Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Fact of Fiction 2: Lord of the Reedy River

"Never forget the leprosy!" The Youth of Australia heads for what should be a marriage made in heaven when the Doctor meets Robin Hood, but does he find a relationship that would be recognized by law? A clue: no!

Lord of the Reedy River

Doctor Who meets Robin Hood! What a brilliant idea! The two shows in their various incarnations share much in common in front of and behind the camera - the first television Robin Hood was played by Patrick Troughton, and his grandson played Much in the latest version, which has episodes penned by Paul Cornell and directed by Graeme Harper! Scripts for the First and Fourth Doctors were planned to pit him against this legendary figure and see if Robin actually lived up to his hype, and in 2006 the idea of a proper crossover was more credible than ever before. The 2000s version of Robin Hood was held up as part of the same family fantasy drama as Doctor Who, Torchwood, Sarah Jane and Primeval. It could have been brilliant, especially as the Doctor and Robin had been reimagined as traumatized war veterans fighting their darker natures for the greater good.

But sparacus didn't see any of that. He just saw an excuse to get Jonas Armstrong and Adam Rickitt naked together, slightly more straightforward than his last, failed attempt to do so. And so, Lord of the Reedy River managed to offend not one but two passionate fanbases, and its pathetic theft from different Robin Hoods, The Visitation, The Time Warrior and Catweazle fueled the resentment even further. This powderkeg of unoriginality actually lead to two huge developments to the Chathamverse: the introduction of Johnny Vegas as Tuck and also Joshua Wynne as LemonBloodyCola. This story's longterm effect on the Ben Chatham Adventures would be huge, making this story as crucial a turning point as The Abominable Snowmen in the classic series.

It may be utterly terrible, but at least it's better than sparacus' original idea of a Blake's 7 crossover.

On random coordinates, the TARDIS lands in Sherwood forest and the Doctor, Donna Noble, Ben Chatham and Kyle Scott emerge.

  • After unceremoniously quitting the TARDIS in All Things Must Pass so he could go to a Bowie concert with his latest one-night stand, Ben has been an ex-companion for many adventures, and now accompanied by Kyle, a former mugger now acting as Ben's combined manservant, bodyguard and moral compass (as well as generally being far more popular than the main character). Sparacus attempted to foreshadow Ben's return to the Doctor's side in Mirror, Mirror On The Wall, wherein Ben suffered a strange nightmare about the Nimon that compelled him to return to the TARDIS... however sparacus clearly forgot this plot, as he reveals the Doctor happened to be in Cambridge and invited Ben back aboard the ship to cheer him up after his latest boytoy (Anselm, from the previous story Winter of the Lost) abandoned him.
  • Donna appears for the first time in a detailed adventure, and the author's hatred for her shines through immediately as she is told off by the Doctor for not being as attractive as Rose. Sparacus also has a typically poor grasp of her character, as her complaints about random landings and being back in time completely contradict her on-screen behavior in The Fires of Pompeii and Planet of the Ood.
  • Despite being confronted with a dimensionally transcendental time machine, an alien time traveller and a visit to history, Kyle doesn't get a single line of dialogue.

In Nottingham Castle, the Sheriff is disturbed when his deputy, Sir Guy of Guisbourne, explains that a hideous monster has been spotted emerging from the river and attacking their men, who refuse to continue searching for Robin Hood. The Sheriff decides to spread rumors the monster was summoned up by Hood to turn the peasants against him.

  • Despite sparacus' promise to fit this story into the continuity of the BBC's latest version of Robin Hood, it's immediately clear he hasn't watched a single episode. This is ostensibly set after the season two finale (where, amongst other things, Maid Marion was killed at Acre and Guy suffered a nervous breakdown). The Norman/Saxon angle of the legend is ignored by the series, so it's totally out of keeping for the Sheriff to complain about "superstitious" natives. The idea that the Merry Men carry out pagan rituals is almost but not quite as ridiculous as the idea they'd have something to do with such reckless loss of life - assuming we're talking about the 21st century version, rather than the more spiritual Robin of Sherwood version: a distinction that blurs rapidly...
  • Nevertheless, attempting to turn the peasants against Robin by throwing suspicion onto him is evocative of the Robin Hood series, in particular I Shot The Sheriff, Ducking and Diving and Lost in Translation.
  • It beggars belief, however, that someone as intelligent as the Sheriff would dismiss his men being "mashed to a pulp" as the work of an average wolf!
  • Another mistake - apparently Nottingham Castle is 'nearby' the middle of Sherwood Forest.

