Serial 407 – Midday
An Alternate Program Guide by Ewen Campion Clarke
From An Entry In The EC Unauthorized Guide O' Cabin Fervor
"YOA's Discontinuity Guides - Inaccurate But Caring."
Serial 408 – Midday -
Because of the Eurovision Song Contest and the complete brain-dead apathy of the BBC scheduling department, Doctor Who is off-air for a week so the TARDIS crew bugger off to the planet Midday in the 27th Century to chill out until further notice.
Midday is an utterly comfortless, hellish wilderness – a craggy knob swimming upon the oceans of the firmaments. Its sunlight reduces organic matter to poisonous ashes, its air is so cold it could freeze Charlie Sheen’s libido and is, all in all, the most lethal deathtrap in the whole of the known universe.
Which is precisely why holidays there are so cheap.
In a makeshift hotel inside a bunker made out of fifteen-mile-thick concrete walls, the Doctor, Donna and Jenny are lazing around an inflatable indoor pool, eating blueberry crumble, getting a message and snogging the pool boy respectively.
Demolishing the last few bricks of the fourth wall, the Doctor realizes that the show is back on air and they should all return to their wacky adventures in time and space. Alas, Donna and Jenny refuse point blank to leave their poolside decadence, and since the Doctor can’t very well depart in the TARDIS without them, he’ll have to stay on Midday looking for some mischief to get involved with...
Parte the First
In desperation the Doctor loiters around a bus depot on the other side of the bunker waiting for a manky old bus with bits of Juicy Fruit stuck to the seats to arrive. It’s eight hours till the next bus, so the Doctor decides to hang around the passengers in the hope one of them turns out to be an evil super-villain he can defeat.
Initially his hopes are high as the other passengers remark that they found the severed hand of a long-missing bus driver under their bench and there’s some strange scuffling noises from the recycling bins in the corner that somehow stop as soon as you notice it.
Alas, the fellow travelers are
- a creepy kid called Calvin and his possessed toy tiger Hobbes
- the lower-middle class asshole Spazz family with their traveling piano accordions
- the ancient wizard Merlin disguised as Justin Bieber
- and a self-harming emo lesbian called Skype
None of whom seem worth becoming a Big Bad evil from the Dawn of Time.
Giving up, the Doctor idly toys with all the complimentary cyanide pills in the bus depot and idly considers chloroforming everyone so they wake up in eight hours when the bus arrives. Alas, neither the Doctor nor anyone else present has any chloroform. So that plan’s stuffed.
With nothing to do, everyone sits and watches a Betty Boop episode on the TV in the bus station. Betty and her crazy Granddad inventor turn various household objects into musical instruments and have a good time while being incredibly racist.
Then they watch Tomb Raider 47: Brangelina’s Martian Adoptee.
Then they listen to James Blunt’s Greatest hits.
Finally the Doctor snaps and begs that they do something interesting. Maybe they could talk to each other like some right-on alternative existentialist Tom Stoppard type play? Or an orgy? Hell, even a game of Twister would be better than nothing!
While Mrs. Spazz is already undoing her blouse for the second option there is a loud banging noise from the dumpster in the corner. This proves too much for Skype, who starts screaming uncontrollably that it is her ex-girlfriend who has come back for her CDs. (Merlin for his part is somewhat delighted at the idea of a macabre lesbo catfight.)
The knocking continues, and finally the fellow commuters gag the bitch to shut her up. The Doctor bravely opens the dumpster to see what is causing the noise and finds a very drunk Captain Jack wondering if the timelines have settled allowing him to travel with the Doctor again?
The Time Lord slams the dumpster lid down on Captain Jack, knocking him unconscious and hastily changes the subject. Soon everyone is joining together in a good old sing-song of Iggy Pop’s "The Passenger" – even Skype, despite being bound and gagged.
This is pretty much the best excuse for a cliffhanger this story is ever going to get, so...
