For a brief moment in early 2009, all Doctor Who fandom and indeed anyone with only a passing interest in the series were united in that one thought:
Who the hell is Matt Smith?
The youngest-ever actor to play the official role, a virtual unknown on British television, and with absolutely no hint about how he would be playing the soon-to-be-missed David Tennant's replacement. While Smith's enthusiasm for the role was palpable, the special episode of Doctor Who Confidential (wittily entitled The Eleventh Doctor) left its audience none the wiser and only slightly better informed. With it being over a year before the Eleventh Doctor's adventures under Steven Moffat hit the screens, the fans and public were left to wonder what on Earth would occur.
Sparacus however was completely delighted by the casting, finding Smith stunningly attractive - but this was soon to change. Discovering first that Smith was heterosexual and also in a relationship made the Colchester maniac bitter and jealous and began to spread malicious gossip that the BBC was peddling an anti-agist agenda and Moffat had no control over the casting. In the space of a few months, sparacus had gone from one of Smith's most fanatical of supporters to his harshest critic. And all before the poor bloke had recorded a single line.
During those months, sparacus turned his attention to how the new Doctor would impact on the Chathamverse and came up with the answer: incredibly little. For the first time since All Things Must Pass, we would be treated to essentially a Doctor Who story guest starring Ben Chatham rather than the other way around. Sparacus wanted this pitch to demonstrate how he wanted Doctor Who to be "darker" than the RTD years while "still containing the essential lighter interludes which characterise the show".
But soon it became obvious to all that these stories were less an idealized version of Doctor Who but sparacus' own dark predictions for where the series was going - stupidly young cast members, incoherent plots soley made to scare small children, and a deliberate undermining of the last five years of NuWho. The portrayal of the Eleventh Doctor as a psychotic teenager more useless even than Ben Chatham was the cement for the concrete boots that would conclude Doctor Who's mafiosi-style assassination. The creation of the "Skins Doctor" would devastate what little credibility sparacus and the Ben Chatham adventures had, and shortly afterwards the Doctor Who Forum closed down - destroying millions of threads and wiping Ben Chatham from history.
Sparacus made no attempt to salvage his work but, thankfully for the purposes of articles like this, someone else did.
New Morning? Two words and not one of them accurate...
The Master is attempting to stage a coup and take over London with an army of androids disguised as ordinary soldiers. Hunted, the Tenth Doctor, Donna Noble and Wilfred Mott flee through the backstreets of Soho.
- Challenged to pen a regeneration story worthy of the Tenth Doctor - since the author was convinced RTD would never do him justice - sparacus immediately used his traditional lack of honor to wriggle out of the challenge and merely penned the regeneration scene, based on rumors of the content of The End of Time. Despite agreeing to go into visual detail of events, sparacus hastily sketched in the details, not even resolving the plot he had described of the Master's takeover bid...
- There is no explanation of why the Master is using androids disguised as human beings, especially as his previous powerplay involved blatant use of alien death machines. Similarly, Donna's metacrisis is unmentioned. The sight of the Doctor and his two companions on the run while the unseen Master is in control more than slightly recall The Sound of the Drums.
- Are the men doing the drive-by shooting androids as well?
- As characterisation goes, the scene gets off to a reasonable start with Wilf offering to sacrifice himself for the others and Donna refusing to abandon him. But while the Tenth Doctor's absent minded witticisms sound true to form, his shouting at Wilf for being a "lazy old man" who doesn't do enough exercise didn't ring true even then...
Two prostitues proposition Wilf, but the Doctor drags his companions into the nearest gay bar.
- Patented spara-misogyny kicks in at this point as working class "street women" hurl abuse at Donna for being "an ugly cow", while she retorts they are "daft tarts". Certainly Donna has reason to think this: the prostitutes seem unaware of the android uprising and hanging around streets where passing cars open fire on pedestrians.
- Despite being "cream crackered" and his leg gone numb (implying the exhausted old man has had a stroke) Wilf is immediately determined to get a "good time" with the skimply-clad women even as androids threaten to kill him, his granddaughter and his friend. Sparacus' insight into the heterosexual male and established Who characters is as poor as ever.
- This scene is specifically located in "Old Compton St in the heart of Soho". Clearly sparacus has some special interest in this, as the Eleventh Doctor and Amy would pointlessly return there to insult and condescend more prostitutes in The Day of the Xiaxian.
In the gay bar, the Doctor suggests they mingle with the customers, get some drinks and avoid detection.
- A true sparacliche in evidence as Plan A "get drunk and ignore the plot" is put into place. Though why the Doctor thinks the android soldiers will not consider they're hiding in a gay bar is rather odd - given the way they are searching through London and engaging in very public drive-by shooting, what's to stop them suddenly slaughtering everyone they see? Or, what if they ask the prostitutes if they saw the Doctor? After their rude treatment, the ladies of the night will be more than justified in pointing them to the pub.
- Donna concludes the venue is a gay bar because all the patrons are men. No lesbians allowed then?
In order to mingle, the Doctor grabs the nearest good-looking man and kisses him, only for the man to stab the Doctor in the stomach - the man is actually an agent of the Master.
- How on Earth did the Master know the Doctor would hide in a Soho gay bar? Similarly, how did the agent happen to be in just the right place for the Doctor to automatically kiss him? Why does the agent use a mobile instead of a more secure bluetooth connection? And a knife to the stomach wouldn't guarantee killing a human, let alone a Time Lord! The agent then flees the bar, as if not wanting to get any more attention - even though there's an android army sweeping through London! If the agent was so desperate to kill the Doctor subtly, why not poison his drink like in The Unicorn and the Wasp? He also makes no attempt to kill Wilf or Donna... Certainly his report of "target eliminated" is stupid as the Doctor is still alive when he leaves the bar!
- These Soho gay men aren't pleasant folk. Not only is a complete stranger forcing himself on you considered normal, not one of them even notices a patron has been brutally stabbed in front of them.
As the agent flees the bar, Donna and Wilf help the injured Doctor towards the toilets where several patrons are "engaging in sexual activity".
- Having been caught in an awkward position, one might forgive these men for not instantly going to the aid of a stab victim - but what is the excuse for the rest of the clientelle? Indeed, no one has even phoned for an ambulance! Are stabbings in Soho gay clubs common place? If so, you wonder why they're so popular if you're likely to get killed there.
- Donna is, rather oddly, more offended at having to watch the gay sex than their lack of assistance to her friend: "There’s an injured man here and I don’t want to have to gawp at your whatsanamy business at this crucial moment!" she shouts meaninglessly. It's quite clear, however, the author would much rather enjoy gay porn than a regeneration sequence. One shudders at how, say, Logopolis would have turned out if sparacus was in charge - the Pharos security guards having an outdoor orgy?
The Doctor regenerates.
- So the Tenth Doctor who survived limbs being hacked off (The Christmas Invasion), electrocution (The Idiot's Lantern), being turned into a drawing (Fear Her), having his blood drained by a vampire (Smith & Jones), his heart being stopped by voodoo (The Shakespeare Code), being blasted by radiation (Evolution of the Daleks), possessed by a living sun (42), aged 900 years (Last of the Time Lords), poisoned by cyanide (The Unicorn and the Wasp), and shot at point blank range by a Daleks (The Stolen Earth) ultimately dies... from a stab wound in the stomach. Despite Time Lords having more than one stomach.
- Given how horrified the Tenth Doctor was for dying pointlessly to save a little old man from a radiation booth, one can only dream how upset he would be to die from a minor injury in a Soho toilet while gay men refuse to stop roggering each other as he passes over. If there's an anti-matter opposite to the Time Lord Victorious, it's this.
