Wednesday, September 30, 2009

So, this Dalek thing...

I'm not actually 100% how to do this as I never wrote any kind of outline for this one, and it was just a mess of apocalyptic ideas in my head with the vaguest of actual plots. It might not make any sense, but what do you expect for a proposed SCAD eBook? Hmm?

Trying to salvage the malodorous corpse of Empire of the Daleks, I locked onto the "rebooted history" idea. Why, I wondered, would this be a good thing? Who is to say a new history is better than the old? And if the Daleks knew they had a second chance, what if others twigged to this as well? If certain forces decided it was time to get off their celestial asses and start kicking ass. Another motivation was the flack RTD gets/was getting for always wiping out the Daleks and then bringing them back. The thing is, of course, that he doesn't really. I mean, Dalek has the Doctor - you know, the hugely traumatized manic optimist who repeatedly insists everything will sort itself out - insisting there are no Daleks left. Just like he did 45 minutes earlier. When he was facing the bloody thing in a darkened room. True, the Bad Wolf find-and-deleting every Dalek is a difficult one to get out of, since the Cult of Skaro's trick of not being in the firing line means that the Time Goddess didn't know or bother to change the events of the Tennant years. But we see the Cult of Skaro clearly escape, and Dalek Khan as well, the next story. It's only when Khan goes bonkers and determines to wipe out the Daleks absolutely forever that it starts to get silly the Eleventh Doctor won't have time to straighten his bowtie before bumping into the sods, but even then we get a fig leaf of Davros' cliched "demise" and all the void Daleks who escaped just like the Cybermen.

Basically, thought I, how could you really, properly write them out forever? Permanently?

Still not sure I have the answer, but that was a motivation.

OK, I'll be honest from the start that there's very little original material in this - much of it ripped off from the apocryphal-or-maybe-just-wildly-inaccurate 1960s Dalek Annuals and their pocket phrase book. Yes, Daleks have their own lingo, catchphrases, jokes and social taboos. Either that or Terry Nation was taking the piss like an emergency paramedic and a colostomy bag.

The plot starts with a bunch of cavemen being abducted by space aliens in sequences inspired by the Big Book of Conspiracies (with its brilliant observation that any conspiracy ultimately ends up being explained by aliens, even things like the Jonestown massacre, yet with the blunt admission that no one, really, has a better theory to explain these things). These space aliens are then seen in numerous Family Guy cutaways as scattered outposts of the Dalek empire are wiped out. The flying saucers appear, there's a flash and all the Daleks in the location fade away, their actions undone, the dead come to life. These aliens are slowly but surely erasing the Daleks from history, going from story to story and cancelling it out, for good or ill - for example, this means the galaxy starves to death without any Davros to sell off corpses as soylent green.

The Doctor and Dara are leaving the previous story when the TARDIS goes crazy and they watch freaky fractals on the scanner - blowing up all those time corridors the Daleks were using has had a longterm affect, and now all of time is being rewritten. The Doctor shuts the bitch up with a speech about alternate histories and such, and wires the TARDIS to fly through the time chaos to the last safe place in time, the place where the "old history" will remain the longest so he has a chance of reversing the planar shift and restoring the status quo.

Of course, that place is Skaro and in proper tradition, our heroes don't twig that until the end of the episode. In fairness, Skaro is a lot more than that quarry from B7: Games with a few Slythers and Varga plants (and this is where the annuals come in) as the planet is the size of Saturn, with HUGE continents, oceans and a permanent dark side. The TARDIS brings the Doctor and Dara to the Island of Gushing Gold, a kind of volcano that spews liquid gold, and so the beaches are littered with golden statues of all the unlucky prospectors that tried to pocket the stuff, kind of like Pompeii. In proper tradition, the volcano erupts and the TARDIS is turned into inaccessible bling, trapping our heroes on the planet. Actually, I have no idea how I was going to get around that obstacle... maybe the HADS would kick in or something.


But unsurprisingly the Doc and Dara aren't alone on this mysterious world. There's a bunch of humans on the planet acting as a survey team, using the old Dalek city as a base of operations (there aren't any Daleks here, needless to say). On a survey of a nearby island, one of the team goes mad and maroons the others, stealing their aircraft and flying off, only to land on the Island of Gushing Gold where it becomes clear that she's mutating into something nasty. The Doc and Dara manage to beat the mutant unconscious, bundle her into the aircar and fly off the island before it erupts, burying the TARDIS. They then manage to return the air car to the city to get the mutant "medical attention", and chat to the team leader over the radio. The team leader's called Tarrant. Yeah, I know.

The first episode would have reached something of a peak. The Doctor rapidly works out what planet he's on and why the metal city is strangely wheelchair-friendly, and Tarrant quite casually confirms they're on Skaro, and the only inhabitant they've met was in the city when they arrived and is now their scientific advisor (and has been providing a dry wit and Greek chorus from the shadows throughout the episode). The Doctor runs off to confront him as Dara wanders off and sees the medical attention that the mutant is getting - the team doctor is shoving her into a Dalek casing! The Doctor skids to a halt in the city control room as he meets the Scientific Advisor. I trust you're not going to be shocked to find it's Davros, in his Emperor Dalek casing.

The plot, such as it is, blurs from hereon in.

When the Daleks in Empire were trying to rewrite their own history, they realized pretty soon they needed to keep their creator safe and out of the way no matter how mad and annoying they found the bastard. So they rescued him from 1963 and dumped him on the deserted Skaro where he couldn't cause any trouble. Alas, between the Doctor and the aliens, the Daleks are buggered and none returned to protect Davros when humanity reached Skaro and put the planet up for real estate.

It turns out that something incredibly freaky is happening on Skaro, though. All the life on the planet is seeming evolving at an incredible rate, millions of years of development happening in days. The survey team, interested in this wierd phenomenon, investigate the strange life forms on the planet with Davros as their Lonely Planet Guide. It gets wierder since all the serpents and sand monsters and such are all seeming to be turning into the same creature - a kind of brainy octopus you'd normally see jammed into a Dalek. With every day that passes, more and more species lose any trace of their ancestry and turn into horrible green blobs with bad attitudes. Indeed, some of them are pure Dalek mutants.


For Davros, the implications are mind-blowing. The Daleks are the ultimate life form. Literally, the ultimate. No matter what, from jelly fish to rodent to smoothe chested archaeologist, it will evolve, sooner or later into a Dalek. It also means that, really, all that conquering and exterminating was a complete waste of time since EVERY "lesser race" is destined to turn into Daleks. What's more, when they reach the calamari stage, the process stops. The end result of life is Dalek and all they've managed over the years is to butcher their own relatives. Davros and the Doctor can see the irony, but it's not doing either of their heads any good. Especially as Davros assumed he was improving evolution, when all he had managed to do was peek at the end.

The Doctor points out that this evolution may only be local - life on other planets might not evolve the same way, but it's a feeble argument. More importantly, the Doctor wants to know why everything is speeded up on Skaro to the point even TREES are sprouting tentacles. Davros and Tarrant come to the conclusion that an artificial force is working on Skaro, turning the planet into some kind of laboratory. The genetic changes that occured to the Kaleds and the Thals were clearly the same force, but somehow the process has been cranked up to eleven for some reason.

Indeed, it's not just the native life that's evolving - the humans in the survey team are doing the same. That's why they've been going mad, then green, then slimy as individually they speed through their evolutionary cycle and turn into blobs. This is why the mutants get bundled into Dalek casings, which is the only hope to save the mutant's intellect and allow communication. This gets explained to Dara after she makes a complete fool of herself trying to stop it.

The Doctor, Davros and Tarrant do some research and the truth becomes apparent - Skaro is an artificially-modified planet, a giant laboratory to see how life develops. Those cavemen abducted by the aliens at the start were dumped here and evolved into Kaleds and Thals. They were united at first and when they were civilized and evolved enough they discovered the nature of the experiment and kicked out the aliens monitoring Skaro. But with their freedom, the two races began to fight until their civilizations began to collapse. In spite, the aliens turned up the "evolvotron" and the Kaleds and Thals began to evolve to adapt to the increasingly radioactive hellhole they lived in. Davros and his pals assumed it was the result of chemical weapons, not realizing that every generation on either side was a more evolved species than the one before.

However, the process has now got completely out of control and it won't be long before every living thing on the planet will be a Dalek mutant. The Doctor and Tarrant decide to try and work out where the "evolution" is coming from, leaving Dara and Davros in the city. Unsurprisingly, Davros isn't half as nice as he claims - he's got a plan, and what's more, has the body of a space alien in cryogenic storage. Meanwhile, the cliffhanger is either the Doctor or Dara realizing they are starting to mutate as well.


In the third episode, Davros takes over the 'human mutant Daleks' and thus the city. There are millions of new Daleks here just needing casings, and he sets the factories to work while the new Daleks are head off with butterfly nets to get the fresh mutants. Davros sees a new approach, with Daleks taking over planets and then shipping the natives for a brief stay on Skaro which will turn them into Daleks themselves. Whole populations transformed in hours with no drugs, viruses, time dilations... just acts of god. Davros knows that all life is destined to be Dalek, and he wants to be the boss of the Daleks. Dara's appalled and probably does something to justify her actions in the plot. Maybe she lets out the space alien or something.

After a whistle-stop tour of Skaro, the Doctor and Tarrant find an underground base where the 'evolvo' rays are spewing out of. The machinery or whatever isn't malfunctioning, but the controls have been locked. The Doctor suspects that this evolution isn't random at all and correctly guesses that Davros is the one behind the sudden increase in Dalek mutants. Alas, both the Doctor and Tarrant are now distinctly green and Tarrant becomes a violent, exterminating asshole. As the name would imply.

The episode cliffhangers when a fleet of Daleks descends on Skaro - these are the last survivors of the space alien jihad, who have fled their respective stories and come here in a last bid for freedom. They storm the city, exterminate the mutants and take Davros and Dara hostage. But the space aliens have followed them and it's time for one massive battle.

