Serial 7C/?? – The Real Thing
The Real Thing
An Alternate Programme Guide by Ewen Campion-Clarke
An Extract From The EC Unauthorized Programme Guide O' Blinovitch
Serial 7C/?? – The Real Thing -
In a barren, apocalyptic wasteland, hoardes of liquid silver Mark T-2002 Cybermen patrol the ruins, searching for human survivors to sexually dominate, cast aside, then transform into soulless Cybermen like themselves. It’s a cold, inhuman process but it has its rewards.
Three of the survivors are even now hiding in the remains of a penny arcade, playing "Command and Conquer" in the belief that the computer game actually contains a GENUINE temporal teleport device called the Chrono-Sphere, and not just a crude game play gimmick.
To the mild surprise of the three geeks, this incredibly, depressing stupid hope is actually well founded and one of them – Goddard, or "Dr Freex" to give him his user ID on C&C chatrooms – is immediately sucked through a time matrix and sent hurtling to the nexus year 3286, most likely changing the pattern of history and cancelled himself and his entire life stream out existence.
His two companions, Hoyer and Fantham muse on this as "worst temporal paradox EVER!" before they are caught by the Cybermen and buggered into submission with their day-glow Iron Wills!
In the year 3286, a human survey team lands on a deserted planet Quarryos - to find out why it has such a stupid name. They soon discover that Quarryos is quite an apt name as despite being three times larger than Saturn, the planet consists of nothing but gravel pits and endless slate quarries.
Disappointed, the survey team prepares to leave but mysterious vanish from the surface of Quarryos, leaving all their supplies, possessions and clothes – and no other trace that they ever existed.
A second survey team arrives, ostensibly to locate and rescue the missing survey team, but really they just want to steal their stuff and sell it off for hard cash. Barely has the second team got into their space shuttle, when they too vanish.
A third survey team arrives, swearing that their sole intent is to find out what happened to two other, missing survey teams and why they seem to disappear exactly one day after landing on Quarryos.
The team leader, Osborn, is in fact a notorious cannibal unofficially sent by the powers that be to locate the previous survey teams who are clearly slacking off, and then eat them to teach them a lesson.
However, there is no trace of them, and so Osborn begins to eat his own team on the grounds they are obviously not pulling their weight, when suddenly, after a day on the surface, Osborn and his team have been snatched out of reality, leaving only their clothes and all the stolen goods behind.
The Supreme President of Humanity and Dictator For Life realizes that a fourth expedition will be needed to be sent to Quarryos – but all the professionals have seemingly died on the first three. Thus, he arranges a crack team of last-minute replacements: a cowardly, untrustworthy selfish accountant to make sure the team runs to budget; a determined hardcore archaeologist who doesn’t play by the rules or suffer rules gladly; some bone idle space plumbers subcontracting; a mysterious and sinister expert in weird spacey phenomenon who has no official existence but just happens to be brilliant at these sort of troubles.
The Supreme President also decides that it is time to call in his old associate the Doctor! Previously, in order to escape execution for leading an uprising on the planet Sigma Four, the Doctor pledged allegiance to the Earth Empire and got down on his knees and begged for mercy! In return for his life, the Doctor handed the Supreme President a device known as the Super Outer Space Telephone Thingie Spiff-a-rinno, and the ability to collect call the Time Lord to sort out trouble and generally save the universe.
The Supreme President doesn’t understand the dark forces at work on the planet Quarryos, but either the Doctor will sort it out and save the day again... or else vanish into the ether forever. Either way, it’s a plan with no drawbacks.
The Doctor, at present, is shouting a long rant of abuse at Evelyn Smythe for using a non-colourfast washing powder on his favorite patchwork outfit in the belief she was actually making lentil soup.
His wonderful coat of many colours is now dyed in a range of blues from turquoise to aquamarine to even cyan – and thus he now looks completely ridiculous!
Luckily for Evelyn, before the Doctor can strangle the life out of her, the TARDIS receives the collect phone call. Immediately thinking it is UNIT and the Brigadier desperate for his services, the Doctor sets the time machine in motion.
The Doctor admits to some small surprise when, instead of arriving at UNIT HQ in the murky void of the 1970s, it instead arrives in the shadow of an ancient Peruvian tourist centre on a barren alien planet.
The Doctor is slightly taken aback at the lack of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and his soldier chums, but a bunch of clearly doomed space explorers. Nevertheless, he immediately announces himself to be in charge of the expedition and that to disobey his instructions will be to invite summary execution.
However, the accountant Isherwood simply rants at the Doctor about his space tax file number and that this sort of pro-bono work will not allow overtime from the budget.
Finally, the Doctor and Evelyn are appraised of the situation and the Doctor suggests looking for the missing expeditions in the only building on the surface of the planet – the massive temple shaped like a Peruvian tourist centre which, for reasons never fully explored to my satisfaction, no one till now has actually noticed.
With hardcore archaeologist Nicky Savage and her two space plumbers, Richard and Judy, the Doctor enters the tourist centre and finds two deserted café restaurants, an abandoned newsagents and bookshop, a gigantic rack lined with brochures about a water planet, and some lavatories with blazing purple light to put off junkies.
