Thursday, December 3, 2009

8th Doctor - The Next Life (iii)

Book(s)/Other Related -
Doctor Who: The Catfight of Time
Erotic Female Mudwrestling Volume 28 – Cult Science Fiction
That Jerry Springer Episode. You know the one I'm talking about. Don't even think about denying it.

Fluffs – Paul McGann seemed full of it for most of this story.

"Is there a point to this story? None of this matters! Dear God! Has no one in this production company ever heard of FUCKING SCRIPT EDITOR?!?" screams Conrad Westmaas towards the end of part six.

Goofs -
{Supplied by Sir Nigel Verkoff Esquire. Repeatedly}

"OK... Where the fuck does Steve Johnson get off with that cover. Don't get me wrong, it's a nice cover. Very nice. Nice colours, general layout. But where, for the love of all that is holy, is the nude mud-wrestling images of Charley? WHERE?!?

And don't think DWM is getting unscathed. The last comic-strip preview of Big Finish ever and we bet Mike 'can't draw for toffee' Colin doing a scribble of a Macrame crab!??! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?! Damn it, the one thing more erotic than "At Home With the Braithwaites" AND YOU LEAVE IT OUT? HOW CAN YOU SLEEP AT NIGHTS?!?"

Fashion Victims -
Nick Briggs' morning suit and toothbrush. Oh. The horror.

Technobabble -
The Doctor notes that the impending Apocalypse definitely rates a 0.8 on the "George Romero Scale".

Links and References -
The events of Sick Morning, Rhyme of the Dustbins, Nowhere-Land, Zig-Zag-Gay-Ass, Scherzo, The Credo of the Moron, The Lust and Cardiff are mentioned.

Not for any reason, they're just mentioned.

In a cheap piece of foreshadowing, the first scene of Terri's Firmer is played before the end credits.

Untelevised Misadventures -
Apparently, there is a whole season of Cardiff-based adventures between the previous story and this one. I, for one, get down on my knees and thank the Gods someone decided to leave them untelevised.

While dining with REG, the Doctor refers to a similar meal he took on a Pacific island in the 1930s, presumably a reference to the comic strip "C Tooth and Law", where the Doctor was ravished by a vampire gorilla after knocking out a Pamela Anderson clone with a giant light bulb. Presumably, he finds dining with REG similarly surreal.

Groovy DVD Extras -
An introduction to the story by Ewan McGregor ala "Train Spotting":
"Choose a wife.
Choose a foe. Choose a battle. Choose a universe.
Choose a fucking awful extreme lifestyle TV show.
Choose two hearts, a regeneration cycle, a respiratory bypass system and six toes on each foot for added balance. Choose a damn cool leather jacket, a waistcoat and a matching cravat. Choose getting a 1930s schoolgirl pregnant with alien DNA.
Choose an afterlife that is identical to Cardiff.
Choose your recurring characters. Choose a less-than-talented Eutermisan in a range of fucking colours. Choose a natural blonde nymphomaniac who could out-shag Cassanova, out-screw Caligula and out-do Paris Hilton and all before breakfast. Choose a former gameshow host who now has an IQ of a piece of particularly stupid lemon peel. Choose Nicholas Briggs gone out of control.
Choose saving the cosmos and everything that in it, and wondering why the fuck you bothered.
Choose cruising through challenges on Double the Fist with your usual lack of caution, wit or flair.
Choose rotting away at the end of it all, gasping your last in a divergent universe, nothing more than a scapegoat for the selfish, screwed-up Who fans who devised this story arc in the first place.
Choose a wife. Choose a foe. Choose a small Welsh village. Choose a story line full of terrible performances that must be acted against.
Choose your future."

Dialogue Disasters -

REG: Today we hunt the most dangerous game of all – the plot!

Doctor: C'Rizz, why would you of all people betray me?!

Briggs: Hah! You have no idea what horror will await you if you return to your own universe, Doctor. For you see, you owe back taxes to the Gallifreyan Internal Tax Service.
Doctor: They're everywhere, aren't they? I'll never escape them!
Briggs: Fitting, somehow, that you'd owe money to GITS.

Charley: Been around with the Doctor too long now. Not much left to surprise me when it comes to alternative sexual lifestyles. Hell, I think I've started most of them in this universe myself, anywhere.