Things get even MORE foggy from this point.

The space aliens can't simply retcon the Daleks on Skaro. For some reason, here they have to use non-time-rewriting-stuff, maybe conventional weapons. The Daleks are spoiling for a fight and prepare for war. Some of the aliens break into the underground base and rescue/capture the Doctor. Meanwhile, Davros' own captive space alien is a bit pissed off at his treatment as well.

It turns out that the aliens who used Skaro were the Halldons, a truly awesome alien race who fought a time war with their enemies - whose name escapes me but they get a mention by RTD in his time war essay. The Halldons, accepting the truce the Time Lords declared between the two races, decided to take up a hobby of studying biology and used Skaro as a lab to study evolution. But the enemy were paranoid and convinced that the Halldons were trying to breed an army that could be used to wipe them out while the Halldons could have total alibi (after all, the Daleks want to wipe out everything, so no one would be suspicious if they exterminated the Halldon's enemies in the process).

Maybe they were right, I'm not sure, half of this I'm making up the second before I type, but Skaro was - at least at first - purely for educational purposes. But some faction of Halldon got to Skaro and decided that the Daleks WOULD be a pretty good army of assassins and deliberately tuned the machinery so all life would have to evolve into Daleks. Davros found this rebel Halldon and captured him, intending to use his evolving powers so Davros could become the one thing more powerful than a Dalek. The enemy, meanwhile, have decided to wipe out the Daleks from all of time to protect themselves.

Being a clever bastard, Davros pulls his ultimatum - I dunno, maybe he has a button that will blow up all the aliens so can force them to listen. Basically, he wants the Dalek Evolution ray turned onto every planet, like a searchlight that will turn every living thing into Daleks. The rebel Halldon then does something, maybe evolves Davros sooner than expected. I guess the Doctor would have to play a part in things too.


The end result would be the Dalek refugees staying on Skaro, waiting patiently in the belief that eventually all life will become Daleks and they must be ready to "lead" the universe when it catches up to their level. The Daleks basically decide to give up on the whole conquest of the universe and be patient. The twist of course being the Daleks have finally "grown up" yet not changed their DNA like everything else. Yeah, maybe the Dalek-mutated Doctor would be able to convince them of this - hey, if they can't trust the Bringer of Darkness, the Destroyer of Worlds, the Oncoming Storm, than who the hell can they trust? Besides, this will give the Daleks practice for what they would do AFTER they conquered the universe and ran out of people to exterminate.

The Halldons and their enemies make peace, while any surviving humans sod off and the Doctor and Dara leg it. And something happens to Davros. Not entirely sure what. He evolves though, he stops being a severed head and achieves enlightenment. That's what I was thinking of - Davros doesn't die or get blown up or anything that could easily be cheated out of with an escape pod or teleport. He stops WANTING to control the Daleks or take over the Universe. Maybe he gets de-evolved back to that young boy who loved nature and swimming or else turns into a Vorlon and finally "gets it" celestial intelligence wise.

So that was the epic end I wanted. The Daleks don't get nuked, they just get overthemselves. They finally see the funny side (so to speak) and even though they're still ruthless, unlikeable bastards, they finally realize they defeat their own desires going around killing people. They don't bang on about being superior because now they genuinely believe they are, and the maturity that comes with it. The schoolyard bullies finally grow up.

Plus the two high empires who agree to keep an eye on the Daleks to make sure they don't go back on their wicked ways, that'd be a help.

Of course, it couldn't end like that. Not for me. I'm too damn cynical. And pessimistic. So I'd probably add a scene when we find out that the enemies have been trying their own knife-in-the-back-weilded-by-a-race-we-created-accidentally-on-purpose, so the last bit would be a lab somewhere where the rival monster, the replacement Daleks would be created, Frankenstein style. I wonder what they would have been?

(throws back head and laughs like a madman...)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Epic Fail of the Daleks!


Max Sylvester leant back behind his desk and rubbed his dying cigar between his fingertips. Sylvester was an up-and-coming underworld boss, and his success came at a price he was well prepared to pay: notoriety or respect amongst the police force of Great Britain. That was the thing about crime, the most successful criminals were never heard of by anyone. Yet at the same time Sylvester longed for the fame of others had, like Ronny Biggs or the Piranha Brothers. In an attempt to become more physically imposing for those he met face to face, Sylvester had attempted to turn himself into an English version of the Godfather... but all anyone saw was a fat Yorkshireman with a toothbrush moustache and a strange mumbling voice.

The latest person to fail to make the connection between Sylvester and one of Marlon Brando’s famous film characters was one Professor Alfred Pillbright – a tall, thin, balding man whose wispy beard was premature white. He stood in a rather faded checked jacket and suit, looking for all the world like he was addressing a lecture hall of unruly students. It was a manner that rubbed Sylvester up the wrong way and Pillbright had been lucky enough to escape Sylvester’s temper so far.

Pillbright had first come to the attention of Sylvester when he began approaching any kind of gang or syndicate he could, offering promises of unlimited riches in return for quite a lot of money in the present. Sylvester had listened, mainly so he could turf out Pillbright in a suitably humiliating manner, but the Professor’s pitch had interested him. Quite simply, the scientist had discovered a way to disintegrate solid matter, a kind of laser gun that could destroy a safe door or a vault hatch in seconds – cutting down the time needed for bank raids or worrying about security. Pillbright was confident to the point of supreme arrogance, and no one in Sylvester’s secluded London house or any experts he dared contact could understand the theory. Somehow it worked by turning the target into raw information or something.

Sylvester had demanded a test to prove it worth his time. Pillbright explained that his request for cash up front was simply to finance creating a disintegrator to his design. The only one he had been able to build on his own was too weak to be of use – it took three hours to take an effect, but it had nevertheless managed to gut a suitcase full of incriminating photographs Sylvester wished destroyed.

Convinced by the demonstration, Sylvester gave Pillbright the cash and two weeks later, Pillbright returned with a strange robotic creature, like a giant salt-shaker with a camera lens, an egg whisk and for some reason a toilet plunger. Pillbright refused to explain why he had built it in such a shape but was confident it could work. The bank raid went perfectly, with the strange device aiming its egg whisk at the vault door and two-and-a-half tonnes of solid steel melted in a dazzling negative glow.

After that things went less perfectly.

It seemed that destroying the massive door had meant turning it into hard radiation – which had seeped into all the money they had stolen, and Pillbright had dryly told them to dump it before Sylvester’s men had succumbed to radiation poisoning. It hadn’t been quick enough to spare them all being hospitalized. The police were on red alert and not only had Sylvester lost three men but also all the funds. It was then Pillbright demanded more money to improve the mobile tank device, so there would be no radioactive fallout and – what’s more – had somehow worked out a scheme to rob the Bank of England itself!

“The disintegrator,” Pillbright was explaining of his strange creation, “will work like a robot. Nothing will be able to stop it and the vaults will be ours! I’ve made it respond to your voice and commands only. All I am asking for is a fair share of the money when we pull off the Bank of England job...”

Sylvester finally squeezed from out of his desk and peered at the metallic shape, which seemed to stare back through its eye-camera. “It’ll do anything I say then, Prof?” Sylvester wheezed. “Respond to me alone? How?”

“Trust me, Sylvester,” sneered Pillbright.

“So it’s completely under my control?” Sylvester pressed.

“Yes!” the old man snapped. “It will do anything you ask!”

“So if I tell it to kill you?” asked Sylvester.

“What are you...” began the outraged Pillbright as the machine revolved to aim its egg whisk at him.

“I order you to kill him,” Sylvester said with a smile.

The professor was backing away in horror. “No, no—”

The machine trained its weapon on the retreating human, and then fired. Professor Pillbright was blasted across the study by the force, unable to do anything but scream as the energy exploded from the gunstick. From the point of contact a strange glow spread and rippled across the dying body, showing the skeleton beneath the flesh and bones like an x-ray. The rippling effect faded and the corpse slumped to the floor.

The Dalek turned once more to face Sylvester. It was not a true Dalek, merely a motorized tank in the form of the Dalek, built by the now-dead Pillbright with the fee he had convinced the gangster to hand over. Pillbright had been a willing agent for the Daleks, but his usefulness had expired and keeping Sylvester on side was far more important now.

These Daleks were refugees from the collapse of the time corridors. Marooned in the 1970s, the handful of Daleks used all their resources to construct a lunar base on the dark side of the moon. With no space craft, they were stranded there and Earth’s moon exploration was too random and limited for them to make use of. In desperation, they began sending messages in code to the Earth on a very specific bandwidth. Only advanced technology could detect the signal and high intellect unravel the code. Pillbright had managed both, but in doing so had lost his job and was virtually penniless. He had become totally obsessed with solving the code, and it was easy for the Daleks to manipulate him.

The original plan was simple – give Pillbright enough knowledge to construct an open-ended transmat relay with which the Daleks could travel to Earth and make a bid for invasion. Alas, while the human understood the theory, the technology simply didn’t exist and he had not the funds to construct it. His best efforts resulted in a rude disintegrator, something that broke down matter into energy but couldn’t put it back together or even direct the energy to another location.

The Daleks were nothing if not cunning. The disintegrator would be a makeshift weapon and Pillbright was ordered to interest the wealthy in such a weapon, underplay its success and demand money to improve it. Instead, the money would be used to construct the artificial Dalek that the genuine articles on the moon could use by remote. This robot would become “the disintigrator” for the human criminals to use while Pillbright collected the cash and continued work on the transmat. Alas, things were spiraling out of control with the unintentionally-contaminated bank vault and now it appeared that the authorities had managed to contact the Doctor – the Third Doctor – to investigate.

Pillbright was a liability, a lead to their enemy, and the new plan was chosen. The robot Dalek would aide Sylvester, gain confidence, and then construct the transmat itself – it might take months or even years, but a Dalek lifespan was far beyond any human’s. They could afford to wait and they could afford Pillbright being exterminated to prove a point.

