Sunday, November 29, 2009

If *I* Had Written Time And The Rani

While I was sweltering as Santa in Maroubra Junction (lovely place though, the sort of place I’d go recreationally – why don’t they host DWCA meetings there?) there were the usual long stretches of me basically sitting still, not able to do much except wait for children to turn up. Over the twelve days or so, I’d assuaged the huge anxiety issues I’d had by catching up on reading Time’s Champion and a heap of novelizations in the vague idea of restarting the whole "If *I* Had Written" scam, combined with the shakey premise of Tenure Without Trial, the idea of what Doctor Who might have been like had Michael Grade kept his ugly mouth shut in 1985. As ever, ideas jumbled and blurred and worked brilliantly only to be totally forgotten in speculation about The Next Doctor.

Anyway, as my mind tried to wring a plot out of the epic Sixth Doctor finale, Gallifrey, which would have had the Master, the Rani, the Daleks, Peri, Sil, Mel, lots of explosions and righteous fury. The Apocalypse Element meets The Ancestor Cell meets Trial of a Time Lord.

"But what," my idle mind wondered, "would happen next?"

In this Grade-free world, Season 25 had ended with Mel and a regenerating Doctor stuck in a ruined TARDIS floating above the dust that was once Gallifrey, everything else seeming to have crashed and burned. How would you follow a story like that? The original authors never bothered to say, taking the CS Lewis method of “really great shit happened but I’m not allowed to tell you what it was”, which made the ending of The Last Battle so damn endearing.

As I pondered what would happen next if, say, I were in charge, I came up with an idea... and almost a year later I finally bothered to write it down...


The sun sets over the tops of trees in a forest surrounding an ancient castle. Pleasant medieval flute music plays.


The sunshine pours through the window, illuminating an elegant circular room full of books, parchments, scrolls and crude astrological equipment. Sitting on a bed half-buried in books is the Seventh Doctor, dressed in a simple tunic, waistcoat and leggings, thoroughly absorbed in his readings. Reaching out with one arm, he pours himself a goblet of wine, collects it, drinks it and returns it without looking.

The goblet rattles on the bench. The Doctor notices. Distantly, there is the familiar faint sounds of wheezing and groaning, getting louder before falling silent. The Doctor frowns.

DOCTOR: Well, well. [calls] Squire!

The door to the room opens and a young squire of about 17 enters. He is wearing appropriate garb, except for the futuristic laser pistol holstered to the belt around his waist.

SQUIRE: My Lord Doctor?

DOCTOR: Ah, there you are. Be so good as to draw me a bath, will you?

SQUIRE: [tugs forelock] Certainly, my Lord.

DOCTOR: Yes, I must look my best.

SQUIRE: Oh, my Lord? Is it some special occasion?

DOCTOR: Of course, dear boy. The Rani is in residence once more!

He snaps shut the book and rises.

DOCTOR: Yes, it’s the end of these quiet and complacent days when you could hear a dropped pin on the weathered wood floor. I heard the noise of her arrival up that very curving staircase, you know.

SQUIRE: [calls from next room] Did you, my Lord? I didn’t hear a thing. Your hearing is much better than mine.

DOCTOR: [puzzled] Is it? Perhaps it’s just the sound of her arrival is distinctive to me? Anyway, no doubt I shall dine with the Rani tonight. I mean, it’s what we do whenever she’s at the castle. I don’t want to break tradition. I want my full court regalia ready for the occasion.

He crosses to a wardrobe and opens it. Within are held on racks various historical garments. He picks out a simple white linen suit and examines it.

DOCTOR: Mmmm. She does like me in this one. It might please her tonight to see me wear it, but then again...

He reaches to the back of the wardrobe and brings out a distinctive patchwork coat of many colours.

DOCTOR: Of course I could always wear this thing. But she said it made her nervous. Why would this made anyone nervous? Nauseous, I could understand, but nervous? I’m not even sure why I own it, it’s far too large for me...

The Squire emerges from the bathroom, steam wafting from the door.

SQUIRE: Your bath is ready, my Lord.

The Doctor continues to regard the coat.

SQUIRE: My Lord? My Lord Doctor?

DOCTOR: Mmm? Yes?

SQUIRE: Are you quite all right my Lord?

DOCTOR: Oh yes, quite. Just... I feel a bit strange.

SQUIRE: Strange, my Lord?

DOCTOR: Yes. A sort of... mix... of excitement. Yes, excitement and fear.

SQUIRE: That the Rani has returned?

DOCTOR: Yes. I can understand the excitement. This castle’s a lifeless hulk whenever she’s absent. It’s a pleasant enough place to catch up on one’s reading but... it does get a little...

SQUIRE: Boring?

DOCTOR: No. No, not boring. Lonely. Almost too lonely.

SQUIRE: My Lord Doctor, I thought you preferred a solitary existence?

DOCTOR: Do I? I suppose I must have. But even I can get lonely. Lonely and afraid.

SQUIRE: Why would you be afraid of the Rani, my Lord?

DOCTOR: I’ve no idea. Probably just some fleeting whimsy, there without reason or rhyme, like vapor on the window or whispers on a cloudless day. [frowns] Did I get that right way around?

An awkward pause.

SQUIRE: Your bath is ready, my Lord.

DOCTOR: Ah yes! Excellent! Cheer up, squire!

He throws down the patchwork coat, picks up the white outfit and heads for the bathroom, beaming at the squire.

DOCTOR: After almost two weeks, our monarch is once more in residence!


A long table set for three diners dominated the hall. There are bunches of flowers and servants tending to things. Now wearing his white outfit and a straw hat, the Doctor enters. His squire follows.

DOCTOR: Ah, the robust fragrance of fresh-cut flowers and mulled wine!

The Doctor crosses to the sideboard to take a cup.

SQUIRE: Allow me, my Lord?

DOCTOR: Oh. Yes, of course. We don’t want to put you out of a job do we, old chap?

The squire hands him the cup.

DOCTOR: Thank you.

SQUIRE: No thanks are needed, my Lord.

DOCTOR: Well, they are given freely, my squire. Hang on, I don’t even know your name!

SQUIRE: Does it matter, my Lord?

DOCTOR: Does it matter? I get you to wait on me tooth and claw and I don’t even know your name! That doesn’t seem fair, does it? You deserve some kind of recognition for your service, at least I should know your name.

SQUIRE: My Lord, what is *your* name?

DOCTOR: My name? I’m the Lord Doctor of course. No. Wait. I see your point. That’s not a name either. Perhaps we both need names.

SQUIRE: Forgive me, my Lord, but if we needed names, surely we would have them already?

DOCTOR: Your logic is impeccable, squire. But still... I think I should call you David.

SQUIRE: “David”, my Lord?

DOCTOR: Do you like it?

SQUIRE: It is as good a name as any, my Lord. But why did you choose that?

DOCTOR: [blinks] You know, I’m not entirely certain. Maybe it’s a family name. Do I have any family called David? I must have. Everyone knows someone called David.

SQUIRE: I think it might be best if we continued without names, my Lord.

DOCTOR: Oh. Why?

SQUIRE: It is simply the way things are.

DOCTOR: “The way things are”. One of the Rani’s favorite sayings.

SQUIRE: Indeed, my Lord.

DOCTOR: It’s a phrase she uses to explain all manner of idiosyncrasies. Like that strange accessory you all wear.

He waves at the squire’s gun.

DOCTOR: All the serving class wear those things in those scabbards. The squires like you, the cooks, the footmen, the ladies-in-waiting... Now, if you carried some kind of dagger or sword, I might understand why. But what are those things for?

SQUIRE: The Rani wishes it part out of our wardrobe.

DOCTOR: I can’t see why. It doesn’t have any practical purpose, it doesn’t even look aesthetically pleasing...

SQUIRE: Perhaps you should discuss this with the Rani.

DOCTOR: I did. She said I shouldn’t worry about it.

SQUIRE: It is simply the way things are.

DOCTOR: David, you took the words right out of my mouth.

The Doctor heads over to the table.

DOCTOR: Oh no.

SQUIRE: My Lord?

DOCTOR: There are three places set! The boy must have returned as well...

SQUIRE: The boy?

DOCTOR: Lord Cyrian.

SQUIRE: Hardly a boy though, my Lord.

DOCTOR: Maybe not in the strictest sense. He’s physically mature, but there’s this sort of air of childish innocence about him. Why couldn’t he be more like me? Anyway, David, his gangly shadow has been absent from the castle for at least five days. So he must have gone somewhere and thus has now returned.

SQUIRE: Maybe he was with the Rani?

DOCTOR: Maybe. Hello?

They head for the other end of the dining table where servants are placing wrapped packages in a pile, almost like Christmas presents. The Doctor grins and crosses over to them.

DOCTOR: Ah! The Rani’s kindly brought me some presents.

The Squire indicates there are two piles of presents.

SQUIRE: And for Lord Cyrian, my Lord.

DOCTOR: [scowls] Oh, come on, that’s hardly fair. He’s already getting trips away from the castle. That’s more luxury than I get. On top of that, he gets gifts as well! This is the straw that lead the horse to water...

They both look up as a young, good-looking man in similar clothing enters.

CYRIAN: Good evening, Lord Doctor.

DOCTOR: [frostily] Lord Cyrian. I suppose... [frowns] You look a little pale. Are you quite well?

CYRIAN: [interrupts] Oh, gifts! I love gifts!

Cyrian hurries past them to the presents.

DOCTOR: See, David. No maturity. Nothing like me at all.

There is grand trumpeting. All turn to see the Rani arriving, in a fabulous period ball gown. She enters with a smug, controlled expression and crosses to the Doctor and Cyrian. She holds out a hand.

RANI: My Lord Doctor?

The Doctor immediately goes down on one knee and kisses her hand.

RANI: You may rise. Have you missed me?

DOCTOR: As a fish misses a bicycle, my liege.

RANI: How delightful. Have you been reading the books I have procured for you?

DOCTOR: Of course. But then, during your long absence, they’re all I’ve had for company – bar my squire David, [flings arm around the squire] my trusty companion.

The Rani looks hard at him.

RANI: You have no need of companions any more, my Lord.

DOCTOR: [looks lost] I don’t? No. No, I suppose not. [to himself] Though obviously I once did.

RANI: And my Lord Cyrian?

He kneels and kisses her hand.

CYRIAN: Oh, my regal lady, I have missed you so much.

DOCTOR: So you haven’t been together? I suppose I can’t begrudge a few presents after all... [claps] Well then, shall we have supper?


Night has fallen. Light burns behind windows.


The servants are clearing away the plates. The Doctor is sitting, chin resting on his hand, glaring at Cyrian who looks rather ill. The Rani finishes her goblet of wine.

RANI: Well, Lord Cyrian. Would you like to open your present now?

CYRIAN: [eagerly] Indeed, my Lady.

A servant hands him a parcel he all but tears apart, to reveal a familiar-looking golden-coloured head adornment.

CYRIAN: [impressed] It is beautiful.

RANI: [indulgently] Why not try it on?

Cyrian does so.

DOCTOR: You know, that circlet looks very familiar.

RANI: It is a coronet, my Lord Doctor.

DOCTOR: No. The Coronet, I feel sure. Definite articles, capital letters, you can spot it a mile off. Might I ask, my Lady, where the Coronet comes from?

RANI: You might ask.

DOCTOR: And might I get an answer?

RANI: It once belonged to man called Rassilon, now long dead.

DOCTOR: Rassilon?

CYRIAN: A strange name, but we must be of the same size. It fits perfectly.

DOCTOR: Rassilon. I think I know that name.

The Rani focuses her gaze on the Doctor.

RANI: It is a name from mythology.

DOCTOR: Is it? I do love a good myth.

RANI: A good story was not my guarantee, my Lord. Perhaps you should turn to your own gifts?

DOCTOR: Oh yes, I’d forgotten about them.

The squire hands the Doctor a parcel, which he effortlessly opens to reveal another leather-bound book.

RANI: You appreciate my gift?

DOCTOR: [distant] Yes, Your Majesty. Most impressive.

He drops the book to the table, completely losing interest in it.

DOCTOR: But this name, Rassilon. It will drive me round the bouts and on the swings until I remember who he was. I take it he was a he?

RANI: Very well, then I shall satisfy your curiosity. The story tells of a wanderer, a man without a home, who travels the world. In his travels he comes across a desert of dust. Not sand, but dust. He walks the desert for days and nights and finds nothing. Not a trace of any life at any time until he comes across a monument, a black obelisk inscribed with ancient runes.

CYRIAN: Runes?

DOCTOR: Symbolic language.

CYRIAN: And what did the runes say?

RANI: That all around the obelisk are the marvels and works of the Great Rassilon himself, whose works and deeds would live forever.

CYRIAN: But the obelisk was in a desert.

DOCTOR: Indeed. And until it was read no one had heard of the Great Rassilon.

CYRIAN: ...I’m not certain I grasp the purpose of the story.

