Serial 7C/L – Medicinal Porpoises
An Alternate Programme Guide by Ewen Campion-Clarke
An Extract From The EC Unauthorized Programme Guide O' When Your Balls Drop, They Really Should Bounce Back... That's The Secret
Serial 7C/L – Medicinal Porpoises -
The Doctor decides to take up the hobby of autograph hunting – specifically the autographs of incredibly famous psychopaths and mass murderers. After getting Jeffrey Dahmer’s blood-soaked signature, the Time Lord lands the TARDIS in the sewers of Edinburgh, 1828 for his next celebrity autograph.
"William Burke and Billy Hare!" he enthuses as he and Evelyn leave the time machine. "Body-snatchers, serial killers, alcoholics, adulterers, drug fiends – they were the Hollywood stars of their days! Plus, how many backpacker murders can honestly say they have indirectly added to the sum of human medical knowledge? These men are MAGNIFICENT example of the grim patches of the big picture, and proof that prostitute murder can make the universe a slightly better place!"
However, as they try and find their way out of the tunnels, they bump into Jamie McCrimmon, a former companion of the Second Doctor who has been accidentally abandoned in 19th century Edinburgh during a wacky Season 6B adventure after Polly tried to pilot the TARDIS.
Having recently bumped into Polly at an alien conglomeration of spacecraft known as the Jam, the Doctor offers Jamie a lift, but the Scots lad refuses on the ground he doesn’t trust this incarnation of the Time Lord after that business with the Snotarans in Saville.
Huffing in annoyance, the Doctor storms off and Evelyn follows out into the market where, after asking a prostitute called Mary Patterson directions to Greyfriars Graveyard. There, the Doctor hopes to find Burke and Hare disinterring coffins to snatch the bodies.
However, it quickly appears that the diabolic duo have been and gone, so, for a laugh, the Doctor throws Evelyn into a freshly dug grave.
Bored, the Doctor decides to check out the Last Drop pub in hope of bumping into some historical sociopaths and finds Jamie and Mary already there – and, in a dark shadowy booth are Burke and Hare, speaking with a strange, young Scots man with a gelled bouffant and a blue pinstripe suit.
This is Dr "Just the Doctor" Robert Knox, who sits with his sneaker-clad feet on the table, not in the least bit interested when the brightly-coloured English stranger bursts into the pub shouting that he has found a blood-soaked gutter near the corpse of an apple seller, and would very much like to get the autograph of the man responsible.
Hare stupidly rises to modestly take credit and the Doctor bounces over and gets him to sign a beer mat. However, when the Time Lord asks for Burke's signature, Hare suddenly lashes out angrily at the
Doctor and storms out of the pub, insisting he’s never heard of a man named William Burke...
"Oh well, there’s always tomorrow," says the Doctor philosophically.
Nevertheless, he and Jamie decide to follow Hare to his lodging house, tie him to a chair and pummel him with fireplace pokers until he confesses to the whereabouts of his partner in crime.
Mary heads off home and bumps into the dazed Evelyn as she rises from a grave, and mistakes the senile old biddy for a shambling zombie and harbinger of the oncoming apocalypse, and so runs for it.
Mary runs straight into Dr Knox who is dragging a body into his curiously police-box-shaped house, and startled he points out that he is cutting up cadavers in the name of medical research, and if Mary wants her fellow prostitutes to cope with alcoholism and virulent diseases, she’ll let him get on with examining human anatomy.
Evelyn enters the house, noting that it is quite like the TARDIS owned by a different Doctor, almost the Jekyll to Dr Knox’s Hyde. Dr Knox angrily says it’s the other way round and kicks her out.
"Jings, how come I keep bumping into that old tart?!" he complains before slamming the door shut.
Meanwhile, the Doctor is struggling with his Ladybird Book of Burke and Hare, since all the pages are dog-eared and covered with Cyberman vomit. According to this highly inaccurate children’s book, Burke and Hare killed prostitutes, door to door salesman and the occasional Cro-Magnon circus freak, and handed over the empty, dead flesh to Dr Knox to have his wicked way with.
Jamie points out that the house is filled with corpses, and clearly Hare hasn’t got his act together enough to deliver the bodies to Knox, so obviously Burke is the brains of the operation.
