Serial 7E/A – Go-Book-A-Room!
An Extract From The EC Unauthorized Programme Guide O' Farty Owls
Serial 7E/A – Go-Book-A-Room! -
Mel's faith in the Doctor's navigating skills is further diminished when he pilots the TARDIS into the far distant future, to the very brink of the final dissolution of the frontiers of creation – and lands outside a Midlands motel called Traveler's Halt in 1988.
The Doctor is very confused, and wonders perhaps if the ultimate destination of life kind is a late 1980s hotel. He then decides to pop in and check with the receptionist that the universe will end in the next fifteen minutes before a goat-headed alien god creates his domain to replace it.
The receptionist, Carol, admits that very few of their customers are of the all-powerful goat variety and, making sure no one is looking, grabs the Doctor's lapels and screams at him to flee the hotel while he's still got legs to run with.
The Doctor decides that Carol is probably trying to tell him something, but Mel fobs this off as Time Lord paranoia and demands Carol book them in two singles. The Doctor goes out shaking his head just in time to see the hotel manager, Dave, sending the TARDIS off in a council skip. The Doctor is furious and begins cursing, throwing his hat to the ground and stamping on it. Dave offers him a free weekend at Traveler's Halt, and the Doctor accepts happily.
Mel, meanwhile, is getting to know the staff in her normal perky way. The waitress, Denise, explains she has been married four times, jilted twice and stalked by a serial killer. Her relationships are usually ruined by fatal accidents, Post Office shoot-outs, homosexuality and UFO abductions. Mel finds this perfectly normal and encourages Denise to get back in the dating game with the retarded gardener Norman, who has worshiped her from afar since the previous Tuesday.
While Denise finds silver blood dripping from the fireplace, Mel confronts the Doctor to accept that life can just be ordinary for some people. Bored, the Doctor agrees, and then decides to steal Jane's, Dave's wife's car and breach the peace in the local town of Rotten. Mel tags along and they roar down the main street before crashing into a car owned by Danny, Mel's high school sweetheart.
The Doctor finds the idea of Mel crashing into her old boyfriend when he just happened to passing a hotel that was miles out of his way slightly suspicious – almost as suspicious as Denise, who has now been confined to bed and is glowing silver. The Doctor believes alien biotechnology is taking Denise over, but Mel uses her amazing powers of deduction and observation and decides Denise is just pregnant from a fling she had with Dave.
The Doctor retorts he knows a fair few things about alien infections, until Mel shows him the pregnancy test and he just flings his hands up in the air and decides to pester Norman. He explains that Traveler's Halt is the location of an alien invasion, a strange force that is turning Denise silver and has also drawn the TARDIS off-course. The retarded groundskeeper calls the Doctor a nutter and walks off.
Meanwhile, Jane is yelling at Dave for impregnating the hired help and letting wandering question-mark lunatics steal her car. Dave responds by punching her in the face and throwing her out of the first story window. Denise reacts to this by turning into a hideous silver monster and goes on the rampage.
The Doctor meets the monster and runs away. It runs after him.
Back in the hotel, Danny suddenly proposes to Mel. Despite the fact they have only been together thirteen minutes after an ancient, sordid high school fling, Mel finds this delightful and accepts and agrees to get married this very afternoon.
Meanwhile, Dave is making a long and boring speech about how he'll never forget his wife, whatever her name was. The Doctor runs in and out of the bedroom, and Denise reverts to her human self and decides to marry Dave in a double-wedding with Mel and Danny. Though how she knows this isn't clear, I don't want to question psycho-silver-waitress.
The Doctor finally catches up with Mel and is brought up to speed. The saccharine is too much and he goes to the toilet to vomit – only to discover that they are in a giant TV studio run by giant goldfish aliens from the dawn of time. When their favorite TV show, Traveler's Halt was axed, they stole the BBC and have been churning out new soap opera episodes ever since. The Doctor finds this frighteningly pathetic and calls the goldfish aliens a bunch of losers.
The aliens reply that they have easily found storylines for the Doctor and Mel – lots of running up and down corridors away from monsters for the former and a truly stomach-churning love affair for the latter. Now the Doctor decides to write himself out of the show and have Danny, the serial killer, slaughter Mel on his wedding night. The aliens dislike this downbeat ending, but the Doctor insists they don't want Mel in their show for any longer than is necessary.
Too late! Danny can no longer put up with her and has already tried to bludgeon her to death with the bouquet from the wedding. Mel has already screwed up all the plot and got Norman to confess his love to Denise and used CPR to revive Jane and resolved any differences between her and Dave! With nothing left to do, the aliens decide to write in the Doctor as wealthy Scots terrorist who blows up the hotel.