DOCTOR: [softly] The Great Rassilon did mighty things, Cyrian. He forged a vast kingdom and made incredible achievements. But neither he nor his property were immortal, and one day, both were lost in desolation. Now the desert is more vast than the empire of Rassilon ever was, and Rassilon and his kingdom are so forgotten as to be unknown. The march of time was unimpressed by his arrogance and ground everything he had into dust. [sighs] The moral of the story, Cyrian, is that nothing lasts forever. Nothing. At. All.

An awkward silence falls over the table. Only Cyrian is unaffected and picks up a strange string instrument somewhere between a harp, a cello and a banjo.

CYRIAN: Enough of this misery. Would you like me to play for you, my Lady?

RANI: [quiet] Not tonight, Cyrian. You need your rest. Now get to bed.

CYRIAN: [grins] Yes, Rani.

Happily, Cyrian starts to leave, collecting presents as he leaves. The Doctor continues to glare at him.

RANI: You look disgruntled.


RANI: Are you jealous, perhaps?

DOCTOR: What should I be jealous? In fact, I shouldn’t be jealous!

RANI: No, you shouldn’t. You don’t need presents, trinkets, toys and silk... it’s knowledge you want, my Lord Doctor. And that’s what I’ve given you.

DOCTOR: True enough, my unequaled queen. I have a hunger for new experiences beyond the confines of the citadel. Since I can’t leave, books are a bromide for the soul, like stories of that Rassilon chap, legends of times long past and places far away... [idly] Why exactly can’t I leave again?

RANI: It is simply the way things are.

DOCTOR: Yes, I had a feeling you might say something along those lines.

RANI: Now come, Lord Doctor. For you have another gift.

DOCTOR: Another one?

RANI: The servants have been installing it in your quarters while we dined.

DOCTOR: Installing....? It’s not another complete set of encyclopedias then?

RANI: [patiently] You desire first-hand experience, so let us discover the truth ourselves rather than rely on the knowledge of others.

DOCTOR: Ah. My own words thrown back at me.

The Rani rises and the Doctor follows her out, as do the servants.

DOCTOR: Hoisted by my own curiosity, live by the cat, die by the satisfaction...


The Rani enters the room grandly, followed by the Doctor. He pauses as he sees the present: a battered blue police telephone box filling up the far side of the room, looking rather worse for wear.

DOCTOR: [intrigued] What is it?

RANI: [careful] You do not know?

DOCTOR: It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before.

RANI: Not in this life?

DOCTOR: [nods] At the very least.

Curious, he brushes a hand over the doors.


DOCTOR: Tar-diss. [disappointed] Never heard of it. As gifts go, this is a bit... inexplicable, isn’t it, my Lady?

RANI: Now, perhaps. But, one day, you will come to cherish it.

DOCTOR: [shrewd] Promise?

RANI: I promise.

Smiling, she turns and leaves the Doctor alone with the TARDIS. He turns to look back at the blue box, then crosses to the door and peers at the notice there.

DOCTOR: Writing... "Police... tele... elephon... tel elephant... tell the elephant... no, telephone! Free... for use... of pub lice... public... something and officers something... all calls... all urgent calls... pull to... open.”

He pulls on the door. Nothing.

DOCTOR: Locked. Which means it needs a key.

The Doctor’s eyes widen. He takes off his hat, upends it and finds a distinctive metallic key, with the Seal of Rassilon engraved into it.

DOCTOR: There’s that feeling again, David. Excitement. And fear.

The Doctor puts the key in his pocket.

DOCTOR: [troubled] Another new day has only just begun and now something wicked this way comes. By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes. All the land turns to dust and crumbs when something wicked this way comes and isn’t that right Mel?

He stops short.

DOCTOR: "Mel"?

- to be continued...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Doctor Who - Dream A Little Dream


You can do a lot in a lifetime
If you don't burn out too fast
You can make the most of the distance
First you need endurance
First you've got to last...

From first to last
The peak is never passed
Something always fires the light
That gets in your eyes
One moment's high
And glory rolls on by
Like a streak of lightning
That flashes and fades
In the summer sky!

Ostensibly the missing adventure between The Waters of Mars and The End of Time, Phil Ford tackles writing for the mother series two stories in a row - and pre-2005 that would be a huge achievement, putting him up with Christopher Bidmead, Pip & Jane Baker and Ian Stuart Black as the only consecutive writers.

The Tenth Doctor once again wades into the murky waters of animated adventures, which, as ever, prove to piss poor in comparison to even the lamest of American cartoons. The Infinite Quest wasn't even as good as the opening credits of 1960s Batman for crying out loud and I have yet to read a good word about the artwork for the penultimate adventure of David Tennant. Imagine SIMS over a corrupted youtube vid, basically, describes all the preview footage. Given all the incredible hassle this animation takes, I can only wonder if it would have been cheaper to just film the thing as a normal story - surely Utah is easier to recreate than Mars?

Episode 1

Well, would you Adam and Eve it, it's a sequel-prequel to Sarah Jane's misadventure, Prisoner of the Judoon! When did anything similar happen with Torchwood, I wonder? The answer "Never" leaps instantly to mind and I doubt it will improve as Moffat has even LESS time for the spin-off than even Rusty does. In any case, a distinctive UFO (looking very much like the ones in Independence Day... which were also found in Area 51) is shot down by two other UFOs and crashes in White Sands New Mexico in 1947 on the 13th of July. In spitting distance of a "Welcome to Roswell" sign, just in case you're not on the ball.

Truly, has anyone NOT heard of the alien ship that crashed at Roswell, was put into an underground military base and heavily guarded ever since? Well, while there's no actual proof any alien technology of any kind, there IS a heavily-guarded base built there called Area 51 and if you trespass they will kill you without hesitation. They have something to hide and there is countless reams of footage of wierd lights in the sky above "Dreamland". Personally, the biggest hurdle to the borderline-Torchwood xenotech research idea is that I find it hard to believe that aliens could crash their supremely advanced spaceship because of lightning and fail to invent seatbelts. And if, say, some kind of magnetic stuff in the rock screwed their ship, logically Roswell would be the worst possible place to test alien spaceships?

Anyway, the reason for the crash is explained (though the "real" one occured at night during a thunderstorm), and it's into the opening credits which, thanks to the new HD tinkering, is exactly like live action episodes yet maintains the same feel and look. Amazing. And how many fans' hearts sink as Georgia Moffet gets top billing but isn't Jenny?

Despite the exquisitely-detailed landscapes, my hopes sink when they can't even animate the bloody TARDIS landing. Didn't they know how to draw a police box? The jerky, almost Gumby-shaped Doctor shambles drunkenly into a diner, with doors flying open ahead of him as if he's using mighty Jedi powers that give him Parkinson's Disease. In fact, let's just say here and now



OK. The Doctor seems to have come straight from Adelaide's place and is generally giving the air of someone desperately prevaricating and he's hastily decided that before he answers the call of the Ood he will stuff himself full of American chili, and thus detours to 1958 to start patronizing stupid apes. Or maybe just Americans, it's not exactly clear. The Doctor then snatches up an alien fuse that was lying around the diner from 'the saucer that crashed five years ago' and zaps it until it makes every lightbulb in the diner explode. The owner/waitress and her Native American biker customer are not pleased, understandably.

But within three seconds some albino MIBs arrive outside the diner and barge in as the biker goes on in his best Johnny Redcorn voice that space aliens are mutilating his cattle. The MIB (played by the bald guy villain from Beast of Orlock... or Gladiator) arrives, beats up the biker and demands the fuse. So the Doctor sonics the coffee machine, which terrifies the freak long enough for our "heroes" to effortlessly flee in the biker's truck.

Heading for the ranch, there follows some painful comedy that might have worked if the animators knew what the hell they were doing. As the Doctor muses on the dinosaur-like tracks and puzzles what could have caused them, a freaking huge alien bug creeps up behind him and scares the shit out of his new pals, while the oblivious Time Lord wracks his brains for what it could be. Finally he twigs both to the monster's presence and its origin, tells the waitress to STOP THE HELL SCREAMING!!! Alas, it's too late and the monster is so pissed off he decides to use the trio as target practice as they try and silly-walk their way to safety, when suddenly a passing Black Ops helicopter fires a missile and blows the insect to pulp.

An immensely satisfying resolution as you can imagine.

OK, this is 12 minutes of frippery and the writer presumably thought the worst he'd get would be that sliding illustrations of Shada, but with truly shitty visuals, it just emphasizes how thin the story is. I might have to listen to this rather than watch it, to spare my eyes from this. Bloody hell, who designed the avatars? Mambo?!

The helicopter crew politely tell the Doctor and his wooden pals that they are to be arrested and taken to Area 51. Despite the monotone objection from his new companions, the Doctor ignores them for a trip to Dreamland to meet the Roswell Aliens. Indeed, he's quite enjoying telling them how monumentally screwed they are, since no one knows they're there or will rescue them and then tells them off for getting depressed. Thankfully there's a visual gag in the perfect CGI-recreation of that lift shaft shot we've seen SO MANY TIMES since Rose. After being locked in a cell for several hours, Colonel Stark drops by, tells them all these escaped aliens are sorted out, and the Doctor and his pals (I really must try and work out what they're called) will be strapped down and mind-buggered till they no longer pose a threat to national security.

After the Doctor has to explain to his companions in detail why mind-buggering is an unpleasant and imprecise art likely to leave them all the mental equivalent of Kath & Kim fans, Colonel Stark drops by for a gloat and then begins the mind-buggering - flooding the chamber with gas an a huge widescreen TV showing fractal screensavers. The Doctor effortlessly rips free from his bonds (I assume his claim of this being a Houdini trick is either a joke to disguise his alien super strength, or else the animators had no clue what the writer meant by the Doctor using escapology) and switches off the gas. "That's what I love about the 1950s - no one's seen Die Hard! Or Alien!" the Time Lord grins and prepares to flee through the air vents.

As an aside, that buggers all those theories that Doctor Who and Alien are in the same universe (as judged by Crozier having a pickled chestbuster in Mindwarp).

The trio soon escape, with it becoming more and more obvious he's finding his new pals irritating for their lack of worshipping his genius, since all he's done is get them in more and more trouble. The Doctor then gets them all trapped in a sealed lab covered in "BioHazard" signs. Which improves the mood no end, even when they find a little green alien girl locked in a cell (looking like the typical Grey only green with more feminine facial features). The Doctor leads John and Gillian (I can't be arsed to check their real names) onto a lift which he zaps up to eleven, but they just glare at him, refused to be impressed.

Gillian correctly predicts they will be surrounded by guards when they arrive, but the Time Lord Victorious has a plan: "Charm offensive! You put your hands in the air and SMILE!"

Meanwhile, Colonel Stark barges into his office where an alien sounding like David Warner and looking like a Solonian Mutt in a samurai helmet is lurking. Stark insists nothing is wrong but the bug reminds Stark that if he fucks this up, the human race will have bigger problems than the Cold War!

Hmm. It turns out John and Gillian were Jimmy and Cassie. And the bug was Lord Anzlok. And Stark was Stuart "Adam Klaus from Beyond the Grave" Milligan. As Charley would say, I'm none the wiser yet simultaneously better informed.

Episode 2

A much-shorter episode this time, with even it's 7-and-a-half minute runtime eaten into by full opening and closing credits and recaps from yesterday's episode. Damn the audience with their goldfish-like attention spans, Eddie! DAMN THEM!

With the TARDIS crew caught, Stark bitches at Anzlok for letting his drone soldiers wandering around the countryside eating horses in public but Anzlok, the superior alien, hastily changes the subject and scuttles away. Loser. Meanwhile, the Doctor notices they're being escorted past the crashed Roswell spaceship and decides to nick it - with one zap of the sonic screwdriver. OK, I've let the misuse of that buzzing whatsit go for quite a while now (oddly enough, it's only Moffat who relies on its dues ex machina properties to resolve plots), but come on? One zap not only repairs this crippled ship but conveniently opens the pod bay doors? Is this a similar "making you sick of it so you won't miss it when Matt Smith turns up" approach to the mythology?

With Area 51 guards now acting less competent than Beebop and Rocksteady on crystal meth, our heroes effortlessly escape into that spaceship. The knackered spaceship trapped in a reinforced underground bunker, but don't let that worry you. Or the fact there are all those stealth fighters hovering overhead. The Doctor starts to admit this plan was kind of rubbish (and, to be honest, I'm strongly suspecting that this script was meant for actors and sets judging by the desperate reuse of both, but somehow the GFC means it was cheaper to animate them. Seriously, this is the cheapest I've seen. I just managed to animate Nigel and Dave chatting about religion and it was more convincing than this...)

Actually, to be fair, the stuff with spaceships, helicopters, even just cars on the landscape are very good. No complaints there. But when we see the people INSIDE it all goes crap. This means a chase scene is about the best possible news as it's kick ass and, during daylight, something you can appreciate more than most SFX nowadays. And it turns out mauve ISN'T the universal sign for danger. Yeah, up yours, Moffsta!

