Saturday, October 3, 2009

6th Doctor - The Marian Conspiracy

Serial 7C/A – The Maid Marian Conspiracy
The Maid Marian Conspiracy
An Alternate Programme Guide by Ewen Campion-Clarke
An Extract From The EC Unauthorized Programme Guide O' Arch Archery

Serial 7C/A – The Maid Marian Conspiracy -

In between companions on a day-trip to contemporary Earth, the Doctor decides to hang around the local university campus and tries to hook up with the local football team.

After being badly beaten by homophobic centre-forwards, the Doctor decides to cheer himself up by gate-crashing a Tudor history lecture and shouting abuse at the lecturer and pointing out historical errors.

The lecturer, a senile woman in her 80s called Evelyn Smythe is droning on and on about her illustrious ancestor, Lady Marian Neston – known to the commoners as Maid Marian, heroine of romantic Crusade propaganda merchant Richard I.

Furious at the ignorant revisionist attitude Evelyn displays, the Doctor follows her home and starts hurling molotov cocktails through the windows.

Evelyn believes that he's been sent by the faculty to convince her she's gone mad so that she'll retire – and so she gets out her twelve-bore shotgun and opens fire on the Doctor.

The two eventually run out of ammunition and the Doctor offers her a trip in the TARDIS to prove there was a Robin Hood. Muttering something about new-fangled technology, Evelyn follows him. Unfortunately, she neglects to turn off the gas and her house soon explodes.

Evelyn enters the TARDIS with her remaining earthly possessions - toothbrush, aspirin, and a tin of cocoa – and her poor eyesight means the Doctor is spared the "it's-bigger-on-the-inside" he normally has to deal with travelling companions.

The TARDIS materializes in the outskirts of Nottingham village and the Doctor goes off, suddenly remembering how damn effeminate the local Sheriff is and determined to get some.

He advises the terminally square Evelyn to stay inside the TARDIS. The stupid old bag instead wanders into the local tavern and starts throwing tins of cocoa at the bar staff for not accepting her war bonds.

Nevertheless, Evelyn manages to buy a round for everyone simply by beating the owner unconscious with her walking stick. So impressed are two of the locals, the massive John Little (ironically named Little John – what imaginations those medieval peasant have, eh?) and the saucy Will Scarlet decide to use her as a human shield for their sideline of looting, robbery and general mayhem. Thinking this is a come on from a granny-fetishist, Evelyn agrees.

Using his usual mixture of charm, hypnotism and double-daring, the Doctor soon meets the Sheriff of Nottingham, and his live-in drinking buddies Sir Guy of Guisbourne and the Abbot of Alcoholism.

Using a list of Hollywood cliches, the Doctor convinces the naughty trio he is a wealthy landowner who likes flogging poor people and hates Saxons. Actually, I'm not a hundred per cent sure how much of that was an act.

Evelyn has been taken to the cave hideout of Robin Hood and his Merry Men (TM patent applied for) – there's Robin himself, who actually thought himself a sharp-shooting hipster Saxon until he twigged he was a latterday Moses and actually the long-lost Earl of Huntington; Friar Tuck, the violent alcoholic priest; Ralph Gammon, the one-handed ladies' man; and Mulch the Cabin Boy. Oh, there's also a generic Merry Man called Osric who is the one killed in action sequences.

Robin is understandably put out that Little John and Will have revealed their plans and location to a half-blind septuagenarian in return for a free drink. Again. He admits it's unlikely that Evelyn is a spy for the evil Normans, but then, stranger things have happened. Like that time King John was impersonated by a singing android.

However, Robin remembers the first time he saw the love of his life. He also remembers helping out the Lady Marian when her carriage broke down, whereupon a strange, wizened old crone prophesized that "he would never die, save by a woman's hand". Robin has unwisely only listened to the first bit of the prophecy, and has only avoided death so far by making sure an endless stream of Merry Men die in his place.

To cut a long story short, he thinks Evelyn is the self-same crone who vanished so mysteriously that distant sunny day. Evelyn, who has dozed off and forgotten where she is, agrees to whatever he says in return for a trip home and a free cup of coffee. Not realizing the old hag is senile, Robin mistakenly believes she has volunteered for a suicidal mission to rob passing traders.

Back at Nottingham Castle, the Doctor and the Sheriff are getting on like a house on fire – specifically a Saxon peasant farm on fire, as the Time Lord is indulging in a little bit of racist pyromania. In return for a nice steam bath with him, the Doctor suggests the Sheriff come up with a complicated plan to give total control of England to King John, a poofy bloke with long girly hair but photogenic enough to be a puppet dictator of some middling European country.

The Sheriff is so impressed he kills the alcoholic abbot with a knife and starts a game of postal chess. He's weird like that.

