Saturday, September 19, 2009

5th Doctor - The Haunting of Thomas Brewster

Serial 6C/K – The Fawning of Thomas Brewster
An Alternate Programme Guide by Ewen Campion-Clarke
An Extract From The EC Unauthorized Programme Guide O' Yawning

Serial 6C/K – The Fawning of Thomas Brewster -

Aboard the TARDIS, the Doctor discovers the precise reason WHY he scribbled "DO NOT PRESS THIS BUTTON" on a certain part of the control console: it’s the button that, for some unaccountable reason causes a ship-wide power cut and thus forces he and Nyssa to stumble blindly through the dark corridors of the time machine looking for the TARDIS’s auxiliary power station or, even better, a half-decent fuse box.

They then hear from the dark a woman singing a nursery rhyme and things start getting way too Sapphire-&-Steel-style-spooky. When Nyssa says she can see a woman in black walking towards her, the Doctor snaps and runs for it, screaming that always knew that creepy BBC Christmas ghost story was not fiction but a terrifyingly insightful documentary!

The woman in black bitchslaps Nyssa so magnificently she is flung out of the TARDIS and into a bustling London street in 1867. I mean, you might THINK you can punch someone into next week, but that’s just peanuts compared to this!

Even as Nyssa works out what in the name of Sweet Zombie Jesus just happened to her, two revolting artful dodgers – Thomas Brewster and Pickens Nose – ram-raid a pawn shop and steal a barometer, before using Nyssa as a human shield to cover their escape like the filthy cowardly bastards they are.

Almost instantly a sinister young Scottish man arrives, introduces himself as Robert McIntosh and explains that he has been sent here by the Doctor to collect her in one of those wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey ontological paradox shebangs. Robert takes Nyssa to the Royal Society where the Doctor has once again gotten drunk and laughing at Leon Foucault for his belief you can calculate the speed of light by adding a billion to the number you first thought of.

Meeting Nyssa, the Doctor gets her to buy him a drink and explains that he fixed the TARDIS and got it to follow her but it overshot slightly so he’s spent the last few months living the life of English gentlemen waiting for her to arrive – or to put it another way he’s become addicted to opium, whiskey, inexpensive prostitutes and now fully condones child slavery. He’s also joined the Royal Society for a laugh and got himself a rent boy called Robert McIntosh.

Returning to the TARDIS at the Doctor’s lodgings in 107A Baker Street, Nyssa asks the Doctor why he didn’t just jump forward twelve months but the Doctor pooh-poohs this course of action on the lack of opium, whiskey, inexpensive prostitutes and chimneysweeps dying of emphysema. He also loved being able to impress stupid apes by handing out lava lamps and claiming they’re actually electromagnetic field generators.

Glancing at the paper, Robert idly notes that the Bayswater Housebreaker has struck again – a thief of inexplicable scientific paraphernalia that have left Scotland Yard baffled since none of them even understand the concept of "electrical resistance". Nyssa muses that the thief is clearly building something specific from all the looted mirrors, batteries and telegraph wires, but can’t think of any possible use for them without an electromagnetic field generator.

On cue, Thomas and Pickens burst in through a window and demand the Doctor hand over an electromagnetic field generator or else they’ll slash Nyssa’s throat open with a letter opener. They then kidnap her anyway and vanish into the fog, along with the Doctor’s last remaining lava lamp!

The Doctor however simply imagines what HE would do with a hostage and stolen goods, so he and Robert immediately head down into the London Underground and catch the first train, convinced that Thomas, Pickens and Nyssa will be aboard. Unfortunately, he forgets what he would do if he was discovered upon the train, which is why the criminals effortlessly avoid him by jumping off the train into the tunnel and walking the rest of the way to their secret underground base in a storeroom in between stations.

Nyssa’s concerns about the chances of them surviving without light or ventilation are rapidly pushed down the list when it becomes clear that Thomas’ evil master plan is actually being whispered to him by the ghost of his dead mother. Indeed, if it weren’t for the deep and forbidden lust Pickens feels for Thomas he would have abandoned the nutter to his fate years ago.

Following the instructions given to him by his mother’s voice, Thomas plugs the lava lamp into the other junk he’s collected for the sole purpose of bringing his mother back from the dead. Nyssa is confident that nothing will happen since it’s a bleeding lava lamp and not the crucial EMG Thomas needs, but Thomas still switches on and with a lot of sparks, a hole is punched in the time space continuum. In practical terms this means the tiny base is flooded with smoke and everyone starts to choke to death.

