Friday, January 1, 2010

9th Doctor - The Parting of the Ways (v)

Trivia: Is RTD A Lying Bastard? –

You know, few people have gone back and actually read what RTD wrote in his Doctor Who Magazine Production Notes column once they've seen the new series.

Of course, the television industry is a world of constant flux and ideas sometime only exist long enough to be annotated before being thrown back into the void from whence they came.

Yet, there are plenty of stories that he insisted would be made that never saw the light of day – adventures for the Ninth Doctor or Ninth Doctor and Rose that were ultimately never made.

Like for example, THE APOCALYPSE AGENDA featuring the Ninth Doctor and Rose discovering that the overweight Fitz (Robbie Coltrane) has rewired the Third Doctor's DNA into a hideous monster that is about to threaten the world. Well, that's what Fitz says.

What ever happened to the warn-torn alien cityscapes of THE ANCIENTS OF N'TOTH? The submerged ziggurats of PYRAMIDS OF THE DEEP? The even-soggier-than-that BENEATH THE DEPTHS? The Snotaran extravaganza THE KNIGHTS OF TIM? The return of the Bygones in RIDING OUT THE STORM? The sequel to I, DUSTBIN – MACHINATIONS? TIME ENOUGH AT LAST, yet another fallout from the Temporal Difference of Opinion? The long-awaited Ninth Doctor and Cybermen face off THE CAST IRON WAR? The Sapphire And Steel cut-and-paste TIME FREEZES OVER? A TALE OF TWO PLANETS, a sci-fi sequel to THE PRESUMING ED featuring the return of Headhunter? The namby-pampy-eco-love wuss-a-rama turning Cardiff back to nature FALSE PARADISE?

And what about the solo Ninth Doctor stories? Just where is the Alien Versus Predator Versus Doctor Who epic THE HUNT? The bling-coated Rocky Horror/8041 Paradise Towers nightmare DEATH OF TAKE-CARE CITY? CASTUS SUPPLICIUM – one of countless proposed Ninth Doctor/Earth Reptile stories to piss off organized religion such as EYE FOR AN EYE, SHADOWS OF THE DEEP and the misspelled THE CAVES OF THE ANICENTS? The Sexual Toymaker Trilogy – RULES OF ENGAGEMENT, VOTING RIGHTS and CHECKMATE? CHILDREN OF THE STONES, a new age hippie-beatnik trip to Stonehenge?

On the other hand, all those words that he mentioned actually DID turn up in the finished episodes. So, I guess we'll just have to wait for further evidence.

In the meantime, don't trust RTD with YOUR children!

Rumors & Facts –

From the moment that the phrase 'K9 RULES!' was seen scrawled across the TARDIS during filming of Alias of London, fandom was up in arms. Who or what was K9? How did it effect the lives and adventures of the Ninth Doctor? And why the hell would you scrawl something like that on a police box anyway?

Theories detailing the identity of K9 began immediately. This being has been mistakenly believed to be –

The Ninth Doctor
The Tenth Doctor
Adam's Dog
Captain Jack
Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart
The Nestle Consciousness
The Face of Bond
Jo Grant/The Rani
The 57 Chevy of Rassilon
Fred Dinenage
Alpha Sintauri
The Zoo-Keeper of Traken
Bertie Basset
The Wank Lord
A giant yellow jellybaby
Anne Robinson
George Formby
Bob Dylan
Sir Clive Sinclair
The Crazy Frog
The entire cast and crew of Little Britain
Paris Hilton
George Foreman
Craig Hinton
Johnny Vegas
Michael Grade
Yorkshire Electricity Board
Harriet Jones
Tony Blair
Star Trek fandom
Ozzy Osbourne
Carol Vorderman
Sakugarne the time-travelling pogo stick belonging to Quint, a reprogrammed Rock from the future, from the Megaman 2 game on Gameboy
My Auntie Marjorie

...and pretty much everyone agreed that no matter what character would be revealed to be K9 it would be played by Brian Blessed on crack.

Absolutely NO ONE, no one at ALL considered the possibility K9 was the same K9 that had appeared in Doctor Who in Seasons Fifteen to Eighteen and in various anniversary specials ever since.

I despair. I really do.

A lot of thought went into coming up with a four-episode plot to conclude the series. Unfortunately, none of it was by RTD who was certain that a story called The Brigadier, where the Doctor, Rose and Jack encounter the aging soldier having a dirty weekend in big posh country house.

Unfortunately, Nicholas Courtney's character had been used already in Alias of London and Funky Town, so that story had to be scrapped – as did its scarecrow-fetishist 'Pyramids of Cards on Acid' replacement, Whistledown. As there was no way for Cardiff to double as France, the Joan d'Arc story and star Audrey Tatou had to be dropped.