The Doctor easily charms the fey mummy's boy John and accuses Launchant, King Richard's appointed regent while he's off in the Cruel Sades desperate to get lucky, of being foreign. As Launchant's name sounds a little bit foreign he is immediately flung into the Tower and John seizes control of the country.

True, this sort of operation would take months of careful preparation and years of controlled tactical know-how, but as this is a Doctor Who story it's achieved within minutes of the Doctor suggesting it. Go figure.

As the Doctor enjoys a nice steam bath, he learns that the Sheriff is getting quite worried about Guisbourne – who has started stalking Saxon girl of the decade Lady Marian Neston. Her uncle, Sir Kenneth Neston was trying a eugenics experiment and plans to breed the Normans out of existence. However, the fact he is a clinically-insane alcoholic that smells like a gibbon's arse has scuppered this plan, as has Marian's cunning ploy of vowing to stay a virgin for as long as Richard is at the Cruel Sades.

The Doctor suggests they arrange for King Leopole of France to kidnap King Richard and thus force Guisbourne to confront the fact that she's just playing hard to get. Once he's accepted that, they can reveal she was already lusting after ex-Earl of Huntington, Robin Hood. Meanwhile, King John is getting all wishy-washy and hoity-toity and decides that he will pay a ransom to Leopole, but it will actually be a payment to keep Richard under house arrest and maybe buy him a nice of easy pleasure at a brothel.

So, the payment is arranged and carried off into the forest with the lovelorn Guisbourne providing a token escort. However, Robin, his men and the increasingly-bewildered Evelyn are present. Robin explains that the whole 'rob from the rich and give to the poor' thing is just really good PR work. As the money he steals are taxes from the poor diverted into the Sheriff of Nottingham's pockets, when he returns the cash it just gets taken from them again but this time it goes straight to King Richard. In fact, ever since he discovered he was Norman, Robin now despises the Saxons for the scum they are. Indeed, the only reason he's helping out Richard is he is trying to get back into his good books and rescind his exile and outlaw status after the "What the hell are you doing, you red-haired pervert?" incident one drunken night.

The dazed Evelyn wanders up to Guisbourne's entourage and asks them for directions to the nearest bus stop. So utterly confused are they that they are taken totally by surprise when the Merry Men attack. Unfortunately, Osric and Will are ruthlessly slaughtered. So pissed off is Guisbourne that he goes to Marian's place and skewers her uncle like a shish kabob. Bizarrely, this does not improve their relationship.

Robin Hood gets the proper ransom money away to release Richard (who will be, no doubt, mightily disappointed) and gives the Merry Men the afternoon off while he challenges Guisbourne to a duel. Unfortunately, Osric is stabbed and killed, but Robin manages to defeat Guisbourne and reclaim his house, girlfriend and nice china.

Rather annoyed, the Sheriff asks the Doctor for advice. The Doctor suggests they use the old smear campaign tactic and murder the extremely popular Bishop of Durram and blame it on Robin Hood. Unfortunately, the pig ignorant locals aren't quite sure what he looks like – and it is Osric, Ralph and Mulch who are hanged in his place.

For the remaining Merry Men, things are looking bleak – Evelyn has a rather bad cold which has killed Osric and Friar Tuck, and also managed to infect Robin. Little John finally kicks her out, and manages to fix her hip at the same time.

Richard returns to the country and immediately deposes John, who is forced to become a village idiot as penance. John's Council of Fawning Creeps is broken up and the Doctor and the Sheriff flee for it, only to trip over Evelyn, who is stumbling around in the undergrowth looking for her car keys. The Sheriff is caught by Richard's men and sentenced to death, while an increasingly-ill Robin decides to crash out at his newly re-instated Huntington Manor.

The confused Evelyn follows him and decides to make some special flu medicine from some local herbs. Unfortunately, she's as blind as a bat without her glasses and accidentally poisons him instead. Refusing to spend his last few minutes of life with Evelyn, Robin runs out into the forest only to bump into the Doctor – who is complaining bitterly about the fickle finger of fate ruining a very promising relationship.

Unable to escape this tirade, Robin gives up and dies.

The Doctor finally meets up with Evelyn and, annoyed, returns the arthritic old bat to the TARDIS and tries to return her to the 20th century. Instead, they arrive on the day Robin Hood first clapped eye on Lady Marian. Mistaking Robin Hood for River Pheonix, Evelyn mutters some weird voodoo shit and wanders off.

The Doctor hates this causal nexus psychobabble and determines to drop Evelyn off at the first spot he can. However, since the TARDIS is as reliable as a broken prophylactic in a Dutch dyke (oo-err), it seems that once again, the Doctor has acquired a new companion.

