Saturday, December 5, 2009

8th Doctor - Human Resources (i)

Serial 9J – Hostile Takeover
An Alternative Program Guide by Ewen Campion-Clarke
Thirty-Seventh Entry in the EC Unauthorized Guide O' Human Divorces


Serial 9J – Hostile Takeover -

Inside the TARDIS, the Doctor checks the console monitor and realizes that Lucie has vanished off the face of the Earth. He shouts angrily that this is just typical of the arrogant bimbo to let herself get kidnapped when she KNOWS he’ll be unable to use the TARDIS to leave without her.

And now he is marooned in Cardiff, 2007!!!!

Desperately he tries to get the console working with a lump hammer, but all he succeeds in doing is switch on the in-flight stereo system and nearly deafens himself with the playlist C’Rizz programmed into the console previously. By the time the Doctor manages to shut off Mike Bailey’s rendition of "Wild World", he discovers a strange man in blue and white robes and a ridiculous top hat has appeared beside the console and is throwing roses around the place.

The Doctor recognizes the nutter as a Time Lord known only as the Magician (well, actually... on second thoughts, never mind) and asks what the hell he’s doing in the TARDIS. The Magician explains that he has been sent to help the Doctor on the behalf of the High Council of Time Lords, while his beloved Yamaha keyboard fights the Dustbins on the front line of the Temporal Difference of Opinion.

The Doctor is disgusted – either the long-term effect of two civil wars and a protracted military campaign has devastated the Time Lords until freaks like the Magician are high-ranking officials... or else they hold the Doctor in such low self esteem they’re not willing to send anyone more important to save his sorry buttocks.

The Magician is as clueless as ever and needs the whole story arc premise explained to him slowly in great detail. The Doctor impatiently explains that the Time Lords rigged the TARDIS so it can only work while an annoying bitch of an Earthgirl is inside and now the stupid girl has vanished he is trapped on Earth and unable to move.

"Oh, that human!" the Magician twigs. "Don’t worry, I know exactly, precisely, specifically where she is! Back to where she’s supposed to be, her proper place, her starting point! I’d best stay here and try to fix and repair and replace your vandalized machine, and YOU can go and collect this human for us, eh?"

"No way. Fix the damn TARDIS first!"

"Doctor, you have failed to lift a single digit to help your people fight the biggest war in heaven since the Halldrons and the Eternals were each convinced the other was looking at them in a funny way!" the Magician complains. "Is it too much to expect you to at least help out in witness protection to save all of creation?"

"And how am I supposed to get there, you gormless twat? Use YOUR TARDIS? Everyone knows you aren’t trusted with one of those any more!"

"Ah, but I have this!" the Magician says. "A time-travelling friendship bracelet with built in Vortex Buffers, that can take you straight to that stupid ape you were supposed to look after. I call it... the Time Bling!"

The Doctor gingerly takes the bracelet, but before he leaves the Doctor warns the Magician not to fill up the console room with chairs like he did with his own ship, or else he’ll ram the Magician’s figure-of-eight hat into a temporal black spot. Or up the Magician’s backside, whichever feels natural at the time...


Parte the First

Lucie Miller is woken from a deep sleep by a leather clad biker moll in mirrored shades shouting at her to wake up. As Lucie comes to her rudimentary senses, she realizes she is in a coffee lounge filled with posters of an angry-looking bald guy with the caption "HULBERT LOGISTICS – OUR FOUNDER, TODD HULBERT – DO NOT ANNOY THIS MAN!".

The mysterious Headhunter reminds Lucie that she had a job interview for Hublert Logistics, got the job and this is her first day and there is a spare desk ready and waiting for her. Lucie asks where the annoying ponce in the leather jacket has got to, but then loses her train of thought and instantly accepts that the woman must be telling the truth.

Taken to the first floor, Lucie is given a desk opposite a young girl called Karen who doesn’t actually have a last name but if she did it would obviously be Nicegirl as she is incredibly sweet. Indeed, it turns out that on the day of Lucie’s interview she lent the girl a mirror, makeup, clothes, forged her CV and acted as a referee for her – even thought they had only just met and were actually applying for the same job. Luckily, Hulbert Logistics has a staff turnover equal to that of Spinal Tap drummers and the company took them both on. The Headhunter agrees that they were both felt to be "outstanding candidates" but can’t keep a straight face and runs off, giggling.

The Headhunter quickly rings Hulbert, the company manager, founding father and senior bastard of Hulbert Logistics and demands to know why the sad old fart hasn’t paid her yet. Hulbert points out that Lucie was supposed to be delivered the previous week, but now she’s here on pay-day and thanks to office policy will get a week’s wage without doing a damn thing to earn her keep!

