Wednesday, July 30, 2014

My Private Nervous Breakdown

So there I am, dealing quite well with depression and the barreen pointlessness of all human existence and then suddenly - wham. Was it the distressing realization CapaldiDoc seems to be a scientifically-sculpted to offend and disappoint me in every possible way? Was it recklessly watching a whole season of 2 Broke Girls in one night? Was it perhaps the risky maneuver of drinking two different Flaming Moes, and three different types of energy drink? Not taking a failed job application as well as I'd hoped? The increasing and not-entirely-my-fault increase of alcoholic beverages? Perhaps my thyroid gland just went crazy?

Either way, last Friday I woke up in a state of terror that didn't let me go. I was shaking, I was crying, I was scared and twitchy and while I wish I could say that this was a totally new experience, it sure as hell didn't seem to have a reason that I was twitching violently and hiding from pigeons, at the same time gripped with a mindless dread that there was nothing in this world worth staying alive for?

I've had some pretty freaky and vivid nightmares on the theme but the worst came first and was so utterly vivid it was like some LSD flashback it burned into my mind. Transcribed below, incoherent and digressive as dreams are, was the soul-shattering experience.

Those who have heard of it have dubbed it irrelevant, exaggerated and also a great pitch for an HBO series about an amnesiac Manchurian candidate on the run.

Judge for yourself.

All I know was, before I had this dream, I was undeniably sane.



Scene - backstreet near my home

This is what google images gets when I name myself.


(Our dashing hero Ewen walks down the street on an overcast afternoon with a pump-action shotgun broken over his arm. In the distance can be heard alarms and sirens.)


Ewen: Typical. Bank robbery and I'm wandering around with an offensive weapon.


(A side street house fills up with brightly-dressed kids from some kind of birthday party.)


Ewen: OK. Time to avoid a misunderstanding.

(He hurries towards a multistory carpark, but one of the kids has Weeping Angeled beside him.)


Kid: Is that a gun?

Ewen: Is it? Yes. Yes it is. But, seriously, totally harmless. No ammo.

(He shows off the barrel and what looks like a cartridge rattles out.)

Ewen: This isn't what it looks like.

Kid: Is that an everready battery?

Ewen: (examines cardridge) Yeah. Looks like. Stops real bullets being put in there.

Kid: Sorry. Had to check.


Ewen: I understand.


Scene - a house with those kids

(When no one was looking, the scene has changed.)


Ewen: And, er, thanks for showing me round the place.

Kid: It's only polite.

(A woman sits on a couch. Sobbing hysterically.)

Ewen: Something wrong?

(The woman has black eyes.)

Kid: She gets like this.

Ewen: Seriously, something happen here? I'm sensing something.

(The patriarch of the family steps in through the patio doors. He's big, grey haired, broken nosed and played by a guy who was in an episode of Rake.)

This is the most evil face my subconscious can provide.
I was expecting the mixed-race bleach-ass psycho from Cracker, TBH.

Patriarch: Well, well, well. You shouldn't have come here?

Ewen: Really? I was invited.

Patriarch: Not by me.

(He kicks the woman, not particularly violently, but rudely.)

Patriarch: Slut.

Ewen: Stop that.

Patriarch: I know who you are.

Ewen: Do tell.


Patriarch: Still got the gun.

Ewen: This? (shakes useless shotgun) What are you talking about?


Patriarch: Don't you remember?


(Cue flashback in a dream...)



Scene - my house


(There is a police at the front door. Lights flash.)

Ewen's mum: What's going on?

Ewen: Beats me.

Policeman: How about when you shot someone?

(End flashback.)


Scene - Patriarch's House


Ewen: I've never shot someone!

Patriarch: I saw it.

Ewen: Bullshit.


(Patriarch points at his arm. Ewen rolls up his sleeve. A scar on the upper arm.)


Patriarch: Then how'd you get that?

(Silence.)


Patriarch: What? Got nothing?

Ewen: I wouldn't shoot someone.

Patriarch: You tell yourself that.

(Flashback. Ewen, in this house, shooting someone with said shotgun. Some richocet or injures his arm. The Patriarch watches on. End flashback.)

Ewen: That doesn't make sense. That never happened.

Patriarch: You think you're dreaming all this?

Ewen: I have to be. This. Never. Happened.

(Flashback. Ewen watches as the ambo's wheel away the body. Chalk outline on the floor. End flashback.)

Ewen: If that was real, I would have drawn a smiley face there.

Jon Pertwee's Hamlet.
Didn't occur in the dream but pretty much sums up the whole mood.

Patriarch: This isn't a dream. You're in denial.

Ewen: No I'm not.

Patriarch: Tell that to your therapist.

Ewen: I will! How do you even know I have a therapist?

Patriarch: I know everything you wish I didn't. Stuff you've repressed.

Ewen: I'm not repressing anything. Not that I'm aware of.

Patriarch: I could tell everyone, you know. You'd lose everything.


Ewen: Which would not be much.

Patriarch: But would still be enough. You want to take the risk?


Scene - flashbacky police station

(Flashback. Ewen at a police station with his parents.)


Ewen: This didn't happen! This is just a dream in a dream!

Max Black from 2 Broke Girls: Been saying that for years, but it never works.

Ewen: Aren't you fictional?

Max: Aren't you a killer?

Ewen: I don't know.

Max: Yeah, this isn't a multiple choice test, I don't think. I suck at tests.


(End flashback.)


Scene - Patriarch's house


Ewen: It can't be real. It never happened. I was never in jail. You didn't press charges.


Patriarch: I still can. You picked the worst place to turn up and cause a mess.


Ewen: Technically, I was invited.


Patriarch: My heart bleeds. Run. Now.


Ewen: Where?


Patriarch: Not my problem.


(Ewen turns to the rest of the family for support. Finds none. They're kind of hostile now. He runs out into the backyard and down the edge of a sloping hill, passing other kids playing. The Patriarch laughs like an asshole.)


Scene - rear edge of Ewen Park


Ewen Park.
This park is named after me.
Do not go there alone.


(Ewen runs along the hill, past backyards. It seems to go on for ever but eventually he reaches ground level in a playground-footy-field. A few families and picnicers are around the place.)

Ewen: Is he chasing me?

(Max and Caroline just happen to be there.)


Max: Nope. Don't think he has to.

Ewen: This can't be real. This has to be a dream.

Max: Nah, dreams are like life in a Brooklyn brothel. You lie back and accept all the wierd crap happening. This is as real as real life gets.


Ewen: It can't be! I wouldn't kill someone!


Caroline: OK. Could you seriously maim them instead?

Maxoline. Great for wisecracks but surprisingly poor moral support.

Ewen: But why? I can't remember.

Max: Your memory's rubbish anyway. Proves nothing. Look, what's today's date?

Ewen: ...I don't know.

Max: How about the month?


Ewen: July.


Max: The year?

Ewen: 2014.


Max: And who's the Prime Minister?


Ewen: Tony Abbot.


Max: You see! Why the hell would any sane person dream that? If you're repressing anything it must be an imagination!

Caroline: Face facts, Ewen. You've got form for carrying weapon, infiltrating strangers' houses and running from the proper authorities.

Ewen: You aren't helping!

Max: Help? What makes you think we can help? Look, let me lay this down on you. This is real. You can't change the fact your life is screwed. And properly screwed this time.

Caroline: I don't think anyone would forgive you for this. I mean, do you forgive yourself?

Ewen: ...no.

Caroline: Well, you can't expect anyone else to, can you?

Ewen: I can't stay here.


Max: Uh, F-my-I? Where exactly are you going to go? You're as guilty as sin! And believe me, I know sin.


Ewen: I can go home.

Caroline: Well, you can try for that. I guess.

Ewen: There has to be someone... somewhere... I... I can run away.


Max: Good luck with that.

(For whatever reason, the roads out of the park all lead back up the hill Ewen just ran down.)

Ewen: This is just not fair.

