Thursday, January 31, 2008

Torchwood Dreams

I rarely remember my dreams for some reason, bar some soul-destroying nightmares and a curious version of The Worst Witch sequel with the redhead... Never mind. But tonight I had the strangest and most vivid of dreams that formed quite a narrative in my brain. Of course, there were the usual oddities - at one point the main characters were replaced by the Simpsons, at another I turned up in the episode telling people how much of an improvement the story was on the first season, and the actual ending did sort of blur a tad.


Owen and Gwen bump into each other on a street corner. It's not work, just random and idly they chat about Gwen's "normal" life, which is interrupted by a hit and run. A pedestrian gets hit by a car that hoons off and it's quite clear this a human tragedy, nothing to do with aliens. The victim's got a badly broken leg and Owen, for some reason, doesn't fix it with alien tech or basic doctor know how. He doesn't even call for an ambulance.

OK, it's a dream, forgive the plot hole!

Gwen and Owen help the guy walk while they look for help and they arrive at this sort of health clinic. They are met by the friendly, clearly very human staff who take the injured guy away. Gwen is suspicious about the place and contacts Tosh at the Hub (for some reason, this was a Jack-lite episode...) and she tells them that the clinic's been there for years and has recently become very popular and effective. Owen, not being stupid, suggest they scan for any alien doohickies that might explain the sudden good luck of the clinic.

Owen and Gwen meet the various people in the clinic. They all seems perfectly healthy and spry, even some older gits in residence, but the clinic insists they can't leave yet. Gwen and Owen search for a reason, but are distracted when accident guy turns up, and his leg is completely better!

Owen and Gwen agree to spend the night at the place (I dunno, maybe it's raining or really late) and somehow avoid sleeping with each other because, you know, there's more important stuff afoot. Now, it's a bit foggy, but one of the new patients at the clinic makes some kind of mistake, knocks over a CD player or some irritating accident like that. And all the other patients go psycho evil and gang up on the new patient and beat the living crap out of them. (The victim might have been female, but at this part they all turned into Simpson characters, and there was a disturbing bit where Bart insists that he can't join the beating because he is too much with sin to cast the first stone... so he waits until everyone else has left the victim for dead before torturing her.)

Our newly-bipedly accident victim sees this horror and runs off. The clinic security follow with lots of ominous "he cannot tell the outside world" and "he won't get far" type utterances. Owen and Gwen spot the exhausted victim, caught by guards, being dragged back to some kind of jacuzzi arrangement by the dispassionate doctors. The victims' legs have withered away to stumps.

The dream goes a bit foggier here, so suffice it to say, the twist is that the clinic isn't using alien technology to cure people, but earth technology and some alien ideas about heath. The patients are being cured by some special healing water. There are a couple of side effects - it needs long soaking before the cures are permanent, and then it leaves the DNA unstable so the victims either go psycho evil sadistic OR turn into lovecraftian monsters. Gwen and Owen are left on their own to sort this out.

Owen finds out someway to poison the jacuzzi of eternal life, cuing a moral speech from Gwen where she basically gets told to shut up - either they wipe out all the patients, or let loose a bunch of insane nightmarish carnivores who are completely insane. Then there's a bit of a chase and they manage to poison the pool and the patients enjoying their 'treatment' glow and turn to sludge.

(They also get funny last words since they were all residents of Springfield, and the only survivor was Sideshow Mel who realized he could survive by turning into a monster and staying in the water.)

After another chase and escape, Owen and Gwen flee the clinic, now haunted by the accident patient. No longer completely insane, but stuck as a huge spider-crab-beetle-squid monster. Too big to take to the hub, too harmless to murder, too much of a freak to ever return to the outside world. Owen dryly points out that THIS is a moral dilemma worth worrying about.


and then I woke up.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The People's Poet Hates Australia!

Coincidence can be creepy. Unless there is some kind of God (or at least a TV programmer stalking me) I can think of no reason behind the scheduling of Rage on Australia Day Australia Wide 2008. I was watching because my dad and I expected some decent Australian rock music of some description. At first, we were rewarded with Ice House's Great Southern Land, which fit the bill. Then a completely unknown Ice House song, which didn't.

And then we were watching an episode of Countdown from March 1986, which seemed to be someone else's bill entirely and the waiter had made a mix up at reception.

What's odd is that this would have been an episode of Countdown I would have wanted to watch... had I known it had existed. Simply put, it was during the Ben Elton/Rik Mayall tour of Australia to promote the screening of The Young Ones, their charity album with Cliff Richard (not the worse music single ever - see Doctor in Distress if you dare - but it would work better without the singing and just the funny remarks) and spread hype about the new show Filthy Rich & Catflap. So, Ben and Rik host Countdown. If I knew it existed, I would have demanded the ABC show it again.

But... I didn't. I was only one year old at the time and my parents were busy looking after me by giving me a cat as a babysitter. Seriously. Went on for four years being looked after by a cat. And I only started to notice the outside world when I was able to watch VHS tapes of the 1988 Bicentennial ABC Comedy Hour, with an unbeatable collection of shows including
  • Blake's 7 series 4 (oh how we laughed)
  • Doctor Who And The Krotons (how else do you celebrate the anniversary?)
  • The D-Generation (nuff said)
  • The Young Ones
  • While You're Down There (Glenn Robins and Gina Riley beging the slow decline and fall to Kath and Kim)
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (so the world blew up the day after the Young Ones died? No wonder I grew up so depressed)
  • Alas Smith & Jones
  • Blott on the Landscape
Anyway, enough of my childhood (it will become relevent later). I was shocked to find an episode of Countdown hosted by heroes of alternative comedy.

And they're shit!

My dad's tolerance for the duo was ground out of him by my cousin David who played The Young Ones repeatedly for six months. I still can see the spark and the satire, but there was none of it here. They sit in a very obvious fake 'hotel room' with Rik playing a freakish mutant of Rick Pratt and Richie Rich, a wildly enthusiastic and unfunny childish moron wearing a red beret and grey shirt, together with The Underpants which would at various points out act both Rik and Ben. Ben for his part seems happy enough hoping whatever audience exists will mistake him for Christopher Ryan's Mike the Cool Person and after addressing Elton by his full name, Rik forgets all about his identity.

I can justify a lot of humor, but this isn't funny! It's not even unfunny! As the duo generally make it clear they hate Australia and everyone in it, I wonder if they're joking. This sort of humor wouldn't be found in a Channel 9 sketch show - assuming you can call two grown men dancing and saying "We are sexy, oh so sexy!" five hundred times in lieu of conversation. Seriously, is that funny? They just gurn at camera and say the words "I am so, so sexy!" over and over again.

I cringed and realized a) I wasn't taping this bit of TV history and b) thank fucking Christ for that.

Rik, who seemed to be thinking he was in Play School and had taken a bet not to tell a single funny joke, runs around in his underpants demanding the lavatory. Ben bluntly tells him such lavatorial concerns are banned on Australian TV (what?!) and they have an "intellectual" discussion about Richard Moorecroft sitting behind a desk to hide the fact he's busting for a piss. Rik then announces he has wet the hotel bed he is lying in.

Dear God, the voiceover guy who identifies each music clip is funnier! At least he's telling jokes!

There are brief sparks of interest (since, rubbish as they are, the Pom Anarchists are more interesting than the music on display). For a start, one clip has the two of them dozing off (and by now I think the entire population could work out funnier routines about heat stroke, jet lag and foreigner gags) and being startled awake realizing they've got a show to host and in a panic try to identify the song just shown as "Stupid Echo" with "Living in a Drum" - actually Pseudo Echo with Living in Dream, and not a bad song either - but the humor inherent in Rik Mayall of playing someone completely unsuited for his job is swallowed up, as the clip is shorter than it takes to read this paragraph.

The next one has an interesting premise: Rik wants to smash up the hotel room like all good rock stars do, but is too weak and pathetic to do so. Ben suggests calling room service and Rik screams "ROOM SERVICE!" at the top of his voice (har fucking har) and two guys enter. Rik repeats his destructive desires only for the unimpressed guys to reveal they are members of Madness (and de facto Young One cast members...) and we're left with an amusing scene as the two comedians struggle to remember who the duo are without embarrassing them, but this is abandoned in about five seconds and we cut to Madness in their dying days of "Lift Music So Banal You'd Rather Take The Stairs" tunes...

Finally, Rik leaves the room for five bloody seconds and Ben does his Ben Elton impression by slagging off Margaret Thatcher, Bob Hawke and Ronald Reagan over their handling of the Colonel Kadaffi situation. Wow, America messing up an armed conflict but Australia and England's prime ministers are too busy being the senile American President's butt monkeys... how times change.

The final part of the episode is agony personified. I wanted to throw bricks at the TV. Me. A guy who owns Niel Pye's Book of the Dead!

Rik and Ben are telling us yet again how sexy they are because Molly Meldrum is not sexy. They don't slag off his hat, his sexuality or anything remotely cutting edge, oh no, he likes the Uncanny X Men! At this point Molly himself bursts in carrying the most fake and rubbery hammer ever. Rik insults Molly's lack of sexiness and gets hit over the head with the hammer. My spirits soar briefly as Rik drops completely out of character and critiques "Ian" for the rubbish prop. Similarly out of character, Ben reveals he swapped the fake hammer for a real one. Rik suddenly acts in agony and falls over, showing off his crotch to the whole world.

Twenty two years later I reach for the razor blades...

Ben and Molly drop into a scripted and boring "so what are you up to" monologue wherein Ben casually calls his writing partner Rik "illiterate" (and from watching this, I agree). Meanwhile Rik appears behind Molly and starts pulling stupid faces, before smashing something over Molly's head and apparently killing him: cue more raspberries and V-signs and the episode thankfully ends.

Now, I laughed at this bit for one reason only: I thought the murder weapon was some kind of Award, like a Logie or something that Molly had won over the years, so it would be satirical like the Grim Reaper claiming Norman Gunston's soul for the Logie... but no. Just a whiskey bottle.

Jeeeeeeeeezus Christ.

My dad pointed out this was surely the only other time this ep of Countdown had been "sent into the ether" and I agree. I wish it hadn't been there, so my memories of my comedy heroes could remain untarnished. After all, I had seen their future, a second Australian tour, in 1988...

