Thursday, November 5, 2009

7th Doctor - Crime of the Century (ii)

Book(s)/Other Related –
Doctor Who & The Pernicious Recession
Doctor Who Versus The Paradise Club (Canada Only)
Ridiculously Hyperbolic And Generic Story Titles Vol. III

Fluffs - Sylvester McCoy seemed criminally badass in this story.

"You can’t intimidate us with a show of armed force. Tell him he can’t! This is not going to happen! Tell him it’s not going to happen! Go on! Tell him! Tell him, tell him, tell him, tell him, tell him!"
"Thank you, Julia, I can actually REMEMBER my own lines you know!"

Goofs -
What precisely IS the sale of the century? Trying to convince the audience that Kate shouldn't die in the ditch but become a full-fledged wise-cracking bitch-in-sheep’s-clothing companion?
How has Kate made it as a safe cracker when she insists on admitting her secret profession to random strangers who haven’t even ASKED her what she does for a living?

Fashion Victims -
Again, when it comes to giant lumbering alien insects, the Metatraxi set out to make the Zarbi look like the height of sophistication.

Technobabble -
"Do you know what this is? Amazing, isn’t it? It’s a portable telephone, completely wireless and no bigger than an army walkie-talkie. AND it's small enough for me to carry around in my own car!"
"Pity it’ll give you brain cancer though."

Links and References -
There are numerous scenes where Sam says, "Hey, I remember that guy!" and the Doctor asks, "Hey, remember me from last story?" or someone saying "Hey, look at that Ice Cream Vendor stuff from last story!" and I simply cannot be bothered to note any specific occurrence.

Untelevised Misadventures -
Every year, the Doctor turned up at Kate's birthday parties with presents designed to mould her into the amoral criminal he could use for his nefarious master-plans throughout time and space. This lead, unsurprisingly, to a restraining order being placed on him.

Groovy DVD Extras -
All 478 episodes of the hit animated spin-off series "Mighty Mutant Hero Cyber Samurai Metatraxi" for kids.

Dialogue Disasters -

Doctor: If I had a hat, I'd take it off to you.
Kate: You ARE wearing a hat.
Doctor: So sue me.

Metatraxi: Single combat? Groovy!

Kate’s narration of getting jiggy with Prince:
"I feel the familiar melancholy of winter coming on. But it's not all chill and gloom. Autumn is also the season for losing virginity with gorgeous pop-stars. My heart beats faster in familiar excitement. Am I in the mood or in the mode? I do so hate being kept waiting with nothing to amuse myself. The vestigial guilt I feel for slipping all those date-rape drugs into my beloved’s drink will be worth the orgasmic climax; the sound that follows the most gratifying sound in the world before the sheets need changing. It’s all so romantic. You understand, I'm invoking the concept of romance ironically?"

Doctor: I need your help, both of you.
Kate: I’ll help you, but I want nothing more to do with HIM!
Sam: Oh, love please!
Kate: After the way you treated mummy? You never even tried to hide them, all those other women!
Sam: You don’t understand what was between her and me!
Doctor: Ahem, we have to work together as a team...
Sam: Don’t let it come between us!
Kate: It came between us a long time ago!
Doctor: You have to set aside personal differences...
Kate: I’m not going to set aside what HE did!
Sam: Your mother and I had our difficulties!
Kate: Difficulties?
Sam: But there’s no need for you to get in the middle of all that!
Kate: In the middle was where I always was, right between the two of you but I’m not there any more! Mummy’s gone and now I’m as far away from you as humanly possible!
Doctor: Oh, for fuck’s sake! Mel and Glitz would be more help!

Dialogue Triumphs -

Doctor: Whatever else I might do, I specialize putting people at risk – people I like and care about.
Kate: And I fall into that category? That’s very charming of you, Doctor. (long pause) I take it, it is ME we’re talking about? (longer pause) Doctor? (even longer pause) Screw you then!

The Doctor muses on the irrationality of human beings -
"That’s the nature of sexual intercourse. You end up doing it with people you shouldn’t be having sexual intercourse with."

