Monday, February 1, 2010

10th Doctor - The Idiot's Lantern (ii)

Book(s)/Other Related -
Dr Who Doesn’t Touch That Dial
Dr Who - The Missing Episodes: The Ones We WISH Were Gone
The Amy Whitehouse Experience

Fluffs - David Tennant seemed greased for most of in this story.

"Blank-faced monsters being abducted by black cabs roaming the streets? Gay boys as substitute companions? This is Mark Gatiss, right, not Matt Jones adapting his New Adventure novel for the screen?"

The bit where the Doctor knees the policeman in the groin for being "a pretentious twat" for talking about 'sans visage' was an unscripted bit of improvisation. Not a lot of people know that.

"Look, weren’t people in the past stupid and aren’t I morally superior?"

"'Sharing'? That sounds like RED COMMIE propaganda! I am the near-as-dammit the last of the Time Lords! Now go unto your kitchen, mortal, and make me a sandwich!"

"The little bastard hasn’t said a thing since he saw me naked," Grandma observes of Mark at one point, totally apropos of nothing.

Goofs -
How does the Wire know Mr. Magpie’s name? How come the Wire calls itself the Wire since it doesn’t have anything to do with Wires? Was its family a fan of Robson Green and it has a sibling called the Blood? Why does the Wire briefly go into colour? How the hell can Magpie set up an entire television-building business when he is already two grand in the red? Did the Wire give him an extension on his overdraft?

How do the people without faces survive without water and air? When the Wire is destroyed, why do the people she’s fed on get their faces and minds back? Why does she cause the Bishop’s head to explode but doesn’t do that to the Doctor and mark? Was it something else that blew up the Bishop’s head? If so, what?

Apparently, the fact this is an accurate reconstruction of 1953 is the excuse for the shitty music, design, clothes, acting and editing, but how come the TVs are showing the 1960s Batman TV show? And how can the Gatiss family be listening to Fleetwood Mac in the pre-credit sequence?

Many people assume that this episode’s odd camera angles are down to avante garde direction, when actually it turns out the BBC Wales camera tripod was actually in dire need of replacement.

Fashion Victims -
Rose’s bright Pink Spice outfit, particularly the pink motorcycle helmet and pink heart-shaped shades.

Technobbable -
The Doctor uses his knowledge of trans-temporal extirpation methods to neutralize the residual electronic pattern to tape over the video containing the Wire. Curiously, I did exactly the same thing to tape over my video containing The Idiot Box, only using more ethersmetic isotrometery and took the little tab out afterwards.

Dialogue Disasters -

Eddie: To all intents and purposes, this is a normal house. Better than normal! We’ve got food in the fridge, we’ve got heating, we’re the age of prosperity, that’s what we are! We don’t need no stinking television!
Grandma: They’re dangerous anyway, televisions. Woman down the market, it turned her blue. Head to foot, blue!
Rita: Now, don’t talk daft mum, or I’ll have to smother you with a pillow for real this time.
Eddie: You lot. I despair! You know where I got these medals, don’t you? Burma! That’s where! Fought a war for the likes of you, you know! So’s you could have opportunities I never even dreamt of. And all you want is a TELEVISION SET? Oh dear, oh dear!
Mark: I want to watch Quatermass!
Eddie: SHUT IT, YOU SLAG! You’re getting very full of yourself these days. I know what’ll sort you out. A good proper job, down at the yard. It’s about time you brought in an honest wage. Besides, a lot of hot sweaty working-glass men with rippling muscles should turn on that diseased fetish of yours!
But I’ve told you, I want to go to university!
Eddie: You can forget it! Sponging off the State and consorting with communists? I’m not having it!
Mark: I can do what I want!
Eddie: No you can’t, Mark, my lad. That’s the point. What I say goes!
Mark: Oh, how I wish Dr. Who would turn up and kick your ass...

Rose: Mum went out with a sailor.
Doctor: Just the one?!

Bishop: Good Lord! Colour television! I mean, faceless zombies, living televisions and electrical ghost monsters from other planets planning to conquer the universe... but COLOUR television! I am so impressed I’ve just spontaneously ejaculated in my trousers! COLOUR TELEVISION!!!!

Doctor: Are you suggesting that the Queen does the housework?
Rita: I just asked you if you want a cup of tea.

Dialogue Triumphs -

The Wire: This world of yours is busy, busy, busy, forging ahead into a brand new age. You can never go back. That’s your tragedy. Oh, and the fact that I’m here and all life happens to be prey for me. especially shining, electrical life pounding through your little brains, coursing through every synapse, every neural causeway.
Doctor: ...that still doesn’t explain anything, though, does it?