The Doctor and Mel leave in the TARDIS, the latter going on and on and on about how her calm, sensible approach solved the whole situation.
"That's as maybe, Mel," the Doctor grunts, "but you make crap TV."
Book(s)/Other Related -
Doctor Who & The Soap of Fatal Death
Doctor Who - The Life of Python
Fully Booked; An Unauthorized Guide to Traveler's Halt by Keith Topping
The Doctor jumps out of the car before warning Mel that they are about to crash. Was this a deliberate attempt on Mel's life?
We never do find out just why the fireplace was bleeding mercury.
Links and References -
Mel complains about generally every adventure she's been in.
Untelevised Misadventures -
The Doctor speaks of his 'old squeeze' Tony Blair.
Groovy DVD Extras -
The off switch. Trust me, it's underrated.
Dialogue Disasters -
Danny: I'm not like the other boys!
Mel: In what way?
Danny: Er... I like shoes.
Mel: That's good enough for me. Let's book the church!
Denise: The universe can wait, I am a woman!
Doctor: Yes... Well-spotted... Bye!
Dialogue Triumphs -
Denise: But... But I can't! I'm on the pill!
Dave: Nothing is impregnable if you have the right equipment!
Danny: I seem to have spent my entire life being wet and cold.
Doctor: Yes, Mel has that effect on a lot of men.
Viewer Quotes -
"On the whole, this is let down by story. And the setting. And the characters. And the acting. And the name. I actually prefer Jonathon Creek, so I'm not the best person to review this." - Harry Belafonte (2002)
"Could've been better." - Gareth Roberts & Clayton Hickman (2003)
"The setting shows its influence too much, leaving the sense that this story is a cobble of other soap operas rather than anything really new. Which might be the point. I just don't know." - Greg Dyke (2005)
"I have wasted my money." - Dave Restal (Christmas 2003)
"How come *I* never run into gorgeous ex-girlfriends who fall inexplicably back in love with me and want to beg me to marry them? I mean, you'd think that, on the law of averages, I could've had a chance by now!" - Nigel Verkoff (2003)
Sylvester McCoy Speaks!
"I was very interested in the script – which, if I remember rightly, featured the Doctor sucking in the romance inducing BO of an alien Valkerie and smothering his face in her bosoms, then proceeding to tell his trusty assistant of his foul, depraved deeds in an innuendo-filled conversation... Yes, I loved Deep Space 9. Pity we had to do the hotel story instead."
Rumors & Facts -
Producer Gay Russell was totally taken aback when writer Gareth Roberts and Clayton Hickman listed all the worse possible elements of Season 23, wrote a basic script and it was promptly hailed as Big Finish's most successful productions.
Russell himself was desperately hoping this was a one-off – surely any sensible Who fan wanted stories like prequels to Comrades of the Deep, The Sexual Toymaker, Terrified of Vervoids... just like his books, really. Thus, he challenged the authors to come up with something different but better for the Christmas release of 2002.
Thus, they performed the same list-and-plot on Season 24 and came up with a story called Deep Space 9 where the Eurovision Song Contest was being held by Terry Wogan is taken over by the Seventh Doctor and Mel. Also included where the evil forces of Anigav, Sirotilc and Xivrec re-using hours of material from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
At the last moment, Russell had a moment of total panic and announced that Hickman and Roberts had had all their wit drained out of them and, without hallucinogenic mushrooms their script was useless.
With only two hours before recording, Russell raided the internet for anything remotely useable and finally stole a piece of self-aware fan fiction, the scripts for Fawlty Towers and busked the rest of it between takes. Unfortunately, this didn't work.
Although the episodes were recorded and released on schedule, and sales were reasonable, no one was able to remember more than five minutes into the plot. Even Doctor Who Magazine was unable to review it and instead promoted the release as Deep Space 9 and reviewed that instead. The fact that the magazine was edited by Clayton Hickman probably is a coincidence.
I myself only managed to write the synopsis by downloading the script itself. Indeed, I regularly get confused if this is a Sixth or Seventh Doctor story at all. In fact, if it weren't for the theme music, I would have run out of facts by now.
Now desperate to make Go-Book-A-Room! if not a critical success then a critical acknowledgement, Russell recalled every single CD and at the cost of a small fortune used the Seventh Doctor theme music on the CD instead of the usual Fourth Doctor arrangement they used simply for the irony that they never HAD Fourth Doctor stories.
Even this failed to grab attention, and fans only noticed the correct theme tunes were being used in the following story D'you Believe This? (which was a fantastic success and featured the Sixth Doctor, Evelyn, Martin Jarvis, Dustbins and Rob Shearman and so was actually memorable).
All in all, I think I only did this entry to appeal to the completist arsehole fandom of this guide.