Back at Baker Street, the Doctor muses that Nyssa only turned up in Victorian London because of some breach in the fabric of the universe and thanks to the ontological paradox this means that someone or something must MAKE said breach sooner or later. He then goes cross-eyed and orders Robert to help him shoot up with more morphine to "get his head together".

Back underground, Pickens suffocates while Thomas and Nyssa run into the time breach and arrive in the Space Year 2008! Not remotely interested in the fact he’s got his gay would-be lover dead or the heady distant future he now lives in, Thomas whines like a bitch for his mother to finally appear – which is unlikely as she killed herself when he was four just to get away from the monumentally annoying shit.

Nyssa shakes her head in disgust and heads to the next Underground Platform and tells the guard there’s been a terrorist attack and that Thomas Brewster works for Al Quaeda and shout be shot at once. Alas, it turns out they aren’t actually in 2008 at all, but still in the 19th Century. Luckily the Doctor and Robert have popped back on the off chance they might have missed a secret base between platforms so there are four people to run away as the station fills with choking fumes and everyone left behind dies in agony.

The smoke pours out of the station and mingles with the fog, turning a London pea souper into toxic nerve gas and slaughtering millions of Oliver Twist stereotypes in moments. Of course, only two have speaking parts and none of them mattered anyway. So, moving on...

At Baker Street, the Doctor downs a bottle of absinthe and tells Thomas to 'rhapsodise' his issues. Thomas is pathetically passive aggressive and after about an hour of bootlicking his captors explains that the ghost of his mother was apparently from the Year 2008 where evil smoke monsters dominate the Earth. Stoned out his head, the Doctor finds this story TOTALLY believable!

He then falls over and is copiously and violently sick.

When Nyssa points out that for Thomas to be telling the truth, that means a bunch of alien smoke monsters chose him to help them invade because he is a sick, twisted fantasist with no morals and a massive chip on his shoulder, Thomas storms out in a huff. Nyssa follows and notes that her father was killed by a fucking sea lion of all things so he doesn’t have a monopoly on his life being crap.

Downstairs, Robert screams abuse at the Doctor for not mentioning this alien time travel nonsense for the whole year they’ve been together and considers returning to his mother’s in a trial separation. The Doctor tries to apologize, but unfortunately refers to Robert as "Chesterson", "Steven", "Brigadier" and "K9" while trying to remember his friend’s name. Deeply upset, Robert storms out to resume his studies at the Edinburgh Medical School, only to realize that the street is now full of evil, sentient pollution.

So instead of leaving the Doctor forever in a truly beautiful moment of self-actualization, Robert has a screaming hysterical fit and shouts for everyone to close all the doors and windows and keyholes and seal them airtight before the phosphorescent smog seeps into the house and kills them all in a moss gross fashion!

Long story short? They manage it and spend a lot of time listening to people caught in the smog screaming and dying while Thomas insists he is not responsible for this mass slaughter in any way, shape or form. The Doctor, Nyssa and Robert take turns smacking Thomas round the ears.

Suddenly it occurs to them that they haven’t sealed the fireplace and the lethal toxins flood out of it. Thinking quickly, the Doctor and Nyssa block the chimney with Thomas – killing the annoying brat and keeping the fumes out simultaneously. Alas, Nyssa gently breaks the news that the Doctor’s senses are so addled from all the drugs and alcohol he’s been taking he’s mistaken Robert for Thomas and sacrificed his good friend and part time shag.

Worse, Thomas Brewster is STILL alive!

Indeed, Thomas starts blaming the Doctor for the arrival of the deadly smoke and kicks him in the shin before stealing Nyssa’s TARDIS key. With this he is able to unlock the TARDIS, run inside and against all odds take off in the time machine, leaving the Doctor and Nyssa to die horribly. I know, what a prick.

Thomas arrives in a ruined city of burning rubble and blackened bodies with the eerie green smoke of death. As you can imagine, he’s not a hundred per cent happy, but the little twerp deserves all he gets in my opinion.

Back in 1867, the pea souper of doom starts to clear and the Doctor realizes that the lethal fog was just a typical Victorian London smog of fatal death and all the deaths probably would have happened anyway. He then heads into the pantry and discovers the TARDIS there, having somehow ended up back here in another part of the wibbly-wobbly time paradoxes that underpin this entire story.

