Thursday, November 5, 2009

7th Doctor - Ice Time (ii)

Book(s)/Other Related –
Doctor Who: Price-Line
Doctor Who Discovers Meth Amphetamine
"Ace in the Hole!" The XXXX-Rated Inside Story

Fluffs - Sylvester McCoy seemed rather frosty in this story.
"It all depends on which side of your wall is buttered!"
"I’m not spending the rest of my life dead!"
"I’m the Ace Cream Vendor!"

Goofs -
Ace supports QPR?!

Fashion Victims –
Despite some truly stiff competition, it has to be Riana giving birth while wearing nothing but a grey soviet-issue tie and a cardboard hat characteristic of Mars’ third polar epoch.

Technobabble –
Felnikov is determined to "reverse the polarity of the antihistamine flow" no matter what the human cost.

Links and References -
In part four, Hashish waffles on about Martian history for no other reason than to confirm that Red China, Phobos, The Judgement of Ice Cream, and Frozen Crime are all internally consistent in their portrayals of the red planet and its civilization.

Untelevised Misadventures -
The Doctor once took Napoleon, Uncle Joe Stalin, Bobby Charlton and Sergeant Pepper on a pub crawl of Metulla Orionsis.

Groovy DVD Extras -
The alternate ending where Ace doesn’t actually leave and hangs around like a bad smell for the rest of the decade in books, audios, comic strips and DEAR GOD WOMAN LEAVE US ALONE!!!

Dialogue Disasters -

Sezwho: I wrote the rules of ice cream making, I can break them!

Doctor: I don’t fear you, Hashish. I only fear the munchies afterwards.

Ace: You always know what’s going on! It’s part of your character description in the BBC Writer’s Guide!

Doctor: Sam, you have a lean and hungry look. Would you like a pretzel?

Hashish offers a chilling insight into Martian philosophy:
"There is always ice cream! Ice cream unites us! Ice cream IS survival!"

Ace: You’re always so clinical! Can’t you appreciate gore?

Sam: Major, I know a lot of Russian jokes, but you’re the best one!

Ace: So. Is that it for us? I bet you’re already into other dodgy schemes with other dodgy people.
Doctor: Time is a dodgy business. Picking the tangles apart, string by string, doesn’t always work. Sometimes it needs slicing through.
Ace: Or blowing up.
Doctor:’re just beyond help, aren’t you?

Felnikov: I know you despise waste and decadence, but have some more caviar and enjoy the fur coats.
Ace: Oh how banal.

Dialogue Triumphs -

Doctor: Don’t get angsty! I’M SICK OF ANGST!!

Sezwho: I long to sell my wares out there on the frozen fields. Why do you skulk in this dark hall? Why are you dressed like that? Are flares back in again? No matter. I am Sezwho. When the red planet was in peril, I founded the Ice Cream Vendors! I defended the city of Jabolite against the rebel blood-drinking squids of HG Wells and fought the kings of the fern gullies in battle! My advertising banners flew on a hundred cities and on the world and on the moons. No one challenged my ingredients and preservatives. I am reborn! I have vanquished the ultimate consumer resistance... DEATH ITSELF!

Doctor: I like Russian fur hats. Russian fur hats are groovy, baby.

Ace: Time, like a river, is full of dead fish and used condoms.

Riana: You can’t leave me! I’m having your child!
Sam: Oh leave it out... Look, there’ll be a check in the post.
Riana: That’s not right!
Sam: I know, I know, you wanted cash. You’ve been fab. Bye!

Sezwho on the Doctor:
"His stance is camp. One thing is clear. He is an old pervert."

Doctor: I thought it was for your own good!
Ace: It’s what it’s all been about, all the time, right from the start!
Toughen her up, rake over her past, Perivale, Fenric and all that and then dump her at the Academy to do your dirty work!
Doctor: Not MY work! You have such potential for good, as a catalyst...
Ace: You could have asked!
Doctor: Where would the fun be in that?
Ace: And all this is to test me? All these deaths and conspiracies? It’s people’s lives you’re playing with!
Doctor: Tch! There’s gratitude for you! I go to all the trouble to provide you cheap and effective psychotherapy and THIS is the thanks I get? You’re as bad as John and flipping Gillian!

UnQuotable Quote -
Sam: A hotel room, a bottle of Vodka and you. Very cozy. For this visit, I’ve even brought my own butt plug!

