Monday, November 2, 2009

7th Doctor - No Man's Land (ii)

Book(s)/Other Related –
Doctor Who & The Oversexed Maniac
Doctor Who Visits M*A*S*H (Canada Only)
"The Real-Life Experiment in Mind Control Deprogramming and Inner Strength Reapplication: My Day At Complete Carnage Hospital" by Anthony Robins and Chloe Madanes

Fluffs - Sylvester McCoy seemed retired hurt in this story.

"You, you, you! It’s all about you! You and ANYONE with enough shiny medals to not be worth it! This is YOUR war, so why aren’t You, you, you! It’s all about you! You and ANYONE with enough shiny medals to not be worth it! This is YOUR war, so why aren’t YOU fighting it? Hmm? Got an answer for that? No, I didn’t think so!"
"Richard, actually, I’ve got a line..."

Nigel Verkoff’s subtle performance as Lord Flashheart: "Yes – it’s your big chance to get laid, and that shrinking feeling in your pants is because the Big N is here! Did I say 'the Big N'? I meant to say... er... Flash. Now, it’s time for me to have sex with some pretty girls! WOOF-WOOF!"

Goofs -
Kate does not dress up as a nurse. I know, criminal.

Fashion Victims -
See above.

Technobabble –
The Doctor claims he could easily survive death by firing squad: all he needs is a large laundry basket, five pages ripped at random from "The Confessions of an English Opium-Eater", a heated debate over the German word for ‘eunuch’, and a "reticular quantum calcification laser".

Links and References -
Kate speaks nostalgically of her time at the finest Swiss finishing school with her friends Jack and Shell, discussing the legendary "Pollard Sisters" who once attended that very establishment.

Untelevised Misadventures -
The Doctor and Kate have come from 1940s London, and so have suffered two world wars in as many hours; but there are no blood-drinking prostitute-murdering CyberLeaders and flying Cyberbrats here. Sadly.

Groovy DVD Extras -
A 15 minute documentary on the prop in Captain Jack’s office in the Touchwood Hub which might, just MIGHT, refer to this story. Narrated by Ian Levine with a bucket of lard.

Dialogue Disasters -

Kate: Metaphysical detectives investigating a murder than exists only as thought, an impulse... a desire. It could be nothing, of course. Some strange little coincidence, a temporal glitch, a mere meaningless mistake in the footnote of time. I still think we should leave this stuff to the professionals. Like Sapphire & Steel.

Doctor: Kate, are you all right? I can’t feel my legs!
Kate: Well, I certainly can.
Doctor: Feel your legs?
Kate: Feel YOUR legs, you idiot. You’re lying on top of me!
Doctor: Am I really?

Darling: When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.
Kate: You’re not coming out, are you Darling?

Dialogue Triumphs -

Kate: Everyone we’ve met here is a figure in history and as soon as we leave in the TARDIS, they’ll just become names in books and on letters in museums and carved on village memorials.... God, that Flasheart was a wanker, wasn’t he?

Doctor: A soldier without a moral compass to guide him is the most frightening thing in the world!
Taylor: What about circus midgets?
Doctor: Well... there’s those too, I suppose.

Kate: Ah, 1917 – the Germans are in their trenches, and all’s wrong with the world! Can we go to Disneyland now?

Doctor: Compassion isn’t a weakness, it’s a strength!
Taylor: I let down my family, my friends, even my country!
Doctor: Good! Smash the state, my friend! Anarchy is the only freedom! Why do you give a tinker’s fart about what a few stuffed shirts and walrus-moustached psychopaths think! Do you honestly believe they care about any of the brave boys they send to their certain deaths?
Taylor: Uh... no?
Doctor: OF COURSE THEY WON’T! These are the same oblivious generals who think that parading around being horridly bureaucratic and threatening to put you up against a wall and shoot you will scare you!
Taylor: It does!
Doctor: More than running through a muddy, body-littered field surrounded by death gone mad? To see your friends, your family, people like you lying cold and dead in the mud, dying slowly and painfully in the dirt so far from home? You think, compared to that, a court martial is something be frightened of?!
Taylor: There might be circus midgets at the court martial!
Doctor: Oh. Well. Good point. Well made.

Flasheart: So what is this ‘Tar Dish’ thing you’re always on about?
Kate: It’s our time machine. Like HG Wells.
Flasheart: You like Wells, eh? I prefer Burroughs myself. Naked Martian princesses – WOOF!!