And back to the VHS tapes. Between one episode of The D-Generation and Bomb, there was an add for the return of something called "Beatbox", a kind of music show held in high regard by hundreds of Australians, judging by the add: lots of different people either marvel at its return or with the aid of crude editing stutter "Beatbox" with wide-eyed drug-fueled excitement. Anyway, the last part of the add is Rik and Ben sitting in a pub at night, drinkining. "It's... on... an... hour... earlier..." Ben says solemly to camera, as if making it clear to a backward three year old with the attention span of a goldfish and a lot easier to understand than the rest of the rapid-edited adds, "than... it used... to be..."

"And you best watch it," says Rik calmly with a smile and that disturbing light he can put into his eyes, "or be triangular, which is the new word for being square."

A five second infodump more entertaining than their entire work on Countdown.

How the mighty fell. Or maybe rose, since I saw these things back to front.

But, seriously, what was up with Rage last night? After Countdown, we had ten minutes of black and white interview with some guy who is a male model in the 1960s. No music at all. What?! Rage, you're standing in it...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Torchwood & Suicide Bombers of SPAAAAAAACE!

Tittle tattle Commie Rat
I never know what you're at
If that's you hiding under my bed
The red you see is the blood you bled

Some shows can really suffer simply because of what you've seen earlier. For example, this episode of Torchwood kicks off with a home invasion ending with the two balaclava-clad thugs being pulverized by a defenceless woman in her underwear (and it's not as titilating as it sounds), accompanied by flickering lightbulbs and said woman insisting she never saw a thing or did it.

Having survived the masterpiece (no, I'm not being pretentious) of Jekyll and two thirds of Heroes, I felt my enthusiasm waning for the show. Although the characters remained as good as Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (Owen is now portrayed less an immoral rapist, but now a wisecracking loser for example, and Tosh and Ianto have undergone Hulk-like metamorphoses into three-dimensional characters) and the plot was straight, well... seen it all before huh? It's like 42 expecting you to find the real time angle 'novel'. Doesn't matter how well it's done, it's done before and it ain't impressive.

But wait? What light through yonder window breaks?

KKBB was a funny comedy episode - did we actually have any of those last time? At least, deliberate ones? - but this feels more like the grim, angsty show we were expecting. Though this time everyone involved isn't a complete arsehole, the story makes sense and the threat is palpable. When Jack drags the poor woman down to the cell (she's played by the black abess from Robin Hood's conjob ep), he's angry, intimidating and not nice. Then he pops outside and Ianto gently breaks it to him that no one found him remotely threatening. But Jack has good reason to switch off the charm: the woman's a walking time bomb and being nice to her will just make things worse.

The revelation that she is part of the Sleeper Cell isn't too shocking, since the title kinda gives something away. But the devil is in the detail, and the blend of sci fi, horror and tragedy rises to a heady moment. The scene wear she struggles to say goodbye to her boyfriend manages to be more heartbreaking and uncomfortable than the whole first series put together. When the other Sleepers activate and start slaughtering people, well, I was scared. I mean, there's a particular fear, that 'nothing can stop them, not even being sensible', and the scene of a baby in a pram being allowed to run into oncoming traffic... no chance in hell is that going to get shown in the cut down version.

The rest of the plot seems somehow cobbled together from other episodes and books. Alien invaders effectively hopping from body to body, nuclear weapons, city wide sabotage, a female alien befriending a female worker, the Hub being sabotaged, Jack hauling out dangerous alien tech from those NOT FOR USE boxes cause everything's going to hell, running around hospitals, the Weevils cowering in fear...

I dare say you could edit together Sleeper on youtube. But it's how it's done that matters. When the inevitable confrontation with the alien in the Hub, with its hostage taking and lethal force happens, well, try not to think that it's not someone who wanted to do the climax of Greeks Bearing Gifts properly. No Jack going "Hi five!" after he's filled them full of lead, and indeed the last shot showing our hero sitting alone, brooding about what's happened screams so much more development thanks to three episodes of Who than anything else.

I think the fact series one was so shithouse that I find series two so amazing. If this was the first series, I might find it adequate (well, the difference in tone would be a shocker), but I still think I'd like it. No swearing, no nudity, and references to sex you could fit into Doctor Who without an edit. The violence (bar snapping someone's neck) is more implied than seen, and the only problem I have with the whole thing is a bomb that goes off with less force than the average cannister of Nitro-9.

All in all, it feels like KKBB was an apology for season one, and this is getting down to business. The cell might be back (managing to capture in a few lines of dialogue the kind of hive mind horror I've been struggling to put into Cybermen) but they might never appear again. It's not as bad as that Angel episode She - which, for those who were lucky enough to miss it, was about a race of warrior women whose genitals were on the back of their necks and were using Los Angeles as a sanctuary to plan out an interdimensional war... and were never mentioned again. Ever. Not once. Probably because She is one of the worst bits of television human history has ever known, but the point is it screamed 'NEW STORY ARC' at us as it was dragged off stage.

That kinda thing just bugs me.

Next week: hospitals again. Cryogenics again. Time zones colliding. Again. People from the past arriving in the future. Again. I'd call this derivative, but it seems like they're trying to get these things right...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

For Fuck's Sake Gabriel Chase - Reloaded!

The "More Discerning Fan" has renovated once more into a paragraph of hate, so let's see how the wonderful and loving and gentle Gabriel Chase has started the new year:

By the middle of the first decade of the 21st Century, British television had become a multi-channel facet of a multi-faceted entertainment industry
Not QUITE as good as HG Wells War of the Worlds, I think you'll agree.

seemingly existing largely to provide copy for the multitude of celebrity gossip magazines and to win awards for its writers and performers.
Ooh, bitter! I know back in ze good eld days, Doctor Who never won awards. Apart from 'best scripts for young adults and teenagers' hash made back in 1977. But that was The Tom Baker show and thus not part of Doctor Who...

The people who ran this radically different industry were products of the Thatcherite "greed is good" era where image and profit margins were considered more important than quality and originality.
Dude, even Ben Elton has moved on. GET OVER IT!

What's really funny is how low quality and originality are held on the site. Seriously, he makes up stuff about the production teams he could be sued for... if he was brave enough to allow people to contact him.

So it was no surprise that a tried and tested concept should be revived and thoroughly revamped for the new generation of celebrity addicts and short-attention-span TV viewers.
The rest of humanity are just scum, aren't they, GC? Scum scum scum scum scum! Only the Discerning Fan may live!

Russell T.Davies, whose previous British sci-fi offering had been the six-part children's serial Dark Season in 1991,
AND Century Falls...

chose to capitalise on his growing reputation within the trendier sections of Britain's TV industry by reviving Doctor Who,
No, you fuckwit, I think you'll find it was Lorraine Heggesy, the Controller of the BBC who brought it back. RTD was chosen to do it because he'd been asking to do it for the last ten years. Yet you seem to imply RTD was some Rupert Murdoch media mogul who revived Doctor Who for cash and cash only. God, you'll be claiming he's not a fan next.

a show he claimed as being one of his favourites as a child.
Yes. Because everyone who lies about liking Doctor Who can instantly refer to the Garm. And the fact he regularly wrote to DWM before during and after the wilderness years, well, that's no evidence at all. ANYONE could add references to The Web Planet to their stories. But it doesn't mean they LIKE Doctor Who. And writing a full-length Doctor Who novel in 1995, well, that's just a retcon!

Suddenly, a show that had been ridiculed and besmirched throughout most of its existence by the TV hierarchy
APART from the very beginning, when it was made clear that Doctor Who would be 'television history' because no other show would be guaranteed a 52-episode run, an unprecedented level of support. And the fact the way it was allowed a Christmas special and New Year's Eve special, because the Controller at the time loved it. And the way it was given Season 7 despite the fact it would have been easier to finish it at Season 6. And... well, you get the picture. You don't? Well, that's because you're a moron, GC.

found itself the subject of a massive publicity exercise launched by the very sector of society that had derided it for so long.
How DARE they change their minds! How DARE they! Who gave them permission to like Doctor Who?!

Sadly for fans of the original show, the so-called revival proved to be little more than a rehash of the "Harry Potter" and "Lord of the Rings" film adaptations that the new breed of TV executives and their ilk saw as "quality" drama.
That'll be the same fans who worship Ben Chatham and beg for his deification? I feel right in saying the vocal majority of 'original' fans like it. Which of course why only the MORE discerning fans visit your site. The 'just discerning' fans gave up on it ages ago... How long before it's "the website for the incredible discerning borderline austistic fan"?

I take it also you don't like films. Or fantasy. Or children's books. Why DO you like Doctor Who?

The new Doctor Who series was more an adaptation of the original novels published by Virgin and then BBC Books than a continuation of the original TV series.
Except for the fact they have rendered the books non canon and delayed The Gallifrey Chronicles JUST to make it clear to everyone it wasn't based on the same story.

The visual side owed much to the American pilot - in particular the design of the Tardis interior (also reminiscent of the Tardis seen in the Sixties' films - the doors being visible on the inside for instance), the opening titles and the overall dark, brooding atmosphere, and was a glossy, hi-tech adventure serial with impressive special effects, a lot of talking and more than the occasional lapse into schoolboy humour.
So... it had impressive special effects, but relied on characterization and humor. Like the way the old show DIDN'T have impressive special effects, but relied on characterization and humor. So, basically, it's the same show with better special effects.

Hang on a minute, doesn't "schoolboy humor" cancel out "dark, brooding atmosphere"?

Christopher Eccleston starred as a newly regenerated Doctor, with former pop starlet Billie Piper as his new companion, Rose Tyler. Eccleston's "Ninth" Doctor (though it was never made certain)
Apart from all the guide books, reviews, interviews, and the fact on screen he is shown to have nine strands of DNA, one for each Doctor. And was shown to be one after Paul McGann.

was more than reminiscent of Colin Baker's portrayal during the "Mindwarp" section of The Trial of a Time Lord, being frequently arrogant, sometimes condescending, often cowardly, and strangely reluctant to commit himself to resolving crises.
Strangely? You haven't heard about the time war, have you?