Doctor: The Apocalypse is approaching, an event I look forward to about as much as I would washing C'Rizz's underwear with my tongue.
REG: Oh, I'm sure it will be an extraordinary experience.
Doctor: It might well BE an extraordinary experience for someone with the intellect of a used prophylactic that's been left out in the hot sun for a week.
C'Rizz: I'd quite like to see the Apocalypse!
Doctor: [to REG] See what I mean?

Briggs: You see! The Doctor has already found a new companion and is searching for a way back into the home universe!
C'Rizz: It looks like he's just trying to get into his new companion's underpants.
Briggs: Er, that too. See, he never wanted you or Charley with him, and he's left you here to rot!
Charley: I notice he's wearing his frock coat and cravat again...
Briggs: Um, well, of course. He wouldn't leave this universe without them, would he!
Charley: ...Which he used as toilet paper the first night we got here.
Briggs: Ah, there's a reason for that –
Charley: Is that a FOX MOVIES ident in the corner?
C'Rizz: Hey, this is just the telemovie on fast-forward!
Briggs: Damn it, C'Rizz, you're supposed to be on my side!

Dialogue Triumphs -

Doctor: I want to get back more desperately than either of you can possibly imagine. But leaving both of you here to die means more even than that! DAMN IT, I JUST LOVE THE THOUGHT OF BOTH OF YOU DYING IN TERRIBLE AGONY!

C'Rizz: I'm not the person you think I am...
Doctor: You mean, you're even vaguely interesting?

Charley: Ah, it's you - Nicholas Briggs! I thought that the Doctor sorted you out long ago!
Briggs: So did he - only here I stand before you. The Doctor's no match for ME!
Kro'ka: Yeah, he usually mucks things up well enough on his own.
Briggs: Kro'ka, does the phrase "compound fracture" mean anything at all to you?

Briggs: I intend to cure the Doctor, then we all return to our reality.
C'Rizz: Even me?
Briggs: No, C'Rizz, you stay here.
C'Rizz: Is there the chance of a cosmic cataclysm if I cross over into your dimension, Nick?
Kro'ka: No, it's just we don't like you very much.

UnQuotable Quote -

Ben Jackson to Nicholas Briggs: "Whoa! Are YOU the stripper?"

Viewer Quotes -

"Nicholas Briggs is pretty pathetic in The Best Wife, a lingering background presence to guffaw and insult the Doctor and his friends but in the end of the day provides no threat at all. We never learn what he was really up to this universe or why, just that he wants to go home. And most insulting of all his spectacular and devious scheme is defeated when a secondary character (not even the Doctor or Charley) pushes him through a door. As I believe I have said before all that build up... for this? Did they bring back Briggs just to belittle him? My friend Doreen would be furious about this because he loathes it when Big Finish take the piss out of Briggs and in this case I would have to agree." – www.NickBriggsisGod!

"Why don't sultry babes flirt with me and offer ME a shag for repopulating the universe? This is just unfair."
- Alexei Sayle (1998)

"What is this bizarre obsession with Big Finish that longer is better? Come to that, what is this bizarre obsession with women in general that longer is better? It's not size that counts! At least, I hope not..."
- Richard Richard (2003)

"This story is 220 minutes long. That's three hours and forty minutes. I could have a run, have dinner, go on a drinking binge, come home and watch the whole of Talents of Wong-Jing in that time. Can I multi-task or what?" – Andrew Beeblebrox (2005)

"Why don't you just read my review of Cardiff? Says pretty much the same thing?" – Dave Restal (2005)

"Barnes and Russell clearly want to continue their love affair with Charley Pollard (and I'm not speaking metaphorically). They go over old ground once again with the re-introduction of her niece Polly and a protracted discussion over how her sex life been affected by her travels with the Doctor. More fundamentally, The Best Wife wipes away all hope that anything is ever going to be made again of the remarkable relationship when it reveals the Doctor actually gave Charley a hysterectomy when she was blissed out of her mind on cheap Andromedan cocaine. So, maeiusiophilists might as well give up. When the hell is Billie Piper when you need her?" – Nigel Verkoff (2005)

"It isn't necessary and it feels suspiciously like fanwank. It smells like it too." – Monica Lewinksi Inpersonator Zelda Hammond (2006)

"I yet again find myself fervently wishing that the Doctor had left Charley behind. Specifically with me."
– Aggressive Gay Fan I Will Not Name As She Told Me In The Strictest Confidence And Also Swore If I Mentioned Her Name She Would Kill Me

Psychotic Nostalgia -
"On the plus side it is better than Zig-Zag-Gay-Ass but that was the aural equivalent of having your scrotum set on fire. And I know that for a true and honest fact."

