Serial 6Q/E – The Axis of Banality
An Alternate Programme Guide by Ewen Campion-Clarke
An Extract From The EC Unauthorized Programme Guide O' Who CARES?!?
Serial 6Q/E – The Axis of Banality -
The TARDIS shudders as the weekly "literary review club" meeting aboard the time machine comes to an abrupt end.
Eminem finds Alice in Wonderland full of holes and is now picking the plot apart – with a chainsaw. When Peri snaps that maybe, you know, Eminem should actually learn how to read before critiquing one of the greatest works of fantasy fiction ever, Eminem gets MAD...
The Doctor decides he's sick of being chased around his own time machine by a psychotic, knife-wielding Pharaoh and decides to pilot the TARDIS to the Axis of Banality, an inter-dimensional hub of dead-end timelines in which history has spiraled off in very dull and predictable ways and must be cut off from the rest of reality if anything even remotely interesting can happen. Even the Time Lords, it seems, have a boredom threshold.
The Doctor has never really got on with the Overseer of the Axis, ever since that rather awkward date... But he is sure that they'll be able to put aside personal feelings at least long enough for him to dump Eminem there and run like hell.
As the raging mad woman races through the TARDIS corridors towards him, the Doctor programs a default co-ordinate jump into the console so he can take off quick-smart. Then he runs outside into a boring landscape of dull angles and predictable perspectives.
Just as he emerges, the Doctor encounters the drab-looking accountant, who explains in a dull voice he is the Overseer's PA. The Doctor follows him, getting increasingly bored and lethargic as they head through ever-duller suburban landscapes. They pass a group of joggers jogging on a nightly jog. They pass a children's library where children read books. The accountant calls this the process of creation untrammeled, but the Doctor says the accountant is full of shit.
Eminem races out of the TARDIS, determined to spill some blood only to encounter a dull encyclopedia salesman. Eminem stabs him to death, but he doesn't bleed much and what blood there is forms a symmetrical pattern. Bored and depressed, she looks for other people to kill and learns that most of the inhabitants are beings from primitive world than somehow linked themselves to the Axis of Banality. The accountant twists reality at his unimaginative whim and now everyone is a bland IT worker who drinks a bit too much coffee.
Meanwhile, Peri watches this from the TARDIS, gets bored and sets the time machine in motion for the want of anything else to do. The TARDIS vanishes, marooning the Doctor and Eminem in the most boring place in the universe. Luckily, the TARDIS is effected by the inanity and gives up, landing on the other side of the dull city.
The Doctor has already deduced that the combined boredom of the festering dead-end timelines have allowed the boring people to take over the Axis of Banality and kill the Overseer. It's obvious. So damn obvious. What's more, the accountant is now bored shitless. Having "corrected" all the dead-end histories, he has nothing to do but exist in this "utopia". The Doctor dozes off, the explanation boring him into unconsciousness.
However, with Eminem running amuck in a market place where no one says anything as everything is at a reasonable price and there's no need to haggle, it seems the Axis is threatened with entertainment. As a side effect, the accountant turns into a woman. For some reason.
Having slaughtered everyone she's come across, Eminem heads to the local petting zoo and starts killing the inhabitants. The Doctor wakes up in one of the cages – a filthy subconscious habit stemming from his unconscious desire to escape from incarceration. Probably.
Meanwhile, the accountant enters the TARDIS and tells Peri that he/she is the Doctor. This paradox is the most exciting thing Peri has heard all day and so she takes off in the TARDIS before the real Doctor can flee back there. Fancy that.
However, Peri begins to become wary of "the Doctor" who extols the virtues of chartered accountancy in a boring voice. She challenges him and he insists he is the Doctor. Unconvincingly. Peri suspects that the man she is with is the same being that seems to populate the Axis – either that or they are all so uninteresting they just sort of blur together. Then, she dozes off.
With the Axis of Banality threatening to suck all coolness, individuality and kinkyness from the universe, the Doctor's feeling a bit put upon and depressed in general. Trying to escape Eminem, he flees into the city's red light district – only to discover it contains red lighting and no hookers or brothels of any sort.
Meanwhile Peri wakes up, punches the accountant unconscious and pilots the TARDIS back to the Axis. You know, the way you do. The accountant mocks Peri and wonders aloud why the Doctor would choose to travel with such lesser, dim-witted beings; perhaps he thinks of Peri and Eminem as his pet threesome. Peri responds by kicking him violently in the groin.
