shows and stuff, they pretend people get vaporized when they've just been teleported away?

Eve: Yeah?

Dave: I think this is the opposite. These people were incinerated and it just LOOKED like they were teleported away.

[Maurice leans on the bar, irritated.]

Maurice: This is typical reactionary paranoia. Where's the evidence anything bad happened?

[Julie the Barmaid stumbles out from behind the bar, moaning miserably. She is covered in ash and some of her hair has fallen out.]

Julie: Something TERRIBLE happened!

Maurice: Gah!

Dave: [aghast] Julie?

Julie: I can't see out of my eyes!

Maurice: [soothing] Hysterical blindness.

Julie: It's not hysterical blindness, it was that horrible flash! It killed everyone!

Maurice: [huffs] You're being very negative...

[Julie lets out a final moan and falls onto the bar, crumbling to powder on impact. Silence. Everyone looks at Maurice. He swallows nervously.]

Maurice: Ok. Maybe there IS an argument against it.

[Street outside apartment. The gang approach.]

Nigel: I don't believe we are even discussing this. I wasted the last of my old Australian currency on the petrol for Wynona. It's meant to be saved for emergencies.

Katy: This is an emergency.

Nigel: No, a drag-race with an orgy for the winner at the end, THAT is an emergency. This is just wasting resources.

Katy: OK, we'll do it the democratic way.

Nigel: That's not fair. I'll just be outvoted. It's a foregone conclusion. You're just PRETENDING to be democratic, and actually you're just running a dictatorship.

Katy: What? You want anarchy instead?

Nigel: Look around you, pettanko, we already have that.

[Street. The gang are packed into Wynona. It now has metal bars over the windows and Mad Maxx style spikes and bullbars. Nigel in the driving seat, Maurice in the passenger seat and Andrew, Kate and Dave in the back with Eve sitting on Dave's lap. They continue the conversation.]

Andrew: You know, anarchy isn't half as bad an idea as people make out, you know.

Eve: Oh? I thought it meant no laws and chaos and stuff.

Andrew: In practise, but not in theory.

[The car moves down a deserted road, passing the odd burnt out vehicle, approaching Victoria park. It is full of raggedy people, refugees, tents and the like.]

Andrew: The idea of anarchy is that there are no laws, and people are smart enough to be responsible for their own behavior.

Dave: Ooh, is that our daily irony supplement?

Maurice: No. [points] That is.

[Ahead of them a beam of light appears in the sky and slices downwards further down the street. The figures in the park look up at the lightning in surprise. There is the sinister pulsing sound as it strikes the park, flooding the entire green with white light. Nigel hits the brakes and Wynona grinds to a halt outside the glare. Maurice undoes his seat-belt and opens the door.]

Nigel: Where the hell are you going?

Maurice: I've missed the last two trips thanks to you lot, but not this time.

Katy: Maurice, it'll kill you!

Maurice: Not if it works right! Trust me, I know EXACTLY what I'm doing!

[Maurice charges into the white glare, stiffens, screams and vanishes in the glow. Dave slumps in despair. The flaring white light finally disperses and retreats up into the sky, leaving the park completely deserted and covered in ash.]

[A few moments later. Katy, Dave and the others creep towards Victoria Park. It is completely silent now. Nigel wretches at the smell. Eve spots something and runs over to it - half buried in the dust is a barely recognizable mummified corpse.]

Eve: [numb] It's Maurice.

Andrew: Great. The one conspiracy theory that mattered and he got it wrong.

Nigel: [sighs] He died as he lived, anyroads.

[Andrew looks out across the park, buried in dust. Objects and possessions are covered with it. Some of it hangs like smoke. He walks through it, approaching the drained swimming pool. There is no one there either, just more dust. He walks back to the others.]

Andrew: There's nothing left. Nobody.

[There is a groan.]

Andrew: [grins] Hah, knew I couldn't be right.

[Andrew and the others head for behind a very large, wide tree. Slumped in the corner, in rags, is a chubby bearded man in clear pain. One arm is ash-coloured and dissolves into dust at the wrist.]

