Saturday, October 3, 2009

6th Doctor - The Nowhere Place

Serial 7C/MB – The Anywhere Place
The Anywhere Place
An Alternate Programme Guide by Ewen Campion-Clarke
An Extract From The EC Unauthorized Programme Guide O' Canberra

Serial 7C/MB – The Anywhere Place -

Yet another attempt to ditch Evelyn back on Earth has been foiled, this time by the Doctor suffering an incredibly severe panic attack that made him scream "I’m a teapot!" and reprogram the TARDIS to hurtle for the depths of space in the far future.

Evelyn asks the Doctor to justify his gibbering hysterics, and get a cup of cold tea thrown in her face as the Doctor curls up in the corner of the room, gnawing his fingertips and looking around him with bloodshot eyes of paranoia from the dawn of time.

After a few more screaming fits, the Doctor explains that he’s not sure what’s bothering him, only that something is terribly wrong he can’t even describe, as if a million Terileptils cried out at once and then were silenced.

An irritating burbling sound fills the TARDIS, which the Doctor realizes that both he and Evelyn hear but cannot be recorded by the time machine computer... a noise that seems to be from Earth 2005 and not their current location of Pluto, January 15th 2197.

Nearby is the Skybase Valium which protects the heart of the Earth Empire from a bunch of evil aliens that probably don’t exist anyway but if they do, the taxpayers’ money will make sure they’re nuked before their communist pinko tentacles one metric inch into the solar system.

Executive Bastard and Commanding Crawler of Skybase Valium is Michelle Moore, a genetic experiment gone wrong and left in a perpetual state of PMT, who is draining her nine millionth cup of coffee and hurling abuse at all the fighter pilots that unless they are ready for space combat at any second of any hour of any day then the human race will be mercilessly obliterated and it is ALL THEIR FAULT!

Unsurprisingly, on of her pilots, Nellie Armstrong, can’t cope with all the psychological torment and starts screaming she can hear some horrible buzzing yammering noise inside her head. Since she’s the finest pilot there is, all the other crewmen decide to call in sick and not turn up for work at all since they’re all doomed anyway.

Moore hunts down Armstrong and repeatedly punches her in the face and demands to know why she’s slacking off, and descriptions of a strange sound that has awoken some long lost memory that fills her with fear just pisses off Moore even moore. More. Whatever.

The TARDIS arrives on Skybase Valium and the Doctor and Evelyn emerge to wander around the place and generally be suspicious. Within thirty seconds they are arrested, strip searched and thrown into a cell. Moore personally arrives to smash their heads against the wall and scream that she is incredibly busy running a squadron of highly trained military personnel ready to engage the enemy and she does not NEED this "We’re not spies, we’re travelers" shit!

Just then, to everyone’s amazement, an alien war fleet attacks!

Moore bursts into tears and since all the pilots are too busy catching up on their sleep to scramble and the base’s kick ass problem solving maverick fighter pilot is now in a straight jacket screaming about the pulsing gibberish in her skull, all looks lost.

And indeed it is, and all the fighter ships are blown up in the cradles as the aliens easily swoop past to conquer the Earth. Moore is even more furious before, but all her underlings are complaining of a strange vibrating gurgle in their heads to notice her throttling them.

Meanwhile, the Doctor escapes the brig by using an ordinary household blackboard and a fork, creating the correct pitch to horrify the guard into letting them escape into the depths of the ship, only to bump into Armstrong who explains she can hear the strange sound in her head and realizes it is a song, telling her to follow it.

For want of something better to do, the Doctor and Evelyn follow her to a door in the outer hull of the Skybase beside which the TARDIS landed. Evelyn points out she didn’t see that door clearly marked with a neon sign saying "VACANCY" earlier, but it’s probably dementia again.

Armstrong explains the song in her head wants her to go through the door which leads, apparently, "anywhere" and so she opens it and steps through into oblivion. The door swings closed after her and suddenly the neon sign splutters and lights up completely, revealing the sign actually said "*NO* VACANCY".

The Doctor broods that this strange portal cannot be part of the Skybase, it leads nowhere, the sounds of strange music can be heard behind it, and, judging by the taste of the rust deposits appears to be around fifty billion years older than the rest of the space platform. However, the Doctor admits, that last one might be a touch exaggerated.

Moore runs in screaming like the loser that she is and, sick and tired of her bitching, the Doctor opens the door and sucks her out of reality to die horribly, but this time it doesn’t close and wipes out all the human crew, who mindlessly walk through it, chanting in tune with the strange noise in their minds...

