Saturday, September 19, 2009

5th Doctor - The Eternal Summer

The Eternal Bummer

An Alternative Program Guide by Ewen Campion-Clarke

Serial 6C/O – Village of the Darned: The Eternal Bummer
An Alternate Programme Guide by Ewen Campion-Clarke
An Extract From The EC Unauthorized Programme Guide O' Depression

Serial 6C/O – Village of the Darned: The Eternal Bummer -

The Doctor and Nyssa have returned to Stockbridge in the 21st Century to deal with the fallout of the adventure immediately prior, which has led to the villagers turning into Ru-tan zombies and trying to conquer the whole world. Luckily, there’s some convenient doohickey aboard the Ru-tan ship which will solve absolutely everything.

Unluckily, the Doctor and Nyssa’s attempts to switch it on cause the Ru-tan ship to explode in a space-warping galaxy-shattering kaboom that blows a large hole in the fabric of the universe and kills absolutely everyone. Logic suggests it would be a good time to end the story here, but since when has logic been a part of this damn show?

The Doctor and Nyssa awake to find themselves... still in Stockbridge as though nothing has happened, which is a bit of a dramatic cop-out by anyone’s standards. But there is no more alien invasion, the villagers treat them as old and valued friends rather than irritatingly snobbish tourists, and the entire concept of linear time has been forgotten.

"Could be worse," the Doctor shrugs.

The duo find the TARDIS on the village green, but alas it turns out to be an ordinary police telephone box and the only number they can dial is the Speaking Clock – and even that’s broken.

"And now it IS worse. Give me strength!"

Just then local UFO nut Maxwell "Mad Max" Edison waddles up and does his usual irritating shtick of pretending he has the faintest clue about what’s going on with all these strange and mysterious happenings. The trouble is, Max’s not exactly helpful at the best of times and now that cause and effect are all jumbled up he’s even less coherent than the cider-quaffing hobos that take the piss out of him.

Finally Max relates something of vague relevance to the situation – of mysterious ghostly figures in Wells Wood which the Doctor and Nyssa instantly recognize as perfectly normal figures in biohazard suits creeping through the force field around Stockbridge.

"Oh, of course! That’s a much simpler and more logical explanation than some ghosts haunting the forests!" Max grumbles. "Even though we’ve actually MET ghosts haunting these forests FOR REAL!!"

The bio-suited spectres kidnap Nyssa and disappear. As you do. These figures turn out to be members of the home-grown anti-alien-X-Files-wannabes, the Paranormal Research Organization Studying The Interconnected Timelines Undermining Truly-Established Scenarios (or PROSTITUTES for short) who are investigating the mysterious disappearance of Stockbridge some six decades prior.

The Doctor and Max try to follow them, but no matter which direction they go they just end up back in the village as though a bubble of recursive occlusion has turned Stockbridge into a space-time trap!

"What are the odds of that happening?" the Doctor protests.

Max clears his throat awkwardly.

"...twice?" the Time Lord clarifies.

Max shrugs and admits all this might have something to do with the sinister supernatural pact the entire village made with the Lord and Lady of the Manor for eternal life and perpetual nostalgia for the quintessentially British jingoistic claptrap.

The Doctor finds it highly unlikely any theory of Max’s can have any intellectual merit, but decides to check out the creepy cobwebbed haunted mansion and pester the inhabitants.

Who turn out to be a raddled and decrepit version of himself and Nyssa, both over a hundred millennia old and generally being the anthropomorphic manifestations of inescapable fate and destiny. Well, maybe not "inescapable" since both of the creepy old bats are terrified the Doctor might exercise free will and prevent them ever existing.

The Doctor laughs in their faces and promises to do just that!

The future Doctor and Nyssa boast that he cannot do that as this entire time bubble around Stockbridge was forged by the exploding Ru-tan ship failing to live up to its promise in the first episode of blowing up the entire Milky Way!

