Monday, November 2, 2009

7th Doctor - The Dark Husband (ii)

Book(s)/Other Related –
The New Doctor Who Adventures: Down’t Pit (Wales Only)
Dr Who & The Night of the Lepus, Deadliest of the Species (Canada Only)
Spike Thompson: Yautja Hunter, Hish Predator!

Fluffs – Richard Griffiths seemed pitiful for most of this story.
"Yes, yes, Kate, whatever. Could you pass me the weasel flirt?"

"It depends whether we judge erotica on your scale or mine. What are peccadilloes when you walk in perversity?"

"Go on Neddy! Just like riding a caramel! Mm? Quite so! Yes. This could be the straw that broke the dormitory’s back... YOU PICKED THE WRONG TIME LORD TO HUNT, THRILL-SEEKER!!"

Mark Seven for some unknown reason refers to everyone in the third person as "Oh Mighty Peach-Coloured Bubblebut".

Goofs -
We didn’t get The Duck Husband instead. Sounded like it’d be awesome.

Fashion Victims -
Nigel Verkoff, in his book "A Critical History of Jacking Off To Doctor Who Stories", has some interesting comments about Kate Tollinger’s bra. If you noticed, it has no back or straps. Apparently, the only thing keeping the top on was the incredible gravitational pull of her incredibly large breasts. "Similarly, I often feel a pulling sensation whenever I see Kate, especially when she’s in that bra," Verkoff notes.

Technobabble -
Spike Thompson measures destructive capability of Big Emma the F-U-bomb in units of "Baseball Bats".

Links and References -
"In front of the Althosian system lies only eternal darkness - death and destruction, the stopping of time, the beginning of the end of all things, when the forces of Light battle the forces of Darkness.. ARMAGEDDON!!"
"I doubt it. This doesn’t look remotely like Provence!"

Untelevised Misadventures -
The holiest person that the Doctor ever met was a French Jesuit paleontologist whom he met in Africa in 1956. Which was why he mugged him.

Groovy DVD Extras -
An abandoned scene where the Doctor and noted poet William Blake get thrown out of an East End whorehouse as they insist their good pal 'Jolly Jack Harkness' will pay their tab.

Dialogue Disasters -

Swarfe: What has our technology created? What are the forces at the heart of human darkness? Technology hasn’t liberated mankind. But nature isn’t an intricately wrought machine. Machines are our tools. They’re not our saviors!
Kryten: Racist! Nothing but a racist!

Kate: How long do we have left?
Doctor: What is time?
Kate: Not helping!

Swarfe’s tag –

Doctor: Why is it, my dear Kate, that whenever I ask you where you want to go, the reply is never ever something along the lines of "I’d like to explore the unknown, to go to the furthest reaches of the galaxy, to the dark places or the uncharted wilderness!"?
Kate: Because I talk vaguely like a normal human being?
Doctor: Perhaps. Perhaps. But, nevertheless, you can travel to the cradles of civilization and see what really happened, the beauty of the universe, the fiery suns, the spectral asteroid belts and the lone worlds bubbling with chemicals that will give birth to life. But do you want to visit Mars before mankind walked the Earth?
Kate: ...yes.
Doctor: Tough, because we’re off to the Seven Planets!

Doctor: Have you ever read any of the old literature postulating what it would be like out in space and in the future? Would it be a time of wonder, or would it be the old conflicts continued? Would mankind enter a new phase of evolution? I suppose you’ve entered a new phase. You now rule the galaxy, but when you walk the streets you still pass the prostitutes, the drug takers, the street scum and the unpleasant smell of poverty... Yes, indeed, this is MY kind of neighborhood!

Spike: I am retribution, created to carry out the task of destroying those that would threaten the security of the Seven Planets. I’m a perfectly engineered kill machine, which will carry out its orders until they’ve been implemented or I’ve been destroyed. If you get in my way then I’ll destroy you. Until then, you have the right to be protected.
Kate: Please. Like no one’s tried THAT line to me before.