The Doctor knows that there is only one way to find out what happened to Thomas and exact retribution from his white ass, so the Doctor – fueled by opium and lost love – pilots the TARDIS to materialize inside itself when Thomas was at the controls in the previous episode. Of course this is incredibly dangerous and risks destroying two thirds of the universe, but they really, REALLY want Thomas to suffer.

They land their TARDIS inside the past-TARDIS console room and immediate start screaming demanding to know where the fuck Thomas gets off trying to kill them and steal a time machine, but Thomas pretends to faint as not even HE can ass-kiss his way out of this mess.

They drag the urchin about their TARDIS and pilot the past-TARDIS back to the pantry so it can be found in the first place. The Doctor admits he’s not entirely certain what all this poisonous smoke monster apocalyptic future has to do with anything, let alone the ghost that threw Nyssa into the past, but killing Thomas can ONLY improve things in every conceivable way.

For maximum irony, they pilot the time machine to the day of Thomas’ mother’s funeral and kill him there in a neat Twelve Monkeys homage. They drag the kicking and screaming Thomas out into the graveyard as he screams that his mother isn’t dead despite the fact he has now seen her buried twice. The Doctor points out that he’s managed to get at least four speaking roles killed and no doubt killed more in his life, so this is just karma when all is said in done.

Nyssa points out that killing him will spare him from his miserable life of thieving and running and hiding which he is clearly too worthless to try and change – and Thomas responds by biting his captors until they let him go. "You want to see me change my life style? Then watch this!" he shouts, running into the TARDIS and taking off – marooning the Doctor and Nyssa YET AGAIN.

"Son of a BITCH!" screams Nyssa.

Book(s)/Other Related –
Dr Who Discovers 19th Century Substance Abuse
Doctor Who Meets An Annoying, Cowardly Piece of Pond Scum And Makes Him A New Companion – AGAIN!
"Some Paradoxes To Avoid" by JFK (1997)

Goofs -
Deliberately trying to make a companion more irritating than Adric, Lucie Miller and the entire cast of Touchwood combined pretty much overwhelms every other flaw with this tale, which are legion BTW.
If they were so worried about the poison gas, why didn’t they just hide in the TARDIS. OK, Thomas and Robert wouldn’t know about and the Doctor was too off his face to care, but you think Nyssa would think of such a blindingly obvious escape route! Has she been on the morphine too?
Why does Thomas’ mother refer to him as "Brewster"? Even if she hates him as much as the rest of it, surely that just reaffirms that they’re related and would upset her even further? I mean, she CHOSE the name "Thomas", so it’s her own fault, isn’t it?
For a story set in the gas-lit foggy streets of Olde London Town, why did they decide the best period music would the el cheapo John-Carpenter-with-a-Bontempi Zombie Flesh Eater theme tune? WHY?!?

Fashion Victims –
To assimilate into Victorian society, the Doctor grows a Zampata moustache and a braided goatee, then dyes both light purple.

Technobabble –
"You see, we short circuited the paradox by reversing the polarity of the non-existent impossibility flow, causing it to collapse and cease to ever have existed. Mmm. That made a lot more sense in my head."

Links and References -
What is it with the Fifth Doctor and time corridors? How many’s he encountered now anyway?

Untelevised Misadventures -
The Doctor flogged off quite a lot of 1970s memorabilia to James Maxwell, including three tons of Space Dust (which Maxwell believed was powdered rhinoceros horn and a potent aphrodisiac).

Groovy DVD Extras -
A 25-minute documentary about the life of Thomas Brewster and how events conspired to make him the man he is today. As if we didn’t have ENOUGH reasons to despise the little bastard.

Dialogue Disasters -

Nyssa: Oh, stop feeling sorry for yourself you creep!
Thomas: Waaah! You can’t know what it’s like to have no mother or father! You don’t know what it’s like to be alone in the world!
Nyssa: Look, you whining bitch, my parents were taken from me too, but I can’t bring them back even if I wanted to. And they weren’t selfish pricks who’d want me to waste my life grieving. My parents weren’t assholes like yours. Or Harry Potter’s.
Thomas: So, you’re saying I should make a future for herself, not to forget them, but to honour their memory?
Nyssa: No, I’m just saying you’re pathetic and I’m much better than you in every way possible. Pay attention!
Thomas: OW!

