Monday, November 2, 2009

7th Doctor - Night Thoughts (ii)

Book(s)/Other Related –
Doctor Who Versus The Threatening Bears
Dr Who Says Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things Storybook
Season 27 Up Necronomicron: A Compendium of Who That Will Never Be

Fluffs - Sylvester McCoy seemed out of mind and out of sight in this story.

"Welcome to the House of Funk! Er, fun. Er, yes, child. Hmm! I see you, baby, ripping out eyes... ripping out eyes... ripping out eyes... Woo! I know you all know what I’m talking about, I see you! I see you! Make it all down! I see you, baby, ripping out eyes! Ripping out eyes! Ripping out eyes! Hmm, I should say so!"

Goofs -
Why does Kate have a nightmare about this story before it happens? Is she psychic? Is this an ability the upper class all possess? Are the Royal Family able to perceive the future? If so, why didn’t Princess Diana use that gift sensibly?

The Alt-Eighth Doctor is inexplicably hungover in his first scenes, and at one point quietly vomits behind the TARDIS console. This is never commented upon again.

So, the military would want an iPod that can send messages through time to bring back dead soldiers to life? How? Unless they keep such receiver iPods everywhere and the Generals never send them into battle in the first place! Stick to the Nazi zombie super soldier experiments, if you ask me... and if the iPod works the way it did with Kate, why didn’t the academics receive the message in the first place without having to change history at all? I fucking HATE time paradoxes!!

Kate watches the video diary of the suicidal Maude... and is still surprised when the Major explains what happened to her? Was Kate paying attention at all? Was she on crack? Or was she just trying to polite and not explain she had already been spoiled?

Fashion Triumphs -
Kate spends most of the story wearing nothing but a tattered dressing gown, which she leaves open for the audience’s enjoyment.

Technobabble -
"That Phonograph will release an uncontrolled implosion of flux-capacitoritical overlap-quantum... THINGS!"

Links and References -
The Doctor makes many exasperated mentions of his first adventure with Kate Tollinger, which involved drug smuggling, armed sieges, a heist gone wrong, and lots of other stuff ripped from "Edge of Darkness".

Untelevised Misadventures -
Well... the original Season Twenty-Seven, at a guess.

Groovy DVD Extras -
The Griffiths Doctor title sequence, in all its silver/snot green glory, coupled with the most pretentious logo ever.

Dialogue Disasters -

Happy the Rabbit: What’s up, Doc?

Doctor: We must preserve the power of the stair-lift. Otherwise I’d be marooned down here all night. Or up there all day...
Kate: For Christ’s sake, Doctor, just use your legs!

Hartley: Good evening Miss Tollinger. My extremities need warming, so may I join you?
Kate: No.
Hartley: Oh. Was kind of relying on you saying ‘yes’ at that point.
Kate: I warn you Mr. Hartley, things could get very nasty here before they get better.
Hartley: I like that sound of that!

On the 7-foot stuffed bear –
Kate: This would look wonderful in the TARDIS control room.
Doctor: Nonsense, Kate. We’d never get it through the door.
Kate: You manage often enough.
Doctor: Are you insinuating that I am portly?!
Kate: Doctor, let’s just say if I wanted to get away from you, I’d need to build up escape velocity.
Doctor: That is the most hurtful thing anyone’s ever said about me. Well, no more ice cream for YOU, my dear!

Dialogue Triumphs -

O’Neill: I am mildly – just mildly, mind you – beginning to regret ever seeing that notice in Time Out... "Join serious-minded professors over Christmas for uninterrupted study, eye-mutilating zombies permitting". What was I thinking?

Happy: Mother dead! Father gone! We think your sister’s drowned!
Doctor: Extraordinary bad luck there! You seem to be living in a Country and Western song, child!

O’Neill: We ended up sticking the body in a chest freezer, I doubt Captain Birdseye would approve."
Doctor: Nonsense, my dear boy. We all know where fish fingers REALLY come from...

