Saturday, September 19, 2009

5th Doctor - Winter for the Adept

Serial 6C/B – Sphincter of the Adept
Sphincter of the Adept
An Alternate Programme Guide by Ewen Campion-Clarke
An Extract From The EC Unauthorized Programme Guide O' Jackpot!

Serial 6C/B – Sphincter of the Adept -

Aboard the TARDIS, the Doctor is rummaging in a cupboard looking for some adult publications about nude cricket when he stumbles across one of his old inventions – the Girl Finishing School Matter-Paddle. Basically, by pressing the red button, the user is instantly teleported to an isolated girl's school full of just-legal totty. The Doctor chuckles, remembering the amazingly frustrated old man he once was, searching all time and all space for a shag.

Just then, Nyssa of Traken – the Doctor's latest conquest – turns the corner and, deciding it's probably best to keep hidden his own weapons of mass seduction, tries to teleport the matter paddle away. Instead, it vanishes and takes Nyssa with it!

Nyssa finds herself trapped on a blizzard-swept mountain high in the Swiss Alps in December 1963 – wearing only the kinky Minbari negligee she was going to model for the Doctor that afternoon. Searching for shelter, she comes across Lieutenant Sanchez of the Swiss Mounties who immediately decides to take her to the nearby finishing school for young girls presided over by religious zealot, bigot and spinster Miss Hemmingway who built the school on the freezing mountaintop in order to save on cold showers.

On the way to the school, Nyssa and Sanchez encounter 1963's version of the Olsen twins – the Pollard sisters Charlotte and Celia, whose rampant sexuality and fascist leanings have been abandoned at the finishing school by their conservative parents. Rather than hang around here for Christmas, they've broken out of the school and are showing body parts to passers-by in return for a lift.

Sanchez offers them a lift – but the twins are amazingly pissed off when said lift merely returns them to the finishing school, where Hemmingway is terrified that all the furniture is rearranging itself without human intervention. Nyssa tries to come up with a logical explanation, such as perhaps the polarity of the feng shui flow has been reversed. The 1960s ape primitives, however, simply stare at her at a long moment before Charlotte starts to seduce Sanchez.

Nyssa's calm, rational explanation rapidly run out as wardrobes barricade the doors and mirrors smash themselves and the shards chase them like a swarm of wasps. Indeed, soon the best she can offer is, "We're not near an abandoned amusement park, are we?"

Sanchez suggests they use the Handy-Dandy ShortWave Radio to call for assistance but find the communicator wrecked. This is not poltergeist activity – unless the ghost in question used a screwdriver and a useful pamphlet called 'So, You Want To Sabotage Communications?'

Luckily, Cecil has managed to use a pre-prepared escape plan to send for a helicopter, meaning that there is nothing to be alarmed about the smashed radio. Heck, if it hadn't already been smashed, they'd probably be smashing it right now anyway!

Nyssa wonders if this is a retroactive admission of guilt when the quartet are suddenly attacked by a rabid piano, foaming at the keys.

The piano chases them up and down the staircases in the school, and down a long corridor lined with doors that seem to link up in a zigzag pattern. For a while it looks like the piano is teaming up with some renegade ski poles, but the relationship soon sours and piano goes solo once more as it chases the fugitives.

Finally, trapped in the attic, Hemmingway suddenly goes The Shining on the Pollard sisters' collective ass. Grabbing an axe, she turns on the others. Ironically, this proves the saving grace as she has to fight off the piano in order to take her vengeance.

Suddenly, Sanchez goes insane as well – and, as he has a gun, easily kills the piano and Hemmingway. However, the gunshot echoes and causes a 'No Gunfire In The Hallways' sign to fall on his head and kill him instantly.

Suddenly, the TARDIS materializes and the dazed-looking Doctor emerges, explaining that he has been to every girl's school in the cosmos, searching desperately for Nyssa. His companion demands to know why the Doctor was taking so long when he could simply have used the TARDIS to track her location in moments – come to think of it, how the hell did he know she was in a girl's school in the first place?

Blushing, the Doctor hastily explains that, while, to the untutored layman it may APPEAR that Nyssa was teleported here because one of his malfunctioning Easy Catholic Schoolgirl Locators, she was actually drawn here by the evil extra-dimensional Spillagers to the heart of their infernal palace, which just happens to take the form of a school full of impressionable, hormonal teenage girls. The Doctor has, in fact, risked his life to prevent their advance scouts from paving the way for an invasion force...

Nyssa quickly suspects he's talking crap, while Charlotte is fascinated by the TARDIS and by the sexy Doctor, who claims to be able to travel anywhere in time and space (if you get my drift). Anyway, the Doctor doesn't want to annoy Nyssa any more than he already has by transporting her to a freezing mountainside where she might have died of exposure for the second time that week.