The Doctor points out that the bubble is clearly collapsing else how could PROSTITUTES break through the barriers? The future Doctor smacks his withered forehead and mumbles he knew he had forgotten something.

Via the phone in the not-TARDIS on the village, Nyssa politely reminds our heroes of the dire straights she is stuck in – listening to a bunch of geeks talk about their theories on how Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Serenity and Dollhouse all fit into the same continuity!

Compared to this, even the horrors of the eternal present in Stockbridge have appeal – which is precisely why the Doctor and Nyssa are doomed to become an emotional parasite feeding off the lives of the trapped villagers instead!

Despite the clear fact everything necessary to bring about their creation is unfolding, the future Doctor and Nyssa decide it is time to call in the big guns – the ancient godlike entity known as Viridios who spends his aeon-long business vacations cruising through Gloucester villages like a cross between Billy Connelly and Pewnack the Destroyer.

The future Doctor and Nyssa resurrect Viridios to save them. This in turn accelerates the collapse of the time bubble but you can’t have everything, can you? Or indeed have *anything*, it seems.

Leaving the entire situation to resolve itself, the Doctor, Nyssa and Max take their leave of the frozen village. Max escapes back into reality where he can finally find the happiness and acceptance he has yearned for with a shed-load of PROSTITUTES while the Doctor and Nyssa are blasted through a temporal wormhole to the most distant point in time and space imaginable...

...the final story of the trilogy!

Book(s)/Other Related –
Doctor Who & The Stereotype of British Nostalgia
The PROSTITUTES Handbook (Vol. 5)
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to 4-D Time Bubbles in Gloucestershire

Goofs -
Erm, can someone explain what the hell happened at the end? Please? Shouldn’t the whole universe have exploded or something? Maybe I just wasn’t listening closely enough, but the resolution seemed utterly bewildering. Is it just me? I mean, I know there’s that final line of dialogue as the Doctor explains the resolution to Nyssa –
"Err... em .... well it was a reset timey wimey thingy and... I’m sure they will explain it in the next story... yep... definitely..."

Fashion Victims –
With his thick spectacles, beret and grubby anorak Maxwell Edison looks like one of the Goodies pretending to be Benny Hill on a Sunday morning after a rough night out on the town.

Technobabble –
"I think you’ll find I am more than capable of understanding anything you consider to be 'complicated'. To put it in terms you are capable of understanding: that box of tricks there, the one that looks like a big colander acts like forcing a lever into a fault line to open a magic door in the air via some nineteenth century mumbo-jumbo."
"You mean the psychic amplifier will focus the residual background energy into a dimensional aperture using an individual’s latent telepathic abilities?"
"Yes. Well guessed."

Links and References -
The Doctor recalls the events of 'Convex and Concave' when a madman trapped him in a town of artificial illusions that looked uncannily similar to Milton Keynes.

Untelevised Misadventures -
Max notes he has met several future Doctors, including "the hippie in the cravat", "the daft Scot in the pinstripe suit" and "the fat ginger bastard with a goatee beard and no manners".
This last one is clearly a reference the incredibly obscure unofficial fan audio, "Dr. Who & The Stockholm Terror" by Season 2.7 which we are all, frankly, better off not having heard.

Groovy DVD Extras -
The pilot episode for the aborted spin-off series "Izzy & Max" about closeted homosexual sci-fi geeks going on gun rampages in rural Mummerset which was deemed complete bollocks by every damned soul unfortunate enough to witness it.

Dialogue Disasters -

Doctor: Maxwell Edison! You haven’t been blundering into any more UFOs, have you?
Max: Not so many, no. But still on the look-out! Keeping the old eyes peeled for another visitation from Venus! Just in case! All in a day’s work for planet Earth’s first line of defense!
Nyssa: Doctor, are you sure he’s quite sane?
Doctor: Let’s just say if it’s a choice between this gormless flying saucer nut and the Touchwood institute, Earth should choose Mad Max here as its champion every time.
Nyssa: You mean he really does possess extra-sensory abilities?
Doctor: No, but he doesn’t suck as much as Touchwood.