The time travellers meanwhile are ambushed by Robin Hood and his merry men.

  • In a fig leaf of characterization, Kyle and Ben discuss the Doctor being the Last of the Time Lords, though Ben does all the talking and we're not allowed to see what Kyle makes of this. Certainly it's insensitive of Ben to talk behind his "friend's" back about such personal matters.
  • Not wanting to waste an opportunity to slag off the companion, the Doctor and Donna have this uncharacteristically nasty exchange: "Look, have you any idea what year it is?" "How should I know you daft old cow?" "Hey, who are you calling a daft old cow?" "Obviously you since I'm talking to you."
  • Having Robin Hood appear at the cliffhanger is rather odd, since not only was it made quite clear before the story started he would be appearing, he was mentioned numerous times in the scene immediately prior!

Robin asks the group hand over their belongings to be allowed to pass through the forest. Ben is awestruck to meet Robin and gushes about being a time traveller, and ends up confusing the famous outlaw.

  • Such a rookie mistake makes it hard to believe Ben is an experienced time traveler who met Floppy Jake, Richard III, Hitler (twice) and Henry VIII, but it's more than possible he's fallen instantly in love with Robin. In the unfinished story Harvest of Evil, Ben previously fell in love with Nick, a manic depressive artist, who Ben ran over, sexually assaulted and then abandoned. As Nick was portrayed (as Robin is here) by Jonas Armstrong, it's odd Ben doesn't point it out.
  • A further mistake is Robin demanded everything they have. The opening episode of season two, Sisterhood, made it clear they will only take everything if their captives lie or resist.
  • Ben's waffle about being hard to "separate myth from reality" shows he's as inexpert at history as he is as everything else. Though there were bandits in the 12th century and some did give to the poor, the first mention of Robin Hood is in a folk song - where he's a forest-dwelling con artist cheating folk out of cash for some cheap food. It would be more credible if Ben was amazed Robin Hood was an actual person at all, but then realism is not why anyone comes to the works of sparacus.

Robin tries one of Ben's Fox Glacier Mints and trips out.

  • Fox's Glacier Mints, a genuine breath freshener lozenge, first appeared in The Zranti Beast as a subsitute jelly baby for Ben to offer to emotional people to shut them up (it never works). Later stories emphasized their soothing and intoxicating properties, and by now it's hard not to think that these breath mints are in fact hardcore hallucinogenics. Considering Robin only licks one to suddenly experience visions of "the forest spirit", one can only wonder what they do Ben's increasingly pickled brain...
  • Robin is ridiculously stupid to take the mints anyway, given how easily they could be poisoned - indeed, that is how Robin traditionally dies, poisoned by the sister of Guy of Guisborne. It's also odd that suspicious and paranoid outlaws don't attack Ben instantly when Robin freaks out from the lollies he provided...

At that moment, the Sheriff's men attack, forcing them to retreat.

  • Credibility at this crossover goes out the window as the non-violent Tenth Doctor uses Venusian aikido, while Robin and the others exclusively use bows and arrows (while not unheard of, certainly unusual) to kill their assailants. Given Robin's belief that lethal force is a last resort, this is all completely out of character.
  • Kyle saves Robin's life with a sword - rather than say, Ben, who fancies the guy and knows his death would change history. Then again, it was Ben's addiction to mind-altering drugs that meant Robin was vulnerable in the first place.
  • Odd how the soldiers were able to strike at this exact moment without any of the outlaws noticing them.

There is a scream from the woods and the soldiers flee, fearing the creature.

  • Apparently the guards only realized now that it was getting dark and they were in a dangerous area? Obviously all the more intelligent ones have all been mashed to a pulp by the "wolf".

Robin and the Doctor find a bearded peasant with his throat ripped out.

  • An unusual variation on a teenage girl in these stories. One has to wonder why the peasant was killed but not mashed? Where did the assailant go? Why did it kill him? Was it hungry? Why didn't it eat anything? And if it is this nocturnal creature, what was it doing during daylight hours in the middle of Sherwood Forest? In fact, what was an old bearded peasant doing in the forest anyway? Was he leading the soldiers to Robin?

