Saturday, October 3, 2009

6th Doctor - Arrangements for War

Serial 7C/K – Engagements That Bore
Engagements That Bore
An Alternate Programme Guide by Ewen Campion-Clarke
An Extract From The EC Unauthorized Programme Guide O' Heartache

Serial 7C/K – Engagements That Bore -

Evelyn Smythe’s senility has reached the point she thinks the Doctor is a greasy foreign milkman – though some illegal narcotics have helped fuel this paranoid fantasy.

The Doctor offers to drop Evelyn off at the Eye of Orion, to give her some time alone, perhaps thirty or forty million years, and immediately sets the TARDIS to travel there shouting at Evelyn to pack her bags and move her wrinkly arse OUT of his time machine.

The TARDIS reappears in some wild, rainy botanical gardens and Evelyn storms out in the belief she has a bus to catch, and has barely crossed a pond-spanning bridge when she keels over from a heart attack.

The Doctor emerges from the TARDIS, notices Evelyn’s unconscious body, giggles slightly, and then decides to go fishing in the pond to relax... until some little punk starts skipping stones on the water.

The Doctor shouts at the brat that the last person who frightened the fish like that owns the lifeless septuagenarian body dumped in the bushes nearby, and the boy – Marcus – stops.

Marcus suddenly bursts into tears and explains he’s been stood up on a date by a girl called Kristina and has finally stopped waiting outside a disco after ten long days.

The Doctor, irritated, points out that if Marcus was less of a whining cry baby loser then maybe girls might want to hang around him for any length of time, and if he wants sympathy he can hire a hooker.

Just then, Kristina turns up and explains she totally forgot all about the date and she had to wash her hair. She apologizes and then waits for Marcus’ raging hormones to overcome his righteous indignation, in the meantime prodding Evelyn with her toe.

The Doctor tells the two teenagers to go and shag each other senseless elsewhere as this sub Degrassi shite is interrupting his fishing holiday. "Who do you think you are, anyway?!"

Kristina explains that she is a princess – which the Doctor assumes means her stepfather is a rich stock broker who has neglected her all her life. But it appears Kristina IS genuine royalty of the Eye of Orion, and betrothed to Prince Viktor the Dork, a marriage which will finally end the centuries of warfare between the two kingdoms.

The Doctor frowns at this and demands to know what Kristina is doing hanging around a weed like Marcus when she could be enjoying a loveless marriage for the sake of her country?

"I have needs!" Kristina snaps, which pretty much kills the conversation stone dead.

The Doctor frowns and after checking his To Do List discovers he has to help the Eye of Orion Kingdom Alliance to fight off the alien Killemall Wolfmen of the Apocalypse – a really easy thing to do since the two Kingdoms are totally united against a common enemy.

But unless Kristina and Victor marry, there will be no Kingdom Alliance and instead the Eye of Orion will be already fighting amongst itself when the alien monsters invade. The Doctor defeating them will be a long drawn out battle of intricate three-dimensional chess played on a thousand boards and requiring incredible amounts of forward planning and double crossing.

The Doctor thinks about it and decides to simply let the Orions get invaded – it’s their OWN fault anyway, isn’t it?

The Time Lord wanders off to the disused baths further down the riverbed and peers through the grilles in order to cop a look on any hot guys who are showering. Much to his annoyance, the disused baths live up to their name in every way and form.

Meanwhile, Kristina shrugs off all the internecine repercussions of her playing around, and decides to marry Victor and keep Marcus a bit on the side. Marcus is horrified at this toying with his feelings... until he realizes he might get to third base and immediately accepts.

Elsewhere in the botanical gardens are Governor Rossiter of Marzipan and his secretary Plenipotentiary Sushi. Rossiter idly asks Sushi, the most notorious warmonger in the Eye of Orion whose autobiography "Why Peace Sux" is still in the top ten, who could possibly be the saboteur who sent that Anthrax Cake to his palace?

Sushi pauses in her answer so she can assume a Cockney accent and leave an abusive message on Rossiter’s answering machine shouting that the people of the Eye of Orion all think he’s an appeasing, pacifistic idiot who should be lynched.

Sushi completes her answer that she has no idea who could possibly be betraying Rossiter’s glorious five year plan of peace, freedom and democracy – before carving pro-war graffiti into a nearby tree.

