Friday, January 1, 2010

9th Doctor - The Empty Child (vi)

Psychotic Nostalgia –
"In my childhood, I often used to wander the streets in my Mickey Mouse gas mask, calling for my mother. However, at least I was smart enough to wise up and keep her severed head with me at all times... Oh, fuck, I left it on the bus! Excuse me..."

Viewer Quotes -

"It was how the episode switched tone so invisibly that reminded me of Buffy during at its peak; how one scene can scare the hell out of you and next can warm your heart and the next a gobsmacking visual stomach-flop. Plus the fact it revolves around a sexy blonde fighting monsters. Pity Rose is a such a silly bint in this one. But there was that bit where Nancy, surrounded by zombies and bomb explosions curses the war and their eventual downfall and Rose unexpectedly gives a touch of hope to Nancy. I found that very touching. Why didn't they snog?"
- Nigel Verkoff (2005)

"It was a humbling thing to view."
- Andrew Beeblebrox, on Rose's arse (2005)

"The Autons and Dustbins were not as scary as they once were, the corpses in The Presuming Ed were counter-pointed by some ridiculous characters, the Bastard was crap, the Dommervoy got on my nerves. These stories left me disappointed, bored, pissed off and depressed. In fact, I think I hate this show and everyone in it! Why don't you go off somewhere and die in a ditch, Doctor Who? I HATE YOU!!"
- Michael Grade's true feelings resurface (2005)

"Lethal kids in gas masks saying "mummy" is shit-scary. And fair's fair, it is. Gas masks are intrinsically frightening. But I wasn't scared by this story. Oh no. What do you think I am? A wuss? What was that?! Oh my god, oh my god, it's at the front door! ARRGGHH! Oh, no, wait. Just my imagination. Sorry. Er, you're not gonna quote me on that, are you?" – Dave "Scaredy-Cat" Restal (2005)

"This wonderful story is probably the most memorable of the series so far. This doesn't mean it's actually very good, though. I'm getting heartily sick of praising the series to the high heavens, and this is a welcome relief. Sharon. SHAR-RRRONNNN!"
- Ozzy Osbourne (2005)

"Sex and violence. I love children's television."
- Random Press Gang Quote (1993)

Billie Piper Speaks!
"I thought it was ridiculous that we got a panorama shot of London in the scene with Rose hanging from the barrage balloon, and there was no sign of the London Eye. I mean, come on! I've seen the thing in real life and it's pretty difficult to miss, I can tell you!"

Christopher Eccleston Speaks!

Jack Barrowman Speaks!
"As Billy Joel once sang – 'Captain Jack will fuck you hard tonight'! Or was it 'fly you high tonight'? Well, either suits me."

Russell T Davies Speaks!
"A lot of people think that Rose is fickle in this story. Fickle? Bit of a slag more like. Which, admittedly, makes her a realistic teenager of the 21st Century thought not much of a role model or even likable. Already some viewers are claiming to see the Doctor on his own and switching off when Rose appears. More proof, if it be needed, that I'm the only guy qualified to make this show."

Trivia –
This story reveals the Doctor shaves with the sonic screwdriver on setting 1347X. Very badly. When Jack points out Time Lords do not grow beards outside of regeneration, the Doctor hastily claims he knows that and pointlessly scrapes his face every morning to prove just how tough a Northern bastard he really is. 'I'm dead hard, me.'

Rumors & Facts –

The only writer besides executive producer Russell T Davies who was allocated a two-part story for Doctor Who's first season back on the air was Steven Moffat.

This was because Whistledown, a redneck evil devil-possessed scarecrow tale from the pen of J.K. Rowling was rejected by RTD due to a lack of a strong enough role for the Moxx of Baloon. The remaining episode was given to Moffat in lieu of a birthday present.

Moffat was largely known for comedy, writing such series as Coupling, Joking Apart and Press Gang – all of which being award-winning, quotable and available-on-DVD series getting him such acclaim as a writer, the lucky bastard.