Sam: I know all about losing things. Why do you think I’m here, wasting my time doing crosswords and aggravating my piles for thirty grand scores? Because I lost the lot! I used to have it all and I lost it all on Black Monday!
Doctor: Oh, one of THOSE. They happen every few decades, inevitable, brief and periodic cycles.
Sam: It’s all every well having that point of view when you’re a bloody time traveler – try to being a small-to-medium-sized business enterprise and THEN see how brief they seem. And how inevitable? I don’t think it HAD to happen! I’d like to get my hands on the blokes responsible, the lad who caused. Mark my words, someone’s made a nice little profit out of ruining us all. They did it all deliberately to make a killing!
Doctor: Shut up, Sam! JUST SHUT THE FUCK UP!
Sam: But, Doctor...
Doctor: I have had it UP TO HERE with all this self-pitying social relevancy... you’re a fucking gangland boss! Stop whinging about how unfair life is because YOUR bank balance is no longer in six figures! BOO-FUCKING-HOO! I was all ready to try and get into this gritty social realism, get rid of all the science fiction aspects and become as hardcore as "The Bill" or "London’s Burning" but MOTHER OF FUCKING CHRIST – a posh sword-fighting cat burglar and her Cockney gangster dad! VERY FUCKING REALISTIC I DON’T THINK! And, I could even have coped, even with the new Earthbound format with authentic-based contemporary characters IF YOU WEREN’T ALL SUCH TOTAL ASSHOLES! Hmmm, planet Zog in the 82nd Century or Thatcher’s Britain – I wonder which one will be more fun and interesting? That’s it, I quit!
Sam: Sylv, you’re going way off script...
Sam: Mmmm. You got a point there, Doc.

UnQuotable Quote -
Kate: He's rather good, isn't he?

Viewer Quotes -

"Dudes! Wanna read my girl-on-girl slash-fic with Kate Tollinger and Soolin from Blake's 7? It's fucking AWESOME!!" - Steve Moffat (1992)

"Wouldn’t the cliffhangers work better if the audience *weren’t* rooting for the villains to put a bullet through Kate’s head?"
- Richard Curtis (2010)

"It was good to see a McCoy episode where the Seventh Doctor has set up a complicated plan, and we're watching him in different places trying to get it all to come together. I can't for the life of me think of another Doctor Who story that has ever followed that pattern."
- I.M. Amoron (1990)

"Not a lot of opinions about this one. I was going to write a rousing discussion of Kate’s false-sounding posh bird accent, and of the Metatraxi, but I honestly didn’t give this another thought."
- Doctor Who Review Monthly (1997)

"DULL of the Century more like! Ha-ha-HAA! I laugh at this story. Actually, I give out a sort of high-pitched giggle, but the point still stands, I feel." - Adrian Mole (1991)

"Kate feels fresh as a dew-soaked daisy whereas Ace is the rotten old near-to-death thistle. Oh, if only I could have taken her roughly from behind over the kitchen table!" - Jo Ford Prefect (2010)

"The Metatraxi? AGAIN? What, did someone lose a bet or something?"
- Hugh Laurie (2011)

Psychotic Nostalgia -
"The convergence of the different subplots toward the end of the play seemed a little haphazard to me. Sort of like when you forget whether or not the grenade you're playing catch with is live or not, you know what I mean? You don't? Boy, have YOU missed out!"

Sylvester McCoy Speaks!
"It's great fun and very exciting to get a new companion. Andrew created my Doctor's character, and Ace's character and now this new character. Well, I say 'new'. As long as no one ever saw Emma Peel in The Avengers, they'd swear she was totally original. She's got a nice buttock-rhythm, has young Julie, when she's doing all the necessary running up and down corridors..."

Julia Sawalha Speaks!
"True story, I can't actually fly a helicopter in real life. Or crack safes. Or sword-fight with drug smugglers during armed sieges. It's amazing what they can do on telly, isn't it? I'm really enjoying having all the limelight focused on me for a change. Which I love. I'm quite a narcissist, really. I hate doing soliloquies and things like that if I'm not actually the one supposed to them. It can get really annoying for other people, I find, if I just turn up unannounced at rehearsals and start doing other people's lines."

Ben Aaaaronovitch Speaks!
"This story has Andrew Cartmel written all over it. Which is rather odd, considering I'M the bloody writer!"

Trivia -
The new companion was originally called Lady Raine Creevey Cunningham Natasha Letitia Sarah Jane Wellesley Obstromsky Ponsonsky Smythe-Smythe-Smythe-Smythe-Smythe Oblomov Boblomov Dob. Unfortunately, there were just so MANY Lady Raine Creevey Cunningham Natasha Letitia Sarah Jane Wellesley Obstromsky Ponsonsky Smythe-Smythe-Smythe-Smythe-Smythe Oblomov Boblomov Dobs in the phone book it was inevitable they'd all get sued unless they chose a name that was slightly less common.

Rumors & Facts –

The Sale of the Century will never reach the heights of The Chess of Fenric or Ghost Light or The Greatest Blow in the Galaxy or Battlefield: Earth... well, to be blunt, this is probably the most no-fist utterly-pathetic story that was thrown at Sylvester McCoy like a frisbee at a Hawaiian luau. Even Romp of the Rani kicks this story’s ass in terms of providing quality entertainment.