Long story short, the spaceship famous for crashing in the New Mexico desert... crashes in the New Mexico desert. I know. Who saw that coming? Stark meanwhile realizes he was being a total idiot trying to mind-bugger the Doctor, the one person who can fly their second-hand UFO while Anzlok's mighty brain concludes that from the Doctor's knowledge of the future, aliens, alien technology, the way he weilds a sonic screwdriver and cheerfully reveals he's not human but a Time Lord, that there MIGHT be hidden layers to this spiky-haired intruder!

Take the rest of the night off, Sherlock.

Luckily, our heroes have inexplicably survived the crash and wandered into a ghost town called "Solitude" as the camera lingers on Cassie's digital buttocks a bit too long for it to be funny or wholesome. What's disturbing is that everyone has pixelated hinges for backsides, but they appear to have put as much work into GM's bum as they have DT's face. Sick, sad and yet true.

Funny thing is, back in the 90s a good 80% of my homemade comic strips featured the Doctor turning up in a Wild West ghost town, though they invariably turned out to be abandoned android-run theme parks. Or atom bomb tests. I remember one I did at Christmas where the Fourth Doctor, Sara Kingdom and Shrinker from B7 arrived at one to find the brain of Morbius in an android spider scuttling around before a time bomb went off... What?! I'm a nutter. Haven't the previous hundred posts this year got it across? This episode gives me nostalgia buzz, basically. If it was better animated, this might have been a story I'd love. Area 51, MIBs, Greys, ghost towns... have NO doubt, if Doctor Who hadn't been cancelled, the 1995 seasons would have been FULL of stories like this, if only to take the piss out of The X-Files.
Anyway, allonzee, our heroes nip into the saloon which, of course, just happens to be the site of an alien nest and a big blue alien bug climbs out of the floor and tries to eat Jimmy. Oh, be still my failing heart. Using the kung-fu reflexes of shitty animation, the Doctor and Cassie dive into the hive after Jimmy, who has been cocooned by Anzlok to interrogate him about who the guy who's been shouting, "ELLO! I'M THE DOCTOR AND I'M A TIME LORD!" throughout the previous day. On security camera footage. What amazing intelligence from the superior bug overlords, I think you'll agree there, ladies and gents.

The Doctor turns up to confront the bugs and that ol Time Lord Victorious starts to bubble to the surface again ("I hear two hearts beating!" "Then note their rhythm..." ooh, creepy!) and discovers the bugs came to Earth to fight their alien foe who is also on the planet. Alas, the episode is nearly over and so to maintain the suspense, Cassie starts a fire to distract the aliens and they all run away...

...straight into an egg-filled cave with a giant bug queen. The Doctor and his pals stand, awestruck at the incredible unoriginality of this (and after critiquing "Aliens" earlier that day) as the bug soldiers tippy-toe sneak up behind the humanoids... It's the funniest-looking cliffhanger I've seen post-2005.

Episode 3

Pausing only to quip about how he never gets along with female royalty, the Doctor comes up with the brilliant plan of "run away" and Captain Obvious, er, sorry, "Jimmy", quickly points out they're in abandoned mine workings. I guess we were supposed to think the mine carts, wooden struts and gas lanterns were put in by the alien insect people from outer space, were we?

Using the sonic screwdriver to yet another obscene advantage (it can simultaneously act as a torch, control and steer a non-motorized mine cart while also causing bolts to fly out of wooden beams), the Doctor leaves the aliens to get crushed in a mine cave-in while he tries to Pitfall:TheMayanAdventure their way to safety. It's also suddenly day-time. Gosh, is there NOTHING that sonic screwdriver can't do?!

But what's this? The MIB are waiting for them outside the mine - lead by Mr Dread (Orlock, from part one), and his pal, Fear, Terror and Apprehension. Turns out that these MIB are aliens themselves, the Alliance of Shades mop-up teams who are sent to primitive rocks like Earth to cover up alien contact until the planet is advanced enough to talk to the civilized cosmos. Presumably the Earth contingent die horribly in this story, as they never do anything approaching this "mop-up" from the 1960s onwards. Where the hell were you bastards when we had Daemons, Osirians and Exxilons strutting across the globe? HUH?!

Oh, wait, turns out these androids are sent by the alien intruders in question to cover their tracks. And they're so crap at their jobs, the Alliance decides to quit Earth at the start of the UNIT era when it just gets silly. And these androids are designed like Inspector Gadget. After the theme tune was used in Waters of Mars Confidential and now this, it's clear the universe is trying to forge the ultimate crossover from my childhood.
But, once again, just as the Doctor is about to find out the rest of the plot, some humans turn up and ruin everything. Jimmy's grandpa and his Red Indian Ninja pals (dressed in black PJs... in the middle of the desert... during the day) let loose a volley of arrows and kill all the MIBs. Turns out the Indians had insider info, cause in their cool Indian cave hideout - seriously, this story just SCREAMS tie-in action figure playsets - they have another little green dude with big eyes sulking. He's sulking mainly cause his pretty green girlfriend is locked up in Area 51, it was her ship that crashed in the pre-title sequence and these little green people are fighting a pitched war with the alien bugs. Hence everyone's respective presence in the story so far.

And if you don't snigger during the "war" scenes of queues of bugs skipping across burning cities as green dudes in Rambo headbands and submachine guns dance over boulders, well, you have better self control than I do.

Just then, yet another bunch of bad guys ridiculously appear out of nowhere. Just how, exactly did Stark and his pals know our heroes were in a cave in the middle of the desert? And how did they sneak in with no one noticing? There's no answers forthcoming, since this episode is even SHORTER than the last one!

Episode 4

Shorter and shorter still, barely scraping HALF the length of the first installment! The US Army arrest absolutely everyone and drag them back to Dreamland. The Doctor and Cassie bitch that it's a bit ungrateful to keep mind-buggering the only people that can help the USA deal with alien invaders, but, hell. They're American - as in Minuet of Hell American. What can you do?

In Stark's evil underground lair it is discovered the little green dudes are masters of genetic warfare. This is of course hideous, immoral genocidal hate when used against David Warner's bugs, but a perfectly acceptable and honorable weapon to be thrown at them damn Commie bastards. Points for no attempt at Pertwee morals, just DT sighing in a clear "Give a fucking break here!" manner. But where is this superweapon? It is of course the wierd lightbulb thing the MIBs have been after all along. The sparking and malfunctioning Mr. Dread lumbers in (for once I assume he's SUPPOSED to walk like that...) with said doomsday virus.

The Doctor goes apeshit.

Again.Blowing the living fuck out of Mr. Dread with the sonic screwdriver, he steals the virus and legs it, abandoning everyone to the mercy of the incredibly pissed off Lord Anzlok. Stark chases the Doctor onto the roof as helicopters buzz around them and the Doctor screams he doesn't CARE if he's considered a Communist, a Conscie or a Suicide Bomber - he is NOT going to let the USA get their hands on the virus. Realizing how freaking serious the Doctor is, Stark finally notices the odd paradox that a bunch of "harmless space roaches" have been able to nuke the hell out of far superior civilizations than mankind, so his idea of just using bazookas against the alien bugs may not be a viable method.

But the Doctor's smugness at turning Stark is quickly undermined. Anzlok's super-hearing heard the whole thing and he's not happy. He barges up on the roof in full kaiju mode. After gloating that the virus container can't be used on anything without the little green dudes' help, Anzlok grows wings and flies off into the sky, vowing to destroy the Earth before the Doctor can do a damn thing...

Episode 5

For the final episode we get a slightly longer episode, but it's quite clear to me that this was originally a six-parter truncated to five to pull the whole Children of Earth one week stunt. A world of instant communications but no one trusts the public to tune in on the weekend?! Big respect for the audience there.

On with the plot. It turned out that before Anzlok threw his hissy fit, he ducked down to the little green dude honeymoon suite and kicked the shit out of the male alien before running off, to ensure there was no one to activate the virus. Man, can this bug multitask or what?

Finding Cassie cradling the dying alien in a manner that makes it look like she's trying to get him to pose for a photo, so the Doctor decides the nicest thing is to smash down the glass wall betwixt alien and his girlfriend so she can... I dunno, give him one last kiss or something. But the girlfriend (played by Lisa "Benny" Bowerman, not that you'd spot it) explains she can save her lover with her crashed ship - which, unfortunately, is in the vault with an insane alien guardian no one is willing to mess with. Wait... so the ship the Doctor and co joyrode in WASN'T the Roswell one?! That makes three kinds of no sense at all! Especially considering Prisoner of the Judoon...

As Anzlok tries to sweet-talk his Queen into hatching her eggs (and what a charmer he is!) the Doctor, Stark, Cassie, Jimmy, Jimmy's Grandpa Ethnic Stereotype and the aliens skip towards the vault, a freaking huge metal door in a giant cave somewhere marked "USAF". Stark is confident they can bury the bugs in the mines, but the Doctor is even MORE confident they'll just dig their way out again and they only have an hour... sorry, five minutes... to switch on the virus and kill all the bugs instantly. However, it turns out Area 51's vault is the same one Indiana Jones uses to store his knicknaks. Which is just plain irritating as not only is it even LESS original than the egg-laying alien queen, it means the next five minutes are going to be PADDED for the love of Donna Noble!

As the Doctor and girl-alien wander around in the crates in a way that disturbingly emphasizes girl-alien's armored groin, Jimmy and Cassie finally drive home to find... a photo of the TARDIS. And it couldn't be shown earlier because...? Worse, despite time being of the essence, they decide to lean on the boot and outstare it for a while, and by the time they load it into Jimmy's truck, night has fallen. It seems they simply didn't twig that the Doctor's "we have till sunset!" screams were somehow relevent to the ongoing situation.

The army of bugs tear out of the desert in a way that live action NuWho would dub "acceptable", so huge compliment there. As our vacuous teens realize they'd left it a wee bit too late to escape the swarm of "viperox battle drones", the Doctor and alien-girl split up in the huge dark warehouse with a monster in it whose POV is disturbingly similar to that of a Rutan. Still scarier than a River Song episode though, it should be noted. How long left? Less than three minutes. OK...
The monster turns out to be the electrical ghost of a ThirdSpace Alien from Babylon Five (which, now I think about, looks like a blue Rutan) and he reveals himself a second before girl-alien announces she, unlike Bono, has found what she's looking for: a shiny crystal ball of shiny glowy stuff. The Doctor and girl-alien leg it as the monster chases them through the crates in a sequence unlikely to remind anyone of Planet of the Ood on the condition they've never actually seen it. Nevertheless, a good bit as the Doctor announces he has a plan and they dive into a crate and pull the door shut.

"This is your plan?" asks Benny the alien.

"It's. In. Development."

But maybe it's funnier cause it's pitch black and we can't see the awful lipsynch?

Either way, the Doctor's funky escape plan is kind of cool, except relies on a super-power which is kind of unfair. The Tenth Doctor is quite absent-minded, so pulling the revelation he can perfectly navigate by remembering the path he took is... well, let's just say, it's cheat, really.

Meanwhile, the military open fire on the bugs... who simply remember they have wings and fly away. And no sooner has Jimmy reminded us that the story is safe as long as they don't run into any bugs, they LITERALLY run into a swarm.

...what? That's the end? I thought this was a five parter!

Colour ME embarrassed.

Episode 6

Gimme a minute... OK.

In a blatant retcon of the previous cliffhanger, our substitute companions manage to avoid crashing into the bugs and hurtle off into the desert. So annoyed with this Republican attitude to continuity, all the bugs can do is stand around impotently as the truck escapes. The military are not so lucky as the flying bugs eliminate the tanks and the helicopters and Stark manages to bang his fist in frustration and look even vaguely convincing. Trouble is, this 'dammit' scene is so crap in thought, no amount of deed can make up for it.

The Doctor and girl-alien have easily escaped the bunker (still infested by a completely different type of alien bug) as something that sounds like a rip-off of "All the Strange Strange Creatures" begins to blare. The flying bugs descend on Area 51 and, are, of course, immune to all the bullets Stark can fire. Quite frankly, I laugh out of sheer sadism. Whatever goes on in Dreamland, we can be 100% sure the base personnel are complete arseholes. Eat them all, say I! Antisocial xeno-raping trigger-happy bastards...

The Doctor and alien-girl are chilling out, watching the holocaust when Jimmy and Cassie arrive totally by chance with the TARDIS just in time for the Doctor to big up his own genius and announce he's stopping the bugs. How convenient. Dear me, NO FIST for trying to capture DT and GM's toothy grins... unless they're supposed to look totally embarrassed...

I have to say there's something about the gang entering the TARDIS that works more than the TV series, but I can't quite say what. The fact they get the "wheezing and groaning" wrong and forget the light flashes when it moves is devastating, though. WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?! Actually, no having girl-alien nuzzle dying boy-alien's groin with her lips (maybe she's kissing his HAND, but the angle, people, the ANGLE...) is the most baffling thing before she uses her magic eight-ball to bring him back to life from those injuries we were never actually told about. What exactly was done to him anyway?

