Thursday, July 12, 2012

Musings on Murders

OK, melodrammatic blogpost title. What are you, perfect?

With the release of two new stories from Magic Bullet/Kaldor City Productions, I was considering doing a proper essay discussing the identity or not of Kaston Iago. Given that both Paul Darrow and Alan Stevens had said he wasn't Avon, the bucketload of evidence to support the fact seemed remarkably... superfluous.

If anyone's interested, the play Metafiction is a two-hander rambling conversation much in the mold of The Prisoner where Iago tries to pierce the veil of reality... and any patience of the listener... showing that he really is a very boring windbag when he's not shooting innocent people. The main difference is that Metafiction has some humor in it, though much of it has to be Paul Darrow's drunken, glum performance as he tries to summarize Blake's 7 and ends up with the conclusion that it was crap. If I were trying to read subtext, I would say Mrssrs Stevens and Moore, realizing how infantile, crude and ultimately pointless Kaldor City was, are trying to retrospectively slag off Blake's 7 to make themselves feel better.

Certainly, there's no hero worship as they had in Liberation or even that article about Weapon. Far from being a politically-sophisticated, well-character-driven story arc, Metafiction paints a clear picture of a pointless repetitious and morally-bankrupt saga of gunfire, explosions, shoddy science, bad continuity, nihilistic plotting that was all a waste of time. Iago is bored rigid describing the plot of Blake, for crying out loud. It's the nastiest review of the show I've seen NOT written by Clive James.

Of course, the entire thing is a single punchline. If RTD were in charge, cutting out the flab and speeding up to cut to the chase, Metafiction could be summarized as...

JUSTINA: So, Iago. Who are you really?

IAGO: You ever see Blake's 7?

JUSTINA: No.

IAGO: Good. It was shit.

From the first, rather bewildering lines - this is Iago's job interview following the events of Occam's Razor - it is clear the joke is that Iago is going to say he's Avon. BBC law of some kind means that he has to be extra vague, and just detail his flight from the Federation with a crusader aboard an alien spaceship. The only outright reference is to Gauda Prime (cue a joke that it means "Big Cheese"... never occured to me before or since) and that's it. The revelation that Avon survived the final scene by shooting out the lights and letting the troopers kill each other - which, shamefully, is pretty much my own take on events - surpised me as it contradicted The Logic of Empire. He didn't use a Sea Devil in Dorien's Basement to simply NOT DIE, but LOE's claim he then spent seven years hanging around space bars sulking is true.

Anyway, the joke I mentioned. The fact is, Paul Darrow plays the entire play not as Avon or Iago. He plays it as Zaphod Beeblebrox, stoned and mellow and very defensive. "Hey, we were trying, OK?!?" is the sort of thing he says, while his drunken and very inaccurate description of Sand is basically Bill Bailey as the sperm whale. It's entertaining, but it never convinces for a microsecond that Iago really could be Avon. He gets 80% of the details wrong, is completely out of character throughout, and most damning of all is clearly taking the piss out of Justina from the word go.

At the end of the play, Justina wearily asks if Kaston Iago is really his name. Iago shrugs and reveals his name is...

...Paul Darrow.

(Actually, it's honestly made funnier by the delivery. It's basically like Iago breaking down and admitting he's NOT a cool psychopath who rapes and murders for fun and profit, he's just pretending and he's rubbish at that. Never has a man revealed his name so miserably before.)

So. The revelation is quite simple. Kaston Iago was bored in an interview and bullshitted a crude program guide to Blake's 7 which Justina assumed was his real-life experience. Unless we're seriously supposed to think Paul Darrow is/was/will be catapulted into the future and then decide to become a foam-at-the-mouth serial killer on an alien planet using the skills he learned in a BBC Quarry several years ago.

Therefore we assume that Kaldor City occurs in a universe where the Blake's 7 television series has somehow survived into the far future, and Kaston Iago watched it, thought it was crap, but was amused by the similarities between it and real life.

However, mein comerades, there is an ALTERNATIVE ENDING!

By which I mean the exact same play as a separate download except the final line is Iago calmly revealing his real name is Frank Archer.

Now, I assumed this was some kind of reference to The Archers and put it down to some crap joke but, actually, the alternative ending makes a hell of a lot of sense if you then heard MB's play The Time Waster. Again, it's an el-cheapo, three-hander, real-time, locked in a room dialogue. And again, it's better than The Prisoner.

It's a complicated tale of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimeyness (and I mean complicated - I don't pretend for a moment that I kept a proper grasp on the various parallel timelines, as I was too busy cheering on Trevor Cooper's "Oh, fuck off!" every time Paul Darrow came up with a bit of pretentious macho wank like "I don't waste time - I WASTE CRIMINALS!!!").

Basically, Frank Archer is a 20th century copper who gets a time machine and uses to rewrite history so criminals are murdered before they can commit such crimes. Alas, he ends up a temporal exile on the verge of insanity and multiple copies of himself flee through history. It's hardly the work of Craig Hinton to suggest one such copper - now a deranged serial killer with an identity crisis - travels into the future, ends up on Kaldor and then, as Metafiction shows, bluffs his way with knowledge from Blake's 7 which he had seen on TV.

