Serial SS2 – The Unholy Error
The Unholy Error
An Alternate Programme Guide by Ewen Campion-Clarke
An Extract From The EC Unauthorized Programme Guide O' Penguin Fetishes
Serial SS2 – The Unholy Error -
Avan Tarklu, Private Investigator, has a problem.
Actually he has one hell of a LOT of problems.
For a start, he is a Whifferdil with mono-morphia, a shape changer stuck in the form of an obsolete Metropolitan emperor penguin.
Secondly, a routine AVO case has lead to him being kidnapped by a badly-dressed bisexual Gallifreyan in his dilapidated TARDIS, hurtling through the vortex to who-knows-where.
But worst of all... WORST of all... The Time Lord known as the Doctor now insists on calling him 'Frobisher' – which is the crudest and most foul of insults in the Whifferdillian tongue. Let's just say it involves two life chickens, a dead Rabbi and some lubricant and when translated generally begins with the expression, "Look, dear, I don't care IF your mother is coming round this afternoon..."
Frobisher is now wandering around the TARDIS, generating copies of the Doctor from the computer systems so he can at least pretend to release his frustrations on his captor. Unfortunately, the virtual Doctor seems to quite enjoy it.
That's just wrong on too many levels.
When the Doctor finds out what he is doing, he demands an apology. Frobisher replies by morphing himself a finger and then flipping the Time Lord the bird. Annoyed, the Doctor rips out a vitally-important component out of a roundel and crushes it underfoot.
The time machine suddenly seems to have a hissy fit – the TARDIS has had enough of these two morons cluttering up her corridors and goes on strike after materializing in the nastiest, darkest hellhole it can find and leaving the occupants to rot.
Frobisher and the Doctor begin arguing over who exactly is to blame for this latest catastrophe and finally the penguin shakes his head and strides out of the time machine. Mercury swamps, acid rain – nothing can be as bad as being stuck with this insane fashion nightmare.
The TARDIS has arrived inside Castle Aaaaaargh, in one of those times and places that have no bearing on human history. You know, the ones Lance Parkin doesn't even TRY to fit into his revised History of the Universe. He just takes one look and gives up. This could be anywhere and anywhen, you decide. Aw, don't you feel special?
The inhabitants of Castle Aaaaaargh are a bunch of incredibly stupid idiots who worship the living god Emperor Pepsi VI, eternal lord of all creation. It says something of the wisdom of the choice that god fell asleep and drowned in the bath a few days after his divinity was proved in an amazing arm-wrestling match with an invisible opponent.
Now, court paparazzi, Eugene Syphilis is making the new living God Pepsi VII's life a living hell, filling the first chapters of the Bible version 89.01 full of slanderous lies and saucy gossip – and a good thing too, cause Pepsi is the most boring man in the Castle.
As the new God of all Creation insists that he simply thought the court astrologer was a prostitute, his deformed hunchback half brother who is missing half his skull, an eye, both hands and his appendix enters the court.
Pepsi's brother, "Lucky" Derek the Illegitimate, announces that he plans to conquer Castle Aaaaaargh forever, and prove himself to be evil and more villainous than anyone else.
Believing this is a pathetic piece of street theatre, the crowd throw him coins out of pure pity.
Determined to get their attention, Derek reveals that the High Priest Oliver has sided with him against the foolish Pepsi. Oliver himself tries to shush Derek. The crowd laugh even louder at this assumed bit of improvisational comedy and throw raw vegetables at them both.
Finally, the coronation starts and Pepsi proves his divinity to the crowd by screaming at the top of his voice "I bags being all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful god and NO RETURNS!"
However, he misses out a few words in his inauguration speech and so accidentally gives the impression that he is not actually a god but just a heretical mortal. Let that be a lesson to you, kids: double negatives can destroy whole dynasties!
Derek tries to get the microphone and insist that he should be the new God – after all, in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king. Tragically, the crowd don't take too kindly to being called visually impaired and storm the stage when the TARDIS arrives.