Doctor: THE Coronation? Universe this size? Jings, get some perspective! Napoleon’s? William the Silent’s? The Fragrant Arrows of the Half-light – numbers 8 through 15?
Rose: Um, it’s Earth, 1953 and all the British flags anyway. Isn’t it so utterly obvious even YOU know?
Doctor: Yes, I just wanted an excuse to namedrop Orange-Nassau royalty and misquot Yeat’s "Anashuya and Vijaya".
Rose: Done now?
Doctor: Yep. Let’s move on.

Doctor: Seriously, what does this have to do with faceless zombies?!

Mark: You fought against Fascism, remember? People telling you how to live, who you could be friends with, who you could fall in love with, who could live, and who had to die. Don’t you get it? You were fighting so that little twerps like me could do what we want, say what we want, and write appallingly cliched Quatermass parodies! Now you’ve become just like them, people who expect original thought and jokes that are funny or main characters remotely pleasant to be around! And one day I’m going to write an amazing television show to get my revenge on you and 6.8 million viewers will watch you suffer at 7 o’clock on a Saturday evening sometime next century... I HATE YOU ALL!

UnQuotable Quote -

Doctor: I deserve to be killed and... reanimated by the Gelth rather than appear in this crap!

Links and References -
"Bishop here. Anything from Touchwood? I know their first priority is brutally sodomise aliens, but how does that help me? Come to think of it, how does that help ANYONE? Don’t hang up on me you son of a bitch!"

Untelevised Misadventures -
The Doctor and Rose appeared on Grey Matter, a 1950s academic quizz hosted by Rose’s Auntie Mabel. They lost the game show totally and in a fit of pique set fire to the studio and destroyed every last copy of the episode in existence as well as nicking all of Hereward the Wake too!

Groovy DVD Extras -
The FULL cut of the final scene where Mark Gatiss walks in front of camera, called Rose "a bunny-boiling chav" and tries to sexually assault the Doctor as the episode ends.

Gatiss later defended this in court as "OK, as long as the spiders don’t get in your eyes, because the cockroaches are all right and the spiders eat up the cockroaches as predicted by Nostradamus in the 53rd Quatrane and I’m going outside now, but DON’T TELL MR. MUGABE!!"

No one is sure if this was a plea of insanity or not.

Vortext –
Grandma Gatiss is trying to get her new Marvelous Magpie Television to tune into the All-Nazi-Porn channel, only causing snake-like threads of buzzing pinkish light reach out and suck her face off. Somehow. For some reason. Apparently.

The Spite of Sparacus -
"This excellent story did not overuse special effects to replace the plot, the characterization and the story. This was far superior to RTD. I didn’t understand a bloody word of it and it was obviously plagiarizing Sapphire & Steel so it MUST have been good! Dr Who is a great vehicle for making history accessible and stimulating interest in events/periods. I’d love to see the new series having a few purely historical episodes in there. Imagine if they had a story where Dr Who meets Henry VIII and has Rose raped and killed for being a chav! It would out-rate David Starkey and that WOULD be a treat. Mark Gatiss would clearly be the one to write it, as is proved by the bullying sexist nasty homophobic Father character who fawns to authority, hates women and regularly beats them up which IS a good quality. An unfairly maligned character in my opinion, and one the Doctor and Rose should have treated with respect. It’s not like he was a yob, was it?"

Viewer Quotes -

"A number of similar running themes appeared to start at various points in the series and then die out abruptly with no payoff: moons, villains with bird-themed names and shadows in all feature prominently, then vanish with no payoff. It’s almost as if they’re not there as deliberate repeated meme and I’m an anal retentive twat looking for things that aren’t there to justify my paltry existence. The new series thus is showing worrying trends towards exaggerating certain of its successful elements which were, in actual fact, dependent on subtle handling and careful usage. The subtext is THERE, people!"
- Alan Stevens (2006)

"Is that IT?!? Yaaaaaaawn." - Radio Times (2006)

"A very silly story with a really strong element of silly science to this story that makes it very difficult to suspend one’s disbelief. Because it’s silly. How can anyone take Tennant seriously? How could anyone take DAVISON seriously? No on takes young people seriously. I didn’t believe my son when he claimed he had a stomach ache, and it turned out he was dying of appendicitis! Am I sorry I’m a republican? Never! STOP BEING SILLY!" - Ron Mallet (2006)

"There is an inconsistency of tone, which is very disturbing; I was never quite sure WHICH madman wrote this schizophrenic script. I felt as if I was being pulled in a ten different directions at once. Oh the pain behind my eyes! You promised me peace! And what did I get? Euros Lyn!!"
- Jo Ford Prefect (2006)

"You Welsh sons of bitches, I’ll do you for this!" - PJ Hammond (2008)