Parte the Second
Finally, the others get curious as to what Skype is mumbling and they discover she is repeating every word said by the others. Calvin recognizes this as the Incredibly Annoying Human Echo, the bane of all long car trips. Somehow Skype has been infected!
For a laugh, everyone starts saying stupid shit for Skype to mimic in her state of self-induced hysteria, but after about four hours of non-stop copying, it becomes irritating, then kind of creepy when she won’t shut the fuck up. Merlin uses a magic spell that makes Skype mimick their words as they speak them, which at least makes her much easier to ignore from now on.
Really clutching at straws now, the Doctor tries to convince the audience that something epic is going down and that Skype has somehow become the host of a completely new alien life-form: the Midday Mimic!
The other passengers protest she’s just a self-hating attention whore with commitment issues, but the Doctor is adamant some alien consciousness is now inside the depot with them and is somehow transforming her into the deadliest menace history has known.
By now the other folk begin to wonder if the Doctor is the axe crazy one they should all be worrying about, and the Time Lord turns on the group angrily: "Now listen, all of you! I’m utterly convinced that's a brand new life form over there. And if it’s come inside, to discover us, than what’s it found? This little bunch of humans! What d’you amount to? Murder? Cos this is where you decide, you decide who you are. Could you actually murder her? Any of you? Really? Or are you better than that?"
The others are slightly puzzled as they never mentioned murdering anyone before the Doctor brought it up... but now he has it sounds like a bloody good idea!
The Doctor refuses to let them murder Skype – until he realizes that they were never going to hurt Skype, they actually intend on lynching the spiky-haired Scots git in the pinstripe suit who’s been driving them up the wall for the last five hours!
The Time Lord babbles that he MEANS well, and what’s more is a darned sight more clever than any of the puny ape-descended higher anthropoids in the room with him. This enrages the group even more. Especially Merlin. You do NOT talk to the son of the devil like that.
The Doctor struggles to overcome the force mounting inside. His eyes are wide with fear rather than menace, and his body shivers. And finally he just snaps:
"YOU... UNGRATEFUL... FUCKING... HUMANS!"
After millennia saving the universe from the satanic powers of the night, the Doctor cannot believe that mankind would turn on him after five minutes of an annoying emo chick repeating his words. Sickened by the shallowness and pettiness of his favorite species, the Doctor lets loose a roaring rampage of revenge that is too terrifying to transcribe.
The Doctor is the DEA and the other passengers are the flimsy barricade between him and a meth amphetamines lab. The Time Lord delivers a no-holds-barred beat-down that would make back-alley abortonists wince and Keith Moon think longingly of his drum kit. What he does to them would give Adolf Hitler nightmares.
Twenty minutes later, the Doctor is left drenched in blood and pulverized internal organs, his face contorted in pain, surprise, and eight other emotions that only buffalo have names for. He looked like he was trying to act out Total Recall for a deaf person.
"I am the Lord of Hellfire!" he rasps. "Bring me oven cleaner!!"
Shrugging his shoulders, the Doctor acts like nothing happened and returns to the poolside with Donna and Jenny. He airily describes what happened, emphasizing that he HAD to kill everyone to prevent the sinister Midday Mimic from engulfing civilization.
Jenny points out that they have no idea what the Mimic was – could it have been a ghost? A demon? An internet troll? The return of Santa? Sandman’s Corinthian? The Myrka?! The evil leaper from Quantum Leap? El Molstre Grande? Or was it all a Jeremy Beadle style stunt between the Hostess with Mostest and Sky all along? Donna agrees that all the Doctor has done is just brutally slaughtered some random commuters...
"Jings!" the Doctor retorts. "What did YOU two accomplish today?!"
Book(s)/Other Related -
Dr Who –vs- The Human Race (Canada Only)
Doctor Who: Shining Bright Shadow In The Sun
RPG: Sapphire Knocking, Skype Trapped!
Fluffs - David Tennant seemed repetitive in this story.