Viewer Quotes -

"Putting the Ice Cream Vendors in a Cold War setting is deliciously apt. Well, it’s not completely fucking stupid, like the last time they were in Doctor Who and trying to invade a tropical transvestite resort. So thumbs up there then!" - (2000)

"Well, if the Time Lords made the rules and I’m the Last Time Lord then... I repeal the rules! Huzzah! Ice cream for all!"
- David Tennant (2009)

"I think it’s worth bearing in mind that when we watched this story at the start, we would not have had any idea if Ace would get into the Academy or not. So to dispute authenticity is in a way questionable simply because the assumption of knowing the end point is already, inherently, inauthentic. I am SO fucking high right now."
- That Guy With The Glasses (2007)

"I found the idea of a motorcycle gang cruising around 60s London wearing Ice Cream Vendor helmets laughable, in fact it made me laugh so hard I nearly went to Ethiopia! Oh, it makes cringe in a fond and nostalgic way." Tony Abbot - (2006)

"I can’t commend enough the performances of Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred here. In fact, I can’t commend them AT ALL!"
- "Sadly, I Wasn’t Enthralled" Magazine # 86 (1998)

"I felt really disappointed." - Mark Plate’s mum (2011)

"Oh look. Another old time Who monster converting people into their own kind! Dustbins, Cybermen, Protons, Wirrrrn, Krynoids and now the freaking Ice Cream Vendors! It just doesn’t DO anything for me! Is there some kinky fetish demographic this is targeted at?!"
- Jared "No Nickname" Hansen stumbles across a dark truth (2008)

"It didn’t disappoint me, but it didn’t quite live up to my expectations, however vague they might have been. I don’t quite know what to think about it. Why am I even reviewing this? I’m not a TV critic! I’m a fireman for god’s sake..." - a fireman (1990)

Psychotic Nostalgia -
"Fandom! Keep your disapproval to yourselves! Script writers are like gods – they are there to be railed at."

Sylvester McCoy Speaks!
"I was surprised by the ending. So there you go."

Sophie Aldred Speaks!
"The Russian setting was very demanding for some of the actors. I laugh at their suffering and inability to work out a consistent accent. I’m always amazed by the lack of quality and ability of the actors... hey I’ll say what I like, you oily little crap-wit! This is why I’m glad to get out of this mausoleum of mediocrity and I’m heading for a superbly-paid job at ITV on a proper program with my name in the opening credits where I SHALL TAKE MY RIGHTFUL PLACE IN THE PANTHEON OF QUALITY BROADCASTING! Or, failing that, I’ll go to Corners. SO GOOD RIDDANCE!"

Julia Sawalha Speaks!
"Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred made me feel very welcome in their own inimitable style – by sitting on the other side of the room and refusing to talk to me. But at least they never made me feel like the New Girl. Yes, it’s an interesting experience, playing your own mother. I’ve never given birth to myself before. Well, there was that time in Absolutely Fabulous... but this time I was possessed by an Ice Cream Vendor helmet. Which required a lot more grunting than normal. It would have been nice to play a woman of slightly higher standards than Riana when it comes to her choice in men. Still, anyone can fall for a cockney. That’s MY excuse in polite company, anyway."

Trivia -
Nigel Lambert appeared as an extra in the Tom Baker story "The Leisure Centre" and, if anything, his acting is much, much worse.

Rumors & Facts -

Due to complaints that the "facts" part of "Rumors & Facts" have been grossly underrepresented, it’s time to cut down on scurrilous and highly-unreliable tenth-hand bitching and talk of what REALLY happened in this story!

Thin Ice is set in the 1960s, heralds the return of the Martian Ice Cream Vendors and writes Sophie Aldred’s character of Ace out of Doctor Who, perhaps forever.

Right, now that’s out of the way, back to the slander and scandal!

Aldred had been strongly contemplating quitting Doctor Who ever since she discovered Andrew Cartmel and his mates contriving ever-more-ridiculous and dangerous reasons for her to take her clothes off. In 1989's "Battlefield: Earth", not only was there a completely pointless plotline involving Ace banging a nubile Asian chick with lots of hot, throbbing, XXX-rated, girl-on-girl action, but Ben Aaaaronovitch completely rewrote episode two so Ace would end up wearing a wet T-shirt. This hastily adjustment to the plot nearly killed Aldred and it was on Sylvester McCoy’s exclamation of "Shit! Should Sophie really be that colour?" that saved her life.

Thus Season 27's number one priority was to get Aldred the hell out of this show and away from the crowds of frustrated sci-fi writers wanting to molest her lifeless corpse.

As Mark Plate was the only one of those writers with an ounce of self-control (not that says much, you understand), he vowed to write out the character of Ace in as dispassionate and groovy-60s-nostalgia-style as possible by ripping off every single word of that Michael Caine flick, The Italian Job. Cartmel, for his part, loved this idea, as he had always wanted to write out a companion in a plagiarism of a popular movie absolutely everyone had seen – but he preferred a Cold War comedy flick with Dan Ackroyd and Bill Murray.