Nevertheless, the new series was an immediate hit with the "Harry Potter" generation of under-twelves and twenty-somethings (most of whom didn't know any better!)
Seriously, is there ANYONE you actually like? You hate celebrities, you hate audiences, you hate children, and you think the older generation has sold out. There must be SOMEONE!

despite provoking only lukewarm responses from the likes of former Doctor Peter Davison
Who volunteered to appear in the show, whose kids are huge fans, and dropped by on Tennant's first day to encourage him.

and former script editor Chris Bidmead.
Who of course does no wrong except for the 500 mistakes he is blamed for on this site.

Five days after the first episode, Rose, was broadcast to an expectant nation, Eccleston announced his retirement from the show "to avoid being typecast", forcing a hasty rewrite of the final episode to introduce David Tennant as his replacement.
Absolute rubbish and not an iota of truth.

Tennant made his official debut in an hour long Christmas special
After his UNOFFICIAL debut in a Children in Need sketch.

which more than anything underlined the difference between 1960s TV and its 21st Century equivalent. Back in 1965, a Doctor Who "Christmas Special" (the Feast of Steven episode of The Dalek Masterplan) was more an accident of scheduling than a positive decision to celebrate the Festive Season.
More lies. Terry Nation structured the whole story so the plot would be on either side of Christmas Day.

Forty years later Christmas specials were a necessary obligation of every serial screened by the BBC.
Except for most of them. Dear God, do you WATCH TV?

A second series followed in Easter 2006 with Piper bowing out in an explosive finale involving both Daleks and Cybermen, the design of the latter heavily influenced by Andrew Skilleter's illustrations in David Banks' 1988 Cybermen book.
You haven't read that book, have you? Because if you did, you'd know the Cybus version are as far from Banksy's magnum opus as it is possible to get.

In a further attempt to forge links with the original series, Elisabeth Sladen revived her Sarah-Jane Smith persona alongside the ubiquitous K9 (voiced, as ever, by John Leeson),
So what does the show have to do to PROPERLY forge links? Use an old Doctor? Done that? Daleks? Done that. Cybermen? Done that. Sontarans? Time Lords? UNIT?!

which inspired Davies to write a pilot for a spin-off series featuring Sarah and K9 (no less than 25 years after the original pilot).
Well, that INSTANTLY invalidates the whole thing, doesn't it?

Also spinning-off from the Who mothership was Torchwood, a sci-fi adventure series based in Cardiff and featuring Captain Jack Harkness from the second half of the first "new" series.
...and? What? No 'psychic investigators' and Captain John Bannerman? Not even a hideous betrayal of Doctor Who with all that sex and violence?

You have NO idea what you're talking about?

Tennant's version of the Doctor was more likeable than Eccleston's but was overshadowed somewhat by the established Piper. In fact the second series was more "Rose Tyler" than "Doctor Who", the rather annoying habit 21st century scriptwriters have of including friends and relatives of major characters leading to Rose's mother and boyfriend appearing in practically every episode,
Wow, so out of the twenty seven episodes, they appeared in ten. And the boyfriend was a companion, you dipstick.

whilst even her supposedly deceased father appeared twice.
In science fiction, you say? In a series about time travel?! WE SAW SOMEONE SUPPOSED TO BE DEAD?!? Thank God it was a fictional character and not someone real like Charles Dickens or Queen Victoria or Shakespeare...

A second Christmas special followed with Piper replaced temporarily
No, Piper was gone.

by the Trendies' favourite BBC comedienne, Catherine Tate, who thankfully desisted from using any of the monotonous catchphrases from her trendy (and relatively unfunny) BBC3 sketch show.
Ah, so you liked it then? This backhanded compliment is the closest to admiration we've seen.

Piper's full-time replacement had already made the news by the time she debuted in Smith and Jones, the opening installment of the third series.
Wow! No other companion has EVER been in the news before their first episode!

You halfwit.

Freema Agyeman (who had appeared in the second series episode Army of Ghosts) played the part of medical student Martha Jones, who the press had a field day with over the fact that Agyeman was the Doctor's first ever black companion - which wasn't strictly accurate
Since Mickey was a companion.

as Agyeman's mother is Iranian (thus making her only half-black)
...You racist fuck.

whilst TV Comic's Dr.Who strip had blazed this particular trail back in the 1970s.
No, that was DWM in the 1980s. Wrong publication, wrong DECADE.

Almost as unimaginative as the numerous references to "Smith and Jones"
Of which there was but one.

was the immediate inclusion of Martha's family in virtually every episode
Virtually every = three stories out of ten.

and the fact that even after thirty-odd episodes, the series had rarely ventured beyond the confines of Earth or its parallel universe analogue New Earth.
It's not a parallel universe, you shitbrain. And you missed the nine stories NOT set on Earth.

The Daleks returned yet again in a story guaranteed to annoy traditionalists, featuring a Dalek with a personality striving to become a human, which is a bit like a modern Homo sapiens attempting to become Ramapithecus!
You mean it was just like The Evil of the Daleks. Which traditionalists love.

Also returning after an eleven year absence was the Master, now played by John Simm fresh from the triumph of Life on Mars and, like Eric Roberts' version in the American pilot, clean-shaven.
And also Peter Pratt and Geoffrey Beevers' versions.

There was also the usual clutch of familiar faces from soaps and sitcoms all eager to be seen in one of trendy TV's showcases,

as well as sometime writer Mark Gatiss and respected "Ac-Tor" Derek Jacobi.
You even have Jacobi? What's wrong with you man?!

Probably most telling was Paul Cornell's two-part story Human Nature/Family of Blood, a direct adaptation of his 1995 Virgin New Adventure novel Human Nature
Which rendered the entire book series uncanonical.

proving if ever proof was needed that the new series was less a follow-on from the original TV series than an off-shoot of the Virgin/BBC novels.
Which were a follow on from the original series, you stupid bastard.

More an illegitimate second-cousin than a legitimate child.
Now you hate unmarried parents! I hope you don't find out RTD is gay...

A third Christmas special, broadcast as the filling in an EastEnders sandwich, was boosted by the presence of ex-soapstar-turned-internationally celebrated songstress Kylie Minogue and claimed ratings of over 12 million.
Come on, GC, there's gotta be SOME way to turn that negative.

However, even though the show was still an important weapon in the BBC's armoury, cracks were beginning to show in its thin veneer of superficiality.
Wow. A veneer of superficiality is pretty thin to start with, but a THIN superficial veneer...

Agyeman was farmed out to Torchwood at the end of the third series to make way for a returning Catherine Tate, presumably because Tate was worth more gossip column inches than Agyeman
And then Agyeman was 'farmed back'...

whilst Billie Piper was rumoured to be returning to the show for the finale of series four.
Rumored. Right. Not read the papers recently, have you, GC?

More disturbing was the announcement that Doctor Who wouldn't be run at all in 2009
No, you fucking retard, it will, in the form of special movies.

owing to Tennant appearing in a theatrical run of Macbeth, something that would never have happened during the original series.
Except for Peter Davison and Jon Pertwee stepping off to appear in movies, dramas and soaps.

Dear God, GC, I despise you with a passion that would frighten certain fundamentalist groups.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

WOOOOO-HOO! Torchwood 2.0!

I remember, as I watched 42, thinking "Is this really the same Chris Chibnall who was shagging a dead horse in Torchwood?" True, there was the usual countdown, technology turning on people, alien possession, star crossed lovers, meddling with something way too big to piss off, all the themes that had appeared in other work by CC, but this time it was good. Just what happened? Did RTD beat the guy over the head with a baseball bat until he developed talent, a sort of aversion therapy? Or was it, as I have spectulated, that Chris Chibnall is like David Agnew or Tara Samms, a pen name for various writers?

The fact is, the bloke who pens the first episode of Torchwood 2 is clearly not the same retard who perpetrated End of Days or Day One. RTD has been cautiously admitting how rubbish the first series was, explaining that everything was a bit rushed and desperate, hence the overabundance of angst, no decent story arc, and the fact there was no on screen reason why our main characters turned up for work each day considering they were a bunch of emotional cripples who hated each other and their jobs.

The opening episode, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (amongst other things, a nickname to James Bond) redeems these truly magnificent problems. For a start, the characters are likeable, or at least not total fuckwits like last year. They all seemed to have been retconned and to be brutally, brutally honest, I really think season one of the show is as much canon as Doctor Who's pilot episode (you know, the one with Susan the Goth chick from the 49th century and the Doctor insisting that he would die rather let human beings see the TARDIS take off). And, frankly, I won't miss it.

Gwen is no longer the confused slut willing to shag anyone but her boyfriend and increasingly corrupt. She is compassionate, sensible and above all monogomous and it makes sense that she's chosen to be leader of the Scooby Gang without a certain omnisexual available, and it's just as plausible that she's not coping as well as she'd like. Owen too has apparently laid off the aphrodisiacs and shows off his scientific and medical skills several times, along with his gunslinging and has his sights on wooing Tosh the old fashioned way without dateraping her. Tosh, sadly, isn't much different being the computer nerd that often misunderstands things and isn't good at human interaction but Ianto is more at the forefront here. Not only is he clearly the one Jack fancies most, his abilities at crisis management and his hardcore loyalty to his friends is shown to be strength rather than a pointless fifth wheel.

The format of the show is a tad different too. For a start the Welsh are not the complete retards they have been portrayed as in the series (and in Doctor Who): even old age pensioners know that Torchwood is behind the wierd crap happening in the city and the police only tolerate this bunch out of amateurs because they're clearly professionals. It seems that they've finally decided that Jack was making Torchwood 3 a less secret organization than Yvonne Hartman and her gang, and all the signs are in this episode that this is the same universe where the Queen was nearly flattened by a spaceship looking like the Titanic. Again, it looks like series one has been retconned itself - even the hysterical woman in the trailer for next week babbling that there is no such thing as aliens is blunty told to stop bullshitting them.

And it's funny! Deliberately funny! This is the same show that once had a black woman in kinky Cyber underwear fist fighting a pterodactyl and expected us to weep at the cruelty and horror of this execution rather than bursting into hysterical laughter as the audience did. We were supposed to be impressed when out of absolutely nowhere a giant stone demon arrives and then drops dead in two seconds of story arc. The show no longer takes itself so bloody seriously, and is cheerfully aware of how absurd it is (after all, the parent show has, in every single episode, its main character told they are complete bloody looneys for thinking a police box can be a time machine). The opening episode is full of humor, and what's more it's funny humor - for example, when the gang are left without transport, Tosh gleefully pulls out some technobabble to extract them from their predicament, only for Ianto to simply whistle and summon a taxi.