- Despite vowing to go into graphic detail of the regeneration process, sparacus ultimately provided "the Doctor collapses and regenerates into the 11th Doctor played by Matt Smith". Well worth the wait.
- The new Doctor's first words are the rather bathetic "Where am I?" which are, nevertheless, an improvement on sparacus' predicted first words for the genuine article: "Yay, I'm, like, young again!" (To be fair, no one saw "Legs! I've still got legs!" coming...)
The new Doctor recovers consciousness and everyone comments how much more attractive his new body is.
- Wilf has apparently vanished at this point. Sparacus' lack of attention shows that the new Doctor is now in the bar rather than in the toilets.
- No one seems interested in the fact the stabbed man just transformed into a completely different person.
- The Doctor announces that, upon learning he is "in a bar surrounded by horny men who seem to fancy his new body" that "I must be in heaven!". This blatant wish fulfillment of a gay Doctor would be abandoned instantly by sparacus, only to later re-emerge when the genuine article turned down sex with Amy in Steven Moffat's Flesh and Stone. This, as far as sparacus was concerned, proved the new Doctor was gay as straight men are incapable of fidelity. The annoyed response to that is still going on by the way...
- So... the army being mindless killing machines, all women in Soho being idiotic prostitutes, old men being decrepit perverts, and gay men being psychotically violent and insensitive hedonistic murderers. Reading this you'd have to ask the question "is there anyone sparacus does like?" as he seems on a quest to insult every possible demographic. His take on foreigners, fishing folk, and corporations in the rest of the story would make it clear that the answer to the question is clearly "no - but he would sleep with some of them."
- After the outcry at this ignominous end to the Tenth Doctor, sparacus declared it was merely a first draft. True to form there was never another attempt to improve it in any way, shape or form.
- This story was originally entitled New Dawn until it was pointed out to Sparacus that he had already used the meaningless title for his blockbuster USA-pandering film for the Tenth Doctor and Donna. It was hastilly renamed New Morning, but occasionally later referred to as New Dawn. A third story, also entitled New Dawn was penned in 2010. This version will be referred to as New Morning for clarity's sake. Presumably the title refers to it being the first story of the Eleventh Doctor.
On the Cornish coast, a crab fisherman is out at sea when he hears a strange whistling noise. An unseen creature bursts out of the water and kills the fisherman.
- Ironically for a story entitled New Morning, the first scene occurs at sunset.
- The opening scene is remarkably similar to John Peel's Fourth Doctor Missing Adventure Evolution which begins with a similarly doomed fisherman called Ben Tolliver suffering an identical fate, checking his nets and reflecting on his life when a sea creature "bites his face entirely off" in the blunt prose style later made famous by Garth Marenghi. However, it is most likely to be a coincidence, as the author is clearly not well-read enough to have copied it.
- The setting for the story is a Cornish fishing village, a favorite haunt of sparacus since the dawn of the Chathamverse, especially for crossovers with the Doctor (Ben never sets foot in Cornwall on his own). Previously it turned up in Star Man, Reptillian Dawn and Up from the Depths - all of which showed the simple fisher folk getting on the wrong side of hideous sea monsters summoned up by a callous and irresponsible corporation dumping pollution into the sea seemingly for no reason other than being evil. Oddly enough, EXACTLY THE SAME THING happens here...
- It seems that the strange whistle is some kind of herald of the monster's approach, but it never occurs again in the story and there is no explanation for what the noise was? Some kind of summons? The monster's primeval mating call? The incidental music?
- This one-scene character starts a trend in this story for dialogue-free monster fodder to get more characterization and backstory than the main cast put together. We learn that "old Jim Andrews" has a wife called Annie, a love of piping hot tea and is a professional crab-netter. Compare to, say, Kyle Scott, for whom it took nine whole stories to get a surname, let alone a character history!
Sent to the nearby fishing village of Little Bampton to investigate odd happenings, Martha Jones is taken aback when the TARDIS materializes in the street before her.
- This was written before Martha's appearance in The End of Time was seen by anyone, so we can forgive sparacus for not having her married to Mickey and a leather-clad alien hunting rogue... but given that everyone at the time assumed Martha would become a regular fixture in the upcoming third season of Torchwood (which, indeed, was the plan, as evidence by Jack's "Maybe there's something else you could be doing?" in her final scene in 2008), it's odd that sparacus assumed she would continue to work for UNIT full time. It's also ridiculous that, despite her on-screen depiction as a medical specialist, she is now an Avengers-style agent being randomly sent to Cornwall to check on "strange sightings and disappearances". Quite a comedown for the chief medical officer of UNIT USA, isn't it?
- It's obvious that from the second sentence that Martha is, in reality, Spartha Jones the agressive man-hating alcoholic Nazi with the emotional maturity of a dead goldfish. Sparacus was so pleased at this "strong and independent" version of the companion he continued to use her long after the genuine article hit the TV screens. The last time she had appeared was in All Things Must Pass, which contradicted the TV series by showing Martha and Donna meeting for the first time (the former repeatedly kicking the latter in the head and calling her "Lamb Kebab"). Ostensibly this is the same woman from the TV series (this is clearly stated as her first appearance since the 2008 finale), but it seems that sparacus is actually referring to his proposed rewrite of The Stolen Earth and Journey's End, which featured Ben prominently - and his defeat of Davros by throwing a drink in the mutant's face would have been far more pathetic than Donna Noble cunningly pressing some buttons...
- Martha has apparently entered into "full-time investigative work in the United Kingdom" for UNIT and spent three weeks in the village finding the locals "distasteful" and "prejudiced". One can only assume she was palmed off to this case because she's completely useless - she hasn't investigated any of the "strange sightings", nor the disappearances, but wandered the numerous cobbled streets being bored.
- Martha's internal monologue features the expression "following the events of Journey’s End she had never been so bored by a case". As TV Tropes boggled, "Martha thinks of her life in episode titles?!" and dubbed this a "Wall Banger", a low point that will ruin any enjoyment for the audience and often herald a downturn in overall quality that will never improve. Considering this moment occured at the start of a story, it's no surprise that by the end the Chathamverse was declared to have entered its own "Dork Age" - an ill-advised new direction that destroyed the whole franchise. Hmm. New Direction? New Morning? Coincidence?
The newly-regenerated Doctor emerges and immediately suggests he and Martha have sex.
- And lo, the Skins Doctor is born. "A slip youth with floppy hair emerges, dressed in jeans and a casual jacket", this version of the Eleventh Doctor was more out of character than any other sparacus had written for, even Spartha Jones. Sparacus seemingly believed that, no matter how attractive Matt Smith was, he was simply too young to have "gravitas" and would ergo play the Doctor as a gawky, with-it teenager as part of the BBC's ageist "yoof agenda", and thus this take on the Doctor was what sparacus expected the new Doctor to be like rather than what he desired the character to be.
- The Skins Doctor seemed to be crudely assembled Frankenstein-style from various sources - his look was the publicity shot of Matt Smith upon the announcement he was taking over from David Tennant, his use of a mobile phone to film random events taken from Smith's appearance as Dan Twentyman in Moses Jones (the second scene with Twentyman has him filming a dancer in a street market, but his first, oddly enough, has him throwing up in disgust when he finds a disembowled corpse on a fishing boat...), and his strange use of the word "like" in every sentence was clearly based on the stereotypical Skins-homages of LBC. Disturbingly, the Doctor's desire to have sex with Martha is arguably the closest connection this incarnation has to his Tenth, who repeatedly tried to force himself on her in Death in the Cloisters, Stangeness, Harvest of Evil and Return to the Orchid House.
