Serial EX1 – Excelsior Yawns
An Alternate Programme Guide by Ewen Campion-Clarke
An Extract From The EC Unauthorized Programme Guide O' Who Cares?!?
Serial EX1 – Excelsior Yawns -
As punishment for not consummating his relationship with a giant slug, the Doctor is sent by the Time Lords to the planet Excelsior, specifically, the town of Gatecrash. There he is told he must marry the attractive Warlord Raven – conqueror of the Tavlok hoardes, tamer of the Beast of Khazardhum, and drinker of Golden Blend tea-bags.
Refusing to let either Tegan or Turlough... er... "help him out", the Doctor locks them in the TARDIS and hitches a lift with Raven as he starts a road-trip to a Gatecrash monastery full of kinky nuns. As they exchange conversational pleasantries, it quickly becomes apparent they don't have much in common, but there's definitely a spark there.
The duo arrive at a petrol station near the convent where the Doctor is seriously disturbed to find Jo Grant trying seduce a way out of town. The Doctor realizes he has bumped into his former companion on one of her many adventures when she stole the TARDIS while his third self was busy fighting giant maggots and reversing the polarity of the neutron flow. Under the cunning pseudonym of "Rotcod Ohm", the Doctor persuades her to join their road trip without ever revealing his true identity to her.
Unfortunately, the service station is located in a part of Gatecrash that delights in sacrificing outsiders to appease their goddesses – and although it looks like Raven's van will escape unmolested, Jo cheerfully starts shouting xenophobic abuse out the window, and after some boring running around, the van drives off out of danger.
However, "out of danger" oddly enough leads them straight into the Goth Zombie district of Gatecrash, where flesh-eating zombies rent out apartment blocks and drool unspeakable slobber. Thus, when the van inexplicably stalls, things look bleak.
The Zombie King arrives and orders his minions to swoop down on the van... and give the vehicle a thorough tune-up. The Zombie King also gives Raven a free pine-tree-air-freshener, and explains how the zombies have got bad press over the years due to some unfortunate reactionary stereotypes like the main characters of the popular situation comedy "Undead Urbanity".
A few streets later, the trio encounter a suitcase full of cash and immediately begin to argue over what they should do with it. The Doctor thinks they should distribute it to the poor, Raven wants to keep it and Jo doesn't care what they do with it as long as she gets to rub the notes all over her body beforehand.
By the time the van leaves the city and reaches the convent, the travelers are trying to murder each other with steak knives – though whether this over the suitcase of money or Jo's off-key rendition of "10 Green Bottles", is open to debate. During the massive fight, the suitcase ends up in the hands of the nuns, who refuse to return it.
The Doctor storms off back to the TARDIS – damning Raven, Jo and the Time Lords for completely wasting his weekend on doomed romantic trysts. True, he faces zombies, freaks and bad street theatre (not to mention a destination of Tegan and Turlough) but he would rather that than spend any more time on this planet, which he vows never, ever, EVER to return to. Ever.
Book(s)/Other Related -
Doctor Who On The Road
SADWANK: The Missing Adventures of Josephine Grant
Urban Decay: A Guide To Zombie Sitcoms
Zombies are actually the AA???!?
Fashion Victims -
"Mortifying for me, a warlord of the highest self-appointed order, sharing his combi-van and beer money with some foreign sandy-haired devil in stupid trousers, who wears some sort of vegetable pinned to his lapel. Nice legs, though."
"There is no time to debate temporal probability and interstitial gaps UNLESS the vortex iris is inverted against the mass of the planet. In which case, we can debate it until the cows come home. Just what is it about procrastination that attracts beef, I wonder?"
Links and References -
The Doctor mentions his failed date with the Gravis, and this story is pretty much a sequel to AFRONTIOS.
Untelevised Misadventures -
Jo cheers the Doctor up by reminding him that this year he doesn't have to spend Christmas with Adric, Nyssa and Tegan. As the story goes to great length to establish Jo has no idea that "Rotcod Ohm" is the Doctor, and would have no idea what company he keeps, this is rather a bewildering conversation.
But she's got a point.
Groovy DVD Extras -
Jo Grant singing "Goldfinger".
Dialogue Disasters -
Jo: I had an appointment - a sticky one, with the Doctor.
Raven: Really? Doctor Who?
Doctor: Um, can we change the topic, please?
Jo: But it's a great story, Rotcod!
Doctor: Oh, LOOK! A cabbage-white butterfly!
Raven: Let's go and knock them up.
Doctor: Dude, they're nuns!
Raven: All the better! Let's see them explain THESE virgin births!
Dialogue Triumphs -
Zombie AA Man: You have contraceptives in the hubcaps.
Jo: Only used ones...
Viewer Quotes -
"God damn it! All I wanted was a story with Anthony Stewart-Head AS the Doctor, not WITH the Doctor! Does NOBODY listen to me??"
- Dave Restal (Christmas 2002)
"I have had my car broken down several times in zombie-infested suburbia and not one of the bastards turned up to help me! That's the last time I do charity work for the bums!" - Lenny Henry (1987)
"An intriguing start, an amusing middle and an ending that is a complete rip off of Shallow Grave – a formula that will make Doctor Who great once more! Mark my words, with a few more stories about dead bodies and stolen briefcases full of money and maybe with a role for Christopher Eccleston, Doctor Who will be back on TV in three years!"