Meanwhile, Dr Knox realizes he’s out of canapés and starts operating the controls of the console in the middle of his sitting room, and the police box shaped house vanishes with a wheezing, groaning sound.
Moments later, the Doctor and Jamie arrive to investigate, find no sign of Dr Knox’s abode in the thick Scottish mists, get a bit depressed, and agree to return to the Last Drop to rethink the situation over a pint or seventeen.
With suitable dramatic timing, the moment they are gone, the police box rematerializes in Surgeon’s Square.
The Doctor decides he’s knackered with all this chasing around Edinburgh and decides to simply stay in the pub until Knox, Hare and Burke come to him! Jamie thinks this is a stupid waste of time and bets the Doctor a fiver it won’t work.
Moments later, William Burke himself bursts in through the doors
Grumbling, Jamie pays up.
Burke explains to the Doctor that his employer Dr Knox often gives him paid vacations in Scunthorpe and tells everyone to forget Burke ever existed. The Doctor notes that this is fascinating, but he really just wants Burke to sign his Ladybird book.
Having got the autograph, the Doctor decides to go for the trifecta, and heads to get the signature of Dr Robert Knox.
The Doctor is shocked when he discovers that Knox’s house is a TARDIS disguised police telephone box and immediately fears that Dr Knox is an evil future incarnation of himself.
"I’m not evil!" Knox points out. "Well, I say not 'evil', I mean 'kinda ruthless'. Well, I say 'ruthless', more sort of 'dark god of vengeance that burns at the heart of time as he watches the universe'. Well, I say 'dark god of vengeance that burns at the heart of time as he watches the universe', I mean 'slightly irritable'."
"So... wait. Are you a future version of me or not?"
Knox bugs his eyes out and explains that he just bought a Type 70 TARDIS from a Pakistani time machine dealer on the vortex planet of refugees, Gryben, which was established as a filter world by Lord President Romana in the highly publicized Gallifrey 90210 debut serial: "Timonic Fusion Devices And The Extremists Who Use Them!" on retail for just $49.95 from all specialist sci-fi retailers!
"Seriously?" asks the Doctor, shocked.
"Nah, just messing with you, I am your future incarnation. Tenth, actually. Jings, how time flies."
The Tenth Doctor explains that he was at a bit of a loose end and decided to try and cure the Common Cold after a friendly race of pan-dimensional porpoises contracted it. However, he couldn’t find it in his hearts to ruthlessly experiment on lab mice, so he’s decided instead to release biological warfare on 19th century Edinburgh, and then paying Burke and Hare to cut up the corpses so the Time Lord can devise a preventative cure for his porpoise allies.
"Efficient, cost productive AND I get to hang around with famous psychopaths! It’s brilliant, isn’t it? God, I love humans, don’t you? The way Hare asks for extra money so he can hire the prostitute before he slashes her throat. Mark of a gentlemen, that is! You don’t get it from chainsaw wielding Texan hicks, do you?"
The Sixth Doctor asks why his future self doesn’t just travel to the year 6000 where the Common Cold has been completely and utterly cured using bull elephant semen and raw fish?
"Oh, don’t be so DULL!" the Tenth Doctor snaps. "Where’s the fun in it for me if I do that?!"
Meanwhile, Evelyn starts to dance on the bar tables singing, "The Great Pretender" and starting to strip. This is turn causes a riot and the police arrive to beat everyone up, and arrest Evelyn for disturbing the peace, dragging her off through the misty streets.
The Tenth Doctor admits that he has placed all of Edinburgh in a time loop so he can stretch out his visit and hang around Burke and Hare for longer than is strictly needed to cure the Porpoise People, but he’s confident he’s got a few more hours before he needs to dash off in the nick of time.
The Doctor realizes that the warped continuum is causing strange dream-like flashbacks to other trips in the time loop, and so therefore all the continuity flaws in the story are totally retconned!
"What diabolical ingenuity!" he marvels. "I wish I’d thought of that!"
"You will," the Tenth Doctor says, grinning. "You will!"
