Serial 7F/Z - Orange
An Alternate Programme Guide by Ewen Campion-Clarke
An Extract From The EC Unauthorized Guide O' Primary Colours
Serial 7F/Z – Orange -
Mel asks the Doctor to take her to the Needle, a computer-controlled paradise world which won the "Lazy Hedonistic Custom-Built Utopia Quarterly Magazine" reader polls for the best place to simply give in and escape responsibility, doubt and fear.
The Doctor quickly realizes that this trip to a mental health spa is yet another attempt by his companion to try and sort out his life, despite the fact that he is a Lord of Time, Gallifreyan Elite, the pinnacle of evolution... and she is a rather noisy ape-descended fitness freak.
Mel justifies that this psycho therapy on the grounds that the Doctor has repeatedly gone nuts on no less than thirteen occasions since he regenerated. The fact he only seems to have started cracking up in her presence is, perhaps for the best, unnoticed by all concerned.
However, the TARDIS is violently disrupted as it travels through the time vortex, as if the time machine is desperate not to land on the Needle. The Doctor mutters darkly about something sinister, dripping with residual psychic energy is trying to warn them away, and then winces as he gets a migraine.
Inexplicably, the TARDIS still materializes at its destination, and the Doctor starts munching Alka-Seltzer insisting that "fizzy-good makes feel better" and how he can’t shake the feeling that the word 'Orange' rhymes with something, but he can’t remember what.
The Doctor and Mel step from the time machine, wary for whatever dark forces may lie in wait of them... and find themselves in a yuppie apartment with lots of groovy retro furniture, corporate artwork and the sounds of Kraftwerk playing in the background.
Oh, and a couple of dead bodies.
Mel immediately suggests they head for the proper authorities and explain that they just HAPPENED to be passing and just HAPPENED to stumble across the bodies. The Doctor thinks that if they try that, they’ll be instantly arrested and thrown into jail – pointing out that Mel is deliberately assuming this society operates the same way as her naïve Blairite fantasies. Mel reminds the Doctor she’s read up on the Needle and the Time Lord sighs, since he was really looking forward to another prison break.
However, no police arrive, no alarms go off and, bored, the Doctor smashes the apartment window with his umbrella so they can at least keep an eye out for any approaching law enforcers – only to discover the Needle is floating high above the Earth.
Mel realizes the congealing blood has stuck her to the floor and when she manages to tear her boots free, she backflips through the air, flies out the window and plummets to her doom...
...only to land in the passenger seat of a floating pink open Cadillac piloted by Nigel Verkoff, who is snorting vanilla sugar in the belief it is in fact pure cocaine.
After realizing that Mel is not actually a drug-induced hallucination, Nigel concludes that Mel is one of the Needle Inhabitants who has tried to commit suicide because she’s got red hair and thus deserves to die.
Mel realizes that, despite being in the 45th century galaxies away from Earth, she has somehow managed to bump into the horny egomaniac who tried to seduce her in 2003 Berkshire. This is unusual. She finds it strange.
Nigel meanwhile announces that he doesn’t intend to miss a second chance and chloroforms her unconscious and flies off. He notes that he could kill her if he wanted to, no one could stop him... but that really does take the fun out of it.
The Doctor meanwhile is captured by Chief Blue who announces that all violent urges have been removed from the people of the Needle, and then punches the Time Lord unconscious. He is taken to a laboratory where the main computer WOTAN VII decides to implant a nano-chip into the Doctor’s brain allowing the computer to control his mind and remove all violent impulses.
The Doctor thinks this thought policing is obscene, slavery, irresponsible and the most derivative science fiction cliché he can think of – plus it would turn him into a vulgar hedonistic snob!
WOTAN VII ignores the Doctor’s babble and implants the chip and starts to edit the Time Lord’s memories of violence, murder, chaos and death. Unfortunately, the computer just doesn’t have the harddrive capacity, and the dazed Doctor staggers away, unable to walk in a straight line and grumbling, "The future’s bright! The future’s orange!" over and over and over again.
Chief Blue is concerned that he may still find it difficult to integrate into the community, but ultimately doesn’t really care. Even the relation that the lovely Leterel couple in Room 406 have gone insane and are strangling each other to death doesn’t ruffle him.
However, when a strange spectral voice croaks over the public announcement system demands to know if Chief Blue is happy with his overseas call tariff and general mobile phone performance, he finally sits up and takes notice.
