Thursday, December 6, 2007

For Fuck's Sake Gary Russell!

No, I haven't just re-listened to The Next Life... though, I did hear the first five minutes of Caerdroia the other day... the Doctor goes to sleep. What a set up...

No! I am reading the novel Business Unusual and it is, by far and a way, the most unbelievably, crudley, horribly, supercallifragillisticallygasterflabbingly and offensively BRILLIANT thing that Russell has ever written.

BUT.... on page 137 he goes and destroys ALL of my good will, and by god there is a lot of it, in one fell swoop. Dr Facescar decides, as Who-vills are wont to do, that its time for some verbose proclamatory self-pleasure, annunciating his plans to people who already know them to the benefit of none save the mysterious invisible narrator. This in itself is not problematic, of course - a proud storytelling tradition of the show. BUT WHAT DOES HE SAY?!?!

"I want a Zygon, Ciara.

Kinky, but okay so far

I want to know how their metamorphic properties work, how cells can transmute on such a scale. And I want to understand how Rapine grows

The sign of an indulgent continuity reference is one you need to google to work out, but can still see it very clearly. Oh, Christ, it's from The Paradise of Death. I barely even know that IS, Russell!

But that, is NOT MY PROBLEM...

why the Nuton nuclear complex

Don't say something about it not blowing up like an A-bomb you jerk.

didn't blow half of Avon into the stratosphere

ARRGH! Firstly, Paul Darrow wasn't even IN that one, you're thinking Silurians and SECONDLY... learn to watch a VHS! I mean, this is Gary Russell - he has written full timelines for the UNIT characters, estimations of their budget, full rosters of who was working there and when. To do this, he has clearly watched through the entire Pertwee era several times.

But has he done it on 'mute' or what?

I'm sure I've ranted about this a dozen times already but the Nuton Nuclear Complex did not blow up at the close of The Claws of Axos, contrary to the common-held belief of a lot of strange creatures wacking keyboards who decided to call themselves 'fans'.

TYPICAL MORON RESPONSE: Pull the other one, didn't you see the explosion you fucking R-tard? There's an explosion! How do you explain that?!?

Rewind the DVD about 3 minutes and listen to the dialogue. And then actually watch the fucking thing. The Nuton Nuclear Complex is massive. One building is blown up. One building which is show to be, in the close of Episode 3, not even remotely near the reactor.

As Nameless Scientist says, what has happened is that the Axons' temporal interference has messed with... Christ I can't remember the names now but Sweater Scientist's anti-matter accelerator which is now going into overload. As he says it accelerates and accelerates until bang. The reactor is never mentioned. What he says is precisely what happens, the research building blows up. Other than that it's business as normal.

Why does this in particular irritate me so much? Because it is a misconception seemingly shared by the entirety of fandom about one of only three Pertwee stories that I actually do really, really like (the other two being Inferno and Ambassador's of Death. Unless Bob Holmes was the writer the next three years were something of a waste of time) for the reason that it actually has some ideas, feels science-y, has really cool aliens and a director who clearly gives a toss.

It is of course written by Bob Baker and Dave Martin, who, despite writing several sparkling scripts with great jokes, even better ideas and plenty of action that, no matter what [pitifully minor] flaws they may have had, could never be described as boring. For some reason, in spite of their obvious talent, Martin and Baker are the lepers of DW screen writing. The fans, who always know best, declare that their scripts are littered with childishly inaccurate science (Unlike most scripts, which just avoided the issue by not containing any iotae of actual science at all) and being completely ignorant of how to write for television. Curiously, at the same time the average Who will say that there is no competition against Bob "Sod it, I'll Plagiarise This Old Novel Myself And Put a Fake Name On It" Holmes for "Best Script Editor" - logically this would mean that he would be the best judge of writer. He commissioned Bob Baker and Dave Martin four times in his four year tenure. And then, in all likelihood, recommended their commission to Antony Root for the next season. Hmm.

It is perhaps because of the Martin-Baker combo that fans are so desperate to tear apart this story. To the point of simply ignoring direct evidence - the idea being "Huh, those Bristol Boys are so stupid they don't even know what happens when a nuclear planet melts down". You don't even need to watch closely to realise that this isn't the case - the entire dramatic thrust of Episode 3 is that this reactor will blow, and as a direct result the entire cast and the neighbouring counties will have no chance of survival! There is not a single minced word when it is established just how empirically screwed every single character in the story shall be should this come to pass.

And THIS is why it annoys me - saying that Nuton Power Complex blew up and everyone magically survived is saying "Baker and Martin were a pair of complete retards". It didn't and they weren't. So up yours, Russell, if you're going to wallow in your squalid continuity at least do some research in it first, rather than go off a cheap little piece of derision that people have thrown at the story so much that it's stuck.

Business Unusual is now officially the worst book ever written and Russell is worse than Hitler.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Time Crush

Because it had to be done. Well, more because I'm bored, really.

4.CiN - Time Crush

After leaving Martha on Earth, the Doctor is still desperately trying to decipher her mysterious codewords - "I'm obsessively in love with and want to do you in the dirt" As he continues to ponder these words, the TARDIS starts veering madly out of control. The Doctor moves to reset the controls-

and feels his arse being pinched. He turns around, and finds himself face-to-face with a fat, bespectacled old man in a nightmarish fluro multicoloured coat.

"Nice suit"
"Do you work out?"

After a few moments the Doctor's selective amnesia clears, and he remembers his massively embarassing previous incarnations - the shock of the sheer number of humilating memories that come flooding back nearly causes his brain to leap out of his skull for its own safety, but instead he just collapses on the floor in a cold sweat. All the while his Sixth Incarnation makes clumsy and insensitive pick-up lines.

When it becomes clear that simply meeting has nearly killed his future self, the Sixth Doctor sighs and begins searching around for the fridge, while number ten scrabbles to his feet. The sixth Doctor cheerfully explains that he was on the prowl for some high-class Edwardian tail fruitlessly once again, when he happened to find a photo of his unusually good-looking future self.

"So I thought I'd make out with MYSELF - after all it's clearly what I've wanted to do all these years..."

He goes on to say that to achieve this end, he has crashed his own TARDIS into the Tenth Doctor's, to create a dimensional instability that can destroy the entire Universe in five minutes - and will only leave once his future self agrees to some canoodling. The Tenth Doctor protests and theorises on the spot that maybe he can escape by eating a hole in the space-time continuum the size of Belgium.

"No, hold on - I've got no Pepto Bismol. Bad, bad idea!"

The Tenth Doctor's next plan seems to be to save himself by gnawing off his own face - or it may be just Tennant trying to convery ambivalence - but the Sixth Doctor attacks and the two find themselves embroiled in the most terrifying Benny Hill chase-scene ever! Eventually the TARDIS buckles again, and both Doctors fall to the floor. The Sixth Doctor cheerfully announces that a black hole is going to detonate any minute - AND NOTHING IN THE WORLD CAN STOP HIM NOW!!!

The Tenth Doctor leaps into action regardless, a dematerialises and rematerialises rapidly through an asteroid field, placing the asteroids in the TARDIS's orbit before aiming and launching them at a planetoid with the force to knock it out of orbit, slam into another planet and send it ricocheting into the black hole and blocking it instantly.

"You jammy bastard!" yells the Sixth Doctor

"Aha! I didn't do anything - I didn't have to! See, when you appeared I got your memories back of this incredibly humiliating experience of remembering me destroying two entire sentient alien races and their home planets just to avoid snuggling up to you, so I KNEW what to do and when to do it without any effort at all."

"ANOTHER Onthiological Paradox? Are you capable of working ANYTHING out for yourself? God, I can't believe my future self is so PATHETIC!"

The Sixth Doctor then repeatedly beats himself in the head with a hammer in a bid to wipe his memory of the encounter and thus create a big arse paradox. This causes the Tenth Doctor to smile wistfully.

"You know... I hated being you. I really did. Back when I first started, at the very beginning, I was always setting out to amaze people and bag as many women in ridiculous fashion as I could, like you do when you're young. And then I was you! And it was all lounging around and shouting at people and getting kicked out of gentlemen's clubs for indecent exposure and my voice going all squeaky when I shouted. I still do that, you bastard, I got that from you. I got some proper shoes, though. And a real sweet jacket. Snap. 'Cause you know what, Doctor? You were my least-favourite Doctor. And I'm nothing like you. Thank Christ."

The Sixth Doctor strangles him, but soon vanishes due to the TARDIS re-separating. The Tenth Doctor smiles in relief, and moves to the console to turn his shields back on as quickly as possible... only to find that the shielding circuits are missing!

The Sixth Doctor's voice cuts through the air, sneeringly "Oh, Doctor, I hope you didn't mind me taking a small souveneir? Arsehole!"

At that moment there is a terrible crash, and the TARDIS's wall crashes open, and the Tenth Doctor stares goggle-faced at... THE GIGANTIC FACE OF TOM BAKER!

"Any chance of a pint?"
"I said: 'Any chance of a pint?' "
"I SAID..."

NEWBIE REVIEW #1: The Indestructible Man

Going back through old posts in my younger and cuddlier OG alter-ego known only as 'Jared', I uncovered the DW book reviews I once posted. I was young and nauseating at the time, so they aren't much chop, but in the interests of archiving every aspect of my sordid existence on the internet for all to see, they now have a home here.

Reviews were posted under the suitable umbrella title of Adventures of a Books Newbie, due to my complete lack of knowledge/understanding of the books when I first saw a DW one in Dymocks. To my partial bewilderment, the first one I selected was the mildly notorious slab of Thunderbirds fanwank The Indestructible Man. This is what I had to say a couple of years ago:

What did I think... 'interesting' would be the operative word.

This certainly isn't a book to go into expecting the charm of Season 6. Coming fresh from the Classic Series, this book actually made me feel a bit like Mary Whitehouse with the sheer amount of blood and gore on offer. "Ooh, my!" I'd say, reading about Jamie slicing an innocent psychiatrist's hand apart with a homemade knife, and reading about civvies getting mowed down by machine-gun fire for unclear reasons, and worse things.

But, once I got used to the idea that these novels were free to do what they pleased it was quite good. The characterisation of the Doctor and Zoe was particularly good. The only thing that kept me disturbed was Jamie's psychosis, which didn't make for easy reading.

Unfortunately, I found this a bit of a slog. The plot suffers greatly from several elements: the Myloki are never really a tangible threat, the 'war' between the humans and Myloki is even more abstract, and most severely that there is a lack of sympathetic characters in the story. Bishop and Storm, in fact, who serve as the main guest cast are at times quite loathesome. And as a great many people have pointed out the Thunderbirds tributes don't sit well with the dark tone of the rest of the novel.

In spite of all this, there is a lot to enjoy in the novel. Great action sequences, well-drawn characters, clever ideas, and an inventive climax. Not the best DW novel I've read by a long-shot, but a good start to the range. 6/10

What do I have to say now?