Back in the Axis, Eminem encounters another Time Lord who has stopped to ask for directions. Stabbing him to death, she steals his TARDIS. In a realistic manner. Just then, Peri and the accountant arrive – the latter turning into a duplicate of Eminem in the belief Peri won't risk harming either of them. Unfortunately, Peri's still pretty sore about the Alice in Wonderland review and happens to carry an iron bar.
Even more unfortunately, the real Eminem is already attacking the accountant, who reverts to his true form long enough to formally reprimand Eminem for her disgraceful behavior before she slits his throat and reaches into his chest and pulls out his digestive track to use as an improvised set of bag-pipes.
The Doctor finally arrives and sends Peri escaping in his TARDIS while he takes the dead Time Lord's one. He refuses to let either Eminem or the Banality infect the universe.
"All Time Lords are prepared to give their lives for the sanctity of the timelines, and if we often appear pompous, arrogant, eccentric, mundane, tiresome, egotistical, pathetic, torrid, smelly... Well, it's because we're always aware of the weight of their responsibility."
"Why are you telling me this?" asks Eminem.
"Just making conversation."
Finally, the Doctor shrugs and lets Eminem aboard the TARDIS once again. True, she may be a sociopathic, mass-murdering necrophiliac... but she's got very nice legs.
The TARDIS vanishes from the Axis of Banality, which is so spectacularly dull it doesn't even explode and contaminate the rest of eternity. Which was lucky.
Book(s)/Other Related –
Doctor Who & The Dullest Place in the Universe
Doctor Who Visits Canberra (Australian Editions Only)
Charted Accountants To Watch Out For – Volume 2: Doctor Who to DS9
Eminem seems surprised in this story by the notion of other Time Lords and TARDISes, although she has encountered other beings from the Doctor's home planet in No Phone, No Home. Maybe she's just not as nerdy as Doctor Who fans. I just don't know.
Peri is given a refresher course in basic TARDIS maintenance, making the events of Season 22 even more unlikely than the whole "Zig-Zag-Gay-Ass changing history crap". Which might be intentional.
Fashion Victims –
The accountant has "smug and overbearing" written all over him. In bright red felt tip.
The Doctor possess a Molenski Univarius, an all-purpose sort of Time Lord Swiss Army knife, which can fix anything.
It serves the same plot function as a sonic screwdriver, acts like a sonic screwdriver, looks like a sonic screwdriver and is even referred to as such on 94 separate occasions by the Doctor himself.
But it isn't. It's a Molenski Univarius, and that's official.
Links and References -
According to the accountant, the Doctor suggested threesome with: Susan, Polly, Zoe, Liz, Jo, Sarah Jane, Leela, Romana and Nyssa. Only Jamie and K9 were ever up for one.
Untelevised Misadventures -
Groovy DVD Extras -
A laughter track provide by Garrick Hagon. It doesn't make the story funnier, but makes it clear Hagon's overdoing the heroin.
Dialogue Disasters -
Accountant: What do you think of the plot so far?
Doctor: Not good. Not good at all.
Eminem: Reality can be so humdrum. Altered perspectives, different strokes – that's what punches my ticket!
Doctor: I know the perfect place! The Axis of Banality!
Doctor: I know time is even more relative around these parts, but I really shouldn't be long.
Accountant: Yeah, well, spend as much time in the toilet as you need to, Doctor. No pressure. But I'd prefer it if you stayed out of the ladies', this time.
Dialogue Triumphs -
A shockingly blunt scene showing how the new TARDIS team relates -
Peri: Doctor, you've got to do something – and do it quick!
Doctor: In my experience, the quicker the fix, the quicker it breaks. However, I can't be arsed to spend all my time intricately correcting every last detail, and this way I've always got something to do on weekends.
Peri: Yes... But for some reason I am not impressed. Now, are you going to stop the hologram projector recording me every time I'm in the bathroom or am I going to have to tell Eminem what you did with her metal headdress!
Doctor: You wouldn't!
Peri: I don't think little miss Pharaoh will be thrilled with the idea of you dressing up as her and prancing down the TARDIS corridors late at night, singing "Walk Like An Egyptian".
(A long, loooong pause.)
Doctor: How you KNOW these things?!
Eminem: And to think I gave up Dynasty for this.
Peri: Hey, you could have set the timer on the VCR if you were *that* bothered, Eminem!
Peri: Shall we dance?
Doctor: Er, you and Eminem can have a dance if you like, Peri. I shall stay here. And observe.
Viewer Quotes -
"Banality, banality. All is banality."