The revived boy alien is quite happy to use this virus delta wave to wipe out every bug in the universe but the Doctor isn't wanting such genocide. Dude, make your mind up. I'm beginning to wonder if this is pre-TWOM and all his monumental psychotic arrogance has just been a coincidence. Oh, hang on, he's run away, leaving everyone to be eaten. And no, wait, he's run into the TARDIS and plugged the virus into the TARDIS console... and is now letting off a sound wave that will force the bugs to flee the Earth. So what, prey tell, is the point of the virus?!

"Your day will come!" shouts Anzlok as he legs it. "Yeah. So they say," the Doctor muses to himself quietly.

While the bugs flee in their ridiculous-looking and very slow spaceship, the Doctor gives Stark the virus and basically explained how plugging it into the TARDIS did anything any good at all. My god, I am now sick of that sonic screwdriver. It can rewrite diseases now, you know? For fuck's sake!

The alien couple bugger off in their ship... well, ONE of their ships... I think. There has to be one left for that bodysnatcher dude to nick in TSJAs. With the Mind-Buggering chamber wrecked by the bugs, Stark has to chalk this down to experience and let the people leave without incredibly crude brainfucking and the Doctor is already heading back to the TARDIS for a Ming-Dynasty Chinese takeaway. He then idly suggests that Jimmy and Cassie shag each other stupid, and the most offensive part of that is the idea that niether they nor the audience had noticed their raging hormones for the last six episodes.

The Doctor sods off in the TARDIS (which continues not to flash its lantern) and I can only wonder to myself... whatever happened to Jimmy's Grandpa? Did he get eaten or what?

Oh well. Like I've said before, it's not very bad in terms of story. Given the seven-minute turnaround times, the kid-friendliness cranked up to almost Play School levels, and the animation that could be improved by a broom handle, some motoroil, Dylan Moran's arse and a broken elevator, all conspire to make this story rather rubbish. I can only assume it was put on this late in the year because they only just FINISHED the damn thing.

One again - like the little elf Doctor, the atmosphere burning or the flying bus, the fault really ISN'T on the part of RTD and his writers. It's the CGI-manipulating looneys who announce, "Yeah, I can do that!" with the insane confidence of that Catherine Tate character. Moff, I beg thee, DO NOT TRUST THEM!!!

This story would be a much better prequel to the Doctor's Bowie-related nervous breakdown than a sequel, especially as The End of Time strongly hints that the Tenth Doctor's "missing adventures" are probably best left that way, since it was his EvilDoc vibe that got on the wrong side of Queen Bess... anyway. My score?

(more if the picture was just plain blank)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Unexpected Import

OK, cutting to the chase -

I might not be at Burwood tomorrow.

This morning my mum was doing the washing up when a Father-Ted-style string of bad luck lead to my cat Frodo (the one who thinks he's a dog) biting my mum on the hand. Between the tendons. Nasty. So my dad has rushed my mum to the doctor for emergency stitches and stuff, while I am left looking for the traumatized cat. Because Frodo has never bitten a human in his life, let alone the most important one in the house. Quite frankly, I may never see a cat look ASHAMED ever again.

I'm praying to a god I'm not on speaking terms that my mum will be all right (this is less than 24 hours after I discovered a Metabelis-sized spider on her back), but most likely with her hand out of action and basically she's more important than going to Club Burwood for a look at some merchandise before fleeing from that T-shirt vendor with the anti-immigration workshop.

So... if I'm not there, do not be surprised.

I'm posting stuff on Monday, so, I dunno, comment a request or something.

In other news, I've seen the preview for The End of Time.

Basically, the Doctor returns to the Ood-Sphere where Ood Sigma is waiting for the Time Lord. The Doctor isn't much better from when we last saw him - he's decked out in sombrero and sunglasses, and babbles about the multitude of off-screen adventures he's had since he went off the deep end. Even though the Ood were summoning him for help, he deliberately kept them waiting so he could deal with fiddly stuff like River Song and Queen Elizabeth I and mastering how to snap his fingers and get the TARDIS to make stupid "car security alarm" noises.

In fact, you might mistake the Tenth Doctor for his normal self, but not quite. He's not longer "Time Lord Victorious - just call me Valeyard", but he's not exactly pleasant either. He's rude and contemptuous of Ood Sigma, basically going, "You should be damn grateful I turned up at all, squid face, how dare you remind me of my own mortality, you humorless bastard!"

Even if you hadn't seen Waters of Mars, it's clear the Doctor's trying too hard to be cheerful and carefree. There's that faint grit of the teeth, the ending sentences in a sigh, the palpable sense he SO wants to run and keep running. His bluffing of "Yeah, on Earth, you didn't really think I was crying or anything gay like that, did you?" says pretty much everything you need to know.

Ood Sigma - doing a king of cross between Hannibal Lector and Q from James Bond - patiently leads the Time Lord to the ice city of the Ood. It turns out our cute Cthulu pals have reconquered their planet and over 100 years evolved yet more brains, and are powerful enough to telepathically cross time and space. The Doctor's deeply troubled by them managing this so soon, but as Ood Sigma icily notes, they didn't call the stubborn would-be god here so he could critique their development. The Ood, as a gestalt and as individuals are all suffering nightmares.

Nightmares of John Simm laughing his head off.

"But... he's dead!" the Doctor gasps fearfully, totally losing his oh-so-convincing composure.

The Ood stare at him. It's rare prosthetics can do the "for fuck's sake!"/"no shit Sherlock!" expression, but full marks to BBC Wales for managing this prosthetic triumph. The Ood Elder playing catch with his own brain was pretty cool too...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Oh, I Get It...

Having finally managed to get that corrupted version working by burning it a different way, even my parents were stunned as the slow realization that our hero's tried-and-buyed the whole "absolute power and corruption" deal.

Which lead to the following realization:

They weren't talking about the story.

They were talking about the main character...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Doctor Who - Sound Judgement


You will find me if you want me in the Garden
Unless it's pouring down with rain
You will find me waiting for Spring and Summer
You will find me waiting for the Fall

You will find me waiting for the apples to ripen
You will find me waiting for them to fall
You will find me waiting by the banks of all four rivers
You will find me waiting at the Spring of Consciousness

This is a definite first for me. Thanks to the corrupted files being offered out across the net, this makes the first NuWho episode I have had to listen to rather than watch. Rather like the Troughton base under siege stories that are the clear inspiration for the tale. By odd or maybe creepy coincidence, a large part of the story is borderline narrated as characters verbally update each other on the visuals ("She's turned into a zombie!" "What's she doing now?" "Just standing there... looking a tad creepy...") and with the info I've gained from the various trailers, I'm pretty sure I know what was going on. Only some wierd moments which - I assume - are the Doctor having LSD flashbacks prove much difficultly.

The Waters of Mars is probably unique in that it gave me a nightmare before I'd seen it - it was the usual fractured narrative, but about a rainstorm that turned people into the cracked-face water ghouls. Mind you, seeing *rec on Monday night wouldn't have helped on that score. But I have to say that the pre-title sequence didn't raise my hopes. Unlike some others I'd only get depressed if I'd name, it's not actually bad (in fact, all concerned it's rather good) but it feels like it's previewing a story from Season 16. A bunch of astronauts larking about and bitching at each other, and the Doctor being kidnapped by the most pathetic and annoying so-obvious-merchandise-tie-in robot ever. Thankfully once the credits are over, he rips the piss out of this unimaginative Wall-E tie in.

So... the Doctor's landed on Mars. We never actually find out why he went there, and the way he bounces out of the TARDIS in a spacesuit really suggests this isn't a mere "Oh, I've landed on Mars, fancy that" type random tour. Presumably there's some deleted scene to explain why he wanted to go to the red planet but the one thing that's immediately obvious, it wasn't to check out Bowie Base One, the first human biosphere on Mars.

(Incidentally, it's suggested the astronauts here are the first humans to ever go to Mars which I assume is just a translation goof. Even if we accept all the other stories about Mars missions are de-canonized, it means that humanity set up a colony on Mars without letting anyone visit the surface. So we'll just assume these pioneers are pioneers for LIVING there...)

Anyway, the Doctor's worrying amount of knowledge about the crew and his general demeanour - comparable of, "This is the World Trade Centre! It's 11th of September 2001 and I AM STUCK IN THE LIFT?!?" - make it blindingly obvious that we are getting that most elusive of plots: the future historical. Apart from The Final Sanction and maybe Genesis of the Daleks I don't think it's been done before. As the Martian team are all more famous than Big Brother contestants, they are not surprised the Doctor knows all about them, and as he's an intruder, they're not surprised he wants to leave right away. It has to be a first to say he's actually descended from Richard Branson, though.

But who are the crew? Bearing in mind I've only heard them...
- Adelaide Brooks. The intense, gun-totting blonde from the trailer. She's pretty much a hardass bitch with a heart of gold yet no interest in showing it. The kind of woman who seems to have have surgery to remove humor, ram a stick up her ass, and then get up on the wrong side of bed. You know she'd save you from a burning building, but you really wouldn't want to spend any time with her socially.

- Ed, the Aussie bloke. Basically Arnold Rimmer, a neurotic regulation dude who never sees the funny side

- Mr. Grantham from The Sarah Jane Adventures. Seems to be the resident stoner.

- Mia, the cute Asian chick

- the annoying American guy who might be classed as Odious Comic Relief if he was in any way funny, who has the robot mascot Gadget and basically is only there because Mia needs a boyfriend

- the serious Russian chick, though she's not the ice queen Mad Larry expected. Well, not in comparison to Adelaide anyway

- friendly Russian doctor who is gay, comrade, and likes practical jokes

- Andy and Maggie, the sarcastic Aldo-and-Royce-space-gofers
Despite finding it mentally hard to disentangle this lot from the characters in Life's a Zoo, I still managed to cope at the frenetic pace and some interesting rock tracks as Murray Gold avoids predictability. In fact, all this, plus the relative sparseness of the plot, makes it seem to be more of a romp than you'd expect. It's certainly a better bet for "ideal average Who episode" than Planet of the Dead.

Also, it appears that RTD's blood contract with the Nation Estate has bitten him in the arse once more. Despite the output of Dalek stories this year (four comics, five Big Finishes, three stageplays and a full-length novel and audio adaption), it still isn't enough and they HAVE to be on TV. RTD manages to work around this, giving them a five-second cameo which just emphasizes the strangely puny way they attacked humanity in The Stolen Earth was cause that whacky Dalek Kaan was ensuring they did as little damage as possible - and it explains why that convenient Dalek happened to be passing when the Doctor needed a regeneration triggered...

Nevertheless, without Briggsy's voice, it took me a HELL of a long time to realize the Daleks were actually in it... that's the trouble with sight gags, I suppose. Thankfully the references to K9's adventures in the 21st century were easier to spot in one of a couple of SJA gags. Am I the only one who noticed "Zap those drones?"

So... just as the Doctor is on the verge of sweet-talking his way out, the bad shit happens. It turns out that Bowie Base One is built over an underground glacier that they've been using for their water supplies - except, since they couldn't read Martian, none of the astronauts noticed the "POISONOUS ANTI-LIFE! DO NOT DRINK HERE!" notices the Ice Warriors left. I'm impressed at the banality on show, if I'm honest. Everyone was expecting some kind of unstoppable Borg-like alien menace that would destroy the universe, but it turns out the Ice Warriors froze it with the emotional effort of Indiana Jones shooting that samurai dude. In fact, this menace from beyond space was, even when defrosted, thoroughly bollocked by the human filtration systems. Only a broken tap allowed the alien water to sneak out, and it literally happens the moment the Doctor arrives.

Given all the trailers bigging up how epic the threat it, for once the letdown works - it's the Doctor that's mildly disappointed when he finds out how open and shut everything is. His big speech about water being evil and how it could possess any human is undermined when it turns out it actually hasn't had a chance to, and all the panic is unnecessary. Of course, this actually makes it harder to take of course: Bowie Base One and its crew being destroyed to prevent a zombie outbreak is a tragedy we might be able to shrug off, but it turns out that their destiny of doom is unfair. It's just bad luck.

This is thus the straw that breaks the Doctor's back.

It definitely stuffs all the spin-off media, which have been portraying the post-Journey's End Doctor as his usual self albeit occasionally a bit wistful, but his TV appearances and Tennant's performance have clearly being showing a Doctor at his wit's bloody end. The cracks in his resolve show too easily, as Jackson Lake was horrified to realize. The idea that the Doctor would turn down Christina because he can't cope with responsibility any more now seems justified. It didn't work, but I can see the logic behind it now. And the idea of having a happy funtime romp at Easter. Failed epically, but I would have tried for a similar feelgood tale.

Course, while the water-belching, wordless unknowable killer zombies are reasonably scary, they were never going to be the one that makes The Waters of Mars a story that will rival the Kid In The Gas Mask or the Giant Maggots. It's quite clear the Martian zombie stuff was done by Phil Ford with his usual competence, but RTD had a much bigger, badder idea.

In The Waters of Mars, the Doctor Goes Bad.

And not some piffle like getting possessed by the water or something like that. That'd be like the Sixth Doctor strangling Peri - the guy's not responsible for his actions. The trouble is he acted like a complete bastard when he wasn't quite obviously freaking out. But no, this time, the Doctor with full malice of forethought, decides to go over to the dark side, with a spring in his step and a smile on his lips.