The scene which gives me the biggest hope for this show is...

The back of a cab. Tosh, Gwen, Owen and Ianto are awkwardly sitting around.

GWEN: It's typical Jack isn't it? He disappears, he comes back, then he runs away again. He always shuts us out. We don't even know his real name.

TOSH: Or which time he comes from?

GWEN: Exactly. He's supposed to be our boss but we know nothing about him. Drives me crazy!

Long pause. Everyone looks glum.

IANTO: It is more fun when he's around, though.

OWEN: Yeah.

TOSH: Definitely.

GWEN: Yeah, it is.

That one scene has more characterization, humor and entertainment value than most of season one. These people actually behave vaguely like real human beings. When Owen notes their lack of info over their leader in Day One, it leaves the baffling questions of why such a clever organization know less about Jack than Gwen did with five minutes at a police computer and why they put up with him as leader when they clearly don't trust him? Here, the answer is obvious: he's cool, he's fun and he knows what he's doing and they wanna tag along. It's not deep, but it's a reason which is a damn sight more than last year gave us. A few have dubbed this episode more a comedy than gritty adult sci fi, and it's definitely an improvement.

There's only one real problem. I assumed that RTD's very obvious disowning of Torchwood in Season 3 was down to his disappointment at how rubbish it was - certainly, he makes the crossover episodes clash as much as humanly possible. But now I wonder if there is some kind of BBC rule that insists they don't fit together properly. It's the only way I can explain how two shows made by the same people in the same building clash so badly when they try to fit together.

Quite simply, at the end of The Last of the Time Lords, Jack says farewell to the Doctor and Martha and returns to the Hub presumably to wait for the others to return from the Himilayas, having been gone at most a week or so by Earth's POV. However, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang begins in January of 2009 with Christmas decorations still in the street, Jack is missing for months and only Tosh is gormless enough to remind the audience the gang are one member down with Owen patiently reminding her (as they presumably do every day) that the bastard's gone walkabout and is unlikely to turn up. When Jack does turn up, his vague descriptions of where he's been contradict the Who episodes as much as it refers to them. OK, I know any new viewers might not have appreciated him going, "I spent the last year chained up in an engine room being kinkily tortured by the English Prime Minister who was really an ancient alien determined to destroy Earth", but was it really necessarily for Jack to talk about 'seeing the End of the World' and surviving only by his faith in Gwen? Is he lying again? Or has RTD pissed off the script editor something rotten?

The plot of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is not perfect. Rather like Captain Jack Harkness, it involves an evil master plan of completely random and pointless factors - for example, a random character just happens to have a vital clue for absolutely no reason whatsoever - and in terms of content, this episode is an odd choice for season opener. I mean, the story is mainly about Jack dropping by and realizing that the rest of the gang are pissed off at his departure and he's left twiddling his thumbs and being the third wheel. Then, they are confronted by somone only Jack can deal with. If I were to subtitle this episode, it would be something like "Do Not Trust This Man And Do Not Sleep With Him", since pretty much the whole plot hinges on the fact Jack is a secretive son of a bitch and was once a complete and utter fuckwit in those heady days.

All the stuff about WHY the gang are based in Cardiff, what the time rift does or even what the hell happened to Jack when he visited "his doctor" are not even hinted to a casual viewer. Even the godawful voiceover at the start has been removed, which might have proved a clue. Interestingly, the trailer at the end of the episode is for the whole YEAR rather than episode two. It's like this episode is only here to resolve the problem of Jack coming back, and also to systematically take the piss out of year one.

To emphasize the new self mockery angle, we meet Captain John Hart a character who, in other circumstances, would lead me to assume that Chris Chibnall is a penname for Charles Daniels. This guy extracts the piss out of Torchwood Three so much a black hole appears in the urinary tract. And, considering the show has based itself so much on Angel, and the fact the opening sequence is almost shot for shot the same as Buffy the Vampire Slayer season two's premiere "When She Was Bad", where Buffy arrives out of nowhere to save her friends after a long absence with the words "Did you miss me?" (or perhaps better "Dead Man's Party" where she returns to the friends she abandoned to their fate to get a less than warm reception), John is played by James Marsters.

Who am I kidding?

No, it's not John Hart. It's Spike. William the Bloody.

This is no transference on my part. James Marsters eschews his native American accent to play a Cockney psychopath with dangerously perceptive mind and a line of sarcasm that could puncture a Dalek. I dare say his Adam Ant outfit is just to stop Joss Whedon's lawyers from suing - I bet someone wanted him looking like Billy Idol again. He even uses some of the same jokes.

The only differences are:

he's not a vampire
he's openly omnisexual

But since Spike was destined to become human (and a vampire could easily have lived to 5090) it's not impossible that he's the same character. You may scoff, but it's easier to assume that John is Spike than explain where the hell Jack's been since he said goodbye to the Doctor.

Spike is a Time Agent like Jack, left to his own devices after the Agency collapsed in mysterious circumstances. He is very much the cruel shag anything git we saw Jack as in his first story, and it's not hard to link this with the Dark Age of the year 5000 the Doctor talks about in Talons of Weng Chiang, The Invisible Enemy, and The Ice Warriors. He's just nastier, decadent, and master of the double entendre. Despite the lack of onscreen violence, sex and swearing (one guy shouts "Shit!" before he dies but nout else), I still can't believe this episode will be viewable after being 'cut down' for younger viewers.

Anyway, Spike has travelled to Cardiff to collect a bunch of radioactive bombs which were accidentally sent through the rifts and his Vortex Manipulator immediately tells him Jack is in the locality. With his usual mockery of pop culture and extreme violence, Spike arranges a Western style show down with Jack involving a massive barroom brawl, violent sex and shotguns. All accompanied by some music I've never known the name of, but it's famous in car adds and everything. Imagine a strumming electric guitar interspersed with a high pitched voice shouting, "WEEE-HOOOOO!!" every so often. See, I knew you'd recognize it. Also, Spike has his own theme, the guitar riff from House of the Rising Sun, which sometimes enters the room before he does.

Jack and Spike are old... acquaintences. Whether or not they're friends is hard to say, but Jack doesn't trust his ex in any way whatsoever and Spike (and James Marsters) does his usual fun-loving anarchist routine. He comes across much as Jack was sold to us by RTD, someone who doesn't comprehend human authorities or due process, and comes across as fun and mischevious. Yet, as events unfold and we discover Jack was quite right not to trust his compadrie an inch, it's totally believable.

Spike is also a bit like RTD's Master, in the fact he is a very smart and dangerous person. Trouble is, season one made it clear that just about anyone could outthink the Torchwood gang, so when he totally screws over the gang, it comes across as inevitable. But, forgetting the whole first season abomination, we have Spike's status as evil con man mastermind built up, especially as it's made clear that the others underestimate him because they don't trust Jack enough to believe his warnings.

The plot comes to a decent conclusion with Owen's "Trust me, I'm an improviser" just about excusing the DNA-buggery involved in the conclusion. At least it makes more sense than the Daleks' similar tricks, and I can't think anyone wasn't disappointed as Spike's offer to join the gang was turned down. I dare say the extra long next time trailer was simply to assure us Spike would return, with the brilliant line about the gang "You people are just sex obsessed!" But he also drops a hint that he has found "Grey".

Who is Grey? No idea. I have absolutely no idea. But this parting shot leaves Jack shaken and terrified at the information, and when he refuses, as ever, to discuss it with Gwen the others, I think it's because he's not up to thinking about it. Yes, it looks like this will be a proper story arc.

When watching the second series of Robin Hood, I regularly bemoaned that Torchwood wasn't even on the same level. However, this episode is certainly up to Robin Hood's standard, and easily beats a few eps (Lardener's Ring, easily) and if the rest of the season can at least be as good as the opening episode, then, well, we'll finally have got the adult, sexy and funny Who spin off we were promised back in 2005. Forget Everything Changes through to End of Days. That was a failed experiment to graft ideas onto RTD's aborted Excalibur program (which Spike, with his usual postmodernism, refers to dismissively at one point).

This is a good episode. This is a show I'd want to watch. This is a show I'd buy Torchwood Magazine for (I had absolutely no interest in it until I saw this episode). I want to see the next episode. And I didn't have this buzz the first time round, BEFORE I knew it was crap.



Richard Briers apologizes for Kroagnon! Giant bugs! Alien bodysnatchers! Some angry guy who's an old enemy of Captain Jack who can change his face! Weevils! A guy, upside down, being Exorcist-sick and Jack locked in a cell with him! PC Andy patronizing Torchwood! Captain Spike returns! Er... everyone shagging each other... Gwen being stalked! Cardiff being nuked! MARTHA JONES! Alien invasion! Time traveller DNA! Ianto having a nervous breakdown in the rain! Owen... suggesting "we all have sex"...

Oh well. I suppose they'll grow out of it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wasn't I Rewriting Stuff?

Why, yes I was! How observants of you! Are you stalking me or something? Oh well, in any case, the Great Work of Rewriting Crap Doctor Who Stories has wound down a bit. Still, finished The War Machines, Resurrection of the Daleks, The Twin Dilemma and Revelation of the Daleks. Plus my "original" (stop sniggering you bastards) work The Enemy Within. Yes, I wrote it before I saw series three. I started before series two was finished. If anyone's nicked anything it's RTD. Anyway, what about the rest? Well, Miles has drifted off, Cameron's not done much and Jared's still producing solid gold I can't be bothered to upload. But what of me? Have I done a damn thing? Well, since you asked so nicely...



Nebula. Magellanic clouds. Planets. We fade from one shot to another, clearly moving through space, looking for something. Zooming step by step through the galaxy to focus on a familiar blue-green planet. Eerie, distant music.

Things change. People are born, and people die. At any given point in time and space, untold billions are unborn or long dead. Events are forgotten or haven’t happened yet. Planets come and go. Stars perish.

Our view of the planet alters, so it becomes silhouetted against the sun which glows brighter and brighter, until there is nothing but scorching whiteness. This happens silently.


