Monday, June 16, 2008

Stories not as great as TERROR OF THE VERVOIDS

This is going off the recent Eurovision Ratings Competition on OG which I, erm... sort of destroyed. Oh, no, nothing permanent, everything's still standing but... well..

Okay, it works like this, you have ten stories to vote for. Top one gets 12, the next 10, then the last 8 to 1 points. This system is quite cool because it gives favourites of the group being voted for a strong lead, but stories ranked in the middle still get a significant boost. And generally there are so many to vote for in the group that ones that are consistantly voted middling can do better and so on.

I am, as is known, quite a big Colin Baker fan. The man's just class. Because of this, I wanted him to do decent out of the 'final' round, wherein the candidates were all of the winners from the individual Doctors' rounds, where each Doctor got a story in for every six stories or a similar such system. Which meant Colin only had two - Revelation of the Daleks and Terror of the Vervoids. Yes, not Varos or Two Doctors, which I would rather have gotten through.

I wanted to show my support, so I gave Vervoids 10 points after seeing nobody else had voted for it and not many of my faves had ultimately made the final. (12 went to War Games, naturally)

After I did that at least three people gave it 12 points.

Yes, I destroyed the vote.

So, in the eyes of this massively important poll (wherein Human Nature is astonishingly, the best DW story ever(!)) Vervoids made 66pts and #27 out of the final 36.

Here are the stories it beat...

#36 - The TVM 16pts

Well, this shouldn't surprise anyone, should it? It seems common consensus in fandom that the 3 hour film of David Beckham sleeping that that mentally ill artist made would make a better Doctor Who story than what Phillip Segal came up with. Or that Steven Segal would do a better job. It was only in the final by default as being Paul McGann's only foray into the world of television that we philistines give a shit about.

That said, when I was, erm, ten, nine? I liked the TVM on first broadcast. Honestly, first Doctor Who I'd seen. The bit with the snake in the throat and the motorcycle bit were awesome. Everything else is a blur. Not seen it since.

But I'm sure that it cannot compare to the wonder of seeing the grumpy bloke from GP muttering "On the previous occassion that the Doctor's path crossed mine, I found myself in a web of mayhem and intrigue" as if he has a gun jabbed in the back of his head.

#35 - The Impossible Planet 28pts

This is a story that the big kid in me loved - creepy tatooed men, gunfire, glowing red-eyes, black holes, the Devil... I mean, I did once suggest a story about a gateway into Hell opening up for a school play so I guess this sort of stuff is in my blood.

But The Impossible Planet, as much as I enjoy it, borders on being more of a collection of set-pieces than a coherent story - demonstrated by the infamous cliffhanger and the finale wherein the Doctor shouts about how great he is to a Balrog for five minutes and inspires Alan Stevens to sue the BBC.

Some writers are able to work a kind of magic where you're left no thinking about the loose strands in the story... but Matt Jones doesn't pull it off.

There's nowhere near the level of mastery as the 'guess how the Doctor knew his mate was disguised as a Mogarian' game we're invited to play halfway through that masterpiece of the Bakers' devising...

#34 - Revelation of the Daleks 35pts

Well, Revelation is a story that doesn't sit right with me in the first place. It could have been a decent Doctor-lite story if

A) There had been any need for them back then
B) Every other story in the season had not ALSO been a Doctor-lite
C) It was not ALSO a Dalek-, plot-, and companion-lite story..
D) Why the fuck would you want the Doctor not to be involved in a Dalek story???

Eric Saward's bitterness and drive for darkness results in a few good scenes and Alexei Sayle is definitely good, but the entire thing feels more like Kaldor City than Doctor Who.

And even so, it cannot compare with the shocking darkness of Edwardes announcing his intentions to break Mel's neck as a prelude to his rape of her in incredibly jolly terms?

#33 - The Aztecs 37pts

Bah, John Lucarotti! What does he have against Pip 'n Jane? Can the moral issues of human sacrifice even begin to compare to genocide against the mighty Vervoid race?!?

#32 - The Five Doctors 37pts

Okay, The Five Doctors has a lot going for it. It is the ultimate kitschy anniversary special experience - four (and-a-bit) Doctors, waaay too many companions, and outdated pieces of automobilia coming back onto the stage. It is quite infamous for having an incredibly silly plot and no real substance, but then that is part of the idea.

However, it also generated an egregious amount of tacky, poorly thought-out spin-off stories from Uncle Terrance, most of which seem to serve no purpose but to scream "No, Borusa is cool, I like the guy!" in the midst of commiting intertextual narrative auto-fellatio.

In comparison the Bakers have contented themselves with a single Rani spin-off CD - The Rani Rides The Whirlwind (or something like that, I'm not an encyclopedia). I believe the follow-ups were intended to be The Rani Rides the Washing Machine, Enter the Rani: The Price is Your Soul, and Carry on Up The Rani.

Incidentally, Kate Omara is willing to reprise the role. That's a big surprise, innit?

#32 - An Unearthly Child 39pts

Bah! It's not as if this episode has any significance.

