Serial 7C/U – Thicker Than Two Short Planks
Thicker Than Two Short Planks
An Alternate Programme Guide by Ewen Campion-Clarke
An Extract From The EC Unauthorized Programme Guide O' Porridge
Serial 7C/U – Thicker Than Two Short Planks -
The TARDIS returns to the Eye of Orion, moments after the Killemall invasion, where the Doctor intends to offload Evelyn Smythe to the truly demented leader Rossiter on the grounds he is the one person in all of space and time who actually wants to be with Evelyn.
As the Doctor tries to dump the gagged and bound Evelyn in Rossiter’s office, his daughter Sofia dives in front of the door and refuses point blank to let some brain-addled old woman steal her inheritance, even if her father IS grotesquely turned on by her Alzheimer’s!
The Doctor throws Evelyn on the welcome mat with a note saying COMPLIMENTS OF THE DOCTOR, and runs back to the TARDIS, saying he has urgent business elsewhere and swearing never to return to the Eye of Orion ever, ever, ever, ever again.
The Doctor has now gained a new companion – Melanie Jane Bush – who is forcing him to exercise, eat healthily and listen to Jefferson Starship while she talks about his attitude and self-importance.
The Doctor reminds her that the last companion to annoy him to this degree, he threw into the heart of an exploding nebula, chained in dwarf star alloy, but admits he might have embellished a bit.
However, Mel continues to drive him crazy and he begins to wonder if, maybe, just maybe, he should have stuck with Evelyn. He sets the coordinates for the Eye of Orion, as Mel cheerfully waits to meet the old friend the Doctor speaks so kindly of.
"For you, sarcasm is just something that happens to other people, isn’t it, Mel?" the Doctor sighs.
The TARDIS lands in Kristina the Two-Timing Bitch Memorial garden park, where Evelyn is standing on a soap box whinging about how young whippersnappers today don’t show respect for their elders and in her day, when she had real teeth, by gum, the world was a nicer place.
The crowd start to heckle Evelyn, suggesting that instead of conducting independent research on Killemallan technology, she should shove it up her arse, piss off and die – in that order.
The confused Evelyn listens to this and forgets that she and Rossiter are paying for this expensive research, and is quickly convinced by the mob to join the other 89 per cent of the population and burn all the technology in a celebration of narrow-minded ignorance.
Evelyn then starts barking like a dog for two minutes, which shuts up the mob temporarily as they stare at her in disbelief.
As the Doctor and Mel watch on, Evelyn stops barking and admits that she might have forgotten to take her medication today, and wanders off and bumps into her old travelling companion.
In a truly ironic twist, Evelyn’s memory is briefly working for her to totally embarrass and humiliate the Doctor in front of Mel, noting those times he got intimate with the rubber-suited monsters he was supposed to be protecting humanity from, and the distinctly embarrassing incident where the Doctor tried to upstage the faking of the moon landings on the planetoid Talos Minor.
To the Doctor’s incredible relief, people start setting off gas grenades in the crowd, and gunshots ring out. In a clever bit of double bluffing, the Doctor tricks Evelyn and Mel into fleeing for cover and they are immediately abducted by masked figures.
Rossiter suspects that Sofia might be behind the kidnap and Sofia bristles at the implication, and insists that, despite her antagonism towards Evelyn and her peddling of DEATH TO SMYTHE T-shirts to the angry mob, she would never condone something like this.
The Doctor, however, stops Rossiter from rushing off half-cocked in search of his wife, certain that there are plenty more fish in the sea and that he’ll just pop to the TARDIS to rescue his companions.
However, Rossiter insists on accompanying him and the Doctor swears – he can’t simply dematerialize and pretend none of this ever happened to him, and he’s stuck in this sub mediocre plotline.
Mel and Evelyn are thrown into a safe house – which, in the Eye of Orion, means some rain-soaked church ruins on a hill. The leader of the kidnappers angrily punches Mel in the face when she insists that such behavior is un-jolly and all he needs is some proper exercise to become a well-adjusted, healthier and less pathetic member of society.
Evelyn however has no idea what’s going and starts to ramble on about how she and the Doctor used to meet Dustbins, mutant vampires, mutant vampire hunters, and even Robin Hood, and soon the leader flees from the hostages, bored to tears.
Suddenly, Evelyn starts barking and howling at the roof before trying to bite Mel. Whether this is some strange condition of Evelyn’s or a natural reaction to prolonged exposure to Mel is, as yet, unclear.
Finally, the kidnappers try to restrain Evelyn and then Sofia bursts in bitching that just because the kidnapper has taken her horrible stepmother hostage, that does not somehow cancelled out the fact he totally forgot her birthday.