What the hell was Simon Messingham ON?!? Nevermind myself, who accepted this crap in the blase nature of a valium addicted life coach, but the author who thought that a novel that spent nearly its entire length torturing The Doctor and his companions both mentally and physically, while characters that are blatantly ripped off from Gerry Nameicantremember's various series fly around in big, stupid, jets trying to kill aliens THEY CAN'T EVEN SEE!?? It's like he wanted to do a Saward tribute. In a Season 6 story with the most cuddly TARDIS crew ever...

Well, I must confess that I had a similar idea - I was thinking of a fic where the Sixth and Third Doctors bump into one another when they land on a junk planet at the same time, are attacked and accidentally run into one another's TARDIS... and then find themselves in the others' narrative universe. So Colin gets to rule the roost back in UNIT HQ, whereas Perters gets locked up in a cell for several chapters while posh mercenaries take over his role in the story. The difference being that with my idea the agenda is incredibly obvious - I have no idea what Messingham is trying to achieve. Or, even if he's aware that he's meant to be doing anything. It's possible that he just finds himself torturing the TARDIS crew endlessly without even realising it...

I honestly can't recall too much about the plot - I did read it about five years ago and haven't looked at it since, after all. I remember an awful lot of people dying a chapter after being introduced, though, and Jamie killing some guy who was meant to be 'an indestructible man' but clearly wasn't. I'm going to assume that it wasn't earth shattering.

Bearing in mind all its faults, though, the book is actually quite well-written. It's one of those books, though, that deliberately tries to not be Doctor Who for some pretentious reason, which works well because it doesn't fit into continuity at all so we can just assume it was an acid trip of the Doctor's. 4/10

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Stop the Facebook - I want to Get Off!!!

Oh gawd. A couple of months ago I made the biggest mistake of my life... I joined FaceBook.

Exactly why I underwent this endeavour I don't know, as it isn't me. I'm the ultimate anti-social wannabe-hermit; the stereotypical monomaniacal communist loner with irrational hatred for everything.

Actually, I take that back. I do know why I joined. I wanted sex.

This was impeccably naive on my part, though, as sex is difficult to find on the internet on the sites that are actually supposed to deal with free sex - generally nothing more than porn adverts posing as Personal Messages rather unconvincingly. What's this? Svetlana the 28DDD blonde wants to become my slave just as soon as I click on the link? Cha-ching!

But various pieces of false-advertising got me interested and I created a page. And I soon discovered it's the poor man's MySpace.

Every 'Page' of the 'FaceBook' looks the same - just with a different photo of the schmuck in question who runs the page. Or, if they're like me and both photo-hating and digital camera-void, a photo of someone else entirely, ideally who doesn't resemble the genuine article in the slightest. The other differences are the abusive messages on 'The Wall', the 'Interests' nobody can be arsed to read, and whatever 'Plug-Ins' you choose.

You can only of course choose Plug-Ins coded by FaceBook, so they're inevitably generic and completely crap. None of this changes your page, and to even SEE the plug-in on someones page, you need to actually install it first - which puts it on your page. ARRRGH!

Customising the Page in anyway is impossible - unlike MySpace. Putting your thoughts up there is impossible. Well, it's sort of possible but you have to link to a pre-existing blog. Yes, they can't even handle a blog.

Anyone, like myself, with computer savvy will see the problem. This is a piece of internet technology that is completely accessible and useable by any fucker with an Equity Card. So that's precisely who uses it. Vapid, techno-ignorant, 30-somethings desperate to keep up with the CyberJoneses, pushing themselves to the limit.

Why am I complaining about this now? Because I get emails like THIS:

Adam Matthew Morgan has cast a spell on you with SuperPoke!

I can say for a start that this is not true. I have felt no adverse affects, no difference in my condition. Unless the spell was to piss me off and the arrival of the email at the same time is pure coincidence, this myth is busted.

Adam Matthew Morgan has cast a spell on you with SuperPoke! Click here to pinch, hug, tickle, pwn or even throw sheep (among other things) back!!!

If I want to throw sheep at him, I'll fucking do it myself. I live in a rural area and he's only half an hour's drive away. All too easy.

Obviously FaceBook can't do magic. But they create cheesy features like this that claim to in a vain attempt to be cutesy and funny. FAIL'D! In short, all the site does is help people find even more ways to waste time. And I'm sick of it.

The question is this: is it possible to delete my account entirely? Because even in the odd occassion that something develops of vague interest on the site, my internet connection refuses to let me do anything. And I mean that - I can't even write on someone's wall, the entire basis of the sordid thing!

In spite of the fact that I haven't been on my account for... ooh... well over a month now, maybe even two, I keep getting email. Friend requests, checkers requests, tic-tac-rape requests, answer my desperate pleas for attention requests, requests for my types of requests to send out. It is pathetic, pointless, and aggrivating.

FACEBOOK - I shall end thee!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Meh Parts

If you ask around, read some reviews etc online with the intent of finding a BF audio to buy, the answer is clear.

Spare Parts.

The answer, in a way, makes sense. It is a story that is the Genesis of the Daleks for the Cybermen, written by the completely insane bastard who thought that destroying absolutely all mystery about the Doctor's character in a story where his madman cousins jumped around the family estate like they were on acid would be a brilliant idea. As such, the collective reasoning of fandom has been that the story itself is actually the Second Coming of Jesus Christ somehow brought to humanity in compact disc form, and its impossible to escape this viewpoint. When I specifically asked for a Sixth Doctor and Peri story from a bloke selling BF CDs he instantly preased a copy of SP into my hands and demanded his money.

Fortunately my eyeballs didn't let me down and I noted that the story contained neither the Sixth Doctor nor Peri, and as such was a complete affront to my wishes as a consumer. Regardless, I was still pressured to buy.

"Come on, man, it's what all the cool kids are listening to..."

I stood my ground and bought The Reaping. And it's a very good thing, because if I had actually bought SP I doubtless would have come to the conclusion that the best BF had to offer was a completely aimless, fanwank-extravaganza runaround stuffed full of cliches until it burst.

This isn't to say that SP sucks. Well, it's to say that it does compared to, say, Jubilee or Loups-Garoux. But the fact that it is so frequently touted as the absolute best BF, when it so patently isn't, really galls. First, allow me to theorise why it is seen as the best..

a) Written by Marc Platt. Although Ghost Light left most of fandom scratching their heads (save from the egotistical posers who love nothing more than bragging about the fact that they understood every single line of dialogue and its place in the mis-en-scene on first viewing even though it was a scratchy print translated into Suwahili) Platt has since established a reputation as one of the many messiahs of expanded-universe Who in novels I haven't read because they sell on eBay for amounts I wouldn't spend on a car.

b) It has the Cybermen in it. You may think that this mightn't count for that much, but when you read carefully through the script of The Tenth Planet and note that approximately 1.5 interesting things happen throughout the entire 100 minute running time you can appreciate the incredible effect the Silver Ones have on their fan base.

c) Wraps up continuity. The story does exactly what Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis simply couldn't be arsed to do (probably due to the Valium) along with all the other Cyber-story writers (because nobody working on the show ever gave a flying fuck about continuity) and actually explain all that shit in The Tenth Planet that makes absolutely no sense. Which no story save Attack even acknowledged (And even that was with Colin mumbling "Gigantic motor on the outside of the planet - what the fuck was up with that?")

d) The cast. But then it's pretty much impossible for BF to get a dud cast into their stories so this isn't particularly relevant.

So, why has SP failed to have me fall head-over-heels in love with it?

FIRST OFFENSE - Plot lingering without intent

The story goes nowhere for the first couple of episodes. As someone who sat through the soul-crushing depression of the Saward era, I can take it when the Doctor does Sweet FA. That's fine - just cut to characters who are doing something. Let's not follow the Doctor around as he walks listlessly through a near empty city in search of something of vague interest.

See, unlike Genesis, the Doctor ain't on no mission. He just pilots the TARDIS like a bitch and arrived on Mondas by mistake. He recognises it as Mondas pretty much instantly, and yet doesn't seem to care, walking around mumbling to himself and tells Nyssa to go wandering off on her own as well. Wtf mate? When it's confirmed that this is Mondas (PRETTY FUCKING OBVIOUS!) the Doctor decides he should probably leave, gets stopped by a couple of cops, changes his mind, wanders around...

Okay, I'll cut to the chase - there's no conflict. The Doctor doesn't want to stop the Cybermen from being created as that would change history. The Cybermen don't want to kill him because they have no idea who he is - the system in control of the Cybermen decides he looks dodgy and thinks killing him could be a good idea, but picks the Cyber equivalent of Sgt Schultz for the job. Nothing comes of this.

And then, near the end of the story BOOM! The Doctor decides HE WILL stop the Cybermen from existing. This is especially odd when he does so at a time when the Cybermen seem more inevitable...

SECOND OFFENSE - Defamation of a well-recognised public individual

Of course in doing so the Doctor creates the Cybermen in his own image. When hasn't that idea been used in a time-travel story? Reminds me of on OG when some guy posted some fic about the 7th Doctor being Jack the Ripper. He got the internet equivalent of hurled feces in response and everyone pointed out that as ideas go it's as derivative as its possible to get without throwing in dinosaurs cloned from fossilised mosquitoes. And yet here's Marc Platt doing exactly the same thing, just with 'Cybermen' replacing 'Jack the Ripper'.

This plot point wouldn't smart as much if it went anywhere. But - big surprise - it doesn't. The Doctor is aggrieved, but gets over it, and Nyssa uses it to make the standard ultra-shitty last minute joke at the close of the story. SIGH.

THIRD OFFENSE - Public Indeceny (Being in the form of suspect shoving head up its own anus)

Okay, everyone knows that 'Cybermen are allergic to gold', right? Or, rather, that gold blocks up their respiratory systems causing them to choke? Good. It's pretty simple. A large part of fandom insists that this makes no sense at all. They are complete wankers, as it does make sense. If the Cybermen still contain living organs (as we all say they do) it stands to reason that they can't stay alive without oxygen - it doesn't mean they have to 'breathe' as such by they need to ventilate for that oxgyen or they will die. Obviously they would avoid using any large, obvious means of ventilation because they would present an immediate target - the downside to this would be that the respiratory system could be blocked. They would test - by it seems likely that they would neglect to test against a metal like gold, that is exceptionally rare. Gold also has unusual properties for a metal, which also makes it a good idea.

Most sensible people do take umbrage with the whole gold thing, though, not because of the idea but because of the 'silver bullet' effect from such a weakness, which makes them look pisspoor when it's recently been revealed that a Dalek can survive being buggered by Chuck Norris, set on fire and thrown off a cliff without even a scratch on its casing. To be fair, the 'silver bullet' effect didn't really exist until Silver Nemesis, a Nevil Fountain penned Who parody that somehow got broadcast as a canonical episode of the show during a particularly hardcore Ian Levine pool party. Prior to that Cybermen were only defeated by gold dust pressed into the respiratory vents, rather than being within 5 metres of an ounce of gold at any time.

