Saturday, September 19, 2009

5th Doctor - Return to the Web Planet

Serial 6C/J – Hellbound to Vortis!
An Alternate Programme Guide by Ewen Campion-Clarke
An Extract From The EC Unauthorized Programme Guide O' Animosity

Serial 6C/J – Hellbound to Vortis! -

A narrative anomaly brings the TARDIS to the crises-ridden world of yumminess in the fourth universe, Vortis. Despite the fact all his previous visits have ended with the sugar-based local life forms attempting to dissect him and take from mankind his mastery of space, the Doctor still considers this surreal planet a great place for a holiday and they are in perfect safety.

At that moment a hoard of Sorbet, a hoard of insectoid cattle formed entirely of sherbet molecules, rampage past and nearly flatten the Doctor and Nyssa. The duo manage to just escape being trampled underfoot and manage to climb up an incredibly sticky tree composed of toffee apples and are soon completely trapped and faced with certain death from starvation on a planet composed entirely of foodstuffs.

As the Doctor marvels at the irony, Nyssa swears violently that she will never again trust her companion’s advice on holiday destination. Suddenly a strange naked man looking uncannily like Dudley Moore emerges from the undergrowth and tells them to clear off out of his tree or he’ll set fire to it!

Two cherry-flavored Slurpies, the most intelligent and highly-evolved life forms on Vortis arrive and rescue the Doctor and Nyssa from Dudley Moore, taking them to the safety of the local 7-11. There the Slurpies introduce themselves as Acheron and his daughter Hedyla, who assume the Doctor and Nyssa to be characters from Sailor Moon and refuse to pronounce our heroes’ names correctly.

The increasingly irritated TARDIS crew learn that the Sorbet are from a wild fridge in the Desolation beyond the edge of the toffee apple forest. No one knows what they want and suspect that the answer won’t be worth the effort of finding out in the first place.

Changing the topic, the Slurpies invite the Doctor to try their confectionery-fueled karioke machine and after a few minutes the Slurpies beg him not to continue his rendition of ABC’s Poison Arrow, instead suggesting he go investigate the Desolation or indeed anywhere that isn’t their private 7-11.

Saddling up Hedyla’s pet Sorbet, Barbara Wright, the Doctor and Nyssa gallop off into the toffee forest along a road made of caramel bricks, then along a flying fox to a replica of the Westminster Abby entirely out of vanilla sugar. It is then the realize the desert around the Abby is actually ice cream – or rather, scores of thousands of Sorbet swarming around the Temple of Low Calories.

Plus, there’s a bunch of crashed space ships. Did I mention that? Well, that narrative anomaly has been working overtime – prompting the Slurpies to recite the lyrics to "Message in a Bottle" in a monotone for two minutes and thirty-four seconds. Yes. I counted. It was easier than paying attention. You want to make something of it?

Suddenly, Sorbet burst out of the grind like sand-worms in Dune and the Doctor begs Nyssa hold him tight... but not quite THAT tight... as they are sucked through the ice cream layer to the underworld below!

Just at that moment Hedyla arrives in on a huge glider made entirely out of unsold copies of the Evening Standard, who then bursts into tears exactly like that Native American in the pollution commercial. It seems this has been triggered not by an empty Coke can, but instead naked Dudley Moore who has turned up again and immediately tries to take advantage of Nyssa.

Just then a naked woman uncannily similar to Britt Ekland circa 1973 turns up claiming to be the Speaker for Mother Life and all sorts of earth spirit menstrual power new-age hippie crap and the Doctor realizes that she is incredibly high off some the sugar around her. Nevertheless, Britt Ekland is able to unintentionally exposit that the narrative anomaly at the heart of the plot is some kind of freaking huge outer space magnet which has been causing spaceship crashes. Which is fair enough, considering the weird shit that’s been going on.

Britt reveals, intentionally this time, that Vortis is the compost heap of the fourth universe which attracts detritus and they need a free plastic toy in order to do something incredibly nice and mystical and natural and hate-peddling he-males just wouldn’t understand. Or anyone not so completely stoned they couldn’t count how many legs they have at any given time.

