Monday, December 7, 2009

8th Doctor - The Eight Truths (i)

Serial 9W – The Eight Years
An Alternative Program Guide by Ewen Campion-Clarke
Entry in the EC Unauthorized Guide O' Unconvincing Arachnid Attacks!!


Serial 9W – The Eight Years -


Parte the First

The TARDIS brings the Doctor, Lucie Miller and Smelly Ed the wandering pink gas cloud to Cardiff in the futuristic year of 2005... because anything beyond that is unequivocally BBC Wales’ territory and they do NOT want to get on the bad side of Big Russell T Davies, sorright?

Lucie, having finally returned to her time and place of origin, immediately goes to the nearest pub, gets completely pissed, checks into a hotel room and then promptly vandalizes it. Finally she dozes off half-way through throwing the TV out her hotel room window.

She finally wakes up to find herself in bed with the inappropriately-named Karen Nicegirl, former colleague from Hulbert Logistics and time-traveling bitch-queen from hell who used to be the companion of Ace the Headhunter. But since they last crossed paths in a story curiously authored by the same writer as this one, Ace unceremoniously dumped Karen on Earth.

There was no apparent reason for this decision beyond Ace screaming, "No! No! I hate you! You’re so bloody nice! Bloody! Bloody! BLOODY!! You treacle-brained sugar-flavor-snot bimbos are just a reactionary stereotype and I – hate – you!!"

With no home to go back to, no family to rely on, no useful experience to put on her CV, Karen Nicegirl took the kind of calm, sensible and well-thought-out decisions that made her what she is today.

A Child-Catcher in the Cardiff Branch of the Church of Scientology!

Lucie listens as Karen goes on and on about how the nice Scientologists completely changed her attitude to life, helped her work through her problems, gave her a place to stay and food to eat – not to mention a whole new purpose in life.

"So... did we have sex or what?" Lucie asks eventually. "I better have been good, that’s all I can say..."

Meanwhile, with the annoying duck-voiced bimbo out of his chestnut baby curls at last, the Doctor and Smelly Ed loiter on a street corner for a couple of hours looking cool and being bored in equal measure. Finally, they decide to tune into InfoDump 24 on CBBC and discover that Cardiff’s space probe - the Terry Wogan – has mysteriously disappeared while loitering with intent in the exosphere of Mercury.

What’s more, the NASA solar probe – the Mongoose Masseuse - was doing exactly the same thing and, oddly enough, has also mysteriously vanished. At the space tracking station (which just happens to look exactly like the Cardiff Millennium Centre), Dr. Avishka Sangakkara blogs self-pityingly about how he’s just wasted four years of his life and £75 million of tax-payers’ money. Worse, he hasn’t been able to pull a single chick with his amazing space-related chat-up lines.

Deciding that nothing they can do can make Sangakkara’s pathetic existence any more miserable, the Doctor and Smelly Ed gatecrash the scientific lab-type location, waving handy-dandy psychic passports and UNIT passes until they can do whatever the damn hell they like.

The Doctor asks if he can borrow a computer and spends three hours mucking about on facebook before various research assistants start complaining that this isn’t really helping them. Huffing with exaggerated annoyance, the Doctor wracks his brains and concludes that the sudden disappearance of these space probes is actually uncannily similar to a certain 1979 Quatermass serial.

"No, wait, wait, wait. It can’t be that. If that was what was going on, then the Earth would be being plunged into social chaos and doomsday cults worshipping aliens would be on the rise! And THAT’S definitely not happening, is it?"

In a deeply-amusing Family-Guy-esque jump cut, we turn to the Welsh headquarters of the Church of Scientology, as Karen drags Lucie there, explaining that "something is coming out of the darkness" and only the Church of Scientology is prepared to deal with it. Of course, all Welsh people are convinced that there all sorts of darkness-dwelling monsters waging war on mankind, but even Lucie is clued-up to believe that Scientologists are more likely to sort it out than Touchwood!

At the Church, they meet a pleasant chap called Rob Zombie, who offers Lucie a complimentary tinfoil hat – a crucial element of natural therapeutic techniques to highlight any emotional problems the wearer might be having. "And, looking at you, my love," Rob tells Lucie, "I think we got here just in time."