Max: Exactly. In a dream, there'd be a bunyip hitchhiker only too eager to help. Heh. I'd be so into that.

Ewen: Hang on, you two aren't real!

Max: I don't see any so-called "real" friends of yours leaping to your defense.

Caroline: We can go if you like. We know where we're not wanted.

Max: Normally in the offices of social security benefits.

Ewen: (angry) Fine! I'll cope on my own!

(He storms off.)


Max: (calls after him) Good idea, Undertaker - get used to the isolation now!

Caroline: You're not being very sympathetic, Max.


Max: He wants sympathy, he can ask his cellmate. Come on, Caroline, you know he's not going to be the bitch in the relationship.


(They head after him.)


Scene - further up the hill

(The Patriarch is enjoying a balcony barbecue in someone else's house. The owner is grim. The Patriarch is monochrome for some reason. Ewen, Max and Caroline approach.)

Caroline: He's everywhere!


Max: He's like hep c.

Ewen: It's not that bad in Australia.

Max: Who told you that? The charity that fired your ass?

Ewen: Good point. Is he following me?

Caroline: Nah, he's a kingpin. A big important member of the community. I think he owns it.

Max: Owns your ass, sure enough.

Ewen: Not if I tell everyone first.

Max: And that helps how?

Ewen: It doesn't. Nothing helps. There's no way out of this. And why the hell is he black-and-white?

Caroline: It's his aura. He's pretty clear-cut as a villain.

Ewen: No one has auras.

Caroline: No? Your aura says "dead meat" pretty clearly.

Ewen: There has to be something I can do! I know, I can go back to the house and remove the incriminating evidence.

(They stare at him.)

Ewen: Which exists only in his memory.

(They nod.)

Max: You could kill him.


Caroline: Max!

Max: Hey, in for a penny, in for a ponzie scheme.

Ewen: I don't want to kill anyone!


Caroline: You've already betrayed the sanctity of human life. Go ahead.


Ewen: Have I? I can't even remember who I shot.

Caroline: So, you admit you shot people.


Ewen: This isn't happening!


Max: Are you saying your therapist is part of the illusion? He'll charge you double for that.


(There is the sound of a crowd. Further up the road, a bunch of auctionees with pamphlets are moving up the hill.)


Ewen: They're going to the house. They'll find out everything!


Caroline: They have to pass the bottle shop.


Max: The bottle shop? Get them all drunk! That is an awesome idea! It won't work, but awesome.

Ewen: There's got to be a better idea!

Caroline: Shall we stay and think of one?

Max: And by "we", we mean "you". The murderer. And the loser.

Ewen: I don't even have a nice personality any more.

Caroline: No. Good point.

(They leave. Ewen watches the crowd move on.)


Ewen: What's the use?

(Beat. He runs after the crowd.)


Scene - backstreets


(Ewen can't keep up with the auctioneer mob. Max sits on a stone fence, munching a cupcake.)

Max: How's the whole 'stop the tanks in Tiannaman Square' thing working?

Ewen: I don't know.

Max: Probably because you're chasing them instead of blocking their path.

Ewen: I don't even know what house they're inspecting? Is this a whole waste of time?

Max: Usually is. Ooh, there's something I can do for you.

Ewen: What?

Max: Come on.

(She moves through some courtyards of the flats, then into the patriarch's house.)


Scene - Patriarch's House again

Ewen: What is it?

Max: I found the old Taran Woodbeast Annual 1979 for you.

(She hands him a threadbare hardback.)


I know. Just... don't say anything. I know.

Ewen: The endpapers have fallen out.

Max: Yeah, but no one's smoked them yet. Quit your bellyaching.

(She shoves the pages into the book.)

Ewen: Other way round.

(He swaps them over.)

Ewen: That looks worse.

Max: Yeah. It does. Still, who cares? It's as bad as that Sylvester McCoy one you were doing. Only this one is printed. And not written by a murderer on the run with everyone against him. Well, I assume not. If I'm wrong - hey, you might have a pal in prison.

Ewen: No I won't.

Max: Yeah. I keep forgetting about your homicidal personality.

Even figments of my imagination consider this pathetic.


Ewen: Hang on. This is... different.

Max: Yep. Back in time, dude. Flashback total.

Ewen: This has got to be a dream.

Max: Yet I still have clothes on and your pathetic life is still in ruins.

Ewen: Is this the day I shoot him?

Max: Beats me. I'm only here for the elevator. It goes sideways through the hill. Awesome!

(She grabs a suitable boyfriend from one of the inhabitants and into the lift.)

Max: Oh, one last thing.

Ewen: What?

Max: No way, get stuffed, fuck off.

Ewen: Huh?

Max: Sorry, I was sure you were going to ask if you'd ever see my face again.

Ewen: Oh. Bye then.

Max: Yeah. Whatever.

(The lift glides out of view. The Patriarch is in the corner, arguing with someone.)

Victim: You're ruining everything.

Patriarch: I don't hear any complaints.

Victim: You never listen.

Patriarch: Ah. The secret of my success. (to Ewen) You going to shoot him or what?

Ewen: I... no!

Patriarch: Look. Either you shoot him or I shoot him and blame you.

Ewen: And I can't stop this.

Patriarch: And I thought that braincell of yours was getting lonely.

Ewen: (to victim) You're pretty sanguine about this.

Victim: Sanguine? You mean like blood?

Ewen: I guess so. No, this can't be happening.

Patriarch: Look, this has gotten old. If you want to pretend this is a dream, fine. I don't need to hear it. You can skip to the end, like all spoilerphiles.


Oblivion. Actual footage.

Ewen: What is this? I can't see anything.

Patriarch: Yep. This is all you've got left now. Nothing. No one. Tell me this isn't fair.

Ewen: ...well...

Patriarch: Thought not.

Ewen: You're going to leave me here.

Patriarch: It's a mercy. Do you really want to be able to see everything you've lost?

Ewen: I'm going to wake up.

Patriarch: No. You might fall asleep.

Ewen: This is not happening. This is a dream.

Patriarch: No, anything else is a dream. You can be sure of that. You won't be looking forward to waking up then.

Ewen: No, there must be... something. Hello?

(Echo.)

Ewen: Hello?

(Doesn't echo.)

Ewen: Anyone?

(Silence. Darkness.)

I suffered this for two hours, thirty-seven minutes and three seconds.
I counted them.


And then I woke up.


I've been psychological and drug treatment ever since.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

2 Awesome Girls

Imagine if Nyssa and Tegan toned down the sexual tension between them, were dumped in 21st century Brooklyn and found themselves in an American version of "Bottom", then improved like hell trying to make each other corpse via slapstick and verbal abuse, you'd have 2 Broke Girls.

72 episodes of it so far and not once has it betrayed me like Moffat-era Who!


*hurls a brick at passing Scotsman*

Meh. Could've been him.

It's arguably more Australian than anything Chris Lilly did - the GST jokes, the Edna Everidge gags, the "as welcome as a priest at a Wiggles concert" metaphor...


video


Oh yeah. They're totally in love.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Deep Breath trailer

What I made.

video

Quite proud of 1:03.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

If Jared Reviewed Deep Breath...

...it'd definitely be better-written and possibly more upbeat than the following. I was considering a long rambling post about the nature of spoilers and how I've grown up more often than not knowing what's going to happen and also found a measure of comfort in that foreknowledge.

So. I got the script for Capaldi's first episode. And then his first episode.

You can guess spoilers follow, but I doubt they'd ruin Deep Breath completely. See, disturbing rumors and mutterings were spreading about the Twelfth Doctor era. Now, I threw these off. The Eleventh Hour smacked me stupid for doubting everyone involved and I expected likewise. But no.

