Friday, January 1, 2010

9th Doctor - The Empty Child (i)

Serial 108 – Shell Shock
An Alternate Program Guide by Ewen Campion Clarke
From An Entry In The EC Unauthorized Guide O' Ration Coupons

"YOA's Discontinuity Guides – Inaccurate But Caring."

Serial 108 – Shell Shock -

A mauve cylinder with the words 'Chase Me!' written on it hurtles through space and time with the TARDIS in hot pursuit. The Doctor is certain this runaway cylinder contains a vast amount of duty-free Malibu, as mauve is the universally recognized code for alcohol – bar the bizarre Tudor species, where mauve represents the most gross danger of the biological hazard-type nature.

In the belief that this cylinder is not a weapon of mass destruction, the Doctor hacks into the cylinder's flight computer and is following it. Rose, however, sees the Doctor messing about with the TARDIS laptop and thinks he is just trying to beat Destiny of the Doctors. Again.

The cylinder is thirty seconds from crashing into Earth, and the Doctor is determined to stop it at any cost.

Until he realizes that it now heading for the centre of Cardiff.


Parte The First

The TARDIS materializes in an alleyway, and the Doctor and Rose emerge, unaware that they're being observed. I mean, you think after all this time they'd at least consider the possibility some ungodly monster is peering at them – it does every OTHER time they land.

But this time, the monster is not a Dommervoy. Or the Bastard. Or a Dustbin. And, before you ask, it's not a Cyberman, either.

It's a four-year-old boy in a gasmask, a little itsy-bitsy crybaby whining for his mother.

How pathetic is that?!

Anyway, the Doctor infodumps Rose that since the cylinder was jumping time tracks so erratically, it probably arrived three or four weeks earlier, so whatever alcohol the cylinder contained is probably off.

Rose assumes that the Doctor is going to scan the city for signs of alien technology, and is disappointed when he announces that as he is unlikely to be able to drink all that alcohol, he will now take up his ninth-life-long dream of becoming a drag act.

Hearing music and the sounds of a crowd behind a nearby door, the Doctor uses his sonic screwdriver to break in. Once in the smoky jazz lounge, he sucker-punches Vera Lynn and steals her dress, before taking the stage and begins to croon It Had To Be You.

The crowd burst out laughing, and the Doctor is crushed when he realizes that his gritty Northern complexion and lack of mascara mean he is the least convincing female impersonator since Tarzan ate Jane's lipstick and chatted up a gorilla.

Rose finds a young boy in a gas mask standing on a roof calling out for its mummy infinitely less creepy than the Doctor's sudden transvestitism and climbs onto the roof. She then decides to climb a rope to a barrage balloon, presumably in the belief the little crybaby has decided to climb five hundred feet up in the air.

Wouldn't you know it, but this is exactly the moment the balloon comes loose from its moorings, drifting away from the building just as an air raid begins.

Rose is left dangling precariously in mid-air, desperately clutching onto the rope as German planes hurtle through the air around her, wearing a great big Union Jack like a bull's-eye on her T-shirt.

It must be a Thursday. Never could get the hang of Thursdays.

The Doctor, dejected from his poor reception at the jazz lounge, returns to the TARDIS and, finding Rose gone, decides to dump her in 1941 and instead take a nearby cat as his companion.

However, the adventures of the Ninth Doctor and Splinx the cat are cut short when the phone in the TARDIS' exterior cubby-hole starts to ring. This should be impossible, since it's not a real phone.

A teenage girl arrives in the alley and warns the Doctor not to answer the phone – and this convinces the Doctor to answer the phone faster than a debate team comprising of really clever criminal psychologists.

The Doctor is taken aback when, instead of the presumed heavy breathing, all he gets is a child asking for its mummy.

"Sorry, wrong number. Why aren't you in school, anyway?" the Doctor demands and hangs up.

It strikes the Doctor that the city, being in the middle of the Blitz, is pretty much deserted and he can loot to his hearts' content. His first port of call is the ludicrously overweight Lloyd family home. After initially suspecting the farting, belching and rotund Arthur Lloyd is really a Slitheen in disguise, the Doctor enters the house and starts stealing everything not nailed down.

There he meets that creepy girl who has, together with her band of orphaned sociopathic kleptomaniacs, already claimed Cardiff as her patch and is already stealing the turkey.

They take an immediate liking to each other's callous attitudes.

Rose, meanwhile, is still dangling from the balloon. The wild-haired man in the frock coat holding onto another rope from the balloon proves no help at all – he does this sort of thing for fun and idly wonders if Rose might be interested in a barrage balloon race for the next raid.

As the Doctor and Nancy loot the streets of Cardiff, the former wonders what kind of godlike deity would have enough time on its hands to make prank phone calls on phones that don't even work.

The rest of the gang react oddly to the Time Lord's description of a mauve cylinder smelling like rubbing alcohol and suddenly a young child turns the alley corner, wearing a gas mask.

