Monday, September 21, 2009

5th Doctor - Cuddlesome

Serial DWMCD09 – Consumerism
An Alternate Programme Guide by Ewen Campion-Clarke
An Extract From The EC Unauthorized Programme Guide O' Cuddle Some Of THIS!

Serial DWMCD09 – Consumerism -

Abandoning Tegan Jovanka to her poxy brain tumor, the Doctor returns to the TARDIS and sets course for Brighton in 1818. With its usual perspicacity, the time machine remains in 2007 and instead fetches up in a backyard in Hove, specifically inside a greenhouse ever-so-slightly too small to contain a metropolitan police box.

As the Doctor sheepishly emerges from the huge pile of shattered glass and metal, a butch-looking woman called Angela runs out of the house and eerily seems to know that the celery-wearing cricketeer is called the Doctor. Is this some ontological paradox with the Fifth Doctor encountering his own future... AGAIN? No, actually, as Angela assumes that he is the medic replying to her 999 call.

It transpires that her jailbait boyfriend has fallen down the stairs. At first the Doctor assumes this is an unsubtle euphemism for domestic violence, but concludes that if this were the case Angela would be more likely to smash his skull in with the hammer she always carries rather than waste time throwing him down a stairwell. She certainly wouldn’t try to bite her boytoy on the throat and infect him with alien nastiness... well, if she DID, she’d do a better job of it.

On the balance of probabilities, the Doctor is willing to bet the poison is alien in origin and Angela explained he was bitten by a Pink Vampire Hero Hamster – which, in the dark times of the 1980s, were the coolest thing on the planet: a demented mixture of Furby and answering machine that was able to personalize death threats to its owner as part of a socialist manifesto. Her boytoy claimed to have been bitten by such a novelty toy in the attic, but Angela (understandably) thought he was talking total crap.

The Doctor decides to get to the bottom of this by striding into the dark, dusty, creepy attic where some hideous form of malevolence exists and generally try to come back alive. However, when he opens the hatch the prospect of such audio-unfriendly-stumbling-in-the-dark becomes irrelevant as the Pink Vampire Hero Hamster immediately runs out of the dark, dives through a window and vanishes into the twilight.

"Most heinous," the Doctor concludes.

Leaving her boyfriend on the landing, the Doctor and Angela discuss how hideous 1980s mass-produced tat can possibly be responsible for an alien disease and most likely the same disease which DEFRA assume to be an outbreak of H5N1 avian flu which is even now reaching epidemic proportions in Brighton and, more importantly, in Hove where the main plot of this story is set. The Doctor is touched at how open-minded a middle-aged female plumber is at the concept of alien life, until he learns she is a morbid alcoholic and just assumes that all the weirdness is down to her being completely pissed.

The Doctor decides they need to catch another Pink Vampire Hero Hamster and thus together with Angela set out to a 70s and 80s memorabilia shop called Bellbottoms, only to find it looted as all the Pink Vampire Hero Hamsters have come to life and escape, killing the proprietor and the customers with their filthy alien germs!

Still, that can’t be helped, so the Doctor and Angela don’t let this carnage get them down and just follow the trail of destruction in the hope the Pink Vampire Hero Hamsters will lead them to their lair.

And, what do you know, they do!

Arriving at the seafront, all the Pink Vampire Hero Hamsters line up on a pier like lemmings and then stop dead. This part of town is completely deserted, with only the stock props of a lifeboat, a power station, some abandoned warehouses and the White Elephant – the tastefully-nicknamed abandoned Japanese electronics dockland redevelopment scheme that never actually got used.

By a staggering coincidence it that a Sussex toymaker called Ronald turvey who 25 years ago became rich and famous with the creation of the must-have toys the Pink Vampire Hero Hamster. He then went completely out of business when the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles muscled in on his patch and crushed his dreams overnight, and has been a recluse ever since until he mysteriously decided to reintroduce the fluffy mascots on a world of text messaging, xbox and ganga. Could this sudden relaunch be in any way connected with the homicidal hamsters.

"Bloody obviously," is Angela’s diagnosis, and she’s damn right!

Inside the said factory, Turvey is at first delighted to discover that only 25 years out of warranty, his toys still work perfectly. The newly arrived Pink Vampire Hero Hamsters download details of the people they’ve bitten and infected into the factory database for some reason which may or may not be explained satisfactorily in the future.

Just then, a deep voice booms around the factory, the voice of fierce Mr. Tinghus who bitches that Turvey is a cretinous fool who doesn’t even realize that one of the toys is actually news reporter Miranda Evenden in a fur coat and is filming everything!