Katy: Lucky for you. You were only on the edge of the flash. You should be OK.

Dave: Who are you, anyway, man?

Survivor: [coughs] I'm Kyle Sandilands.

[A long pause. Everyone exchanges looks, then use their weapons in a Shaun-of-the-Dead-style zombie beating to death. Blood spurts. They finally stop.]

Andrew: Anyway, like I was saying. No survivors.

Katy: What do we do now?

Nigel: Well, you're the leader, remember?

[Katy sighs and looks at the ashes around them.]

[Outside a massive shopping centre. It is slightly run down and there are flaming torches all around the place, even though it is daylight. Barricades and road-blocks are heaped around the car park and entrance. Mad Max-style warriors lumber around with crossbows. Wynona slows to a halt.]

Nigel: Well, out you go.

Katy: You're coming too.

Nigel: No way, I've heard how they treat intruders. Besides, you've all been there before. They'll trust you.

Dave: He's right.

Eve: [brightly] Which means we can vouch for him.

Nigel: [grins] I hate you so much I require medication, I really do.

Andrew: And whatever you do, don't speak unless spoken to. If they even think we've spoken we'll get delayed for three hours and have warm honey dripped all over us.

Dave: I hate that bit.

Eve: Yeah, and the way they make you do a striptease...

[Everyone looks at her.]

Eve: They didn't do that with anyone else?

[They shake their heads.]

Eve: Shit.

[They leave Wynona. Wordlessly, the guards force them into single file and march them into the shopping centre.]

[The main plaza of the shopping centre. It is vaguely reminicent of Rome, with drapes, statues and concubines dotted around the place. A throne has been placed atop a stage and a beautiful massuese is massaging someone lying on a bench. The gang are marched in.]

Guard: Newcomers, your Crowning Awesomeness.

Chamber: [sleepily] Who interrupts our royal health regime?

Katy: Oh, get over yourself Chamber, it's us!

[It is indeed Chamber. He opens one eye.]

Chamber: Bit of respect, Miss Katy. I AM the most powerful person in the entire Southern hemisphere.

Katy: Only because you've got internet access.

Dave: Yeah, and it wasn't you that got it, it was Doctor Spoon.

Eve: How much of all this does he get?

Chamber: [yawns] He doesn't want it. Unlimited access to the Bodacious Babe Website is all he requires. He's a guy of simple needs. Ever since the Adult channel stopped, anyway. So, what do you people want?

Andrew: [grandly] We seek knowledge.

Chamber: [rolls eyes] Another wikipedia request.

Andrew: [shrugs] Pretty much.

Chamber: [bored] That'll be 700 volts or batteries to the equivalent. Settle it with the accounts department next to the vomitorium. [annoyed] Hey, I've been awake for more than twenty seconds and I'm not getting a whipped cream orgy here! Those tongues have been idle, girls.

[Concubines rush around him. The gang grimace and wander off, bar Eve who stays to watch out of curiosity. Dave comes back for her and leads her away.]

Nigel: [vo] You gotta love the sexual politics of this place.

Eve: [vo] Do you?

Katy: [vo] Shut up, Eve.

[Dr. Spoon's quarters. It used to be an internet cafe. All the terminals are lashed together with ridiculous cobwebs of wires, and lots of overheating modems. A neglected chemistry set gathers dust in the corner. "Help" by the Beatles plays as a wild-eyed Doctor Spoon glides on a wheeled chair from screen to screen.]

[reverent] Mankind crawled out of the primeval ooze, mastered the art of walking, of fire, created whole civilizations, just for this moment! [cheers] HANNAH MURRAY SNUFF FLICKS! Stab him, Cassie! Stab him! Oh, I am SO downloading this...

[The gang enter.]

Andrew: [briskly] Afternoon, Rupert, need the interweb for a bit.