Nancy and her gang are terrified of this figure, much to the Doctor's complete and utter bewilderment. "Nancy, you are perpetrating a crime wave with underage accomplices in the middle of an air raid and you're scared of some wimpy little toddler in a gas mask?!"

Nancy tells the Doctor that he must not let this child touch him.

"Weird," the Doctor replies. "Usually, it's the other way round."

The boy's voice emerges from the stolen radio, telephone and clapping-monkey toy in the gang's loot bags and this proves so terrifying that Nancy and her orphans flee into the night.

The boy closes in on the Doctor before suddenly disappearing. The Doctor isn't at all surprised. I mean, a backward four-year-old with the IQ of minus seven isn't exactly something that terrifies him.

Rose finally falls off the rope and is caught by a tractor beam emanating from one of the searchlights sweeping across the city. Unfortunately, Rose's mobile interferes with the signal and she plummets out of the sky once more.

The spiky-haired Scotsman in plaid controlling the searchlight turns to the severed head of Pierce Brosnan in a jar and says, "Bugger."

As Rose tumbles out of the sky, it looks like she's doomed. Good. I've gone right off the flirty bint. And her hair done up like that just emphasizes those Janet Street-Porter teeth of hers. Ugh.

But Rose doesn't die, and instead smashes straight into an invisible spaceship moored next to Big Ben – though why the hell Big Ben is in the middle of Cardiff, I have absolutely no idea - and lands in the lap of Captain Jack Sparrow. Sparrow is a dreadlocked young man whose American flight outfit consists of his casual clothes and a badge saying "HI! I'M JACK, AN AMERICAN VOLUNTEER IN THE RAF'S 133 SQUADRON" and has the sobriety and self-control of Keith Richards. As he is now.

Rose automatically begins to flirt with Jack and he, being a enlightened 51st century guy, offers to shag her on "the balcony" of his ship as Glen Miller's "Moonlight Serenade" plays and the Germans bomb the crap out of Wales.

The Doctor follows Nancy to her shelter in an abandoned railway engine, and demands to know why she's frightened by the child in the
gas mask. He brags that he wasn't scared and, for some unfathomable reason, suspects that this mystery is related to the crash of the mauve cylinder.

Nancy finally admits that the cylinder fell on the other side of Cardiff and is now being guarded by UNIT as that particular piece of continuity still hasn't been sorted out.

To the Time Lord's surprise, Nancy also tells him that if he wants to find out what’s going on, he’ll have to speak to "the Doctor".

"Hmmm. This Doctor, does he look a bit like Worzel Gummidge dressed as Jimmi Hendrix?"

"More like Cassonova dressed as Liberace."

Elsewhere, the spiky-haired Scotsman starts swearing loudly...

Parte The Second

Leaving the Face of Bond and an as-yet-undisclosed other to deal with this mess, the Scotsman runs into a police box in the corner of the room which promptly disappears with a wheezing, groaning sound.

Meanwhile, Jack - known affectionately as 'the worst Time Agent ever seen' - assures Rose that they are perfectly safe and then illuminates Big Ben just to show he can. He explains that a Tudor booze canister lies in the heart of Cardiff and unless he gets a hefty reward from Rose and the Doctor (who he believes to be other, more professional Time Agents), he will let the Welsh get totally blasted on this illegal alien hootch.

The Doctor sets off to check out the crash site, but as Nancy had told him, the cylinder is under a tarpaulin, behind a fence, guarded by UNIT soldiers, behind a moat, a stretch of marshland, a tribe of Welsh cannibals, a fire-breathing dragon and turnstile.

Nancy again advises him to speak to the Doctor in the nearby hospital, assuming that he doesn't just explain everything later. As she sets off to collect more goods from the Lloyds' house, the Doctor asks her one last question.

In response, Nancy slaps him very, VERY hard.

The Doctor sympathizes for Nancy's reluctance, but admits that he's impressed by her strength, the same stalwart spirit that enabled the British to make a stand against Hitler and stop the German advance in its tracks.


"What is?"

"1941. Right now, not very far from here, the German war machine is rolling up the map of Europe. Country after country, falling like dominoes. Nothing can stop it. Nothing. Until one tiny, damp little island says 'No! No, not here!'"

"What cloying, inaccurate crap!"


"European countries aren't dropping like dominoes – they've already fallen apart from Greece and the Soviet Union. The Germans aren't being scared off by British resistance, they were concentrating on the East already for strategic reasons."

"Are they? What about the whole mouse-in-front-of-a-lion stuff?!"

"We're just fighting to pad out the conflict long enough for the Americans to join the war! Besides, there are plenty of people who sympathize with Hitler. We don't mind Nazism, in fact we're right behind the fascists in the Spanish Civil War! And you think this is some bastion of anti-Nazi sentiment?!"