It was ironic, therefore, that they had completely run out of time.

Even as Sylvester’s hired goons Sid and Kelly drew their guns at Pillbright’s abrupt execution, the window panes began to rattle as if some hurricane was battering Sylvester’s house. The man himself looked up as something bright, shiny and silver seemed to be hanging above the woods outside. He opened his mouth to speak, but realized he had no idea what he should say.

The French windows blew open silently as the light outside increased in brilliance, flooding the London house with a building glare. The robot Dalek stared into light and awaited instructions from its masters upon the moon. But no instructions came, for even now the deserted lunar base was slowly beginning to evaporate from the surface of the moon – gently swept away from reality like its Dalek occupants. Hovering high above was another silver saucer. For a long moment, its shadow was cast on the empty crater, and then that too vanished.

A million miles below on Earth, the light finally spiraled away.

Max Sylvester’s study was empty, since he had no reason to be there. He, Sid and Kelly were at a racetrack in Cricklewood, having a bet with their three companions who were no longer in hospital as they’d never suffered radiation poisoning. Sylvester had never met Professor Pillbright, and that was why the Professor was alive and well and working at a government think tank. He’d never received that odd signal that had ultimately destroyed his life, as there was never any Daleks to send it.

In a certain bank, a teller blinked and took a second look at the sealed vault door. For a split second she had had the strangest impression it had disappeared in some kind of robbery. But it was still there, solid and real as ever. She put the strange thought out of her mind and no one ever suspected history had been rewritten, though UNIT’s scientific advisor did feel strangely puzzled that morning that the police hadn’t called for his assistance. But, putting it down to preoccupation after the loss of Jo Grant, the Doctor dismissed the strange sensation and never gave it another thought.

Elsewhere in the building, the meticulous files of UNIT activities shimmered into a new arrangement. The file of Austerly House and Coal Hill ceased to exist, and all mentions of the name “Dalek” vanished with it. No filing error was noticed, because no one remembered anything different.

Ace's Finale Reviewed!

Yes, TDWP has salvaged another scrap from the festering offal of their back catalogue, Mercury237 (or 23F thanks to that wierd font). I was mildly intrigued as this is about the only story of DWP Season 27 I've NOT reviewed that has ANY kind of relevence to the canon as the Eighth Doctor twigs they've forgotten to show Ace's final story. As Servalan would say, a little late in the day perhaps?

I have to say, I'm still gobsmacked at how amateur fan fics can be at times. Of course, it's all a question of balance - there are a million and one 'after-Dalek-the-Ninth-Doctor-and-Rose-screwed-like-rabbits' fics, all written to varying standards of "Hah! I laugh at you, BBC books!" quality, but about the best fic I read in 2005 was clearly written by someone under ten years of age in present tense script format where the Doctor and Rose visit an underwater civilization. Maybe it was the lack of pretention, since all the other fics were trying to be hardcore stuff, like Rose murdering an alien warlord after he repeatedly rapes her as part of her harem...

But still, the sheer crapness of these mid-90s Canadian fics hits me like a cement mixer to the cerebelum as the story begins with the Eighth Doctor - not showing any real personality whatsoever - wires up the TARDIS console to a wheel of fortune so he can spin it and get a totally random destination. This idea, so unutterably shite I deleted the eBook and downloaded it again in the belief it was some processing error rather than genuine text, goes beyond the pale as, no sooner as the Doctor masters this Game Show method of navigation that he IMMEDIATELY FORGETS ABOUT IT and plots a very deliberate course! THE WHOLE THING WAS A WASTE OF WORDS! GAAAAAH!

The Doctor, having twigged he can't remember getting rid of Ace between that hellhole between The One With The Master and The Other One With The Master And Liz And The Silurians And Oh God I'm Feeling Depressed, decides to take action... by going to Det Sen monastery. Yes, very useful fanwank there, ladies and gents, as we get a full page of "om mane padme ums". Not only is this tedious, it works on the misapprehension that Det Sen was a Bhuddist monastery (it isn't, judging by the violently keyed-up Yeti-baiting warrior monks) and that Bhuddist Monks only speak the sutra from Monkey Magic.

In either case, my jaw drops as the Doctor gets in by mentioning he and the abbot were best buds. Now, taking into account that the missing stories weren't as accessible as they are now, the fact remains that the Doctor randomly visiting the setting of The Abominable Snowmen is a particularly stupid approach. Claiming he is a mate of the abbot, that would be the 200-year-old-abbot-possessed-by-an-evil-from-the-dawn-of-time, is also rather stupid especially as he could simply say "You know the dude who stole your bell and saved you from three gallons of Cthulu spit? Yeah, that's me!" would probably be a better approach.

It turns out that the Doctor has gone to Det Sen so he can astral travel three hundred years into the past to chat with Pad-mah-sam-bar-va and get some advice about how to take it cool. We also get a lengthy explanation of why the Doctor is going to such trouble instead of, say, simply going back in time to when Paddy was a nice chap and talking to him face to face. Quite simply, it's clear the author has a very confused impression that Paddy is actually K'Anpo from Planet of the Spiders as the Second Doctor nevered referred to the stoner Uncle Fester as "his mentor" in any way, shape or form.

Basically, Paddy earns his keep by telling the Doctor to suck it up, stop whining like a bitch and either find out what happened to Ace or get on with puny excuse for a life by maybe actually getting a companion. The Doctor is so overwhelmed by this utter genius (translation: the advice a kid on the street could have given you) and considers hiding in the monastery because he finds the TARDIS gaudy in comparison - well, mate, YOU are the one who installed the fucking wheel of fortune, didn't you? So who's fault is that? After miserably spinning the wheel, which will take him to a totally random destination and thus the total opposite of "retrace your steps", the lights go out and the first episode mercifully comes to an end.

Yes, I can't imagine many season finales beginning WORSE than this.

And that includes The War Machines.

Episode two begins in a way that vaguely reminds me of The Empty Child (never a good thing, of course) as the TARDIS randomly lands somewhere, the Doctor pisses about backstage in a club and then finds out he's got the time completely wrong - in this case, what he automatically assumes to be a 1920s Harlem jazz club turns out to be a 29th century Milliways-type place that, despite not having a clue where and when he is, the Doctor is still carrying all the perfect money to get himself a coffee and immediately start chatting up a vampy blonde lesbian...

But, oh no, this is terrible! For these pentagenarian ladies are none other than KARTZ AND REIMER!!!

Yes, it's the fucking Time Brokers all over again, only with some homosexuality thrown in! It turns out though that these glorified jobsworths, employed simply by Third Zone racist policy, somehow managed to steal their jerry-built TARDIS and fling themselves into the far future to escape prosection. Even though they would still have been poisoned and Chessene still had their time machine when she left. But, still, compared to the DWAD effort, it's almost logical - if you can cope with the Doctor just HAPPENING to try and chat them up randomly in a bar and they deciding to quite happily give him their wiki entries to any passing stranger. But, to be fair, it's positively charming compared to this paragraph:

CIA was the initials of the Celestial Intervention Agency, a secret organization that operated beneath a blanket of secrecy on the Doctor's home planet Gallifrey. He had had a few dealings with them in the past, and had even worked for them for a brief period of time in exchange for CENSORED.

Fuck me, it's hard to even believe someone was shameless enough to type that, let alone let anyone else find out about it. God, my eyes are bleeding at that!

The Doctor decides to go for a job with K&R at their new, not-at-all-dodgy-sounding Mercury Mining Corporation, because not only does this tie up piddling continuity fanwank about the CIA, the Doctor has a creepy desire to do a threesome with two old lesbians. It's terrifying that the only time this guy shows sign of abstract thought he ends up qualifying for a sex offender register...

Having completely forgotten his angst and Ace, the Doctor manages to actually get a job at the MMC despite having no qualifications, references and unintentionally dissing the nationality of the interviewer, the racist git. Bloody hell, AND he's allowed a two-week trial period to muck around with MMC's top-secret business with no kind of security check at all! How the fuck did he manage that? You can't even get into McDonalds with an interview THAT bad as you call your new employer a stupid robot and run off lauging after you get the job! Clearly, my interview approach has been based on a false premise all these ideas - acting like Lawrence Miles on cheap ecstacy WILL get you the job of your dreams in five seconds!

Having got the job... the Doctor, K&R immediately piss off to a pub and get drunk. Yes, while the Doctor bitches about how uncouth all the customers are. My god, it's terrifying, especially as we segue into one of those "the afternoon was summarized thus" and we seemingly forget this is supposed to be a novelization of a TV show. I don't mind either approach, but flipping back and forth is just... annoying.

So, a quick history of MMC: it's evil. A slightly less quick history of MMC: it bizarrely focusses on mining gold and titanium rather than any cool outer-space elements that could be remotely useful.

K&R get drunk and wander off to shag, leaving the Doctor alone in the pub where his next attempt to pull ends up with a tall woman randomly beating the shit out of him. This is, naturally, the very next cliffhanger.

Episode THREE now, not even 14 pages into the book, and the woman (Taia) is quite anti-Time Lords so the Doctor improvs like mad in a soliloquy that no amount of contextualizing can possibly do justice:

"Now what do you know about Time Lords, Johnny."
"Well, I know they like their secrets to remain secret and they don't get out much, but the ones that do are right bastards. Oh, and they like to pick themselves poncy nicknames like Doctor and Master and Rani.
"I've heard of the Master," offered one of the people at the table.
"I've met him," said the Doctor. "It was about ten years ago, I was working on a freighter when this guy comes on board with a couple of Ogrons. Next thing you knew, the Captain was letting him run the ship and order us around. Two weeks later we ended up right in the middle of a war with Draconians on one side and Daleks on the other. Luckily the Draconians and the Federation managed to figure out that the Master was playing them both against each other, but I lost a lotta friends in that damn business and nearly lost my arm.”

...yeah, I'm totally lost as to why he said that either.