Rossiter remains oblivious, proving once again that the one person too stupid to be allowed to run a mighty global empire is almost always the one that gets the job.

Then they stumble across Evelyn’s twitching body. Rossiter orders Evelyn to be gift wrapped and taken to his private chambers, where he may feast his eyes on her delicacy and forget the torment of his own humdrum existence.

"Whatever turns you on," Sushi agrees, then shudders with disgust at the thought.

Sushi asks her fellow terrorist Commander Pokol to abandon his black ops infiltration of the Orion public to stir up trouble and help carry Evelyn off. And when Pokol arrives, Rossiter quizzes the Commander if he has any idea who the traitors might be, and Pokol hides his “DEATH TO ROSSITER” T-shirt and admits he has no idea.

The Doctor agrees to help Kristina and Marcus continue their adulterous affair as long he gets the film rights and no mention in their official biographies.

After three weeks of passing drool-covered love letters between the two teenagers during the nightly news, the Doctor starts to go stir crazy and starts shoving celery in his buttonhole and calling himself Angus McNugget.

Meanwhile Rossiter and Evelyn attend gala charity events and a few late-night chat shows. Evelyn is the perfect political wife as her advanced senility means she cannot give away any compromising information or comment on the sudden changes in policy. In fact, her even remembering who she is talking to is a cause for minor celebration among the Eye of Orion paparazzi.

Rossiter meanwhile, seems to have fallen in love with Evelyn. She is the one person who cannot be bored by endless chats about politics and history, and her forthrightness, intelligence, insight and idealism thoroughly impress him... but then, he’s very easily impressed.

Sushi, however, spends three weeks assassinating ambassadors in a drive through fast food store and writes lots of graffiti on walls that Princess Kristina has orgies with her astronomy tutor the Doctor and her general dogsbody Marcus.

The Doctor discovers the graffiti, and – horrified at the implicit aspersion on his sexuality – scratches out a denial that gives away the fact Kristina and Marcus are already two-thirds through the Eye of Orion Karma Sutra – Positive Ion Bombardment edition.

Sushi is delighted and sends a ridiculously melodramatic phone call to Rossitor to simply say "PEACE OFF, YOU WANKER!"

Two weeks later, a long and bloody war has claimed thousands, Marcus has been sent to the front line as canon fodder, the Doctor has been locked in jail for deviancy, while Evelyn is to be extradited to an old people’s home for the terminally bewildered. However, Evelyn gets lost on the train taking her there and accidentally steps outside and tumbles to certain death.

Despite all that is rational, she survives.

The Doctor tries to get friendly with his cellmate, a young man beaten and thrown into jail for participating in a peaceful pro-Alliance demonstration, only to discover it is Kristina in disguise and she attempts at a rescue... unfortunately the other cellmate is Pokol, who was in DEEP cover.

The Doctor decides he’s had enough of this and grabs Pokol’s head and jams it in between the cell bars, allowing him and Kristina to escape, but the aristo fob girl is not the best escaped criminal and manages to shoot herself through the foot before they even get out of the cell.

Evelyn ends up back in hospital with concussion and a dislocated shoulder – and possibly complete amnesia, but no one is a 100 per cent sure on that, since she is always so clueless and forgetful.

The Doctor and Kristina finally escape the prison only to see huge office-block sized UFOs descending out of the sky as the Killemall invasion of the Eye of Orion begins.

"Some days, it’s just not worth getting out of bed," the Doctor sighs.

Just then, Pokol bursts out the prison, still with his head caught in the bars, which he has had to take with them. Humiliated, he picks up a convenient sub machine gun and chases after the Doctor and Kristina.

The huge werewolf aliens storm the Eye of Orion exactly as the Doctor predicted, since all the military is stretched thin fighting in some green field that will be forever mistaken for Wales.

Meanwhile, Rossiter considers joining forces with his enemies to unite against the alien threat. He considers it. He doesn’t DO it. He just thinks about it. Just stands there going, "Hey, united we stand, divided we’re screwed like Vietnamese whores!" and not actually doing anything to help the plot.

Sushi meanwhile is shuffling around, slightly embarrassed that her insane xenophobic paranoia has totally doomed her civilization. Then a werewolf bites her head off.