(For those who want to try and comprehend how Kaldor City can occur if Blake's 7 never happened, Steven Moffat himself wrote a Bernice Summerfield story several years ago when she was shocked to discover a BBC television series accurately portraying the acts of a terrorist group in the far future. Terry Nation was fond of the idea he was simply "dramatizing" historical records, as he publically claimed he got all his scripts from a metal cube he found under a tree - very humble as a writer, isn't he?)

This leads me to the thing that bothers me. I quite liked The Time Waster, except the logic of Frank Archer was... well. A bit dogy. Basically, he wants to use a time machine to solve crimes. Easy enough to do, but he is faced with a "moral dilemma".

He cannot stop a criminal from say, killing someone, because then a crime is not commited. You can't put someone away for murder if he hasn't murdered anyone. And if you put him in for attempted murder, he gets a reduced sentence, gets out and commits another crime.

Frank Archer apparently is such a bleeding heart that he cannot bear the thought of all those people who will either be dead, injured or traumatized.

His instant solution is to then murder the criminals for crimes they are going to commit.

He thus kills around 26,000 people who hadn't technically done anything wrong but were intending to do so.

Anyone willing to slaughter defenseless people in the tens of thousands doesn't strike me as someone who gives a flying fuck about morality. Frank never considers, for example, using the time machine to save lives. He prevents crime, but he doesn't, for example, stop anyone boarding the Titanic (and if the authors are reading, yes, I know there's a reason why he couldn't travel back that far, but there are plenty of other such disasters he could avoid and prevent). He decides that the only use for time travel is to kill people. He doesn't even try to get the lottery numbers. And while he benefits from these history revisisons, it's clear Frank is in it for the killing crims rather than his inevitable promotions.

Now, I could chalk Frank down as a hypocritical psycho unaware his callous disregard for human life is precisely the quality that he uses to deem other human lives expendable. Except the two coppers who exist, it seems, solely to give Frank someone to retell the story to, never point out the flaw. They note all sorts of temporal paradox, trickery and plot holes like me reviewing a sparacus story on crack (btw, his latest effort is, for him, surprisingly good - he's actually learned what "past tense" is, for example).

But they never say to Frank "why don't you go back in time, find what MADE the criminal want to commit the crime, and then fix it?" To put it another way, when Kryten was asked if he'd go back in time, find the baby Adolf Hitler and then kill the baby and thus prevent the horrors of the Nazis.

Kryten calmly replied, "No. But I would be prepared to go back in time, find baby Adolf Hitler and give him a damn good talking to!"

And, while I'm not naive enough to say this would be a universal solution, it's an idea, isn't it?

It's not as if Frank would be unable to do it. He can make it so he rules a planetary mafia of assassins. Why not rule a planetary mafia of psychiatrists, hunt down each criminal and cure him? Or at least try?

In Dirty Harry, a similar sort of problem faces Clint Eastwood. He can let a legally-innocent man walk and thus cause horrible injury, or break the law with a pre-emptive strike. Clint shoots the crazy fucker dead, but chucks away his badge, clearly unable to get out of the grey area - he has saved lives but also taken them. Were it Frank Archer he would have probably shot the bloke and all his hostages because at least ONE of those busload of children was going to grow up to be a criminal.

Why, therefore, is murder the first resort in so many Alan Stevens/Fiona Moore stories?

Take Kaldor City, the world of psychopaths who spend all day trying to kill each other. Why? Why is life so cheap? Why, if 80 per cent of the population live in the Sewerpits as savages of no use to anyone - the robots do all the work, after all - why don't the elite just gas all the peasants? Carnell, puppeteer extraordinaire, can't think of any plans that don't involve murdering people. Uvanov hates Landerchild, but unlike seemingly everyone else on the planet, doesn't get Iago to shoot him. It's not even as if Iago's gun-sprees do any damn good, is it? Whatever happens at the end of Checkmate, Iago shooting people is not the answer. What good occurs from people killing each other?

It also makes Robots of Death impossible to take seriously as a prequel. Why? Because, simply, people give a damn about each other. Murder is a crime, a serious crime that provokes anger, hatred, grief, fear. Borg is a suspect because he's aggressive, with a hair-trigger temper. So why hasn't he murdered the whole crew by now? Robots do all the hard work and he's rich enough to get away with it. The answer is: BECAUSE HE'S NOT A FUCKING PSYCHOPATH! Like Uvanov - he reveals his hatred of the Founding Families wasn't simply down to social insecurity, but because he was framed as a negligent boss by the old boys' network when one of their number commited suicide out of robophobia. "I tried to save him," he says sadly, cradling Poul.

This is, apparently, the same nutter who orders Stalinist purges of close friends. For the hell of it.

And, oddly enough, Magic Bullet Productions have restaged Robots of Death - now with all the stupid Doctor Who stuff removed and pure Kaldor City removed. Kaston Iago and Blayes travel through time to the Sandminer for the original murders and... shoot people. Because they're psychopaths! And human life doesn't matter!

Reviews for the performances are, I think it fair to say, mixed - particularly the revised ending to the play where Taren Capel turns into the Fendahl and kills everyone.

The play, however, is not a total success, and where it falls is largely where it deviates from Boucher’s original concept. On TV the Doctor had to investigate the mystery, then improvise an ingenious solution when Taren Capel was revealed. Here, Iago and Bleyes are aware of Capel’s presence from the start, and the story concludes in an unsubtle hail of plasma bullets. Worse, the last few minutes unveil another, previously unhinted-at force behind the events; it’s the equivalent of Hercule Poirot gathering all the suspects together in the library, only to reveal the killer is from an entirely unrelated Miss Marple story before spraying the room with a machine gun. The play itself has been made strange and the ending unsatisfying.

