Monday, February 1, 2010

10th Doctor - Army of Ghosts (ii)

Parte the Second

After a long, awkward pause the Doctor decides that Touchwood aren’t going to propel the Null-Sphere back into Hell and he settles for finding out exactly how the giant Christmas Bauble That Should Not Be appeared in the middle of Cardiff in the first place.

"Duh," snaps Captain Jack, "it’s Cardiff. You know, city built over a rift in time and space? How do you THINK it got here?"

"Get real!" the Doctor retorts. "Like you lot can build a working Rift Manipulator! I mean, didn’t you learn anything about trying to open wormholes after Project: Lazarou?!"

"Hah!" Yvonne retorts. "That’s where you’re wrong. The Rift has a spatial disturbance breach, a radar black spot six hundred feet above sea level, so we built our skyscraper, Touchwood Tower, to reach it. And when we fire particle engines at the exact heart of the breech it opens up wide!"

"For of the love of God, WHY?!?!" the Doctor wails. "WHY ARE YOU MANIACS DOING THIS?! Didn’t you think that you should have stopped humping that breach after a whacking great Null-Sphere drops through? You have a HOLE in the FABRIC of REALITY and do you think, 'oh, shall we leave it alone? Shall we back off? Shall we play it safe?' Nah, you think 'Let’s make it bigger so we can have sex with it!'"

"There’s much more to it than that, Doctor," retorts Yvonne.

"Is there?!" asks Captain Jack, genuinely surprised.

"It’s a massive source of energy! If we can harness that power, we need never depend on the Middle East again! Britain will become truly independent!!"

"What?! Did anyone else know about that?" asks Captain Jack, totally lost now. "I mean, what!?"

Yvonne heads out of the Sphere Room to make preparations for the next Ghost Shift and the Doctor runs after her, nagging her to cancel it and stop the experiment. She ignores him, so he keeps nagging her as the group heads for the main office on the top floor.

They pass the disturbingly-perky Esme leading Matt to the network of sheeting and tells him to go inside and in her words "go west". Without even waiting for Esme, Matt instantly rips off his pants and skips, into a pool of red light and out of view.

"Oh, boy, was *I* suckered!!" Matt can be heard screaming as the sound of drills and lasers starts up.

By the time Esme returns to the office-lever-thingy place the Doctor is jumping up and down having a massive temper tantrum and demanding Yvonne stops the Ghost Shift. Yvonne ignores his pleas and sneers, "Oh, exactly as the legends would have it. The Doctor, lording it over us. Assuming alien authority over the rights of Man!"

"Don’t YOU lord it over the general public and assume YOUR authority over the rights of the common man?" Jackie asks.

"Kind of," Yvonne admits. "Maybe," she corrects, before settling for telling Jackie to "Shut up!"

The Doctor then decides to explain himself by showing her what she is doing using her office window to show the fabric of time and space, the window frame to show the universe and the Doctor himself hurling office furniture at the glass as the Ghost Shifts.

This leaves the broken window pane collapsing into pieces and Yvonne’s pot plants and comfy chairs hurled to the ground some two hundred metres to crush innocent passing Welshmen in the plaza below.

"The mirror crack’d from side to side; 'the curse is come upon me,' cried the Lady of Shalott!" the Doctor roars for no adequately explored reason. Everyone stares at him like the nutter he is.

"Well..." says Yvonne cautiously as she stares at the Time Lord now foaming at the mouth, "in that case... we’ll have to be more careful. Positions everyone! Ghost Shift in one minute! And someone clear up this glass! It’s RUING the feng shei!"

But then the Doctor simply decides to take this as a grown up, sits in a chair and decides to watch the fireworks as Touchwood YET AGAIN unleash alien apocalypse over the unsuspecting world. His sudden emotional maturity makes Yvonne incredibly uneasy.

Finally she cracks and cancels the shift – thereby delaying things for the cliffhanger to the episode as Esme, Matt and Gareth with their suspicious extra bluetooth attachments, start actually doing WORK rather than sending each other vulgar texts!

Normally this would grab the attention of everyone, but Jackie gets there first. "Hold on a minute... we’re in Canary Wharf! Must be! This building, it’s Canary Wharf. What the hell is Canary Wharf Tower doing in Cardiff?!" demands Jackie as she stares out the window.

