Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Drafted (3)

Bringing up the rear, so to speak

The Creatures from The Pit

Well, I've decided to give the Quatermass serials another chance... coincidentally at the same time I finally get a chance to see them... and given five years and a change of lead actor, I can only hope of an improvement on the very first serial which was, quite simply, so bad it made He Jests At Scars look like Blink.

Episode One The Halfmen kicks off with vaguely creepy pretentious music and a title sequence of mud being washed a wall to reveal Quatermass and The Pit scratched into a wall. I have to say I found the Vincent Twice Vincent Twice Mystery Theatre opening credits creepier in Sesame Street (a stormy graveyard where a grieving widow stands over a tombstone built over Vincent Twice's bachelor pad where introduces The Postman Only Knocks Once and somesuch), but it's an improvement on the original. But it's not Sesame Street but Hobbs Lane... presumably just off Calvin Parade... where our story starts. Already however, the cracks start to show as two signs, one on top of the other, can't work out how to spell the lane's name - is it Hobbs or Hob's? Hmm? ANSWER ME THAT?!

Hobbs/Hob's Lane is where there's a construction site for building a block of flats, and all shot on location which makes it look less cheap and pathetic than the original serial, and the blue-collar workers' lack of dialogue can only improve their reputation. This doesn't stay long, though, as after a few minutes of watching them work, they find a strange alien skull and immediately the IQ points drop as the foreman spends ages shouting "EVERYONE COME AND LOOK AT THIS!" and then ice ages come and go as we see the skull before someone notes, get this, IT'S A SKULL! And it's been BASHED IN! (It was dug out of the ground by an earth mover for crying out loud, what do you think it was going to look like?) An intelligent black dude quickly asks the first pertinent question of the day: is this a murder victim. The foreman, now so moronic he sounds like he's had a stroke, manages to drawl that the skull is fossilized. Which, brace yourself, means it was down there for a long time!

"Coz it's real old, innit?" justifies this subhuman goon as the Gaffer arrives to find out why everyone's stopped work for no apparent reason. The braindead foreman appears to be the cause of all these problems, and given it's 1958, I doubt the construction site is run by equal opportunity employers. Sack him and replace him with the black guy who can act and we'll all be happier.

Bloody hell! They actually did!

Brain Donor decides to call the authorities in the strange belief they'll get paid loads and loads of dosh for the archaeological importance... of course, if they had, say, found some Anglo-Saxon burial site, the archaelogists would come down like the Blitzkrieg and not allow the building to continue. So basically the foreman's get-rich-quick scheme will end with them all out of jobs. Brilliant. The black guy meanwhile, proves his intelligence, by finding all the missing bits of the skull while his comic relief companion Old Man Steptoe babbles that he doesn't like where events seem to be going. Hah, wait till pop music strikes!

"APEMAN AT KNIGHTSBRIDE" screams the headline of The Star, quite behind the times as The Evening News already has "FURTHER DISCOVERIES AT KNIGHTSBRIDGE" and The Evening Standard goes with "KNIGHTSBRIDGE APEMAN - MORE FINDS" and The Evening Gazette trumps the lot with "THREE MORE BODIES SAY SCIENTISTS"... though they could be talking about bloody anything with a headline like that. Meantime, at the Nicklin Institute of Research into Natural History (or "Museum" as I refer to it), a bunch of journalists are gathering for a press conference - and tagging along is some geriatric who finds it baffling that an unprecedented archaeological find might, heaven forbid, make the newspapers. This twat is from Paleontologists, a prestigious scientific journal only clever people know about, and the hardbitten journos try not to laugh at this loser as he drones on about how he's really quite famous.

A Canadian Paul Eddington lookalike gets down to business - he's worked out what I did right away, that the builders aren't going to hang around waiting for Time Team to unconver the goods and want to get back to work. Apparently, this bleedingly obvious development was "confidential", but the cat's out of the bag now... assuming it was ever IN the bag. He then goes on at length about his unproven beliefs: that the bones are really old, that they are human ancestors, that the species existed around four million years ago. The geriatic mumbles something about that being a bit longer than previous theories suspected, but this is the Canadian's "personal conviction based on what I know so far". Um. Sure.

The Canadian's cute assistant has done a full Meet the Ancestors on the skeleton and created a model of a diminute bald humanoid with big ears and the face of a monkey. This makes the front page of The Evening Gazette while Old Mister Kimber from Terror of the Vervoids (or Smug Middle-Aged Kimber as he was back then) points out that printing wild theories with no proof isn't a good long-term strategy when it comes to journalism. But the Canadian wanted this to happen to get public support for the archaeologists to help convince the builders to quit, while he drowns his sorrows at a club. There he bumps into his old pal Quatermass (god damn, do you know how difficult it is to type that? From now on he's the Q-Man).

Idly the two discuss the Canadian's sudden evolution into being a media whore, and how the Q-Man's Rocket Group is now taking a more militaristic career path (well, it should be less dangerous than providing passing sky-jellyfish with the opportunity to consume all life on Earth...), before the Canadian tricks Q-Man into paying for all the drinks and sandwiches. Full fist, Canadian dude with no apparent name, full fist!

After lunch, another geriatric (this time a woman with truly horrible teeth) is interviewing a bunch of gormless pensioners and gum-chewing brain-dead 1958 chavs, all of whom are quite happy for the "monkey bones" to dug up at the cost of the new housing estate. Furious, bad tooth woman tells them none of their opinions matter and rushes off to pester the Canadian. Q-Man flees before he can be pestered and goes to the War Office. As is annoyingly obvious, most of the cast in the Quatermass Serials are over 50, and thus we get a disturbing scene where the middle-aged Q-Man is the youngest chap in the room, surrounded by OAPs in military uniforms. Q-Man is making a stink about the policy of the formally-peaceful BRG, as "we are men, not mechanical computers!". The top brass tell Q-Man to stop acting like a fucking five year old and get with the program - they are, seemingly, less than a decade away from colonizing the Moon and Mars (course we were) in a "Space Race" to set up weapons of mass destruction on other planets and allow the country who owns them to RULE THE WORLD!!! You see, if say America invaded say Iraq, the British Lunar Missile Base would nuke them both in what has been dubbed "the Dead Man's deterrent" and thus enforcing world peace.

Q-Man is unimpressed with this idea, as it relies pretty much on the interplanetary missiles actually hitting their target, something that couldn't be guaranteed at all and the risk of blowing themselves up along with everyone else is worryingly high. The top brass aren't fussed as at least the English won't be seen as aggressors afterwards... just a particularly posh bunch of radioactive mutants, presumably. Indeed, the idea that "attack Britain and the human race gets it" is popular with most of the military (none of whom look like they'll be alive to see ANY moon landings, let alone the genuine one in eleven years time) and decide to call it "the Sword of Damoclese", and not remotely interested with all that piffle about discovering strange and alien civilizations splitting infinites where no man has split them before. Q-Man does a big speech on this which bores everyone present utterly rigid at "such naive views" - is the Q-Man going Conshie?!?!? No wonder the top brass, represented by the balding psycho Colonel Breen (seemingly played by a time travelling Mark Gatiss) to run the day-to-day stuff of the BRG (I always think of that Monty Python skit: "BREEN?!? Where do you expect me to get BREEN, you stupid eskimos?!" "We are NOT eskimos!" heheh).

Anyway, apparently the world is on the brink of destruction with terrorism, riots, etc. Of course, we just hear about this on the radio, the same radio telling us that all the nations of the world are negotiating nuclear disarmament. So at least they're talking. Yeah, this, coupled with all the ordinary folk and their cheap cheerfulness, does not suggest imminent Threads-style apocalypse. In fact, it all looks naive, compared to the world we live in where space travel is all but abandoned, there is a global war against an undefined enemy and incurable plagues ravage the planet as it starts to cook from global warming. Hah? End of the world, Mr Kneale, YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE END OF THE WORLD!!!!

At the dig, it seems there may be more bodies when one of the archaeologists (who seems to be trying not to get any dirt of any kind on her clothes or skin) starts to freak out to the sound of wailing violins in the way only a 60-year-old Welsh woman can, upon uncovering what seems to be a very large artificial pipe. However, Barbara (prototype companion) says it could be an unexploded bomb! Of course! Bloody Nazi Luftwaffe, burrying their explosive underneath soil four million years old without damaging the skeletons above! The cunning Hun! It's a bit like the Goodies and their belief that beneath the Paeolithic Age is the Neolithic Age and beneath that is the Picadilly Line...

The Canadian is concerned. Not about the impossibility of the bomb, but the fact the sheer idea of it has caused all his non-speaking redshirt extras to stop work, the bloody unionists! Barbara calls the police, the police call the bomb disposal squad, the bomb disposal squad stand around sucking their teeth rather uselessly - if it's a bomb, why isn't it made of steel? Why isn't it ticking? Why are there Dalek Bumps on it? Where is the corrosion you'd get after ten years underground? Why is it so large? Where is the hole it would have made to get there? Why is this scene showing the construction site as a generally huge place but the dig occured in a tiny square smaller than my living room and they're supposed to be the same place!

The BDS start hosing down the "bomb" as their Brigadier-esque commander tells the Canadian to shut the hell up about him being a young whippersnapper (not even 55!) and let them get on with the job, undermined somewhat by the idiotic underlings who wonder how long they have to hose the object. Until it's not buried in mud, you retard! Furious, the Canadian decides to get the Q-Man to get rid of the BDS who are eating into the time he has to excavate the site... hmmm, almost Chathamesque...

Finally, Quatermass notices the paradox of a 20th century bomb next to a 5-million-year-old skull and, in utter shock, the episode ends, revealing amongst other things that one of those young, stupid, untrustworthy journoes will, in six years time be old enough to portray Marco Polo in Doctor Who and leaves us with the question of - what the hell are the Halfmen of the title? Some forgotten slang term for the missing link? Or a description of the yokel construction site workers in the first scene?

The next episode, The Ghosts, kicks off with a narrated catch up that makes me realize just how much of the previous installment was irritating padding. Colonel BREEN!! can't wrap his brain about the capsule's paradoxical nature, Quatermass decides its safe to excavate and even though the parish records say no bombs dropped on the area, luckily there are a couple of VERY old pensioners squatting in the building opposite who can be interrogated for local knowledge. This does beg the question of when this story is set, since it appears that only REALLY old people would remember the War (mind you, it's hinted to be circa 1957). Anyway, they confirm there were no big strange bombs during either world war, and the conversation turns to an unseen house that has been in a state of disrepair since 1928 and no one lives in it since it's reputed to be haunted.

Back at the "bomb", a big circular hole is found in the surface and the BDS use their mighty skills to scoop mud out of the hole... and find another (this time intact) ape-man skeleton inside the bomb, a start which scares the crap out of everyone. BREEN is convinced some wierd underwater pressure stuff sucked the skeleton into the rocket rather than the creature was always inside the "bomb". But, as the Q-Man patiently waits for everyone else to mentally catch up, if the skeleton was outside the thing when it landed, WHY is it in such good nick? And why is the whole area around the "missile" mildly radioactive?

Everyone decides to call it a night, bar the Q-Man who decides to break into the haunted house and mope around the place while a handy expositional copper chats about the history of ghost sightings. Due credit, there's a real atmos to this - the darkness, the quiet, the echoing voices, the performance of the copper as he moves through boredom, nostalgia, confusion and then fear as he remembers the history of the place. He's certainly not comforted when Q-Man notices some strange scratches on a high wall, like something tried to rip its wall out. Was it kids? Something else? And just how long have the scratches been there? And were our chatting couple actually alone in that house? Spooky stuff, no mistake, but over too quickly to be genuinely terrifying - I know a Bill episode that did more with the same recipe.

Meanwhile, the old couple have moved in with their pal, a big lady who reads tea leaves and sees the future (but not very well, as she can't tell who's at the front door before she opens it), Q-Man drops by to chat about the history of the haunted house. It was full of strange tapping, knocking or someone or something in the walls and floors trying to get in, objects moving around seemingly on their own and niether police nor priest could stop the strange nauseating sensation anyone who was in the house experienced. The disaster that ruined the house occured when someone finally saw something, moving through the walls... all of which, curiously coincided with some construction work at the time digging up Hobbs/Hob's Lane.