I suppose this has been a long time coming. The Ninth Doctor's regeneration pretty much makes clear the deal of regeneration: he died. He really did. Totally, genuinely. His body turned into David Tennant, but it wasn't Eccleston on the inside. It was a new guy, with full recall of Eccleston's life, but not the same consciousness. (This is obviously something everyone has suspected - why else would the Fourth Doctor be so morose if he was simply facing a few minutes of broken bones and then having get a new outfit? He died at Pharos and someone else got to deal with Tegan, Nyssa and Adric...).

RTD makes this disturbingly clear. In The Christmas Invasion, the Doctor out and out says his new mind is unformed and has no idea what sort of man he is, even though he has perfect recall of the Ninth Doctor's life. But it's like watching, say, Casualties for War on DVD. It's a nasty, sad tale, but it's fundamentally different to actually BEING a Vietnam vet forced to watch as native girls are brutally raped then executed before your very eyes. No wonder the Tenth Doctor isn't so fussed by the Time War. It never happened to him.

And so, we've seen the Tenth Doctor's emotional journey. After a brilliant first day on the job, he and Rose get stuck into a feedback loop as they marvel at how great they are, and then in Doomsday he finally trips: he loses Rose. Hell, he loses. Is it any wonder he finds it hard to cope? That the loneliness starts to get at him? But thanks to Donna he sucks it up and manages to begin a difficult adolescence in his second season. And then in Journey's End he's abandoned by pretty much everyone. At the end of The Next Doctor, he finally admits he's not coping. He's lost everyone, including someone from his own future, and he was given a moral dressing down by the insane fuck who created the Daleks of all people.

And then he starts getting told by random strangers he's gonna die!

And so in The Waters of Mars the Doctor finally cracks. In the ultimate "fuck you, universe!" moment he decides to dive into the fray and change history. All of history. His own history. Everything.

And it works.

And that rampant ego of his breaks loose. In New Earth he was claiming to be the highest authority of everything, but this time... he believes it. And then gets worse.

By the end of the story, he's just frightening. He's not even justifying his actions, and it's becoming clear that he doesn't actually truly give a fuck about Adelaide or her soggy pals. He's just doing this because he can and, as he lustfully notes, there is no one who can stop him. Like the Master, he's decided he has the near-as-dammit divine right to do with the universe as he pleases. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, but this time there's no companion to bring him down to Earth. As Rose feared when she left him, being alone has done terrible things to him. In The Runaway Bride he nearly lost his grip. And this time it's completely gone.

After all the harsh lessons he's been getting since day fucking one, the Tenth Doctor decides to ignore it all. Our childhood hero decides that he would rather be an all-powerful badass mofo than a pitiful snivelling loser. And, in a way, it's like my wild theory that to make us want a new Doctor we'd have to be sick of the old one - except RTD has gone for deep, primal terror.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is how the Valeyard should have been done.

But, of course, the Doctor isn't God, and is brutally reminded of this somehow. (I'm honestly not sure. Adelaide tells him he is a total fuckwit and storms off, but then the sounds suggest that time has somehow sorted it out - maybe Adelaide vanished in a puff of logic or something?) The Doctor is thus left with the knowledge he's managed to make a bad situation EVEN WORSE, callously wasted human lives and what's more, his own imminent death isn't changing any time soon. The cloister bell is ringing, there are things in the snow watching him ( the Watcher, maybe? Or is it Ood Sigma), and the Doctor considers his options.

And then, in one last snarl of "No!", it's clear he's not learned his lesson. He's not sorry. Like Quatermass, he's not giving up on his own chance at power, no matter who gets hurt or how obviously wrong he is...

Following this with the "In tribute the Barry Letts" is a surreal compare-and-contrast to the Planet of the Spiders. There, the Doctor had to take responsibility for his actions and quite literally get over himself. But this Doctor is running away, and getting worse all the time...

In The Waters of Mars, the Doctor doesn't defeat the monster.

He is the monster.

And that is why The Waters of Mars can claim to be the scariest story ever.

I didn't sleep that night.

Next time: ___ _____ ___ ___ _____ _______ (I dunno, RTD won't tell us)
"...because a shadow is falling over creation, something vast is stirring in the dark. The darkness heralds one thing: the End of Time itself."
The Ood have gotten a makeover, but are suffering nightmares, leaving them with bloodshot eyes. All the darkness references are apparently building to something that isn't Abbadon, the Grim Reaper, Vashta Nerada or Davros - and so might actually be interesting this time. Lucy Saxon is horrified by her new haircut. Friar Tuck masters his badass business suit. Wilf is scared. Donna is bewildered. And in a quarry construction site, the resurrected Master shows off his funky new cartoon animation skull-face power - but laughing insanely isn't impressing the Doctor who advances mercilessly upon him...
"I'm going to die," the Doctor tells Wilf, sounding like he's desperately looking forward to it...


(though this may fluctuate when I actually do get to watch it properly)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thrills? Or Spills?

Well, as I slowly endure the Sisaphean torment of waiting for The Waters of Mars, it turns out that Mad Larry has emerged from the Shadowlands and blogged three times - once to record the fact he watched a TV show he couldn't take the piss out of (which quickly turns into an anti-Who rant); twice to tell us of him being a drunken loser annoying a celebrity which Mad Larry doesn't care about at all, and just told absolutely everyone about it - even his ex-girlfriend over the phone - for social research purposes; and his "eight predictions that The Waters of Mars will be crap because I know everything and if you disagree with me you are scum". It really is that Ossovar assumption we all agree with him that really pisses me off, but most particularly the point raised about the claims that Waters could be the scariest Doctor Who story ever, a claim never before raised (at least for non-Moffat eps) since 1977.

Mad Larry's uninteresting bitchy comment is that nothing on this earth could possibly be scarier than episode four of The Massacre. This is probably the most ridiculous thing he's ever said and proves the "Mad" label through and through. The Massacre? Scary? Even if you were old enough to watch it, everyone at the time who bothered to comment dubbed the story boring, tedious and a turn-off. Now, with only its audio existing, I fail to see how anyone could think it was scary. It doesn't even have any kind of tragedy to it as the whole plot rests on the audience being COMPLETELY ignorant of the religious genocide about to take place, and then proceeds to show the cause of that genocide in the most historically inaccurate way possible. Imagine a story where Churchill rings up Hitler and tells him he has the go ahead to invade Poland. That's how fucked up the "history" is in this story.

The last episode of The Massacre is almost godlike in its padded stupidity, as what little plot was used up last week. An assassination has been foiled and Steven thinks the Doctor's dead. The Doctor bursts in, says he's alive, gives the Sparacassian excuse that his absence for the story will be dealt with in a later draft, then freaks out upon learning the date and runs back to the TARDIS, leaving Anne the companion to face certain death with "Oh, my child, you're exaggerating". We cut away to a scene where Catherine da Mercy or whatever name is saying that she's decided to start ethnic cleansing and no one can be arsed to argue with her. "At dawn tomorrow this city will weep tears of blood," says one bloke. The Doctor and Steven escape in the TARDIS before dawn breaks and... we cut to a montage of drawings of mob violence. For about ten seconds. The Doctor announces that everyone in the story (and, it should be pointed out that hardly anyone in the previous three episodes turned up in episode four) are dead and that includes Anne! So, a bunch of unhelpful assholes and pricks are dead, and Anne obviously escaped because Dodo Chaplet exists.

It's rare, but Silence in the Library still kicks the arse of this in the horror scare stakes.

True, the idea of such corruption and mass slaughter is rather horrific, but that's an intellectual threat. No one dies on screen throughout the story. And what was the previous story? The Dalek's Master Plan, the final episode of which has the universe threatened with time lapse photography as the deadly jungle planet turns into desert and Sara Kingdom (in popularity stakes, the only serious rival to Donna Noble - maybe it's the red hair?) withers into a skeleton in front of the Doctor who TOTALLY LOSES IT as the skeleton turns to dust. Hartnell screams in terror. And then the Daleks arrive and they start screaming too as they rot away. This would be hardcore, but it has Douglas "Graeme Harper Worships Him" Camfeild ratcheting things so far past eleven that he was regularly getting phone calls from Stanley Cubrick. For advice.

Now, I really find it hard to imagine that anyone at the time would possibly think some tedious sub Blackadder characters chatting about political machinations in Cod Shakespearan (ie, incoherent gibberish) would be better than that. And judging by the complaints of "what crap" the BBC got before they returned to spaceships and aliens, it goes to show the level of self-hypnotic bullshit fandom is capable of. Anything that could possibly be described as adult or avantage-garde gets worshipped yet The Gunfighters is trashed because its ratings were poor. In ratings terms it kicked the crap out of Season 7, but I don't see anyone damning those stories because the veiwing figures were crap.

So, for want of something better to do I present my list of the scariest Who stories ever!

The Daleks
Radiation sickness, living metal cities, monsters in swamps, atomic war, bombs, people who die rather than fight and no way out alive...

The Dalek Invasion of Earth
If you try and ignore the bits with Daleks in, it's as dark and horrific as you can get. The Slyther would deserve a story on its own, but it's a kind of relief compared to the scene where the brothers kill each other.

The Web Planet
Out and out freaky wierdness, with the Animus as the vampiric spider fungus Lovecraftian god and the Optera killing themselves by dunking their heads in acid... just disturbing on lots of levels.

Mission to the Unknown
They all die. It was all for nothing. And their zombie bodies are turning into cactuses. Nasty.

The Dalek Masterplan
I've waffled enough about this, but the stuff on Desperus with the giant flesh-eating bats is creepy enough to warrant mention.

Power of the Daleks
The horror movie dead-coming-to-life stuffs works well enough for Nation to rip the idea off for Blake's 7: Time Squad. The last scene, where the Daleks come back to life once the Doctor's gone, has inexplicably yet to be sequelized. By ANYONE.

The Moonbase
A bunch of cliches done half well for once and Cybermen creating zombies on the moon almost works.

The Macra Terror
They're giant crabs that scuttle through the countryside at night. They breathe poison. They eat people. And everyone who sees them is sent to be brainwashed until they stop complaining. They whisper in your sleep. They rule your politicians. And they can snap your neck and cut your head off for annoying them. Even if you're useful to them. And you can only see their eyes, glowing in the dark...

Tomb of the Cybermen
With social politics downright offensive, the middle two episodes when the Cybermen emerge from the ice unstoppable, silent and so bloody TALL, gave me nightmares. Actually think beyond 'run away from Cybermen' and the story's stuffed.

The Web of Fear
Robot yetis. Fungus. Poison mist. Cobwebs. Jamie finds the plot device and smashes it in the second episode... but this time it doesn't work. The Covent Garden Massacre is so horrific the Brigadier almost gives up as his men are butchered and their bodies lost in spider webs. In print, audio, stage, it still freaks people out.

Fury from the Deep
It should be crap. No one dies. Jay and Silent Bob are the villains for the first five episodes because everyone's so stupid they don't notice it. Is anyone really scared of seaweed? How come foam is deadly one minute and not the next? What does that bloody monster want? Yet, achieving a Moffatesque twist, none of it matters when you hear the heartbeat and the screams as people are dragged under the foam...

The Wheel in Space
Thankfully stripped of padding, the Cybermen are uncontrollable killer machines, the Cybermats are lethal, and things get worse and worse. The first episode is basically a haunted house story, cept it's a spaceship and the ghost is the Neanderthal equivalent of a Quark. And the Cybermen can sneak up on people without any stupid stomping noise.

Spearhead from Space I HAVE to explain this?

The world ends and it's STILL not enough. The Primords, the screaming from the Earth, the Doctor finally breaking ("They'd never have listened to me anyway"), the Brigade Leader totally losing it, the end of episodes four and six. Was it any wonder they considered making this the last story and trying to sell Robert Baldrick instead?

The Claws of Axos
It's piecemeal but intense, whenever the Axons show their roots, or turn people to dust, or age Jo to death or make the Brigadier order the Master to kill our heroes, with floating severed heads, shimmering colours, melting faces and the time loop business...

Carnival of Monsters
The creepiness of the first episode and the Drashigs, basically. Not much else.

The Green Death
The headfuck nightmare of the Doctor's trip to Metabelis Three turns into a more conventional but no less intense plague of giant grubs, insects, brainwashed zombies, suicides and the horrible "you're dead and you get to know about it for such a long time before you drop dead and glow green" scenario. If Spara stopped ripping this off, it's memory would be much nicer.

The Ark in Space

Genesis of the Daleks
Nasty through and through, when the Daleks decide to stop pissing about even the fact there's only three of them doesn't diminish their creepiness. When it reaches the point Davros is the most reassuring thing in the story, you know things are reaching critical mass.

Terror of the Zygons
Interestingly, the blobby monsters are the least scary part of the story except when seen in the distance through the trees or in the shadows of the barn. The bodysnatcher stuff, the roars in the fog, the teethmarks in concrete, the Doctor's screams (but we never see what causes them) and when the eye in the deer head moves...