Frobisher emerges and the incredibly gullible and stupid locals immediately hail the big talking bird as a messenger from the gods.
The Doctor emerges and the incredibly gullible and stupid locals immediately hail the Time Lord as a warning from the gods about cheap colour-blind tailors.
Unable to believe the stupidity of the peasants, Derek storms out to get wasted in a cheap tavern, followed by Oliver and Pepsi's gold-digging tart of a wife, Lilly who has already decreed that her mother-in-law Empress Beryl be arrested as a false goddess and taken to the dungeons to await execution. Beryl really shouldn't have complained about Lilly's cooking.
Frobisher and the Doctor are invited to after-inauguration nibbles as Eugene makes up ever-more-disgusting details about the relationship between the penguin and Time Lord.
Suddenly, a psycho-fan called Johnny breaks into the dinner party and opens fire on Pepsi with a shotgun!!!
Johnny has stupidly forgotten to put bullets into the gun and wanders off, rather embarrassed.
In the fashionable up-market end of the catacombs of Castle Aaaaaargh, Derek and his barely-hominoid milk-fed gimp Arnie plot, conspire, laugh insanely and avoid each other's gaze when the obvious sexual chemistry between them becomes too much.
Oliver arrives and bitches that Derek's evil master-plans would work a whole lot better if he didn't spill the beans in public all the time. They also decide that they will have to kill the Doctor, whose clothing is as much an argument for the lack of God as any.
Meanwhile, that same Doctor has been thrown out the party for getting appallingly drunk and proposing to the fireplace – "Stupid tarty chimney with her seductive scrollwork!" the Time Lord sobs – and decides to read the back issues of the Bible with the help of Eugene.
Pepsi reveals to Frobisher that there is a full-scale rebellion brewing against him as Derek revealed his plan and co-conspirators in an earlier scene to the rest of the supporting cast. Frobisher decides the castle and its inhabitants are just too whacked for him to deal with first thing in the morning and decides to try and steal the TARDIS and leave the Doctor to die in the bloodbath.
Reentering the throne room, Frobisher learns that Pepsi is traditionally expected to execute one tenth of the population for heresy in a gratuitous display of divine wrath – and the peasants actually seem to like the idea.
The Whifferdil decides this is just too stupid and, with the aid of a megaphone and a pointed stick, he screams that Pepsi is no god and is unworthy to follow in the footsteps of his father – but Frobisher IS a god! A wise and courageous being who came from another world to bring salvation to them all!
Frobisher's estimation of the local's intelligence is justified – he is dubbed the true god minutes later and decides to spare, pardon and ordain as new high priest Pepsi, simply because it will save him having to remember someone else's name.
"From now on," the penguin squawks, "there's gonna be a lot less tradition and bit more fun around here!"
Retiring to his bedroom, Eugene starts mixing cocktails as the Doctor finds the Bibles consist often of a roll of toilet paper with "SEE PREVIOUS ROLL FOR DETAILS OF THIS GOD'S REIGN". It appears that things here are so utterly predictable, Eugene hasn't needed to write anything remotely original for the last thirty years.
Just then, Johnny arrives and offers exclusive interview rights to Eugene. Rather sensible, really, as there are no other journalists in the castle. As the only other news story is Lilly arguing with the manacled Beryl around cooking the pasta sauce, Eugene accepts.
Suddenly, High Priest Oliver arrives with some pizza and claims he just wants to enjoy a night in. However, the large pepperonis with extra cheese are drugged, and by the time the Doctor and Eugene recover, they have been dragged to Derek's bachelor pad.
Derek announces that as everyone else in this story has some claim to godhood, it's about time HE had a turn. He reveals he has locked in the basement his own son, who will be their new messiah.
Derek's son name is Chucky, and reveals that this is simply a puppet he spent up to three hours making and has left it walled up in a dungeon, isolated from the rest of the castle in the rather bathetic hope some passing demon lord will possess the puppet and teach Derek to be a God in a 12-step program.