The Doctor gravely announces that "Nothing on earth at this time in History could have left these bite marks."

  • presumably old folk in forests getting their throats ripped out is actually quite normal. It's only the bite marks that are suspicious?

Night falls and at the outlaw camp, the time travellers and the outlaws discuss the situation.

  • Another "later that evening", the automatic reflex of sparacus when he realizes the cliffhanger was rubbish.
  • Not only is it unheard of for Robin to be so casual in taking strangers to the outlaw's camp, they also are able to eat wild roast boar - despite the fact the episodes make it clear the outlaws rarely enjoy such luxuries, often relying on squirrels and vegetables. And a campfire is just asking for trouble...

Robin explains to the Doctor that a light fell out of the sky and plunged into the river, after which the deaths and panic began.

  • ...yet Robin has not investigated the river, and continues to rob people in the forest, putting them in more danger? This is idiotic by any standards!
  • Notably the only other outlaw mentioned so far is Will Scarlet who seems to be Robin's second in command - a clear contrast to the TV series. There is, as yet, no sign of Allan Adale, Saracen Djaq, Little John or Much.

Kyle checks on Ben, who is brooding over Anselm.

  • Ben is "fiddling with a mobile" which in Caves of Oblivion is revealed to be an uncontrollable addiction to texting.
  • Anselm was introduced in Winter of the Lost as a naive and gullible aristocratic fop who joined a doomsday cult. Ben bullied him into having sex, then destroyed his religious beliefs and humiliated him in front of his parents, before nearly getting him eaten by a werewolf. It is unsurprising that Anselm has started avoiding Ben, who reveals that Anselm was understandably annoyed when Ben didn't let him take a job in Canada. Ben's insensitivity and high maintenance is restated yet again: "He was going to take it if I hadn't told him he should put his relationship first. Now he resents me for stopping him going. Selfish bastard."
  • In light of future events, one has to wonder what a workshy moron like Anselm would want with a job in Canada? As what? Was it just an excuse to get away from Ben? His later actions show he seems to enjoy the alien-fighting lifestyle, but not Ben. Which is reasonable enough.

A furry monster creeps up behind Donna, but doesn't attack.

  • So this predator can sneak up on the outlaw's camp without anyone noticing? Its previous form for massacres makes its sudden cowardice all the more odd. On reflection, cooking a wild boar was just begging to attract a wild and hungry carnivore with the smell of roast pork.
  • Donna makes her first appearance for two episodes and typically does nothing. Yet, she's got more material in this episode than the Doctor.

A knight in armor approaches Nottingham Castle and asks to see the Sheriff. When the guards refuse to let him enter, the knight kills them with a phaser.

  • ...rather begging the question of why the knight politely asked in the first place if they don't care about collateral damage or anachronisms. But after all the trouble of dressing as a knight they use a phaser?

Ben puts the moves on the depressed Robin, and when the outlaw explains he is thinking of Marion, Ben tells him off for worrying about her.

  • This scene (quite rightly) caused a huge controversy as Ben dismisses Marion's plight (trapped in the castle being lusted after by Guisborne) and crassly assumes Guisborne has "probably slept with her already" and thus not worth trying to rescue. While this attitude is typical of Ben, picking on people for caring for others who aren't Ben himself, this dismissal of implied rape caused an uproar of disgust. Sparacus himself was forced to apologise for trivializing this horrible implication.
  • Little John is mentioned as being one of the Merry Men for the first time.

Friar Tuck arrives, panicking after finding another corpse.

  • Tuck was not part of the TV series at this point, and his appearance without introduction hammers another nail in the coffin of the story's claims to be canon.
  • Tuck is "played" by Johnny Vegas, and brings with him "canned audience laughter", destroying all credibility. The dislike for this character was so massive and immediate it effortlessly outshone Ben Chatham, Spartha Jones and Katie Ryan. It is perhaps unsurprising that sparacus immediately chose Vegas and his laughter to become a new regular element to the Sparaverse, as Barry Tuck is about the only person to ever make Ben look good in comparison! At the moment though, all the humor comes from Tuck being overweight and hungry. The other merry men glare at him and call him a "fat bastard" or "fat slug", which begs the question of why he's part of the gang if he's so unpopular. One also has to wonder why a slow and pondering Friar hasn't been picked off by the "wolf" a lot earlier...
  • Another merry man is named as Much the miller's son. Not only is he completely out of character for the TV version of Much, his parentage was never mentioned.