"Funny story," Captain Jack slurs. "Y’see we were originally based in Canary Wharf but got thrown out years ago because everyone else in the building was complaining. So when we rebuilt here and we needed a sky scraper, so we got this."

"And NO ONE noticed?"

"They’re Welsh, remember?"

"Oh yeah."

In the basement, Rose and Arthur emerge from the TARDIS and find the time machine has been dumped in the 'Suspiciously TARDIS-Like Items' sector, full of old police boxes, grandfather clocks, ionic columns, and a pyramid of playing cards that is quite obviously a deliberate reference to a certain 1975 Tom Baker story.

Rose’s keen mind, honed to perfection over years travelling the time vortex, realizes that a dyed-blonde chav and an 18th century horse will be ever-so-slightly conspicuous in a secret black ops underground base. Thus, she nicks a conveniently-abandoned lab coat and puts it on over her hoodie. Amazingly, this works and NO ONE even notices her riding a horse through their archive of alien salty goodness.

This could be some kind of metatextual comment on how obsession can lead to overlooking the really important things in life, but when Rose screams, "OH MY GOD! MICKEY! HEY! MICKEY! IT’S ME! ROSE TYLER!" and waves frantically at one of those lab-coated technicians, it becomes clear that the writer is not paying due care and attention.

The focus of Rose’s attention rolls his eyes and bolts from the basement, but Rose is on a horse and easily catches up with him as he flees into the Sphere Room, closes and locks the door. Rose considers trying to use her psychic-passport to try and trip the lock, but instead settles for flashing her tits.

AMAZINGLY, this somehow works and she and Arthur clip-clop inside only to boggle in Lovecraftian horror at the Null-Sphere. Rajesh spots her and approaches, "Mmm. A Lady-Godiva-a-gram! Thank you, Yvonne and Strippers-R-Us!"

Rose does not realize that all Touchwood employees have a low level of psychic ability due to their brain-bleedingly intense sex lives and her attempts to bluff her way arrogantly with a piece of blank paper come to nought. Rajesh orders the Sphere Room be sealed and laughs at Rose’s despair as her pride once more destroys her. Not that she’ll LEARN from this, oh no...

Rajesh quickly texts Yvonne that they’ve captured a blonde tart in a miniskirt on horseback. "We don’t know who she is, but funnily enough, she arrived at the same time as the Doctor. You think there might be some sort of connection?"

"She one of yours?" asks Yvonne, showing the Doctor and Jackie her mobile playing a movie of Rose topless.

"Never seen her before in my life," says the Doctor with a shrug. "Looks like Billie Piper."

"Good! Then we can have her shot."

"What? Come on, her music’s not THAT bad!" the Doctor protests before completely giving up his actually-not-really-convincing-at-all pretense and reveals that the girl with the big tits is his companion Rose Tyler and that his present companion is not Evelyn Smythe but Rose’s mother, Jackie, who he kidnapped for a laugh.

"Oh, you kidnapped her mother?" asks Yvonne. "Extreme."

"Please, when Touchwood comes to write my complete history, don’t tell people I traveled through time and space kidnapping mothers and passing them off as their daughters. It’ll only sound disturbing in a Garry Glitter kind of way. Don’t look at me like that, Jackie, I’ve got a reputation to uphold to as a popular children’s TV hero!"

Yvonne however has bigger problems, but we all knew that already. In the meantime, the bleeding-obviously brainwashed Esme, Gareth and Matt blindly type at their computers, staring straight ahead and ignoring everything around them. Soon the levers start moving all by themselves and even Yvonne notices that the Ghost Shift has been activated.

"Excuse me? Everyone? I thought I said stop the ghost shift. Who started the program? I ordered you to stop! Who’s doing that?? Step away from the monitors, everyone. Gareth, Esme - stop what you're doing, right now. Matt. Step away from your desk. That’s an order! Stop the levers! YOU WILL RESPECT MAH AUTHORATAH!!"

While Yvonne has her little nervous breakdown, the Doctor crosses to Esme in delight at recognizing her from a parallel Earth which no doubt has absolutely no relevance to the ongoing plot and is clearly a gratuitous continuity reference with no other agenda whatsoever.

The Doctor stares at her and clicks his fingers in front of her face, but Esme does not react. "We’re too late," he explains to Jackie. "She’s fully addicted to Second Life! No, wait, she’s actually just hijacking the computer, overriding the system and opening the Rift. Easy mistake to make..."