Doctor: My friend Isaac Newton managed to explain the concept of gravity by talking about an apple. Maybe I can describe parallel universes by using cheeses? Imagine our universe is a huge cheese, and where we were is another cheese. These cheeses are situated together, and it’s possible to move from one cheese to another. These cheeses have their own identity, and nothing about one cheese changes the nature of the other cheeses. Do you see?
Spike: Next thing you’ll tell me is that the MOON is made of cheese!
Doctor: [lost in thought] Mmmm... cheese...

Doctor: Where do we start unraveling a mystery?
Kate: The beginning?
Doctor: No. The answer is in the question. It’s where the mystery unravels. It only becomes a mystery because we notice that there are too few facts to draw a conclusion. It’s a mathematical shape.
Kate: You’re rubbish at maths.
Doctor: So I am! I guess we’ll just have to bluff like crazy and hope for the best, eh?

Dialogue Triumphs -

Doctor: Dustbins, Cybermen, vampires... they aren’t monsters. They’re alien races with their own agendas, plots and dreams. But there are monsters out there, very real monsters. Monsters which shadow us; that are part of our imagination.
Kryten: And the invisible psychopathic killing machine after our blood?
Doctor: On the cusp.

Kate: Who are you?
Vorton: You should not be here, child. What are you doing here?
Kate: What am *I* doing here? First of all the Earth cooled, and then along came these little amoeba, then there were the dinosaurs...
Vorton: Skip a bit! Skip a bit!

Kryten: We are in the deepest bowels of hell!
Doctor: Um. No, we’re not. It’s actually Waterloo Station in the rush hour. But it IS similar, I admit.

Doctor: You are all fools. What you’re doing is celebrating the forces of Evil. You’re inviting into your lives a negative force, welcoming that which tempts us all, but transforming that emptiness, that jealousy, that hatred into a living, breeding monstrosity. I know there are terrible things out there, but that isn’t an excuse for giving up on that which sustains us in this life. Although there are things that thrive on chaos and misery, we don’t have to. We can make a choice between struggling on or surrendering forever to the forces of death!
(A long silence.)
Swarfe: Fuck you, Time Lord, you fucking nay-sayer.

UnQuotable Quote -
Doctor: "Flocihilipilifaction"? I should have guessed! Definitely a triple word score there, my dear Kate!

Smartarse DWM Preview!!
"The grim nature of Neil Penswick’s Hostage showed that Doctor Who was now being pitched at a more adult audience than ever before. Unfortunately, these adults all were educationally subnormal and painfully gullible, as the average Target readership were able to succinctly critique the story as 'bollocks' and change the topic.

The story, dubbed Doctor Who Meets Aliens Meets Predator by gormless shits who have seen none of the franchises in question, had the feel of an unmade Brothers Grimm fairy tale, only with more bombs going off in castles and shape-changing monsters lumbering through the jungle. And stuff about ancient temporal difference of opinions between the Time Lords and the Seprioth. That’s a tad different.

The efforts to deal with expensive story with a small budget lead to Hostage getting BAFTA nominations in the categories of makeup, costuming, incidental music, best supporting actor, computerized special effects while cautioning a suspect in a foreign language... It didn’t WIN any of them, but it was nominated nonetheless.

Hostage broke all ratings records for Doctor Who and indeed British television, with six million viewers switching off after fifteen minutes when the evil dwarf mordants Butler and Swarf transformed into velociraptors and went on the hunt. By the time the final episode, only 4.3 people were watching, and they seemed to be hospitalized coma patients. Truly, Hostage WAS the story that killed off Doctor Who once and for all."