Peter Capaldi is a good actor - but then so is Colin Baker. Once again, the powers that be have decided the best way to tackle a new Doctor is to make him a completely unpleasant, morally-bankrupt jerkass in an ultra-violent, nihlistic Kaldor-City-esque conspiracy universe that's papered over with some black comedy gags (though, to be fair, this time the jokes ARE funny). Added to that some crude immortal wangst, lots of overarching plots and a supporting cast full of bissexual thugs and we end up with a slightly-more witty version of Torchwood. In short? Not bloody good enough.

I gave Moffat plenty of chances to pursuade me otherwise, but he's gone one further.

Not only does this new show not feel like Doctor Who, it seems to be something I'd hate.

A line's been drawn in the sand, and I'm on the wrong side of it.

*

0:14 - good thing no one promised a new, forward-looking era of Doctor Who but a bunch of Pertwee homages for the next half-decade. Considering the very first thing we see is an unconvincing T-rex roaring at Big Ben while comedy yokels boggle, you can't say isn't Moff's starting as he means to go on.

0:50 - so, Vastra gets turned on by female dinosaurs? Surely that's a tad kinky, even for a Silurian. And even Jack eventually learned "time and a place". No wonder Classic Who never had female Silurians, they're too bitch-cazy homoronal sluts to give stories a deep emotional edge. Was the Myrka female too, I wonder?

1:00 - good point. How exactly does the Thames T-rex get overlooked by history? Does anyone give a shit about plausible deniability any more?

1:23 - cue infinity of gag meme about Dr Who getting blow-jobs from dinosaurs. You know it'll happen.

1:45 - "Your grasp of biology troubles me." Heh. But seriously, the coppers in Black Orchid were spooks compared to Inspector Gregson. This guy is such a moron I'm amazed he even is able to walk and talk at the same time. Remember when historical characters had actual IQs? Anyone?

2:02 - eh? Why did she call Gregson "Strax"?

2:15 - now I come to think of it, isn't it convenient the TARDIS crashed within strolling distance of the Paternoster Gang? It's not even like it materialized there. And they just happened to be standing by the steps? Who wrote this, Nigel "Coincidence" Kneale?

2:27 - No, Vastra, your logic is definitely off there. Is all that lust interfering with the deductive processes?

2:37 - Eww. Five minutes in the role and already the Twelfth Doctor's covered in bile. If that ain't a metaphoric signal from Fred than what the hell is?

2:45 - why is it that NuWho Doctors seem to need to be introduced by them stepping out of a crashed-TARDIS? Why? We know he looks like Peter Capaldi - and I doubt any sentient being watching won't know this is a new Doctor story. Is it assumed that whole counties of the audience will be going "ZOMG! That's not Matt Smith! I sure didn't see that coming!"?

2:50 - hrm. The door slamming gags from Robot. Guess that counts as Pertweeish enough, given he's doing it to a Sontaran and a Silurian, from either end of three's reign.

3:10 - colour me surprised. When they make the new Doctor Malcom "the Fucker" Tucker, I never thought I'd be shouting "SPEAK UP, YOU CALEDONIAN CUNT! I CAN'T HEAR A DAMN WORD YOU'RE SAYING!" Seriously, without the script, I'd be totally lost about these seven dwarf gags. Not that I'm missing much...

STRAX: Doctor, your appearance has changed. Have you had a haircut?
DOCTOR: It's chemo, you Sontaran shite.

3:39 - wow, Clara's hit some cones and then had some rough shagging since we last saw her. Now why couldn't we see that in some CiN special or something? Look at her pupils, man!

4:03 - Congratulations, Strax. You are no longer the embarrassing comic relief in this show.

4:27 - Aww. He may have forgotten everyone and everything, but the Doctor still remembers Handles. Sweet. Shows that a severed Cyberman helmet is the most likable and memorable companion since Donna Noble - think on that, Moff.

5:25 - unfunniest fainting scene ever. And why the Cloister Bell gong? Is that the new "ba-dum-tish!" whenever the comedy (and the main character falls flat).

5:35 - hrm. You find the TARDIS. A man comes out dressed as the Doctor and claims to recognize all of you, and also a long-term friend of Clara, who then calls him the Doctor. And yet this gang of detectives can't put two and two together and guess just who this new guy is, even though Vastra knows all about regeneration and has apparently met more than one Doctor. PINHEADS!!!

5:45 - "Well then, here we go again," sighs Vastra - very appropriate after the word-for-word remake of the first scene of The Christmas Invasion. We trashed this shit when it happened in The Next Life and I think we should trash it now.

6:34 - I know Matt Smith's in this story, but having him hog the opening credits can't be fair to Capaldi. It'll just make everyone think the Drunk Giraffe is back full time and disappoint us otherwise. And no actual title for the story? That'll piss off the nerds...

07:25 - Capaldi really isn't good at this comedy, is he? Mind you, he normally gets more to work with than "what is a bedroom for?" or "English people talk weird". I'm sad we missed all these scenes where he was apparently unconscious.

07:56 - okay... if Nigel Verkoff was going to try and seduce Vastra, the scene would be like this. "Be gentle, then." "I'll try. Brace yourself."

08:41 - are we supposed to be upset that Clara doesn't like the new guy? Seriously? He's done nothing NOT to suggest the entire regeneration process has failed spectacularly leaving him with a defective body and mind. It's like blanking a parent when they discover their kid's been crippled. "How do we fix him and change him back?" is quite an understandable response if you ask me. Vastra doesn't just come across as holier-than-thou, but an arrogant prig. She spends the whole scene mocking men, human beings and then when Clara shows the slightest similarity, she gets blanked? Fuck you, Silurian.

9:30 - again, Clara's got reason to think the regeneration's failed. Not that she's superficial; she got on better with John Hurt's Doctor than anyone else! And now she's getting heckled for human concern? See, this is why we shouldn't have the Paternoster Gang for anything other than comic relief, they're all a bunch of demented psychos with the moral highground of Tony Abbot.

10:03 - very sweet, Jenny. Can't help but notice you completely avoided answering the question, bitch.

10:40 - yes, kids, the fucking T-Rex is the best-acted and most sympathetic character in this story. Did Moffat base this on a post-it note of "things to avoid"?!

10: 56 - "Are you translating?" "No, I'm learning my lines for the next scene. What do you reckon?"

11:24 - they switched off Victorian London?! Is that just some CGI glitch?

11:45 - I know the idea was that Strax was brain-damaged by his ressurection, but come on. Even he knows that "Miss Clara" and "boy" are contradictory terms! He's not funny, he's an irritating waste of screentime, whereas in previous episodes he had something approaching a plot function.

12:03 - did Victorian Londoners really think their government was so corrupt and dodgy they'd fake a dinosaur in the Thames? And, can I just ask, where the fuck was Torchwood? Did the PG get first dibs on this region or what?

12:29 - yeah, it doesn't matter how many characters say the dinosaur looks unrealistic, it won't make the shitty CGI seem ironic. They should have used the glove puppets from Invasion of the Dinosaurs if they wanted that...

12:45 - that girly scream is clearly designed to diffuse the horror. I hope. Otherwise that murder victim really couldn't emote beyond "Donald Duck panic".

13:12 - Vastra's veil doesn't really hide her features at all. This entire argument is, therefore pointless.

14:00 - I refer Clara to the last scene of Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS. Seriously.

14:42 - Ah. Strax has been shitting under the bed again, has he?

14:56 - Okay... the new Doctor acts like a lizard and snorts chalk. It's like one of the cutaway talent acts from the MiCallef Pogram. I feel Shaun should be giving a score before insulting Francis Greenslade.

15:10 - exactly, Jenny. Vastra is a hypocritical sanctimonous bitch. Ignore whatever she says!

15:11 - so, basically, Vastra is saying that the Doctor hated and distrusted absolutely every companion from Ben and Polly onwards. That is what she is saying. And this goes against Moffat's suggestion all the post-Time War Doctors chose to be more "human" out of shame of their Time Lord aspects. And later in this ep the Doctor himself gives a different reason for turning old. This entire sequence is thus as credible as a sparacus thread as he rants about what is and isn't canon.