Q-Man gets bored and wanders off and chats with the Canadian who reveals that in his spare time he is trying to build a machine that records brainwaves and visualizes thoughts - a practice that the Third Doctor was into before he died and the Fourth just found tedious and could do it himself with some jump-leads and a severed eyeball.

The Canadian reveals that he doesn't actually know WHEN the skeletons and bomb were buried, he's basing his entirely dating on where the ape-things would have fitted into history - he's now caught up with Q-Man's amazing brain and pooh-poohs the idea that the apes were aliens in a spaceship. Why this is so ridiculous when he's chatting to a bloke who has publically defeated two alien invasions isn't gone into, but it's a dodgy, near-Torchwood-esque moment. Meanwhile, BREEN has taken the iniative and torn up the dig site to get at the "missile" proper, no doubt destroying all the priceless archaeology in the process, but Q-Man is more annoyed he's been told of this after the fact! BREEN, not being the sharpest scalpel in the patient, deems the fact the radiation is clearly artificial in origin "irrelevent", since if there was some nuclear reaction within the "missile" it would have been lethal. Unless, say, it was five million years old and past its half-life?

The ceramic "missile" has been unearthed and the soldiers are scooping all the mud and bones out of the airlock, and Q-Man realizes that while the hull has survived billennia, numerous pipes, pumps and fins have corroded out of existence, leaving just the "skeleton" of the ship. Speaking of skeleton, the Canadian is mighty pissed off that the fourth apeman in the ship has been smashed to pieces in the excavation. The BDS now find that the hull is seemingly hollow and empty, bar a sealed off section marked with some swirly Gallifrey-type symbol the Canadian instantly identifies as a black magic thingamajig. Instantly random soldier grunt screams like a girl, claiming he saw a figure inside the capsule walk through the wall. that it?! No hellfire, no screaming, no hostility, just a shape moving through the wall? Nowadays anyone in that situation would most likely go "cool!"

...The Pit ain't that bad, as long as you can sit through six hours of Nigel Kneale screaming "ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING HAPPENS BECAUSE OF ALIENS!!". What an imaginative bloke he was...n't.

Meanwhile, Lucie Miller's departure in Death in Blackpool inspired me into this "Where are they now?" thingamajig, presumably why RTD went out of his way to revise almost every single one...

Unhappy Endings (...fuck spoilers...)
(I gave up because it got too damn depressing...)

Well, Charley Pollard's finally gone... and also forgotten... and Lucie's swansong has yet to be released, and it looks like Hex is on the way out. BF have seemingly got rid of every single companion now, meaning we're getting worthly replacements like some dude called Alex, the return of Jamie and the return of Klein (yes - even the Official Big Finish Guide took the piss out of that idea ten years ago...)

So it's just got me thinking: have BF ever given anyone a happy ending? And then I thought again, have ANYONE ever given anyone a happy ending?

Despite getting a departure scene that almost redeems the previous six episodes of underworked crap, Susan did not fare well - despite a vague presence in The Five Doctors, she suffered the humiliation of having John Peel revise her destiny. The poor child. Yes, it turns out that, being a Time Lord, Susan is destined to remain looking jailbait for the next three hundred years, forcing her to dress up as a Little Britain character so as no one on post-Dalek Earth suspects the truth. She doesn't just have to deal with her randy septugenarian husband, no... (we also find out that Time Lords and humans cannot interbreed, oh no sir, and that Susan's three kids from The Five Doctors novelization were adopted. Fair enough, but we find out they were called Ian, Barbara and David Jr. Just think about that: either Susan shopped around for orphans with those names, or else changed their names deliberately. Either way, it doesn't say much about her imagination). At the end of the story, where she's been locked in a cell for 200 pages, she ineffectually watches as the Delgado Master gives her hubby and the Eighth Doctor instant lead transfusions. Deciding her men are dead (she's half-right), Susan uses a tissue compression eliminator and the Master's TARDIS telepathic circuits to fry the Bearded One's brains and turn him into a walking corpse, then steals said TARDIS and flies off in suicidal despair. The Eighth Doctor considers trying to follow her, but decides instead that Sam Jones of all people is more important. I bet he was kicking himself when, upon finding Sam, she ran away and left him to die. She was declared dead in the Time War on several occasions.


Absolutely everyone agrees they got hitched the moment they were home (well, bar one very strange individual who wrote Whatever Happened to Susan Foreman? - The Kingmaker of its day when it came to companion canonicity, but a lot easier to stomach than Legacy of the Daleks) and most agree they gave rise to a son, Johnny Chess, who shagged Tegan Jovanka and then turned into the next Sid Vicious. But according to BF, Barbara soon died from some wierd alien cancer, leaving Ian alone to potter around a library and introduce missing episodes to people. Still, could have been worse for old Chatterbean - he could have been in Mawdryn Undead. By which we could have seen him on TV as a traumatized, paranoid amnesiac loser with no life whatsoever. Admittedly, in a brilliant story, but heartbreaking nonetheless.

The true template for female companions, she bizarrely never actually got an exit scene, and decided to live in a barbarous, warlike and dusty world for the sake of a bloke she'd just met (though, all the surviving footage shows she had the 1960s Who equivalent of full frontal sex with him, so no one was surprised). BF have since said that Vicki and her Trojan buddies were sent from Asia Minor to Europe by the Eighth Doctor after he lost a drinking competition, but the latest Companion Chronicle is determined to show Vicki as suicidally depressed and regretting every second. Because that's how we really WANT to remember her, isn't it?

The revolving door of production teams and cast sadly meant the planned sequel to The Savages was never made, and the Doctor never returned to that planet to find out Steven had become an Oswald Mosely like dictator. Actually, come to think of it, I can't remember anyone saying what DID happen to him? I can only think of a very strange short story where it turns out he was living on Mondas or something... I tried checking out Mother Russia, but it seems to be a missing adventure or something about Steven getting interrogated by a freaky identity-stealing nutter. Or something. No idea.


Yep. Still dead, but apparently she got upgraded from Hell.

The very same, but it seems there was a clone of her on ice for Terry Nation's spin-off series. The clone's a pretty crap one, though: she blubbers, complains about feminism, sprains her ankle and in the first episode becomes the Black Dalek's bitch. But she apparently has the strength of ten men and a brother called David. The more I hear, the better she was off dead. Oh, and a telepathic copy of her mind is haunting a 20th century hotel somewhere, apparently.

Unique, my friends, in having only one tale of what happened to her after she left. No comic strips, audios or anything like that and she was never mentioned in the TV show again. It turns out that she deliberately caught an STD as a momento (yes, that is really what she did) then had a complete nervous breakdown and forgot about all her adventures, shacked up with a conspiracy freak, got pregnant by him and then used as target practise by the Master. For a laugh. That whacky guy!

Abandoned on a whim at the Hogwarts' style Galactic University of Zebadee, it appears that John majored in space science and became a Professor, dated the clone of Sara Kingdom and bored everyone about the Trods. Some say that Gillian shacked up with a Trod herself. In any case, it turned out that the pair of them were nothing but a drunken hallucination by the Eighth Doctor after a dodgy cheese sandwich.

The obviously-shagging couple seem to break up at one point, but as this seems to occur in a timeline when all their adventures never actually happened, I dunno how to roll with it. Polly has to compete with Tegan at a job interview, though, I remember that, and she now twitters regularly with the Brigadier.

Hoo-boy. Well, the basic Season 6B theory says he gets his memory back, travels with the Doctor and then settles down with Victoria somewhere and lives happily ever after. The World Shapers says he got his memory back all right, as it was never erased and he lived a long, miserable life in Scotland as a lonely hermit who, the moment he got to travel with the Doctor again, committed suicide and also created the Cybermen in one move. Cause Christ knows its how we wanted him to die, isn't it? BF seems to have a long term plan for this dude - it appears his memory was partially restored after he got struck by lightening, and then the CIA gave him his mind back as a reward for something, but Jamie decided to stay ignorant as he'd never be able to enjoy his lifestyle of sheep-farming and wife-shagging if he knew what he was missing and had his mind wiped permanently, by choice. A nicer ending than it sounds. If it is the end...

BF say she lived happily and well-adjusted ever after. Which is nice of them, especially as Downtime pained her as a manic-depressive suicidal spinster who wasted every penny she had helping the Great Intelligence take over the world because she thought it was her dad or something (she must have gotten confused about the actor and the character he was playing...). At the end she disappears like some sort of ghost and no one bothers to look for her. In the book it turns out she found the whole business cathartic and was regularly pestered by different incarnations of the Doctor if she wanted to travel again (presumably what with her repeatedly attempting to destroy the world when left to her own devices).

Sad ending? You betcha! It turns out her funky memory was too clever for the Time Lords and she remembered her adventures as a strange LSD nightmare, in particular her encounter with Nicholas Briggs which understandably required therapy. But the Time Lords decided to send the exiled Third Doctor to meet her so the shock of seeing him and the TARDIS would finally wipe her mind (reinforcing the mental blocks or something). The Doctor was clever enough to avoid it, but didn't take into account the fact she was working for David Brent of The Office who, convinced the Doctor would "poach" the best worker, tricked them into meeting. Zoe's mind was wiped forever and she remained in crappy admin jobs for the rest of her life. And despite knowing this, Brent was totally happy at the ending. Fuckwit.

Well, with health problems meaning we'll never get the planned Tenth Doc/Brig TV story in The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith, maybe his future really IS as the books say, when he gets a terminal disease, regenerates, outlives his wife, becomes suicidal and then abandons reality altogether to shag Boudecia in the Land of Dreams forever. Mind you, given the amount of times the TV series tried to kill him off in the Fourth Doctor era, maybe we should be happy he didn't suffer worse...

Went crazy in the mid 70s and got his ass kicked by Nick Briggs while hallucinating that his parents and baby brother were trying to kill him. Left the army in shame, became a car dealer, and played the straight man in several Sixth Doctor stories. In comparison, the way he is apparently killed at the end of The Android Invasion is a far more dignified way to bow out.

After flirting with Bhuddism, homosexuality, and performing kidney operations on himself for fun and profit, it turns out that Mike suffered a hideous brain disease that turned him into Ben Chatham and wandered around the place endlessly bitching. Was last seen being used as canon fodder by the Fourth Doctor, who understandably didn't want to risk the life of a companion he actually liked.

Dude, take your pick. Did she become a pipe-smoking, wise-cracking lesbian crime fighter working from an organization that made Black Books look like the Torchwood institute? Did she fall in love with a Silurian and then die from a horrible disease? Actually, I read Eternity Weeps, I don't remember her dying, I remember her writhing in agony and begging for a bullet in the head, but not actually dying... In comparison, Charles Daniels' idea she was turned into a doll by Roger Delgado is a witty and dignified end, really.

Universally decided as having split from her hippy husband, she has a son called Matthew apparently. But she didn't die horribly, despite the fact she did for six pages in Sometime Never, and the Companion Chronicles say she actually didn't split up with Cliff at all but become a famous blogging celebrity wife of the poor man's David Suzuki! Isn't that nice to know?

Who? Exactly. Never mentioned outside of the three TV Comic stories he was in, Arnold was a freckled young boy from a post-apocalypse Earth run by a cult of psychically-powered Children of the Evil Eye and got returned there shortly after he left - in every sense. Let's all just say his last name was Rimmer.

Jesus Christ, how long have we got? Well, apparently she was going to overcome her spinster existence, inspire Sam Jones, get married then die without issue because the Doctor's broad spectrum antiobotic make her sterile or something. But that could all be down to Faction Paradox. BF said that Miss Winters destroyed Sarah's entire life and turned her K9 into a dictaphone, but then it turned out that Sarah was actually the messiah of a Cult of Mandragora which split into factions run by Servalan and Travis respectively (no, I'm serious) and after losing all her friends was last seen in a crippled spaceshuttle freezing to death, surrounded by corpses when a wierd comet hit said space shuttle and destroyed it completely. So she's dead. The TV series has, it must be said, taken a far more optimistic view of her life, simply by making sure all the bits we never saw were the most tragic and heartbreaking things ever.