However, the Doctor and Evelyn escape this fate because they are regular cast members under contract, and easily return to the TARDIS and leave the Skybase to its doom at the hands of something so primal alien to the nature of time and space it retreats from it like George Bush from intellectual threats.

Suddenly the Doctor realizes what the music is – a mobile phone ringtone! Hastily he sets the TARDIS to locate the first ever time that ringtone was heard...

...and the TARDIS arrives on the Stapely Moor Riverside railway station on the night of 7th September of 1952 as a Turret-class locomotive called the Steam-Driven Slut which is heading for a little-known station named "Time’s End" which is marked on railway maps by an image of a giant fanged mouth swallowing the railway line.

"Looks like a lovely place for a picnic," the Doctor concludes.

Mugging the ticket inspector, the Doctor and Evelyn enter the train and discover there the only person on the train is a strange commuter in a bowler hat and an umbrella struggling with a crossword who happens to look just like Nicholas Briggs.

The Doctor, suspicious of the commuter, tells Evelyn to show some cleavage and try and seduce the strange bowler-hatted figure who is drawing doodles of space ships on the newspaper.

Evelyn punches him in the stomach and runs off into the depths of the train singing very badly the ringtone tune.

The Doctor finds Evelyn and smacks her down, only to discover Evelyn is possessed by an alien intelligence – all the signs were there; the glowing green eyes, the throaty inhuman voice, the fact she was able to remember where she was for more than two minutes...

The possessed Evelyn explains she has lured the Doctor onto the train using the door on Skybase Valium and she intends to kill the commuter before his doodles of space ships inspire decades of science fiction and thus stunts mankind’s development forever!

The Doctor narrows his eyes and calls Evelyn "a selfish piece of shit!" and tries to throw her off the train to her death whereupon Evelyn starts screaming the evil alien mind creature has released her – but this just makes the Time Lord even MORE determined to kill her!

The alien voice returns and bitches that normally faking it has left works and therefore the Doctor is a far more dangerous and unfashionable enemy than hithertoo encountered and so it shall take very severe measures!

The possessed Evelyn breaks down in sobs and pathetically begs for the Doctor not to kill it as all it wanted to do was wipe mankind’s ability to travel in space from history by destroying the original germ of the commuter’s idea.

However, all this arguing means they haven’t realized the train has finally reached Time’s End, and the Doctor realizes that this isn’t just some forgotten countryside hamlet but instead the theoretical point at which all cosmic laws break down as the universal physical forces are depleted and distorted in one final moment of destruction of everything.

"Easy mistake to make," the Doctor says defensively, scratching the back of his head in an awkward manner, and notes that the insane maelstrom of utter chaos caught in the moment between nowhere, no time and no space where anything is possible, except reason is "Reality Jumping The Shark".

Suddenly the strange noise bombards the Doctor’s ears and he finally realizes what the ringtone is.

The Crazy Frog!

The Time Lord decides to kill himself rather than spend eternity listening to that while being slowly swallowed by a giant mouth crushing and pulverizing billions upon billions of creatures as that fucking Crazy Frog sings in the background.

The alien possessing Evelyn laughs diabolically and reveals that they are seeing the Earth as it was fifty billion years ago – give or take the odd public holiday.

It also explains humanity is not only civilization to evolve on Earth, but each race manages to conquer the solar system, pick a few fights, and leave some puzzling anachronistic architecture like pyramids or statue heads before the aliens rip them from and space. Humanity is the latest in a long line of lifeforms to appear on the blue planet and some Lovecraftian slimy crab monsters are the next species, which will replace humanity when time is rebooted once again.

The Doctor is horrified and demands to know why the aliens have reduced billions of dominant race into screaming singularities of pulverized matter inside this huge mouth, and Evelyn shrugs and explains that it helps pass the time.

The Time Lord accuses the aliens of eternal genocide and if they so much as hint that only they have the absolute right to space travel and they’re actually some jealous and overlooked subspecies, then the Doctor will take great pleasure in going "Bad Taste" on their arses, something so diabolical it is almost beyond their comprehension.

The Doctor mocks them that their existence means nothing, and even wiping out billions of Earth species and condemning them all to eternal suffering on the off chance they might be popular won’t matter an iota as this clearly a one-off story and nothing will happen near that will be required knowledge for any future Big Finish release.

The aliens insist they deserve a sequel, but the Doctor childishly insists they could have politely asked him earlier to wipe out the human race and all its countless unknown predecessor earlier, but they didn’t, so they can just fuck off.

The Doctor is left with one question: just what the hell does the Crazy Frog have to do with this? Is it just part of the insane way that Time’s End works means they’re anything and nothing; anywhere and nowhere; with no order to events and everything has been distorted beyond all shape and reason?