15:55 - Go Clara! Smack that stupid Silurian slut down! SHE KNOWS NOTHING!!!

16:18 - I'm calling it as an attempt to locate Gallifrey. That's what he's doing. I called it.

16:31 - FUCK OFF, VASTRA!

16:54 - Jenny applauds Clara for calling her wife a bigoted, moron fuckwit. Um...

17:00 - yeah, Vastra and Clara are bit puzzled too.

17:28 - during the scene change, obviously. This isn't exactly a shocking moment.

17:53 - none of this is helping prevent "Dr Who uses T-Rex for casual sex" meme, is it?

18:00 - she's dead. I mean, seriously, she might as well have put on some red T-shirts, said she was two days from retirement and she was only going to do one last mission. Dead meat.

18:34 - holy fuck. Is this directed by Garth Marenghi? Worst action sequence ever! NO JOKE! THIS IS BAD!

19:00 - I won't ask where he was hiding the sonic screwdriver.

20:13 - "What's he doing here?" That's a drink, that is.

20:18 - yes, lovely visual gag. Totally ruins the flow of the conversation, though, doesn't it?

20:54 - hmm. New Doctor finds all these Paternoster gags as time-wasting and up-itself as I am.  Pity he keeps slurring his words like he's had a stroke. Let's hope ADR kicks in.

21:30 - well, fancy that! Vastra is supposed to be cleverer than Sherlock Holmes, apparently.

22:12 - or, in other words, they are now completely superfluous to the plot from now on. Have Vastra, Jenny and Strax actually helped establish this new Doctor? They've barely spoken two words to each other (not that they ever really have with the old Doctor) and the new bloke wants nothing to do with them. Imagine if the Doctor had left in the TARDIS at the start of Robot, would UNIT really have justified their presence in that tale? Oh well, maybe things will improve now.

22:47 - see, Strax is much funnier when he is being intelligent.

23:10 - did Mark Gatiss write that joke? Or Mark Goacher?

23:10 - Clara's very good at styling her hair at a moment's notice, isn't she? And I dunno, can you actually put on those dresses and corsets single-handedly? It's not like Jenny's helping her.

23:23 - so the Paternoster Gang couldn't even do that on their own? What a bunch of losers! Is this organization what eventually becomes Operation: Delta?

23:50 - Yes, thanks for reminding us that Vastra is a serial-killing cannibal with a cellar full of people she's murdered with her bare hands, cause otherwise we might start liking her.

25:08 - Clara makes a big deal that she is not some flighty girl and the only poster on her bedroom wall was a Roman Emperor. But apparently her subconscious is full of gay porn. And everyone loves to point out she is an egomaniac. Stop telling us the audience identification character is a yaoi-obsessed hypocritical sociopath who's going to be really fat in the future, Moff. I swear, it's like you want everyone to switch off AND IT IS WORKING!

26:29 - ah yes, the new Doctor rummaging through garbage. You wait ages for a perfect metaphor...

26:50 - that's Brian Miller as the tramp. Good to know he's not typecast as "innocent world-weary paser-by dealing with psycho alien obsessed with reflections in a mirror" after playing Dugdale in Snakedance all those years ago. Oh, wait. Nah, seriously, nice to see him again in a scene where Capaldi at least could appreciate the significance of Liz Sladen's husband.

27:08 - right, insult Tom Baker as well. This is just one long list of reasons to get up and walk out of the room. You want to make fun of anything else I hold dear, Moff? Why not come to my garden and piss on the graves of my pets why don't you?

27:25 - story arc alert, Peter Capaldi's face reappears throughout history! Jeez, remember when we just accepted different characters played by the same actor and sucked it up? Would Meglos really have been better with the Doctor shouting "YOU LOOK LIKE BARBARA WRIGHT, YOU KNOW!" as the Tigellans tried to execute him?

28:25 - yeah, this is the sort of stuff we wanted from Peter Capaldi's Doctor. Bout bloody time.

29:06 - Oh good. Lucky Murray Gold had the "Glaswegians are crazy mofo" tune handy from The Name of the Doctor. Is that the new Doctor's theme? (Hey, Matt Smith's came from the bus-bitch-slap in Planet of the Dead, so you never can tell.)

29:50 - like Snakedance, the story shows the Doctor as a raving nutter not to be taken seriously. Except while on Manussa they basically ruffled Davo's hair and told him to piss off, Capaldi's much scarier and violent. He's what "stranger danger" was invented for. Moffat, are you INSANE?!? Even Twin Dilemma was a saner approach; it never said that the Doctor's normal self would be a psychokiller...

30:10 - quite right, Jenny. Less clothing. And she's a lot prettier with her hair down.

30:35 - that joke doesn't make sense. What happened to the paintbrush? And why didn't Jenny guess? Is Vastra normally into this Monty Python sight gag craziness?

30:53 - OK, Vastra's pretty much speaking for us all. If the Twelfth Doctor is Nigel, Vastra's Andrew.

31:12 - Vastra's IQ seesaws in this story. It seems she can only think clearly with a hot white girl posing in front of her. But this whole plot twist comes from Reset, so no points for originality.

31:24 - remove the "seems" from the above sentence. Oh, Clara, if only...

31:43 - it isn't fucking funny. Why would anyone think otherwise?

32:45 - Mancini's?!? That's my local pizzeria that was mysteriously and unfairly demolished! DAMMIT, MOFF, NOW I'M HUNGRY! Oh, and basically this suggests that the person who placed the add was a cheapskate rather than a deductive genius.

32:51 - OK. That was cool.

33:17 - um, the "time and date" thing is still up in the air. Does Clara go there all day every day to wait for him? She could leave a note at the front counter, couldn't she?

33:22 - Clara's snorting chalk too, now? What is this? The sniffing agenda?!

33:37 - and how did he appear in that chair without being seen? Why does Moff believe everyone has ninja-like abilities (see, oh, everything he's ever written for people magically appearing and disappearing)? On the plus side, I like the Doctor's tramp outfit better than his Pertwee gear.

34:27 - and now we're in a Coupling episode. Seriously.

35:16 - as the Seventh Doctor would say, "the delivery of that joke is awful".

35:57 - it's a good thing I like Coupling.

36:38 - I am enjoying this.

37:32 - it's more obvious than it should be, but still slightly unnerving. This is why I only had delivery of pizza from Mancini's instead of going there myself.

38:27 - genuinely getting a bit creepy now.

39:05 - yo, yo, yo. It's Graham Duff as the waiter! The main writer and co-star of Ideal who was willing to wear a replica of Colin Baker's costume while shagging Anderson from Sherlock dresses as Tom Baker. (Anderson does a good Baker impression too, it must be said). But Duff's greatest achievement, surely, is the Eighth Doctor story Faith Stealer and its ridiculous amounts of C'Rizz torture. WHICH IS CANON.

39:25 - is that a sonic pen reference? Or a chameleon reference? Have they found The Faceless Ones in a skip outside? Surely that's it!!!

39:37 - surely, that is a huge cliche? I mean... really? I remember Vault of Terror with the vampire restaurant and even that ragtag bag of unimagination avoided it!

39:44 - Oooh, nicking stuff from Rose now?

39:54 - I think of Mephisto right now. For some reason. Can't imagine why.

40:08 - wow, this is just like Spies Like Us! Only without the product placement.

40:25 - is that one of the Clockwork Soldiers from The Mind Robber?!

40:58 - and how is this any different from what Vastra does? Yet SHE is the good guy.

41:20 - he remembers Amy. Or at least her legs. And thinks of her during bondage. Down, boy.

41:38 - and we needed the "you kicked me in the balls" stuff from Revelation of the Daleks. Yes, 30 years later and it STILL ISN'T CLEVER!!!

42:26 - just because the Doctor doesn't remember The Girl in the Fireplace does not suddenly make this original, Steve.