Marc Platt, decides that he'll aim to please this people... by pretending the gold allergy never existed.

It is the most embarassing moment of the release. Maybe its meant to be ironic subtext but it is so ham-fisted, when Davison shoves a heap of gold into a Cybermen and says "Well?! Aren't you going to choke and fall over?!" Oh, yes. Very subtle. It would have been easier to go the route of Steve Lyons and his jaw-droppingly good novel Killing Ground and just not have gold on the fucking planet. Do I have to explain everything, Platt?!

The problem is this: if Cybermen were created without the weakness, why do they have it two hundred years later? This leaves us with the absolutely ridiculous idea that they programmed a lethal weakness into their own bodies. Platt blindsided me though when he revealed... that they did. It was the only logical explanation but I still wasn't expecting it because, let's face it, it's beyond retarded. But no, the Doctor gets the communists who make the Cybermen pissed out of their brains and they evidently decide to make themselves fatally allergic to gold.

This explanation is beyond 'sucks' when it's only necessary due to Platt re-writing Cyber-lore for a crap throw-away gag, but I'd like to add I don't quite buy it. I've been drunk. Very drunk. And although I recited a monologue filled with September 11 references and the phrase "There were fucking muslims for fuck's sake!", something I was later informed was something of an embarassment, but at no point did I decide, say, to put a power-drill to my skull for a laugh. I had drunk a six-pack of Woodstock bourbon, two stubbies of VB, a Mudslide, a tin of ...something and a couple of mouthfuls of Midori. The Cyber-making Communists, on the other hand, had two bottles of wine between eight of them. You do the math.


The one sequence that absolutely everyone listening to this audio (even those one or two that didn't like it as a whole) is a scene where the partially-converted Hartman daughter returns home, starts crying, and is shown the Christmas tree by her dad to comfort her. It is absolutely heart-breaking to listen to, and it did indeed make me cry, capturing the tragedy of the Cybermen perfectly. However, Platt clearly worked harder on this one scene than anything in the plot, hoping he could get away with a shoddily-plotted adventure by making everyone feel sad inside for five minutes.

And you know what? HE WAS RIGHT! YOU'RE ALL SHEEP! See you at the abbatoir, arseholes.

FIFTH OFFENSE - Mis-Information

This story ends with the absolute worst twist ending ever. Yes the twists that... THE CYBERMEN TAKE OVER MONDAS.

If you are scratching your heads saying "But EVERYONE knows the Cybermen rule Mondas", good. You got the point. The thing is, though, that everyone who listened to this audio seemingly didn't even realise that there was meant to be a twist, given the obvious nature of it. But there clearly was because, incredibly, the Doctor decides to suddenly pull his finger out in the last episode and destroy the Cybermen and... does exactly that.

But as soon as he leaves, the Cybermen scream "HAHA! FOOLED YOU, CRICKET BOY!" and convert everyone.


My trusty confidante has since explained that the idea was that Zagreus's leaking anti-time meant that this could have been a diverging reality due to the infection of anti-time. That is an awesome idea. Which begs the question of just why the hell they did nothing with it.

So, that's my view of Spare Parts. In terms of quality, I'd say it's probably about even with the best efforts of BBC7's current series (Immortal Beloved and Blood of the Daleks) and... well, not as good as most of the old-skool BF releases I've heard. Though obviously nowhere near as bad as The Next Life. Though, unless they release a CD composed entirely of Nick Briggs' flactulence, that should hold the title of "Worst Ever Story" for centuries to come, so no particular flattery.


A key part of being a Doctor Who fan is, and always has been, thinking you could write the show entirely on your own, contrary to asbolutely all available evidence. As a result, the bulk of fans that were active during The Cancellation had their own ideas for a Season 27. Most would be nowhere near as shithouse as mine.

The Doctor: Me. In a cloak, boater hat, American college-style waistcoat, glasses, slip-on shoes and wig. Yes, this is the bit where you get worried. I'm hoping that casting oneself a common theme among plots from young DW fans who have performed in some sort of amateur theatrical capacity and that I don't suffer from a particularly egotistical strain of Asperger's Syndrome. And, yes, the worst idea for a costume ever. Why the wig you say? Why indeed...

The Doctor would be bookish, fond of language, prone to mood swings, and very, very fond of disguises/feints/playing dumb. He would either treat his companions as his best friends or ignore them entirely, depending on which day of the week it was. Mostly just me living out my fantasy, though.

The Companions: Todd, a somewhat introverted and impoverished Pakistani Londoner sci-fi/fantasy geek... you know what I'm going to say next, don't you? Yes, who 'nevertheless, has inner courage and an important destiny!'. Okay, at this point you could accuse me of creating a complete Mary-Sue to present nerds in a fashionable (and PC!) light and having a companion that the type of people sci-fi fans would identify with and nobody else. Fair enough, but he's just one of the two companions! The other was -

Chula. An alien princess of the Leela variety, not necessarily over-endowed with clothing.... Damnit.

The Budget: Eight billion squid.

The Season: 40 episodes. 25 minutes. I'm a fan of Troughton.

Continuity: I can't recall ever giving thought as to whether it would fit with the Books (this was before I heard the audios)... I'm guessing the answer was 'nah' because I like Time Lords. No PMG regen, though. I think that's the only thing that an insane 14-year-old and RTD agreed upon. Looking back, though, there wasn't much continuity at all in the stories save for The Master appearing... too many times.

Guest Stars: Erm..let's see... David Wenham as The Master. John Rhys-Davies as the Good Caveman. Udo Kier and some other famous villain actor as the Vampire Lords.

The Stories: This is the really embarassing bit.

Apogee (4 episodes) Obviously the best way to introduce DW to a new generation is to do so with the most confusing, multi-time sprawling story ever. Erm... I'm having trouble explaining this. The Doctor and Chula are tracking down some alien time travellers (we don't know who they are or what they're doing at the start), find Todd who gets attacked by his best friend turning into a werewolf. They save him... go to Victorian England for some reason. Werewolf stuff. The story ends in the moon, where it turns out a heap of... white, reptilian midget aliens... have travelled back through time to... try and kill Todd so his grandson doesn't defeat them in Earth's first planetary war...using werewolves...

This made so much sense a few years back. I never wrote a script, though, so the answer to the question "What the fuck was I thinking" shall forever remain shrouded in mystery. At the end of the narrative mess, however, Todd joins the somewhat unwelcoming TARDIS crew, maybe for his own protection...

Crystalline (4 episodes) After a completely unnecessary stop off in a Neu Kyoto Hotel (I loved putting 'Neu Kyoto' into stories back then) the Doctor announces that the TARDIS will be performing Chula's sacred pilgrimmage to the Crystal Planet of some name. Soon after their arrival at the planet, where the Crystals are said to have healing powers, the Evil Overlord of some aliens, now aged 130 and on death's door, arrives to use them, effectively taking over the planet. Efforts to boost the Crystal's powers with alien-electrolysis backfire violently, and the mind of The Overlord now CONTROLS THE CAVES... somehow. Much runaround shennanigans ensue.

The Silent Invasion (6 episodes) Man, these things are painful for me to write, they really are.

Anyway, this story re-introduces UNIT with their new British C.O, ex-Commodore Stanley Baker (In an effort to reproduce the punchiness of 'The Brigadier' with 'The Commodore') running tests on an unmanned jet-plane. As you would expect, the Doctor lands in the middle of the jet during its flight, chats to the test-crash dummies in their seats, that kind of thing. However, shock horror! The TARDIS can't take off again, and the jet's flight-computer is failing. The Doctor decides that there's nothing for it but to dismantle the entire computerised system and land the plane - his WAY! As soon as he lands they're all arrested by UNIT on terrorism suspicions and, of course, the episode gets taken over with 'can we trust him' malarkey and the plot goes nowhere until Part 2.

After that, though, I'm not sure where exactly the plot goes: people from comas are brainwashed in hospitals by shadowy humans working for aliens, they wake up and start generally causing chaos (this subplot is the catalyst for a motorcycle chase scene), electronical systems around the world go on the blink, hackers get involved somehow, but eventually the Doctor traces all the weirdness to Chernobyl where there's scenes involving giant rats. It's something about the pure energy aliens, though. Nothing too mind blowing.

The Golems (4 episodes) Ugh. Medieval alien society where the law is enforced by Golems (actually robots) controlled by priests. Generic piece of crap. In my bizarre tendency to work out unrealistically expensive action setpieces and little else, this story would feature a minecart chase.

The Neanderthal Conspiracy (6 episodes) Based on the rejected Troughton story. Just with the Master in it.

The Rosecrutians (4 episodes) Yes, there were TWO stories based on rejected Troughton scripts. In a row. I realise this.

The Zombies of Panama (4 episodes) The TARDIS lands in Panama the building of The Canal - and, predictably, there are strange stories going around. Investigating stories about a Voodoo Witch-Doctor, they find, of course, it's the Master. Once again, trying to harvest an army, by re-animating the bodies of those who died from Yellow Fever. Either because Todd is a dick or because he is brain-washed (I think the latter), he sides with the Master in planning an assault on the fledgling Panama City. It becomes clear that all he wants is to hurt the Doctor, rather than the townsfolk, and this raises the question of whether the Doctor has the right to fight back, etc. The Doctor, though, recognizes the challenge and rises to it, staging a defense in a massive Zombie-Human battle. The Doctor wins the fight, but at cost, and soon realises that either history has changed through the Master's callousness or this isn't really Earth, when George Washington Goethals, who would ultimately be credited with the Canal's success, is killed in the battle. He decides he is through playing games and confronts the Master direclty, and this somehow leads to a Reichenbach Falls style fight scene , again continuing the theme of impractical and incongruous action sequences. The Master dies. He doesn't regenerate, he just dies... I don't know how far I thought into that one.

The Dance of Death (8 episodes) Yeah, you read right. Eight episodes. I was MAD, haven't you picked that up yet?!

The first two would essentially be a complete rip-off of that one Steve Lyons' short-trip where Davison and Nyssa go to a haunted house where people are getting killed one-by-one, with very few changes to the plot until the cliffhanger to Episode 2 when Mysterious Figures show up, cause a chandelier to fall on the Doctor and kill him.

Todd and Chula are stunned, failing to believe the Doctor could truly be dead, and follow the Mysterious Figures into 'The Ethereal Realm', where they find the Doctor and others who died in the haunted house clothed in white robes in a bright, white marble palace. They say their farewells, believing this truly is the afterlife, but the Doctor is sceptical - in particular he notes that the 'cordial' they are given regularly is almost nothing but liquidized Vitamin-D, something they logically wouldn't need given the bright sunlight constantly in evidence. This leads to the next shock reveal - the 'afterlife' is ruled by VAMPIRES!