"My brain is like fire and ice."
"Your brain is like... tepid water?"
"Yes! Tepid like the fox! On this world I am known as the Oncoming Drizzle! Fox-shaped drizzle! SOME of it fox-shaped and fiery some of it fox shaped and frozen! That’s my drizzle! So you’d better watch out."
Why doesn’t the Doctor try some of those languages humans can’t pronounce to test Skype? Say something out of her line of sight really, really softly, too softly for anyone to hear? Or sing? Or sign language? Or even just quote Glengarry Glen Ross for a full ten minutes? No, he decides the only useful experiment is to shout random catchphrases at her face and go "ZOMG!" when she repeats it! Idiot...
The phone handset that Donna used at the beginning was simply a regular corded handset with the cord detached. They probably should have covered up the obvious 20th century RJ11 handset connector plug. Mind you, maybe that’s part of the retro appeal of Midday – using technology seven centuries out of date? Hey, it works for Aberdeen...
There is a truly epic green screen failure in the first scene, where Chris Chibnall can be seen disemboweling ninjas in the background of the pool sequence. Just what the hell was that all about?
The dramatic sequence where the humans gang-bash the Doctor was spoilt, in my opinion, by the fact the Doctor was clearly just a cushion wearing a pinstripe suit and glasses with a smiley face drawn on it. The director can be heard shouting, "Don’t hold back, people! Remember, Mr. Pillow is evil and wants your innocence!" under the incidental music.
When the Doctor hugs Donna at the end, Val does the Funky Chicken in the background. But not in the close-ups.
Apparently a packet of roasted peanuts may contain traces of nut... but peanuts are not TRUE nuts, not in the biological sense. They are legumes, a type of split pea – hence the name "pea nut". Oh, how us culinary types hate such pointless mistakes like that!
Fashion Triumphs -
The naked water polo game between Donna and Jenny. A sight so wondrous that could cure and cause blindness simultaneously...
"They’re micro-petrol engines aren’t they?"
"Nahhh, of course not! That’s just made up - I mean, spaceships can’t run on REGULAR petrol to begin with, so why would they run on smaller petrol? And a really tiny engine wouldn’t be able to push anything this size, especially if it was small by PETROL engine standards, so whichever way you look at it the term makes absolutely no sense! I mentioned it a moment ago but only because I was so busy dropping acid while you were watching Betty Boop... SO EVERYONE JUST SHUT UP ABOUT MICRO-PETROL STABILIZING! THIS IS MEANINGLESS!"
Dialogue Disasters -
Merlin: She spoke before he did, definitely!
Calvin: ...so, what, do you want some sort of cookie for that piece of detective work?
Merlin: Indeed I do. I am the resident expert on weird-arse alien ghostology, am I not?
The BBC Continuity Announcer -
"And now on BBC 1, 35 minutes of people shouting 'Stop it!' to one-another. There's probably some football on the other side, you know."
Hobbes: But Doctor, she’s just repeating everything you say!
Doctor: Well, who can blame her? Everything *I* say is so profound.
Hobbes: Yes but she's also repeating everything WE say!
Doctor: ...yeah, that IS worrying, I guess...
Mr. Spazz: Buses never leave the station until five minutes after the official time, so that everyone is five minutes late before the journey has even started. It’s the 'five minute bus' rule. They use it on every journey, except when it's really really important that you get to where ever you are going on time and then they use the 'breakdown rule' and you have to wait half an hour to get on the next one.
Doctor: I so want to murder every single one of you.
Skype: Ooh! Complimentary chocolate coated hamster droppings! I think I’ll save them until after I urinate in the corner and then cut myself to take the pain away!
Doctor: Morning, Jenny.
Jenny: Morning Jenny.
Doctor: Don’t start.
Jenny: Don’t start.
Doctor: No, seriously, I’m warning you – I’m not in the mood!
Jenny: No, seriously, I’m warning you - I'm not in the mood!