The aliens realize that with humanity dominant in history, they will never be free of the Crazy Frog, and atomize themselves out of existence in a cheap negative effect.

The Doctor and Evelyn are spat out of the Blind Alley for history into the TARDIS and billions of possible timelines to evaporate. Evelyn wonders if this was the right thing to do, but the Doctor has to believe that it was - at least, he chooses to believe that it was, and it makes thing a hell of lot less confusing than before.

Evelyn struggles to collect her thought and know exactly what the hell this adventure has been about, but the Doctor tells her that it’s probably best if she doesn’t know on the grounds she’ll forget all about it in three minutes.

Book(s)/Other Related -
Doctor Who: Nicholas Briggs Must Die!
Science Fiction & Steam Trains by Neville Shunt
Sapphire & Steel: "Artist’s Impression Of The Photographs of The Abandoned Railway Station Next To The House That Jack Built Where The Changling Soldier And The Man Without A Face Escaped Through a Crack In Time In The Time Survey Capsule To Flee The Animal-Clock-Shaped Creature’s Revenge Trap Of The Dinner Party Virus And Now Need To Know Which Is The Way To London Town And Other Petrol Station Nursery Rhymes"

Goofs -
The Earth is five billion years old, not 50 billion as repeatedly stated here. Is the Earth lying about its age? Who is it trying to impress? Is it on the pull?

Someone's commute doodle on a scrap of paper will turn out to be the design for the space engine that will take mankind to the edge of the solar system hundreds of years later? How stoned are the audience supposed to be?

Technobabble -
"Lucian Override Particles" are why the Doctor is stuck in his blue outfit once again this story.

Links and References -
The Doctor mentions that he built a sonic screwdriver during his trip to Blackpool ("The Care-Bear Nightmare Fair") but it seems that it wasn’t canonical enough for him to have it now, hence his use of the sonic-fork-down-a-blackboard.

Untelevised Misadventures -
Frobisher once decided to torment the Doctor by transforming into the Crazy Frog and barging into the Time Lord’s room every night.

Groovy DVD Extras -
The Crazy Fog sings a rendition the Doctor Who theme tune. Less humane than gas chambers!

Dialogue Disasters -

Doctor: Can’t have old ladies wandering around on our train, can we? I mean, she might be a Russian spy. Didn’t look Russian, though, did she? Probably the lack of fur hat. Cunning disguise, eh? No fur hat. Ingenious. What will the KGB think up next?
Commuter: Edible carpets.

Doctor: Trying to shake me off, are you? Well it won't work! Oh you dirty little boy...

Dialogue Triumphs -

Doctor: You’re committing genocide! Eternally!
Evelyn: YES!
Doctor: What you have done is so diabolical it’s almost beyond comprehension... You selfish piece of shit!
Evelyn: ARGH!

Moore: Who are they, the Band of the Dead?
Doctor: Nonsense. That had Nyssa in it. This is a completely different story. Pay attention!

Viewer Quotes -

"The Anywhere Place is the best Colin Baker story since Engagements That Bore. It’s not absolutely perfect, or even a decent piece of storytelling but it has Colin Baker and Maggie Stables so it deserves much plaudits."
- Jo Ford Prefect (2006)

"Seven years of Big Finish Doctor Who stories, and not a single one of them have been mind-blowingly amazing. Except for this one. Which isn’t mind-blowingly amazing either. Sorry, I’m getting confused. Is this one with me in it? No? Well, it must be rubbish then, surely."
- Nigel Verkoff (2005)

"If this is an example of the storytelling about to be championed by the new boss, it doesn’t exactly bode well for the new producer’s future... I find this good. Perfectly intoxicating. Like hootch."
- Oliver Reed III (2007)

"Briggs tends to write stories taking place on dank, unforgiving spacecraft with a menacing sense of dread. It probably symbolizes something." - Amateur Psychologist Monthly (2000)

Psychotic Nostalgia -
"I'd say I'm cripplingly disappointed by "The Nowhere Place" but, in fairness, was anyone expecting Big Finish to knock out a classic anyway? Was I alone in that thought? No, we're not alone, me and I. Who said that? I did! Who did? He did! Who's he? He's you! He's me? I'm him? SHUT UP, SHUT UP!!"

Colin Baker Speaks!
"The first time I acted with Nick was on his story Con, Glom & Irate, a BBV video with the Stranger in 1993. Nich played a train passenger in a suit, as he does here. There’s a real synchronicity... in fact, I’m pretty certain this script is identical to that one. Which was a real pity because I thought that story was awful. Frighteningly awful, in fact. There’s a fundamental sense of rightness in the Universe, and once I read this I stop feeling that. It was unusually rattling, like most of Briggs’ work..."