Meanwhile, the Doctor stumbles around a corner and bumps into Celia Fortunate, who is suffering from mediocre nightmares in which the word 'orange' is repeated over and over again.
The Doctor explains he had a terrible vision of throttling a woman, but puts this down to 'the good old days with Peri' and, in the belief Mel is dead idly asks Celia if she would like to join his travels through time and space, a pawn on his chessboard of reality.
Nigel has meanwhile taken Mel back to his "Shag Pad" in the city on the Sphere’s surface. He explains that this city was set up for "R & R, booze, debauchery, debasement, debauchery IN debasement" for all the people who weren’t squares and didn’t want to be like the losers on the Needle, and generally spend their time having nihilistic sex.
Then Mel recovers consciousness and smashes a bottle over his head. Nigel groggily notes that violence is real art, like in that film, "The House With The Laughing Windows", whereupon Mel smashes another bottle over his head.
Curiously, this delights him and he urges the innocent and dangerous Mel to "treat him rough" before he passes out.
Satisfied that Nigel is no longer a physical or intellectual threat, Mel discovers numerous bags of vanilla sugar that Nigel mistook for a biologically-adaptive crystalline nervous reparation system and started snorting it with rolled up ten dollar bills.
With nothing else to do, Mel tries it, giggles and falls over.
Meanwhile, the Doctor and Celia discover that most of the Needle’s inhabitants have killed each other in mad bloodlust fever – conveniently cutting down the cast requirements for this story. The Doctor decides that something is sweeping through this so-called perfect crimeless society and is randomly killing people without any cause. "Something... orange," the Doctor whispers darkly.
What’s more, he suspects that WOTAN VII knows the murders are happening and is being forced to erase all the evidence in order to conform to its programming. Celia challenges him to prove his theory, and he calmly points out that every single WOTAN VII computer is a psychotic megalomaniac determined to overthrow mankind.
Meanwhile, Chief Blue also comes to the conclusion that something is sweeping through this so-called perfect crimeless society and is randomly killing people without any cause. He doesn’t twig to the insane computer plot, though, as WOTAN VII insists that such an idea is completely ridiculous and goes about editing the minds of everyone so they forget all about the murders, a gross misuse of its abilities for the so-called "greater good".
"Or, you know," WOTAN VII continues, "we could just kill them all."
Disturbingly, Chief Blue considers this suggestion carefully without wondering why the all-powerful super computer is suddenly breaking all of Asimov’s laws like they were going out of fashion.
Elswhere, Celia decides to check up on her completely insane neighbour Vi Yulquen, who thinks she is in fact a vulture and spends most of her time sitting on a branch in a vulture mask, glaring balefully at passers-by in a kind of deranged Snoopy impersonation.
The Doctor announces he abhors violence and he’s seen things that would make Yulquen curl into a stuttering ball of denial for the rest of her life – but it seems someone has beaten him to it.
Meanwhile, the wasted and stoned Nigel gets to his feet, chanting 'Orange!' over and over again as he tries to focus enough to throttle Mel to death!!
However, Nigel is pathetically weak and exhausts himself before he even manages to get his hands around her throat. He passes out and wets himself without Mel even noticing.
When she finally does discover this, she immediately smashes a bottle over his head and kicks him repeatedly in the ribs, before stealing a kitchen knife and stumbling out into the rain.
Meanwhile, the Doctor has started to drool and chant 'Orange!' over and over and over again before screaming 'ORANGE! ORANGE FROM THE DAWN OF TIME!!' and revealing he has made telepathic contact with this strange sentient psychosis that is possessing host bodies. The Doctor suspects the evil force is a Pisces.
Meanwhile, Chief Blue and WOTAN VII are still no closer to finding out where the killer goes after he’s committed his crimes, mainly because the computer is editing his memories to remove all the clues and evidence and Chief Blue is now strange obsessed with onions for a reason he can no longer fully remember.
Meanwhile, Mel is trying to talk to the other inhabitants of the city about how the line between threat and action has been drawn to thinly to allow people to experience things vicariously.
However, all the locals scream that she is a Red Devil holding a knife and run away from the hypocritical snob as fast as they can.
The Doctor realizes that WOTAN VII has been deleting violent memories and then placing them in a recycle bin which has not been emptied. This means not only is there plenty of incriminating evidence that the establishment has been covering up the murders, but just a chance all this deleted violence has mutated into an orange, psychic manifestation.
"What are the odds of that?" Celia asks, disbelievingly.
The Doctor sighs and shakes his head.