Major: That girl was an urchin, like her mother; no one would miss her. Do you expect me to apologize for such an insignificant sacrifice?
Kate: Yes!
Major: Well. I won’t!

Doctor: Night is like a virus, it enters the minds and warps our sense of reason. By day, a distant whistled tune, an isolated churchyard, a bizarre collection of stuffed animals, festering attics would be unthreatening. By night, they are to be avoided. By night, an atheist half-believes in God.
Kate: Who wrote that?
Doctor: Ed Young – like the rest of the script, obviously!

O’Neill: A woman in a wheel chair is no more likely to be struck by a tree than one who isn't. Unless of course, the wheels are stuck. Or the metal of the wheelchair act as a kind of lightning conductor. Or it rusts and falls apart. Actually, I think I may have got this arse about...

Major: Doctor, if I unlock the front door, why don’t you see if you can find the girls before traps snap shit?
Doctor: Why don’t I just stay here and kick your arse? You’ve got five seconds. Four. Three...
Major: OK. Getting out your way.
Doctor: Good human.

Doctor: The tears of a child: the greatest water-power known to man... And no, Kate, I am NOT going to get you another ice cream! SO STOP POUTING!

UnQuotable Quote -

Doctor: The human race seems to have perfected everything... except gangster rap remix albums.

New Periodic Section:
In 1997, Dave Owen and Ed Young got pissed and discovered the secrets of the unmade final two seasons of Doctor Who. For a laugh, and to generally irritate Sophie Aldred who was the guest editor that month, Owen wrote a retrospective essay on the scripts if they HAD been filmed. This lead to many hundreds of fans suffering existential angst as they realized all the novelizations, videos and magazines on their shelves had somehow never appeared. No one involved suspected that Big Finish would go beyond dramatizing Bernice Summerfield novels, and go on to dramatize those very same scripts the article had unwittingly spoilerized! And so, we present:

Smartarse DWM Preview!!
"For the second story for the Eighth Doctor and Kate was Night Thoughts, by new writer Ed Young. The three-part story was a bleak horror mystery that evoked Stanley Kubrick’s film of The Shining and drew criticism from parents for the use of dream imagery and hallucinations (particularly one sequence where the Doctor and Kate see each other as corpses lying in the snow)... mainly because there wasn’t any in the finished product.

Night Thoughts strongly sign-posted Doctor Who’s new approach – stories were about fear, the confrontation of what is rotten within one’s self, a eye-gourging zombies in 7-foot bear suits, and not just sci-fi hi-jinks around the universe.

The story often slipped from being portentous into downright pretentious, with lots of characters spout doom-filled nonsense aimed at nothing an no-one in particular; this is a ridiculous spooky story about a bear containing a zombie that kills people.

I think that is all that needs to be said."

Viewer Quotes -

"It pleases me so much that the Doctor, Ace and Hex get to be involved in a story that isn’t impenetrable, that doesn’t split them up throughout and actually starts to exploit the relationships between them. Albeit as they sit silently, watching TV." – Katy January (2005)

"This scared the shit out of me." - Stephen King (2007)

"Night Thoughts is a thoroughly nasty, unpleasant and unDoctor Whoish waste of plastic. The acting was appalling too. I clearly have VERY different tastes to the sheep-like morons producing this. My heart weeps for those who genuinely think this is what Doctor Who should have been. Utter rubbish!" - Michael Grade (2006)

"I felt strongly that the cutting out of the Major’s head was gratuitous and unnecessary. It would have been far better to have just had the creature approaching and whistling as before, and leave it to the listener's imagination, which could a hundred times more gory. Blood and guts, that’s my bag, baby!" – Arco Chamber (2008)

