Wednesday, September 30, 2015

YOA and the Format Restructure (iii)

[The sun sets over the house.]

Dr. Spoon: (vo) History has known many battles. Gallipoli. Vietnam. Endor. But few have known the sheer brutal chaos of the Great Squabble over the best Bedroom.

[Upstairs, Vasiliki and Chamber are arguing over a bedroom. Downstairs, Nigel protectively blocks the doorway to his own bedroom from Cuddles. In the Chill-Out Area, Dr. Spoon is writing on a laptop while Nemonie is fast asleep beside him.]

Dr. Spoon: Some's greatest concerns are survival, or social revolution, or spiritual enlightment. Still others' minds are filled with "does this room have a nice big window?" or "is it close to the kitchen in case I get peckish?" or "if she gets munchies in the middle of the night she should be closest to the fridge at uncivilized o'clock". Yet what about Andrew's silo where he stores useless tat and fell asleep anywhere that took his fancy. Lo, no one dares to enter that black hole of junk to turn it into an en suite...

[Nemonie mumbles without opening her eyes.]

Nemonie: Will you just shut up? I'm trying to sleep off a gut-load of ecstacy here.

Dr. Spoon: Sorr-ree...
[Dave's room. Most of Dave's stuff is still there. Cuddles is dumping his belongings in the corner.]

Maurice: What do you mean, "junk it"? You can't do that!

Cuddles: Well, even if I liked his excuse of a wardrobe, they're far too small for me.

[Cuddles starts emptying drawers and shoving his stuff inside.]

Maurice: We should send it to him, and his family...

Cuddles: Fine, whatever. Just clear the room so I can get it fumigated...

[Maurice sighs and rummages through a chest as Nigel enters.]

Nigel: What the hell...? Did I say you could throw this stuff out? I'm actually trying to get people back that I want to be here - specifically, those willing to pay rent!

Cuddles: Your point being?

Nigel: Dave's stuff being here is the perfect blackmail to getting him back!

Cuddles: Yeah, given Dave's actually alive...

Nigel: Oh shut up! God, Cuddles, if I killed you and put your pectorals on life support, no one would notice!

Cuddles: Whereas I could kill you and no one would care.

Maurice: Ooh, he's got you there, Nige.

Nigel: And what are you still doing here anyway? I have enough freeloading parasites as it is!

Maurice: I'm collecting Dave's stuff. It'll give you the perfect excuse to meet up with him and apologize.

Nigel: Oh, Maurice, how I wish you were more like this!

Maurice: Like what?

Nigel: Capable of thought. Right.

[Nigel unfurls a bin bag and starts shovelling Dave's stuff inside. He takes a snowglobe, some Animorphs books and fir cones off a desk and throws them inside.]

Nigel: Fir cones! What does he want those for?

Maurice: Guess he uses them to tell if it was going to rain.

Nigel: Instead of using the ancient and mystical art of looking out the freaking window, I suppose.

[Maurice clears a shelf of a clock, a stuffed Stimpy toy and a bottle.]

Nigel: What's in that?

Maurice: [reads label] Patented Herbal Elixir - Guaranted To Cure All Forms of Depression of the Spirit.

[Maurice cracks the top open and sniffs.]

Maurice: Smells like really old coconut milk.

Nigel: That's Dave Restal for you, a sucker just waiting to be screwed over.

Cuddles: At least he never took in lodgers because he couldn't find a poster at a newsagent.

Nigel: Cuddles, please, your attempts to become a higher anthropoid embarras only yourself.

[Maurice drops the bottle into the binliner.]

Maurice: [wistful] Dave might have been desperate enough to try it.

Nigel: Dave was desperate full stup. Anything else?

Cuddles: Just this.

[Cuddles indicates a slab of modelling clay, unfinished in a crude sculpt of a woman's head. It is dried up and hard as rock. Cuddles rapps his knuckles on it.]

Cuddles: Ugly as and, to be honest, starting to stink. I'd throw it in the bin but I don't want to touch it.

Nigel: Wait, keep it.

Cuddles: It's a piece of junk! No art connoisseur would be seen dead with it!

Maurice: Is that... Phe?

Nigel: Yep. Desperate Dave still isn't over her. We'll keep it here as a back-up to lure him in.

Maurice: That's cold. That's cruel. That's sickening. But I'd be lying if I said it's not worth a try.

Cuddles: OK, good, you've got everything go! Now, should I flea-bomb this place before the Aboriginal smoking ceremony or after? Maybe do it at the same time, cut to the chase...

[Nigel glares at him.]

Nigel: There just aren't enough hours in the day for me to hate you. Do us a favor and suffocate!

[Eve's room. Vasiliki is hanging up the skeleton on the toilet poster on the wall. Chamber idly looks into the en suite bathroom.]

Chamber: What do you think?

Vasiliki: As a matter of fact, I think I could be happy here... once those windows are clean. What did the previous occupant get up to?

[Vasiliki indicates the window. There are arse-prints high up on the glass.]

Chamber: Wow. She must have been a contortionist.

Vasiliki: Or she was having sex with someone who was. Seriously, those are very distracting.

[She picks up a spray can, squirts the window and wipes it clean. A second later, the prints reappear.]

Vasiliki: How the hell did that happen?

Chamber: I dunno. Does Mr. Sheen come with a free exorcism?

Vasiliki: I hope it's demonic activity. I don't want to know what causes stains like that.

Chamber: You know, I could always have this room if you don't want it...

Dr. Spoon: Chamber I found it!

[Both Vasiliki and Chamber emerge to the balcony outside. Dr. Spoon is there with a large, creepy-looking ventriloquist dummy over his shoulder in the shape of a grinning clown.]

Dr. Spoon: Operation Room Gathering And Scenic Manamagent - or ORGASM for short - is ready to go! We'll get the best bedroom is ours away from that grecian girl in no time!

[Vasiliki looks between Dr. Spoon and Chamber and shakes her head.]

Chamber: Too late, Rupert. She's onto us.

Dr. Spoon: How?

Chamber: Take a wild guess?

Dr. Spoon: ...the Easter Bunny?

Chamber: OK, take a slightly less-wild guess.

[Vasiliki slams the door in their faces. They sigh and head along the balcony.]

Dr. Spoon: You know, Chamber, if you just kept your stuff organized, I would have found this a lot quicker.

Chamber: It is organized! Alphabetically!

Dr. Spoon: Yes, Chamber, but you're totally dyslexic, aren't you?

Chamber: Do you have to bring that up all the time?

Dr. Spoon: You're the one who insists on playing scrabble...

Chamber: You're just bitter because you lose all the time...

[Wynona pulls up outside Dave's house. Maurice turns off the engine and collects the binliner full of Dave's stuff. Nigel looks pensive.]

Nigel: I dunno. Maybe I should go in with you.

Maurice: Might be best if I ease him into the concept.

Nigel: Ease him into it? Maurice, we were the best of friends! Why, remember that time Andrew accidentally snorted anthrax and disappeared for six weeks...?

Maurice: No. Not particularly.

Nigel: Well, my point is, it was just me and Dave. Our relationship was magical.

[Flashback. Nigel’s room is lined with Christmas lights and decorations. Nigel sits in his bed, facing the TV. He wears a festive hat and some of the decorations. On the TV, the Queen’s speech begins. Nigel pours himself a tankard of sherry.]

Nigel: Merry Christmas! God save the Queen!

[He begins draining the tankard. There is a banging at the door.]

Nigel: [shocked] Oh, crapola.

Dave: [vo] Hey! Nigel! Hello! Are you in there?

[Nigel leaps off the bed, ejecting a video from his VCR. It has QUEEN’S SPEECH 2001 written on the label and begins to haul down the decorations. The door bursts open and Dave enters.]

Dave: There you are! [looks around] What the...

[Nigel looks up at him while trying to haul down his Christmas tree.]

Nigel: This isn’t what it looks like!

Dave: You’ve been celebrating Christmas again, haven’t you?

[Nigel sweeps a pile of half-opened Christmas presents off the top of his mantle piece. Muchos smashing noises. Nigel tries to look casual as he rips off his festive outfit.]

Nigel: So? What’s wrong with that, man?

Dave: It’s July! The fourth of July!

Nigel: OK, so I got my public holidays mixed up, so sue me!

Dave: What are you talking about? You hate America!

Nigel: Uh, I try to celebrate other cultures.

Dave: Oh, really? So what does one DO on the fourth of July?

Nigel: [winces] Ah. Oh dear. I know this.

Dave: Does it involve a Christmas tree? And lights?

Nigel: [casual] Doesn’t it?

[Dave crosses to the TV. Nigel leaps in front of it, trying to block his way but Dave shoves him aside and checks the video. His face falls.]

Dave: [disappointed] Oh, no, Nigel. Not the Queen’s speech. I thought you were getting better?

Nigel: I don’t have to justify myself to you!

Dave: Look mate, we’re all we’ve got left now! And when you start hiding in here, pretending its Christmas every single day... You have got a problem, Nige! We covered all this in March? Remember the 24-Step Guide to Accepting That Christmas is Over? Remember that? Oh, we were so pleased when you finally chucked out the tree.

Nigel: I’m nineteen, Restal! I’m old enough to do what I want.

Dave: That’s not what you said when the police came round. [SAD] Can’t you see you’re not right? This isn’t natural. You’re doing nothing but harm to yourself. You’ve got to see a professional!

Nigel: If you don’t like it, get out.

[Dave tries to grab the Christmas tree, unbalancing it. And incredibly-pathetic girl-fight begins between Nigel and Dave, ending with a nipple-cripple that floors Dave. He scrambles out, crying.]

Nigel: [cruelly] Yeah, get used to it, Dave! From now on the Big N is head of THIS household!

[Behind him, the loose tree falls on top of Nigel, crushing him and dragging the Christmas lights with it. That, in turn, knocks over everything in the room that was upright. A long pause.]

Nigel: Uh, a little help here? Hello?

[Nigel lies beneath the felled Christmas tree. On the other side, his leg sticks upright, aiming at the ceiling, like a flamingo. End flashback. Nigel sighs nostalgically.]

Nigel: Ah. I still don't have full feeling in my left leg.