"Gimme a break," the Headhunter sighs, "it’s only a week! She hooked up with a bloody time traveler – I had to chase them across the galaxy and a good five centuries in both directions! Oh yeah, you’re chipping in for fuel costs, cause there IS a Temporal Difference of Opinion on you know. TARDISes are on the ration like everything else!"

"Expenses weren’t part of the price you originally quoted!"

"I know, change and decay all around I see. But you should be glad I just had to capture a lowly data entry clerk. Someone from middle management and the cost would be much higher!"

"Oh, shut up! Send me an invoice and you’ll be paid within three working days and a bonus based on Lucie’s performance review."

"Three days?! It’s pay day TODAY!"

"You’re not very open-minded for a time traveler, are you?" retorts Hulbert and hangs up. He then turns to his client, a gimp in bondage gear who – via the methods of mime and interpretive dance – points out that Hulbert is ridiculously expensive and takes calls in the middle of meeting. "Do I look like I care?" Hulbert mocks.

After less than five minutes of honest work helping Karen circulating reports from the other regional offices, Lucie starts complaining about the air conditioning and tries to smash a window open with her chair before threatening to sue management for the stifling heat. Karen asks what the bloody hell she’s on about and Lucie completely forgets what she’s talking amount, wonders if her breasts have gotten any bigger, and then decides to skive off for a cigarette break. She finds the doors are locked and finds a leather freak in bondage gear who makes unhappy muffled noises until she goes away.

Returning to the main office, Lucie is introduced by Karen to the Head of Operations for the Cardiff branch of Hulbert Logistics, the incredibly awkward, annoying, sexist, racist and really not as casual and trendy as he appears Jerry Cooper. After bitching about how much he hates this time of year and giving disgusting details about what he’d like to do to Karen and Lucie when the lights go out, he tells everyone they’re not working hard enough and runs away in tears.

At that moment, Karen gets a mysterious phone call – Lucie is being seconded as personal assistant to a planning manager on the third floor. One edit later and Lucie barges into the office acting like she owns the place – and not at all registering the fact the guy behind the desk is actually the Doctor. He was dumped by the Time Bling in the corridor and bluffed his way with security with a handy psychic passport he got off C’Rizz, saying he worked there. "It all sort of escalated until I ended up with a full employment record and my own office! DAMN IT, I JUST LOVE GULLIBLE OFFICE WORKERS!"

"...who the fuck are you?"

At first the Time Lord assumes that Lucie has been brainwashed to forget him and tries to cure her with a sonic screwdriver, but it turns out Lucie is just an airhead.

The Doctor muses that something is effecting Lucie’s mind and biochemistry, but realizes he doesn’t really care. Finally, she remembers everything and assumed that her travels in the TARDIS were just down to a hit of bad acid at a night club. The Doctor rapidly begins to wonder whether being marooned on Earth might be worth it if he never has to see Lucie again, and so wanders off to a planning meeting to take his mind off the hell his life has become.

The Doctor turns up at the meeting room and introduces himself as Doctor John Smith and reveals that he was late because he had to eat a doughnut and, well, he knew they would all be waiting, but he hated them all and wanted to string out his enjoyment for as long as possible... and this undisguised hatred for his fellow workers instantly convinces Jerry that the Doctor is one of them.

Jerry then reads out a report sent from their Splott branch which shows an underground stronghold where the enemy is keeping backup troops in cold storage about a mile beneath ground level which must be broken into and all the enemies slaughtered in cold blood.

"Christ, this management speak is a load of old bollocks," the Doctor sighs. "All you’re going to do is cut prices and up the publicity and hope the sheep-like public can be conned into buying whatever the hell it is you sell here in the first place! You’re as bad as those RPG losers, except more tragically unfashionable! Honestly, pretending to stock out a military stronghold when you’re just trying to expand your client base? YOU SUCK!"

Jerry is terrified that someone as blunt and clearly intelligent as the Doctor might be after his job and has an embarrassing panic attack under the meeting table. The Doctor rolls his eyes and walks out, deciding to shred every bit of paperwork he can find in the hope of annoying someone.

Bored, Lucie returns to Karen and idly decides to pass the time piss-farting about with Microsoft Excel. Suddenly she experiences a very strange feeling and suddenly vomits all over the keyboard, shorting out the computer. Lucie wipes her mouth and confidently tells Karen to chill out and stop being a whiny southern tart as nothing bad is going to happen – and within twenty-three seconds the paranoid Jerry has fired Karen on the spot for OHS reasons.