Book(s)/Other Related -
Doctor Who Is Caught In Intriguing Circumstances With The Sheriff Of Nottingham In A Steam Bath
Doctor Who – Court of Intrigue (Misheard Editions Only)
The Legend of Robin Hood is Just PR Bullshit

Goofs -
Most of the patrons in the Nottingham tavern are watching Manchester United thrash Chelsea. On a widescreen plasma TV.

Technobabble -
Landing next to a temporal nexus point with a close significant proximity to it provokes "an adverse existential stabilizing effect". It also sets off Evelyn's irritable bowel syndrome.

Links and References -
The Doctor bitches that buggered-up UNIT continuity never allows the Brigadier and his Mincing Men to turn up and save the day when he WANTS it to – a clear reference to The Visit.

Over dinner, the Doctor brags how he wiped out the entire Vervoid race, and offers everyone a salad.

Untelevised Misadventures –
The Doctor played bowls with Sil Flancis Dlake and met Wirriam Cecir whilst attending Erizabeth the Filst's court colonation.

Groovy DVD Extras -
The replacement of the theme tune with a song called "Doctor Who, Doctor Who, Riding Through the Glen". The phrase "WITH Glen" might have been more accurate.

Dialogue Disasters -

Evelyn: Now can I go?
Doctor: Please do. I have the feeling if we spend any more time together I will be violently and copiously sick.
Evelyn: Young man, if this is some bizarre attempt to chat me up, let me point out that I am old enough to be your mother!
Doctor: Well, you DON'T look seven thousand. (beat) That was a joke. You look eighteen thousand if you're a day...
Evelyn: I think I know what your problem is. It's something I've never come across before – but it all fits in...
Doctor: Doctor Evelyn Smith, if you don't get out of my TARDIS... you're dead.
Evelyn: That's nice... Er, have we met before, Johnny?

Abbot: I'm sure Shir Kenneth'll die shoon. I mean, he drinksh like a horshe and eatsh like a fish...
Guisbourne: Dude, you are so freaking wasted.
Abbot: But, like, either will kill him. It shtandsh to reashon.
Guisbourne: [points] One problem. You drink and eat more that Sir Kenneth ever does and YOU'RE still with us.
(The Sheriff stabs the Abbot in the heart)
Sheriff: NO problem.

The Doctor's most obvious pick-up line - "If I said you had a beautiful monarchy, would your men take me up around the rear?"

Evelyn: Doctor, I find that cake is an excellent solution to many of life's problems.
Doctor: Do you?
Evelyn: Yes.
Doctor: You're mad.
Evelyn: My bones ache. Are we there yet, Johnny?

Dialogue Triumphs -

Doctor: The TARDIS, my home and heart. And visa versa.
Evelyn: Your heart is an outdated lump of Teak wood and concrete? That explains a lot, I must say. Where have my teeth gone?

Doctor: You are without a doubt one of the least useful and well prepared companions with whom I have ever traveled. And believe me, you're up against some pretty stiff competition!

Doctor: What would you say if I were to tell you that I once destroyed an entire race? That I have led friends to their deaths and caused numerous wars? That my intervention has led to peaceful people taking up arms and good people having their faith or reason destroyed? Because I failed to act millions upon millions of people have been enslaved or killed? What if I had done all of those things but had always, always believed I was doing to the right thing?
Nottingham: I'd say... that you've done stuff I've always dreamt of but never actually got round to but also managed to maintain a façade of moral indignation. That's pure class.
Doctor: Oh, thanks.
Nottingham: No problems.

Viewer Quotes -

"There are two very noticeable things about this story – one, this is the first historical tale since Pierriot Costume of Death. And it introduced the mummified Maggie Stables as Dr. Evelyn Smythe."
- Stater of the Completely Freaking Obvious (well after the fact)

"Thumbs down for the new companion, Evelyn Smythe! Not enough leg, breast or giblets! The television series would never have gone with her as a companion AND IT'S FUCKING OBVIOUS TO SEE WHY! Don't get me wrong, I like a mature female companion like Barbara Wright or Liz Shaw... In fact, there are several fanzines published to show my intense like of such companions. With pictures. But, come on! This is a raddled old history professor who makes the Sixth Doctor look sane and normal in comparison! It's unfair that, after getting such a sour deal in the TV series, the audio Doctor now has to be stuck with Evil Lyn Smythe!"
- Nigel Verkoff (2000)

"Episode 1 of The Maid Marian Conspiracy has to be one of the greatest introductions for any companion in the history of Doctor Who. But then, I am very easily pleased."
- That weirdo who likes Romp With the Rani (2003)

"Wh... Where the fuck are the Ice Cream Vendors? I'm sure it said 'The Martian Conspiracy' on the cover... Oh, damn! Damn! DAMN!"
- Dave Restal poor eyesight costs him another ill-chosen release

"I dislike historicals where the characters seem to meet famous people solely for the sake of meeting famous people. And the fact the Doctor doesn't have a single male companion. And the bragging about Terrified of Vervoids which HASN'T HAPPENED YET!!!"
- That Anti-Tom Baker Troll (Outpost Gallifrey 2004)

Psychotic Nostalgia -
"I have Robin Hood's body up on Ebay if anyone is interested. There's no photo ID, but you can trust me. Can't you?"