Maurice: Yeah whatever. Don't worry, if I know Dave he'll forgive you for this. I mean, making him live at home for a couple of days isn't that bad...

Nigel: You're right. Hell, he'll probably thank me for the chance to see his folks again.

[Maurice leaves the car and heads to the house.]

Nigel: Oh. Hang on. There's another amnesia bit fading away...

[Flashback. Nigel hands Dave a milkshake. He sips it.]

Dave: Hmmm. Tastes good. What’s in it?

Nigel: Oh, milk, butter, cream, icing sugar, vanilla custard, hundreds and thousands oh, and chloroform.

[Dave collapses unconscious. Nigel laughs evilly. Cut to Dave's house, where Nigel throws Dave into his father's arms.]

Nigel: Look, Mr. Restal, sorry about this. Uh, Dave’s decided to move back with you, but, um, you know how it is. He doesn’t want to swallow his pride, so he got absolutely pissed instead. Sorry about this, but I couldn’t leave him in the gutter. Again. He’s sold most of his possessions for his heroin habit. Look, it’ll take some time, but I’m sure, if you keep him indoors and never let him leave again, he’ll soon become the loveable son you remember. [gulps] Can I trust you with my best friend?

Dave's Dad: Of course I can. Thank you.

Nigel: No, my pleasure.

[Nigel closes the front door, grinning evilly. End flashback.]

Nigel: Jeez. Maybe I need a CAT scan. I shouldn't be forgetting important things like that.

[Maurice gets back into the car.]

Maurice: Nigel, apparently you convinced Dave's parents he was a self-harming heroin addict and they've thrown him into rehab and refuse to tell anyone where he is in case that leads to a relapse.

Nigel: Really? Well, actually, that does kind of make sense. You see, it was another of those mental blanks...

[Maurice punches Nigel in the face, giving him a bloody nose.]

Maurice: [snarling with fury] You are without doubt the worst excuse for a human being I have ever met and frankly if there isn't a hell then there should be one created especially just for you! You are on the sub-child-molester level, you are! You not only betrayed the two friends you had on the planet, you went out of your way to wreck and destroy their lives as much as you possibly could out of sheer arrogant sadism! You spat on every chance you had to become a decent human being and I hope you live a very long life so you can suffer longer and more agonizingly than any other living creature! And if you ever so much as breathe in my presence again I will crack open your spinal column and pour in battery acid! If you die alone, unloved, unmourned and in utter torment then you've got off lightly.

[Maurice punches him again and then climbs out of the car and storms off into the night. Nigel hisses with pain and wipes the blood from his face.]

Nigel: Wow. And this is him taking his meds!

[Dr. Spoon and Chamber are examining the wall beside Andrew's silo.]

Dr. Spoon: Do you see it, Chamber?

Chamber: Would it emotionally devastate you if I say no, Rupert?

Dr. Spoon: [sighs] The wall!

Chamber: Yes. It's a wall. Is this some Pink Floyd thing?

Dr. Spoon: Chamber, the other side of the silo the wall is much further back than here. I mean, between you and me, I can't be arsed to do any measuring, but it is clear this is not a proper corner, it comes out instead of going in like... um...

Chamber: Some kind of closested heterosexual?

Dr. Spoon: Yeah, something like that. Man, I need some proper sleep.

Chamber: I told you to cut down the caffiene.

Dr. Spoon: I have, but there's still so much in my system! Damn my lazy albino metabolism!

Chamber: So what do you reckon's behind this strange extra wall? A panic room? Ventilator shaft?

Dr. Spoon: Let's find out.

[They pick up sledgehammers.]

Chamber: You know, if this is a load-bearing pillar we could completely screw this entire building.

Dr. Spoon: Yeah, but we still have our old apartment to go back to.

[They start slamming their hammers against the wall. The plaster cracks.]

Chamber: True, but you're the one who can explain it all to Landlord Nigel.

Dr. Spoon: Pah! He'll be much more upset with what Vasiliki's doing...

[Vasiliki enters through the door with a small crowd of potential homebuyers.]

Vasiliki: So. This is 23 Chief Mango Zulu Bootlace Cul-De-Sac and I'm sure you'll notice it looks exactly like it does in the brochures and by that I mean fricken amazing. Oh, remind me to give you the brochures at some point. It's got four bedrooms, an upper level, a basement. It's in perfect condition and if I wasn't paid to say that I'd snap this up, I'd snap this up anyway. This is the best house on the market, hands down. You could host parties, athletic competitions or even a safe houses for political dissidents of strategic value...

[The thumping and smashing from Dr. Spoon and Chamber is too loud to ignore. Cuddles emerges from Dave's room with a mud-pack on his face and his hair in a towel.]

Cuddles: For the love of Icehouse, what the hell is that din?

Vasiliki: Do you mind, big guy? I'm trying to work here!

[She indicates the house buyers.]

Vasiliki: Don't worry about them. Some minor renovations underway...

Chamber: [singing] Hello? Is there anyone in there? Is there anyone home?

Dr. Spoon: Technically, the more appropriate song would be Another Brick In The Wall.

Chamber: Shut up, I like this one better! I, I have become comfortably numb...

[They have smashed away the plaster to reveal brickwork.]

Housebuyer 1: Why's it so cheap? 

Vasiliki: Well, it's been hard to shift...

Housebuyer 1: I knew it! The place is haunted! Things move on their own!

Housebuyer 2: We're going to be swallowed by the walls!

Housebuyer 3: Have human remains been found here?

Vasiliki: Look, this place is not built on an Indian burial ground...

Cuddles: Well, duh! We're in Australia!

Vasiliki: This apartment area is not haunted. There are no ghosts and no secret burial sites

Cuddles: Er, I think you might've spoken a touch too soon there, Silky.

[Cuddles points to where Dr. Spoon and Chamber have stopped demolishing the wall. There is now a jagged hole and brown, cobwebbed skeletons are visible beneath. The housebuyers stare at the bones then at Vasiliki. A long pause.]

Vasiliki: You still haven't seen the size of the bedrooms? And one of them has an en suites.

[A very long pause.]

Vasiliki: Seriously - en suites!

- to be continued... if any more had been written

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

YOA and the Format Restructure (ii)

[Street. Wynona drives through the suburbs. Maurice is at the wheel, Nigel holding a pack of frozen peas to his forehead, still hungover.]

Maurice: I still think it would be easier to convince Dave.

Nigel: Course it would! So we can do it later. We'll need to work harder on Andrew, so we might as well start now.

Maurice: Ah, it shouldn't be too difficult. Once he finds out how your pathetic scheme backfired, he'll be in a great mood, won't he?

Nigel: Hmph. I really preferred you when you didn't take your meds, Maurice.

Maurice: Oh stop being a bitch.

[They turn a corner to the park where Andrew's shack should be. Instead there is a smoky hole in the ground where the shack was, which is taped off and with fences around. Maurice parks Wynona and they emerge to approach the sealed-off area.]

Nigel: Oh now what?

Maurice: Andrew's place... it's burnt to the ground.

Nigel: He probably burnt it for insurance. The hairy lunatic lost his job and needed some cash. [winces] Oooh, I'm getting that amnesia again...

[Maurice hurries to a smoke-damaged house next to the hut as the front door opens and Cuddles, a body-builder type with a ponytail, lumbers out.]

Maurice: Excuse me... scuse me...

Cuddles: Yeah?

Maurice: Sorry, but what happened?

Cuddles: Typical media bias.

Nigel: What?

Cuddles: You'd think the news would have reported a terrorist attack like that, wouldn't you?

Nigel: What terrorist attack?

Cuddles: Day before yesterday. Hole place blew up, just as we were getting some credibility back into the neighborhood. Oh well...

Maurice: You know the guy who lived there?

Cuddles: Drew? Oh yeah, I knew him.

Nigel: Your use of the past tense disturbs me as much as your oiled pectorals excites my companion.

Maurice: They don't excite me that much.

Nigel: You have very strange fetished, Maurice. [to Cuddles] Did something happen?

Cuddles: Well...

[Flashback. Andrew is crossing the park to the intact hut. He opens the door just as Cuddles spots him and runs out of his house.]

Cuddles: Hey, you, what are you doing?

Andrew: What’s it look like? It’s my hut.

Cuddles: Jeez, Drew! Property values have just started going up again, you spastic! You move in and they’ll head straight back down again, you evil little goblin!

Andrew: Look, I was here before you. I have title on this land.

Cuddles: Only because none of the Aborigines wanted it.

Andrew: Look, ‘Cuddles’, I’m just stopping by for some stuff.

Cuddles: [haughty] If you move in, I won’t be responsible for my actions.

Andrew: Fine! But remember: I know what you do kangaroos, so just shut up, you annoying virus. Or soon the local papers will work out just why you’re called ‘Cuddles’! OK?

Cuddles: Fine! I hope you die horribly.

Andrew: Yeah, like that’s about to happen.

[Andrew turns to face his hut. A massive explosion utterly destroys Andrew’s hut, flinging Andrew across the park. He strikes a wall before crumpling to the ground. End flashback.]

Maurice: Holy shit. What happened then?

Cuddles: Lots of fire engines, police, the right-wing media...

Nigel: To Andrew?

Cuddles: No idea. No ambulances turned up. I suppose he must have just got up and gone. I was a bit busy trying to raise awareness of Kakadu National Park Uranium Mining with that cow from 60 Minutes, so I guess he could have been pronounced dead. But there was nothing in the paper about it.

Maurice: Well, Kakadu's probably going to be more of an election issue...

Cuddles: I meant Drew. Kinda feel a bit bad, but then it was my house that got damaged. Stupid insurance premiums... I should totally set up a website.

Maurice: Yeah, you do that.

[Nigel is staring at the blast site.]

Maurice: Nigel?

Nigel: Oh dear. I just remembered.

Maurice: Remembered what?

Nigel: Well, er, the person who put the plastic explosives in the so-called Beeblebrox Bungalow may very well have been someone not a million miles away talking to you right now.

Maurice: You blew up Andrew's hut!

Cuddles: My geraniums are practical worn down to the stem you terrorist!

Nigel: In reverse order, a) I don't give a shit and b) hey, I was drunk with evil power at the time.