Since this seems to be all out of his hands, the Sixth Doctor gathers Jamie and Evelyn (after the police throw her out on the streets in the hope Burke and Hare will hack her to pieces) and returns to the TARDIS.
The TARDIS reappears as Burke has been caught by the police and is about to be executed – since Hare sold him out to the cops and was placed in Bermuda under witness protection, so obviously Hare was smarter than he appeared.
The Tenth Doctor is also there, throwing rotten tomatoes at the doomed man and laughing his head off. He’s finally cured the Porpoise People and left the time loop to snap and restore history to normal, and now intends to sell off his autographs from Burke and Hare at profit.
Jamie sneezes on the Tenth Doctor, who grimaces and realizes that now HE has the Common Cold.
"Now I’ll have to spend the next two weeks in bed drinking chicken soup and blowing my nose! Smart move there, Jamie – if the whole of creation is threatened and I’m not there to save it, well, I hope you feel really guilty, Jimbo! "
"AH, SHUT THE FUCK UP, YA DAFT SASENACHS!!"
"Aw! Humans, you see? Gimme a hug!"
Bored, the Doctor and Evelyn quietly leave in the TARDIS.
Book(s)/Other Related -
Dr Knox! Dr Who?
Doctor Who Condones Prostitute Murder by David Blunket
Celebrity Slaughterhouse 8: Edinburgh 1828 Special!
So, in order to tell what the virus does to the Scottish, the Tenth Doctor waits for them to die, then examines the corpses, despite the fact they didn’t die from the virus. Indeed, none of them are dying from it, or even suffering in the slightest. And he just carries on cutting up the same dead people every time even though he knows what the results will be and knows they won’t be of any use? So the Tenth Doctor, who isn’t protected from the virus he is unleashing into the air, isn’t fussed about finding a cure? Moron!
Why isn’t the Sixth Doctor infected by Jamie’s cold when the Tenth Doctor easily catches it?
Jamie reverses the polarity of the immunity system regularly.
Links and References -
The Tenth Doctor previously gate crashed a pseudo historical in the Seventh Doctor and Ace extravaganza "Coleslaw Cutaway" (Serial 7U).
Untelevised Misadventures -
The Tenth Doctor hints that Jack the Ripper was Captain Jack Harkness (see Serial 108 "Shell Shock").
Groovy DVD Extras -
"Next Time..." trailer which makes the story sound a hundred times more Gothic, complicated and interesting than it actually is.
Dialogue Disasters -
Doctor: Does the possibility exist that ten or fifteen murders result in thousands of lives extended and one of those extended lives goes on to improve things even more, that there's a justification, historically speaking? The Devil makes work for idle hands, but who's to say what's good and evil? Hare has his place! All I want to do is say "Well done, and keep up the good work!" I mean, it’s only polite – like that time I congratulated Hitler on the achievements of the Third Reich because his scientists did some sterling work on rocket design!
Evelyn breaks the fourth wall yet again –
"When in a cliffhanging situation always go for the cliché, that's my motto. Maybe with a freeze-frame and a sudden returning villain bursting in through a door saying, 'At last, Doc-TORR!!' Just an idea. Don’t mind me. I just like a bit of a moan occasionally, I suppose. Johnny, where’s me cane?"
Doctor: What do you know about destiny, girl? I wouldn't give you a farthing for your destiny.
Evelyn: How rude!
Doctor: My dear Evelyn, rudeness isn't a crime.
Jamie: I've had a vast amount of experience of the strange. And foam machines. And strange foam machines, I get them all the time!
Sixth Doctor: You’re just another Time Lord with too much time on his hands.
Tenth Doctor: Uh, scuse me! You’re the one using the ability to transcend the barriers of time and space to collect AUTOGRAPHS! I mean, don’t think about the reputation that *I* have to live down!
Sixth Doctor: Reputations are sometimes a massive disappointment, don't you find? Imperfections are so fascinating, don't you think? They make a work of art a masterpiece.
Tenth Doctor: Yeah, and considering how many imperfections YOU have, you’re the biggest jinging masterpiece in the universe.
Sixth Doctor: You scrawny little bitch, who do you think you’re talking to?
Tenth Doctor: Me!
Sixth Doctor: Precisely!