Harold: The new arrivals are not conforming to their pre-ordained roles. When will they realize there is no alternative but cooperation? When will these hacks wise up and stick to the script?! They cannot be permitted to interfere with the established pattern of events – we’re recording all this on a schedule...

Doctor: The one place in the universe where nothing ever changes. The
rolling English countryside, bright sunshine, clear blue skies and a gentle summer breeze with nothing to break the tranquility... hang on, is this Doctor Who or A Most Peculiar Practice?

Future Doctor: I always knew you would return, Doctor, after all, I am your inescapable destiny.
Doctor: So you’ve mentioned. Forgive me if I remain unconvinced.
Future Doctor: I am you, Doctor. Your future.
Doctor: You don’t look a bit like David Tennant!

Max: Oh, I loved that film "Groundhog Day" where the guy lives his whole life over again every time the sun comes up. Every joy, every heartbreak, every love, every loss... I must have seen it a hundred times! It’s ironic, really, come to think about it.
Nyssa: More like pathetic.

Dialogue Triumphs -

Doctor: Don’t you want to leave this village, Max?
Max: I... I’m not sure, it’s not that simple –
Doctor: Nothing worthwhile ever is! Or would you prefer to remain here,
going round in circles like a goldfish in a 4-dimensional bowl?
Max: I like goldfish.
Doctor: [sighs] And I complained about Adric...

Alice justifies serving desert BEFORE the main course -
"That’s Stockbridge for you, Doctor. Things don’t always happen in the right order here."

Doctor: Of course – Viridios, the green man from human folklore!
Viridios: Yes! I am all around you! I am the spirit of the trees! The life-force of nature! I am the canopy of the forest, the creak of the branches in the wind, the roots plunging down into the earth...
Doctor: That’s quite a CV.
Viridios: You’d think so, wouldn’t you? But those bastards at HTV didn’t even give me an audition to be in "Robin of Sherwood"!

Nyssa: How long do you think we have?
Doctor: Until it explodes? Not long. A few minutes, if we’re lucky.
Nyssa: And if we’re unlucky?
Doctor: I recommend not starting any long senten –
[The bomb explodes]

Doctor: You’re mad. All of you. Stark, staring bonkers!
Harold: Yet I believe you will find there is a method in our madness.
Doctor: Well, I don’t!
Harold: Ah, that’ll be because we’re all stark, staring bonkers.

Max: I’m trying to do the thing where somebody says something stupid which inspires the clever guy to come up with a solution.
Doctor: Max.
Max: Yes, Doctor?
Doctor: You’re a stunted human being. I hope you know this.

Future Nyssa: Without the girl Nyssa, my existence is founded upon a paradox. I am an edifice built upon shifting sands. Soon, I shall cease
to have ever existed!
Future Doctor: Oh stop yer moaning, ya daft bint!

Max: Oh, bingo! This is too good to be true! Where have you PROSTITUTES been all my life?

Viewer Quotes -

"i'm not failiar with the comics, but i feel now like i wanna track them down the first 2 episodes were as good as anyhing ive heard bf put out, the last two were a bit weaker, but wrappe the whole thing up well. i clicked 8, but in fact maybe a 9. fantastic!!"
- a zygote with a keyboard (2011)

"Just finished listening to this release, and this was God Damn Bloody Brilliant! I’ve never been so happy to finish a story before! Life suddenly seems to have meaning now this silly crap is over, the inevitable reset button has been pressed, the technobabble has been spouted, "
- Mike Hunt (1102)

"Morris’s ability to write characters has grown to rival his ability to weave innovative structures and near equal his ability to break the jaws of any critics or reviewers who give him a rough time!"
- David Stratton with a broken jaw (2008)