Lucie laughs cruelly at Karen’s misfortune and helps her clear her desk of personal belongings. Karen is so nice, however, she doesn’t rightly blame Lucie for the mess and so, just to see what happens, Lucie reveals the truth and threatens to sue the company for everything they’ve got. But Jerry is too busy having a nervous breakdown to care about Lucie’s pretend contracts at Wolfram and Hart and fires her as well before telling one of the leather freaks to drag Lucie and Karen kicking and screaming from the office.

"And don’t expect a reference!" he shouts over his shoulder.

In a moment that is strangely reminiscent of an obscure work by Douglas Adams, the creature throws the two girls bodily into an airlock and jettisons them out of the office...

...where they fall into a grassy knoll amidst swamps and marshlands that still somehow manage to resemble Cardiff, even with all the ruins and impact craters, the purple sky and the three moons.

Above them, they realize they have been spat out of a gigantic, weapon-covered robot – a great mechanical war machine controlled by data input clerks and management visioning sessions, similar to the way the mathematics of Italian restaurants power star ships. As Lucie looks upon this, she tells Karen "don’t panic!"

Actually, this is a bit Douglas Adamsy as well...

Parte the Second

The giant robot-cum-office starts to lurch off through the scrubby jungle, where more such giant robots can be seen, blowing the crap out of things. It’s obvious even to a thickie like Lucie that they are trapped on an alien planet in the middle of a war, Lucie and Karen spend pretty much the rest of the episode trying not to be stepped on.

Inside, Jerry is trying to reassure himself by dictating corporate strategy buzzwords and convince himself that since his branch in Cardiff is the most efficient regional office ever, this justifies the complete waste of time that is his life. The Doctor spots him doing this, points, and laughs at him.

Jerry screams hysterically that he is a motivator and facilitator which is why his staff is so efficient, bragging that he sacked two new girls today as they were not team players or prepared to perform disgusting sexual acts upon his person and it is best for everyone that they seek new opportunities outside the company.

The Doctor realizes that he’s lost Lucie AGAIN and swears violently before smashing up Jerry’s office and then threatens to slit Jerry’s throat with a letter opener. Terrified, Jerry suggests he go straight to the HR Department to get a new personal assistant. Having nothing better to do, the Doctor knees Jerry in the bollocks and wanders off to see if he can get a half-decent companion for once.

The HR Dept turns out to be a supply cupboard containing a strange shimmering CGI portal. Jumping through, the Doctor finds himself... in an identical supply in an identical office corridor which happens to be in the real Cardiff. This is either a big statement about uniformity and duplication in the modern office environment or this episode is really cheap.

He then bumps into the HR Manager who us the audience will instantly recognize as Todd Hulbert himself! Assuming the Doctor is an extraterrestrial client, Hulbert immediately begins chatting at length about planetary conquest despite having made similar mistakes with delivery boys and the like before. This made all the worse since Hulbert is the only one working at the Cardiff office as everyone else in the organization has standards.

Over a coffee, the Doctor learns about the whole 'office box transformer genocide' business. Various aliens hire out Hulbert’s army of combat robot-bastards to slaughter the population of those planets that are prime real estate for the client to invade once all the corpses stop twitching. In order to make sure the robots can’t be interfered with, Hulbert crews them not with expensive mercenaries or unmotivated and resentful slaves, but Welsh office workers who assume they’re just selling advertising space rather than operating heavy-duty combat machines. "It’s the social satire that makes it so damn amusing," Hulbert laughs.

Hulbert explains he used to be one of crews but unfortunately he’s not Welsh and thus intelligent enough to realize what was going on, so he killed the original owner of the business – a drug-addled lizard alien under false name of Colin Matthews – and performed his own hostile takeover to seize control of the army, not only for the immense cash, but also to use the story title within its own dialogue.

Amused, the Doctor decides to use them for a military coup against Gallifrey for all those times he’s been put on trial, exiled, completely cut off without friends or protection, but mainly because they lumbered Lucie Miller with him.

It turns out Hulbert knows all about the Time Lords and is confident they can strike the pompous gits right where it hurts EVEN in the middle of a reality-wide 4-dimensional war zone. The only problem is that Hulbert Logistics are fully booked for the next month on Planet Sigma Gamma 14.