Still, he is a Doctor Who fan, so I guess he's suffered enough.

For a Who fan, though, he's a remarkably modest one. The amount of Moffat-related Who merchandise can be counted on one hand and leave three fingers (or two fingers and a thumb) spare.

In 1999, he scripted the Comedy Relief spoof The Curse Of Fatal Death starring Rowan Atkinson, which was immediately seized as canon for up to three months before Big Finish began production.

Moffat also contributed to Virgin Publishing's Decalog 3: Consequences And Repercussions anthology. His story was entitled Continuity Errors and it is justly named – the story of the last three pages has nothing to do with the events on the first sixteen, with the Seventh Doctor and Bernice being regularly changed to "Spike and Susan", "Jeff and Frazz" and the bizarre "Bloke and Chick".

Rather than come up with a decent title for the story as a whole, Moffat decided to try and screw up the lives of fandom even more than the first Dustbin story by making sure that there is no official name for his story. While the episodes are clearly The Bumpy Ride and The Doctor's Bananas, the overall story is known variously as

A Paradox
The Ripper
Scams Gone Really Bad
Casualties of War
Rise of the Tudors
The Doctor Can't Dance
Rules of Engagement
The One That Scares The Crap Out Of Everyone
From Mouths of Babes: "MUMMY!! ARE YOU MY MUMMY!!!?!???"
The One That Really Scares The Crap Out Of Everyone
The Weird Zombie Child of Fatal Death... And FEAR!!
The Judgement of Wife
The Annoying Kid

and that's just by Christopher Eccleston!

Even the titles of the two episodes are up for grabs according to just about every reference work currently online! The titles themselves are listed across the globe as

The Enemy Without / Escape to Danger
The One With the Dark Army / The One Where The Doctor Poses
Trench Warfare / A Field of Dreams
D if for... / Deviancy
First Time / Last Time
Exit Wound / Over The Top
Vagrants and Rogues / Time and Tide
I Am the Doctor / You Will Obey Me

And that leaves out some of the bloody stupid titles like

The Spiradon Surprise
Friends re-UNITED
More Than Crows
Uncivil War
Will They Or Won't They
One Man's Story
Passage to Cardiff
Tears for Gethsemane
Liz Shaw - Who The Hell Invited Her?

Plus the fact there was a rumor that the story titles of the season had been completely re-formatted at the last moment.

1: The Doctor Discovered
2: The Doctor Dallies
3: The Doctor Dithers
4: The Doctor Delves
5: The Doctor Detonates
6: The Doctor Dustbinized
7: The Doctor Diverted
8: The Doctor Defied
9: The Doctor Disquieted
10: The Doctor Dances
11: The Doctor Dines
12: The Doctor Denominates
13: The Doctor Dies

It is ironic that the only official working title for Moffat's story was "The Amazing New Adventures of Doctor Who: the Last of the Time Lords from The Journeys of Rose Tyler Being a Fantastical Tale of a Young Earth Wanderer and Interplanetary Explorer within The Environs of A Gentleman's TARDIS Part Eight: Act One - The Young Miss Tyler Encounters Captain Jack Sparrow Driving A Time Machine While Under The Influence Of Cheap Andromedan Cocaine".

However, after a gang of rabid Who fans attacked him at an Australian Doctor Who convention (and, before you ask, I have a cast iron alibi – ask Cameron J Mason!), Moffat announced that an overall title of the story was Shell Shock. And that's official – lest we send the boys round, Moffat, so watch it.


Moffat's original pitch to the production office was a two 25-minute story entitled The Doctor Accidentally Cops Off. This would involve the Doctor accidentally breaking the TARDIS telepathic circuits and thus projecting his thoughts into other people's minds, like Mel Gibson in What Women Want, only in reverse. The rest of the plot would feature Jack being locked in the toilet, leaving Rose to deal with an oncoming Dustbin army.

