An Alternate Programme Guide by Ewen Campion-Clarke
Serial 7P/2 – Thin Ice
An Extract From The EC Unauthorized Guide O' Academic Pursuits
D O C T O R W H O
Serial 7P/2 – Thin Ice
The Doctor and Ace set course for London 1967 for the Summer of Love – or at least the Autumn of Mild Lust – so they can spark an internal conflict between rival factions of a famous 70s Who monster as they fight over some Gallifreyan super-weapon until all sides are mutually destroyed, including a bunch of passing neo-Nazis who got caught up in the extraterrestrial carnage.
Well, it IS a Tuesday.
But, for some reason, the TARDIS arrives on a frozen river just off the snowy Red Square of Moscow that same year, at the 50th anniversary of Red October and the bloody demise of the Czars. But that’s probably just a coincidence, which I’ve only included to show what a clever bastard I am at Russian history.
The Doctor is immediately gripped with paranoia that some evil force is loose, since he hasn’t needed the old "malfunctioning TARDIS" plot device since 1983! Ace for her part is convinced this is another ominous and cruel master-plan by the player of chess on a thousand boards, but the Doctor protests his innocence.
Albeit rather unconvincingly.
Deciding to stick with tried and trusted methods, the Doctor and Ace head for a café and wait for a local to make contact and inform them of any kind of alien conspiracy that might be occurring. They have barely ordered their tea when a terrified bloke called Yevgeni runs up to them and begs for their help.
It turns out that Yevgeni is part of some massive alien conspiracy and is expecting two experts called "the Doctor" and "Ace" to help Sam Tollinger steal what could either be a jade Faberge eggs or a Martian-built ice cream nutmeg grenades. To elucidate, Yevgeni shows off one of the eggs when Ace announces she’s finding this all very boring and predictable. Thus, she primes the grenade to explode. "Hey," she protests, "it’ll break the ice".
Yevgeni’s head implodes into strawberry-ripple ice cream.
Awkwardly, the time travelers try and sneak out of the café without paying, only to immediately be surrounded by a bunch of Hells’ Angel bikies wearing empty Cornflakes packets as crash helmets with smiley faces drawn on them. The bikers rev their engines in an intimidating manner... for a very long time...
Meanwhile, trade delegate Sam "the Whelk" Tollinger is arrested at Moscow airport, trying to smuggle capitalist propaganda in the form of Beatles LPs. Luckily, he is saved at the last moment by Comrades Major Felnikov who takes Sam to the local hotel which is perfect for dirty weekends, Ukraine trapper conventions and of course backpackers.
There Sam finds his on-off Russian girlfriend, Lt. Riana Kerenskaya, who Sam hasn’t seen since they bonked each other senseless eight months and three weeks earlier, awkwardly explains that she needs to have a personal talk about the cause of her sudden weight gain, not to mention her giving up alcohol, drugs, vodka-fueled Twister evenings...
"I get it. You’re pregnant." Sam grunts. "I’m not stupid, you know!"
Back outside the café, the Doctor and Ace yawn in boredom as the bikies continue to rev their engines. Finally the KGB arrive and break up this rather pathetic display, but it’s too late to hide the fact that none of the bikies are speaking parts.
Mistaking the odd British folk for visiting guests, the KGB give the time travelers a lift to the same grotty hotel where Sam and Riana also heading. Ace ponders such synchronicity, before deciding she doesn’t really care and decides to make a scene about the rubbish finger-food and the pathetic fashion show being held there.
Bemoaning how he used to have companions who WEREN’T so maladjusted they made alien monsters look sane and reasonable, the Doctor wanders over to Sam and Riana and offers his services obtaining any Martian xeno-tech that might be lying around the place.
Riana admits that there IS a top security vault under the Kremlin containing a heap of alien weaponry from a crashed spaceship, and Sam also concedes they DID sort of have a plan to steal it during the celebrations when all of Russia is looking the other way watching the parades in Red Square.
The problem is, they need a code to open the safe. Luckily, Ace has the code on the back of a 10 ruble note she stole of Yevgeni’s wallet after she blew his head off. The Doctor sniffs haughtily and then says that ACE can take over the whole damn operation if she’s so freaking confident about her own abilities.
In a huff, the Doctor turns and walks through an invisible doorway into a boardroom where he faces the one enemy he most fears – Gallifreyan social services! The robed adjudicators reveal that his granddaughter "Ace" is now old enough to get a job and thus the Doctor can no longer claim child support services to pay for her.