More reported speech reveals that a "Time Lord craft" has crashed on this planet, whatever it's called, and everyone in the pub is a salvage crew trying to claim it. Amazingly, the Doctor's social skills are so impressive that within an hour of being beaten up by the team leader, he's become part of the team even though, again, he has no relevent experience and hates all the others for being uncouth drunks.

Suddenly, some green alien dude arrives who is so awesome no one actually introduces himself and we get a VERY brief description of the Doctor and the salvagers leaving... wherever the hell they are... (the Doctor not remotely fussed that he's basically taken a vacation halfway through the first day of his new job, or abandoning his TARDIS even though you'd think it would be a useful thing on this TARDIS-salvaging mission). It turns out there's some kind of electric spider web over an asteroid belt that catches TARDISes (who apparently resemble black columns when not looking like anything... contradicting every other story ever, not least Claws of Axos), and then an "Artron Sponge" sucks the energy out of the captured TARDIS until it explodes - so, not REALLY salvage then... - in a scene that the Doctor can only compare to "the scene in Star Wars where the Tauntaun's guts are sliced open with a light sabre".

I thought that was The Empire Strikes Back, but massive insensity and shithouse pop culture references all at the same time.

As the TARDIS has exploded, it's turned inside out and shoved all its rooms and contents into space. Let's think about that - how much useful stuff can be found in the average TARDIS, anyway? But the Doctor, being trusted by absolutely everyone, easily finds the corpses of the Time Lords and shoves them all in a floating wardrobe room, even the ones that are busy regenerating and NO ONE NOTICES HIM DO IT! This baffling sequence takes a page and suddenly, I quote, "two hours later they were back in the bar". Apparently nothing interesting happened in between and, you know what? I utterly believe them.

Without making any kind of comment along the lines of "you murdering bastards lied to me" or even "where's my money for helping you murdering bastards out?", the Doctor gets drunk and then hides in all the "salvage" as it is sent to the MMC base. Luckily, some of the Time Lords regenerate with the aide of some warm towels. Finally the author decides to focus on dialogue again and the plot slows down as we meet Para (the haughty teenage Time Lord girl), Torsha (the haughty teenage boy) and Gina (the creepy little Time Tot girl). After spending ages realizing that Gina's totally useless and crazy, the Time Lords decide to get rid of the bodies of their fellow Time Lords by making them regenerate again and again until they turn to slime. I always assumed if they could regenerate at all, they were alive, but this sure shows me. Our heroes don't want the MMC to get their hands on Time Lord DNA, which is why the Doctor turns the Time Lords into raw DNA and pours it down the sink - how is a paranoid evil corporation ever going to spot that, huh?

The Time Lords then decide to oh-so-sensibly split up in the vain hope they can find a way out of this Raiders-of-the-Lost-Ark archive warehouse place, pausing to explain the plot to each other YET AGAIN as they do so. Then, for some reason, a swarm of flesh-eating octopi (like Stewie in the Y2K episode) attack and eat Torsha. The Doctor WOULD have helped, but was far too busy vomiting and trying not to hurt the poor little cephalapods to do so.

Fucking hell...

Episode Four and STILL no mention of Ace, or K&R or indeed any real reason why I should keep reading this crap. It turns out these ominovorous octoposes are actually security robots (yes... because robots EAT people without warning) and the Doctor is soon found by his boss, who is still amazingly understanding that on his first day at work the Doctor ran off then broke in at midnight and got a total stranger eaten by a strangely hungry "robo-pus". The Doctor uses all his wit and imagination to explain it was all Torsha's fault and he's completely innocent. Amazingly enough, the boss totally believes it, as the heady future of the 29th century does not understand the concept of CCTV.

The Doctor leaves happily, letting Torsha to be tortured and Gina to be captured by the boss who cunningly remained in his office rather than going to bed.

Episode FIVE (yes, the previous episode lasted a page - scary huh?) begins with Gina actually turning out to be in absolutely no danger of any kind as she hacked into the computer and MMC now think they employ twelve-year-old girls in Gallifreyan robes who hang around the offices at four in the morning. The boss, it is clear, is either the most stupidest person in human history or is on tranquilizers powerful enough to take down Russell Crowe. And the boss is called "Controlla Cyba". Can you see a possible pun there?

Gina meets up with the Doctor and Gina as they discover, to their horror, that the MMC have built A DEATH STAR! Only it doesn't blow planets up in the present, it blows them up in the past... so presumably they only work if you aim them at asteroid belts. Coz otherwise it would get confusing. Rather unsurprisingly, the Time Lords decide this machine is a bad thing. But then K&R finally turn up for work and the Doctor sends his pseudo-companions to a hitherto unmentioned hotel while he spends the day either hiding in the toilet or helping K&R build the Death Star. I sort of thought it was already built. And surely the Doctor's toilet breaks are an area of the character we can afford to leave alone? Go to Lucie Miller if you want the painful details of her rebellious sphincters, say I...

Anyway, while a brain-damaged 12yo girl and Para manage a cunning jailbreak for Torsha (who now has metal hands cause that pesky 15 hour regeneration cycle never kicked in what with it not existing yet), the Doctor and K&R talk technobabble and fanwank as we discover that K&R are human. University students from 1986 who were abducted by aliens because they were so clever. My god, did everyone watch a DIFFERENT Two Doctors to the one I saw?!

The Doctor decides that he's done enough work for the day and buggers off to eat while the Cyba Controller gets a report full of "CENSORED" that leaves me utterly confused as to what the hell he's being told. Is it just an abusive phone call or something? If you don't want to tell us background details, luv, there's easier ways to do it than blanking out random words. WRITE SOMETHING ELSE FOR EXAMPLE!!

Meanwhile, the Doctor leaves Para... who seems to be the little girl all of a sudden... to be babysat by K&R (which is probably the best thing he could do for her, as I attribute my incredible well-balanced mindset to the nights Robbie and Rosie - who weren't sisters - looked after me) while he and the others determine to break into the MMC base with a spaceship or something. Why they didn't use the TARDIS, I dunno. Why the TARDIS wasn't caught by the web, I dunno. What any of this has to do with Ace or Paddy or Det Sen Monastery, I am completely bloody lost.

Anyway, episode five ends with them sending in Torsha (you know, the escaped prisoner with metal arms, the one EVERY SINGLE SECURITY GUARD WILL REMEMBER) to try and break into Cyb's office. But that cunning bastard Cyb is still IN the office. Holy repetition, Batman, didn't we get this cliffhanger last time?! Meanwhile, that cute little creepy girl has stupidly mentioned to K&R she's from Gallifrey, while the Doctor and the other one are in a very boring space battle. Which they somehow win. I'm honestly not sure, since the Doctor comes up with a clever way to kill as many people as possible but suddenly a completely random thing happens to do it for him. It's very poorly explained.

Of course, being kindly lesbian babysitters, K&R are appalled to hear of the Time Lord carnage their employers are carrying out (imagine! People who ask you to build death stars being EVIL! Whatever next?!) and the Doctor and the other one return to the planet and check harddrives for deleted stuff. Very boring. VERY boring. Brief descriptions of people using laptops is never thrill-a-minute material. God, this is literally starting to make me sick. My head's throbbing, my stomach's queasy... it's rare I react so badly. The one time something similar happened was when I watched Doctor in Distress for the first time and, I swear to god, projectile vomited. It's so ridiculous and sounds like a joke, but it's true. I mean, I didn't throw up over my monitor when Nicola Bryant sang, but about a minute after I'd seen the thing, I spontaneously technicolour yawned. It's clear that it's some kind of defense mechanism of the brain, like how when your girlfriend dumps you your mind can't cope so it turns the distress into chest pains to try and relieve the pressure, or how anxiety manifests as physical symptoms... what's disturbing is that I never once retched watching The Idiot's Lantern, and surely that would merit a reaction more than anything else? Think back to the "SHE'S A FILTHY DISGUSTING THING, MY MUVVA IN LAW!" dramatic peak. Actually don't, I'm getting nauseaus too now. Obviously there is some kind of critical mass of shit Doctor Who that causes my body to react, and no amount of annuals and TV comic exposure can build up my immunity...


Yes, all right. Back to the bloody story. Dum-de-dum-de-doo. Oh god, K&R are finally noticing that the guy who "ruined their last gig" was ALSO a Time Lord called the Doctor and wonder if there's a connection. Christ, maybe a bit of Buffalo Springfield might act as a mood stabilizer before I lose that cheese and grape lunch I had today... OK, I've lost the plot. A future TARDIS with a future Doctor dressed in a fetching purple monk's robe turns up at K&R's place and steals their info for some reason. So they just download it all over again for the current Doctor. Guh? That's padding taken to a kind of philosophical martial arts level! WHAT THE HELL!?!?

Oh wait, The Unknown Doctor (as he is called) stole their info because they were about to be busted by the MMC stormtroopers, which means there was no incriminating evidence to get them caught. Well, nice to know our hero is clever he needs this Moffat predestination crap to get out of trouble rather than, say, I dunno, being clever on his own. The next morning, our heroes decide to complete the Death Star and use it on Earth 1986 - in creepy coincidence to a conversation I've just been having, the Doctor stops the plot to explain how the plot of Tikka to Ride might make sense...

"You Time Lords are really starting to piss me off."
"I'm sorry, Virginia," said the Doctor in a calming voice," but that cannon was going to be used to destroy the Earth in 1985. You would have been killed before you ever left Earth."
"That's right," said Rebecca. "Which would be some paradox, don't you think? I mean, if we were killed before we could make the lenses, then the lenses wouldn't get made and the cannon wouldn't work and we wouldn't get killed!"
"Wrong," said the Doctor. "You're selves in the new time line would be killed, but your old selves would still have made the lenses and still have contributed to the destruction of Earth. Just because a time-line ceases to exist doesn't mean that the actions of the people in them can't have a lasting effect. It's only a paradox if both things continue to exist simultaneously. There'd be nothing paradoxical about you destroying the Earth. You'd still end killing yourselves. You'd just end up dying before you did it."
"Now you're just trying to be obscure."
"I'm a Time Lord. I've sworn an oath to be obscure."