Dialogue Triumphs -

Nyssa: I can’t believe anyone would chose to live in such a place!
Doctor: Nobody does. It’s the property market that chooses for them.

Doctor: In a quantum universe all futures are possible, though some are more probable than others. Although it’s a very remote possibility, one of those futures must be one in which these creatures control the Earth, and if they have the capacity to send information back through time - for example, instructions on how to construct a time corridor - then they can use that time corridor to travel back into the past to influence events and make their version of the future more likely! The greater their presence in this time, the more likely that what was once just a possibility will actually become a probability, then a certainty! By invading the past, they’re creating the future from which they will invade the past! ARGH! I’VE GONE CROSS-EYED! MY BRAIN!!!

Nyssa: Sorry, I’m a little bit lost. What station is this?
Trevor Cooper: Demolition.
Nyssa: Sorry?
Trevor Cooper: Eeeeh-to-wah! Hoooo-junga! Oooooooh-
Nyssa: Shi-
(Cooper performs ungainly karate kick and jumps off the platform – where he is instantly hit by a train.)

Thomas: You talk all this lah-de-lah like none of it matters, but it matters to me! ME! It’s not a sick fantasy! NONE OF THIS IS MY FAULT!
Robert: Oh, shut ye gob you minging twat!

Doctor: Thomas built a time machine to ensure the future that gave him the information to build the time machine, and thus he created a paradox. Now we’ve removed the possibility of that future, his life has become a contradiction in causality and to save his life, they need to find some way of collapsing the time paradox to resolve the contradiction! FUCK! I SWEAR THIS STUFF IS GIVING ME A MIGRAINE!

Viewer Quotes -

"What exactly do Big Finish have against 'Oranges and Lemons'? First there was that evil zombie girl whistling it in Night Thoughts as she gouged out eyeballs and now the Woman in Black singing it as she ends mankind! And don’t get me STARTED on what Eric Blair did to it!"
- Mr. Snob (2008)

"Wow. Evil alien sentient poisonous fog from 2008. I bet that this won’t get ripped off by the new series."
- Dave Restal (prior to transmission of "The Snotaran Stratagy")

"I think that Robert had a lot of potential as a companion - it would been very interesting to see his Victorian detachment melt away as he explored time and space - so I was quite shocked when he died. I was even more shocked when that horrid little turd Thomas! I've hated John Pickard since that incident when he turned up nude in a play called Out in the Garden. I wouldn’t have minded if he was actually part of the production..." - Sylvester le Flay (2008)

"Unless, you know the evil alien sentient poisonous fog was actually the Gelth and Big Finish were ripping the new series off first. That’s always a possibility. I mean, look at Singular Angularity!"
- Dave Restal (mere moments later)

"As it went on I was thinking, that jerk cannot be the new companion. That would be nuts. I really hope it’s the other guy. And I was wrong. Oh how I hate my life. I can only hope Thomas doesn’t carry on over the forthcoming releases. That would be the ultimate cruelty. Why not make me listen to Nostalgia of the Dustbins and REALLY bring some pus to the surface?!" - Julie Andrews (2009)

"I was sobbing by the time I reached the end. For me, this play sinks to new lows for BF... I may even place it BEHIND Credo of the Moron!"
- Chris Hale (before he heard the next story)

Psychotic Nostalgia -
"Multiple time zones, ontological paradoxes, cheap cop out happy endings, contrived love interests, inevitable love interest deaths, timey-wimey non-explanations, real world things likely to make children PRETEND to be scared... YOU SEE?! THIS is what you get when you allow Steven Moffat ANYWHERE NEAR Doctor Who! THIS SPELLS THE END!!!"
(Ed. Note: I think we just worked out who PN actually is...)

Peter Davison Speaks!
"I have an interesting approach to recording these things, I throw myself in at the last minute and cover up any panic with bland indifference. It’s amazing how the brain can put things together such a complex web of effect and cause, cause and effect, and yet make you sound like it’s less interesting than a bus token. Of course, we picked up a new companion in this story but I’m not a hundred per cent certain which this new companion is. I hope it’s Robert. I couldn’t stand that dodgy urchin with the Norman Bates complex."