- Martha is strangely furious when she sees a stranger emerge from the TARDIS. Even if she didn't assume it was a regenerated Doctor, why doesn't she assume this is his newest companion?
- The Doctor's opening speech perhaps shows we were lucky to miss how he and Donna dealt with the Master: “Hey babe, I’m like the Doctor. I’ve regenerated like. Wow its great to see you again. Wicked! Yay its great to be a kid again. I’m like so gonna get a myspace page. You look great in that jacket babe, I’ve like SO got the hots for you. Hows about we get up close and personal on the TARDIS double bed!”
There is a scream from the shore and Martha heads to investigate, and finds some bloodied fabric, then the beheaded corpse of an old man.
- Sparacus' cliche of the pointless and bloody slaughter of random passers-by shows no sign of abating in this new era.
- Martha rapidly becomes the audience identification when the Doctor (who has been filming the crime scene on a mobile phone to "put on Youtube later") dismisses the corpse and tells her, "Never mind babe. Lets get back to the TARDIS and get hot and sticky!" Martha retorts “Are you on heat or something?". The Spartha Jones warcry of "Grow up!" has never been more appropriate when the new Doctor bursts into tears and sobs “Look if you don’t like me you could just say!”, ignoring the murdered man at his feet. Considering this is one of the few episodes to feature neither Ben Chatham nor Adam Rickitt, it seems his stock character is around at least...
- Sparacus dubbed this "exciting" adventure "the debut appearance of Matt Smith's 11th Doctor", triggering a flamewar with a single statement.
Martha examines the clawmarks on the corpse and determines his assailant wasn't human.
- ...why should they have been? One might assume that this is some reference to The Nightmare Man by Robert Holmes, a TV series adaptation of Child of the Vodyani, where an insane radioactive Russian cyborg attacks a Scottish fishing village - and the first clue as to the monster's nature is its human teethmarks. Given the clueless investigators, the scenes at the pubs, the random violence and, of course, the evil Russians, it could be said that this is some kind of homage by sparacus but there are simply too many things he would have left out to be deliberate (for example, the fog, the Scottish policemen, the sex scenes...)
- Martha considers that the man was killed by something resembling a large cat. With the whistle seemingly triggering an attack, a large terrestrial animal clawing at creatures, could this be some kind of rip-off of The Hound of the Baskervilles? Which, after all, was the main selling point of John Peel's Evolution? But it leaves the question of what large cat would decapitate someone - and why? Not for food, given the corpses are not eaten, and ripping someone's head off is an energy-intensive way to catch food. But if it was some kind of assassination, why draw attention by removing the head?
- The Doctor dismisses the injuries as most likely being a "weevil". Weevils were the stock aliens of Torchwood, a race of wild time-sensitive alien humanoids of mysterious origins that fed off raw sewage but were "evolving" to become more aggressive and deadly. They ultimately appeared as part of the Alliance in The Pandorica Opens, which is credible given their clear intelligence, civilization and sensitivity to the natural order. Why the Doctor uses Jack's nickname for the aliens rather than their true name is unclear, especially as he's never met them on screen before.
- Once again, Spartha's mantra of "Act your damned age!" speaks for the audience as the Doctor photographs the corpse for no reason. "Yeah whatever. I’ll like just take some pics and then get back to the TARDIS. I’ve got some mates from facebook coming round for a party like. It’ll be steamin’!” (rather begging the question of why someone who hasn't even got on myspace is now an active member of facebook and which members are going to go all the way to Cornwall to party inside a police box - is the New Doctor making this up?)
- The New Doctor uses the catchphrase "sorted!", typical of Doctors in the sparaverse, who never like to linger in a plot once it's been sumarised. He also describes Martha as "so unfair", the hatchphrase of Harry Enfield's stereotyped teenager "Kevin".
Martha decides to contact the police about the body and then interrogate the locals at the pub.
- Martha's been in the village for three weeks and only NOW thinking about asking if the locals have heard anything about the "strange sightings" or "disappearances"? Since Martha was on her way to the pub anyway when the TARDIS arrived, is she just looking for an excuse to get drunk?
- The police investigation occurs off-screen, which is a pity as it would be interesting to see how the Skins Doctor and Spartha dealt with the fact they - the only strangers in town, so it seems - are found over a corpse. Why they don't immediately arrest the Doctor on suspicion for supplying class-A drugs is also regretfully unexplored...
Martha and the Doctor enter The Goat & Boot and get some drinks, despite the hostility from some of the locals.
- In the most unforgivable of cliches, the noisy vibrant pub goes completely silent when the duo enter. This is particularly odd given the fact that, presumably, Martha is actually staying at the pub for the duration of her visit to Little Bampton and thus should be a familiar face. Are the natives suspicious because they've just come from the police? If so, they must now know about the murders on the beach and their interrupted joliness was highly inappropriate...
- The Doctor immediately requests “a double vodka like for me”, continuing the Spara-Doctor tradition for rampant alcoholism. When the Eleventh Doctor finally partook of the demon drink on TV in The Lodger, he immediately spat it out in disgust (an echo of the Ninth Doctor doing the same in World War III). Oddly enough, Martha goes for a glass of water rather than her traditional love of fine red wines that rivals Ben Chatham's fetish for absinthe.
- In a typical moment of 'hastily filling the plot holes of the previous chapter after the audience complained', sparacus has the Doctor demand to know why Martha "ain’t checked out this dive before now?” and she explains she "thought she could get all her local gossip from the fishermen which came to nothing”. So, Martha took three weeks to find out that the fishermen knew nothing? She must have got to know them pretty well, so it's odd she hasn't noticed Jim Andrews' disappearance?
- One of the patrons, a man called Gus, calls the Doctor and Martha "layabout students" who should get their hair cut, and attacks the Doctor. He is saved by the landlord, who is surprisingly friendly... given the fact the Doctor loudly declared the pub and its occupants "mingin'". So, are the Cornish locals superstitious xenophobes or open-minded intelligent folk? Does it matter, I hear you ask?
As they sit down to drink, two French students (Pierre and Francoise) on summer holiday approach and immediately explain to the Doctor and Martha they are secretly Greenpeace activists investigating the internation Gastroix Company. Gastroix, a major pollutant, are being allowed to dump waste in the Cornish Sea by the British Government in return for their research into "GM synthetic rubber and oil".
- Genetically modified synthetic rubber and oil?! If Gastroix are so advanced, it boggles the mind they haven't found a way to recycle their own waste a fuel! And considering Britain already has Torchwood (and apparently Operation: Delta), it seems odd they accepted the deal.
- In the space of a sentence, Gatroix have gone from dumping their waste on the Cornish coastline to dumping it in the sea itself. Make your mind up.
- Pierre and Francoise, ecology students from Sorbonne, are notably "in their early 20s". This is manifestly sparacus' fear of the "yoof agenda". But isn't it rather suspicious that the French couple, clearly strangers in town, immediately lock onto the only other newbies and immediately blab their secret identities to them? Why haven't they told the locals? Surely Gus the angry town drunk would be interested to know about that? And why has Martha, a UNIT investigator, not noticed an international company hanging around a tiny fishing village just when a spate of "strange sightings" and "disappearances" occur?
- The Doctor becomes the audience mouthpeice as he announces "This is so like boring!" and Martha responds to kicking him under the table. She was similarly immature and violent in All Things Must Pass when she kicked Donna in the head while they were climbing through a cave and pretending it was an accident.
