Monday, March 31, 2008

NEWBIE REVIEW #4: Theatre of War

Justin Richards is quite a wonderfully controversial DW writer as they go. He is possibly the only person who can honestly say that he is loathed among a swathe of nerdd-dom for not being Peter Darvill-Evans (Stephen Cole was, but a great number of other things as well) and his writing is quite diverse. He does a lot of different planets, a lot of historicals, tragedies, straight adventure... erm, possible comedy (I haven't read all of his stuff, I don't know, maybe he could pull it off). The only running themes through his work is a fairly Saward-esque disposition to death and somewhat uneasy characterisation.

I first encountered him... whenever I wrote this:

Okay, before I start the review proper there's something quite important to know: this book constitutes my first and, to date, sole Seventh Doctor experience. Of course, I've heard a lot about McCoy's Doctor, but so far I haven't seen him in action or even read much. I don't really know Ace or Benny, and haven't seen none of 'the dark Doctor' or 'Time's Champion'. So what did I think?

Well... I don't think this is the best book for judging the Seventh Doctor, actually, because he doesn't have much of an impact on the plot as I gather he usually does. Ace sorts out a couple of robots with Nitro-9, Benny nuts it all out through research, and a bunch of secondary characters kill each other. The Doc sort of hangs around providing an idea or two, before the plan is worked out (but not by him, if I remember) and not really doing anything to stop it. After hearing that, you might find it a bit odd that this book is 300-something pages long, but there is a lot here. It just happens that it's not much to do with the Doctor.

This is Justin Richard's first novel (which may account for some of the rougher patches) and is quite impressive as such. It also introduces some fellow named Irving Braxiatel, who's apparently quite important. Essentially it revolves around quite a big mystery plot that, in trad DW style, explains all the wierd stuff goin' down at the very last moment. A bit of a shame then that I worked it out with a hundred pages to go, but up until then the plot had a lot of atmos.

The plot is excellent, really. Benny meets a fascinating scientist named Gilmanuk and immediately begins working at joining him on an archaeological expedition to the dead planet of Menaxus. She doesn't realise that by doing so, however, she's getting involved in the complicated politics of the Heletian Empire and their bloody war with the Rippereans, and will soon be marooned on a planet where the mud is coming alive and killing people, and phantom actors appear when they're least expected.

I just loved the detail in the conception of the Heletian culture - a culture that revolves, anthropologically speaking, around the theatre and it's realisation. I also loved the archaeological theme running - each chapter begins with numbered 'source material' from the manual for a gun to one of Professor Klasvik's comments on a student's essay. It is wonderful stuff. It's a shame, then, that the first half of the book is slightly marred by the very inconsistent characterisations - why does Klasvik go from mocking Gilmanuk to listening to his every word? How can Gilmanuk command these space marines who take no ***** from anyone? Are Fortalexa and Bannahilk actually friends or not? With the first part of the book centered on the expedition becoming stranding the small cast of characters is very important - but due to the way they are written we don't really get to know them, so this bit loses a lot of it's power.

The bits that focus on the plot are the best - most notably when the Doctor tries to get to the bottom of things on Heletia and when Benny is looking through the Braxiatel Collection. Justin is definitely good at crafting plots and these bits work in spite of two even less-consistently crafted characters - the Exec and Marlock, the rulers of Heletia who were so skittish I simply forgot about getting a handle on them and just learnt to expect the unexpected.

(A side-note: does anyone else who's read this book think that the Exec and Marlock were based on the historical figures of Xerxes and Mardonius - or are the vaguely similar politics and name just a gigantic co-incidence?)

As I've said, though, this book is a little over-length and it's due to the fact that, IMO, Justin Richards gets a teensy-weensy bit self-indulgent with pointless details. The back-history of the development of Terran theatre throughout the 3rd Millenia as given to Ace by Benny isn't just unbelievable - it adds nothing to the plot. Likewise the revelation that the Doctor wrote the play the Good Soldiers which is treated as a major plot point when it's discovered but is actually completely meaningless. I found out that this book was written after Tomb of the Cybermen was discovered and that Justin was referencing the idea of a 'lost classic' not actually being as good as it's remembered. Maybe it seemed clever at the time, but now it feels like padding in a story that really doesn't need it.