Viewer Quotes –

- William Shatner (1992)

"Oh, poor little Lucifer falls flat on his arse. He might be tough on the outside, but he’s crying on the inside. Yeah, sure, Lucifer, whatever. Yeah, sure you could be a contender. Remind me HOW you’re going to manage this from the bottom of Hell? You’re not exactly going to be the top of the social calendar, are you? Even the Dutch Royal Family get out more! It’s just you and all the arseholes of the world. Boo hoo. Get used it to, horn boy, cause it ain’t changing!"
- "ISAIAH 14: 12–21", from 'Andrew Beeblebrox Translates The Bible Into Modern Australian!' (1993)

"Spike Thompson versus Kate Tollinger? Ach! Neural implosion!"
- Stephen Moffat (2005)

"Years ago there was this RABID person who INSISTED that The Pits was a WORK OF GENIUS and that Peter Devil-Evans the editor RUINED IT. Good potential for a Benny Summerfield character, huh?"
- Dave Stone (1998)

"The new Big Finish, Hostage, is not a story to be missed. It is a story to be avoided at all costs."
- Trey Stone & Matt Parker (2008)

"Despite having a reputation as the worst New Adventure, Hostage has much to offer. Nothing anyone in their right mind would WANT, but it offers it anyway in a rather too long and unfocussed way, but overall, it’s worth a look to see a first time author’s decidedly eccentric and the intrusive references to popular culture and superfluous-to-the-plot attempts to explain the Jack the Ripper legend in the middle section, along with a completely bewildering punch up between Roj and William Blake and you know I have utterly convinced myself this book is utter rubbish and Big Finish were out of their minds adapting it."
- Peter Devil-Evans (2007)

"As a Doctor Who story, Hostage refreshingly different. You couldn’t write anything as... well, innocent and naïve as this any more. It’s just a shame that it’s not very good. It’s actually bad. It’s really, really bad. It’s really, really, REALLY bad."
- Richard Fidler (1996)

Psychotic Nostalgia -
"You know, sometimes I look over the world and wonder: whose hand lies in its creation? Is the cosmos a primeval battle between the forces of good and evil? Is truth scattered throughout the universe by the explosion which wrenched the cosmos apart? And is that guy looking at me funny? Is he? He is! Oh, that sucker is DEAD!"

Richard Griffiths Speaks!
"They used to label maps with "Here Be Dragons". An old idea, that beyond a certain point you just find hideous monsters. Rather like the madmen in charge of Big Finish. I thought the bald billiard ball with the toothbrush was bad until I met the deranged lunatic who wrote this mess. Normally you don’t meet people like that outside of Gormenghast, even THEN they’re acting. Neil Penswick is a name not to be spoken in polite company, methinks. I mean, how many people turn up to rehearsals with a sacrificial dagger and tell the actors, 'Don’t interfere in my work. It goes on.'? Quite a few, now I come to think of it, but it’s not happened in my Doctor Who work before. Just another reason to despise it, I suppose."

Julia Sawalha Speaks!
"What in the name of GOD was that? Having been warned about how The Pits is supposedly the worst Doctor Who story ever written, I must admit that I approached doing an audio version with a slight degree of trepidation. Surely there’s no story on Earth that could possibly be as hideous as The Pits’ shocking reputation would have one believe, right? WHAT WAS I THINKING? THIS IS... ARSE!! ARSE THAT NO ONE SHOULD EVER HAVE TO WITNESS!"

Trivia -
This is the first Big Finish story to have full frontal nudity on its cover. Since the last one. With India Fisher. Four weeks previously.

Rumors & Facts –
Nicholas Briggs’ dominion over all of Big Finish had, after a year, fallen slightly short of his promised "dawning of a new golden age of prosperity to all" under his benevolent leadership. In fact, it was much closer to "a creative dark age with more than a hint of Stalinist purges". There were certainly no sign of the "unparalleled quality", "richer scripts full of dialogue triumphs", "finer acting performances", "spin-offs in greater abundance" or even "audio drama beyond the dreams of RTD" that had been declared at the start of 2007.

Instead subscribers prepared themselves for the beginning of a wealth of petty-minded little vendettas masking as casting decisions, once more an unhealthy obsession with remake Oddly Visual stories, less interesting companions, the return of truly rubbish monsters, and generally Nicholas Briggs’ egomania destroying what little worth Big Finish had ever actually possessed.

