Serial 6Z/A – Whispers of Error
Whispers of Error
An Alternate Programme Guide by Ewen Campion-Clarke
An Extract From The EC Unauthorized Programme Guide O' Frogs
Serial 6Z/A – Whispers of Error -
The last few weeks have shaken the Doctor's soul to its core – determined to establish his sixth incarnation's sexuality one way or another, he sets the TARDIS to head for the Museum of Oral Antiquities, billions of years into the far future.
The TARDIS materializes inside the museum next to two smoldering corpses. The Doctor and Sil put this down to attention-seeking suicide, and wander off. Peri suspects she can hear a voice whispering, "Not THAT left, the OTHER left!" and realizes that a rather bad navigator unintentionally sent the duo to their deaths. Chuckling slightly in amusement, Peri heads off after the Doctor and Sil and thinks no more about it. Meanwhile, the Doctor narrates loudly about all the strange objects the museum contains – mainly phallic-shaped devices to blow on – and comments that they are "having their usual effect on him".
At that moment, a security guard called Berkeley arrives. The Doctor scowls and kicks the wall, realizing that due to the TARDIS's inaccurate controls, they'll now have to pay for admittance instead of just sneaking in. Grumbling at the exorbitant cost of tickets, the Doctor hands over some cash to the guard and they continue their wandering. Sil and Peri quickly get bored and start playing I Spy while the Doctor identifies the more esoteric marital aides around them. In the distance, Sil hears a whispering voice join in their game – but can't get a single answer correct.
The Doctor, by now, is rapidly becoming irritated. He's getting used to his companions ignoring him and indulging in childish word games, but when disembodied whispering ghosts start to do the same suggests that he seriously needs to work on his social skills. However, his attempts to confront the voice lead to a nice round of Celebrity Heads, the furious voice demanding, "Tell me who I am! Tell me who I am!!!"
The Doctor reveals the voice was Brian Blessed and the group head for the Museum's combined gift shop and canteen. There they meet Bev Tarrant, professional thief and art connoisseur who is surprised to find three strangers and a disembodied voice touring the museum after closing hours, but just accepts it as, heck, it ain't her problem. The time travelers introduce themselves and the Doctor speculates that the voice maybe a living sound wave, created by the museum in some freaky Harlan Ellison-type cosmic karma: the building dedicated to muffling the voice had now given birth TO that voice.
The voice, however, is so infuriated by the Doctor's spurious imaginings and tactlessness that it slips up and admits that is in fact the freakish offspring of a lightning bolt and a lawnmower. The Doctor, Sil, Peri and Bev stare at the place the voice emanates from for a long moment and then burst out into insane laughter for minutes on end – this has to be the most pathetic origin story they've ever heard! In fact, it's SO pathetic that the Doctor decides to, for a laugh, create an inverse sound wave and annihilate the voice forever!
The terrified voice flees, gabbling desperately that it needs a plan and a place to hide and then detailing this to the others very loudly – yet another tactical mistake by this accident-prone ghost. Indeed, Sil suspects that its lifetime of faux pas and humiliation have driven the creature bowel-shatteringly insane. At this thought, the quartet laugh heartily for a full two minutes.
Suddenly, the whispering returns – it's made fifteen wrong turnings and turned in a big circle. The Doctor snorts with laughter and the sound rises to an unbearable pitch and volume, forcing him to his knees. However, Sil suddenly decides he will make the sound creature his new partner and create a whole new political satire TV series, where the sound wave modulates itself to impersonate various celebrities and then cause mass murder when the show goes out. "We'll be putting the 'dead' into Dead Ringer! Bwahahaha!" Sil immediately asks the creature to slaughter the Doctor as an act of trust to start their new television partnership.
However, the accident-prone creature manages to do exactly the opposite and thus the Doctor is released – and Sil's visible disappointment implies this wasn't, in fact, a clever double bluff. At this, Bev Tarrant finishes her croissant, thanks the travelers for one screwed-up evening and leaves. Determined to prevent any witnesses leaving the museum, the sound creature lures her into the security barriers that slaughtered the two robbers in episode one. However, bad luck strikes again and Bev leaves the building in perfect safety.
At that moment, the Doctor uses the cutlery on the table to jury-rig an inverse sound wave to cancel out the creature, but succeeds in healing the voice's mind and giving it the cunning and survival instincts which will allow it to conquer this miserably insignificant planet and all aboard – and, sadly, it must decline Sil's offer of a recurring television role in a middling British sci-fi series. The Doctor promises to return to the Museum of Oral Antiquities in a few years to see how the creature's getting along in world domination.
The Doctor, Peri and Sil return to the TARDIS and depart – the former stealing some of the more intriguing exhibits as he goes.
Book(s)/Other Related -
Doctor Who Versus Lawnmower Man
The Other Museum of Oral Antiquities (Dentistry Department)
Worst Case Scenario Handbook: "So You're An Accident Prone Living Sound Wave Bent On Destruction And Everyone's Laughing At You?"
With a murderous voice at large in the Museum, why does Bev Tarrant so willing to actually sit down for a meal with the Doctor?
The Doctor explains that he can annihilate a "one-time non traceable software patch" via a "frequency modulation input linked into an alpha
wave condenser" with a "triple sonic bypass subsystem".
However, three bent hair pins and a long spoon will do in a pinch.
Links and References -
The final sequence of this story segues nicely into "The Mysterious Sandwich" (Serial 7A).
Untelevised Misadventures -
The Doctor remembers a time when the music of Beethoven's 4th symphony went wild and became a private detective in 23rd century Palestine.