Lucie laughs cruelly in his face and calls him a "gonad", but Karen forces a tinfoil hat onto Lucie’s head at knife-point. Ostensibly this is to bring Lucie’s maladjusted psyche back into balance by clearing her mind, reducing confusion and helping her relax. But, personally, I just think she did it to make Lucie look incredibly stupid.

Rob begins the session by asking her some questions about her current life which she finds hard to answer directly, like her opinion of Tony Blair in opinion polls, the war in Iraq, the floating of the American dollar, the mining of uranium and what’s her favorite episode of Ant ’n’ Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway?

With her loss of pop cultural street cred ruined, Lucie is suddenly gripped with paranoia about how small and pathetic her life truly is. Her insistence it’s SHE, not the Doctor, who has a secret agenda that compels people to follow blindly fall on deaf ears. With her supreme arrogance finally crushed, she is easy prey for those damned Scientologists (though my legal advisors make it clear that members of the Church are much more friendly and certainly nowhere near as subtle in their psychological manipulations in real life).

Rob offers to make Lucie more empowered so she can take hold of her own life... provided her goals and ambitions are to serve the Church of Scientology in any way shape or form she possibly can. Still trapped in that tragically-unfashionable tinfoil hat, Lucie is helpless. Well, more so than usual, anyway.

After around three minutes, Lucie is in tears and totally convinced the Doctor has been manipulating her all this time rather than the other way round. She’s a mouthy Northern tart with a voice like an anthropomorphic duck who absolutely everybody in the whole wide world hates, and acknowledging this is an important step towards making herself into a mindless cult member.

"Sorry, did I say 'mindless cult member'?" asks Rob innocently. "I do beg your pardon. I meant to say, er... 'your own person'."

Back at the ranch or wherever, the Doctor announces that something has taken over the Terry Wogan probe and has corrupted the systems – clearly they forgot to get the latest virus protection from intergalactic cosmic spam emails. Attaching that easy-to-use-by-friendly-aliens-communicator seems a bit stupid in retrospect.

Dr. Sangakkara points out the Doctor is making all this crap up entirely off the top of his head... when the computer virus spreads from the probe to ground control.

"Time for a cold boot!" the Doctor quips expressly for the use in funky season trailers, and blows up the main server with a pump-action shotgun Smelly Ed helpfully provides.

Dr. Sangakkara snaps, "All right, smartarse, so why come optical telescope operators across the globe can’t focus on that area of space? Does this computer virus affect telescopes as well?"


The Doctor suggests they simply reverse the polarity of the neutron flow ("Isn’t that what one normally does in these sorts of emergencies?") when suddenly he gets an abusive phone call from Lucie screaming, that she doesn’t what a filthy despicable heathen like him involved in her life any more and preventing her from achieving her full cosmic potential.

The Time Lord hangs up on her before she’s finished her first sentence and yawns, bored. "Whatever. I’m bored. Is anything good on TV?"

With a suitable mystifying cutaway, we’re suddenly watching a daytime interview panel entitled 'Nick Briggs’ Canonical Controversies' where Kelly Westwood, a spunky female journalist right out of something hip and contemporary like "Party Animals" is plugging her range of self-help books – The Cult of John Travolta, Don’t Believe Isaac Hayes, and South Park Was Right! – all condemning Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard and all points in between.

The leader of the Welsh Scientology Branch, a very depressed man called Marvin insists that there is no proof Scientology rips-off penny-dreadful sci-fi paperbacks and brainwash new members with tinfoil hats. Nick Briggs notes that no one actually ACCUSED Marvin of this and, swearing loudly, Marvin runs out of studio and the show ends.

Breaking the fourth wall completely, it turns out that the interview is in the next studio to where Doctor Who is being recorded and the Doctor easily slips out between takes and flirts outrageously with Kelly over some coffee.

Discussing Scientology, the Doctor realizes that Lucie has fallen prey to them... and laughs at the bitter irony of it all, and she’s now a faceless follower of Marvin’s ego-trip. Then the tea break ends and the Doctor rushes to back to record the next scene.