Briggs had certainly left the company in a condition one would not wish to find it. He had abandoned all of the Doctor Who spin off series, even ones he was solely responsible for; he’d ended one third of the Fifth Doctor range, ditching both Peri and Eminem; Colin Baker and Maggie Stables had both independently taken out restraining orders on Briggs after his attempts to murder them; and Briggs had cancelled the Eighth Doctor range entirely and taken perverse pleasure in personally firing Paul McGann, India Fisher and Conrad Westmaas. Luckily, Eddie Hitler and Nigel Verkoff stepped into the breach to provide spin off series for McGann and Fisher, while Westmaas was rightly left on the scrap heap.

But this paled into comparison at the chaos Briggs had unwittingly unleashed on the Seventh Doctor era. Philip Olivier and Sophie Aldred had vanished without trace while Sylvester McCoy had quit, refusing to spend another infinitesimally precious second of his life in the presence of the bald, toothbrush-wielding psychopath now calling himself "executive producer". Humiliated, Briggs had struggled to fill out the Seventh Doctor stories scheduled via a complex miasma of stock recordings, interviews, sexual blackmail and mindless OV remakes.

Nevertheless as 2008 dawned it became painfully, excruciatingly obvious that there was no way on this side of madness or the other that they could assemble the Seventh Doctor, Ace and Hex to appear in The Duck Husband, Nigel Verkoff’s latest attempt to prove his own staggering lack of writing talent. The story – which featured the Doctor marrying Ace in a shotgun wedding to end the century long war on two civilizations composed entirely of clones of Danny Webb – may never actually be heard by human ears. Anyone who says otherwise, or that they’ve got the fucking CD at home and it quite manifestly exists, is a witch who should be hounded down for blasphemy.

Briggs drew together his inner circle of people who were prepared to be in the same room and revealed the terrible news. They would be forced to, once more, forgo the particular TARDIS crew and use one of unfilmed Doctor Who scripts that had been ready for use in 1991 due a curious mixture of apathy and outright hatred from the BBC, and due to Briggs prior commitments, he was physically incapable of playing the Alternate Eighth Doctor in those scripts. Once more, it would be Richard Griffiths as the role.

The production team burst into spontaneous applause and Briggs’ hatred merely grew more intense.

He joyfully discovered that the remaining scripts had, over the past seventeen years, been turned into New Adventure Novels and/or BBV fan videos and there was technically not an iota of original material to hand. Briggs was delighted, since he could punish BF audiences for daring to enjoy the Griffiths incarnation more than anything Briggs himself did. He then took it to the next level and out of the handful of scripts, chose Hostage by ex-social-worker Neil Penswick!

Hostage (which for a surprisingly long time had the utterly meaningless working title of "O, Lucifer, Son of The Morning, Thy Human Shadow Has A Thousand Children’s Faces!") was actually very well known to Doctor Who fandom at large... in the form of the New Adventure novel Penswick had turned the script into: The Pits!

The Pits boasts the rare reputation of the least-enjoyed NA in the entire world. Only five people have ever, in their whole lives, reviewed it and all of them thought it was a completely random, overcomplicated piece of bloody silly pseudo-biblical claptrap that could make the concept of shape-shifting psychopaths BANAL!

Briggs’ grinned the grin of a psychopath and officially commissioned an audio adaptation of a violently experimental story that he himself had dubbed "the biggest pile of steaming dinosaur droppings ever experienced" simply after reading the blurb on the back cover.

But he was soon to regret this when Penswick himself turned up at the Big Finish studios, demanding editorial input with his usual blend of curt expletives grunted with moronic, utter mindless hatred of Doctor Who in general and everyone and anything connected to it in particular. "Oi! You! Let me redraft the script you miserable bastard!" was the general gist of the conversation.

As Penswick was visibly drunk, covered in pepperoni, and wearing his mother’s wedding dress and a fake beard, this request probably SHOULDN’T have been granted. But Briggs was in a bitch of a mood and appeased by Penswick’s robotic chant of "You’re really beautiful, NB. I mean REALLY beautiful."

This easygoing persona was soon to change. By the time recording was actually carried out, the entire cast demanded bodyguards in the studio to protect them from the increasingly-unstable Penswick. These bodyguards were forced to wear fake beards, dresses and carry bottles of vodka, so that Penswick would instinctively assume they were reflections and not try to beat the shit out of these 'goblin bastards' who were 'stealing his countenance'.