Groovy DVD Extras -
A special "Where Are They Now?" segment showing that the sound wave eventually found an interesting lease of life as it possessed astronauts and began the widespread destruction of mankind as detailed in the documentary film The Astronaut's Wife, where the sound wave was portrayed very convincingly by Johnny Depp.
Dialogue Disasters -
Doctor: You're full of sound and fury; ...a tale told by an idiot and signifying NOTHING!
Sound Creature: No need to get personal!
Peri: So, Doctor, where are we?
Doctor: This, Peri, is the Museum of Oral Antiquities, billions of years into the far future, near Hope City on the unnamed planet of Belunda Three.
Peri: What? Belunda Three? How come the planet is unnamed if it's Belunda Three?
Doctor: Oh, come on, Peri! If YOU had a planet called Belunda Three, you'd want it unnamed pretty damn quickly as well! God, what a name – loud, bombastic, not my sort of thing really...
Doctor: Something amusing you, slug boy??
Sil: Oh, nothing, nothing...
Bev: Oh please - who writes your material?
Doctor: Justin Richards.
Bev: And canned applause?
Doctor: It's a lifestyle choice.
Peri: I heard... a sort of evil sentient sound...
Sil: I would have thought an evil sentient sound would have made more noise than that.
Sound Creature: Hey, it's not volume, but what you DO with it that counts!
Peri: Don't tell me Doctor - it's a double-whammy with extra fries and relish on the side!
Doctor: Do I tell YOU what to eat, Perpeguillium?! I THINK NOT!
Dialogue Triumphs -
Peri: Y'know, Doctor, should we really stay and interfere?
Doctor: How else can we spend four episodes?
Sil: Leaving very slowly in the TARDIS, perhaps?
Doctor: Leave? You mean go away and never know? Wander for all eternity and never know where we were, what might have been, what was to come?
Peri: That's about the size of it. Besides, we can't stay - the Doctor's clothes are too loud for this museum. Hell, ANY museum!
Sil: You ever met the Doctor's tailor, Peri? You should go for him.
Peri: Why? The poor old guy's as blind as a bat.
The final scene outside the TARDIS -
Peri: This is Earth, isn't it.
Doctor: No, no, no, Peri. This is an unnamed world in the far future.
Peri: Funny, cause this unnamed world in the far future looks a lot like 20th century England to me. There's radio stations, cars, mobile phones, political intolerance and crappy cheap gift shops!
Doctor: Peri, Peri... Oh, all right. I admit it! It IS Earth.
Peri: GOD DAMN!
Doctor: Oh, don't be like that, Peri. Let me tell you about this delightful blue-greeny planetoid in the Stellian Galaxy. It's called Ravalox and I can assure you that it is in no way like the Earth...
Viewer Quotes -
"What struck me was the effort the writers and actors had made to recreate the 6th Doctor, Peri and Sil on TV. The first episode is littered with petty arguments and educational excursions that so irritated me in Season 22. So much better would it have been it they had recreated the attitude of the later stories, like the 7th Doctor and Ace, or the earlier one of the 3rd Doctor and Liz. But never mind, the 6th Doctor, Peri and Sil is good enough for the characters of the 6th Doctor, Peri and Sil." - Albert Moron (2003)
"They're ripping me off again!" - P.J. Hammond (2004)
"After finding the dead bodies, why doesn't Berkeley the security officer suspect that the Doctor has anything to do with it? I mean, in any other story, the TARDIS crew would be arrested before the end of part one and spend the next few episodes proving their innocence? I mean, it's nice to have a change once in a while, but this sucks!"
- Terry Pratchett (2000)
"The science used to deal with the force is reasonably plausible. No artron energy and neutron flow polarity here. But the idea that cutlery can defeat an immortal being composed entirely of sound does... pester the crap out of me." - Reginald Density (1999)
Psychotic Nostalgia -
"I hear these voices in my head. Time for bed is what they said. Normally, I don't complain, but whenever I put Doctor Who on, the squeaky voice ruins the plot twists and shouts over half the dialogue. I tell you one day, my trained scorpion Ulf will head inside my ear and decapitate the bastard."
Colin Baker Speaks!
"Oh, yes, Whispers of Error was one of my favorites – it was slickly produced, and far superior to many of my televised stories, except without all the gratuitous continuity. We thought it was quite refreshing, except that Tarrant lady returned another six times in the series. We just made the problem worse! That's irony for you."
Rumors & Facts -
Justin Richards was chosen to pen the first Sixth Doctor story for Big Finish, back in 1999. Producer Gay Russell had decided – by his highly-complicated method of throwing darts at a noteboard littered with continuity problems that bugged him – that the story should act as a prelude to the first installment of Mistrial of a Time Lord, The Mysterious Sandwich.
Thus, the story would feature a typical Season 22 runaround featuring Sil and Peri being bored out of their skull while the Doctor acts in a disturbing manner with canteen cutlery.
Richards, unused to the concept of audio drama, decided that story be called The Sound of Music and wrote two lines of dialogue ("We're not spies, we're travelers!" and "See? Told you so!") and left it up to the incidental composer to do the rest.
Russell quickly realized that there was not enough material for a trailer, let alone four episodes and needed a plot fast. Already, Nick Briggs had burst in and was offering an adaptation of his Oddly Visual story The Cloud of Error. Russell took the script, thanked Briggs, rabbit punched him and ran for it.
The script was quickly re-titled Unsound Judgement, then Whispers of Dearth and finally Whispers of Error.
And so the immoral workings of Doctor Who continued...