Wednesday, February 3, 2010

10th Doctor - The Fires of Pompeii (ii)

Links and References -
None spring instantly to mind.

Untelevised Misadventures -
Something about the Seventh Doctor and Mel, but I wasn’t actually paying much attention to that bit.

Groovy DVD Extras -
The full-length historical bonk-u-mentary, "David Tennant’s XXX-rated Italian Holiday Orgy". Subtitles not included.

The Spite of Sparacus -
"What a superb improvement on last week! The monsters were underwhelming, the support characters useless, script pedestrian and Catherine Tate played by (spit) a woman. Worse, I hear rumors that Martha will be brought back – and ALSO played by one of those filthy unsmoothe brood-mares! That’s estrogen too many in this series! Who needs these vile harlots of colour and ethnic origin! They are uninteresting creatures of permanent boredom and far-fetched actions like having periods! Best remove all women from Doctor Who and replace them with big, butch, juicy gay men. Oh, blast their eyes, I’ve been unable to access the Doctor Who Forum again! I suppose its too busy. Honestly, it’s almost like they keep banning me from there for some unaccountable reason..."

Viewer Quotes -

"The past is another country - full of bloody tourists! You know, if no one died in this story and we scaled that up, the final scene would have two hundred people standing outside the burning hotel saying as one 'Phew, that was close!' so it’s probably best they all died."
- Mad Larry the Pirate King (2008)

"Not as bad as last week but still not as good as Stargate Atlantis!"
- some guy’s granddad (2008)

"Okay, first time I watched it I was slightly plastered, well, quite plastered after a Saturday afternoon liquid lunch, and this episode washed over me like a blessed angel of classic drama, Doctor Who at its most potent, mixing historical romp, tragedy and comedy deftly. Upon sober second viewing, it were shite."
- Best Watched Through Beer Goggles Monthly (2009)

"The Fans of Up, Pompeii combines beloved and disparate ingredients that we all adore...but ingredients combined, it seemed, by Gordon Ramsey and Jamie Oliver on a particularly pissed-up evening BBQ!" - The Unpublished Target Novel "Doctor Who and the Cooking Analogies"

"I thought this episode was OK up until the point no one died horribly in flames. It completely undercut the whole point of the story. What a load of crap. Why couldn’t they have the balls to kill them?"
- a potential serial killer (2008)

"For me, the episode was all about language and its symbiotic relationship with history. The future can only be expressed in vague, evasive terms and gnomic wisdom but concrete terms can only be created when the right context emerges to demand the creation of that word. This story is how we must be adaptable to new ideas and circumstances. There just happened to be a lot of burning sci-fi fans there as window dressing for the plebs watching." - Stephen Fry (2008)

David Tennant Speaks!
"Billie and Freema are delighted – they’re particularly pleased that they left the series before they could be forced to appear in this story. I’m not at all bitter. I spoke to them both, just this morning, in my bedroom, after a three way. And they’re very happy and content. But then I have that affect on the chicks. OH YES!"

Catherine Tate Speaks!
"This is my first full series and the first time Doctor Who’s given up trying to even tell a halfway-original story and copied one of those radio plays they make. Bit of an insult, really. Very bad timing, when you think about it."

Russell T Davies Speaks!
"Val Kilmer should play the Doctor’s father. Am I right or am I right?"

Trivia -
Phil Cornwell was convinced his atrocious performance as the merchandise vendor would get him his own spin off series called "Essex E-Sex in E-Space". To be fair, it sounds like it WOULD be better than Touchwood.

Rumors & Facts -

Doctor Who has never been interested in big-H-fully-contextualized-Simon-Schama-flavoured History, encouraging children to stretch their literary knowledge beyond Harry Potter and take an interest in the furthest reaches of the planet. The reason is simple: it’s incredibly tedious and God created Sky Plus for a REASON, dammit! The best you’ll get is some dudes in periwigs and lumbering henchmen being molested by werewolves in crashed spaceships, occasionally interspersed with lines like "Yes! Yes! Come on my tits and dissolve the monasteries!"

Quite simply, if you want stories based on bona fide historical fact that gives a rat’s codpiece about what REALLY happened in ancient times of yore, you can just fuck off home. NOW!

When executive producer Russell Tellurian Davies began the work of reviving Doctor Who in 2003, one of his earliest ideas was to rip off every single Big Finish story. This was a brilliant ploy, since it would save all that time and effort doing tedious business like working out plots and characterization – and also the only people who could complain (the fans) would be too terrified to do so in fear of losing their beloved television series that gave their lives any meaning.