Indeed, script editing sessions were often carried out at three in the morning so Penwick would not be present and demand that the subplot where the Doctor and William Blake hunt down Jack the Ripper in nineteenth century London be restored to the narrative, even though this would require a minimum of twelve extra episodes (composed mainly of scenes involving William Blake trying to get served in pubs with his seventy-years-out-of-date currency and incredible personal hygiene problems). Improving the characterization of the regulars was carried out only after Penswick was nowhere to be seen, and indeed no one had actually told the author that the Big Finish adaptation would NOT feature the Seventh Doctor and Bernice Summerfield. When he ultimately find out, he tried to club Julia Sawalha unconscious with a catfish.

It became clear that the story would have to be completed as soon as possible before Penswick drew blood and lost what little self-control that he still possessed. Abandoning one of Penswick’s less vitriolic suggestions (that the theme music be replaced by foreign beef burger commercials), Briggs ended the recording immediately and set to work trying to edit the already recorded material into an order that almost made some kind of narrative sense.

Despair soon followed as the production team realized that even WITHOUT recording half the story, it was still horrendously clichéd yarn that would make a more experienced audience want to snarl and kick puppies.

Instead of the complete serious, deadpan mood piece full of evocations of Hell, Platonic philosophy and doom and gloom rammed to the hilt that Penswick had promised, what they had was an utterly forgettable runaround about the Time Lords trying to hide an ancient secret.

Penswick was firmly of the opinion that, as he used this idea back in 1989, before it was done to death by The New Adventures, it didn’t count as a cliché since a cliché can’t be a cliché the first time it was used. Script Editor Alan Barnes point out that even if it WASN’T a cliché, it was still basically lazy writing using the first and easiest idea to hand.

Penswick took such constructive criticism on the chin, before cutting off one of Barnes’ fingers with some pinking shears and screaming that Hostage was a distinctly unsettling, blood-chilling "Doctor Who Meets The Book Of Revelations" and anyone who said otherwise was an utterly alien monster from Beyond Lovecraft

"I think Penswick might have gone just a bit too far," Barnes was reported to have said before passing out from severe blood loss.

Finally, when the cast realized that high-and-mighty Penswick had named the evil shape-changing dwarves after Butler’s Wharf, they decided that they had had enough and two months later, local police found Penswick’s remains washed up on the shore of some ghastly little fishing village with JUSTYCE HAS BEEN SERVED carved into what was left of Penswick’s curiously elongated skull. This immediately put the police on to the track of Nicholas Briggs, however, since the remains glowed bright green and anyone who touched them with bare skin developed pubic lice, it was decided that it was probably best not to annoy someone who can turn you into a glowing radioactive mummy.

Hostage unsurprisingly got a critical pasting from fans, non-fans, and sometimes people who happened to be passing the door when it was being discussed who shouted "Hostage is a pile of crap!" at the top of their voices, while RTD publicly declared it the worst Big Finish production known to humankind – a statement he was forced to retract several months later when The Boy That Fandom Forgot was released onto the innocent and unsuspecting fan base.

Does Hostage deserve the condemnation of the novel Down’t Pit’s reputation? Is Neil Penswick’s sole contribution to Doctor an interesting, moody tale completely without flaws of any kind?

The answer is, of course: get real! It’s downright awful and it’s little wonder this story is arguably more reviled than the entire John Satan-Turner era itself! The badly-paced scenes jerkily stop and start with no flow whatsoever, its meandering prosaic shortcomings ruining a story that might have been intriguing if you never heard, saw or knew about a certain film called "Predator" with the main characters aimless, moody and prone to bitch as they mention there’s the battle of Armageddon happening somewhere.

Ultimately, Hostage fails in many horrible ways, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that what it’s trying to do is actually quite retarded and moronic. The book it was based on was 276 pages full of often incomprehensible text, shallow, lifeless characters, and a plot that just does not gel.

So, all in all, this was a superb adaptation.

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