Returning fleetingly to the plot for a moment, Rob tells Lucie and the others that humankind must embrace it’s destiny and move towards it, perhaps involving creepy nursery rhymes and stone circles like a certain Quatermass serial?

Lucie is absolutely convinced this all not only makes sense, but is completely original. Good thing Nigel Kneale isn’t around, eh, readers? Anyway, Lucie’s answers on the Free Personality Test show she is the most insecure and frustrated person the Church of Scientology has ever actually encountered.

"SHE IS THE CHOSEN ONE!" the Scientologist exclaim with joy.

Unsurprisingly, this ego-trip completely restores Lucie’s god-like arrogance and she finally realizes that "Dorothy Gale", the Scientology Science Officer, is actually Ace the Headhunter using a cunning pseudonym and a gingham dress.

Despite Ace’s insistence that they have never actually met before, Lucie doesn’t buy it for a moment. Finally, Ace throws a silly rubber spider at Lucie to shut the bimbo up.

Amazingly, this works.

At the Terry Wogan tracking station, the Doctor is disconcerted that the spam junk mail that corrupted the space probe was an offer for Viagra written in Old High Gallifreyan!

Smelly Ed points out that all the signs are that this is a side effect of a remote stellar manipulator – and, by staggering coincidence, they never DID find out what Ace the Headhunter did with the Handjob of Moby. Could the two events be connected?

"Oh, I hardly think that’s likely," the Doctor scoffs.

At that moment a delivery man drops by and the Doctor has to sign off for a strange black metal sphere with the word BOMB written on it and a burning fuse. The Doctor finds this rather odd and, with some prompting from Sangakkara and Smelly Ed, suspects it could be a bomb...

This theory is quickly proved as it explodes with a bang.

The next thing the Doctor knows he stands at the gates of heaven... which, due to budgetary reasons takes the form of the gates of BBC Television Centre... confronted by God and St. Peter... which, due to budgetary reasons take the forms of the Brigadier and a Cybermen.

The horrible truth of the situation dawns as a figure looms out of the mist and approaches the Doctor – is it Rowan Atkinson? Richard E Grant? Steven Fry? Ian Richardson? Rik Mayall in an Afghan Coat?

But no, this newcomer is a wiry man with a gaunt, hawk-like face, piercing, pale grey-blue eyes and a thin, prominent nose; the lips set into an almost cruel, arrogant smile. A man of righteous fury, determination and incredibly dead gritty Northerness.

The Ninth Doctor has arrived!

Parte the Second

"We here at UNIT are thrilled that Christopher Eccleston is finally taking over as the Doctor," the Brigadier informs the ex-Time Lord cheerfully. "And we’ve bought him a cut-glass spittoon of gritty Northern crystal as a present..."

Suddenly, Kroton the Cybermen with a soul (but unfortunately also the Cybermen with a chronic balance problem), stumbles and bumps into the Brigadier, causing him to drop the spittoon which shatters apart. Disgusted, the New Doctor returns to limbo once more, leaving the Old Doctor to return to the land of mortals once more.

"You have to spoil EVERYTHING, don’t you?" the Brigadier shouts at the Cyberman. "We can’t keep ANYTHING nice around here!" he sobs, and the duo begin to sing the Communards’ "Don’t Leave Me This Way!"

The Doctor recovers consciousness to find himself in Albion Hospital, 28 days after he was knocked into a coma. The Time Lord fears some Danny Boyle zombie apocalypse might have taken place, but a nurse points out that it’s far worse.

A second sun has appeared in the sky and its blazing nastiness is inexplicable by everyone except the Scientologists who claim this "Rebel Sun" will cleanse the Earth of all heretics and non-believers (or, to put it another way, anyone not wearing a tinfoil hat). In a matter of days, the roving will strike the Earth and everyone will be supremely fucked.

Not realizing this is actually a stellar manipulator sucking energy from Earth’s sun for nefarious purposes as part of an ongoing story arc, the public are panicking! The world is now convinced that politicians and scientists have let them down and are swarming to join the Church of Scientology. 244 million members have signed up by the time you finish reading this sentence, and countless more are snapping under the pressure.