After considering a two parter about a group of politicians that were actually aliens and they revealed their true form when they either lied or told the truth, RTD gave up rooting around in his rubbish bin for ideas and finally started asking round.

Ideas included the Bastard possessing such luminaries as David Jason and someone who'd been on Big Brother's Little Brother for... some reason that presently escaped the originator of the idea.

Paul Carnall offered to retell his audio play Reasons to Care as Ninth Doctor and Rose story, much as Rob Shearman had changed D'You Believe This? to I, Dustbin. The character of Blackadder was apparently changed to a recurring character of a 1940s East End gangland villain played by Ray Winstone in a tutu.

And Shearman himself suggested they simply re-make a draft version of I, Dustbin entitled Cargo and would be set on a space station in which a lone Dustbin was picking off the crew members one by one.

Tom Stoppard, who was passing at the time, suggested a new story entitled The Parting of the Ways – in which Rose finally snaps and demands to be taken home. Unfortunately, she returns to 2006 and finds history has been changed and England is now a Muslim theocracy, where women have few rights. Rose is, of course, instantly arrested and sentenced to death for her immoral outfit. Rose escapes, meets up with the Doctor and together they decide to screw up the early days of the Christian Church. As you do.

Everyone considered this WAY too heavy a story, but RTD liked the name and promptly stole it after a slight adjustment.

It was then RTD found that a cryptic message had been left to him by his future self, scattering the words BIG BROTHER PASTICHE through time and space in an odd way to contact him.

RTD realized the significance of this and promptly based a story around an idea the tabloids had been constantly suggesting since 2004. In it, the Doctor, Rose and Jack arrive in the middle of a competition where aliens have gathered famous figures from across time for their own amusement - to lose in this game means a horrible death.

He then coupled this together with a story most Doctor Who fans had written before they could learn to walk. This story, entitled Adam Ant, featured the Doctor pulling out all the stops to prevent a Dustbin ship from cleaning and tidying a planet – only to discover that it was the teeniest, tiniest scout ship of a massive Dustbin Saucer fleet determined to wipe clean the universe.

Thus, RTD married the two ideas in a Las Vegas wedding-style with some product placement for Lego and Endemol under the title of "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 Ten: Act One - The Young Miss Tyler Proves Utterly Useless At 201st Century General Knowledge".

Other working titles include – "Guess Who'll Fall?", "The Evil of Television", "Reality TV of the Dustbins", "Big Brother in SPAAACEE!", "Bread and Circuses", "The Return of the Wanker", "Once Upon a Time" and "Unhappily Ever After", "Remembering To Strike Back At The Doctor", "Dustbin Difference of Opinion" and "Density".

THEN it became "Fractured Time", "Vacation Force", "Shatner's Bassoon", "Bob Ferret's Electric Moon Monkey Tennis", "The Fragile Yellow Arc of Fragrance", "Doppelganger", "The Well of Hvergelmerglvirglmir", "Our Rob Or Ross", "The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living And Became Mixed-Up Zombies". Finally it was a toss-up between "Shit-Loads Of Dustbins" and "Takeshi's Castle". Nigel Verkoff cut through the crap and mucked out with the captioning machine to create "The Parting of the Legs".

This was not the first time the BBC had used product placement in Doctor Who – in the first episode of the Ninth Doctor, Mickey's 'Indonesian cigarette manufacturer' T-shirt advertised tobacco so well I smoke three packs a day ever since I saw Ruse on the ABC. Damn it!

Oddly enough, however, the Fourth Doctor's insistence that this all a big surprise party was neither an adlib by Tom Baker or invented by RTD in a strange mood. It is actually a reference to the unmade Doctor Who Movie written Tom Baker and Douglas Adams in 1979, Doctor Who Versus Ironic Expectation. Pity about the lack of latext for the sex scene between the Fourth Doctor and Dustbin, otherwise we'd have been able to see the finished movie ourselves.

Production on The Parting of the Legs began around the middle of January 2005. I could be more specific about it, but heck, I'm not Andrew Pixley, you know! I mean, 4th of January or 17th of January... does it honestly matter? Will your life end if it isn't exactly accurate? Hmmm?!

While it would seem insane to recall Nigel Verkoff to play Adam Mitchell, this turned out to be a cunning ploy. When Verkoff showed up for work, both his legs were broken, an arm snapped and his body was hideously burnt until he resembles Lavros from the original viewing. In order to make the figure even slightly scary, it was decided to cast Norman Lovett to play Lavros II's voice. James Melody however, played the spectral Watcher. It easy to get the two mixed up.