Tuck leads the Doctor and Robin to the corpse, which is actually alive albeit injured. This, Robin reveals, is "old Catweazle the magician".

  • Famously portrayed by Geoffrey Bayldon, Catweazle was a 26-episode comedic children's show about a filthy but loveable magician who is drawn to 1970s England and has trouble adjusting. What he is doing circa 1200 AD is not explained, given his origins in the 11th century some 200 years prior. Given his time travel days, it's possible Catweazle has arrived too late or maybe his "magic" is real and he's extended his lifespan. Suffice it to say, he has absolutely no place in the stories of Robin Hood, especially the 21st century version who is so skeptical of magic and champions a rational approach. It is, thus, deeply ironic that it is at this point the Doctor tells everyone "this is serious"...
  • Robin apparently carries a "trusty rams horn" full of mead for medicinal purposes. This is complete and utter bullshit.

As the Doctor leads everyone to investigate the river, the mysterious knight confronts the Sheriff and Guy, offering advanced weaponry in return for manpower to restore the "Dark Lord's" vessel.

  • Hmmm. A knight in armor, 13th century England, castles, outlaws, alien technology to a local barren to fix a crashed spaceship... the uproar at this crude plagiarism of The Time Warrior by Robert Holmes was only eclipsed by the "pro-rape" argument caused earlier in the episode!

The knight reveals it is an android and insists the Sheriff has no choice but to obey.

  • why make an offer in the first place?
  • The Sheriff's claims to serve only Prince John are another contradiction to the TV series, where Vasey was clearly out for himself and in the latest episode declared his intentions to rule England at any cost.
  • The android knight is another blatant theft from The Time Warrior.

Maid Marion meanwhile has "clonked" Guy unconscious and overheard the conversation.

  • A rather blatant goof as the start of the episode had Guy conscious and in the room with the Sheriff. Now he's in a "garret" cell, clearly aware of who attacked him - all the more ridiculous given the fact Marion was only held at the castle because her father was a prisoner and she relied on Guy for protection. By this point, it is clear sparacus has abandoned all pretence of this having anything to do with the TV series.

Nellie the old handmaid urges Marion to escape and warn Robin of these events.

  • Sparacus clearly did not credit Marion with the intelligence to work this out herself.

At the riverside, the TARDIS crew are investigating the undergrowth.

  • Where have the outlaws gone? Did they refuse to follow? Or did the author forget about them?
  • Donna and Kyle get slagged off by their respective companions with the Tenth Doctor's uncharacteristic "How the fuck should I know?" shout at the former for asking what they should be looking for. When Kyle finds a clue, Ben ridicules him and tells him off for getting ideas above his station before admitting, "that said, you have a point." And these are our heroes?

A black-clad helmeted figure emerges from the river and fires a "lazer" at the time travellers, who flee back to the outlaw camp. There Marion has informed Robin about the Sheriff's deal.

  • It's never stated how Marion escaped the castle or managed to find the camp without getting lost, captured or eaten on the way. Sparacus also contrives so she gets absolutely no dialogue.
  • A rather odd bit of padding occurs as the Doctor warns the outlaws the creature following them will attack them. When Will understandably complains the TARDIS crew have placed the merry men in danger, Ben retorts "Obviously the Doctor knew you would outnumber and subdue it. Please engage your brain before your mouth." which all the men find amusing, making them beat Will up. It then turns out the creature wasn't following them at all.

The Doctor is disturbed that the creature was not something he'd encountered before.

  • Given the derivative nature of the story, this is a rather odd statement. Only in the sparaverse could the Doctor find something new and original disturbing.

Ben watches Robin and Marion canoodling and burst into jealous tears, reminded of his own failed relationship with Anselm.

