Serial 6C/Q – The Cretins of Red Lodge And Other Morons
An Alternate Programme Guide by Ewen Campion-Clarke
An Extract From The EC Unauthorized Programme Guide O' All Good Things
Serial 6C/Q – The Cretins of Red Lodge And Other Morons -
The Cretins of Red Lodge
With a pathological desperation never to set foot in the rural village of Stockbridge ever again, the Doctor and Nyssa send the TARDIS to the furthermost reaches of time and space. Thus, it is with a cruel and predictable irony it arrives in the next town but one.
Nyssa is wary about visiting England in 1665 given what happened the last time, what with the Brigadier and the Terileptils and the fire and the blood and screaming oh glavin the horrible screaming...
The Doctor is halfway through assuring her that there is not the remotest possibility of any such historically-inaccurate hi-jinks occurring when giant blobby amoebas drop out of the trees and molest both of our heroes into unconsciousness.
Both of them recover consciousness hours later, traumatized by such a naughty experience and gripped with hideous self-loathing. As they wander around the creepy woods, they sob and whine and gibber in desperate need for a hug and psychiatric counseling.
Um, this takes up quite a lot of the episode.
Don’t get me wrong, the actors do a stellar job and treat the topic of mind-rape with the Paul-Abbot-esque severity it deserves but, you know, it’s not exactly much to write home about in these guides. Our time traveling monster-fighting heroes blubber and after the first ten minutes you stop feeling sorry for them and start to take a perverse amusement in their torment. Wait, that wasn’t JUST me, was it? Huh?
Eventually something that could charitably be described as a plot emerges as our sniveling main characters stumble across the Red Lodge Bar, Grill and Opium Den. Well, I say "stumble", there was a fair bit of being chased through the woods by the POV-monster from the Evil Dead film franchise, but that bit’s easy to overlook in hindsight.
After marveling at the historically-accurate flashing neon signs in the shape of hangmen’s nooses, the Doctor and Nyssa head for the front desk where a working-class Suffolk girl called Emily offers them the Honeymoon Suite, a vegetarian pot roast and tells some gossip about the kinky shit Witchfinder General (and part time Big Finish author) Matthew Hopkins got up to when the lights went out.
Oddly enough these tales of supernatural depravity gliding through the misty woods in the dead of night do not improve the time travelers’ mood, especially when it turns out the Red Lodge vegetable patch is growing pod people from outer space like in that movie... you know, the one with the pod people from outer space.
Emily admits the gig is up and politely explains her evil master plan to conquer 17th Century Earth while two more pod people prepare to replace the Doctor and Nyssa. Apparently all the butthurt and trauma at the start of the episode was part of the duplication/assimilation/body-snatching-ation process as well. So, yeah.
Anyway, it’s pretty much the usual ungodly alien communist parasitical infestation although the monster rather unusually taste of spearmint though exactly HOW the Doctor and Nyssa discovered this fact is best left a mystery because frankly I’m nauseated enough today.
Ironically, Nyssa’s supremely Dickensian childhood (not to mention the whole mind-rape thing) proves much for her duplicate who immediately tries to end it all face down in a bowl of coleslaw. The horror.
Amazingly, all the other pod people think this is some kind of really fun party game and all suffocate themselves to death in the buffet, leaving the Doctor and Nyssa surrounded by the corpses of the most cretinous alien invasion they have EVER encountered.
In fact, the Doctor has to close his eyes against the sight to stop himself giggling uncontrollably at the sight of the massacre.
Other Moron # 1 – The Empty Composition
Having got Boney M’s "Gotta Go Home" stuck in his head, the Doctor pilots the TARDIS to the Concordum – a planetary mp3 player that acts as a repository for all the catchiest prog rock since the dawn of time itself where God Himself was rumored to be humming "Devil Gate Drive" as He lit the blue touch paper for the Big Bang.
As they traverse levels of neo-classical vaults, Nyssa is touched to discover a whole chamber dedicated to the Traken Union and in particular her father’s favorite piece of chamber music: "Kids in America" by Kim Wilde. Apparently, Tremas used to play it all the time on Lute Hero (version 5.2) for her stepmother.