After raping and pillaging the audio adventures D’You Believe This? (which became I, Dustbin), Bare Parts (which became Silver Finish), and a combo of Bastard and Singular Angularity (becoming the epic 2007 finale Dystopia, The Beat of the Drums and Lust of the Time Lords), RTD decided that the time was ripe to rip off The Fans of Vulcan.

This preposterously mundane tale by the even more preposterously mundane Steve Lyons, concerned the cataclysmic destruction of a 1980s Star Trek convention – an event that had long amused RTD in a kind of nasty, sadistic fashion. RTD hated Trekkies and made every one at BBC Wales wear gimp costumes and wash his car – not that he’d tell them WHICH car was his, he just beat them up for getting it wrong.

RTD’s viciousness was piqued again when he viewed the docudrama Vulcanalia: The Last Day of the Convention, in the mistaken belief it was a rather odd porn video. RTD considered writing a script about Pompeii for the eleventh episode of Doctor Who’s 2005 season, but it quickly became clear that he couldn’t be arsed. So he ripped off a Buffy episode on the grounds it was "budget-conscious".

But RTD never lost his pathological hatred of Star Trek fans, however, and in readying his fourth Doctor Who season, he again began considering ripping off The Fans of Vulcan. At this point, it was planned that the third episode of the year would be a script by Mark Gatiss involving Nazis during World War II on the grounds that kind of made an aesthetic sense. However, Gatiss was still on a certain police register after his inexcusable behavior during his self-penned The Idiot Box in 2006, a story that was even LESS original than the Vulcan idea.

RTD went round to Gatiss’ gothic abode and set it on fire. He later retconned this as a novel way of explaining (through the mediums of interpretive dance and pyromania) that a WW2 adventure after the over-hyped Shell Shock would be "too soon" and they might get letters of complaint. The fact Gatiss had been working on the script for more than a year just made it funnier in retrospect, don’t you find?

RTD googled the logistics of recreating 1980s Peckham on a Doctor Who budget be investigated and it became clear that the best way this could be accomplished was to film in Italy’s historic Cinecittà studios in Rome, one of the most renowned studios in Europe which had over the years housed such famed productions as Ben-Hur, Quo Vadis, La Dolce Vita and of course the seminal Anal Fists Of Glory 2.

Exactly how RTD came to the conclusion that Cinecittà would be the perfect place to recreate Middle England is unknown. Maybe that’s why HE’S the executive producer and I am a chronically depressed fan. But it’s definitely the reason why he was sacked not long after.

Cinecittà was eager to market its facilities as an attractive destination for British productions wanting to recreate 1980s Peckham and was willing to do whatever it could to work within Doctor Who's financial limitations. Considering this financial limitations consisted of a meat-paste sandwich and a pair of 3D specs, Cinecittà wasn’t exactly going out of its way much.

By the end of April, RTD decided to torment Gatiss further by letting him write the Fans of Vulcan adaptation, and then change his mind at the last minute. Just for the hell of it. But these four months of merriment meant that when the time came to actually record the damn thing in Italy, there wasn’t actually any kind of script to use.

RTD knew that he would have to find a writer who could work on the scripts very quickly, and thus wrote them himself under the cunning penname of "James T Moran of the Celts". Under this name, RTD had penned some of the less sucky episodes of Touchwood, broken into television after winning a script competition run by the Sci-Fi Channel in the UK and also gone on to write the horror-comedy Vans Defferans of Death. And since RTD felt that he was a talented writer who could handle the work of shaping the early drafts of the story and wouldn’t mind Davies taking over and polishing the script into its finished form, the big Welshman formally offered himself the job on May 9th.

After three hours haggling, RTD finally accepted.

Initially, RTD was adamant that the script deal with the moral quandary of the Doctor leaving an entire convention centre full of sci-fi fans behind to die in accordance with recorded history, and this prompted the inclusion of a regular Romulan fanbase as main characters. He gradually shortened this to generic Trekkies, then Farscapers, before amending them to Anorak-Clad Wankers of No Fixed Fandom.

Mired in the scripting and having developed a strange addiction to wholegrain mustard, RTD was mired in the depths of a scripting crisis: he was writing The Fans of Up, Pompeii and was also supposed to be deep into the process of developing the season premiere, Bunglers in Crime. I tell you, this split personality stuff can really interfere with the creative process, right Invisible Raymond? Invisible Raymond says yes.