This is, believe it or not, the Unholy Error of the title.
However, Lilly reveals that human-shaped gods are SO yesterday, and big talking birds are the latest fashion deity-wise. Unsurprisingly, Derek rates a giant penguin a far more dangerous foe than Pepsi and decides to release his son and hope he has become a REAL boy.
Frobisher justly deals with another assassination attempt by Johnny by hanging him upside down from the ceiling and beating him with a length of rubber tubing. He then releases Beryl from the dungeon to make him some bloody dinner – preferably chocolate-coated pilchards.
In the crypt, Derek opens the dungeon to reveal...
...a walking, talking puppet whose eyes glow red with pure evil!
"Aw, how cute!" says Lilly, pinching his wooden cheek.
She is the first to die.
Chucky has no time for niceties – he's got the Armageddon to create and plans to kill every single person in the whole universe, starting with people wearing red women's underwear.
Oliver runs for it, as does Eugene. The Doctor feels pretty safe, knowing his underwear is as colorful as his outerwear, but even he starts to thinking running away screaming might be a good plan when Chucky flays Arnie alive with a small pencil.
Derek suffers a similar fate, shortly after assuring the audience at home that he is a professional and knows exactly what he's doing.
As Derek's remains splatter about the corridor, Chucky turns on the Doctor. The Time Lord point and cries "Look behind you!" and as the puppet does so, the Doctor bolts.
"Omnipotence, my ass!" the Doctor shouts over his shoulder.
As he escapes the catacombs, the Doctor throws Oliver into the path of Chucky and yet another speaking part leaves the play.
Frobisher, meanwhile, is enjoying his meal and bragging that he has deigned to save the Castle and its people from a horrible demise. Just then, Chucky starts slaughtering people left, right and centre, announcing that he is a TRUE god and they should worship him.
Unfortunately, he has rather got carried away and pretty much everyone is now dead. Dripping with blood, Chucky slaughters Beryl as she complains she could have made a far-more-convincing demon puppet for half the price. Pepsi dies revealing he wears hot pants. Johnny has misplaced his gun for the assassination attempt and his replacement (looking at Chucky in a funny way) ends with his life. Chucky refuses to give Eugene an interview and murders him as well.
The Doctor bursts in and reveals that he and Frobisher are the only people left alive in the castle – statistically speaking, they have been very lucky this weekend.
Suddenly furious, Frobisher manages to by-pass his monomorphia and changes his arm into a kill-o-zap-frag-canon and screams that HE is Frobisher, the Living God, Lord Of All That Is Seen and Unseen.
When Chucky disagrees, Frobisher shoots his arms and legs off.
"Who is the true God?" snarls Frobisher. "WHO IS THE TRUE GOD?!?"
"You are," sobs the stricken Chucky.
"DAMN RIGHT!" Frobisher screams, and blows Chucky's head off.
As silence falls, the Doctor consoles Frobisher that no one in the castle was ever truly alive – they were dimensional constructs, like the faux Doctors Frobisher was hunting for sport in the first episode. The dimensional-transcendental Castle Aaaaaargh is merely a containment vessel for Chucky to prevent his evil spreading throughout the cosmos.
"Now, that's a bit of a total smegging lie, isn't it?" Frobisher grunts perceptively.
The Doctor shrugs and admits that, yes, everyone in the Castle was real and they all died horrible deaths. But they survived so, like, who cares?
The Doctor and Frobisher enter the TARDIS and depart, arguing over who has to do the washing up.
Book(s)/Other Related –
Doctor Who And The Life of Frobie
Doctor Who – Child's Play in Time
Penguins In Pop Culture: Doctor Who
This is Rob Shearman. There ARE no goofs.
Shearman himself says: "I can see plenty of faults – The Unholy Error is too long, too fractured and has a huge number of gaping plot holes. However, nobody has noticed them and if you think I'm going to tell you what they are, Ewen, you've got another thing coming! Stick to the restraining order from now on!"