Back on that just-recently-named alien planet of burning jungles and ruins, Lucie and Karen encounter a guy with braces and spectacles called Malcolm who was similarly fired from the office after accidentally photocopying parts of his anatomy. Jerry found out and blackmailed him into resigning, which is why such an insecure twat is now in charge of the Cardiff branch. Malcolm has managed to deduce after weeks in the war zone what Lucie and Karen worked out in thirty seconds – the office/machines are fighting a war on the planet run by the hypnotized or generally stupid staff and this is all a conspiracy by Hulbert!!

"Duh," Lucie sneers.

Malcolm tries to come up with some new information and reveals he’s managed to loot a few weapons off the corpses of the side losing to the giant kaiju-sized office blocks – but this doesn’t prove particularly interesting or surprising, either.

Inside the office, the Headhunter discovers that Lucie was fired less than hour after she joined the company – not only does this mean that all the lengths the Headhunter went to tracking Lucie down and bringing her here were for nothing, but she won’t get her bonus either!

She kicks down Jerry’s door just as he finishes putting his office back together, and proceeds to smash it up all over again and demands Jerry give her one good reason for her NOT to kill him.

Jerry shits himself and the smell is enough to put off the Headhunter, thereby saving his life... for the moment. In the meantime, she decides she must find Lucie and save her from the enemy if she is to stand a chance of getting to a performance review and thus her bonus!

Just as the Doctor and Hulbert are discussing payment over the destruction of Gallifrey and the annihilation of the Time Lords, Hulbert’s pager goes off – it turns out he’s late for an appointment, so this New Series fanwankarama has to be put on hold while he returns to Planet 14 to meet up with his clients and invites the Doctor come along to a viewing platform with water-tight defenses to watch the complete carnage and genocide unfold.

"Will there be nibbles?" asks the Doctor cautiously.

It turns out that there WILL be nibbles, so the Doctor and Hulbert run through the supply cupboard and reappear in a futuristic sci-fi observation tower overlooking the wild ruins of Planet 14. Hulbert assures the Doctor that Planet 14 will recover once the tenacious residents are wiped off their home world. "It’s not that they have a particular grudge against the locals, or a payback for an earlier acts of aggression. They were just here and looked funny, so my clients wanted them hunted down and killed like the vermin they are."

The Doctor asks who the clients are and Hulbert reveals that they are the Boord who have been evicted from the planet Kinder Lingers as well as their original world of Myass. This time they hope that they’ll finally get to stay on Planet 14 long enough to unpack and get on with their strange sex games and expressionistic theatre.

A group of Boord and other prospective clients like the Cetenes, the Argolin, the Third Zoners, the Cryptovene, Khaskarg, the Hatre Sedtrines, the Vordjan and – in a desperate attempt to convince anyone they are in any way a vaguely powerful galactic empire - the Gam. Hulbert tries to keep everything informal while he starts his spiel.

"Thank you all for coming to our little event today!" Hulbert begins. "This demonstration will show you all how the company operates and what the end result is – mindless, blood-soaked carnage for the poor suckers you care to nominate to be hunted to extinction! A few of my previous clients have been good enough to attend, and they’re kinky freaks, so keep your backs to the wall and no sudden eroticism, OK?"

There is a sudden explosion outside the viewing platform and even as Hulbert tries to reassure everyone how rock solid and damn bastard hard their defenses are, there is ANOTHER large explosion and all the windows shatter open. "What asshole shut down the defenses?!" Hulbert screams hysterically.

"That’d be me then," the Doctor says cheerfully, waving his sonic screwdriver. "It seemed a bit unfair on the other lot and I wanted to give them a sporting chance – no one deserves to be defeated by the Boord of all people! I mean, how nasty can these poor suckers be?"

At that moment he gets his answer as a hoard of silver figures climb through the broken windows and march forward mechanically, and the Doctor sighs and holds his head in his hands. "Oh, dear, I think I might have made a complete fuck up of this..."

The Cybermen continue to invade until the cliffhanger music starts...

Next Time...
"Attention all Cybermen. This is the Doctor. Prepare to meet thy doom."
"Control! Alt! Delete!"
"Damn, they missed Lucie!"
"We’re being boarded! There are too many of them! They’re not limited to a TV budget! I dunno what we’re gonna – ARGH!"
"Put down your weapons. There is no need for sadomasochism. Yet."
"Have we reached Hostile Takeover yet?"
"Yeah, the season’s pretty much over."
"That means we have to resolve all the story arcs!"
"We’re getting twice as many stories this year as the Dustbins. Cybermen are supreme! BOOYA! In your face, Nation Estate! Now destroy the Doctor and let’s open a cup of whup ass!"
...the End is NIGH...

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