Maurice: You might have killed Andrew!

Nigel: That wasn't my intention.

Maurice: Do you think it makes this all right?

Nigel: Doesn't it? Hell, I just wanted to blow up the shack to mess with him. I didn't think he'd be inside it at the time.

Cuddles: Actually, he was sort of outside the doorway.

Nigel: See? Besides, it's me who has to suffer if the yowie-faced freak's dead! Who's going to pay rent!

Cuddles: What?

Nigel: I could explain it to you, but that would involve me caring that you're well-informed.

[Cuddles calmly punches Nigel in the face.]

Nigel: OK. Ow. Shit. I'm broke but I known a stunning outer suberb converted gymnasium quality apartment and rooms are going vacant so I'm trying to...

Cuddles: I'll take it.

Nigel: What? I thought I was the one with concussion!

Cuddles: You've damaged my property. Until the decorators are finished, I need a place to stay.

Nigel: I don't want you in my house, whatever your name is!

Cuddles: You can call me Cuddles. And if you find that funny I will snap your femur.

Nigel: Look you walnut-filled condom on chopsticks...

Maurice: Hey, leave it, Nige. You want paying guests, take what you're given.

Cuddles: Oh, I'm not paying. I'll take the rent owed out of the lawsuit I'm still tempted to file against you.

Nigel: Lawsuit? Do you know who I am?!

Cuddles: Yes.

Nigel: Shit, that means he could get me to court. Fine, "Cuddles". I suppose you can take Andrew's room until we find him.

[Cuddles claps his hands girlishly and runs inside.]

Maurice: Find Andrew? He could be dead by now!

Nigel: Rule 1, Maurice. They're not dead until you see the body.

Maurice: Yeah, tell that to Jimmy Hoffa.

Nigel: Who?

Maurice: I dunno. People said that to me once when I did the "see the body" thing.

[They cross to the brick wall Andrew impacted on. There is an impact dent and a bloodstain.]

Maurice: Well, it doesn't take CSI: Los Angeles to see he was hurt.

Nigel: It's not that bad. Headwounds always bleed out. He must have regained consciousness and walked away.

Maurice: He could still have died from an anuerysm or something.

Nigel: In which case, someone would have found the body by now. If only we knew where he was going.

Maurice: Oh! I've got an idea!

[Maurice starts to run to a phone box.]

Maurice: We can call Katy - he probably went to see her.

Nigel: Ah.

Maurice: Ah?

[Flashback. Nigel is by the kitchen table which is covered with buttermenthol wrappers and he picks up the landline. When he speaks, his voice is absolutely identical with Andrew’s mellow tones.]

Katy: Hello?

Nigel: [Andrew's Voice] Katy, is that you? Katy, this is difficult for me.

Katy: What is?

Nigel: [Andrew's Voice] Well, look, it was either ringing you up or telling you face to face and getting slapped for ten minutes straight.

Katy: What?

Nigel: [Andrew's Voice] Katy, there comes a time in life to grow and  change. With your compassion and guidance I have discovered the beauty of life. Now, I must go into the world a new person, and seek out my own truths. So, er... I’m out of here, you slut! But, er, I will remember you January, like a memory I once had. [calls] Pass the gin, will you Serena?

Katy: [stunned] So, this is goodbye?

Nigel: [Andrew's Voice] Goodbye, you nagging know-it-all bitch! Do you owe me any money? No? Well, don’t be too put out that you screwed this one up. That’s the problem with you lady, you never could hold a relationship past three weeks.

Katy: Fine! Piss off – you’re like all the rest! I’m sick of you! All men are bastards...

[Nigel hangs up. End flashback.]

Maurice: So. You tricked Katy into breaking up with Andrew before you blew up his place and probably killed him in the process.

Nigel: See, when you put it like that, it sounds bad.

Maurice: It sounds bad because it IS bad you stupid arsehole!

Nigel: Why are you forgetting the "drunk with evil power" bit? Hey, if their love was so awesome, it could have survived anything I did. And if that stupid ape-shape hadn't distracted Andrew, he would have had enough time to realize the hut was full of plastic explosive and do a runner. So, technically, he's the bad guy.

[It turns out Cuddles is right behind them, with lots of backpacker stuff.]

Cuddles: Who's the bad guy?

Nigel: [sighs] Oh, this relationship is not going to improve any time soon.

[Later. Cuddles' stuff has been packed into the boot of Wynona. Cuddles and Maurice close the boot and climb inside. Nigel is in the passenger seat. Maurice glares at him.]

Nigel: Don't glare at me, boy. I intend to find Andrew.

Maurice: Andrew's dead, obviously. He stumbled into some back alley, karked it and is probably on a mortuary slab right now thanks to you!

Nigel: And you call yourself a friend with that attitude?

Cuddles: Well he's not the one who blew him up.

Nigel: Cuddles, unless you have something to contribute to the conversation be silent. In fact, you should bring silence to every conversation from now on.

[Cuddles reaches across and slams Nigel's head against the dashboard. Nigel grabs the handle of his chair and it jack-knifes back into Cuddles face and he cries out.]

Nigel: You know, I hold Andrew in some small regard so imagine the sort of shit I might do to you if you keep this up you over-oiled anabolic baboon! [brightly] Right, now primal dominance over the herd has been reasserted, we need to find Andrew.

Maurice: How? Check out the morgue?

Nigel: Nonsense. All we need to do is think like him.

[Long pause.]

Nigel: Man, this is going to be difficult, isn't it? OK, well, working on the assumption Andrew wasn't killed what would he do now he has nowhere to go and no one to turn to? Well, he'd need money - especially after I emptied his account...

Cuddles: My god, there are Nazis out there who've done more for human decency...

Nigel: Shut up, Cuddles! Now, Andrew needed money, he needed work... He'd go to the nearest toy store that hadn't already fired him. Where's the nearest shopping centre, Maurice?

Maurice: You've lived here for three years and you're asking that now?

Nigel: Hey, I probably knew, I just destroyed that brain cell with alocohol poisoning.

[Maurice rolls his eyes and then starts the engine. Wynona drives off.]

[The parkling lot around a Westfield shopping centre. Nigel, Maurice and Cuddles emerge from the car and start moving towards the centre.]

Nigel: I've got a good feeling about this, people. Walking distance from the disaster area, plenty of warmth and food and employment opportunities - if Andrew was headed anywhere it would be here.

Cuddles: You know, the argument for him being dead in a back alley is getting very compelling about now.

Nigel: Oh, how many potential homicides have you investigated, muscle man? The same number as Stuart Littlemore. Zero! Besides, you're both underestimating the sheer thickness of Andrew's skull. Believe you me, I know where of I speak - I've tried to bash it in enough times.

Maurice: He's not going to be there, Nige. At best he'd be in some intensive care unit...

Nigel: Maurice, this is precisely the attitude that made you fail the HSC.

Maurice: I didn't fail.

Nigel: Denial isn't the answer, Maurice.

Cuddles: No, it is!

[Cuddles laughs uproarishly. Nigel and Maurice eye him uncertainly.]

Nigel: Dear god, I hope we find him. You've actually lowered the bar.

[They enter Westfield.]

[Main hall. It is full of people. The trio approach a detailed model of the shopping centre under a glass case with a map superimposed over the top. Nigel looks around.]

Maurice: OK, well the toy stores are up on the top level.

Cuddles: Another conspiracy. Designed to drag all the parents through the whole complex, so they're more likely to impulse buy all the way. Brainwashing, I tell you.

Maurice: Do you actually do anything about all these social problems?

Cuddles: I don't ignore them. [folds arms] That's enough. Oh yeah, that's enough.

[Nigel approaches a cafe.]

Nigel: I remember this place. I've been here before with Andrew and that moron Mungo Smith!

[Flashback. A waitress called Alf is talking to Andrew and Nigel as they sit at a table with Mungo.]

Alf: $15 for the drinks, boys.

Andrew: Sure, whatever.

[He pulls out a wallet and hands over some cash. She hands it back.]

Andrew: You don’t take Monopoly Money?

Alf: Fraid not, smelly.

Andrew: [sighs] I tried. You can’t say I didn’t try.

Alf: No, but I can say you didn’t pay, so pay up!

[Nigel stands up, between Andrew and Alf.]

Nigel: [charming] I’m sure the value of those drinks can be made up in... other ways, don’t you think? Eh? Get my drift? Uh?

Alf: [folds arms] What? You want to wash dishes for the next three weeks, cause that’s what it’s gonna cost to cover the bill.

Nigel: Three weeks for $15? That’s daylight robbery!

Alf: Yeah, and so is not paying for your drinks.

[Andrew stands up, calmly.]

Andrew: Now, now, no need for such unpleasantness. I’m sure we can rustle up enough money if we pull our heads together.

[He waves Mungo and Alf together for a huddle, then grabs their heads and slam them together. They fall down unconscious. Andrew pulls out Mungo’s coin purse, opens it and pours the silver coins out over their prone forms.]

Andrew: Hah! Charge that, you slags!

[Huffing, he turns to face Nigel.]

Andrew: Come, Nigella. We’re leaving.

[Nigel nods and they leave, looking dignified. End flashback. Nigel sniffs back a tear.]

Nigel: Oh. Good times. I'm coming for you, Andy-Pandy!

[He hurries off. Shaking their heads in despair, Cuddles and Maurice follow.]

[Montage. The trio are in the liquor store, with Nigel performing a strange monkey mime to the guy behind the desk. He shakes his head. Nigel talks earnestly. The guy pulls back a wall panel to reveal a row of photographs and BARRED FOR LIFE written above them. There is a photo of Andrew with a rubber chicken, face half-blue. Nigel points to the photo. The guy shakes his head.]

[A plaza with mini rides for kids - vans and helicopters and cars and boats and rocking horses. Nigel checks them, occasionally double-checking the riders even though they're all under fives. He shakes his despair and moves on.]

[Cuddles and Maurice point out a photobooth to one side. Nigel, delighted, whips back a curtain but it's empty. He sighs miserably and they move on.]