"Truly, truly excellent and the sort of excellent we haven’t seen in a long while. By which, I mean, since the last Sixth Doctor story. Colin Baker rocks, did I mention that? The best story since The Crimes of Fright-Night, and PJ Hammond nowhere in sight! I am fully prepared to admit how wrong I was, except I wasn’t. One momentary aberration doesn’t make a successful audio range, and the fact the Seventh Doctor, Ace and Hex are kept firmly out of the plot is the only redeeming feature. Sylvester McCoy cannot act." - Jo Ford Prefect (2007)

Psychotic Nostalgia -
"Hoodie-wearing ghosts, bear traps, spooky recordings, a terrifying fluffy toy, disturbing teenage girls... this story was just like my school vacations."

Richard Griffiths Speaks!
"My childhood was absolutely hateful, vile and positively Dickensian – and, now I’m playing Doctor Who, I can make lots more childhoods just as nasty! Hah! That’s why I played Uncle Vernon in Harry Potter, you know. Just for the chance to be cruel to children. And this script itself is very cruel to children – ripping out their eyes, chopping off their heads, burying them alive, sewing them into bear suits... Night Thought pisses on the rights of the under-twenties and more strength to its arm for doing so!"

Julia Sawalha Speaks!
"This role is a real challenge for me – hopefully this time I won’t start dating the leading man and suffering a broken heart. Dexter Fletcher, Keith Allen, Joanna Lumbley... Hopefully, Rich will break the pattern."

Trivia -
History has been written, however unpleasant.

Rumors & Facts -

In 1989, Doctor Who was up to its arm-pits in the smelly stuff – viewing figures were so low they no longer detectable; Producer JST needed to be electronically tagged to keep him at the production office; the BBC were considering an insurance fire to cover costs for the World at Ten and simply using up precious rent space with a police box prop was a ridiculous waste of resources; and the sinister Creator of the Quirks wanted the show axed at all costs.

However, due to inefficient management, Doctor Who remained in production for the next eight months as JST tried to use some number tricks to convince the BBC they would be better off making Season Twenty-Seven than not.

To this end, scripts had been written, redrafted, casts assembled and locations scouted – all in the belief that the BBC would have to be completely and utterly insane to waste so much work by not allowing them to film anything.

But, the BBC being the BBC, it was decided that not a single frame – from the opening shot on the spaceship !C-Mel under the command of Captain Ace Gale-McShane, to the final shot of the Eighth Doctor waking up in a padded cell – should actually be taken.

In desperation, the now completely insane Andrew Cartmel commissioned half a dozen new scripts for Season Twenty-Eight, deciding to try his luck with a whole new season, a new Doctor and a new companion.

To his incredible amazement, by the time he’d finished getting the scripts ready, it was 1992 and John Birt was eager to have the show broadcast in its traditional Saturday Night slot, and was even willing to extend the season to 34 episodes, allowing ten stories!!

Cartmel was delighted, and realized by this time that the rest of the production team had fled. The staff cleaner, Ian Fraser, explained that the management were just messing with him: there was no way the BBC would in-house produce Doctor Who and thanks to a psychotic Who fan called Phillip Seagull, no independent companies were ever going to waste their time with it.

Cartmel was so torn up he tried to end it all by become the script editor for Casualty, while the Season Twenty-Eight scripts were dumped in a lead-lined box and sent to be dumped in the North Sea. But one of the prospective writers for the season, noted 17th century poet Ed Young, was certain he left some chewing gum on his script and thus stole the chest.

Around seventeen years later, Ed Young was seeking patronage (as he had done since 1702) and was now convinced he was being haunted by a strange whistling ghost that wanted to eat his eyeballs. His poetry was no longer well received for its lack of gangster bitch rap, his comedy sketches were more two centuries out of date, and his stage plays relied on candles rather than electricity.

To make ends meet, Young sold the chest of scripts to one Nigel Verkoff for the cost of a mug of beer and a beef pie. Verkoff, however, simply decked the poet unconscious and ran away without paying.