As the main thrust of the first episode was to take the piss out of reality and/or quiz shows Big Brother, The Weakest Link and What Not To Wear, director Joe Ahearne came up with the brilliant idea of tricking the genuine programs into letting Doctor Who film there.

This would save any tedious re-casting or copying of sets. Indeed, Anne Robinson, Trinny Woodall, Susannah Constantine and Davina McCall all played Cybermen playing themselves while the Big Brother production company Endemol Entertainment were hoodwinked into designing a new version of their show's logo incorporating K9.

All Ahearne needed to do was cross his heart and hope to die that by appearing in Doctor Who the reputations of these other programs would not sink any lower than they already had.

It is telling that none of the authentic programs disputed this upon the broadcast of The Parting of the Legs.

Recording on the two episodes was largely confined to the studio, at that old warehouse in Newport which, upon completion of the story was cheerfully fire-bombed by the regular cast with homemade Molotov cocktails using the empty bottles left in the wake of Tom Baker.

Unfortunately, the insurance fire came too soon – scenes of the TARDIS returning to Rose's home in Cardiff had yet to be filmed and thus were shot on location at incredible expense that meant that Nigel Verkoff was not paid for his appearance in Doctor Who at all.

Work on The Parting of the Legs - and the season as a whole - concluded circa the middle of March whether the story was finished or not. There was an aura of exhaustion and relief that this interminable episodes was over.

Then they realized it would have do it all again next year!

The Parting of the Legs also brought Christopher Eccleston's brief but sexually frustrated tenure on Doctor Who to an end, much to the relief of his parents who were devout Northern Trekkies. The age of the Ninth Doctor, the "drama teaching scally pikey" incarnation, was over.

Christopher Eccleston's first role after leaving Doctor Who was reported to be a reunion with Ahearne on the romantic comedy Double Life but was in fact an apprenticeship at a fried chicken franchise named Happy Flappy Burgers.

Executive producer Russell T Davies had originally planned for the Doctor's regeneration at the end of The Parting Of The Legs to come as a shock to the audience, and before that had planned for the big shock ending be that the Doctor DIDN'T regenerate and that all the tabloids that said otherwise were unfit wasting of newsprint.

When Eccleston's departure was leaked to the press shortly after the broadcast of Ruse by a strange bald man answering to the name of Nicholas Briggs, there was a desperate attempt to recast the Ninth Doctor and simply say that Eccleston's mere presence had been journalistic fiction.

This did not work.

Indeed, no one, absolutely no one, was surprised that the final episode ended with the Doctor regenerating into a teeth-gritting lunatic with far too much gel in his hair.

They were surprised when that episode was screened at BAFTA four days before the BBC broadcast it, and were also pretty surprised when Head of Drama and Sheep, Jane Tranter, announced that there would not only be a second series and Christmas special but a third series and another Christmas special!

But, nevertheless, the actual regeneration was bloody predictable – with a shot Christopher Eccleston sneezing cutting to David Tennant hiccuping with lots of fiery CGI.

In retrospect, it was a good thing there was an advance screening as that particular week was a pretty bad time to be a Who fan waiting to see the final episode. The master tape was burned by the BBC out of sheer nostalgia, before every major newspaper in Britain combined their forces to give away the plot on billboards and released the episode onto the internet, which was promptly destroyed by Graham Norton as a huge meteorite hit the UK that Friday and the scheduled screening was put off by three months because God had returned to Earth to complain that no son of his would never have a Northern accent ala Christopher Eccleston in RTD's Second Coming.

Despite whatever RTD will tell you, the conclusion of The Parting of the Legs closed the book on the first new season of Doctor Who in sixteen years. Yes, it's true.

For more than two decades, the program had languished in increasing obscurity, viewed by the general public, the BBC and goblins as either a quaint relic of bygone times or as a cheaply-made embarrassment to the hardcore porn industry.

In the span of thirteen weeks, the new series had captured the hearts and minds – and, above all, the wallets - of the British audience, climbed to the upper echelons of ratings charts, reinvigorated Saturday night family viewing, redefined the boundaries of what British television could accomplish, single-handedly saved the NASA space program, unraveled the Human Genome, found Osama Bin Laden, ended poverty and hunger and disease, and got quite a few Who fans laid.

Doctor Who was back, and its future had perhaps never looked so much like Rose Tyler naked.

Season A Round-Up -

So, was the Christopher Eccleston era a break from the program's past? Of course it wasn't it is so firmly linked to the OLD series and Big Finish that not even that nutter who wrote TimeLink needed to rethink any continuity issues!

True, what with the 45-minute episodes and special effects that actually look even vaguely realistic, you could be mistaken for thinking this wasn't Doctor Who at all. Even portrayal of the Doctor, while deviating strongly from some eras of the program, is also not without precedent.