After nearly getting himself killed by jumping off the Eiffel Tower (I say nearly, Ian Marter who wrote Harry Sullivan's War wanted Harry to die and was forced to give a confusing prologue where maybe he survived), Harry is apparently alive and well and working with the Silurians in 2004 England. Of course, that was before the new series began. According to Sarah's audios, Harry vanished mysteriously one day without trace and his brother Will "Duggan from City of Death" Sullivan was actually an insane suicidal cultist. Who is also dead.

Considering that in her first scene we saw Leela lose her father, boyfriend and her entire tribe, it wasn't surprising this girl was going to have a harsh life. Despite hanging around on Gallifrey and becoming immortal from all the Zen chi energy or something, she did not - as Marc Platt wants you to believe - end up breaking the sterility curse from Pythia and giving birth to the baby Doctor... or Other... actually, how WOULD that work? Anyway, it turns out Andred dumped her when he regenerated into a total bastard, then came crawling back, but was ripped up by the ghost of the First Romana before they could get together. Leela cheered herself up when Gallifrey was plunged into civil war, giving her something fun to do for once, but unfortunately got her brain fried which meant she was blind forever. And then her K9 got blown to scrap. Which made her totally suicidal until it turned out that the Time Lords had declared war on the Daleks. This was certainly an upturn in her fortunes as, during the Time War, she managed to get her eyesight back and escape the battle before everyone was nuked. Unfortunately, away from Gallifrey caused her to start ageing rapidly, and the last we see of her she's being tortured to death by some random aliens. And unsurprisingly she can't wait to be dead. Nice.

His life as a trouble-shooting Time Agent with his personal spaceship are well documented. Although seemingly blown up in a terrorist attack while trying to save civilians, it actually transpires that he wasn't and instead was somehow flung through time and space into an alley where he met some pesky kids and promptly regenerated into a flying CGI cuddly toy. A fate worse than death?

At some point he managed to sort out that business about him being unable to live in N-Space and got sick of being a magistrate of the new Tharil Empire. Not sure how that worked, to tell you the truth, as his return (and indeed Romana's) happened in books that aren't canon. Either way, he enjoyed life on Gallifrey with his inbred half-brother K9 Mark I, but ultimately decided to become evil and join the badguys until the evil empire fell and he teamed up with Braxiatel to orchestrate the destruction of the Time Lords. Was last seen narrowly surviving a homage of the last episode of Blake's 7 only to fall for a homage of the last episode of Sapphire & Steel and get trapped outside time and space with no way out. If he somehow survived that AND the Time War then he apparently ended up in 1980s London and was ripped apart in a street market for spare parts, but managed to download his mind onto CDs kept by a young horror fan. Maybe.

Built for some unaccountable reason, it seems all that 1980s computer chips in him were actually incompatible with human technology and some time in the 1990s broke down for good. Was it Miss Winters? A brainwashed Sarah Jane herself? Either way, the Doctor took five minutes with a sonic screwdriver to fix him and less than 24 hours to blow the little sod up in a huge explosion. It's a bit confused whether he is, as he claims, simply rebuilt or if, as SJ assumes, the Doctor just palmed her off with K9 Mk IV. Either way, he's still not very lucky, as he was sucked into a black hole shortly afterwards and, despite his new self-willed teleport powers, seems to rather like it...

Nothing much, as she's presumably still shacked up with Big Vernon on Unicepter Beta trying to revive the television industry - though I've seen some disturbing web comics about what she gets up to involving Klepton parasites, underwear parties and Nicholas (Knickerless?) Briggs. We do know, however, that her gambling-addicted dad remains ignorant of her fate to this very day. And no one else in Blackcastle cares.

The girl's done it tough. Twenty years in a Dalek gulag left her anorexic, paranoid, ruthless and generally not fun, and she didn't improve after she exiled the Doctor to another universe. Increasingly insular, cynical and hurt, she had to suffer the Dalek's subcontracting a terrorist movement, Inquisitor Darkel, and an ancient evil Gallifreyan who took over her past self. Out of the three, Darkel was the worst and at the end of it we saw Gallifrey in ruins, all the TARDISes knackered, the Time Lords turned into George A Romero zombies, the other temporal powers crippled but after blood, the Daleks ready for a fight and the dying Romana stuck in a tomb on another world with no way back. According to RTD, she somehow got out to wage the Time War, and is now presumably dead. Unless she buggered off back to E-Space. Either way, it sucks.

Wow, just when you think it can't get any worse for Maths Boy it turns out he survived the explosion by screwing up his eyes and chanting numbers over and over again. In this fashion he conquered prehistoric Earth, colonized it with Cybermen-eating Scorpion folk, and played with giant spiders for 500 years before trying to rape the first female he met. Nevertheless, after half an hour he chanted some numbers to fix absolutely everything, went completely mad, and then dropped dead and was buried in a pauper's grave in Victorian England. The Doctor clearly didn't bother to remember this and niether should anyone else.

Bugger me! A happy ending! Yes, she didn't die of radiation poisoning or get raped and killed by the Vanir, but instead cured all the diseases, found herself a nice bloke, had a baby and built a funky dream machine. Decided, Thomas Cookson-style, to stop watching after The Caves of Androzani. Some say she became a bitter spinster for the purposes of a single BBC book, but who cares about them?

Despite running off into London docklands dressed as a hooker with no money, passport and two years after she vanished in Amsterdam, Tegan somehow managed to get home - some say she had a complete nervous breakdown and lost her mind, but the same people say the Eighth Doctor is a ginger-haired git called Merlin. From there she and her mum set up a compost and fertilizer distribution company in Brisbane and Tegan became reasonably rich and powerful, but alas it turns out the reason she's such a bitch is her inoperable brain tumor. She drives away the one French git willing to put out for her, and ultimately decides to let her tumor kill her rather than have the Doctor help her out. Fine, fuck you then, bitch...

According to the magnum opus Turlough and the EarthLink Dilemma, Turlough tries to build his own time machine only to cause a chain reaction of time paradoxes that leave his entire civilization destroyed, his girlfriend dead and with the mind of Margaret Thatcher taking over his body. As a favor, the Time Lords steal his funky new time machine and change history so Turlough never actually created it, and the Turlough that did is put into a parallel universe to live happily ever after. Basically. Ahem.

Well, we know now that she had absolutely no one left on 1980s Earth. In Her Final Flight we discover she dumped Yrcanos, hitchhiked the galaxy, then died of a horrible plague that was all the Doctor's fault. Actually, it's all a dream, but it says a lot that the Doctor only finds Peri convincing because of her horrible fate. One of the NAs has her travel back in time to 1950s Earth, beat the shit out of the Seventh Doctor, then wander off. For some reason. Maybe they needed the page count. Colin Baker's not-quite-canonical The Age of Chaos says she DID survive, DID marry Yrcanos but her whole family died horribly. Again. And she then teamed up with the Doctor and Frobisher again. Or something.

A female Pharoah with dark skin, no hair and a lust for violence. Arguably the most interesting companion on paper, but given the most cliched of exits - she randomly marries a guy she's only just met on some alien planet. Frankly, her repeated suicide attempts would have been a better way to go. Or at least her attempts to become the Bride of Dracula. It says a lot that the Doctor and Peri immediately forget all about her. OK, there was a midewipe involved, but come on...

Turns out he married his third wife Caralla (a humanoid bird woman) and opened a bar called Bish's. Transforming into Tony Soprano, the Whifferdill made his bar a haven on the simple rule that anyone who started a fight would have to finish it with Bish himself outside. He lived happily ever after, thus, and never twigged one of his more interesting customers was actually the Doctor and he never twigged "Bish's" true identity.

One morning she just decides to marry a guy she flirted with once, which ultimately proves to be a mistake as she immediately becomes a wicked stepmother thanks to some random nutter injecting werewolf DNA into her head. And then the Seventh Doctor cures her. Mainly to prove a point. And she presumably lives happily ever after. Albeit briefly what with her heart condition and galloping senility.

Interestingly, BF haven't touched her post-Doctor life, but apparently she became a hideously disillusioned, bitter old ratbag, moved to another planet and tried to clone herself rather than go through the menopause and ended up stabbed in a back alleyway somewhere. Unless she wasn't. Like the way Sarah got her head blown off her shoulders but wasn't. And there's that short story where an asteroid hits the Nosferatu II, kills Glitz and throws Mel into a black hole before she can call for help...

Dead as far as everyone knows. Well, the psychotic serial killing bigamist got a fair trial, so she was bound to lose...

i) was sent by the Doctor to join the Time Lords of Gallifrey and screw up their society
ii) wandered off one day
iii) quit because her boyfriend was a zombie and the Doctor killed him
iv) quit yet again because she wanted to ride a time-travelling bicycle
v) became an aristo fop married to the ancestor of a bloke she fancied
vi) died in a nitro-9 explosion involving a giant flea
vii) died from being shot through the head by Jimmy Dean
viii) all the above, but none of it happened or something

Last seen dying from blood loss en route to his old hospital.
(Ed Note: heh, not so funny nowadays. But he made it all right.)

Used as toys by Davros, one went crazy and the other turned the human race into calamri by a disease and both became suicidal. Finally Samson got his head back together, but C'Rizz snapped Gemma's neck. For some reason. Maybe all the "you've pulled, Lizard Boy"s were freaking him out.

And up next

The K9 Exploitation
(Abandoned because... well... that first episode is really REALLY bad. They do get a lot better though.)

I've been here too long
Do I have to change
Into what it takes
To make it
Number One?

With the Human Nature parody finally finished, a quick journey into my mind to review the latest spin-off of Doctor Who that never was and where better than with K9? After that disastrous one-night-stand in 1981, K9's attempts to spin off from his origin have... failed mighteously. Those Sparrow picture books about K9 aren't bad but they didn't set the world on fire, even if he got his own space ship, became an intergalactic badass trouble shooter and bitchslapped Omega back into the void. The less said about the K9 and Company Annual, the better (though to be fair, they weren't exactly given a good starting point, were they?). His own TV show has been locked in production hell since 1998 - even Doctor Who managed a better balance than that!

And when K9 finally exploded back into our lives in 2006's School Reunion, it seemed the show would finally stand a chance. And yet the years passed and all we got was a rubbish poster and a vague suggestion it would revolve around a completely different robot dog of the same the name who lived with the alien space equivalent of Steptoe & Son (did I mention I loathe that show with a passion boardering on the evangelical). Not only has Doctor Who returned while this show's been on the drawing board, K9 made another appearance in it and then became a regular in a Sarah Jane spin off. Again. Not so crap this time, but it seems that Kyle Sandilands has more chance of joining the Samaritans than this show actually getting completed...

...what's that? They finally finished the first episode? A few days before Tennant is gone for good?


I think my dreams were slightly more credible in retrospect.

Oh well. Let's see what it's like.

Now, if you happened to listen to the Gallifrey series (AKA, How the Time Lords Ended Up So Pissweak The Daleks Could Take Them On And Win), you would know that K9 mark I was last seen trapped in the Time Lord equivalent of an airport when a bomb planted either by a Dalek agent or the Inquisitor was blown up, slaughtered thousands of innocent alien students and bystanders. When the door was opened, there was nothing left, not even a bit of K9. Was the tin dog dead?

Apparently this show reveals the answer was "no".

After a very brief and rather pissweak title sequence (basically the logo with a silly sound effect), with two MIBs wandering around a strange location that looks like a cross between Paradise Towers and Dickensian London. The MIBs have a suitcase to deliver to Professor Gryffen, a bloke who answers his gothic front door wearing a crash helmet with a torch attached. Gryff assumes the suitcase is from the Fallen Angel, and whatever it is leaves him salivating like Nigel Verkoff watching that episode of Dead Ringers with India Fisher dancing in her knickers. The MIBs want Gryff to review the contents for "the Department", only to get the door slammed in their face.