The Doctor realizes that Chucky's "Quentin Tarantino levels have been multiplied by a gore factor of twelve!"
Links and References -
Frobisher unknowingly quotes the 4th Doctor's motto from 'The Even Doctors' – "Gratification for the hell of it!"
Untelevised Misadventures –
Avan Tarklu/Frobisher was kidnapped by the Sixth Doctor in an untelevised misadventure called The Shape Shifter of Fatal Death. But you can easily read it in DWM comic strip, which you COULD video tape and broadcast. So, I guess it would be televised adventures. Just not interesting ones.
Groovy DVD Extras -
There is an Easter Egg consisting of Derek proving his divinity by floating six feet in the air and singing the Monkee's 'I'm A Believer' backwards in Romanian.
Dialogue Disasters -
A lot of lines of dialogue are, in fact, scribbled notes in the margin by Shearman and not dialogue at all, including –
Doctor: These hours are the starting point for an entire new Doctor Who plot. I don't want to put part one, scene one, a giant penguin is breaking wind in the pool!
Eugene: Screw these awkward explanations – I'll just say that it's all been pre-ordained.
Beryl: I can improvise the rest of the episode anyway.
Frobisher: The prose style isn't much to write home about, but it's very thorough, isn't it?
Derek: Gay Russell! I have devised a plot that cannot fail!
Pepsi: When I finish writing this up, it will make it look like I know what I'm doing – and if that isn't a miracle, then what the hell is, I ask you!
Doctor: Frobisher blows the head off a puppet with a canon? I was hoping for something a little more climactic. I just pray that the audience weren't!
Dialogue Triumphs –
Court Jester: If I could ask his Omnipotence - pick a card, any card...
Frobisher: It's the Ace of Spades.
Court Jester: DAMN! How the hell do I make God laugh?
Doctor: Tell him your plans for the future.
Pepsi: Never get married, Frobisher.
Frobisher: Hey, I'm way ahead of you. Tried it once, didn't work out. That's the problem with being a shape shifter. She said I wasn't the woman she'd fallen in love with. I decided to stay in male bodies after that – singles bar are bad enough when you're ONE gender...
Oliver: Strangers! Were you sent to us from heaven?
Doctor: No, really, we're just travelers?
Oliver: Silence. I'm addressing your master, the big talking bird?
Doctor: PERI is here?!? Where?! Oh, you mean, Frobie... Shame.
Beryl: If you touch my soufflé, could you improve the flavor?
Frobisher: I think so.
Beryl: Then what is your divinity worth? No God can make a better soufflé than I! THAT SOUFFLÉ WILL SET ME UP AMONG THE GODS! I am no weak and tepid God – I am all-powerful! I will reign forever! AND MY SOUFFLÉ WILL BE INVINCIBLE!
Eugene: And on the fifteenth day since the last ritual of the bath Pepsi III decided to take another. And he did immerse himself in water and play about his body with soap. And the people were sore relieved, for he had begun to smell a bit. All this and more in the latest issue of Castle Aaaaaargh Weekly Gazette!
Derek: Nature has made me a bastard. I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks, I, that am deformed, unfinished, sent before my time into this breathing world. I AM A VILLAIN! Oh, by the way, would you like a cup of tea?
Doctor: Er... yes.
Derek: Do you like your hot water weak or tepid?
Doctor: Uh, tepid.
Derek: Yes, I am the most evil person ever known. Cruel, callous, without a shred of feeling. News of my notoriety shall reach even the furthest depths of hell! The legacy of my evil will last FOREVER! Sugar?
Doctor: Two lumps, please. Er, Derek, far be it from me to impugn your villainy, but I don't think you're cut out for this.
Derek: What do you mean? I have devised the perfect plan to seize command not only of the empire, but of the heavens themselves! For YEARS, I have been hiding away in the crypts of this castle, plotting and scheming against nature and against God!
Doctor: Yes, but you're not EVIL! Just sulky and antisocial!