Thankfully, the Sorbet have no concept of pockets and thus haven’t searched the Doctor for a spoon – and thus he EATS the Sorbet guards, his mighty Time Lord powers preventing him collapsing from a one hell of an ice cream headache. He and Nyssa then run for the surface and, for want of something to do, Dudley Moore and Britt Ekland follow.

The Doctor tells the naked people that they are not human beings but two boiled eggs on stilts – which somehow is crucial to a gene-synthesis invasion force by some generic-yet-unmentioned alien menace. They and their super magnet were sent to colonize Vortis, but all the weirdness proved too much for the pair of them and drove them both completely out of their minds and into insanity.

Dudley Moore and Britt Ekland realize that this fundamental aspect of their life have been answered and thus they have no further narrative reason to exist. They then decide to shag each other till they die, before a swarm of Sorbet stampede into view. This incredibly arouses the migrating Sorbet, who indulge in a massive ice cream orgy.

The Doctor and Nyssa run away very quickly, the Time Lord insisting that he’s sure glad he picked Vortis for his holiday destination as he is dragged into the TARDIS by his companion.

Book(s)/Other Related –
Doctor Who – Return to the Weird Planet!
Dr. Who Watches A Sorbet Orgy! (Canada Only)
The Man In The Velvet Mask With A Whip Falls The Shadow

Goofs -
I don’t understand it enough to work out the bits that were NOT supposed to not make sense and simply did not make sense by accident. Mind you, I feel confident in pointing out that getting Gravis Art to spend a vast amount of time and effort not to mention a small fortune creating a perfect replica of Chris Archellos’ Sorbet cover artwork with the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa... and then covering up half of it with a black stripe with the title, cast and a photoshoped image of Peter Davison’s head is in all respects utterly stupid.

Fashion Victims –
The Doctor’s Mexican bumblebee wrestler outfit.

Technobabble –
"The nausea factor has been exponentially multiplied by the inverse ratio of the Sorbet copulation field. Kinky."

Links and References -
The Doctor refers to the events of The Laird of the Zarbi Supremo, which is traditional in these sort of sequels.

Untelevised Misadventures -
Tragically, The Weird Planet was NOT one of these.

Groovy DVD Extras -
William Russell reading every single Sorbet-based bit of fiction ever.

Dialogue Disasters -

Nyssa: What kind of drugs do you think the author’s on?
Doctor: No idea.
Nyssa: You don’t sound that interested in finding out.
Doctor: I’m not, Nyssa. There are some parts of the universe that have bred the most wonderful mysteries and I spend most of my lives trying to unravel them, unweaving the rainbow as it were. But sometimes, just sometimes, it’s safer not to know...

Doctor: I’m not sure I can cope with a Sorbet in heat.

Dialogue Triumphs -

Nyssa, on being told about Vortis:
"Are you sure you’re not making this up?"

Britt Ekland: The Light made the Universe and the sky, but Abu made time and the ground so that things might wither, but also grow. The first Slurpie and grandmother of all others went to Abu and told him about the world she imagined for her offspring, where they would build beautiful temples for the Light and dance and weave songs, a temple known as 7-11. This 7-11 be paradise and no Slurpie would ever want or suffer. In response, Abu asked who would build the 7-11 and raise the harvests and stock the cash register and do all the work while all the Slurpie were free and at leisure, so they created minimum-wage slaves – the Sorbet! And that is how the world began!
(Long pause.)
Doctor: Bullshit.