It's night over London and huge holograms of children and giant robots with the slogan "PROTECTION" float between the sky-scrapers and down the Thames. A spotty youth vaguely resembling a young Jonathon Creek mucks about with a junction box by the river corrupts the nearest hologram to read "NOBODY THINKS AND NOBODY GETS HURT - A MESSAGE FROM STARK REALITY", which impresses the cute Hermione-esque girl who's been stalking him of late and enjoys his fighting of the machine mentality. Alas, Georgie (the girl) knows the real identity of this anarchist geek (herafter referred to as Starky), which cuts him down to size. But this underage flirting must be put to one side as some jerky "robo-fuzz" approach, marching forward to arrest these young vandals with a speed Grandpa Simpson could easily beat.

Starky and Georgie flee through the rat's maze of streets chased by these slow-moving Cybermen substitutes, and I wonder for a moment if this is somehow adapted from that "Doctor Who's Childhood on Gallifrey" series the BBC wanted from RTD - till he laughed in their faces and told them to piss off, anyway. Starky has more than a whiff of fanvid Doctor about him, especially when he flees through blue doors marked "POLICE" and wields his own sonic screwdriver. Anyway, the two kids find their way into Gryff's swinging bachelor pad, which resembles a cross between Gabriel Chase and the Powerhouse Museum.

Gryff, still wearing that funky helmet, is sliding glass rods into some machine which is wired to another machine that fires swirly CGI at the occult-looking marking on the floor in a way that can only open gateways to hell dimensions. I mean, you'll never see anyone try something like that trying to cook some sausages, would you? Oh no, go and tamper with the order of creation. As the kids watch, the prof adjust the "chronospatial coordinates" and masters a kind of creepy David Tennant impression as he realizes he now has control of space and time and immediately summons via more CGI his wife and children.

Dubbing this "too freaky", Starky decides to leg it, and manages to unplug the Fallen Angel Time Shagger mechanism, somewhat giving away he and his girlfriend's trespass. Helpfully plugging it back in, Starky fails to return Gryff's family, but instead get the Ninja Turtles. And not the nice, pizza-eating, cowabunga Ninja Turtles, we're talking the scary-looking Soul's Winter elemental screaming Gamera monster Ninja Turtles. Showing how distant a time period we are in, there is no "aliens aren't real" bollocks and indeed Georgie tries to establish if these are aliens anyone knows about. Well, they ain't no Chelonians, that's fer sure.

Despite looking a bit... Power Rangery... the monsters are deeply freaky thanks to the Babylon Five trick of "make your unconvincing monster blurred and shimmer out of phase with reality" which worked so well with the Drakh that made an unconvincing Grim Reaper costume six million times scarier than the ones in Crusade.
Anyway, a quick chase begins and ends with Starky being the one to trip and sprain his ankle, and the Ninja Turtles respond to his hand of friendship by sneezing acid onto him. All looks lost when K9 appears out of the vortex, confused as hell and wondering what the fuck just happened. Diving... well, rolling... into the fray, he zaps the Ninja Turtles in a scene that, frankly, I might once have written in 1990 (I remember the Doctor getting Leonardo to impress the Brigadier with his sword play one time). The humans flee but only get to the front door as Gryff is agraphobic and refuses to leave the house.

Realizing that the Ninja Turtles aren't gonna take crap like Nimon, Mandrels or Kraags, K9 screams "YIPPIE-KAI-AH MOFOS!" and promptly self-destructs in a fireball that is simply too graphic for small children - but frankly, his pulverized remains scattered across the room are FAR more disturbing. Oh, poor K9's severed head lying on its side... I'm not taking the piss, I'm genuinely upset here. Good thing Leela didn't see him like that or she'd have lost it altogether. Georgie rubs it all in with her stunned realization, "He was trying to be our friend!" which is only in there to make me cry. The fuckers.

As the surviving Ninja Turtle (I think it might be Raphael) sneaks away, and Stark finds a funky computer mouse in what's left of K9's guts which regenerates.


Having now got the entire 433-plus collection of DWM on my computer I felt qualified to tackle...

Crazy Shit I Learned from DWM
(Abandoned when my eyes started bleeding from so many scans)

There is a dimensional rift in the DWM production office, often causing their files and materials to fall into parrallel continuums. This is why certain advertised features never arrive or, when they do, turn out to be completely inaccurate. I'm amazed they don't print this waver in every issue...

Adric will be introduced in the first story of Season 18, called The Wasting by Terrance Dicks, where he quits a juvenile street gang to join the TARDIS.

The War of the Worlds is a canonical adventure - the Fourth Doctor was there! As was Bernard Quatermass! No idea what Torchwood were doing about it, though... facing The Invisible Man? Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? Or The First Men on the Moon? Just goes to show that 19th century fantasy writers were all talentless hacks simply transcribing their autobiographies!

Before Steven Moffat, "wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimy" was the incredibly complicated "the confusion of time travel".

Doctor Who actually began in 1964. Hound down anyone who says otherwise.

Terry Nation created Doctor Who and came up with the acronym TARDIS.

Far from being unique interpretations, the first three Doctors were nothing more than Sherlock Holmes, Gandalf and James Bond with just the names changed. Only Tom Baker attempted to create an original character.

The Cybermen were born on Telos when some vikings got really hardcore. They were only on Mondas coz it happened to be in the neighborhood. They developed intergalactic space drives before the ability to land on another planet.

The Tenth Planet is set in 1980, and The Tomb of the Cybermen occurs after Revenge of the Cybermen.

Time Lords get exclusive access to TARDIS tuners - radios so boring they make people fall asleep.

The Fourth Doctor once travelled with a woman called Romana who wasn't a Time Lord, nor looked like Mary Tamm or Lalla Ward.

The first Dalek story featured the Thals being lead by the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Despite all my memories and evidence to the contrary, The Dead Planet is most famous for a big speech William Hartnell got word perfect: "The explosion must have been terrible! People couldn't survive - not, that is, people as we know the term..."

The Abominable Snowmen was set in the 1920s and The Web of Fear 40 years later. UNIT dating is, therefore, sorted.

There was a Third Doctor/Yeti story, in colour, shown on BBC1 in January 1970.

The one where all the clocks melt because of the Fast Return Switch is called Beyond the Sun. The one after that is called The Doctor Meets Marco Polo!. The season ends with The French Revolution, and following ones boast The Lionheart, The Monk's Dastardly Plan, The Rills Attack,

The Master was played by Roger Delgardo.

The Dalek Supreme subscribes to DWM and writes sycophantic letters of praise to the appropriately-entitled Who Cares?

All Aztecs are evil and deserve to die.

Thals are the offspring of "Mr Spock" and "a punk rocker".

Gamma Ursa 9 is on the icy edge of the galaxy and overrun by Daleks. Nevertheless, it's also the best place to get sci-fi LPs - try the "Alien Menace" Section of Intergalactic Records! Don't piss off Zorg and Org the shop assistants, though...

It took a whopping nine weeks before fans began pestering DWM about continuity problems.

Long-time fan "M. Waterhouse" wrote a polite letter to the editor basically saying he was a fool for thinking that DWM could survive in a world that produced TV Comic. TV Comic died out around the time Earthshock was screened. Go figure. (Waterhouse wrote in two months later to express his surprise the "aesthetically right" magazine was still running. I hope he got reminded of that over 400 issues later when he used it to plug his new book.)

The Doctor reveals he has countless adventures off TV, but they're all rubbish and boring, so we're not missing anything. "The ones you see are the just the most interesting ones I come up against."

Reversing the polarity of the neutron flow and triggering a massive undersea explosion just makes Sea Devils go to sleep. Hmm. Maybe a TARDIS tuner was involved?

If you're confused after missing an episode, "it serves you right".

DWM is, in fact, edible. Seriously. Have it on toast and lemon juice and it's delicious, as the Lawrence Weston Schoolgirls discovered.

After 19 issues, DWM tries to sex itself up with its first non-Doctor/monster cover:

...hmmm. Kinda works, if I'm honest.

It takes two issues of discussing "the mightiest menaces" of the show to conclude it was actually the Daleks all along. Quelle surprise.

Seriously, what UNIT dating controversy?! The Web of Fear is conclusively dated as 1968! The Green Death, 1973! Mawdryn Undead was just following the lead of the official magazine, dagnabbit! Oh, hang on, Invasion of the Dinosaurs was in 1978? Man, there must have been three VERY dull years for the Third Doctor, huh?

There is a story no one has apparently seen entitled called The Monk's Dastardly Plan which is just like The Time Meddler except a bit more like 1960s Batman and featuring lines like: "You fool! I know what you're doing! You're changing history! You should be ashamed! To think that a fellow Gallifreyan would stoop so low!"

The only reason Superman doesn't smoke is his X-ray vision shows it's bad for you. Yet, he doesn't hurl every tobacco plant into the heart of the sun like he does with, say, all the Earth's nuclear stockpile, though, does he? Fucking hypokrypton.

The Giant Robot (K1) is the great-great-great ancestor of the Robot Dog (K9). You think I'd make something like that up?

There was a real Harry Potter, though his wizardry was solely confined to his superhuman gardening skills in Northumberland. He caused inanimate plant matter to grow roots. Like a wooden clothes peg, for example...

The ancient Scottish prophecy that the Loch Ness Monster would appear in May 1981 when the ninth bridge over the lake was completed... didn't happen. Darn.

The very first Gallifrey Guardian begins memorably: "DALEKS SQUABBLE IN MARKET! Uncontrollable apathy broke out in Shephard's Bush when two of the Galaxy's most fearsome warriors began to fight over a cauliflower." It also told us about Agriculture (Zeta 7's greebel harvest), Traffic (Britain was conquered in 1066) and DWM exlcusives (Peter Cushing is the Fifth Doctor!)

There are giant radioactive spiders in Cumbria.

Despite the promises in Pyramids of Mars, Egyptian mummies can come to life. They can also send you back in time... mind you, it seems damn well anyone can do that - idiots who accidentally turn into lizard by firing lumps of metal randomly through time and thus squash the first mammal; anyone scared by Threads who's got an X-ray machine; anyone who pisses off Merlin; the customers of a New York penny arcade; and, of course, loonies. Since time is circular, there's no real point going into the future, because you'll just end up in the past and your time machine will melt and you'll get amnesia. So there.

And finally...

Post-Santa Post
(Abandoned coz of that piffling blood loss I mentioned earlier...)

Enforced heat delirium can make you think the darnedest things...

If *I* Had Written The Keys of Marinus

1: Sentence of Death

The TARDIS materializes in the gleaming futuristic city of Millennius, arriving in a public square and startling the hell out of the robed people present who were just minding their own business. Deciding to try and explain themselves, the Doctor, Susan, Ian and Barbara step outside to say hello.

Immediately some S&M gimp in evil black leather and a huge, oddly-shaped helmet lumbers down the street towards them and Susan plain freaks out. But this is a Voord, as alarming a sight on Marinus as a bobby on the streets of London: an ordinary law enforcer wearing a slightly ridiculous albeit traditional outfit. The Voord are the policemen of Millennius and politely ask our heroes to register at the city for their newfound residence, and sort out all the pesky fiddly details.

Deciding it'd be best to do this, the TARDIS gang are lead off for registration. As they head there, a man catches Ian's attention and lures him down a street into a kind of display musuem. Once there, Ian gets knocked unconscious...

...and wakes up an hour later under Voord custody. He's under arrest for murder and grand theft: one of the display exhibits is missing and a custodian dead. Ian, a bit grumpy, reminds the Voord they only have circumstancial evidence and no proof he was involved - but the Voord bluntly tell him they don't need to. In Millennium, it is guilty until proved innocent. Unless our schoolteacher can come up with a miracle, in three days' time he will be executed for murder.

The Doctor immediately volunteers to be Ian's lawyer in court. OK, he's not actually qualified in the topsy-turvy Millennius law and has never succeeded in getting anyone off a murder charge before, not even himself, but the old guy is confident. Babs and Susan meanwhile are sent to Millennius' freaky super-library to find out some important information:

1) How the hell did this 'guilty till innocent' things start? If there's some legal precedence for the other way round, it could win Ian's case for him.
2) Just what the hell was stolen and why?