The Doctor realizes the time has come for him to ditch his pipe-bomb-hurling companion and decides to enroll Ace in Prydon Academy. There she will rock Time Lord society to its foundations... or maybe just blow up Zero Rooms with nitro-9... but either way, she’d be out of his hair and he can get on with being even MORE dark, mysterious and like Dr. Manhattan from "Watchmen" than he already is.
However, Gallifreyan enrolment procedure is incredibly bizarre. Rather than a conventional entrance examination, Ace’s assessment involves being dumped in Moscow to reclaim alien artifacts on her own.
The Doctor shrugs at the ease of the assessment. "The standards have definitely dropped since I was there," he mutters.
Meanwhile, Sam lures Ace back to his hotel room, looking for a bit of "nookie-wookie-woo-woo" and praying to god that she doesn’t get pregnant like his last girlfriend. Alas, Sam’s hand-luggage has defrosted ahead of schedule...
...to reveal an angry Ice Cream Vendor by the name of Hashish who was expecting far better room service. Finding a complete lack of fish-fingers and custard, Hashish decides to go on a rampage!
Ace bitch-slaps some sense into Hashish who admits that it was probably a bit of an overreaction, all things considered. With that cliffhanger resolved, the Doctor and Riana arrive to provide some more vital exposition about the plot.
Hashish has come to Earth to collect the vital Martian ice cream recipes they rather foolishly lost at the bottom of the Baring Sea and then collected by the Russian equivalent of Touchwood. And so, of course, the first thing Hashish did was wait 43 years before hiring a small-time cockney crook to aide him in a complicated Hustle-type scam in Soviet Russia...
Actually, now you come to mention it, it’s not VERY logical, is it?
Ace drags the Doctor into the bathroom and tells him off for acting as a gooseberry with her flirting with alien warlords. The Doctor huffs and threatens to take a back seat from now on. He expects Ace to recoil at the idea of having to rely on her own judgment when dealing with incredibly dangerous temporal anomalies – and is mightily pissed off at her pig-headed arrogant superiority complex.
"You’re not too old to have a jolly good smacked bottom!" he shouts.
Ace breaks his nose with a head-butt.
While Sam argues with Riana about blowing their hotel account on extra food just because she happens to be heavily pregnant, Ace and Hashish slip out onto the fire escape to admire the view and share some recreational narcotics and discuss politics. Truly, one of the great scenes of 1990s Doctor Who. We were robbed.
Padding out the rest of the episode are some footage of the bikers driving around, being all nasty and mean and revving their engines. None of which distracts from their very stupid headgear. Even when its discovered they are an undercover army for Major Felnikov.
And so, this elite gang of a pyromaniac Time Lady, a gormless East End spiv, a pregnant Soviet soldier, a fish-finger munching Martian nutter and an idiot in a question mark pullover and straw hat make their move. Disguised as a fishmonger delivery van, they sneak into the blockhouse and tip-toe down to the underground vault. The Doctor mumbles this is all rather suspiciously easy, but the others tell him off for being a total pessimist killjoy prick.
Ace sets to work on the safe door, but she lacks the patience to actually get the combination right and settles for blowing off the door with some high explosive... mainly so everyone can do the whole "You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!" gag from The Italian Job. Cause any other reason would be gratuitous, obviously.
"Here they are!" crows Hashish. "The Lost Relics of Sezwho, First Marshall of the Army of Ice Cream Vendors! Here is his apron and his cash register! His jeweled spoons, with which he stirred Oreo flakes into the crushed ice during the Mustard Rebellions! And here, here is his revered uniform, his nametags and mighty cardboard hat! This items are more sacred than the sacred-est things ever!"
Just then Major Felnikov and the bikies attack, since the episode is very nearly over and there needs to be a dramatic build up for the cliffhanger. So, the bullet-proof Hashish shoots down the bikies, takes Felnikov as a human shield and laughs evilly.
Ace looks on adoringly and wonders if he’d be a good shag.
"Ace, stop enjoying yourself!" the Doctor scolds as alarms go off and soldiers run around. Ace suggests the best thing is for them to run into the delivery van and try and escape – but stupidly forgets that the streets are packed with parades, bikies, and innocent civilians!
After some automobile carnage forged from lots of stock footage from The Cars Who Ate Paris, Inspektor Herring and Monty Python, the van is conveniently scooped up by the tractor beam of an alien spacecraft that happened to be passing by...
Don’t you just hate it when that happens?