As more and more normal folk abandon their lives to join the Church and society continues to collapse, Sangakkara and Smelly Ed desperately retreat to the tracking station with a DVD of Quatermass serials in the hope there will be some clue to stop this Armageddon!

Alas, there isn’t, and Smelly Ed gives up and decides to cut his losses and join the hundreds of millions of smart people who don’t give a fig about Scientologist beliefs but just want to escape the approaching rapture. "Better to be safe than sorry," the Gelth tells Sangakkara as he floats off at top speed.

Arriving at the Church, Smelly Ed is mildly relieved that the massive influx of new members mean that processing is very swift and only Karen Nicegirl is smart enough to notice this new recruit is actually a floating pink cloud from another galaxy. Karen quickly contacts Lucie, the Chosen One, who quickly tells Smelly Ed that she knows he doesn’t believe there’s any meaning to life in this vast universe.

Smelly Ed immediately bursts into tears and sobs that’s true, it’s all true and is so destroyed he doesn’t even notice Ace the Headhunter burst in and reminds Lucie that she’s an immortal Time Lady with funky mind defenses and the evil aliens at work would break their telepathic teeth trying to pull any mind control tricks on her.

"Is that a threat?!" Lucie demands.

"Oh, not at all! I’m just bragging," Ace assures her.

Marvin, meanwhile, finds his claustrophobia playing up as more and more recruitments arrive at the church and Lucie keeps bullying him and the longer-standing members of the cult who are now in the minority. Marvin explains he never expected the Chosen One to be quite so... Northern... and tells Rob to tell everyone she’s a complete slut Marvin’s had up against a wall five times a night.

No one’s really sure if this is to undermine Lucie’s leadership or merely make Marvin look like a super-cool sex machine, but the rumors spread anyway.

Between scenes, the Doctor meets up with Kelly and tries to cheer her up by explaining that the imminent destruction of the Earth is actually down to a piece of Time Lord technology than Scientologist beliefs being completely accurate.

Kelly tells him to piss off.

Using a cunning blend of the Cardiff space-time rift and some subtle psychology, the Doctor runs out of the room and then reappears a second later in the TARDIS – looping back on his own time-line and interfering with established events. Like Marvin, it’s unclear whether this act demonstrates how serious the crisis is or if the Doctor is just doing to get his leg over with a prospective new companion.

Back at the tracking station, Sangakkara has been left alone while all his staff have fled to join the Scientologists. He has watched the entire Quatermass Conclusion three times and decided that it’s totally useless, and he lost total grip on the plot when the sky turned vomit-green with the dust of the atomized cultists.

The Doctor and Kelly decide it’s time to be proactive – instead of letting the Scientologists decide on these pointless set pieces, the good guys will be the ones to do it!

Kelly immediately storms the set of Nationwide (conveniently being filmed in the next studio) and announces that she has complete proof that the Rebel Sun is an evil alien thing run by the Scientologists. Using a gadget made out of a TV remote, two rubber bands and a lump of coral that the Doctor built using sticky-backed plastic, Kelly vows to use this gizmo to manipulate the Rebel Sun.

And she does this by using the gizmo to turn the second sun a sickly shade of vomit green – just like in the last episode of The Quatermass Conclusion where the exact same thing happens!

"Hey," the Doctor points out to the audience. "I said it would be dramatic, I never said it would be ORIGINAL!"

With the entire sky turned green, the people of the world shit themselves in terror and run around screaming. Absolutely no one pays any attention to the Doctor, Kelly or Sangakkara and their claims the new sun is an artificial construct responding to outside influence.

"Ah, shit," Sangakkara mutters.

At the Church of Scientology, Lucie tells the horrified crowd that the green sky business is a sign that all the original members of the cult should now gather in a small dark room without any electricity and then be rewarded by having silly rubber spiders thrown at them.

Lucie laughs insanely. "We will not just build a new world, but a new universe – as far as we can go and spread the church, beyond the cynical exploitative wretches of mankind! This is it! It’s REALLY HAPPENING! The Time of the Silly Rubber Spiders is NOWWWW!!!!"

"I think you ought to know I’m feeling VERY depressed," says Marvin.

...assuming anyone cares...

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