"This season has been a roller coaster of awe and banality, with the main character that of a very shallow, adolescent snob travelling the universe with his date in his parent's spaceship and playing 'look at that freak!' with the aliens, and telling a bunch of frontier astronauts about an episode of Eastenders that was on five hundred years ago. The Doctor has become a verbally diarrheic snobbish teenager who likes
trash TV as 'progressive' who indulges in self-righteous bitchiness and gloating and humiliating worthwhile authority figures... God, I’m starting to sound like Ron Mallett! KILL ME NOW!"
- Thomas Cookson (2007)

"It’s not a massive leap of imagination to render continuity announcers as the most grasping and manipulative group of people on the planet. They’re probably all being slowly driven mad as they see less able, less talented people getting on in show business whilst they just sit in their little studios, being little more than hospital radio disc jockeys. All that anger. All that bitterness. All that frustration. Just waiting to boil over. If they ever perfect the ability to transmit pent up rage and buried hostility over the airwaves we’re all in serious trouble. But at least might get spared crap like this story."
- Ewen Campion-Clarke (2008)

David Tennant Speaks!
"I never got to ride a moped. We had to settle for that bleeding horse instead. It’s old and difficult to control and there were insurance issues... but apart from that, he isn’t much like a moped. As for the rest of this episode, my lawyers reliably informed it never happened. I just inhaled a bit too much smoke at Glastonbury back in 2005. Glastonbury has strange effects, boys and girls. Don’t judge me too harshly, I wasn’t Doctor Who back then. Or was I?"

Billie Piper Speaks!
"All that guff about the Union Jack being called a Union Flag if it’s on land is actually complete crap. There was a huge expose of it, as an urban myth, two weeks before this story went out! We all looked like total retards! I mean, for crying out loud, isn’t the writer supposed to be paid to check these things instead of his shitty fantasies where Doctor Who barges into the writer’s house and beats up his father? Is that too much to ask? Shame on you!"

Russell T Davies Speaks!
" Despite some great concepts, dialogue, character pieces, and period feel, The Idiot Box disappointed me enough to contemplate taking my own life. The characters were two-dimensional, and the conclusion is quite poor, easy, baffling and worthless simultaneously. The best bit was the stock footage. We used the actual footage from the Coronation. Well, apart from the bit where the Queen has the crown on and starts a punch up with the Archbishop of Canterbury. That moment is sacrosanct, apparently. We live in a weird country."

Trivia -
The Betamax tape the Doctor tries to capture the Wire with he previously used to capture episodes of Triangle, Dynasty and The A-Team.

Rumors & Facts -

Rather than a quiet, mysterious and eerie story to contrast with the massive epics of the season so far, The Idiot Box is a flat, loud, cliched and bloated Swedish plasticine caricatured cartoon of a story, completely devoid of any point or meaning beneath the unconvincing would-be gloss. This story shows Gatiss at his most trendy, arrogant and obnoxious, the belligerent centre of a selfish and uncooperative world, but on the bright side... um, actually, IS there a bright side?

Mark Gatiss had scripted The Presuming Ed for the new Doctor Who series’ inaugural season, and was eager to return to the program as the Tenth Doctor. No one else shared this feeling and his audition was automatically rejected by RTD without even bothering to look at it, which upset Gatiss what with all the trouble he went to by wearing his Doctor Who outfit which he hadn’t taken off since 1999.

Finally, in January of 2005, Gatiss’ pathetic nagging finally cracked RTD and he agreed to let Gatiss back into the show on the condition he pen a historical adventure set in the 1950s. RTD knew that Gatiss refused point blank to write anything beyond Jon Pertwee UNIT era and expected him to instantly refuse. But he didn’t and so RTD hastily came up with more ideas off the top of his head to dissuade him.

RTD demanded the story feature an alien intelligence existing with Roy Orbison’s "In Dreams", the eponymous candy coloured clown they called the Sandman whose melody infected people and removed their faces. The story would occur in the rock and roll era of the late 1950s and no accounts rip off The Quatermass Experiment, which Gatiss had been passing off as his own work ever since 1991.

Gatiss smiled cheerfully and hopped off to do just that.

Everyone assumed he’d wandered off and would be too busy caught up in one of his "hilarious" and pointless radio dramas like Nebulous – the unfunny satire that only makes the vaguest bit of sense if you agree on Gatiss’ opinion of a certain Jon Pertwee episode from 1972. Production continued apace as RTD began work on a cool story involving Queen Victoria and a lupine wavelength haemovarioform when suddenly Gatiss turned up waving a treatment called 'Sonic DOOM!' which contained absolutely none of the requirements his boss had laid down.