The whiteness dims to a pleasant orange. We are looking at the sky just before sunset.

Matter disperses, coalesces, forms into other patterns...

We pan downwards. We see a golden obelisk against the sky, pulling outwards to see it is a large memorial in the middle of a grassy cenotaph. We see we are in the heart of a neat town quite like one in England in the 1980s. There are terraced houses converted into shops, power lines, traffic lights. A few tall office blocks can be spotted, along with factories and churches.

Other worlds.

We pan around the city. There is no traffic, but a few parked cars. No pedestrians. The only noise is birdsong and the wind in the trees. The only thing missing is people.

Everything has its time and everything dies. Nothing can be eternal. Nothing that matters at any rate. The universe unfolds as it should. All I have learnt about this I can summarize easily: life goes on...

We are now focussed on a notice board. In metallic writing it says


Whether you like it or not.

We fade up a caption: INTO THE FIRE... as the TARDIS materializes in front of the sign. The sounds of its engines startle some of the birds nearby, but there is no other reaction. After a moment, the door clicks open and THE DOCTOR sticks his head out. He looks around suspiciously, stepping from the TARDIS.

The trouble is, the only certainty with luck is that it changes.

He moves away. PERI stands in the doorway.

This isn’t Pasadena!

He continues to look around, his voice patient.

No, Peri, it’s not Pasadena.

We’ve gone off course again. Do you want me to try this time?

There’s little point in that, Peri, until we know where we’ve started from.

It’s just England.

This isn’t England.

Yes it is. Look around. It's just not raining for once.

Oh, I suppose we’ve fetched up in Manchester 1985, have we?

You’ve been here more often then I have.

Yes. I have. Doesn’t this strike you as wrong?

Peri steps from the TARDIS, pulling the door closed behind her.

Not particularly. Isn’t it always like this on Sundays?

The Doctor frowns, baffled.


Yeah. That IS what’s bothering you, isn’t it? The lack of people?

Yes. You’re right. A city this size, at least over a hundred square miles, clearly three hundred years old at the most. The place should be packed with people!

He sounds suspicious.

But it’s a Sunday, isn’t it?

And if it isn’t?

A day off, then. No alien ships in the sky, no explosions. No radiation either – I checked before I came out.


No, you see, I *like* not being radioactive. It’s really no trouble to check a dial.

Assuming it’s still connected.

Peri looks at him, anxious.

You’re joking.

Of course I am. You think I need a dial to know if the air is irradiated? Dear dear.

She rolls her eyes.

So what’s the problem that bothers you so much but obviously isn’t the lack of people since you hadn’t noticed it?

The Doctor nods and turns to her.

My problem, Peri, is that I’m fairly certain we are in Sheffield. Yes, I was there with old Egbert right at the beginning when Eanred surrendered to him at Dore, making him the first King of England...


And that was the start of the city. They built a castle, and the town grew around it. Before that there was nothing worth speaking of, just a few settlements that had sprung up since the end of the last ice age.

When was that?

829 AD. We are, at a rough estimate 13, 000 BC. Give or take the odd fifteen years.

So... this city shouldn’t be here?

Nothing like this should be anywhere on the planet, Peri. Not for another fifteen thousand years.

Leaving this statement hanging, the Doctor turns to look around them. Peri looks around as well, not quite sure what to say or even think.


An average bedroom in a luxury flat. A woman of about 18 stands before a mirror, checking her reflection. This is KHAM. She is wearing a fine, sophisticated dress and has just done her hair. On her wrist is a digital watch – 360:00, 359:59, 359:58, etc. counting down. She turns to take a cream jacket from her hatstand. There is a knock at the door.


Kham? Is it all right if I come in?


The door opens as Kham’s father LAHR. He is a well-built man in his fifties, dressed in casual clothes. He holds a newspaper in his hand and like Lahr, he has a digital watch.

Are you ready?


You’re sure this is what you want?

Kham nods, donning the jacket.

All right. I mean, you don’t have to. If you want to do something else to spend...

Kham is firm.

No. I’m sure. I’m not going to get another chance.

Jade is a very lucky man.

He’s doing the same. Can’t think of a better way to show a girl how he feels.

Lahr smiles.

True. You look beautiful.


You’re welcome.

No, I mean... thanks. For everything.

I know.

She runs over to him and embraces him tightly. We cut to the watch: 353 and counting. They finally break the hug. Lahr looks at his watch.

You’d best get going girl, or you’ll keep Jade waiting.

What are you going to do tonight?

Lahr indicates the paper.

I’ve still got the sports section to read.

You never read the sports section!

Well, it’s the last issue. Might as well read all of it.

And mum?

I’ll look after her. We’re both going to kick back and relax.

You think nothing’s going to happen, don’t you?

I guess it still hasn’t sunk in. Either way, I’ll enjoy the evening.


She says it to rhyme with “nice”.

I better get going. Where’s mum?

Just out in the garden. You don’t want the transporter?

It’s not a day for driving, dad.

Planning to take him for a walk tonight, eh?

Kham shrugs and blushes slightly.

You romantic. Be careful though.


Lahr starts to sound frantic.

There are probably still a few defectives out there!

Even now?

Even now!

He sighs, composing himself.

Please. Just be careful.

I will, dad. I promise.

He places an arm around her and checks his watch.

Time’s wasting. Let’s go see your mother.

They leave. We see Kham’s wrist watch: 348.


The sun is still lighting up the sky. The Doctor and Peri are silhouetted against it as they walk over a bridge up a street. They walk in the middle of the road, the Doctor with his hands in his pockets, face grim.

You’re sure this isn’t just the TARDIS console playing up again?

“Playing up”? Peri, I admit the old girl is getting on a bit and we don’t always arrive on target, but the navigation and orientation circuits are in complete working order!

Then why are the coordinates wrong?

Wrong? They aren’t wrong. They’re absolutely accurate. What makes you think they’re wrong?

They’re not the ones you taught me for Earth.

They’re close.


Well. All right. I admit. According to the instruments we should be somewhere in interplanetary void, between Earth and Mars.

In the year 13, 000 BC?


But we’re in 1980s Sheffield.

As it appears.

So, either the controls are damaged... or?

Or something very nasty.

He sighs, looking grim. Peri sighs.

You mean, someone’s changed history?

Oh, no, Peri. Quite the opposite. I think things are going PRECISELY as intended...

They are both startled as a voice through a megaphone is heard.


They whirl around. An open-top sports car with an odd symbol on the bonnet turns the corner and moves down the street with a low buzzing. The megaphone on the bonnet is linked to a CB radio set on the dashboard. We see a cheerful-looking bearded man in a scruffy, Tartan shirt is driving it. This is RALN, and he waves as the Doctor and Peri quickly return to the pavement. Raln pulls up beside them.

Ah, hello there...

Raln glares at them and speaks gravely into the radio.

Did you remember to disconnect the power stacks?

Did we what?

I think he’s worried we’ve left the gas on.

Raln shrugs and shakes his head good-naturedly.

It won’t matter in the end. Especially as the end is only six metrons and...

He glances at his watch.

I do beg your pardon. Five metrons and forty-four segments away!

What do you mean, “the end”?

Raln looks at her, cheer fading. He sounds almost crestfallen.

You’ll find out.

He suddenly guns the engine and the car heads off. The Doctor hurries after him.

Now, wait a minute, what are you talking about?!


The car turns the corner and drops out of sight. The Doctor turns to look back at Peri as she catches up with him.

Did that strike you as odd at all?

Just a little. What happens at midnight? New Year?

Something a bit bleaker I fancy. Did he look worried to you?

Seemed kinda cheerful.

Pre-death excitement. Adrenaline with nowhere to go. You might see it on a battlefield or a space accident, but in the middle of a suburban street, that’s not usual.

So, something very bad is happening at midnight?

Yes, something that seems to have terrified the locals.

The Doctor looks around.

No earth tremors. The TARDIS would have picked up seismic activity. No sign of disease or plague. No radiation. The sun’s setting normally, no asteroids in the vicinity...

Not a natural disaster, then?

At least not a conventional one. Not a war, either. Or invasion.

No propaganda posters, no sirens, no barbed wire?

Yes, well spotted, Peri. And it’s not so much this place is deserted... everyone’s staying indoors for some reason. I wonder why?

Maybe the streets aren’t safe?

That young chap didn’t seem to be worried about us?

If he thinks everything’s ending in five and a half metrons, maybe it didn’t matter?

The Doctor looks at her and then along the street.

Yes. Perhaps just this once we better return to the TARDIS. You never know, it might be able to shed some light on what’s going on.

And we can leave very quickly?

Yes. That could be a very good idea.

The Doctor turns and heads back the way they came. Peri follows.

"Leave right away"? Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, mister!

Who said anything about sarcasm? This is in deadly earnest!


JADE, a square-jawed good-looking man heads for the door. He wears a dinner suit and is doing up some cufflinks. SHELL, a sour-faced woman in her fifties emerges from a side door. She looks at Jade with annoyance.


Jade rolls his eyes and keeps moving.

You’re supposed to be helping me pack! We’re heading down to the shelters...

Too late, mum. Shoulda done that weeks ago.

Your sister and your baby brother are down there with your grandparents. The only reason we’ve left it this late is because of that illogical little bimbo you’re dating.

Jade looks at her coldly, his fist bunching in anger.

Kham and I are spending the evening together.

You’re not going out!

I’m not staying here!

Illogic logic! You’re going to abandon your family today for her?!

Jade laughs cruelly.

Family? What family?! The others aren’t here, are they. And the day of the announcement was when dad decided everything he’d spent his life was working for was now pointless and very LOGICALLY killed himself!

Your father...

Is dead! He didn’t want to spend today with us, well, I’m just returning the favor! The only reason I’m still in this town is because Kham wanted to stay with her family.

You’re not thinking! You’ve got to prioritize!

So prioritize! You want to get to the shelters? Stop wasting our time.

Jade! Don’t you dare walk out of here! Don’t you dare!

Jade ignores her.


The Doctor and Peri are walking briskly around the corner.

If you know what’s going on, you could just tell me...

When we’re back at the TARDIS, and I’m sure I know what I’m talking about then I-

The house to their left is Jade’s. The door swings open and Jade strides out and down the steps towards the road. Shell can be heard screaming for him.