It's a funny little book this one - it's got lots of stuff I like but plenty I didn't like as well. But Braxiatel and Gilmanuk are good characters and I liked the sprawling, slightly-space opera-ish plot and the theatrical-bent was very fun. I'll have to give this 7/10.

A good start to the NAs for sure!


By this stage I had learnt a thing or too about researching books and writing in the human language. Quite pleased with that.

Firstly: this was before I learnt the fact that the Seventh Doctor isn't actually in any way a chess-playing grand-planning genious, but was actually a dimunitive Scotsman pretending to be Patrick Troughton, who happened to be working under a chess-playing grand-planning madman named Andrew Cartmel, who liked the ideas of stories that would reveal that the Doctor is GOD! Frigging loony or what? As such I was a bit taken aback by the Doctor being played for a sap throughout the entire story, apart from that one bit where he performs a Shakespearian monologue that means NO ONE SHALL DIE TONIGHT, saving countless hundreds from slaughter. After I watched his TV run I soon understood that this makes perfect sense, and it's the other NAs that are somewhat out of whack.

Secondly: the characterisation is unbelievably bad. I stand by that with my life. The only way to make sense of the end of the story is to assume that The Excel and Marlock suffered from bi-polar schizophrenia AND multiple-personality syndrome.

For the first time in these reviews, I agree with the original score. 7/10 is good for this book. It's a good debut novel. It's just good, in fact, so there's nothing funny to actually be said about it. End of post.

The Harry Potter Rant

In my unusually bitter and tired mood, my mind has wandered. And, seriously, what's the deal with Harry Potter? Worst thought out fictional Universe EVER or what? So, in all of Europe there are three wizardry schools. THREE. That's three schools for over a billion frigging people. And then there's the fact that one school is specifically for Gothic Evil Motherfuckers, the other is strictly female/homosexuals only, and so there's only one that accomodates both and token Asian stereotypes... that's only for English people.

So there's point 1. Rowling hates Europe. She clearly wishes for the continent to remain in an ununified and discriminative state. Like, if you will, Hitler.

Another point is that the locations of the school are kept secret.

...so how do people visit? Like the Weasleys, Malfoys, Ministry of Magic officers etc do constantly? Oh, yeah, they just throw some magic fucking dirt into a chimney and go "Hogwarts". WELL WHAT'S TO STOP ANYONE ELSE FROM DOING THAT? And then there's the fact that a gigantic red steam engine, the only of its kind in the entire country, goes directly to it. Which is how Harry and Ron are able to find it. A suggestion - when your school is in a 'secret area' that two twelve-year-olds are able to find easily, something is WRONG.

Also, why are the schools kept secret? Okay, I can understand preventing Muggles from spotting them, but Hermione explains that nobody knows what countries Pretty-Stick and Evilly-Foreign-Sounding-Name are in??? Firstly, doesn't that give the others an advantage? I mean, all the plummy accents and English being spoken when they visit would make it pretty fucking clear that Hogwarts is in England. Secondly... isn't it fairly obvious Beautiful-Rod (Hmm, possible phallic imagery?) is in France? Considering everyone involved in the school have names pasted together from a two-dollar French dictionary and talks like the midget from Fantasy Island. Thirdly... does this not cause a problem for parents thinking about which of THE ONLY THREE wizardry schools available to enrol their child in to go for?

"So, what's the travel distance going to be like?"

"That's classified. No more questions!"

Point 2. Rowling hates parents.

Then there's the fact that these top-secret schools are run by an insane, pants-wetting fool who doesn't even give a shit if his students do any exams, so long as they're adept at fighting demon hellspawn when he invariably causes them to arise within his own premises. I mean, come on, Dumbledore is pretty free with his student's potential lives considering the fact that there's only like, 20-something students in any given year. My class in high-school was bigger than that. And I didn't go to a big high school. In fact, I went to what was apparently one of the smallest on the Central Coast.