This leads me back to Metafiction, I suppose and the strange difference between how Blake's 7 is seen. Apparently human life is totally worthless. Iago has no interest in Avon's dead crew, or Blake, or the millions that died in the Galactic War or all the planets that blew up. Killing people is, as Jim Moriarty might have said, is what people are, apparently for. Frank Archer wants a world with people dead rather than people alive. The Fendahl is death and kills every living thing.

Yet I think of Headhunter. In Metafiction, Iago protests that this was the only time they ever tried anything beyond selfish and violent destruction of innocent lives. And, of course, the most important thing is that everyone was so stupid to mistake a robot with a severed head on its shoulders for a living scientist.

I only remember the scene where Avon tries to tell Vena that his crew might have killed her boyfriend. The shocked, greiving Vena shouts that her criminals are murderers.

And that pisses Avon the fuck off.

Having made a genuine effort to be kind and sensitive, Avon snaps, "Try not to be stupid! We needed him alive - his death serves no purpose for us!" The A-Man is unsettled and upset at that. True, he and his pals have killed a lot of people, but the idea he kills for kicks - for fun - disgusts Avon. Killing people is a serious matter and one that Avon never takes lightly. Shooting down a Federation guard in self-defense is one thing. The hoops Avon went through justifying going after Shrinker showed he understood Cally's arguments against and had clearly thought of them himself. And that's surely a huge, important difference between Avon, Iago and Archer.

If I may spoiler, in an upcoming B7 episode in Season E, Avon has to defend himself for killing Blake.

He holds himself up quite well in court but then he is asked a question he cannot answer.

How did shooting Blake help?

What good was caused by doing that? Even if he had betrayed Avon, what was the benefit of killing him? Blake didn't live long enough to suffer any kind of punishment or remorse. It didn't improve the Scorpio crew's chances in the silo - whereas, say, taking Blake hostage could have saved their lives. Even the most brutal viewpoint would be Avon wasted three bullets on an unarmed man that could have been used on armed troopers.

Now, I'm not saying ANY of that was occuring to Avon when he pulled the trigger. That's the whole nature of a Greek tragedy, circumstances painted Avon into that corner where all he could do was the wrong thing. My point is that it was the wrong thing.

In the episode, Avon has to confess that killing Blake achieved nothing.

Kaston Iago, in similar circumstances, would not even understand the the question.

And, from their writings, I'm not sure the minds behind Magic Bullet would either.

34 comments:

Miles Reid said...

The sad thing, Magic Bullet remind me of all the shitty Transformers fanfic I wrote pretty much straight from 17-22. Juvenillia, demonstrating a cynical and joyless world view. Drunk on the idea that a story has to have a dark or morally ambiguous or cynical ending in order to be good. The Autobots are no longer heroic or have lost that heroic spark. The war simply exists because there is nothing else for the Transformers to do. It's pure-grade Alan Moore wannabe bullshit. True, I was working in a shared universe and was going from what other people where writing at the time (look where it got me) but I still let myself fall into the cycle because that was (rather stupidly) what I believed. Magic Bullet and to a small extent, Kaldor City really seem to be trying to be all liteary and deep, its trying to be dull adult, but in the most juvenile way possible. Not everything is a turgid depression fest, it can't be, ever. God forbid someone ever tells a joke or feels hope or confidence or self-worth or anything. Don't these people understand, just a constant mood of dark, grim and gritty gets you no-where, dark needs light in order to make you feel like there is some hope to the situation while light needs dark to make you feel that the stakes are real. It's why (even though I do enjoy the Nolan films) Batman needs Robin, Spider-Man's personal life has to play as half sit-com, half-soap opera and it's why we need to take off the 'Grrr, Dark is Good' filter we seem to have placed over the whole cultural zeitgeist as of late. Sometimes it's okay to end on a bad joke like an episode of the Original Star Trek (and to a much more WHAT THE FUCK example, the end of 'Children of Auron.') or a wink to the audience like Alan Moore's 'Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?', one of the best hypothetical Superman stories ever. Sometimes, that's what we need, we need that wink to the audience, because we know then that our hero will never stop and will keep on fighting and that makes the struggle against the darkenss all the more better.

With that real frame of mind, thank God I gave up on that 'Blake's 7 reimagining' because that would have a dull, turgid, joyless piece of shit. Yes, Blake's 7 has dark moments, but it also has some of the strangest, campest, gayest moments outside of the Tomorrow People.

Oh... and the Harvest of Kairos as well.

Youth of Australia said...

Juvenillia, demonstrating a cynical and joyless world view. Drunk on the idea that a story has to have a dark or morally ambiguous or cynical ending in order to be good.
Wow. I went through that phase when I was five (and I stress, I only wised up when my parents pointed out my crude stories were kill em all verging on plotless - I remember one had Davros dying of a heart attack as he screamed nihlistic propaganda. Just dying proving that he was right and everyone deserves extermination...

Magic Bullet and to a small extent, Kaldor City really seem to be trying to be all liteary and deep, its trying to be dull adult, but in the most juvenile way possible.
Yes, I agree. Comparing the original, it's hard not to think that Uvanov half-romancing, half-sexual harrasment of Zilda is more adult, realistic and sophisticated than Cotton shouting at Blayes "IF WE FAIL, WE'LL HAVE TO BECOME WHORES TO MAKE ENDS MEET!!!"