Finally the hideously nappy-rashed mutant (who just happens to look EXACTLY like a giant version of a Pink Vampire Hero Hamster) climbs out of the steam bath and comes down to deal with Miranda personally before she realizes that the mystery bird flu originates from the killer fluffy toys.

Turvey, annoyed with Mr. Tinghus’ attitude, insists he can handle it on his own and has one of his cheaper, mark II Pink Vampire Hero Hamsters (voiced by Keanu Reeves as Ted "Theodore" Logan from Wyld Stallions) bite the reporter on the neck. This really pisses off Mr. Tinghus as he’s already gotten out of his bath and everything.

Furious, Mr. Tinghus decides to get his own back by ordering all the new, faux-American Pink Vampire Hero Hamsters to beat the shit out of all the original, dusty 1980s Pink Vampire Hero Hamsters until they are all totally obliterated!

Turvey is horrified! Because, you know, he kind of likes the old Pink Vampire Hero Hamsters. He thinks they’re living works of art. And doesn’t want them torn limb from limb. Apparently.

Still, it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference as all the 1980s Pink Vampire Hero Hamsters die screaming in fear and agony. Bless.

Anyway, it’s around this point that the Doctor and Angela finally turn up, speaking very loudly and generally acting like they own the place and idly noting the burnt remnants of the 1980s Pink Vampire Hero Hamsters. As you can imagine, this pisses off Mr. Tinghus EVEN MORE than he was before!

The Doctor is more concerned about a strange itch in his elbows which suggests a telepathic trace from the slaughtered cuddly toys or else that he’s starched his shirt this morning and when Mr. Tinghus starts screaming with mindless fury, the Time Lord claims to be from Trading Standards doing a snap inspection but for some reason the alien skin-diseased villain doesn’t buy this. Oh, for want of psychic paper!

There follows a general escape-capture runaround as the Doctor and Angela flee for their lives, and Turvey joins them as he’s pissed off at the tawdry models killing his own preferred furry assassins of plague and terror.

On the way, Turvey explains he actually intended to pull off this global genocide back in the 1980s but his plan went tits up when he got arrested for tax fraud before he could send the final signal to turn all the Pink Vampire Hero Hamsters into pure evil. Turns out Turvey was bullied at university for having a teddy bear, and the ghost of the teddy bear has been haunting him ever since. Oh, what motivation. My heart bleeds.

The Doctor also recognizes Mr. Tinghus as a psychic brood parasite, not dissimilar to intergalactic cuckoos or the average Buffy monster, who live in the fears and nightmares of hosts before turning into a physical manifestation – an invisible friend turned real.

"So Mr. Tinghus was Turvey’s teddy bear all the time!" Angela marvels.

Mr. Tinghus explains that not only does he have lofty ambitions of eradicating humanity and conquering the Earth, he also has designs on mutating human beings into pink, vampiric yet heroic hamsterforms, staring with Miranda Evenden who immediately tries to rip the Doctor’s face off with her furry claws!

This leads to ANOTHER bout of running up and down corridors while Turvey reveals he has a second and even MORE cunning plan to activate toys from all over the world to rise from the attics and cupboards where they’ve been left forgotten and fight the Pink Vampire Hero Hamsters to the death regardless off human cost!

Such a sequence is long, tedious and suggests at a severe heroin dependency on the part of the writer... and that’s BEFORE the actual fight starts and it stops being a looney plan by a mad scientist.

The carnage that follows for the next fourteen minutes destroys every last Pink Vampire Hero Hamster, Tinghus, Turvey, Miranda and quite a lot of cardboard boxes.

The Doctor decides to sod off as this has all got incredibly kitsch and runs into the TARDIS and takes off for 1818 Brighton... only to remain in 2007 Hove, but this time smash Angela’s neighbor’s greenhouse AND most of their fence. The Doctor finally gives up and flees in the TARDIS before anyone can bill him for the damages.

Book(s)/Other Related –
Doctor Who: Toys Gone Bezerk
Dr Who – Fast and the Furry
"We Shoulda Blown Ourselves Up Instead!" Thomas Cookson’s disturbingly passionate case for why humanity should have put itself out of its misery rather than living through the 1980s

Goofs -
The news broadcast at the beginning is stock footage from the 2006 Tenth Doctor TV story "Silver Finish". And unless this story is actually set on Irth at the exact moment of the rise of the Cybermen, it’s not very relevant either.

Fashion Victims –
Too many to mention. Dear god the summer of 91 sucked in that regard!

Technobabble –
Hey, it’s about evil toys filled with goo and it STILL makes more sense than the average Touchwood episode!

Links and References -
The Doctor has previously attempted to visit the opening of Brighton Pavillion in "Lighthouse Cutaway", "The Leisure Centre" and "Party Animals!" (the latter in which he encountered a drunken Nicholas Briggs starting a barroom brawl in the Mos Eisley cantina).