For a time, RTD contemplated dropping The Fans of Up, Pompeii and restoring Gatiss’ Nazi adventure in its place – just to show "James T Moran of the Celts" who the boss was around here. But then, RTD decided the solution was obvious:

Film a story about a sci-fi convention AT AN ACTUAL SCI-FI CONVENTION!

Everything could be adlibbed!

This genius was slightly undermined when Producer Phil Collinson and production manager Tracie Simpson had been making visits to Cinecittà throughout the summer as they continued their blistering sex liaisons. In fact, SO blistering were these liaisons that Cinecittà was burnt to the ground, killing four technicians who died smoking a post-coital cigarette in Collinson and Simpson’s honor.

This conflagration not only caused considerable destruction, but was EXACTLY what the production team could have used to make the fiery conclusion of the plot even more epic than before! AND THEY MISSED IT!

Thus, they decided to – in a milestone for the revival of Doctor Who – actually film the Peckham scenes IN PECKHAM, douse the place with petrol, not tell the extras and then light a match when convenient. And don’t be so judgmental! They did the exact same thing with Robert Lindsey in GBH, and you never hear complaints about THAT, do you?

Work at Peckham took place on the 13th and 14th of some month or other... how the hell should I know? Does anyone really care about whether all of the material in the streets were captured as plate shots? Seriously? You do? Get a life.

The production then shifted back to Cardiff, so as to get plausible deniability when the fires started. This alibi spanned the 20th to the 27th; the only exceptions were the 23rd, which was a day off, and the 26th, which concentrated on planting incriminating evidence on Peter Capaldi, including a very unconvincing "To Do List":

- Pick Up Milk
- Cancel Papers
- Discuss Touchwood Role with RTD
- Burn Peckham To The Ground All By Myself Without Anyone Else To Blame It Was All Me The Blood The Blood So Much Blood
- Put The Bins Out
- Tape Parkinson

On September 28th, the fires were brought under control with acceptable loss of life and Capaldi was taken into police custody – however, as he went to a private school, he was let off with a warning and a severe mauling by a trained attack pelican.

Later that month, on the 20th, an insert shot of the Doctor firing his water pistol was taped at Upper Boat. Why? No one knows. But David Tennant likes playing with water pistols and a shot like that could come in damn helpful for stories where the Doctor is carrying a water pistol for no apparent reason while fighting Sycophants in the Caribbean.

And, on the 12th of April 2008, The Fans of Up, Pompeii was screened on BBC1 at 6.46 pm to 9 million viewers who watched the entire episode without a single second of original plot in it.

Amazingly enough, Steve Lyons never suspected a thing.

Alas, The Fans of Up, Pompeii was (and forgive me if I’m being exceedingly complicated and technical on the point) butchered by the Sci-Fi channel. Normally the last fifteen minutes of an episode would be cut and replaced with a test card of Jay and Silent Bob teaching a monkey to smoke cigarettes, but this time the edits were just stupid.

In fact, the reedited story was shown as The Blaze in the Caves, wherein the Doctor and his new companion Janey Gilligan (Michelle Ryan) and her lesbian lover Jessica (Lacey Turner) go on the pull in 200,000 BC to get some Neanderthal action. However, it seems that the Cavemen live in Mount Vesuvius in Naples where a man calling himself "The Magma Tosser" (Michael Chiklis) is running around in the nude.

Steve Lyons later sued Sci-Fi Channel for their blatant plagiarism of one of his New Adventure Novels.

Meanwhile, David Tennant continued his baffling desire to sing in every episode during the infamous "dueling merchandise vendors" sequence, a moment that now clearly defines Doctor Who in the bloodshot and myopic public eye.

"The Fandom Menace" by The Pirate Kings of Mad Larry

In the opinion forums of a hundred fan-bases
The spoilers were there for all to see
And the shipper fics go on across a hundred fan-bases
The trolls say the same, the fans share out blame
But will still buy the DVD

And it’s all been bitched about a hundred times before
"It’s only a TV show!" HAH! Only a TV show?
They had plot holes that spanned the generations
Why we kept watching, I don’t know

They had many spin-offs with the same theme tune
And one cliché with which they ran!
And hundreds of fan-bases speak to me!
And hundreds of fan-bases speak to me!
And hundreds of fan-bases speak to me!
And hundreds of fan-bases speak to me!


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