The Doctor is suspicious by certain architectural anomalies that suggest this building has been used by some squatters for centuries – the place is littered with empty soda cans, pizza boxes, dirty washing, overfull ashtrays, and curious graffiti saying CYBERMEN RULE, OK?!
Savage punches the Doctor in the head and orders Richard to collect some vacuum cleaners from the space shuttle to clean up this tourist centre in the vain hope the missing expeditions are somehow hidden beneath all the dirty clutter.
The dazed Doctor notices the abandoned vacuum cleaners in the corners and realizes that someone has attempted to clean up the centre before; perhaps this is what caused the disappearances in the first place?
Savage’s professionalism slips, as she explains that this is the first time she’s managed to be sent on an expedition to an alien planet. If it weren’t for the baggage restrictions on the shuttle meaning she couldn’t take her entire supply of alcohol, this would just be another trip for Professor Bernice fucking Summerfield and Savage would be left on Earth, trying to get a talking spot on Tony Robinson's Time Team.
Savage further believes the Doctor is risking the lives of her missing friends and colleagues with unnecessary and typically male laziness. However, as she rants and raves until she goes red in the face, Savage ignores the Doctor’s pleas for her to stop whining like a bitch – and then she vanishes, leaving her empty clothing to flutter to the ground.
Meanwhile, Isherwood gets sick of Evelyn and dumps her with a mysterious and sinister expert in weird spacey phenomenon who has no official existence but just happens to be brilliant at these sort of troubles: Doctor Reece Witherspoon, who happens to look and sound identical to Goddard, who we saw in the pre credits sequence.
I could continue to refer to Goddard as Reece Witherspoon, in order to cultivate a sense of mystery and enigma in the synopsis, but come on! It’s Yee Jee Tso in a tutu, people! I am not going to mistake him for Reece Witherspoon, am I? I mean, this is a webcast! You can just go there and watch the bloody thing right now, absolutely free! I can’t believe I’m trying to transcribe the plot when it’s quicker to just watch the damn thing! So, Goddard is Goddard, but everyone thinks he’s the bimbo from "Cruel Intentions" and "Legally Blonde 3: She Said She Was 18, But She Meant Her IQ". Alright?!
Goddard, Isherwood and Evelyn head into the tourist centre, where Goddard notes the graffiti on the walls and turns into a gushing fanboy who will just NOT shut up!
Goddard gives an impromptu lecture of his own fan theory history of
the Cybermen, from their origins on Monday through to their colonization of other worlds, the destruction of Monday, and the Pokémon wars. The Cybermen have learned sweet fuck all from each defeat, and have constantly adapted their design to overcome their early weaknesses, and also put the fear of God into any that dare spot their Iron Wills at a urinal.
However, they haven’t been heard from in centuries, after they put their faith into a second hand Atari gamesmaster, which immediately lead to them being blown apart during an intensely aggressive game of computer solitaire.
Meanwhile, after stealing Nicky’s abandoned underwear, the Doctor explains to the gathered humans he now knows the secret of Quarryos – it is the home of the Lord God Almighty Himself, who is now undergoing the Rapture, as all the pure and worthy souls are plucked out of reality, leaving the sinners to be damned on Earth under the reign of the Antichrist!
Everyone points out that they are not on Earth and even if you believe in God and raptures, why is he starting his good soul collection on a quarry planet with hardly any visitors.
"What part of 'God moves in mysterious ways' is confusing you?" the Doctor demands. "My instincts, every fibre of my being tells me that we stand at the gateway to a New Age, and the supreme being of all creation is right here, on this planet, in this tourist centre!"
Just then, three Cybermen arrive via some nifty ringed teleportation completely plagiarized from Stargate.
"On the other hand," the Doctor continues, pretending not to have spotted them, "it could be a massive trap by the Cult of the Cybermen."
The humans stare on in utter amazement at the Cyberleader standing before them – as it is clearly Nicky Savage, naked bar from silver metal implants and circuits that conspire to leave her legs, arms and all importantly her breasts exposed.
The Doctor muses that this is a new breed of Cybermen, specifically designed to look even more sexy and Borg-like to aide with their sexual conquest of the galaxy. Luckily, the Sixth Doctor is gayer than John Edwards, and Savage’s boobs of doom have no effect on him.
Unfortunately, he then realizes that the two Cybermen with Savage are big, muscular Vin Diesal clones in similarly scanty Cyberarmor, and the Doctor quickly finds it difficult to remember his dialogue.
"Ah... yes, well... for a conversion process to... to transform a human being into a Cyberman takes... resources. Yes, resources. And time. And, you know, lots of... hot sweaty muscles. Sorry. Disc space. That’s what I meant. Yes. Obvious. Oh my. Yes, the Cybermen have access to time travel, and that means they can... do stuff... quickly. Time dilation and that. Not the only thing that’s dilating, if you get my drift... good god... Daddy like!"
The Cyberleader formally known as Savage announces they are all prisoners of the Cybermen, that the Doctor shall surrender the secrets of the TARDIS over to them, and once the Cybermen have their wicked way with the people of the universe, they will be transformed into even more Cybermen and so the endless quest to relieve sexual frustration will continue until the very end of time itself.