The Doctor dismisses it as a bunch of poofy string concertos and wanders off in search of some proper music - something by Pseudo Echo, for example – but is nearly destroyed by a discordant jangle of sounds that can only be described as some of that crazy stuff John and Yoko came up with banging saucepan lids in front of a microphone. And then remixed by Satan. With assistance from Chris Lilly.
Archiver Naloooooom arrives and explains this atonal noise pollution is contaminating everything on Concordum like an aural virus (and yes he DID say "aural" not "oral" you perverts!) which is expanding outwards, transferring vibration from particle to particle.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it turns out this particular composition was entitled "Destroy Absolutely Fucking Everything You Touch" in honor of Ladytron, who even SOUNDS like a Dr Who villain. Alas, it was not Ladytron responsible for this aural virus but Geoff Cooper – a direct ancestor of Gwen Cooper, the only creation of Russell T Davies that Big Russell doesn’t like to talk about.
The Doctor realizes that they must travel back in time in the TARDIS to find the strange Welsh prog rocker who was thrown off the BBC for being a degenerate Celtic pervert (ie, Welsh) after singing "You Can See My Pad From The Window Of Your Parents’ Room While I Give It To You Up The Arse Then Retcon You With Amnesia Pills" on Play School.
Relocating the TARDIS to Geoff Cooper’s rock mansion country estate just outside of Cardiff Nyssa immediately goes undercover as a groupie. Really, really, REALLY undercover. In fact, someone might say that the writer totally forgot that he was supposed to be writing for a demure space princess and instead thought "Nyssa of Traken" was a Liverpudlian nymphomaniac with a fetish for prog rock.
"I’m seeing a whole new side to you today," the Doctor observes in an attempt to justify such piss-poor characterization.
Inside, the time travelers encounter Cooper’s pet rottwieler Abaddon, his pet his pet mice Toshiko, Owen and Ianto, and his pet gimp geisha girl sex toy Unsubtle Touchwood Reference III. Curiously enough, they all happen to be dead – their souls torn apart by the composition "Destroy Absolutely Fucking Everything You Touch". See? There IS a coherent plot thread! And so say all of us!
Unsurprisingly, it turns out that one of Cooper’s decision to install live-in prostitutes he found from a rift in time and space has doomed all life on Earth. These are Empty Sirens, sort of like the Corrs if the Corrs were identical inhuman clones whose banshee wails could destroy all life in their path...
Basically, they’re the Corrs.
The Doctor asks them to go away very politely and offers them some cheese he rather cheaply has been stealing from mousetraps he’s spotted throughout the house (which was a rather reckless decision from a man who owned so many pet mice but, hey – Welsh = moron, remember?)
The Empty Sirens refuse. Well, it was pretty pathetic offer, and the Doctor can’t really blame them to be honest. Instead, he and Nyssa wander off as the Sirens begin to shatter reality apart on a quantum level until the Doctor remembers he’s a goddamn hero of the series and tells the Sirens if they don’t spare the universe he will do something so nasty to them they’ll never sing again.
The only clue as to what form this divine retribution will take is that it will involve the pieces of old cheese he previously offered them, which is disturbing enough as it is.
The Sirens again refuse to play ball – revealing themselves to be as moronic as the title implies. The rest of the episode is taken up by their blood curdling screams as the Doctor and Nyssa torture them to death with the small pieces of cheese and the audience are left to wonder when was the last time the author had a vacation...
Other Moron # 2 – Incoherent Sentences
In a desperate search for intelligent life, the Doctor and Nyssa head for the planet Folly in the vain hope its name suggests the inhabitants have SOME sense of irony. Ironically, this trip to Folly proves to be... well... a folly.
The Doctor has chosen the one planet where introducing yourself as "Dr John Smith" is as wise as visiting a brothel with a bowie knife and revealing you are Jack the Ripper. The infamous serial killing, skull-crushing, donkey-molesting Dr. John Smith is public enemy one two and three and the Doctor’s protests mean he gets an extra two years thrown onto his sentence for wasting police time.
Worse, the planetary prison of Folly is an exhaustively-detailed recreation of the jail from "Porridge", with even the Doctor’s cell mate looking like Ronnie Barker and answering to the name "Fletch".
While Fletch repeatedly begs for parole on the grounds he might have left the gas on back home, the Doctor warns the governor that he’s seen the future and knows that in one year’s time the entire prison will explode and destroy everyone if they don’t evacuate.