Not everything is a turgid depression fest, it can't be, ever. God forbid someone ever tells a joke or feels hope or confidence or self-worth or anything.
This I agree with - and is something I'm trying to emphasize. RTD said that the biggest disappointment he had in Torchwood was it went dark and angsty - not because darkness and angst is necessarily bad per se - but because it took the easy way of despair. Doing stories with hope is harder and, ergo, more rewarding. Which is why I think the best moment of End of Days isn't Jack telling the team they're a bunch of hypocritical selfish fuckwits, but when he forgives them for that.

Don't these people understand, just a constant mood of dark, grim and gritty gets you no-where, dark needs light in order to make you feel like there is some hope to the situation while light needs dark to make you feel that the stakes are real.
I agree. And it occurs to me that my favorite KC story, Storm Mine, is the one that actually ends hopefully - the idea that the robots will create a better civilization than the one that destroyed itself, and even a nutter like Blayes will get a fresh start.

And it was noticeably NOT written by Stevens/Moore.

It's why (even though I do enjoy the Nolan films) Batman needs Robin,
Yes. Same reason I like Harley Quinn, as she forces the Joker to stop being the one-dimensional monster he could turn into.

it's why we need to take off the 'Grrr, Dark is Good' filter we seem to have placed over the whole cultural zeitgeist as of late.
Hear hear!

Sometimes it's okay to end on a bad joke like an episode of the Original Star Trek (and to a much more WHAT THE FUCK example, the end of 'Children of Auron.')
I still boggle at COA, but I am convinced the ending was at most a wry smile from the others when Avon made a joke. The "BWAHAHAHAAHA!!" is very badly edited in, at screams 'last minute meddling'.

Youth of Australia said...

Sometimes, that's what we need, we need that wink to the audience, because we know then that our hero will never stop and will keep on fighting and that makes the struggle against the darkenss all the more better.
Yes. This is exactly what I'm doing for B7 (or trying to, anyroads), the idea that GP doesn't make them give up but makes them THAT MUCH MORE DETERMINED.

Metafiction prefers to think that Avon did absolutely fuck all for years, just wandering around insisting life was pointless and all that matters is cash and killing people.

With that real frame of mind, thank God I gave up on that 'Blake's 7 reimagining' because that would have a dull, turgid, joyless piece of shit.
Yeah... BUT WITH TOPLESS NEWSREADERS!!!

Yes, Blake's 7 has dark moments, but it also has some of the strangest, campest, gayest moments outside of the Tomorrow People. Oh... and the Harvest of Kairos as well.
Heh. I'm actually doing a little music video on HOK and specifically Jarvik/Tarrant boycrushes... and, bizarelly, Dayna using the little-known judo move of "pelvic thrusting" the enemy into submission.

HA!

Oh, and I only realized I mispelled the blogtitle. Totally accidental that...

Miles Reid said...

Wait... Ewen, why do we have to become whores to make ends meet?

Youth of Australia said...

...I was summarizing a sequence from KC: Death's Head. Cotton says that if Uvanov fires them, they will be forced to abandon civilization "and make a living on our backs in the sewerpits".

Cue sidesplitting jokes with Blayes offering to give Cotton some sexy outfits and teach him how to fake an orgasm.

OTOH, maybe I'm making a political statement that compromising our artistic integrity makes us no better than prostitutes.

Speaking of artistic integrity, any chance of the rest of CB being released? My ego's taken a battering since Darker Projects abandoned it and released a whole different multi-Doctor story in one go instead...

Miles Reid said...

It's being worked on.

A) The last two episodes have swapped back to Jim after MJ's health issues have left her unable to sit at the computer for long periods of time.

B) The Infinity Doctor's was written and produced by Eric Busby who is a law and force of nature towards anything he wants to do.

Believe me, I'm not happy about how long it's taking either.

Youth of Australia said...

Fair enough.

I'm in the middle of psychological review and suffice it to say, the question "If you're so good a writer, why won't they release that play you did? Maybe it's too crap for public consumption and you're utter rubbish?" was posed.

Alas, I could not answer.

Miles Reid said...

Your psychological review and the person giving it sucks balls.

Seriously, tell them 'The guy in charge of getting me the gig said 'Fuck You, I'm a better friend than that.''

Youth of Australia said...

In fairness, it was a kind of test of strength on my part (I go in denial a hell of a lot, you see.)

But thanks.

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

Your psychological review and the person giving it sucks balls.

Miles Reid. Laying down the LAWL.

I'd like to second that I'm looking forward to Part... 5 (?) of Caribbean Blue. In fact I've been a bit irritated because I keep forgetting what happened in the previous episode when a new one comes out..


As for Magic Bullet.... yeah.

Like you, Ewen, when I rewatched Robots of Death I was stunned at what a big deal the death of Zilda's brother was, plot-wise. As well as Uvanov's response - I mean, he showed remorse for what happens! And then apparently he goes on to become Pol Pot of the planet!

I know Alan Stevens wouldn't want to hear this but... I think he doesn't really 'get' Doctor Who or Blakes 7. With everything he writes I'm amazed he's actually a fan, because he's on another wavelength.


