Thursday, November 5, 2009

7th Doctor - Crime of the Century (i)

An Alternate Programme Guide by Ewen Campion-Clarke
Serial 7P/3 – The Sale of the Century
An Extract From The EC Unauthorized Guide O' Absolute Authenticity


Serial 7P/3 – The Sale of the Century

Meet Kathleen "Adolescent Fantasy" Tollinger. If Emma Peel were an irritating cat burglar with daddy issues and demented sense of social entitlement that could inspire French peasants to mob justice, she would STILL be cooler and less annoying than Kate Tollinger, who doesn't even wear leather cat suits. For shame!

On Friday 13th October 1989, Kate pretentiously narrates her film noir life as she gatecrashes a rather crummy student party in Islington. Sneaking into the cloak room, Ms. Tollinger immediately sets out to make herself as unlikable as physically possible.

After insulting all the guests, the décor and artistic depreciation at the turn of the decade, Kate then announces she is a hardcore safe cracker here to steal anything she damn likes. The owner of the house is understandably put out at the snooty bitch, so she slips him some rohypnol and kicks him in the groin repeatedly.

Having demonstrated her tedious superiority complex, Kate begins to crack the lock of the safe while explaining in detail to all the kids watching how best to steal other people's hard-earned possessions and get rich off their misfortune.

As she opens the safe she finds a short Scotsman in a straw hat crammed inside. This is the Doctor, who promptly shouts "Oh, will you just shut the hell up!" to the unpleasant cow.

The new companion actually stops talking for four seconds, which is just enough time to get the opening title sequence underway before she starts banging on all over again.

Part One

In the armpit of West London on a miserable night, we meet Sam Tollinger – twenty years older, colder, more better yet strangely better groomed – sitting in a black car, doing the Times crossword and looking gritty and realistic as he keeps watch on a warehouse.

As he waits for a van of fellow criminals to arrive and help him steal a consignment antique coins worth 30 grand, Sam reflects bitterly how he lost his fortune on the financial meltdown on Black Monday and has been reduced to this sub-Sweeny bollocks ever since.

Sam regards the personal ads and finds a message to him from the Doctor, asking for his assistance in "the sale of the century". Sam tutts at the obvious title-drop and reflects the Doctor was such an asshole back in the sixties for not warning him about the inevitable cyclic nature of stock market crashes that occur every few decades.

Frankly, the Time Lord can just rot in a black hole before he gets any favors from Sam "da man" Tollinger.

Sam then notices another ad, also by the Doctor, asking for twelve CID operatives to keep an eye out for any suspicious-looking folk keeping an eye on West London warehouses.

Swearing mightily, Sam hastily drives off before the cops arrive. Using a phone, he warns the rest of his team that it's a trap and to ditch all the motors, shooters and stuff before they get caught.

Back at the Islington party, the Doctor explains to Kate that he's been stalking her for twenty years and sneaks into her room every night to read her diary, which is why he knew she would crack the safe tonight and also find him in said safe.

Kate calls him a total nutter, gives a longwinded speech that she is an honorable thief who acts for the noblest of reasons rather than greed... well, she sells out her criminal skills to the highest bidder, anyway. When the Doctor points out the hypocrisy of that, Kate takes out her frustrations by repeatedly kicking the unconscious host in the ribs. She then steals a beloved pearl necklace, laughs evilly and runs off into the night.

Shaking his head at her naiveté, the Doctor ducks into the kitchen and snatches a pepper grinder. This he intends to use against all the wild guard dogs in the garden who immediately set on Kate who has no clever plan beyond whining about how uncivilized this all is.

The Doctor defeats the guard dogs by throwing the pepper grinder and all the dogs immediately run to fetch it, allowing the Time Lord and his ghastly-excuse for an audience identification figure to escape.

Then aforementioned audience identification figure dives into a car, runs down the Doctor, reverses over him, then drives off into the night. As the bruised and bleeding Doctor crawls to the pavement, spitting out teeth, he mutters, "You bitch! You never mentioned that in your diary! You'd never find Bernice Summerfield leaving out important details like that, would you!"

Kate then goes to the rendezvous to wait for her client to arrive, and passes the time munching on some novelty ice cream that leaves her in a strange and trippy trance. The Doctor arrives and tells her off for playing with Martian confectionary when she has a life-long genetic predisposition to Ice Cream Vendor artifacts.

He's also actually the one that hired her to steal this stuff in the first place, so if she's expecting any kind of tip for tonight's work than she is going to be sorely disappointed.

Almost as disappointed as they are both going to be when a huge hulking bastard in a tuxedo lumbers into view – the pearl necklace has a homing device allowing the owners to send thugs round to reclaim them with far more violence than can be safely broadcast on BBC1...