[The escalaters. As they ride up to the top floor, Nigel looks around miserably for Andrew. No sign of him. He then looks down to the lower level where a stage is set up and a guy in a Shrek outfit is dancercizing with a load of kids dancing along. Exciting, Nigel starts running down the stairs but as they're going upwards, gets absolutely nowhere.]

[Telephones near the toilets. Maurice chats to a security man there, describing Andrew. Cuddles is far more interested in a sushi bar. Maurice starts to flirt with the security man, who blows him a kiss.]

[Nigel finally climbs across the escalator onto the one going down and runs the rest of the way. He runs up on stage, half-angry and half-delighted and tears off Shrek's head. It is not Andrew but a black teenage girl who is pissed off. She knees Nigel in the bollocks and he collapses. The children cheer and start kicking Nigel as well, in a massive gang-bash.]

[Cuddles notes a carpet rug rolled up on display outside a store. Idly, he unrolls it in case someone is inside. They aren't. He minces away before the store owner can come out and complain.]

[The montage ends as Nigel, very bruised, limps out of Toys R Us with the others behind. Nearby is a newsagent with a Greek girl idly flipping through the poster rack.]

Nigel: Nothing. No one's seen him, heard from him - they sure as hell would've smelt him. He hasn't applied for a job. [sighs] Maybe we should've checked out the alleyways near the park to make sure.

Cuddles: Ooh, before we do I want to get the latest issue of New Dawn!

Maurice: It's just a reprint you know. They don't come up with new material.

Cuddles: God damn! I knew it!

[Furious, Cuddles storms into the newsagent. The girl, Vasiliki, turns to them. She carries a rolled-up poster in her hands.]

Maurice: Hah! Like injecting fish in a shooting gallery.

Vasiliki: You looking for someone?

Nigel: Hrm. Yes.

Vasiliki: Would it be a very distinctive, smelly sort of guy?

Nigel: Why yes.

Vasiliki: I might have seen him.

Nigel: Yeah, and you might have just been overhearing my glorious baritone voice. I know a con when I see one.

Vasiliki: Hey, just cause I'm Greek doesn't mean I'm Con the fruitier you know! That's totally racist!

Nigel: [eye rolls] Puh-lease. You're trying to scam me.

Vasiliki: Me? Scam you? How dare you, mister!

[Cuddles returns and spots the poster rack.]

Cuddles: Ooh! That's a point, I should get some posters for my new place!

Vasiliki: Oh, you got some new accomodation?

Cuddles: Yes, bleach-blondie over there needs paying tennants at his place.

Vasiliki: Oh really?

Nigel: What? No. No, no, no! Shut up!

Vasiliki: I happen to be in need of somewhere to crash...

Nigel: Paying customers only, Stephenidies!

Vasiliki: So, so racist. [to Cuddles] How much is he charging you?

Cuddles: Oh, I'm getting it free. It's cheaper than legal fees, right, Nigel?

Vasiliki: Oh, so you're open to an offer, are you?

Nigel: What, are you going to blackmail me after our minute-long association are you?

Vasiliki: How about a gamble? I win, I get your spare room for a week, no questions asked.

Nigel: There will be no questions asked because the answer given is no. I have a very select criteria...

[She holds up her hands.]

Vasiliki: Hear me out. How long have we known each other?

[Maurice checks his watch.]

Maurice: About seventy-seconds.

Vasiliki: OK. So seven... [looks around] Seven posters! I'll ask you to find seven posters and if you can't, I win. What's more, you can choose the posters I need to look for.

Nigel: What? Entirely off the top of my head?

Vasiliki: Given there's a reasonable chance for them to be in this poster rack. How fair is that? Guess seven posters are there. If they're not, I get your room to let and if you find them, I'll never bother you again. No bones about it. You won't find any skeletons in my closet.

Nigel: Hrm. OK... Okay... er... a chick on a sports car and/or powerboat.

Vasiliki: OK. Big fellah, you find it for him.

[Cuddles looks through the poster rack, flips through them and comes up with

Vasiliki: One out of seven.

Nigel: OK, some obscure American basketballer no one's ever heard of.

[Cuddles looks and takes out a poster of a basketballer.]

Vasiliki: Ever heard of Dominik Wilson?

Nigel: Nope. Guess that counts. OK, some ghastly 80s rock band in awkward pose.

[A moment later, Cuddles pulls out another poster.]

Maurice: "Black Nadir and the Puss-Suckers". That fits.

Nigel: OK, some sort of homestead with a bowl of fruit on the table.

[Cuddles easily finds it.]

Vasiliki: Too easy, isn't it?

Nigel: A completely gratuitous festival of boob flesh.

[Cuddles finds a suitable poster. Nigel takes it out of the rack.]

Nigel: You can pay for that one, Cuddles.

Vasiliki: Five. More than half way. Still feeling confident?

Nigel: Immensely. Your bizarre hustle will not work. There's bound to be Marylin Monroe in there.

[Cuddles shows the second poster on the rack is Marylin Munroe.]

Vasiliki: Come on. I've got one last chance. Go on, be specific!

Nigel: The skeleton on the toilet.

Maurice: Nigel, man, unfair. It's law there's one in every newsagents. And possibly the national gallery.

Vasiliki: Find it, Cuddles.

[Cuddles starts looking through the posters. He keeps looking.]

Nigel: The pee-estre-resistance! Quite an easy one, you could put a timer!

[Cuddles is still looking.]

Nigel: [less confident] It can't be too far away. It'll turn up.

[Cuddles reaches the end of the rack and starts looking back through them.]

Nigel: Where the hell's that damn skeleton! They can't leave that out!

Cuddles: You should've picked Patrick Swayze, there's a dozen of him in here...

[Cuddles reaches the end and shakes his head.]

Vasiliki: [smug] Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear oh dear.

Nigel: Daughter of a bastard! This must be the only newsagent on Earth without that damn poster!

Vasiliki: So it's agreed? I'm your new flatmate?

Nigel: You're working on the highly uncertain suggestion I am a man of my word.

Vasiliki: We had a verbal agreement. I can sue you.

Nigel: And how are you going to afford the legal fees?

Vasiliki: I might know someone in the legal profession.

Nigel: I don't doubt it. You hustled me!

[Vasiliki gasps in shock and bobs him with the poster.]

Vasiliki: How dare you, sir! For that, you can buy me a poster!

[Nigel frowns, grabs her poster and unfolds it. It is a lurid painted image of a skeleton in a top hat sitting on a toilet with a rose in its jaw. Nigel looks at Vasiliki in shock.]

Nigel: You cunning bitch.

Vasiliki: Hey, I had this before we made our wager.

Maurice: How did you know he'd pick it?

Vasiliki: Everyone knows every poster rack has the skeleton in it, he was bound to have picked it off the top of his head. Plus a little bit of neuro-linguistic suggestion.

[Flashback in slow-mo...]

Vasiliki: ...skeletons... to let... bones...

Nigel: I don't care. I don't have to take you in.

[Cuddles' hand thumps down on Nigel's shoulder.]

Cuddles: I think you should.

Vasiliki: It'll just be for a week. And who's to say I was lying about seeing your friend?

Nigel: The fact you refer to him as a friend, for a start.

Vasiliki: Is that how Andrew would put it?

Nigel: You're a hustler, you overhead me asking the staff.

Vasiliki: Did I? It's not going to kill you to give me the benefit of the doubt, is it?

Nigel: [sighs] Oh, if only it would. All right, you can come with us. What's your name, anyway?

Vasiliki: Vasiliki.

Nigel: Really. I shall call you Silky.

Vasiliki: You wouldn't be the first. Oh, we've got to pick up my stuff on the way.

[The street outside the house. Wynona pulls up. The doors open. Cuddles goes to the boot, opens it and starts taking out his stuff. Nigel heads for the front doors and opens them. Vasiliki and Maurice carry an unconcious goth chick with dyed hair and skimpy outfit to the doors.]

Nigel: You consider close relatives "your stuff", then.

Vasiliki: Well, let's just say she's emotional baggage. Don't worry, Nemonie's completely nocturnal, you won't even know that she's there. Unless she finds your stereo and a Cradle of Filth album.

Maurice: What happens then?

Vasiliki: Normally? We look for another place.

Nigel: You should be doing that already. Vasiliki and Nemonie, you sound like retarded pokemon!

[Hallway. Nigel leads Maurice and Vasiliki as they carry Nemonie inside.]

Maurice: What are you complaining about, Nige? You were desperate for company last night.

Nigel: Yes, but not yours! Or any of these Pizza rejects who refuse to shift hard-earned cash!

Maurice: [to Vasiliki] He's just cranky.

Vasiliki: Not getting any, huh?

Maurice: Last night, he found this barmaid but then he vomited up her--

Nigel: Shut up Maurice! God what a horrible day. Abandoned, broke and I seem to be collecting freeloading idiots like some kind of moron-gathering Pied Piper...

[He enters the living area, stops and sighs.]

Nigel: Oh look, two more!

[Sitting in the chairs are Dr. Spoon and Chamber. Boxes of their stuff fill the room.]

Dr. Spoon: Afternoon, Verkoff! We let ourselves in, hope you don't mind.

Chamber: And if you do, we don't particularly care.

Dr. Spoon: What time's supper?

[While Vasiliki and Maurice lower Nemonie onto the couch between them, Nigel confronts the pair.]

Nigel: What in the name of Kim Beazley's urinary tract infection are you two doing here?

Chamber: Well, we live here now.

Dr. Spoon: Yeah, obviously.

Chamber: What a stupid question.

Dr. Spoon: Pfft.

Nigel: And who said you could do that?

Chamber: Well. You did.

Dr. Spoon: Couldn't have put it better myself, Chamber. You rang us up last night, all tired and emotional, and begged us to come and live with you, rent free, for as long as we liked because your silly treasure hunt meant you couldn't pay us for services rendered.

Nigel: Services rendered? You dug a hole in the backyard!

Chamber: [yawns] I know. You're really generous, man.

Nigel: I never made that phone call!

Maurice: Or are you just too drunk to remember?

Nigel: That's beside the point!

Vasiliki: I dunno, you seem to be offering rooms a lot today. Hey. Vasiliki.

[Chamber shakes her hand.]