However, Marcus has not only conveniently survived weeks of front line military action but miraculously remembered all the info the Doctor had on the Killemall invaders and so leads a brave resistance movement to storm the palace, kill the werewolves and save the girl he loves.

Unfortunately, Kristina has gone right off Marcus and has decided she prefers hanging around the Doctor and being a general fag hag. Things then get domestic and then Pokol arrives and machine guns them both to death before he is torn to pieces by more werewolves.

The Doctor decides now might be a good moment for him to run like fuck back to the TARDIS and escape with his miserable life, pointing out that if he lets two star-crossed lovers dying get on his conscience, he wouldn’t be able to call Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet the wackiest rom-com film not written by Richard Curtis.

As he takes off, he discovers to his inexpressible annoyance that Evelyn has somehow wandered into the time machine and thus been taken away from the far distant planet and love interest and thus the perfect place to ditch her.

Unfortunately, Evelyn has completely forgotten about Rossiter and the Eye of Orion and is already bragging she is an emotional equal to the Time Lord... and an intellectual better.

The Doctor cocks his head to one side and goes, "Aw..."

Then he punches her lights out.

Book(s)/Other Related -
Doctor Who And The Teenage Angst of Doom
Doctor Who and the Implements of Harkness (Canada Only)
The Eye of Irony: Why The Most Tranquil Place In The Universe Suffers From Centuries Of Ruthless and Bloody Wars

Goofs – Evelyn doesn’t leave in this.

OK, Sushi has to be the most transparent villain since Snidely Whiplash. He is the leader of the enemy country, openly chats about planting bombs, sneaking in assassins, arranging demonstrations, and generally trying to sow chaos and discord... but no one, NO ONE seems to ever think of restricting the foreign leader's movements or communications in any way. For no sane and sensible reason, even when WAR is declared against Sushi’s country, is he deported? No, he is allowed freedom of movement within the capital, the right to wander in and talk to political prisoners, and to continue to have his private staff of bodyguards to wander around fully armed. Did Hitler actually live in London with his SS team in the shed out the back? No! This isn't just a plot hole, it's a plot SINGULARITY!

Technobabble -
Evelyn struggles to "reverse the polarity of the Alzheimer flow".

Links and References -
Evelyn remarks she planned to have a threesome with Tim, Bill and Graham, until she realized it would actually he a foursome and thus incredibly vulgar and gratuitous (Serial 7C/H "Doctor Who and the Goodies"), and actually quite disgusting.

I feel nauseous myself just thinking about it.

Untelevised Misadventures -
The Doctor explains he has met a future incarnation of himself who wasn’t traveling with Evelyn, and thus this thought alone keeps him going when times are tough.

Dialogue Disasters -

Rossiter: The things we hold dear are always remembered forever.
Evelyn: Not necessarily, Johnny, not necessarily.

Gratutious use of the title -
Evelyn: Find me an interesting period, somewhere. Anywhere. Somewhere where you don't have to help the underdog or rally the resistance.
Doctor: You want an Engagement That Bores, then?

Sushi: Just call me Donald Rumsfeld. Anyone want to go on a duck shooting expedition with me? No? Go fuck yourselves then.

Doctor: I can't change what happened. I never can. So I guess I’m stuck with you again, Dr Smythe.

Evelyn as she tumbles out of the train –
"It worked for Turlough when HE was being chased by werewolves!"

Dialogue Triumphs -

Evelyn: Will I have the honour of your escort, guvnor?
Rossiter: I will attend to you in the carriage during the procession through the city.
Evelyn: What? Again? Young man, would you cease doing that? You're scaring the fish!
Rossiter: Sorry. I seem to be doing this a little too often these days. Maybe I need to see a therapist.

Sushi’s death scene -
"I tried to defeat the alliance because I thought my people stood stronger in isolation. Like YOU’VE never made a mistake. Damn it, I could use a reset button right about now... ARGHHHH!"

Doctor: They're dead Evelyn, they're both dead. And it's my fault, directly my fault. On the bright side, there are no longer any living witnesses. So, morally, I win.