Alas, the moron in this particular story is the governor herself and the Doctor simply gets locked up in solitary confinement every single time he opens his mouth to speak.
Nyssa decides the best way to aid the Doctor is get arrested, but she might as well be trying to make a financial loss on a production of Springtime for Hitler for all the success she has – when she steals a bracelet from the stallholder, it’s the stallholder that gets arrested; when she breaks into a warehouse she manages to find the only one on the planet that’s empty; and even soliciting her talents as a prostitute only get her a beneficial protection racket GUARANTEEING her immunity for prosecution! Some days are better than others, eh?
With only his conjugal visits from Nyssa to keep him going the Doctor has been passing the time... getting even longer sentences. When he tried to improve the nutritional value of the prison slob he poisoned half of D wing; his refinement of the Dewey Decimal system of the library caused the shelves to collapse, killing five people; the night classes he held in spaceship maintenance somehow turned into a hardcore pornography ring; the 20-20 cricket tournament turned into a bloodbath because Jeff "Psychopathic Penis Remover" Murdoch misunderstood what "leg before wicket" meant; his counseling sessions drove twenty patients and three innocent bystanders to suicide; and he’s now had a fatwah placed on his head after his rewrite of the Christmas panto.
"And that was just my first morning!" the Doctor wails.
Meanwhile, the governor decides that her ridiculous and indeed cataclysmic handling of the prison means she is uniquely qualified to become President of the Entire Planet. Given she can’t even remember the NAME of said planet, you think her severe intellectual disabilities would prevent her achieving high office.
Seriously? You thought she couldn’t be elected because she was a moron? Have you never heard of Ronald Reagan? George Dubya Bush? Gordon freaking Brown? GOD DAMN IT! I thought my readership had a higher average IQ than that! How disappointing!
Frankly, if anything, the governor’s chances of achieving victory are actually IMPROVED when she stupidly gets all the prisoners to stand outside the front of the jail for a group photo and they all escape live on colony-wide television. She then unveils a time-manipulation device built out of an atomic accelerator and an old coffee maker which even SHE realizes is "insanely dangerous".
The Doctor muses that this JUST POSSIBLY could have something to do with the annihilation of the prison he’d been whining on about for the whole story and begs the governor to evacuate the prison before the date the calamity occurs – which is also election day.
The governor sees no connection between events and we are treated to a brilliant performance from Peter Davison as he screams "OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE, WOMAN!" and smashes his head against a wall nine hundred and seven times without hesitation or deviation.
Desperately, he begs the governor to reveal that she’s actually an evil mastermind and is deliberately going to let the prison explode as an epic publicity stunt to use for her own ends? Will she at least give him THAT grain of comfort there’s a reason to her stupidity?
The governor grins at him for a long time, clueless, until the Doctor breaks down in tears and curls up into a fetal ball on the floor.
Meanwhile, Nyssa has finally managed to get herself arrested for "looking at a police officer in a funny way" and is flung into jail along with the Doctor who has gone slightly peculiar and is now challenging all the other inmates to a world champion level stare-out championship to the death.
However, as he is the only other prisoner left in the jail, Nyssa finds him trying to outstare his own reflection screaming things like "BRING IT ON!" and "YOUR ASS IS GOING DOWN!!!"
Nyssa gently chloroforms him and drags him back to the TARDIS, and a few minutes later the entire prison explodes in a boringly predictable plot twist. The governor is flung through the barriers of time and space and ends up in some southern redneck town to become an athletics coach at the local high school.
"It’s just the way Sue sees it," the governor says cheerfully in a pop culture reference lost on so many people I don’t even know why in the name of sanity I have even bothered to transcribe it.
Meanwhile, the Doctor and Nyssa, having finally run out of missing adventures must face their tedious, unrelentingly facile and continuity driven fate – the opening scenes of Season 20’s Arc of Sinfinity.
May God have mercy on us all...
Other Moron # 3 – The Devil’s Flatulence II: The Whiff of Satan’s Bowel
For some reason, even though there was an international open script competition held by Big Finish SPECIFICALLY to ensure they had some stories going spare, there were only three worth putting on this bloody CD. Yes, not only was my genius not considered worthy, but out of ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY SCRIPTS there WAS NOT A SINGLE ONE considered suitable to be made. Big Finish, how I hate you!