Doctor Spoon: [annoyed] What? I'm busy! Don't you lot have gods you should be praying to, or, or mass suicides to be involved with? [to Nigel] Or are you wanting to check everything's still all there?

Andrew: [frowns] I thought you'd never been here before, Nige.

Nigel: I am not responsible for what you may or may not think, Andrew.

Katy: [to Doctor Spoon] What did he want?

Doctor Spoon: Just wanted a new wiki category added.

Andrew: Which was?

Nigel: There's really...

Doctor Spoon: "Women Nigel Verkoff Has Slept With" - all the way from Angelina Jolie to Za-Za Gabor.

Dave: ...what?

Nigel: [loftily] Look, if humanity IS going to be extinct before Christmas, is it such a crime to want a legacy to leave behind.

Katy: [suspicious] How did you pay for this?

Nigel: [awkward] Yeah, remember a couple of months back...

Katy: You wasted a whole month of rations to irresponsibly edit wikipedia?!

Nigel: Oh, give me a break, January! You even went apeshit over my cover story!

Eve: That you swapped it for some magic beans?! DAMN RIGHT WE WERE ANGRY!

Doctor Spoon: Look, I don't want to complain but there's only forty-nine hours until the end of created time, so can I hurry you? What do you want?

Katy: We want to know what's happening, with all the lights from the sky and people disappearing and turning into dust.

Doctor Spoon: Oh that? Not too complicated. Something from upper orbit is firing laser beams through the atmosphere, targeted at meridian points. The earth is covered by electro-magnetic laylines, like a kind of energy grid or nervous system. The points where the lines converge are being zapped. Kinda like accupuncture.

[Doctor Spoon punches up a powerpoint presentation. The Earth is encircled by grids of light criss-crossing on the surface. Where the lines cross is linked by flashing red lights.]

Dave: So this IS global then?

Doctor Spoon: Oh yeah. America, Africa, Europe, you name it. Anyone on those points is being reduced to dust. I'd put it down to some Gaia world revenge thing, except the moon was nuked first. 21 million people living up there... until yesterday.

Katy: They're all dead?

Doctor Spoon: [shrugs] Well, Mr. Squiggle might have escaped at the last minute...

Nigel: Hey, hey. How do you know what happened there?

Doctor Spoon: Oh, I subscribe to their webcams. Nothing's been said or done for five hours now, and also several reactors have gone into meltdown because no one's checking on them. If they're not dead now, they will be in a week or so.

Dave: So that's it. We're all stuck on Earth... and Earth... is doomed.

Doctor Spoon: Pretty much.

[Doctor Spoon leaps to his feet and guides them over to the doorway.]

Doctor Spoon: Sorry I couldn't be more help. Sort out the bill at the front desk.

Andrew: No, wait, wait, wait. Those people on the moon, they said something at the end.

Katy: Yeah. Something about Charles the Fourth?

Doctor Spoon: No, Charles Fort. If you'll just...

Nigel: [interrupting] Who's he?

Doctor Spoon: Fort? Fortean Times? [sighs] More abysmal ignorance.

[Doctor Spoon crosses to the computer, types at the keyboard and reads out from the wikipage.]

Doctor Spoon: Charles Hoy Fort. August 6, 1874 – May 3, 1932. Was an American writer and researcher into anomalous phenomena. Skip a bit... ah, yeah. Novelist and researcher into the unexplained, wierd and downright scary. Ever heard of The Book of the Damned? The first ever guide to stuff no one could understand? The X Files of its day, only more scientifically accurate and without Gillian Anderson?

Andrew: They said he was right about something. A farm and property?

Doctor Spoon: Oh yeah. "The Earth is a farm. We are someone else's property."

Nigel: What the hell made him say that? Sounds out of context to me.

Doctor Spoon: Basically he decided that UFOs were spaceships and they were hanging around the world like farmers keeping an eye on crops. Abducting a human in a flying saucer? Nothing more than plucking a mulberry off the vine.

Katy: So that's what's happening now? Aliens are zapping people to be eaten?

Andrew: It was turning them into dust.