(A long pause)
Tenth Doctor: You just lost that argument.
Sixth Doctor: Ah, but so did YOU!
Tenth Doctor: Oh yeah. Shit.
Dialogue Triumphs -
Sixth Doctor: Have you noticed anything?
Tenth Doctor: Yes, you've talking to yourself for the last five minutes. Can I get a word in edgeways?
Tenth Doctor: Right? You talk to me about right? I have the right to do what I damn well please, and don’t you lot of stupid apes forget it!
Evelyn: But they’re criminals! Murderers!
Tenth Doctor: Absolutely! But maybe not yet. Doesn’t really matter. Either way, a thrill in store! Have you ever met Jack the Ripper – or Captain Jack as I knew him? Wonderful chap – hairdresser by trade, you know. No one ever suspects the
hairdresser, even when he has access to lots of sharp blades. Not that Jack WANTED to be a hairdresser. No, he wanted to be... A LUMBERJACK!!
Dialogue Oddities -
Many times subtle changes in the script are required for the ever-evolving art of television. Minor changes in the printed word, suggested humbly by actors, can provide an occasional additional layer to a performance. Here is an example from Funky Town -
The Doctor: Well wait. Look at that!
Evelyn: Yes. A freshly dug grave, Doctor.
The Doctor: But look at the handiwork. Look at the earth, piled up without a care. And more importantly, look at the coffin!
Evelyn: What about the coffin?
The Doctor: Oh Evelyn, use your common sense! A mound of earth in a graveyard – not uncommon. A coffin in a graveyard – not uncommon. A mound of earth, and an exposed coffin...
The Doctor: I would have said so.
Evelyn: Are you suggesting that the body in that coffin isn’t there?
The Doctor: A rather poorly constructed sentence, but yes, I believe I am saying that. Shall we have a look?
Maggie Stables: Look at that grave! It’s empty!
Viewer Quotes -
"By the end of episode two I was convinced I wasn't going to like this, since the Doctor and Evelyn achieve bugger all in the story and are so shockingly badly characterized they might as well be completely different people! And THAT'S what I love about Colin Baker's Doctor, there is always so much more to learn about him – he constantly keeps me on my toes with his pendulous extreme mood swings, as if the script writers just don’t give a damn any more! COLIN BAKER SHOULD BE IN THE NEW SERIES! SCREW CONTINUITY!!!!" - Jo Ford (2004)
"How I could have enjoyed this utter rubbish so much really is beyond me. Oh, wait a minute, I remember – David Tennant! He’s an icon, a show stopper, a man who could charm the pants off a lesbian. The casting of Sir David (as he shortly must become) raised few eyebrows. He’s one of the bigger stars to have appeared in the Big Finish series but he’s the sort of person one would expect to find popping up in Doctor Who at some point, maybe even in the lead?"
- Cameron J Mason fails once again to pretend to have some kind uncanny foresight when it comes to casting Doctors (2007)
"I’d give Medicinal Purposes as wide a berth as a Jehovah’s Witness with highly contagious crabs." - Nigel Verkoff (2006)
"That striking and deliciously disturbing cover of silhouetted grave robbers – one top hatted, the other wearing a cap – against a fiery, sun burnt orange backdrop of clouds and Colin Baker spoke of atmosphere. I can’t believe there’s only one scene in the graveyard! And no dissections! What a rip off!"
– some strange death-loving freak (2005)
"I don’t call poking around in empty graves a particularly healthy pursuit for a grown man... which is why I usually get Igor to do it for me. Much more sensible." – Baron Von Frankenstein (1877)
Psychotic Nostalgia -
"The good thing about this story is that the Doctor and Evelyn have stopped whining about dead cabin boys, murdered vampires and pointlessly slaughtered teenagers and realizing that snuffing out the odd drifter or two IS for the greater good. I too would love to shake the hands of brutal slaughter in the service of a quick buck – though ideally the hands would not be attached to the owners."
Colin Baker Speaks!
"He is thoroughly unlikable, pompous, terribly theatrical, weary of carrying the burden of his own greatness and as one might expect of the character type he's arrogant, smarmy, patronizing, and generally unpleasant, dismisses the poor throughout, and generally talks about his own intellect whenever he can, in a way that smacks of short hand for evil. In short, the Sixth Doctor is in fine form this month."