The blank wall ahead of them starts to glow brighter and brighter. Realizing this is serious, the Doctor decides to rip out Esme’s ear pieces to hear what she’s being told. "THE POWER OF TERI GARR COMPELS YOU!" he roars as he grabs her bluetooth attachment...

The Doctor then gets the shit scared out of him when not ONLY do Esme, Gareth and Matt scream in agony and fall dead in unison, but when he ALSO discovers that a trail of brain tissue to attached to the bluetooth! The Doctor realizes that it went right inside her brain and quietly throws up while Jackie accuses him of killing them.

"Jackie, time and place! This is revolting!" the Doctor wretches... but the moment Yvonne isn’t looking, they run out of the room as fast as they can, heading for the TARDIS to hide as this plotline is getting WAY too dark and apocalyptic for his liking.

As the Ghost Shift reaches 90 per cent and the Rift begins to open, the Doctor and Jackie flee into the maze of sheeting where they stumble across Captain Jack, who has passed out in his own vomit again.

"You know," the Doctor says conversationally, "I’m getting an awful feeling of déjà vu. Possessed hot chicks opening the Time Rift in Cardiff, ghosts of dead, brain implants disguised as bluetooth. Blueteeth? Is that the word? Anyway, apart from those first two, this has all the hallmarks of my second-most remembered enemies... THE CYBERMEN!"

"Eh?" asks Jackie. "The ones from Dragonball Z?"

"No, I’m talking about the super-strong, artificial life forms who exist to fight and destroy, who think nothing of causing death and destruction, who lack self will and will obey their commands utterly."

"Sounds like the ones from Dragonball Z to me. They’re the ones that are really tall with claws and they’ve got this sort of exoskeleton with huge heads you can see their brains through."

"Ah, yes, but, Jackie, but THOSE Cybermen were created by Nappa in an insanely stupid bid to take over the Earth and easily defeated by the Z-Fighters in a matter of moments. Whereas these Cybermen do NOT split their heads open to fire jets of acid, they do NOT self-destruct as suicide bombers, they do NOT leap great distances and they DEFINITELY DO NOT GROW FROM SEEDS! OK?!"

"Don’t tell me, tell Michael Surbrook," says Jackie defensively.

This discussion about Dragonball Z’s painfully obvious plagiarism of Doctor Who has unfortunately allowed Yvonne and some redshirt soldiers to arrive and capture them, before they are ALL captured by giant metallic forms who awkwardly force their way through the strips of sheeting in a deranged homage to a 1967 Troughton episode. This is the advanced guard of the Cybermen, lead by non other than a parallel Cybernized Harriet Jones!

The brand new, complete and hidden-from-youtube-spoilers Cybermen emerge with the traditional silver metal-skinned limbs, blank nose-less face, featureless holes for eyes, a square slit for a mouth, a completely pointless light atop their heads, piping on the joints, strange tubing running the length of it centering on a large complex concertina-like chest unit full of flashing lights and of course the jug-handle-shaped stiff hoses for ears. And for some reason they move with the sound of Wallace & Gromit’s Wrong Trousers.

"Wow," boggles Captain Jack. "Is it me or do they look like Kenneth Williams? It’s the way the cheeks are shaped, I guess..."

"They just look like little depressed hamsters or something," Yvonne muses as her troopers are brutally murdered.

"Oh, I can’t believe this," the Doctor bitches. "You can accurately detect and pinpoint emissions from the TARDIS all the way over at the Powell Estate, but not from the Cyberman hidden right under their noses!! I mean, you’re an ultra-secret alien-bothering organization and you allow some building works to be going on right in your midst without ANYBODY checking that some Cyber perverts haven’t set up camp down there and are snaffling up your oversexed employees! I can’t believe how downhill this place has got now Numbskull’s gone..."

Back in the Sphere Room, everyone is completely unaware that the organization has been infiltrated by a cybernetic army. Rajesh continues to do his Porn Sudoku as Rose chats with Rajesh’s fellow scientist who happens to be played by Noel Clarke.

"For God’s sake, blondie," he snaps, "I’m not Mickey! Mickey’s DEAD, remember? I’m Ricky! Ricky Smith, Defender of the Earth! From that parallel world? This ringing a bell for you? After we beat the Cybermen, they escaped, just vanished and found a way through to this world, and so did we! THE FIGHT GOES ON!"