Planet of Evil
Considering what a copout ending it has, it's amazingly freaky with the clicking whistling noise as antimatter does a drive by and shouts "Hey, poofer! Nice universe!"

Pyramids of Mars
Is there much left to say? The plot thread about the Poacher, that's enough, but it goes further.

The Seeds of Doom
It lives up to its hype. That's incredibly rare, you know.

The Masque of Mandragora
Lots of it, bu the Cult of Demnos losing face and then dancing around the ashes of their enemies... brrr...

The Deadly Assassin
The Master's the grim reaper and then he sends the Doctor to hell. Repeatedly.

Robots of Death
Slightly undermined by Kaldor City revealing it was a total waste of time and the Fendahl was going to eat them all anyway.

Talons of Weng-Chiang
I found the rat scary. I admit it. Not as scary as the Peking Humunculus, or the Sting of the Scorpion...

Horror of Fang Rock
Even more obviously.

The Invisible Enemy
The Doctor's evil, the zombies are telepathic, and the Doctor's head is full of cotton balls... and then we get to see the Doctor and Leela die horribly before Jupiter loses one of its moons. Not even K9 can save the day!

Image of the Fendahl
If you see the first three episodes and never the fourth, it works so well. Alas, it spawned Nyder, a far more horrifying prospect.

The Stones of Blood
They're freaking vampire rocks with less intelligence than a housebrick and controlled by a gay pride disco reject. They still scare the crap out of me.

The Armageddon Factor
Romana gets tortured with electric volts by living skeletons in caves full of freaky illusions, while Atrios goes Threads lite and settles for locking Princess Diana in a radioactive vault to watch her die. And K9 turns evil. Again. Before we find out it was the Black Guardian the whole time. Undervalued.

Horns of Nimon
OK, maybe it's just me on this but the Crinoth scenes with Nimons stalking ruins full of mummified corpses still haunt my mind to this day.

The Liesure Hive
The Foamasi in the shadows, the skins in the cupboard, the people aging to dust, the statue wearing the Doctor's scarf, the sheer creepiness of Pangol: "The war was 40 years ago. How old do you think I am?"

Full Circle
Marshmen mighty, marshmen strong, marshmen rock.

Mainly for the Watcher. He's still scary.

A man with no voice says "All things are possible!" and skips off laughing to murder his daughter. And that's just a single cutaway scene.

The Visitation
It could be a lot better, but Death in the Woods and the empty house are impressively creepy.

Probably one of the scariest stories ever. You can tell with the bit where the Cybermen storm the bridge and look they're going to blow the Doctor's head off... because they can, and he can't stop them.

The Mara's just scary, really. When you get down to it.

The only story where the monsters are scary because they're not trying to hurt you. Thank god at least ONE of them is trying to murder people and take over the universe. Turlough left in the airlock not long after his suicide attempt is pretty spectacular too.

Warriors of the Deep
Having missed the Myrka-heavy action of episode three, this doomladen slaughter works.

The Awakening
It's a naked Sapphire & Steel rip off, but a brilliant one. The crack in the church letting out smoke, the cavaliers chopping heads off, the stone monkey in the TARDIS, the carvings of the Malus, Will's story of watching the May Queen burning to death...

The earth is hungry. It waits to eat.

Resurrection of the Daleks
It fails on so many scores, but can still be scary - from Phin's melting face, the massacre, the policemen, the disappearing soldiers, the viruses, Stein's brainwashing, the Daleks bleeding and screaming... It just needs that elusive thing, "the plot".

The Two Doctors
Shockeye's Chainsaw Massacre chases through the Spanish countryside, the Doctor laughing as a man gets his neck broken, Oscar getting stabbed, the monster in the ducting that turns out to be crazy Jamie... It's just annoying Servalan's the least terrifying thing in it.

Revelation of the Daleks
Having finally seen the uncut version, it probably would have scared me more if I'd seen it the first time. Personally, the only thing that still freaks me is the DJ's dying scream.

The Nightmare Fair
Yeah. This counts.

The Doctor's gone properly evil, brain experiments, torture, drowning, stings, crushed skulls, and the delusion that it was only three episodes long, ending in a Blake-rip-off. Kiv-Peri is a shithouse piece of writing, but still drips with wrongness and evil.

Terror of the Vervoids
"They spare no one!" I tried to defend this story, and it deserves defending. Vervoids are nasty.

Time and the Rani
Giant blood-drinking four-eyed bats with a lust for electrocuting teenage girls! Killer insects! Giant brains! Bubble traps! No depth, hardly any logic, but thrill-a-second!

Paradise Towers
Disturbing, scary, horrific and questionable to let kids see it. And that's just the scene where Mel's tied to a chair about to be stabbed to death by an insane geriatric lesbian cannibal with a VERY big knife.

The Greatest Show in the Galaxy
Clowns. Zombies. Kites that fly by themselves. Insane bus conductors. Hell's Angels. Werewolves. Stone gods. Thunderbolts. Adrian Mole dying horribly. And Ace locked in the dark caravan with the android clowns... that start to move when she looks away...

Ghost Light
The furniture watches you, the staff live inside the walls, there are monsters in the basement and the owner of the house has a thing for killing you and putting you in display cases for a laugh. And then his boss turns up, reduces a guy to soup, turns people to stone, dissects a chamber maid and decides to nuke the world. People don't understand the story - who cares about understanding it?!

The Curse of Fenric
For a bigger Buffy homage than anything RTD's done, Commander Millington still manages to be scarier than underwater melting-welding vampire zombies. Judson's grin as Crane is eaten is even scarier though.

The Master. Howling.

The Unquiet Dead
The titular dead.

True, as RTD noted, it could easily be changed to be a story about the Toclafane, but it's enough of a rampaging-monster-of-death to spook me out.

The Parting of the Ways
The scariest thing of course is the Doctor's Plan A of "Kill Everything", a kind of terracidal "you can't fire me coz I quit!" tactic

The Christmas Invasion
The evil Santas, the skeletons, the possessed families trying to kill themselves...

The Impossible Planet
Scariest new series ep IMO. Maybe it's the violins?

I couldn't piss it in my sleep.

Utopia/The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords
Nihilistic Master Karioke of DEATHHHHHH!!!!

Planet of the Ood
Terrifying. Not sure if the Ood or the crazy black guy is scarier though.

It's ripped off The Haunting, but you know, steal for the best.

Turn Left
Donna Noble faces an apocalypse EVEN BLEAKER than Threads. That sheer sentence should be enough to terrify people to void their bowels instantly. A giant hair-chewing stag beetle dry-humping someone's back is positively relaxing in comparison. And then the FUCKING STARS GO OUT!!!!


and comics

Stars Fell on Stockbridge
The Doctor doesn't believe in ghosts. That's a BIG mistake.

The Stockbridge Horror
Death by fire. Death by possession. Death by stone. Here come the Spiderman!

Lunar Lagoon
What's scarier than see the Doctor try to commit suicide?

The Sixth Doctor finally meets a pair of villains that cut him down to size at the lighthouse on the edge of the world. That android has the Doctor's soul, you know...

The World Shapers
The logic's rubbish and it's full of fanwank, but the Voord in the acid rain... beyond creepy.

Echoes of the Mogar
The Doctor STILL doesn't believe in Ghosts.

Planet of the Dead
Far more terrifying than its TV namesake, the Doctor meets people he thought long dead. The cliffhanger where Adric tries to kill the Doctor while verbally taunting him... I'm shivering as I type, no joke.

The Grief
Doctor Who Aliens Crossover. Nuff said.

Uninvited Guest
A dialogue-filled one-parter when the Doctor gatecrashes an Eternal party. What the Doctor does to them, with a smile on his face and a pun on his lips... jeeeeeeeeeeeeez.

The Road to Hell
Feudal Japan! Poisoned sake! Let them eat rice cake! The Gaijin! The nanogene monsters with their sick sense of humor, and just when things get bad, they just get worse!

The Glorious Dead
Episode four when Izzy goes on her suicide mission. That's not just scary, that's dark.

The Way of All Flesh
Words cannot quite do it justice, but this is just... I'm still loathe to reread it. It's horrific. In a good way.

The Flood
When Cybermen are written properly. Worthy of its attempt to be the finale to the Eighth Doctor.

The Cruel Sea
It may have ripped me off, but at least it rips off the cool and scary bits.

The Widow's Curse
Donna Noble versus the Sycorax Feminist League (aka the Planet of Katie Ryans).

and some audios

Circular Time: Winter
The Fifth Doctor goes over the rainbow to Life on Mars land. And the coffin won't stay quiet...

Whispers of Terror
Don't check your voicemail.

The Spectre of Lanyon Moor
More cliches. They still work.

The Nowhere Place
Doors not doors, bells that drive you insane, and Time's End. Just the name, dude!

The Wishing Beast
Did anyone expect a Sixie and Mel story to be scary? Well, it worked with Terror of the Vervoids.

Kinky and disturbing. When it's NOT being scary.

Night Thoughts
Why was Battlefield made instead of it? I'll tell you why, cause it single handedly disproves God!!

Project Lazarus
Acid-dripping fairies, diseased clones of the Sixth Doctor, alien wormholes, outright slaughter and Nimrod being probably the nastiest sadist in the history of Doctor Who

Embrace the Darkness
Up until episode three, when the eyeball-chewing goblins turn out to be fluffy happy piglety creatures of unwavering moral standards, it's terrifying. I honestly freaked out trying to listen to it in the dark. But I hadn't heard the rest of it then.

Nuff said. Literally.

Again, until you realize the entire thing was a complete waste of time, and when it threatened to have some kind of "point", it's definitely spooky, from the scratches and the goo, to the tale of Ian Chesterton.

Dalek War III
The Vaaga Jungles of terrorformed Skaro... you go in but no one can tell if you come out again...

Dalek Empire 3.5
The diary of a teenage girl mutating into a Dalek. Redefines "plain wrong".

I, Davros
Trying to think of a bit that isn't terrifying. Struggling. Christ, how scary is Davros saying night-night to the toddlers he's surgically turned into Dalek blobs, and then feeding one its own mother...

Pretty much all of it. Vampires, conspiracies, zombie plagues, David Tennant being evil.

Kaldor City
Quite a few bits, mainly in Storm Mine. Like D84's dream of the gestalt.

Gallifrey: Spirit
Well... till it all turned out to be a dream, anyroads...

So. Do The Waters of Mars make the grade?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Verkoff: A Terrible Ego (vi)


[Nigel is strutting down a street, looking cool but not really going anywhere. He passes a real estate agents where a female agent is talking to a male client. Nigel spares her a glance. He blinks. Her suit is shimmering as if in a heat haze, but her face and hands are in focus. Nigel stares. Her suit shimmers and dissolves, leaving her standing in her underwear. Then that shimmers too. Nigel’s eyes widen and then he blinks and shakes his head. She’s no longer naked, but wearing all her clothes. She notices the kid on the other side of the street gawping at her and looks at him curiously. Nigel awkwardly pretends to look around in interest and starts to wander off.]

[Nigel pauses at some traffic lights. Two high school girls cross as the lights turn green. As they approach, their dresses shimmer. Nigel frowns. The shimmering stop. He is relieved. The girls walk past him, chatting to themselves. Nigel suddenly reels as he smells something – clearly the perfume the girls are wearing. Fascinated he turns to look at their retreating forms, and starts as he realizes he’s managed to “undress” them. He takes off his glasses, rubs his eyes and looks at them. Still naked. He takes a deep breath, calms himself down and looks again. Still naked... then they shimmer and are suddenly clothed again. Nigel is relieved and puts on his shades.]

Nigel: [scared] What the hell is wrong with me?

[He realizes a little old lady has wandered up beside him and gives him a suspicious look. Nigel smiles meekly. As they wait for the lights to change, he spares her a sideways glance. No shimmer. Nothing. Nigel visibly tries to “summon” the weird X-ray effect, but nothing. The light changes and the old lady crosses the road. Nigel stays where he is, still trying to master turning his new superpower on and off. Nothing. He finally twigs he can cross the road and is about to go when the light turns red. He narrowly avoids being run over by a couple of bogans in the ute.]

Bogan 1: Watch where ya going, ya dork!

[Nigel stares uncomprehendingly at the bogan driver, then at his cute bogan missus. She understandably doesn’t think this lost-looking ten year old is anything other than innocent and leans across the cabin.]

Bogan 2: Hey, little mate, you OK?

Nigel: ...yeah.

[Nigel realizes her clothes are shimmering and focuses his attention on the driver, who’s clothes don’t.]

Bogan 1: Shouldn’t you be in school or something, sport?

Nigel: ...kind of.

[Nigel tries not to look at the female bogan, who is now naked.]

Bogan 2: “Kind of”?

[Nigel automatically turns to reply to her but quickly turns to look at the driver again.]

Nigel: Yeah. Sick leave.

Bogan 1: You don’t look sick.

Nigel: I got stabbed.

Bogan 1: ...fair dinkum?

Bogan 2: You’re looking all right now.

[Nigel once again absently looks at her, but this time he doesn’t look away. He starts to smile.]

Nigel: Quick healer.