43:17 - OK, you have to stop doing the "subtle noticing something not right" shtick. They're in an underground spaceship full of robots and steampunk. It's already clear what they're up to. Imagine if on the Asylum the Doctor had gone "Holy shit - Daleks! I wasn't expecting that!" You're insulting viewers now.

43:43 - and now we're left wondering why it couldn't be a Cyberman story instead. Seriously.

44:45 - yes. This is a sequel. We get it.

44:49 - surely the bouncy-shutter is a clear reference to The Chase. Or a shitty prop?

45:01 - yeah, that'll make people like this new Doctor. I can feel the ratings drop as children across the world say "I'm not watching that fucker any more." He's actually going through the "cruel and cowardly" list and ticking them off one by one. Jeez, this is like the DWADs are in charge!

45:18 - I'm sure Tom Cookson would have preferred this bit in Night of the Doctor.

45:54 - "This isn't a fucking pantomime, you know!" - Rik Mayall, sorely missed. And if Moff ever complains about The Horns of Nimon ever again...

46:23 - as a life-long asthmatic I've often wondered this. Let's see who cracks first.

48:09 - Holy shit... seriously, I cracked at the exact same time. Hooboy. Poor Clara. Genuinely scary moment.

48:27 - I admit I'd feel dizzy and faint, but lose consciousness and have a LSD flashback?

48:45 - Nice to know it wasn't as easy as all that. Poor Clara. I never witnessed this sort of thing first hand through all my life. Guess Australian schoolchildren are just better full stop.

49:36 - so the moral of this week's episode is to always call a bluff? For fuck's sake.

50:20 - seriously, would this work with any other monster?

50:29 - Oi, Clara! That book's not bad! Better than Warmonger, anyway.

50:54 - mustn't... take... out of... context... with gay porn...

51:58 - seriously, this whole sequence is giving Clara more personality than anything since Akhaten. It's only Jenna's awesome acting that makes you realize she's been a 2D generic companion for the last year.

51:52 - I love it when monsters show emotion. Like when Ood give you the "FFS!" or now, with not-John-Hurt's "give me strength!" It's a lovely shot. Bet it's used in trailers.

53:15 - Oh no, too late. I lost faith in you, Doctor. You don't get that back. Ever. This is freaking Orbit, man, and you're chasing Clara with a shotgun saying "Please help me, I know how they did it." You don't go backwards from here. Oh, Moff, what have you done?

53:21 - OK. Totally did not expect that. But my previous point stands.

53:28 - Moff, that's your own scriptwriting skills you're trashing, you realize this?

53:46 - Heh. I still hate you though, Doctor Who. I know you're not sorry.

54:34 - Fuck off. So bloody self-congratulatory BBC Wank. That's as bad as if they resolved a plot on The Doctor Blake Mysteries by drawing the ABC logo in the air. YOU OFFEND ME AND ALL I STAND FOR!

54:46 - and why did Vastra and Jenny think this WOULDN'T happen?

55:12 - Clara is rightly concerned that this resolution is straight of The Ben Chatham Adventures.

55:24 - was that Rhaghetti from Pirates of the Carribean??!

55:53 - OK, so there's no promised land. And no golden age. Obviously, why bother making any decent Doctor Who? It'll never meet with expectations. You see where that logic leads? Should've ended at Christmas, there, I said it.

56:13 - I'm liking this villain. He's as underwhelmed by the main characters as I am.

56:25 - Heh. I still hate the Doctor though.

56:53 - FUCK OFF, GREGSON! Christ on a bike, were all the proper policemen turned into soup at Gabriel Chase? The Keystone Cops would be better back-up.

57:27 - and the new Doctor is an alcoholic, self-described murderer who runs off to leave his friends in a lurch for no real reason. Spara must be loving this. It lacks only Adam Rickitt and David Bowie before he orgasms into a singularity.

58:48 - mein gott, I don't know what is more disgusting; the ugly, grotesque plot device or the fact Gregson is still on screen. I'm sliding towards the latter though.

59:22 - this is ridiculous. Utterly ridiculous. Why would that even be written down?

59:42 - so, Reinette can take comfort that the Doctor never gave a shit about her. Well, this one doesn't. Because he is a total massive arse.

59:52 - well, that cunning plan worked as well as could be expected.

59:55 - at last, an explanation for why they're in danger. Um, I am remembering the last time they appeared they were defeated by broken glass and a goblet of wine. Not the biggest threat, are they? Hell, the sets are completely wrong for a sister-ship anyway.

1:00:08 - why am I suddenly thinking of The Goodies? In fact, this whole episode could be the Goodies - and they'd be a darn-site more useful than this Doctor or the Paternoster Gang. I bet they'd do an awesome musical number as well.

1:00:43 - you're not just going to push him out a window are you?!

1:01:15 - so, this definitely isn't the same Doctor who died on Trenzalore? Or the twelve before him? That's what you're saying, you realize? Not only is this complete and utter irrideemable bastard being unspeakably ghastly, but he's not actually a man who was once nice? There are NO redeeming features? Well, give Moff his due, there's no false advertising that this new Doctor is dark and unpleasant...

1:02:16 - just in case it wasn't obvious the Doctor's talking about himself. The Doctor actually says he's betraying his principles and murdering people. By pushing them out of a window. Why are you so systematically destroying my faith, Mr. Capaldi?

1:03:17 - woo-hoo, alien reptillian lesbian auto-erotic asphyxiation! My one weakness!

1:03:30 - dude, Capaldi has more teeth than a Xenomorph Queen! I'm half expecting a tongue to shoot out and punch through the other guy's skull...

1:04:20 - was Stax just about to kill himself?!? This shit is dark, man.

1:04:48 - WTF?!?! This is supposed to be a kid's show! That is... dude! That is... wrong! Why not have blood spurting everywhere as intestines flop out... and, yeah, the hero did that. The main character did that. And not in some "Morbius is a threat, he has to be stopped anyway we can" but "I am good at killing people and refuse to take a third choice". Seriously, strangling Peri is nothing against this.

1:04:56 - oh, fine. Look at me and break the fourth wall. I do not forgive or forget. What next, rip out Davros' heart and show it to him before it stops beating? Eye-gougue the Master for shits and giggles? What possible reason is there for me to watch you do this?

1:05:09 - heh, I like Strax's beret.

1:05:11 - oh, just in case anyone thought he wasn't a complete fuckwit, he does this. Just to drive it home. I beg he mugged some blind children on the way, the total bastard. You can compare with The Eleventh Hour all you like, but this was a complete and utter jerkass. Hearts of gold? Bullshit.

1:05:44 - so, lizard spank inferno about to commence? No?

1:06:33 - he's a total shithead, Clara, that's who he is.

1:06:50 - as Vastra doesn't know what he's done, that spectacularly bad advice is best ignored.

1:07:11 - quote The Three Doctors all you like. He's dead to me.

1:07:45 - sounds like he's going to kill you, Clara. Run for it.

1:07:56 - this is a real overreaction for an excuse to cook a turkey, don't you think?

1:08:06 - unoriginal, uninteresting and reactionary. "And you did ask what I think!" - the Fifth Doctor.

1:08:17 - another story arc. Oh noes. Too late. I no longer give a shit.

1:08:29 - I bet she writes slashy fan-fic, whoever she is.

1:08:39 - just get out of there and don't look back, Clara. He's a psycho asshole. Leave him.

1:08:50 - that's it. Just go and keep going.

1:08:55 - hah! Tenth Doctor's catchphrase wipes the smile off that gobshite's face! (Actually he looks a bit like Jim Moriarity when he has that expression...)

1:09:24 - and no one noticed the TARDIS landing in a busy shopping centre thoroughfare. Guess that perception filter is working better than it did in the first scene.

1:09:24 - "It's an obscene phone call, sir. I think it's for you."

1:09:35 - and, remind everyone all over again about the best Doctor we just lost forever. And then show him exhausted, depressed an in pain so our memories of him are tarnished forever. Oh, and establish beyond all doubt that the old Doctor hates his new self and dreads becoming him. Yeah, this really is making my day better. I really feel better for this addition to the Whoniverse. A CLUE - NO!