Doctor: Taylor, you didn’t shoot that German because your conscience told you not to. Not shooting him took an act of great strength and pulling the trigger would have been the easy way out! One Private laying down his weapon could just be the start, followed by a second, a third, ten, twenty, five hundred, a hundred thousand. Soon people can be TALKING again rather than shooting each other! But it all starts with one Private putting down his gun and not killing his enemy!
Taylor: Oh, I still killed him. I just didn’t use a gun.
Doctor: That does it. You’re all sick bastards, you DESERVE TO DIE!

Flasheart: Hey, girls! Want to feel a REAL military maneuver! WOOF!
Kate: 'Girls' eh? Obviously too immature for the women.

UnQuotable Quote -

Flasheart: There's no one even remotely qualified to take my place on the TOILET, let alone anywhere else!

Smartarse DWM Preview!!
"A School For Glory! by Tony Etchells takes place during the Great War, seemingly a purely historical story, it teases the audience with the idea of some alien force feeding off the death at a military academy of the title, but it turns out to be a waste of time.

The presence of Tony Robinson in the cast makes comparison with 'Bastard Resurrection' inevitable, as does the fact this story rips off the other show to a painful degree. Of course, whereas the comedy series had tackled head on the insanity of upper-class officers passing down kamikaze order to the men in the trenches, A School for Glory! hardly mentions it – and, when it does, it makes light of it in a rather distasteful way.

Only worth it for Griffiths’ depiction of the Doctor impersonating an English commanding officer, monocle and all."

Yeah, fucking spoiled the entire story TEN YEARS before it was available to the public. I hate you, Dave Owen, I really do!

Viewer Quotes -

"Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. Suffering leads to Nigel Verkoff."
- Jedi Master Yoda (2003)

"When you see the young German soldiers and realise that they're just like us, you find yourself wondering - is what we're doing right, or can it be that we're both equally in the wrong? Whose side is God on? Well, I’ll tell you: not bloody YOURS, matey!" – Dave Restal (2007)

"No time paradoxes, no alien overseers hiding in the shadows... I’m surprised that Touchwood turned out to be behind the experiments and it wasn’t just some weird delusion of Baldrick’s. The reveal had me thinking "Oh, God not them again." I am SO over Touchwood!"
- RTD (2007)

"A good story ruined by the incidental music. At first I thought there was something wrong with the CD, but eventually realized it was SUPPOSED to sound like someone spitting wasps into a jar!"
- Tim Minchin (2007)

"I did twig that Touchwood was behind the experiments well before the final "reveal" - I can't remember when I first suspected, but I think the cover with the Touchwood Logo and the author’s notes screaming, WE COULDN’T GET NUMBSKULL FOR THIS ONE, SORRY!, were a help."
- Andrew Beeblebrox.

"I couldn't shake the memory of playing Eternal Darkness on the Gamecube and kept half-expecting some cthulic nightmare to burst out of the crypt, even though the liner notes said it wouldn't. I think that game has ruined WWI French church/hospitals for me."
- Ewen Campion-Clarke (today)

"In certain ways it's what Medicinal Porpoises should have been but wasn't. For example, it didn’t feature trench warfare, psychological torture, rudimentary brainwashing or Lord Flasheart. True, it was a historical featuring a never-used-on-TV Doctor companion combo, smothered in references to the new series and a central plot in need of a slap. But David Tennant was in it." - Bill Nighy (2008)

Psychotic Nostalgia -
"About half way through I decided I don't like Sylvester McCoy portrayal of the Doctor, since he’s so smug you just want to shoot him in the face. Luckily, Richard Griffiths was in this one. I still want to shoot McCoy in the face though."

Richard Griffiths Speaks!
"I’ve never had a say in who I work with before, so I don't know if I can honestly say whether I would have chosen to work with Big Finish. Or Tony Baldrick. Julia Sawalha, no problem. My problem was whether or not I could play Doctor Who AND get paid for it WITHOUT the fans hunting me down and interviewing me all the time. In the real world, you do the job and one of the skills you have to learn that is if the production team are bunch of nutters, you have to be nice to them or they’ll take you out the back and beat you black and blue. It’s a lesson I had great fun in teaching Daniel Radcliffe."

Julia Sawahla Speaks!
"This story rips off Jacob’s Ladder something chronic. And I really liked Jacob’s Ladder. So, no, I didn’t enjoy this story. Now what the hellare you doing in my shower, you strange hairy man?"

Trivia -
Due to time restraints, the coda with the Seventh Doctor, Ace and Hex was cut: originally Ace found the evidence inconclusive and Hex had no idea who Touchwood were, leading to the Doctor to offhandedly say, "Secret British xenotech R&D ops? The ones that murdered your mother in cold blood?" leading to Hex staring at the Doctor for three minutes, before blinking and say, "Oh, THEM!"