  • "Look at them," Ben rants. "It makes you sick. She's got him wrapped around her finger!" which is a rather odd comment as Marion has done absolutely nothing to earn this ire bar provide vital information and give her boyfriend a hug. Even Kyle tells Ben off for this, reminding the smoothe scumbag of his unpleasant behavior to others. Ben reacts by calling Kyle a stupid chav, though for once actually apologises.
  • Ben declares that "theres no way I'm texting the selfish cunt again when this is over. He's not worthy of my love!" which is rather pathetic given he'll still be mooning over Anselm in two years' time. It also begs the question of who would be worthy of Ben's love? Not that, as has been demonstrated, Ben's love is something to covet.

Back at Nottingham, the Sheriff is berating Guy for letting Marion escape when the knight returns with the Dark Lord (the black figure from earlier) who takes off its helmet to reveal an alien visage...

  • Just like Linx in The Time Warrior.
  • The description of the Dark Lord's "amphibian face with globular eyes carnivorous teeth" recalls the foe from The Lindig Valley Mystery, but is completely unconnected.

The alien restates the deal, which the Sheriff agrees to.

  • Again, why do a deal at all when the alien can take what it wants? Also it has changed from providing weapons to merely providing "knowledge".
  • The Sheriff snapping at Guisborne for his fear is arguably the closest this version gets to matching the one played by Keith Allan.

The next morning the time travellers and merry men awake for breakfast.

  • The merry men are "washing their faces in wooden buckets of river water". So they get their water from the place everyone's too afraid to go to?
  • Kyle provides Ben and Donna with some nuts and oats. Was there no cold boar leftover? In any case, Ben accepts it as "organic", showing he's a less fussy eater than in previous stories.
  • Ben is in a cheerful mood as he awakes. This is presumably because this is one of the few times he hasn't drunk himself unconscious and thus hasn't got a raging hangover. Clearly sobriety would be the key to fixing Ben's violent mood swings and ongoing depression.

Catweazle arrives to inform the outlaws that the Sheriff and the alien are helping something out of the river.

  • Catweazle's familiar, a toad called Touchwood, appears seemingly so Donna and Ben can be revolted. Odd how no one thinks the amphibian might have something to do with a certain xeno-tech organization in the 21st century.
  • Apparently the alien hasn't put his helmet back on, judging by descriptions of its "vile thing". Why wear it in the first place?
  • The Doctor suggests they "go and see what they're up to" even though Catweazle's just told him what they're up to. Is he not awake yet?

Returning to the river, the good guys watch a shuttle craft being lifted out of the water and the Doctor instantly identifies the creature.

  • Thus making his earlier claims to have never encountered it before ring rather hollow. He later glosses over this as he "didn't recognize it in uniform". Sure. Whatever.
  • No one ever asks why the more powerful android didn't shift the shuttle in the first place.

The Doctor explains the alien is a Tasmerleptil, an amphibian cousin of the Terileptils attempting to conquer the Earth.

  • And it gets worse from hereon in. The Terileptils made their debut in The Visitation, a story so similar to The Time Warrior that it turns out Lord of the Reedy River has been plagiarising two stories instead of one! It also ignores the huge plot point in The Visitation that the Terileptils and their civilization consider Earth a distant and forgettable world, some 400 years in the future, yet apparently this part of the cosmos is ripe for colonization here and now. Given the Terileptils attempting to take over the Earth in 1666 were criminally insane, it's rather offensive to assume that their whole species share this mindset.
  • So an amphibious alien has a spaceship that doesn't work underwater. Think about that for a while. Because sparacus didn't.

The Doctor explains that this alien is a scout who will inform the mothership Earth is primitive and ripe for invasion.

  • The Tasmerleptils clearly couldn't tell that from orbit (say, scanning for communication signals, electrical power, mechanical movement...) so can an alien menace this stupid really pose a threat?

The Tasmerleptil overhears the Doctor and Ben talking and alerts the Sheriff to their presence.

  • Over all the noise of those grunting peasants? It must have incredibly sensitive hearing, so that explains the helmet. Odd how it doesn't wear it in such a noisy place as Loxley, and deliberately show off its vile face that causes humans to scream in horror. Tasmerleptils, huh? What morons.

The Sheriff orders his "oafish vassals" after them, and the merry men escape, firing volleys of arrows.

  • ...presumably killing them. But Catweazle said that the Sheriff had recruited the peasants to be his "vassals", so Robin is firing at innocent bystanders!