Oh, excuse me...

Jade glares at them.


I don’t suppose you could tell us where we are, we’re lost.

Block Gamma Epsilon, City State of Jyenra. Out of my way, please.

The Doctor and Peri part to allow Jade to stride off down the street.

Definitely not Sheffield.

So where on Earth are we?

Earth? Who said anything about Earth?

Shell hurries down the steps.

Jade? JADE!

Ah, good evening, madam...

The Doctor hops up onto her front path. She looks at him disbelievingly.

Who are you?

Just passers-by. We were wondering if...

Get away from me!

She scrambles back up towards the house, not taking her eyes off the Doctor.

We don’t mean any harm...

The Dæmon you will! Get out of here now!


The Doctor looks at Shell in surprise.

Dæmon. Madam, please...

Shell turns and runs inside the door. The Doctor runs up the steps.

Just go!!

This IS Mondas, isn’t it?!

Where else would it be! No go away before I call the Enforcers!

She slams the door in the Doctor’s face. Expression dark, he turns and runs down the steps back towards where Peri is waiting.

Back to the TARDIS – at the double.

Mondas? But that’s...

Peri! MOVE!

He bundles her out of the yard and they run off out of sight.

Can you guess what this story's about, boys and girls?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

One day

I was born in the early hours of February the 4th, 1985. What happened that day?

According to wikipedia:

Not much.

Some guy named Bug Hall was born, an American actor.

But on that day in history....

Liberace dies! Pamela Franklin born! ALICE COOPER born! Shri Lanka Independence Day! World Cancer Day (very appropriate, since my mother suffered from it)! The Roman empire fell into turmoil, then suffered religious tolerance, the Song Dynasty began, 47 samurai kill themselves, the UK withdraws from America, George Washington is elected, slavery is abolished by the French Republic, Germany blockades the UK, Japan invades China, radioactive waste discovered, Yasser Arafat got promoted, Patty Hearst is kidnapped, an earthquake slaughters Guatemalians, Venezuala suffers a bloody coup, Milwaukee freezes, two helicopters explode when they accidentally crash into each other, another earthquake in Afghanistan kills over 5000 locals, Bill Gates gets a cream pie in the face, the NYPD shoot down some unarmed African guy who was just passing, and 88 are killed in a Manila stampede.



Well, general mixture of soul crushing tragedy and side splitting hilarity. My life in a nutshell.

Worst of all, worst of all...

The only Doctor Who episode shown on that day was The Underwater Menace part 4!


Oh, ones I nearly missed:

The Daleks part 7
The Romans part 4
The Massacre part 1
The Web of Fear part 1
The Seeds of Death part 2
The Silurians part 2
The Mind of Evil part 2
The Curse of Peladon part 1
Carnival of Monsters part 2
Invasion of the Dinosaurs part 4
The Ark in Space part 2
The Seeds of Doom part 2
Robots of Death part 2
The Armageddon Factor part 1
Shada part 5 (which is fair, I guess)
The Keeper of Traken part 2
Kinda part 1
Mawdryn Undead part 1
Frontios part 4
Mark of the Rani part 1

B7: Seek-Locate-Destroy
B7: Pressure Point
RD: Duct Soup

Oh wait, the first part of Invasion of Time was on my birthday. And the next three Torchwood novels (must buy) are out on the same day. And The Harvest of Kairos.

So. Not a total loss then.

Robin Hood 2.0 - This Is Serious Mum!

Ok, I've not written down ALL my thoughts so expect updates and alterations.

(aka Get Carter)

The latest episode of medieval misfit mayhem gets off to a cracking pace. The Sheriff has hired an ex-crusader called Carter to seek locate and exterminate someone - who could that be? Despite being played by "Adam" from heroes, that immortal indestructible Rob Holmes con man who intends to obliterate the human race, Carter's fancy knife play doesn't impress me. Or Guy, come to that...

In fact, it looks like Carter is so utterly clueless he's got confused which side of the establishment he's fighting for and swashbuckles into the distant village of Klom (famous for its ridiculously large barns and Absorbaloffs), where the Merry Men are also trying to save the villagers from a massacre of guards. Exactly why the Sheriff is wasting his time attacking peasants is a moot point, as before Robin can work out this is clearly a trap, Marion is charging in with her sword and going apeshit.

Yes, Robin is realizing that bringing his girlfriend to work is a bad move, what with all her issues, and is forced to tie her up to keep her under control. (Down boy! WOOF!) Marion's clearly not adapting to life in the woods, or not having to treat Robin like dirt, and Little John steps into the breach to provide hug therapy. Aw. She even snuggles up to the big guy like a baby.

But Carter, now in the camp, easily knocks out everyone and ties them up, and threatens to kill them one by one until Robin hands over the back pack. I mean, hands back the pact.

Robin punches his lights out in 0.3 seconds. Problem sorted.

Since it looks like the New Tough Sherwood has finally found a plot thread too weak to go on, our attention returns to the castle where the Sheriff has clearly been mixing his medication and is bouncing happy at the thought this poncing loser called Carter is going to kill Robin despite the fact Robin is clever, knows the terrain and has four highly trained and very violent outlaws on his side.

Guy, however, is not so niave and points out that the distraction plan cost them plenty of guards - though whether it's the loss of human life upsets him or the fact THEY ARE RUNNING OUT OF GUARDS that bothers him, we cannot say. The Sheriff doesn't mind, and offers the widdows small fruit baskets. What a bastard!

But wait, there's more, as the Sheriff comes onto Guy himself (obviously mistaking all the gell and leather jackets...) and then very cruelly taunts Guy over Marion's lack of existence in the castle. Since Guy himself told her to get out of there, he's kind of hanging onto the hope she followed his advice rather than ditching him outright. But the Sheriff insists that a) she's gone b) he should get over it and c) get a new wardrobe. No hyperbole, that's what he says.

Guy sends Baldrick, er, Allan off to locate Marion. Proving himself as awkward and morally confused as ever, Allan comes up with a scheme to keep everyone happy that only involves beating up a nun. How could you argue with a moral victory like that? However, Guy is horrified to "learn" that Marion has joined a nunnery and taken a vow of silence - and its a credit to Allan's character that Guy totally believes him, but still decides to rescue her cause she'll ruin her life! Not because he craves her alablaster smooth body (which he does) but because he honestly thinks it's a bad move for her.

Wow. I mean, there's rarely that sort of hardcore character development - he's not even trying to shag her to prove a point! At this rate, I'll start to dread confrontations at Nottingham for fear of which side I should be rooting for.

Meanwhile, after a nice moment where Robin reminds Much that part of the reason he doesn't seem to listen to his squire is because they know each other so well he doesn't have to TALK, Robin decides to break the resolve off the massmurdering assassin and turn him into a nice person. However, simply absorbing Robin's DNA won't work like in "Dalek", so it's time for the Talk.

At the end of it, Carter weeps like a baby and begs for it all to stop.

In the meantime we suddenly discover Carter's brother was a total hothead who got himself killed in the Crusades. Robin started a story that he was at fault and the dead man was a war hero who ran out of luck, with the intent to give the family happy memories. Instead, the younger brother tried to kill him. No pleasing some people, eh?

Probably the odd thing is that, unlike "Tattoo? What Tattoo?" we get no foreshadowing of this, or flashbacks to the Holy Land. Despite the fact it clearly links to Robin's insistence that wild cards do more damage to the army than the enemy, which is why he's been crushing Marion's spirit. (Mind you, the girl's worrying me. There's a scene where she pulls out a knife from between her breasts and starts toying with it while looking at the tied-up Carter... thankfully we're spared the Robin Hood equivalent of Reservoir Dogs...)

With Carter now Robin's bitch and he and Marion meaning that hardly any of the other Merry Men are getting, Robin decides to adapt the cliffhanger of the last series and poison himself in such a way he can miraculously return to life. Thus, the Oddyseus Strategem goes under way as Robin is wheeled into Nottingham, and the Sheriff bounces even more like Sonic the Hedgehog and babbles things like "Hah! You know what I'm gonna do with his body? Do you? Do you know? Do you?" It's like the writer got that Vasey is a total anachronistic bastard, but missed the bit where he's "clever".

Guy, however, has plenty of braincells and immediately works out the ruse and decides to decapitate Robin's corpse to make sure. Luckily, Marion has... once more... disobeyed commands and is able to dive in, grab Guy by his leather jacket and sultily whisper in his ear that they gotta talk. Instantly ducking into a room, Marion quietly explains that she is kinda grieving for her dead dad and Guy has got to stop the phone calls, the texts, sitting outside her house...

It's credit to all concerned that Guy can be the focus of a "seriously, stop stalking me wierdo" scene and still come out of sympathetic. Mind you, his clumsy therapy of "take your mind off things and have a baby" isn't as good as Little John's hugs, but Marion is forced to distract Guy by snogging him. Which leaves him in Happy Little Puppy mode and, really, is actually heartbreaking. Christ, Marion, in every other version of the legend, we'd be asking you to hack his bollocks off -- but here, you're just being cruel! Apart from anything else, how is he going to learn to be a proper human being (and he admits he's still working on it) if you could confusing him with this Anglo Saxon lust! Even the predictable "Robin spots them at it" scene makes you think he's not so much jealous but appalled at the inherent cruelty.


Oh, yeah, well Robin has risen from the grave (having been poisoned twice -- I assume his final fate will not be that the ballads say) in a painful scene as Carter idly chats about Saracen magic and it's ability to put people in comas and instantly cure them with no side effects whatsoever. I'll be charitable and assume that Vasey was so happy that Robin is dead, he wasn't thinking straight and instantly didn't twig and skewer Carter there and there.

"Kneel," Robin orders the Sheriff who challenges Robin to "make him" do so.

One quick knee in the happy sack proves Vasey is all too human. Oh, some nice details around this plot include the Sheriff now being so poor he can only offer two hundred pounds reward for Robin, and Robin working off his fear of the potion by fistcuffs with John (he wasn't brave enough to ask for one last kiss from Marion).

Anyway, with the kitty to repair the village of Klom, Robin and Carter flee the castle in the most blatant and show off manner possible, with throwing of the loot back and forth, running across the battlements, diving into a cart of hay... Although Allan's betrayal is supposed to be responsible for the lack of subtlety, Robin admits the whole swashbuckling thing is done because it's cool.