Eve: Maybe that's how aliens eat?

Nigel: They must be bulimic then.

Dave: [upset] This is insane!

Doctor Spoon: Like Charlie boy said, "If there is a universal mind, must it be sane?" Maybe it's just a routine part of the Mayan apocalypse?

Eve: What is this Mayan stuff anyway?

Doctor Spoon: Don't you read the newspapers?

Eve: What newspapers?

[Long pause.]

Doctor Spoon: Yeah, guess I'm a bit out of the loop myself. OK, long story short. The Mayans believe that the world is linked to the sun. The sun lasts only so long then it is destroyed and replaced with a new one.

Katy: You mean an eclipse.

Doctor Spoon: That's what it LOOKS like to blasphemous heathen eyes. And they were certainly able to predict the extremely long eclipse in 91 a good five hundred years before it happened.

Nigel: But if they were so smart, how come they didn't predict they'd get wiped out by the Spanish?

Doctor Spoon: My god, such ignorance. The Mayans weren't wiped out by the Spanish, the Aztecs were! The Mayan civilization died out and was replaced the Aztecs. THAT new age was the one of darkness and superstition and it lived up to its name when Cortez arrived, destroyed most of the Aztecs and all the records that would answer the petty little continuity details you go on about.

Katy: So, the new sun triggers a new age of civilization.

Doctor Spoon: Yep, but there are only six suns. No more, no less - and three were used up by the time the Mayans got organized. The fourth sun died the year Cortez arrived, and the fifth bit the bullet in 1991. There would be earth changes, cosmic awareness and chats with the masters of the stars. Not long after the 91 eclipse, UFO sightings shot through the roof - hell, one was seen and RECORDED on film for 23 minutes while the eclipse happened. Then the Mount Popocatepetl exploded. Earth changes, cosmic awareness, masters of the stars. Convinced yet?

Andrew: So we're on the sixth sun now?

Doctor Spoon: Yep, and it dies on Friday.

Andrew: But that was over 20 years ago... why is this sun going to die so quickly?

Doctor Spoon: Oh, well, the carvings that might have explained that were smashed up by some greasy wop five hundred years ago! Look, the movement of the Earth goes through the procession of the equinox, a 28 THOUSAND year cruise. So far, Earth's been in the Age of Pisces the Fish, right? Nice and reasonable and ordinary. Next up is...? Anyone?

Eve: [unsure] The Age of Potato the Chips?

[Doctor Spoon headbutts the desk.]

Dave: You mean, the age of Aquarius?

Doctor Spoon: Bingo. Also known as pure chaos. We go into pure chaos without a sun. Fair to say the world ends.

Katy: But it's still Wednesday! Why is all this happening now?

Doctor Spoon: I don't know! Oddly enough no one was blogging 28 millennia ago! Now, look. According to the few civil defense ministries still on twitter, all the signs are this accupuncture will be done soon, then there will be one simultaneous stab and the leyline will go thermonuclear. Every danger spot linked to every other danger spot. So, in the unlikely event anyone is in the safe gaps, Earth will be scorched like some giant basketball. Oh, and then the sun's due to go out. I'd like to spend what little time's left engoing all the delights human pornography has to offer.

Nigel: I don't suppose...

Doctor Spoon: ALONE! GET OUT!

[They leave. Doctor Spoon sighs and slumps at the table.]

Doctor Spoon: It's the destruction of all creation and idiots from high school STILL keep pestering me.

[He notices one of the red lights on the grid map is flashing. He presses a key. It zooms in on Australia. The flashing light has a caption: YOU ARE HERE. Doctor Spoon gulps. He looks at his watch and rolls his eyes.]

Doctor Spoon: Oh, for fuck's sake!

[He hangs his head in his hands. The throbbing noise is heard.]

[The gang are making their way through the barricades towards Wynona when the noise is heard. They look up as a spear of white light plunges through the sky towards the shopping centre, the noise getting louder and louder. The gang run for it as everything flares white...]

- to be continued...