So, to fill up the remaining half an hour it was decided to replay 24 minutes of a crappy Amicus anthology film that, by a staggering coincidence, also starred Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton when they were young and needed the money. Frankly, I believe they should have taken a complete different 24 minutes from the film, preferably the bits where Tom Baker grows a squirrel-shaped beard and becomes voodoo cult leader because at least that would be marginally entertaining.
Instead we cut to a windswept moor where some dude by the name of Mr. Pinfield is torn apart by wild dogs after he critiques the semiotic thickness of the performed texts he has had to endure.
After that surreal opening, the rancid excuse of a plot shifts to the generic Norfolk village of Bitchwell which, judging by the title, is plagued by its natives breaking wind with such frequency that demonic possession (and some re-fried baked beans) is the only explanation.
Our hero, a moronic skeptic called Bromley (Peter Davison) who had all genre savvy-ness surgically extracted from him at birth, arrives by horse and carriage and shows absolutely no interest in the driver screaming "FUCK THIS!" and fleeing the village instantly. Bromley is similarly unconcerned by the shambling zombies loitering on the village green, or the pub full of self-harming yokels weeping for the liberty of death. By now, the fact Bromley can even dress himself without assistance is becoming very suspicious, if you ask me.
Just then, Bromley’s pen-pal and underage sex slave Felicity Kendall (Sarah Sutton in a convincing false bottom) runs from behind the bar and says that some incredibly sinister and supernatural shit of the first order is going down in Bitchwell. Bromwell finds this very hard to believe and orders a glass of port.
Outside, random villagers are hunted down by beings that are magnificently evil, black and foul who hang in the air waiting to destroy their prey. And they also do owl impressions. And not particularly good ones, if we’re entirely honest.
Bromwell decides that the best thing to do is for them to have an early night in separate, unlocked rooms without any weapons or any kind and generally hope nothing bad happens to them until morning.
While he is clearly a non-functional retard of the first order, Bromwell is a colossal perverted sex offender and immediately gets his groove on with the big-breasted barmaid landlady type person who does... unspeakable things... mainly to get the film an R-rating, admittedly, but unspeakable nonetheless.
After lighting up a cigarette and leaving Bromwell with the bus fare home and instructions not to leave his room that night, Carlotta the barmaid wanders out of the house to join a chanting mob of devil worshippers on the village green. As Carlotta wears her hair in a pony-tail, Bromwell finds her totally unrecognizable. The moron.
The sacrificial villager suffers an ungodly burst of diarrhea that turns him into another of the stinking yokel zombies Bromwell found absolutely nothing sinister about earlier on in the film.
The next morning, Felicity suggests all this diabolic activity – especially the dialogue and acting – is good reason for them to get the hell out of Bitchwell and never gone back. Bromwell agrees, and just when we begin to boggle at the first intelligent thing he has done in the film, Bromwell chooses one of the zombie yokels to be his carriage driver for the trip. After all, what could POSSIBLY go wrong?!
One near-death experience as the possessed driver drives straight over a cliff later, Bromwell and Felicity are stuck back in the village as night falls, wolves howl and unconvincing owl noises fill the air...
Then some yokels kidnap Felicity, beat the shit out of Bromwell, and then wander off. Bromwell, still thinking nothing of this, decides on the cunning plan of jumping in puddles non stop for fifteen minutes. Carlotta wanders up to him and demands to know what is WRONG with this guy? Clearly Bromwell’s incomprehensible stupidity is what has kept the zombies from trying to infect him – even THEY have standards!
As Bromwell is so bloody stupid he makes all the other cretins and morons in this release look like savants, Carlotta decides to tell him her entire evil plan. In detail. With a flipchart. And some glove puppets. And even THEN Bromwell is still fucking clueless!
Carlotta reveals that Bitchwell was originally named Witchbell until they hired a dyslexic sign writer. Witchbell was famous for its bells, and even more famous for his witches who had awesome parties in the caverns beneath the village, drinking animal blood and having orgiastic sex for the sheer hell of it. Then, one Halloween, they all got possessed by Satan’s torment following an undercooked vindaloo. Since then they have been trying to exorcise his gastric agonies, sacrificing their number and any passing virgin goats to the cause.