Viewer Quotes -

"There are some things that can’t be undone, like listening to this story. It’s like a horrific train wreck you can’t turn away from no matter how much you try. It makes my soul eat its own head off. Benny Hill has NOTHING on this! They just don’t make stories like this any more. But then, not as many people do acid nowadays."
- Nigel Verkoff (2008)

"I want this played at my funeral!" - Mad Larry the Pirate King (2010)

"In the family Slitheen, we had no choice. I was made to carry out my first kill at thirteen! If I’d refused, my father would have fed me to the Sorbet of Vortis – I AM **NOT** RESPONSIBLE FOR MY ACTIONS!!"
- Paris Hilton (2005)

"As Nyssa and Hedyla turned to look wildly this way and that they saw the shapes of the Sorbet creeping over the hillocks, bordering the plateau, guiding their Slushies like so many avenging hunting dogs!"
- Vitas The Unnervingly Intense Who Fan (2005)

"What... the... FUCK?!?" - Ewen Campion-Clarke (2007)

Psychotic Nostalgia -
"I listened to this, went to my local 7-11 and wasted the guy by the Slurpie machine. Oh yeah. We all know what he was doing to it when the lights went out. Lucky bastard."

Peter Davison Speaks!
"I always remembered when I was a little boy and we were watching Doctor Who on the television, my Uncle Mick – not a blood relation, just a big hulk of a complete stranger no one was prepared to tell to get the hell off their sofa before they called the police -would stare wide-eyed at the television from behind the sofa on a Saturday Night yelling the Sorbets were coming! Eventually we moved house, but I like to think he’s still there... screaming insanely to himself. It’s a memory that’s haunted me night and day ever since, but I hide it very well under a veneer of bland indifference. I’m always acting, me."

Rumors & Facts -

Back in 1965, Doctor Who was desperate to create a national phenomenon to rival the deadly Dustbins – mainly so they didn’t have to kowtow to Terry bloody Nation all the time. The first season had left them with few potential monsters to reuse, and most of THEM had been created by Terry Nation as well! As the second season began, Verity Lambert and story editor David Pisstaker met oil rig consultant Greg Sutton who, between working in Arab mining shafts, had contributed scripts for The Avengers, The Saint and Ugg Ugg Stone Age Detective.

Sutton agreed to pen a story with a popular new monster different from the robotic Dustbins, recalling his unhappy childhood experiences at the local 7-11. Thus, he suggested that giant, sherbert-based Sorbet might make an effective opponent to the Doctor to replace motorized trashcans. So gobsmacked were Lambert and Pisstaker with this criminally insane idea, that they decided to forego the usual request for any kind of "storyline" and just go the hell with it while they quickly got merchandizing deals together.

As work proceeded on the six-part The Whacked Planet, the Sorbet were hailed as The Next Big Thing After The Dustbins. The drug-addled hippies and paranoid peaceniks running TV Comic immediately agreed to make the next comic strip adventures of Doctor Joseph Who and his jailbait lovers Johnny and Gillian to face the convenience store planet Vortis in a tale they dubbed "Off Your Face On The Weird Planet".

Pisstaker himself immediately devoted huge chunks of the proposed Doctor Who Annual 1965 to feature the Sorbet AND the Slushies AND the Slurpies (two rival monsters Sutton created in desperation to find at least ONE recurring villain). So confident were everyone with The Weird Planet (as The Whacked Planet was renamed), they immediately added to the series bible that no tie-in novel range could be begun without at least a single sequel to this story. This is why Christopher Bulis was forced at knife point to pen a Second Doctor, Jamie and Victoria story set on Vortis with the Slurpies and the Sorbet called Twilight of the Clods, in order to allow the Virgin Missing Adventure range to continue. Similarly, The Knackered Flame with the Fourth Doctor and Sarah was ordered if the shortlived Doctor Who Yearbook series were to last more than a day.

The Christmas of 1965 saw Dustbinmania fight squeegee and power-vac with Sorbetrama – an artificial craze that worked on the principal if you line enough shelves with crappy merchandise then mass hysteria will be triggered automatically. There were Sorbet badges, Sorbet iron-transfers, Sorbet stationary, Sorbet plastic face masks with guaranteed suffocating qualities, a full-length novelization entitled "Dr. Who & The Sorbet", Sorbet liquid neutralizers, inflatable Sorbet sex dolls, Sorbet-noise car alarms, The Sorbet Pocketbook Dictionary, The Illustrated Sorbet World, The Vortis Sutra, and a hit single "I’m Gonna Spend My Christmas With A Sorbet."