Evelyn: I've spent the last few hours just... thinking about things. About Cassie, about what happened to her, and about your manner. You've had more experienced at this kind of thing. I can't just switch my emotions on and off between battles for the universe.
Doctor: And THAT is why you’re not working out as a companion! Have you never HEARD of the Reset Switch?! Honestly, it's a challenge to me Evelyn, to travel with you!

Sushi: There is at least a dignity in war. Hey-hey. Call me Alistair.

Doctor: You have to be willing to live with the consequences of your action or inaction. Unless you have a reset switch. I'd hate to think there was anything irreconcilable between us... because of reset switches. I like reset switches, Evelyn. Reset switches are good!

Evelyn: Plenty of things are reminding me of my age at the moment. And I need reminding. Who are you again, Johnny?

Doctor: If they're found out, then the arranged marriage will be called off, the alliance will break up, the war will start again, and when the Killemalls arrive they'll tear this planet apart. And it'll all be my fault! MY KINGDOM FOR A RESET SWITCH!

Krisztinsa: It is about the end of childhood. About growing up and facing ones duty and responsibilities. But we can still have meaningless sex when no one is looking.
Marcus: Jackpot! Giggity-giggity-giggity!!

Viewer Quotes -

"This is a stirring mixture of war and romance and further proof that Big Finish is pulling itself out of the doldrums of last year with the best Doctor and companion EVER! I will make no secret of the fact that I sent death threats to the other Doctors, and once punched Paul McGann’s lights out... well, it was a McGann brother in any case... and I was nearly heartbroken! THANK CHRIST Evelyn is still in the show! I was NEVER bored! NOT ONCE! BOREDOM IS NOT AN ISSUE! HOUND DOWN AND DESTROY THOSE THAT SAY OTHERWISE! HOUND THEM!" - Jo Ford (2005)

"So it appears the lusty month of May, as the musical Camelot proudly sings, is totally true for Doctor Who 2004. Ah, young love, a maiden’s distress... I haven’t taken my medication for MONTHS, you know."
– an intense Goth chick I now avoid like the plague (2000)

"This is a work of staggering stupidity, breathtaking inanity, and such complete idiocy that the author has to simply stop at points and fill in the plot gaps with narrative, as I'm sure the actors took one look at the script and said, "I'm not reading that crap." And when you believe that a man who performed in Lame Shit said, "I'm not reading
that crap," you're talking about some seriously dim-witted stuff. A work of thorough incompetence on every possible level. I can’t BELIEVE Evelyn is still the companion!!" - Nigel Verkoff (2004)

"This is the story Attack of the Clones tried to be. So it would have been rubbish even if it HAD succeeded." - George Lucas (2003)

"It astonishes me to hear some people moaning about Big Finish and their attempts to shake up the sixth Doctor’s image and make a more likable, less irritable character. These were probably the same people who whined on that he was too violent and shouty on the telly! He is the continual winner of polls as THE audio Doctor and powerhouse performances like the one he delivers here is all the evidence you need to see why! COLIN BAKER IS YOUR GOD! WORSHIP HIM! WORSHIP HIIIIM!"
- Jo Ford (2005 – later that day)

"Is Big Finish catering here for the female market? I wouldn't be so sexist to presume anything like that, to be honest, but this is for chicks and homos and no mistake." - Russell Crowe (2008)

"If the Eye of Orion only has one continent why have the kingdoms bothered developing navies? Is it some kind of code for all the gay nightlife? Just... curious." – Eve Markson (2007)

"Unlike other Big Finish adventures, this story has the advantage of being both well written and well executed. It is, in short, a bloody good little story. This one is definitely up there as a real classic. Colin Baker is your God! YOU WILL WORSHIP HIM! WORRSHIP HIIIIIIIIM!"
– Ron Mallet (2006)

Psychotic Nostalgia -
"Four hundred thousand casualties after two weeks of open war? Pah! Rank amateurs! That’s not bloodshed. You wanna see real bloodshed? I'll show you real bloodshed! By the way, you know a way to get blood out of polyester and cotton? My regular powder just doesn't wash!"

Colin Baker Speaks!
"This story is bittersweet and charming, with some admirable characters, a story about consequences, taking responsibility for your actions, about paternal, fraternal and romantic love. And also attacks of giant alien werewolves biting off Philip Bretheron’s head. I’ve admired him for many years, with his wonderful smooth charm and great performances, but he really works best when a lycanthrope is decapitating him in a shower of warm offal and gore."