Doctor: Jenny, do you know what I did to the last girl to play this silly game?
Jenny: Jenny, do you know what I did to the last girl to play - OWW!
Dialogue Triumphs -
Doctor: Jings! Come on! Eight hours, that’s all it takes!
Donna: No! Eight hours waiting for a bus?
Jenny: We HAVE to take public transport rather than the TARDIS?
Doctor: Of course we do. It’s about the journey, not the destination.
Donna: Then fly the TARDIS very slowly.
Merlin: You just killed two people!
Doctor: [grins] Wanna make it a third! GAAAAAAHHH!
Donna’s heartfelt speech to the Doctor -
"I don't want to be stuck in a pleasure dome for the rest of my life, being hand fed huge fat ripe strawberries, having two massages a day and drinking as much pims as a girl can... hang on, what am I saying? Go and get yourself killed. Do it twice. Have some fun!"
Calvin: We must not look at goblin men, we must not buy their fruits: who knows upon what soil they fed their hungry thirsty roots?
Hobbes: It’s just a cocktail olive for crying out loud!
UnQuotable Quote -
Doctor: Doctor, you’re so handsome! Oh thank you! I AM, aren’t I?
Links and References -
One of the shuttle screens is showing "The Idiot Box", specifically the bit where Rose is trapped in a TV. Most people assume this is Rose trying to contact the Time Lord across time and space, but, no, it’s just some ironic stock footage. No wonder the Doctor acts oblivious to her presence.
Untelevised Misadventures -
The Doctor faced a similar situation to this, travelling solo sans TARDIS or companions on a doomed space cruise with an evil possessed woman out to get him in the Big Finish tale "The Tarrants of Time" - which is about as untelevised as it is possible to get.
Groovy DVD Extras -
The pilot for the abandoned Hustle-style spin off "Sci-Fi Folley Artists Go Wild in Cardiff!", which only got as far as the title sequence before everyone involved gave up on it all as being "rather silly".
The Spite of Sparacus -
"This story is absolutely brilliant, an excellent scripted depiction of the common scum in action, acting dreadfully and very true to life! It was better that the script was full of plot holes that can be sorted out in a later draft! What’s more, I’d say this story is an accurate reflection of human nature. Those passengers exhibited all the selfishness and pack mentality that is often found in the general public and chavs. Superb writing, RTD! Loved it! Why didn’t you pen 'Mein Chav' sooner? It would have been so welcome! Hopefully school children across Britain will immediately start picking on the most intelligent and sophisticated of the group for their lack of degrees! Hahah! All chavs must die! All chavs must die!! ALL CHAVS MUST DIE!!!"
Viewer Quotes -
"Why couldn’t they all just shut the fuck up?! When everybody is questioning him or his credentials, why does the Doctor not whip out the psychic paper with some magnificent proof of his character or something that will convince the lot to trust him? It’s almost like the writers were contriving it so the Doctor had NO option but to kung-fu-kick every last one of them to death at the end!" - naïve fanboy response (2008)
"Of all the tie-in merchandise you can nowadays, the poorest selling was the Talking Lesley Sharp Head, which repeats everything you say. It ended up being the most entertainingly strange if worst-selling Christmas gift in history." - Howe’s Transcendental Toybox (2157)
"This story was a rip off of that House episode about meningitis, and look at how well THAT worked! Midday would have been much scarier if set in Present Day Cardiff."
- some guy who wan promptly lynched by fandom (2008)
"You filthy, scabrous bastards! You've made the Tennant Doctor a fucking wuss because you cry every time his girly-friends kark it you WEAK, SPINELESS DOGS!!! NOTHING IN THE WORLD CAN STOP MOFFAT NOW! David Tennant needs to go now! The sad thing is that this show will have to be completely destroyed. It can only go on if Keeley Hawes is the next Doctor. And it's ALL YOUR FAULT!"