Part Two

The Doctor reflects that this would, normally, be the point where Ace uses some high-explosives to get them out of this tricky plot situation and reflects marooning her in 1960s London may not, in the long run, have been a particularly wise move.

Luckily, Kate is also a hypocritical sociopath and immediately attacks the thug and tries to drown him in a bucket of frozen yogurt. "These are the fruits of MY hard work! My capers!" she screams insanely. "I worked HARD to get these! Who is HE to take it all away from us? YOU CAN’T GO ROUND JUST TAKING THINGS THAT DON’T BELONG TO YOU!!"

The Doctor boggles at the chutzpah as she sadistically murders the heavy in cold blood. Either the exposure to Martian ice cream is turning her into a merciless psychopath or else he’s managed to stumble across someone ALMOST as criminally insane as Ace herself!

"How gauche," Kate muses.

Just then Sam arrives, furious at the Doctor’s sabotage of his scam. Kate and her father take one look at each other and immediately get into such a clichéd and unimaginative argument it makes the Waltons look like the Windsors and the Doctor desperately has to scream at them both to stop at the top of his voice.

The Doctor explains he has got Kate to steal all the Martian tech that Sam had to sell to cover costs and hand it back to her estranged father for... actually, I don’t know why. It screams plot contrivance to me, and if anyone knows about contrived plots, it’s me, bitches!

The trio head for the dockland development site on the Isle of Dogs, the Tollingers bigging up that they are PROFESSIONAL criminals and thus much better people than those plebs who live their lives by NOT stealing everything nailed down for their own selfishness. Kate notes that is a grotty of mud enlivened by an occasional slab of concrete and the Doctor wonders if she EVER stops talking total bollocks?

Breaking into the compound, the Doctor decides the settings are grimy and realistic enough he can outline his latest cunning plan – using Sam and his flunkies, they have to fight their way into a military compound in Scotland past an army of mercenaries where Kate can then break into a special vault and stealing everything contained within.

Sam notes that the Doctor's plan is, using the complicated and technical terms of the trade, "full-frontal suicide" but the Time Lord reveals he has a secret weapon:

"The Artist Formally Known As 'Prince'!"

With the pop idol, Ice Cream Vendor weaponry, and Sam Tollinger’s expendable underworld contacts, they cannot fail – assuming they can stop Kate panting like a bitch on heat around the one person in the galaxy even MORE pretentious than she is...

Part Three

As the Doctor outlines his scam to Sam, Kate and the Artist formally known as Prince... um... actually I’m not entirely sure what happens next because this story is so interminably tedious it even manages to make a cat burglar and a pop star having unresolved sexual tension around plotting to undermine national security BORING!

Goddamn, just getting this far has been an endurance test to give any real plot details or observations. I’ve wasted a whole month’s dole on energy drinks to bolster myself through the first two episodes and even then I needed to take breaks every minute to gasp for air! I tried the DVD commentary, but everyone was just snoring! Even Clayton Hickman had lost consciousness by this point!

I think if anyone managed to watch this abortion all in one go should get a million pounds. Well, certainly a handshake from Steven Moffat and maybe a threesome with Karen Gillan and Alex Kingston, anyway! Dear God, I’m only THREE SECONDS into this stupefying episode and I’ve already lost the will to live!

Oh, I pine for the good old days when Doctor Who achieved the loftly heights of merely "extremely crap" and the most irritating thing about the companion was Ace’s lisp! Why couldn’t this story have been horribly edited like Goth Night or Silly Nemesis – are the BBC THAT inhumane nowadays?

In fairness, I can’t honestly say this story is padded. Mainly because my mind keeps wandering while I’m trying to watch it. Hey, see that speck of dust on the floor? How long has it been there, I wonder? Does it have a life cycle?

Anyway, I’ll try to focus on this story which is quite an arduous task. Fuck it, I’ll fast-forward to the cliffhanger where the episode should end and the plot collapse in a heap of its own ineptitude.

Hmm, it seems that although everyone’s bigging up Sam Tollinger and his gang of socially-realistic cutthroats, pickpockets and estate agents, none of them are actually good enough to do whatever the hell it is that the Doctor wants them to do.

Then some guy called Felnikov turns up. He was in the last story, you know, the one with Ace and the Ice Cream Vendors that didn’t suck as mighteously as this one? Yeah, he’s back and he’s got a squad of alien mercenary bastards on offer to be used as canon fodder.