Derek: I am NOT sulky! Or antisocial! I just gave you a cup of tea and a biscuit for crying out loud!
Doctor: Proves my point rather, doesn't it?
Derek: Fine. I'll cut out your heart then.
Doctor: OK! OK! YOU'RE EVIL! YOU'RE EVIL!
Derek: Better. Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha.
Frobisher: If I've learned anything from the history channel it's that death and torture are inevitable. Best to just grin, bear it and stick on the side of the winners.
The closing moments of the story:
Doctor: This is what comes of travelling in the TARDIS. All the people you meet, all the planets you see... you know they won't last forever; and our next journey could be a time when they'll be long forgotten. Such little lives. And we can feel like Gods, set apart from them all.
Frobisher: And that's supposed to make me feel horny, is it?
Doctor: No! Not at all! Christ, Frobisher, what's wrong with you?
Frobisher: Just... for a while back there, Doc, I actually felt I could have got some. I actually felt I could got lucky.
Doctor: [heavily] I know, Frobisher. Believe me. I know.
Viewer Quotes -
"The Unholy Error is flawless. Which is rather ironic, when you think about it, huh? Take my advice, DON'T BOTHER LISTENING TO IT! It comes too close to the truth! Rob Shearman MUST be stopped!"
- Father James O'Malley (2001)
"The script nails the Sixth Doctor to the wall, bristling with maggots and having all his flesh stripped away, his bald, naked flesh quivering with each kick to the gut."
- Horror-Slaughter Sci-Fi Monthly (2001)
"Mature, compelling, funny, terrific, rich, adult, wacky, sickening, endlessly hollow, abstracted, angry, satirical, plastic, tyrannical, self-hating, repenting, and tragic, a great story... Damn it all to hell! I wish I'D written this!" - Ewen Campion-Clarke (2005)
"Frobisher is nothing like the feathered Woody Allen I remember from the comic strips. The delightful arrogance has been replaced by a kick-ass, mass-murdering psycho-penguin that spits on the bloody corpses of those who dare oppose him. That's MY kind of god, that is."
- Nigel Verkoff (2001)
"It's a story about people and what they feel. What comes through is that the characters we see are smaller than the power of their emotions, that those primal feelings are the most important thing in existence and define the truth of who we really are; it's a scenario where the pain of one man is more important than an entire world of social settings. But the chainsaw blood scenes are totally cool!"
- Horror-Slaughter Sci-Fi Monthly (2001 – same issue)
"Oh my god! Joey from Friends is really a shape-changing penguin!"
- Andrew Beeblebrox, after waking up in the middle of the story and not having read the cast list. But, you never know. He COULD be right.
Psychotic Nostalgia -
"Derek didn't really grab me as an audio character. But he was a very good psychopath. Very good. Almost up to my standard."
Colin Baker Speaks!
"I actually wrote for Frobisher once, you know. It was a comic series called The Age of Consent and was all about Frobisher and myself trying to find out if Peri really HAD married Sil or not. Vocally, at least, in The Unholy Error, the penguin is exactly how I imagined him. The arrogant little bastard..."
Robert Jezek Speaks!
"People always say to me that they think that Frobisher is like Woody Allen, this little guy who always tries his best but doesn't quite make it. But what the hell do they know? I played him as Danny DeVito with a thermonuclear warhead down his pants and if you don't like it, bog off! Actually, I do think that Rob Shearman is a genius at pottery. And ballet dancing. He's pretty good at the flute. But as a writer? Pssch! Have you heard that Unholy Error? Have you? You poor sod, you."
Rumors & Facts –
Do you think it is even REMOTELY fair that Robert "Who?" Shearman was dubbed as having written "without a doubt Big Finish's best and first really quotable script" on the first attempt? That his work "as witty and clever", that despite ripping off both The Mind Shagger and Convex and Concave it is still "more colorful, coherent and far, far funnier than either of those earlier examples – no contest"?