So, pretty much the usual sort of Cyberman thing.
The Cyberleader orders the Doctor to allow them access to the TARDIS or it will have slow but violent sex with the Doctor’s four friends – and maybe even Evelyn as well!
The Doctor, struggling to keep control, challenges the Cyberleader to do so – he knows that Cybermen with unlimited time travel would be far kinkier threat than just a bit of the old in out with space plumbers!
The Cyberleader bitches that they have a deadline – the mysterious vanishing business occurs at the end of every day is due in less than an hour, dragging them all – sans clothes – to the heart of the Cyberbase where the Master Controller of all Cybermen sits and waits, incredibly frustrated.
Richard and Judy point out that this no big deal. They just travel back to Quarryos and to it tomorrow. What’s the big hurry?
The Cyberleader admits the logic of this, incredibly annoying the Doctor who was going to use this time limit to his advantage. He muses that a Peruvian tourist centre is not likely to just arrive on Quarryos by accident. Clearly the natives of Quarryos were one of those Von Daniken space losers, and all the tourist information centres in Peru are crude monuments to the true Quarryos time portal terminals!
Isherwood falls to his knees and begs for mercy. He is so sexually repressed and uptight, a night of passion with a Cyberwoman could destroy him utterly. Thus, he offers to torture the Doctor until he surrenders the TARDIS and in return the Cybermen will let him live.
The Doctor points out that he is the only one on the planet who can even claim to know how the TARDIS works – and even that claim is a shaky one – so he cannot be killed if they want the time machine.
The Cyberleader booms that the Controller of the Cybermen does not intend to kill the Doctor, but transform him to a new Cyberman, using the Doctor’s incredibly dirty thoughts and experiences into the most perverted Cyber Controller in history itself!!
The Doctor fiddles with his ear, blushing modestly.
The Cybermen decide that this is enough exposition and decide to steal the TARDIS – but tragically the Peruvian tourist centre doorway is too small to fit the police box prop through them. The Doctor and the humans all point and giggle, until the Cyberdeputy threatens to bite all their heads off, chew em up and spit em out!
Isherwood realizes that the Cyberdeputy is Osborn, the previous expedition leader, and the Doctor muses that the personality print override is clearly not effective – maybe these Cybermen are not designed for erotic pleasure, but just cheaply made and unfinished?
The Cyberleader rather defensively points out that, in a distant point in the future where exact measurements of time no longer have meaning due to arguments over the Gregorian Calendar, the Cybermen are all but extinct, hiding out on the famous Water Planet of Wetness. There, they slaughtered the Quarryosian people after they used a time portal to take a nice holiday on the Water Planet of Wetness.
The Cybermen then planned to go through the time portal back to Quarryos in the distant past, but instead didn’t. For some reason. Presumably because the story needs to last six episodes.
Convinced despite all reason and logic that Evelyn is not a senile madwoman but instead a cunning, dangerous woman with access to the secrets of the universe itself, the Cyberleader orders her sent through the time portal straight towards the Cyber Control.
However, the Cybermen’s frustration is overloading their semi-positronic brain circuits, and in a ruthless display of sadomasochism snaps Richard’s arms in three places and teleports him with Evelyn.
The duo arrive in another Peruvian tourist centre, but this one even dirtier and covered in used pornography, contraceptives and strange murals showing the death of spotty adolescents with badges for mathematical excellence – and giant cardboard eggboxes, containing dormant, drunken Cybermen.
The phallic-headed Cyber Controller, squatting on a broken toilet, immediately orders Richard to be taken to the gore spattered Cyber Conversion Hive where all of Richard’s weak, puny flesh will be replaced with Cyber armor, and make him just like them.
Unfortunately, there are so few bits of armor left, Richard will have to settle for having a lobotomy, some handles drilled into his head and a validium codpiece added – and ironically they can’t fix his broken arm at all!
Similar, Evelyn is so decrepit that no amount of conversion machinery could possibly make her a half decent warrior – thus, the Controller intends to cut off her head and turn her into a GPS system that will allow the Cybermen to pilot the TARDIS!
"That’s nice, Johnny," Evelyn. "Where am I again?"
The Cyber Controller is still convinced that Evelyn is playing a dangerous game of bluff – but rapidly it becomes aware that Evelyn actually is so utterly clueless it really does beggar belief.
The Cyberleader meantime is becoming more and more irritated as her threats are ignored by the Doctor, who refuses to hand over the TARDIS until the Cybermen beg him and appease his godlike vanity.
Even the protest that there is less than three episodes left do not sway the Time Lord, and unable to control her frustration, the Cyberleader gives Judy a Chinese burn that leaves her screaming, but the Doctor just grins smugly and shakes his head.
The Cyberleader then tries to pout and claims that the true Nicky Savage personality is returning, and she begs the Doctor to help save her... but Nicky Savage was such a bitch to the Doctor, he’ll let her rot in the depths of Cyber Hell!
Groaning, the Cyberleader headbutts the wall repeatedly.