- Lawrence Miles (2008)
"This is too good to be RTD’s work. Moffat must have written it!"
- Average OG response (2008)
"I disagree with the content, but I can live in hope of a better series. Midday is not what I would call dark. It may have worked better if all the passengers survived after gang raping the Doctor and forcing him to choke on his own vomit. Still, you can't always have what you want."
- the Risk Manager (2009)
"Really, the upturn in quality of this script makes you wonder why they all can't be as good as this. When RTD goes against everything he stands for and just has mindless blood and violence, he becomes as good a writer as he was before he started Doctor Who. More ignoring your every instinct please Russell." - Michael Grade (2014)
"In my view, this is the WORST Doctor Who story ever – absolute pointless crap which makes me want to beat up little old ladies and mug small children. Crapola to the tenth power, this made The Weird Planet look like The Shakespeare of Evil! You highly educated ponces with your declarations of delight, you make me plot the death of innocents! ADMIT IT! THIS WAS TOTAL CRUD! I suppose you think democracy is somehow GOOD? That’s how Thatcher got into power was it? Voted in by Who fans for a whole generation?" - Rik Smeg (2009)
"I liked this episode, by the way."
- Lawrence Miles (later that day)
David Tennant Speaks!
"When I first read it I was amazed we were doing something that boring. It’s tedious in quite a gritty, adult way. The fans will like it though, they love interesting studies of human behavior and pretty much anything that doesn’t make them feel embarrassed about loving a cheap kid’s show. Anyone who’s not a self-justifying fan will be bored to tears and pissed off at the refusal to explain a single bloody thing."
Russell T Davies Speaks!
"The sound designers are very lazy men. Especially the women. It’s about time they had a reason to get out of bed early. But why IS the Incredibly Annoying Human Echo such a powerful weapon? Why does it drive you bonkers? Is it because it robs of you of something? Is it that it gives an artificiality to your statements, parroted back without passion? Does it somehow make us realize how facile and puny our language is? Hmmm. Good point. I better shut up now before it gets any worse and I lose even MORE credibility..."
This the 200th Doctor Who story... assuming you can’t count properly.
Rumors & Facts -
As had now become the norm, the regular cast of Doctor Who were too feeble and pathetic to appear in fourteen concurrent episodes and these namby-bamby wooftahs liked to have a few weeks off. This meant that each year featured a story which largely concentrated on characters like Adam Mitchell, Ian Levine or Sally Sparrow. And after that, it came as no surprise that executive producer Russell T Davies wanted to do something completely and utterly different.
His idea was to split up his main cast, so that instead of a story with very little Doctor and Donna, there’d be one episode with very little Donna but lots of Doctor and an episode with very little Doctor but more Donna than most men could handle.
RTD had also wanted to a story that was resolved by the Doctor finally snapping and beating the shit out of every single supporting character until their nervous systems finally shut down. Over the four decades of Doctor Who, it was unknown for the entire plot to be concluded by the Last of the Time Lord punching someone hard enough to knock the polio vaccine out of their bodies. This, RTD believed, was "a terrible omission" and it was BBC Wales’ solemn duty to rectify it.
Initially the episode would be Suki Macrae Cantrell, who had previously been found innocent of writing Silver Finish in 2006. Cantrell’s script was basically GhostWatch without Michael Parkinson becoming possessed by pure evil, and the Doctor guest appearing on Most Haunted. RTD became less enamored of the plot, especially as it didn’t feature a full 30 minutes of screaming, wincing and flailing leg kicks.
RTD felt that this vicious display of gratuitous violence deserved a truly original storyline. Hidden Persuaders PLC offered Revenge of the Exxons Destroying Dustbins, a plot about Rose, Martha, Donna and Jenny doing a song-and-dance-number with random monsters – but this was turned down due to the complete lack of any flying punches to the head with enough force to shatter the occipital bone.