Bromwell dozes off.
Midnight approaches and Carlotta, Head Witch Bitch of the Order of Beelzebub’s Botty-Burps, begins the final ceremony – they will light torches to try and burn off the satanic farts that have been polluting the village atmosphere. And if Felicity is burned to death in the process, well, it worked for "The Wicker Man", didn’t it?
As a last request, Felicity is allowed to have her totally brain-dead lover sacrificed to Satan first.
Which they do.
Admittedly, this isn’t a case of good triumphing over evil but at least a case of someone completely annoying and irredeemably stupid being brutally slaughtered which is a happier ending as we can ask for.
Book(s)/Other Related –
Dr Who & The Morons of Doom
Dr. Terrible’s House of Horrible Anthology Series on BlueRay
"I have a BAFTA, Motherfucker!" by Sir Jack Merrivale OBE
How does the presence of egg mayonnaise kill the pod people? How could they efficiently duplicate an entire species when some dodgy mayo could wipe out their entire invasion force? Is their egg intolerance the only thing keeping the universe safe from these parasites? What happens to the pod person who chose the Greek salad – surely HE will survive to lead vengeance against all mortal men for the rest of time? Is this a sequel hook? WHY WON’T IT JUST STOP?!?
The Doctor says that prog rock will tear apart every living atom but atoms aren’t alive. Is he actually playing devil’s advocate for prog rock? Is this something to do with the Jeffrey Coburn Doctor’s continual encounters with Rush discography in the Superiority Complex Audio Dramas? Is "The Body Electric" about Kamelion after all?!
When Nyssa tells Janson that when it comes to cricket "the Doctor will have you suckers by the bails" the author thought it was funny.
Fashion Victims –
"My, but your clothes are queer. Is that a vegetable you’re wearing?
"Sound is just a medium – what is IN the sound is primal sonics, quantum roars of the universe’s birth before it was silenced by nucleo-synthesis, the Music of the Spheres!"
"...Doctor, you do realize you’re talking total bollocks?"
"It isn’t a joke, Nyssa! We can’t delay! Act now! Supplies are running out! And if we follow, there MAY be a tomorrow – but if the offer is shunned WE MIGHT AS WELL BE WALKING ON THE SUN!!!"
Links and References -
The Doctor wants to take Nyssa to see the Terileptus Event Horizon - the most magnificent sunset in space and time which just happened to caused when the Bastard used a novelty Death Star to nuke the planet to a heap of infinitesimal dust. "You see, Nyssa, he DOES try to give something back to the community!"
Untelevised Misadventures -
The Doctor tells Nyssa that on a recent trip to Karfel he wrestled a thirty-foot Morlox anaconda, faced a thousand-mile haul across the freezing deserts with a broken leg and only beef jerky to sustain him and not only succeeded but was then made a sex god by over one hundred Bandril concubines. He also mastered the ancient Karfelon art of Pathological Lying to Impress.
Groovy DVD Extras –
Unsurprisingly, the commentary for "The Devil’s Flatulence II: The Whiff of Satan’s Bowel" proves far more interesting and entertaining than the film itself.
Admittedly Sarah Sutton refuses to take part and Peter Davison was high on smack at the time and kept insisting that the rest of the cast were possessed by the strange aliens of the Kentucky Goblin Spree.
Other highlights include the revelation that Ian Brooker suffered a schizophrenic episode and murdered half the cast, and that the legendary Paul Mundell was in fact, a poofter. The police were informed immediately and he is currently locked in a cell with Matthew Newton and Charlie Sheen...
...which is, curiously enough, the basis for a completely different portmanteau anthology film to be released sometime in 2013!
Dialogue Disasters –
Doctor: Size isn’t everything, Nyssa. Just ask the TARDIS – or anyone who’s seen the inside of my posing pouch...
Emily: We will control 100 per cent of humans!
Doctor: Remarkably fond of figures, aren’t you?
Emily: Numbers yield precision. Precision yields results.
Doctor: Which mean nothing compared to an active sex life!
Emily: You are aroused by life in all its forms?