John Pickard Speaks!
"Thomas Brewster does the whole Oliver Twist thing except all those experiences turn him into a complete fuckwit instead of a noble hero. I loved that about the script, I thought it was brilliant! At the end of it, *I* wanted to beat the living shit out of myself! That’s quality, that is! I read it out to my granddad last night and within fifteen minutes he was trying to beat me to death with a cane and telling me to get my head out of my arse and accept the truth! Barnaby the director rugby-tackled me in the middle of recording and tried to snap my neck! What brilliant writing to trigger psychotic hatred for the character – you don’t get that in Eastenders, I can tell you."

Rumors & Facts -

The Fawning of Thomas Brewster is really different to anything I’ve heard before, and after 107 releases that is quite something. Notice how I never actually said it was GOOD in that sentence? There’s a reason for that.

Nicholas Briggs was not a well man – but then that was freaking obvious to a blind speelsnape with no eyes whose entire head was made of wood and thus slightly more existent than the rest of it’s totally made-up body. Briggs wanted to be the Doctor, write the stories, direct the stories and play the monsters. No one else shared this desire.

Thus, Briggs hit on the idea of deliberately making bad stories. Indeed, stories so utterly awful that entire fan base would be forced to accept that his stuff was better by default. He immediately set to work trying to discover new and more terrible stories of truly revolting premises that would scar any and all audiences upon witnessing the truly horrible tales.

Briggs decided that the first thing to do was completely ruin a totally random Big Finish line up - in this case, the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa, a range that had been doing more or less decently over the last eight years. So logically the first thing to do was introduce a brand new male companion designed to be more punch-the-TV-screen-in irritating than any other in human history. Lucie Miller would be Donna Noble in comparison to mindless hatred this character would create.

Thus he decided to do a companion based on Adric – a spiteful, lying jerk with a huge ego and pathological refusal to accept any criticism. Added to this was an intense hatred of every single living being, violent kleptomania and also a sickening habit of fawning all over people in passive aggression. Briggs knew he was onto a winner when he ripped a filing cabinet in two just THINKING about the new companion.

Chosen to fashion the character’s first story was Jonathon Morris, ex-Bread star who had been driven from Big Finish following his appalling treatment by previous Executive Producer Gay Russell during the production of "Mud Ride", the infamous Sixth Doctor Silly Lurian story that featured the novel depiction of Charles Darwin as a violent, gun-wielding fan of the Sex Pistols. This radical interpretation of history meant that no one in their right mind would ever get him to do a historical ever again... which was exactly why Briggs chose Morris and told him to set the tale firmly in Victorian London.

However, the previous six years had been kind to Morris who was willing to do some research in the form of looking up "The Woman in Black" on wikipedia and coming to a conclusion that eponymous spectre of evil was actually an alien paradox wraith determined to trigger the causal nexus that would create itself. As you do.

Not quite understanding that this story was to be the audio equivalent of crude dental surgery with a rusty nail and no anaesthetic, Morris set out trying to make a story more intricate than Rob Shearman’s The Crime of Fright-Night, more moralistic than Dave Lister’s Bastard, and give Peter Davison better material than A Most Peculiar Practice.

In an extra brilliant twist, Briggs decided to be vague about which male character would be the new companion so just as the listeners would be hoping that Robert McIntosh would be the one, only to have their hopes dashed at the final scene. He also hired infamous sex pot Leslie Ash (famous as 'the one who wasn’t Caroline Quentin' from Men Behaving Badly) and then gave her the role of Brewster’s mother where she had no dialogue at all.

Satisfied that the Fawning of Thomas Brewster (as it was dubbed after The Bunting of Thomas Brewster and The Torment of Thomas Brewster were rejected for being "too optimistic) was the worst thing so far produced under his stewardship, Briggs sat back and waited for the internet flame-wars to begin.

But they didn’t. Indeed fandom was cautiously optimistic about the "delightful" story with "great performances". Many considered the complex narrative to be a refreshing change from the dumbed-down child-friendly tales of the last twelve months, with its complex time paradox made fashionable by Steven Moffat in the TV series. Even the incidental music was praised for its unusual distinctiveness and the cliffhanger ending was received with great applause by trad and rad fans alike.

Everyone agreed, however, that Thomas Brewster was a miserable little shit who HAD to die at the earliest possible opportunity.

But this would prove to be nothing compared to the NEXT story, after which blood was spilt over all the walls of that dead tomb of lost souls, Outpost Gallifrey...

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