Since the only other offered script (Revise Missing Time Link) involved Donna and Jenny being marooned in a quarry while a school boy with second sight predicts an alien invasion didn’t feature the Doctor at all, let alone using aggravated assault on his enemies, it would be up to RTD writing the replacement script himself.
He quickly devised the notion of a isolated high school basketball team stranded in a bus, being infiltrated by an unstoppable creature which steals their very words – mainly because Jeepers Creepers II was being shown on television right in front of him. However, whereas the ancient horror monster of the movie was unstoppable, the Doctor Who version would have the Doctor strike down the creature with the barely-contained savagery of a fat guy choosing barbecue sauce.
RTD wrote the script very quickly, since it was 52 pages of the Doctor kicking people in the head and liver until they finally got the hint and stayed down. RTD wrote incredibly detailed descriptions of the carnage, with the Doctor described as having an expression "so filled with hate that annual protest marches will be held on the bloody remnants of his enemy’s skulls!"
This meant that there was no time for boring TARDIS scenes, making this the first story since the infamous Double the Fist era of the Eighth Doctor that the police box prop would not be seen onscreen in any capacity. This lead the prop to a spiral of depression and alcoholism and it quit the following year. Upon seeing its glossy replacement in the Steven Moffat era, the prop committed suicide with an overdose of sleeping tablets. A tragedy, ladies and gentlemen.
Unusually for Doctor Who in the twenty-first century, virtually all of Midday was recorded at Upper Boat Studios, in story order – a practice abandoned in the 1980s but used here because it was doubted that any of the cast could do retakes following the blood-drenched massacre in the final scene. The first week of filming ran until November 30th; and then David Tennant started delivering punches like a drunken Chris Brown at the Spousal Abuse Olympics.
Recording resumed from December 3rd to 7th as the blood was washed off the walls and the last day of filming was like playing catch with hot soup - it ends quickly and stupidly.
The end result was a cross between Jean-Paul Sartre’s play No Exit and kicking a road sign until it tells you what you want it to. If there’s a word for a bunch of ungrateful middle class tourists rounding on someone only for them to come back with the lethality of poisoned Amway products, people want to know what that word is. Mainly so they can scream said word very loudly during sex.
Now, we need point out that there is a fine line between the Doctor destroying his enemies and the Doctor tricking his enemies into unintentionally destroying themselves.
And Midday crosses that line. On a motorcycle. And it jumps over twenty school busses. School busses that are on fire. And Midday never looks back. This is the Doctor Who episode with the fight scene Thor closes his eyes and thinks about when a Valkyrie is giving him a blowjob. This fight is what the Alamo uses as its facebook picture. This is Doctor Who so dark and disturbing it needs a flashlight with a degree in trauma counseling to watch properly.
Of course it rated badly, what do you expect!
Meanwhile, David Tennant continued his baffling desire to sing in every episode as the traumatized Doctor attempted to explain to Jenny and Donna what the hell the previous 45 minutes of high octane drama had actually been about.
"..." by Pioneer 50
They didn’t hear me and they didn’t care!
No one listened and it isn’t fair!
My lips were moving and the sound was coming out
The words were audible but I had my doubts
They looked at me as if they were in a daze
It’s like the feeling at the end of the page
What are words for? When no one listens anymore?
What are words for? When no one listens?
What are words for? When no one listens,
There’s no use talking AT ALL!
I don’t think that one of them noticed what it was I said
This lot could go to the Library and not know what they just read!
So I pursued it further and was shocked to find
Not only are they deaf and dumb, they might as well be blind!
I might as well have been talking to the wall
Cause not one of my words had any effect at all!
What little filtered through gave the wrong impression
And so the conversation took a fatal direction!
I said "over my dead body" and the door was wide open
The faces of those strangers might as well be frozen
Dragging me backwards to suffer a nasty fate
Time’s normally on my side but just this once is way too late!
Seriously, what are words for? When no one listens anymore?
What are words for? When no one listens?
What are words for? When no one listens,
There’s no use talking AT ALL!