Colin Baker Speaks!
"Yes, I think The Maid Marian Conspiracy proves to be everything that the sixth Doctor's era could have and should have produced. Cheap-to-produce historical pageantry and steam-filled homoerotic subtexts-rapidly-becoming text. An impressive debut. But not as good as de-butt of de Sheriff of Nottingham. Ho, ho, ho."

Maggie Stables Speaks!
"They never explained it to me... either that or they have and I've just forgotten... that because Doctor Who was a children's softcore porn program, the viewers wanted jailbait companions. I think an older one is a good idea – there are just as many granny-fetishists out there as borderline pedophiles, you know. Yes, I was a French teacher myself for 1500 years. Or maybe six. It was a very long time. My debut story was The Maid Marian Conspiracy, wasn't it? There was some sort of mix-up – Big Finish forgot me to send me a script... Or was that my excuse when I forgot I had every other line... Who are you again, sonny?"

Rumors & Facts -

For the initial six-release run of Big Finish, producer Gay Russell had a problem. Although, ironically, Colin Baker's Sixth Doctor had the best mileage for missing adventures and lost years, few were available due to the constraints of his companions.

Quite simply, neither Nabil Shabin or Nicola Bryant were willing to work with Colin Baker after the dismal Whispers of Error, and none of the Big Finish team had ANY intention of featuring Bonnie Langford or a three-foot penguin in any of their plays before hell froze over.

Thus, Russell came up with a brainwave – create a brand new companion to accompany the Doctor between Mels. Video footage show he was reading Missing Adventures by Steve Lyons at the time, but Russell denies this completely as the character he chose was not a freckled, spectacled, robo-phobic male computer hacker but admittedly identical in every other sense.

At first, it was decided that Terry Jones might be willing to appear as fan favorite Cat Molester Jones, but Jones himself had moved on from his infatuation with Doctor Who and had taken up writing in the nude full time. With the rest of Monty Python lot unwilling, unable and/or dead, Russell decided he would have to think up his own companion.

Since he did not need to conform to TV guidelines by casting someone telegenic, attractive or even with any acting ability, Russell hit upon his "give the fans exactly what they DON'T want and they'll be surprised" tactic, which he has lived by to this day.

Thus, he came up with an arthritic, half-blind, Alzheimer’s suffering old woman with false teeth called Evelyn Smythe, who he had cunningly inserted (oo-err!) into the first audio story, The Tarrants of Time, with the cleaning lady Maggie Stables playing the filthy old lady and future ex-companion of the Doctor.

Russell was delighted with all the interesting situations that Evelyn could be put in where another companion couldn't. Like a coffin.

As Evelyn was exactly the sort of red-shirt-wearing-canon-fodder that DIDN'T make a good companion, Russell turned to BBC representative Jac Rayner and ordered her to write the first story of the Sixth Doctor and Evelyn, preferably a dull historical like The Mascara.

Rayner – still shellshocked from losing a bet and now being forced to experience every single Doctor Who episode ever made in DWM – duly wrote out a brief outline of the Doctor manipulating a historical massacre in order to get laid. The initial outline was set during the last days of Bloody Queen Mary and entitled "The Marian Conspiracy".

Russell misunderstood the "Bloody Queen" reference and believed Doctor Who had quite covered that particular area and hastily scribbled "MADE!" on the script. Rayner promptly wandered off and was not seen again for three months, leaving a half-finished script with "The MADE Marian Conspiracy" written on it. Worse, it was too talky, no action, and the Doctor did sweet F. A. in the story and after taking one look at it Stephen Cole quit as executive producer and fled the country.

With deadlines approaching and new cast member beginning to smell, Russell hit on an idea. He got out the least-watched EVER version of Robin Hood (in this case the BBC's The Legend of Robin Hood starring most of Blakes 7, Doctor Who and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy that had totally failed to beat Season 12 in the ratings) and simply replace random characters with the Doctor and Evelyn.

Recording was completed in one day and although the Big Finish cast and crew vehemently deny ever doing this, I am one of the three people left on this planet to actually see the original (thank you, ABC) and I know plagiarism when I see it!

However, Russell just the others paid a vast amount of money into my bank account, so you can cheerfully ignore the above two paragraphs and think about puppies and sunshine. Awww.

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