[She smiles at him, and there is the sound of a horn honking.]

Bogan 2: Oh, nuts! Come on, Barry, the lights have changed!

Bogan 1: [annoyed] Why they make this traffic lights all the same bloody colour?

[The ute drives off. Nigel watches it go, awestruck.]

Nigel: [dazed] That was... new...

[The ute moves down the street.]

Bogan 2: Hey, Barry, you ever think of having kids?

Bogan 1: Not while I’m driving, Shiel!

[Nigel is approaching a shopping centre, his newfound cool compromised by his troubled expression. He passes a very attractive woman leaving the shopping centre and double takes, literally trying to tear his gaze away. He hurries into the cool, relatively dim interior of the centre and takes off his shades. He looks up. His expression turns terrified – it seems the place is full of young women in their bras and pants. Nigel looks around in blind panic. Underwear-clad girls pass, giving him curious looks. Nigel screw up his eyes, trying to turn off the X-ray, but when he opens his eyes he nearly screams: he’s managed to see through the underwear now too. A black girl running a tobacconist shop leans over the counter. Nigel’s mouth opens and the air audibly leaves his lungs.]

Shop Girl: You all right, little boy?

[Nigel frantically puts on his shades. No good. He crosses to one of the stands in the tobacconists and snatches different shades, trying them on and discarding them furiously.]

Shop Girl: Hey, calm down...

[She comes out from behind the counter. Nigel almost pulls the stand down to reach more sunglasses, finally choosing a pair of frameless gold-tinted pince nez. He tries them and risks a glance at the shop assistant as she bend down to talk to him. Success! Through the lenses, her clothes have returned. Nigel sighs with relief.]

Shop Girl: You lost your mum?

Nigel: Um... yeah. Sorry about that.

[He shoves the stand upright and starts collecting the discarded sunglasses.]

Nigel: No idea what just happened there. Um, I like these glasses. They’re cool, can I have them?

Shop Girl: You have to pay for them, sweetheart.

Nigel: [annoyed] I know that, I’m not stupid. How much are they?

Shop Girl: Thirty-five.

Nigel: [impressed] Cents?

Shop Girl: Dollars.

Nigel: Oh.

[Nigel fumbles in his wallet and takes out a very expensive-looking golden credit card.]

Nigel: I might need your help to, you know, full out the form.

[Amused, the shop assistant laughs and leads Nigel behind the counter.]

Shop Girl: [ruffling his hair] Sure thing.

[Nigel finds himself peering over the shades, but regains control of himself.]

[Nigel, now in his new shades, hurries past the shops until he reaches an optometrist’s.]

[Nigel is now sitting in an angled chair looking through a lens machine. The optometrist is adjusting the machine. His nephew is sitting on a chair, bored.]

Optometrist: X-ray vision? Not heard people suffering from that too often.

Nigel: I’m not making this up, guy!

Optometrist: Maybe it’s hallucinations? You should see a doctor.

Nigel: My doctor’s 28, blonde and my mum think she has implants.

Optometrist: Oh. I see your trouble.

Nigel: Oh you don’t, guy, you really don’t!

Optometrist: Some guys get all the luck.

Maurice: I would never want X-ray vision. You know there was this guy, right, who gave himself X-ray eyes and he realized he could see through everything – not just clothes, but walls, trees. He tried to drive a car but he could see through the engine, through the other cars, through the road... and then he started to see through reality itself, dude! And what he saw was, like, so terrifying, he tore out his own eyeballs!

[Nigel’s voice is small.]

Nigel: Really?

Optometrist: No, not really. Maurice, that was a 1970s sci-fi film you saw on video last month, remember? Honestly, have you been taking your medication.

Maurice: [crosses fingers] Course I have.

[The optometrist sighs.]

Maurice: [sotto] The creepy thing is, after he tears his own eyes out, you know what? It turns out he CAN! STILL! SEE!

Nigel: [impressed] Wowwwww! You’re a moron!

[Maurice sulks. The optometrist takes the lenses away. Nigel blinks.]

Optometrist: Can you see through my clothes?

Nigel: No.

Optometrist: So it’s only girls you have this amazing power with?

Nigel: ...yeah. I guess so.

Optometrist: I think I know what’s happening. Nigel, what’s your family like? Are they sort of religious fundamentalists who believe that sex is evil?

Maurice: Like Carrie?

Optometrist: [sighs] Yes, Maurice. Like Carrie. So, Nigel, are you’re parents...

Nigel: How dumb you think I am? I know all about where babies come from! When a man and a woman love each other very much [less certain] or maybe are just drunk... or on drugs... [more confident] they have sexual intercourse, the woman gets pregnant and then she has the baby.

Optometrist: So... you know that your parents had sex then?

[Nigel has no idea where this is going.]

Nigel: Duh.

Optometrist: To make you?

Nigel: Oh, no. They didn’t.

Optometrist: What?

Maurice: I knew it! I knew it was all lies!

[Maurice turns and epic-runs for the glass door – only for it to swing and slam him in the face as a pretty female optometrist in cute specs enters. Maurice thumps to the floor.]

Female Optometrist: Oops.

Optometrist: Nigel, you can’t exist if your parents didn’t...

Nigel: I’m adopted.

Optometrist: [deeply embarrassed] I’m sorry. But you seem to have suffered a traumatic experience and, given you’re going through puberty, maybe you’re expressing your sexual desire through vivid hallucinations.

Nigel: Or, maybe, I just got cursed by a Demon Babe in the Land of Gloom after we watched a video nasty, perhaps! Seriously, you don’t think that’s what’s happen...

[He trails off, watching the female optometrist check the cash register.]

Optometrist: What?

[Nigel beckons the male optometrist over and whispered in his ear.]

Nigel: If I’m just hallucinating, how the hell would I know that? AND she’s wearing pink lace!

Optometrist: [aghast] But... I can’t ask her to prove you wrong!

Nigel: How else do you prove anything! Mister, I’m begging you here...

Optometrist: [torn] I have to admit, it is one hell of a pretext to see her naked.

[The optometrist walks up to the other and they chat. Nigel watches as the male awkwardly explains the situation. The female laughs at first, then falls silent, then looks angry. Then she slaps the male, knees him in the bollocks and storms out.]

Nigel: [smug] Am I right or am I right?

Optometrist: [pained] Not really. She wasn’t wearing pink lace.

Nigel: Oh, details...

Optometrist: She isn’t wearing ANYTHING! It helps her new piercings!

Nigel: [puzzled] Piercings? Oh. I thought those were warts.

Optometrist: Yes, and she’s rather offended at that suggestion actually! [groans] Look, your eyesight is 20-20. Please don’t come back here.

Nigel: Fine. [gets off chair] How much does the Big N owe you?

Optometrist: Consultation’s... free...

Nigel: Sweet!

[Nigel picks up his new sunglasses and puts them on, checking his reflection in a mirror. His expression turns surprised, as if he’s never really seen himself before. He fingers his rather drab clothes as if only just realizing he’s wearing them. He turns and hurries out.]

[Nigel emerges from a clothing shop. He is now dressed in black jeans, a tight red-and-black tiger strip top and a black denim jacket over his shoulder. He checks his reflection in the closest mirror, then checks without the glasses... but quickly replaces them when he realizes the girls passing the in the reflection are now starkers. He turns and heads off.]

[Nigel emerges from a hairdresser. His hair is now done in a weird, ethnic-type dreadlocks but still its natural colour. He looks a lot closer to Classic Nigel than before. He gets something in his eye, takes off the sunglasses to clear it. He looks around. Everyone seems clothed. He concentrates. The women at the fishmonger shop shimmer into their underwear. They shimmer back to normal. Nigel considers leaving his sunglasses off, then scowls, puts them on and heads off.]

[The Yang Household. The transformed Nigel enters. Togi is sitting in the kitchen, reading a paper with ‘INTERNATIONAL DEVIL-WORSHIPPERS REFUTE PORN RING SCANDAL: WE HAVE STANDARDS!’ as the headline and a photo of Uncle Miko trying to cover his face.]

Togi: Afternoon, Nigel. How was your afternoon?

Nigel: Do you REALLY care?

Togi: Not really, no.

Nigel: At least you’re honest.

Togi: You’re not important enough to lie to.

Nigel: See? Honest.

[Nigel heads up the stairs to the rooms of his siblings. He pauses by a door marked “Bernice”.]

Nigel: Benny? Benny, you there?

[He pushes open the door.]

Nigel: I had one hell of a day today. I think... in all honesty... I might be losing it...

[He finally realizes she’s not there.]

Nigel: Benny?

[He takes off his glasses and wipes a tear from his eye and slumping on her bed.]

Nigel: Why are you never around when I need you? I mean, I need you all the time so... this is just... mean!

[Upset, he buries her head in pillow. A second later he lifts his head, sniffing frantically.]

Nigel: [lusty] Oh God you smell good... [blinks] But... hang on... she always smells like that... why do I care now? Why?

[His confusion melts into another lustful expression as he starts to sniff the air again.]

Nigel: Oh man... that smell... oh man...

[He smacks himself in the face to get control and rises up to leave.]

Nigel: Obviously insane. Near death experience. Post-traumatic stress.

[As he talks, he crosses to Bernice’s wardrobe and opens it. He notices.]

Nigel: Huh? What the hell...? [sniffs] Sweet onion chutney... these have touched her perfect skin! Rubbed against her beautiful hair! I bet she’s sweated in them!

[He grabs her dress and inhales deeply. He freezes and looks at the drawers in the wardrobe.]

Nigel: OK, this is just plain wrong.

[He dives at the drawer and wrenches it open to reveal... Bernice’s knickers. As exciting as a ten year old’s underpants can be. Nigel picks a pair up and studies it like Yorick’s skull.]

Nigel: ...what a let down. [troubled] She’s your sister, man.

[He neatly folds her knickers and replaces them in the drawer.]

Nigel: She’s your sister. You love her. She’s your best friend. In the whole world. And that time you and her got naked on the trampoline last summer... her skin gleaming in the sunshine... [grabs heads] I AM NOT THINKING THESE THOUGHTS!

[He grabs the glass of water beside the bed and throws it in his face.]

Nigel: Better. Not much. But better.

[He dries his face with a towel but ends up sniffing it.]

Nigel: Oh, God, kill me now. Just this once be helpful.

[Night falls. Nigel is in his room. It’s as neat and oriental as Bernice’s, only with a lot of cuddly toys and heaps of Doctor Who merchandise. A pale and ill-looking Nigel lies on the bed, exhausted.]

Nigel: Maybe I never got out of the Torii. Maybe this is my own personal hell. That could work. That means no one here is real except me. Yeah. So it’s not really Benny. It’s not really her long dark hair and deep brown eyes. Or the way she gets taller when she’s happy. It’s just a demon that looks like her making my heart beat faster until I blush. Yeah. It’s not my sister I want to be with alone, it’s a demon babe that looks like her. That sounds positively wholesome. Or maybe the mouth of madness. But what a mouth.

[Nigel sobs miserably.]

Nigel: No. Bernice is the worst sister ever. She pretends to like you but treats you like crap. Everyone hates you. Especially her. She despises you. With every part of her beautiful body. Especially her slender legs. The legs hate you with burning passion. Burning passion. The fact she’s turning eleven next year is... is... God she is so beautiful. But she still hates you. And when she kissed you on your cheek when you came home from hospital, it was just a game. A freaky, hateful game. She is evil. She is Lady McBeth. She is Servalan. She is the Dog-Woman from Monkey Magic. And you do not want her body. But what DO you want?

[Nigel starts looking worried.]

Nigel: Come on, you adopted fool. You must have something you want. Ten years, there’s got to be something you need more than to hold her tight and kiss her so deep it takes her breath away... [glazes over] Come on. Think. She doesn’t make you feel good. She doesn’t make you happy and her breasts are barely budding and definitely not begging for attention. [bites fist] ARGH!

[Nigel gets out of bed and headbutts the wall.]

Nigel: She is your sister! You love her! You are not IN love with her! You will only make her unhappy! [with rising enthusiasm] Yes! You’d make her upset! You’d make her cry! She’d never be happy again! So that’s why you can’t do it! You’d lose her and, as has already been established, you have nothing else in your entire freaking life! Yes. That’s right. You don’t need her totally naked, coz she’d be miserable. And nothing is worth it. Am I right?

[He heabutts the wall.]

Nigel: Am I right? Yes. But what about her slender inner thighs and her tight nipples?

[He headbutts the wall again.]


[He looks startled and embarrassed, as if it was someone else who shouted at him.]

Nigel: Blood? Who mentioned blood? Why would there... oh. Oh right. OK. That’s way better reason to never think or discuss this again. That would just be sick at the best of times... oh, man. [grimaces] That mental image is undoubtedly the worst I’ve seen all day. And I’ve seen a few.

[He turns and slumps on the bed.]

Nigel: Take your mind off it. Something easy on the brain.

[He picks up a book and looks at it.]