Well, that was a decent one-liner at the end, but doesn't quite balance it out.

Anyway, the Death Star blows up or something because the Doctor sabotaged it by beating us into submission with technobbable. So the Doctor buggers off to Gallifrey with the two girls (Torsha having vanished into the narratorial ether when I wasn't looking) and gives a female cardinal a lecture that the CIA shouldn't persecute gullible lesbians building time machines. Then some random guy... sorry, some RANSON guy... turns up and offers the Doctor a job running the CIA as he can't be arsed to stay in a job. For some reason, the Doctor's horrified at actually being OFFERED a job instead of bullying his way into a position and runs off...

We then get this extraordinary final paragraph:

There were still so many unanswered questions.
A sign of a bad writer, really... This is supposed to be a season finale and you can't even tell a coherent story.

What had happened to Ace?
Well, as you did fuck all to actually look for her, is it really that surprising? You actually went out of your way to avoid going anywhere near where she might have been!

What had happened to Torborosha?
And why didn't the others notice?

How were the people with the strange tattoos connected to one another?
...huh? Oh right, the badass green dude never mentioned before or since.

Why did the Mercury Mining Corporation want to erase Earth from history?
Again, I would have expected the Doctor to actually find out by asking instead of just chalking it down to experience and running away.

Who was the Unknown Doctor, and why was he working against the Doctor?
I thought we agreed he WAS working for you? He saved your ass, bitch!

And what did the bloody CIA want with him? Ranson. After all these centuries.
By which I assume they're saying that dude in Genesis of the Daleks was "Ranson" and what a stupid fucking name it is...

And there was something else too. Some little thing at the back of his mind, but he
couldn't quite remember it.

You are a shithouse Doctor, you know that? The Skins Doctor works better.

The Doctor got up and went over to the Wheel of Fortune. He grasped one of the wheel's spokes in his hand took a deep breath and gave a mighty pull.

So I waded through those 44 pages of crap until my arm went limp to find out what happened to Ace... and she gets EIGHT mentions in the whole story, all of which take the form of asking what happened to her? I have to admit, there's no other way I'd be fooled into reading this incoherent industrial sabotage garbage masquerading as a plot, filled with questions I don't actually find it in my heart to care about the answers!! Frankly, the Time War can't come soon enough to wipe out continuity and prevent drivel like this being inflicted on the fanbase.




Monday, September 28, 2009

Inspiration... What's That?

I'm just going to ramble about totally random shit since I don't actually have anything to say.

As to the title, it's a very bad Coupling misquote (yes, Moff, I am still struggling to convince myself that next year is going to be better than a Sparacus holiday special), but as I upload my stuff onto the new blog, I was trying to finally finish Human Nature so I can at least bask in the joy of finishing that production block. But no. My genius stormed out of the room, slamming the door after it and leaving me utterly clueless. Maybe it's format of the blog, the black and green somehow ruining my creative process (mind you, I speak from experience that the other options are worse - even Mr. Goacher, Mrs. Nyder and Mr. Pirate King prefer it).

Basically, I've done everything except the "plot" bits. Which is a real pisser as technically I'm trying to mock not one story but two, simultaneously. I don't have ANY ideas, bar a handful of moments.

I worked out the premise: the Doctor checks his wiki entry and realizes the NAs aren't canon. Pissed off, he vows to relive them all again... but after five minutes realizes a lot of them, deep down, were quite crap. I mean, really. Finally he finds Human Nature and goes, "Ooh, that one's good, I'll do that!" and since the plot involves him turning human and falling in love, Martha is urging him on with disturbing acularity. So the Doctor wires himself up to the Chameleon Arch, but it got broken by Lucie (remember her? Not for long) and so instead of being turned into Hugh Grant, the Doctor is turned into a human David Tennant who merely ACTS like Hugh Grant as a stuttering shy virgin who bangs like a dunny door in a cyclone.

...and that's pretty much it (bar a sequence where Father of Mine tries to pretend to be the Seventh Doctor to fool Martha) until the final scene, one which I really am quite proud of in thinking up: the Doctor goes back to see Joan and apologize for basically stealing her boyfriend's body, when Joan pulls out HER OWN fobwatch and opens it: poof! She's the Rani, and the Family were actually chasing HER all the time. Very awkwardly they part company and agree that this never actually happened.

Well, I found it amusing and clever.

But nothing in between leaps out. Absolutely sod all.


It appears a similar creative lapse struck Big Finish as they wrote out Charley Pollard forever. Though Briggsy once again shows a disturbing propensity to want to rewrite the Season 3 finale (we have a story about humanity reverting to savagery and attacking civilized people in underground bunkers, personality changes, and a whacking great reset time paradox) but, fair's fair, the story's quite reasonable. In everything except writing out Charley.

For a start, there's a retarded subplot about whether or not the Charley who leaves is the real thing. To cut a story short, a kind of freaky psycho alien turned herself into an exact physical copy of Charley and everyone seems unable to tell the difference between the two, despite the fact one of them is a creepy baby-talking stalker who wants to be with the Doctor forever and ever and ever. She's a complete idiot and manages to nobly sacrifice herself in the "Sorry, DON'T press the red button?" way Katarina did.

With one Charley dead, everyone turns to the other and asks, "Oooh, which Charley are you? The real or the fake?" as if the fact she didn't stupidly blow herself up by accident wasn't a clue. They then try and pull this again AFTER she gives a very long and detailed description of her wild party life with the Eighth Doctor, something that the fake Charley knew ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ABOUT and in the scene before she died pointed out, repeatedly, that she had no idea that Charley had jumped timelines to hang around her boyfriend's prior incarnation. Sorry, Briggsy, but the audience have an attention span so I fail to see why you're trying to intrigue us - mind you, you pulled the exact same retarded prank in Dalek Empire III when the Tenth Doctor's superhero sister sends the message to the authorities about the Daleks being evil and then bounces up and down in front of the Daleks screaming "I HAVE TOTALLY FUCKED YOU OVER! KILL ME IF YOU CAN!!!" and then ends the story by asking, "Hang on... did she REALLY send the message?" Um. Obviously. It was never in doubt. You idiot.

So Charley decides to try and save the continuity of the universe by mind-wiping the Sixth Doctor and leaving him with the confused impression any adventures he had with her he had with the stalker who looked like someone else. He then wanders off to a beach somewhere to get ratted and lighten up, while Charley stays on a spaceship with the Viyrans. Now, this is a bit dodgy as the whacking great reset project would logically mean the Viyrans weren't there to do this nifty MIB mindwiping, let alone REMEMBER who the Doctor and Charley were in the first place. So, we don't actually know where or when Charley has been left or why she didn't, say, stay with the Doctor for once trip back to 1930s Earth or anyway. The story ends with the Doctor wandering off to drown his mind-altered sorrows, and after the theme music we cut to the Viyran asking Charley what the fuck she thinks she's doing. She admits, she doesn't have a clue. The end.

Now, is that a better end than ANY of the ones offered by Girl Who Never Was?

Frankly, I suspect the Viyrans mindwiped Briggs and made him forget this was the titular "Charley Finale" as "Wierdass Charley Plot Device Cameo" would be a better description. I cannot think of a companion... bar Dodo... or John and Gillian... or maybe Destrii... that has had such a shithouse departure. Is her story over? Surely an ending, rightly or wrongly, requires some kind of explanation. Imagine if Martha had left at the end of Blink, explained solely by a shot of her walking away from the TARDIS after the end credits and you'll get a clue of how satisfying this is.

I'd say it logically leads to her being brought back but quite simply, the new Briggs administration is culling every companion they can get. Since the 100th release we've seen C'Rizz, Erimem, Charley, Evelyn, Amy and Lucie get their marching orders, and Hex seems to be on his way out as well. Are they quitting from some kind of baldtoothbrushwieldingaphobia?

Speaking of random insanity, I've been watching 1970s PI comedy drama Hazell recently (played by the bloke who was Jim Morrison, the supercool sociology teacher in that party episode of The Young Ones, or the psycho simulant in Red Dwarf: Justice) and for some reason there is a running gag where small children ask him if he is Dr Who. Considering his cockney accent, pinstripe suit and way with the ladies, it makes more sense now than it did at the time. He looks, sounds and dresses nothing like Tom Baker, doesn't use any kind of police box, offer people jelly babies, play yoyos... yet kid after kid asks their parents to question our hero about possible Gallifreyan origins. WHY?!

(Mind you, one episode has him flirt with a jailbait Lalla Ward... could it be that?)

Hazell as a show got me into some mild bother too, as to this wierd business of uploading and seeding. Basically, once you download something you have to leave the whole thing switched on until the infinity symbol vanishes and you can finally do something with the file you've been downloading. I have no idea how on earth this is in any way useful but apparently you need to upload to balance your download, a kind of paying for what you've taken. Now, I don't mind that to an extent, but the problem is I can't upload ANYTHING until I've FINISHED downloading. Right? This is the trouble, as to do Hazell required downloading 3 GB. For some reason I managed to do that in half an hour, about a hundredth of the expected time. This basically meant I'd tested the website's patience and unless I uploaded exactly that, no more downloads ever. So, thought I, fair enough, just leave the file cooking until it paid back what was taken. But it didn't. It's reached around 18 MB and not moved a sodding inch. Annoying, is it not?

Almost as annoying as Alex Drake in the finale of Ashes to Ashes, which I can't be arsed to watch properly, but not NEARLY as annoying as that stupid watermark on Channel 7 for Flashfoward, which I deliberately decided to avoid. So there.

Christ, all this randomnocity had bored even myself and I can't even rant any more.

Cut to the chase

- I came up with a really epic Dalek story to end all Dalek stories but can't be arsed to write it

- 1960s Batman is plain disturbing if you watch for the subtext

- The Wedding of Sarah Jane was originally going to have the Tenth Doctor meet the Brigadier, but alas Nick Courtney's had a stroke and ain't being in it. Bummer.

