Wednesday, April 27, 2011

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.



Castrovalva
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.


Kinda
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...



DOCTOR WHO: 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...)


THE GOOD STORIES

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


THE BAD STORIES

The Sontaran Stratagem
The Doctor's Daughter


THE UGLY STORIES

River's Run

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

What next?

- to be continued...

4 comments:

Just Gavin said...

Yeah, it's probably a good thing about not listing the Torchwood stuff before season 2, as a lot of your stuff was explained.

While Season 1 of TW had its problems from the fact it was still finding its tone for a dark DW spin-off, season 2 really hit the right notes and was brilliant. Maybe RTD didn't like him, but screw him if that's the case, his opinion is wrong.

I don't watch Angel, but I would guess the presence of Marsters might be a nod to it.

Though I never did really understand what TI was. People seem to be aware of them (Bloody Torchwood!) deespite the secracy they claim to be above the government, but season 3 throws that out the window and even in season 2 they had to ask permission to investigate a medical lab, and were told no.

Matthew Blanchette said...

The Library two-parter was not a bad story, Ewen... in retrospect, might want to revise that.
;-)

Youth of Australia said...

Why should I? I hated the story then, I hate it now - a cliched, unoriginal and deeply flawed bit of padding with the least scary monster since the Taran Woodbeast took up karioke, and having a fiercely independent adventure-loving female character condemned to be a babysitter for the rest of eternity. And that bit with the trapdoor, what the fuck was going on there?!

Matthew Blanchette said...

Okay, true... trapdoor was bad. :-/