Babs, being a very clever history teacher, soon works out some answers.

1) The Voord set up the laws of Millennius 700 years ago following a catcalysm known as "the Loss of Conscience", before which are no historical records
2) The missing item is "one of the three Keys of Marinus"

But they can't find out much more info. The librarians are quite hostile about the idea of discussing Consciences and Keys, so Ian's caught up in some deeply taboo historical shame. But what?!? One of the librarians craftily slips them a message, that they can find more info at a certain house...

The trial, meanwhile, is not going well. Especially since the defense lawyer can't even get his client's damn NAME right! For all his bluff, the Doctor can't get the jury or judges interested in finding out who the real villain is - they just want to know if Ian is innocent. And the Doctor can't prove that. In fact, the best he's done is convince everyone that Ian had an accomplice. Court is adjoured while the jury consider their verdict, and Ian idly wishes he'd defended himself.

The chief prosecutor Taron meets up with the Doctor. Knowing they're aliens and unfamiliar with the law, Taron suggests they go for a retrial... this time with a lawyer that can actually argue the case. The Doctor refuses, partially because he doesn't trust the Voord, partially because he's an incredibly stubborn old bastard who refuses to admit defeat. Taron nevertheless suggests the Doctor do a bit of research that might help his case. He gives the Time Lord a bit of paper with an address on it. The old man snorts and throws it away... until Taron's gone, whereupon he snatches it back up and hurries there at ludicrous speed.

Arriving at the upper class house, the Doctor is met by the owner - a creepily smug bitch called Kala and her wimpy husband Aydon. Babs and Susan are also present, having been contacted the same way and eager for information. Kala explains the CCTV in the museum was swiped: it is complete proof that Ian is innocent and will also show the true identity of the real criminal. And Kala was the one who has the CCTV. She is willing to give it to the Doctor to save Ian in return for his help. The Doctor laughs in her face and walks out.

Outside, the Doctor assures Babs that he is NOT out of his freaking gourd. He now knows there is a conspiracy against Ian and can use that in the defense summary in court - and he's prepared to bet that Kala will crack and hand over the footage. If she lets Ian get executed, the others will NEVER help her.

The final court session begins and the Doctor declares a Millennius-wide conspiracy to steal the Key of Marinus blaming an innocent outsider for the crime. Yet again, the court isn't interested. The Doctor cannot prove that Ian was a deliberate part of that, in fact he's implicated Ian even further. The Voord are confident that if the conspirators make another move they will be caught, or perhaps scared off by Ian's execution. Either way, they aren't fussed.

Ian is... sentenced to death! Clue was in the title, really.

The court clears and Ian is dragged off to be taken to a locked room and, at the appointed hour, shot through the head, execution style by the Voord. The Doctor has about fifteen minutes to get absolute proof Ian is innocent. Taron idly suggests that the Doctor rethink his previous decisions - yes, Taron's part of the conspiracy as well, the bastard!

While Ian sweats it out in the room of death and the minutes tick away, the Doctor returns to Kala's pad, and admits he is prepared to negotiate for Ian's life. But how the hell can four time travelers possibly help a well-established city wide intrigue? Kala responds by pulling back a curtain to reveal... the TARDIS!

For Ian's life, they want unrestricted access to the time machine!

The Doctor is aghast, but as Babs and Susan remind him, he doesn't have any time left to bluff. Either the rebels get the TARDIS or Ian Chesterton gets fifty bullets in his head! The old man is torn!

In the execution cell, time is up...

2: The Screaming Jungle

Don't worry, boys and girls, a last minute phone call has saved Ian's life. The CCTV has been found, proving Ian is innocent. Within minutes, the schoolteacher is back on the streets of Millennius a free man. A very shaken and dazed free man, but a free man nonetheless. Babs and Susan meet up with him and take him back to Kala's house for the plot to further unfold.

The Doctor has agreed to help the rebels, but warns them the time mechanism on the TARDIS is completely and utterly stuffed. Caveat emptor, which is Latin for "get stuffed". Kala, Taron and the others are confident they can master the technology, since they don't want the TARDIS to travel in time, but space.

Kala explains that the Voord rebuilt civilization on this planet 700 years ago, and that the Voord are desperately keeping secret that they were the ones that ended said same civilization. Since then they have ruled the world under the guise of being friendly dictators, but over the centuries a resistance group has grown and thrived. To defeat the Voord they need the three Keys of Marinus.

One key was kept in the city by the Voord to gloat, to reestablished their "edited" history. They were never worried it might get because the keys are individually useless. As long as two of them were out of reach, their power would be absolute. The resistance found out their location long ago, but were never able to make a move without the Voord discovering them. But now they have the TARDIS and the ability to get there, nab the keys, and get back.

The Doctor and the rebels remove the TARDIS console from the police box and begin to reprogram it, repairing a few of the more obvious faults. The TARDIS can now be piloted by remote control to the Voord strongholds, with a team of crack resistance members aboard. The Doctor suggests that Ian, Babs and Susan tag along, since they've had some experience fighting alien dictatorships before. But the others realize he wants his friends aboard the TARDIS in case it goes haywire and flies off into space and time, thus giving the trio a chance for freedom while nobly sacrificing himself. The Doctor denies this unconvincingly.

Lead by the scarily zealous teenagers Sabetha and Altos, the group troup into the TARDIS which is programmed for the continent of Darrius. Its huge jungles are, in fact, all one living plant which protects the second key on the behalf of the Voord. The Doctor activates the console and the police box reappears in the jungle of the title. Altos and Sabetha head through the vines and trees for a ruined castle, set up by a civilization ancient and long gone even when the Voord ended the world seven centuries ago. Susan realizes the jungle is actually sentient and watching their every move somehow. Sabetha notes the TARDIS' arrival has surprised the jungle, which has never had to defend its heart before.

The group quickly break into the ruins, but are soon caught out by deathraps. Statues come to life, cages fall, and a crack team of Voord burst out of the main part of the castle to confront our heroes. Only Susan escapes, and is able to stop the jungle attacking her using the skills she remembered from the telepathic plants on Esto. She watches as...

The Voord demand to know how in the name of God's bollocks the resistance got to Darrius, but Altos and Sabetha reveal nothing. It's quite clear they're insane and willing to die for the cause. The Voord mock the resistance credo, saying the Voord didn't destroy the world 700 years ago, but saved it from the catastrophe the resistance will unleash if every they get their hands on the key.

Babs tries to defuse the situation and learns that the Voord were once exiled from the planet, barred from ever returning by a massive force shield keyed to their blood type and cell patterns. After years the Voords ancestors had interbred with other societies and evolved to the point they could return to their home world, which shortly afterwards was devastated. The details aren't gone into, but the Voord insist what they did was not for revenge...

Sneaking into the castle, Susan is able to snatch the key from the podium it is held on. The confusion allows Altos and Sabetha to make a break for it and a pitched battle begins. Sabetha and most of the Voord are killed, but the dying leader manages to activate a final failsafe, a command to the jungle to destroy everything - in the hope it will kill the rebels before they can escape with the key. A hideous whispering noise fills the air and the vines go wild, tearing the walls down and throttling anyone who comes close, rebel and Voord alike.

Ian, Babs and Susan escape with the key into the TARDIS as Altos is smothered by the vines, but before he dies he contacts Kala and tells them the key is safe in their hands. As the jungle finishes destroying the castle and turns on the police box, it fades away... reappearing back in Kala's house.

The travelers are reunited and Kala takes the key, preparing to send the TARDIS and its crew to the final destination. They refuse, but the Voords will know by now the key is gone and double their security over the final key. The rebels must head straight to the icelands of Larn before the Voord can mobolise their defenses. With Altos and the others dead, Ian, Babs and Susans have just been recruited to the cause. "And what if we refuse?" they demand.

"Then you doom this world and every living being upon it to eternal slavery by the Voord!" is the bleak reply...

3: The Snows of Terror

Aydon and Taron confirm that once the last key is captured the time travelers will be allowed to leave in the TARDIS and so the quest begins again. This time, Susan is kept behind with the Doctor to ensure cooperation from both sides, while Taron joins Ian and Babs in their journey to the tundra.


Might finish that again one day...

Drafted (2)

Starting this second selection from the bottom drawer is the exactly-what-it-says-on-the-bloody-tin post...

NEW Dr. Spoon & Chamber adventure!!
(Abandoned since I never finished the plot...)

The Djinn Gambit

part 1 - The Ghosts of Golbourne

Chamber threw the bright green tennis ball up into the dark, cloudy sky, watching it spin as it descended straight back into his hand. "I'm bored," he announced. "Can we go now?"

Dr. Spoon tore his gaze from the wild stretches of countryside in front of them. "We've only been here for two minutes," he said reprovingly. "Lonely already?"

"We're in the middle of nowhere," Chamber retorted, pocketing the tennis ball and drawing his jacket tighter around him to keep out the cold. The sun was setting, and the shadows were growing out of the blue-grey murk of dusk. He nodded back to the shiny metallic hull of the translocation podule SS Flirty Gibbon, which stood listing at an angle on the uneven ground under the twisted, leafless branches of a dead tree.

"Chamber, we're in Golbourne," Dr. Spoon snapped as he moved through the reedy grass towards his flat mate and purely platonic travel companion. "1992 to be precise. Think of all the stuff we can do!"

"Like what?"

"Well..." Dr. Spoon turned and looked up at the darkening sky. "Sydney will just have got the 2000 Olympics, the patriotism will be at a fever pitch. Paul Keating's still Prime Minister, Andrew Denton hasn't sold out to Channel 7 and George Bush is unknown to the western world! This is a positive renaissance!"

"And how do we enjoy this amazing nostalgia trip when we're lost in the middle of the woods?"

"We don't have woods in Australia, Chamber, we have forests."

"Answer the question in your own time, Rupert."

"We're not lost. We just... don't know where we are."

"Let's just call it quit and go home. It's going to rain any minute," Chamber complained.

"That's another thing, water restrictions aren't in force. People still have water fights and sprinklers during daylight hours..." Dr. Spoon stopped and frowned. "All right, all right, we'll go. Stop crying!"

"I'm not crying," Chamber replied with a frown.

The albino looked at his companion. "I can hear you sobbing."

"Uh... that's not me," Chamber sneered.

They turned to look for the source of the noise. It was coming from behind a large outcrop of stone against the bottom of the hill they'd landed atop. Dr. Spoon skidded down the grassy slope and saw a slender teenage girl with long messy blonde hair immediately duck further into the shadows.

"Hello?" Dr. Spoon called.

"What is it?" asked Chamber as he followed his acquaintence down the slop.

"A girl."

"What's she doing out here in the middle of nowhere?"

"It's not nowhere, Chamber, it's..."

"Golbourne, I know," Chamber completed. "We're still nowhere near civilization, are we?"

"Good question," Dr. Spoon agreed. "Uh, hello?" he called loudly. "Are you all right? I don't suppose you could give us direction to the city centre, can you?"

Silence. For a moment, Chamber wondered if, perhaps, the girl was there at all. After all, in this cold gloom it could be easy to mistake. He glanced back up at the reassuring shape of their transport. This place was becoming decidedly creepy.

"Are you lost?" Dr. Spoon asked loudly, looking like he was talking to the rock.

The girl slowly rose up into view. Her eyes were red rimmed and her baby-face cheeks were shiny with moisture. She was wearing a simply woven red top and black trousers. Her feets were in open-toed sandals and even Chamber could see she was worried.

"Hey there, sexy," he said with a charming smile.

Chamber was annoyed as she seemed more interested in his companion. "M'sieur?" she asked hopefully in a French accent. "M'sieur, are you English?"

"Er, not exactly..." Dr. Spoon began.

"Then you must be a German!" the girl gasped, backing further away from them.

"We're not Germans either," Chamber explained bluntly.

"If you're the Gestapo, then you can do your worst!" the girl challenged them.

"We're the Gestapo," Dr. Spoon said gently, stepping forward. "We're Australians."

"Australia?" the French girl echoed, confused. "Then this is not England?"