Rumors & Facts –

Nicholas Briggs will go down in history, whether he likes it or not, as
the voice of the Dustbins and the Cybermen in the new TV series. Of course, listeners of Big Finish Productions know that he may be a monster-voice-artist, but he’s also a hell of a lot more. He’s a monster himself, having created the Dustbin Umpire range, the Cyberman spin off, he writes, directs, performs in and practically creates half the output of Big Finish for a simple reason.

He is a complete looney.

For seven long years he had been struggling to produce stories that would allow him to take over as a canonical Doctor, and it was recently estimated that there are more scrapped BF stories featuring a proper Doctor regenerating into Briggs than Eskimos have for snow.

Those that managed to get past that filter are some of the most demented and screwed up stories Big Finish have ever produced – Bored of Ironing, which pits the Cybermen against Pokémon! Encase the Arseholes, with its alien warmongers made out of icing sugar! Teachers of Footy which was recorded in a completely random order! And perhaps most bewildering of all, The Mutant Phrase, when it is revealed Dustbins are maybe the ancestors of Ridley Scott’s Aliens!

And, after seven years, Briggs had a backlog of BF story proposals with which he literally flooded Producer Gay Russell’s office, the wallpaper of which he had replaced months earlier with one with the phrase "CAN I WRITE A STORY?" repeated over and over again.

Then Briggs himself started to stalk Russell, confronting him with his own sawn off shotgun while the producer was on the toilet. Briggs was willing to write a story that was spooky, but Russell pointed out that being literally caught with your trousers down by a gun-toting psychopath was spooky enough and needed a technological edge.

Briggs cheerfully came up with an idea called "The Immoral Island" which featured the survivors of the SS Minnow reincarnated in the methane atmosphere of Neptune. Russell refused on the ground it was too similar to other stories about Gilligan being reborn on other planets, which were being worked on at the time. It later transpired that Russell was lying and no such stories had been considered, for the very good reason that it was a stupendously stupid story idea.

Briggs changed tact and came up "Plant of Evil" about an evil plant and some giant slugs. Russell laughed in Briggs’ face and told him to try and pitch that to Ian Farrington or Rob Shearman and see if he lived till morning.

Two other story ideas also went unused: "The Spunk" and "Goat Dribble", of which no plot details are available but sound so sickeningly disturbing we should count this as a blessing.

Finally, Russell snapped and allowed Briggs to pen a story for the Sixth Doctor and Evelyn, in return for Briggs allowing him to use the toilet in peace.

Briggs agreed and in minutes had a four part script ready – the same one he’d used for Big Finish’s first story with lots of lines drawn through it and stapled in the wrong order. Titled "Your End!!", it featured the Doctor and Evelyn being manipulated into altering history by wierdo time creature the Temperon, but with less multi-Doctor action and stunning conclusion where the Sixth Doctor sacrificed himself to stop the monster... only to regenerate into Nicholas Briggs.

Briggs began to lord it over Russell at every conceivable possibility, and rumors quickly spread that Russell’s spirit had been broken and he was no longer able to control Briggs. In a typical display of fickleness, the public decides that Briggs’ insane stubbornness made HIM the better choice for the role of producer.

Demands for Russell’s resignation began to howl throughout the offices of Big Finish Production... as they had since 1998, so everyone was so used to it they didn’t even notice.

Russell however, had the last laugh and managed to get Rob Shearman to return to Doctor Who and completely rewrite Briggs’ "Your End!!", transforming the plot line unrecognizably and focussing instead of Shearman’s soul-consuming hatred for The Crazy Frog ringtone.

Nevertheless, the idea at the heart of The Anywhere Place is as big an idea as the series has ever seen. The thought that billions of years of history has been erased, that we are just the last in a long list of civilizations upon this planet is almost too big to comprehend.

Similarly, Gay Russell is just the latest in a long list of strange individuals in charge of Doctor Who and that if Briggsy gets his chance, not only will he replace Russell but all history would be rewritten so that Russell had never existed....

The Anywhere Place is also notable for being the first release since Singular Angularities to have more than one cover illustration. One of them is a moody, atmospheric shot of the Doctor looking fearfully at the Door to Anywhere, and the other an incredibly shoddy bit of photoshop with a steam train driving straight into the maw of the demonic Nicholas Briggs through a mist of smiley faces.

William Cox needs to get out more, don’t you think?

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