Incidentally, sorry I haven't been reading the B7 scripts lately. I'm really sick again with that damn virus and my work schedule has been hectic. Hope everything has been okay with you - I had been going to email.

And now I need to collapse into bed... Just six days until I get a day off. Zzzz..

Youth of Australia said...

Miles Reid. Laying down the LAWL.
I'm sure Lenny screams that in Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men.

Like you, Ewen, when I rewatched Robots of Death I was stunned at what a big deal the death of Zilda's brother was, plot-wise. As well as Uvanov's response - I mean, he showed remorse for what happens! And then apparently he goes on to become Pol Pot of the planet!
It's... really confusing. Also kind of pitiful that such raging ROD-worshippers like Magic Bullet failed to do the story any justice. Briggsy wiped the floor with his own sequel, Robophobia (which, bar having one of the fops a "No way, girlfriend!" best gay friend forever, was superior to KC in every way).

I know Alan Stevens wouldn't want to hear this but... I think he doesn't really 'get' Doctor Who or Blakes 7. With everything he writes I'm amazed he's actually a fan, because he's on another wavelength.
Yes.

And I have decided I'm glad I'm not on that wavelength. It is lonely, miserable place that has no meaning.

Incidentally, sorry I haven't been reading the B7 scripts lately.
Yeah. I assumed that was the reason why there was a lack of comments, and so took no offense. At least you weren't saying "I'm sadly unable to verbalize the hatred this fanfic makes me feel."

I'm really sick again with that damn virus and my work schedule has been hectic. Hope everything has been okay with you - I had been going to email.
1) Damn, keep fluids up
2) Goddamn, hope that gets better
3) A vain hope, but appreciated.
4) Aint that the truth?

And now I need to collapse into bed... Just six days until I get a day off. Zzzz..
Sleep the sleep of the just, wise and noble friend. Who is easily patronized when suffering sleep deprivation.

Miles Reid said...

Briggsy and Big Finish tends to knock the pants off Magic Bullet Nine times out of Ten. They deliver clunkers, but they also know how to provide entertaining Doctor Who on demand.

To be honest, I don't think Alan Stevens and Fiona Moore ARE fans of Doctor Who outside of three, maybe four stories, so many of their articles have very little of things positive to say about the series, either old or new. I am half appalled and intrigued at what they've said about the Classic Battlestar Galactica in 'By Your Command', especially considering their previous output. Think they'll accuse Adama of being a sex-killer or a child-molesterer?

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

It's... really confusing.

It's kinda funny how Chris Boucher's writings don't factor into it much, either as well! I mean when Diss Pitter (what a stupid name) was introduced in Corpse Marker he was friendly to Uvanov and accepted as a good ruler who could restore order. In KC he's killed off by Uvanov offscreen and nobody's sad that he's dead!

Briggsy wiped the floor with his own sequel, Robophobia (which, bar having one of the fops a "No way, girlfriend!" best gay friend forever, was superior to KC in every way).

Ooh, I'll have to listen to that one..

And I have decided I'm glad I'm not on that wavelength. It is lonely, miserable place that has no meaning.

Yep. Not going to argue that point..

At least you weren't saying "I'm sadly unable to verbalize the hatred this fanfic makes me feel."

I'm sure I'd be able to verbalize it :P

Sleep the sleep of the just, wise and noble friend. Who is easily patronized when suffering sleep deprivation.

Lol. As it turns out I wasn't well enough to drive in today. So a brief respite! I think I'll spend a lot of the day sleeping though..


Briggsy and Big Finish tends to knock the pants off Magic Bullet Nine times out of Ten. They deliver clunkers, but they also know how to provide entertaining Doctor Who on demand.

I have to agree that I've gone off about a few BFs that have just been plain bad... say Horror of Glam Rock and Scaredy Cat to say two of the least listenable, but they ARE always Doctor Who. They haven't released anything that has made me say "This ISN'T Doctor Who"

..wait. Okay, they did Deadline. But NOTHING ELSE.

To be honest, I don't think Alan Stevens and Fiona Moore ARE fans of Doctor Who outside of three, maybe four stories, so many of their articles have very little of things positive to say about the series, either old or new.

I get that impression, too. A lot of fans seem to have very narrow bounds for what the 'good' stories are.. Stevens and Moore probably the narrowest, given they seem to think the Whoniverse revolves entirely around the Fendahl (Seriously... it still doesn't make sense, guys)

Youth of Australia said...

You know, I recently read a review of Liberation that noticed something I hadn't - the authors can't stand Vila, and whinge end on end about his "sillyness" undermining everything. I could say the subtext is that they realize the humor, joy di verve and fun of B7... and thoroughly despise it.

Anyway, Hello Jared!

It's kinda funny how Chris Boucher's writings don't factor into it much, either
Thankfully it goes both ways.

Interviewer: And then you wrote a play for Kaldor City Productions.
Boucher: ...who? Oh wait. THEM! Yeah! I did that. Needed the money. So, what were you asking about Star Cops?

Stevens and Moore probably the narrowest, given they seem to think the Whoniverse revolves entirely around the Fendahl (Seriously... it still doesn't make sense, guys)
Quite right. As Mad Larry himself said, the very concept of the Fendahl is pathetically unimaginative.

"Right. So... ghosts, evolution, race memory, black magic, deja vu, humanoid life, violent tendencies, supersitions about salt, the number thirteen, the microchip revolution, life on Earth starting in Africa, the missing planet of the solar system... all are down to ONE, SINGLE ALIEN RULING EVERYTHING."