The Doctor tries to escape, but finds it is physically impossible to leave the Realm, whilst Todd and Chula are finding it harder to stay. The sordid events all become clear - The Vampires haven't 'killed' people, but created tangent realities to convince them that they are dead. Once the humans are in the Ethereal Realm they are nothing but life-force personified, and the Vampires subsequently gain more strength from them than an entire human body's worth of blood. The Vampires have been planning this in secret in a dead planet in a parallel universe for centuries, and now have enough strength to begin THEIR INVASION OF GALLIFREY!!!
The Master is one of the enslaved - the Panama events nothing but a tangent reality - but has ingratiated himself with the Vampire Lords due to his schemes for ruling the Universe. Only the Master realises the full strength of the Doctor's Gallifreyan life-force, and so forms a tryst with Hot Vampire Queen, ensuring that she will get the full power of the Doctor's force if she goes through with his plan. While the Queen seduces the Doctor in disguise, the Master sets about killing Vampire Lord #2. Soon they have the Doctor in their grasp (after a scene involving a tango and stun-gun) and he receives a complete Vampiric Blood Transfusion thanks to the dead Lord. The Master and his new other half flee, while the DOCTOR IS A VAMPIRE!

Todd and Chula try to rescue him, but the Doctor can barely stop himself from killing them both - they need to win this fight on their own.

And they do. Somehow. I never actually had the climax worked out for that one. Still, I think it's the only plot for the season I came up witht that actually had any sort of vague potential.

LOOKING BACK: The most completely embarassing hodge-podge of sci-fi cliches and all-round bad ideas. Rampant ego tripping is involved in most of the stories, and the companions are side-lined in the general plots so that you may have noticed they barely get mentioned. Only geeks of my magnitude would ever have watched it, and probably then denied ever having done so. I am completely bewildered by the fact that neither Daleks nor Cybermen, just about the only thing save 'scarf' that the general public knows about DW, where entirely non-present, my adolescent self clearly so smugly wrapped up in my 'original' creations. (I did think up a Dalek story at one point, though, called The Exile of the Daleks that, no doubt, would have annoyed people) It's good though, that I made all this crap up in my mind and subsequently saw the New Series, so I could compare the two and realise what Television is meant to actually do.

It also gives me a good reference when RTD does something that I don't quite like. I can look back and say "Well, at least he didn't [....]" and have a good point.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Sparacus Quote-Dump

aka. The Easiest Update I've ever made

You go on OG, you're bound to see at least one Spara quote in a signature. But, to my knowledge, they've never been catalogued. Obviously I haven't trawled through every post our favourite [arguably fictitious] delusional fanfic author and 'Whovianologist' has made, as that would take months and all that reamins of my 'life'. But I have a tendency, when I see a corker, to Ctrl+V it into a txt file.

Here is the bounty:

On Adam Rickitt

"To imagine the world without Adam Rickitt is to imagine a bleak, endless desert devoid of all life , water or air and where the sun never rises"

On Proper Behaviour

"The celts knew that the best way to protect yourself from evil spirits is to mimic them by playing tricks. So get out there and egg some windows! [...] It is not anti-social or lower class to play tricks on Halloween. It shows an understanding of celtic mythology."

"[...] the BBC are being ridiculous about this. It's much more wholesome to look at a well-formed arse than to watch gangsters on Eastenders"

"That only serves to demean yourself and make you seem 'council'."

"I didn't mean to inspire you to snort coke. I apologise. "

On Himself

"Of course I have heard of the living legend Andrew Pixley. I was reading his HUGE mind-bogglingly detailed viewing notes from the new 'The Prisoner' boxset only yesterday. I'd choose him to write my biography."

"I am not an egotistical tosspot. I don't sit here thinking I'm King of the World."

"I am not involved with any organised religion. I am however about to read 'The Da Vinci Code'"

"I cannot help the fact that I'm intelligent as I have said before. Its almost as if the fact that I have a high IQ is something to be ashamed of. "

"I post here for other peoples' benefit not for my own. "

"I take pride in my work. However this does not mean that I am Jordan's bouncing breasts, ripe for squeezing. "

"I'd just like to remind posters that its my BIRTHDAY TODAY!!!!!!!!"

"I am not David Bowie although I have ridden in a white stretch limo. I am not without money."

"Oh - there are a lot of responses which I wish to answer however I'm too tired tonight as I've had a fair amount of port. Will reply tomorrow."

"I have never wanted to insert a vinyl copy of a David Bowie album up my rectum. Such an activity would be impossible to achieve given the dimensions of vinyl LPs."

"I am not friends with Paul McGann although he's welcome to come round for a Christmas sherry & a bit of pork pie if he wants - then we could watch my DVD set of 'The Prisoner'."

"You can only inspire imagination in those who have one, such as myself."

"I don't dance naked down Colchester High Street singing 'Material Girl' while sipping a glass of champagne through a straw."

"I am not at all snobbish - indeed I cannot abide snobbery - the unjustified putting on of airs by those people who are no better than anyone else. It simply makes life more difficult for those of us who are."

"Steady on. I do not hold Nazi beliefs."

"I'm not just some random fan. [...] I am a prolific writer of Doctor Who fiction and I think I have an incisive understanding of the essence of the show."

"Its hard to be humble when you're me. However I will try."

On 'Whovianology'

"I have considered writing an academic textbook on the programme, however I haven't the time."

On The New Series

"That is basically what I'm trying to say - I'd rather have no Dr Who than bad Dr Who... "

"And nobody on here had the courtesy to say afterwards 'you were right all along about its over-fast pace & silly humour'."

"Where can I go to pick up my Mickey like 'bit of rough'?"

On Humanity

"Look if you give most UK people what they want as entertainment they'd demand a public execution of a paedophile every week (by slow torture) followed by a film of Wayne Rooney & his girlfriend having it off if full lurid detail."

"Children love anything to do with Black Magic. Hence Harry Potter's success."

On Big Finish

"The above comments are rather myopic. Big Finish produce many audio CDs of variable quality and so the chance of snapping up a whole season of good quality adventures must surely appeal. They must be looking to going into a new series range. I'd love to actually star in them , possibly doing the voice for the monk/Poole."

On David Bowie

"Bowie has not to my knowledge had plastic surgery"

"I think [David Bowie would appear in Revenge of the Sith] since it was a serious film. He'd have been fine as Palpatine"

"I can see the point you are making - Bowie is not in the same league as Olivier , although I've never rated Marlon Brando as an actor given his embarassing performance in films like 'Mutiny on the Bounty' and the overrated nature of 'The Godfather' (stick some cotton wool in your gob & do a cod-Italian accent)"

"There is nothing pornographic about a thread concerning David Bowie as actor."

"Bowie would never agree to play "a violent obese lesbian who eats her own faeces". The part wouldn't suit him."

On The Wonders of The Human Body

"Its vital to get your hands on meaty parts. [NB: Taken completely out of context] "

"I fail to see why large sweaty and plum-like testicles are relevent to this debate"

"That arse is a tad too floppy for my liking."

On Food

"Beans are better than dogs, as far as eating is concerned. I wouldn't fancy eating dogs. The police raided a Colchester Chinese takeaway for doing that."

On Russell T. Davies

"I've had a busy few days. I had to go to Cardiff on business. No time to check out the Doctor Who sites. I didn't see RTD, although I looked for him in the street. [...] I wasn't going to shoot him, I wanted to ask him out for a drink to talk about the show."

"I found a really nice bar opposite the Millenium Stadium that I was going to invite RTD to. Really nice food and salad bowls. Still, I can always return there for a weekend break."

God, that turned out longer than I expected!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Doctor 'inheriting' accents Tom Foolery-McLarkey

With the Tenth Doctor saying in the CiN special that he got his new Estuary accent from Rose during the regeneration, this seems to have opened up a new avenue of particularly odd thinking - with PMG's Doctor being given a Northern companion in the BBC7 series to explain Eccleston's Northern accent.

I was then thinking - why? Because, when you look back, it doesn't gel with the Doctor's previous regenerations...

1. Troughton should have spoken with a rough, seaman lingo. (Oddly enough, this could have become true if the character had been a 'Sinbad style pirate captain', as was seriously brain-stormed..)

2. Pertwee should have been Scottish, being surrounded for almost all of his prior incarnation with Mr James Robert McCrimmon - although Pertwee's RP accent could [I]maybe[/I] have come from Bernard Horsfall...

3. Tom Baker should have used a mildly-offensive cod-Tibetan accent after K'Anpo helped him through the regeneration. (Though, if you're desperate to ret-con the new trend, you could say he was influenced by The Brig's dulcet baritone...)

4. Peter Davison... well, take your pick of whiny, nasal voices.

5. Colin Baker, depending on whether the system relies on proximity at regeneration or cumulative time spent with a companion, should have spoken with either an Australian or American accent.

6. Sylvester McCoy should have had a voice that would make you want to punch in your telly. (this one's arguable..)

7. Paul McGann should have been American and disgustingly corny.

So, in short, the madness about the Doctor borrowing his vocal style of anyone with an equity standing around when he carks it, makes no sense whatsoever.

What this makes me ponder, though, is why on Earth BF created Lucie to go along with this theory. And no, I'm not bringing this up just because I've only mentioned the BBC7 audios a very small handfull of times and yet have managed to squeeze in some sort of reference to wanting to see Lucie killed brutally very soon. But it doesn't help.

The reference to the Doctor grabbing ahold of Rose's mockney, of course, originates from RTD being thoughtlessly pressured into a state of needing to write a CiN that was quite impossible to do sensibly.

1. Christopher Eccleston had burnt his bridges. Literally. He poured petrol along the entire London bridge and set it alight. He's a fucking nutter!

2. The new Doctor hadn't been introduced. All anyone knew was that he had new teeth, gurned, and played the lamest badguy ever in Harry Potter.

(If you missed it, here it is again:

"Give us a name, Karkaroff!"
"Erm... how about that tall guy who just walked in?"
*Tries to run away, fails*)

3. The Christmas Invasion started right after The Parting of the Ways. Like STRAIGHT after. Much less ambiguity than the end of The War Games (Which also had fuck all)

In addition to all this continuity bullshit that RTD had to work around, there's the fact that he wouldn't even be paid for this - y'know, charity stuff. So, really, he did what he could with a minimum of headache-inducing thought to continuity sensitivity - had the Doctor talk shit for five minutes.

Thus, the reason the Doctor says he got his accent from Rose, is precisely the same reason the Doctor developed acute psychic powers that allowed him to divine that Jack was alive and well, and delusions that made him think that a pampered, playboy con artist would be interested in/useful for rebuilding the Earth. Because it helped fill a page in the half hour or so RTD would have taken to write the stuff.