Suddenly, a savaged man with his left arm severed staggers into the pub, screaming and then collapses...
- So this poor soul was ravaged by a monster and... went to the pub. Unless he was attacked directly outside, this is rather improbable. Are we supposed to believe a guy with his arm falling off staggered through a small village screaming and no one noticed? Especially with the police already rounding up the corpse of the old man on the beach? This is idiotic! As the Doctor himself declared in the next episode: “Wow. This is like so random.”
- The attacks have gone from out at sea to the beach to seemingly in the middle of the pub. Is this an attempt to suggest the threat is closing in? Or, more likely an attempt to break up the narrative? Ah, it may be a New Morning, but nothing ever changes...
- Sparacus dubbed the story from this point on "a chiller". As the new Doctor would say, "Yeah, whatever."
The injured man is rushed to hospital in an ambulance, leaving our heroes to consider their next move.
- None of the other punters in the pub seem to have noticed their fellow villager stumbling around sans arm (shades of that Soho gay club), as it is Martha who needs to ring the ambulance. In fact, where have all the other villagers gone? And wouldn't the injured man have died of bloodloss long before the ambulance arrived at the remote fishing village?
Martha decides to investigate the beach for whatever attacked the man.
- Martha's leap of deduction is rather spurious - she declared that the unnamed victim was attacked on the beach because he had "sand on his shoes", which is hardly indicative of anything in Little Bampton. She also says his wounds are 'animal bites', whereas before she simply defined them as not being human!
Pierre and the Doctor conclude the attacker was some kind of animal transformed by pollution.
- Pierre has heard of strange animal attacks around the village, yet the investigator Martha Jones hasn't? How suspcious.
- Exactly why they leap to the assumption the attacks are down to animals and the animals effected by pollution isn't explained. It's almost as though the two plot points HAVE to be connected (which is, admittedly, a step up from the usual standard of sparacus material) and the Doctor promptly mentions the events of The Green Death -"Dudes, I’ve like encountered giant maggots the size of large rats caused by pollution. It was mingin’!” - which rather kills off any attempt at originality. It's curious, however, the Doctor and Martha do not refer to the Stephen Poole saga, in which they faced exactly this sort of plot every day for thirteen weeks...
The group head for the beach and Pierre suggests they take a boat out to examine the dump site.
- The French couple have conveniently parked their car beside the beach and have two diving suits and a hired boat perfect for exploring. How very convenient. Given that they are the ones who have come up with all the information about animal attacks and Gastroix, does it occur to no one that Pierre and the sinisterly-mute Francoise are actually part of the conspiracy? But then, given the Doctor is unable to think of a way to "like, get out to sea" maybe it's credible he never suspects anything...
- Just why are they investigating the beach? Why not the area around the pub where the third man was attacked? What are they hoping to find that the police won't already have checked? Apparently they're "looking for footprints" - so clearly Martha hasn't considered the mutant animal could be a bird of some sort. And just what do they intend to do when they find the creature that rips off limbs and heads? Talk to it sternly?
At the dumping site, the Doctor and Pierre dive into the water and examine the submerged drums which are leaking a dark liquid.
- ...thus making it incredibly dangerous for anyone to go wading in the water around it! The new Doctor might be stupid enough for that, but what is Pierre's excuse?
- If the dark liquid is responsible for the mutations, it makes it incredibly odd that Gatroix hasn't exploited this quality. Surely any unscrupulous corporation could find a use for something that turns a sea-based animal into an amphibious serial killer - have they no eye for the military market? In fact, this begins to recall the late 1980s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle franchise where unscrupulous companies and villains would pour such substances into the sewer, randomly creating animal-human superheroes in an entirely haphazard manner.
- Pierre claims he brought the diving suits for he and Francoise to do the diving, so presumably they were made to fit he and Francoise. Yet the burly Eleventh Doctor can easily fit in Francoise's suit? This smells more and more like a trap!
- In an amazing coincidence, both New Morning and The Eleventh Hour feature the regenerated Doctor stripping naked in front of female companions admire his body. However, while the latter was for comedic effect, this is a rather unsettling bit of voyeurism. Francoise speaks for the first time, and that's to admire "the very beautiful" Doctor (I bet Pierre's not happy about being ignored). Despite being head over heels in lust and love for the Tenth Doctor on TV, Martha considers the new version's "slim, smooth limbs and glistening torso" a vast improvement. “There is certainly a plus side to this regeneration,” Martha muses. So she doesn't care the new Doctor is an immature, sexist moron as long as he looks sexy? Inconsistent characterization AND a negative portrayal of women, all in one!
Another boat approaches and shots are fired at Martha and Francoise. Bullets strike the boat as they are forced to consider abandoning the Doctor and Pierre...
- Just before embarking on this expedition, Martha told every to “Act your age. We need to be sensible and careful about this.” Good advice, but clearly unheeded. The Doctor and Pierre have dived into water polluted with toxic waste and haunted by psychotic and ferocious sea-life with no weapons or way to communicate with the surface, at a spot known to be used by a shady foreign corporation to dump said toxic waste and unlikely to be happy to find meddling kids. This suicidal insanity, most of which is down to the preparations (or lack of) by the Frenchies suggests this is a cunning trap to lure the Doctor and Martha out into the middle of nowhere and then neatly execute them.
- Given the Doctor's obsession with filming things on his mobile, it's weird he doesn't do it now, where such a thing could be useful.
- It only takes three bullets striking the boat before Martha realizes the severity of the situation and shouts “They’re shooting at us!” Thank you, Captain Obvious.
- Another hint of sparacus' ageist agenda is the Doctor and Pierre being described as "boys".
At the last moment, the others surface and they flee the area.
- Sparacus' loose grasp of English makes itself apparent. He seems to believe "gesticulate" means "to speak loudly".
- Martha insists that the Doctor should not refer to the others as "dudes". She is technically correct. He should refer to them collectively as "dudes and dudettes". COWABUNGA!!!
Pierre is convinced their attackers are the Gastroix Company.
- "This is exactly how they operate in France!" Pierre reveals, explaining that the previous year the staff of a Normandy plant opened fire on Greenpeace demonstrators, but the authorities did not believe the protestors' claims. However, Pierre refers the "French authorities" rather than "our authorities"... does he not consider himself to be French? The way he adds "of course" clearly shows he considers the French to be cheese-eating surrender monkeys. More hints at a conspiracy?
- Gastroix seem incredibly inefficient and stupid. Why shoot at the boat and risk bullet-ridden bodies and wreckage being found? Why not simply bluff their way onto the Frenchies' boat, and then set it on fire? If they are so desperate for this particular bit of coastline to be free from investigation, why not have a blockade set up? It appears for all the world the attackers just happened to be passing - in fact, there's no evidence they work for Gastroix at all! Maybe they're some redneck hillbillies in a boat?
- Interestingly, Pierre describes "the problems" starting eight years prior when a Russian billionaire called "Ivan Iblomov" bought Gastroix. So instead of an evil corporation, it's a good corporation bought by someone evil and stupid?
- “Yay! That explains it like. This Russian dude is clearly cutting costs by dumping his toxic waste in the sea in cheap containers which leak. And the chemicals have had an effect on the marine life.” the Doctor summarizes, seemingly for the author's benefit. But why would a billionaire need to cut costs? Pierre claimed that the dumping in Cornwall was done because Gastroix would share secrets with the British government... but surely it would get more money just to sell their secrets and pay for proper containers? Or, given they ARE cash-strapped, why waste money on containers at all instead of just pumping it into the ocean? The real complain though is that, as far as the characters are concerned, everything is explained so it's just padding until the story is over. "The plot thickens", as sparacus promised. Trouble is, it goes very dangerously lean from hereon in...