Halfway into the airlock, the Doctor is snatched out of time and space back to the Adjudicator boardroom where he protests he was in no way interfering with Ace’s assessment – but the first one to say he’s in any way a second-banana assistant will get a knuckle sandwich, OK?!
The Adjudicators all make farty noises and banish the Doctor back to the freezing confines of Ice Cream Vendor spaceship where not much has happened since we last bothered to pay attention. There, Riana finds herself strangely drawn to the ancient cardboard hat of the Marshall Sezwho and puts it on – which is one hell of a stupid thing to do.
Despite the crappy and cheap-looking uniform Ice Cream Vendors wear, they are actually highly-sophisticated cyborg armor – which is why Felnikov was making the bikies wear homemade cardboard hats to... actually, I have no idea WHY he was doing that. The man’s mad.
Anyway, the hat of Sezwho immediately fuses with Riana’s DNA, reprogramming her body to turn into one hell of a bitching green lizard lady. Unsurprisingly, trying this trick on a pregnant mammal leads to consequences and repercussions and Riana instantly goes into labor.
Immediately the other Ice Cream Vendors decide they have some very important fish fingers and custard to eat and rush out of the room. Sam and Felnikov apparently have similar prior commitments and also run away, leaving only the Doctor and Ace to deliver the baby.
"Oh, no!" the Doctor laughs, shaking his head. "YOU’RE in charge, remember, Ace? I’m not getting involved this time..."
The Time Lord skips out, sniggering, and stumbles across the TARDIS outside the docking bay. For a moment he considers whether the time machine was snatched up by the Ice Cream Vendor tractor beams, or relocated by the Time Lord Adjudicators or whether it’s just another example of shithouse continuity.
Ignoring Ace’s shouts for help, the Doctor patronizingly tells her that she has to cope on her own and she can’t just rely on her manipulative grandfather to be around all the time to deliver half-human babies and defeat alien invasions.
"Just wing it, Ace!" he advises her.
Meanwhile, Riana has given birth to a baby girl and then transformed into a hideous transsexual space lizard, the reincarnation of the Ice Marshall Sezwho. The reincarnated Martian warlord has no interest in the pathetic soap opera life of Sam Tollinger, who promptly snatches up the baby girl in the vain hope she might be worth a bit at the local pawn shop run by Harry the Bastard.
The Doctor agrees that he’s wasted enough of his life in this 60s nostalgia evening gone crazy and invites Tollinger and daughter aboard the TARDIS and they leave, abandoning Ace and Felnikov behind on the Ice Cream Vendor spaceship.
The TARDIS arrives on Bethnal Green in the rain where the Doctor idly considers recruiting Sam and his daughter as new companion material, since it makes a nice change from the usual parade of schoolgirls, junior Time Ladys, and UNIT-affiliated red-shirts.
Then the new friends reveal they both stole some funky macguffins from the Martian spaceship, thus crippling the Ice Cream Vendors if they intend to do anything nasty – which is very ironic, since Sezwho has just this second come to the conclusion s/he would actually rather like the conquer the Earth and enslave the pathetic human race. This is so dull and predictable the other Ice Cream Vendors assume s/he’s just being really, really sarcastic.
Meanwhile, Felnikov locks Ace in a fridge full of fish-fingers. A caption appears saying, "THE BBC WOULD LIKE TO WARN ALL SMALL CHILDREN THAT PUSHING PEOPLE INSIDE OLD FRIDGES IS A BLOODY STUPID THING TO DO."
Luckily, she’s let out by the Adjudicators just so they can piss her off by telling her that the Doctor’s chucking her out and sending her off to university while he travels with new and less needy bimbos in stories exploring the rotten core of the human psyche.
"All this time!" Ace fumes. "That’s what he’s been doing! He set me up, abandoned me and now I’ll never trust him again! Not, admittedly, that I ever actually trusted him BEFORE now, but still..."
The Adjudicators are bored shitless of all this pathetic angst, which got old about the time of the previous season. They tell Ace to suck it up, get over herself and choose whether or not to sort out this ongoing Ice Cream Vendor plot thread that the Time Lords themselves can’t be arsed to deal with.
Hashish for his part is becoming very doubtful over whether or not Sezwho is the right choice to lead the Ice Cream Vendors. No doubt 100 thousand years ago all this "master of the universe" business was original and cutting edge, but now is embarrassingly clichéd.
Being betrayed by their icons give Hashish and Ace yet another reason to bond and they end up making out in the back of a Bentley that happens to be on the Martian spaceship for such emergencies.