Chief Blue decides to reboot WOTAN VII who announces it has worked out the perfect way to stop the Orange Killer from possessing people – kill everyone in the entire sphere!
Everyone points out this a tad... extreme, so WOTAN VII erases all their memories and they calm down, only to wonder why the super computer is laughing evilly to itself.
Stealing Nigel’s dirigible, Mel decides to go on the prowl to score some more vanilla sugar which she is now completely addicted to. Unfortunately, the only dealer is Yulquen in the Needle and Mel still has enough dignity not to go crawling to a vulture impersonator and so she gives it a miss.
Meanwhile, the Doctor discovers what seems to be an art deco sofa is in fact a Tudor time machine, which probably explains all that confusing TARDIS stuff in episode one.
Celia suddenly reveals she is the time traveler, having been dumped here by Captain Jack Sparrow of the 51st century Time Agency after she accidentally jettisoned his supply of Megelanic Malibu. Unfortunately, the violent hangover she is suffering has turned into a computer based psychosis which is now on the rampage.
The Doctor folds his arms and taps his foot until Celia caves in and concedes that he was right about the whole thing.
Then WOTAN VII screams "ORGANICS MUST BE DELETED!" and electrocutes Celia to death, and now the Orange Psychosis is downloaded into the insane megalomaniac computer and starts to slaughter the remainder of the human inhabitants of the Needle.
Meanwhile, Mel returns to Nigel and beats him up. Again.
The Doctor decides to destroy WOTAN VII by forcing it to consume vanilla sugar for no other reason than otherwise the whole drug plotline would be completely superfluous and redundant. But he needs a supply of sugar and a computer programmer!
After a long and predictable race-against-time, the Doctor finds Mel and reverse the polarity of the neutron flow at the last minute. Which just so happens to resemble unplugging the bastard.
Yulquen is horrified as this means she will no longer be able pretend she is a vulture, and actually have to get a job and stuff like that.
The Doctor realizes WOTAN VII is going to self destruct and he and Mel leg it back to the TARDIS and dematerialize moments before the entire Needle explodes in a typical display of BBC pyromania.
The Doctor quickly wipes his hands of the whole mess and tells Mel point blank that if she has any problems with this mass genocide and moral grey areas, she can just blummin well sod off home.
As the TARDIS hurtles off towards the planet Loggytron, a world of peace and beauty ruled over by robotic trees, Nigel Verkoff finally regains consciousness and realizes Mel’s gone.
"How many times will I finally get a cute redhead in my bedroom only for them to beat the shit out of me and run off? How many times, damnit? HOW MANY? I’ll find you Mel. One day. Sooner or later, I’ll find you and I’ll shag you yet. For real," he swears, shaking his fist at the sky. "This is the LAST straw, Doctor! A humiliation TOO FAR! And not the good sort with leather and chains... Next time I see you, you’re one DEAD TIME LORD!!!"
Book(s)/Other Related –
Doctor Who And The Space Sociopaths
The Wank Machine Legacy: Mad Computers A Go Go!
Melanie Bush Discovers Recreational Narcotics
This play has a prominent sexual undercurrent, with hints of a lesbian subtext between Yulquen, Celia Fortunaté and Nuane. Why the hell isn’t this more obvious? Psycho space lesbians are fanTASTic!
Fashion Victims -
Mel’s polka dot gym slip and black socks. It’s so wrong. And yet...
Links and References -
Mel cheerfully reminds the Doctor of his humiliating insanity he suffered after his latest regeneration, when he was locked in a lunatic asylum and repeatedly tormented with electric shocks.
Orange leads directly into "Dragonbeath", Mel’s last story, no matter what pig-headed stubborn moronic producers might say instead.
Untelevised Misadventures -
The Sixth Doctor at one point destroyed the timeline of the planet Caliban in a last ditch attempt to get Mel off his back.
Dialogue Disasters -
WOTAN VII: Violence will return to kill and kill again and it will be orange!
Doctor: Why does it always come down to the last minute?
Pizza Supreme: It's called DRAMA!!!
Doctor: I've seen things that would make you curl into a stuttering ball of denial for the rest of your life. And yet somehow none of it quite matches up to Mel for some reason...
Nigel: Are you TRYING to arouse me?! Oh, how I want to get into her inner circle and put mybig filthy dirigible into her habitat!
Doctor: ...actually, you're starting to make her look tame in comparison.
Mel: Since I’ve met you I’ve been paralyzed, drugged and almost killed. What could you possibly say that would make me want to stay in your company a moment longer?