- Bill Oddie (1977)
"What I liked about this story was, well, the human angle. The Doctor was really made one of us in these four episodes, casting off his immortal Time Lordiness and acting like any sane man sharing an apartment with two women. Finding out he dresses in one's clothes while secretly filming the other in the shower... It's a human element that needs restating. Take note, RTD, I want serious girl-on-girl action in the new series. I know where you work, dude. Don't mess with me."
- Nigel Verkoff (2003)
"The Accountant's over-the-top antics make it hard to take this story seriously as an audio play. And Eminem's ponderous sobriety doesn't work for me either in this odd sort of story which starts off set in a sort of Jungian nut-house and then turns into a standard run around with a mad scientist. I hated this story. I really did."
- "Does Nothing Please You?? No It Does Not!" fanzine (2004)
"Peri wears a Swiss watch, eh? That's interesting. Well, compared to the rest of this bloody story it's practically up there with the Book of Revelations! A thing like that can be your only lifeline to reality... Dear god, this story sucked, it seriously did."
- Arnold Whitehead (2006)
"A not-unwelcome return to the past Doctor stories."
- The Stater of the Completely Bloody Obvious (2004)
Psychotic Nostalgia -
"This whole story is a farrago of lies, distortions and more lies. If there really WAS an Axis of Banality where all dull crap gets downloaded, why the hell are we stuck with Barbara Cartland? Tell you what, I'll ask her before I remove her tongue with an egg whisk."
Peter Davison Speaks!
"So much bland indifference around me... I hated the Axis story. I was forced to re-record the story and ACT this time because in the first rushes no one noticed my voice at all! It's a cruel world."
Nicola Bryant Speaks!
"I liked how The Axis of Banality took one look at Eminem and Peri's relationship and ran off screaming. I thought maybe we could work as excellent foils for each other, getting into trouble, thinking on our feet and rescuing the Doctor, but writers seem to spot the phrase 'A couple of teenage girls' and instantly start writing slash fiction and adding lots of gratuitous pillow fights in our underwear."
Caroline Morris Speaks!
"Peri and Eminem can row a bit more now, it's much more of a sisterly relationship. Well, I think it's a sisterly relationship. I regularly tried to knife my sister to death at least once a week. That slut. I hope she dies. I hope she gets BOWEL CANCER!!!"
Rumors & Facts -
A bizarre realm, constant allusions to Alice in Wonderland and a companion the Doctor is desperately trying to ditch gave me vivid Zig-Zag-Gay-Ass flashbacks for minutes upon hearing this story. However, rather than trying to beat or even imitate that monumental stuff-up of both Doctor Who and general story-telling, author Simon Frankfurter has simply ripped off The Sexual Toymaker and just removed anything that could possibly be in any way entertaining or erotic.
The fact the story manages to last more than five seconds with these conditions is a true testament to the power of padding and bad exposition.
On the down side, it is quite clear Frankfurter has never actually done an audio before as three scenes take up most of two episodes, forgets the explanations necessary for such a story and gives up on the plot entirely when the insanely sensible accountant is hacked to pieces by Eminem with a knife. This is what is rapidly becoming the dues ex machina equivalent of reversing the polarity of the neutron flow to stop the plot.
Frankfurter stuffed up continuity back in 1987 when, rather than sensible fit his comic strips to continue featuring the Sixth Doctor, sketched the Seventh over the top and hoped no one will notice. Thus, stories with the Seventh Doctor and Frobisher missing Peri and going on holiday effectively meant the comic strip continuity did not include Mel at all. You know, I'm starting to like this guy.
Using his time at Doctor Who Magazine to blackmail Gay Russell into employing him, Frankfurter asked to do a Fifth Doctor and Nyssa story. However, Russell's sheer bloody mindedness made him offer a Fifth Doctor/Peri/Eminem story instead for the new recruit to Big Finish – just to show him where he stood in the pecking order. But, later, he would admit getting a visual artist to write an audio drama probably wasn’t the best move. Indeed, the dialogue for episode three consists entirely of "Look at that!" and "Run!!"
In order to give a better feel to this intensely dull story, Russell decided it was time to overload the story with continuity references, changing the dull people into Time Lords (which would be hard to spot), the accountant into Omigod and also replacing the extra Time Lord character with an Older Adric. Frankfurter disliked the fact that his story was no longer entitled Axis of Inanity but Continuity And More Continuity and threatened to show the photos if the story wasn't returned to his ideal format.
Russell called Frankfurter's bluff. Stupid move.