The realization amongst the production team were that they were slaving away over episodes that would never be shown and, due to a legal embargo, would not even be admitted to being made for twenty long years, had disastrous effects on all concerned.

Why bother with fast paced plots, snappy dialogue and consistent characterization if no one would appreciate it? So as production began on the third story of the season, it was decided to just let things become over-talkative, snail-paced and as unlike Doctor Who as possible. This would have the benefit of allowing cast and crew alike practice for other, proper television programs that networks were willing to admit they had filmed.

To this end script editor Andrew Cartmel, script writer Ben Aaaronovitch and costume designer Ken Trew just stopped giving a shit. They would work together on a story that would speak the contemporary language of television, employing realistic scenarios and scenarios. After all, working out how defeat an alien invasion isn’t any good writing experience for The Bill, is it? Being able to plot out historical mysteries and ontological time paradoxes won’t get you a job on Casualty. And the ability to give Dustbins interesting dialogue is nothing to be proud of on the set of London’s Burning.

Thus they decided the next story would feature an authentically nineties set of characters (even though it wasn’t even one year into the decade yet). It would feature no science fiction content whatsoever, focusing on armed sieges and drug smuggling, underworld crims and proper police procedure. Director Alan Waring was also quite eager to do a socio-political thriller that DIDN’T feature a time traveling alien with a sonic screwdriver.

The team justified these desires to producer John Satan-Turner on the grounds that this story could be a significant turning point for Doctor Who, just like how Head From Ace had introduced the Third Doctor, Liz Shaw, UNIT, the Nestle Consciousness, Bessie, the Earthbound format, colour broadcast, new theme music, new title sequences and a wealth of reactionary working-class stereotypes.

This story would introduce... um... a mansion house on contemporary Earth and some generic criminals that the Doctor could draw upon for information rather than working out anything for himself. This gritty realism, they said, would make Doctor Who just like Edge of Darkness!

JST merely arched an eyebrow and asked, "You mean the Edge of Darkness where the main character wanders around talking to ghosts and then turns into a tree after getting zapped by radiation in a plot lifted wholesale from that Blake’s 7 episode where Gan dies?"

Realizing that this new direction of Doctor Who was completely and utterly stuffed, they just decided to focus their attention on getting this goddamned season over with. Once again, Cartmel used tried and trusted method of basing an entire story around a gimmicky pre-credit sequence which had failed so utterly spectacularly with the season opener, Live Aid.

The plot flowed organically out from this sequence, rather like a malignant tumor, and soon The Sale of the Century was born (so named so everyone could at least put it on their CVs and say they worked on a game show). This story would introduce a brand new companion to replace Ace, who would continue the gritty realism of being a super-posh safe-cracking lock-picking Kate Tollinger.

Working together, Cartmel and Aaaaronovitch managed to thrash out a full twenty-minutes of script that actually relied on Kate being a posh criminal, before deciding they’d just let her become another tart in a miniskirt for the dads to drool over. Unfortunately, this meant that remaining three-and-a-bit episodes had absolutely no plot of any kind whatsoever and, when it was pointed out that the crew were about to start filming in three minutes, Cartmel knew something had to be done.

Since Aaaaronovitch had already written for the show, creating the new monster race the Metatraxi and said race’s costumes were still available, it was decided to bring them back after a hiatus of five episodes. Cartmel made the decision that the Metatraxi be forced to talk like Michelangelo the Ninja Turtle on dope on the grounds that if Season 27 were ever broadcast then the McCoy-bashers would need something cringe-worthy to rail against. Because, apparently Kate Tollinger’s behavior wouldn’t achieve that on its own.

Ultimately, The Sale of the Century sets out to introduce Kate and fill up ninety-minutes of screen time, ninety minutes of your life that you will never ever get back. In this, it succeeds admirably. You can’t even complain about the story and characters because none of them can stick in the memory long enough to grate.

Superfluous rather hard-hitting, with twists as pointless as they are signposted and a plot literally running on the spot until there are no discernable differences in the narrative whatsoever, it is clear that The Sale of the Century’s ability to blank out the minds of lower beings was what ensured no one remembered making it in the first place.

Having finally run out of the energy and madness that had defined the last four series, it was no surprise that McCoy finally wanted out, following Sophie Aldred and in turn being followed by JST himself who was beginning to wonder if other career opportunities actually existed or were just fever dreams inside his own exhausted brain.

The end was nigh... and about time too!

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