Returning to Big Finish studios, Verkoff soon cracked open the chest and discovered to his surprise it contained full-length scripts for an alternative version of the Eighth Doctor and his Emma-Peel-esque cat burglar assistant, Kate Tollinger:

1. "The Last of the Dustbins (Honest!)" by Ben Aaaronovitch
2. "The ClockWork Cuckoos" by Matthew Sanders
3. "Night Thoughts" by Ed Young
4. "Avatar" by David A McIntee
5. "Animal" by Andrew Cartmel
6. "Illegal Alien" by Mike Tucker
7. "The Crossing" by Johnson Duncan
8. "A School For Glory!" by Tony Etchells
9. "Hostage" by Neil Penswick
10. "Network" by Mark Plate

Ed Young’s script, named after his most famous poem and heavily plagiarizing "The Shining", "Don’t Look Now" and "Das Gerhunder", was the usual bleak tale about a set of emotionally-crippled university staff stuck in an outhouse over winter, and one of them was a civilized murderer, was the first one Verkoff read and calmly vowed never to sleep with the lights off as long as he lived.

Deeply impressed with anything that could shut Verkoff up even for a moment or two that did not require brute force, Producer Gay Russell decided immediately to use the script for a brand new Seventh Doctor audio adventure – plus it was kind of ironic that a script about a zombie was itself being resurrected.

Unfortunately, Russell realizes that, once again, he was breaking the second item of the long, long, long, long, LONG list "Big Finish Will NEVER Ever" manifesto – recording unmade TV scripts. However, he when he justified this to the press (an embarrassing incident since no one bar Russell had ever actually read the list, making him seem a bigger hypocritical bitch than ever before) he notes a little known addendum: "unless written by 18th century poets".

It quickly became apparent that the script would have to be completely rewritten to suit the Seventh Doctor, Ace and Hex, as well as adapting a terribly VISUAL story full of silent villains, deathbed flashbacks and mystifying cutaways for an incredibly AUDIO medium.

Verkoff noted that it would be simpler and cheaper simply to get Richard Griffiths and Julia Sawalha to play the main characters and trust to luck – a suggestion which would have been dutifully ignored like all of Verkoff’s suggestions if it hadn’t been for the increasingly strange behavior of Sylvester McCoy.

McCoy was protesting that he was a visual actor that required total attention from the audience and the audio medium was robbing him of his skills, leaving him a breathless maniac who was forced to scream and shout a lot. He was also inspired by an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and wanted desperately to do a silent Doctor Who story, which would flag up his brilliant mime skills.

Russell and the others tried to point out the great audio scripts they’d given McCoy to prove they loved him more than any other Doctors... but realized this was damaging their case.

Thus, they told McCoy they would do a silent story, and use the Griffiths Doctor in another studio, before merging together the two to give a fanwanky explanation for an Eighth Doctor that was neither played by Paul McGann nor accompanied by India Fisher.

Richard Griffiths found himself blackmailed into the role by some damaging photos Nigel Verkoff claimed to have (eventually revealing they were publicity photos of Jabba the Hutt), while Stephen Moffat blackmailed Julia Sawalha to play Kate despite her insistence that Doctor Who was an actress graveyard. Moffat himself was being blackmailed by Russell, and knew if he wanted the fan audios to leave him alone, he had to carry out such sacrifices.

The finished product was an undoubted success. Better late than never.

Me? I loved it! The way the people get bumped off for no real reason until the last episode when we find out WHAT they did wrong, is very good scripting. Coz, like, it’s just like the Phonograph with effect before cause. On the other hand it could just be really bad scripting and a lucky coincidence...

And I was certain Sue was the killer. I put money on it. I was sure the Bursar could really walk. I put money on that too! I never suspected the Major was the villain! God, I lost three month’s pay thanks to this story! Damn my gambling addiction! Damn it! And damn YOU Big Finish for fueling it!

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