Goddard meanwhile, finds Isherwood so irritating he kicks him in the balls and tells him for the last time to stop trying and sell out people, the Cybermen, and the secrets of the future just so that the mission doesn’t go over budget.
Goddard then reveals that by the end of part six, the Cybermen will gain control of the TARDIS and use it to sexually dominate not only this universe but all the others, using a rampant social disease and time travel to conquer all reality, and that he is a refugee from the Cyber-controlled Earth of 1951 and has traveled forward back to the nexus point that gave the Cybermen the ability to time travel.
"How original," the Doctor deadpans.
Goddard reveals he carries a can of pepper mace that contains the Cyber virus – only Goddard has reversed the polarity, turning it into a lethal plague that rusts the Cybermen into puddles of pond scum.
The Doctor rolls his eyes and furiously points out that Goddard has fallen for every single possible science fiction cliché possible – the Paradox Loop!
Goddard doesn’t understand, but the Doctor points out that the Cybermen originally underwent organ transplants specifically to escape nasty social diseases – it simply wouldn’t occur to them to create one!
When the Cybermen gain control of the TARDIS, they will steal Goddard’s Cyber Virus and reverse the polarity, turning it BACK into the weapon of mass destruction which they will then use to conquer the universe! Then Goddard will take a sample of it, reverse the polarity, then take it back here so the Cybermen can get it in the first place!
Goddard refuses to accept this, but then the Doctor finds a handy flipchart, showing the chain of events causing a loop of cause and effect that lead back into themselves, and using a pointer, the Time Lord begins to explain it in slow stages.
Meanwhile, the Cyberleader and its troops go nuts, driven insane with frustration and take it out by ripping Judy limb from limb and crushing her head to a pulp before dancing around with his entrails, doing the 1980s disco fever, the "Hecate!"
Isherwood screams that the compensation payments needed for this will totally blow the budget, and lunges at the Cyberleader and tries to rip it apart... but succeeds in doing nothing but smearing their shiny carapaces with his blood and bone.
The Cybermen decide to use the time portal to get back to Cyber Control, and let the approaching temporal wave to vanish any stragglers and then drag them into the future.
Finally, Goddard accepts the Doctor’s claims that he has wasted his whole life trying to defeat the Cybermen. In fact, Goddard will accept anything as long as the Doctor stops trying to explain the paradox loop with a powerpoint presentation.
They throw a sample of the virus on the closest Cybermen and he screams, pukes, explodes and melts and decays with typical 1980s gore fetishism, leaving a withered skeletal remnant behind.
Just then the other Cybermen take them roughly from behind.
Not like THAT, you sick little monkey!
Meanwhile, Evelyn is roughly thrown to the floor by the Cybernized Richard, who prepares to cut off her head with an electric pizza slicer...
But just then, Richard receives the internal memo about his plumber mate Judy being hung, drawn and quartered. The wave of depression crashing over him becomes psychotic rage – the Cyberleader’s sexual frustration means they’ll never be able to host a prime time breakfast chat show on BBC3!
Leaving Evelyn as baffled as ever, Richard storms off with the motorized pizza cutter.
Meanwhile, the Doctor and Goddard are brought through the time portal where the Cyberleader takes the vial of Cyber Virus and decides, completely at random, to reverse its polarity and hope the virus turns into something remotely useful.
By staggering coincidence – and accompanied to the Doctor’s incredibly loud rant of "I told you! Didn’t I tell you? Was I unclear at all about what would happen? Didn’t I tell you?!" – the Cybermen realize they now have a retrovirus that can turn ordinary human beings into Cybermen.
Demonstrating, they drench Isherwood in the virus, and in a series of stock sound effects and rapid editing, Isherwood turns silver and nasty and grows handlebars out of his head.
Just then, Richard arrives and starts hacking all the Cybermen to pieces with its pizza dicer while the Doctor runs over to the information booth and quickly finds the pamphlet with instructions how to sabotage the time portal and cause it to ‘vanish’ itself and everything in the immediate area.
He runs for the exit, only to find Evelyn wandering around looking for the Ladies. They jump back into the centre on Quarryos and flee back to the TARDIS as fast as Evelyn’s varicose vein-lined legs can carry them.
Meanwhile, Goddard drop kicks Richard and kills him with the pizza cutter, and then knocks the Cyber Controller’s head clean from its shoulders... to reveal that the Cyber Controller was really Evelyn Smythe all the time.
Goddard realizes that Evelyn has been infected with the virus, and that the Cybermen will still conquer the entire universe! However, he gets confused and decides to try and write it out on a piece of paper, but this delay proves fatal – both Peruvian tourist centres vanish, leaving nothing but a strange smell.
Aboard the TARDIS, the Doctor dusts his hands. He can now claim that he died in the mission, so the Supreme President and Dictator for Life won’t be asking for his help any time soon. All he needs now is some kind of industrial solvents to restore his outfit to its usual colourful patina.
Evelyn is still baffled about this business with alternate histories and divergent timelines, and the Doctor decides to head back to 1927, the year the Cybermen released their virus to check that it doesn’t happen... but then the Doctor realizes that this could be an incredibly stupid move.