"Well, Nancy, it is possible I may have exaggerated. I mean, I admit it – my entire knowledge of World War II comes solely from the title sequence of Dad's Army. Anyway, what's the use of a national myth if you can't perpetuate it?!"

He and Nancy go their separate ways... unaware that the empty child is here and is following Nancy. Because a four-year-old boy in a gas mask screaming for his mummy at the top of his voice during 1941 Cardiff is easy to miss, isn't it?

The Doctor finds himself at Albion Hospital and is rather surprised because the last time he visited it, it was in London. In 2005. As he is here relating to a crashed spaceship, the Doctor announces if he finds a pig in a spacesuit in this hospital, he's leaving NOW.

Breaking open the padlocked gates with his sonic screwdriver, the Doctor finds wards full of lifeless bodies, one to a bed, all wearing gas masks.

He then meets the one living inhabitant of the hospital, the Other Ninth Doctor – a man with long brown hair, a velvet jacket and rubbery features. The Doctor recognizes this man as a half-arsed clone he created in the Temporal Difference of Opinion as stunt-double. Unfortunately, the cloned Eighth Doctor accidentally brutally cut his head off shaving and regenerated into a form resembling Rowan Atkinson.

"So, mate, how ya been?" the real Ninth Doctor asks.

"Oh, fortune vomits on my question mark eiderdown yet again. I got engaged to this cracking blond girl called Emma Bunting – but then I got zapped by a Zectronic Beam Controller, ended up changing five times in as many minutes and ended up looking like a woman."

"Didn't last then?"

"Manifestly not. Sadly. Well, I tried to tell Emma that I was still the man who fell in love with her, but she nicked my sonic screwdriver and I haven't seen her since. I teamed up with the Face of Bond and have been trying to make a quick buck ever since."

A pause.

"You think that'll keep the fans happy?"

"Hope so. On with the plot."

The Other Ninth Doctor, or OND as I shall now refer to him, explains that the mauve canister has caused all of this. All the victims contracted a kind of drunken plague from the cylinder – symptoms include drunkenness, loss of coordination, Oedipus complex, loss of appetite and the bizarre sexual fetish of putting on gas masks and asking each other if they are their mummy.

"They're not dead," OND explains. "Just hungover."

OND kicks aside a trash and his "patients" react to the noise, sitting up as if in alarm.

"I do that whenever I get bored. They're funnier when they're doing conga lines. But the plague is highly infectious. Touch any of their flesh and the next thing you know you're like them."

"So, er, shouldn't you be wearing gloves?"

"Ah. I think the phrase rhymes with 'clucking bell'."

So saying, the OND suddenly starts doing the funky chicken, puts on a gas mask, asks the Face of Bond if he is his mummy and passes out.

Definitely a Thursday, then.

At that moment, Rose and Jack stagger in, breathlessly adjusting their clothes. Rose explains the relevant plot details to the Doctor, who decides to tie Jack to a chair and shines a bright light in his face until he confesses.

After a sufficient amount of padding has passed, Jack sings like a tweetie pie and reveals he's just an extremely drunk con-man who regularly hurls mauve cylinders at time machines and tries to spin a yarn about alien hootch before running off with money.

"When I saw the phone box, I thought it was Bill and Ted. They're normally good for a few thousand credits and some biscuits."

"What about the Tudor booze canister?"

"Doc, it's fake. A mock-Tudor booze canister, if you will."

Rose wonders just what alien liquor, real or fake, can have to do with a hospital full of pissed idiots in gas masks. The Doctor explains that their DNA has been re-written by an idiot.

"Not... Mickey?!" Rose gasps.

"I hope not. It'll probably just be Lavros, or the Bastard or someone like that."

Nancy is cracking open the Lloyds' safe when the empty child lurches out of the shadows towards her. Nancy hides under the table. This doesn't really work.

The episode is winding up, so suddenly all the patients in the
ward at Albion Hospital all sit bolt upright and get out of bed,
calling for mummy.

The Doctor warns Rose and Jack not to let the patients touch them, but the zombies surround them, backing them up against a wall.

What a bunch of wimps.

Next Time...
"I know what's happening here, but believe me, I had nothing to do with it. The gasmask plague, though, yeah, that's down to me."
"I'll tell you what's happening. You forgot to set your alarm clock. It's Shrove Tuesday!"
"OK, that door should hold it for a bit."
"A door?! The wall didn't stop it."
"Oh, I didn't think about that."
"Halt! Don't move! Don't ambulate! Cease and desist! FREEZE, damn it!"
"Rose! Get the fire extinguisher! I'm on fire!!"
"You've got the moves? Show me the moves. The world doesn't end because the Doctor prances."
"Wanna bet?"
"Batten down the hatches!"
"Er, why?"
"Just do it – or that alcohol is taken in the hands of a hysterical four year old, looking for his mummy – and nothing in the world can stop a violet alcoholic who can't handle his booze!"
...Shell Shock. Still...

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