Thus, he politely declines Charlotte's offer to 'do it Spillager style' and leaves with Nyssa in the TARDIS, letting the Pollard twins catch the helicopter home.

As they leave, Charlotte vows that, the next time she sees a cute bloke traveling through time and space in a police box, she's going to get him good.

She will let NOTHING stand in her way...

Book(s)/Other Related –
Doctor Who – The One Where Nyssa Does Something
Doctor Who Versus The Piano
Charley's Legs: The Davison Years

Goofs -
The Doctor keeps the living quarters on the TARDIS unacceptably warm and humid – apparently in the hope his female companions will get the desire to strip off. However, the fact he has 'always' done this (according to Nyssa), means that there were several occasions when Adric would have been wandering the time machine butt naked. And if THAT isn't a goof, WHAT THE HELL IS?!?

Other Big Finish stories would confirm that Charlotte and Celia are two of a set of triplets, making their insistence they are twins in this story slightly suspect. But, then again, Mary-Kate and Ashley did something similar until their talented third triplet, Grun-Helga Olsen was discovered locked up in their basement.

Technobabble -
The Doctor's Easy Catholic Schoolgirl Locators work on 'interactive vibration' and includes a 'bra energy scanner', 'bio-virginal essence' and an extremely graphic '3D energy profile' built by him in the TARDIS, using a few copies of PlayBeing and a transistor radio.

Links and References -
Nyssa complains that this is the second time in as many days she has been left to the elements in a freezing wasteland wearing only skimpy alien undergarments and accuses the Doctor of deliberately engineering this to happen.

Untelevised Misadventures -
Hemmingway appears to have heard of the Doctor, suggesting that they may have met before (certainly the Doctor would be unlikely to program the matter paddle to take him to a girl's school he's already defiled, suggesting Hemmingway is from a school he has previously visited).

Groovy DVD Extras -
Full, uncut XXX-rated 'Bored Pollard Sisters Get It On' with intense commentary by Super Fan Nigel Verkoff (which is, thankfully, optional).

Dialogue Disasters -

Sanchez: Harlot!
Nyssa: What's a harlot?
Sanchez: Not now, Nyssa! [to Charlotte] Whore of Babylon 5!
Nyssa: I'm afraid I still don't understand the reference.
Sanchez: Don't you watch TNT??

Some TERRIBLE exposition -
Doctor: Needs must when the Devil drives. Sorry, I didn't mean to make a golfing pun. Did I mention I'm carrying this question-mark patterned golf bag, golf sweater and golfing hat? No...?

Doctor: There's a limit to skepticism you know. You'll end up cutting your throat with Occam's Razor.
Charlotte: Oh, I'm very good at shaving myself...
Nyssa: Uh, can we get on, please!!

Nyssa: You know, what we need is an imaturitation living poultice – it looks like an umbrella made of neon spaghetti that's been crossed with a phosphorescent jellyfish which can feeds upon projectile wounds, re-absorbs bullets and heals scar tissue.
Cecil: Oh? Right, do you have one?
Nyssa: Of course I don't have one! I'm only wearing a bra and pants, where am I suppose to hide it?
Charlotte: Well, I know where I'd –
Nyssa: Shut up, Charlotte. That's for the exclusive use of the ion bonder and nothing else!

Dialogue Triumphs -

Charlotte: Look, Doctor – a shooting star.
Doctor: No, it's a flare of burning hydrogen. All that remains of the Spillagers' invasion fleet.
(Long pause)
Charlotte: Look, Doctor – a shooting star.

Charlotte: I was just wondering if you've ever had any... unusual experiences, Doctor?
Doctor: Hmmm. I once got roggered to death by Cybermen and woke up in a new body thinking I was a penguin.
Cecil: Only the once? You need to get out more!

Nyssa: Don't touch his things, Charlotte!
Charlotte: Cecil and I were just trying to get it to work.
Nyssa: There's a double entendre if ever I heard one.

Doctor: Ah, Nyssa, there you are! At last, I've found you.
Nyssa: Found me? But I was never lost!
Doctor: Weren't you? OK, I'll be off, then.
Nyssa: No, wait! I was lost! I WAS LOST!

Doctor: OK, it's not a shooting star it just looks like one. You can make a wish if you like, though, Charlotte.
Charlotte: What shall I wish for?
Doctor: An end to war. An end to killing.
Charlotte: What will YOU wish for?
Doctor: That Nyssa will let me anywhere near her after all this.