Nigel: The Man In The Velvet Mask” by Daniel O-Mar-Ho-Knee. Yeah, still reading this one. [flips through the pages] Where was I? Oh yeah, chapter four, Phantom of the Theatre. Yeah... “The heat was a distraction. It was trapped in the caravan with her, growing ever more intense. It was a humid, lazy afternoon warmth.” [starts to get worried] “It made her skin sticky, then clinging, then damp. She shifted on the bed as her gown hardened against her back and her chest and her thighs.” [gulps] “The fabric peeled away slightly, but half-heartedly, leaving her feeling irritated and soiled. Sweat dribbled against her skin...”

[Nigel throws the book down.]

Nigel: OH GIVE ME A FUCKING BREAK! [smacks his head] What is this? A conspiracy?!? It’s fucking DODO for crying out loud! [stares at the cover] LOOK AT HER! She’s the ugliest, stupidest, most-forgettable companion ever! Why would anyone in their right mind think she’d join a French theatre troop and get ravaged by diseased Frenchmen on stage?! [glazing over] Getting scratches on her naked back...

[The cover shimmers until the illustration of Dodo is sans clothes.]

Nigel: [normal again] See? Nothing worth any interest at all! What’s the next one? “Cold Fusion”. That should be all right... They’re not going to have Chris get someone pregnant again, not with Nyssa in the same room... or Adric. Talk about a walking contraceptive....

[There’s a knock at the door.]

Nigel: [depressed] What is it?

[Kenji pokes his head around the door.]

Kenji: Nigel! It’s time for dinner!

Nigel: What are we having?

Kenji: ...dinner.

[Nigel sighs and gets to his feet.]

Nigel: Kenji, your brain merits you a disabled parking space.

Kenji: [smiles] Thanks!

[The Yang dining room. Everything is almost floor level. Yogi is preparing the kind of banquet you get at a fancy restaurant. Assembled are Nigel’s Dad, Nigel’s Mum, Nigel, Kenji, and several other Yangs of various ages from big brother to grandma. Nigel looks curiously around, but there’s no shimmering or X-rays. He taps his lips thoughtful.]

Nigel: Mmm. Obviously doesn’t work on family members. That’s a good thing. That means I won’t see her fine-boned shoulders or A-cup breasts without her knowing about it. Just that bright orange T-shirt and not the tanned flesh beneath...

[In sudden annoyance, he bashes his forehead. Akiro enters and notices.]

Akiro: Nigel? What are you doing?

Nigel: [instantly composed] That’s a complicated question. Be more concise.

Akiro: You... what have you done to your hair? And your clothes?

Nigel: Do you like it?

Akiro: No.

Nigel: Well, I didn’t do it for you, did I?

Akiro: Who DID you do it for?

[Nigel opens his mouth to answer, but freezes. He starts to look worried.]

Nigel: Akiro. I think there’s something wrong with me.

Akiro: Oh?

Nigel: Today I... I saw... stuff. Things I couldn’t describe being done to... to... Anyway, it just seemed to lodge in my head and now it’s, it’s infecting everything I think and say and do... It’s like I’m drowning, Akiro, inside my own mind! Like I’m on the edge of a cliff and there’s a really strong gale about to knock me over! Or maybe... maybe I’m being possessed!

Akiro: What did you see?

Nigel: ...things. Hang on, what part of “I couldn’t describe” got past you?

Akiro: You sound traumatized.

Nigel: Worse than that... I swear, I’m going crazy.

Akiro: Probably. Talking to yourself is a classic symptom of instability.

Nigel: [coldly] Akiro, out of all my family I’m talking to at this precise second, you are the least favorite.

Akiro: Pah. Like I care what an illegitimate tax dodge like you thinks.

Nigel: So why are you talking to me?

[Akiro realizes she doesn’t have an answer – which had never happened before.]

Akiro: [hurt] ...shut up.

Nigel: You shut up. [sways] What am I saying? What am I doing? It’s like my brain’s got a computer virus or something... Must reboot. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Go planeteers! No, think.

[He stumbles over to the cushions around the dining table and tries to calm down. He chants to the creepy tune of the Lotus Prayer in Downtime.]

Nigel: Om! Mane padme hum! Om! Mane padme hum! Om! Mane padme huu-uuuu-uuu-OM! Mane padme hum... [sighs] That’s it. Hail to the lotus, baby, hail to the lotus. Om mane padme hum...

[Bernice runs over to sit on the opposite side of the table.]

Bernice: Hey, Nigel! Wow, you really have changed your look!

[Distracted, Nigel looks up at her. Her clothes shimmer into transparency, but before he can see her naked, he looks away and forces his sunglasses on. He nevertheless still tries to avoid looking at her.]

Nigel: Uh, yeah, Benny. Near-death-experience, out with the old in with the less old.

Bernice: You OK?

Nigel: Me? [on the brink] I’m fine! Why wouldn’t I be! I’m not the one on the verge of the total nervous breakdown now am I? [holding it together] So, um, you hear about Uncle Miko today?

Bernice: Yeah. He got arrested for something, but the lawyers say he’ll be out in no time.

Nigel: [looks away] Yeah, good old Uncle Miko... Better give him back his video when the police let him go.

Bernice: What video?

Nigel: [tight voice] Nu-thing. [sounds dizzy] Ding! Ding! Ding! Hey there, Gilligan, little buddy... [choking noise] I think I might be on the verge of going utterly insane, but apart from that...

Bernice: You’re joking. Right?

[Akiro sits down beside Nigel.]

Akiro: It would fit his lack of anything approaching humor.

Nigel: I’ve got a sense of humor!

Akiro: You’re about as cheerful as the Sandman on lithium.

Kenji: [arriving] Wow. That’s pretty low.

Bernice: Anyway, apparently Father has a gift for you?

Nigel: ...he does?

[Nigel’s Dad sits down at the table.]

Nigel’s Dad: Well, actually it’s from your Uncle Miko. He was trying to bribe the arresting officer with it, but I believe you, my son, have earned it. Your excursions today, instead of merely lying around the house, bode well for your future. You are one that goes out and confronts destiny rather than wait for it to come to you...

Nigel: [dazed] Yeah, who ever heard of destiny doing door-to-door service?

[Thunder rumbles and crackles in the background.]

Kenji: A storm’s coming.

Nigel’s Mum: [weary patience] Yes, well done, Kenji.

Bernice: So what’s the present, Father?

Nigel’s Dad: Catch.

[Nigel’s Dad flips something that Nigel’s arm, seemingly of its own accord, lashes out and grabs. Nigel peers at it through his sunglasses at it.]

Akiro: It’s a pocket watch.

Nigel’s Dad: A fob watch, actually. With chain. Cousin Orugo is selling them on the back of the TV Guides in the Sydney Morning Herald, but you have the first one completely free.

Bernice: What trouble you went to.

Nigel’s Dad: [disapproving] Beriniko, one must learn to accept the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

Kenji: A watch isn’t outrageous. I’ve got one.

Akiro: Not that you can tell the time.

Nigel’s Mum: Kenji can since he got the digital display...

[Nigel stares at the fob watch, tracing shapes on it with his finger. The conversation at the table drifts into the background. Togi starts serving out the starter of dim sims. Voices spin in his mind.]

Voices: Who ever heard of destiny doing door-to-door service? Wow, you really have changed your look! You are one that goes out and confronts destiny. Time to make up for lost time... And are you pure of heart, Nigel Yang? Break the pattern, Manhattan!

[Distracted, he peers over his shades at the watch. “All The Strange, Strange Creatures” builds up in the background. More thunder and lightening. Tension builds. Suddenly Nigel opens the watch and there is a bright golden light that quickly dies. Nigel is temporarily blinded, and he claws off his glasses.]

Akiro: What the hell was that?

Nigel's Dad: Mmmm. The LED in the watchface might be set a bit too high.

Bernice: Are you all right Nigel?

[Nigel blinks rapidly as his sight returns. Looking at Bernice. Who is completely naked in his gaze. His jaw drops, eyes wide. After a long moment his expression changes. He smiles.]

Nigel: [smoothly] I’ve never felt better in my entire life, Benny.

[Nigel’s room. Nigel is now dressed in a kimono-like dressing gown as he gets ready for bed.]

Nigel: The Big N... It all makes sense now. Took a while to completely kick in but I’ve got the hang of it now. [climbs into bed] Now. Six years before Benny’s legal. I can wait. And six years to get her on side and then straight into her bed. I can do that. I can do anything. Cause I finally get what drives this stunted little species and what I understand I can abuse! [delighted sigh] In the meantime, there’s a social order at school that needs severe rearranging. The student body is not gonna know what hits it! Until some concerned passerby and eye-witness explains to them that it was ME, at any rate.

[School gate. Jason sits by the dumpster looking glum as children arrive for school. Nigel enters, in his tiger-stripe denim gear. Jason doesn’t recognize Nigel.]

Nigel: Well, well, well. I thought you’d be in a juvenile detention centre by now.

Jason: [startled] Nigel? Nigel? Is that you?

Nigel: The Big N has entered the building.

[Jason sweeps Nigel into a bear hug.]

Jason: I’ve missed you so much!

Nigel: Jason.

Jason: Yeah?

Nigel: Don’t touch me.

[Jason released him ashamed.]

Nigel: You tried to kill me, Jason.

Jason: I didn’t mean to!

Nigel: I nearly died.

Jason: It was an accident.

Nigel: How can I ever trust you again? I thought you friend!

Jason: You thought right!

Nigel: Prove it!

Jason: How?

Nigel: Be my slave for the rest of your life!

Jason: ...isn’t slavery bad?

Nigel: Isn’t stabbing me in the stomach?

[Jason falls to his knees.]

Jason: MY LIEGE!

[A long pause. Nigel looks smug.]

Nigel: OK, it’s starting to look camp. Get to your feet.

Jason: [does so] Hey, is it Mufti Day today? They didn’t change the uniform?

Nigel: Uh-uh.

Jason: But won’t you get in trouble?

[Nigel lowers his glasses and admires some of the new-arrived girls. He chuckles dirtily.]

Jason: Nigel?

Nigel: Mmm? What?

Jason: Won’t you get in trouble for not wearing uniform?

Nigel: The uniform was repealed in 1990. The school colours are what matter and what are they?

Jason: Oooh, I know this...

Nigel: Red and black.

Jason: Red and black!

Nigel: Correct. And that’s what the Big N is wearing, I think you’ll find.

Jason: Wow. That’s cool.

Nigel: Right again.

[He is checking out the latest new arrival, Phoebe.]

Nigel: Well, hello, Phoebe.

Phoebe: Nige? I thought you’d left the school after the whole penknife incident!

Nigel: What? I’m not some loser like Luke Skywalker – I bounce back from adversity.

Phoebe: [amused] You get knocked down, and you get up again?

Nigel: The very same, red.

Jason: Ooh! I love that song! He drinks the drink that reminds him of the good times, he drinks the drink that reminds him of the... hang on, I know this...

Nigel: You’re looking stunning this morning, Ms. Richards.

[Phoebe blushes slightly.]

Phoebe: You’ve, uh, kinda cheered up.

Nigel: With you around, baby, the dead would cheer up.

[Phoebe blushes again and can’t think of anything to say.]

Nigel: See you in class, sweetcheeks.

[Phoebe tries and fails to suppress a girlish giggle. Then she gets worried.]

Phoebe: Hang on, you don’t know about Magnus, do you?

Nigel: Magnus? Magnus Magnusson’s doing a show here?

Jason: Uh, no. Different Magnus.

Nigel: Whatever. [shrugs] I doubt it’s important.

[A deep, lisping voice is heard behind them.]

Magnus: [vo] You’d be surprised.

[Nigel frowns and turns... onto to be shoved violently back. He slams against the dumpster and slides to the ground with a nasty ripping noise as the rough metal dumpster tears through his jacket and shirt. Nigel coughs and splutters in pain and looks up at his attacker – a huge, blond, freckled Anglo with huge eyebrows, a guy you could easily hate on sight.]

Nigel: [bewildered] Who the hell are you?

Magnus: Oi! Watch your language, you stupid Abbo.

[Magnus punches a bag of garbage draped over the top of the dumpster. It burst and the contents cascade right on top of Nigel. Phoebe and Jason leap back in horror. Nigel screams and wretches in disgust.]

Magnus: Guess you’ll have to wear school uniform from now on, spastic. That’ll teach you to turn up for school dressed as a rock star, won’t it? The name’s Magnus, by the by. You should remember that, it’s who you’ll be begging for mercy from now on.

[Magnus reaches down, snatches Nigel’s wallet and strides off as the bell rings. Nigel manages to wade out of the crap, mainly banana peels. His clothes are soiled and torn, his hair a mess, and there’s garbage seeming stuck to parts of him. Flies buzz.]

Nigel: Bastard! He’s not going to get away with this! Phoebe! Get me our year’s SRC member!

Jason: Nigel...

Nigel: What is it, Jason?

Phoebe: He IS our SRC member.

[Nigel sighs, looking like he’s trying very hard not to turn psychotic.]

Nigel: Well now. You realize what this means?

Jason: Nope.

Nigel: [icily] War.


JADI: Cripes, at this rate Nigel’ll be ruling the school before we graduate!