"The fight against what?"

"The Cybermen, you tit, what do you think?! And that sphere is the heart of this mess. No one knows what’s inside it -Cyber Leader, Cyber King, Emperor of the Cybermen... whatever it is... he’s dead meat."

"Yay!" says Rose, entirely caught up in the adventure and not realizing how much it basically sucks ass. Quite like me when I was watching this episode, if truth be told.

As Rose and Arthur pass the floating Null-Sphere, it emits a crashing disturbance that shakes the whole room. The Null-Sphere starts to vibrate and rock in close proximity to a topless Rose astride a horse, quite like pretty much most fanboys.

"It can’t be!" Rajesh wails. "It’s active! The readings are going wild! It’s got weight, it’s got mass, an electromagnetic field - it exists! Just when I was getting comfortable too!"

Meanwhile, in the office/lever room/whatever the hell you call it, the Cybermen bring the Doctor, Captain Jack, Jackie and Yvonne back inside as the Time Lord brings everyone up to speed with the mid-season two-parter. It seems as if the Doctor’s casual obliterating of random Cybermen did not actually destroy them but magically transported them onto Earth, but Captain Jack has another idea:

"It must be the Gelth using Cyber armor to walk the Earth – free range, indestructible bodies that make them invincible! The alternate Cybermen must have communicated with the Gelth through the rift to help them escape the parallel world and now they have a symbiotic relationship!" Captain Jack deduces. "Don’t that sound cool??"

"But the Gelth SUCK!" the Doctor points out.

"Bah! The Gelth are fabulous monsters!" Captain Jack enthuses drunkenly. "Imagine billions of them streaming out of the centre of Cardiff at 1000 miles per hour, then we zoom out until we’re looking down at Earth from space and now the Gelth are just a huge glowing mass spreading out into space at breakneck speed! THEN the Cyber-fleet drifts into view, and starts shooting! Pockets of blue gas the size of whole countries begin exploding in the skies above the Earth!"

"Shame it’s not going to happen!" the Doctor snaps. "It’s JUST the Cybermen, OK. No one else. There’s no orchestrator of plagues or rifts of the death of the Gelth! It’s not going to turn out to be Dustbins behind everything this year, OK! It’s just the Cybermen!" He turns to Cyber-Harriet. "Is that right?"

"That’s ~ right," Cyber-Harriet agrees.

"See?" the Doctor challenges as the Cybermen grope, fondle and drag away the fit scientists trying to cancel the ghost shift.

"Just you wait," says Captain Jack confidently. "This is going to be a fucking colossal cliffhanger too difficult to film with the surface of the moon crumbling to dust and imploding into the heart of the rift as billions of Gelth swarm out, and then, THEN, another moon from a parallel universe reappears to delight the people of Earth but THIS moon is colonized by the Dustbins!"

"Pah, like Dustbins and Cybermen will ever be in the same story," the Doctor sneers. "The ghosts are the Cybermen themselves. They are actually projections of real people’s minds, the minds actually inhabiting the Cybermen on Irth, but without corporeal form they LOOK human, but when they gain corporeal form in our universe, instead of the mental projection, you have a real live Cyberman body and all. Ergo, the ghosts are the Cybermen partially manifested in this reality. It’s all quite logical!"

Captain Jack snorts and bets Jackie ten quid it’s the Gelth.

Meanwhile the Cybermen use their mighty hydraulic muscles to slam the levers into position, maximizing power input and ripping the Rift wide open. People who consider Touchwood Season 1 canonical (and there must be SOME nutter that does), note that no huge stone demon to be seen.

All across the globe – from the factory floor of Touchwood Tower to Big Ben to the Taj Mahal to the Powell Estate and back again, ghosts step out of thin air. Waiting just long enough for the Head of the Welsh Metropolitan Police Force to make an official statement on TV that the increase in ghosts in harmless for maximum irony. Cyber-Harriet activates FULL TRANSFER!

This is much more impressive on TV than it sounds, honest.

Rows and rows of Cybermen march out of the glowing Rift into the office, while millions more right across the world the ghostly ethereal forms dissipate to be replaced by those seven-foot-tall, identical steel giants with handlebars on their skull-like heads. However, people don’t give what they assume to be LSD hallucination a second glance and the Cyberman invasion is so dull as to be not given any screen time of any sort. Mind you, in Paris there are a few shouts of "Les hommes cybernétiques!" as the French immediately surrender. Again.