Returning to the camp, Ben gets drunk on mead while Kyle learns how to handle a bow and arrow.

  • Oddly enough Little John is the one to teach Kyle, rather than, say, the master bowman Robin Hood.
  • "Alan-a-Dale" makes his first appearance, joining Ben and the beaten-up Will in knocking back goblets of mead. Given the imminent alien invasion, wouldn't staying moderately sober be a good idea? Drunken archers make poor aims...

Robin suggests killing the Tasmerleptil before it contacts the mothership, but the Doctor rejects the idea: “That will just bring the rest of them straight here."

  • How? The crashed spaceship didn't bring them coming, and if the Tasmerleptil never contacts them, they'd assume he'd die in the crash!
  • Disturbingly the Doctor seems to have no moral problem with killing the Tasmerleptil with an arrow through the eye, but just wants to do it in a "more cunning and subtle manner”

Ben suggests destroying the shuttle to give the invasion force the impression humanity is more advanced than it is.

  • As ever, Ben's suggestions are "brilliant" and the only ones worth exploring, even though the Tasmerleptils would just assume the damaged shuttle has malfunctioned. And if they send another scout to, say, Africa, the whole plan is pointless anyway! And how, exactly are they going to destroy the craft in the first place?!

The outlaws decide to rest until morning.

  • ...but it IS morning. All they are doing is giving the Tasmerleptil more time to repair its craft, contact base, and undo all their work. Is this simply because all the merry men got completely pissed on mead and are, to coin a phrase, "too drunk to function"?

Ben knocks back more mead and bitterly spies on Robin and Marion, and when Donna tries to talk to him he falls asleep.

  • More proof that the demon drink is what makes Ben such an asshole, and allows him to insult every woman in the story. He claims that the gorgeous Robin is "wasted" on a woman who has loved him since childhood, and when Donna compliments him on his physical beauty he dismisses her as "not getting any". He then dozes off, bored, when Donna notes that, unlike Ben, she has been truly let down by a man (Anselm hasn't poisoned Ben and tried to kill him for a giant spider, has he?) What a fuckwit Ben is.

The next day the Doctor, Donna and Tuck fry some eggs while all the men skinny-dip in the river.

  • ...the river where aliens lurk and uncontrollable carnivores attack people. This is where they are having a naked swim with no weapons of any sort. This sort of ineptitude really puts in perspective the fact that our heroes have wasted 24 hours now enjoying themselves instead of trying to prevent an alien invasion.
  • The traditional one-hand-description occurs: "the water ripples against Ben’s smooth torso in the shimmering morning light".
  • Oddly enough, Kyle makes no comment of any kind of getting naked with half a dozen strange men for no real reason.

The furry creature promptly attacks the Doctor.

  • No doubt the creature attacked during the day because of all the naked men in its river. Or maybe it wanted the eggs.
  • The description of the monster - "like a cross between a stoat and a bear, teeth slavering" - is uncannily similar to the Taran Woodbeast in The Androids of Tara. Thus making it very difficult to take this cliffhanger seriously.

Returning from the river, Robin fires an arrow through the creature's eye, killing it.

  • The poor animal's death is typically gory: "an arrow swishes towards it and slams into the creature's eye with a squelch, eye matter spatting over the Doctor".

The Doctor realizes the animal is a Jarosan, a food animal of the Tasmerleptil that's escaped and grown huge from the alien proteins in mice and voles.

  • If the Jarosan is so easily fed, it has to be asked why it's running around ripping people's throats out for no reason? And thus the mostrous demon actually has no real purpose in the plot - clearly sparacus had no idea what to do with the Jarosan and has hastily written it out, no doubt due to reader complaints.
  • The Doctor again fobs off his earlier ignorance, retconning "I didn't recognise this thing the first time I saw it," a revelation that occurs as "a sense of realisation permeates his mind". That's a pretentious way of saying "the penny dropped."

At Nottingham Castle, the alien and the Sheriff's men are hiding from the outlaws.

  • So they've been hiding in the castle for TWO DAYS because of some arrows? Why didn't the Tasmerleptil have its android shoot down everyone? IDIOT!

After more breakfast and mead, the Doctor finally decides to work out how to destroy the alien ship.