Gatiss chuckled happily and explained that the idea of a living song did not translate sufficiently well to television or, to put it another way, he literally couldn’t be arsed to do that. Instead, Gatiss revealed he had instead ripped off The Quatermas Experiment... again. But this time there weren’t just the numerous gomages and references to Knigel Kneale’s magnum opus (all of which RTD edited out with a Terileptil Hunting Knife he borrowed off Rob Shearman) but was actually about aliens stealing Sputnik with lots of period music played as the Doctor and his companion explored a Welsh holiday resort called the Gunther Gruber Geschnellkopf Fitness and Health Camp.

RTD stared at the script for five whole minutes and asked Gatiss, on a scale of one to ten, how utterly stupid he assumed the executive producer to be? Gatiss had simply copied down Seventh Doctor story "Kappa and the Impresarios" word for word and tried to pass it off as his own. Gatiss told RTD to "Damn your eyes!" and stormed off to tinker with his script for The Presuming Ed, adding enough Quatermass references until it resembled something different.

- the Doctor is able to navigate through Cardiff as he "watched Quatermass Live" and it "taught me everything I needed to know"
- the final scene interrupted a rehearsal of The Quatermass Experiment
- the Doctor referred to himself as "Professor Bernard Quatermass" for the entirety of the script
- Bishop notes he and the Doctor worked together on that "nasty business in Hob’s Lane"
- the working title of the story was "The Quatermass Homage"

The storyline was still for the Ninth Doctor, which was odd considering that not only had David Tennant been playing the role for a year, but had told Gatiss back in 2005 that he would be taking over the lead role in Doctor Who when they both appeared in a live remake of The Quatermass Experiments. But such logic was wasted on Gatiss who continued to smile pleasantly and stare at the world with his cold and dead eyes.

Anyway, the plot involved an alien force inhabit a broadcast signal instead of gas – Gatiss was glad that his first script and international stardom had got the gas company to stop overcharging him and now he was trying to do the same for the electricity board. Instead of strange ghostly figures, Gatiss wanted his villain to be Sylvia Peters who had "looked at him in a funny" throughout his childhood in the 1950s. And instead of Charles Dickens it involved Rose visiting the game show hosted by her Aunt at the BBC and taking the piss out of everything to ensure no one could take the finished story seriously, a story which hinged entirely on the audience knowing the working title of the long-running ITV soap opera Coronation Street.

RTD suggested that maybe Gatiss come up with some ideas that weren’t completely crap, and instead was told the evil and malevolent unwitting servant of the aliens would randomly become wacky comic relief. Gatiss was of the firm opinion anyone with comic timing should have their sociopathic tendencies forgiven and forgotten, which lead to the high mortality rate amongst his costars.

Searching for a title for his episode, Gatiss contemplated "The One-Eyed Monster" – a title he ripped off the 1970s show The Kids From 47A no other living human being remembered, simply because he had always wanted to name a Doctor Who story after his own genitalia. However, Gareth Roberts announced he was no longer putting up with this crap and headbutted Gatiss unconscious for the rest of the shoot.

The Idiot Box (as the story was named since it turned out the other suggestion "The Idiot’s Lantern" made no sense whatsoever) was intended to be a single-episode Block Five, with The Santa Tip forming Block Four so the bare minimum of poor unfortunates would have to work on it. With Gatiss comatose and the scripts delayed as RTD and Roberts tried to get something salvageable, it was decided that the story would instead join Filler in comprising the fourth production block. The unexpected shift in his deadline meant that The Idiot Box ended up stealing most of its plot ideas from Filler, and leading many to (unfortunately) assume from the scheduling that Filler was plagiarizing the worst episode screened so far in the season.

Euros Lyn YET AGAIN drew the short straw and was forced, under pain of death, to direct this story in which the entire main cast had limited availability as they all suddenly remembered they had dental appointments. In Canada.

Even though production had barely started, the cast and crew abandoned The Idiot Box after three days in Newport and Doctor Who Magazine takes a firm stance that the episode never occurred and is nothing more than a journalistic invention. When a concussed Mark Gatiss tried to molest David Tennant during a take, his legal counsel strongly recommended Gatiss tow DWM’s party line and tell everyone it was a dream.

When the 44 minutes of outtakes, poor special effects and avant-garde camera work hit the screens, numerous fans and critics found it completely impossible to understand the stupidity of the production and assumed it was some kind of trick. Innumerable reviewers immediately claimed to be able to see massive subtexts and allegories which gave a shocking depth to the aptly titled Idiot Box, even the scenes were Gatiss steals the camera and shouts at the viewers that it ISN’T an anti-TV story and he really wants lots of scenes where the Doctor sits on the couch, staring blankly at a television as his brain turns to warm tapioca and urinates everywhere uncontrollably.

Meanwhile, David Tennant controlled his baffling desire to sing in every episode by insisting this didn’t count as an episode and, ergo, was not worthy of his vocal chords.

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