Mel tries to mediate between Sofia and her estranged boyfriend Sebastian, only to get shouted at and beaten up. Sofia realizes that smacking down Mel somehow connects the lovers in a way that they have never been before.
The Doctor and Rossiter leave in the TARDIS, which promptly materializes in the sewer systems underneath the garden, and the Doctor shoves Rossiter out the doors, intending to flee the Eye of Orion. However, there is the curious sounds of dogs barking, and the duo set off to investigate.
The Doctor speculates that some ecologically-unsound toxic waste has been pumped deep into the sewers, mutating the animals that survive down there, turning them into wise-cracking humanoid ninjas!
Instead, they find a crude hospital ward full of aggressive, growling, red-eyed patience struggling to break free from their bonds.
"Rage-infected zombies!" the Doctor exclaims. "How common."
Meanwhile, Mel is sent at gunpoint to take Evelyn for a walk and is given a space frisbee with which to keep her docile. However, Mel uses her computer-like genius to simply take Evelyn for a very LONG walk which could, if you think about it, be mistaken for a successful escape attempt, and soon Evelyn is being placed in the Szabo Dog’s Home.
Underground, the Doctor and Rossiter pass time by tormenting the patients with a fire extinguisher and discover another ward containing Killemall prisoners, the ferocious space werewolves who are lashed up to a curious chemistry set clearly designed by someone who knows absolutely nothing about the principals of DNA.
Luckily, a medical file marked EVIL DNA EXPERIMENTS has been left open on the nearby table and, after reading it three times, the Doctor finally realizes the truth - and Evelyn has been given a transfusion of
Killoran DNA and is turning into a dog!!
"Like, duh!" Rossiter sneers.
Meanwhile, a SWAT team bursts into the kidnapper’s hideaway and machine guns them all down. Sofia shakes her fists at the sky with a long, loud primal scream of torment...
Then, she’s over it.
Mel, however, has discovered a secret control room that monitors the zombie hordes, and Szabo enters and explains he was just passing and really a completely different amoral genetics scientist is behind all this – and Mel cheerfully believes him.
Szabo opens a trapdoor and throws Mel down into the empty shaft, headfirst, before setting all the patients to escape from the sewers and storm the surface in a George A Romero zombie apocalypse!
"And to think they thought the long weekend would be dull!" he laughs.
Mel falls through a bit of ducting and lands on top of the Killemall patients, bounces, and lands in Rossiter’s arms. Immediately, he falls in love with Mel’s feisty mane of red curls.
"What is WRONG with you?" the Sixth Doctor demands. "Are you trying to marry all my companions? I bet if Frobisher was here, you’d be putting the moves onto him as well! And he’s stuck in the shape of a penguin! Good GOD I’m glad I never brought Peri here, it’d be disgusting!"
The Doctor tells the half-dead Killemall soldiers to climb up the vertical shaft and slaughter the evil mad scientists they find. When the weakened aliens protest, the Doctor starts to kick them repeatedly, shouting that they are SUPPOSED to be deadly space werewolves!
The zombie horde reaches the surface... unfortunately, they do so just when the SWAT team happened to be passing. They machine gun to death all the zombies without a second thought and walk off.
Meanwhile, Szabo sees what’s happening in the cellars, realizes that events have moved on out of his control, and philosophically pours himself a drink. He then finishes writing his autobiography, "I KNOW You’re An Unscrupulous Scientist Ruthlessly Manipulating, Torturing And Experimenting On Others But What Am I?"
He then eats a peanut, and, since he’s allergic, drops dead.
Five minutes later, the Doctor, Mel, Rossiter and Sofia burst in.
"We was too late," the Doctor notes, and nicks the last of the peanuts before he and Mel leave in the TARDIS before either Evelyn finds them again, or someone strikes Mel over the head once more.
At the Dog’s Home, Evelyn hacks up a furball and instantly returns to normal. It seems it’s just some kind of twisted old lady problem, and she is not turning into a werewolf at all.
As she gets to her feet, she bumps into a small Scottish man in a straw hat and a question-mark umbrella, who notes he was just dropping by and one of his companions, Hex, is actually called Tommy Schofield, which rings a bell somehow.
Evelyn, unsurprisingly, cannot remember all about Cassie the vampire and her abandoned son Tommy, and shrugs helplessly.
"Never mind, it probably wasn’t important," the Seventh Doctor notes, and wanders off again.
"Where am I again, sonny?" she calls after him, confused.