1:09:59 - yet still no sign of Tasha Lem.

1:10:20 - good question, Clara. I think it's because Moffat is desperate to turn me off this show.

1:11:00 - yes, destroy the last moment of happiness the Eleventh Doctor could have.

1:11:15 - of course Clara should reply "Sorry, too late, he's become some unpleasant crazy serial killer with all the social skills of a Vervoid and is completely unlikable in every way, shape and form, plus he has abandoned every moral code he once possessed in full knowledge of the consequences" then spit on Capaldi and leave for her own spin-off at Coal Hill School.

1:11:23 - I'm not afraid, I just hate the guy.

1:11:26 - no, he REALLY isn't.

1:11:46 - miss you too, Matt Smith, along with that awesome show you were in.

1:12:15 - your self-pitying whine is not charming, Dr Who. Plus you're stealing your wangst from a fucking T-Rex, that's pretty damn pathetic any way you slice it. Just walk off, Clara. He couldn't be less worth it if he was played by Dave Segal.

1:12:21 - oh, cry me a river, bitch. Fuck off my TV already.

1:12:43 - so the only reason Clara stays with the new Doctor is a mixture of guilt, pity and loyalty. She doesn't actually enjoy his company or even want to keep travelling in time and space. This is just an abusive relationship and - believe you me - this new bloke is going to abuse it.

1:12:56 - heh. How do YOU like it, dipshit?

1:13:22 - hm, Doctor wears a wedding ring now. Does he remember River Song or is it Elizabeth I?

1:13:46 - this is just copying the finale of The End of the World. Just noticed that! It was the chips!

1:14:19 - woohoo! A happy ending for the villain! Maybe.

1:14:30 - dear god, we're not supposed to find this bint pleasant company are we? It's like Servalan played by Richard Briers! (Which is definitely Michelle Gomez' strength as anyone who has seen Green Wing will be aware - remember the Squirrel head outfit?)

1:14:38 - when even the season Big Bad is calling your hero out on their obscene behavior, it's not a good sign. Yes, the new Doctor is a cold-blooded murderer. It's suitably clear.

1:15:15 - yeah, villain, I'm not too impressed either. It looks like a cutprice Grand Designs backyard. Is this some kind of Satre-esque hell dimension or what?

1:15:17 - what the fuck was that? Did she just vomit in her mouth or something?!?

1:15:27 - and now she's dancing to the theme music... okaaaaaaaay....

1:15:41 - hey, these are the end credits to Nightmare in Silver!


Well, I'm glad I saw that. It means I can get all the soul-crushing humiliation out of the way now instead of eagerly waiting the next forty days and forty nights before being disappointed then. Nope, Doctor Who is dead to me. I think I shall avoid what its zombified corpse gets up to.

How infinitely depressing.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Blake's 7: MAXIMUM EPICNESS!!!!

Well, my reviews of B7 lately have grown rather slack - partially due to the sheer massacre of 1980s pop comedy icons in the last month or so, and partially due to the fact that the last three chapters of the Fractures Season/Season B.5 are one massive story and need to be reviewed in one indigestible bulk.



Mirror

"Avon, do you ever see someone and not think they're a fool?"
"Only when he sees a mirror."

There is a fundamental difference in the way BF treats Blake's 7 and Doctor Who and that's with their respective Chronicles. With the Doctor, nothing in the Chronicles has ever really affected the main ranges - there are plenty of sequels and prequels and companion pieces (haahah!) there has not been a single main release where you need to have heard, say, Ringpullworld to understand a single thing that goes on.

Blake's 7 on the other hand, has suddenly become totally dependant on whatever crap The Liberator Chronicles spew up. This bugs me as it means I'm suddenly obliged to listen to them instead of judging their canonicity based on individual merit as I would do with any and all fan-fiction, including my own. So, you remember that story about Jenna when it turns out her dad was killed or something? No, neither do I, but apparently it's important. Some Federation asshole killed Jenna's dad and is now living in exile on a planet populated by comedy Arab foriegners who sound like Michael Keating in blackface.

For some unclear reason, this asshole might know about Federac and prove to be incredibly useful. So Jenna is for once forced to stay on the Liberator deliberately rather than the writers not having any clue of what to do with her - she is chaffing at the bit to get down there and ventilate this asshole's internal organs. In fact, she throws a temper tantrum. It's all very out of character and deliberately so for the most reliable character in the whole series to go apeshit.

Cally is sent down to the planet to meet the asshole (I've totally forgotten his name, believe it or not) and finds out that Travis is there! Yes, he's given false info to the asshole to make sure the Liberator will come for him (Blake for the info, Jenna to kill him) and thus create the perfect trap for Travis and his bimbo mutoid to, er, make mischief. Having explained this cunning plot, Travis then kills the asshole in a very unsatisfying sequence. I think it's supposed to evoke Farscape where Rygel casually decapitates Durkha, but at least that was meant to be subversive. Oh, and Brian Croucher has aged, man. I wouldn't dare say his talent is diminished, but he sure as hell is not the young hothead he's supposed to be playing. He sounds like an old fat guy with a walking stick and I kept expecting him to yell "Get out of the pensioner's seat, ya young whippernsapper! I fought in the war for the likes of you, you mug!"

While Cally runs around on Cliched Arab planet, Blake takes the Liberator to some whacking huge space station where Federac is. I can't work out how he knows this, or why they wanted to see the asshole if they already knew... oh, well, maybe it's explained. Blake, Avon and Vila teleport over to the space station and find a single cute girl scientist minding her own business with a bunch of those sub-Dalek servo robots who tend to react badly if you mention the wrong serial numbers. Which girl scientist proves by accidentally giving the number to make them all CRUSH-KILL-DESTROY and incinerate everything in sight.

Good thing Jenna can be trusted not to do a runner with the Liberator the moment Blake's not looking... No. Wait. The Stannis Lady immediately heads back to Cliched Arab Planet to pop a cap in the asshole, and the moment he's alone Orac is all "GOD DAMN YOU, YOU WRETCHED HARRIDAN!" and pilots the Liberator back to the space station because he's much more interested in stopping Federac. Jenna finds out she's managed to maroon herself on a distant planet for no good reason and with an ever-increasing gang of mortal enemies. Even Cally can't quite forgive this Tarrant-level stupidity but Jenna smartly steals the asshole's spaceship and spends the rest of the episode leading Travis a merry dance.

Back on the space station, our heroes discover stuff. For a start, the "incinerating" robots are actually teleporting them to different parts of the station. This station has all the smartest, most awesome technology ever by some dead scientist and his daughter is the cute scientist who is running the whole thing. Our heroes also discover that Federac is... A MIRROR!!! By which they mean it isn't a computer like Orac, it's just a computer capable of impersonating Orac and the entire crew and guessing what they're going to do next rather than hacking their accounts. I think. I listened to this twice and I was sure Federac was able to interface with computers the way Orac could. And it definitely isn't the same Federac from the comics, and so I am well and truly tee'd off.

Travis arrives and reveals his mutoid is the scientist's other daughter, and her unmodified sister takes this badly. As in "hits the self-destruct screaming yippy-kai-yai-mother-fucker" badly. In true B7 tradition, all the cool tech is blown up and neither side wins - and also, our heroes are so dysfunctional they have made it almost impossible for them to escape. But, in the end, Blake, Avon, Jenna and Cally escape in the Liberator. Vila finds his own salvation, but even as he's working out a way to rendezvous with the others and get the status quo back to normal, he realizes he's stolen Travis' pursuit ship.

With Travis still aboard.

Oh, as they say, shit.






Cold Fury

"Risk is all we do these days - since Earth Control we've been chasing one shadow after another. First Star One, then Mikalov, Federac... lurching from one mistake to the next."