Untelevised Misadventures -
The Doctor was the very same shadowy figure who swapped MC Hammer’s regular Pepsi with a can of Coca Cola, leading to the megastar suddenly singing Morris Albert’s "Feelings" to an unimpressed concert audience. Only a last minute Pepsi transfusion saved MC Hammer from being lynched right there and then. Shame.

Groovy DVD Extras -
Nicholas Briggs director’s cut of The Mutant Phrase part 1, with a new opening scene when, while mending the TARDIS console, the Fifth Doctor electrocutes himself and regenerates into a new, balder, less celery-wearing more toothbrush-wielding incarnation.

Dialogue Disasters -

Angela: I can’t believe that anyone would want a hamster as a pet.
Doctor: Oh, I don’t know. I had a hamster once, although he had to release it back into the wilds when it started getting pierceings, eating curries, dying its mowhawk orange and answering to the name of Special Patrol Group. "FEEL THE WRATH OF THE HAMSTER!" he used to scream at us when we tried to feed him... biting chunks out of the bedroom furniture. Good times.

Mr. Tinghus: I’ll chase you all the way to WORTHING!
Doctor: that supposed to motivate me?

Turvey: Why should children be told to grow up and put away childish things, only to replace them with cars and houses? Being adult means status, peer pressure and self-loathing!
Angela: Yeah, but it also means you’re legally allowed to drive, smoke, get wasted and have truly fantastic supreme dynamo sex!
Turvey: ...Well. Yes. I suppose there IS that.

Dialogue Triumphs -

Angela: Doctor. Tell me who you really are.
Doctor: I’m a Time Lord, Angela. I am not of the world. My planet is known only as Gallifrey, and lies 29 million light years from Earth. And you are a very gullible alcoholic.
Angela: That’s riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight!!

Viewer Quotes -

"I got love for you if you were born in the 80s. I’ve got hugs for you if you were born in the 80s. It was acceptable in the 80s. It was acceptable at the time."
- Nigel Verkoff again uses a cunning choice of song lyrics to get around being quoted on a story he hasn’t listened to (2009)

"Given that it cost me bugger all, I’m very impressed. Consumerism feels like something that you should really be paying good money for – now THERE’S ironic!" - Richie Rich (1983)

"Nah didn’t like it. It doesn’t work very well. I can’t say I like Big Finish stuff – it’s crap and not worth bothering about. Nope, too boring, I would rather watch re runs of Serial 6C."
- Tom "Lighthope" Himinez (2008)

"You know, that’s exactly the standard of criticism I expect from someone who can’t comprehend let alone enjoy audio drama." - me (now)

"Oooh. I wonder how long it’ll be before some incredibly talented and sexy person makes a nice CD cover of it so some incredibly sad and nerdy individual like me can put them with his other BFs, and not feel so stupid for having it all stand out and etc."
- Some Incredibly Sad And Nerdy Individual (and pay up or else I’ll reveal your full name to the world, Neville)

"It’s got pink vampire hamsters... AND PATHOS!"
- Andrew Beeblebrox after far too much chocolate (2008)

Psychotic Nostalgia -
"Do you remember the 80s? The Rubik’s Cube, Duran Duran, deelyboppers, Ninja Turtles, Alex Drake... and the Pink Vampire Hamsters, the must-have toy of twenty-three Christmases ago! For so long now, the Pink Vampire Hamsters have been forgotten, lying in attics and junk shops. But now they’re waking up. OH, GLORIOUS NOSTALGIA! LET THY EVIL BY THINE CONDUCT NOW! NOW, MC HAMMER!"

Peter Davison Speaks!
"I didn’t watch Time Crush as it went out because I was in theatre. But I had of course set my recorder! I was just very pleased to see a fantastically written little scene which was touching, gunny and provided that nice connection between the different periods of the series. Seeing Colin Baker ritualistically humiliated in front of millions of viewers was a perk, too. But hopefully those viewers will be intrigued about earlier, less rubbish Doctors and come to hear me in a dastardly plot to infect the world via a free CD with Doctor Who Magazine. Oh yes, Nick, EVERYONE knows what you’re trying to do. The only surprise is you’ve taken this long to try it..."

Rumors & Facts -

Thanks to some dodgy and shadowy business deal in the misty dawn of history, Big Finish was obliged to provide a freebie novelty one-episode CD story for Doctor Who Magazine to bump up its sales figures once a year. Stories like Clash of the Titans, The Meep Sweeps, Vogon Cutaway, No Phone No Home and The Veiled Leotard had lead to dozens more copies of the magazine being sold before any and all CD contents were uploaded to bit torrent sites to cause massive embarrassment and financial ruin.