Chamber: Archibald "Arco" Chamber. The albino over there yonder dressed as Tom Baker is Rupert Woosing-Gard, but we all call him Dr. Spoon.

Vasiliki: Why? You a gynaecologist?

Dr. Spoon: No, oddly enough. [beat] Well, I dabble. [confidentially] And I am a dab hand with a speculum, when's all said and done.

Vasiliki: I'll bear that in mind, Doc. [points] That's my cousin, Nemonie, but you're unlikely to meet her when she's conscious.

Nigel: Stop talking to each other! None of you are welcome here! Get out of my house!

Chamber: You invited us here.

Vasiliki: That's a verbal agreement, you know.

Nigel: Shut up, Silky. [to Dr. Spoon] Can you actually prove I invited you here?

Dr. Spoon: I think the question you should be asking, Verkoff, is - can you actually prove you didn't?

[Nigel groans in despair.]

- to be continued...

Monday, September 28, 2015

YOA and the Format Restructure

Well, clearing out ye olde hardedrivee I stumbled across an incomplete episode sketched in back in 2002. Myself and Damian Sanchez had the idea YOA would be an ongoing series like Heartbreak High, with an ever-changing cast passing through a single location so by the end of the fourth season, all the original characters would have been replaced. (I think we had some idea this would prevent flanderization if we just tore through the series). After briefly keeping Dave as the audience identification, I decided to keep Nigel instead on the grounds he was easiest to organize plots around.

While I won't repost the truly atrocious finale "Galfray" (I know, it seemed a cool injoke at the time) let it be shown it wrote out Andrew, Katy, Harry, Dave and Eve on a permanent basis leaving Nigel on his own at rock bottom - and slightly less contrived than Time Gentlemen Please which came up with a similar 'rats-deserting-sinking-ship' episode ending.

However, we didn't quite work out who would replace them... or how...

THE YOUTH OF AUSTRALIA IV: Reprisals & Recovery

[Local pub. "Love Is The Drug" plays in the background. Everything is slow-mo, dissolve mixes and soft focus. Nigel sits at the bar besides Maurice. Nigel is cradling a half-finished beer and is completely pissed. He gives come-hither looks to Julie the barmaid, who returns them. Nigel smirks.]

[A blurring montage of Nigel drunkenly making out with someone we can't see. Fade to black.]

[Nigel's room. Nigel lies face down on his heart-shaped bed, sprawled messily across his bedmate. The room is very untidy with empty bottles and beer cans everywhere. Nigel groans.]

Nigel: Oh my skull! My stomach! All points in between! Especially my nads! Julie, don't take this the wrong way but if I've got some nasty STD off you, I shall be very annoyed... Julie? Julie?

[The bedmate rolls over. It is not Julie, but Maurice. Nigel yelps and jumps out of bed, grabbing a potplant to cover himself even though he's fully-clothed.]

Nigel: ARGH! Who the hell are you?

Maurice: It's me, Maurice.

Nigel: Maurice?

Maurice: Yeah, Maurice de Lacey? We were at high school together? And primary school? And I drop round here all the time? I work with Dave at Frontier Videos?

Nigel: [blankly] Maurice?

Maurice: Spelt M-A-U-R-I-C-E.

Nigel: Oh! YOU! [frowns] What the hell are you doing in my bed, you subpar homosexual? Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with your life choices but even if I was gay you would not be on my list so if I had sex with you last night I trust I was disappointed while you are now some clingy bunny-boiling stalker.

Maurice: You're not my type, Nige.

Nigel: Oh, at least try to sound credible!

Maurice: Nope, I prefer my men physically underendowed.

[Nigel starts to reply, frown, then giggles girlishly. He quickly recovers.]

Nigel: Never mind that, now! What are you doing in my bed?

Maurice: Julie told me to take you home. I think she was kind of put off you when you threw up.

Nigel: Oh. I must've have too much to drink.

Maurice: You threw up in her lap.

Nigel: Oh.

Maurice: Twice.

Nigel: Ah.

Maurice: While you were going down on her.

[A looooooooooong pause.]

Nigel: You know, there are some cultures where that's considered lucky.

Maurice: No, there aren't.

Nigel: No, there aren't. Damn.

[Main living area. No one else is around, most of the furniture is missing. Nigel and Maurice emerge from Nigel's room, the latter pulling on his trousers. Nigel wears a torn and scruffy kimono.]

Nigel: But why didn't you just dump me here and head home? You've got your own place to live, don't you?

Maurice: You begged me not to leave. Remember? You grabbed hold of my ankle and wouldn't let go, pleading that you could change and you'd made a mistake and you wanted a second chance?

[Nigel listens, pulling strange faces as he tries to remember.]

Nigel: No. I do not remember.

Maurice: Well, you were paralytic. We couldn't have had sex if we'd tried.

Nigel: I can't imagine why I'd be acting like that... hang on, did I call you Benny?

Maurice: No.

Nigel: Then why on Earth would I be so upset and depressed?

Maurice: Oh yeah, you said something to me about that.

Nigel: Did I?

Maurice: Yeah, you said "If I wake up and can't remember why I'm upset, you've got to get me to embrace the moment. Make me hang on to the amnesia because that tiny moment of zero recall is the best thing that is going to happen to me for some considerable time."

Nigel: Pah! It couldn't possible be that bad.

Maurice: "I'll say it couldn't possibly be that bad but whatever I do, don't let me access my memory. I won't like it one little bit because it is the worst situation I have ever been in my entire life."

Nigel: Something that bad, I'd remember...

[Nigel freezes. Bites his fist. Closes his eyes. Bends over and jumps up and down. Then falls to his knees, head in his hands sobbing. This goes on for a while.]

Maurice: Did you remember?

Nigel: [sobs] Yes.

Maurice: You said if you remembered, I was to give you a message.

Nigel: [tightly] What was the message?

Maurice: "I told you not to remember, dipshit!"

Nigel: Yeah that sounds like me. Oh god, this is most vile, graceless, deformed, distorted, asymmetrical, eye-wateringly dire straits I've ever been in! It's the end of the freaking world, Maurice and I do not feel fine - I feel about as far from freaking fine as it is as possible to be!

[Maurice looks around.]

Maurice: Where are Dave and Andrew, anyway?

[Nigel lets out another sob.]

Nigel: Must - seek - alcohol!

[He stumbles over to the fridge, opens it and pulls out a bottle of wine. He opens the lid and knocks it back. He starts rummaging for more alcohol.]

Maurice: Be careful, Nige. Your liver took a lot of punishment last night.

Nigel: Not enough! Oh, sweet oblivion where art though?

[Nigel takes out a jar of pickled gherkins, crosses to the sink, and puts a glass in the sink. He covers the glass with a collander and strains the gherkins. He then takes the glass full of pickle juice and drinks it.]

Maurice: Come on, Nigel, it can't be that bad!

Nigel: Can't be that bad? They're gone, you annoying little virus! No more Dave, no more Andrew! Nothing but me, stuck in his place - which I now own and have to pay for out of my money! Except I don't have any money because I wasted it getting pissed last night before filling up a barmaid's birth canal with vomit! What can you possibly say to undo this mortal agony, Maurice? It might not happen? Worse things happen at sea? It takes more muscles to frown than to smile? All three are utter bollocks, Maurice, and frankly I'm a little disappointed you'd think otherwise.

Maurice: Look, maybe you're overexaggerating things. What actually happened?

[Nigel takes out a bottle of salad dressing and drinks it. He takes a moment to recover.]

Nigel: It's a long story.

Maurice: And to cut a long story short?

Nigel: Um... "the end?"

Maurice: OK, cut it slightly longer than that.

Nigel: Well, it's hard to put in context. I tried explaining it all to Andrew last time I saw him...

[Flashback. Like old film, black and white, scratches, the sound of a projector. Andrew is in the kitchen with Nigel, who is holding a gun.]

Nigel: The information is not important, as you have no way of using it to your advantage.

Andrew: The careers adviser said that to me a couple of times. As well as our maths teacher. And my parents said something similar when I asked them where babies came from. Go on, Nige. Illuminate me already.

Nigel: All right. It started back in 1987, when I was watching the Bush Tucker Man on TV...

Andrew: This is going to suck, isn’t it?

Nigel: Shut up.

[End flashback.]

Maurice: Can you cut it slightly smaller than that?

Nigel: Well...


Andrew: Oi! Nige! Why can’t I get into my room?

Nigel: [doesn't look up] I’m afraid it isn’t your room any more, Andrew. It belongs to me.

Andrew: [pleased] At last, you agree with me. I always said your room was originally mine. I’m glad you’ve come to your senses.

Nigel: No part of this house belongs to you in any way shape or form, Andrew. I am now legal owner of this entire property. [pulls out paper] Check if you like, but its all water tight. You can’t do a thing.

[Andrew takes the papers and look at them.]

Andrew: There are no pictures. I like pictures.

Nigel: [annoyed] Just read them.

Andrew: This is four pages! Back to back! Look, can’t you just summarize it for me. I’ve got places to be.

[Nigel snatches the papers back.]

Nigel: I know. One such place is not here. As owner of this house, I am legally entitled to demand you vacate the premises and do not return under any circumstances.

Andrew: I thought Eve owned this house.

Nigel: She did. Until I bought it from her.

Andrew: YOU? You actually PAID for this house? WHY?

Nigel: Well, a number of reasons actually. Apart from anything else, it gives me the opportunity to get rid of you once and for all. Now, get out of here before I call the police.

[End flashback.]

Nigel: I had already exercised my power where it came to Dave.


Nigel: I have already exercised my power where it comes to Dave. He’s just popped back to his house and his loving family.

Andrew: Dave HATES his family. That’s why he left in the first place! There’s no way he’d have gone back there voluntarily, it would be a place worse than death!

Nigel: [grins] I never said he went voluntarily.

Andrew: Why? What are you doing this for? Dave never hurt you!

Nigel: No, he didn’t. But he is an obstacle on my road to riches.

Andew: As I am, presumably?

Nigel: Ah, the first faint glimmerings of intelligence. I wish I could observe its development, but it really is time for you to go, Andrew.

[He pulls out a gun from his pocket and aims at Andrew’s head.]

Nigel: One way or another.

[End flashback.]

