Tuesday, December 1, 2009

8th Doctor - The Stones of Venice (ii)

Book(s)/Other Related –
Doctor Who and the Mists of Madness
Doctor Mysterio el Loco Mary-Jane
The Joint Venture - Use of Recreational Drugs on Inferior Life Forms

Fluffs - Paul McGann seemed as high as a kite for this story.

"I command you to infiltrate the foolish Duke's ridiculous sacrilegious ball!" ...what? He was SUPPOSED to say that? Seriously?? Get away!

Goofs –
Despite all the laws of god and man, this story was considered suitable for release into the global community

The Doctor insists that they have arrived in Venice in the 23rd century, but everyone else in the city acts like its the 13th century. Is the Doctor that bad at counting? And why is Winston Churchill there? He wasn't alive in either time zone!

When Churchill observes "It's like some awful premise for a Spanish telethon," the Doctor replies that "Most things are, in my experience," which doesn't take Sick Morning, or, indeed, the rest of Doctor Who into account.

Fashion Victims –
The Sacred Cult of Bestseller requires every member to wear Gumbie outfits from Monty Python, but it should be pointed out Vincenzo manages to wear that Mickey Mouse Headdress with a certain flair.

The Doctor's gondolier sex-slave outfit.

Fashion Triumphs –
The Elf Queen outfit that is obvious three sizes too small for Charley

Technobabble –
The Doctor uses 'cerebral neutralizer' when Charley announces that she is continuing to travel with him. To us mere mortals, it looks like him pouring scotch down a funnel into his throat.

Links and References -
Whilst examining the Duke's collection of living nude models, the Doctor double takes and demands "Zoe? What the hell are YOU doing here?" and the model replies, "It's a living."

Untelevised Misadventures -
The story begins at the end of a previous adventure that was not televised. Are you happy now?

Groovy DVD Extras -
75 hours of material cut for timing reasons, usually showing Paul McGann and India Fisher either feeling each other up or cackling insanely at the thought of "Hash Brownies". There is also a cut sequence from the fourth episode where the Doctor tie-dyes his cravat, announcing that Ozzy Osbourne's drug-addled ravings have suddenly become "oh-so-clear".

Dialogue Disasters -

Charley: Look at the state of my underwear! It's all seen better days. I'd be ashamed to have armpits like this. No wonder it's deserted.
Doctor: Oh, for the love of god, shut up.

Churchill: Ya know, once upon a time I used to be somebody! Then what happened? I coughed up, I spilt the beans, and the next thing you know, old Jed's a millionaire! But I could have been someone. I could have been a container.

Doctor: Let's travel in style! Let's raise a glass as we steam down the canal! And before the world ends, it turns completely upside down!
Charley: Oh, no, he's been at the shoe polish again!

Duke Insanity IV: You don't think that our dealer could save us?
Churchill: I do not think anything could save us, Mr. Looney.
Duke Insanity IV: Just as well. I need to do my chicken impression.

Doctor: I don't know what I like, but I know pornography when I see it.

Vincenzo: A love affair that could lay waste to a whole city. Don't you think it's fantastic?
Doctor: No - but then, I hate these reality TV premises, so I'm probably not your demographic.

Duke Insanity IV: Where have they gone? My guests! My people! They have fled!
Churchill: Actually, they're still here. You're talking to the wall.
Duke Insanity IV: No matter. I must eat the chandelier!

Doctor: I tell you, Eleanor, I'm something of a God in the bedroom department. I don't tell people my name - it gets a bit tiring hearing the same thing being shouted at the ceiling, time after time. Isn't that right, Charley? Charley?
Charley: I faked it, Doctor. It seemed the easiest way.
Doctor: Oh, sweet Jesus, no... [begins to cry] "Swing low, sweet chariot..."

Dialogue Triumphs -

Doctor: For God's sake, Charley, stop playing with your baubles!
Charley: I hate museums. All these little men telling you to keep your hands to yourself and then they get offended when you try a little executive relief!

Pietro: Your friend the Doctor seems to be causing the ruckus.
Charley: Oh, big fucking surprise.

Churchill: They say that the beauty of her radiant form drove the Duke mad with passion.
Doctor: She must have - what do you call it? Banged him like a dunny door in a cyclone?

Churchill: Are you Elvish?
Pietro: No, I'm a hobbit, fatso!

Charley: They loved each other in the end. After everything. They knew they had to die together. Right at the bitter end.
Doctor: Fine! No more post-1930 films for you. I've had more than enough Leonardo DiCaprio to last me for two regeneration cycles!

Doctor: Oh, come on. Let's get out there - you heard what she said! There's a party going on out there! A last, desperate carnival... One really fantastic, apocalyptic knees-up! Would you consider missing that for all the world?
Charley: Doctor, I can take a hint... what IS the hint?

Vincenzo: Let the dog see the rabbit. Now, I pronounce you man and wife. Next week on Celebrity Pets' Big Brother Weddings From Hell, well see a nervous meercat groom demand to know why WE won't get the raccoon to the church on time!

Doctor: Just what have you been up to since you ran out on me, Charley?
Charley: I was knocked out, blindfolded, banged up in a cellar and ritualistically abused by a gang of dwarves. I'm having a wonderful time!

Doctor: As for you lot, I don't even carry money - I don't need it. And I must say I think you treat your visitors here very shabbily indeed! British Museum, my arse!

Duke Insanity IV: Do go on, Doctor. I have no idea what you are, but you reek of vanilla.

Doctor: What kind of nutters made you two the rulers of this city??
Bestseller: Yes, it is a bit of a reign of error, isn't it?
Doctor: Are you trying to be funny?
Bestseller: Yes.

Charley: Well, that's my sense of social justice piqued.
Doctor: Don't be so bloody self-aware, Charley. This isn't Farscape, you know!

Churchill: Are you Elvish, Doctor?
Doctor: No. I'm more of a Hendrix man, myself.

Doctor: The sound of distant Pink Floyd albums. I wonder if they're into free love as well? They usually are, that type... DAMN IT, I JUST LOVE THIS PLANET!

Charley: My parents will be very shocked when you take me back.
Doctor: Your parents are ALWAYS shocked. You turned up for your seventh birthday party drunk on cheap cider and threw up on your mum's Harrods nightie. Then, when the drug squad arrived and promptly strip-searched the clown they brought for the party...
Charley: How do you know all this, Paul?
Doctor: Oh, I do my research.
Charley: You mean "stalking"?
Doctor: NOT during a take, India!!

Doctor: And the clock chimes out for the munchies of Venice!

UnQuotable Quote -
Charley: That's it then. It's lunch.

Viewer Quotes -

"Stay away from the canals, you brain-dead maggots! STAY AWAY! DO YOU HEAR ME, YOU BASTARD? STAY - AWAY - FROM - THE - CANALS!"
- some bloke on the street when I mentioned the name "Venice" (2002)

"On first glance, The Stoned of Venice contains a many long drug-induced rambles which must have looked fine on paper, had they ever been written down. This being a Paul Magrs script, it's broken and uses magic rather than technobabble, making a bewildering parallel to the rest of Doctor Who. The structure isn't up to much; the cliffhangers are tacked on, characters just move back and forth between locations chatting (except at the climax, where they stand around chatting). Not a lot really happens, and when it does, the events are overwhelmed by the dialogue. Which is unfortunate, then, as the dialogue is more Abbot & Costello than Shakespeare and the cast just adlib for the majority of the story. No matter, the Doctor and Charley are back to maximum fanwank, bar one slip. Did young subjects of George V really use the phrase "fan-dab-a-doozy"? Did they? Well, fancy that then."
- Tri Sumi (1997)

"The story, if nothing else, is imaginative and diverting. Like a rhinoceros using a nerf ball as toilet paper. Only more pointless and less well-thought out. After so many BBC novels full of blood, torture and deadly serious issues, it's a novelty to experience a story in which the Eighth Doctor enjoys himself rather than getting stripped naked, beaten up and tortured. So, obviously this cannot be canonical in any way, shape or form." - Bob McCallif (3002)

"Where were the fucking aliens?" - Average 11 year old response (2000)

"I noticed that most of the characters in this story seem partly aware that they are players in a story and that the Doctor's insight into what might happen seemed as much informed by dramatic structure as history or science. Then I realized that the actors were just stoned out of their heads and switched off." - Jacqueline Pearce (2003)

"Where were the fucking Quirks?"
- Average Creator of the Quirks response (1969-present)

"This is a slightly different to Sick Morning and Bored of Ironing. In those two scripts there were plot, consistency and logic. Nothing similar is used here, as the Doctor throws himself into the story, waxing lyrical about sexy gondolier and not even thinking of leaving until he's had stolen some duty-free wine. The interaction between McGann and Fisher is wonderful, perhaps the best aspect of the story; it's the only one that makes it abundantly clear someone is paying attention throughout the script." - Angus Deaton (2001)

"It's people like the dull, humorless rebel-cum-trade unionist Pietro that make you understand why Britons voted Conservative for 17 years."
- Saffron Monsoon (2000)

"While The Stoned of Venice may FEEL very different and perhaps, at a stretch, innovative, it is unmistakably Doctor Who. The science-fiction equivalent of genital warts." - Patrick Snob (2004)

Psychotic Nostalgia -
"This story took Doctor Who away from its scientific norms and promoted the use of magic. There's no such thing as magic, you know. I mean, honestly. It's just a dull excuse to sacrifice a goat and snuff drifters. I mean, we all nod and act tolerant, but really, what society is crying out for nowadays is truth, blood and death. If you want to slit the throat of a virgin and use their skin as a duvet, go for it! But at least have the dignity to admit it's on your own bat and not to satisfy some pagan deity who has better things to do."

Paul McGann Speaks!
"It's funny to think that if the TV Movie had got the right numbers in America, then I'd be out there, working with quality scripts and star performers of the highest caliber. I'm not sad, though. Not really. Suicidally depressed, rather than just 'sad'. I don't think 'sad' does it justice. There's no value in regrets like that. But there are no values in the crap I'm doing now, so I find there's a nifty symmetry. When you work on in the American film industry, it's such a rarefied atmosphere. You shoot a scene and then it's back to your trailer or dressing room on your own. I'd forgotten what fucking agony it is to be stuck with a crowd of hammy has-beens who continually insist they have some kind of acting ability. I tried to hide in the green room, or go for lunch in the pub. They followed me! That pub was in the next county and the bastards followed me in a coach and charged me for the fare! Michael Sheard was the worst, though. He kept licking my hand saying, "You don't taste like the others". But I'm stuck here. I signed a contract - stupid date rape drugs in the Guinness. I'm not falling for that again!"

India Fisher Speaks!
"Working with Paul McGann really was a dream come true for me. Well, apart from those cheese-shaped pillows and that endless supply of chocolate sauce, but then my dreams are pretty vivid. Some people can get a little worried when they meet someone who they've been a fan of for some time, just in case they don't live up to expectations, but Paul needn't have worried. I was everything he'd believed, but better-looking and completely shaved. We clicked instantly and constantly, and I remember Alan Barnes screaming at me "Stop clicking your stupid fingers! It's shitting us all to hell!" Dear Alan. His groin made a delightful crunching noise as I exerted my vice-like grip around his dearest possessions. He speaks in a falsetto now and may never walk again. No one can keep a straight face when this wheelchair-bound chipmunk squeaks, "Please, I'm begging you, take this seriously - for the fans' sake!" Hahah. Wanker."

Michael Sheard Speaks!
"I'm reliably informed by the voices in my head that only Nick Courtney has worked with more Doctor Whos than me. And he had the advantage of playing the same character all the time, the lucky scrote. I've had to slave away in bit-parts from the day the show started. From "Monoid Victim 2" to "Renegade Dustbin Agent Victim 1" to "Passing Motorist Who's Neck Is Crushed By The Bastard For A Laugh", not to mention the non-speaking roles! I'm waiting by the phone even now for Russell T Davies to come to senses, the mad queen. The last Doctor Who I did was The Stoned of Venice, and I'll be shot if I get this wrong, but I think I'm right in saying he's a million-year-old blue whale that took a bad number and has to impersonate Mr. Bronson from Grange Hill. Um... why is that young gentleman aiming a gun at me again?"

Trivia -
The Doctor and Charley can be seen playing "Strip Scrabble" in episode one. Although this is not scripted, Charley is quite obviously playing to lose. Heh, heh.

Rumors & Facts -
Opinion is divided on this story. There are those who love this story more than life itself and ultimately dying of starvation viewing it repeatedly; and those who disagree.

It is on record that those who don't disagree quite like the story.

An established psychotic and theoretical absurdity, Paul Magrs (who added a G to his last name in order to irritate journalists) had been pitching a story to Big Finish about Venice being destroyed since 1999.

This began after he visited the city and was mocked by a gondolier for his 1998 book "The Starlet Empress." Thus, he decided that Venice would be a perfect place for Doctor Who to utterly destroy with the casualness of crushing a dandelion.

He pitched more or less the same storyline for a multitude of Doctors under various titles including "The Empire of Assholes", "Shark Repellant", "Die, Venice, Die!", "Going Down", "Absurd Degree" and "Please, Please, Please, Sink". It was only when it appeared that such a story might be instrumental in luring Tom Baker into Big Finish studios that anyone even considered accepting it.

Unfortunately, Tom Baker had already plotted out a similar story for his sequel to The Boy Who Kicked Pigs – The Boy That Snogged Gondoliers and left in a huff. The latest rewrite of the Venice story was used as a draught excluder for the next six weeks under the title My Last Duck Egg and featured the word 'cunt' on 270, 4453 separate occasions.

Finally, after the subplot of an invasion of Iris Wildthymes being scrapped and the main characters being defined as the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa, Magrs began to script "Stone The Venetian Crows, The Misses Will Never Believe This Un".

Magrs, who dressed in a radiation suit and frequented crypts in his insane desire to be seen differently from his fellow writers, delighted in complex and fractured narrative structures, mainly because he was unable to perceive chronological time due a brain disorder from eating too much spaghetti. In fact, Magrs would later admit that "the whole concept of linear existence was a new one on me".

In order to restructure the script accordingly, the author spent three weeks without sleep, trapped in a hotel room with coffee machine and a ventriloquist's dummy in the shape of Jean-Paul Satre.

Three gallons of coffee, fifteen kilos of cigarettes, twelve litres of vodka and three miles of pacing back and fourth later, Magrs considered setting to work on STVCTMWNBTU.

Three months later, the completed script for STVCTMWNBTU was reviewed by Gay Russell and Jason Haigh-Ellery and found to have a number of minor flaws. For example it was written in Braille - and contained countless spelling mistakes. At several points during the narrative, at least one character screams "This is DIFFERENT, you literary critic WHORES!" for a variety of reasons.

There was not so much a plot, but a shopping list that featured a mad Duke, Dracula, Romeo and Juliet, Max Ernst, Heathcliffe, Jules Verne, Cathy, Casanova, John Ruskin, Miss Haversham, Illyria, Judy Garland and Liza Minelli have a fistfight as they drown in the middle of a costume party and complained that the price of Pinot Gringio had increased extortionately.

JHE dubbed it "the usual silly old camp nonsense" and suggested that the main characters (two tourists, Den and Angie, going to Venice in the mid-1980s and then drowning) be adapted for the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa rather than the Fourth Doctor and Sarah-Jane Smith.

Magrs replied that if he just added such reasonable things as the TARDIS, monsters, the population of Venice or indeed anything perceivable by human eyes, it would just the be the usual media trash that littered twenty-first century Doctor Who.

At this point STVCTMWNBTU was renamed "Pathetic Expectations".

However, a small blood clot formed in Magrs brain leading him to smile serenely and adjust the plot. The script was finally approved as "The Stoner's Lagoon" just as it was made clear that there was going to be a brand new series of Eighth Doctor adventures.

Russell re-commissioned "The Stoner's Lagoon" so they could "demonstrate to Paul McGann was Big Finish were about" - i.e.: total laxity and last-minute panic.

Out of mild sadism, McGann agreed on the condition that the script be written top-to-bottom for him in one day. Also, he demanded that his latest stalking case be given the companion role and not be simply generic but also a real person. The Doctor and companion were to be given separate but inter-linking story lines that didn't detract from the plot proper.

Magrs smiled happily and sat down at the typewriter and did just that. He managed to save a lot of time by cutting down action sequences and plot development. Episodes two and four were compacted down into two lines of dialogue from Churchill: "Oh, Doctor, they're attacking us!" and "Well, fancy that, we're still alive!"

It was generally assumed that any one anal enough to be interested in what was surmised by these sentences would no doubt be writing fan fiction to fill any gaps in the storyline. Also, a new plotline involving copious amounts of marijuana was introduced, coincidentally at the same time one P. McGann paid a large amount of money directly into Magrs' bank account.

Taken totally by surprise at the fact they had completed the script, McGann was put down for four four-episode stories which would feature the return appearances of the Brigadier, the Cybermen and Michael Sheard and a linking theme involving an extremely aggressive seal.

A legal writ was served to Big Finish Productions by the mysterious Mr. McGann of Liverpool, demanding that the first story to be recorded would require the compulsory use of class-B drugs to the main cast.