"The Metatraxi," the Doctor exclaims, stunned at the diabolical evil of an enemy willing to appear twice in a single television season and thus risk overexposure and even MORE contempt and disgust from the viewing audience than a bunch of stoned surfer samurai insects would normally get anyway.

"I am SO disillusioned," Kate sighs theatrically.

"You are NOT helping," the Time Lord huffs.

Part Four

The Doctor decides that the best thing to do is to challenge the Metatraxi to one-on-one armed combat, with the Artist Formally Known as Prince acting as champion of the Earth in an ice-cream-eating competition. With the Martian praline on offer, they will easily defeat the alien insectoid warrior.

He then notices that Kate has just stabbed Prince to death for daring to resist her womanly wiles. She has single-handedly plunged the entire Earth into an intergalactic war of truly unprecedented carnage and destruction... but NO ONE turns down sex with Kate Tollinger.

"You're supposed to be my new companion, not an ongoing villain!" the Doctor despairs, and decides that Miss Hoity-Toity Safe Cracker will have to the ice cream eating for them – and if she puts on a few pounds, well tough luck!

At some point, the Metatraxi have attuned their translator microbes to "Kid-Friendly Ninja Turtle" settings for some reason and thus declare undying war on their enemies with cries of "Surf's up!"

Kate then defeats them in an ice-cream contest. According to this story’s wikipedia page, she does that because she is quarter-Martian on her mother’s side. I wonder what happened to Kate’s mother? Even wearing a cereal box on her head, painted bright green and nude from the waist down, she was a lot nicer than her daughter...

Yeah, speaking of the bitch herself, she has seized control of the Metatraxi and teamed up with Felnikov to try and steal something or other that will give the power to rule the world.

"I’m only in this for the money," Kate assures us. "Not that I’m greedy or anything. Knock the expenses off the top and split in two and we have financial security for the rest of our lives! The rest of those common little oiks can just starve!"

And then, stuff happens. You know, everyone goes to Scotland to do this "so-awesome-nothing-else-in-the-last-eighty-eight-years-can-possibly-compare" scam. Pah, Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels looks like the Manhattan Project compared to this shit!

Anyway, Kate and her gang reach the Scottish branch of the Touchwood Institute, a shadowy xeno-tech-reverse-engineering black ops outfit that are dedicated to creating weapons of mass destruction for the sole use of Margaret Thatcher and the British Empire.

Sam notes that they’ve had access to Ice Cream Vendor weaponry for twenty years and not done a damn thing with it, but the Doctor explains that Touchwood is run by total fuckwits too busy shagging and shooting each other to do anything halfway useful with what they find.

Someone... I dunno... Felnikov? I honestly dunno... points out that the Metatraxi couldn’t even win an ice-cream-eating competition so they probably will be too piss-weak to put up any serious resistance to armed guards, electric fences and robot security systems.

"Bummer, man! Bummer! Don’t rub it in, little dude!" the Metatraxi wail, but concede the point and bugger off the planet Earth right away, having done their bit to pad out these unconnected storylines. Nevertheless this is a step upwards to mediocrity. If you define a step up as 'the-narrative-grinding-to-a-standstill' anyway.

Realizing that he’s going to have to sort all this out himself, the Doctor storms off to a London club, has a cup of tea with some foppy civil servant and then beats him up with his question mark umbrella until he agrees to stop the entire operation.

Back at the ranch, Sam finally comes to terms with the unbelievable odds of having personally known the single individual who destabilized the entire western economy, throttles Felnikov with his bare hands and laughs like a madman while doing so.

Didn’t I mention Felnikov single-handedly caused the stock market crash because he’s an evil commie bastard who does those sort of things without rhyme or reason? I didn’t? Gosh, I wonder how I could have overlooked that brilliantly structured bit of characterization...

The Doctor arrives and realizes that he can clearly do much, much better for an ongoing regular cast of characters than this criminal psychopaths. In fact, the Touchwood Institute itself would be a better bet for likeable companions than the Tollingers.

However, with her ridiculous amount of useful abilities (from fencing champion and safe cracker to half-Martian helicopter pilot) makes it obvious that there aren’t any better options than Kate on offer.

The Doctor tries to look on the bright side. "Oh well, once I adjust the TARDIS telepathic circuits to translate your clichéd posturing into halfway-tolerable speech, this might just be the beginning of a beautiful friendship!"

"What makes you think I want travel through time and space to insufferable, bog-trotting oik like YOU?" she sniffs.

The Doctor puts on a pair of hypnotic spectacles and brainwashes Kate into being less of a gormless, toffee-nosed slapper. He then lures her into the TARDIS while still under hypnosis, so at least he'll be spared the whole "bigger on the inside" crap for once.

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