Maurice: That sounds a bit melodrammatic.

Nigel: Yeah, I'd spent all night watching Babylon 5. Got me a bit theatrical.

Maurice: So what happened next?

Nigel: Actually that bit we just went through.


Nigel: All right. It started back in 1987, when I was watching the Bush Tucker Man on TV...

Andrew: This is going to suck, isn’t it?

Nigel: Shut up.

Andrew: Haven’t you read Evil Plots For Dummies?

Nigel:  [ignores him] The episode concerned a small historical oddity. Some Aborigines encountered white explorers with muskets – but they weren’t Europeans, because they used rifles. I was interested and did some research.

[Andrew stares at him, arching an eyebrow.]

Nigel: OK, I paid someone else to do some research and discovered that they buried their treasure somewhere in Australia. Over the next 14 years I narrowed it down to NSW, then this suburb, then this street. This morning I discovered it was this house, so I set my plan in action.

[End flashback.]

Maurice: So you got rid of them because you thought you'd found buried treasure?

Nigel: Ptff. Like I needed the excuse.


Andrew: It wouldn’t work. Anything you find on this property would automatically be Eve’s property and I doubt she would share it among us.

Nigel: [smiles] Which is why I bought the house. Australian Law bends to my favor, but I’m getting rid of you just in case.

Andrew: Really, so what happens once we’re gone? Even if it is declared treasure trove, doubloons aren’t legal tender any more; they’re bound to have depreciated.

Nigel: Oh, I shall sell them to an art gallery or something. Suffice it to say, a chain reaction has started today and it cannot be stopped. When it ends, I am the winner of all this.

[End flashback.]

Maurice: You really hadn't thought this through, had you?

Nigel: Oh, it's very easy to judge in hindsight, buster.

Maurice: So how did Andrew react when you outlined your master scheme?

Nigel: Well, I'd be lying if I said he was entirely behind the idea.

[Flashback. Nigel is on the ground writhing in agony. Andrew is walking away.]

Andrew: [over his shoulder] See you on your way down, Nigel.

[End flashback.]

Nigel: But on the plus side he couldn't actually fault the mechanics of the operation.

Maurice: If it was so faultless, where's the treasure?

Nigel: You just had to bring that up, didn't you you spiteful little bastard?

[Flashback. Nigel strides out into the backyard. Dr. Spoon and Chamber are dozing under a tree.]

Nigel: Right, you roustabouts, time for work! There is a planet I have to conquer or buy and I’m feeling particularly evil today. Get to work, you two!

[They start digging at the base of the tree.]

Nigel: [sotto] In a few moments I shall be the richest man in the  southern hemisphere, and soon, the most powerful man on the planet. Ha! Time to retire, Sam Kekovitch – Nigel Verkoff is here! Heh!

[Nigel laughs evilly. Pan across to show the others staring at him.]

Dr. Spoon: Mad as a box of frogs.

[End flashback.]

Maurice: And the treasure wasn't there?

Nigel: Well... not exactly. But pretty much.

Maurice: It's either one or the other.

Nigel: And don't I bloody know it?

[Flashback. Dr. Spoon and Chamber have dug up an old treasure chest.]

Nigel: Out of my way, plebeians! Destiny has arrived!

[Nigel opens the chest. It's empty. Chamber laughs.]

Chamber: Looks like destiny has done a runner, perm-boy. [to Dr. Spoon] Uh, this means we don’t get paid, huh?

Dr. Spoon: Fraid so, my old cantaloupe.

[Nigel falls to his knees, pulling at his hair with mounting horror.]

Nigel: But... But... I’ve used up all my cash on this! And now I actually own the house I have pay for all the bills and since the others aren’t here, I can’t charge them for rent... I’m ruined! Ruined! RUINED!

[He screams and headbuts the ground. Dr. Spoon and Chamber watch on for a moment and then cautiously creep off, leaving Nigel wailing and howling. End flashback.]

Maurice: Ouch.

Nigel: Well, yeah but I prided myself I'd soon see the funny side.

[Flashback. Nigel sits on the couch in the empty house, seemingly in shock. He takes out his wallet and empties it, but there is obviously only a $20 note and nothing else. He regards it dully.]

Nigel: [sotto] No Andrew. No Dave. Just me and an empty house.

[For a moment, it looks like he’s going to cry. He lets out a primal scream.]


[He runs over to the phone, and punches out a number.]

Nigel: Hello, is that Hookers’R’Us? Phew. That was a piece of luck. I have no idea what I dialed. Look, the party of this and any other millennium is happening in [checks watch] forty-one minutes so get your bitches’ arses round here pronto!What do you mean, ‘give you the number’? This is N talking! N! The Sex God! Nigel Verkoff! Don’t tell me you haven’t heard of me. You haven’t? Well, start listening, ho!

[End flashback.]

Nigel: And the next thing I know I'm lying in bed with you.

Maurice: Wow. You're one screwed pooch, Nige.

Nigel: Oh, hark at you! Do you treat every one you share your bed with like this? No wonder you're single.

Maurice: Madam, I might be single but you are stuffed and but at least tonight I might get some.

Nigel: Your Winston Churchill misquotes have no affect on me, Maurice. Now, let's get down to business. How the hell are we going to save me as my "drink yourself to death" plan has failed?

Maurice: Um... why the hell should I help you anyway? You got yourself into this mess!

Nigel: So, it should logically be possible to get me out of this!

Maurice: On your own. Ciao.

[Maurice rises and heads for the door.]

Nigel: Hey, if you walk out now you'll never have the moral highground!

Maurice: [puzzled] Why the hell would I want the moral highground?

Nigel: Are you saying you'd rather lose the moral highground? C'mon, Maurice! What if God really does hate the gays? You need all the good karma you can get to be on the safe side.

Maurice: You disgust me, Nigel. You think just because I don't fancy girls I'm some fairweather friend who can be crudely manipulated with threats and paranoia, to the point I'd forgive the hideous things you've done to me and my friends for the last fifteen years?

[Nigel shifts uncomfortably.]

Nigel: Well, be fair, you sure gave me that impression.

Maurice: [shrugs] Well, yeah, but now I'm taking the right medication, so screw you!

[Maurice departs. Nigel screams after him.]

Nigel: I can set you up with my cousin! The really hot one with the widow's peak and the tiny dick!

[Maurice re-enters and sits down at the table.]

Maurice: OK, deal.

[Nigel sits beside him.]

Nigel: Right, so how the hell do I get out of this mess?

Maurice: Well, since you own the place, you could rent the rooms out. Between that and the dole you might be able to break even long enough to sell this place back to Eve.

Nigel: What freaks would choose to live here?

Maurice: Well, Andrew and Dave for a start. You want them back don't you?

Nigel: Me? Want them? Maybe as a constant comforting reminder of the walking detritus they are... [sighs] No, I'm lying to myself. Yeah, I miss the freaks and I want to make amends. But would they forgive me?

Maurice: Have you apologized?

Nigel: Not that I remember.

Maurice: Well, that's the best thing to do. Find them, apologize and maybe we can sort this out.

Nigel: It's so simple it is obviously going to go wrong. However, as I have not a single cent to my name and signs of dangerous dehydration about to kick in, I must bow to your momentary and inferior wisdom.

[Maurice dope-slaps Nigel.]

Nigel: Oi!

Maurice: Get used to relying on the kindness of strangers, Nige. Coz only strangers will be kind to you.

Nigel: Who are you? The Sphinx from Mystery Men? It is too early for this koan shit.

Maurice: It's coming up to midday.

Nigel: Yeah, well, I operate on Tokyo time...

- to be continued...

Time Lord - The Premise's Familiar

Aboot has gone and taken Kyron Cookson, Tom Mallet and even Nala Stevens have vanished into the either with them. Lawrence Miles is still around but given he's seemingly (by his own admission) unable to do more but whine Radio Times used to be cool, his opinion isn't even trying to be revelent.

So only Mark "Fuck Me This Chatham Business Has Been Going On For A Decade" Goacher actually has anything to say about this episode:

7/10 for that one. Not bad at all actually. The Doctor and Missy being silly/wacky was the only thing that spoiled that episode. Otherwise very good. The Dalek city and the look and design of Skaro were indeed very good. Looked like the original in 'The Daleks'.

Yeah, I know, hardly worth quoting but the truth is it's harder for anyone to review something they like.

And me? I liked it from the moment we didn't have a copout cliffhanger resolution which, to be honest, Moffat has never really been able to impress - to whit:

The Empty Child: our heroes are about to be consumed by a zombie hoard.
The Doctor Dances: the zombies go away when the Doctor tells them to.
Silence in the Library: our heroes are about to be consumed by living darkness/zombie hoard.
Forest of the Damned: River remember her gun, used only to blow escape tunnels through walls to escape the zombies, is perfect for this situation and uses it.
The Pandorica Opens: the universe ends.
The Big Bang: the universe hasn't quite ended yet.
The Impossible Astronaut: River and Rory are attacked by the Silence and Amy accidentally shoots a little girl.
Day of the Moon: three months later, Amy mentions she was glad she missed.
A Good Man Goes To War: River reveals she's Amy's daughter.
Let's Kill Hitler: Amy and Rory vandalize a crop field.

See? For most of them, you could cut out the cliffhanger and resolution entirely without damaging the story and in fact you'd probably improve it. But this time, Moff finally makes the cliffhanger a vital part of the plot - it's noted apparenly killing the Doctor's equivalent of Charlie's Angels has driven him to homicidal despair even though it could be a trick. Missy and Clara surviving comes at the cost of having to sneak into the city which in turn prompts Missy to try and get Clara killed. While UNIT and Bors and t'other lot don't appear this week, it feels more like the same story than any other Moff two-parter.

There's also a thankful move away from introspection. Big Finish has demonstrated that while you can get some truly fantastic scenes with the Doctor and Davros arguing, it works better on audio because on TV you end up not too far from those scenes where Tom Baker was left emoting to a cardboard box pretending to be a robot dog. Visually a bit dull, you have to agree and NuWho simply can't do that - compare if you will the 12/Davros scenes and the 8/Davros scenes in Terror Firma. Despite treading similar ground and dramatic beats, but on TV we would have had PMG glaring a bit, Capaldi runs around the set pulling it apart, waving guns and wiring Davros up with snakes. There's even the moment he nicks Davros' chariot to break up the fact the story requires the Doctor and Davros to chat idly for an evening when TV audiences need a bit more yippe-kai-ay to keep them watching.