So, anyway, you have a school with what seems to be nearly 150 students. Obviously they're going to be the front line of your army when a Dark Lord arises. Especially since te only other armed forces you have our demons that used to work for him. Oh, yeah, can't see anything going wrong with that plan! So you basically have a system that relies entirely on improbably heroic and resourceful teenagers saving the day... and the Prime Minister is kept in the dark? The actual ruler of the country isn't given any briefs at all, nor the power to implement change in what is undoubtedly the most messed up society in the history of creation, something that could be very, very useful. Instead he just gets "The Minister For Magic" (appointed by an entirely different cabinet - HOW CAN A MINISTER HAVE A CABINET? BALLS!) teleporting into his room to explain in intricate detail how badly he has fucked up when he inevitably does, seemingly every second month, but makes sure he does so in a way that the PM is left feeling that it's entirely possible he is hallucinating and so becomes a gibbering vegetable. Good going, Cornelius Fudgepacker. Don't you think the poor bastard had enough to worry about considering there's a war in Iraq without you constantly appearing, going "Oh, Voldemort got away again. And he killed half of my staff... ce las vis, eh?" and then vanishing again?

This is all setting aisde the fact that in Hogwarts all the students learn is black magic, generally for the purposes of living an incredibly lazy life by eliminating all need of manual labour and developing incredibly crafty ways of seeing girls naked (thanks for the cloak, Dumbledore!) and thus do not learn any literacy, numeracy, athletic, social skills. Given that most of the characters in the books seem to be still-born in terms of emotional growth and severely socially retarded, this makes a lot of sense. This suggests that Rowling is aware of the fact that she is illustrating an academic hell, but in a jovial, likeable way wherein any child, no matter how unable he is to make it through a week without irrationally deciding to hate his best friend forever, can save the world nonstop. A place where Asperger's Syndrome doesn't necessarily consign you to a lifetime in the internet, but seems, if anything, to propel you ever higher.

From this we get Point 3. Rowling desires a return to the educational system of the Dark Ages, aka. Rowling hates kids. This is obvious from other aspects, of course, such as the eight-page Ron Weasley sodomy page in Deathly Hallows that I've heard so much about.

Of course, two things are obvious. Firstly, that there are no incidents in Hogwarts relating to teenaged pregnancy or STDs in spite of a complete absence of Sexual Education and the climactic Skins-style Gryffindor sex party in the close of Half-Blood Prince (I haven't read this book either, but I've heard a lot about the FILTH therein) in which the thirty-strong party is gatecrashed by Pati Patel's newly-released Azkaban pen-pals and... well, I don't want to recount what I heard about that scene because it nearly made me physically ill. Especially because I quite liked Ginny. But secondly, the issue that despite not doing any physical activity at all (they float stuff all day long, that's basically it) there is no obesity.

Apart from Neville, but he was apparently born fat and has actually been cast with quite a thin actor in the films just to confuse the hell out of me.

The important thing to note is that no consequences are shown to the truly sick, twisted and depraved lifestyles led by these scurrilous, self-serving BASTARDS who turn a notepad into a mouse and call themselves warlocks. Yet, showing consequence with regard to action is the fundamental cornerstone of all education.

Point 4. Rowling hates Education, and therefore hates The Future.

As clearly exhibited by her own work, BANNED in several places in the world for good reason, for the reasons I have outlined here today, Rowling hates humanity itself.

She is kinda hot, though.

And now for something vaguely legible...

As always, I archive all fic I write onto this blog as well as OG. Though I do it under unrelated entry titles and thus make them difficult to find whilst browsing. For some reason. Not sure why but the system works. For me, at least.

Anyway, this latest is a Sparacus-style riff into the browser window off the top of my head. I must admit the basic plot is one that I've had for a while. But not until I gave myself a 90-minute window to write it did I realise how exactly it could work in short-story format. Will probably be edited before I post it on A Teaspoon and an Open Mind, as I suspect it's a bit clunky, especially in some of the final act exposition.

Nowhere to Hyde

It wasn't meant to be like this... but then, was it ever?

Thud. That would have been the wall, he reasoned, slamming into his back. A common difficulty encountered when being thrown through the air. The trance was not broken, though. He was aware of his form being sprawled seemingly lifelessly on the ground, possibly bleeding, hopefully breathing, but didn't like to think about it... this wasn't the time.

He let his thoughts drift back - how did this start? Why did this start? Why couldn't he remember...

Crack. This was a little harder to place, but was probably a kick to the ribs...

No forget about that. Think. It's supposed to be what you're good at, Doctor...

The TARDIS. Peri. Hatstand, bad clothes, time-tunnel. Getting somwhere now... ever since the incident at Logopolis time-travel didn't seem to be same. So much undignified bouncing around, time rifts, time corridors, all that nonsense. He wouldn't be surprised if a few centuries from now he wouldn't even be able to stand up straight or have a decent conversation during a short trip...

No, CONCENTRATE!. The voice was demanding and strong, it must have had a point...

Let's see... TARDIS. Peri. Time-tunnel. Lots of bouncing around... no, more than that... lots and LOTS of bouncing around! He'd said "I haven't been so inconvenienced since that time bumped into Jonah in the whale!" which was a particularly feeble story that time but he'd wanted to try and lighten things up for poor Peri. She was upside down with her head in the umbrella-stand at the time so it hadn't quite worked. Incidentally, what a terrible time to decide to bring the umbrella-stand into the console room. Clearly he had to learn to curb his flights of fancy...

Crack. Well, that one was easy, another kick in the ribs. Who was doing that, anyway? He thought about opening his eyes but then the voice inside told him not to and he grudgingly decided it must have had a point or he wouldn't have had his eyes closed in this first place...

So... Peri. In the umbrella stand. Oh, the poor thing.. she woke up again and looked around, looking as small and helpless as ever. Like Josephine on her worst days, but with tidier hair. Her eyes were wider than ever, and she started with her stammering - as always making communication difficult, as if her accent wasn't thick enough. Whichever accent it was. She started asking about the nice English boys... and then he'd know that there really was a problem...

Crack. Oh, change the record! Mind you, he was getting a little worried about those ribs...

So he'd gone to the flight log, thinking if he went BACK to somewhere they'd seen just recently... well, it would all sort of fix itself. He could admit now, yes, it was not perhaps the best of ideas. However... he'd seen something that HE didn't remember - Sephros XI? He'd seen Sephros I-VII he remembered that, but decided that the entire system jumped the shark between Sephros IV and V and soon after abandoned his project of seeing the Universe in alphabetical order. Of course, that was a few centuries ago, when he wore a velvet circus tent and had far too much time on his hands. So when had he been to Sephros XI?

His mind drew a blank, so he set the course. Forgetting, as they say, that curiosity likes to eat a cat for lunch.

It hadn't been the biggest mistake of his life - that had probably been using 20th Century India as the baseline and assuming that there was nothing more instantly respectable than a touring cricketer's outfit in the Universe - but it must have been close. Oh, yes, he was remembering it all to well, now. The volcanic atmosphere, the living dust, the deep, thundering heartbeat of the planet - just like Sephros III but with a different castlist. But then... Peri ran. She ran when she saw the statue. Which the the Doctor thought was odd - it was just a statue of him, after all. And a terrible likeness. The eyes were too close together.

But then he looked again - really looked. And he saw. The rage on his face, a detestable carnival mask of bile and hatred, capturing every spasm and grimace that all work in furious symbiosis to create a truly loathesome and frightening. Was that how I came to this planet? he asked, in a truly pointless manner because the answer was obviously 'yes'.

Crack. The Doctor ignored it utterly this time, he was getting close to the truth, the important bit. Figures emerged, the Sephrons or The Elevensies or whatever the unimaginative grey creatures had called themselves, and they caught his eye because they all wore a faultless facsimile of his own effortlessly suave coat. And they managed to make it look awful. But the Doctor understood - he couldn't remember Sephros XI because he came here in a pique, one of his terrible fits of rage... it must have been a very short trip. But even so, he appeared before the astonished locals and amazed them all. And they made him a God.

The trouble is, some cultures are better at making Gods then others... as this thought struck the Doctor he swung around to face the statue.

It was staring right at him. For a moment it's face was confused at seeing it's own self, but quickly it just got angry. And then the Doctor heard The Elevensies shriek and jeer at him, calling him the impostor.

"You idiots!" he had cried "You made an imprint - a psionic imprint! And you put it inside an android. But that doesn't give you a mind or a god. Any psionic image can only preserve the thoughts and feelings of a brain over the course of six milliseconds - do you understand how little that is? The lifespan of the smallest, most insignificant thought is ten times as long! All you can have created is a set of impulses, the foundation of the mind of a child, and put it inside a God's body!"

Actually, he wasn't sure if he was at all so verbose and comprehensive in his explanation. On reflection he may well have just yelled the 'idiots' part at them and backed away. But he remembered the statue closing in, and snarling what was probably supposed to be the word 'crush' but it's puny mind couldn't tame its tongue and it came out as "CRRRH!!". And then...

Ah. Thrown against the wall. All rather neatly tied up in the end. Well, he remembered all the details now, and he thought he knew what to do. Time to break this rather indulgent trance he'd put himself into...



Peri had tried to block it all out. Too many thoughts and memories were squabbling for prominence in her mind, and she didn't want anything to do with them. This was a nightmare, she had told herself... but that idea was shattered now. Your ears didn't hurt from screaming in nightmares, not unless it was your own. And that scream, certainly wasn't her own.

"It's dying!" shrieked the leader of the tiny grey people, braying like a horse or a monkey who'd had too much sugar. The rest of the pack began leaping in the air wildly, their three-foot frames looking like a giant collection of tacky jack-in-the-boxes, including the one holding her. It's claws raked up her arms a little, and it's wildly grunting and leaping up half to her back gave her some frat-party flashbacks she could have done without.

What could she do? Well, maybe she could make a break for the.... the...

Her heart sank. She couldn't hold back the thoughts any more. It was the TARDIS. And where there was the TARDIS there was... the Doctor.

He was in trouble. But tears streamed down Peri's face as she asked herself did she care about him anymore? For that matter, did she care about anything? She'd kept it all locked away... but she knew somedays she didn't know how to cope. All the Doctor did was yell. And scream. And break things when he was angry. Sometimes she was too scared to even try and ask him to take her home. Things needed to get better... but would they? Now, in this horrible moment... her eyes avoiding the gigantic monster in the centre of the hall that she wanted to believe wasn't there, but that she knew had been at the cancerous heart of all her troubles for months... she started thinking about the ways she could escape... from everything...

"Peri?" the voice cut through everything like a knife. "Peri, I need your help!"

It was the Doctor! Her Doctor, spectacles, celery, panama hat, shy smile, pajama pants... she didn't even stop to think about the how or why - in that moment she was so happy she couldn't even begin to describe it. She effortlessly twisted away from that tiny creep holding her back and ran to where she heard the voice...

And then she was face to face with it. The Monster. The Doctor. One and the same. The statue turned to face her. "CRRRH!" It raised it's fist.

Peri blinked.

The statue blinked. And then stared at its fist. The Elevensies exchanged confused glances.

The statue decided to raise its fist slightly higher, cleared it's throat, and said "CRRRH!" again.

Now, the Elevensies were starting to mumble uncertaintly. "So, when they saw 'uninterruptable power source they really mean uninterruptable, right?", "Maybe it just doesn't hit women?", "So what, it can only smite 50% of the population? Gods are meant to be all-powerful!", "I think I might be taking my business to another Church. This God... he's a bit half-hearted for my tastes. Plus I've had some issue with these robes for a while..."