The production team KNEW they had a winner when they finally managed to sell the idea of the Dr. Who & The Sorbet Give-A-Show Projector, detailing 311, 888 separate tales of the Doctor arriving of Vortis, encountering the Sorbet and running away. In the 1960s, appearing in Give-A-Show Projection tales was like getting your face on an exclusive lunchbox, or having your footsteps preserved in cement, or fighting to the death with the Black And White Minstrels.

However, Sorbetrama was not to be. Terry Nation firebombed the factory that produced the Give-A-Show Projectors and only a handful were ever to reach the shelves... whereupon Nation’s Neanderthal heavies bought every last one and jumped up and down on them until they were useless. When Nation discovered the destroyed factory ALSO ruined all his lethally-airtight PVC Dustbin play outfits, he took his revenge by making special Dustbin stickers which he applied to pretty much every item of Sorbet merchandise left. Customers and shopkeepers all assumed it was really Dustbin goods that were selling and Nation got all the profits that were not his by right.

With the failure of the publicity zeitgeist and the impracticality of the monster outfits, The Sorbet never returned to televised Doctor Who (bar those odd references when RTD is taking the piss). Lambert made a second, unknown suggestion to Sutton following this, but it went nowhere as he pointed out that such a suggestion wouldn’t work and even if it had would be incredibly unhygienic. In 1970, Terrance Dicks commissioned Sutton to clean his Volvo, but this went unwashed as Sutton instead pitched a four-part story called The Mega Bitch (which rumor has it was based on Lambert herself). A few years later, Sutton retired from writing since he was dead.

It was only when Nicholas "Temperamental Bastard" Briggs took over Big Finish Productions that he realized that they, too, were contractually obliged to provide a sequel to the pathetically-realized and poorly-paced 1965 serial without being hampered by that same parsimonious television production that had ruined all other attempts.

Even though there was no one alive who could actually FORCE Big Finish to produce this story, Briggs decided that he would combine The Weird Planet sequel with the annual subscribers-only bonus release that would also showcase the "wonderful" material the company had to offer.

The first proposal was by Daniel Mahogany, who had gone to great trouble to parody Life on Mars to provide Spice Mine, the final installment of the incredibly pretentious so-called "Doctor Who/Blake’s 7 crossover", Kaldor City. His idea was one entitled simply Christmas Is Dead!, and featured the Eighth Doctor returning to Vortis to discover the 7-11 was under threat by a strange gang of Goths lead by the incredibly nasty New Romantic called Poldark. The Doctor bitch-slaps Poldark and sprays him in the face with Hai Karate, and the Time Lord and the Slurpies chase the Goths as they return to their squalid bedsit and crash out for the next eighteen hours. The Doctor sets off an alarm clock and the Goths, terrified the cops have found them, run out of the flat and instantly turn to dust. The Doctor refuses to explain exactly how this is supposed to make sense and the story ends.

Briggs performed his OWN bitch-slap and Mahogany hastily performed a rewrite which only succeeded in making the finish product even more surreal, confusing and disturbingly perverse.

After the previous year’s tale Hellbound to Fargo!, this year would have the story released absolutely free with The Girl Who Never Was A Virgin – the story that involved no less than eighteen departures for Charley Pollard along with appearances from Nigel Verkoff, the Cybermen, the Seventh Doctor and the Bermuda Triangle and would lead directly into her own spin off series.

So quite why anyone who was after a story like that would ALSO want to hear about the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa returning to the planet Vortis is a mystery left unexplained. Mainly because if I wanted to know the answer I’d have to actually talk to old Briggos the Destroyer, and, to be frank, I don’t get paid enough for that. Hell, I don’t get paid at all. What the fuck is up with that!

Until I get paid, why the hell should I bother with doing the rest of this bloody guide at all, huh? Answer me that? Oh, you can’t, can you? Well, screw this, screw you and screw the horse you rode in on!

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