Book(s)/Other Related -
Doctor Who Ditches the Witch!
Doctor Who And The Amazing Self-Defeating Mad Scientist
Bernice Summerfield And the Werewolf DNA of Irony!!
Szabo is the villain of this story. That is totally unbelievable.
Solar radiation contains "gamman energy" which can magically transfer DNA from one individual to another in a flash of CGI.
Links and References -
The Sixth Doctor experiences the events of "The Afronauts" off screen during episode one, and picks up a companion called Melanie Bush.
Untelevised Misadventures -
The Doctor once tried to escape Evelyn by trapping her on a space train of alien freaks, possibly a reference to the fanfic adventure, "Planet of Titilation".
Groovy DVD Extras -
Maggie Stables’ cover of 'Hound Dog'.
Dialogue Disasters -
Doctor: I can't believe I've been so selfish, so childish... No. Wait. I can. Well, there’s THAT sorted out...
Szabo: I believe I am responsible for a vast increase in domestic violence in the city of late.
Mel: You mean, you’re not sure?
Szabo: Hmmm. Step onto that hatch, would you, my dear?
Rossiter: She's... disappointed. She wanted you to be at the wedding... She wanted you to give her away.
Rossiter: No. I’m just messing with you.
Dialogue Triumphs -
Mel: Doctor, we need to talk about your attitude!
Doctor: Attitude? ATTITUDE?!? What about my attitude?
Mel: You've always walked a tightrope between genial and brash, but you were just plain abusive to those poor colonists. You’re so angry and bitter and full of rage, aren’t you?
Doctor: FUCK OFF!!
Szabo: Of course I tortured the Killemalls! The foul beasts tried to kill us all! That’s why they’re called ‘Killemalls’! We’re not talking deep subtext here!
Evelyn: I know you. You’re the Doctor.
Seventh Doctor: You recognize my new face then?
Evelyn: No. But I can see the question marks.
Mel: Try to relax. Because, with your temper of late, I’ve been living in fear of becoming a domestic violence statistic!
Doctor: If I could throttle you, Mel, I would have done it by now.
Mel: You see, Doctor? No upper body strength or muscle tone. You should exercise more.
Doctor: FUCK... OFF!!
The final scene with the Doctor and Evelyn –
Doctor: You’ve been such a great friend to me. I met you at a time when my life was going nowhere, in danger of joining the crochet and bowls brigade. I even took up knitting – I think I could use a new bobble hat, don’t you? – I feel very close to you. Especially now. What I’m trying to say, and, I know you know, but I’m going to say it anyway. I, well, I love you.
Evelyn: Why are you talking to that mirror, Johnny?
Doctor: Piss off you old bag!
Viewer Quotes -
"Now that would make a great Cafepress store - DEATH TO SMYTHE merchandise..." - Cameron J Mason (2007)
"People rated this story worthy of 7. Seven? Seven!!!??? SEVEN???!!! #~$!*%Â£ *%$! Oh, good God above! Oh, Christ almighty! Oh, merciful saviour and redeemer... What fuckbrain could possibly devote above average ratings for this crud? How could anyone listen with pleasure to this timid, painful, humourless cheese? Written by and produced for the children of parents exposed to dangerous doses of radiation during pregnancy, I presume, the audience can be supposed only to comprise freaks with brains 1/10th the normal size in nevertheless grotesquely-enlarged crania. The children of Chernobyl. In short, Ukranians and the Welsh. One can only guess at the sense of shame and failure which overwhelms the performers as they make the first, sickened read through of the script. For poor Colin Baker, it must be quite like old times."
- Eric Saward (2007)
"Has it really been five years since Evelyn first arrived? It’s taken five long years to get rid of her? Most of the miniskirted tarts leave after two years, and even three is pushing it. FIVE IS RIGHT OUT! And then, THEN, they intend to keep giving us MISSING adventures with Evelyn, as if we want MORE?! WHAT THE FUCK ARE THEY THINKING?"
- Michelle Trantenburg (2005)
"This sounds terrible, faux-soap operish nonsense and it is. I could barely reach the sick bucket in time."
- Nigel Verkoff (2006)
"There are many words to describe Paul Saints follow up to last year's Engagements That Bore. 'Freaking awful' would certainly apply. 'Fanwank garbage' would be two others. This must also count as one of Big Finish’s most pointless releases."
- Shaun McCallif (2008)
Psychotic Nostalgia -
"I think I might have consumed werewolf DNA. Well, I DO kill a lot of stray dogs and drink their blood. These things can happen."
Colin Baker Speaks!