Checking Evelyn over with the TARDIS scanner, the Doctor realizes Evelyn has been infected with the virus – and, being senile, she forgot to mention it – and the stupid old bat nearly caused this entire problem to spiral out of control.
Pausing only to cure her of the virus, the Doctor beats her unconscious with a baseball bat, then sets the TARDIS in motion, grumbling furiously to himself.
Book(s)/Other Related -
Doctor Who – The Slightly-Animated Series: Mealtime
Doctor Who And the Paradoxes Of Plot Holes
Dr Who Versus Terminator Versus Alien Versus Predator Versus Judge Dredd Versus Batman Versus Bill Versus Ted
The gimmick of this story is that it happens, 24-style, in real-time. Except for the first episode. And the bits set in the future. And the cliffhanger reprises. And the fact it is clocked in at "space minutes" which change their length randomly on a quantum scale.
The Doctor agrees that Cybermen with time travel is a new and horrible thought, so he’s still in denial about giving them access to the TARDIS twice over to cover some poker debts (Atari of the Cybermen).
Why doesn't the organic-techno virus affect Goddard or the Doctor? Is it a really picky virus? Does it have some kind of standard of carrier that these two don’t meet because of their dress code? Would they be liable for infection if they had two hot girls on their arms? IT’S QUESTIONS LIKE THESE THAT MIGHT CURE CANCER!!!
How does Evelyn know that the Cyber Controller is actually a friend of Dorothy's? Is it a fluff about 'the Tin Man with no heart' – or is it, as appears, casting aspersions on the Controller's sexuality?
Lee Sullivan's drawings in the webcast.
Fashion Triumphs –
The Doctor’s outfit no longer causes epileptic seizures, as it is now bright blue. He now has an interactive cat badge that mimics his emotions, plays to camera and generally chews the scenery.
People apparently leave residual 'longbar acoustic agitators'. Whatever the fuck that means.
Links and References -
Goddard describes the Cyber History of "The Tense Planet", "The Room of the Cybermen", "Atari of the Cybermen" and "Bored of Ironing" with lots of descriptions of green-yellow Cybergoo and Cybervomit
Untelevised Misadventures -
At the close of the story the Doctor and Evelyn decide to travel to earth, 1927 – though the chances of them actually getting there are the same as Adam Rickitt getting off with shoplifting charge scott free.
Groovy DVD Extras -
Interviews with cast and crew by Nicholas Briggs... who irritatingly refuses to speak in anything than his best David Banks cyborg voice.
Dialogue Disasters -
CyberDeputy: How is your frustration, Leader?
CyberLeader: It's giving a bit, like I've relieved some pressure on it.
CyberDeputy: Frustration is unimportant to the Cyber Race. Relief is unimportant. Lust is all.
CyberLeader: ...I hate you.
Doctor: Right, off to 1927 to see Charles Lindberg fly across the Atlantic to escape the horrible spindly fish head hunters of Long Island!
Evelyn: Oh, so that's the end of the story, is it? What a waste of time.
Doctor: I know. I've never seen a script like it.
CyberLeader: The Cyber Controller isn't daft. Just very, very lonely.
Cyberman: Excellent! Party time! Bodacious!
(Goddard covers him with the virus)
Cyberman: Most heinous...
Dialogue Triumphs -
Doctor: I’m sorry Evelyn – everywhere we go, you get to know people and they die. That’s not fair. It should be YOU that dies.
CyberLeader: Doctor. The Controller requires your presence.
CyberLeader: You will come with us.
Doctor: I say again: why?
CyberLeader: You will come with us.
Doctor: Why?! Tell my why I should!
CyberLeader: If you do not, the hostages will be killed.
Doctor: So? ...Well, that’s hardly a threat – if I refuse to budge, a handful of lives gone. A handful of lives I don’t want to save in the first place. And if I go with you, and give you the secrets of my TARDIS, that’s ETERNITY gone! Not really a contest. Is it?
CyberLeader: Doctor. The deaths of the humans can be slow and painful.
Doctor: Hmmm. So that’s it, is it? "Come with us or we hurt your irritating companions"? No, these reprobates have been aggravating me since the moment we met and they’d be expendable at the best of times, let alone when placed against the universe! You want to dismember them – go ahead.
CyberLeader: Will you really sacrifice them, Doctor?
Doctor: Well, it’d be more fun if YOU did it...
Evelyn: So, Controller, what's excellent now? You young whippersnapper!
CyberLeader: Relationships are your downfall, Doctor. Evelyn Smythe has provided our Controller with the ability to bargain with you. That opportunity was not present before her capture. You are now in an inferior position.
Doctor: Well, against Cybermen I’m always in an inferior position if we’re talking about sub and dom! But I’m talking about LIFE! My feelings, my hatred for Evelyn, can never make me inferior!
Viewer Quotes -
"If only scripts like this had been commissioned during the mid-eighties! Dismemberment! Blood! Gore! Death! Pain! The Doctor acting like a complete and utter fuckwit and doing sweet FA to have anything with the plot resolution, assuming there even is one! There’s just not enough of this deviant filth on the internet, and fuck knows, I’ve looked! It’s like Room of the Cybermen for the new millennium... assuming the new millennium never sees the DVD version!"