Paul McGann Speaks!
"I didn't read this particular script before we recorded it. It was a rather faint hope to dull the pain. I never wake up feeling confused about the bizarreness of this profession, but I do get the nagging sensation I'm running through forests being chased by giant crabs. It feels normal to me. Eight years since the movie. Jesus. But then, I've never seen the movie. I'd rather see Conrad's holiday snaps. I WAS BEING SARCASTIC, CONRAD, SO PISS OFF! Sorry, where was I? Well, the series is back now. I was never going to do it. I'm not that crazy. Of course, at both of the convention I was lured to, when asked the same question, I dutifully said yes. I'm not stupid – those nutters would have lynched me. I wonder how poor Eccleston is coping? Bwa-ha-ha."

India Fisher Speaks!
"No, Conrad, I don't want to see the holiday snaps either."

Conrad Westmaas Speaks!
"My holiday snaps are fucking brilliant! Look! You see! There's me at the nudist beach in Acapulco – only schoolgirls allowed. There's me strutting my funky stuff. And there's the policemen that arrived and arrested me. And there's my cellmate, Meathook, who taught me some valuable acting lessons. And there's the police baton after they removed it from my arse..."

Trivia -
The plays big selling point is the return of Daphne Ashbrook, though
to be honest I'm not sure what all the fuss was about. So she was in
the TV Movie – so fucking what?

Rumors & Facts -

Originally entitled Nicholas Briggs – What A Wanker, The Best Wife was penciled in as the final story of the Paul McGann era, to be recorded at some time in 2010, weather permitting.

With production moved forward by six years and absolutely no former planning for the serial, you could be forgiven for worrying that this story would be a 3-disc mind-numbingly poor story with a rushed conclusion, crap exposition and shitty music.

You would not only be forgiven for expecting this, but also commended on your amazing second sight.

With just over a month before Russell T Davies' new Welsh TV series and the slow dawning realization that the story arc was monumentally awful, Big Finish had no choice but to wrap it up quick.

This desperation can clearly be reflected in the choice of producer Gay Russell and comic-strip author Alan Barnes to write the story. No happy production would ever use these idiots again after the fortieth anniversary story Zig-Zag-Gay-Ass descended into a slanging match against psychotic Big Finish dogs body Nicholas Briggs.

However, the concept of giving a decent finale to the arc was scuppered at the start – due to a mixture of complicated legal reasoning and also the fact Chris Eccleston wasn't dumb enough to return to Big Finish, the idea of regenerating the Eighth Doctor had to be abandoned.

Although even Carole Smillie could have told you that the character of Charley was totally stale and beyond use, and that C'Rizz's lack of c'rizzma made Matthew Waterhouse look sexy, it was simply too expensive and complicated to reformat the companions or introduce new ones. Ironic, really, as Charley and C'Rizz are two of the few characters Big Finish are legally entitled to kill off. Unfortunately, they tend to resurrect them straight afterwards for plot purposes.

Co-writer Alan Barnes' sanity had been spiraling out of control since Zig-Zag-Gay-Ass wherein he had started turning up for work dressed in an Edwardian dress insisting to referred to as 'Charlotte'. While this did allow India Fisher a stunt double for most of the story, the fact he started wearing a surgical gown and screaming 'Grace?! There is no Grace here!!' caused even more problems during production.

In order to keep style and tone with the previous stories in the arc, Gay Russell and Alan Barnes made sure the story lacked drama, humor, decent dialogue and cunning exposition.

The decision to use Nicholas Briggs as the villain was made early on, as they could record his strange mutterings while they got him to do all the work. However, this did have the side effect of rewriting the character of Briggs as a big melodramatic bully who screams and shouts and waves his fists but never actually gets anything done. Whereas, in Zig-Zag-Gay-Ass he had been a pretty pathetic loser much like his real-life persona.

What's worse, none of the regular cast were willing to act beside him and so Russell decided the only war for a viscous battle of wills to occur between the Doctor and Briggs would require extremely sophisticated editing technology.

As Big Finish has been fresh out of that for the last five years, it was decided to simply have a secondary character dispatch him. In order to make it sure that the story wasn't JUST about showing Briggs for the megalomaniac he was, the characters of Zig-Zag-Gay-Ass, G'Dunce and REG were introduced to show that he was not alone in such behavior.