"It's Golbourne," Chamber explained.

She looked around as if seeing her surroundings for the first time. "It looks like the middle of nowhere."

"Hah!" Chamber mocked, giving a smug glance at Dr. Spoon who glared back.

"We're a little lost ourselves," he said at last, "so perhaps you..."

He trailed off.

The girl had vanished.

Dr. Spoon hurried around the rock, but she wasn't hiding. "Where's she gone?"

Chamber refused to admit how unnerved she was. "Probably hiding. I can barely see a thing. Can we go now?"

"She seemed like she was in trouble," the albino replied.

"She also went without asking for help," Chamber retorted. "Come on, let's get out of here," he said, and began trudging up the hillside towards the podule. Dr. Spoon looked around the stone again, and then followed him over to their transport.

"Maybe she was a ghost," Dr. Spoon said darkly as they reached the top of the hill.

"Oh get real," Chamber sneered.

"Halt!" snapped a new voice. "Stay where you are!"

They turned to look at the source of the voice. Three figures were emerging from the trees. The leader was a tall thin man in a black leather military uniform and peaked cap. His stern, pale face was adorned with a thick pair of horn-rimmed glasses and there were rhomboid badges on his lapel, but Dr. Spoon and Chamber were more worried about the pistol in his hand.

"Who are you?" asked the man in the uniform in an unkind voice. "What are you doing here?"

"What's that got to do with you?" Chamber demanded as he saw the other two figures were wearing drab grey uniforms and and shiny black boots.

"Gestapo uniforms," Dr. Spoon murmured. "Like she said..."

"I thought you said this was 1992," Chamber hissed.

"It is!"

Chamber turned his attention to the SS officer. "What are you doing dressed up like that for then?" he demanded of the newcomer. "You making a film or something?"

"Bit early for a Chaser stunt," Dr. Spoon agreed. "No film crew, no technicians. Is this a rehearsal?"

The three German soldiers were now right in front of them. "What is this 'rehearsal'?" the SS officer demanded, frowning in confusion.

Dr. Spoon looked worriedly at the gun aimed at his chest. "You are actors in a film, right?" he asked hopefully, wondering if maybe Chamber was right and they were somehow in Nazi Germany.

The officer stared at them both for a moment and then broke into a small, insincere smile. "Of course, sirs," he said dryly. "Please accept our apologies. We were looking for a colleague of ours. Have you seen a young lady just now?"

Dr. Spoon was going to quizz the officer a little more, but Chamber instantly replied, "Oh, her? Is she the star of the film then? Blonde girl, French accent?"

"Yes," the German soldier agreed, eyes burning. "Where is she?"

"Not sure," Dr. Spoon said quickly before Chamber could blab. "She was down in the meadow there, but we lost her in the gloom." He shrugged. "What can you do?"

"What did she say to do?" the officer asked icily.

"Not much," Chamber said cautiously, sensing that the wrong answer could have bad consequences.

"Captain Shwike!" one of the soldiers said, pointing into the murk. "There she is!"

"Get after her!" the Captain snarled, losing all trace of politeness. "If we can get here into the middle of that field," he called after his men as they sprinted down the slope, "we can catch her in the recall beam!"

The Captain ran after his men, leaving Dr. Spoon and Chamber standing next to their undisguised time and space machine, slightly non-plussed. Chamber turned his companion and asked, "What the hell is going on? They're acting like it's still World War II - you've got the year wrong, haven't you?"

"I have not!" Dr. Spoon retorted. "This is 1992! Besides, the Nazis never occupied Australia..."

"How do we know it's Australia, that girl was French!"

"Oh yes," Dr. Spoon rolled his eyes, "because there's no way anyone French could be in 90s Australia!"

A scream was heard from the gathering darkness.

Dr. Spoon ran to the edge of the hill and peered down to see the shapes of two soldiers were holding a third, struggling figure while the Captain watched on with his gun covering the figure. "Hey!" Dr. Spoon shouted as he slid down the damp hill. "Leave her alone!"

Unimpressed, the Captain turned, raised his gun and opened fire.

Luckily, the gloom had spoiled his aim and the bullet ricocheted off the stone the girl had been hiding behind. The scarf-wearing albino dived for the ground as his hat was knocked from his head of white hair. Behind him, Chamber turned round and scrambled back the way he came, looking for shelter.

Dr. Spoon lifted his head to see the Captain was returning to covering his struggling prisoner. The whole group seemed pale and ghost like in the drifting mist... Dr. Spoon frowned.

What mist?! The air was cold and clear, but the four figures were paling before his very eyes, dissolving and fading away. Dr. Spoon blinked, and suddenly he and Chamber were alone.

Chamber stared across the meadow, shaking his head. "Ghosts?" he asked, shaken.

"I thought you didn't believe in ghosts," Dr. Spoon called over his shoulder as he crossed over to the rock. He ran his hand over the surface and found the warm chipped part where the bullet ricocheted. "That bullet he fired was real enough."

"Maybe it was real gun being fired by a ghost," Chamber offered, refusing to get any closer to the meadow.

"Maybe," Dr. Spoon offered, brushing his hands on his coat as he strode over to the place the four figures had vanished into thin air. The grass, a few stones, nothing was out of place. He frowned. "Can you hear that?" he asked, turning to face Chamber.

"Hear what?" called his companion.

"That buzzing noise!" Dr. Spoon grumbled. "Can't you... hear... th... at... ...?"

Chamber frowned. Dr. Spoon seemed to be swaying on his feet, as if he was stuck to the ground. He jerked stiffly, mouth opening and closing, but Chamber couldn't make out all the words.

"... wh...a...a...t...t's... ...h... a...pp..."

Dr. Spoon was bleaching, losing colour and substance, turning pale, translucent, trasparent...

"Rupert!" Chamber shouted as the last traces of his companion evaporated into the evening air.

Chamber scrambled down into the meadow and charged across the turf towards where Dr. Spoon had been standing, skidding to a halt as he finally realized his flat mate was really gone. He spun around, but there were no hiding places, nowhere they could be. There was no buzzing sound either.

After a full six minutes, Chamber realized he was on his own in the middle of nowhere - and if that nowhere was Golbourne or France, he was still in very deep crapola...

- to be continued...

Alas, it wasn't. And neither was this...

Wierd Crap I Believe About... the 5th Doctor
(Abandoned because... well... I gave up on Earthshock, obviously!)

Here we go.

The Master must have used his emergency switch (from The Mind Robber) to catch Adric. I mean, if we assume Gallifreyan MeanTime (which means Time Lords meet each other chronically with the same amount of time passing for them) then he otherwise would have had to go, "Ah! Brilliant plan!" rebuild his TARDIS, stun Adric, plug him in, wake him up, generate the clone and then dematerialize in about thirty seconds flat.

The Watcher moved the TARDIS closer to the tower - which explains why it's in a different field, why Tegan's bag is on the console and why the time rotor is up instead of down. He also seems to have set up that mirror with the coat, boots, recorder and hat next to the cricket pavillion.

The Master's TARDIS laser stuff reached in through the security team's eyeballs and fried their brains.

The Doctor's boots were busted and in the Missing Scene During The Opening Credits, Adric found the Doctor's old shoes in the coat's pockets and got him to put them on instead.

Despite most fans losing the plot, it's clear that the Adric that 'dies' in the Zero Room is the fake Adric in all the other scenes - it's spelt out that fake Adric hid in the Room and the slamming door is what the Doctor heard.

The Master is somehow pretending to be the Fifth Doctor in the Zero Room scene. The Doctor levitates and falls asleep, and then a disembodied voice arrives and tells them all to worry about him and not the TARDIS, and doesn't seem to notice Adric is missing. It's a very formal speech with all that 'you're the coordinator' crap that sounds like the Master being cynical more than the Fifth Doctor being earnest.

The stuff about the Third Doctor, UNIT and the Ice Warriors is a reference to unmade story The Brain Dead.

The panic attack about being close to the engines of the TARDIS is a reference to unmade story The Enemy Within.

The Doctor's bad reaction to regenerating is down to the entropy the Master released. Without that, he could have regenerated without the Watcher. Oh, and the fact complexity is bad for him is why he gets so bad around fake Adric (a walking block transfer computation) but calms down when he's not there.

This story is actually set in prehistoric times, which is why the Master is skulking around prehistory in Time Flight.

Nyssa falls in love with Tegan during episode three and spends most of the night just watching her sleep.

The Master deliberately created Shardovan, the sinister moustachiod blackclad librarian, just to creep out the TARDIS crew and get them looking the long way. Similarly the idea that the locals are headhunters when they're really quite nice.

Adric is somehow put on ice in this adventure, as the Master notes he travels back in time 500 years and creates Castrovalva so it will be ready and convincing for the Doctor's arrival. Which seems a bit extreme, but maybe the drums were particularly loud that day. It doesn't explain that cutaway where Adric and the Master are in the Master's TARDIS when they are supposed to be in the Portreve House and Adric wired into the fireplace.

I somehow remember a huge chunk of episode one from my childhood even though I never saw the episode until 1997. Mind you, my memory wasn't perfect - the regeneration didn't feature the Watcher and the Doctor changed clothes and all, and Adric's hands and feet were cut off when he was wired into a powerline tower.

I always assumed that Castrovalva was a fake planet and the ending would like Underworld, only with the planet fading away rather than blowing up. Bit disappointed that it was just a castle that vanished off screen.

Four to Doomsday
This story is not canonical.

Tegan is a big fan of Sapphire & Steel, hence her ability to sketch them.

The Doctor is mocking Tegan about her ability to 'speak Aborigine' because thanks to the TARDIS, everyone knows what Kukutji is saying.

Adric looked cooler in that Sontaranesque space suit than his usual outfit.

The Doctor wants to go Adrian Edmonsen on Tegan after she steals his time machine and is only JUST holding back with his psychotic "YOU ARE SPOILING MY CONCENTRATION!!!!"

One of the funniest scenes in the show is Monarch - refusing to believe Gallifreyan technology is better than his - demanding the computer come up for an alternative explanation for how the TARDIS vanishes and reappears. "The occult?" the computer offers, helplessly.

The emotion-free Enlightenment getting turned on by the Greco-Roman naked wrestling is a level of adult humor far more sophisticated than Torchwood ever managed.

The Doctor is not talking about Gallifreyans when he says people rarely have more than one father.

The legends of the Mara were told to the Doctor by K'Anpo in his childhood.

This story is set in the 1980s, and the colonists are not from some dystopian human future of colonization, since they only refer to their planet as Homeworld, take people hostages, don't psycholigically screen their workers and measure time in seasons.

The colonists measure time in seasons since Deva Loka doesn't HAVE seasons, and if it did and they were comparable to Earth, that means that Todd and the others were going to be left on the planet for two years before anyone bothered to check on them.

The scene "When I WHAT?!" scene written by Eric Saward between the Doctor, Tegan and Adric is not canon.

The Wherever reflects Tegan's mindset, with the silver caravan the TARDIS, Dhukka the Doctor, and the other two Nyssa and Tegan. But they are not Roberts and the other two, since Christopher Priest says not. So they probably were men and went mad and joined the Kinda tribe.

Todd REALLY should have been a companion.

The Visitation
Richard Mace REALLY should have been a companion.

There must be a missing scene where the Doctor finds a video diary or something, since he suddenly know the unspecified aliens are Terileptils at some point in part two.

The novelization is better.

There's some subtle characterization in this one - for example, Adric's woeful "WHY is he NEVER around when you WANT him?!" is actually because he convinced himself leaving Tegan to face certain death was the only logical thing to do and the Doctor would sort it out, and now realizes that he might have got her killed for nothing; the "we humanoids try to hide our true feelings" scene is actually "Wake up, Adric, Tegan would rather hump an Abzorbaloff than be coy around you"; and the Doctor's outrageous fury against Tegan and Adric is him venting after his overconfidence lost him the argument as his sonic screwdriver. In short, this is where he decides to 'save the universe with a tin kettle and a piece of string.'

Up next is

Anyway, Touch Wood
(No idea why I never posted this... maybe I couldn't bear to be proved wrong?)