Thus, Plate and Cartmel arm-wrestled each other, got drunk, and then bet each other they couldn’t write a Cold War Italian-Job-style heist movie WITHOUT Dan Ackroyd and Bill Murray that ALSO wrote out Ace and ALSO brought back the Ice Cream Vendors, a race of confectionary-obsessed Martian lizards who John Satan-Turner was always happy to return in seasons that the BBC would not allow to be broadcast.

After glancing at a wikipedia entry for the Ice Cream Vendors, Mark Plate realized he had discovered a rift in time and space allowing him access to the internet of the 21st Century. This allowed him to log onto Outpost Gallifrey, print out lots of threads wondering what would occur in the unseen Season 27, and mercilessly copy them.

This lead to the very strange idea (attributed to either Nigel Verkoff or Tom Baker) that Ace's replacement actually be born in the middle of Ace's departure story as the ultimate bit of upstaging. This would also make Ace's replacement the youngest companion ever to be introduced as well as the only companion to be delivered by the Doctor (apart, of course, from Genghis Khan who joined the Second Doctor and Jamie in Season 6B to fight off the Trods).

Even the culmination of Ace's character arc came from totally random batshit ideas from fans, so when the Doctor finally brings his great plan for her to fruition it turns out to be... getting her O-levels at Prydon Acamedy. Which was very pathetic as this plot thread was already thoroughly explored in Survival. Still, no one ever accused fandom of originality. Because if they did, that would be half-way original.


About the only idea Plate turned down was the trying retarded concept that Ace wouldn't actually leave in this story but STAY, hog the limelight from Kate Tollinger and continue to hang around like a stench of Slitheen flatulence. The idea was so monumentally awful that Plate reached THROUGH the crack in the universe, grabbed the throat of the idiot who suggested it and slapped them silly. Good for him.

Chosen to portray new semi-regular, "Dodgy Brigadier Substitute in B Minor" was Tom Georgeson. He previously appeared as a useless extra in such stories as Genocide of the Dustbins and Death Comes To Tom and was expecting to be slaughtered by the Ice Cream Vendors after giving a few lame-but-memorable one-liners. Meanwhile, Julia Sawalha was hired to play Kate Tollinger's seductive Russian Bond-Girl mother, and found herself immediately getting all the unwanted attention that Aldred was desperately trying to escape.

Her reaction later gave rise to the truly erroneous rumor that she considered Doctor Who "an actress graveyard". In fact, she really said she had to fake her death to keep the anoraks off her back and get any work. Ironically, one of those anoraks, a wee Scotty lad named Steve, gave her a job as a warped, repressed, power-mad bitch in Press Gang.

There might be some kind of subtext to this, but I’m honestly unsure.

Thin Ice was rehearsed and filmed in six weeks, on budget, on schedule, and without any of the cast actually noticing. They just thought Sophie Aldred's farewell party in one of the delicatessens in downtown Montreal had gone horribly out of hand – and, as such, the production is beautifully redolent of the classic 80s pop culture.

A total of 9 millions tuned in on Sunday, January 3, 1993 to watch Ace's goodbye. They were to be disappointed, as Thin Ice was never to be broadcast, and those 9 million viewers had tuned in every Sunday night for three years and watched a repeat of Eastenders in the insane belief a nitro-loving Time Lady might cameo simply to be written out. It is unknown if Cartmel, Aaaronovitch and Plate were amongst these deviants, but personally I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this turned out to actually be the case.

Though I do remember that episode where Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred had a flaming row in the Queen Vic, the former gesticulating as he pleads and justifies and the latter's Nitro-Nine threatening to spill out of her rucksack with every jack-booted tantrum thrown. But then I was on a lot of drugs at the time. Forget I said anything.

There are lots of good ideas in Thin Ice, but unfortunately there are a lot more rubbish ideas – chief amongst them setting half the story in Soviet Russia and having a bunch of Martian-groupie Hell's Angels obsessing over fish-fingers in a very boring and unfocussed manner. Thankfully Ace got an ending that was beautiful, poignant and true to the character rather than being turned into just another miniskirt-wearing-tart and of secondary importance to a new one.

Like THAT would ever happen!

In the final analysis, a story with lots of characters on different trajectories can either be a morass of confused names or an intriguing piece of character work, depending on just how well characterized these people are. Needless to say Thin Ice fails on all counts, providing a bunch of characters memorable only for their grotesque lack of credible motivations or realistic dialogue. The only pleasure they can give the audience is to die horribly on camera.

Some may call this a brilliant story, redolent of 1990-era McCoy.

Some might call this the fantastic culmination of a story arc four decades in the making.

And some might call it a very un-exciting, cringe-worthy four-episode treatise on why the Ice Cream Vendors are boring as hell sub-Klingon-confectionary-salesman best left to the shameful early years of Doctor Who when they could get away with such unsophisticated crap!

Yet it is all these things and somehow much, MUCH less.

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