The Doctor and Martha return to the TARDIS where the Doctor uncovers two invisibility cloaks, which will allow them to stake out the beach unobserved.
- And suddenly we're in the TARDIS! Pierre and Francoise have disappeared, and there is no mention of any difficult returning to Little Bampton in a bullet-riddled hired boat (that's going to cost the students a bit of money...) being followed by assassins. Surely they should inform the police? Or UNIT? Or all hide in the TARDIS, the one safe place where monsters and villains cannot penetrate?
- The scene opens in the Doctor's "bedroom" where he "shows" Martha something that makes her ask “What the hell is that thing?” and the Time Lord replied, “I’ve like had this for a long time. I’ve two actually!" He is, of course, talking about the aforementioned invisibility cloaks. The idea of incoherent low-level smut to pad out an episode in a story by sparacus? Surely not...
- One of the Doctor's least interesting untelevised adventures: "Its an invisibility cloak. I like borrowed ‘em from these alien dudes. I was like ‘can I borrow them for a while’ and they was like ‘yeah man, cool’.” Wow, I bet that's waiting for Gary Russell to pen a missing adventure on such a premise.
- The Doctor explains he intends to use this Harry-Potter-esque plot device to keep them safe from the monster, working on the assumption the psychotic monster only works on vision rather than smell, hearing, infrared or telepathy. He also seems to think loitering on the beach will be a good move for a monster that is quite capable of moving well into the village and sneaking away without being spotted. Wouldn't it be easier to use the TARDIS to observe such a beast?
- The concept of a kind of invisibility cloak was used in The Eleventh Hour, but it was a more credible "perception filter" and actually used by the monster.
An old beachcomber, meanwhile, is savagely ripped apart by a monster.
- Hmm, guess the Doctor was right it would be out on the prowl. But why is it attacking people? One might understand Jim Andrews, who was fishing at the time (surely an act of war for marine life?), but what did the OTHER three men do to merit such violence? If the creature is so angry, why is it being so furtive? If it is hungry, why doesn't it eat? And if it's scared, why does it attack at all? Ponder these questions, because you'll be considering matters more than sparacus ever did.
- The monster's latest villain is "old Bill Oakwell" who uses an "old and rather ineffective metal detector" hoping to find coins dropped by sunbathers (...in Cornwall?), none of which would come across on television and simply reinforces how the previous two victims got no credit at any time...
At the pub, Pierre and Francoise are taken aback when a group of gun-weilding Russians burst into the pub and confront them. “You will come with us. You will come now. You have been identified by our comrades as economic wreckers. And for this you will be shot……..”
- ...why not shoot them in the pub? There is no mention of anyone else being in the room to complain and if these Russians aren't worried about declaring their hatred for "economic wreckers" in public, they can't be worried about witnesses. And why are they expecting the students to be motivated to come with them just so they'll be shot? How can two French students threaten the Gastroix organization when they have no evidence for the authorities? When they haven't even contacted the authorities? In fact, in this one act, Gastroix have "wrecked" their economy far more than any protestor! This also ruins the idea that Pierre is working for the villains, thus removing a figleaf of justification for all the contrived idiocy in the story prior.
- Who are the comrades who "identified" the Frenchies? Are there spies in the village? If so, why didn't they spot Pierre and Francoise right away and have the pair neatly disposed of - surely Gastroix are responsible for the disappearances? The blood-soaked murders of the old and weak surely would have been noticed before... right?
- The two Frenchies are interrupted discussing their plans to hitchhike to Scotland and join a new age community they have heard of... rather odd plans for hardcore dedicated Greenpeace activists. Or are they under cover, attempting to convince the locals they are the useless floppy-haired students that Gus the angry drunk assumes they are. This is a transparent attempt to make the two ciphers likeable so that when they are threatened at the cliffhanger, there is just the remotest of chances anyone gives a damn.
Pierre and Francoise are driven to a warehouse in the Gastroix Plant nearby and confronted by Ivan Iblomov himself.
- Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. So there's a foreign chemical plant build conveniently close to the village where the evil plant owners are working to dump the pollution? Wow, no one will ever notice any possible connection there, especially when the plant staff raid the pubs with machine guns or mutant fish monsters start slaughtering people? And, ooh, just to make it really fun, neither Martha nor the Frenchies thought that the convenient location of the plant MIGHT JUST POSSIBLY MIGHT be worth MENTIONING?
- Just what is Ivan Iblomov doing in the Cornish branch anyway? The deal with the government was done ages ago according to Pierre, so why would an international billionaire hang around Little Bampton? Sunbathing? And why does he want to talk to the so-called eco-warriors before killing them? He doesn't even gloat, he just introduces himself. And as a bald Russian in a leather jacket, it's rather hard not to immediately visualize Alexei Sayle playing Ivan...
- The reason Pierre and Francoise were in the pub to be kidnapped was because they were arranging to meet the Doctor, but he and Martha never show up, or notice that Russian gangsters have stormed the Goat & Boot. Presumably the gadfly mind of the new Doctor made him, like, totally forgot about it, dudes. What was Martha's excuse though?
“In Russia we deal with people like you without having to observe the niceties of legality and I wish to bring these innovative business practices into the UK,” Ivan explains, and orders a henchman to shoot Pierre.
- The henchman is, unbelievably, also named Ivan. Apparently there are no other male names in Russia. Or else the insanely rich Iblomov likes being surrounded by henchman with the same first name as him...
- The idea of an ethnic group all having the same name would be reused in Chateux of DEATH, wherein Ben encounters a frightening number of women called Giselle in France. Interestingly, while New Morning portrays the French in a reasonably positive light as open-minded friendly and helpful young people, Chateau of DEATH shows them all to be immoral sexual deviants with an insatiable blood lust and chronic refusal to take responsibility for their actions. Sparacus hates everybody, really...
- Pierre claims that Greenpeace knows Iblomov is pumping toxic chemicals into the sea... so is this ON TOP of the illegal dumping in the middle of the ocean? And if Greenpeace knew about this, why didn't they do a bit more then send in two eager and inexperienced students to deal with a global conspiracy? It's hard to argue with Ivan's logic that simply killing the Frenchies will end his problems from the ecologists.
- "In Russia we have a saying: ‘if a man is a problem, no man no problem.'” Iblomov announces. It's such an utterly stupid and easily disproved statement it's not even worth arguing with, but let's just say killing Jesus didn't suddenly end the problem of Christianity, did it?
At the last moment, Operation: Delta storm the warehouse, rescue Pierre and Francoise and escape.
- ...what... the... fuck?! All right. Let's look at this. Apart from the fact Kyle's last name is not mentioned when the others are referred to as "Ben Chatham" and "Katie Ryan", we are left with enough questions to fill out the rest of this article. How, exactly, did Ben and his pals find out about this nasty situation in the first place? How did they manage to get through the perimeter of the Plant without anyone noticing (especially as they have to "crash through a gate" to leave)? Where did they get tear gas canisters from? Why is Katie using firearms when Kyle is the one best suited for such a task? Why are they rescuing the two Frenchies anyway? And, given the fact they have the upper hand, why don't they capture or arrest Iblomov for his crimes? And on top of this, the getaway vehicle is described as "Ben's waiting car" - established in previous stories as either a vintage roadster John Steed might drive (the Chathamobile) or else plain Bessie! So we're expected to believe that Operation: Delta planned this raid but used the most inefficient and noticeable car they could get their hands on? This is the biggest plot failure bar Ben's very existence. Not exactly the new dawn people were expecting!
- The biggest question is, of course... why didn't sparacus simply have Pierre and Francoise executed? They've served any plot function they require and, with Operation: Delta on the scene there is no need for extraneous characters. The author himself claimed he wanted to "feature a darker tone than the RTD era while still containing the essential lighter interludes which characterise the show", so having the substitute companions brutally murdered would definitely do that and possibly counterbalance the 'comedic' new Doctor. It's hard to see RTD shying away from such an idea (though it's unlikely he'd go for killing them off in this particular fashion in a family show like Doctor Who).
- At four episodes without appearing or even being mentioned, this is the only true Ben-lite adventure completed and available for the public until The Shakey Jake Adventures the following year (where Ben didn't appear at all).
Disguised in their invisibility cloaks, the Doctor and Martha loiter on the beach until a strange creature rises from the depths.
- In a sequence demonstrating padding taken to a higher art, we are told "suddenly something starts to emerge from the sea". Whereupon Martha whispers, “Look, something is emerging from the sea!” And, just as "the creature emerges fully from the sea", the Doctor observes, “Its like now fully emerged, from the sea like.” We are then told that "the creature that has emerged, from the sea," as if we were unsure what was happening. The point of these blindingly obvious statements is unclear. Does sparacus think that wears of invisibility cloaks can't see out of them and need to narrate events?
- One possibility is that he was boosting the audience's appreciation for Chatham and pals who have, after all, done more in a single scene than the Doctor and Martha in the previous four episodes. He cuts from this epic (if logically impossible) rescue and escape to the Doctor and Martha standing around on the beach being bored and sniping at each other. Presumably this is a "lighter moment" according to sparacus.
- We get an insight into Martha as she berates the Doctor for being bored. “This was your idea Doctor. And we are not going until we’ve seen it through.” So, even though the plan is obviously stupid and doomed to fail, she's determined to carry it out anyway out of sheer bloody mindedness? This attitude definitely explains why she did so little for three weeks and why she kept on listening to fishermen gossip when it was clearly useless. Perhaps this sudden obssessive compulsion dissorder is what got her demoted from a highly-respected UNIT officer to an expendable redshirt sent into a terrestrial disaster area that UNIT must surely already know about?
- In what is either a moment of poor characterization or a vicious indictment of teenagers, the Doctor goes from shouting “This is like so cool!” to bemoaning how boring his plan is. “Oh man, that sucks. I wanna go soon. Some guys from myspace are having a Skins party and like trashing this house.” This shows that sparacus is not an avid viewer of Skins, as the debauchery of the main characters is rarely if ever turned to such mindless vandalism. Besides, not only would the apparently 26-year-old Doctor look out of place amongst teenagers, he has apparently forgotten he has access to a time machine! But, be fair, sparacus is prone to that as well...
- The creature is apparently a gestalt of "several creatures" which have "merged somehow and increased in size" according to Martha, but the description of a large upright crustacean with claws and an insect head seems to be some generic alien monster. How has some run of the mill toxic waste done that without, for example, killing the life forms right away? And surely there must be other mutants created, and no reason for them all to go specifically to Little Bampton...
The mutant creature suddenly attacks Martha...
- Proving that making very loud observations is a bad move when hiding from a ferocious monster. Martha, do you take stupid pills or something?
Being invisible, Martha is able to avoid the creature that stumbles off through the promenade.
- Despite the fact the monster can clearly hear her, Martha very loudly shouts “That was close, if it wasn‘t for these invisibility cloaks that thing would have torn us apart!” as if trying to regain its attention. This does emphasize the flaw in their plan. What exactly are they planning to do now they've observed the monster? They haven't filmed it, captured it, or even alerted the villagers about the threat, nor do they have any weapons to stop it or slow it down. So what was the next part of the plan beyond 'see monster on the prowl'? Call the police?
- The creature apparently has a drooling "fish-like" mouth to go with its "insect head". Sparacus fails biology forever.
Pierre rings Martha and puts her in contact with Ben Chatham.
- This exchange proves that niether Martha nor the Doctor called in Ben and his gofers. So what the hell were they doing there? Apparently Pierre "informs them of recent developments" and this presumably covers that plot singularity.
- Pierre has Martha's mobile number, but never considered contacting her earlier. And Martha, despite having a super mobile able to ring through time and space, doesn't contact UNIT, the police, or anyone to inform them a homicidal mutant is lumbering around... is she trying to get as many innocent people slaughtered as possible?
- The Doctor is "overcome with emotion" upon speaking to Ben. We are not told what emotion (disgust, probably) nor do we get any reaction from Ben that the Doctor's voice is significantly different. A whole world of missed opportunities...
They all meet up at the Goat & Boot 20 minutes later to discuss a plan of action.
- Twenty minutes? Why so long? Why not conference over the phone? And why go to the pub in the middle of the village where a mutant sea monster is prowling for flesh, a pub where someone has already been horribly injured outside of? Why not the safety of the TARDIS? And they need to discuss a plan of action - how about trying to evacuate the village altogether and then killing the monster? They could simply ring up Gastroix and tell Iblomov a sea monster is painting the town red with blood; it's surely in the evil Russian's best interests to stop it, if only to keep secret the cause of the mutant?
- Of course the reason is the true sparacassian urge to get completely pissed. Indeed, the group's choice of drinks is given more detail than the Operation: Delta raid. For those so pathetic they NEED to know the choice of beverage... the Doctor had a vodka and orange; Martha had water; Ben drank a cognac; Katie downed a pint of Fosters; Kyle ordered a pint of John Smiths, and Pierre and Francoise had two glasses of an unspecified wine.
Ben wonders how the illegal dumping can have created the creature, and the Doctor declares that the mutant is the result of "GM technology".
- ...so they're dumping toxic waste and genetically modifying sea monsters? Why?
- The Doctor breaks the fourth wall to "stare into the camera" to lecture the audience: “Its like so the result of GM technology. On other planets the consequences of like changing the genetic makeup of plants and chemicals have been equally dangerous which is why it is important like to stand up and protest against it.” Curiously the Doctor doesn't give any examples, nor do any spring to mind. Davros, after all, wasn't interested in plants and chemicals, just people...
- Ben and the regulars continue to prove their worth over the new Doctor and Martha. Ben points out the flaw in the argument the monster is created by toxic waste and Katie rightfully tears apart the Doctor's flimsy rant: “What piffle. GM technology isn’t dangerous, it increases crop yields. You sound like you’ve regenerated into a hippie and to be honest you look a bit odd as well now, funny elongated face and theres something not right about your eyes.” Perhaps its not coincidence that by this stage of writing, sparacus had discovered Matt Smith had a girlfriend and gone right off him. Certainly the loving descriptions of the Eleventh Doctor in earlier episodes are replaced with the usual ones of "Ben’s silky skin and dark eyes".
- The new Doctor 'finds himself attracted' to Ben when Ben's annoyed. Perhaps Martha's right and the Time Lord is in heat...
“Anyways gang lets get spinnin’. I says we like go and find the creature before any other cats get like killed!” the Doctor declares. Returning to the TARDIS for alien weapons, the group splits into two teams to comb the village for the monster.
- The plan hardly required a 20 minute wait and a round of drinks, did it? Where have all the villagers gone? Why aren't they trying to help? The friendly landlord at least could be expected to assist...
Once again, the Doctor grabs some convenient junk from the TARDIS to solve the plot - this time "stun guns that the Doctor was given during a curious adventure on the planet Gevarus 9". One can only hope that curious adventure was more exciting and interesting than this one. And why use stun-guns? Why not just kill it? It can't be some kind of moral stance from the Doctor, who has shown he doesn't care about people getting killed in front of him, and Ben is quite capable of slaughtering innocents for the greater good (or at least taking credit for it, anyway).
- The story so far has put Ben on a pedestal, if only by making everyone else worse in comparison but as soon as he's in the limelight the cracks start to show. Ben refuses to take Martha or the Frenchies in his team, and insists on searching the one area they know the monster won't be. When Kyle points this out, he is ignored as Ben always done when he doesn't want to admit to being stupid. Or is Ben simply scared of the monster and trying to hide from it without looking like a coward? It's then pointed out that Ben is "taking a liking" to the new Doctor (and thus embarking on another doomed love affair... unless Ben expects this new incarnation to give up time travel and join him in a squalid bedsit in Cambridge?)
The Doctor's group overhear screams and rush to a garden where the monster is attacking some chickens.
- In another cliche, no sooner has Martha pointed out “The creature could be anywhere!” when it turns out they are in the lane directly next to its latest frenzied attack.
- Just why is it "biting the heads off chickens and ripping open the carcasses"? Chickens aren't going to threaten it, and nor are they worth the energy expenditure - especially when there's a woman in the yard that is simultaneously more dangerous and a better feed. We discover that the creature is "crazed" but trying to justify such plot holes as insanity is very cheap.
The creature attacks the Doctor...
- Who, for some reason, doesn't simply shoot the monster down with his Gavarus stun gun. Or throw an invisibility cloak over the monster's head. Idiot.
- A return to cliffhanger repetition syndrome, emphasizing the state of play hasn't really changed all episode. It began with the Doctor and Martha being threatened by the monster, and ends exactly the same way.
- The previous episode garnered even more vehement hatred than previous ones and sparacus quickly promised to make amends with this "gripping tale": "I have taken on board a couple of constructive suggestions and removed alcohol drinking and added a bit more humour." Of course, he could have rewritten the previous installment, but obviously that would have been too much hard work...
The Doctor defends himself with a dustbin lid and a broken bit of wood, shouting “Behold tis Saint George come to slay the dragon. Beware ye untamed beast! Ha Ha; brave Saint George is too quick!” until Martha simply smashes a milk bottle over the monster's head, knocking it unconscious. It is then tied up with some string.
- ...some string? A creature that can tear human beings apart with its crab-like claws. Is tied up. With string. That's almost as idiotic as it being stunned by a milk bottle rather than, say, the stun guns everyone was given for the express purpose of knocking it out?! Where has Francoise got to? And the poor woman who has lost all her chickens and (thanks to the Doctor's idiotic ballet fight) most of her garden.
Martha phones Torchwood to collect the monster.
- Assuming of course the monster doesn't immediately wake up, break out of its pathetic string bondage and go on a killing rampage?
- Why call Torchwood? Martha works for UNIT! And why would Torchwood - based in Cardiff, and rarely venturing beyond - go all the way to the Cornish coast? Why should they? One might think this is an excuse to get Captain Jack around to flirt with the new Doctor and Ben, but he never appears. In fact, the monster is just left in the ruined garden, completely unguarded and even more violent than before...
The group return to the pub to discuss their next move.
- Rather than chat over the phone? Sparacus tries to make amends by noting our heroes "make a collective decision not to drink alcohol as their priority is the case in hand". Given that the monster's threat is, apparently, neutralized, surely they'd be more likely to drink now rather than before?
Ben refuses to act against the Gastroix Company without concrete evidence.
- So, the fact Pierre and Francoise were kidnapped in front of witnesses, their hired boat shot to pieces, the huge mutant psychopath lying in the garden outside, the disappearances, the three corpses, the fact Ben was prepared to attack the plant with tear gas... all seems forgotten. Ben notes that Iblomov will simply bribe police and use top lawyers to get out of the problem, rather underminding his numerous defeats of evil corporations by assuming justice will automatically prevail. But if Greenpeace knows about the dump, surely evidence can be found? At least for an official investigation to begin (oh, yes, that's why Martha's there, sent by the UN!)...
- But take a step back. Ben is uncharacteristically reluctant to take on Iblomov and dismisses all the evidence as flimsy. Yet he just happened to be in the area, just happened to know all about Iblomov's activities. When you remember that Operation: Delta is funded by the British government rather than an independent agency like UNIT or Torchwood, the answer becomes horrifyingly obvious - Ben is part of the conspiracy! Operation: Delta is there to ensure that no one finds out about the illegal deal between Iblomov and the British government! His "rescue" of the Frenchies is clearly a bluff, allowing him to infiltrate the Doctor's group, defeat the sea monster (which would be in Iblomov's interests anyway) and then kill off any attempt to investigate further.
The Doctor suggests sneaking into the Gastroix plant and finding some evidence.
- Using his "snazzy new phone that takes brill pics like", yet the Doctor didn't use this earlier to film the drums or the monster. And given what a phone-addict Ben is, it beggars belief he doesn't have similar capabilites. Definitely in on the conspiracy, as proved as he patronizingly tells the Doctor what a good idea it is and "puts his hand on the Doctor’s shoulder". Given the Eleventh Doctor's similarity to the Second, one cannot but notice that on several occasions the villains of the piece did a similar power pat to ingratiate themselves with the Time Lord (check out Maxtible and the War Chief, and how the Doctor flinches each time...)
The Frenchies, Martha and Katie head for the front gates of the plant with placards and rotten fruit, acting as a diversion to allow the Doctor, Ben and Kyle to sneak in through the back door.
- The major plot device of The Green Death is recycled once more, to go with the evil corporation, pollution and mutated animals killing stereotyped yokels. Yet this time the Doctor has a working TARDIS, so why not use that to penetrate the complex? Or travel back in time and film the drums being dumped in the first place? Presumably Ben wants the Doctor to stay in the present where he can more easily be manipulated?
- Is this the same day? Given the fact the story began at sunset, it must be in the middle of the night by now. Or have they waited till daylight to make all the placards, gather rotten eggs and fruit but not, say, got any villagers to support them? Bizarrely their placards read “Ban GM Products” and “No to Frankenstein Chemicals”. Rather than "Stop Dumping In The Ocean!" or "Gastroix = Evil Fish Monsters"? And, given that Gastroix are notorious for opening fire on demonstrators, why are our heroes throwing eggs at security staff and cutting through the fences? The Cornish branch already kidnap and threaten to kill people - what does Martha plan to do if the guards simply shoot them? Ben even admits that the local police are in Iblomov's pocket (more proof he's in on it all).
The trio break into the plant but are immediately ambushed by Iblomov and his men.
- Who just happened to be ready and waiting for the Doctor and co. As if they'd been warned. Definite proof Ben is on Iblomov's side.
- Bizarrely, although referred to as Iblomov, he calls himself "Ivan Sergeiovich". Is this just another random Russian called Ivan, or has Iblomov got some kind of body double? A clone perhaps given his apparent fondness for genetic manipulation? Alas, it's clearly a very blatant mistake.
Taking the Doctor back outside, Iblomov orders the Doctor onto his knees and prepares to shoot him in the head...
- Yet, Kyle and Ben are not threatened in any way. What more proof do you need that they are on Iblomov's side?
- The new Doctor's decision to kneel is a very humiliating one. Compare to The Curse of Fenric. And there, at least, kneeling would have spared Ace's life. Here, the Doctor does what he's told - a marked contrast to how he behaved around Martha. Maybe if she'd had a gun when she told him to "Grow up, man" he might actually have done so...