  • Finally! Sparacus attempts to preempt the readers by having the Doctor admit this is the same plot twist from The Family of Blood (oddly enough, a sequence sparacus himself hated for the ridiculousness of a few switches blowing up a spaceship).
  • The double entendre of "tweaking knobs" leads the Merry Men to smuttily mock Ben for being gay. Given this is from a bunch of confirmed bachelors who skinny-dip together, it's rather odd why they find this so amusing.

Robin notes they have barrels of "exploding powder" stolen from the Sheriff which can be used.

  • It could be a deliberate reference to the Greek Fire episodes of the TV series, but its unlikely given all the mistakes.
  • More disturbing violence as Ben wishes they had guns rather than arrows (which would stop androids HOW exactly?) and the Doctor delighted at the thought of bloodshed, and uses "materials from the TARDIS" to create a bomb! If the Doctor had access to the TARDIS, surely he could jam the communicator, contact the Tasmerleptils and threaten to call in the Shadow Proclamation. Clearly the author wants a cheap ending where stuff explodes. Imagination is expensive.
  • "This is excellent! " the Doctor "quips". Clearly sparacus has a strange definition of quips.

After an hour, the Doctor has completed the bomb only to step into one of Catweazle's rabbit traps. His injured foot means he needs a volunteer to place the bomb inside the Tasmerleptil ship.

  • What this sequence has to offer the story beyond padding is a mystery, as there is surely better reason to prevent the Doctor blowing up the ship? Why can't he magnatise the bomb to the hull? Simply threaten the aliens to go away or he'll blow them up? Once again, another story is forced to end in predictable violence rather than anything wholesome.

Kyle volunteers but just as he's about to enter the shuttle, the Tasmerleptil and the Sheriff arrive and attack.

  • The alien finally uses that laser gun of his. A bit late in the day.
  • Just where has the android gone? Why isn't it guarding the ship?
  • Notably none of the merry men lift a finger to help out Kyle, not even firing a single arrow in his defense.

While Robin and Little John "fire volleys of their swishy arrows", Ben rushes over to rescue Kyle. They escape just as the bomb goes off, destroying the shuttle.

  • The merry men suddenly realize they can help now the cliffhanger is over. Give me strength.
  • Curiously, despite getting a new contingent of soldiers specifically to protect them, the Sherrif and Tasmerleptil arrive at the shuttle without escort. Is the stupidity of the alien somehow contageous?

Furious at the destruction of the shuttle, the Tasmerleptil teleports up to the mothership and abandons the Earth.

  • Apparently this is because "this infernal planet is neither ready nor worthy of our attention". But it is a primitive, easily conquered planet with lots of water the Tasmerleptils could easily invade! It's never going to get any more ready, and never more worthy of attention in the first place!
  • If the Tasmerleptil could teleport to the ship... why did it travel in a shuttle? Why didn't it teleport straight back right away instead of worrying about repairing the wrecked craft's communicator? None of this makes any sense at all, and a clear sign sparacus is wrapping this story up as fast as possible under the increasing criticism from readers as it approaches boiling point.

The others return to the camp for more roast boar, bread and mead.

  • Donna's complaints about the accomodation are rather odd - why not return to sleep in the TARDIS if it was so uncomfortable!

Ben apologises to Kyle. "Look Kyle... this is hard for me to say but.. well I know I haven't really shown much appreciation for what you've done and I just want to say that you were brilliant today , risking your life like that. And.... well I like having you around."

  • Ben's statement, well overdue after the last few stories, was forced in at reader disgust at Ben's ingratitude.
  • We discover here Kyle was mere stunned by the laser blast. So the Tasmerleptils, the evil world conquerers... use stun-guns. WHY?!?!

The Doctor and the merry men toast Ben for his brilliant idea of "blowing up stuff" but Ben insists Kyle get the credit as well.

  • The traditional sickening ending, thankfully lacking Ben Chatham seducing Robin Hood nor getting his hair ruffled by Little John. The abrupt ending leaves some loose ends - what will happen to restore Robin's reputation with the locals? Where has Marion got to? What will happen at Nottingham now half the military presence are arrow-fodder? And what is to stop the Tasmerleptils returning to conquer Earth? The answer to all the above is, of course, "Who cares?"

Next Time: New Morning

No comments: