Tuesday, December 1, 2009

8th Doctor - Sword of Orion (ii)

Book(s)/Other Related –
Doctor Who Wishes He Was An Ironing Board
Dr. Who is Bored Shitless (Canada Only)
Doctor Mysterio Repeatedo Snookie!
Indulge Your Wildest Fantasies As You Iron!

Fluffs –
Paul McGann seemed freshly-laundered and wrinkle free in this story.

Goofs –
The rogue Cyberman clearly collapses BEFORE Deeva shoots it - about fifteen minutes before she fires at the area it was occupying.

Serge never actually gets round to castrating Charley with a blunt knife as he vehemently insists he will upon her return to the TARDIS.

I'm also pretty certain huge clouds of liquid cheese AREN'T drifting through the wastes of deep space, searching for Cybermen to annihilate.

Fashion Victims –
Kelsey's straw hat, tartan shirt and denim overalls. And why does he chew that stalk of corn, anyway? Is it addictive?

The rest of the recon team's Armageddon-style space suits have embroidered patches in the knee, elbow and crotch areas.

Technobabble -
Doctor: Of course the molecular bonding circuits are the most important part of any half-decent anti-gravity flyer, but they're as expensive as hen's teeth and twice as rare. I suppose that's why old Jeffery used old chewing gum to keep one's feet steady. I remember his trial. Very eloquent defense, I thought. "I may have doomed thousands of unsuspecting commuters to a horrible, fiery demise, but at least I'm cost-effective about it!"

Links and References -
The Doctor reminds us you should never, ever put your head into something marked HEAD REMOVER (The Loonbase).

This story also explains a lot of troublesome Cyber-continuity, like why the Cybermen call the Doctor "Cuddles" in Return of the Cybermen, and why they blame him for their failed relationship in Earthshag.

Untelevised Misadventures -
The Doctor insists that there is a race of giant cockroaches who assume human form in order to suck your brains out with a straw. Serge insists he's lying - there are preying mantis who do that, but not cockroaches!

The Doctor tells the Cyber race they've really let themselves go since their stint at the Radio Times comic strip.

Groovy DVD Extras -
Exclusive fan video "Doctor Who: The Warriors of Espia" by Aaron Climas, starring Adam Taylor as the Doctor is included to show that, no matter how awful you think the current output of Doctor Who is, it could be worse.

With music stolen from Bored of Ironing, and sound effects from Blake's 7, this stunning extravaganza shows the Doctor, Tim and Crayil fighting Servalan, the Levithian Invincibles (from The Ribald Operation) and the Snotarans who, for reasons unknown, do not actually appear in the finished film.

There. Colin Baker doesn't seem so bad now, does he, huh?

Dialogue Disasters -

Deeva: You realize I can force you to take me?
Doctor: No force needed, believe you me. And may I say, what a packed bra you're wearing?

Cyber Leader: While you members of the Earth Alliance pass yourselves off as champions of truth and peddle your reformist illusions in the capitalistic press we are supposed to defend democracy by blowing up small, electrical animals?
Deeva: That's about the size of it.

Charley: One of these days, I think I'll shag myself into an early grave.
Doctor: Early? Overdue, more like.

Charley: Don't go all soft on me, Doctor!
Doctor: That, Charley, is what a sonic screwdriver is for!

Dialogue Triumphs -

Cyber Leader: Open the TARDIS and we will dismember the human female.

Vol: Your idea of firm parenting is to bash a child's head against the wall fifteen times?
Charley: Yup. It's what mother did to me when I told her daddy was shagging Great Aunt Patricia.

Cyber Leader: Why not ask yourself, Miss Jansen, what sort of democracy requires the services of inhuman killers such as us? I'll tell you. A Bourgeois democracy - which wears a thin skin of human rights to keep out the cold!
Doctor: Uh, what's going on?
Deeva: But when things heap up, when the rotten plots of the ruling classes fail to silence the incessant cries of "Pee-kaa-chu!", well, then they'll shed their skins and dump you, as they did in 1986, and set their wildest perversions loose upon us all!
Charley: Seriously, what are you talking about?
Cyber Leader: What has the defeat of the Cyber Empire and the destruction of home planet Monday have to do with all this?
Deeva: Well, it's the purest example so far of the failure of the "cyber-conversion" road to socialism, isn't it?
Ike: Hey, Helen, this is Dario Fo! Get back to the script!
Cyber Leader: He'll get his royalties. Who's moaning?

Vol: You've got a high powered space vixen on your tail now, Ike.
Ike: This is so unfair, Vol. Why do you always get to play Lara Croft I always have to play the evil undead mummies who get disemboweled?
Vol: It's my PlayStation!

Cyber Leader: We only behave according to specific directives. We must provoke the kind of atmosphere in which we can justifiably demand greater oppressive powers. The subhuman Pokémon filth are threatening to engulf our beloved galaxy. Society is falling apart. Action has to be taken. Strengthen the state, crack down on hooligans, drop-outs, drunks, addicts, squatters, demonstrators, heck, anyone with a pulse. We must infiltrate the union militants, round up activists, fatten up the files, polish our iron wills... But suddenly it's all got out of hand and there are huge clouds of cream cheese drifting through space!
Doctor: Good old logic - the last refuge of a cybernetic scoundrel.

Doctor: Katarina, Sara, Dodo, Jamie, Liz, Harry, Adric, Gus, Nyssa, Kamelion, Peri, Angela, Evelyn, Olla, Ace, Grace and now Charley. Innocent - well, fairly-innocent - all right, not-at-all innocent lives that I drag into my endless games that I play with space and time. Won't I ever earn? Hey, wait a minute, I'm thinking of the Sexual Toymaker! Again! I must stop doing that. Yeah, all of them had it coming if you ask me.

Charley: Doctor, are these Cybermen an alien species?
Doctor: Depends how you define alien. They were human once, before they started fiddling with themselves. When you look at a Cyberman you might be looking at yourself a few thousands years on - tacky, uncool and sexually frustrated. Does that
make them alien? One thing's certain, unless we get out of this mediocre plot line, there's a very good chance they'll turn us into Cybermen. Who'll be the alien then?
Charley: Well, the French, of course.

UnQuotable Quote -

Chev: That's as may be.

Viewer Quotes -

"Space is very big, very cold, and will kill you given the slightest opportunity. Where did I leave that head of mine?"
- a confused Douglas Adams (1998)

"In his fourth story, the Eighth Doctor shows few mannerisms specific to this regeneration. He's in rapid-fire observe/seduce/shag mode throughout, and Charley comes across as a watered-down blonde 1930s Ace who is able to rewire a malfunctioning grav-bad with only her shoelaces and some toiletries as if she's been travelling in space for years! How come this sort of shit always happens to the Doctor and his companion when they're in trouble but never to me when I'm stuck on a school bus about to explode if it drops below sixty-six miles per hour?"
- Keanu Reeves (2002)

"The cast give faultless performances, though the fact there are no cast members in this story makes it hard to distinguish between them."
- a confused theatre critic who thought he was watching "Zen and the Art of Ironing" (2001)

"The Music makes this an unmistakably Cyberman story, by turns referencing The Tense Planet, Return of the Cybermen and The Sheep in Spandex. This is due to the fact it IS the music from those stories. I just told everyone I did it all myself."
- the composer of Bored of Ironing's incidental music (2000)

"Too long. Too, too long. It is very nearly at two hours and that is just TOO LONG! Why have a plot that takes two hours to tell? Why not have a transvestite orgy instead? That could take more than two hours to tell! Much of the opening episode is superfluous. Getting to the point faster would, admittedly, leave Part One running 20 minutes short and we would know all the characters a lot less... which is just another reason to do so. Maybe we could have used the extra time for a depiction of the Pokémon wars, or an explanation for what the hell Deeva is up to, or just a 20-minute steamy shower scene with Charley misplacing the soap?" - Father James O'Maley (2002)

"Entertaining as the slaughter of two red T-shirts in the first scene is, the murder on the Orient Express would have been more interesting if it had been at the furry paws of a Pokémon. Or if they had BEEN Pokémon. Or if ONE of them had been a Pokémon. Or maybe the revelation that the Garazone system is smuggling Pokémon instead of sheets... Why this fuss about Cybermen in the first place? Pokémon is what we want!"
- Regos Krang, Leader of The Cyberman Appreciation Society (2007)

"If the film Alien had begun with half an hour of the ship's crew preparing to embark, cut out most of the alien murders and replaced then with Cybermen, added the Doctor and Charley, re-edited it into four long episodes and introduced a subplot about huge clusters of stellar cheese and ended on a stupid Thought for the Day, it would have turned out not too unlike Bored of Ironing. Actually, it's not a very good metaphor, is it?" - Delta Goodrem (2019)

"Soiled salubrious salvage spaceship stops suddenly, swerving slickly saving sinister silver star-destroyer's savage silver spacemen suspended shimmering... feet."
- alliterative Doctor Who plots, Nigel Verkoff, www.iseriouslyhavetoomuchtimeonmyhands.com.au

"That is has come to this: being spoofed by an awful radio sci-fi fad!"
- Dario Fo (1978)

"According to the online poll of best Oddly Videos at www.NickBriggsisGod!@justyce.org, Bored of Ironing is the very best fan production ever. Terrifying, isn't it?"
- TheMiller98 at Outpost Gallifrey (2004)

Psychotic Nostalgia -
"Ah! The Cybermen! Some say they surgically removed their nasal hair. I prefer salad tongs."

Paul McGann Speaks!
"I've never really been a fan of the Cybermen. I mean, the Dustbins had their moments, but they could never follow you upstairs. They could simply blow up the ground floor and wait you to drop down to their level and THEN kill you, but when you start adding provisos like that, you're not exactly scaring the crap out of anyone, let alone me. Don't get me wrong, I like to scare myself. I'm very Catholic in that sense. Indeed, it's part of my method acting. Every time the Doctor needs to look even vaguely anxious, I always make sure that I've just spoken to Sylvester McCoy before the cameras start rolling. Of course, that lead to that awkward time during "The Crime of Fright-Night" when a technical fault left me with McCoy for around fifteen minutes. Caused endless retakes because the director complained I'd crossed the line between 'cautiously grave' to 'convulsing with mortal terror'. Picky, picky, picky."

India Fisher Speaks!
"Yes, after The Stoned of Venice, things did settle down somewhat... What WAS my second story? It's a total blank. Weird. I can't remember a thing about it. Not even its name. The only thing I remember is... it was very boring and tedious. There were some people on a ship. They walked around and talked. Cybermen attacked them. The people on the ship walked around and talked and shot things. Traitors... blah blah, yawn. No suspense, no drama, just booorriingg... Apart from that, though, I can't remember a thing about it."

Nicholas Briggs Speaks!
"Of all the Oddly Videos, Bored of Ironing is the most popular - and I thought that, with the technology, acting and restraining orders available now, it would be the best thing in the world to do. Screw peace on Earth and goodwill to all men, I want to make Bored of Ironing with a budget higher than Mum's pocket money! I mean, we've done some things loosely based on Oddly Videos before... VERY loosely based... In fact, bar the title, I swear not a single element has survived in that new version... Sorry. Anyway, we've based Bored of Ironing heavily on Bored of Ironing - it's just updated and made it worse. Not better, but worse, because the original is the best thing since the Bible. Hopefully, thousands of Big Finish fans will get a taste of the sheer brilliance that is Oddly Videos, and flock to me in the thousands! Hah! Thousands, I tell you! I'm gonna be rich! FILTHY... STINKING... RIIICHH!!!!!!!"

Trivia -
The cover of Bored of Ironing features four wallabies, characters who do not appear in the play. This refers to the off-screen casting situation - every single Cyberman in this story was to played by a Mexican at the express wish of writer, director, star and originator of Bored of Ironing. Ultimately, not enough Mexicans could be found to play the Cybermen and so four wallabies from the local zoo were drafted in for the crowd scenes

Rumors & Facts -
Anyone who likes hard, Isaac Asimov-style science fiction, Blade Runner and tense, atmospheric confrontations with classic enemies is sure to be utterly disappointed with Bored of Ironing.

It says a lot that this is a story about a mysterious derelict space-ship full of Cybermen and we don't get to the derelict space-ship until the end of Part Two. So totally unmemorable was this tale of boring Mexican stand-offs with Cyber-Forces that it did not even lose the Doctor Who Magazine Season poll.

"Even worse than cholera" was the way Jacqueline Rayner, Executive producer for BBC Worldwide described the story, noting that the dull stock characters and pathetic revelations of this story were so bad that not even India Fisher's presence was able to compensate.

Indeed, ripping off most of the plot of Alien does not improve Bored of Ironing, but rather seems to contaminate the Alien series instead. Even the most avid supporter of Bored of Ironing, writer Nicholas Briggs, considers it "sneaking up to average."

The main flaw is a syndrome that scientists have identified as "spoiler amnesia". Spoiler amnesia is the condition in which the author inexcusably forgets that we, the audience, already know who the villain of the piece is because they are named in the title of the story or will appear on the cover. The author then tries to build a great deal of tension around the mystery of who the villain is, despite the fact that we knew it from the first.

This was a Cyberman story. It was made known six months before release that this was a Cyberman story. There's a Cyberman on the cover. And yet, the first two parts are spent trying to figure out what sort of nasty creature is lurking about with only Paul McGann's performance giving any clue the Doctor either knows or cares about this. Why did we have to spend 40 minutes waiting for the author to reveal what we already knew?

Bored of Ironing is the fourth story to feature the Eighth Doctor, and the third to be specifically tailored for another incarnation and then changed vaguely to look like the current incarnation. Bored of Ironing originally featured the Ninth Doctor, The Stoned of Venice the Fifth, Inuit in Hull the Third, Shagged'er II the Fourth, and The Enema Within was written for Hugh Grant's armpit.

Following Big Finish's announcement of "Oh, shit, the Scouser's serious!" there was a massive need for even vaguely useful scripts that would effectively deal with all the regular characters and formats a new Doctor had to suffer through before he was finally accepted by the Who fan community, or the "Death of 1000 Anoraks" as McGann perceptively commented from the safety of his glass fronted Popemobile.

The story's life had begun back in 1999, when Nicholas Briggs' rising resentment against McGann's Doctor lead to him suggesting they do a complete remake of the 1980s totally-for-profit Oddly Videos Doctor Who fan productions. The first story would be the rather terrible adventure The Ultimate Brian, which featured the Dustbins time-scooping the Doctor from the Garazone System, scrambling the Time Lord's temporal DNA and making him the immortal. Thus, Big Finish would discard absolutely everything except for Briggs himself as the toothbrush wielding, psychologically-unbalanced Doctor.

When Gay Russell and Jason Haigh-Ellery told him this did sort of defeat the whole "Eighth Doctor adventure arc", Briggs replied: "Oh, yes, that's right! Focus in on that ONE flaw!"

Briggs went on to suggest they adapt three stories for the Eighth Doctor: the Cyber-orgy, Bored of Ironing, the Dustbin matinee The Mutant Phrase, and the kinky domination saga Inuit in Hull. These were chosen mainly because the rest of the plays lasted 4 minutes apiece and were mainly set in Nick's bedroom, fighting a race of evil, bloodthirsty megalomaniacs known only as "The High School Maths Teacher".

In order to shut Briggs up for a millionth of a second, Russell and JHE agreed to look into adapting the Cybermen-laundry-extravaganza Bored of Ironing, and told Briggs to revise the script.

Briggs was delighted and began listening to the original, morning, noon and night, occasionally bursting into applause and writing self-addressed letters of congratulation to the writer, producer, soundscaper, main star and provider of Cyber voices.

Briggs had started off with the intention of making Bored a fast-paced, totally original story with no cheap gimmicks like monsters or cliched characters. He vowed in front of fourteen witnesses that he would tidy up any and all plot anomalies that bothered absolutely anyone; give the supporting characters genuine, credible motivations with a real sense of terrible secrets and/or ambivalent moral values; to make the little human drama unfolded on the Vanguard the core of the story; and change all the continuing story arc crap and make it self-contained.

One re-listen later, Briggs shrugged and said, "Y'know, it's good enough as is."

This attitude prevailed until Big Finish scoured the coup of blackmailing Paul McGann into a season of stories and scripts were a rare commodity. Since the only completed script at all was Bored of Ironing, it was thrown into the mix at story 17 simply because that was the number Bored of Ironing was given by the Oddly Videos releases and no one could be arsed to change the paperwork.

However, upon reading the story, Russell and JHE carefully put it to one side and backed away slowly, insisting that they could make do with the half-finished scripts that were also available.

They refused to disclose their reasons for not going right ahead with the script, but Briggs suggests in his autobiography "I *Am* Canon, Damn It!" that the cold-blooded murder of a trained otter in scene one was beyond the scope of BF's current production standards.

Russell insists that the otter's death was one of the few ACHIEVABLE moments in the original script and was only dropped due to lack of time and the feeling that sea-bound mammals were already well-represented in Doctor Who.

After three months of silence, Briggs' nerve cracked and he fell on his knees and begged for forgiveness, agreeing to anything in order to get Bored of Ironing back on track.

He was immediately told that the hardcore Dutch Mouth sequence would have to be cut from episode two, and introduction of Star Wars elements including the phrases "Star Destroyer", "A Den of Iniquity" and "I've A Bad Feeling About This" to be included in episode one; also, he should watch the entire Alien saga in a complicated Clockwork-Orange-style getup.

After he had completed the latter task he asked Gay what this had accomplished and got the reply, "Now you know how you make US feel every single day!"

Briggs was under orders to totally restructure the character and activities of the Doctor to suit Paul McGann's interpretation of the role. But rules never meant much to him, so he quoted the legal precedent of Terrance Dicks and insisted that Doctor is the Doctor and the rest is largely up to the actor.

JHE rebutted this by reminding Briggs that the main character in the script was clearly "Nicholas" scribbled out and "Dr Who" written on top of the print in biro. Briggs responded by wailing incoherently and jumping up and down, clutching his ears.

Three counseling sessions and some chloroform later, Briggs accepted the task of altering dialogue and mood in order to capture the Eighth Doctor's trademarked sense of suspicious fun, great warmth and intimations of darkness.

Thus, the day before recording, four scripts entitled "Doctor Who Strangles Encyclopedia Salesmen For Fun and Profit" hit Russell's desk.

The plot consisted of the Doctor and Charley riding a stagecoach into a giant supermarket, to be shocked by the corrupt staff making secret deliveries in the dead of night, and concludes that the Scarab of Necromanta has fallen into the hands of Charles Havelock, who sets a pack of genetically-augmented wolves onto the supermarket. Luckily, the Doctor has the aid of Joel Shaw, leader of the United State of Soviet Russia Anti-Dustbin Force (USSRADF) and Bugs Bunny to call upon. So, after three episodes of machine gun fire, the Doctor giggles insanely and heatbutts a Christmas Tree.

When asked what the hell he was trying to pull, Briggs admitted his adjusted storyline "still had the option of re-invention and re-imagining". JHE pointed out that he could no longer get away with simply transcribing the original crackling, hissing amateur production and then just handing the result over to Paul McGann.

"Prove it," was Briggs' reply.

With less than twelve hours before recording, Russelll and JHE grabbed every edition of the script and every single Cyberman story. With the original series pretty much exhausting every option with the Cybermen, the duo instead opted for a "greatest hits" package in the desperate hope that shoving all these unoriginal elements together, they might achieve a greater whole, like a triple-fried egg sandwich with chili sauce and chutney.

Like that particular meal, Bored of Iron is a cross between fine literature and bacteriological warfare

Thus, there are Cybermen coming out of egg-boxes, Cyberbrats hugging people, loonies, lethal amounts of Cheese, a sexual air supply, unusual lip action and a subplot involving lethal black androids. While this was more of a re-tread rather than a reinvention, Briggs was sadistically satisfied that a surprisingly large amount of the original (typed fervently with two sore fingers on an Olivetti portable typewriter screaming "RESISTANCE IS USELESS!") still survived.

When a reviewer remarked that the Cybermen were the most interesting prospect in Bored of Ironing, Briggs dug a foxhole in concrete and is hiding there till this day.

Every version of Bored of Ironing was cinematic in nature, with the main plot occurring on a broad, futuristic tapestry that made The Chronicles of Riddick look like Pitch Black.

Although Russell and JHE had managed to compact the Cyber encounter into a claustrophobic runaround in a small set, Briggs took advantage of their collapse into a delirious fever to "indulge" himself.

Thus, the first episode occurs in Garazone Central, a city built within an artificial environment floating between the stars, its gigantic bazaar filled with every single alien and monster to appear in Doctor Who EVER (along with all the ones from Red Dwarf), as Disaster Area themselves play an up-tempo version of the theme tune in the background.

However, budget restraints ruined Briggs' dream. The amazing canvas of the Garazone Bazaar was represented by an old gravel quarry, the amazing crowds of humans and aliens were alluded to by a horse wandering back and forth, and the musical background provided by a rather loud cell phone held close to the microphone. Paul McGann adlibbed an surprisingly believable explanation for the sudden rainfall during these scenes: it rains inside the space station because of natural condensation and an ancient air conditioning system.

He was, however, at a loss to explain the horse manure they regularly stepped in.

Disturbed by the lead star's professionalism and refusal to waste his time arguing about Who continuity, Briggs decided to become a far more hands-on and crypto-fascist in his directorial manner. This impression was given credence by the fact he never took off his home-made Cyberman costume and always remained in character as the sexually frustrated Cyber Leader.

Due to this unusual method of production, several clapper boys were dismembered in order to entail cooperation from the main cast. However, both Paul McGann and India Fisher rounded on him, demanding to know why the Doctor and Charley had become less thoughtful characters.

Briggs replied that this wasn't particularly difficult considering how crap they were already - besides, what was so special about the Eighth Doctor and his companion that they shouldn't be allowed to slide towards the generic in their second story like every other pairing in the show's history?

Fisher replied by tying Briggs to the ground and beating him with an axe.

After a similar discussion about making the Vanguard crew the same race, class or simply friends in order for Grash's mutiny to become realistic, Briggs pointed out that the complete LACK of unity made it such a neat plot twist and thus entirely credible for the mutiny to be forgotten mere moments after it had started.

This Cyberman story is unique in there not being a completely pointless change in the voices of the main monsters for the sheer hell of it. Due to amount of time and effort wasted on getting the script in line, there was no obvious way to create a brand new, expressive vocal range for the kinky cyborgs. Apart from hiring Mr. Blobby, of course.

Viewers from all walks of life complimented Big Finish on recreating the Return of the Cybermen and Earthshag Cybervoices with the pitch-blend effect, with the squelchy gurgle to each layered syllable and asked how, under the terrible circumstances behind the scenes, they were able to accomplish this?

Answer: let's just say Paul McGann's experience in telephone sex lines was quite helpful.

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