- Nigel Verkoff Esq. (2003)
"No one seems to review this story. I mean, it doesn’t have Richard E Grant in it, so it can’t be ALL bad... Perhaps everyone was being really discrete and decided to 'not mention it', you know like Uncle Cecil who went mad and lived under the stairs and would come out nude and force visitors to listen to his views on unionism - all the while his manhood dangling out for all Chelmsfordshire to see? However, my personal family problems aside: Could the BBC please say very nicely to the monkeys on the type writers to stop attempting to write Doctor Who and get back to gritty crime dramas!"
- DIY Sheep (2005)
"We know the Cybermen are kinky, there's no need to resort to such cheap gimmicks to prove it." - Eric Saward (2034)
"I can’t believe it! They used that awful arrangement of the theme tune and the McGann logo! They seem to think people actually LIKE anything from the Fourth Doctor era, the crazy, crazy bastards! And the Doctor, dressed in something that isn’t tasteless and multicoloured totally misunderstands the character! I don’t care if it doesn’t come across on audio, the fact is the webcast is out there to the whole world, ruining preconceptions about the One, True Doctor, Colin Baker, May His Name be Praised! Damn you, Lee Sullivan, you suck! When will people realize that the only annals of Doctor Who worth knowing about, the only bits worth being recommended, the only seasons worth a damn are Seasons Twenty-Two and Twenty-Three? THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THEM! IT’S THE REST OF DOCTOR WHO THAT IS SCREWED UP! EMBRACE THE TRUTH!"
- Ron Mallet (2004)
Psychotic Nostalgia -
"The head popping scene is over the top, and smacks of gratuitous violence. I mean, where’s the style? Where’s the elan? Squashing a melon in a vice is just insulting the audience... and I take offense to being insulted. The drills and the saws and the screaming were the only thing making it worth downloading RealPlayer!"
Colin Baker Speaks!
"Being Big Finish's first online Doctor was very special for me, given my history with the program, but it is strange to work with Cybermen when you can’t see them, but luckily Nick Briggs kept trying to kill us all while dressed as one, so it was easy enough to act. All that steely-single-mindedness. And the Cybermen are just as bad. Of course, the thing about the Cybermen – and the Dustbins – is that if you knock one down, there’s another identical one trotting up behind without being bothered by the fact you’re just done their mate in. A bit like fans, really. Unlike Briggs, of course, you’re liable to get slightly more of what might be described as a conversation from a Cyberman."
Rumors & Facts –
The Real Thing is notable for being the second Doctor Who webcast to be broadcast on the BBCi Doctor Who homepage and the first to be produced by Big Finish. It is also notable for being completely crap and never being mentioned again, except by CD artists who hate drawing the Sixth Doctor’s outfit, and thus use the blue version from this story instead. Without that wardrobe malfunction, this story would be totally forgotten by Doctor Who fandom... and you know how anally retentive Doctor Who fandom can be!
These internet webcast dramas are a complete mystery to me. Beth Comes To Rhyme completely baffled me, and so did The Real Thing. It was then I realized I didn’t have speakers, and that my efforts to lip read the animations were complete wastes of time. This, for me, was the turning point!
After the spectacular failure of Dan Freeman’s scheme to get the BBC to revive Doctor Who as a television series absolutely identical to Buffy the Vampire Slayer except with Giles played by Sylvester McCoy, Freeman decides to try again with an internet webcast of an audio play with Lee Sullivan providing some generic slideshow of images.
This extravaganza, Beth Comes To Rhyme, was an attempt to revive Doctor Who as a cartoon series absolutely identical to Star Wars, and singlehandedly wiped out the Time Lord civilization, had UNIT creating a bloody Earth Empire and having a young Jedi knight called Ace using the TARDIS with the incredibly camp Stephen Fry’s Minister of Chance, also taking instructions from the ghost of Obi Wan Kenobe (played by Sylvester McCoy).
Dan Freeman’s webcast was an outright failure, left only on the BBC website because no one remembered it long enough to take it down. But nevertheless a record EIGHTEEN hits had occurred on the site to listen and generally ridicule the webcast. Thus, the BBC decided to try and repeat this success, but with a webcast that wouldn’t be so completely and utterly rubbish it was borderline radioactive.
With the most outrageous display of illogic logic, the BBC decided that Big Finish – who had been producing Doctor Who audio plays with the proper cast and everything for over three years – might be able to suggest someone who could create a decent webcast, ideally featuring "those disco robot with allergies on a day-release to Windsor" fighting "that nutter in the scarf".
Big Finish immediately offered to provide the story themselves... though they had no idea who the robots and nutters requested actually were. First off, they decide that the Doctor and companion should be the Sixth and Evelyn since noone outside fandom would have heard of either – so they wouldn’t just get the hardcore fans but also lots of casual losers who thought it was a completely new line up.