Our continuity-cross-over-driven episode kicks off a mere couple of days after the last episode ended. Vila has been trying to escape Travis' pursuit ship more times than Michael Palin in that Ripping Yarn episode about Coldtiz, but to no avail. Travis, for his part, is genuinely impressed at the sheer variety of McGuyver-style ploys Vila can pull out of his arse and how close he keeps coming to escaping and the fact the little thief keeps insulting him every time he's allowed to draw breath.

Alas, Travis proves to be surprisingly clever at cruel psychological torment than you'd expect for a bloke with a laser canon that goes off whenever he gives people the finger and after lots of systematic torture, starvation, manipulation, drugging and shouting "THE WORD!!!!!!" over and over again succeeds in breaking our unbreakable thief and leaving him like a meth addict at a Gilbert and George exhibition, convinced that Blake et all are uncaring assholes who abandoned him to die.

Aboard the Liberator, the crew are looking for any clue for Vila's references and even the old "tell Orac he's a useless piece of crap" ploy isn't working (of all of them, Blake is beside himself with worry). Just then they get one of Vila's recorded distress signals coming from the ice planet of Horst Minor. Avon points out this is certainly a trap like every other BF story they've ben in, but our heroes go anyway.

Of course, Horst IS a trap and now, we finally meet the President of the Terran Federation - OK, OK, he cameos in the previous episode, so what? - who is played by Hastings from Poroit rather than the bald WarLord Scientist dude who played him in Shadow (and is still alive and in BF, so they really don't have an excuse bar the fact B7 recasted recurring characters on a regular basis). This seedy balding bloke is right of 1970s children's television in the sense despite his popularity, he's a depraved oversexed highly-strung maniac with clear psychological problems.

If you've been listening to The Liberator Chronicles (and, let's face it, who the hell does?), you'll know this neurotic backstabber was doing pretty well ruling the galaxy until Blake started blowing it up and has rapidly become paranoid that everyone's out to get him, especially Servalan who he's bonked on more than one long weekend in a very pathetic attempt to keep her under control. He's been masterminding this Federac thing to play all sides against each other and defeat Servalan, Travis and Blake in one go - but given he's now so unhinged he murders field medics who save his life on the grounds they know he isn't totally immortal and indestructible means he is probably less of an intellectual threat than Jarvik the nudie bricklayer.

As the Liberator arrives after a yawn-and-miss-it massacre of pursuit ships, Cally gets a telepathically-induced orgasm from Gustav Nyron!!! Who, you ask? Well, er... he's an Auron. Who appeared in two Liberator Chronicles, and one of them was killed and in neither of them actually met Cally. I can't think of any other interesting facts about him, but he seems to be a simple plot device to get Cally ridiculously overwraught so she'll act stupid like Jenna chasing her dad's killer or Avon after Shrinker, or Gan's limiter malfunctioning. It's really a pathetic contrivance, and notably the rest of the crew basically go "Nyron? Ah, fuck him!" and refuse to have anything to do with him. They also do the same to Blake when he finds out Travis is in da house and no sooner have they all put on those very unflattering silver thermal suits, the gang teleport down into the wintery BBC Quarry and check out the local Federation base. They immediately find some frozen corpses that look just like Cally. How odd.

Within, the President is not pleased to discover the local technicians have tried to clone Blake, Avon, Vila and Nyron for nefarious purposes - the President is terrified the Clonemasters will open a can of ass-whup if they find out someone's muscling in on their turf. Similarly excited is the real Blake, who finally has a chance to do something similar to the President himself and Jenna has to bitch-slap him to calm him down, conveniently forgetting her own bloodlust last week. She even delivers the "low blow" of mentioning Gan before telling Blake, "Spare me the testosterone - I'm not Avon."

Aboard the Liberator, Avon and Orac do some sudoku or somesuch shit ("What part of the the word 'random' don't you understand?" the computer demands when asked to do some hard work.) and note that they make a wacky Holmesian double-act who could easily become the main characters next series. In fact, they briefly consider stealing the Liberator to do just that. But they don't. Obviously. Avon teleports down to Horst Minor to help out the other losers he calls shipmates, only to be mugged by his own clone. How existential, no?

So, once Cally enthenases all the deformed and insane clones, she pops along to rescue Vila while Blake charges into the spaceport with Jenna in tow and start shooting absolutely everybody - especially those who haven't got a speaking part in the ongoing plot. The President effortlessly escapes the firefight in his personal bourgeousmobile and Avon strides in and saves the badly-injured Blake and Jenna from the crossfire. Orac teleports everyone back to the Liberator as the pursuit ships close in for the kill.

Except Vila's sold them out to Travis who teleports aboard the Liberator and this time is slightly more credible a threat without his opera cape and mummy outfit.

ZOMG. Cliffhanger.






Caged

"Winning or losing has never been a factor in this crusade. Logic dictates that, sooner or later, luck runs out. Our luck just ran out."

Travis and a posse of mutoids now rule the Liberator as she flies toward Titan Base near Saturn, and our monocular, monodexterous monomaniac lists in minute detail all the awesome subtext of him perverting the symbol of freedom against Blake. Blake, as ever, finds Space Commander Travis heartbreakingly pathetic and barely worth insulting - unlike Vila, who Blake sounds quite willing to murder with his bare hands. The people's pickpocket seems to have totally flung in his lot with Travis, and takes pleasure in repaying the crew for their constant assholedom towards him. Only Avon can tell there's no point them trying to reproach Vila, since calling him a worthless sack of crap was pretty much how they said good morning to him.

But even as Cally confirms Vila has betrayed them all, can we really believe Vila would willingly work with the man who killed Gan?

Well, considering the sheer number of times he's tried to kill Blake by the second scene, maybe...

Liberator arrives at Titan Base - aka the Cage, and the mighty DSVII is immediately wheel-clamped (as you can see on that cover above). The rebels are marched off to their cell, robot drones swarm over the Liberator, and the whole thing is pretty much Redemption only with Travis instead of Altas in blue spandex. However, while Travis has Orac he doesn't have the key and Vila has to awkwardly frisk Avon for said item - a sentence that alone could launch a thousand slash fics, especially as it ends with a kinky bondage torture via the sickening method of David Bowie albums on a continual loop... poor Avon...

In their cell, Blake is pretty down in the dumps as not only have they lost, but they dug their own graves by treating Vila like crap in the first place - and frankly he has had it up to his neck with all the others blaming him for Gan's death et all instead of, I dunno, taking some own freaking responsibility for their own miserable lives. Is it Blake's fault none of them have the guts to actually stand up to him?

The President arrives at the Cage, insane as ever, and instead of executing Vila as a traitor deserves, spares him on the grounds the guy is the funniest character in the franchise (after all, B7 is nigh unique as a show where every single villain has a sense of humor). Travis has his military honours returned and all he wants in return is to kill Blake once he's a broken man. Oh, what could go wrong?

Vila orders Cally and Jenna to put on spangy hot pants at gunpoint, an action that even an Auron considers "sick". Then they and Blake are invited to a fancy dining room for dinner with the President himself. This frankly bizarre meal starts with everyone being forced to kneel before Zod, er, the President, and then share some expensive sherry and oysters as they discuss political theory. Mein gott, is sparacus writing this?

The President points out that the freedom fighters are deluded terrorists and haven't given any thought to what they're going to do if they DO destroy the Federation, or have any plans how to feed the multitudes or run the galaxy without a government. He then outlines his evil scheme:

"While Servalan and Travis were hunting you across the galaxy, when your name began to be said in hushed tones by the common man, I started planning for this day. I realized it was going to take more than pursuit ships to bring you to heel. This is a cage for you, Blake, for your crew and your ship. The ship that now belongs to me. She is a symbol, like all of you. If I am to truly bury your crusade, the people need to see those symbols crushed. That is why you're alive. You're going to watch as the greatest symbol of you rebellion is ground to pieces before your eyes. This is much more than a prison; it's an operating theatre. My scientists will probe, cut and dissect the Liberator for every secret it has to give up and when they have finished, when they have learned all your ship's secrets, the Liberator's gutted carcass is paraded through the sky of every Federated World - and you can't stop me!"