- Sarah Greene (2002)
"Yeah, I swear, Excelsior Yawns is just exactly like The Sound of Music, only with more zombies. And with more likeable characters. Julie Andrews ROCKS!" - Nigel Verkoff (2003)
"Yeah, I remember I was so pissed off to discover that Excelsior Yawns was set after AFRONTIOS but didn't feature Tegan and Turlough, I immediately petitioned Big Finish to demand why. The reply (which, if I remember rightly was 'Use your imagination! THEY'RE IN THE NEXT ROOM, HAVING HOT, THROBBING SEX! WE DON'T CARE!!!') didn't exactly impress."
– Mick Gair (2003)
Psychotic Nostalgia -
"Raven, a warlord? Hah! That sword is blunter than John Major's personality. You wouldn't see Conan the Barbarian trying to slaughter zombies with that. Groo the Wanderer, maybe, but not Conan. No way."
Peter Davison Speaks!
"I hardly got a bloody word in edgeways in Excelsior Yawns – what with Katy blathering on left, right and centre and Anthony Head quaffing uppers every time he looked at the script. What's more, my character had been written as the chef originally. So I had not only be the Doctor, but be the Doctor pretending to be a passing chef. I really had to go back to my roots as an actor for that one."
Rumors & Facts -
Doctor Who has always been a series that poses more questions than it answers – mainly because the answers are generally dull and/or sickening. Excelsior Yawns asks so many questions about the Doctor's past that you really get the impression that the writer had absolutely no idea WHAT he was doing.
A fair assessment because the author of Excelsior Yawns was none other than Paul Magrs, insane Renaissance Man and Doctor Who author. In order to make sure no one could accuse him of being lacking in creation, he had long ago invented a drunken Time Lord wanderer called Iris Wildthyme, allowing him to use the format and still claim it was all his own work.
After the fiasco that was Magrs' previous work – The Stoned of Venice – producer Gay Russell vowed never to let the bastard near the Eighth Doctor series again. When the second McGann season started in 2002, Russell decided to keep the remaining three Doctors in check by releasing single CD adventures, linked to form a trilogy in four parts.
Magrs was promptly ordered to give a Doctor Who rip-off of the Lord of the Rings, which was vaguely popular at the time. This should be resolved in Magrs' CD but allow a vague rationale to continue in the next two installments.
The only other link was Anthony Stewart-Head, famous thespian of such dramas as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Jonathon Creek and Hey, There's My Arse! Head had had his personal phone calls recorded by the insane writers of "Beth Comes To Rhyme", the BBCi webcast that almost ruined Doctor Who's relationship with the public.
Russell took it a step further and kidnapped Head with the aide of Mark Gatiss and sledgehammer. Unfortunately, Head escaped before work could start on the proposed Eighth Doctor adventure Excelsior Sucks by Steven Cole, who was forced to rewrite his story into a Benny Summerfield adventure with lots of dead cows in catapults.
Magrs, never one to use this odd things called 'plots' was also on record as refusing to tailor any of his scripts to suit Doctor Who – indeed, he would often rewrite his stories completely in order to remove the Doctor so no one could accuse him of un-originality.
Ironically, the script (entitled Worship My Handbag, Doctor Who!) was a straight adaptation of his lamented BBC novel The Starlet Empress. He boasted that using Iris, his greatest creation, inspired him. Taking one look at the script, Russell ordered him to remove Iris from the script in order that "artistic frustration" might create something that hadn't been in print since 1998.
Katy Manning had offered her services as playing the demented Time Lady, and, after suggesting a Fifth Doctor and Rani adventure, it was decided that she should play her ditsy Jo Grant personality instead. Russell defended this choice as, in Lark With The Rani, the Sixth Doctor had no idea Jo had been augmented into a Time Lady and he wanted to keep continuity with the series at a maximum.
Jason Haigh-Ellery pointed out that the latest Fifth Doctor adventure had him collecting a brand new companion and totally contradicting every Doctor Who story after Mammaries of Fire and that this sudden concern for continuity bordered on the hypocritical. Russell interrupted JHE to tell him to shut the hell up.
By now Magrs had decided that the cover of his story should be a pair of bare breasts and was dubbed The Twin Towers, and he had also padded out the story so it now needed an extra CD to complete the story. Indeed, all the cliffhangers and title music had to be removed to make room for the "vital" scenes where the Doctor and Jo ate marshmallows in companionable silence.
At this time, the Big Finish team were horrified at the fact the script was now a rather dull zombie road flick – the ultimate impossibility! No one had ever considered that zombie road flicks could be boring before they witnessed this.
What's more, while there was a role for Peter Davison, it was the service station chef, Jean-Lucifer. Russell demanded the character of the Doctor be restored and, also, a bit of character development might improve what, at the moment, was just that REM video clip without the captions. On audio.
Magrs was reported as replying, "Character development? What need have the people of Excelsior for character development?!?"
Magrs was of the opinion that 21st century media was geared to be, in his words, entertaining. As there was a risk it would fail, Magrs decided the only logical course was to make the most deliberately boring story ever, and then hoped that it failed.
It was a vain hope and Magrs has not been allowed anywhere near Big Finish Productions since.