Nigel: You haven’t seen me naked, yet.
Mel: Would I notice?
Nigel: ... shut your face, you slag mole bitch.
Dialogue Triumphs -
Doctor: Best to assume we’re guilty until proven innocent.
Mel: But they just smashed furniture over their heads and strangled each other to death.
Doctor: Well, I do have that rather unfortunate effect on people.
Mel: I only want to find the Doctor.
Nigel: You COULD hurt me. You should FORCE me to tell you where he is! Come on, Melanie. A bit of pure unadulterated violence, some kinky GBH! Hurt me! I want you to hurt me! You can do anything, baby, just treat me rough!
Doctor: I’ve never been so close to death before. Usually I operate, finger poised on the button, two steps removed from the state of play, but not this time. This time I’m up close. I get to see. I get to feel. And, frankly, Mel...
Doctor: You’re really cramping my style.
Nigel: To be inside my pants is the ultimate luxury!
Doctor: In your quest for a perfect crimeless state, you’ve actually given them precisely what you tried to stop. Irony’s a bitch, isn’t it?
Mel: The future is bright. The future is... orange. Quite like my hair.
Viewer Quotes -
"Graham Williams sucks, doesn’t he? Anyway, Orange is an impressive, disorientating concept album but the public would not be able to cope with something so cerebral. After all, the audience are all just useless teenage scum who have contaminated Doctor Who and ruined the new series. It is a waste of time for Big Finish to keep producing material that the grass-munching retarded tweeny-boppers they have as customers will never appreciate! I HATE casual fans! I can never enjoy anything that might possibly confuse them and make them give up on it, because deep down, I’m a sheep and WANT to be popular!" - Ron Mallet (2007)
"Stewart Sheargold is up there with Rob Shearman, Jac Rayner and Dave Lister as Big Finish writers that should not waste their talents on anyone except Colin Baker. Those that do must, MUST die!!" - Jo Ford Prefect (2006)
"Er, as I was saying, Orange is an excellent concept for a Doctor Who story, plenty of action and tension and additionally a nice serving of philosophy as well. Not as good as my brilliant story 'The Normans' though, where the Sixth Doctor and Peri meet my ancestors and get their autographs because they are so utterly better than anyone else in the entire world. But we shouldn’t hold that against it." - Ron Mallet (2007 – later that day)
"Knock-knock? Who’s there? Banana. Banana who? Knock-knock? Who’s there? Banana. Banana who? Knock-knock? Who’s there? Banana. Banana who? Knock-knock? Who’s there? Orange. Orange who? Orange you glad I didn’t say 'Banana'? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" - Kevin Rudd (2007)
Psychotic Nostalgia -
"I peeled an orange once. It screamed and shrieked and begged for mercy. It was then I decided GM fruit was a lot more fun than ordinary fruit. I like eggplants that have heartbeats... so I can hear them stop! Oh yeah!"
Sylvester McCoy Speaks!
"Working with Bonnie Langford is terrific. We didn’t have much of a chance to gel on telly. Of course, now, pain killers are FAR more powerful, and the conversations with her don’t made my brain bleed so much nowadays. Did anyone else realize she smoked like a chimney, swore like a trooper and dressed like a biker’s moll? I had no idea."
Nigel Verkoff Speaks!
"Hah fucking hah."
Rumors & Facts -
Orange really is one of the most intelligent releases from Big Finish in quite some time. In fact, it could be the most intelligent release ever. I mean, I think it’s intelligent. And I’d know, wouldn’t I?
Stewart Sheargold had been working as a general dogs body at Big Finish since the turn of the century. Well, 2000. I say ‘turn of the century’ because it’s cool and ironic and immediately makes you think of people in cravats smoking pipes and talking about demmed colonials.
Sheargold had a brilliant idea for a story featuring the Fifth Doctor and Turlough trapped aboard an oil rig with no way out, a claustrophobic thriller with an alien spaceship at the bottom of the sea. OK, it was a complete rip off of the Tom Baker story "Lighthouse Cutaway" but as I have learnt the hard way: talent borrows, while genius outright plagiarizes. Usually from me.
Producer Gay Russell had Sheargold flogged for such impudence, and offered him to do a Bernice Summerfield story on a claustrophobic oil rig with an alien spaceship at the bottom of the sea. Or maybe two installments of Gallifrey 90210.
Devastated and depressed, Sheargold spent his time listening to a perpetual loop of Autechre, a cold and mechanical Scottish duo whose musical style was also cold and mechanical.