- Spara's latest film outline is pathetic even by his own standards

- I really, really wish that Tom Cookson would shut the hell up. Not so much because I don't want to read what he wants to say, but the fact he just keeps inserting the same goddamned I-hate-everything-after-Season-17-society-is-fucked in every single review. No matter what. Every single review the same. Over and over and over again. Please. I'm begging you, you media student, that half of the Ratings Guide is now nought but you saying the same thing over and over again - is it some kind of plan to have your rant on every single review? IS IT?!?

- I worked out a slight rewrite of Man of Iron, with the Gay Bore of 84 turning out to be the next stage of Mutoid, and Algor selling it to the highest bidder - whether that be the rebels, Space Command, Servalan's lot or the Earth Admin. I thought up a cool opener where some troops are killed by mutoids and then the mutoids are killed by Gay Bore

- the film version of Quatermass and the Pit is crap, no matter how damn hard Julian Glover tries

- in the last episode of The Dalek Masterplan, there's a truly shocking moment where Hartnell totally loses it and starts screaming when he sees Sara Kingdom turn to dust. Wierdly, he sounds exactly like Sylvester McCoy in Colditz, which is strange because for quite a lot of the time, Hartnell sounded quite like Tom Baker

- Season 7 of Red Dwarf really IS rubbish. I mean, how brain damaged is Tikka to Ride? Not only do they make Lister a total fuckwit with no morals, the plot resolves itself by JFK killing himself... despite the first half of the episode relying on the fact that you can't get someone to kill themselves without events resetting themselves all over again. And how the hell does a VR character escape from a suite that needs goggles and gloves? And, really, didn't anyone notice the first half of Stoke Me A Clipper was the first scene of Gunmen of the Apocalypse only not funny? They have a story about jumping dimensions, and then make all the scenes where Lister is a knight VR rather than an alternate universe? Couldn't they come up with a single original gag for the funeral scene? Utter trash, yet sadly there's just enough genius (usually from Rimmer: "A minute's flatulence!" "One minute you're down..." "Morning!" and the brilliant farewell of "I just needed ONE MORE GOODBYE!") to make you miserable. How anyone could prefer this season scares me.

- I still laugh uncontrollably at watching one scene in Nightingales

(Bell and Carter are doing an exam together)

CARTER: "Question 20: You are in charge of security at a business convention, a delegate has forgotten his pass and wants to gain access to the building - what do you do?"

BELL: Kill him.

CARTER: Kill him?! You can't kill him!

BELL: Of course you can! He shouldn't have forgotten his pass in the first place!

CARTER: No, it was an honest mistake! The bloke left it in his hotel room when he went down for breakfast, that's all...

BELL: I tell you what he was doing. He had a tart in his room. I bet she took his wallet when he was asleep!

CARTER: Rubbish! ...what, and he left his pass in his wallet? Oh. Well, this puts a different complexion on things, dunnit? I mean, I was prepared to give the bloke the benefit of the doubt, but I mean... what about his poor wife at home?!

BELL: Well, you know what these reps are like. He doesn't give a toss! And I bet she's got a bad leg...

CARTER: I bet you're right! And I'll reckon the son's not too good either!

BELL: Son?

CARTER: I mean, it makes you mad, doesn't it? You've got this five year old boy - with a squint - you've got his mother, you know, at home, limping around the furnitute, trying to make the place look nice. And then his father, you know, "daddy", this filthy rutting dirty stinking little animal having his end away in some crappy hotel room!

BELL: Look, shouldn't we let the wife know what's going on?

CARTER: No! This is family business, Ding Dong! I just don't want to get involved in anything like that, you know. I mean, I bet he's not ALL to blame, really...

BELL: Oh, the wife you mean?

CARTER: Yeah the wife. I mean, OK, she's got a bad leg, right? We feel sorry for her. But she could make an effort now and again, couldn't she?

BELL: Yeah, get her hair done now and then.

CARTER: A little trip to the hair dresser's would not go amiss, and what's the problem with a spray of perfume now and again? What's wrong with that, eh?

BELL: Yeah, he wants a cooked meal when he comes home...




BELL: Do you know what gets me?

CARTER: Don't! You don't have to tell me!

BELL: OK, OK, so the son's got a squint, right...

CARTER: Yeah, but he could make the effort at home! Help his mother out now and again, right?

BELL: Yeah, cook his dad a meal!

CARTER: Exactly! I mean, the poor bloke's tired! He's been out till all hours, attending conferences and...

BOTH: ...screwing prostitutes in his hotel room...

CARTER: I mean, he's exhausted! You know, when he comes home, he wants a hot meal inside him! And when he gets home, what does his son do for him?

BELL: He does nothing!

CARTER: NOTHING! He just sits there!

BELL: He just sits there!

CARTER: And squints!


Friday, September 25, 2009

Blake's 7 - FIGHT THE MACHINE!!!

Nicola Mody did that, btw, not me.

OK, the year is 1980 and the global temperature has raised several degrees by the friction of the entire B7 production team's whiplash on learning there is to be a fourth season. Except for Tarrant who was so dumb he never assumed otherwise. In a desperate need for scripts stat, Paul Darrow submits a story for the new format entitled Man of Iron. Mainly he does it for the sheer hell of it. Alas, his script would never be made as, whatever Darrow's strengths as an actor, he did not have the genius of Robert Holmes when it came to sneaking past the equity laws. Actors don't write scripts, no matter what the hell Tom Baker might assure you in the BBC bar while he nicks your drink.

Darrow wasn't particularly fussed by this, and Man of Iron remained as a first draft, no more no less until the script got reproduced and sold at charity auctions. Showing how far technology and communication has come over the last few years, I managed to obtain a copy of the script within hours of googling it. Back in 1996, I probably would have killed for such an ability... oh, what a wonderful future we live in!

Man of Iron is a first draft for an episode, so we can't be as judgemental as we might, say, be with Eric Saward's "fuck you, I'm not changing a word you fat bastard" Trial of a Time Lord part 14. But even so, it's pretty obvious that Darrow was not exactly onto a winner at the start. If made as it was here, it would probably end up considered worse than Animals. Or Rebel.

There's a real air that this was typed up on notes written on the bus or a kind of stream of consciousness. The dialogue isn't really dialogue per se, more sort of shorthand to note the content of what people say in a scene and the details to be added in later. Only a few lines ring out as things that the characters would actually, genuinely say, and it's utterly ridiculous to think that Darrow was actually going to read out the dialogue he'd written for himself, unless he really fancied playing Avon as a cross between Kaston Iago and the Womp.

There are a couple of rather major hurdles that couldn't simply be dealt with, spara-style, in a later draft (for example, Servalan appears without any armed bodyguards or troopers, but that could be explained away easily as part of her bargaining). The main problem is that Orac never appears. Or is mentioned. Or even seen. Certainly he would have come in bloody useful. But, given the amount of material Slave gets, maybe when it was written the idea was to write out Orac, since Tuddenham would still get a role in the new series? Another thing is the plot revolving around how utterly shit Scorpio is - its batteries run flat so quickly, the crew are forced to flee back to Xenon while there's still enough charge to get there. Maybe this was set before Stardrive (which begins, after all, with Avon bitching they need new batteries and ends with a new engine that doesn't need batteries), but it could have been an early dramatic idea they abandoned before recording. The rebel base is never named as Xenon either. Further proof of its early genesis is the "pump-action shotguns" the rebels use, which was an early idea for Dorian's guns to have cool stuff bolted on the handgun to turn into rifles (ultimately you get to see it used in Warlord and, more memorable, to blow three holes in Roj Blake).

The most massive problem is the story seems to cover the second half of a plot, with Avon going to unheard-of extremes to murder some bloke we've never heard of for reasons that, even if explained in a fuller draft, never once come as credible to interest Avon in any case. Certainly the graphic violence in this episode would have given everyone pause to thought... or major rewrite... but one does begin to wonder, given that all the evidence shows this was written before most of the other episodes, if Man of Iron wasn't somehow cannibalized for story ideas for proper writers like Holmesy. I'd be a pathological liar to say the others didn't do the ideas justice, but that proves this script had the bones of something very cool.

Although Avon takes up most of the action, he gets just two scenes with the others and very little in the way of dialogue - it's borderline Avon-lite. Vila gets a lot to do, and indeed the episode is more about Vila and his relationship with the others than Avon blowing up androids with a pump-action shotgun. Tarrant gets to be a total asshole who surprises everyone by showing random evidence that he has a brain beyond the grin and curls. Soolin gets to be completely amoral and psychoanalyze Avon and Vila, and also being the one to confront the truth no one else wants to talk about. And Dayna gets to hang around operating the teleport. Well, she does get a token moment of characterization, so basically Man of Iron does Dayna more good than say Games. Darrow's Slave however, blew my socks off. He's not 100% in character as we know him, but when stressed comes up with some killer jokes, to the point he seemed to be like Roger out of American Dad. There's a massive scene with Servalan I'll discuss later.

None of this is really enough in the first draft, of course, but I firmly believe that this could have been awesome in the right hands.

But enough circling what might have been, onto what actually happens in Man of Iron.

The episode begins quite similar to Power, with Avon going on a solo gun rampage through a patch of countryside with us having no clue what's going on, as he is promptly overpowered, captured, loses his bracelet and is dragged to an underground complex. But here, he's running across a beach being chased by "human/robots" which probably would have looked like the jet black Raston killing machines of Earthshock, but just as possibly would have ended up like the blue-faced blonde giant from Timelash.

In orbit above this planet Epsilon, Vila gives up trying to contact Avon through his bracelet (neither of them try to teleport for some reason). With Slave pointedly reminding how Scorpio's energy is running out, Vila contacts Tarrant who is back at base. Upon learning Avon has either been captured or killed, Tarrant dryly asks, "Now what's the bad news?" and tells Vila to abandon Avon and return home to recharge. Upset, Vila does so, much to Slave's relief.