It's a worrying sign, though - is this the new path for BF? Explaining/expanding on every throw away line in the New Series that ain't quite right? If so - gawd help us.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

My Sense of Self-Importance (or Lack Thereof)

Today, I tried an experiment - I had no idea how people find individual blogs through Blogger, and, after quite a bit of looking around, found the BlogSearch button. I then decided to check out on what page this blog would show up if I searched for "Doctor Who".

I've no idea because about 2000 entries showed up and weren't sorted by anything.

So, I tried again, searching for the exact phrase "Doctor Who and the Pirates" which, of course, I had used recently in my Big Finish round up. Two entries.

I figured, "Wait a second! I use swear words all the time! That means I'll need to switch safe-search off!"

No. That wasn't the answer. Eight more matches, none of them were mine.

It was at this point that I realised that BlogSearch was completely unmitigated crap, and decided to try the far more reliable Google. Dropping any pretense I looked for "The Den of Inadequacy"

One result:

Title: Damn if the assClownPosse isn't complete slime
Source: The Den of Inadequacy
URL Source: http://none
Published: Jul 3, 2005
Author: assorted shitheels

Post Date: 2005-07-03 14:04:32 by Dude Lebowski
Keywords: assClownPosse, complete, isntViews: 67

Comments: 61
I'm not gonna link to it, but they have a thread posted by "redhead" where they give instructions on how to obtain one 4um members phone number and home address. They even give a full name. Along with their usual refrains about how we all deserve incarceration for not being complete lemmings.
Now if this is illegal, and I'm sure it is (harassment, libel, incitement to criminal acts), can't these ass-pilfering heffalumps be shut down? If anyone is interested in discussing, maybe it should be done by private mail. They shouldn't be able to do this.

My reaction, in full:


I mean, god, I'd have preferred being ignored completely by the internet then described as a 'shitheel' member of an 'ass posse' who has commited criminal felonies just like that arsehole Alan Jones. Okay, it's an indirect reference because they're clearly not referring to this site but.. jeez.

The most important point is thus: it is pretty much impossible for anyone at all to accidentally stumble upon this site, ever. So people need a direct link to read it. As such, my readership is doomed to languish in the low just-above-zeroes forever.

Given the amount of time I spend on my blog entries, then, I start to wonder if it's time I just started doing more programming work. Like so:

//Author: Jared Hansen
//Purpose: converts DW season dates for those too lazy to do simple fucking arithmetic

public class seasoncon{

public static void main(String args[]){

int userNum //Number entered by user
int caclNum //Calculated number that acts as output
int counter //Keeps count of how many times a user fails to perform a task
int LASTSEASON = 26 //Constant - the value of the final season of the classic season

ReadKb kb = new ReadKb //Erm... it's complicated..

userNum = 0

while (userNum > 2){
if (counter > 0) {
System.out.println("ERROR: Incorrect data entered");

System.out.println("Enter 1 to convert old numbering system to new, 2 for new-old");

if (userNum = 1){

userNum = 0;

System.out.println("Enter season number");
userNum = kb.getInt();

if(userNum > LASTSEASON){
calcNum = userNum - LASTSEASON;
calcNum = userNum;

System.out.println("Season " + calcnum);

userNum = 0;

System.out.println("Enter season number");
userNum = kb.getInt();

calcNum = userNum + LASTSEASON;

System.out.println("Season " + calcnum);



Seriously, that is the shit I'm doing all the time at TAFE. Well, that's the shit I wish I was doing because now we're doing stuff that's even more boring! Incidentally, I can also say that code up there breaks several coding guidelines and is hardly a professional standard, but I just threw it together to make a point. (And regardless, it will compile and run which is what REALLY matters)

So, yeah, I'm just saying that blog entires may well peter off and die a slow death due to combined catalysts of a fairly fragile ego and the fact that yelling into a vacuum is getting quite tiresome. Really, I'm surprised at how long this blog's actually lasted given the fact that I've never managed to keep a diary in my life.

I'll be posting my Spare Parts review at some stage at least, though...

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Has the ABC Sold Out?

That's a question I expect to be asked around the place now that the ABC has topped the ratings. Not overall, of course, but for Wednesday night. Over all the opposition.

As will be frustrating to the monkies chained to desks with The Big Book of Copshow Cliches that write City Homicide the answer is a re-sounding: "No". Although the ABC has been under fire for an increasing degree of commercialism (Read: Some) and focusing on getting a profit from its merchandising in theory (Because they can't get money from the government) those controversies are completely irrelevant on Wednesday night. The three core shows: Spicks and Specks, The Chaser's War on Everything and Summer Heights Crap-fest: Watch Chris Lilly Act Naturally and Then Pretend not to be Gay in an Awful Ethnic Stereotype Wig are all completely local content with home-(including New Zealand) grown talent made good and low, low budgets.

In fact, it just reveals that the commercial channels have sold out.

But how is that possible? - you say - They're already capitalistic pig-dogs! True. But being capitalistic creatures requires a kind of loyalty - loyalty to what your customer base hungers for. And in this regard the commercial networks have clearly been failing.

There is so much bullshit in the Australian TV world it sometimes makes me gag just reading about the sordid world, filled with warped perspectives and people who don't seem to have the faintest idea what anybody would want to see on a screen in their house. "Nobody wants drama!" is one of the big yells - generally this conclusion is reached by the fact that the local dramas, generally written and directed by a group of blokes on valium who went to NIDA (that's bad. Very very bad) don't reel in viewers, whilst ignoring that overseas dramas written by people who actually get more than one writing gig in their lifetime are massively popular.

This leads to the cheapest alternative. Reality TV. Even though [sur]Reality TV has fallen massively from popularity for the last four years, they're still making new ones. There are at least 4 years left in Big Brother - the bogan-filled monkey cage only watched by radio comedians we all politely ignore - and Australian Idol looks set to try and control the music industry for years to come. Even if a reality TV show rates a 0, its still a great return on investment as the budget's a comparable number, and equal to the amount of enthusiasm required.

When things get so bad that your shitty Reality Shows actually involve losing money, where's the next logical step? Well sitcoms are cheap... but not quite that cheap. What you want is a shitcom starring a reality TV presenter. I'm referring of course to a disaster I believe Nostradamus himself prophesied - James Mathison (aka the dude everyone fucking hates from Idol) will be starring in a 'comedy' produced by Ten, in which he's going through a 'quarter life crisis' and moves in with his parents - WHO ARE IN A RETIREMENT VILLAGE. It's the kind of wonderful premise that leaves me contemplating life as a hermit.

This is what I mean - the Networks are treating us with contempt. They have sold out. Return the favour!

Mel invited you to join the Facebook group "Summer Heights High Appreciation Society".
Mel says, "Cause I know you love the show! And if you don't, then you need to watch it!" - email from Facebook

Naturally, this entry wouldn't be complete without another swipe at Summer Heights High. Australia, why the fuck do you like this show? I need to understand. Is Chris Lilley 'pretending' to be gay really that funny? I watched five minutes of last week's episode desperate to understand the appeal. And, once again, it alluded me like the infernal White Whale.

It wasn't that the show wasn't funny. It was that watching it somehow sucked the mirth from my very soul, made me question the existence of anything funny even existing in the Universe. I found myself wondering if every memory I had laughing was a lie, and that my life had been comprised entirely of beatings, leading up to this final piece of cruelty that I did not deserve.

Thank Christ Newstopia was right after it...

Sometimes I just can't be arsed...

And I've discovered more often than not, it's in situations involving the DWADs.

Just for the hell of it, I sent them a story proposition for a laugh - just as my mate Ewen did.* This backfired, though - they liked it.

See, I was hoping for a hilarious rejection letter, but instead Lighthope sent me a message about how intriguing the idea was, and how he wanted more details. I gave him more details. He wanted to know more. Obviously I made the critical mistake of choosing a well-conceived story that was eminently suitable to the current Doctor-companion team. And, obviously, not wanting the story to be accepted. I'm sure if most writers took this stance they would by Murphy's law recieve far fewer rejection letters...

So, after blocking Lighthope's email and hoping he would completely forget my existence and turning my attention to maybe writing some of *deep breath* Attack of the Cybermen/Vengeance on Varos/Androgum Inheritance/To Catch a Thief/Don't Be Evil/Afraid of the Daleks/The Emperor Club/Gray Areas/The Meek and the Wild I was thinking, hang on, I have the power to be accepted... what if I used this power against them? Mwu ha ha and so on and so forth.

The idea was quite simple - to write a story that on the surface would simply appear to be a surreal tale in the vein of The Mind Robber but in actuallity had a reasonably clear subtext about the uncanonical nature of the DWADs and that they only really exist because of the singular nature of DW fandom and their own gigantic American egos.

How do I communicate this? With an odd re-jigging of an abandoned Pat Troughton story apparently working-titled "The King's Bedtime Story", wherein an immortal 'king' would be read stories by his captives. The working title for my version would be, fairly predictably, 'Bedtime', as it would be a concept feared by the prisoners, for when the dreaded Bedtime comes the king sleeps for thousands of years, leaving them in the darkness and at the mercy of his most unjust Chamberlains.

The 'king' would be a mortal man named Arkan - a name I pulled out of thin air but curiously is the name of a Serbian commando and oddly suited - who sold his soul for the secret of eternal life. He only maintains it in a pocket-universe, but still has used his power to bring in more mortals - the purpose of the 'Bedtime' story is to ingest new, living, concepts into his Universe and thus allow its power to grow. Sadly, the process takes some thousands of years, but due to the abstracted nature of the universe time has little meaning and his prisoners linger on.

Of course, the Doctor and Moira arrive in this madness, and soon the concept of 'the Doctor' is introduced, and becomes dangerous almost immediately. Arkan realises that if he can become the Doctor, he can be free - for if he can satisfy The Guardian of the Outer Universes that he has a purpose in N-Space he can be free.

With this backstory in mind, hopefully this, the one scene I wrote, should make sense:

ARKAN: Doctor. I suppose that your appearance here was inevitable.

THE DOCTOR: Clearly. Where is 'here' exactly?

ARKAN: This is, in a manner of speaking, the heart of the Universe. The Nexus Point from which all reality eminates.

THE DOCTOR: And there's precious little of that around. Could there be some form of plumbing problem?

ARKAN: The Guardian can deal with such banal entreaties, if you meet him. Judging by your past adventures, Doctor, I'd guess that this is the stage where you ask for me details on my ingenious designs..

THE DOCTOR: A clue? No.


THE DOCTOR: You sold your soul to live forever. I've seen it all before.

ARKAN: It was a bargain, Doctor.

THE DOCTOR: I can imagine. But I haven't even mentioned spending your eternity with figments of your imagination who loathe you.

ARKAN: A momentary set-back.

