Serial 7F/A – The Fans of Vulcan
The Fans of Vulcan
An Alternate Programme Guide by Ewen Campion-Clarke
An Extract in the EC Unauthorized Programme Guide O' Trekkers
Serial 7F/A – The Fans of Vulcan -
Peckham, 1980 AD – and the TARDIS has materialized in the Berk's Head Hotel, but for some reason it refuses to tell the Doctor just where or when they are. When the Doctor and Mel emerge they encounter an excited-looking nerd in a Klingon Outfit who believes them to be guest speakers for the Convention.
The Doctor chooses not to complicate matters by correcting him, and simply asks if the nerd ever actually had a life. The nerd replies that they are attending Vulcanalia, the biggest pre-TNG Star Trek convention in the history of history itself. The suddenly somber Doctor wanders off in search of the Dealer's Hall without bothering to tell Mel where he's going. All he says is that Mel's clothing may attract unwanted attention, and that it could be dangerous to meddle with history; it would be best if they were to leave straight away.
Mel insists that a Star Trek convention is just the place where they can relax and enjoy themselves – no self-respecting evil menace would be caught dead here! Besides, she thinks the Doctor should take up a sensible hobby rather than his ludicrous ambition to teach goats how to ride motorbikes.
The Doctor agrees and decides to manipulate the price guides of all future Star Trek memorabilia by selling some Voyager action figures he was given in 2004 for a profit. However, the sexist Vulcan running the Dealer's Hall is physically revolted at the thought of a woman running the Enterprise and kicks the Doctor in the groin. Mel, dreadfully embarrassed, explains that they are the convention guests – having played two very short-lived ensigns in the fondly-remembered episode "Mudd's Bitches".
The Doctor begs Mel not to tell anyone else, but already the Vulcan Dealer has got them autographing every item he sells – the damage has been done! After three hours of signing novelizations and cast photos, the Doctor snaps and offers to show the Vulcan a "Ferengi Mind Lock" – also known as a Liverpool kiss.
The time travelers flee to the bar where the Doctor realizes he is short of cash, and thus approaches a group of arguing Trekkers, debating the exact number of episodes in the original series. He then begins to read from his battered novelization of "Generations", which so enraptures the fans Mel is quite able to pinch their pockets and pay for some drinks as well as buying a Star Fleet uniform as a disguise.
Unfortunately, learning of the death of James T. Kirk enrages the fans into a psycho frenzy – and one of the bigger Scotty impersonators attacks the Doctor and tries to throttle the life out of him.
The Doctor responds by killing the fan with a working phaser he got off eBay in the year 2884. However, having spoiled the ending for Generations, he now realizes that he must destroy this convention and everything in it. However, it is at this point, he remembers this convention ended in a mysterious blaze leaving nothing but a heap of burnt corpses and a singed police box.
Not put off in the slightest by this development, the Doctor outlines his proposal of mass-slaughter to Mel, who is appalled. But then, Mel is often appalled and the Doctor isn't shocked by her reaction. Indeed, he has already ignored her and is already sabotaging all the fire extinguishers and leaving burning cigarettes everywhere.
The first day of the convention ends and the Doctor and Mel are taken to dinner by a rabid ST fan called Sinus-Man. Things go wrong, however, when the real guests turn up – Lucille Ball and Ricki Ricardo!
For, as everyone knows, Lucille Ball's TV company was the only one to give Gene Roddenbury a chance is hell of making his TV series and thus she is a true holy figure to the fans. Ricki's just there for the food.
The Doctor responds to this awkward situation by hypnotizing a passing waiter into believing that Lucille and Ricki are giraffes, who are armed and dangerous. The waiter screams in Cantonese and attacks the pair with a machete, allowing the Doctor to escape. It is only when he is back inside the TARDIS when he realizes he's overlooked something terribly obvious, and time is working against him...
Mel is back at the restaurant, extremely annoyed that the Doctor's forgotten to include her in his escape. Sinus-Man, by this point, is totally besotted with her – though it's probably down to the uniform, as I don't believe that even Trekkies are that perverted. Using some banana daiquiris, Sinus-Man gets Mel abso-fucking-lutely sloshed and she's already regaling him with her half-remembered adventures with the Borg and Lieutenant Data before being violently sick in the ice bucket.