Sheargold eventually decided to write a story about security, control, and denial of humanity, of feeling, of responsibility, of morality, and the fact he was still being paid minimum wage.
As former Doctor Who Magazine Editor and part time cannibal Alan Barnes became Big Finish’s full time script editor, Sheargold desperately handed over the story outline, entitled simply "How Dare You Bastards Treat My Genius So Poorly!"
Russell, while high on laudanum, agreed to do the story on the grounds that it would be for the Seventh Doctor and Mel – a combination that, on television, had lead fans to start self-groups and specifically sent Sheargold himself into a coma for three years.
Sheargold would not back down however, and so "You Have GOT To Be Fucking Kidding Me!" was lined up for the 2006 August release, it’s title changing from "MEL For Fuck’s Sake? Anyone But Her!" to "You Fear My Powers, Weaklings!" back to "MEL?!?" then to "I’m Sure You HAVE Done Wonders With The Character On Audio But No Fucking Way Am I Doing A Story With Mel" before becoming "Seriously, A Joke’s A Joke" to "I’m Not Changing My Mind" to "I Don’t Care IF The Publicity Has Already Been Done!" to "That’s Not A Real Gun, Russell, You’re Fooling No One!" to "Even If It WAS Real, You Don’t Have The Courage To Pull That Trigger!" and finally to "SHIT! I’M BLEEDING!"
While Sheargold himself was taken to hospital to repair the damage to his stomach and intestines, Barnes set to work on the story with the help and hindrance of Nigel Verkoff. Verkoff himself had a plotline in the works entitled "Verkoff Pulls Redheads", a sequel to the Sixth Doctor story "Caption: 1872" where Verkoff spectacularly failed to get to first base with Bonnie Langford.
Barnes decided that the story, now entitled "Psycho Synchronicity", would feature both Sheargold’s ideas of sterility and function, as well as Nigel Verkoff being repeatedly beaten up by Mel. This, it was agreed, was a suggestion that improved the very structure of the story and made it work better with input. Russell himself told Sheargold that "it was the best script he'd read in ages".
No one is sure exactly what this script Rusell was referring to actually was, but since Russell seemed to think that Sheargold was the Easter Bunny and was not wearing any trousers at the time, maybe that particular quote is just plain unreliable.
However, Bonnie Langford was far from pleased at having to go into study with the randy Australian teenager, and only agreed once her good friend Sandi Toksvig joined the cast. Toksvig, famous for her roles in Chicago, Number 73 and Short And Curly Jump Bail, had absolutely no idea what Doctor Who was and believed she would play the lead.
She was disappointed to find that Sylvester McCoy was already booked and her dream of being the world’s first short, fat, female Doctor Who trying her companions to train tracks and having brawls with The Clangers and Bill and Ben was ruined forever.
Big freaking deal.
Ultimately, "Orange" raises many pertinent questions. Wouldn't we all like to live in a society where there wasn't any violence? Would we like to live in a society where the means to achieving that was to implant a microchip in everyone's head that prevents you from committing violence and edits your memory should you attempt it or see anyone else doing so?
A clue: no.
Well, that’s THAT sorted.
"Orange You Glad I Didn’t Say Banana?" by Nigel Verkoff & the Redheads
It’s an Orange Psychosis
As I'll tell you while I'm able
While I'll smash your skull in
With this tasteful glass table!
It’s a depraved deprivation
Going ape with bottles broken,
Give in to your temptation
Sod them all and start smokin!
So we grew up lean, mean,
Kings of the Orange Scene,
Without WOTAN's guiding hand
To keep us clean!
Kill for fun!
We’ll take lives as they come!
And all you Chief Blue critics
Can shove it up your bum!
And we're mad, MAD! Bad, BAD!
Dangerous to know!
We never gave a monkey’s nuts
About the immortal soul!
If we stay up late,
We’ll never be forlorn,
And when the morning comes around
We’ll kill a little more!
Kill! Kill! Kill!
Kill until you’re killed,
Kill until you’ve lost count
Of how much blood you’ve spilled!
Until there’s no one left
Until the screams have made you deaf
Until you’ve killed everybody
And carved runes into their chests!
And we're good, GOOD!
Bad, BAD! Ugly as sin!
We gathered all the evidence
And threw it in the bin!
SO TAKE YOUR MEDICINE!
And I pray that before I fall
There'll be someone else around
So I can kill them all!
Yes I pray, I pray,
I pray that before I fall
There’ll be someone else around
So I can kill them all!