THE DOCTOR: I agree. The sad thing is that when you're immortal a moment can last.. oh, ten thousand years?

ARKAN: Seconds! Mere seconds!

THE DOCTOR: That scale would make your moment of triumph that you've been ranting about so a true case of 'blink and you've missed it'.

ARKAN: I don't need to listen to you anymore, 'Doctor'...

THE DOCTOR: No, you do not, and yet you are. Fascinating - in a realm as uncompromisingly dull as this one, at least. It suggests a form of symbiosis between us.

ARKAN: Don't flatter yourself, Doctor. You're nothing but a necessary evil.

THE DOCTOR: Necessary is an important word - 'vital to continued existence'. If whatever link there is between us is broken... then you cease to exist.

ARKAN: Don’t be so literal - that cannot happen. It was possible for you to arrive here, but it is completely impossible for you to leave.

THE DOCTOR: Not if I use the TARDIS.

(Arkan laughs. We hear the key being thrown through the air and caught by the Doctor)

ARKAN: Try it. There, you have the key.

THE DOCTOR: The simple fact that you've given it to me tells me that it shall be useless.

ARKAN: Correct, of course. As you should recall, the key and the lock mechanism are imbedded with metabolic decoding sensors-

THE DOCTOR: (wearily) Of course I know that, it's my key.

ARKAN: They only function when given the metabolic and isotropic imprints of "The Doctor". And I'm The Doctor now.

THE DOCTOR: This is all nonsense. You are not The Doctor.

ARKAN: Identity is a fragile thing, Doctor. And all of us.. all beings are so small. Quadrillions of us make up the known universe - our identity is irrelevant, but we have our function. And when the cog known as the Doctor disappears from the universe, another must arrive to fill its function.

THE DOCTOR: That's what your banking on? Existential balance sheets? It won't work. I've only been in this sorry excuse of a universe for a day at the most.

(Arkan laughs again. The Doctor, sounding fed up, cuts him off)

THE DOCTOR: Oh, what is it now?

ARKAN: 'A day at the most'... for a Time Lord you can't keep... but then I'm sure you've heard it before.

THE DOCTOR: I have. More than once.

ARKAN: You haven't been here for a day, Doctor. Or two, or three. You've been here for sixteen years.

(At this news the Doctor sounds shocked)

THE DOCTOR: WHAT?! No, that can't be... they'll need me! Let me get back..

(Arkan laughs throughout the Doctor's next words)

THE DOCTOR: I HAVE to get back... who knows what evil forces are at work?... stop laughing, man!

ARKAN: THEY need YOU? I think not. All they need is someone to be 'The Doctor'. Because it is more than a man, more than a folk-hero, more than master-plans and chess games and funny clothes and teeth and curls! No, it is a concept. A force, even... the anthropomorphism of the Universe's very foundation-stone, the Random Factor. And that shall be me.

THE DOCTOR: If what you say is true, if there is a void in the Universe that now needs to be filled, then what's to stop other forces from other universes to make the attempt?

ARKAN: Nothing. But I shall defeat them. Because I AM THE FIRST!

Yeah, not particularly subtle, but I was hoping it would slip them by, even the '16 years' bit. Again, though, I found myself loving the concept but not really interested in writing it all, so it's been languishing on my harddrive... along with a couple of throw-away quotes that were going to be in there somewhere:

ARKAN: Haha, you are unable to debate my logic, Doctor!

THE DOCTOR: That's because you don't have any. Hollow and empty rhetoric. Full of sound and fury, symbolising nothing.

ARKAN: Your fury is impressive too, Doctor. But then, the light burns the brightest before it burns out..

MOIRA: I think you should rest, Doctor...

ARKAN: Rest? No! Rest is for the wicked - and I'm not wicked, am I? Of course not - I’m the Doctor!

MOIRA: You’ve mentioned it once or twice, yeah…

Make of that what you will. In the meantime, I've decided that National Novel Writing Month can go fornicate itself with its own pencil, and that finishing several pieces of fic will be preferrable to not finishing a hurriedly written novel.

*See how much effort I go to just in case somebody I don't know stumbles across this site?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

BF Round-Up Extravaganza!

For some reason I started writing reviews of all the BF adventures I've listened to. Lengths vary slightly.

Spare Parts - Haven't finished yet. 'S'alright.

Bang-bang-a-boom - Something of a disappointment... though it's got nothing at all to do with quality. You see, the main reason I wanted to listen to this was the fact that it has Graeme Garden in it. BUT the thing is that Graeme Garden, in addition to probably being the cleverest of the three Goodies, is also a highly professional voice actor, and so doesn't even sound like Graeme Garden in this story.

The other problem, of course, is that it isn't funny. Yes, it's fun but it's not quite the same. The idea of an Intergalactic Eurovision Song Contest... well, doesn't exactly have legs but there's a lot of nice dinky set pieces that keep you entertained. It's just that apart from the Doctor playing the spoons, Mel assuming every character they meet is a murderer, and the Doctor being hit on by a six-foot-tall Valkyrie that sounds like Jane Horrocks, there isn't that much to laugh at. Besides, the DS9/B5 jokes are forced, and the "I just made up all the techno-babble" joke really doesn't work if you use it, oh, four or five times?

The thing is, though, that the plot is very well thought-out and has quite a few impressive twists and turns... really the story does a very good job of keeping you entertained. It would have been better off it wasn't publicised as a comedy story, though, because as is it feels like a straight story with a couple of silly bits thrown in rather than some sort of full-on comedy effort. And just as well, because if it was a comedy story with these gags it would really fall flat!

Production values and acting is great all round. Well, apart from the fellow playing Logan. Waaaay too many pauses in his scenes.

EDIT: Oh, that was a Terry Wogan pisstake... I can't take credit for working that out, I read it somewhere I'm sorry to say.. why didn't they get Graeme to do it?!? I mean, you've got a bloke who did a Terry Wogan send-up in every second epsiode of his incredibly long-running, popular and influential sitcom... and they give the role to a guy who clearly doesn't know a joke from his elbow? Jesus Christ...

The Next Life - I've covered this one. It's shit.

The Blood of the Daleks - When I heard 'by Steve Lyons' my first thought was 'Aaaw, shit!'. My hopes were further dashed when I realised that the Doctor's new companion sounded like a cross between Catherine Tait's schoolgirl character and the "I DON' FINK SO!" girl from The Lenny Henry Show. That's what a Northern Accent sounds like on a woman? Or is Sheridan Smith both Northern and an anthropomorphic duck?

I fell asleep, I think, before the first episode was over but managed to follow the plot fine. Well, as far as I was concerned. I wasn't putting following the plot of a Lyons story too high a priority as five times out of ten it's been proven to lead to intense disappointment and frustration as every vaguely interesting character (if not every character full stop) gets massacred. Thankfully, this wasn't that bad! Also, action was kept vaguely credible - yay! The story was pretty simple - ludicrously so, in fact. Mad scientist finds Dalek casings and turns humans into Daleks civil war ensues. There's something about Dalek fighting Dalek stories that writers (apart from me) love. I've no idea what, though they are often quite entertaining.

The finale was great, with Nick Briggs again doing sterling work as every single Dalek that ever lived - remember when they actually got different guys to do the voices of the aliens, rather than one smart arsed bloke who would do absolutely every single one? Yet another great confrontation between the Doctor and his most persisten (if not greatest) enemy that is spine-tingling.

However, I feel a little sorry for Paul MacGann as confronting seems to be all he gets to do in this story - absolutely nobody is capable of showing any gratitude. Lucie goes off her rocker the moment she meets him, the President goes mad and blames the Doctor for absolutely everything (rather than Mad Scientist) and some homeless nutter in a tinfoil hat named Tom trashes him even more, with even more vehemence than the women. This leads to an incredibly aggravating scene, one of those ones where two characters take a moment to exchange, ooh, a dozen words or so, and some prick (Tom) starts yelling "WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE AND YOU'RE JUST STANDING AROUND TALKING!!!" Don't get me wrong, I can appreciate people in the real world occassionally feeling the need to yell their heads off. Just wait until the other party stands around and talks for more than a couple of seconds.

Jubilee - Awww, yeah. Mass amputations 'n shit.

I can't even remember the last episode, though. Lots of weird stuff going on. But suddenly, after hearing this, I realised why that dreadful Dalek episode was actually meant to be good, why it could never be as good on TV, how parallel universe stories can actually be half-way decent, and why everyone raves about the whole audio genre. And where RTD stole the character of Lucy Saxon from. Hmm.

Colin Baker's speech at the Jubilee itself is sublime perfection, as is the fake trailer at the very start. Damned near perfection.

Phantasmagoria - I was told that this story featured non-stop Mark Gatiss and David Walliams ego-tripping and the Doctor sitting around in a basement for hours on end, so my expectations weren't high at all. But I really, really liked it.

As in The Cavaliers any sense of how many characters is a suitable number for the story that needs to be told is conspicuously evident, along with a couple of patches of unsettling borderline-sexism. Unlike The Cavaliers, though, this one works in what it's trying to do.

Well, what it's trying to do is sort of being the ultimate in generic DW historical adventures, so it's arguable whether this is at all laudable or a complete waste of all our time. But it's really campy fun, with likeable heroes and a suitably loathesome villain that entertains in its very simple plot and characters.

The voices are the silliest ever, but they all seem appropriate given the story. Why not have Dr Holywell sound like Bill Oddie playing Santa Claus? Who says Mark Gatiss doing a really crap John Hurt impression is bad casting for a past-it alcoholic? Why not have David Walliams with a mouthful of marbles playing a dual-role as a watchmen-rapist?

The best bit is Sir Nickolas Valentine - whoever plays him (can't recall) doesn't just play it to the hilt, he plays it until the sword vanishes and becomes a distant memory. If it were possible for sheer, depraved evil to drip off soundwaves you'd need to swathe yourself in napkins everytime he speaks. Forget Tekker, this guy is the real shit. It seems like every second line is punctuated with a cadaverous chuckle that sounds like a death-rattle, and lines like "What game?... a long game...a looooong game" are drawn out for truly ridiculous lengths and relishments.

This, however, leads to one of the slightly irritating things about the play - it is almost painfully obvious from the very, very first line in the whole story that Valentine is the villain. I mean, for starters, how could a character named Nickolas Valentine not be the villain? Yet it takes the Doctor the lion's share of the story to work out that he is - and, yes, he spends some time sitting on his arse in a basement before getting around to it.

Also, what the hell is the deal with all the hyping done about the Doctor's card game with Valentine? Wost. Card game. Ever. Seriously, Valentine can't even be arsed playing a real game to trap people into his [ludicrously complicated] scheme, so he just tells people "Oh, yeah, play this game with me. I'll explain it... here take some cards... and that one... and that one... Congratulations you win! Take that card with you!" Yeah, it makes sense in the plot, but we're lead to believe some seriously cool card game showdown is on the way. And there's no showdown, there's no cool, and it's debatable whether there's even a 'game' as such.