However, to make sure that Briggs knew ALL the villains were equal, thus there was no big confrontation between any of them and the Doctor – the baddies dispose of each other in the most rudimentary manner possible, and the Doctor isn't involved directly with any of their downfalls as they squabble with each other and while they're busy
with that, he slips through the middle and away from the divergent
universe in the process. This approach mirrors just how Paul McGann would escape the studio at the end of recording sessions.

An initial idea was that the Doctor would use Machiavellian manipulation to achieve this result (ala the Seventh Doctor of the New Adventures), but this proved too much like hard work. Rather than give the impression that the Eighth Doctor is playing each of the villains against each other, it was easier to write that he's just blundering through without style or panache THEN have him claim it was an evil plan at the very end, when he has won and no one can contradict him.

At the final outline, the writers discovered to their horror that the two-year arc was easily resolved in an episode in a half – and included completely gratuitous appearance by Ben, Polly and L'da. Even with the addition of a pointless chase sequence in Nicholas Briggs – What A Wanker, it was a rather brief two-parter.

Desperately, everyone in Big Finish wracked their collective excuses for brains and it was Sir Nigel Verkoff Esquire who came up for the main plot of the story.

"An all-girl mud-wrestling championship between Charley and Grace!"

With this element added, the story now lasted five episodes – and that was severely edited down by Jac Raynor to reduce constant repetition in the dialogue, apparently commenting, "Yes, they both have girl parts! Will you lot just fucking grow up?!"

This was just a symptom of the paranoia that gripped Big Finish in the months before Christopher Eccleston ran off to Majorca with a suitcase full of cash. Terrified that their listeners would instantly abandon them (lord knows, the BFP crew would have if their positions were reversed), Russell and JHE decided to give the fans whatever the asked for and be very nice. Indeed, despite the fact The Best Life runs for 220 minutes, it costs thirty dollars LESS than Zig-Zag-Gay-Ass, which only ran for 180. That's how pathetic Big Finish had become.

As the final story in a long-running arc, The Best Wife had to balance both the need to resolve ongoing issues against the obligation to tell a good story in its own right. Barnes and Russell succeeded fairly well – at least, in the eyes of George W. Bush. The rest of us weren't fooled for a moment.

Unsurprisingly, the play repeats many of the errors of its writers' former story, but, on the bright side, at least we had warning how crap it could be. Artificial realities, fake character avatars, a conspicuous absence of the Doctor and an obsession with exploring
the psyche of Nicholas Briggs, episode one feels very much like
Zig-Zag-Gay-Ass II as did the fact it was trailered as such.

Conrad Westmaas demanded that, as the story WAS two episodes longer than usual and gave massive amounts of character development to the Doctor and Charley, that C'Rizz should be similarly developed. Thus, it was decided that C'Rizz would be forced to gun down his father G'Dunce with a bazooka. Hopefully, this would open up new and interesting facets of the Eutermisan's character.

It didn't.

And, judging by the second Eutermisan's vehement denial he was in any way related to C'Rizz suggests that G'Dunce may have genuinely been a complete stranger. Or maybe not. Who cares?

At the time, everyone in the English-speaking world were getting the impression that the end wasn't much of a resolution to either the five previous episodes or the two seasons before that.

Barnes and Russell argued that the Doctor had endured real hardship, suffering both the stories and the companions of the last two seasons, also died and been trapped in Cardiff. What more emotional depth was there needed?

However, JHE protested that The Best Wife lacked epic scale, endurance, passion, drama and a grand finale. Barnes suggested that, although making three hours of story spectacular and exciting was nigh-on-impossible, it was easy enough to make a thrilling thirty seconds and thus added a conclusion to the story where the TARDIS crew find the Cardiff of our universe has been taken over by a Dustbin invasion fleet that is systematically exterminating the crap out of Welsh people.

Due to budgetary reasons, this had to be scrapped and so an alternate version, where the Doctor describes seeing Lavros in a toilet cubicle, was grudgingly replaced instead.

Not a good story to end or begin. I wonder when the new series starts?

Season 31 Round-Up -

"Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

...Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh God."

That was the response from Paul McGann when he finally got round to reading the scripts for his fourth season.