- “Back in Russia we have a saying: ‘the death of one man is a tragedy as you’ve plenty left to shoot’!" Iblomov announces. Nope, doesn't make sense to me either.
- Sparacus teased the audience that the Doctor would either be "shot" or "survive", clearly finding it hard to believe a 900 year old alien might be able to get a non-mortal gunshot wound - though, as the author thought a simple knife could kill the Tenth Doctor, maybe he genuinely thought the Last of the Time Lords would be so vulnerable? Yet, as anyone could tell you, the newly-regenerated Doctor could easily heal a trifling bullet wound - his predecessor regrew a whole hand after all, and the Third Doctor took a bullet to the head without any longterm damage either...
- The adventure is now "classic" according to the author.
At the last second, Kyle and Ben strike and defeat Iblomov and his men.
- Presumably their divided loyalties meant they weren't willing to allow the Doctor to die (though they were prepared to lead him into a trap). Certainly they make very sure that neither Iblomov nor his men are in any state to reveal that Operation: Delta are traitors - "Kyle stamps on Iblomov’s head then kicks a henchman in the teeth while Ben punches the other one. Soon the Russians are all out cold." And unable to testify.
- The new Doctor's love of violence mirrors the portrayal of previous Doctors as he dubs the attack “Like wow that was fab!" All this from someone determined to use stun weapons on an insane mass-murdering life form?
The trio reenter the building and spot two scientists who discuss the plans for Gastroix genetically-modified products.
- The two Russians are named Boris and Nikolai (any resemblance to Boris and Natasha from Rocky and Bullwinkle is obviously unintended... we think), but it turns out their last names are "Ivanovich". Iblomov is clearly a stickler about only letting people with "Ivan" in their names work for him...
- This convenient discussion (which only occurs when there are intruders eavesdropping rather than earlier) reveals that Gastroix is shipping worldwide "GM blood" that stays fresh without refrigeration and "GM conifers" that grow 20 foot high in six months. Alas, the former will kill any recipient in years and the latter are full of "deadly nanogenes". Why?! Nikolai's description of these disastrous products as "amusing" suggests it's some kind of deliberate plan to kill prospective customers and ultimately make Gastroix directly (and publically) responsible for the deaths of millions. Why on Earth engage in such deliberate destruction? Is Gastroix being manipulated by some alien force to purge the Earth of the human race? That puts a disturbing new angle on Gastroix and Operation: Delta being in cahoots... And why aren't the staff worried that they themselves might fall foul of such blood transfusions and poisoned food?
- Nikolai claims that GM bloood is "a license to print money". Surely it would be simpler and easier to forge banknotes instead of trying to trigger worldwide extinction?
“That like settles it. Theres no way I’m allowing any of this stuff to like leave here,” the Doctor vows.
- One might this that this is the moment the post-regenerative dust settles and the True Doctor emerges to confront such selfishness and cruelity. But you'd be wrong.
Ben hastily sets off a fire alarm, and the staff flee the plant and are so disorganized that they are easily rounded up by the police and UNIT.
- Once again it's Ben that does all the thinking and work, and chooses a plan that will ensure no one asks any awkward questions, since he chooses the police - the ones that he himself declared were corrupt - to arrest Iblomov. The sudden appearance of UNIT (but not Torchwood) is odd. Why would they respond to a fire alarm? Why not something more conventional like, say, a fire engine? Has Martha's back-up finally turned up?
- It's outright stated that the entire staff of the plant are Russians. This is such a stupid idea we have to assume that it's one of Iblomov's quirks, like all the staff being called Ivan, since using locals for staff would have been cheaper and easier (local jobs, popularity with villagers, links to community, plus they speak English...)
With the matter solved, the Doctor and the others return to the Goat & Boot.
- We must assume some time has passed, since everyone is apparently well-informed about the actions being taken to deal with Gastroix.
- The Doctor's summary" “That’s the kind of ending I like. Everyone is saved., well save like for the victims of that creature." This rather assumes that the creature is a single mutant. Given how long toxic waste has been dumped and poured into the ocean, surely there are other monsters? And this is A Gastroix plant, there are other across the globe and all presumably doing the same illegal dumping - unless we're to assume that every plant had its waste transferred to Cornwall to be dumped, which would be so expensive they might as well have disposed of it properly!
- "I’ve like contacted an organisation called Doomwatch who will clear up the toxic stuff from under like the sea like,” the Doctor announces, taking the only positive action he's done in the story so far. Doom Watch was a science fiction series in the early seventies created by Gerry Davis and Kit Peddler (who rapidly disowned the series when it moved away from the gritty realism they craved), and dealt with a department of specialists who checked all British technological development for negative consequences. Often they would be kept in the dark by their own government and uncover mild conspiracies that could threaten mankind (ie, a virus used to destroy plastic, specially-bred super rats, noise from planes triggering suicidal insanity...). In the Big Finish story Minuet from Hell, the Brigadier mentions that UNIT had links to the "Doom Watch labs" which monitored terrestrial problems and wherever possible passed on the info to the professionals to deal with. However, Doom Watch (whichever version you consider "canon") certainly wouldn't hire themselves out as deep sea eco-activists - they'd be more likely to be the ones investigating in the first place. So basically sparacus has once again confused and annoyed everyone by creating a new organization and giving it a highly inappropriate name. And even if he had simply left the organisation nameless, it still feels like a cheat. There's a worldwide crisis and the Doctor decides to let someone else sort it out while he spends the story in a pub getting drunk!
- And what of Iblomov? Well, he's been arrested and being deported back to the Ukraine "where he’s wanted for several gangland murders". Really? So Iblomov is a billionaire gangland boss who also just happens to run an international chain of chemical factories? Are we supposed to believe that Gastroix's deal with Britain was primarily so Iblomov could emigrate and escape justice? Or is this just a cover story to allow Iblomov to escape Britain, and recommence work back home? Either way, the government clearly are shown to be corrupt, either willing to let Iblomov get away with his omnicidal plans to wreck the Earth for some patents, or else cheating him out of their agreement. All of which, of course, assumes that Iblomov's billions (and Operation: Delta) don't get him out of jail right away...
- Martha assures everyone that the GM stock is being "safely incinerated". Nanogenes won't get turned into lethal smoke then?
“I’d just like to say that I couldn’t have like done this yeah without you Ben and your Operation Delta dudes," the Doctor announces, "You’re steamin’.”
- Indeed. Operation: Delta have literally got away with murder, tricking the Doctor and UNIT into thinking them the good guys when they were selling out innocent people for cold hard cash. Had they not got involved, there's just a chance that the truth would have come out. The Doctor doesn't seem to suspect anything, but he does keep a close eye on Ben from this point onwards, certainly more so than the Tenth Doctor did (who only bumped into Ben by chance). Given that the Tenth Doctor was also monitoring Martha Jones following the Osterhagen incident, is the new Doctor trying to gague how far into the darkside his old companion is gone? Or has Ben simply achieved the impossible and turned the Doctor gay?
- The next story, Planet Waves, was ostensibly a sequel with the Eleventh Doctor inviting Katie, Ben and Martha aboard the TARDIS - though that story opens with them having finished off-world adventures and returning to Earth. Given the TARDIS is powered by the writer's imagination, it's a clear and depressing clue as to sparacus' mindset that when he is around the TARDIS is stuck in the ethnographic present in England where everyone acts like it's the 1970s...
Next Time: The Sisyphean Planet