Rumors & Facts -

It’s completely appropriate that a story about the Great War – a mindless slaughter caused by insane stubbornness – should be produced by Big Finish, who operate along similar guidelines.

Despite the fact they had gone to immense effort and trouble to create the line up of the Seventh Doctor, Ace and Hex, they had no decided not to use them – instead, they would simply be a pretext for them to finally produce unmade Doctor Who stories that had originally been scheduled for production by JST and his assistant Malcolm Fraser back in the distant times of 1990.

Thus, the next Seventh Doctor release would use another unmade script and - with RTD’s Doctor Who revival continually refusing to leave Earth or Cardiff, or to do a proper historical - it was ultimately decided to choose the "Eighth" Doctor/Kate World War I epic "A School For Glory!" thanks to the incredibly complicated method of going "eenie meenie minie moe".

Unfortunately, the script for "A School For Glory!" was barely useable, with lots of pages covered in scribble by Andrew Cartmel about how great he was and how gung-ho rubber-suit science fiction was rubbish unless he was writing it. Indeed, half of the third episode was simply a rant by Cartmel that the BBC only did decent historical costume drama to help the Thatcher government retain power through fascist designer departments who hate pure science fiction.

Nevertheless, so much of the story was useable, with its criticism of warfare and World War I butchery, plus the class edge. On the downside, they knew no one was quite able to do anything with trench warfare ever since Ben Elton and Richard Curtis’ "Bastard Resurrection" starring Rowan Atkinson as the eponymous Baron Von Dark Bastard fighting for the Germans and generally being witty and suspiciously modern.

Thus, it was decided that Etchells’ storyline become more focussed on the British country house which was actually not British and not a country house but actually a French field hospital acting as the illegal academy of the title. Ironically, this made it damn near identical to the Dark Bastard episode "Plan E", in which Dark Bastard discovers that a British spy is at work at a general hospital, using daily diets of propaganda and electrified chairs.

Luckily, Elton and Curtis no longer gave a shit about Big Finish after they sued the pants off the company for illegally using their Dark Bastard creation in Paul Carnall’s "Reasons to Care", and thus the whole point was academic anyway.

Ain’t irony a bitch?

Upon discovering this, script editor Martin Day decided to say "bugger it" and deliberately filled the script with so many references to Bastard Resurrection, the three parter needed another episode to fit them all in – as well as the introduction of Captain Kevin Darling, Lord Flasheart and the untold origin story of Private S Baldrick. Tony Robinson and Tim McInnery reprised their rolls mainly to get a chance to ogle Julia Sawahla, which is true of most of their acting jobs.

However, Rik Mayall had been on retreat in Gallipoli and so could reprise the role of the desperate sex-obsessed egomaniac with a dreadful line in double entendres, forcing Nigel Verkoff to step in to play the role. Verkoff later realized he was being used as slave labor by Big Finish, kept in a country not his own and apart from all his... flatmates and threatened to inform the police.

He later abandoned this course of action in return for some photos of India Fisher turning up for the recording of Baker Street completely naked and holding a cucumber.

Russell was of the opinion that A School for Glory! differed so completely and utterly from the scripts they might as well rename the story 'No Man’s Land'. Day instead changed the name to We Are The Dead, but this was quickly abandoned as it was fucking disturbing, and what’s more, there were no cool Romero zombies. The title changed to 'Paths of Glory' and then back to A School for Glory!

Meanwhile, music composer Simon Robinson mistakenly believed he was scoring an old Atari computer game, and ensured every scene ended in a weird buzzing chime which jarred badly with the story, preventing listeners from fully immersing in the experience.

Robinson defended the finished product on the grounds if he’d just done something suitable and subtle, no one would have noticed and probably assumed it was Steve Foxx again.

I myself am glad of it – the music threw me totally out of the story’s atmosphere and thus stopped me believing we in a better future when the BBC hadn’t cancelled Doctor Who, the Port Arthur massacre hadn’t happened, and Chris Chinball was unemployed.

Ultimately, the Doctor and Kate’s metaphysical detective agency achieves fuck all – the war goes on, soldiers kill, plagues and diseases devastate the planet, and seems a bit rich to worry about a few murders thanks to a cunning plan of S. Baldrick.

God, I love this story! There’s something so nihilistic about it!

This is another excellent story in a surprisingly great year – that year being 1992 in a parallel universe. A fine piece of fanwank wish fulfillment drama.

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