The robots beat the shit out of Avon and tie him to a chair in the underground lair where he meets their creator, Algor.

Now, I'd just like to say this bit I couldn't get my head around. Algor? AL GORE?! Considering that Darrow wrote a book about Avon where his nemesis was named Axel Grease, I'm convinced the author was taking the piss - even though my educated comrade Miles Reid insists that no one knew about Al Gore back then, or his claims he single-handedly invented the internet, and the name's probably based on ALGOL, the language computes "spoke" back then. But seriously, it does my mind and, to stop me digressing, I hearby refer to Algor as "Davros".

Why? Well, there is a similarity. This bloke is crippled and buzzes around his underground lair in a specialized wheelchair (so he would have probably ended up looking like Forbus in Traitor). He's also apparently a Mengele-type psycho experimentor who has slaughtered thousands of innocents to create his cyborg army, has a tendency to rant Hitler-style, likes making rather odd moral arguments, and considers himself basically the smartest living being in the cosmos. The only real difference between this guy and Davros is that Davros was cool, whereas this guy is just a complete asshole and really a kind of third-rate bond villain.

It seems that Davros was exiled to Epsilon... or maybe exiled himself, I dunno... some six years ago and is infamous for being a complete bastard. Indeed, it's vaguely hinted the only reason he's crippled is because of all the decadent extreme kinky shit he gets up to. After six years he's built about five or six cyborgs and also mastered the ultimate robot, the indestructible Gort-like "Gabor".

And for some reason Avon wants to kill this guy very badly. I say "some reason" because the reason given, "you're an EVIL genius!" doesn't wash at all. Indeed, Avon has crossed the galaxy to blow this guy's head off and was prepared to run the gauntlet of cyborgs (who, it must be said, don't do much bar explode at the slightest provocation) to do so rather than, say, teleport into the base and kill him. Going back to the cyborgs, they're pretty shit as Davros can only control them by shouting commands into the speaker system built into the beach on the surface. I dunno how this cripple managed it with his dozen androids, as the planet seems deserted and he doesn't have any kind of handy neutron bomb to scare off, say, a pursuit ship nuking the tiny planet from orbit. Maybe I'm going too deep.

Davros is incredibly pissed off that Avon's nuked all his pathetic cyborgs, but cannot wrap his amazing brain around the idea that Avon actually wants to kill Davros himself and gives a very long speech about how Avon is freaking luddite who would doom the entire universe to ignorance and superstition. Typically, Avon is about as impressed with this self-justifying wank as you or I. So Davros has Avon taken to a cell and then brutally beaten up again and again by a cyborg guard.

But what's this? Servalan's on the planet (there's no Sleer business here) and she is here to buy Gabor and a hundred more like him to help her rebuild the Federation. She has some kind of past with Davros, and he certainly thinks of her as a scheming slut - when she admits she knows Avon, he snaps that she "knows" lots of men and he's not impressed. In return for a pension plan and immunity from prosecution, Davros will hand over the goods but, being a sensible sort of chap, wires up Gabor with a neutron bomb so if Davros dies, his android will explode and destroy the Earth. Servalan waits to watch Gabor Greco-Roman wrestle a cyborg, decides she likes it and agrees to everything.

Meantime, Vila is arguing with the others about returning for Avon. None of them are particularly eager to risk their necks, with Tarrant bitching repeatedly that Avon wouldn't do the same to any of them. Dayna suggests they wait until evidence Avon is actually alive to be rescued but Vila refuses to compromise. With the aide of a shotgun he convinces the others to help him return to Epsilon. Tarrant, asshole as ever, immediately folds like a house of cards and spends the whole journey bitching that Vila's a pathetic tool. I really get the feeling this plot thread was written to balance out Avon's ruthlessness in the season, and show that the others are no better than he when it comes to back-stabbing. However, it's good that Vila's complaint is not that they abandoned Avon, but that they wouldn't go back to rescue him - like so often on TV, Avon makes it clear that its his longterm goal to keep his crew alive. Running out on them on Mekron or leaving Vila and Tarrant quarantined is acceptable, but not rescuing them from clear and certain death is just wrong. In any case, it's ridiculous to think that Vila would really be able to order Soolin, Tarrant and Dayna at gunpoint and NOT, say, instantly get overpowered. As Soolin notes, Vila's got the moral highground and they shouldn't need to be blackmailed in the first place.

Leaving Dayna to mind Scorpio, the others teleport down to the beach and start following Avon's tracks. Meanwhile, Servalan has a last visit to Avon in the cell where they discuss his imminent demise. It's very different from the flirting witty exchanges they usually have - no jokes, no come ons. Servalan bluntly says that Avon is fucked, Avon agrees, and Servalan announces that, quite frankly, she thinks he's gone absolutely bloody insane. And when Servalan is questioning your mental health, it's time to seek psychiatric help. Mind you, this random vendetta against Davros doesn't exactly prove Servalan wrong either. Admitting that, once, they might have been somewhere, Servalan strides off to leave Avon to get gutted like a pig with a sharp knife.

It's a very powerful moment. No gloating. No death traps. Servalan's disappointment and lack of interest in defeating Avon screams volumes and really made me worried for old KA's fate as I honestly couldn't see how he was going to get out of this one without the Bitch in White, say, buying him as a sex slave.

Oh, wait, of course. He simply attacks the knife-wielding cyborg and, despite being at death's door, manages to break its neck with his bare hands, then uses one of his funky silver studs to pick the lock (which somehow slides back bolts on the other side of the door the exact same way the sonic screwdriver can't), then limbs off to... actually, I'm not sure. The next scene he's on the surface.

Watching this on Davros' widescreen TV, Servalan sighs and notes "You're fucked then, aren't you?" (well, words to that effect). Davros almost shits himself in terror at this change of fortunes and must ACTIVATE GABOR!!! For some reason, Gabor seems to spend his entire life on top of rocky promontories like the Electronic Monk in Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, but soon he's lumbering off to join the fracas.

The seemingly-on-the-verge-of-death Avon is busy being hunted down by the last two remaining cyborgs (you know, for someone who loves these things so much, Davros really doesn't mind wreckling the things for a laugh, no wonder his army's so small...) when Tarrant and Soolin save his sorry ass, with Soolin forgoing her sharp-shooting skills to use a random plank to smash the cyborg down a hill. However, all it takes a fresh pump-action-shotgun and Avon is revitalized enough to run back into the base to kill Davros, telling the others to stay behind and distract the unstoppable death machine chasing them. For some reason, all three agree rather than knocking Avon out and teleporting to safety.

As Avon runs back for revenge, Servalan decides the best thing to do is run like fuck and leave Davros to face the Dudley Simpson theme music. Davros takes it on the chin by having a quick bath and attaching Uzi sub machine guns to his wheelchair, like Ian McKellan in the Dead Ringers skits where he tries to kill the bazookoid-weiling Alan Rickman... alas, Davros is seemingly the worst evil genius since the similarly-wheelchair-bound Alistair Miles. In fact, Milesy could probably kick Davros' ass. Not content with wiring up a beach full of speakers, wiping out his entire cyborg army, and attaching neutron bombs to random objects, and then flirting with Servalan even though he knows her, it turns out he's rubbish at care and maintenance of Uzi submachine guns. When Avon comes in, all Davros manages to blow up his widescreen TV before the guns jam and he's totally screwed.

Avon, despite being fueled by the Power of Fist, has lost the use of a hand in all the excitement and thus is unable to properly use a pump-action-shotgun. He is, however, capable of doing an Olympic gymnastic routine to leap across a swimming pool, spinning Davros in his wheelchair like John Simms singing with the Scissor Sisters, throwing the evil genius into the pool, diving into the pool afterwards, drowning the cripple and snapping his neck simultaneously. But not using a shotgun or a knife. That would require TWO hands.

Well, now we've seen the hero commit cold-blooded murder for the feeblest of excuses on a cripple (Kaston Iago, Where Are You?) lets cut to his sidekicks as they run away from the Tinman, with Tarrant proving typically useless as he continually falls into pits, twists his ankle and demands breathers. Just when Soolin and Vila are wondering if Tarrant's a bigger danger than Gabor, our curly-haired twat comes up with the answer: they teleport their sorry asses out of danger! Bugger me sideways, never thought of that before!

But it seems that Tarrant, in a credible bit of idiocy, doesn't want to admit defeat and gets Dayna to teleport all three back to Epsilon at different locations, back and forth until Gabor gets dizzy, then throws away his laser gun. Why? I have no idea. Nor do I know why Tarrant and the others abandon this strategy in favor for more running for their lives.

Aboard the Scorpio, the lights are starting to go out as Slave and Dayna have a heated discussion about calling her "Mistress" and the flight computer starts making increasing unsubtle (and funny) hints that he would really like to get the hell out of here before the engines shut down.

On the surface, the very wet Avon climbs out of the bath when he has an epiphany. Yes, he didn't even do it in the pool like any normal person! Avon uses the handy quadraphonic sound system Davros installed to contact Tarrant (yes, no one bothered to give him back his bracelet) and tell him the secret of defeating Gabor:


Yes, it turns out that Davros wasn't so much an evil genius as the mental equivalent of Peri Brown in The Kingmaker. This non-functional retard actually built the ultimate robot complete with laser-reflection, inbuilt neutron bombs and go faster stripes but didn't water-proof the bastard. Tarrant and the others, as you can imagine, can't believe ANYONE would be so fucking stupid, but Avon switches off the mike and goes to have a little nap, leaving the others to sort it out. Now, rather than, say, teleport back to Scorpio and leave this easily-confused, non-water-proof android to pose on rocky promontries for the rest of eternity, Tarrant and pals decide to swim out to sea.

Even though Gabor isn't water-proof and, more importantly, knows it's not water-proof, it appears that Davros is so damn stupid he didn't even program Zza Zza here with Asimov's basics. Gabor decides that killing three puny meatbags of greater import than its own survival, and after hovering on another damn rocky promontry for five minutes, dives into the water and tries to swim after them. But...