I saw the trailer for the second series of Torchwood the other day. You know what? It didn't look like complete and utter crap. In fact, it looked exciting. That trailer made me want to watch it. Which is impressive, considering not only am I as anti-Torchwood a nutter as you'd care to name (at least about the TV incarnation) but also, I wasn't excited when the first series came out. Before anyone could realistically call it a success or failure.

And Torchwood season one was a failure. A complete and utter failure. All involved, frankly, should retcon their own memories and pretend the whole thing never happened.

So, let's give us the top thirteen reasons why searching OG for Spara threads was a better use of time than creating the abomination Channel 10 woke up in bed next to and screamed in terror.

1: It's Not A Doctor Who Spin Off
This seems to be a curious complaint to make. I mean, the title are the letters of DOCTORWHO rearranged. Of course it's a spin off.

Or is it?

RTD is on record as explaining the Torchwood concept of "sexy alien tech scavengers" was one he'd had for ages. One called Excalibur. Frankly, I think he should have stuck to it. Torchwood spends most of its time seemingly determined to be as distant from Doctor Who as possible, and not just because it swears and talks about sex in a grown up, adult manner that would leave most teenagers boggling at their immaturity.

In Doctor Who, the Torchwood Institute is an amoral, ruthless and corrupt organization. Selfish and stupid. Their role in season two was simple - they are the worst people ever to get involved. They did sweet fuck all about the Krillitanes, even though they were on the case. They nearly freed the fucking Devil of all things. They end up on the payroll of a bloke who wants to turn everyone into Cybermen. In the season finale, they unleash BOTH the Cybermen AND the Daleks.

"This is all your fault!" Jackie screams as she faces upgrading. "You and your Torchwood!"

It's not as if the TI was a new idea. Big Finish had been using The Forge, a similarly Britain-only xeno-development base. The BBC Books had the Glasshouse, the R&D base for everything UNIT leaves behind. Hell, a fan audio in 1997 had the Porlock Foundation, a corrupt masonic lodge retro-fitting UFOs from Area 51.

The Torchwood we see in its own show is completely different. It's secret from everyone, not just the Doctor and Rose being so clueless they don't notice them. Rather than being a super powerful organization funded directly from the crown, it seems to be a self-appointed vigilante group and no explanation of where they came from or why the hell they have the right to do what they do, let alone the money to do it.

The world they live in is not the Doctor Who one. This is supposed to be the world that suffered the Dalek/Cybermen war in public with huge casualties, but the only people who know about Cybermen outside the institute is an established paranoid schizophrenic. Mentioned in passing by Owen. Everyone refuses to believe in aliens, unlike in Doctor Who, which establishes the man in the street knows there is alien life out there and chances are it's out to get you.

The connections to the series just don't work. Toshiko is a medic in Doctor Who and computer nerd in Torchwood, and no explanation for the change. Gwyneth is now Gwen, a completely different open-minded Welsh girl with big teeth who just so happens to be played by Eve Myles. Captain Jack is not the character we saw in Series One.

And the one chance it had to synch up with Doctor Who? Failed utterly.

It claims to be a spin off, but it isn't.

2. It doesn't have Captain Jack in it
While, yes, I'd be insane to deny John Barrowman and his 51st century toothy bastard grin are not present and correct, but the character he plays is not the one that we saw in Doctor Who. Captain Jack, the omnisexual, untrustworthy and completely unorthodox con man is not the Captain Jack we see in Torchwood. He is a rule-bound, sarcastic, uncaring killer who refuses to tell anyone anything. He's not so much omnisexual, but written alternately as straight (in Small Worlds) and gay (in Captain Jack Harkness) and niether shall the twain meet.

Frankly, it beggars belief that a rebel like Jack would ever actually run an organization like Torchwood. He would be the wild card maverik, and he sure as hell would not condone the use of drugs to erase people's memories after he suffered at the hands of his own Time Agency. And if his priority is to find the Doctor, why is he staying in Cardiff rather than at the Powell Estate where he knows the Doctor and Rose will keep visiting?

The series has, at least, given an explanation for this, but the fact remains - WHY include an established character if you are going to completely change them? And what's more, this Captain Jack is often sidelined. He hardly appears in Greeks Bearing Gifts or Random Shoes, and in Small Worlds is terribly characterized. For a start, it is confusedly implied that Jack has lived on Earth for centuries (it is not actually made clear) and he's just Steel from PJ Hammond's most famous show, babbling on about evil from outside the corridors of time. Nebulous evils that cannot be defeated, merely appeased. And ones that never appear in either show ever again.

Also, Jack is always shown dressed as a WW2 flight captain. In Doctor Who, he only wore that until he left WW2, whereupon he was happy to change his clothes on whim. Yet here he seems to have been stapled into it by the vengeful ghost of JNT. Yet no one asks him WHY he's wearing it. Or indeed, anything.

The character reverts instantly back to the one we remember when he's in Doctor Who. In short, it's a different character altogether.

3. Continuity? What continuity?
The series seems to have each episode made by a completely different production team. Small Worlds is supposed to impress us with its downbeat ending when the team lose. Except last week they murdered a defenseless woman. And the week before stabbed an old man to death. And before that let a dozen or so men die horribly kinky deaths. The first episode has Suzie shoot herself after a killing spree for fuck's sake.

Cyberwoman has Ianto and Jack at each other's throats, but two weeks later, they're having hardcore sex when the lights go out. Rhys vanishes from the series, lacking even a mention, only to reappear later having not developed or seemingly lived a second since we last saw him.

There are also huge lapses of logic. Why do Torchwood, so determined to stay secret, have their logo on absolutely everything? Even their van? Why do they order pizzas under the name of Torchwood? How the hell can Gwen discover information connecting Jack with a missing airmen when the rest of the gang, with all the access to all sorts of data sources cannot?! In the final episode, Jack makes it clear rule one was "never mess with the rift" - a rule never so much as hinted at in previous stories. Most of the episodes can be shown in any order, since every episode restores the status quo with hardly any consequences.

There are no running themes or foreshadowing. Had, say, Tosh encountered Mary in one episode, having her character established, then her death in Greeks Bearing Gifts would have had real weight. Instead, we're forced to watch Tosh weeping over a woman she's known less than a week. A mass murdering one at that. The presence of Lisa in the basement could be, as in the novels, hinted at in prior stories. The Abydon threat could have been played out a bit more. But instead this 'realistic' drama faces threats that only seem to occur when nothing else bothers them and are completely resolved afterwards.

And whatever happened to the pterodactyl?

7. These Idiots Are Protecting Humanity?!
In episode one, it is discovered a serial killer is in fact Suzie, a member of Torchwood. In episode two, mass slaughter is down to Gwen unleashing a gas alien on Cardiff. In episode three, Owen decides to torment an old man who Gwen later stabs to death. In episode four, Ianto's girlfriend murders two people. A massive killing spree is unleashed by Suzie before and after her ressurection. Even in Out of Time, two of the three people Torchwood are supposed to look after end up killing themselves.

This organization causes most of the problems in the series, and hardly actually solves them.

8. Uh, "Angel" Got Here First
And it did it better. The fact is, the whole thing screams feebly it wants to be Angel. There is the pointless shots of Jack standing on top of incredibly tall buildings for absolutely no reasons whatsoever. The rapid 'whole scenes edited into one flash' to cut between locations.

In fact, it starts to get embarrassing. Angel, just like Torchwood's Jack, is a long-coated, gelled haired immortal man who refuses to let anyone come close to him, who is pining after a character he was parted with and has started his own gang to fight the forces of darkness in a city said character occasionally visits. He's accompanied by a cute nerd, a tough cop, a dangerous bi-polar bookworm-scientist and some good looking muscle, and they live in relative luxury running a business that actively goes looking for trouble.

Angel's second episode was about a parasite being that was using sex to murder people. Angel himself was once probed by the psychis powers of a girl who was suddenly and abruptly given the power to read minds, and just like Jack, his mind was a blank even though that's impossible. Angel episodes often flashed back to historical perioids where our hero (or sometimes villain) was caught up in things thought long since dead. Ghosts, time slips, dimensional breaches, monsters, internal strife. All done by Angel and better.

The major difference being that Angel was open about himself. He needed friends, he needed to make amends, and he wasn't always sure what he was doing was the right thing to do. Jack refuses to discuss any moves, or his motives, his background, or just why anyone should trust him. He has murdered the loved ones of Ianto, Tosh, Owen (in the books) and condones mass slaughter of cannibals, and expects cheeky cheerfullness afterwards. And he's disappointed when they don't.

Angel had a clear mandate - help those that can't be helped by others. Torchwood's seems to be - tackle things you can't handle and don't let anyone else get a chance to help.

9. The Books Are Better
And it's rare that that happens. But there can be no doubt that Border Princes, Another Life and Slow Decay are far better than the TV show that inspired them. For a start, we learn a lot about the characters, like, for example, why the hell they show up for work at all. Why they like each other. Their hopes and fears. They are real people and they all get things to do. Even Ianto - cast as an Alfred Pennyworth unflappable butler type whose daliances in the vaults at times make him seem almost like a ghost. There's very little swearing, and much more of Jack using Zen-like metaphors and the like to explain his actions: such as the fish tank of alien fish who can only survive in pitch dark. Turning on the lights would tell them everything, but kill the fish. Thus, sometimes it's best to be grateful with what you know already and be satisfied at that.

Hell, I recommend getting the books even if you have never never seen Torchwood or Doctor Who at all.

10. Sex and How Not To Do It
It had to be tackled sooner rather than later.

The series' ability to use the words "shit" "fuck" and "shag" seem to have gone to their heads. It's like Team America, where the creative team - restrained by South Park's general audience standard in language if not concept - go overboard. They can swear mindlessly and get away with it! And the whole thing suffers!

Jack's behaviour in Doctor Who was able to define the whole omnisexual thing without one using such language. And, oddly enough, the most vulgar thing Jack says in the entire series is to insult the size of Owen's testicles ("You'll need significantly bigger balls!"). The guy that will "shag anything" (another myth - Jack could shag a Slitheen, but would he have done Margaret Blaine? A clue: No!) is the biggest prude of the lot.

The curious decision to make absolutely everyone bisexual is a touch baffling. OK, Jack is omnisexual, I can believe Tosh was a repressed lesbian, but then there's just plain stupid stuff. Gwen snogging Carys comes across, oo er, more like an excuse to have a gay snog with every cast member for the trailer rather than say anything useful. Ianto's bissexuality is rendered ludicrous as he is shagging the man he swore not two weeks ago to leave dying in the gutter. Owen is the worst - his date rape MIGHT have been leading into the karma of Ghost Machine, but it seems more likely that RTD's opening script was ignored. And was Owen REALLY prepared to shag the boyfriend or was he hoping the thug's masculinity would keep him safe? After all, his "Taxi!" sounds panicked, and there's no evidence he wanted his two new pals to come with him.

The attitudes to sex seem to flux from episode to episode. Jack is amused at the other's belief in sexual categories, but he's still the one ogling two girls making out when he KNOWS Gwen could be killed at any minute. He shows no sexual interest in Estelle, despite the fact a few wrinkles shouldn't put him off. Similarly, the guy who wrote an episode about a sex-obsessed alien also wrote the scene where a tear and a kiss can bring a man back from death. Make your minds up.

The worst reveal is in Greeks Bearing Gifts, with the discovery that the entire gang seems to think about sex and only sex. Rather than their work. Good god.

11. Dumbest Story Arc Ever
It's hardly what you'd call well thought out. Or subtle. Or even interesting.

In They Keep Killing Suzie, the eponymous Suzie reveals that while she was dead, she saw "something in the darkness" that was coming straight for Captain Jack. And interesting reveal, no doubt, but Jack doesn't mention it again. In fact, it's forgotten like most characterization.

But in Combat, Mark Lynch the estate agent announces, appropos of nothing, that "something in the darkness is coming". He has no reason to say it at all, let alone know about it. A guy who thinks Weevils are future descendants of humanity rather than say, aliens, is not likely to realize such etherical developments. Similarly, no one notices or mentions it.