David Tennant Speaks! (August 2004)
"Am I going to appear with every Big Finish Doctor? Well, it would be nice, wouldn’t it. This is my second canonical role, if I can use that phrase and not appear a total loser, but my fifth altogether. That means I’ve done REG, David Warner, Sylvester McCoy and Colin Baker. I’m from the Glasgow area myself, not Edinburgh, so I’m quite happy to support a bunch of Irish cutthroats running amock."
David Tennant Speaks! (August 2007)
"The times I played the Tenth Doctor in Big Finish? Yeah. You know, looking back at it, it really is one HELL of a coincidence, isn’t it? As if all the praying and the candles and goat’s blood worked. Still, I cannae hang around here. Catherine Tate’s being seduced by a Snotaran played by Mike Thecoolperson, and Sophia’s dozing off with boredom."
Rumors & Facts –
Big Finish's recent spate of Doctor Who audios written by writers new to the company have been something of a mixed bag, and Medicinal Porpoises is an example of a story with a decent premise, but which ultimately degenerates into a mess of anachronistic fanwank, with David Tennant guest starring as a character he won’t be cast at until Christmas the following year.
The main question on the audience's lips is, of course, just what is going on? However, explanations are not very forthcoming, or rather they are too verbose, contradictory and unexciting. Who wrote this drivel?
At first, it appears we have a meddling Time Lord, in the manner of the early Hartnells, doing his best to change history. Then, this is set aside for another explanation; a man with a stolen TARDIS is trying to find an antidote for a virus which is wiping out a race of unseen aliens, and is using Edinburgh as a guinea pig. Then, THIS explanation is discarded for yet another even more confusing one, that the man, only referred to as Dr Knox, is in fact a future Doctor who is doing all of this for a cheap laugh.
So many explanations and not ONE of them interesting.
Robert "Carry On BBC Worldwide Carry On" Ross, foremost authority on British Comedy was writing instruction manuals about Steptoe and Son when producer/director Gay Russell staged a home invasion and demanded he pen a Big Finish audio on the grounds that the new season of Eighth Doctor audios would suck BIG time, and they needed something suitably crap to ease the transition.
Ross' first idea was 'A Ripper Of A Time' where the Sixth Doctor decides to go around murdering young women in 19th Century London backstreets, with his enemy being the Queen’s Surgeon, the REAL Jack the Ripper.
Gay Russell was not particularly impressed with either this idea or the one that was ultimately used: "Doctor Who Discovers The Burke And Hare Theatre of the Grotesque Experience".
Slaving away to try and make the story in any way interesting or even memorable, Russell decided to rope in David Tennant, who had recently portrayed a future incarnation of the Doctor in the Seventh Doctor stories 'Reservation of the Scourge' and 'Coleslaw Cutaway'.
Playing Billie Hare was Tom Farrelly, who promised his heavy prozac use and insistence on talking like a pirate would not effect his performance.
With this cast, Russell decided that he had better things to do than try to fix the slow, dull, un-involving, irritating, and at times illogical first draft.
Tragically, it was discovered that the finished story only lasted thirty seven minutes and seven seconds, so it was decided to ad around ten minutes of pointless repetition to every scene, and often re use every scene three times, even if they didn’t advance the plot from the initial scene, and entirely extraneous sequences of the Doctor and Jamie going back and forth from the pub and have nice long chats over ever single little plot point again and again with little avail and often leaving them right back where they started at the end of the previous episode.
On the plus side, the last minute addition of an off-screen riot which allowed Mary to tell us all of the events that led up to it after the fact in ANOTHER round-and-round conversation meant Evelyn actually did something in the story, albeit reported second hand, completely tokenistic and utterly redundant.
The finished product actually longer than the three-disc epic Zig-Zag-Gay-Ass, but was heralded as one of the finest ever releases in the history of everything ever – but the Burke And Hare Appreciation Society of Olde London Town.
Critical reaction to the story was not good, with a chartered surveyor from Woping noting that "Ross doesn't understand writing at all, he's a profiteer standing on the shoulders of giants!"