At the camp, Robin FINALLY learns that giving the all important letter to Allan was a bad move, and thus tells Carter to piss off and tell the King about the Knights Who Say Ni, while he and Marion do some patented BBCWales holding of hands. Methinks she not a Maid for much longer...

This is actually, hands down, the weakest story of the whole year. It's entertaining, got character development, sticks to the rules, but "guest goody/baddy of the week" suffocates an already large cast, with Wil once again being completely sidelined, and even Djaq being ignored. You would have thought she might have had SOME reaction to not being the only woman in camp, or maybe Carter might have reacted badly to Robin working with a SARACEN BITCH! But no.

Maybe it was decided for the lighthearted filler ep to balance out the hardcore action of last week's ep? Maybe it's all a freakish coincidence? Maybe whoever thought of that title needs to be shot?


- the Sheriff's particularly bad this week: he doesn't understand Latin (what?), knows about fruit baskets, and "Get over it"?!

- Allan's meeting with the nun is full of song quotes - songs that HAVE NOT BEEN WRITTEN YET!!!

(aka Walkabout)

OMFG!! There are three more episodes!

Which is surprising, since every single scene seems to have EPIC SEASON FINALE tattooed through it. Yet, despite being a completely disposable episode where absolutely everything with no exceptions whatsoever is reset at the conclusion, it STILL manages to wipe the floor with several rivals. I seriously thought that this could have been a mini War Games with endless possibilities for new locales and characters. This episode could have changed the entire course of the series - and it KNOWS it. Ultimately, you can bitch that nothing changes, but it fundamentally backs up the Sheriff's claims that Nottingham will be Hiroshima-ed out of existence should he come to grief.

We also get the Intelligent Cunning Guest Star of the Week. And it's Kenny from Press Gang, following in Spike's footsteps by giving the impression he's from a completely different show (for him, Life on Mars) and this leads me to wonder if King John will turn out to be Paul Reynolds. Or Julia Sawalha in drag. Dear God, that could work...

The story kicks off with the Sheriff having an LSD nightmare about Robin. Over the last ten episodes we have seen him cut down again and again, and this week he is left a penniless vagabond stumbling blindly around a forest - and we all know that if it weren't for the Sword of Damoclese over Nottingham, not a single person in the entire world would give a fuck. Surely, therefore, there's no lower that Vasey can sink?

Well, whattayanow. Like the Master being reduced to a skeleton turned him into pure 100% proof evil, all this has done is distillate Vasey's bastardry and he's able to sign the death warrant of his home town and come up with a typically diabolical scheme to get his backpack. Pact back. Whatever. Thus, he allies himself with a family of professional cutthroat beggars, who are as cynical and selfish as he is, and easily turns them into an army of gits. Mind you, the mother was willing to hack off the arm of one of her children for maximum emotional impact, so it wasn't MUCH of a stretch.

We are reminded once again that the Sheriff is the big bad not because he is a brilliant warrior, or even because he has every possible advantage... it's because he is very, very clever. Indeed, the fact he goes sleepwalking today can't be coincidence: he's got the perfect distraction for Robin to leave his camp undefended, and is safe even after the shit goes down on his manor.

Kenny's casual arrival kicks off the countdown, and there's almost a Logopolis vibe as this silent watcher stalks the battlements, a huge black cloud of death gathers, and Guy of Guisborne has to make a deal with his enemy to prevent mutual annihilation. (Nice detail that he cannot bring himself to look Robin in the eye while he does it). Yet once again, we don't miss the opportunity to shove our morally-ambiguous villain into dire straits to see which way he jumps: he tries to bribe Kenny into turning a blind eye, but mind you, that's before he discovers he is exempt from execution since he is an honorary Black Knight. And thus, his family has safe passage - and assuming Guy can pull the moves, that will include Marion.

It's staggering to think how far this show has developed since the last series (which was pretty much stuck in a holding pattern once the cast settled down). There's no doubt the Guy of Season One would have flung Marion over his shoulder and hit the road, probably not even telling her what was on. But here he begs her to marry him because he DOESN'T WANT HER TO DIE! The marriage thing is completely secondary, and even Will thinks this is a necessary evil and urges her on with the quite compelling argument Robin can always get her out of it later (we can assume that his prior disgust at her going down the aisle with Guy was because he suspected she actually preferred leather boy). But Marion's not going to abandon people to death, and for once is not going to use Guy's emotions as a cat's paw for her own ends.

If you can not punch the air as Guy gives Kenny the two fingered salute and joins Marion to face the last stand against the Ring of Steel TM... well, you're not half as embarrassing as I am.


With Creepy Fool vanished like Kamelion, the gang get some proper characterization this week. Much gets a nice moment as he enjoys tracking the Sheriff with Robin coz it reminds him of old times, and manages to completely hide his dismay at Robin marrying Marion (the "what do I do without him?" kind of despair, though he's got a certain blonde to look for...), and Robin's "I like worrying about you, Much" says a hell of a lot. Will gets some action, as he takes over the role of looking after Marion, and firmly refuses the idea of letting Allan back in the gang, even though it would be very easy to act like his old friend did nothing wrong.

Allan for his part, is basically Guy's stooge, but we get another look at his murky morals: as long as he feels sorry for what he's done and betrays the establishment, he thinks he's repaid his debt. Or rather, is desperate to think that will count. I notice he's not "not been funny" once since leaving Robin, so he clearly doesn't have much to laugh about. Can we really blame him for trying to sweet-talk Kenny into saving him?

That leaves Djaq and John. Djaq doesn't get much to do, bar from towing the party line and surprisingly not being that fussed that her boyfriend is in ground zero (Will at least knows she's out of danger) and that leaves John. He's got more dialogue in this episode than many others, not even resorting to his "I like" catchphrase, and he's starting to doubt whether the hormonal PTSD geezer is sure what the hell he's doing nowadays. He even shows a sense of humor with some stuff about a goose which seems pretty extraneous... was the goose originally going to peck the Sheriff unconscious or something?

Oh yeah, the Sheriff. For such a complete psychopath, he's pretty convincing as the heartbroken blind grandpa (mind you, he has been given lessons). You COULD say that his performance is a metatextual statement that John has seen so much suffering that the Sheriff's hamming it up wouldn't register.

Nevertheless, it's good that John's clear paternal anguish is what leads him to bring the children back to his camp rather than the Sheriff's diabolical ingenuity. Blind luck! All that and some truly brilliant comic moments...

* The Womp finding the Sheriff in his PJs and growling "You gotta purty mouth". Anyone who has spent any time with Chris Hale will find this ridiculously amusing...

* Djaq's 'happened to a friend of a friend of mine' story

* "Well... he DOES give to the poor," the Sheriff muses as he finds a bunch of empty treasure chests under Robin's bed

* "OK, technically that IS accurate," says Allan on deliberately betraying his friends

Needless to say the world does not end this week, nor does Marion wed Guy, neither does Allan rejoin the team, or the Sheriff get his scroll with all the incriminating signatures. Indeed, you could skip this entirely.
But you'd be making a mistake.


- the Sheriff's pop culture references are now down to Shakespeare, so he's limiting himself to JUST six centuries.


- Kenny's plan to murder his cousin and steal the funds to rebuilt Nottingham should be watched through sunglasses lest the social satire to nasty things to your eyes

Friday, January 11, 2008

I Used To Be Clever...

Back in 1990, we had this thing at school. We'd write something in a book for five minutes then illustrate. I often attempted to capture the genius of Doctor Who, endlessly baffling teachers with recreations of The Power of Kroll, Face of Evil, and Masque of Mandragora. Often an action packed first paragraph and a rapid "ooh, and then a strange monster lurched out of the shadows!!!"

A few of my original stories weren't up to much, often involving the Doctor arriving at a cave by the sea and then a giant bat attacking... but two stories I ACTUALLY FINISHED!! I even had a Third Doctor sequel planned, but, you know, life sucks.

And reprinted here, sans illustrations, sadly, is a story I wrote back at the tender age of 5 and a bit, but bar a few spelling changes, it's as is. Of course, at the time I thought it was an Interference-style epic saga due to its incredible length and plot detail...


Part 1

The moon struggled to shine from behind a mess of ink-black clouds, but the only other source of light was the sulphor-coloured glow that came from the little cabin's windows. But even that was muted through the countless skeletal trees, their discarded Autumn leaves carpeting the ground like a rustling blanket.

Breathing heavily, a figure struggled forward through the trees towards the cabin. The ground seemed to suck at the figure's feet, making every movement a monumental effort, and opening the wound in his side even further. Every few footsteps the figure was forced to grab hold of a tree to support itself.

Behind him, the wolves started to howl mockingly.

The figure turned his blurring eyesight back at darkness he was escaping from. Things were moving in the void, eyes visibly against the blackness, feet rustling through the leaves.

Gritting his teeth, the injured man turned and forced himself to run down the slope. The trees were getting thicker, conspiring to stop his escape. More howls shattered the calm night air.

Pain throbbed, burning the man's heart as he fought through a final fence of creepers and vines to reach the door of the cabin. Blood glistened on the trees and leaves around him. The wolves howled again.

Shaking, bloody fingers twisted the lock on the front door and with one last glance at the baleful full moon above, the man dived into the cabin.

The air from the fireplace was shockingly warm. The man stumbled across the to the table in the middle of the cabin, trying to summon up the strength to turn back to the door and close it. The howling wolves were getting closer, closer...

The man turned, feeling grating, shooting pains explode between his ribs. Unable to hold back the horrible scream, the man convulsed and pitched forward onto the ground with a tortured moan. Blood pooled on the polished wooden floor.

A sudden ethereal humming filled the air, twisting into a familiar wheezing groaning sound. A square blue shadow formed in the corner, sharpening into a police public call box. The noise ended, leaving only the sounds of the approaching wolves.

The door swung inwards, and the Doctor stepped out.

Part 2

The Doctor was a short man in a long coat, checkered pants and with a very tall hat that he often had to take off to go into rooms. He looked around gravely, smelling the distinctive metal smell of human blood. But there were so many other smells in this new place the Doctor's Time Lord nose took a moment to identify it.