Eccleston's Doctor is desperate and a bit gay, with a sex life which he has to overcome, and, in this, is not a million miles from the frequently naughty, negligent and oversexed version played by William Hartnell – who also died after getting laid for the first time.

At the same time, however, the series cannot be said to be "like the original" in the sense of being a nostalgia trip simply for the sake of it. Well, apart from the gratuitous return of the Autons, Dustbins, Bastard, the Fourth Doctor and UNIT not to mention the rape and pillage of other continuities like Big Finish in The Presuming Ed, or The Curse of Fatal Death in Shell Shock, or the fanwankorama that is Death Day.

The producers of the new series are visibly not trying to pastiche Doctor Who as it was in earlier times; the destruction of Gallifrey, for instance, not only suggests that significant events have been occurring during the series' time off the air, and curiously enough lots of this would be too expensive to show on screen anyway.

If only there were some kind of pattern.

What this series does do is, like earlier seasons, take a versatile premise – a randy alien and his way-out-of-his-league companion(s) who can go anywhere in time and space and get mixed up in anything - and giving us a season of cliched science-fiction and/or fantasy series based on it.

Many of these stories focus on themes which are explicitly those of the present day, such as terrorism (which the Doctor gleefully commits), big business (which the Doctor freely supports), reality television and the rightness of the death penalty (both of which the Doctor loves to get front row seats at); however, Doctor Who has always dealt with the current issues of the time, from anxieties about scientific progress in the 1960s to Cold War revisionism in the late 1980s (both of which the Doctor strongly approved of, if only to see what happened when he pressed red buttons).

The most distinctive difference between the earlier and present series, however, has been the linking of all the stories within it in an "arc," both implicitly and explicitly. Earlier so-called "arcs" in Doctor Who have generally not been as comprehensive or thorough: "The Key to Chicken" season can easily be viewed as standalone stories, and, while it can be fun to trace the thematic links running through Season 18, what you see in "The Webber's Gate" doesn't make you go back and reevaluate "The Leisure Centre". If it does, get a life. Uniquely, this series is best viewed as a whole, rather than as standalone stories.

At least that's what the DVD people keep saying.

Whatever happens in the future, RTD and the whole acting and production team deserve to be commended for managing to pull off this difficult feat without getting lynched immediately.


RTD was so knackered he cast the next person he saw as the Tenth Doctor. This turned out to be David Tennant, who had just popped in to see if he'd left his kilt behind.

This proved to be quite lucky for all those who sent the rumor mill into overdrive in the wake of Eccleston quitting. Practically everyone assumed that David Tennant would portray the Time Lord's tenth incarnation after being RTD's rent boy, stunt double for Mark Gatiss' ego and star of RTD's disturbing orgiastic extravaganza Casanova On Heat In Lanzarote.

In order to make it look like he knew what he was doing, RTD filmed several sequences for Alias of London, Shell Shock and Funky Town! where David Tennant's Doctor made the briefest of brief cameos in order to suggest that this had been the plan all along.

Extract from "Doctor Who – Casanova of TIMMMEEEEE!!" Episode 4:

(Setting: An empty room with one door. The Doctor [David Tennant] and Rose [Billie Piper] run in, followed by gunfire and the Doctor slams the door shut before the monsters can reach them. The monster look in through the window, giggle and wander off.)

Doctor: [sighs] Rat's bollocks.

Rose: What is it?

Doctor: This door only opens from the outside. And this whole building is about to explode in five minutes. I really should have waited before reversing the polarity of the neutron flow.

Rose: There must be another way out of here!

(There isn't.)

Doctor: Sonic screwdriver doesn't work either.

(Rose charges the door. And bounces off. Twice.)

Rose: Aren't you gonna try?

Doctor: Nah, I'm happy just watching you.

Rose: You're wondering if I'm regretting this, aren't you?

Doctor: (guiltily) Uh, yeah! Sure! That's what I'm wondering!

Rose: Really?

Doctor: No. Oh, I refuse to die a virgin!

(He snogs Rose.)

Doctor: You think you can stay hot till we reach the TARDIS?

Rose: How?

Doctor: I've seen the light.

Rose: You mean, bash the light fitting, crawl up into the ceiling and escape that way?

Doctor: No, I was thinking of getting God to save us – but that'll do. In a pinch. I suppose.

(They do this. The Doctor drools over Rose's arse the whole time.)

will return in

No Dustbins were harmed during
the making of this program.

Adam will NOT be returning.
At any time, ever.

Filmed on location in Cardiff,
Wales and on board the TARDIS.

The making of this show would
not have been possible without
the helpful co-operation of
the Dustbin Emperor.

Dedicated to the memory of the
Ninth Doctor.
Swan off in peace.

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