Doctor: I am... well, unless you happen to have a squeegee mop and a habit of exterminating galaxies... but even then I consider myself reasonably open-minded. Logically, I should respect how Dustbins have sex. In reality, however, I am going to need a bucket beside me for the rest of the night as the nausea grows ever worse.
Nyssa: He’s not a musician. Just wishes he was. Now, me? Me, I met The Coop in a club. Asked me back to see his pad, he did. Couldn’t shake this cat once I’d told him. The Coop’s me idol, right doll?
Doctor: Nyssa, is there something wrong with you?
Nyssa: Don’t stop me now, Doctor, I am home with the downies!
Nyssa: Doctor, they would have killed us without a second thought. You should be grateful they’ve gone.
Doctor: I take no pleasure from winning a battle in this way, Nyssa. Gratitude for the death of others soon chews through the soul. That said... DAMMIT WE KICKED SOME SERIOUS ASS BACK THERE!
Doctor: I have a rule to never be seduced twice in one day. So far, I have failed to keep it on numerous occasions. This is a good thing.
Signs that they really needed to get Tegan back?
Doctor: That’s you’re trouble, Nyssa! Always so meek and quiet and inoffensive, not saying anything that might draw attention to yourself, never saying anything relevant. I mean, would anyone REALLY talk such inane nonsense all the time?
Nyssa: You do it often enough.
Doctor: Yeah, but I’m very cheap! What’s your excuse?
Doctor: The Cretin of Red Lodge is a legend.
Ashcroft: So how much of that is actual historical fact, then?
Doctor: Fact is difficult to define, isn’t it?
Ashcroft: No. It isn’t.
Doctor: The absence of supernatural influences DOESN’T mean everything’s totally unconnected!
Naloooom: Not the best dialogue in the world, has to be said. Fairly functional. And the plot doesn’t really make sense.
Doctor: You’re underestimating the momentum generated by a well-placed fist in the mouth, buster!
Doctor: There’s nothing like death to bring about a 100 per cent loss in libido – any passive necrophile would tell you that. You know, if they weren’t dead. Which they are.
Fletch: Are you going anywhere in particular with this?
Doctor: I was really hoping you’d jump in and stop me at some point.
Dialogue Triumphs -
Erisi: My sisters and I danced naked before the stars were born! You would have thought us beautiful!
Doctor: I sincerely doubt that.
Erisi: We’re completely shaved.
Doctor: Then you must consider my opinion completely revised.
Nyssa: Do we really have to explore, every single time we land somewhere unintended?
Doctor: He who never explores, Nyssa, will never truly find himself.
Nyssa: Who said that?
Doctor: Me. Just then.
Nyssa: [to herself] Pretentious fuck.
Doctor: [muttering] You just won’t shut up, will you, you pompous little microbe...
Nyssa: What was that, Doctor?
Doctor: Oh, just thinking aloud. [sotto] All that pointless posturing and whinging about Traken...
Nyssa: [sotto] Sixteen Big Finish releases I’ve had to sit through comparing things to Alaska. It’s a fucking disgrace...
Doctor: Never look back, Nyssa. It’s always worked for me. Never look back, never over-analyze, and never have an affair with your dentist’s wife – believe me, that last one can cost you dearly...
Doctor: Never mind, Nyssa. There’s plenty more experimental Traken groovy lute music on bit torrent...
Nyssa: You were going to say, "unfortunately".
Doctor: No I wasn’t.
Nyssa: Were too!
Doctor: Were not!
Nyssa: Were too!
Doctor: Were not!
Nyssa: Were too!
Doctor: Were not!
Nyssa: Were too!
Doctor: Were not!
Nyssa: Were too!
Doctor: Were not!
Nyssa: Were too!
Doctor: Were not!
Nyssa: Jeez, we really need someone else to talk to...
Doctor: I warn you now – if any harm befalls Nyssa...
Emily: There is no if. The probability is 100 per cent.
Doctor: As is the probability of me kicking your ass!
The heartwarming conjugal visiting scenes -
Nyssa: Do you like me going down like this?
Doctor: ...down like what?
Nyssa: Never mind.
Doctor: Well, steady at bat, that’s the ticket...