The very first audio story had been a truly awful Sylvester McCoy adaptation of the Oddly Visual story Bonarparte which through a chain of rather cringeworthy circumstances lead to the original Bonarparte being released instead. Briggs was delighted and immediately set to work trying to adapt further OVs in the hope the genuine article could be peddled out, not only reducing costs but granting him a foothold in the collective fandom psyche allowing him to be Doctor Eternal!

Unfortunately, executive producer at the time Gay Russell was on to Briggs’ scheme and immediately blacklisted any further attempts. Although Briggs was now in full control of the entirety of Big Finish, he was still unable to make himself a canonical Doctor and thus returned to the DWM OV scam of yesteryear. Since it had been over two years since Big Finish had given the magazine anything beyond a promotional CD of trailers, Briggs was rightly confident that the promise of an exclusive slice of audio drama – especially at the moment their website was being revamped to introduce a new download service – DWM would have no choice but to be up for the deal.

However, Tom Spilsbury was not prepared to let his magazine turn into a Briggs propaganda pamphlet and demanded that any story feature a TV Doctor and a plot not released on OV cassette sometime in the 1980s. Swearing under his breath, Briggs resolved to play the long game and agreed to "adapt" a two-decade-old audio script for Colin Baker on the grounds the multicolored clown had just appeared in the Welsh TV revival of Doctor Who, specifically the charity special Time Crush where he tried to sexually assault David Tennant.

But ever since Briggs had tried to kill Baker with a fire axe during the recording of the 100th mainstream release, their relationship had been somewhat rarified. Baker refused to do the OV project with Briggs, not realizing that this was EXACTLY what Briggs wanted to happen. Unfortunately, Peter Davison wanted to up his profile over his successor and was more than willing to appear in the story.

Increasingly frustrated, Briggs decided to try and tap into contemporary concerns about Fisher Price toys that regularly threatened to murder their owners. Countless Florida children found their Tickle Me Elmo dolls cheerfully singing "Kill James!" or indeed, the name of any child that happened to be in the room. Fisher Price were unwilling to comment but gave a vague promise to replace the toys with less infanticidal versions at a discount.

Flipping through his OV archive, Briggs found the best bet – Consumerism, a tale out about killer toys injecting diseases into the eyeballs of small children for the sheer hell of it. Quickly, Briggs claimed he was going to focus the plot more on the idea of Fluffy Toys of Death rather than genetic experimentation. It would be less ephemeral and throwaway but the kind of hour-long Hellbound to Anywhere stories subscribers suffer every Christmas.

To keep Spilsbury in the dark, Briggs pretend to cast the crème de la crème of the acting world. Timothy West was kidnapped from recording the Eighth Doctor story Deimos, David Troughton waylaid while on the way to film Midday, and Roberta Taylor managed to leave Sun Hill Police Station and arrive at the Moat Studios as part of a carefully orchestrated pub crawl.

But disaster was looming... since disaster WASN’T looming! There was absolutely no reason to cancel the whole thing and hastily hand out 26-year-old audio cassettes of even-more-amateur-in-those-days Nick Briggs piss farting about with a microphone, cassettes pretty much impossible to track down these days and for very good reason.

With no options remaining, Briggs began a desperate smear campaign against his own material. He pointed out that the very fact it was an adaptation was a sure sign of poor quality material; that there was nothing to set the story apart from countless other below-average Doctor Who stories; that it featured the inexcusable cliché of a man whose emotional weaknesses and desire for revenge are being exploited by aliens for the purposes of cultural conquest at the exact moment the Doctor happens to be wondering past; all of this with no new take of any sort to make Consumerism in any way worthwhile.

"There’s no depth whatsoever!" Briggs wailed at Davison and Troughton apropos of nothing. "Where’s the thematic resonance! This story is crying out for SOME acknowledgement, SOME condemnation of our society’s love of retro! IT’S NOT CUTE! IT – IS – ANNOYING!"

But the cast were charmed by this "tale of whimsy" with all that stuff about growth hormone convinced them that The Writer Has Really Thought About This. Even the fact that the Doctor did absolutely nothing to contribute to Tinghus’ downfall didn’t dissuade them and David Troughton was already suggesting a sequel entitled The Rerun of the Tinghus to anyone who was listening.

In the final analysis, Briggs dubbed the remake of Consumerism as the biggest and most disappointing waste of time any living person had ever heard emerge from Big Finish and it was ultimately an almighty embarrassment that couldn’t be given away even if it was free.

No one disagreed, as that would automatically have meant that anyone was paying the slightest attention to him in the first place.

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