Rumors & Facts –

I was so hoping that Dr Evelyn Smythe would come to a sticky end in this story. Or just any end. Anything was fine with me as long as went. She could have been revealed to be Buster Keaten in a Slitheen skin suit attempting to seduce Noel Coward for all I care.

My emotions bleed into one another, ebb and flow with an affecting tear-jerking realism as I realized that despite all the ample opportunities, Evelyn did NOT leave in this story.

A story like this could easily degenerate into an angst ridden, soap operatic collage arguments and recriminations. Which is probably why it DOES degenerate into an angst ridden, soap operatic collage arguments and recriminations. At least with the Eighth Doctor and Charley there were some half-decent whipped cream sex scenes!

Engagements That Bore was created as a result Gay Russell deciding at the very beginning that Big Finish needed to appeal to the teen market, and concluding that since that consisted of a bunch of soppy girls and emo losers, that a sci-fi romance would drag the pathetic losers in.

The first draft, entitled "The Mills and Boon of TIME!" was politely – and in many cases impolitely – rejected point blank as not one of the writers, not even Nicholas Briggs, was willing to do it. No one was confident enough to subvert conventional romantic fiction archetypes, or was a good enough writer to transcend the influences without it being all melodramatic, over-sentimental, mawkish and dull nausea-inducing syrupy schmaltz.

Plus they didn’t want anyone to think they were poofs or anything.

Time passed.

One day, the production team it had been a year since the last Sixth Doctor/Evelyn story and decided if they were going to get around to doing that, they could ALSO do the Mills and Boon story, and finally get rid of Evelyn (ironically, the Evelyn stories were selling incredibly well since fans flock in the hope that this time the rickety old ratbag will finally depart).

Chosen to do this was Paul Sutton – part time English teacher, part time mathematician, full time Irish online gamer with a Hungarian wife he found left on his doorstep one day. Sutton’s previous proposal sent to Big Finish was the plot Ecelsior Merchandising – except it featured far more Central European historical satire, a plague of zombie rats and a sequence where Raven turned out to be the Bastard after an acid house party in Basingstoke.

Dismayed at this rejection, Sutton moved to Budapest to catch up with his favorite American soap operas, but the moment Russell was willing to actually pay him anything, Sutton instantly returned to England like a bitch on heat.

The first draft of Engagements That Bore was set entirely in the Mos Eisley Cantina from Star Wars and had the entire cast of characters taking the mickey out of Laurence Miles (AKA Mad Larry the Pirate King) before Q-Tip, the ancient Egyptian God of playing card pyramids arrived to bring his gift of death to all humanity.

Russell was concerned that this meant around three and a half episodes of Q-Tip giggling evilly in a barren wasteland, but unfortunately Gabriel Woolf, the actor who had portrayed Q-Tip in Pyramids of Cards, was forcibly collected by some insanely enthusiastic DWAS members, so it was decided to keep him.

The second draft was an outright plagiarism of "Mills and Boon: Let’s Groove In Funky Town!", and since all the tedious one-dimensional characters written to exorcise intense sexual frustration, this literature left everyone vomiting far too much to worry about a third draft and it was left as is.

Post production and scoring for the story was given to Steve Foxx, who played the insanely intense extreme athlete the Kro'Ka in the ongoing "Eighth Doctor appears in Double the Fist" storyline.

Foxx found the whole idea of a tragic romance "sickeningly WEAK!" and decided that his stirring and soulful music was better replaced with the Strangler's "Peaches" so during the heartfelt scenes as Rossiter and Evelyn enjoy the moonlight, we get lyrics like...

"Is she trying to get out of that clitoris?
Liberation for women, that's what I preach!
Preacher maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!"

...which DO spoil the mood slightly, even if it DOES make an engaging and imaginative soundscape that helps the script create a vivid setting for the drama to thrive within!

Oh, and what moron thought that the drummer from Napalm Death Enema would be a good musician to use the piano to underscore the declarations of devotion between a princess and a serviceman played out against a backdrop of enmity between two states?

Nicholas Briggs? I thought as much!

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