Viewer Quotes -
"It’s an evocative title. It evokes cretins. And a lodge. That’s red. And other morons. I honestly don’t you could find a more perfect and form-fitting title in the English language for an anthology about the Cretins of Red Lodge and other morons." - Steven Fry (2010)
"The way I see it every life is a pile of good things and bad things. And sweet onion chutney, this release DEFINITELY added a lot to the bad thing pile!" - Richard Curtis (2010)
"There's some wonderful tinkly piano music. What more could you ask?"
- Wonderful Tinkly Piano Music Lovers Digest (2013)
"I thought this worked awfully well. Except without the 'well' bit at the end. Yes, I thought this worked awfully. In fact, I’d go further than that. I’d say this didn’t work at all. Apart from the mental image of Nyssa stuffing her ears with cheese which just happens to be my biggest turn on. Ole, senoritas! Oh-fucking-lay!"
- Nigel Verkoff (2012)
"Alien intrusioners? It all falls flat! As flat as Nyssa. At least Bygones and Ru-tans don’t need flintlocks to kill people with cigarette-raddled voices! Just stupid and the whole thing comes off silly and not believable. Kind of poor and sad and all that is wrong with DW now: aliens aliens aliens even if they act stupid and have been done before...and better in the past."
- incoherent wino I met down the pub (2011)
"Doctor Who is a series that can go anywhere and do anything – why is it so constrained by the similarities between it and itself and it and well almost everything else BORES ME TO TEARS! Do something ORIGINAL! DIFFERENT! FUNNY! Mind you, I don’t actually like Doctor Who, so I’m probably not the best person to ask for quotes..."
- someone I knew at high school, Lewis or something? (1999)
Psychotic Nostalgia -
"These stories work well together and somehow 'feel' like a winter release -- there's something of an atmosphere of huddling round the fire telling stories to them as you slit the throats of mormons one by one and throw their corpses into the flames... or is that just me?"
Peter Davison Speaks!
"I have nothing to say to you. Go away. And take the cast of At Home With The Braithwaites with you while you’re at it."
Sarah Sutton Speaks!
"This particular anthology thing was bit away from the norm. But it’s not unheard of, given it’s exactly the same format we did last time. I wonder if anyone else at Big Finish has done these single-episode stories? A who cares? Not me, that’s for sure. And the story has us taken over by aliens – what imagination! It’s far too clever for simple earth minds like mine! And people wonder why I’ve never listened to any stories I’ve done. Not even Bare Parts. Or Castle Phobia. Well, actually no one would listen to Castle Phobia. I laughed myself silly when he tried to justify its artistic integrity. It was like Ed Wood lecturing Quentin Tarantino. Only, you know, with more lisping."
Rumors & Facts -
At first glimpse, the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa are both bland, wet and unexciting. This impression is backed up by a second glimpse. And a third. By the fourth, you’d have to think that choosing these two un-engaging barely-able-to-stay-conscious jerks as the headline act of audio plays was an act of criminal insanity.
The simple explanation was that no one could get Janet Fielding to stop talking about her hair for five minutes and thus making her a Big Finish regular would be impossible until further advances were made in behavioral-controlling brain implants by M15 at the end of the noughties. Until then, the only Fifth Doctor stories that could be made would feature also-rans like Nyssa, Turlough, Peri, the cast of the Mighty Boosh and a knife-wielding schizophrenic Egyptian Pharaoh called Eminem. Which didn’t make much sense AT THE TIME, let alone now.
However, after a decade of iron bonders, lame sequels, cottages under siege, a surprising amount of Dustbins and Nyssa comparing roughly 80% of the entire universe to Alaska, it was time to take this blind old incontinent sheep dog of a franchise out the back with a loaded shotgun and blow the mother away. It was now possible to get regular stories with Tegan in them, so these "unconvincingly jammed between Serial 6C and Serial 6D" were dropped like a hot brick in a leper colony.
This was probably a wise thing to do, as even the actors were slagging off the totally boring, cliché-ridden plots for being tedious, dull, repetitive and as totally un-involving as their own characters. Davison claimed that the Stockbridge Trilogy had put him off Doctor Who for a long time while Sarah Sutton had taken to wearing a "KILL NYSSA OFF NOW! SHE’S TOTALLY BORING!" boob tube during recording sessions.