The divergent universe arc simply screams 'chickening out'. Upon hearing there were newer, cheaper and probably better-made forms of Doctor Who out there, Big Finish gave humanity a two-fingered salute and threw the Eighth Doctor into another universe never to return. They then spent the remaining two years for broadcast trying to reset this particular option, tails between their legs.

If there is to be a lesson to be learnt from this, it is CALM DOWN, YOU PSYCHO-FAN BASTARDS! CALM FUCKING DOWN!!!

The arc was ill-advised to say the least, and a complete waste of eight months of my life to say the most. Ultimately, what the hell has this story arc done for us?

Well, it resolved the fates of the Richard E Grant Doctor, Zig-Zag-Gay-Ass and Nicholas Briggs.
It clashed the Doctor against Sil, the cast of Blake's 7, the Fourth Doctor, alternate Eighth Doctors, Grace Holloway and Lavros.
We find out just what made the TARDIS prop look like the brain-twistingly wrong one in the new series.
It also showed us where the Doctor got that leather jacket from.
It provided a chance for new writers to get their grubby little protuberances all over the Eighth Doctor's life and screw it up in new and original ways.
It has shown us the true horror of being marooned in Cardiff, being accompanied by C'Rizz and, perhaps most damning of all – doing both at the same time.

So, I guess while it may not be good, you can't accuse it of being lazy. I mean, look at other story arcs out there, lying on the sofa watching Coronation Street and doing sweet F.A. I mean, has Eminem been chucked out yet? Has Ace? Will the Sixth Doctor EVER be free of Evelyn? At least The Best Life gets rid of (most of) the dead wood. I don't see that happening anywhere else, do you!?!

The Eighth Doctor is free and, sadly, on the way out. By the time most of the public had suffered through the story, Doctor Who was no longer about dubious men of indeterminable age luring busty blonde teenagers aboard the TARDIS and then grabbing the nearest nerdy dickhead to create 'URST' while unbearable story arcs grind on in the background.

On second thought, forget I ever spoke.

To conclude the season, let us remember the good times of the last two years. The end credits of Zig-Zag-Gay-Ass. The Doctor steering an out-of-control shuttle into REG's ear. C'Rizz being drowned on a water wheel. The Doctor and Charley conspiring to kill C'Rizz. The She Devil on Gauda Prime, ably played by India Fisher. The Fourth Doctor, high on opium, doing the funky chicken. C'Rizz dying horribly. A bengal tiger mauling Welshmen. And the mud-wrestling.

In the words of Homer J Simpson –
"Let us never speak of this again."

"From Now On, Blame Russell T Davies!"
by Paul McGann and the entire cast and crew of The Best Wife

But, it's all right!
Beating up poor C'Rizz!
But, it's all right!
Cause that's the kind of life I live!

But, it's all right!
Getting the hell out of here!
But, it's all right!
Charley, just get me a beer!

You can participate
In Double the Fist
(blame RTD!)

Waiting for someone
To get you out of this
(blame RTD!)

Doing stupid things to
Get back to the TARDIS
(blame RTD!)

Oh, just flip the disc.

But, it's all right!
I didn't regenerate!
But, it's all right!
Maybe it just wasn't fate!

But, it's all right!
As long as you got someone to lay!
But, it's all right!
I think we'll be back by May!

We've been on and off Earth
In the future and past
(blame RTD!)

We've faced Serge the Seal,
Dustbins, Cybermen, what a blast
(blame RTD!)

The Brigadier, Romana and now
Lavros at last
(blame RTD!)

Goin' nowhere fast

But, it's all right!
Even when it don't make sense!
But, it's all right!
Just don't sit on the fence!

But, it's all right!
Doctor Who is now on TV!
But, it's all right!
From now on, blame RTD!

I admit, I'm ashamed
Of the company I keep
(blame RTD!)

I'd rather be at the pub
But I've swum too deep
(blame RTD!)

But now the end's approaching
One final ride
(blame RTD!)

With Charley by my side
(blame RTD!)

I guess I'm satisfied

But, it's all right!
Even if you're a Star Trek fan!
But, it's all right!
You've still got the autobahn!

But, it's all right!
At least it's not set in Burma!
But, it's all right!
See you next in "Terri's Firmer"!

But, it's all right!
Beating up poor C'Rizz!
But, it's all right!
Cause that's the kind of life I live!

But, it's all right!
It sure doesn't bother me!
But, it's all right!
From now on, blame RTD!

No comments: