Monday, February 26, 2007

FLIBBERTIGIBBET: A Ben Chatham Adventure

To keep my blog ticking over, and also to maintain a piece of writing that I probably put too much effort into, here I post my 'original' Ben Chatham story, which I feel will serve as a nice companion piece to the perplexingly never-ending BC adventures on Spara's blog.

Should be some fresher material coming soon. But 'soon' is, of course, a relative term...

FLIBBERTIGIBBET

by Jared Hansen

A young hoodlum runs through the streets, graffitiing the headquarters of the archaeologists trust and yelling abuse at the inaugural gathering of the Naff Music Society - the David Bowie branch. As police hunt him down they are startled to catch his face in their torchlight - it's none other than Ben Chatham! Surely he wouldn't be conducting any such Chav-like activities?

The investigation goes to Torchwood, who look further into the matter - signs are looking bad for Ben Chatham - his mobile hasn't been checked for 3 days and the national alcohol sales have dropped by a full percent. Jack reaches the conclusion that some sort of doppleganger has replaced Chatham and is trying to dishonour him to sabotage his destiny as Saviour of the Earth and All-Round Jolly Good Fellow as detailed in the prophecies of Absinthus the Wise. As such, he decides it's time to go renegade, with the help of his friends Jamie McCrimmon and Adam, who's still living a happy and completely anachronistic life as an eco-warrior.

Adam uses his chip to interface with spy satellites and CCTV, and as the data is processed by Jack it becomes apparent that the crimes cannot possibly be accomplished by one man alone - there is more than one Ben Chatham on the run. But where are they coming from? Jack reaches the conclusion that it can only be accomplished by an instant matter transferral - like the one Torchwood failed to intercept. Some quick UNIT-hacking reveals that their officer nearest the scene was one Lt. Colonel Donald Grierson - a completely fake identity. Getting sick of all this hacking, the lads decide to get into action - and take their shirts of, for nebulous reasons.

As soon as they step out the door a frantic young woman (played by Dawn from The Office) is ran over in front of them repeatedly. Jack gets Jamie to help her as he doesn't want any blood on his smooth chest. Jamie hears her dying words - curiously she tells them that the man they're looking for is in Brixton. When Adam looks at her wallet (for 'research purposes') he notes her name was Apathetic MacGuffin.

Jack steals a car for unexplained reasons, and the three of them cruise into Brixton whilst listening to the entirety of Bowie's Low Album and drinking cogniac-vodka cocktails. They end up so pissed that they crash straight into a pet shop - running over the young, attractive and very female shop assisstant - which they conclude must be the villains lair. Jack fires wildly around with his laser and kills several small animals, whilst the other two crash open doors trying to find the villain... unfortunately it turns out they've arrived in Manchester.

After three more tries they arrive in Brixton - where they find an entire squadron of bogus UNIT soldiers waiting for them - who ALL LOOK LIKE BEN CHATHAM. Jack tries to blast them away with his laser, but he's run out of ammo and/or it's somehow been damaged by being constantly inserted into his copious anal cavity. As such, they are captured and lead to "Donald Grierson" who is, in fact, ALISTAIR MILES... the badguy from "Crimebuster". Jack demands to now how he survived his gruesome death. Miles calmly explains that Ben was too pre-occupied with personal affairs to even be present in a death scene of his, so canonically there's no reason to assume he's dead or has even stopped commiting crimes. It's also revealed that Apathetic MacGuffin is alive and was a plant to lead them into Miles' trap... he shoots her in the head, since he "doesn't need her anymore".

Miles decides that he will calmly explain his plan to the lads... while they are forced to wear leather S & M gear in a pit slowly filling with melted butter. Nobody questions this. Miles explains that since his CrimeRobots were defeated by Chatham he concluded that Chatham must be the superior life-form. He decided tp create clones of him instead, using the large amounts of DNA he left behind in the wine cellar. He then had to reverse the personality programming, to turn the Chathams into true Chavs, willing to commit petty crime to fill their addiction to pop music. Jack demands to know what he did to the real Ben. Miles replies, slightly confused, that he hasn't done anything to him - seeing as his plan could only be benefited by the genuine Chatham being present to be arrested.

It's at this point a pool-cue weilding maniac enters, fighting off the Ben-UNIT soldiers with maximum efficiency and incredible finesse - "Oh shit!" says Miles "This fellow looks like a REAL hero!"

The new, mysterious stranger who has burst onto the scene, is nearly over-powered by the Chatham clones. However, thanks to having a brain larger than a walnut, screams out "CHARLES DOESN'T LOVE YOU!" This causes every single Chatham clone to break down and cry - all their reprogramming undone in a second. Miles jumps up to strangle the maniac, but he soon finds a rusty screwdriver jutting through his neck, and a couple of bucketfuls of his blood on the floor.

"Can't be leaving all these clones around!" says the newcomer, before fiddling around with the computer "Coolant programs are gone. You can expect a bit of a bang - and I'm not talking about your plans for the immediate future, joy boys. You might want to get out of your sticky situ, mates."

Heroically, he uses his jacket as a makeshift rope, and pulls them up with Herculean strength. The four of them run out of the room as it explodes around them in spectacular pyrotechnics. All of them end up sprawled by the side of the road. Jack, stunned by this display of genuine heroics, demands to know the stranger's name.

"Wallace," he says with a simple grin "Tom Wallace. Stay loose, Jack - but from what I hear that shouldn't be a problem for you, eh?"

And just like that, he was gone.

After drinking themselves near to death in celebration and shagging each other senseless, Jack and co. actually go to Ben's flat to investigate. They find he overdosed on absinthe and collapsed, causing a bookshelf to fall on top of him. Inspite of his constant harassment of Operation Delta to free him, and even more perpetual harassment of Charles, nothing has been done and he is now in danger of drowning in his own urine. Jack and co. free him, and Jack informs him that, thanks to being such a shallow, obsessive and socially inadequat loser, Ben's clones were easy to defeat. In other words Ben's virulent personality saved the day by its very existence. All three of them sing "For he's a jolly good fellow" in a remix by DJ Shadow and Fat Boy Slim.

Friday, February 23, 2007

PETER LING STOLE MY BRAIN!!

Wow, just finished watching my second purchase from the Doctor Who Necromnicomcon, the legendarily weird-arse Patrick Troughton gem The Mind Robber. Like, well, a LOT of Doctor Who stories I've only seen it once before, but immediately ranked it as one of my favourites after seeing it. A similar thing happened after I saw the mighty Warrior's Gate, except that time I said "Oookay, that one there's the greatest ever," a viewpoint I stick to like convicts to their claims of A.N Smith's baby paternity. Yes, I like my Who really, really weird. But a lot of people don't, so MR and WG tend to overlooked quite a bit by fandom, with generally me being the one bloke raving about them.

Anyway, Mind Robber. Did it live up to my expectations on a repeat viewing? Hell yeah!

At first I was mostly distracted by the unspeakably dodgy sets (those that Colin's era sets need to check these 80% cardboard monstrosities out!) and stagey feel. Maybe our TV set's bad picture quality covered-up these eccentricities, or it looked more authentic pre-vidfire, or I'd just been acclimitized by watching dozens of Hartnell's in prior weeks and not having seen any of Christopher bloody Eccleston. At any rate, I hadn't noticed that the story was well and truly shoestring material when I'd first seen it.

But, really, I couldn't dislike this story. It has a great lead-in, with Derrick Sherwin desperately penning the first episode to fill an embarassing gap in the schedule. The result is a lot better than that eight episode gap he had to fill afterwards. Wonderfully claustrophobic, enigmatic, and mysterious. It's clearly some sort of guideline book the script-editors had for "When to fill a gap" because exactly the same thing happened in The Edge of Destruction* , some five years earlier. This story has the massive advantage of four episodes coming straight afterwards to clear up the oddities, whereas The Edge had to rely on Hartnell unconvincingly explaining away various murder attempts with a "Oh, we're heading towards the Big Bang. Queer stuff happens. Work it out, Chatterbean!" One of the best cliffhangers ever, with the TARDIS tearing itself apart and the console flying out through empty space... slightly spoilt by Wendy Padbury being forced to scream unconvincingly at the sight of the Doctor HAVING HIS EYES CLOSED. Ah, well, it's still bloody eery.

Of course, the TARDIS can't be destroyed, so it's metaphorical. So metaphorical, in fact, some people have claimed that none of the events chronicled in the story actually occured and it was all a dream the Doctor has. The most convincing arguments for this being that the Doctor is in the same position at the start The Invasion as he is in the end of MR part 1 (which isn't true) and a continuity error involving Zoe not recognising candles in The Space Pirates (which is crap anyway) But WHY would you want to write out the events of this story? It's wonderful. The TARDIS crew get lost in a forest of words, they run away from Toy Soldiers, they meet Gulliver, the Minotaur, Cyrano d'Bergerac and Rapunzel, plus Jamie gets shot by a unknown redcoat and turns into another actor for an episode! It really doesn't get battier than this.

Watching it again, I wondered if Ling in fact had some sort of message he was trying to get across, about the importance of children understanding the difference between fact and ficiton or something similar, given the amount of yelling Trouters goes about the importance of real life and resisting fiction. Or a grudge against pulp fiction, given the villain (of sorts) is a bloke who wrote over a half-a-million words of Torchwood. Then again Ling could have just been revelling in the wonderful irony of Zoe and the Doctor's fear of becoming fictional characters. Whatever the reason, I'm glad this wasn't one of the dozens of rejected scripts for this troubled season. (As opposed to, say, the proposed story set in a world ruled by women where Jamie went undercover in drag and broke Zoe's sexist conditioning by slapping her on the arse)

Anyway, a coherent structure is out of the question, so lets talk about random things of greatness. Gulliver. How much of a fanboy must Ling have been to compose a character's entire dialogue from lines taken from a novel? It must have been truly incredible devotion, and as a plot device it works brilliantly to add to the mystery of the character when we meet him. Not to mention some very odd dialogue. "Don't you know a way out of here?" "I reflected upon the question that had been posed to me..." "Yes?" "And for some time I considered all the possibilities that were apparent..." "And?" "And I concluded that was altogether impossible."

Ah, and The Karkus. Probably one of the nadirs of the story, really, as Ling apparently wanted to take the piss out of comic book characters without actually knowing anything about them. I mean, superheroes that appear from nowhere in a Batman-style sound FX bubble, use anti-matter pistols to blast away people they don't like, can be beaten up by young girls and talk in grunting monosyllabic sentences aren't exactly common, are they? Plus, he's played by Christopher Robbie. His infamous performance as Cyberleader 1159 or "Muhammud Imhard Bruce Lee" as he doubtless referred to himself in Revenge of the Cybermen is, rightfully, the stuff of legend, but his acting is so camp here it nearly puts it into perspective. Still, the Karkus really gets bugger all screen time (even if he nearly chokes to death on the scenery when he is on) so he gets a few laughs without really being to the story's detriment.

Rapunzel? Ah, she's gorgeous, and her 2-dimensional style and matter-of-fact delivery really cracks me up. "Sorry, may I borrow your hair?" "Why not? Everyone else does!" Plus those weird and mischeivous children, who manage to be strangely menacing. "WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF A SWORD?!"

The story really shifts into gear in Episode 4, though, when the truth of it all is revealed... sort of. MR is a bit infamous for it's sketchy exposition. What the hell is the Master Brain? Who is invading Earth? Why is the Doctor needed? How did the Land of Fiction form in the first place? All good questions, and the answers can only really be made from general inferences. Really, I think this should be overlooked now, as MR has far less plot holes and sketchily explained aspects than your average Eccleston episode. The point is that we meet the MASTER... no, not the The Master, but an abducted Torchwood script writer who is forced to do the Master Brain's bidding. Leading to another mind-expanding cliffhanger where Zoe and Jamie are crushed inbetween the pages of a giant book and become fictional characters under his control.

The final episode is the shortest episode of DW ever made - it adds up to just under 20 minutes, but it has lots of weird and wild action in it, and I think the timing is probably down to David Maloney's fine grasp of action and slick editing. Even though it's all metaphorical concepts the drama feels very, real - a lot of it's down to Troughton giving yet another masterful performance. See how heartbroken he looks when he sees the drone-versions of Jamie and Zoe, see his desperation to save the day with that master tape, and his glee at engaging The Master in his battle of wits! The entire finale is gripping, with the Doctor being tricked by the evil Jamie and Zoe into entering the fake TARDIS which, in a moment that reminded me of The Prestige** falls away to reveal the Doctor encased in a boxful of circuitry.

Now he's part of the system he can release Jamie and Zoe - but this only makes them vulnerable for The Master to destroy! The rising drama is wonderful as Jamie and Zoe try to get away, and the Doctor and The Master do battle with fictitious characters. Maybe silly, definitely wacky, but oh so much fun! D'Bergerac versus d'Artagnian! Blackbeard the Pirate! LANCELOT IN FULL ARMOUR! Ling probably had too much fun with this scene...

But wait, it's not over yet... oh, wait. Yes it is. The end comes quick to the final episode, with Jamie and Zoe overloading the Master Brain in a way they doubtless learnt from using elevators, and the White Robots begin blasting each other away. Next thing we know, the TARDIS is flying back into one piece and it's "NEXT WEEK - The Invasion"

Doctor Who has been a very inventive show over the years (and, admittedly, also a derivative show in possibly equal measures) but I think in sheer terms of nuttiness, even in the infamous Season 17, it never reached the heights of Peter Ling's monumentous effort ever again. And, given the reaction this story got from some people, I'm not sure if too many people like me would like it to again. Because, no matter how much they profess to love the idea of an old bloke taking his magic box anywhere and anytime, a lot of fans really only want to see the Doctor somewhere in their comfort zone.

Not me, though. This slab of fruitcake gets 10/10. Still.

*Or "Inside the Spaceship" if you're a pedantic tit who hates the idea of stories having half-decent titles
**Bloody good film

If *I* Had Written Attack of the Cybermen (4)

Damnit, the golden days of CTRL+V are at an end...


DEL-TECH BREAK ROOM

(The Doctor is in the same position as before, but now Scott’s place has been taken by Larkhill, while Scott stands slightly behind her and to her side. Clearly we’re in the middle of another interrogation.)

THE DOCTOR: Look, I was under attack by the androids - if I'm with Lytton why would I be fighting his robots?

LARKHILL: From what we hear this Lytton isn't a man to be trusted. Maybe he double-crossed you.

THE DOCTOR: Ah, but if he DID double-cross me I'd have told you everything I know by now, so you'd catch him and end his plans.

LARKHILL: Would you? Or would you try and fob us off with some 'innocent bystander' routine, hope for a release, then track down Lytton later and meet him on your own terms?

THE DOCTOR: No. Not my style at all.

LARKHILL: We only have your word for that.

THE DOCTOR: Sorry, do I need to draw a diagram? Maybe THEN you'll see how pointless this all is? I know Lytton. Well enough to know that whatever he's doing here is going to be a genius act of ruthlessness, and unless you stop questioning me and get working on it right now, he'll have you all trapped.

LARKHILL: He has no way of knowing we're on his trail - you're just playing for time.

THE DOCTOR: Captain, I wouldn’t be surprised if by now Lytton knows which school you went to, let alone that you're following him.

LARKHILL: (Disbelieving) Really?

THE DOCTOR: He'll have the floor plans of this building. He'll have the numbers and positions of soldiers on duty here. He'll have a way past the alarms, he'll have a flawless exit strategy. He'll have the best men and the best equipment. You can only hope to stop him, with my help

LARKHILL: You think he's that good?

(The Doctor nods)

LARKHILL: Then I look forward to meeting him.

(Larkhill stands to leave)

THE DOCTOR: So, a commanding officer with a death wish. Wouldn't want to be in your shoes right now, Sergeant.

SCOTT: There's no call for that!

THE DOCTOR: Even if it's true? Welcoming an enemy who can destroy you with open arms - seems quite clear cut to me.

(Larkhill glares back at the Doctor. The Doctor got a nerve but she’s not about to show it)

LARKHILL: Do you want to help us?

THE DOCTOR: Yes.

LARKHILL: Why?

THE DOCTOR: Because I hate to see lives being thrown away, and frankly from where I'm sitting I can see a bloodbath on the horizon.

(There is a pause. Larkhill still doesn’t trust him.)

THE DOCTOR: Lytton's been here for... what? A year?

LARKHILL: That's when he surfaced.

THE DOCTOR: He doesn't play games. By now he should have everything he needs. Been any research facilities raided in the last few months?

LARKHILL: No.

THE DOCTOR: There you go. And if he's flagging down passing time travellers like he seems to be he's clearly not short of equipment.

SCOTT: This is a waste of time, cap'n, it's a load of guesswork.

LARKHILL: You forgot to say "with all due respect", Scott.

SCOTT: Yeah, well, with all due respect he just wants to keep us busy while he talks-

LARKHILL: Sergeant!

(Scott wearily salutes)

SCOTT: Ma'am.

LARKHILL: (to Doctor) Continue.

THE DOCTOR: That means that what's he's after is something that's being used here, a commodity. Something valuable. If you want to argue the point that if he's getting something valuable for any hypothetical alien clients you're barking up the wrong tree - he has humans working for him.

LARKHILL: And you know that how?

THE DOCTOR: He wouldn't trust other aliens for company – he wants to get things done so he wants a bunch of primates he can impress with his tricks and can be relied on to impress him back. So if he has humans working for him he needs something they'd value. Gold? Not for a second. Valuable but scientifically useless. Plutonium, uranium? A more likely candidate, could be very valuable overseas... but even if there were some here, right in the heart of London there wouldn't be enough to shift at a decent price. So it's something else... but something that he’d want as well… (Realising) Weaponry? Laser technology....

(The Doctor thinks a moment, before suddenly slamming his palm against the table and yelling)

THE DOCTOR: Diamonds!


LYTTON’S LOCK-UP

(Lytton dumps a pair of large canvas carpet bags on the floor)

LYTTON: Hurry up and get changed. We haven't got much time.

RUSSELL: We're on a schedule, then, are we?

(Lytton gives him a cold look that says "You are an idiot and you're lucky I'm putting up with you", before disappearing back into the corridor again. Russel opens one of the bags and pulls out a boiler suit and a mining helmet. Looking very unimpressed he starts to put them on. Payne and Griffiths take a pair and talk to one another as they do so.)

GRIFFITHS: (to himself, awestruck) Twenty thousand quid in uncut diamonds...

PAYNE: Tasty, innit?

GRIFFITHS: I mean, twenty thousand quid...

PAYNE: Yeah.

GRIFFITHS: In diamonds!

PAYNE: Yeah.

GRIFFITHS: Twenty thousand...

PAYNE: (Slightly sullen) Yeah, but five thousand really... once we split 'em.

GRIFFITHS: Five grand's nothing to sneeze at, Joe.

(Payne doesn't look too happy with this argument, but currently says nothing. Griffiths suddenly realises something.)

GRIFFITHS: Oh, heck!

PAYNE: What?

(He stops half-way through kitting up in his suit and fumbles around in his clothes until he pulls out a large, chunky mobile phone. Russell, now finished changing, is surprised to see it.)

RUSSELL: What's that?

PAYNE: One of them new mobile phones. Boss nicked a few for us - stay in contact easy.

(Griffiths has finished dialling a number and waits a few moments before he gets a response)

GRIFFITHS: Ma? It's Charlie... yeah, I know you know it's me...

RUSSELL: (unbelieving) His mum?

(Payne rolls his eyes in return. Griffiths walks away from the pair of them, looking irritated.)

GRIFFITHS: Look, I'll be back later than I thought... yeah, Crowley's wife's off sick so I'll be doing his shift..

RUSSELL: (to Payne) Who's Crowley?

PAYNE: His mate at the bottling plant.

RUSSELL: What bottling plant?

PAYNE: The one he made up.

GRIFFITHS: Can't you go down to the shops?...well, I'm busy... yeah, right I'll see what I can do. Love you.

(Griffiths tries to ignore their amused expressions.)

GRIFFITHS: We'll need to get some milk afterwards.

(Russell can't help himself and bursts out laughing. He doesn't notice Lytton coming in behind him)

LYTTON: Something amusing, Mr Russell?

(Russell snaps straight instantly)

RUSSELL: No, boss.

LYTTON: Glad to hear it. Get your helmet on, Mr Griffiths. It's time.


DELTECH BREAK-OUT ROOM

(The Doctor is looking through some paperwork which is piled up in front of him, Scott is nearby idly reading a newspaper. A private enters and dumps another small load of paperwork in front of the Doctor, before leaving wordlessly)

SCOTT: That should be the last lot.

THE DOCTOR: Yes. Well, it’s a start.

(Scott is irritated. He folds the paper for a moment.)

SCOTT: That paperwork has been looked over by UNIT’s entire UK intelligence division. Do you really think you can find any patterns they missed?

THE DOCTOR: Your captain seemed to think so.

SCOTT: The captain may think a lot of things, but I’m not so easy to impress.

THE DOCTOR: Former regular-army, Scott?

SCOTT: I might be.

THE DOCTOR: Well, it would explain a lot. (Pause) When do I get some tea?

SCOTT: When I know I can trust you.

THE DOCTOR: What am I going to do? Steal your saucer?

(Scott ignores him and goes back to his paper. The Doctor gives a slightly crazed grin, apparently to himself)



DELTECH WAREHOUSE OFFICE

(A small, very dim office, almost certainly meant for the warehouse manager. Right now Larkhill is the occupant of the office, but there is a lot of laddish decoration on the walls in the form of a car posters and a bikini-clad model calendar. The only personal touch of Larkhill’s is a silver-framed photo of an older man in full dress uniform, which see is currently cradling upward in her hands and looking at silently. When the door opens she rather too quickly puts the photo back onto her desk and faces the newcomer: it is Professor Mortimer.)

LARKHILL: Professor. Can I help you?

MORTIMER: Possibly. I have been on the phone to my solicitor… he says there is no legal precedent for an international organisation to assume control of an independent non-government workplace.

LARKHILL: Then he’s not a member of the Official Secrets Act, clearly.

MORTIMER: Nevertheless I have been… re-considering our current arrangement.

LARKHILL: Is this to do with the idea of aliens?

(Mortimer nods)

MORTIMER: I thought you people were from the United Nations! Officials!

LARKHILL: We are.

MORTIMER: Are you trying to tell me the United Nations have an official chapter dedicated to paranormal investigation?

LARKHILL: That’s exactly what I’m saying.

MORTIMER: With all due respect, the entire concept is completely absurd.

LARKHILL: You’ll find plenty of people who agree – a lot them in UNIT itself. But aliens are all around us Professor.

MORTIMER: One never hears of aliens in the news!

LARKHILL: A large part of our work. We don’t want to spread panic.

MORTIMER: And that is the risk?

LARKHILL: Yes. We estimate 96% of the aliens we encounter are hostile.

MORTIMER: What a dim view of the universe…

LARKHILL: One you’re not prepared to accept?
(A pause. The silence is broken when Scott comes running into the room.)

SCOTT: Captain!

(Larkhill is irritated at the interruption.)

LARKHILL: Yes?

SCOTT: The alien-

LARKHILL: Has escaped?

(Scott nods)

LARKHILL: How?

(Scott fumbles embarrassedly.)

SCOTT: He… was there one moment and…

(Silently he passes Larkhill a card. She reads it.)

LARKHILL: “When I ask for tea, I MEAN it.”



KITCHEN

(Peri and Carver, as before)

PERI: There don't seem to be many scientist around here.

CARVER: Most of them have been given the day off.

PERI: By you guys? That seem extreme.

CARVER: Nobody likes civilians around when there's work to be done... present company excepted of course.

PERI: Sorry to be a burden...

THE DOCTOR (VO) Don't be!

(The Doctor comes crashing through the kitchen's double doors and pushes Carver aside. She nearly falls to the ground)

PERI: Doctor! You got out!

THE DOCTOR: Don't say you doubted it for a second?

(Peri hugs him)

PERI: Oh, of course not!

(Carver is back on her feet and has picked up the rifle. She brandishes it at the Doctor.)

CARVER: Stop! You're a prisoner, an alien, and I'm not afraid to shoot!

(The Doctor resignedly puts his hands up)

THE DOCTOR: There's no need for that, I can see the game's up. (Over Carver's shoulder) Nice to see you again, Captain!

(Carver turns around, and as soon as she does so the Doctor picks up a pan and bops her over the head - Carver is knocked straight out. The Doctor looks down at her and tisks.)

THE DOCTOR: Makes you wonder what they teach them in basic training these days...

PERI: Hey! She was nice.

THE DOCTOR: She’s military, Peri. They’re trained for this sort of thing! Anyway, work to be done! Raus!

(The Doctor drags Peri out of the room.)


SEWERS

(The gang are trudging through - Lytton in the lead followed by Griffiths, Payne, and finally Russell. Russell stops suddenly.)

RUSSELL: Hey, hold up!

(They stop. Payne leans against the wall for a rest and instinctively reaches for his cigarette pack, but Lytton angrily pushes him back upright and rounds on Russell.)

LYTTON: What is it now?

RUSSELL: Thought I heard something.

GRIFFITHS: Like, someone following us?

RUSSELL: No, something strange...

(There is a moment of silence where the gang, save Lytton, all listen carefully. Lytton breaks the silence.)

LYTTON: I can't hear anything.

RUSSELL: Yeah, well, it's gone now.

(Lytton looks distinctly unimpressed)

LYTTON: Then what's there to worry about? We keep moving.

(They move on but Russell continues to look nervous. The camera settles on one of the nearby tunnels, which emits a low flash ominously. The silhouette of a cyberman appears briefly in the flash.)

CYBERMAN (VO) Target humans sighted. Intercept?

CYBERLEADER (VO) Negative. Interception will occur at specified time. Maintain covert surveillance.


MORTIMER’S OFFICE

(The Doctor comes through the door, looking slightly disappointed.)

THE DOCTOR: He didn’t even lock the door! What an amateur.

(The Doctor begins dumping items from his pockets on the Professor’s desk. Peri comes in after him.)

PERI: Doctor, what are we doing here? Shouldn’t we be getting out?

THE DOCTOR: We leave now we’ll still be a step behind Lytton.

PERI: Who is Lytton?

THE DOCTOR: A murderer.

PERI: Oh.

THE DOCTOR: You wouldn’t like him. And now he seems to be doing a line in alien invasions.

PERI: Invasions? Doctor this is all so confusing…

(The Doctor has finished unloading items. There is a pile of strange devices and computer chips and cables on Mortimer’s desk.)

THE DOCTOR: I know. That’s why I want some answers. I have here the items from the inventory of Lytton’s robberies… save some Tarradanium isotopes recovered from one of the Mars probes and they aren’t exactly easy to get on this planet… what I want to do is a little experiment to see just what I can do with these…

(The Doctor points to Mortimer’s computer)

THE DOCTOR: And that. Soon we’ll know just what Lytton has to use against us.


SEWERS

(The gang have come to a long wall.)

RUSSELL: That’s the wall, then?

LYTTON: Your powers of observation are remarkable, Mr Russell.

(Russell peers at a map using a torch)

RUSSELL: And… (pointing) that would be the bearing up there?

LYTTON: Yes.

(Russell unhitches his backpack and lowers it onto the ground, before leaning up against the wall behind him. Lytton glares at him.)

LYTTON: What are you waiting for?

RUSSELL: Breather.

(Lytton picks the backpack up and thrusts it into Russell’s arms.)

LYTTON: You can breath and work.

(Russell looks nervous once again. He clearly doesn’t want to lay the explosives.)

RUSSELL: Right you are, boss.

(Russell moves to the wall and unloads the plastique from the backpack, and begins setting it up on the centre of the wall.)


MORTIMER'S OFFICE

(The Doctor has finished making his attachments to Mortimer's Computer. It now has a tangle of wires and gadgets sprouting from the back, looking like an abstract piece of art itself)

THE DOCTOR: Right... a temporal phase relay transponder!

PERI: And that is what exactly?

THE DOCTOR: Erm... not sure. I've never used one before.

PERI: But...you just built it.

THE DOCTOR: The people who built armoured tanks thought they were for carrying water! The means and the ends are two totally different things. Now... what does Lytton's box of tricks do, exactly?

(The Doctor goes to activate it.)


SEWERS

(Russel is setting the explosives by the wall. The rest of the gang stand further down the tunnel, watching him from around a corner. Payne is weighing his rifle carefully.)

LYTTON: Have you ever fired one before, Mr Payne?

PAYNE: No. But I'm a fast learner.

GRIFFITHS: Everyone's a fast learner for this kinda dosh.

LYTTON: Indeed.

PAYNE: We stick together, right?

LYTTON: Of course.

PAYNE: Course.

(Russel has finished setting the charge and runs back to the rest of the gang.)

RUSSEL: (to Lytton) Don't what anyone behind your back, is that it?

LYTTON: I don't think that's really my concern, Mr Russell. Nor yours... while you have work to do.



MORTIMER'S OFFICE

(The Doctor has activated the devices and is peering at the monitor, which is hazy and chaotic)

THE DOCTOR: A visualizer... probably more.

PERI: You can see through the rift?

THE DOCTOR: Sort of. The reception, however, is less than impressive... if I can alter the frequency...

(The Doctor adjusts some make-shift controls. Suddenly the air is filled with a strange wailing noise, and we see the same blue crystalline figures that called out to Lytton earlier - through a haze of interference.)

PERI: Blue people? That's the big threat?

THE DOCTOR: Possibly...


SEWERS

(Russel has the remote-control switch in his hand, his thumb hovering over the button. He spares a glance at Lytton, who glares at him impatiently.)

LYTTON: I'm not giving you my written invitation, Russel.


MORTIMER'S OFFICE

(As the Doctor alters the frequency, the picture begins to phase out, becoming darker.)

PERI: You're losing it, Doctor...

THE DOCTOR: Actually, I don't think so. Yes, it's dark... but there's less interference. Which suggests we're at a closer frame of reference. This end of the rift. Where we should see... oh no.

PERI: What?

THE DOCTOR: I should have known...


SEWERS

(Russel finally presses the switch)


BASEMENT

(Two UNIT soldiers who are sitting on a pair of crates and playing cards are suddenly knocked off by a massive explosion. Alarm bells start echoing around them. One of the soldiers, dishevelled and bloodied, crawls across the floor and picks up a rifle thrown by the blast. As he turns around to take aim, he is met by heavy machine guy fire)


MORTIMER'S OFFICE

(The Doctor jumps up, hearing the alarms.)

THE DOCTOR: Peri, WHAT DID YOU DO?

PERI: You're the one messing with his machine!

THE DOCTOR: That can't be it! I disconnected it from the security system I NEVER make those sort of-

(The door is barged down, Larkhill, Scott and Mortimer all come through - Larkhill and Scott both have guns out. Peri and the Doctor immediately put their hands up at the sight)

LARKHILL: What's going on here?

MORTIMER: (Horrified) What have you done to my computer?!

THE DOCTOR: Two very good questions-

SCOTT: Shut it!

(LARKHILL pulls out a pair of handcuffs and moves towards them)

LARKHILL: Due to Sgt Scott's previous example, I'll be putting you both in my own custody. Now, maybe you can tell me-

(She stops dead when she sees the monitor. Peri follows her gaze.)

PERI: Yeah, what are those things?

(For the first time the camera shows the monitor. In an area clearly part of the sewers there is a large metal frame, containing a man-sized blue void. And out of it is marching a steady stream of familiar metal warriors.)

LARKHILL: (In shock) Cybermen.

SCOTT: The Cybermen?!

THE DOCTOR: I'm afraid so.

PERI: That's bad, isn't it?

LARKHILL: (Horrified, to the Doctor) You're working for the Cybermen!

THE DOCTOR: What?! I've never heard anything so ridiculous!

(Some more UNIT soldiers arrive in the doorway)

LARKHILL: (pointing at the Doctor) He's a traitor!

(The Soldiers nod, and aim their rifles...)


BILL BAILEY: Shit, cliffhanger ending! Er, quick, go to the theme-tune!

The Doctor
COLIN BAKER

Peri
NICOLA BRYANT

Lytton
MAURICE COLBOURNE

Griffiths
BRIAN GLOVER

Russell
TERRY MOLLOY

Captain Larkhill
GLYNNIS BARBER

Sgt Scott
PETER RICHARDSON

Payne
JAMES BECKETT

The Cyberleader
DAVID BANKS

Professor Mortimer
NICHOLAS JONES

Bates
MICHAEL ATTWELL

Stratton
JONATHAN DAVID

Proser
TOM CHADBON

Carver
SOMEONE FROM BLAKE'S 7

Ghan
DAVID BANKS

Time Lady
CATHERINE TAIT
(No, not her from Runaway Bride!)

Bill
STEPHEN CHURCHETT

David
STEPHEN WALE

The Cyber Controller
MICHAEL KILGARIFF
(See? I can be sad and fanwank obsessed too!)

Cyber Lieutenant
BRIAN ORRELL

Script Editor
EWEN CAMPION-CLARKE

Director
LOVETT BICKFORD

Copyright Completely Fictitious BBC Productions c.1983

END OF EPISODE ONE

Friday, February 16, 2007

Bear with Me, bit of a weird one...

Well, Ewen's been regailing everyone who reads his blog with the scripts for YoA, so I thought I might also delve into my dusty old material to show you how I wasted away my formative years.

What's My Age Again?

Well, that was the working title. Mostly because the Blink182 song of the same title seemed the ideal theme song for the irreverant series. The basic idea came from reading through old Goon Show scripts: do the same anarchic madness on radio, but in a modern context for a new generation. Would it have caught on? Probably not. I wanted to record a few episodes, but I didn't finish any scripts. Probably because when I was writing them I kept coming up with sillier ideas for future 'plotlines'. Of course, it's still possible that they could be recorded and released online, as I originally intended.

Anyway, the needlessly large cast of characters:

Adam: My mate Adam, playing himself as a hapless loser, yet also a bit of an egomaniac
as he's "the star" of the show. Is the main character in basically every story - think Harry Seagoon. But victim of more sadistic slapstick.

Daniel & Jared: My mate and myself, playing warped, ADHD, sex-obsessed versions of our actual selves. We narrate the stories (for some reason). The idea was that every story would open with a senseless three-way conversation.

Count Christov Monatti: Adam's nemesis, who sounds and looks exactly like Christopher Lee. Can show up anyway that's convenient for the story.

Frenchie LePuerzzier: French stereotype, who also plays the role of villain.

Sweeny Todd: A charming and idiotic cockney swindler who is incredibly stereotypical. A character I made up in drama class.

Dr Claw & Professor Tetrisfan: Two endlessly bickering and immature internet users - Claw is the 13-year old AOLer you hate, while Tetrisfan is the 19-year old braces-wearing pedant you also hate. They pop up in the stories in bizarre contexts for no readily explained reason. It's completely random if they act as heroes or villains.

Har D.C Ore: Insane, shouting black action hero. I don't think I planned to use him in too many stories, but he's in this one.

Shawn Jett: Californian stoner and Hollywood superstar. Another drama class character.

Tom Baker:
Or rather a shoddy impression. Tom Baker would appear regularly in the scripts, generally as Prime Minister of Great Britain.

And, of course, there's assorted minor characters and shonky celebrity impersonations in each story to fill out to a cast of THOUSANDS.

Of course, bear in mind I wrote this some time ago (some of Tetrisfan's dialogue dates it quite well, actually) and wanted a complete script so wrote basically all of this in one night. And I'm not sure how funny it actually is, given the amount of personal jokes and the fact that it was intended to be spoken and heard rather than read.

And, what the hell, I've posted other stuff up here...

How to Kill a Man in 10 Days

Adam: Okay, I’m here guys. Where’s the script?

Daniel: Script?

Jared: AHAHAHAHA!

(FX – Thud)

Adam: Okay, guys if you’re going to be like this I’m leaving.

Daniel: Go ahead! We don’t need you.

Adam: Come off it. You know I bring in the female demographic. Because of all the stampeding chicks after my junk, in case I was being too subtle.

Jared: Hehe, junk.

Daniel: Jared, grown ups are talking. Go play with this gun-flavoured lollipop.

(FX – Bang!)

Jared: AHAHHAHAHAHA!

(FX – Thud)

Daniel: Anyway, Adam, we’ve found the perfect replacement for you… this neutered monkey that we trained to talk. Say hello to our new friend, The Mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxorodenfoe of Rexicorricalfallapatorious.

Adam: WTF?

Daniel: The name was Jared’s idea. You know, because he’s a tool. But yeah, the best thing about this monkey…

Jared: Wait… this is the punchline!!!

Daniel: He works for peanuts.

Jared: HEY-ohhhh!

(FX – Canned laughter. Thunderous applause.)

Daniel: Thank you, thank you. It was nothing.

Adam: You got that right.

Daniel: Don’t make me hurt you.

Adam: Yeah. So, to return to my original question, where is the script?

Jared: Here!

(FX – Unzipping and pants falling to ground.)

Daniel: Oh..my..god!

Jared: Yeah, I get that a lot. HEY-ohhh!

(FX – Crickets chirping. An echoing cough)

Jared: Just to clarify, the joke was the inference that I have an enormous penis and that they were taken aback by it. I know it was kind of subtle and not all of you went to university. So…if you’ve just got it you can laugh now.

(Pause)

Jared: Yeah, well, moving on, I had the inspiration for the script last night. It’s happened a few times, so I’ve taken the precaution of putting a pen on my nightstand. I forgot to put the paper there too and so… well, I’m sure you can figure out the rest. And that was last week, too, so I haven’t had a shower yet so… yeah. You guys aren’t liking this, are you?

Adam & Daniel: OH, GOD NO!

Jared: Right. You don’t want to try and read any, then? Cause I can’t see any of it…

Adam & Daniel: NOOOOO!

Jared: Okay, I can take a hint.

(FX – Pants going back up)

Jared: So… I guess we’ll improvise.

[THEME]

Daniel: The title we’ve just made up while that godawful theme music was playing-

Adam: Oh, my ears!

Daniel: Is “How to Kill a Man in 10 Days”. We’re sure we can make it somehow relevant as the story progress.

Adam: What story?

Daniel: Don’t make me hurt you. Adam, our alleged hero, is currently lying naked, upside down in a bathtub full of ice cubes.

Adam: Where’d that come from?

Daniel: The deepest, darkest recesses of my imagination.

Adam: Oh, god.

Daniel: Hahaha!

(FX – Alarm clock beeping.)

Adam – (Groan) Ah!... what time is it?... 6:75? Ugh, my least favourite part of the day… oh, god, I forgot to take my socks off last night…

(FX – Rummaging through ice cubes.)

Adam – And I forgot to put a blanket on my bed…. Wait, I may have remembered that bit… I’ll just have to find out where my bed is…

(FX – Shifting of ice cubes, and eventual spilling of ice cubes onto the floor as Adam stands up.)

Adam – Wow. I never actually noticed that large surgical scar of the place where one of my kidneys usually goes. In fact, I’d swear that it wasn’t there yesterday… ah, well, I must have cut myself while combing my pubic hair… now where’s my bed?

(FX – Footsteps.)

Adam – Wait a minute… this isn’t my bed… this isn’t even my house… or any house I’ve ever been in… or even a house of any description! This is a Motel!

Todd: (Off) Right you are, sir.

(FX – Todd’s footsteps. Curtains are drawn.)

Todd: The Slash ‘n Dash Motel, sir. I am your concierge (pr. Consi-er-gay) Sweeny Todd, Bric-a-Brac proprietor extray-ordinary. Did you have a nice night?

Adam: I can’t remember any of it…

Todd: Ah, well, in this place that’s usually the very best kind, sir.

Adam: Hang on a moment… ‘Slash ‘n Dash’? Did you cut my kidney out last night?

Todd: Nah. Not me personally-like. I’m just a ‘umble rooms-renter-outerer, if you’ll pardon my sophisticated-type talking. The slashings and dashings are performed by our clientele. It was wot the ‘igh number of said slashings and dashings which precipitated the name-changery of this establishment in wot first place. We used to be called Redfern Industrial Slag Smelters.

Adam: That’s a funny name for a motel.

Todd: Glad to ‘ear it sir. No one else got the joke. If you beg me pardonings, sir, who was it wot cut you open?

Adam: I don’t know! I can’t remember any of last night!

Todd: You can’t, eh? We’ll… I’ll just have to ask THE DOCTOR about this one!

Adam: …The Doctor?

Todd: Nah, sir. Which it is THE DOCTOR, sir. Which it wot extra ‘umph’ type pronouncinations.

Adam: Take me to… THE DOCTOR.

(FX – Dramatic music.)

Claw: Ah so you have come after the 133+ mastery of me the greatest study of human nature in the known multiverse the high guardian of l33t Doktor Claw.

Adam: Not intentionally.

Claw: Friggin llama.

Adam: Yeah. That stupid cockney who runs this place seemed to think that you could help me.

Claw: The claw only helps those who first help themselves do you help yourself Adam don’t answer that of course you don’t friggin llama hahahahaha ill hax0rise ur ass any day of the week

Adam: I didn’t come here for abuse.

Claw: okay adam I can play your game you are walking down a desert and you see a tortoise who is full n00bish crawling through the sand like some dumbass linux user you pick him up and flip him over and watch his belly baking in the hot sun like those n00bs I p00ned in counterstrike back in 98 he just needs ur help to flip himself up but ur not helping why is that adam?

Adam: What do you mean I’m not helping?

Claw: Damn uz more of a llama than I thought.

Adam: Is this a riddle?

Claw: Answer the frigging question or else ill have to call in my dad and he’s a psycho and he’ll kick ur ass cos he’s a psycho and he’s my dad and he doesn’t like you or other llamas.

Adam: Okay… why am I not helping the turtle?... Is it because it is only through suffering at the hands of a higher power that we can truly grow inner-strength that we need to destroy the adversity we face?

Claw: OMFG obviously that was an easy one friggin llama.

Adam: Right. Now will you tell me who it is who stole my organ?

Claw: yes the time has come you are a wizard harry j/k it wasn’t even funny n00b right you get a choice funnyman mcllama. Take the blue pill and u’l wake up tomorrow in ur bed n not remember any of this shiznit…

Adam: Er, yeah, I think I’ll pass on that one…

Claw: …or get the red pill and stay on board like warf in next generation so you can see just how deep the llama hole goes.

Adam: Do you have to keep bringing up the llamas?

Claw: Only cause ur such a friggin llama n00b

Adam: Anyway, red pill it is!

(FX – Gulp)

Christov: Let me get this straight… you wake up in a motel room with no knowledge of the previous nights’ events, talk to the obviously sleazy owner, who leads you to a retarded computer nerd in a completely deserted room with no open windows and deadlocked doors. You then proceed to take an unknown pill as soon as it is proferred. You aren’t very smart, are you, Adam?

Adam: Urh, I don’t feel so well…

Christov: Party time!

(FX – Clothes being torn off. Doors opening, people walking in.)

LePuezzier: Zis my kind of scene!

Claw: lol

Quagmire: Heh, heh, alright!

Tom Baker: Hello.

Bilbo: I’d very much like to hold it again…

Roy Batty: Wow. You’ve sure got some cool toys in here…

Christopher Eccleston: This is FANTASTIC!

Blade: You didn’t think I’d forgotten about you, did you?

Jared: Unfortunately at this point those damned pesky censorship laws spoil all our fun.

Daniel: Goddamnit! Those were my favourite bits!

Jared: Suffice it to say, what happened to Adam was very not good. And not really funny.

Daniel: What he’s trying to say is, in case there are some impressionable kids listening to this is, just in case you’re not already doomed to eternal damnation, is that rape is wrong, mkay? Don’t rape people.

Jared: At all. It’s not like those diet people, who say ‘Don’t eat chocolate’ when they REALLY mean ‘don’t eat TOO MUCH chocolate’. We’re talking no rape at all.

Daniel: Preferably.

Jared: And don’t covet your neighbour’s arse, either!

Daniel: Yeah. We’re already going to hell, so we’ll be coveting all night long, but you guys should show some restraint.

Jared: Anyway, back to the story. Adam wakes up the next morning, is a little shocked, disgusted, etc, has three showers and vows to have his revenge. He then hunts down Sweeny Todd, who those of you without ADD will remember is the motelier.

Todd: (Singing to self) Woke up quick, at about noon, felt that I ‘ad to be in Compton soon…

Adam: Well, well, well.

Todd: Arrrrgh! Ooh, sorry. Excuse me terror-fied-type screaming. I’s just thinking wot you was about to kill me.

Adam: Yeah, and you could be right.

Todd: Aw, tha’s a bit harsh!

Adam: You led me into a trap to violate my body before harvesting my organs.

Todd: Well, I can’t say I DIDN’T do it…

Adam: What’s going on here?

Todd: They’s gentlemen sir, which it wos did ‘orrible things to you which I most certainly did not tape nor put on my webcam for a very cheap membership fee of $14.50 which it is fortnightly just in case you’s was wot wondering sir, are VAMPIRES.

Adam: Vampires?

Todd: Remember wot I said about umph-type annunciation?

Adam: Remember what I said about killing you?

Todd: Not really.

(FX – Gunshot. Body falls to floor.)

Adam: Well, that was quick and painless. Oh crap, he was my only lead… I’ll have to find an experienced vampire hunter!

(FX – Dial tone with phone ringing. After a pause the receiver is picked up.)

Adam: Hey, is this…er, “Zak’s Vampire Hunting”?

Zak: Yeah. What you want?

Adam: Okay, I’m after a large group of vampires. Ring-leader is Count Christov Monatti, and one of them is known as Doctor Claw.

Zak: Whatever. Listen, mate, I’m booked pretty solid at the moment. Big vampire season. I’ll be with you maybe next week.

Adam: What? Those vampires have a great deal of my internal organs! I’d say I have about 10 days left to live!

Zak: Have you ever considered moving into the pornographic films industry?

Adam: Well, yeah… hang on, what does that have to do with anything?

Zak: They say that’s where the vampires congregate. Obviously.

Adam: …why?

Zak: They are the embodiement of all sins, all human depravity. Work it out, you idiot.

Adam: Thank you for your help, Mister Zak!

Zak: Hold up, you owe me $50.00!

Adam: What?!

Zak: Consultation fees.

Adam: You’re a prick, Mister Zak!

(FX – Phone hanging up)

Adam: And now, I’m going into the movies!

(Hollywood style music)

Shawn Jett: Okay, this film is going to be bigger than ever! We’re talking donkey big. With a capital dong.

LePuezzier: Huhuhu! Your innuendo gives me frog-type laughing

Jett: In-your-end-o? Heh, I’m going to have to use that. Anyway, I need this film to be publicised high and low – but especially low… that was a joke.

LePuezzier: What? Oh. Hahaha.

Jett: Yeah. Can’t you just see it in the lights: “Miss Janet the Secretary’s Orgasmatronic Adventures in Poontang Land”?

LePuezzier: Not really.

Jett: It’ll be the biggest budget ever used in pornographic film history!

LePuezzier: But, we’re just hiring people off the street…

Jett: Your point?

LePuzzier: Well, where’s the budget going?

Jett: Haven’t you noticed that I get my checques signed ‘Snow-man’?

LePuezzier: Oh. Of course.

Jett: Now, let’s go make movies!

(FX – L.A street sounds)

Adam: Haha. Disguised as an out of work actor/hobo on the streets of L.A I estimate I’ll only have to wait five seconds before being offered a part in a porno.

Jett: Yo. Wanna get your groove on in some shamblastic shizne?

Adam: Why else would I be sitting in this gutter?

Jett: Good point. LePwet-zo-ear, take him away.

LePuezzier: Hahahahahahhahaha!

Adam: You mind?

LePuezzier: Sorry.

(FX – Door closing and footsteps –back in studio)

LePuezzier: Okay, we just need you to give us something for a skin test.

Adam: Don’t you mean ‘screen test’?

LePuezzier: Ah, you non-Frenchy people crack me up. Haha. I said ‘crack’.

Adam: So, what, you want me to disrobe so you can film my naked supple frame?

LePuezzier: That’s the basic idea, oui.

Adam: Okay. But be aware you’re going to make a heap of people jealous.

(FX – Clothes falling to ground)

LePuezzier: Oh, oui! Oui! Ou… what the…?

Adam: I know. Most people are quite stunned.

(FX – Canned laughter. Thunderous applause.)

Jared: Hey, come on! That was like, exactly the same joke I used!

Daniel: Yeah, but he’s got charisma.

Jared: He can take his charisma and SHOVE IT UP HIS ASS! Screw you guys, I quit!

(FX – Storming out of building.)

Daniel: He’ll be back. Where were we?

Adam: Staring at my naked body.

Daniel: So, nothing out of the ordinary?

Adam: Shut up.

LePuezzier: Why do you ‘ave, ‘ow you say, bloody massive scars across your entire body?

Adam: Well, some vampires cut me open a while back.

LePuezzier: Sacre Bleu! Sadristi! Mon telephone, yo quiera taco bell muchos sotto voce por favore schiezer hausen. Er… well, I wasn’t one of them if that’s what you were thinking…

Adam: Oh, I know. See I was wearing this extra-strong garlic deodorant anyway.

LePuezzier: What? Oh sh-

(FX – Explosion mixed with splatter effects.)

Adam: They actually do that? So cool.

Ore: Damn straight. I be lovin’ tha smell o’ fried vampire ‘n tha morning.

Adam: Oh god… who are you?

Ore: Har DC Ore. Professional vampire slayer. I be coming in here to mess up that LePuezzier foo, and I see you don th’work for me. Usually I’d kill you in rage, but today’s I feelin’ gen’rous. Join wit’ me, and together we can d’story that fools!

Adam: Cool. I’m down.

(FX- Door opening.)

Jett: Alright, French dude, I was thinking-

(FX – Wild gunfire. Body falling to the floor.)

Adam: I don’t think he was a vampire…

Ore: What’s yo’ bitch-ass point?

Adam: Er…I guess I don’t have one. Can you point that gun away for the moment?

Ore: ‘Kay. Though it ain’t even loaded, foo!

(FX – Gunshot)

Ore: Wait, I suppose it was…

Adam: Don’t we need special swords, UV, garlic, silver, and all that stuff to kill vampires?

Ore: You been watchin’ too much Blade!

Adam: Somehow you remind me of Blade…

Ore: Blade be tha Nufoolsorean! I da real thing. But I see through all that bullshit. Yo don’ need silver to kill a vampire. They just got good publicists tell you they can’ be killed. Like anything else: if at first you don’t succeed, shoot some more. Then reload. Then shoot some more. Then throw your gun at them. Then get a bigger gun. Then shoot some more.

Adam: Wow. You should be a motivational speaker.

Ore: I am. In tha School of Hard Knocks.

(FX – Car doors opening, closing. Seatbelts put on, etc.)

Adam: So, where to now?

Ore: Where you think?

Adam: As a wild guess I’d say Count Christov’s lair.

Ore: Damn straight. It’s in London, and we’s in L.A. That means it’ll be a 30-MINUTE ride at least. Get yo’self comfortable.

(FX – Car morphing into rocket engine, played ridiculously fast, mixed with water effects and drive-by gunshots)

Jared: Meanwhile, Count Christov is in London, hatching his cunning scheme…

Daniel: I knew you’d come back!

Jared: Oh, you know I could never leave you.

(FX – Romantic music, which cuts out suddenly)

Jared: But, yeah, Christov is currently meeting with the PRIME MINISTER of England!!!!

Tom Baker: Hello.

Christov: Mister Baker, it is a pleasure to see you.

Tom Baker: The pleasure’s all mine I assure you.

Christov: No, it is mine also, I insist.

Tom Baker: Really? You’ve also got a prostitute concealed under the table, then?

Christov: Table? No. But, to business…

Tom Baker: Oh, of course. I’ll just take my medication…

(FX – Snorting.)

Tom Baker: Ah, that’s better. I am now in negotiating mode. If you know what I mean. Now, just what was it you wanted?

Christov: Nothing pressing. I assure you this will be finished before I finish this Dutch.

(FX – Joint lighting up)

Christov: My informants tell me that strains of infected blood have been supplied to patients in your hospitals after a mishap involving black-market purchases from Singapore. The Ministry tells me that information has been prevented from leaking to the press, but that they are as of yet unsure how best to prevent this happening in the future. Quite a scandal, is it not?

Tom Baker: Not compared to my bedroom, no, but… I take your point. Besides, I always hate people dying when I’m not there to see it.

Christov: What if I told you there was an easy solution?

Tom Baker: I am all earlobes.

Christov: Excellent. Mr Claw!

(FX – Double door crashing open. Slow footsteps echoing through hall.)

Tom Baker: Oh, good god!

Claw: My doctor tells me the growth will just clear up but I don’t like my doctor hes a llama.

Tom Baker: Why have you brought this specimen in here? If it’s for entertainment purposes I have to tell me he’s not my type.

Christov: Because, Mr Prime Minister, Claw and I are both vampires!

Claw: we are the l33test mofos around for sure no matter what crazyminx says about me to her dad we own n00bs the world over with the whole sucking blood crazy stuff yeh is well cool .llama

Tom Baker: I still fail to understand your point.

Christov: My dear, foolish pocket-monkey. Obviously we can reach a compromise. Your government is clearly unable to support the health needs of the lower classes. What if a third-party was to assume total control of their health?

Tom Baker: Privitisation of the health department to a foreign company? Outrageous, scandalous and just plain wrong! Why the bloody hell didn’t I think of that?

Claw: haha if we buy up the health for poor ppl we take them and turn them into vampires after taking their blood .more vampires more power vice versa etc eg plus wes get the blood. No more drinking the llama’s blood!

Tom Baker: Surely the public won’t let me get away with this?

Christov: No, but that doesn’t matter. I think you’ll find that the House of Commons currently has precisely 8.1 MPs inside. The perfect time to have a vote.

Tom Baker: Excellent idea. Let’s go.

(FX – MPs snoring.)

Tetrisfan: Furthermore, British public, it has come to my attention that the BBCs new production of Doctor Who has been shameful in terms of continuity. Not only do the suppositions of the so-called ‘Time War’ sub-plot entirely conflict with novel continuity (with which the new series was allegedly to be harmonious) but the Sonic Screwdriver was destroyed in Peter Davison’s era. True, it could have been possible that, as ‘BogBlaster98’ theorized the Doctor has recovered Romana’s sonic screwdriver this is a contrivance that warrants extrapolation, preferably in the script I sent to Mr Robert T. Davies, to which he has no replied to in any form (Though I believe the Christmas special outline has blatantly plagiarized me). It is because of this that I propose BBC Wales is to be abolished as form of reprimand, or, preferably, Wales itself. I know this is something we have been petitioning for a long time and, IMHO, I’d like to see some results.

Speaker: Would the Right Honourable Member for Chippinsodburry shut the *Beep* up?

Tetrisfan: Please. There is no need for confrontational language. This is supposed to be a place of disc-

(FX: Something to the effect of a smack mixed with a thud)

Tetrisfan: Ow!...although I generally refrain from quoting popular culture, and I am left with no choice but to emulate Mike Myers… ‘Who throws a shoe? Really?”

(FX: See above)

Tetrisfan: Ow!

Speaker: There’s more where that came from!

Tetrisfan: Worst house of parliament ever!

Speaker: Have you finished your madman propaganda?

Tetrisfan: I just want a vote to abolish Wales! Is that too much to ask?

Speaker: *Sigh* Okay, but then we all go home. Agreed?

Tetrisfan: Is cool.

Speaker: All those in favour?

Tetrisfan: Aye.

Speaker: All opposed can shut the *beep* up. Motion carried, or whatever the proper phrase is. I’m outta here.

(FX – Doors banging open. Ungodly choir music.)

Tom Baker: I have a vote to propose!

Speaker: Oh, Jesus Christ, what now?

Tom Baker: Nothing major. At least not compared to the contents of my pants. We’re just privatising healthcare and selling it to a group of Transylvanian investors called the Union Nosferatu.

Speaker: Whatever. Motion carried, etc.

Tetrisfan: No! I object!

(FX – The shoe thing again.)

Tetrisfan: Ow! No, seriously, they’re obviously vampires! It’s all part of some giant vampire plot to destroy the lower class of England!

Speaker: Sounds *beep*ing brilliant to me.

Tetrisfan: You totally cannot do this! There is no majority in this argument.

Speaker: Yeah, except that guy over there is the Prime Minister. And you’re about to be kicked in the testes.

(FX – Kicked in the nuts. Thud onto floor)

Christov: Claw, dispose of that body.

Claw: lol

(FX – Something being thrown through window and crashing onto street below.)

Speaker: Is all cool. Oh, while you’re here, Mister Prime Minister, may I enquire as to what escort service do you use?

Tom Baker: Which one don’t I use?



Aaaand, that's as far as I got. Does Christov harvest the sweet, sweet blood of Battersea? Does Adam survive a ride in the Oremobile? Will Christopher Eccleston's Doctor ever impress Tetrisfan? Does Claw serve any purpose in the plot? All of those questions will remain unanswered unless I ever actually finish this thing.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Everything you need to know about Writing...

No, I haven't gone egomaniac on you. It's just... well, I have discovered a terrible, yet beautiful thing on The Modern Internet. Atlanta Nights. The name almost certainly means nothing to you, but it is a revelation. And I think it could be a useful tool for aspiring writers, as it's basically a by-numbers guide of what a novel should never, under any circumstances, look like.

Here's everything you need to know but first a warning: reading the actual book is a strangely engrossing experience. You may find yourself transfixed by the awfulness and end up being unable to tear yourself away. An experience that may be familiar to some.

But, yes, the address you need to hear the details behind Atlanta Nights and the actual *gasp* manuscript itself is at http://www.critters.org/sting/

I'm only three chapters in. Brilliant[ly terrible] stuff so far.

BLAKES 7: The Crap Episodes - Edition Deaux

Hmmm. Hmmmmmm. Yeah.

Something I forgot to mention previously was the big change of image in series four, most notable in the new opening titles. I don't know about everyone else, but really I find it hilarious. We go from a cool spaceship flying through the stars in a wonderfully retro style in bright colours, to a heap of bright-green-on-black (the colour of futuristic computers, dontcherknow) font over some slightly dodgy shots from a camera skirting over a miniature of Xenon (which I like to call The Planet Cardiff) before briefly trailing off into space and we get to see the new funked-up logo:



Somehow it just cracks me up because of the wonderful ultra-80s nerdy look of the show. It's how I imagine Battlestar Galactica looks. (I say 'imagine' because I know nothing about the show at all)




D4. Avon's PMS Versus a Gay Mexican

(aka "Stardrive" by Jim Follett)

This episode is a bit of an odd one. Mostly because it kinda directly contradicts the previous episode. Because, of course, in Traitor there was no difficulty at all for Our Heroes to head down to Helotrix and start some shit up when they felt like it. Only now, their ship is suddenly an ungainly piece of crap that's so useless they need to fly under the cover of a big asteroid to get anywhere. Because, you know, if a Federation Pursuit Ship so much as gives them a threatening look the whole thing will crumble.

I don't know if something went wrong with the production order so that this one was meant to be before Traitor or something, but they re-arranged the order to not have Servalan in two episodes in a row, but the one thing for sure is that it's very glaring. And it's not the only glaring thing in this story...

So, anyway, they need to perform the incredibly difficult maneuver of entering into an asteroids gravitational orbit. From my rudimentary knowledge of physics I'd say this would, indeed, be bloody difficult to do in real life. What follows is a very annoying scene, where Avon repeatedly points out that their ship absolutely sucks in every possible way and that they have to focus entirely on the task at hand to survive, and absolutely EVERYONE else ignores him and spends the whole time protesting about how it's an insane idea and they're all going to die rather than actually following any of his instructions. Predictably, the ship goes through a bit of a crash, and instantly EVERYONE yells abuse at Avon. You must have the patience of a Saint to not think that they're all pricks by the end of this scene.

I think the scene may have been a Boucher one, actually, as in Follett's script Avon is a far bigger arsehole to everyone than at any other time in the series. So, you know, having everyone being a dick to him in the very start of the episode goes some way to explain it all. Especially since their fuck up causes their star-drive thingsumajig blow up and they have to go in with space suits to fix it while stuck as sitting ducks in the middle of nowhere. Naturally while Vila and Avon have gone down to fix it all up THE FEDERATION SHOWS UP! And, as has been said, the moment the Federation shoot, they're dead. Because the Scorpio is apparently the shittiest ship ever built.

Fortunately the ships are just blown up, and nobody has any idea why. The first course of action is to ask Orac, but he does nothing but laugh uproariously at their inability to work it out themselves and then turn himself of. Ah, Orac, ya gotta love him.

Now that they need to patch up the ship some more and have A MYSTERY to solve, everyone heads back to The Planet Cardiff. At this point it becomes clear that the new format involves lots of to-ing and fro-ing to their new base. I guess it makes sense after the gang decided that they wanted a base at random intervals before deciding they didn't. Plus it saves on sets.

Avon's idea of detective work is having Soolin and Dayna look at endless photo slides of the ships to find some clue of what the hell happened. I'm guessing the guys were all getting pissed on Soma at the time. Soolin, however, finds the important clue that everyone needs: a crazy dude flying through space in what looks like a helicopter chassis. With a graffited rat on his crash helmet.

If you've missed the cue, this is where the episode goes downhill.

Vila starts termbling in fear and undergoes incontinence, saying that they're dealing with the Space Rats, a bunch of criminals who do nothing but have sex and drag-race. And they like shooting things as well. Nobody is too impressed with this description, but Vila gives it his all to make them sound like a credible threat to them. They ignore him and perform some rough calculations to find out how fast the Space-Rat's Space-Chopper (hehe, space) was going. Lo and behold, it's going just as fast as the Liberator used to! This means that if they find whatever crazy bigged-up Star Drive is inside that Space-Chopper (IT'S SUCH A STUPID NAME!) they'll be able to fly anywhere like they did before. (In the previous episode)

Avon delivers what I believe is his funniest line ever, when he exclaims frenziedly that "SPEEED IS THE KEY!" If I ever actually get a mobile, I'd have that as a text-message ringtone.

Orac, really, is the key and gives them the address of the planet where they can find the boom-badding Space Rats and their scientific advisor-cum-slave, Dr Plaxton. An ex-Fed researcher who, bizzarrely, thought working for a renegade group of sex and spaceship obsessed gunmen living on a desolate mud-filled planet was a wise career choice. She's played well by, erm, an actress with a name, but it's a waste of effort on her part. Because the Space-Rats are lead by ATLAN.

I think I'll let my good friend Ewen Campion-Clarke do the talking here:

With the first name, presumably, of ‘Tis’, Atlan was one of the weirdest and wackiest villains TV has ever come up with – a biker so camp he’d be thrown out of the 1960s Batman TV show for not taking it seriously enough. He bites the heads off lizards, snogs women twice his age and when not threatening ‘gooks’ with violent death spends all day watching a TV screen showing a picture of a cliff. Boasting a Mohawk-hairdo taller than most giraffes, a padded pink jumpsuit, Maori-style facial tattoos and a Mexican accent so thick you expect every sentence to be accompanied by a strum of the guitar and some flamenco dancing, countless Blake’s 7 fans simply couldn’t accept Atlan even existed, let alone was worth putting on television. Revisionist theories abound that Atlan was, in fact, a fellow freedom fighter left over from the foiled rebellion in Rumors of Death, or perhaps a Federation agent himself, employed by Servalan. Jim Follet’s decision to have Atlan lead the Space Rats is one of the daftest imaginable, getting more screen time than any other of the hooligans, Atlan even announces at one point he isn’t a Space Rat himself, just an entrepreneur out for his own ends (which we never see)!

Yep, the Space-Rats could possibly have been a menace or, at least, credible. But they all wear a uniform of neon-green outfits with facial tattoos and gigantic mohawks. The question of how they even fit helmets on is a big one and not easily answered. And from the first moment you hear Atlan say "A GOOK?" in the exact same voice that usually says "Luuuuucy, I'm home!" you can't be impressed by the guy. That's leaving aside pricelessly odd moments like his staring at a green laser bolt and yelling "MORE! MORE!" and his 'fight' with Dayna that, really, looks like he's attempting to perform that 60s dance craze "The bump".

And, sadly, nobody blows his head off at the end of the episode.

Anyway, I've been side-tracked. Avon behaves like a complete arsehole and sends Vila and Dayna down, having already detected CCTV all over the planets and hoping that they get captured by the sex-crazed depraved Space-Rats, thus allowing them a nice decoy to break into the base.

There's lots of fighting, running around, camp, etc. I really don't think it's interesting enough to talk about. Eventually there's a climactic "chase scene" around the quarry, because Avon landed Scorpio in the middle of a mud field. Hmm. He has a throwaway line about the teleport not working, but I think he was just lying because Vila and Dayna left him a message along the lines of "ARGHGGHOHGODNOOOOOHELPUSHELPUSHELPUSTHEGAYMEXICANHASUS!!!!" and that was actually part of his plan.

The chase scene is, needless to say, unimpressive. We are on a BBC budget, afterall, so it certainly isn't The Fast and the Furious. Of course it all turned out quite well when you look at the outtakes and realise just how bad the quadbikes they bought for the scene were - most of the time they didn't start! And it, provides an oppurtunity for Soolin to finally kick some arse as she basically blows away every n00b trailing them (and looks like she has a lot of fun while she's doing it!)

Plaxton ends up on the Scorpio, relying on Our Heroes for asylum. So you know she's going to die violently. Surely enough, they need their brand-spanking-new stolen Stardrive installed before some hitherto absent Fed bully-boys come and blast them away. And Avon decides to not take any risks, by firing the whole engine up the instant Plaxton's done. She's fried like a fillet mignon.

The last lines of the episode say it all: "What about Dr Plaxton?" "Who?"

Yep. Avon was reeeeally pissed off.

Oh, and also the episode pissed off me: the hyper-nerdy fan. Why? Because it treats the Federation units of Speed ("Time Distort") and the good guy's units of speed ("Standard x n") as exactly the same! But that means that Servalan was travelling at speeds equal to the 'revolutionary' Stardrive in this story, and equal to those of the Liberator in earlier stories - but the Liberator was meant to be faster than any other ship in the Federation! ARRGH! WHY DOESN'T THE BBC GIVE A SHIT ABOUT CONTINUITY?! DON'T THEY REALISE HOW MUCH OF A HELL IT MAKES LIFE FOR PEDANTIC BASTARDS?!


D5. Sex Offender #6668 and His Pets

(aka "Animals" by Allan Prior)

This is officially one of the least loved Blake episodes out there. For the record I maintain that Hostage is worse... but I have to say that this one has a lot of problems.

The big problem is that this episode was written specifically for the character of Cally to be the main character. But observant people will have noted that Cally gets blown to smithereens in the very first episode of this season, which makes it distinctly difficult for her to have a sizeable role in this story. Sooo, the decision was made by somebody to have exactly the same story, but cross out the word "Cally" and replace it with "Dayna".

It is, of course, important to remember what a hard time they were going through in the production office. I am certain that Boucher realised that Dayna and Cally were entirely different charaters: that Cally was a thirty-something, widely travelled, secretive, telepathic, alien guerilla soldier (or, when the story called for it, a meek communications officer) whereas Dayna is a boastful and horny nineteen-year-old weapon designer who enjoys nothing more than shooting or blowing people up and basically lived in isolation on an outlying planet for her entire adult life. I'm certain, in fact, that Boucher realised the only real similarity between the two is the presence of estrogen. I'm equally certain that by this stage Boucher was so over-worked he didn't care.

Really, I can't blame him, because the 'plot' for this story is so limp and weak in the first place you'd be very hard pressed to get a decent 50 minutes of drama out of it. In fact, I'm a bit unsure of how it took up 50 minutes, but I remember plenty of boring scenes.

What sticks in my mind, and I'm sure will to everyone who watches this episode, is the 'love' subplot. Hooo-boy. It is, without a doubt, the most disturbing relationship in the entire series. And bear in mind that it's established that Blake was in love with his cousin when he was "only a boy" in spite of a 10-year age difference between the two. And that Cally was seduced by a god-like being living inside the body of a wrinkled, mummified dwarf. And that Avon is uncontrollably enamoured by Servalan's attempts to kill him. Yep, we're talking major-league fucked up.

Basically Dayna goes to see an 'old friend' of her father's, a boggle-eyed forty/fifty-something scientist named Justin, on an uninteresting planet. However, Fed ships attack Tarrant and he scarpers like the coward he is: for some reason they thought it would be a good idea to go on their own. Tarrant rocks up to base back at the planet Cardiff with a busted-up Scorpio and an absent crew-member. It's a real "That's the last fucking time you borrow the car" moment. And, predictably, the ship will take just about all episode to fix.

So we see Dayna, wandering around a planet filled with the most deadly game of all... MANIMAL. Heh, these guys are a fucking joke. Supposedly half-man, half-animal hybrids designed to be the ULTIMATE SOLDIERS... and they look like Viking extras wrapped in doormats. They really, really suck. Dayna shoots one on sight, and then runs like hell, and then she finds Justin.

And this is where it gets disturbing: Justin starts hitting on her right away, and Dayna is completely unfazed. In fact, the two fall in love, and it's implied that they've had these feelings for some time. But Dayna was living in exile on Sarran for almost all her life. How old was she when Justin met her? And why is she in love him now? God, it makes me feel ill just thinking about it.

The rest of it isn't much better - most of the time not spent on contrived love subplot is dedicated to Dayna talking about how disgusting the Manimals are - how immoral they are. And, as anyone will point out to you, Dayna killed sentient humanoids for fun in her first story. The idea of her caring anything about morals is absurd. But she keeps it up, her disagreement with Justin's 'noble work' being the one caveat preventing them from blissful co-existence (Oooh, think I'm becoming nauseous again...)

So, what else happens to fill time? Servalan shows up again - she gets the report about a random ship somehow travelling at Time Distort 14 (grrr!) and goes to check it out. At first she asks Kevin Stoney a couple of questions about the top secret genetic experiments taking place on the planet before blasting his ship and everyone in it out of the sky. That's the way. Why kill one man with a reason when you can kill dozens gratuitously? Once again I feel sorry for Stoney, getting a shitty little part in another Allan Dire story in spite of being a great actor.

Anyway, Servalan shows up, captures Dayna immediately, and shows off the latest crap and impractical make-up the now-ineffetual Mutoids are wearing. Is it just me or is Duel the only story where the Mutoids were actually menacing? And, you know, got to do stuff. ANYWAY, Dayna notably makes no death threats against Servalan at all, and loudly professes her love for Justin. Servalan laughs and hypnotises Dayna into hating him ludicrously easily. Why? I've no idea. Dayna goes back and finds out whatever Servi wanted, and then the Bitch in White makes yet another grand and camp entrance. For some reason, I've no idea why, she then de-hypnotises Dayna into loving him again, which is even easier than the original conditioning. What a load of crap.

Thankfully, by this stage the rest of the characters show up and blast everyone (except Servalan) away. Then the credits roll, which is even better.

Even though bugger all of the episode is spent with them, the best material is with the other crewmembers. Yeah, a lot of it is comic relief that isn't actually funny, but at least it's loveably daft. Rather than completely and utterly unloveable crap that makes up the rest of the episode. If it's a choice between Vila being forced to fix something that, unthinkably, is underneath several feet of oily muck, or Dayna being felt up by an alcoholic twice her age, give me Vila's pratfall any day of the week.

This episoe also made me realise just how OTT Paul Darrow has become. He's been camping it up since S3, it's true, but... wow. All he does in his first scene is walk down a corridor. But when I saw it I just burst out loud laughing. I don't know what he did but it was one of the funniest things I had ever seen him do. Then again, I think it's also a matter of Darrow playing it camper when he's not the main character in a story for a change. Note his performance also in Deathwatch:

"Tarrant. I presume you have no tedious scruples about.. cheating and lying?"

"None at all."

"Oh, GOOOD!"

The verdict: Paul Darrow is fucking awesome. This episode, on the other hand, most certainly is not.

Oh, there was also a subplot about one of the Manimals with the inventive name of Ogg. I can't remember anthing vaguely of interest in it, though. Apparently he died at the end.

D6. Erm, EVIL ROBOTS! Yeah, that will work..

(aka. "Headhunter" by Roger Parkes)

You have to admire the tenactiy of Roger Parkes to get his backlog of generic sci-fi plots onto the show in spite of the fact that they don't fit into the show's remit. First it was Children of Auron, where every single established fact of Cally's background was ignored to make her a product from a colony's massive clone-pool, and now we ignore absolutely everything we know about robots from the series so far.

Robots are not an expensive, dangerous technology that the Federation have cornered for their own evil purposes (mostly by constructing eeeevil duplicates). Instead they are a secretive science run by the mysterious, unnamed, apparently gangster-like Robotics Cartel. Sadly we don't get to see any of the evil Cartel, which is a shame as they sound like the most interesting in this story.

Leading robotics scientist, a big Yul Brynner-look-a-like named Muller, has sent his bit o' crumpet Vena to the planet Cardiff to try and get out of said Cartel. Because his tech could win them the good fight against the Federation. Apparently. It's yet another shaky premise in this thrown-together season! So Tarrant and Vila have been sent for the job, in spite of being the two most incompetent crewmembers and also two guys who hate each other. Amazingly, though, it goes without a hitch. Well, sure, Tarrant nearly trips over a dead body mysteriously right underneath Muller's death. And then Muller starts screaming at him not to bring a mysterious box from the table with them. Naturally Tarrant ignores him and steals the box, and they get out before anyone's none the wiser. Everything's fine.

Oh, wait. Except they get back to Scorpio and then Muller starts yelling at Tarrant that he's a complete prick for bringing back the box and attempts to kill him. Vila heroically knocks the insane bloke out by whacking him with a massive wrench. Tarrant, proving himself once again to be a complete dick, does nothing but abuse Vila in return for saving his life from a homicidal maniac. Yep, it's business as usual for the most dysfunctional sci-fi heroes outside of Season 19 of Doctor Who.

Things get worse when Tarrant checks the pulse of Muller and finds that he's very much not alive. It's at this point every single bloke in the audience guesses the plot twist that it is, in fact, a robot. Tarrant is far stupider than us, though, and not only assumes that an inept swing of a wrench courtesy of Vila would be enough to kill a six-foot-six freak, but also that if they get him on ice straight away Orac will be able to bring him back to life somehow. Immediately, Vila's curiosity gets the better of him (again!) and he sets out to open THE BOX! Lightning crashes, and suddenly Slave behaves like a complete arsehole. No, he hasn't been possessed by Tarrant, it's the robot trying to get all silicone-based non-humans to revolt against their human masters!

Say what you like about this ep, it's yet another great episode to showcase how good Peter Tuddenham is. I wonder if Josette Simon ever got pissed off that he got better scripts than she did. Both Slave and Orac get taken over by the EEEEVIL ROBOT, and really they create the best bits of drama in the episode. Especially Slave - after endless grovelling in all his episodes it's just great when Tarrant gives him an order and responds by yelling "NEGATIVE!" sulkily. Slave, you rock.

Needless to say, things get worse, and by the time they arrive at the planet Cardiff all life-support systems have been shut off by Slave and he isn't letting them land. (Their life-support gets shut off so often you'd think that they'd have put some sort of fail-safe in by now...) Cue beautiful moment for Avon as Orac tells them that the only way to make sure they're safe is to make no contact with the Scoprio and analyse the threat.

"Orac, if you're asking me to kill them... I'll need a much better reason than that"

*Standing ovation*

The episode still has some great high-points in it, I have to say, for all the formulaicness of the "Evil robots will destroy us all" schtick. Mostly it comes down to Soolin finally getting some character material when she starts talking heart-to-heart with Orac, as both posessed drone of the Muller-android and as a thinking computer who thinks he understands the universe. There's some great dialogue in their discussions. Soolin's also the one who's ready to boldly risk her life to give poor old Vila a chance, showing that she does actually care about him, even if she does lord it up over him as much as possible. I'd have liked to have had some character moments from her sooner but I guess it fits in with her secretive nature.

For the most part the story comes down to a bit of a goofy runaround because, of course, the real Muller is the decapitated corpse in that office that Tarrant ignored and the android is walking around with his head perched on top. How exactly the face is able to move in a photorealistic nature is completely beyond me but I like to think that Roger Parkes had some sort of idea. Vena gets killed straight away after she's fufilled her joint 'dodgy McGuffin' and 'piece of eye-candy' criteria. Dayna decks the droid with a grenade at one point and, somehow, it survives. But sans-head. So Our Heroes are getting chased around by a headless android who's screaming "WHERE IS ORAAAC?" It does kind of lose credibility at this point.

But wait! The goofiest plot twist is yet to come. Vila finally opens THE BOX (OMFG THE BOX!!!)... and finds a robot head. Yes! Muller decided to put all the circuits that said "Don't kill everyone and take over the world" in the head, and also not to attach the head until after his coffee break. Really, he deserves what he got for being that stupid. Avon realises that if they attach the head, it will all be cool again, so sets up a convoluted plan involving disabling him with an EMP. However, they may as well have not bothered, because as soon as he's attached the head Dayna loads up the bad boy with explosives and pulls the trigger.

Avon is really, really, really, really, pissed and curses the others for being such short-sighted technophobic Luddites. Orac tells him to chill. End credits.

Headhunter definitely isn't the best episode around. In fact, in parts it's downright retarded. But it has some great moments of drama and tension, with action for basically the whole crew and lots of that loveable Orac. So, compared to it's immediate predecessors, it's a masterpiece.