Finally, the Cybermen start breaking through the doors of ordinary houses and terrorize the families they find in scenes written by RTD solely to freak out small and insecure children who assume that monsters cannot get into your home or follow you upstairs. I love that sadistic Welsh bastard, don’t you?

Back at Touchwood Tower, Cyber-Harriet inspects her troops: hundreds of Cybermen standing, ready for a season finale, in the hideous pestilential glow of the open rift in time and space. "They’re invading the whole planet!" wails Yvonne for those who haven’t been keeping up.

"It’s not an invasion, it’s too late for that. It’s a victory!" the Doctor notes glumly. "They’ve never achieved ANYTHING like this within four episodes before... Cybermen don’t have the technology to use a Null-Sphere anyway? How the hell did you get hold of it?"

"No ~ idea," Cyber-Harriet shrugs. "The ~ sphere ~ broke ~ down ~ the barriers ~ around ~ our ~ planets ~ and ~ we ~ used it ~ to ~ come ~ here. I ~ suppose ~ we ~ really ~ should ~ get ~ round ~ to ~ finding ~ out ~ exactly ~ what ~ it ~ is. Tomorrow. First ~ the ~ day ~ of ~ the ~ Human ~ Race ~ is ~ ended. They ~ will ~ all ~ be ~ upgraded!" rants Cyber-Harriet insanely in a curious homage to her parallel self’s election speech on 2006. "No ~ human ~ shall ~ be ~ safe ~ from ~ our ~ revenge ~ at ~ their ~ stupidity! Let ~ us ~ rid ~ ourselves ~ of ~ the ~ flesh ~ creatures ~ forever! From ~ this ~ day ~ forth ~ the ~ world ~ will ~ be ~ purged ~ of ~ all ~ imperfect ~ beings ~ for ~ all ~ time! This ~ miserable ~ planet ~ will ~ become ~ Cyber-World! Death ~ is ~ upon ~ you ~ all! May ~ you ~ die ~ horribly ~ and ~ be ~ erased ~ from ~ all ~ time! WORD ~ UP ~ MOFOS! THE ~ CYBERMEN ~ ARE ~ FINALLY ~ IN ~ DA ~ HOUSE!"

"Is anyone else thinking we should all be on our knees screaming 'This is it! This is the end of us all! To hell and ruin!'?" asks Captain Jack. "No? Just me then? Pity."

And on that adrenaline-pumping climax, we instantly cut straight to the boring Sphere Room as everything shakes as smooth cracks appear in the Null-Sphere, spilling out light from the gaps as it opens. Ricky remembers he left his BFG in his other pants as the Null-Sphere’s sections separate, opening to reveal what is inside.

"Keep back!" Rajesh whines. "We don’t know what’s in there!"

And he’s right, for this strange Pokémon ball does not contain Gene Hunt, or the Chief Caretaker of Paradise Towers, Sid James, or even Adam Mitchell. It contains something else. Something from the Void... something from Hell... something from Hades... something from the Afterlife... SOMETHING FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE!

In the form of four multicolored Dustbins and a smoothe bronze cone with controls bolted on it, vaguely resembling some exotic toilet. "LOCATION EARTH, 21ST CENTURY! PERFECT PLACE TO FIND A DECENT TIME TRAVELER," announces the leader, a Blue Dustbin.


Rose gurns randomly at the creatures from her worst nightmare not involving public nudity and knife-wielding clowns...

Next Time...
"This pot is starting to boil! Soon ALL the pasta will be soft!"
"The Cybermen came through from one world to another, so did we!"
"Tch. Can’t you come up with your own ideas?"
"How many Dustbins?"
"As many as the Mill can provide!"
"Hah! You will always remember this as the day you ALMOST caught Captain Jack!!"
"This is our world, not yours. And you’re going to listen for once."
"Ahem! I’m the Lord of Time, peasant, I need nothing from you!"
"You didn’t need to kill him!"
"Good point, well made."
"We’re on every street, we’re in their homes, we’ve got their children... is this series a hit or what?!"
"Cybermen ~ plus ~ Dustbins. Together ~ we ~ could ~ get ~ jiggy-jiggy!"
...this time full on Dustbin –vs- Cyberman action... promise...

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