ALL of that within the FIRST review of The Unholy Error in Doctor Who Magazine issue 299!
Yet somehow my submission "Doctor Who – Adherents And Other Receipts" is simply returned by Big Finish with a dead rat and a heartfelt restraining order? Is that fair? IS IT?
ANSWER ME, YOU SCUM!!!!
Robert Shearman had proposed the basis of what would be The Unholy Error for a number of theatre plays for many years but was continually rejected as being too much like something out of Doctor Who.
Theatres producers would always get excited when he suggested a story where a whole society tries to create a living god on Earth by isolating a child from the rest of humanity. Said producers would always get rather disappointed when they learned the last fifteen minutes of the way would involve the child turning into a monster and killing absolutely everybody in the play.
When Big Finish was trying desperately to entice Tom Baker out of the police box and participate in their plays, Shearman's proposal (entitled Pandora's Naughty Bits) was one of three possible storylines offered to the drunken megalomaniac.
Pandora's Naughty Bits was set in the court of Czar Nicholas II and featured the Fourth Doctor posing as Rasputin. He would be alone so the Doctor would be a dominant force in the storyline but any companion plot functions would be picked up by a giant pink badger which the Doctor would dub 'Pandora'.
Tom Baker was delighted by the script and was quite prepared to record it for Big Finish. However, a few weeks before production began, Tom Baker realized that he was just PRETENDING to sleep with the Russian court and a giant badger – why the hell wasn't he doing this in real life? So saying, he fled the studio and was later found in custody in 2003 where he ultimately deigned to appear in Shearman's latest work, Dustbin Exploitation.
Back in 2000, however, Big Finish was left high and dry and stuck with an unusable script for a deranged Doctor and a giant animal in a court of intrigue. Out of cash-strapped desperation, producer Gay Russell decided to try and re-work the story for the Sixth Doctor and tell any fans who complained it should have been a Fourth Doctor story that "they'd got their Bakers mixed up".
Several large changes occurred to Pandora's Naughty Bits, which Gay Russell decided to rename The Unholy Error. For a start, the original opening scene, where the Doctor and Frobisher flee the British Museum, was a word-for-word copy of Paul Magrs' My Last Duck Egg (later The Stoned of Venice). Secondly, the plot where a whole culture becomes a bunch of scarf-wearing Doctor clones was trashed out as, while this could be subtle commentary on Tom Baker, it would be a horrific sight for an army of people dressed in the Sixth Doctor's garb.
Thirdly, rather than introduce companions such as Peri, Evelyn or Mel to accompany the Sixth Doctor, the character of Pandora the giant badger would become Frobisher the giant penguin of the Sixth Doctor DWM comic strips during the late 1980s.
This was a suggestion that nearly left Shearman comatose. The drug-induced artwork of Steve Parkhouse and John Ridgeway had decided to freeze an all-purpose shape shifter into a penguin simply for a laugh. This laugh may have been acceptable as a visual gag, but The Unholy Error would be on audio. As Shearman said at the time, inserting a giant flightless bird into an audio play was asking for trouble.
Russell replied by pulling out a flick-knife and so Frobisher stayed in the story. Shearman got his revenge by proxy – in that he had every single one of his own characters die horrible, painful deaths with lots of sinewy popping and slimy gristle.
To underline the uniqueness of this, the second Side Step from normal Big Finish continuity, it was decided that the cover would show the Sixth Doctor and Frobisher side-by-side.
Rather than simply use illustrations from the comic strips, Colin Baker was asked to pose with a genuine emperor penguin. Unfortunately, said penguin was a heroin addict with severe withdrawal symptoms and began to peck him and the photo crew to death until Rob Shearman himself valiantly dived in and ripped its neck out with his teeth.
This, coupled with the unsurprisingly poor sales but amazingly good reviews of The Unholy Error AND the stress of being chosen to write an entire season of Eighth Doctor stories, began Shearman's spiral into insanity, alcoholism, chaos and death. Well, not the last one.
At least, not YET.