In Captain Jack Harkness, a man named Bilis Manger apparently tricks Torchwood into opening the rift by marooning Jack and Tosh in 1945. Well, we ASSUME it's one big conspiracy because Ianto screams in paranoia on little to no evidence that it is. And yet, Bilis hampers them by stealing a vital component from the rift manipulator and hiding it. It is incredibly that Owen finds it at all. But then he opens the rift - which is impressive since it's never before been mentioned the rift CAN be opened, at least not without a Welsh girl medium who has lived in the delta particle flow for centuries.

Then, in End of Days, time splinters and everyone suddenly thinks that this is the end of the world because some UFOs are over the Taj Mahal and some plagues are arriving. The Christmas Star slashing apart London and the Cybermen conquering the entire planet aren't worth mentioning, but one Roman Legionarry, that's a harbinger of the Apocalypse. In the last five minutes, Bilis arrives and explains that they have allowed the Thing in the Dark to emerge... and this only makes sense if you've watched The Satan Pit... a giant, ugly faced demon appears, kills some people with its shadow and is killed in its second minute of screentime by Captain Jack, then vanishes, as if he never existed.

And that, ladies and gents, was what you were hoped to tune in for.

12. The theme tune is shithouse
Seriously. What on Earth were they thinking? The word "Torchwood" whispered over and over again while different fonts of the word flash drunkenly before becoming the blandest logo ever. Giving you absolutely no clue as to what you're watching or what to expect. Why bother with a title sequence like that anyway? And the military jingle from Army of Ghosts was used to depict a massive international organization, not five losers with a van.

13. RTD's scripts think it's crap
A writer's opinions come out in their work. It's impossible to avoid. Let us look at how Torchwood has been treated since RTD penned scripts following the first season.

The Runaway Bride - Donna is shown as being completely stupid to miss all the alien gubbins. This is for comic relief, and her husband Lance is shown as clearly having noticed it all. Torchwood is also described by the main character as "destroyed" (suggesting the Doctor made damn sure) and their stupid, pointless use of major London landmarks is ribbed on. Just WHY were they digging to the centre of the Earth before the Rachnoss took over? Beats me, and the Doctor puts it down to them being total morons.

Smith and Jones - Gwen was shown as intelligent, curious character. Analisse is shown as a completely stupid, self-obsessed bimbo. They share their clueless belief that all alien incursions are just LSD in the water supply, care of Douglas Adams. Smith and Jones makes it clear only the most stupid and idiotic of people couldn't accept the truth. The entire population of Cardiff seem to have been dissed.

Utopia - more than one. Not only does the arrival of Captain Jack COMPLETELY contradict the final scene of End of Days, the fact is RTD has to struggle to come up with an excuse for why this happened. Are we supposed to assume he is correcting a mistake? End of Days was filmed and broadcast over a year before Utopia. No one noticed this? Yet in every version of the script, it was contradicted. Also, Martha recalls the events of Boomtown in Cardiff, but not the business with serial killers, cannibal farmers, and a giant stone demon wiping out everyone and then vanishing. There's also Jack's complete lack of remorse for abandoning his comrades. He doesn't even MENTION them. And it's clear he doesn't intend to go back, which contradicts End of Days as well, rather. Also, his immortality is defined as very differently to the series.

The Sound of Drums - the Doctor is disgusted at Torchwood surviving, noting their pointless reckless solutions to everything. The Master calls them 'a little gang' so pathetic he didn't even have to kill them, just tell them to go to the Himilayas and they're gone, buddy! They are so stupid they don't even leave any means for ANYONE to contact them. The two major icons of the series both decry the whole thing as stupid!

The Last of the Time Lords - whether or not the conclusion (where Jack strides back to the hub) will connect with the first episode of the new series (and the signs are it doesn't), the biggest clue comes from Jack announcing 'The 21st century is when it all changes and you gotta be ready', which the Doctor points out is gibberish and means nothing. Jack agrees. That means that for the caprice of timing, RTD would have made one of the core points of Torchwood utter bollocks.

This isn't distancing itself from the show, it's reeling the show in and telling us what utter shit it is.

The prosecution rests, your honor, and we all hope that the second series lives up to its promise.

And on a similarly optimistic note, the review for Journey's End...


Golden Brown, texture like sun
Lays me down, with my mind she runs
Throughout the night, no need to fight
Never a frown, with Golden Brown

Every time, just like the last
On her ship, tied to the mast
To distant lands, takes both my hands
Never a frown, with Golden Brown

Golden Brown, finer temptress
Through the ages, she's heading west
From far away, stays for a day
Never a frown, with Golden Brown

Ah, what music could be more appropriate to this episode... if you're me, at any rate?

Well. This is it. After this, Doctor Who becomes a rare and special event for the next two years and if RTD actually was telling the truth that the series will take breaks like this regularly as part of production, I'll be forced to head to Cardiff with a machine gun. Screw Torchwood. Screw interactive BBC cartoons. And, if necessary, screw The Sarah-Jane Adventures. (Well, maybe...) But frankly I'd rather have a new series of Doctor Who per year than a couple of mucked up Christmas specials smothered with spin off detritus.

So how do I cope with this finale of finales? Drown myself in continuity as last week? I remember Mad Larry's one and only DWM interview - back when he was known as 'that cool Alien Bodies guy' - which basically went: "Ah, I'm just like Robert Holmes, aren't I? Tom Baker, pah! Paul McGann's Doctor is better because I can make him suffer, yes, make him suffer in an animated TV series! Transit is the best New Adventure! Authors should stop writing generic sci-fi pap and fit themselves to MY universe! I don't actually like most of Doctor Who, but this will be my last ever Doctor Who work, oh yes, no more, no I've never heard of John Farnham, why?". When the timid interviewer pointed out that the whole 'future Time War in heaven' stuff could get a bit complicated and completely inaccessible for new readers, Larry just stared at him and said, "Speaking as someone who stumbled into Babylon 5 half way through, there's something alluring about entering a complex maze like that."

Well, as long as you like it, Larry, good enough for us. Yet, I too entered B5 blind, towards the end of its second year, amused at what seemed to be Curse of Peladon remastered (one of the delegates is called "Centauri"!) with a couple of Napoleon Bonaparte impersonators hurling racist abuse at a turtle-headed rebel while a giant cockroach watched on and hisses odd things like "The pebble is falling down the hill. It is too late for the hill to vote." while demonic spider ships sparked an intergalactic war.

The thing is, of course, as ever, Larry has a decent idea but no iota of intelligence in how to put it into practice. Anyone patient enough can dive into Babylon 5 and soon get the gist of what's happening... because JMS writes amazingly expositional dialogue. I first realized this when, at the dawn of the Internet Age of Mankind, I downloaded synopsis of the episodes yet to view. I was shocked when I finally saw them that the dialogue seemed to have been based entirely on the synopsis, with no Rob Holmes twist of character or intent. People speak information and summaries. No conversations. This soon meant I found most of the series unbearable to watch, yet I must admit it was these at-first-unnoticeable info dumps that allowed me to make sense of the whole thing in the first place.

RTD is much better at dialogue than JMS was... but is he better at making the biggest baddest storyline ever accessible for a passing stranger? You might say that he had quite rightly no intention of doing so, but this guy has won plenty of awards for being a good writer and quite concievably this is the last chance to prove it (I honestly don't know if he's writing any of the specials). So, let us forget what happened last week. And the week before that, and the week before that. What if, gentle kinsman, this was pre-2005 and we stumbled across some disc or tape from the future, marked Doctor Who: Journey's End? What would we think as we watched it (and, if it were me, I'd be watching it first chance I got, timelines or no...)

Like so...

The Daleks are invading Earth, lead by Davros himself! The Doctor is legging it when a Dalek shoots him in the back! As an American soldier, a blond girl and a redhead watch on, the Doctor announces that he's regenerating from his injuries and BLAM!!!

Hmmm. That seems to make sense.

On second thoughts, I'll do the minute things...

1.21 - What the hell? How does that work? That has to be the single most lamest cliffhanger resolution ever! Would it have been so damn difficult to have the Master standing there saying, "Well, boys and girls, who saw that one coming?"

1.38 - Good to know Donna, Jack and Rose share my incredulity at that awful plot twist. RTD, go. Just go. Sorry man, you're beyond help now. Don't come back.

1.45 - Well... OK. Didn't see that one coming. I was kinda hoping SJ would simply shout, "Davros wants to see me!" which would give the Daleks pause for thought if nothing else. So, that's ANOTHER rubbish cliffhanger resolution. What will happen at Torchwood? Will Owen pop into existence and date rape the Daleks to death?

1.49 - No, that's Noel Clarke. Oh. Well. Cool.

1.52 - Yeah, I know who you are. Gosh, I was expecting you to be a bit more... endearing. Just saying your name and I realize I've not missed you at all. And Jackie, you don't carry off the gun-totting warrior woman look as well as your daughter. How the hell did they save the day anyway? Do all teleports update you you're about to face Daleks? Cause a quick, "Bloody hell!" might be worth it...

1.54 - Oh, for fuck's sake! GET OVER YOURSELF! This stopped being fresh five seconds into Aliens of London. Is she somehow immune to character development or something? Or is it RTD has to turn everyone into catchphrase stereotypes because they're too many damn characters to use?

2.08 - In the continuation of 'ironically suitable captions', Graeme Harper's credit appears over a bullet time shot of frozen bullets in mid air. Sweet.

2.58 - Fuck you, RTD. That was just shithouse. You should have got Briggsy to be Doctor 11, cause this one's gone all smug again. You chicken out one more time and we're going to have to have words.

3.10 - So, basically, the whole cliffhanger thing is completely and utterly irrelevent. The could have just done that in the street. Fuck off!

3.12 - Go on. Jack and Donna would be better a spin off than Torchwood.

3.26 - Oh, so it was TOSH who comes back from the dead to magically create the ultimate Dalek proof defense which Jack happened to forget to mention. Not Owen, as I predicted. FUCK OFF, RTD!

3.52 - I saw this on that D-Generation skit spoofing tampon adds. I know the TARDIS is an 'old girl', but this is taking me places I simply don't want to go.

4.27 - I don't care what you say, Mickey, it's still a rubbish prop! And wow, Sarah's suddenly doing all the talking while the others say nothing! Does that suggest maybe this plot is inherently flawed? Cause it does to me, Mr. "Dennis Potter" Award! Seriously, I wish Craig Hinton or Gary Russell were around to do this... they're a lot better at fanwank. RTD gets another twenty minutes added onto the episode and he STILL can't give everyone decent material. Where's fucking Martha? Remember her?

4.53 - Am I the only one who remembers Jackie has another child? And Pete? Why the hell is she acting as desperate spinster again? Has something nasty happened on Pete's World? A "Barren Earth Declining Fertility Rate Infant Death Fuck It All Become Cybermen Anyway" type of nasty happening?

5.00 - Eww! I know some people are really going to put subtext into that!

5.02 - Ah, Martha. I knew you were in this story somewhere. And you're... summarizing the plot. And your mother is not being allowed to get a word in edgeways. So... WHY BRING HER BACK?!? She's nothing but asking yet again what the Bang And Olfssen Key does! AND NOT GETTING AN ANSWER! FUCK OPFF!!

5.35 - All right, I'll bite. What the hell is in Nuremberg more important than Davros?

5.39 - HAHAH! Daleks speaking German! Oh, if I hadn't seen that done much, much better elsewhere, I might forgive some of the complete cow dung that RTD has been serving me on a platter for the last six minutes!

6.32 - Oh, Christ. Rose at least has the decency to admit her main objective wasn't so much to save the universe but damage ALL universes so she could see the Doctor. And the git grins at her. That does it, Rose Tyler is dead meat.

(Yeah, kinda petered out after that when we all got caught up watching the damn thing. Here's the season round up anyroads...)


Partners in Crime
The Fires of Pompeii
Planet of the Ood
The Unicorn and the Wasp
Turn Left


The Sontaran Stratagem
The Doctor's Daughter


River's Run

...yep, still think that's fair.

What next?

- to be continued...