Then, they decided that the BBC most likely wanted a story about Dustbins, and Rob Shearman volunteered a storyline entitled You Hypocritical Scum, about the Terry Nation Estate. It featured a single Dustbin struggling to escape racism, stereotyping and Kitkat commercials from the decadent English culture.
However, Producer Gay Russell, gripped by megalomania, stole most of the nifty ideas like time paradoxes, iconic monsters, and gratuitous amputations, and ultimately You Hypocritical Scum was transformed into D'you Believe This?, a CD release for the main Big Finish range.
But at the time Shearman was not discouraged, and after throwing Russell down six flights of stairs, suggested another plot –
"ANOTHER DEATHDAY FOR HARVEY McCUGH"
Harvey McCugh, the biggest narcissist in the universe, has chosen to live in a house entirely on his own, served by younger versions of himself in a nuclear family, who regularly slaughter older, bedridden versions of himself at the top of the house at half-past seven each evening. The house is actually make out of Harvey’s skin and bones, as are the Kendall Mint Cakes and corner shop plonk he consumes.
When the Doctor and Evelyn arrive, and somehow trigger the creation of a gestalt, mixing in the TARDIS crew with all the temporal version of McCugh, with all the dialogue and characters blurring into one, long satisfying scream.
Shearman believed this plot would be so fucking disturbing that everyone would be scared off by the end of the first episode. Therefore, he would only have to write the first episode but get paid loads extra.
The BBC turned down the story and several of their members had nervous breakdowns and asked for a story they could commission and still be able to sleep at nights.
Shearman, undeterred, came up with another idea...
"THE HAZARDOUS PROPOSAL"
The Doctor and Evelyn arrive at a luxury hotel to discover Napoleon and Nelson engaging a mock battle on stage with water pistols, sign autographs, do some mild cabarets and have Q and A sessions with the audience also at the hotel.
The Doctor discovers the hotel is being run by sad, anorak-clad aliens who have timescooped famous historical figures out of reality just before they die, heal them, and get them to do lots of anecdotes. But now the convention circuit is too popular: Nelson’s eyepatch joke is known by all, Napoleon’s lost his French accent, and some other aliens want to turn the hotel into a bingo hall.
At the end of part one, the Doctor is shot dead, when some different aliens arrive and offer to rescue him on the condition he joins their convention circuit, so they have to find a way to resolve the plot!
Shearman once again was thinking strategy, and was convinced he needed only write the first two episodes. By then, all the fans and genuine celebrities would get so offended at the wanky pisstaking of Doctor Who fans and conventions that the story would be scrapped.
This however, was to no avail, and neither was
"THE SCOTTISH WEBCAST!"
The Doctor and Evelyn travel back to see the real Macbeth to find out if William Shakespeare is full of shit. Unfortunately, another time machine is present, built out of the remains of extinct animals who immediately start to possess and attack the main cast.
It is then that a strange being with no face and a bowler hat (Nicholas Briggs) arrives and imprisons the Doctor and Evelyn in a railway station outside time and space, where the ghosts of disappointed Shakespeare enthusiasts are being used as raw energy by a resentment-feeding creature known only as The Creature!
Shearman was so sick of this fucking webcast business, he wanted out, and so plagiarized Sapphire and Steel for the upteenth time in the hope the BBC would tell him to piss off.
His wish was granted.
Gay Russell stepped into the breach with an incredibly complicated time paradox story blatantly ripped off from the Terminator movie franchise. The scenes where the Doctor bamboozles Goddard into submission with time zone diagrams and flipcharts were based, word for word, on the experience Russell had with Internatice Executive Martin Trickery, who gave the go ahead on the condition people stop waving napikins covered in flow-chart diagrams in his face.
Another condition was that Goddard’s character be renamed after the winner of the BBC Cult Site’s competition. Tragically, the winner was Aaron Zurp Boyles-Flexitubes, and Russell decided to leave Goddard’s name as it was and put the cast list up on the site to compound poor Boyles-Flexitubes’ misery sevenfold.
Determined to make the Cybermen a menace to feared not only by the sexually-repressed British public, but by anything that had a pulse and quite a few things that didn’t, Russell wrote the cyborg foes and really nasty – refusing to use a safety word, for example, and instead of grabbing people’s shoulders and giving them Chinese burns, would regularly snap off limbs and crush skulls to expend their frustration.
Russell was also of the belief that the Borg from Star Trek: The Next Generation were "a bunch of pussies" because they are "touchy-feely, stylish, careful, anaesthetic-using wankers". Thus, the Cybermen of The Real Thing would use buzz-saws, soldering irons, Black and Decker cordless drills in quick, turn-out-in-a-hurry conversions.
As Russell scripted the story, hundreds of BBC executives were taken off in ambulances after they hyperventilated reading the twist that the Cyber Controller was Evelyn all along. Russell took this to be a testament to the shock quality of the idea, not realizing that the shock was that he seemed to think shamelessly plagiarizing Return of the Jedi and expected absolute no one to notice.
So confident was he of his own genius, Russell decided that he would be the director of the saga – on the ground that he could get the job done on a shoestring budget in one day, and also because he was the only one that could understand the time paradox without twitching uncontrollably.