As such, the newly-re-titled The Stoned of Venice was now bound to yield a rich, magical stage of narcotic necromancy. Michael Sheard was cast as the Duke Insanity IV, and was prepared for the role by being locked in the smoke-filled studio two days before recording began.

Unfortunately, this lead to Sheard chewing every single part of the scenery - not by appalling acting, but in trying to sate his ravenous hunger.

Russell had hoped that Sheard's effeminate, flute like voice would be ideal for the raw emotion in the script without ever letting us forget this is a grandiose, sensational character. Shows you how wrong you can be at that age, huh?

Magrs also gave an echo of McGann's treatment of him in a story where the Eighth Doctor visits a world in perfect order and whips it up into a storm for his own selfish reasons, name dropping to the point of arrogance, poking his nose in where it isn't wanted, pulling his finger out only to shove it back in again somewhere even more uncomfortable, speaking up in the face of the logic and never listening to any sense. And when he isn't doing that, he's spending all his time trying to be liked and going on about how cool he is and winding up every single character in the story. As Miss Rigby so beautifully puts it "Why don't you sod off, Paul?"

The story is notable in history as the only production that never required any retakes at all. Actually, it is reasonable to assume there are quite a few cock-ups and bad special effects that merited another go, but the director Nick Pegs, was quite happy with the story and is regularly heard giggling in the background.

The producers found the story so amazingly cool and wonderful, they decided to make this the first story shown of Season 28. The story was accidentally put on third and thus alienates continuity even more so as it is the first time Paul McGann and India Fisher worked together, and much of their adlibbed dialogue consists of the Doctor continually chatting Charley up, despite the fact that she is pregnant and preparing to sue him for child support.

The cast list for The Stoned of Venice was pretty unusual as well...

Paul McGann.........The Doctor, A Bit Like Tim Curry In 'Legend'
India Fisher........Charley Pollard, The Most Amiable Ex-Whore Ever
Michael Sheard......Duke Insanity IV, A Nutter
Leslie Phillips.....Winston Churchill, An Obsequious Turd
Cynthia Grenville...Eleanor Rigby, A Cunt Of Monstrous Proportions
Mark McDonnell......Pietro, The Firmest Little Arse I've Ever Seen
Maitland Chandler...Vincenzo, A Ridiculous And Savage Prick

A final note concerns the insane title to episode four - "Shave Back". Since practically every fourth episode of Doctor Who involved blowing the whole place up or teleporting into another realm for the duration, he decided that he would keep the characters EXACTLY where they were and not blow up anything at all.

As he regained his senses, he realized that to be in any way convincing, episode four would now have to last forty-six seconds and that included a long tortuous rant by Charley that she should now be allowed to use the TARDIS toilet block.

Frantically, he added a completely new subplot: that Bestseller had, in fact, headed off to the shops in order to by a safety-razor to shave her legs after her lover had used up the last one cutting the length of his tongue.

This prompted the Doctor to start singing the haunting love melody of "Change the Blades," which was cut for timing reasons, thus making a nonsense of the title and Magrs' timing abilities.

The altered music was played over the end credits of all four episodes instead and much richer they were for it.

Change The Blades (I Need To Slit My Wrists Now)
By Paul McGann and the Timelords

"Four inches of blackening tar
Clogging up your pores.
And twelve Euros' worth of
Woolworths soap,
To leave him
Smelling like a horse.

This palace smells like
A brothel
Where there's no... one... about
I'm definitely high off of something
And I don't believe
I can get these stains out.

You've got to change the blades,
Shave away your sorrow.
Change the blades,
Shave away your sin.
Change the blades,
Take this bimbo offa me.
Change the blades,
Carve away my skin.

Well, I've had it up to here
With your arid, barren wasteland,
Making the mother of my child
Look like the face... of... perversity
I should have... stuck... to England
All I wanted was to dump her
At the first opportunity
Then perhaps maybe I could escape to
A bizarre... ceremony... of lust!

You've got to change the blades,
Shave away your sorrow.
Change the blades,
Shave away your sin.
Change the blades,
Take this bimbo offa me.
Change the blades,
Carve away my skin.

Shit, this script is shit
I can't cope with this so-called plot
Just a rip-off of poor Fellinni
And no-one seems to care a jot.
Just where is this so-called contract
That I'm supposed to have signed?
It's got the Mark of McGann beside the X
Oh, how I curse that dotted line."

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