Not only is this ghastly idiotic concept 90% Quatermass and the Pit (except instead of intelligent Martian grasshoppers, it's just a Lovecraftian phirana that eats absolutely everything), but Stevens et all go on to that that the Fendahl is responsible FOR ALL LIVE IN THE UNIVERSE BECAUSE IT IS TRUE GOD ITSELF.

All of this based on tiny extrapolations from lines by characters who are shown NOT to know what they're talking about.

But somehow, the big scene where the Doctor freezes and says "Hang on, this conspiracy theory could be bullshit and it's all just a freaky coincidence" is ignored.

Probably coz it's all fun and immature and suggests life is more than the parasitic desires of giant slugs.

OTOH, having heard their "comedy" stuff, I'll take the bleak macho cynacism anyday. No question.

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

the authors can't stand Vila, and whinge end on end about his "sillyness" undermining everything. I could say the subtext is that they realize the humor, joy di verve and fun of B7... and thoroughly despise it.

Hmm, possible connection to Michael Keating not appearing in any MB productions when he's the second-most popular cast member and has had several BF appearances?

Anyway, Hello Jared!

O hai, Ewen!

Interviewer: And then you wrote a play for Kaldor City Productions.
Boucher: ...who? Oh wait. THEM! Yeah! I did that. Needed the money. So, what were you asking about Star Cops?


Lol, I think I've seen that interview. It's funnier to me because Boucher wrote one of their best scripts even if it seemed to be a 'piss it in my sleep' job for him. I like Death's Head because it almost seems to take the piss out of the entire premise.

Also, Iago is actually Avon-y in that story and Carnell, rather than being borderline God-like with his pre-science and an annoying mouthpiece for the author's views, seems to a more credible smarmy conman character, who just manipulates people to make it APPEAR he can predict everything with unerring accuracy.

Incidentally, while I remember... Stevens himself shot me down when I posed the question but didn't really explain... HOW does Carnell make a fortune off of psychostrategy in Kaldor when it's a society that a) doesn't believe in (sigh) life on other planets, b) has no record of his existence or education and, most importantly, c) no concept of psychostrategy?

All of this based on tiny extrapolations from lines by characters who are shown NOT to know what they're talking about.

Oddly enough I never stopped to think about that... but...

Ransome - is being possessed and not stable

Fendelman - appears to be going slowly insane

Stahl - has already been brainwashed prior to the story, AND is shown to have actually misunderstood the Fendahl's inentions..

Time Lords - are the only people to have rationally observed the Fendahl and have concluded that is simply a highly dangerous lifeform, but not universe-threateningly so (Unlike Vampires, who they are blood-pledged to eradicate)

But somehow, the big scene where the Doctor freezes and says "Hang on, this conspiracy theory could be bullshit and it's all just a freaky coincidence" is ignored.

Also, the bit where he traps it in a time-loop, forcing it to feed on itself forever...

OTOH, having heard their "comedy" stuff, I'll take the bleak macho cynacism anyday. No question.

"They had to get him two stretchers!"

YES, HE IS FAT. I realise this! There's no need to bring it up EVERY episode!

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

Wait, should add I've only seen Fendahl once. Sorry if I'm misremembering some details..

Youth of Australia said...

Hmm, possible connection to Michael Keating not appearing in any MB productions when he's the second-most popular cast member and has had several BF appearances?
Whoa... subtext...

Lol, I think I've seen that interview. It's funnier to me because Boucher wrote one of their best scripts even if it seemed to be a 'piss it in my sleep' job for him. I like Death's Head because it almost seems to take the piss out of the entire premise.
I do think you'd be hardpressed to do more of a parody than "everyone pointlessly kills each other because Carnell told them to, achieving absolutely nothing in any way, shape or form". Though I notice, Stevens/Moore wrote a short story specifically to make sure Death's Head is all dark cool and hard and stuff...

Also, Iago is actually Avon-y in that story
Yeah, the only time I believe the "we wrote it for Avon" claims.

HOW does Carnell make a fortune off of psychostrategy in Kaldor when it's a society that a) doesn't believe in (sigh) life on other planets, b) has no record of his existence or education and, most importantly, c) no concept of psychostrategy?
I can only say that Corpse Marker had Carnell basically bluffing his first employers, and was ready to do a runner at a moment's notice precisely BECAUSE he knew it couldn't last.

BTW, the book implies the Doctor took Carnell off the planet to ensure he didn't start any more trouble. This, along with the previous robot revolutions, are clearly ideas MB were unwilling to take up. Their pick-and-choose attitude bugs me, as apparently I was an obscene freak for enjoying Terror of the Vervoids for NOT THINKING EVERYTHING THROUGH!!!

Oddly enough I never stopped to think about that... but...
Boucher says that it was partially down to a theme on percepting events, and partially because he pretty much scribbled this out half-heartedly without Robert Holmes to pick up the slack. (Holmesy, we should remember, was the one that came up with the bitchy personalities of the Sandminer crew...)

Your memory of the story is quite accurate. Stahl isn't said to be brainwashed... but he isn't said to be anything. He's just some passing German who can convinced pigbin Josh locals to accept him as a dark messiah without taking off his labcoat. The character has absolutely no point at all. Tezza Dicks claimed he was actually a traumatized child of postwar Berlin who was forced to turn to Black Magic after finding he was monumentally crap at anything else, and his revival of the Fendahl was a lucky fluke and he had absolutely no idea what was going on.

Also, the bit where he traps it in a time-loop, forcing it to feed on itself forever...
Alas, it's not that good an ending. The Doctor says they'll throw the skull into a supernova, which - given he earlier says the skull is indestructible - lead to the "Doctor is possessed by Fendahl and giving it to the supernova will make it double-fisted awesome" rationale of Kaldor City.

Your idea is actually much better, especially as the Doctor says that the Fendahl ate its own kind...

"They had to get him two stretchers!"
YES, HE IS FAT. I realise this! There's no need to bring it up EVERY episode!

First time I thought it might have been important to the plot (isn't it a big thing in Boucher's Last Man Standing that thin people are considered evil in some cultures?) but... no.

"Morbidly obese isn't what I am, it's who I am!"

Oh, hilarious - wait, isn't that the infantile sillyness that makes all right-minded folks hate Vila?!? - and makes no sense whatsoever, especially as Rull is never seen, say, EATING anything. At all. It didn't even lead to a Homer-esque still bit where Rull dives onto the Fendahl and tries to eat it because the diet's pushed him over the edge... sigh.

Sheesh.

Anyway, you seem to have perked up a fair bit which is good news in anyone's language.

Youth of Australia said...

Oh, and for completeness sake, the Time Lords apparently took out the Fendahl in their younger, hotheaded days. They didn't even write it down. The Doctor only knows the Fendahl EXISTS AT ALL because the hermit told him about it as a "ghost story" which was unusually frightening (and one that the Doctor thinks was not entirely factually accurate, given the hermit often changed stories for the hell of it to make them cooler - as in State of Decay, the Doctor wants to check Time Lord files before he relies on what K'Anpo actually TOLD him).

Indeed, Image of the Fendahl seems to be a story about the Doctor sucking up his childhood fear, realizes the Fendahl is just some random alien that SALT can kill, and slam-dunks it into a supernova and it has never, ever been mentioned again.

(Except in The Taking of Planet Five, where ironically everyone who mentioned it had their minds wiped...)

I'll just say that Moffat chose to bring back the Nimon instead of the Fendahl... and RTD locked onto the Macra over the Fendahl. And Boucher himself said that "there's nowhere to go with that idea" when someone said he do a sequel to Fendahl.

There's some kind of subtext to this.

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

I can only say that Corpse Marker had Carnell basically bluffing his first employers, and was ready to do a runner at a moment's notice precisely BECAUSE he knew it couldn't last.

Yeah, that does make a lot of sense. I mean, in Weapon there was nothing to say he was terribly competent, per se. He only had to predict the actions of one guy he had a full profile on. AND he screwed it up.

BTW, the book implies the Doctor took Carnell off the planet to ensure he didn't start any more trouble.

That's also sensible..

Boucher says that it was partially down to a theme on percepting events, and partially because he pretty much scribbled this out half-heartedly without Robert Holmes to pick up the slack.

Was he starting his work on B7 at the same time? I'm sure that would also have affected things. And who WAS script editor that year? Was it Anthony Read?

Stahl isn't said to be brainwashed... but he isn't said to be anything.

Oh. I guess I assumed he was brainwashed because it was the only logical explanation I could think of for his crazy behaviour..

He's just some passing German who can convinced pigbin Josh locals to accept him as a dark messiah without taking off his labcoat. The character has absolutely no point at all. Tezza Dicks claimed he was actually a traumatized child of postwar Berlin who was forced to turn to Black Magic after finding he was monumentally crap at anything else, and his revival of the Fendahl was a lucky fluke and he had absolutely no idea what was going on.

... well, that's an interesting take, if nothing else.

I agree Stahl just added to the running time, but he did get one of the coolest dark moments of the series when he asks for the gun. And he had my favourite line of the serial..

"No! This is not how it was meant to be!"

Classic cultist dialogue..

Alas, it's not that good an ending. The Doctor says they'll throw the skull into a supernova, which - given he earlier says the skull is indestructible - lead to the "Doctor is possessed by Fendahl and giving it to the supernova will make it double-fisted awesome" rationale of Kaldor City.

Huh. Well, there you go..

(isn't it a big thing in Boucher's Last Man Standing that thin people are considered evil in some cultures?

Yeah there was some kind of schism with the classes separated by their waistlines. I don't remember the specifics, though..

Oh, hilarious - wait, isn't that the infantile sillyness that makes all right-minded folks hate Vila?!? - and makes no sense whatsoever, especially as Rull is never seen, say, EATING anything. At all. It didn't even lead to a Homer-esque still bit where Rull dives onto the Fendahl and tries to eat it because the diet's pushed him over the edge... sigh.

Lol. That would have better justified 5 episodes of ... character development, as opposed to Rull shooting Cotton down in cold blood for being a plant of Landerchild's and showing no remorse, even though they're meant to be old friends.

I think I got that right - I don't remember it too well since it added nothing to the plot even in that episode. And I seriously have no idea why Landerchild is meant to be the villain... but I think we've covered this :P

Anyway, you seem to have perked up a fair bit which is good news in anyone's language

Yeah, bed rest has done me well. Which is good because I have a pretty full week ahead.

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

Hold the phone... Moffat's bringing back the Nimon???