'Oh, my word!' he exclaimed, noticing the bloody body on the floor. He rushed over, stopped, bit his thumbnail and called out. 'Jamie! Jamie! Zoe, come out, quickly!'

Two teenagers stepped out of the TARDIS, one dressed in a vest and skirt, the other in a bright yellow cat suit - wierdly, the boy was wearing the skirt and the girl the pants. The Doctor turned and slammed the door, cutting off the wolf noises and the cold air.

'Quickly,' said Zoe, who knew a lot about first aid, 'We've got to get him over to the fire. Jamie, take off his coat and get some clean water. Doctor, you better see if there are any bandages around.'

Jamie went to do as he was told, grumbling that he had been in lots of fights with redcoats and knew how to treat injuries. The Doctor was about to remind Zoe that he WAS a doctor, after all, but as he knew little about medicine he stayed quiet and did what he was told.

Zoe checked the man over. He was in his forties and had curly black hair. His left hip was slashed and torn and dripping with bright red blood, and the man's skin was very pale. He opened his eyes.

'Wh... what are you doing here?' he gasped. Blood was in his mouth.

'Don't try to speak,' said Zoe firmly, mopping away most of the blood. 'We, er, found the door open and saw you. What happened?'

'Can yer not tell?' snapped Jamie. 'Some beastie's taken a lump out of him! Any fool can see that.'

'Well, that explains how you know that,' Zoe retorted.

'W... where's Alex?' the man coughed, wincing in pain.

'He's not here,' the Doctor explained, having come from the cabin's miniature kitchen with some bandages and ointments. 'Who is Alex?'

'Y... You've got to go to Geneva tonight,' the man cried out, speaking quickly against the pain drowning him. 'The whole of western civilization depends on... it... The Hilton hotel... Ask for... John... SMith!!!' The man fell back, crying in agony.

The Doctor pressed a large pad against the wound. 'Can we get Alex to do that? We're not really close to an airport, are we?' From what he'd seen out the window, they were in the middle of nowhere.

And surrounded by nasty wild dogs.

'Gotta... go to Geneva... Please... For God's sake!'

'Who is Geneva?' asked Jamie. Geography was never his strong point.

'Don't let the... wolves... get....' The man's eyes widened and he sighed. Blood began to trickle down his mouth. The Doctor frowned and closed the man's eyes with the flat of his hand.

'What do we do now?' asked Zoe sadly.

'You two stay here,' said the Doctor, crossing to the door. 'I'll just pop outside and see if this Alex character is around.'

'But can't you hear those dogs?' Jamie protested.

'I'm not deaf, Jamie. But someone must go.'

'You saw what they did to the man!' Zoe complained.

'Yes, so if Alex is out there, he might be in danger.'

'Let me go, Doctor,' said Jamie loyally, pulling a knife out of his sock. The Doctor snatched the knife off him.

'Jamie, I keep telling you - people with knives often get stabbed! Why can't you just leave it in the TARDIS.' So saying, he dropped it into his pocket and crossed to the door.

'Hey, can I not have me knife back, Doctor!' Jamie snapped.

'I might need it,' the Doctor muttered by the door.

'You don't like weapons,' Zoe reminded him.

'I'm not using it as a weapon,' the Doctor replied, unlocking the door.

'Then why do you want it?' Jamie's mother had given him that knife.

'Because it is made of silver.'

Part Three

The Doctor stepped out into the gloom. It was perishingly cold and even his amazing eyesight couldn't pick out much in the gloom. A growling grey shape pawed out of the darkness towards him.

It was a wolf. Its mouth was red with blood.

The Doctor swallowed and grabbed the knife to protect himself. Unfortunately, he grabbed the wrong end and droplets of blood flew through the cold air.

The wolf sniffed. Growled.

Then it suddenly backed away.

The Doctor's eyes narrowed. 'Have we met before?'

The wolf turned and ran off into the shadows. The Doctor crammed his stupidly-tall hat back on his head and
ran into the gloom after it.


Jamie and Zoe placed the body of the man on the bunk bed and covered him up with a blanket. Jamie turned and went to the kitchen to get some water to clean up the blood.

Jamie had met quite a few wild animals in his time, but as they were on Earth, just what could have killed the man? The wolves outside? The man had had a nasty bite to be sure, but to die so suddenly? Zoe had said he couldn't have been bitten more than a few minutes before they met, and there were no other wounds.

Jamie filled a saucepan with water and added some detergent. So, if an animal had bit him, it had to be poisonous or something like that. Which meant it was not an animal supposed to be on earth.

He jumped back as suddenly a wolf leapt up at the kitchen window. The glass splintered but did not shatter and with a howl the wolf fell back out of sight. Cold air wafted in. Wolf howls filled the air.

'Zoe!' Jamie called. 'Get back to the TARDIS!'

He heard the shattering of glass. And then Zoe was screaming.


The Doctor ran up the leaf-covered slope after the wolf. It skidded to a halt, realizing that it had nowhere left to go. It turned to face the Doctor, snarling and growling evilly.

The Doctor was not impressed. 'Now. I think it's time we spoke, you and I? You can drop the act. No one's fooled.'

The wolf growled again.

Then, it stood up on its hind legs. It seemed to inflate, the fur growing thinner and vanishing as the shape lost its wolf appearance and became a humanoid figure.

The Doctor realized the creature before him was not human as he was expecting. In fact, it was very different.


Zoe and Jamie ran for the TARDIS as another wolf leapt at the window kitchen and burst into the cabin. The one already there snarled and leapt up sank its teeth into Jamie's shoulder.

Zoe screamed as the young scot was forced to the floor.

The wolves howled again...

Part Four

The wolf leapt on Jamie and bit his shoulder. Jamie fell to the floor, trying to shake the ferocious dog off him. Zoe kicked out and the dog went flying.

Jamie and Zoe dived inside the police box and slammed the doors.


The creature before the Doctor was leathery, grey. Its face resembled that of a chicken or rooster, except its head was transparent to reveal a hexagon-patterned brain throbbing beneath.

'I know what you are,' the creature hissed.

'Do you?' asked the Doctor, worried.

'You should not interfere,' the creature replied. 'This is not your concern. Leave now and your friends shall live.'

'My friends are perfectly capable of looking after themselves,' the Doctor snapped, crossing his fingers behind his back. 'And I want to know what you're up to!'

'My group have already tasted your friend, Doctor. I can burn out his life from here, just as I did Graham. Will you leave? Or must I make it clear that you are here, when you should not be!'

The Doctor was tempted to run for it. 'First, I need to know where Alex is. Have you harmed him?'

The creature tittered. 'Harmed Alex?' Suddenly it was shrivelling and flexing and suddenly a tall, carrot-haired woman stood before him. 'No, I haven't harmed Alex,' she mocked. 'I am Alex!'

The Doctor took a step back. 'So, you betrayed Graham and killed him!'

'It was necessary,' the creature said, shifting back to its true shape. 'I do what I must to keep my freedom.'

'What do you mean?'

'Graham and I work for countries on this planet. I am a double-agent for another country. They know I am not human. I must do their bidding if I want to stay alive.'

'You think that excuses what you have done?!' the Doctor shouted. 'Allying yourself to a side prepared to commit murder!'

'Humans hate each other. It does not matter which side I ally myself with. If I had not killed Graham, another would have. Now, Doctor - leave. Or I will reveal to my allies you are here.'

'I have no fear of them - or you for that matter!'

'No. But if we know you are here, that knowledge may spread... to those you are hiding from. Go. I will spare your companion's life.'


In the TARDIS, Zoe was bandaging Jamie's wound when it suddenly vanished from his shoulder.


The Doctor scowled. 'All right. But one last thing.'

'What?' the creature hissed.

'I don't suppose you could impersonate Graham for a moment, could you?'


'I just want to see how well a shape-changer you are!'

The creature shrugged, deflated, twisted, and suddenly Graham was standing there in his trenchcoat. There was no blood or injury. The fake Graham smiled. 'Is this what you wanted, Doctor?'

The Doctor grinned and clapped his hands. 'Splendid!'

So saying, he produced Jamie's knife and stabbed it into "Graham's" chest. "Graham" screamed and fell to the floor. The Doctor, face blank, placed a foot on the imposter's chest and hauled out the knife. The fake Graham screamed again.

'I'll be off now,' the Doctor said dismissively, and strode off into the darkness.

The fake Graham panted away the pain and mopped aside the few purple droplets of blood from the injury. He was otherwise unharmed. Anger rose in him and he went to assume a form to kill the Doctor.

His body twisted, blurred... and turned back into Graham.

Confused, the alien tried to return to its true self, but after a few seconds shifting, was still Graham.

'No,' it gasped. 'No!'


The Doctor re-entered the cabin. Three battered wolves looked at him in confusion. The alien's control had been broken and the animals were now lost and alone. He patted the nearest, then entered the TARDIS.

'Doctor!' Zoe exclaimed. 'Are you all right?'

The Doctor closed the doors and started the engine. 'Quite all right, thank you, Zoe. Things did get a bit wild, but it's all sorted out.'

'Alex?' Jamie asked, putting his shirt back on.

'Yes, he's sorted out too. Oh, here's your knife back, Jamie. Very handy it was too. Did I ever mention that silver can stop natural metamorphosis?'

'No,' said Jamie confidently. 'Who was Alex, anyway?'

'Someone who, I think, is about to learn a lesson,' the Doctor replied, and switched on the dematerialization circuit. The time column began to go up and down and the TARDIS spun off into a new adventure.


"Graham", now beginning to panic with the realization he was trapped in this body, raced into the cabin, only to be knocked over by three wolves as they raced out. They had been scared by a wheezing, groaning sound - the sound of the Doctor's machine taking off.

"Graham" stared at the place it had been. He was no longer able to change shape, and even if he could prove he was still their alien servant, what kind of punishment would he recieve?

His only course of action was to hide Graham's real body and assume his identity. He was now stuck on the side of his former enemies. Still, what did that matter? They were all humans in the end.

'I'll get you for this,' "Graham" shouted up at the cieling. 'You hear me, Doctor? I'll get you! Sooner or later, you'll be back here and now. AND WHEN I FIND YOU...' "Graham's" roaring voice suddenly dropped to a bloodcurdling whisper.

'I'll see you die!'

The End?