The next morning, the Klingon has the wasted Mel exhibited to the assembled Trekkers and put on trial for blasphemy, perjury and having an offensive haircut. The Vulcan dealer demands to know where the Doctor is so they can publicly burn the novelization of "Generations". Fandom aren't ready for the idea of The Next Generation, and if the revelations made here spread, all of TV history will be unbalanced.
Just then, the Doctor bursts into the main room and explains that some total idiot has set fire to a bin full of petrol and the whole hotel is now ablaze – they're doomed! All of them! DOOM-ED!
The Doctor sidles up to Mel and frees her, cheekily explaining he has started the fire. Mel is, oddly enough, appalled – mainly because the fire he has started has cut them off from the TARDIS and trapped them to a horrible, burning death.
The Doctor takes a few minutes to understand why this is a bad thing, and then offers his services to the terrified Trekkies as a fire-fighter by royal appointment.
Mel snaps that the Doctor has stupidly ruined all the fire extinguishers and she doubts the Doctor's back up plan – "synchronized spitting" – will actually succeed. As the flames consume the stairs, the Doctor runs to the Dealer's Hall with a second back-up plan.
"We'll fight fire WITH fire!" he shouts.
Thus, his ever-lasting matches ignite the memorabilia and create a miniature inferno. The Trekkies are delighted, but are soon screaming in utter agony as they are burnt to death between two fires.
The Doctor defends this by pointing out that whoever thought fighting fire with fire was a good expression needed their heads examined. As the hotel begins to fall apart around them, it looks bleak.
Mel begins screaming for cliffhanger purposes, and the Doctor strikes upon the answer!
Using her amazing lungs and vocal chords, Mel is able to blow out the flames long enough for them to flee into the TARDIS and into safety, but not before the Doctor is able to steal back his copy of "Generations" to preserve the Web of Merchandise. Sorry, Time. The Web of TIME. Easy to get those two mixed up.
Book(s)/Other Related -
Doctor Who & The Flammable Fans
Unsolved Mysteries At Sci-Fi Conventions Volume 5
Galaxy Quest 2: Burn, Baby, BURN!
The fan dressed as a Blue-Green-Algae Monster from the Mogadon Cluster, despite being surrounded by anal Trekkies all day, cannot muster a decent pronunciation of 'Menagerie'.
Links and References -
Mel refuses point-blank that any adventure she has could be as pathetic and dull as their time on the space yacht Mango Crusher ("Fist-Fight"). Sadly, she is almost instantly proved wrong.
Untelevised Misadventures -
The Seventh Doctor navigates Peckham with ease, suggesting he has at least some familiarity with its layout of the time. Either that or he's just got a really good A to Z.
Groovy DVD Extras -
The original episode one, where the Seventh Doctor and Ace blow up the sci-fi convention and everything in it within moments of their arrival. This was changed so the story wasn't left as a single episode.
Dialogue Disasters -
Doctor: We can't cheat time! But we CAN cheat eBay!
Klingon: [to Mel] And who might you be girl, that you presume to speak so to a priest of the Glockorrian Dominion? And, more importantly, how do you feel about 40 year-old virgins who live with their mother?
Mel: Question mark pullovers are the height of discretion, Doctor!
The Doctor, upon wandering into the ladies' toilets -
"I just seem to be in the wrong place at the right time. As usual."
Dialogue Triumphs -
Doctor: This is your history and no good can come of our meddling in it. Oh, no. We must not interfere in any way, shape or form. Definitely not. We are... one with the universe. Our destinies combined. The slightest movement could cause unparalleled destruction and chaos throughout all of time... But if we were, for example, to get some nookie from future stars of Baywatch, well, then, who's to know?
Mel: It doesn't seem fair.
Doctor: Fandom never is.
Doctor: History has already taken account of our actions, and it's shown us their outcome... Oh, screw this for a game of soldiers! Mel, get the phone directory and look up "Anderson, Pamela." With an A. Make that DD...
Doctor: Time's slipping away from me, Mel - only just arriving. But we've already stayed a lifetime. Too many lifetimes, withering like roses...