Wow. He seems a better political than Tony Abbott, that's for sure.


Downstairs in the Room of Pain, Travis is failing spectacularly to break Avon - he considers all Travis' ploys cliched and is too damn kinky to be tortured conventionally. He calls Travis out for trying to make himself more like Servalan, even down to keeping Vila as a pet flunky, and Captain Eyepatch loses his shit and whips out the anal probe and orders Vila to use it on Avon.

And Vila does use it...

...on Travis! Yay! Vila wasn't evil! (Seriously, he was very convincing.) He pretended to go evil to stop Travis torturing him and naively assumed Blake and the others would easily save the day, except he overestimated their abilities and underestimated just how easy it would be to convince them he had joined the dark side. His original plan to save these idiots himself were then derailed by the sudden arrival of the President - something even Avon admits would put HIM on the backfoot if their positions were reversed. Luckily, while Avon has no idea where the key is, Vila does. He nicked it, after all.

The President meanwhile is making Blake watch the robots starting to tear the Liberator apart and reciting some dialogue from The Caves of Androzani about how screwed the rebels are before Blake announces he's had enought of this shit and tries to kill the despot using only his teeth. The President shows his own remarkable intelligence by yelling "Oh yeah, that's right! I said you were a thug!" instead of, I dunno, leaving the room. What a retard. "You can kill me, but the Federation will endure!" he whines, as if this somehow will convince Blake to let him go. Seriously. How does that logic work? "Let me live and the Federation will collapse?" Give me strength. And when Travis arrives to shout that, actually, he's kinda been fooled by a Delta Grade moron, the President announces he was going to reneg on the deal and betray Travis all along. Because that is ALSO a clever way to handle this situation.

You can kind of see why Servalan was considered such a sensible choice over this guy, can't you?

Needless to say, our unarmed spandex-clad Jenna and Cally wiped out the Presidential Guard between scenes. Travis tries to out-insane the President by threatening to kill him unless Blake surrenders, and this unusual logic takes quite a lot of explaining - as the President is the only one who can save the Liberator, they have to keep him alive. The President then begs Blake to save him and promises to reform the Federation from the inside out, but he's batshit crazy enough to actually be genuine in his offer.

Cally, about as sick of this shit as the audience, says they just take both Travis and the President hostage and end the impasse. Not that there was really one in the first place; Avon and Vila have found Orac and put him to good use in completely screwing over the Cage, shut down the drones, recalling all the troops and also hack all the info on Star One hidden behind the Federation firewalls.

Blake - energized by finding out Vila didn't betray them and also the sight of Travis on his knees, wetting himself with terror and begging the President not to blow his head off - shoots the crazy motherfucker in the head and blows off Travis' knee-caps as well. Unfortunately the deadman switch triggered by the President's death sets off a sterilization protocol whereupon the Cage will be flooded with poison gas, so our heroes have to leg it before Blake can kill Travis. And he really DOES try to kill him this time, there's no mercy or cruelty this time, Blake wants the asshole dead once and for all.

But Travis sneaks off in some escape pod or something. Who cares? He was probably sharing a taxi with Davros or something...

Between Avon's sharp-shooting and Vila's lockpicking, our heroes return to the Liberator and junior-bird-man their hell out of there, blasting the Cage open with neutron blasters. Generally they're working quite well as a team and disproving the harsh critique given by that disembodied alien at the start of this mini-season and they escape with their lives and some of their dignity intact accompanied by some truly punch-the-air Dudley Simpson impressions. Blake expects a JFK-style chaos across the Federation now the unnamed President is dead, but Avon points out this doesn't change anything - and is proved right when they get a phone call from the President himself.

Yes, the crazy-ass loonbag pulled a fucking Borad on their arses! THEY KILLED A CLONE!

(In fairness, this isn't comparably out-of-the-blue. The Horst Facility was working on clones, clones that tended to go crazy and collapse, and the "President" fitted that to a T and was also supposed to be hiding in protective custody after the events of Trial anyway.)

The President explains he has won, more or less - they've got some of the Liberator's secrets, he's seen Blake's true self (a glory-seeking killer) up close instead of propaganda, he's still alive and the fun of giving a very vicious "reason you suck" prank phone call. Blake is devastated, and Avon tells him to build a bridge and get over it: they now have info about Docholli, and that Servalan herself is hunting him down to Freedom City. Avon, Jenna, Cally and even Vila are willing to continue the plan to destroy Star One.

And, spoiler alert, it turns out Blake is as well! I know! Unbelievable!

Overall?

3.5/5




VILA: That's it, rebel scum! Keep moving!

AVON: There is such a thing as overdoing it.

VILA: Do you mind? I'm creating a character here!

AVON: There's a first time for everything.

(An alarm goes off.)

AVON: That didn't take long.

VILA: Someone must have released Travis from the magna-locks. I told you, we should have killed him!

AVON: No you didn't. You said he'd suffer more for letting us escape.

VILA: Oh. Did I?

AVON: I thought you'd got a taste for playing the hero.

VILA: Only when it's not going to get me killed...




So, in conclusion? There's a sense of rapidly-increasing panic behind the scenes of this saga, as the stories become increasingly interconnected until it becomes a one-after-the-other tale, and the increasing links to the Liberator Chronicles for material clashes with the normal B7 procedure of "make shit up on the spot - ideally an identical long-lost twin". It's like the writers realized that there was so little they could work with between Voices from the Past and Star One without being one long continuity-gap filler (hello, Mark of Kane, shouldn't you be on a register somewhere?) and needed anything else.

Looking at it objectively, Fractures has basically been a six-chapter version of Voices from the Past. After some alien-esque stuff that drives a wedge between all the crew, they become fixated on a brand new mission and ignore Star One. They start teaming up with the resistance, seeking out a behavior-controlling macguffin created by Auron defectors that could tip the balance of conflict. But oh noes! Travis is involved, and no one - least of all the script writers - is entirely sure who he's working for! We meet epically-huge characters oft mentioned but unseen, including an important politician who should surely have been seen before. With the crew divided, Travis uses this to seek control of the Liberator, there's a pitched battle massacre and... everything's back to normal. Next stop, Freedom City.

Now, don't get me wrong. I think it's universally-accepted Voices could have been a hell of a lot more awesome than it finally turned out, and B7 has often cheerfully recycled its own stories (The Web as Animals, Deliverence as City at the Edge of the World, Redemption as Ultraworld, Rumors of Death as Blake, et all). But the thing is B7 was actually often anti-story arc due to BBC policy which demanded that most episodes could be shown entirely out of order for repeats rather than stick to a rigid format. The self-contained nature of the stories is, in my not-at-all-humble opinion, one of the more enjoyable aspects. Hell, it added a kind of verisimilitude with episodes starting with Vila noting absolutely bugger all interesting has happened for months, since real life very rarely follows the 24-style every-single-thing-is-significant.

So, while BF's audios are certainly acceptable, the problem is more and more writers are becoming obsessed with the political intrigue and dark miserable endings (as RTD would note, it's easier to be dark than light, and anyone could do Children of Earth but it takes genius to do City of Death) rather than the fun madness that was so often around. Where are the aliens? The crazy comedy space pirates? Ironically, the most functional and least-invested opener of this saga is the one most like normal Blake's 7. The writers should remember that the universe is a big place, and the Federation isn't everywhere...

But nonetheless, this has been enjoyable, entertaining and truer to the spirit of B7 than any previous attempt at audio drama be it fan or professional. I'll end with my favorite moment from the last story.

Jenna is still pretty pissed off about Vila's double-cross, but he points out she did the exact same thing with the Amagons in Bounty. This shuts her up pretty damn quick I can tell you.

"As an argument, Jenna, that's hard to fault," agrees Avon wearily. "Which is why I don't trust either of you."