Youth of Australia said...

I mean, in Weapon there was nothing to say he was terribly competent, per se. He only had to predict the actions of one guy he had a full profile on. AND he screwed it up.
I noticed that. My parody guide said that puppeteers HAD to be incompetent morons because otherwise they'd stop getting any work if they did everything right the first time.

Who WAS script editor that year? Was it Anthony Read?
Yeah. Read took over part-way through.

only logical explanation I could think of for his crazy behaviour..
Yeah, but the story just says he's crazy and despite living with him for months on end, no one noticed. At all.

... well, that's an interesting take, if nothing else.
And "nothing else" is what we got.

"No! This is not how it was meant to be!" Classic cultist dialogue..
Along with "Soon it will be too late for all the meddling fools!"

Yeah there was some kind of schism with the classes separated by their waistlines. I don't remember the specifics, though..
Something about them worshipping Shakespeare, and the stuff about "thin people are dangerous because they think too much".

Lol. That would have better justified 5 episodes of ... character development, as opposed to Rull shooting Cotton down in cold blood for being a plant of Landerchild's and showing no remorse, even though they're meant to be old friends.
Yes, and there's nothing to say that just because one of them betrayed the boss that automatically meant they had to kill the other. They both HATE Uvanov for crying out loud...

I think I got that right - I don't remember it too well since it added nothing to the plot even in that episode. And I seriously have no idea why Landerchild is meant to be the villain... but I think we've covered this :P
I remember he's supposed to be the villain because he's Uvanov's only political rival. But then, everyone's out to get Uvanov. And Uvanov's out to get everyone. I suppose there is some metatextual triumph at making an entire civilization so bloody unpleasant no one would shed a tear if it ended...

Yeah, bed rest has done me well. Which is good because I have a pretty full week ahead.
Here's hoping.

And the Nimon were in the God Complex, the Doctor says the Minotaur in that story is the same species. Matt Smith needed to be trained to pronounce it right as he thought it rhymed with "women"...

Miles Reid said...

Just read and finished 'The Forgotten'

Yep... my Novella story isn't getting picked up.

Youth of Australia said...

FUCK! I knew I should have reviewed the damn thing in pedantic detail as I usually do...

OTOH, maybe you'll stand a chance if they go for a retro "Terry Nation recycling" style?

*I'm clutching at straws, I know, but it's all I got*

Miles Reid said...

Well, I was going okay (although the story itself is a bit, generic) until we had the group of Evil Rebels and the moral differences between him and Blake, then my heart sank.

Ah well, we live and learn.

Youth of Australia said...

Though that seems to be a recurring motiff in BF's B7. It occurs at least twice in the Chronicles and they've got another one coming up - The Magnificent Four, I think, where some other rebel-criminals get their own DSV.

...was it JUST about Blake encountering these folk? I did something like that but I also had Servalan's doppelganger, Avon's lust-at-first-sight and Gan vs Travis vs Zen to pick up any slack...

Miles Reid said...

Blake meets them and tries to stop a terrorist bombing and stop them ruining his reputation.

Youth of Australia said...

I should probably admit I haven't finished The Forgotten. I got to the bit where they're on the station and the pirates are flashbacking to their first invasion.

I take it the rest of the book can be summed up like that?

Youth of Australia said...

Sorry, gotta go. Will be online again soon.

Stiff upper lip, old fruit.

Miles Reid said...

Kinda. To be honest, it was kinda trad and 'By Numbers.' It's 2.5 out of 5, decent, but not earth-shattering.

If we're lucky, that was kind of 'the brief' of the early B7 stuff, just to test the waters before opening up for more experimentation.

Youth of Australia said...

From the interviews, that seems to have been the idea - go trad before rad...

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

Hmmm, probably didn't help my case that I just submitted a 1000 word dream sequence... :/

Youth of Australia said...

Well, I might have advised against that, had I had any idea that was what you were going to do.

Still, who are we kidding anyway? They're not going to choose anything we did. End of.

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

It wasn't the plan, Ewen. I was working every single day, with my fatigue-indcuing virus, after the contest was announced so I needed something I could write and polish in the space of what amounted to about four hours... after my original idea turned out to be unworkable the day before it was due.

Hence why I said I wasn't terribly happy with my submission. I don't want to sound too defensive but I think I did well in the circumstances.

There's no need to get pessimistic. I still think the field for the submissions will be fairly weak, and they specifically described it about discovering talent that's out there. Opens possibilities for further submissions outside of whoever the chosen three. And all they need to do is Google your name to see how good you can write.

And Google me to see how many years I take to write a script... oh, fuck...

Speaking for myself, my luck's been improving lately. (Well, people around me are saying the opposite, pointing out stuff like 'You got food poisoning from a lunch your mum bought you on a sick-day', but that's small stuff :P)

Youth of Australia said...

Hence why I said I wasn't terribly happy with my submission. I don't want to sound too defensive but I think I did well in the circumstances.
I'm sure you did.

There's no need to get pessimistic.
So it's gratuitous pessimism.

And all they need to do is Google your name to see how good you can write.
And find a massive online guide ripping the shit out of their mighty works... that'll improve my chances, great...

And Google me to see how many years I take to write a script... oh, fuck...
Tell them I just refused to post the rest to make you look lazy.

Speaking for myself, my luck's been improving lately.
That's nice to know. I hope your ascendance continues unabated.