"I would never do a script that Big Finish sent me that glorified racial hatred, if it were gratuitously cruel or offensive. Unless it made look INCREDIBLY cool. Look at this one, with its condoning of vivisection, DNA manipulation and crude treatment of the elderly and infirm. As long as the reviews make look like I’m the best actor on the face of the Earth, it is entirely possible to be objective."
Maggie Stables Speaks!
"I've been amazed at how quickly I became a Doctor Who celebrity. Somebody stopped in Leicester Square Tube Station the other day and stole my wallet at knifepoint at the bottom of the escalator. But apparently my screams for help were instantly recognizable to the surrounding commuters, and after the mugger had gone, a couple of them got me to sign their copies of Project: Nightlight."
Bonnie Langford Speaks!
"Some people have very definite ideas about how Mel should be portrayed, but you find that the world over. Everyone is opinionated, everyone is judgmental, everyone projects their own opinion on whatever you do. So, with that in mind... Big Finish don’t pay me enough for transferring my magnificence into audio."
Rumors & Facts –
Engagements That Bore is not an obvious choice for a story that needs a sequel, with the action seemingly wrapped up, and most of the main characters dead, and just because the Doctor repeatedly ends up on Earth is no excuse for him to turn up on the dullest, most stultifyingly tedious world in the history of history itself, is it?
By the start of 2006, Big Finish was losing subscribers like a hemophiliac in a mincing machine. The public were disillusioned about the quality of adventures, and the price of fifteen pounds a story for something that most likely to be shit lead the few fans who wanted to listen to them to download the torrents off the internet.
Scrabbling desperately, Russell came up with the idea of doing a sequel to Engagements That Bore, in a strange desire to repeat the Jon Pertwee saga of The Curse of Paddington and The Monster of Paddington, only with Colin Baker and a completely DIFFERENT boring alien planet.
The rest of the production team crept out from cover, hiding behind riot shields, and Ed Salt suggested maybe, you know, they could improve the story by finishing up what ETB had tried to do – write out Evelyn.
Although Russell had always put off the idea of tidying up character ends unless Big Finish was under armed siege and the rights to Doctor Who were being prized from his cold, dead fingers by BBC Executives, but ditching Evelyn would prove to be such a ridiculously popular move you’d have to be madder than Paul Magrs not to do it.
Thus it was decided to bring forward Evelyn’s departure from its scheduled appearance some time in 2114, and have it as a story for the Sixth Doctor and Mel, with Evelyn as a guest star – this would minimize the character’s presence in the plot, much to the relief of writer Paul Sutton, who despised that particular companion. Indeed, he was still in seclusion in Budapest to avoid her.
Russell made contact with Sutton via a complicated postal system involving dead rats and Alphabetti Spaghetti spelling out the words WRITE A SEQUEL OR BURN WITH ME.
In order to make this companion departure/farewell story even MORE spectacular, it was decided to get the Seventh Doctor to make a surprise and uncredited cameo, along with a guest appearance by the Tenth Doctor, an army of Cybermen, the Brigadier, Nimrod, the Dustbin Emperor and Romana to storm the Eye of Orion and, in Sutton’s words, "do some nifty stuff to pad out the story".
Another idea was to bring back Philip Bretherton’s character Sushi, despite the fact he had had his head removed from his shoulders by a ravenous werewolf, a mistake on Sutton’s part as he had originally wanted Evelyn to be the one to be decapitated.
Steve Foxx refused to do the sound design and music for such a 'weak mongrel script' after he had tackled the prequel, so instead Andy Hardwick at EARS supplied some cheezy lift muzak. There is a point late in the story where he lifts some lyrics from "Peaches", as in the early story, and it's then it really hits home what we're missing.
Apart from one minor incident when Sutton tried to break into the recording studio and throttle Stables screaming "KILL THE BITCH! THE BITCH MUST DIE!", the story was produced with no real hitches.
Ultimately, Thicker Than Two Short Planks (a reference to Evelyn’s moronic dementia) was the end of an era, an unsatisfying self-contained story of adventures all the way from 2000’s The Maid Marian Conspiracy.
Two days later, Russell stubbed his toe and decided to take out his annoyance on fandom by creating a new season of Evelyn adventures between Medicinal Porpoises and Thicker Than Two Short Planks. Even though there would no longer be any suspense since Evelyn’s true fate, and even though it would annoy what few listeners they still had.
Personally I dread she will be back in "new" adventures. Rossiter isn't a young man after all, and I bet the Doctor would be unlucky enough to end up meeting with Evelyn again.
Even killing her off retrospectively in the first ever Big Finish doesn’t quite reassure me.