Apart from its small defects (along with which is definitely Mark Strickson, clearly finding his feet as an audio actor) Phantasmagoria remains effortlessly charming and enjoyable, with just enough twists in the plot to keep it feeling like a real story and not a half-arsed pastiche. Oh, the story ends in a truly vomit-inducing tribute to the "Crap joke in final line" syndrome prevalent in 70s television for some god-damned reason, but that's easy to absolve. Just press the stop button early and you'll be none the wiser.

Her Final Flight - Great trailer. As for the story...


Sorry, I nodded off there. What was I talking about? Oh, yeah..

Whispers of Terror - Justin Richards is a writer who, like Steve Lyons, I'm a bit iffy on... for a similar reason, really - Richards has a bit of a cavalier (or 'Sawardian' if you will) approach to characters. He doesn't kill them off as heartlessly or as cruelly as Lyons, that's for sure, but he still turns a lot of stories into senseless bloodbaths for absolutely no reason. And, of course, there's the fact that his characterisations are sometimes so inconsistent I end up expecting characters to behave like bi-polar schizophrenics and not at all like any humans that I actually know.

This was a triumph, though. Unlike in novels, Richard doesn't have the means or the excuse to use a massive cast. In fact, some people criticized the play for being too small in scope. These people are fools who don't know a good thing when they've got it. You hear me? DAMNED FOOLS!!! (Besides, limited scope meant that there was more budget for other stories!)

The whole story is set in the claustrophobic-sounding Museum of Aural Antiquities and the villain is such an awesome idea that it was stolen for ...Ish and Scherzo. The dreaded SOUND CREATURE! Of course, in a brilliant twist, in a world of completely amoral if not evil politicians (who can relate to that?) the 'evil' sound creature turns out to be one of the only characters with genuine good intentions. Well, a big part of its intention is wiping out the chilli-suckers who betrayed him Charles Bronson-style but I maintain Soundy's heart is in the right place.

One problem, though: another twist that was incredibly obvious. I think the direction and production let Richards down (in the recording of Visten Krane's murder, I'm thinking of)

Not much more to add except Colin is brilliant, and this is something of a constant within his stories.

Colditz - *sigh*

Okay, the idea behind doing a WWII story is you get to have wonderfully clear-cut villains. This is about the only good thing about doing WWII stories because they have been established as mind-numbingly cliche in the science-fiction genre. A combination of WII and parallel universe... you have no excuse unless you've been locked in a bunker with no access to any sci-fi at all for the past 30 years.

And even then I'll probably still beat the crap out of you.

Steve Lyons ignores absolutely all this common sense. There are no strong villains. There isn't even one adequate villain. There's Feldweber/Oberleutnant Kurtz, who's either an NCO or an officer depending on which side of absolutely shithouse editing you currently are, a bully, a coward, a borderline psychopath but one that's a complete laughing stock to the allies and the Nazis. The only thing of interest being the fact that he's portrayed by David Tennant and wants to rape Ace. There's Oberst VonSumfinkorozzer who is the token 'nice' Nazi. There's the Krazy Kamp Kommandant who is constantly mentioned over the course of four episodes but never appears - and it's meant to be a twist when we learn he isn't at the camp! (For fuck's sake!) Yeah, he's on a holiday in Switzerland or something. And then there's Klein, whose mind-numbing brain deadness warrants an entire paragraph.

Klein is a time-travelling SS officer from an alternate future who arrives at Colditz using the Doctor's TARDIS. She's also a dribbling moron who is entirely unable to do anything without arousing people's suspicion and/or wiping out the alternate future she arrived from in the first place. She is in the past for no real reason but to threaten the Doctor for her own amusement, but is completely unable to do so. We're meant to be scared when she tells the Doctor that Ace is going to die, even though it's already been established that every single frigging thing Klein believes is meant to happen doesn't.

So, in short, Steve Lyons thought it would be great to have a villain that not only was too stupid to even have an evil plan, but would also manage to turn everything she touches into crap, thus saving the Doctor from expending any effort in stopping her from doing anything. Klein left me utterly gobsmacked in that anyone would possibly dream up such an entirely awful notion in anything but an off-the-wall comedy. By which I mean seriously dropping-the-acid-laced-with-motor-oil stuff.

Klein, in spite of being even more pathetic than Feldweber/Oberleutnant Kurtz in every regard, provokes endless rants from Sylv. Steve Lyons again seems to have missed the bleeding obvious - McCoy is not, in anyone's opinion good at righteous anger. In fact, opinion on the matter ranges from "Jesus Christ he's awful" to "Come on guys, he's not quite that bad" which isn't a lot of leeway. Hearing him screaming "But then you have BLONDE HAIRRR..AND BLUE EYES DO YOU NOT!?" really didn't help things.

Also, the 'massive twist' of this story - that the laser in Ace's CD player was the technology that lead to the Nazis winning WWII didn't impress me. First, I saw it coming a mile off because why else would Kurtz bring up the CD player in every second scene? Second, it doesn't make much sense. Third, I was distracting by the convoluted shite about the apparent actions of a parallel 8th Doctor (presumably played by David Troughton) in getting the TARDIS back to Sylv - there's nothing I like better than a story when time travel has actually resolved the entire plot BEFORE any of it happened.

And furthermore, why the hell is this called "Colditz"? It's got NOTHING to do with Colditz. About half of the story happens to be set there, but it's of no relevance to the plot. It could just as easily be entitled "Steve Lyons masturbates into a script for 100 minutes". Plus there's the ugly truth that a blatant lack of budget leaves this the worst-sounding release that I've heard yet - and they apparently couldn't afford any music so Gary Russell just brought in his drum machine and decided to jam at the most inappropriate moments possible. Not to mention Colditz apparently only having two prisoners.

The story also, in theory, introduces a "New Ace". But, you know, not like the "New Ace" in the New Adventures. The one they got rid off after a while because she wasn't as interesting as the alco archaeologist. I'd much rather have a new companion, frankly. The appeal of Ace is completely and utterly lost on me, you know. Leaving aside Aldred's performance (and she's so desperate to avoid the terrible Mockney accent used on TV that she's barely even recognizable as the same character here), this story (supposedly 're-inventing' the character) is an excellent showcase for how terribly one-note the character is. Every single scene involving Ace and Kurtz features her insulting the German 'officer' endlessly. Every scene with Tim, her 'friend', she bullies and pressures him. Every scene with Gower, the prisoner C.O, involves her unrealistically pressuring for a break-out TONIGHT. She causes Tim to be nearly beaten to death, and expresses no remorse. She still blows stuff up. I hate to contradict Mr Campion-Clarke on any matter, but I believe that Sparacus may have been right on at least one matter: it is possible for a character to be both 'feisty' and 'boring'. Specifically if there name is Ace and they've been around for 20 years. (TWENTY FRIGGING YEARS! She's as old as I am... no wonder I'm sick of her!)

Hmm. Probably should have gone the succint route for this one...

*Slow clapping ala Blackadder*

Utter crap.

The Stones of Venice - Holy shit! Paul Magrs can write normal stuff!

Dr Who and the Pirates - Damit, possibly my favourite. It's been argued that it really isn't Doctor Who... but I won't have that! It features the Doctor, the TARDIS, a historical setting, a nasty villain, likeable heroes... it's more Doctor Who other things made under the name!

I'm frankly more surprised that more comments haven't been made about how frigging insane this story is. Evelyn all but breaks into a girl's room and starts berating her with stories about the Doctor, in spite of the fact that her complete lack of a memory prevents her from being able to tell if the Doctor is even still alive and can't decide how many legs Bill Oddie has. And then the Doctor himself rocks up to raid the stocks of tea, and corrects Evelyn on basically everything she's said. And then he decides the story's too boring and turns it into a shameless Gilbert and Sullivan rip-off. And has a sing-off with the First Mate that goes for fifteen minutes.

And then it's revealed Sally, the student, killed someone in a hit-and-run, when the lyrics get to her and she begins singing her tragic story. And then Bill Oddie starts cutting out people's tongues and force-feeding them to the new amputees. And the Doctor and the campest man every run around an island throwing coconuts looking for treasure. And then the Doctor steals the ship back. And then Bill Oddie doesn't die.

At this point the story is over, and the Doctor admits to Sally, in a typical moment of complete candour, that the story really sucked and blames it on Evelyn. And then tells Sally not to kill herself. According to at least one reviewer, Sally kills herself right before the end credits. I have no idea what that's based on, but something must have given her that idea.

Why is this my fave? I dunno. It's just cool. And absolutely batshit insane. Speaking of batshit insane...

Zagreus - Sylvester McCoy feels up India Fisher, Nicola Bryant eats Bonnie Langford, Peter Davison gets pussy-whipped by Nicola Bryant, Nicholas Courtenay shoots at Lalla Ward shouting about her leaving her dirty knickers around every and Paul McGann kills all of the other Doctors. Nuff said, surely?

Well... can enough be said about Zagreus? Maybe. But not, I think, in its defense. For my part, I like Zagreus. Okay, if I had waited for months after the release of Neverland, I probably wouldn't. If I had no idea what I was in for, again probably not. But the thing is I think Zagreus should be admired for an act of supreme narrative daring. Rather than codswallop like Colditz that is just drawn from an apparent drug-addled ignorance of anything that can constitute a story, Zagreus realises that its breaking all the rules. There's a good self-knowingness about it.

And you can't say it isn't fun... oh, well, you can certainly say that about Disc 1 which goes nowhere fairly gradually. Apart from the guilty pleasure of hearing Nicola Bryant as an extremely ballsy and toffy-nosed gung-ho researcher who takes every oppurtunity to diss Peter Davison, the first 'fantasy' segment is distinctly dull, and it's not hard to feel sorry for Peter getting a mild-mannered vicar for his second character. And then we have Colin, who gets to play the delightfully wicked closet-vampire, The Provost Tepesh in one of his best performances. And orders Bonnie to be killed. Hahaha!

Sorry, side-tracked. When I think about Zagreus and its poor reputation, I think of other stories that deliberately go outside the box of what is considered acceptable in DW. None of them are as badly recieved as this. And then it strikes me.. it's all about timing.

As a stand-alone, as I heard it, Zagreus works fine. Admirably even. Though the writing is certainly patchy, the fun it makes of the show as an entity is great in all its sacriligious glory, and matching the voices up to the character is a really great big chunk of the fun to be had. Its questionable as to whether a three-and-a-half hour piece of audio that deconstructs everything about the show piece-by-piece in dream sequences is a good idea for an anniversary special... but then that isn't the timing problem I meant. Allow me to digress again...