Elsewhere, Sezwho finally realizes that her plans to dominate the frozen confectionary market of Earth is screwed without the macguffins that the Doctor and Sam stole.
Eager to curry favor, Felnikov tries to convince Ace to betray the Doctor, but Ace insists she wants to destroy her friend/grandfather in her own fashion and nothing Sezwho can come up with will be in any way novel or painful enough to be worth following her for.
Back on Earth, the Doctor and Sam are thrown out of a pub for being drunk and disorderly – having got completely pissed celebrating the birth of baby Katy Tollinger and also requiring the dutch courage to tell Sam’s mum she’s now a grandmother. The old bat is still insisting that she’s 39 and will no doubt take it badly.
Just then the Doctor and Sam get chased by the London district of bikers wearing cornflakes packets with smiley faces drawn on them, who are also controlled by Felnikov for strange yet evil ends. Then they start throwing ice cream grenades and from this point on, things just become damn stupid to describe let alone watch!
Finally the duo flee into the abandoned warehouse district where the Martians have their East-End branch of fish-fingers and custard, only to be cornered by Felnikov and his bikers. However, being a complete immoral Cockney bastard, Sam calls in all his gangster contacts and immediately triggers a massive gunfight that costs hundreds of lives – but makes damn good primetime TV!
Alas, the end result is kind of pathetic as all the gangsters are tend our heroes are cornered by Felnikov and the bikers close in around the duo and it looks like death is immiment...
...and then the police arrives and even the Moscow secret agents instinctively run for their lives. The Doctor and Sam run into the warehouse and find the Ice Cream Vendor spaceship parked in the corner,
Meanwhile, Hashish and Ace tell Sezwho that they are very much in love and they’re going to get married and nothing Sezwho can do can stop them. Sezwho responds by cutting off Hashish’s head with a blunt desert spoon and drowning his corpse in a barrel of marzipan. Ace is heartbroken and distraught for up to five minutes this time – showing that she had much more concern for Hashish than most other boyfriends.
Furious, Ace challenges Sezwho to the traditional Martian combat of bare-breasted mud-wrestling to the death in pointless, nonsensical and violent revenge. The Doctor bursts in and awkwardly announces that, just in case he didn’t mention it earlier, he’s ditching her on Gallifrey now there’s no financial advantage looking after her.
Ace reveals she has the macguffin and will hand it over if the Ice Cream Vendors slaughter the Doctor in cold blood. The Doctor laughs, and reminds Ace then when it comes to being a ruthless backstabbing asshole, she just isn’t in the same league as him...
"I reversed the polarity of the neutron flow in the macguffin!" he laughs and immediately Sezwho’s novelty hat begins to shut down, and the transsexual Martian warlord is reduced to Riana once again.
Nauseated by this turn of events, the Ice Cream Vendors announce they are completely fucking sick of all this and immediately leave in their ship to find someone less pathetic and clichéd to lead their war effort against the rest of life kind. The ship takes off and hurtles off into the depths of space in an obvious bit of sequel-fodder.
The Doctor realizes that Ace has disappeared, seemingly scooped off by the Time Lords to go to Prydon Academy. This can only mean one thing – the Doctor has a vacancy for a new companion. After some consideration, he decides that baby Kate is the one with the most shenanigan potential, and decides to come back in twenty years time, when she’s past the age of consent.
Sam and Riana think the Doctor’s joking and laugh warmly... until they realize the Time Lord is staring at them emotionlessly for a long time. Then he turns and heads back to the TARDIS.
En route, however, he reappears in the boardroom where Ace and the Adjudicators are waiting. The Doctor quickly decides its time to get the messy goodbyes out of the way so he can get on having much more sophisticated and Avenger-ish adventures with Kate.
"Leave me alone," snaps Ace.
"We didn’t say goodbye."
"At least you’re not calling me Professor any more."
"Ace, I’m sorry. I know you don’t want to go to the Academy, well, neither did I. And look what it did for me."
"Fuck off, you old bastard."
"Ace, that was deeply uncalled for! Now, keep up with your homework and send me a letter from time to time, won’t you?"
Alas, the Adjudicators finally get a word in edgeways: the assessment board has turned down Ace and refused to allow her into the Academy. They only brought the Doctor here to pick up his wayward granddaughter before they cut off their benefits.
The Doctor is speechless at this humiliation, a scenario for which he had absolutely nothing planned. In a sudden fury, he flips up the briefing room table and in the confusion flees back to 1967, dives into the TARDIS and heads off into the wild blue yonder.