RTD was, to put it mildly, unimpressed.

He instead graciously allowed Moffat to write "The Amazing New Adventures of Doctor Who: the Last of the Time Lords from The Journeys of Rose Tyler Being a Fantastical Tale of a Young Earth Wanderer and Interplanetary Explorer within The Environs of A Gentleman's TARDIS Part Eight: Act One - The Young Miss Tyler Encounters Captain Jack Sparrow Driving A Time Machine While Under The Influence Of Cheap Andromedan Cocaine".

Apart from the characters of Captain Jack, Nancy, her gang, the Face of Bond, the Rowan Atkinson Doctor, the Blitz setting, the catchphrase "Are you my mummy?", the return of Lavros and the transvestitism, Moffat was totally free to write about whatever he wanted.

Tragically, the scenes with the Doctor camping it up in the TARDIS control room that concluded the story proved too long and huge amounts of material had to be removed from the narrative -

A scene where a child's music box starts calling for it's mummy.

Jack's explanation of the Tudor: "The Tudor were the deadliest attack force ever to come out of the Shadow Quadrant until one of it's gun platforms went nova, shattering the fleet across the universe. Stupid foreign instruction manuals. Anyway, it's now known as 'the Tudor Nova' by lots of heartless shits in advertising".
The Doctor blames this on C'Rizz as well.

When Jack tells Rose about his missing two years he also adds that he is wanted for war crimes in seven solar systems but doesn't know why but it might have something to do with the cinnamon-flavored bath salts and the Emperor of Gabrielldes' inflatable woman Plastic Peg might have something to do with it.

A tense, nerve-wracking sequence where the Doctor, Rose and Jack take refuge in the store room and find jars with body parts that have also been transformed, gas masks in jars that try and get out and a lab rat asking for its mummy. The Doctor dubs this rat C'Rizz II.

When Nancy is captured by the guards Algy grabs her around the chest from behind and realises she is not as young as she seems. He leaves his hands there for longer than is strictly necessary as well.

On Jack's ship, the Doctor plays with the nanogenes and gets them to do the dance number from Flubber. The Doctor also says that as a youngster he learned to manipulate subatomic beings – and managed to turn the dresses of girls at Prydon Academy transparent whenever they bent over. Jack pulls out a gun and demands the Doctor teach him this particular trick.

In order to pad out there episode there was a fifteen minute subplot where the Doctor and Nancy try to sabotage a beer can only to realize that the Tudor cannister is two metres to the right.

There is also a line of dialogue where the Doctor announces that not even the deadly Dustbins are as pant-wettingly terrifying as an asthmatic pre-schooler in a gasmask having a panic attack.
Rose just stares at him.

Ironically, after burning the above material to cook some kronkburgers, RTD realized the episode was running short and pistol-whipped Moffat into both writing a filler scene and signing on for writing another episode.

Moffat was extremely coy about this filler scene. Apparently it features two non-regulars talking amiably for a while before wandering off. I think it's the scene between Nancy and Arthur Lloyd and it required remarkably few blows to the head for Moffat to confirm this.

Um, I understand. I wasn't there. Honest.

Chosen to direct the story was a director. No idea who it was, but they probably directed other TV shows. Statistically speaking, The Bill, Holby City and Sea Of Souls are the top contenders.

Work on Shell Shock stopped around the middle of December 2004 for the annual Christmas party, before recommencing circa early February 2005. Man, that was one hell of a party – especially as it was entire contained by that warehouse in Newport.

Two locations used earlier in the season were revisited in the vain hope the crew might have left their keys there: Headlands National Children's Home in Penarth, the Cardiff Royal Infirmary and Ms. Selway's Home For Wayward Girls where Paul McGann just happened to be visiting. In return for silence on this matter, he made a brief cameo as the Eighth Doctor dangling from a barrage balloon.