And this is good because last year the mere thought of moral ambiguity left Capaldi standing in the shadows, vaguely muttering witty troubled thoughts and making Hartnell look like Frank Woodley in comaprison. Once again, the Doctor is actually doing things again and while I can see the appeal of a stoic, undemonstrative version of the Doctor, last year the subtlety strongly suggested that Capaldi hated the show he was in and refused to participate. This week we see him sitting in Davros' wheelchair, playing dodgems, drinking tea and getting strangled by rubber snakes - it's like he's cashing in whole seasons of Matt Smith wackiness in a single scene. The "clown" bit of "sad clown" is back, reminding us why anyone would want to spend time with the bloke - and the paradigm shift of getting rid of the sonic screwdriver to replace them with sonic shades goes with that. It'll piss off Mad Larry, who predicted it too.

Personally, I agree with RTD that having a sonic lockpick improves plots (as he said, a moral dilemma should stop the Doctor rather than a locked door) and not CH Bidmead who, I kid you not, suggested that future stories should scrap the sonic screwdriver and only feature bad guy strongholds where all the doors are already locked. Given all the molenski univarii and sonic lances shoved into the hands of the Fifth and Sixth Doctors, the sonic gizmo is here to stay. It just means that the Doctor is now obsessed with his sunglasses while not being as pathetic as Jeremy Banks-Walker.

Onto the main reason this episode rocked - it was Double the Fist again! Following the awesomeness of Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, Nightmare in Silver and Day of the Doctor, we have another story that could have been penned for the Fist team. Not only is Missy clearly Mephisto with poor Clara the Womp, we have a one-handed Davros (seeking to literally double the fist) arguing that the Doctor is a whinging, spineless no-fist dog. The Dalek armies might as well be clones of Panda while a certain vending machine could easily take the place of Colony Snake-in-Welsh. Rather than blind, helpless terror from relentless and unstoppable foes, we have a cast quite capable of fighting back with a pointed stick and some full-fisted passion. Even the scenes where Skaro is going to blow up and Missy seems trapped are not played for misery and pathos but high-octane fun - while Moff was kind enough to explain Missy's prior escapes, I dunno if we'll ever know how she escapes from this one. Facing certain death she suddenly, Italian Job style, has a plan as hot as her pants to survive and we cut to black. It's interesting to compare to Ainley who's constant deaths would be easier to explain if we thought he had the faintest idea of what to do; in Castrovalva it's like he's too insane to even TRY to escape, let alone manage it.

Moffat doesn't bother to give Davros such exploration, though. We're not told how he got here or how he intends to escape - only that while the Master fought the Supreme Dalek in the Time War, he's never actually met Davros before. Though to be honest, all the clues are there if you want to put two and two together: Davros escaped the Crucible with an emergency temporal shift that sucked up all his energy, causing his terminal illness, and then landed in the 62nd Century or thereabouts where the last surviving Daleks following Trenzalore were hiding on restoration theme park Skaro. How Davros or any Daleks escape the holocaust unleashed here I cannot say, but Davros (unlike Missy) has no plan to survive. Given the regenerating Doctor wiped out a Dalek army, it makes sense the survivors would want their suckers on the same but it feels strange that the ongoing Dalek saga has ignored Rusty the Good Dalek. We all thought he was going to be the one to go back in time and put a bullet through Young Davros' head.

(BTW, didn't boy Davros resemble Jonas Armstrong's Robin Hood? I now cannot imagine the Special Weapons Dalek as anything other than the Little John of the Dalek Empire as he glides around grating "TODAY IS A GOOD DIE TO DIE!" before nuking the opposition.)

Speaking of Davros, it is needless to say Julian Bleach's performance is total perfection (while it seems Michelle Gomez needed to be sedated before she could be calm enough to portray Missy) and doesn't go ranty once as if to balance out his prior appearance. I dare say new viewers would be on Missy's side in wondering why Davros earned "Best Villain EVA" props from the Doctor, but this episode proves it - as well as demonstrating the fact that while the Doctor likes the Master despite everything, both he and Davros would much rather have been friends than enemies. The moment where they share a genuine laugh, clearly inspired by Batman and the Joker in The Killing Joke, could be the defining moment of their relationship. The Doctor and Davros have always respected each other's intelligence, but the fact they can joke with each other puts Davros up above any "worthy adversary".

We also have Davros opening his eyes for the first time ever. Some (honestly) saw this as a betrayal of the character, others saw it as an interesting development. Me, I suddenly realized Davros was one rubber gimp suit away from being Scorpius. All in all, the set up of the story that this might be the very last Davros encounter was, to be blunt, convincing. Yes, we all knew that cute, weepy Davros was probably an act and he was undoubtedly going to backstab the Doctor but full props for playing it straight. Had Davros actually karked it, watching the sunrise like Handles, it would have been a convincing if not satisfying end.

The story doesn't really contradict the prequel I, Davros (though you have to ask yourself how a pampered indoors kid like Davros possibly got onto the frontline without his mum going to rescue him) but it upholds the spirit that the character is more than just a blind, one-armed cripple. He's passionate, ambitious and he actually has the knack of getting on with people - he plays the Doctor like a fiddle, made all the more convincing because he's never actually lied like this to the Doctor before. The sight of Davros ripped out of his chair and thrown onto a table could have ruined the credibility of the character (especially given his, er, excited spinal chord that my family thought might have been a different part of his anatomy) but instead we have the first villain of NuWho to nearly the defeat the Doctor not through an army or blackmail, but by playing the Doctor's strengths against him. The last time that happened was in Mawdryn Undead, as far as I remembered. "You were sick and you asked for my help," indeed.

So the story ends with the Daleks defeated, Davros screwed over and Missy obviously going to turn up at a latter date and maybe this time the production team will let her off the leash. The Doctor's not suicidal, he's got his shades and his hipster Classic Doc outfit, plus Clara who is probably the most psychologically-healthy we've seen her since Matt Smith left. Except we now have the dark brooding foreshadowing story arc of why the Doctor left Gallifrey in the first place.

Why? I mean, fanon is pretty much agreed the reasons given were true (though reports differ on the crisis that made him steal a TARDIS and leg it). Not even Eric Saward tried to redo that, and believe me he redid everything else. But now the Doctor fled Gallifrey with Susan because apparently he was part of an ancient prophesy of a hybrid warrior? Seriously? Given the Doctor was destined to die twice before now, it seems ridiculous the legend suddenly appeals to him. And judging from past experience, the prophecy will be totally bloody irrelevent - remember the dark secret of the Doctor's name? Yeah, his name is intrinsically meaningless, it's just the password for a locked door. Tch.

Hybrid? Seriously? Maybe it'll bring back Bessie as a Prius.

Oh, and this was first episode of the Capaldi without the TARDIS interior. You'll need to know that one day (and for the record, the other NuWho eps are Dalek, The Long Game, The Idiot's Lantern, The Satan Pit, Love & Monsters, Midnight, A Good Man Goes To War, The Lodger, A Town Called Mercy, Cold War and The Crimson Horror.)

Raahhh! DOUBLE THE FIST! *explosions*

Monday, September 21, 2015

Time Lord - The Fanwank Apprenticiship

So, what did Sparacus Emperor of All Fish People (Well, Three Of Them) have to say about the ep?

There may be a ratings drop, but they'll be back. Even average Doctor Who is preferable than that X factor bilge. I give it a 5/10. Average Nuwho fare. It wasn't as bad as some of the other season openers. I liked the 'handmines' and its good to see Skaro back and the Dalek city.
However the plot was typically OTT and it felt like a cross between Star Wars and a typical RTD era season finale. It seems to me that Moffat's Doctor Who is getting more and more of the visual look of the Star Wars franchise every season. Now Davros is a 'Dark Lord' apparently!
Also, I seem to recall that in 'Remembrance of the Daleks' Skaro was destroyed. I'm more than happy that it wasn't, but this isn't explained. Also it wasn't explained how Davros survived his apparent death at the end of his last appearance.
My biggest question is this. If the Doctor can just travel back in time and kill Davros as a child to change the future then why hasn't he done it before? He could in one small trip eliminate the Daleks forever.
The biggest problem with the episode was, of course, depicted medieval Britain as multi racial. Its BBC 'blind casting' gone mad. There were indeed non-whites in medieval Britain but not in the proportions suggested by that scene. The whole scene was ridiculous and the casting of the audience was just one aspect of that. Mind you the whole scene was ridiculous. As if a medieval audience would accept a tank and a man playing an electric guitar without being freaked out. Ridiculous. It spoiled the whole episode. It was ridiculous and displayed a complete lack of understanding of medieval history. Those people would have been terrified. I hardly think that in 3 weeks an audience of medieval people would get used to a man riding around on a modern tank playing the electric guitar. He would have been killed by them as soon as they no longer feared him.
And as to these people saying I'm "just mad because Ben Chatham isn't canon", that is untrue on both counts.

In short, he liked it. At least in comparison to the last couple of years' output.

And, in a disconcerting sychronicity, so did I.

Because, while there was undoubtedly much to admire and appreciate from Capaldi's first year it sure as hell wasn't enjoyable. It wasn't fun (bar Robot of Sherwood) and showed us Dave Owen's ideal 90s idea of Doctor Who escheing wacky-hijacks through time and space for confronting what is rotten in the human soul. Cause family viewing likes that. After over a year where the only levity was Capaldi's hypocritical and stupid insults we at last have a story you might, you know, desire to watch. I mean, everyone agrees Children of Earth was perhaps the most awesome Torchwood ever got or ever would get, but it's hardly bright, life-affirming, LOL enjoyment is it? Frankly, if I want televisual art I will go and rent the fucking blue-ray, until then I'll stick with Gareth Roberts's statement that normal people prefer Androids of Tara to The Keeper of Traken anyday...