Mel: Oh, lighten up, Doctor! There's another two days of the convention left, we can come back tomorrow!
Viewer Quotes -
"Great balls of stonkingly good Doctor Who! I mean, apart from the fact that the Doctor and Mel never really do anything of any note whatsoever bar hang around a hotel and reject the advances of various Trekkies and moral angsting about Star Trek 10! Part from that, it's fabaroo! This is absolutely RIVETING stuff!" - George Smythe-Pottle-Smythe (2000)
"The ending is clever but made me think, 'Steve Lyons, you cheeky little sod.' When my sister heard it however she thought 'OI LYONS, MAJOR COP-OUT.' When my parents heard it, they thought 'Dear God, our son has wasted his life.'" - Nigel Verkoff (2001)
"Where's Tom Baker? Is he ever going to agree to do a Big Finish? How come we get stuck with mock-ups of Season 24? HAS THE WORLD GONE MAD?" - Arco Chamber (2000)
"The characters are rich in personality. It's a pity that they're so EFFING DISGUSTING, though." - Roland the Rat (January 2003)
"I didn't mind Bonnie Langford on TV. Forgive me, I'm mad." - Shrinky the Lactose-Intolerant Blancmange (2002)
Sylvester McCoy Speaks!
"It was... nice to see Bonnie again. I guess. Until she started screaming. She does that a lot. Very loud, too. My ears are bleeding."
Rumors & Facts -
A real race against time and predestination, The Fans of Vulcan offers vindication to the dedicated defenders of Bonnie Langford's Mel. Well, I assume that Mel has some dedicated defenders – or, at least, some defenders at all. I've never met them, but I just kind of assumed they existed and went out of my way avoiding wherever they may congregate.
Writer Steve Lyons had, one cold lonely night, written down a list of historical and dramatic situations that had never before been used in Doctor Who. At the top of said list was "Doctor Who goes to a science fiction convention" – which Big Finish producer Gay Russell pointed out wasn't entirely accurate, as both Power-Vac of the Dustbins and The Fanboys of Tara had centred around such scenarios before.
Lyons was dispirited at this, especially as his seconds suggestion for a story – "Doctor Who gets locked up for a crime he didn't commit" – invariably made the person who heard it sigh and walk out of the room, shaking their heads.
Lyons' proposed story, "Doctor Who and the Fans of Star Trek" was ultimately accepted by Gay Russell because it wasn't from Nicholas Briggs, a standard with which nine out of ten Big Finish stories meet. The story was originally for the Seventh Doctor and Ace and had the latter responsible for the mysterious destruction of the 1981 Vulcanalia convention in Peckham. Unfortunately, the finished story clocked in at seventeen minutes long – and ten of those minutes was simple burning and screaming sound effects.
Russell, having recently tricked Bonnie Langford into recording a few stories, decided that the pro-active Ace be changed to the irritating, self-righteous and thoroughly sickening Mel. Mel would be unlikely to use nitro-9 so casually, and thus the total destruction of the Berk's Head Hotel was unlikely to occur in part one.
Lyons rewrote what was now dubbed "The Fans of Scotty", and this time the story ran for just over eighteen minutes – now including even more explosions and screams.
In desperation, Lyons added a whole new subplot where the Doctor manages to offend the main dealer and convince everyone that he is a Star Trek celebrity. Russell coldly pointed out that as the original was simply a hotel exploding, this wasn't so much a subplot as plot in itself. With this long, involving and tedious thread added, "The Fans of McCoy" now ran to sixty-seven hours and thirteen minutes.
To Lyons dismay, a lengthy sequence where the Doctor haggles with a fan over the price of an Uhura postcard was excised, bringing the plot down to thirty-five minutes. In order to pad out the rest, Russell suggested that an element of danger be added in the form of the Doctor and Mel being cut off from the TARDIS.
Stunned at this new plot twist – the like of which Lyons had not seen before or since – Lyons did just that and there was now sufficient material for the story to be just the right length for two CDs.
So impressed was he with his own cleverness, Lyons began working on his very next audio treatment "Doctor Who Gets Banged Up".