"Why couldn't the Fifth Doctor had material like this when he was on television? Apart from, you know, having material like this when he was in the comic strips. Wow, all this just adds to the whole mystery element that should be quintessential for Classic Who. Yes, if anyone DOES know what the hell I’m talking about, please remind me care of the usual editorial address." - SFX Magazine (January 2010)

"Um, why exactly is this section called viewer quotes when audio stories, by definition, can’t actually have viewers?"
- an intellectual threat that must be disposed of immediately ()

Psychotic Nostalgia -
"Viridios? Pah! How can I respect an Earth deity who is FLAMMABLE?! What’s the point in worshipping someone who can’t appreciate a giant wicker man, huh? Plus, he smells a bit and I’m pretty sure that squirrels crap in his hair!"

Peter Davison Speaks!
"I quite liked it actually. It’s very well-written and if it’s a bit confusing, there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m sure no true fans of the program will have a problem with it. It’s amazing how quickly I understand it, considering that I come at these things cold. Mind you the way the writer beats up people might have helped with that. I didn’t discuss with the director how to pitch the future doctor, but it was kind of fairly plain that he’s very unpleasant version. I knew in my head what I wanted to do – to show the aching weight of centuries, I wanted to really go back to my roots as an actor and show the sort of bland indifference that only immortals possess. Yes, indeed."

Sarah Sutton Speaks!
"When I first read the script I could just see it. These contact lenses are truly amazing. I can’t rate them highly enough."

Mark Williams Speaks!
"I quite liked playing Max. His tweed plus fours are quite stylish."

Rumors & Facts -

Chosen to write the second part of Big Finish’s winter 2009 Stockbridge Trilogy was Jonathan "Porn Dwarf Rage" Morris who had penned such stories as Mud Ride, The Fawning of Thomas Brewster and a multitude of stories featuring the Fourth Doctor, Romana, K9, Morcombe and Wise being sickeningly nostalgic and self-aware.

Morris was well-known for writing captivating concept pieces that astounded through their shockingly poor historical research or adherence to the laws of human logic – indeed, his first idea for the Stockbridge Trilogy had been a story entitled Confusing Gas Bill of the Spiders, involving a brand new character called Dave the Tapeworm siphoning off the gas supply from his neighbors, who then go to the Citizen Advice Bureau and then have egg and chips for tea.

This storyline was in itself was actually a reworking of his initial concept for a replacement spin-off to Touchwood featuring David Bowie entitled If That Is Of Any Interest?

Executive Producer Jason Haigh-Ellory and script editor Alan Barnes weren’t so keen on this idea, stressing the whole point of the Stockbridge trilogy was for the stories to be set in Stockbridge in the past, present and future respectively. This adherence to dull old chronological progression pissed off Morris mightily and he not only penned a story with no determined location in time and space, he blew up the entire universe in the first scene out of petty spite.

Morris argued that since Nyssa and the Doctor were always going to end up in Arc of Sinfinity, absolutely nothing they faced in the meantime could possibly harm or defeat them – so why piss about with anything less than total event collapse and the destruction of reality itself?

Instead, his story was compiled from random crap that he thought might be cool and evoke a spooky atmosphere and mood of eerie loss that reminded him of being delivered a cold pizza at the tender age of 14. Everything else was ripped off DWM comic strips but, unlike so many other people, at least Morris is honest about it!

Indeed, he is the only one to suck it up and bring back the only memorable Stockbridge resident NOT a repressed lesbian sci-fi geek and part time fish girl in a bikini answering to the name Isabelle Sinclair. True, Maxwell Edison may not have the cute died hair, perky breasts and disturbing fetish for bisexual French women with the power of teleportation... but at least he’s not played by Jemima Rooper.

Ultimately, the only criticism of this play is that the author has a habit of performing grievous bodily harm on anyone foolish enough to criticize its ponderous lack of velocity – but, as I wish to point out, in a story where what was, is and will be are all occurring simultaneously means pacing is bound suffer.

Mind you, Steven Moffat managed it twice without being boring...

... OUCH!!!

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