But episode one, The Magician's Apprentice (why IS it called that? It's meaningless!), throws back the veil of grim darkness and bitter recrimination. Some, like Spara, have noted the distinct Jediverse vibe to events and I heartily endorse that - because instead of the pretentious misery of Revenge of the Sith we're getting the awesome adventure of A New Hope. It's all summed up by the new bad guy Colony Saff.

Sounding like some bizarre yeast-infection ointment, Colony Saff is a villain designed specifically to make you go "Wow! Awesome!" He is basically the offspring of Emperor Palpatine and the Fendahl, a gestalt of snakes in a black hooded robe and an ugly mug. He has no back story, no motivation, and both the Doctor and Davros think he's a moron unworthy of contempt. The first ten minutes of the show if Saff gatecrashing old stomping grounds of NuWho - Dorium's space vegas, the Shadow Proclaimation, Karn and all that was missing was him slithering around the Powell Estate trying to look menacingly. Indeed, the fangasms of seeing Ood and Hath and Judoon and Shadow Architect (now with Afro of Proclamation) and Ohila covers up the fact we are getting the same exchange in ridiculously convolted montage.

"Where is the Doctor?"
"Fucked if we know."
"Meh. Worth a shot."

Then he pulls his one shtick by turning into a giant snake. And not a particularly impressive one. At least the Mara had fangs. This one looked like a swift rolled up newspaper would do him in. But that's it - there is a creepy guy who is actually made of snakes! That's all there is! He isn't a suicidally-depressed cyborg yearning for blissful oblivion, or an unknown quantity from another realm threatening to annihilate life as we know it (not that there's any reason to care). He's just a bad guy who tries to bully people and no one accepts him as a bully. Missy snaps one of his snakes' necks when she gets bored and Clara apparently does the same in one of those "meh, why leave it in?" edits.

In short, we get a villain that doesn't make the Doctor look bad for once. If Saff had left corpses everywhere he went, it would be a reflection that the Doctor's pity-party was costing lives. But no, people are allowed to live. A happy ending - at least not one with the Doctor and Clara standing on a heap of corpses saying it could've been worse - is in the offering, even so. The Doctor doesn't even have to murder him in cold blood, or make huge and wild guesses about his nature that are not systematically broken down and proved to be wrong when innocents die because of it.

In Deep Breath, the Doctor was granted a brand new life-cycle to travel the universe with his best friend. And he immediately turned off the lights in the TARDIS, sulked and repeatedly avoided people. Or planets. Or exploring. Just basically sat there in the dark wondering if he was a good man. Frankly, Danny Pink wasn't the only one wondering why Clara thought he was so awesome given he was such crappy company and they never went anywhere nice. Other Doctors you can imagine spending time aboard the TARDIS painting or reading or spring-cleaning or finding out exactly what that red button does? This Doctor occasionally lights some candles and does an equation on a blackboard.

Lo, Deep Breath said, this is the REAL Doctor, not the cheeky friendly act he puts on to befriend people.

Well, thought I, fuck you then. You're not just a prick I don't like, you've undermined respect for all the others. Instead of proving himself as the Doctor, Capaldi just said all the others were liars and if you don't like that then you are a shallow, feeble creature unworthy of his love. HE HAS A DEGREE!!!

Compare the first scenes of the Doctor last year - drinking coffee and bullying a terrified woman he'd just kidnapped and left her brother to die, or deciding to destroy Clara's faith in Robin Hood, or sitting on the sidelines watching gazelles getting eaten to prove a point, or trying to ruin Clara's date, or telling her they're going to die and its her fault, or hurling abuse at a teenager he can't be bothered to remember, or bitching at Clara for showing more enthusiasm, or bitching that Clara is boring, or telling a little girl to piss off and stop bothering him...

The first time we see the Doctor this year (prequels aside) he's dressed as a hippy cosplayer in Spike Thomson shades, shredding an electric guitar on a tank in a medieval fighting pit, convincing an entire society to start each sentence with a Michelangelo-style "Duuuuuuude!" before serenading his friends with a rock version of Pretty Woman.

Compare and contrast people.

Moffat said the "dark" season eight was there to lure Matt Smith for another year, but it seems this episode feels way more like a Eleventh Doctor rewrite. Maybe it's the time-filling clipshow of people in interesting story-worthy locales trying to find the Doctor, or his defeatist acceptance of a death sentence out of shame over betraying a small child, or even a half-arsed cliffhanger involving murdering the main cast. (I assume the sudden way all the exterminated regulars magically vanished in light was a deliberate gambit so no children would be upset - fricken hell, two of them were wearing vortex manipulators...)

In comparison to last year, spoilers have been non existent. It makes me personally wonder if the massive security leak where scripts and episodes were released onto the internet was actually a carefully-orchestrated method to prevent culture shock to those who'd suffer it (personally, it worked on me to the point the finished product was comparitively upbeat and entertaining). Because, shit dude, Davros was in this! Julian Bleach's Davros - the uncontested best bit of the Season 4 finale - who managed to remain thoroughly, contemptuously insane even though he spent the whole episode dozing off into his fist. I had honestly no idea, and perhaps I should have - because I spent my first view of the episode basically going "WTF? WHAT THE JIGSAW-ASSEMBLING SWEET ONION CHUTNEY FUCK!" to appreciate the episode. Hell, I was doubtful there would even be Daleks in this one.

Does this actually improve the experience, I ask myself? Having grown up well and truly spoilered over every classic story bar The Space Museum and MindWarp (for some reason), I always experienced Doctor Who as a kind of "you've read the book, now see the movie" which bled into my consciousness - I see the opening moments of The War Games as Jamie realizing that they've failed to take him home to Scotland, or knowing Drax's "replacement parts" were actually the Crown Jewels, or Vorg surprisingly not mentioning the Ice Warriors in his scope and so on. I settled in to watch Frontier in Space, knowing roughly what I was getting in for and appreciating the differences to my perceptions. I did the same thing with most of Eccleston's season, having seen screencaps of his last three stories but having no clue as to plot or dialogue or what was happening.

This week, that covered approximately two minutes of the episode as Missy and Clara have tea in Spain or somewhere while Kate and Sassy Black Lady at UNIT HQ watch on in worry. Everything else was basically being beaten up by fangasm moments or stuff I appreciate (in particular the "could you kill that child?" soundbite which non-fans needed to know about the drammatic irony) but I found my brain struggling to keep up with what was happening? Was the cliffhanger a dream, a hallucination, a fakery? What the hell happened to Davros? Are they really going to kill him off? Why was Skaro invisible? Is it a fake or not? How come the Daleks know who the Doctor is? Why have we finally got "every Dalek ever" in a story that bluntly does not require it? Where did Colony Saff bugger off to?

I know it's part one of two, but I personally hadn't had time to work out which was stuff I was expected to imagine (like how Missy survived) or what would happen next week (like the Doctor pulling the trigger). The "compassion is a weakness" argument also left me slightly bewildered at Davros' logic, since his actions weren't his own but a reaction to the Doctor. Quite simply, if Davros is killing people to make a point then whether or not he was shown compassion is meaningless! It's like running up to someone, smashing their kneecaps and then telling them that kneecaps are a weakness...

(And, to be honest, has the Doctor been that compassionate to Davros? He was willing to kill him the first time they met till Nyder knocked him out. While he did hesitate later, the Doctor DID blow up the bomb he'd attached to Davros. Again, the Fifth Doctor didn't actually get a chance to decide whether or not to kill Davros, he just prioritized his friends and would have returned to the lab if Davros hadn't locked the door. Sixie got no chance to do so on TV but on audio we now he blew up a ship Davros was on, let Mel Bush of all people crush him with Mechanoids (whereupon Davros showed compassion on him!). Seven blew up Skaro and Davros's ship again, then marooned him on a planet of ghosts. Eight destroyed Davros' personality and would have killed him if he'd had the chance. Frankly, only Ten ever showed compassion (bar the unspecified version that tried to save Davros in the time war and even then that was surely for strategic advantage)...)

And Missy again! I'm surprised yon Emperor hasn't complained at the entire ship-sinking phenomenon when Missy herself is disgusted at the idea she would have sex with the Doctor whatever genders they were (and thus the slash fic withers and dies), but Ms. Gomez easily conveys that she and the Doctor are wontoks, entirely on the same level and genuinely affectionate to each other now those damn drums aren't in the way. It's a feat that perhaps only Delgado and Simm evoked, as none of the others have ever showed that they enjoy the company of the Doctor. You can't argue with her that she's more likely to be the Doctor's closest friend than any companion, as Clara has barely known him for five years - it's like a guy choosing as best friends someone he chatted to on the way home.

Again, cut out the homicide and she's probably more Doctorish than the Doctor is, even this week. Missy dances through Daleks and paints them into a logical corner. The Doctor falls to his knees and begs for mercy. Missy is reasonably surprised to find herself on Skaro. The Doctor has a screaming fit. Missy bluntly threatens to kill Davros for causing this mess. The Doctor can barely look at him in shame. It feels more and more that, rather than the Pertwee years, we're actually going through a kind of Eric Saward renaissance of heartless bastards and social darwinism the Doctor isn't built to cope with but his enemies are. Of course, Moffat has an advantage that Saward doesn't in that Grand Moff Tarkin gives a flying fuck about finishing the story and bringing things to a conclusion.

So while Saward chickened out of the Doctor making the decision to kill Davros, Moffat confronts it head on and shows us him blowing the fucker's head off. Apparently. The visit to Davros' childhood doesn't quite perfectly synch with BF's vision (unless it was bring-your-kid-to-work-day on the Kaled lines and after this Davros' family kept him out of harm) but it's closer than RTD would have gone. Frankly, remembering what a homicidal maniac teenage Davros was means that while non-fans would no doubt gasp at the idea of murdering a child, us diehards are thinking the Doctor's practically acting in self-defense.

Handmines, though? I don't know whether I should scoff or demand they be digitally inserted into Genesis of the Daleks. Can you imagine Harry saving the Doctor from one of those? And did the other soldier say something that the clams are attacking? I honestly don't know, but it'd be awesome.

At long last, the Doctor actually treats events as if they matter to him enough to display emotion. He makes friends, he has fun, he will fight for those he cares about and people care about him.

In short, about freaking time.