Joining the Doctor Who cast with this story was John Barrowman, playing new companion Captain Jack Sparrow. Barrowman, who was conceived in Scotland but raised in Illinois, had starred in a number of West End musicals as spear-carrier and stunt codpiece.

In 1998, he was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Theatre Award in the category of Best Actor in a Musical for The Fix but did not win it as he was not the John Barrowman who actually performed in The Fix. That was another guy altogether.

On television, Barrowman had starred in two short-lived nighttime soap operas in the US: Central Park West South North East and Titanious Tit-Mongers and breeds rats in his spare time.

Viewers were reportedly 'giving a crap' about the open omnisexuality of Jack – a prerequisite that had normally been just the Doctor. I myself have absolutely NO problem with Jack's sexuality.

It's the fact the Doctor's companions are now named after the main characters in Titanic that disturbs me.

Next Time...
"And I was having such a nice day..."
"According to intelligence, the target is Brigadier-General Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, former UNIT commander turned naughty."
"This nuclear power station right in the heart of Cardiff city will bring jobs for all. Mainly because the mortality rate is worryingly high and turnover is faster than anywhere else in Europe."
"And the station just so happens to be right on top of the rift. Ain't that a bitch?"
"If this power station went into meltdown, this entire planet would go pthhhhhhhhhh! Like a Slitheen after a plate of Mexican re-fried beans!"
"Aw, go on then, Rose! People'll start thinking I'm gay!"
"It's the rift – the rift's opening. The whole city's about to disappear. Time and space are ripping apart! Never mind the planet – it's gonna rip open Cardiff!"
...Funky Town...


RTD was not so completely deranged when he cast Christopher "This Is Me Swanning Off!" Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor. A dozen other artistes were considered for the role and their audition tapes are transcribed here to show you the alternatives that made Chris Eccleston seem like such a sensible choice.

One such artiste was Rebecca McCarthy, a fifteen year old Australian actress famous for her "combat guerilla/space hooker" Una in Parallax. She's been in other things, but none as memorable as Una. Oh yeah. Sweet, sweet candy...

Uh, anyway, RTD was fairly certain he could carry off not only a regeneration mid-way through the story but also reduce the Doctor to a teenage girl younger than Rose Tyler.

Unfortunately, Jack Barrowman could not be trusted and McCarthy's parents were quickly bought off with redundant Ninth Doctor action figures. The McCarthy Doctor is no more.

Extract from "Doctor Who – The Fibremen of Sprong" Episode 4:

(Setting: The TARDIS control room. Rose [Billie Piper] and Jack [John Barrowman] are present. A hideous blob hisses on the floor.)

Jack: I think the Doctor's dead.

Rose: Oh, why did he have to tackle the Moxx of Balhoon? Why? He must have known it was suicide! Nothing can stop that be-he-moth!

(Suddenly the blob bubbles, boils and reconstitutes into a new Doctor [Rebecca McCarthy]. She wears a checkered shirt with the sleeves ripped off, black rugby shorts, and a construction helmet; and is chewing gum. Man, she looks hot.)

Jack: Doctor, is that you?

Doctor: You bet. Wait till the boys find out about my signing on for this. So, yeah, you know, there I was one minute, and them Wham! Next minute here I am with you. Is it fate or what? I mean what other explanation can there be?

Rose: It's science fiction, Doctor. We don't have to explain anything if we don't want to.

Jack: Doctor, Doctor! It's the Fibremen of Sprong – the Moxx's unearthly henchmen! They're attacking the TARDIS!

Rose: How could they break through the force field?

Doctor: Well, was it turned on?

(Jack and Rose look embarrassed)

Rose: You've got to repair the TARDIS, Doctor!

Doctor: Oh, sweet as! What's the problem?

Jack: It's knackered.

(The Doctor pulls out a huge bunch of wires)

Doctor: Ahh... Got a manual?

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