...brace yourself...

...Gabor can't float!

He sinks like a stone!

And then the earth-destroying neutron bomb (which, we should remember, was supposed to go off the moment Davros died) detonates...

...producing a spout of water as impressive, or more likely less impressive, than the one in Battlefield when Ace blows up a living spaceship and hugs the Brigadier. Both done without any kind of embarrassment. Dear God I hate that story, I really do.

Anyway, the wet and bedraggled Tarrant, Soolin and Vila wade ashore to meet the equally wet and bedraggled Avon (who has once more forgotten he was dying from internal injuries and blood loss earlier in the episode) and awkwardly do the catchup. Just then, they hear Servalan's voice over the loudspeakers - by some "freak of electronics", her desperate "get me the hell off this planet" calls to her spaceship, are being heard across the planet. Maybe Davros demanded Servalan land on Epsilon alone to do the deal, but one has to wonder how he was able to enforce this as he seems to have no weapons, and even his neutron bombs do less damage than one of Eddie Hitler's exploding carrots.

Avon wants to rip the bitch's lungs out but Vila suggests they don't for all sorts of reasons - they're all exhausted and on the point of collapse; they don't want to annoy Servalan's flotilla; Scorpio's almost out of juice so they have to leave right away; Servalan's got to be in the rest of the series...

They prepare to leave and Soolin bluntly explains that if Vila hadn't done something, they would all have left Avon to die horribly and our cripple-strangling death machine owes Vila something chronic. Alas, before Avon can say absolutely anything at this revelation, Dayna announces she is completely fucking sick of this and teleports them up to the ship. Alas, the cunning random teleporting earlier has stuffed up the mechanism, so they disappear one by one until Vila keeps getting relocated around the beach for five minutes before finally the episode ends.



It's full of holes and way too similar to say, Headhunter and Orbit, to be truly distinctive. The action sequences are utterly ridiculous, with exploding androids and Avon somehow forgetting his mortal wounds to become Bruce Lee on a guy who can't actually walk. In what seems to be a plot emphasizing that Avon isn't alone in being an asshole, he acts worse than in any episode I've seen. Is he supposed to be a foaming-at-the-mouth psycho? Yet why is his whole vendetta based on Algor not being a very nice person? Davros' bitching about Avon's ludditism rings strong - it would be far more credible and cynical if the Scorpio crew came to Epsilon to buy Gabor for the rebellion rather than murder the bloke who built him. The androids themselves are seemingly more pathetic than any human troops, and it boggles the mind that Davros thought that his planet-destroying neutron bombs weren't a better draw than his cut-price mutoids. Mmm. Actually, if he was the guy who created the Mutoids, it would make it a lot easier to buy someone was after his blood - like, say, Soolin? She'd be a hell of a lot better than Avon (who is, let us remember, not actually a soldier or combat trained) at this business, and not make stupid mistakes...

Ah well, I could spend the rest of the blog listing improvements to a first draft, but I'll be honest and say I see Man of Iron as easier to fix for the series than Animals, despite my nostalgic affection for it. Dayna certainly gets a more wholesome role in this episode...

DAYNA: How much fuel have we Slave?

SLAVE: I regret to say - very little, Mistress.

DAYNA: I'd rather you didn't call me that.

SLAVE: I'm very sorry, but I don't understand.

DAYNA: Never mind.

SLAVE: I hate to be a nuisance, but it is as well you are appraised of Scorpio's heavy fuel consumption.

DAYNA: All right, Slave, you've told me.

SLAVE: I really do hate to be a nuisance, but...

DAYNA: Then don't be!

SLAVE: A very few minutes and we shall not have sufficient fuel to return to base. You notice that I refrain from calling you Mistress? I'm getting very worried about the fuel situation.

DAYNA: You're getting worried?

SLAVE: I just said that!

DAYNA: (into communicator) Tarrant - Tarrant, where the hell are you?

SLAVE: Language! (beat) I'll say just one word - fuel!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Did The World Just End?!

Cause it looks like Threads out there.

The light is like Fanta, thick, nasty orange of a shade I've not seen outside Gallifrey. Birds are flyind backwards in the dayglow orange fog. There's so little light...

Frankly, I'm surprised we haven't all been asphyxiated yet.

Think I'm overreacting? Don't you know what happened in Pompeii? Already one newsteam noting how impossible it is to see the Harbour Bridge have mysteriously lost contact with the rest of the world. Athletics carnivals have been cancelled. Planes are grounded. Schools are deserted. Obama is cranking up global climate change. PM Kevin Rudd says "We have to face facts - time is running out!" God has contacted Adam Spencer to explain that the sky is running red with the blood of sinners, and the bloody Keith Allan look alike is playing "It's the End of the World As We Know It" by REM! Oh, why couldn't be instant spaghettification by Large Hadron Collider?

Oh, and irony of ironies, I was listening to Dust Breeding last night.

So, if these are my final words...

"Tell them I was right about everything"!

That's how I want to go - by noting that, by the way, I was right about EVERYTHING and EVERYONE ELSE in the WHOLE WORLD are a bunch of MORONS!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Polling The Chaytheem

Sparacus says: "I was not surprised by my stories not appearing in the DWM Greatest Doctor Who Stories of All Time as I imagine they regard my stories as essentially a spin-off series. Maybe they could be persuaded to conduct a Ben Chatham Adventures story poll. "

This would be difficult given the fact even Spara, their creator, can't remember all of them (plus the sheer number of stories called Nemesis or Conspiracy of Lies or Dark Yuletide), and the fact you admit more than half of them aren't actually "Chatham canon".

Besides, I can confidently announce the most popular BC installment was a middle episode of Planet Waves where you were ripping off the Toclafane in the Void Sphere.

For overall merit: Fool's Errand

The funniest scene went to the Ben/Hitler catfight in Nemesis.

Most popular character: Kyle

Least popular character: Katie

Most controversial character: the Skins Doctor

Most confusing character: Anselm Ashford Ashfox Asshole

Most-missed character: K9 mk 4+

Best celebrity cameo: Oscar Wilde

Worst celebrity cameo: Kylie Minogue

Least interesting story: Rats of Tenbury

Most derided story: The Lords of the Reedy River

Most original story: Conscience

Most desired story: the unfinished Case of the 12 Crosses

Best Cliffhanger: The Doctor, Ben and Rose being ambused in a doomsday cult run by the insane Mickey Smith in Shadows of Christmas, since Spara never actually finished it.

Worst Cliffhanger: Ben wetting himself after dreaming about the Nimon in Mirror, Mirror On The Wall.

Greatest ending, considered by all, was when you killed off Ben in New Dawn.

Worst ending was Ben being magically returned to life because two old men in Death Valley started bonking each other in New Dawn.

Best overall season: the Stephen Poole/Meddling Monk/Spartha Jones/BOSS/WOTAN/Cyberman/Von Danikan story arc

Worst overall season: the post LBC era.

Most likely to be a completely accidental Ben ref in the TV series: "Anyway, moving on," in the School Reunion catfight

Most likely to be a completely deliberate Ben ref in the TV series: "I point and laugh at archaeologists" in Silence in the Library

Biggest Continuity Gaffe: despite stiff competition, it has to be the THREE separate alien civilizations who built and live in Silbury Hill for no apparent reason

Strangest Continuity Gaffe: Adam Mitchell is a luddite eco-warrior living in 2005 who now runs Torchwood

Worst regular characterization: A tie between Spartha Jones and SparaDoc

Best regular characterization: Donna Noble, as she never gets any dialogue and thus never out of character

Most ridiculous crossover: two Adam Rickitts snogging in the pub in Coronation Street in The Ghosts of Weatherfield

Scariest potential crossover: Ben having a three-way with Tarrant and Servalan

Most misogynistic Ben moment: telling a girl he slept with her recently-deceased boyfriend, then beating her up and leaving her to have her throat ripped out by a generic monster in Operation: Delta

Most positive Ben moment: admitting he IS a total bastard and trying to drink himself to death in Crystal

Worst moment in all of the Chathamverse: the Tenth Doctor trying to rape Martha Jones in the still-warm bed of Ben's dead Uncle Monty in Stangeness (sic) - followed closely by the Eleventh Doctor trying to do something similar in New Morning.

Best moment in all of the Chathamverse: Sir Alistair Miles in Crimebuster, who misunderstands the term "Cybercrime" and thus builds a robot specifically designed to rob banks, a robot invulnerable to bullets, missiles, but NOT a hardback The Archaeology of the Kelts thrown from across the room by Ben in a fit of pique when his first boyfriend dumps him for being a drunken wanker

Most quotable line: "How dare you? I have a degree from Cambridge! You don't respect me, do you?" (EarthSpan)

Most memorable line: "This is unusual. I find it strange." from above.

Best technobabble: "a device or pipe" from Planet Waves

Worst science: all gasses are lighter than air, blood is a chemical

Most alcohol consumed in a story: a tie between Firestarter and Conscience

Least alcohol consumed in a story: Fool's Errand

Best Use of Fox Glacier Mints: creating a flashback Doctor/Spartha cameo in The Zranti Beast comic.

Worst Use of Fox Glacier Mints: trying to use them to kill Much the Miller's Son in Lord of the Reedy River.

Best Use of Johnny Vegas and Canned Laughter: none

Worst Use of Johnny Vegas and Canned Laughter: every damn time the bastard appears

Best Use of Returning Villain: Henry van Statten in Web of Lies. Until he shoots himself, anyway.

Worst Use of Returning Villain: a lone Dalek turns out to be a dream in Dark Yuletide.

Most Offensive Retcon: Herne the Hunter is evil! No, wait, actually it isn't, sorry... (Operation: Delta)

Most Offensive Lack of Retcon: Ben dismissing rape victims as deserving what they get. (LOTRR)

Any categories I've left out?