In order to make the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa finale, script editor Alan Barnes used his massive frontal lobes and decided to make the story the Christmas release for the year 2010 and also do a four-stories-in-one-release schtick which had already been done for every Doctor and, indeed, actually STARTED with the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa. Some might say this decision was gloriously appropriate, but no one will say this was particularly damn imaginative. Coz it wasn’t.
Chosen to pen the first story of the portmanteau was Jason Arnopp, writer of short stories, Doctor Who Magazine Articles and generally spent his life achieving a nirvana state of total mediocrity. Not even Jason Arnopp could confidently answer the question "Who is Jason Arnopp?" even though he is uniquely qualified for such a task.
With his chronic inability to linger in the memory, this guy whoever he is we’re talking about, had originally pitched a four-part psychological thriller entitled Nightfuck, which was deemed "really, really good" by everyone who read it. Alas, it was not "really, really good ENOUGH" – and the standards of Big Finish are pretty low, people. It’s better we were spared such a tale.
Barnes demanded Nightfuck be stripped down and compressed into a single episode in order to heighten all the claustrophobia, coherency and blood-chilling atavistic terror. Above all, it would be much, much cheaper to do with only three actors for 25 minutes.
Luckily, Arnopp had a really short attention span and was thus perfect for writing a one parter Blair-Witch-Project style psychodrama. This discovery monumentally pissed Barnes off as the ability to write a neat, tight, one-episode story had eluded him longer than any bona fide writing talent. Sickened with rage, Barnes took his frustrations out on the rest of Doctor Who fandom.
His revenge took the form of a just-this-once-one-time-ever-opportunity of an open submission policy – yes, Big Finish would deign to consider unsolicited pitches for a period of two weeks before crushing the dreams of all bar one talented fan who entered. Barnes, already easily-intimidated by others’ talent, was driven to the brink of psychosis when roughly one hundred pitches a minute smashed their way into his shitty webmail account.
Already regretting his decision to bring in new people, Barnes began a dedicated and exhausting analysis of all 1120 submissions, isolating every single one that had even the vaguest trace of merit... all of which he automatically dismissed because he didn’t need the bloody competition. Finally he discovered one script submission that didn’t make him feel like a talent-less parasite which happened by a very lovely person who was quite clearly NOT Nick Briggs in a blond chest wig and a cunning pseudonym.
And so the chosen winner was The Empty Composition by RICK Briggs, confirming that Barnes was truly eager that these anthology stories bring in new people... on the proviso they had "Briggs" as a surname... total coincidence my ass...
With that out of the way, Barnes turned to another author for the third episode. This would be William Gallagher, late of OASIS and the Chatsworth Estate, who Barnes had been prick-teasing about writing for Big Finish for about the last nine years. Indeed, he’d gone to huge trouble to allow Gallagher to pen a Sixth Doctor and Jamie script right up until the second of recording before abruptly changing his mind. You know, just to make him cry.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Gallagher’s script concerned a passionate and creative visionary being imprisoned with no hope of escape by a gormless tosspot with the imagination of a stuff iguana’s sawdust-filled bowel movements. Barnes totally missed the subtext, which was picked up on the moons Jupiter it was so obvious.
Finally, the last tale was by John Dorney. Well, I say "by" John Dorney. Basically his entire contribution was a brilliant suggestion that, instead of taking lots of time and effort producing an original story for the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa, they could show any old rubbish that starred both Davison and Sutton, claim it was a radical reinterpretation of 1980s Doctor Who and screw another fifty bucks out subscribers at the exact same time!
True, it took a year and a day to actually find such a film but you can’t have everything, can you? Like a decent film, for starters.
The resulting tale, The Cretins of Red Lodge and Other Morons was considered a mild success by one hundred per cent of listeners suffering violent fevers as a result of unpleasant vaccination shots. And even THEY complained that they had all written much better episodes than this Rick Briggs amateur and that his Mellotron fetish was actually really rather puerile.
And so, the hidden days of the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa ended in a bitter disappointment of dodgy accidents and prog rock – exactly how it had started in 1999’s Band of the Dead. Without sparkling dialogue, this mite generic quartet of bland, ineffectual and unexciting events that made us pine for the days where Monica Lewinski was a major Doctor Who star and possible companion. Oh yes she was.
As the new year dawned, the awful truth was laid bare: there would never be another Fifth Doctor/Nyssa story.
Pfft. Yeah, right...