There's a scene in Disc 3 where the three Doctors and Charley go into Rassilon's tower. They come across the familiar chessboard of death, and the familiar solution - "Pi!". Showing previously unseen ability and bitchitude, Charley calls them all a pack of useless wankers and gives the actual solution to the chessboard with only a seconds pause for thought. (An explanation, by the way, that would make no sense at all to a Gallifreyan who knew nothing of Earth) This is several things: it is a subversion of the arguably sexist standard in which a Doctor explains important details to the companion by having the lines of communication shift the other way, it is a mockery of one of the worst pieces of writing in the series' history, and a nod to The Five Doctors, the halfway point to the special and a highly popular story.

What the scene isn't is good drama.

And THAT'S exactly what fans were expecting.

As an anniversary special, an exceptionally twisted one to showcase the unusual bent taken by fandom in adapting their favourite show of all time, Zagreus works. BUT the story is also meant to be a resolution to a shocking cliffhanger at the end of Neverland, with the Doctor apparently dead and Charley out of the picture. It is slightly damning that the actual beginning point of Zagreus doesn't seem to match up well with this (Much in the same way that Scherzo doesn't lead on naturally from the end of this one..) and what follows shows that Russell wasn't very concerned with producing a dramatic story in any conventional sense and concluding that storyline.

See, what fans would have been expecting would have been an apocalyptic story about the potential death of Our Universe from the Anti-Time infection. They would have expected, in this moment of crisis, the Doctors to attempt to unite across their time-streams, Voltron-like, to fight against the oncoming Evil McGann. They would have expected battle-scenes in the streets of The Capitol, great speeches about evil, and maybe cut-aways to Rassilonian history at the beginning of each disc to explain the backstory. It's hard to argue that it wouldn't have made more sense to do that in the given context, and also difficult to argue that it wouldn't have been a more satisfying story.

That is what overshadows Zagreus. Its hearts are in the right place, but the lead-in was all wrong. If we were treated to a fifth season of Blakes 7, and were then given 50 minutes of poking fun at the shows history as a resolution to the Gauda Prime shoot-out, it would be an apt comparison. I say, contrary to popular belief, Zagreus is a victim of bad judgement, rather than bad writing.

Omega - As a side-point (Always a good thing to start with in a review) I would have to be entirely incummunocado with fandom to be oblivious to the antipathy/incomprehension that greeted the news that the 'villain trilogy' of audios would be rounded off with 'Omega'. Okay, yes, 'Master' and 'Davros' would be the first off anybody's mind when asked for three identifiable villains but... when it comes to individuals the Doctor hasn't really faced off against that many with the room to return. I also haven't read any alternative suggestions at all for who the fans, so aghast with this decision, would have liked to fill the slot...

GUARDIAN - The Black Guardian is one of the more identifiable recurring villains, thanks mostly to JNT realising that Valentine Dyall's brilliantly villainous portrayal was completely wasted in the closing couple of minutes of The Armageddon Factor all those years ago. I'm not sure how much depth to his character, per se, could be uncovered, but an audio about the personification of chaos and injustice would have plenty of breathing space for cool ideas - the one Big Finish audio I think would be cool if done by Larry Miles.

VALEYARD - Hey, it could be good. Very good in fact. It would just have to overcome the facts that a) It would mean a rescheduling since Davo vs Valeyard rapes continuity to the point that even Big Finish couldn't condone it and b) Nobody in fandom seems to like Valeyard as a character only as a concept. Which is a bit of a shame since Michael Jaystone really gives it his all...

TOYMAKER - ...I can't even take that title seriously for a second. But if it does the trick for you... well, go nuts.

RANI - No. Because of course, the great thing about the Rani was that she wasn't evil for the sake of evil, more a mirror version of the Doctor (before the days of Iris Wildthyme) just without a sense of morals. The Doctor claims that she's mad, but then that might be him trying to make sense of her impossibly cold-hearted view of the Universe. All this means that the Rani isn't really any sort of archetypal villain, and thus unsuited to the slot. Of course, the same was said of Omega, but if I'm looking for a replacement it won't do. I wouldn't have minded hearing Davison and Omara sparring though...

BORUSA - Terrance Dicks could do it. But would you really want him to? (A clue: No)

TEKKER/SOLDEED - Sorry, I just had to put those in there. It's out of my system now.

MONK - No, hang on.. now it is...

CONTROLLER - Ah, one that would actually work. The Cybermen's lack of a character as strong as Davros limits them in the running for this slot, but The Controller has already proven himself capable of emerging from blatant destruction. Some retcon would be needed - possibly of the 'Sixth Doc is useless' variety, which is a handy fall-back option for all writers. A very strong script would be needed to make it work, though, or a new spin on The Controller's character...

LYTTON - This one would have worked, you see, if Saward hadn't decided to brutally castrate his own character in the most nonsensical way imaginable. Though If *I* Had Written Attack of the Cybermen this audio would be a perfectly sensible proposal...

GREEL - The title mightn't be immediately obvious to people, given all that 'Lord Weng-Chiang' nonsense, but hopefully enough folks remember the remarkably Sutekh-esque villain as being identified as Magnus Greel. The idea does have potential, as well, as we all know that Greel was an unconscionable war criminal who experimented with time travel before ending up in Victorian England. The problem is that any prequel story will be derided as pure fanwank. Which would be true enough, but then isn't that the point of a 'villain trilogy'.

SUTEKH - Yeah, I mentioned Sutekh so I'll bring him up... just to say that the very idea is so remarkably awful that if you were thinking that a Sutekh audio would be good, give yourself a slap right now. The character is a shallow, generic personification of evil used in one story simply so there's a villain. Just like Fenric. He may as well be a cardboard cut-out of Vincent Price.

NESTENE - Hmm... it could be good. But it would be far easier for it to be terrible. Note that I'm being generous here by extending 'villain' to the Nestene Consciousness, which is technically a single entity. But also exhibits absolutely no character. A mythos could be established for the story, but it would somewhat defeat the purpose of the story for celebrating an established villain.

AZAL - Yeah I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel... any moment now I'm going to suggest 'Intelligence' and 'Monarch'

Hopefully by this stage you've taken the point. If not, I'm clearly a terrible writer because I've had hundreds of words to get a very simple point across: the Doctor doesn't really have that many stand-out individual characters as villains that he faces in the show. Yes, he faces down plenty of interesting alien races, but their leaders are rarely anywhere near as interesting. Of the above 13 suggestions, which took me quite a long time to think of, only four were recurring villains. And two of them are dead. And the Rani really wouldn't work in the series, which leaves us with Guardian.

Although people argue that Omega makes no sense, lets look at the logical side of things...

a) Omega is one of very few villains to actually have a recurring appearance.

b) His second appearance was in Season 20 - the 'return appearance' season which also featured The Master and was going to feature Davros. Hey, isn't that a funny co-incidence? (Also the Black Guardian was featured...)

c) Like him or loathe him, Omega does feature a very strong personality in both of his stories, clear motivation, and plenty of baggage. In short, there's plenty for writers to work with.

The story... well, it's good. Not quite brilliant. For the first two episodes I was in love with it... the set-up was very good and provided for a good leisurely character piece rather than any sort of grand showdown between the Doctor and Omega, the hack actors portraying Omega and his off-sider Vanderkirion being posessed by the ghosts of the originals was a nifty idea well-handled, and the Timelord version of Simon Scharma was a good character. Curiously, though, these episodes are 35 minutes long... when you listen, it becomes depressingly apparent that they have been extended simply so Nev Fountain can fit even more jokes about fandom in. Okay, yes, when the Professor and the Doctor argue about the ideas of the Omega mythos in a way that mirrors fan debates it is entertaining. When more and more references to fandom happen with far less subtlety when the plot is meant to be resolved, it gets distracting.

When the entire story ends with a future Time Lady appearing out of nowhere and gushing over the Doctor like no OGer ever would dare and proposing immediately ways of ret-conning the entire story out of existence to appease the Doctor's fan in future Gallifrey... well, it's enough to get you screaming swear words at your CD player.

The episode seems to want its cake and to eat it, too: we're given a lot of Omega's backstory. A LOT. Sadly this includes one of the worst Gallifrey flash-back scenes ever, where we seem to be curiously lead to believe that Rassilon somehow started a bloody coup that wiped out large portions of the Capitol while still at the academy and sight-seeing with his pal Omega. Rassilon is terribly cast here, and I hope others were wishing they got Don Warrington to do this scene to lend some credibility to yet another piece of "Ooh, it's the evil Rassilon!".

The contradiction to giving us all this backstory, is the fact that the final parts of the story tell us that Omega is mad and has no idea whether any of this happened or not. Well, that's great. Can I have the last 90 minutes back, please?

Apparently the whole idea was to illustrate the unreliable nature of stories. Just like Doctor Who and the Pirates, then...

The Horror of Glam Rock - Holy shit, Paul Magrs can write stuff that's so normal it's boring!

...Ish - I need to listen to this one again. It certainly got my attention...

Loups-Garoux - This is one of the weirder ones... set mostly in a near-future train travelling through the Amazonian desert and dealing with a Brazilian clan of werewolves. He's accompanied by Turlough, who has now learnt a thing or two about audio dramas and is thus less irritating a companion.

This is a great story for ideas - the werewolves have in-built perception filters that have allowed them blend into society, and there's the familiar battleground of humanity and animalism and the struggle for identity in 'the pack', a werewolf that has been trapped in a purgatory between the two states, a teenaged self-styled Amazionian warrioress who carries in her mind the spirit of the now-dead forest, and the titular Loups-Garoux, the grandfather of all werewolves who is chasing his lover down across the entire earth.

The problem is one that often occurs with idea stories - the plot suffers. A lot is built up over the first three episodes, so it's a bit of a let down when the story changes tack in the last episode, in a way that involves effectively writing out half the characters right at the start. Quite disappointing.

The story is stronger than the sum of its parts, though, and as such highly impressive. Pitor Stube, the Loups-Garoux himself, has an especially sinister voice, the performance from Elanor Bron (and the awkward quasi-romantic subplot with the Doctor) is brilliant, and the director is very atmospheric. This has to be the only audio I've heard so far that I'd describe as scary to listen to - and it had me on the edge of my seat as to how the Doctor would solve everything.

Plus it features a scene where a gigantic wolf vomits up Turlough, complaining about how bad he tastes. Awe. Some.

Immortal Beloved - Her name is Lucie Miller.

She began her life with one goal.

She alone, would establish herself as the single most fucking irritating Doctor Who companion of all time, ahead of Janet Fielding, Bonnie Langford, Matthew Waterhouse, Jackie Lane and Lis Sladen.

It took her all of five minutes.

"Oi, bar-gum, mi name'z Lucie Miller and this mis'rable suthern fucking wanker is mi bumblin' assisstant! Oi'm here to perv on yez!"

Ian McNeice was also in this. Which was nice.

I also listened to the first fifteen minutes or so of Phobos, which have me convinced that the BBC7 series is shite.