Seriously, though, having finally seen the first episode I can understand why this story is held in high regard. Or, rather, that one episode. It's the perfect pitch for the series, filled with magic but menace, and introduces the idea so well. It's rather appropriate that the accepted title for the story (rather than 100 000 B.C which lacks considerably in terms of punch) takes it's name entirely from the first episode, the bit everybody remembers and that actually is good. In a way, it IS the first 'one-off story', 42 years before Rose (ALSO named after the companion - coincidence?) because the events are entirely unconnected to all of the running about on prehistoric Earth that always fails to even briefly sustain my interest.

This dilly-dallying over whether it counts as one story or two or what it's title should be, however, is INSIGNIFICANT compared to the Trial of a Time Lord furore, of which the stupendousglorious Terror of the Vervoids is an integral part.

#29 The Time Meddler 47pts / Enlightenment 47pts

..hang on, why the hell does this count as a draw when the guy put Five Doctors ahead of Aztecs? Man, I'm confused.

Anyway, I've barely even watched The Time Meddler, all I know is that it contains the line "What do you think it is, hmm? A space helmet for a cow??" and stars Peter Butterworth of the Carry On films. But can Butterworth compare to Honor Blackman, whose name is not only quite silly, but also led to her being cast as Pussy Galore in Goldfinger? Seriously a Bond Girl in DW, I found that awesome!

Erm... Enlightenment. I liked that one. However, spaceships made out of wood? They would be instantaneously disintegrated under the incredible pressures of space! Obviously something metal would be far more appropriate. And which story features metal spaceships? Why, the indominatably superlative Terror of the Vervoids, of course!

#28 The Fires of Pompeii 63pts

... okay I've got nothing. WHAT DID I DO? As I've said, Fires of Pompeii is, IMHO, probably the best story since the show has come back. The only New Series story I could contemplate putting into my Top Ten. It is... just brilliance. The design, the look, the script ... at the moment I can't see anything taking it from my fave of the season position, especially given the shocking apathy that overcame me upon actually seeing Doctor Who in a Confusing Adventure With a Sarth-Effricken Slapper.

So... no, Terror of the Vervoids is not better than this. It still only beat it by three points, so that's something.

But then... do sinister, towering, flame-covered Megatron clones really compare to giant leaf-covered genitals with Geordie accents?

Oh, wait. Yes. Damn.

Anyway, I guess I'd best mention the Top Ten from the competition while I'm here:

1st = Human Nature = 258
2nd = City of Death = 243
3rd = Blink = 237
4th = The Caves of Androzani = 236
5th = Genesis of the Daleks = 213
6th = The Talons of Weng-Chiang = 205
7th = The Empty Child = 195
8th = The War Games = 188
9th = The Girl in the Fireplace = 180
10th = Inferno = 158

Not exactly what I'd have picked, but I think they're all worthy contenders. Though somebody I know may disagree with an entry in one of the prime numbers on that list...


Cameron Mason said...

Oh dear...

You're one of those countries that ends up leading a bloc that votes a really crappy song right up there, instead of it having the 0 it deserved.


Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

Well, I guess I should have known not to expect any sympathy...

Come on, I gave War Games the top vote! And Vervoids is worth at least a 2!

Youth of Australia said...

Ah, most amusing and entertaining. Would any newcomer to this blog get the Edwardes reference, though?

Some thoughts

The TV Movie blurs in my memory too. Ironically the one thing that never goes is an image I doubt anyone has noticed. And I mean ANYONE. It's at the fancy dress party as they count down to midnight and we see a woman dancing and she turns to look at us suddenly and we see she's wearing this moon-face mask. It got a huge bit in the ABC trailers, burned onto my subsconcious. Moon Lady. That's what's in my headspace.

Have you seen The Aztecs? If Blake's 7 ever had Vila accidentally transporting them all through time and space, it'd be the Aztecs. Except Tlotxyl would be a doppelganger for Servalan.

I've been trying to download Rani Reaps The Whirlwind for about three months now, and it allows me to listen to about every three quarters of a second. Have to say, the 'don't break your neck until' stuff runs through this like a skeleton, and reminds me why I like the Tetraps - they're such horny perverts who are turned on about how disgusting and nasty they are. That along with the Rani kidnapping teenagers, stripping them naked and performing kinky reproductive experiments, drug use, swearing, and lots of "don't worry if those bodies you step on moan as you go; it's just the air forced out of their lungs, but we cut their vocal chords anyway..." sort of stuff which does make you need to pop out for some fresh air. Plus a 'hip and groovy' character who is so vulgar and uncouth Nigel Verkoff would have told him to wash his mouth out.

As for 100,000BC (eps 2-4), I like it. But you do have to be in the right mindset. And read Charles Daniel's novelization.

The Time Meddler, I like. It's like a VERY heavily diluted version of the Soothsayer duel, or The War Games, especially the cliffhanger to part 1. But after that it ends up like the freakish offspring of Utopia and The Armageddon Factor - if YANA turned out to be Drax, it'd be something like this. The Doctor and the Monk clearly never met before, but if they had you could imagine the former bullying the latter at university...

And the prosecution against Enlightenment sucked. You should have noted that Vervoid Moral Officer is better than Leeeeee John who seems to be trying to seduce everyone he talks to...

And Midnight rocks. What people think The Empty Child is like.