Viewer Quotes -

"A novel and, at times, unnerving poltergeist adventure framed within a rare first person monologue. And Charley, GOOD LORD, CHARLEY!!!"
- Nigel Verkoff, Author of 'Just Fuck Me, Charley!' (2005)

" Teleportation, Dickensian characters, Jane Austen narration, alien ghosts, Babylon 5 guest stars... I will always applaud the effort to 'push the envelope' in a Doctor Who story. Now please push it back!"
- Play It Safe Weekly (August 2000)

"You call that a Swiss accent? I know Centauri when I hear it!"
- G'Kar of the Narn (2263)

"Underage schoolgirl sex, the piano equivalent of foaming dog fever, gratuitous gunfire, supernatural themes... Lord, this is the best Doctor Who story I've ever heard!"
- Father James O'Malley (2001)

Psychotic Nostalgia -
"I tried to summon the poltergeist from this story via a séance, in order to complain at the shockingly low kill rate it had, but no luck. Maybe they're screening their calls or something."

Peter Davison Speaks!
"I don't remember much from this story, because of course I only had a few lines of dialogue. I was a bit put out and tried to look on the bright side: I mean, at least Sarah's character was getting a bit of development. It was only afterwards I learnt that the story didn't focus on Nyssa at all, just on India Fisher pretending to be sisters. On top of that, what lines Nyssa DID get were just complaints that the story was a bit too close to The Band of the Dead we recorded just a while ago. Still, I made my two scenes count. I needed to show shame, fear, panic and complete sexual exhaustion BUT at the same time pretend everything was normal. I really had to go back to my roots as an actor and summon all the bland indifference I could muster."

Rumors & Facts -

When the script editor for the Sylvester McCoy era burst into Big Finish Productions one day begging for work, Gay Russell decided to let him – on the condition he was forced, against his will, to turn out quality stuff. Russell had a long memory, and was not ready to forgive the crimes of Bertie Basset Doesn't Take Shit From Anyone, Battlefield: Earth or the entirety of Season 24.

Thus, Cartmel's sensible suggestion for a Seventh Doctor and Ace story was immediately turned down and ordered to right a story about the voyeuristic Fifth Doctor and the ruthless alien princess Nyssa in a cottage under siege plot identical to the previous The Band of the Dead, but set in 1963. Also to be involved was a scene where a piano possessed by evil chases the main character in the style of The Blair Witch Project.

Cartmel initially doubted he – or, indeed, ANYONE – could make a malevolent piano tense and scary even if his inched the story away from the production of a television soundtrack and nearer the more flexible formats of prose and radio. On television, for example, the idea of an evil piano would be mocked. Russell's defense was, simply, that anyone who tried to get away with Bertie Basset gunning down innocent bystanders in slow motion deserved to suffer.

Refusing to do any research when it came to the characters, Cartmel decided to de-emphasize the leads in favor for some nymphomaniac schoolgirls he had read about in one of JST's story ideas. Cartmel had a recognized hatred for the character of the Doctor and, indeed, he appears only once in Cartmel's trilogy of New Adventures (Waugh Head, Waugh Locks and Waugh Mild), and even then it could have just been a Scotsman in a hat – there's no way of telling.

Thus, the Fifth Doctor was reduced to two scenes in the entire four-part story, and he was badly out of character even then – working behind Nyssa's back, muttering darkly about the origins of Time Lord society and initially pegging Charlotte as an evil from the dawn of time. Oddly enough, Charlotte proved to be the most popular character in the story and when Alan Barnes was plagiarizing scripts in a mad dash to get the Eighth Doctor a new companion, Charley Pollard was the obvious choice – as was India Fisher, who played Charlotte in this story as well. Complete coincidence, I'm sure.

Two other notable elements can be found if you look close enough. In fact, I'm pretty certain there are probably plenty of them, but I've only noticed two. Deal with it.

Anyway, the first is that Peter Jurasik (well known for both playing the Tom Baker-inspired drunken gambling lunatic with odd hair in the five-year saga of Babylon 5 as well as having the age of the Dinosaurs named after him) had just been kidnapped and offered to Jason Haigh-Ellery in return for a year's subscription to Big Finish by an enthusiastic fan. I don't know if JHE accepted the offer, but I haven't seen Jurasik in anything else since.

The other is that due to a bewildering editing move, the actual explanation for the story's events is on a hidden track some fifteen minutes AFTER the story has actually finished. Basically, we discover the weird spiritual activity is a 'psychic build-up' in the 'paranormally constipated' Hemmingway. Thus, the sphincter of the title and cueing a predictable 'tight-ass' insult from Charlotte.

To date, this is the only Big Finish story written by Andrew Cartmel.

I wonder why?

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