There was some brief delays when a vengeful Nicholas Briggs – outraged his proposal "Doctor Who – Shatter World!" had not even been considered not even once – locked everyone out of the Moat Studios in London, hampering not only recording of The Real Thing, but the Excelsior Trilogy In Four Parts which was underway at the time.
Luckily, Colin Baker had been given a working sonic screwdriver by some incredibly geeky fans, and easily picked the lock. Unfortunately, he also started several small fires, wiped the contents of three laptops and caused an IKEA shelving unit to implode. To this day, Baker insists that the IKEA shelving unit would have imploded anyway.
Recording went smoothly after that, though Briggs would repeatedly dress up as a Cyberman and storm the green room – photo evidence shows he repeated attempts to beat Yee Jee Tso, who played Goddard, into a bloody pulp while Colin Baker and Maggie Stables pretend not to notice.
It also became obvious that the story would need to be split into six, ten-minute episodes. This annoyed Russell as since he was the writer AND the producer, he was chiefly to blame, but publicly said it was down to James Goss, Associate Producer for BBCi Entertainment.
Russell was also pissed off because he had already started to grossly pad out the episodes to make them the usual twenty five minutes and recorded some of the extra material already. This was later used on the CD release, except for one scene...
SAVAGE: Ah, Bobby’s a smashing kid, though. He’ll be six in a couple of week’s time. I hope I can sort out this stuff on Quarryos in time for me to get back. Or, at least, record him a happy birthday message. I mean, what are the odds I’ll be transformed into a soulless Cyberman and try to engineer the retrospective genocide of my own species? I mean, how likely is that to happen?
The cast and crew were furious that they had slaved away for an extra half an hour of material but had only been paid for an hour. Furious despite not being involved at all, Briggs stormed the BBC and tried to execute James Goss with his Cyber rifle sonic blaster. Unfortunately, it was just a toy pop gun, and Goss has Briggs thrown out a tenth-story window into the Blue Peter Garden.
But things continued to spiral out of control. Alistair Lock refused to do the sound design and incidental music. William Johnston refused to do the dialogue editing. When Russell pointed out that they were all Doctor Who fans and logically had no life outside of the industry they chose to work with, there were mass resignations, since most of Big Finish were often just confused work experience kids and door to door salesman indoctrinated into the cult of BFP. Alistair Lock later set up an Egyptian Casino in Harley Street and never returned.
Worse, everyone was much more interested in the recording of the Eighth Doctor season finale Nowhere-Land in the next studio, and particularly the curious noise India Fisher was making very loudly in her sound booth, entirely on her own.
Lock’s shortlived replacement spent no time in telling Russell how utterly rubbish his scripts were, and that the actors were incredibly awful, and that the stories were simply not up to a professional standard, and how Paul McGann should be replaced by a cool, bald professional guy in a tuxedo and a bowtie...
Russell realized that Nicholas Briggs had snuck into the studios again and hurled him out the window and promptly robbed a bank, financing Big Finish just long enough to finish editing down the wealth of Nowhere-Land into a standard two-disc amount.
Finally, the steaming residue that Russell had created was handed over the BBC. They were being given hatemail by Nicholas Briggs, now working under the pseudonym Alistair Lock, and it was clear if the BBCi site and Big Finish were ever going to work again, Briggs would need to be taken out the back and shot through the head repeatedly.
Russell assured the BBC that every effort would be made to do this, but after a three month delay and a plot that was utter crap probably because the writer, director and producer were all the same person and that person was shithouse at writing in the first place. Indeed, a quick perusal of the recording script showed 18,2002 continuity errors in the first scene alone. But Russell turned down the chance to rework the story on the grounds that there was "bugger all" wrong with it, and that all of Big Finish's output was utterly perfect and anyone who said otherwise was a communist sympathizer to be eaten by wild badgers.
Lee Sullivan had been press-ganged by Big Finish to drawing comic illustrations for Big Finish for Doctor Who Magazine, and had been blackmailed by Dan Freeman into providing the slideshow for Beth Comes to Rhyme. Thus, he was the logical choice to draw up some backgrounds, and the main characters.
However, Lee Sullivan was sick of Nicholas Briggs repeatedly begging him to ‘draw a bit badly’ and make the Doctor look like Briggs himself, and so did three sketches without even looking at the script and handed them over, along with a comic strip called Up Amongst The Gods which could be used for all the Sixth Doctor illustrations. The Cybermen were wholesale nicked from the Radio Times comic strip Dreadlocks, which lead to a baffling sight of one the Cybermen looking just like Paul McGann in a frock coat.
After two photoshop artists went blind, it was decided the Doctor’s outfit be turned into various shades of blue, which caused a hasty rewrite and an expensive reedit of the story once more – and another one once a Eduardo Amentia was called in to animate the results, since Amentia spoke no English whatsoever, had no idea about Doctor Who, and actually thought he was applying to be King of Sardinia.
After this disaster, the BBC were highly reluctant to employ Big Finish again and often denied having ever created The Real Thing, which languishes somewhere beneath all the Touchwood wallpapers, TARDISodes and Dodge the Dustbins games that now clog up the official website.