The statue seemed close to tears (or at least, leaking engine fluid) but tried to push the fist, slowly, towards Peri's face. "CRRRH!" he grunted "CRRRRRRRH! CRRRRRRH!" raising his voice, hoping it would make a difference. But the strain on his face merely grew and grew... until... it cracked. And the Statue panicked his hand shooting up to feel the crack in disbelief. It's finger pressed onto the crack. And it spread. The statue's eyes bulged even wider as its face became one gigantic roadmap of tears, cracks, and abrasions, and then they spread down across it's body, across its patchwork coat, down the striped trousers, and then onto the tip of the shoes.

Peri covered her mouth and eyes because she guessed what would happen next. She knew she was right when she heard the noise of a souffle crumbling, felt a light coating of dust on her T-shirt, and heard two hundred shocked religious fanatics coughing their lungs up.

She opened her eyes again and looked down at the crumpled figure in the epilectic nightmare. It wasn't her Doctor... but it was still the Doctor.

"Thank you, Peri," he said, impersonating her Doctor again "I hope you can understand.."

She gave him her hand, and he pulled himself up with a faint groan. Now he spoke with his own voice, higher and far more enunciated, but without his trademark volume - his lungs may have taken a battering. Or not, depending on where he kept his lungs. "I made a mistake, Peri. A big mistake." A faint chuckle rattled in his throat "It just goes to show that sometimes the road less travelled... is less travelled for a reason. But now you've seen, haven't you? That no matter what happens - I can never hurt you. It's impossible - coded into my very being at the simplest, most primitive level. That's how I killed him. Well... how you killed him. It just isn't who I am..."

One of The Elevensies shuffled up, humbly, and prostrated himself with undue haste at the Doctor's feet. "Oh, we apologize for our dishonour unto you, O mighty one. And now, with your glorious actions, there is a vacancy for Lord of this faith and we would be honoured-"

"Oh, GROW UP!" spat the Doctor viciously. Peri gave him a Look, and he smiled sheepishly "Er, I mean I shall respectfully decline your offer. Thank you"

Peri helped the Doctor to the familar blue box.

"Home, Peri?"

"No, Doctor... I think we should get to know one another first."

The Doctor smiled, his teeth shining white like a beacon beneath his bloodied nose. "That sounds wonderful"




For anyone curious as to WHAT THE DEAL WAS with that, it was an idea I had of plugging the gap between Revelation and Mysterious Planet, where Peri are clearly getting on much better. And, yes, I did try and address a couple of incredibly minor continuity points as I went along...

If *I* had written "Doomsday"

Saw a brief bit of Doomsday yesterday, when it was foisted upon me against my consent, but luckily not much. Enough to remind me about how much I dislike it. Which is so much, that I can't actually write a decent version. All I can do is write a ridiculously polar-opposite version to everything that happened on screen. I'm sure there are plenty of miserable, cynical bastards like myself who would prefer to watch this version, though...

(NOTE: Written quite vaguely on my part)



DALEKS: Yeah, whatever we said at the end of part one and stuff.

ROSE: Omg!

MICKEY: True dat.

SINGH: I am too stunned to speak.

(The Cyberleader [David Banks] kicks the door down)

CYBERLEADER: What the fuck is going on in here?

ROSE: Daleks!

CYBERLEADER: Not-Excellent. This is a Cyber story. (to Daleks) You seem to think you are in the homosexual story. That one was three weeks ago. With your boyfriend Marc Warren.

DALEKS: What are you trying to say?

CYBERLEADER: I think you know.

DALEKS: No! WHAT are you trying to say! Make it clear to us, tough guy.

MICKEY: He said you're gay! Jesus Christ...

DALEKS: Oh, so it gonna be like THAT, Tin-Machine?

CYBERLEADER: It be like that for 0.5 seconds because that's your fucking life-expectancy, salt-and-pepper.

DALEKS: Oh, well, I guess we'd better EXTERMINATE!

(Cyberleader is zapped and falls to his knees lifelessly)

DALEKS: We are so cool. See that- he dead. You see that?! What is he?

ROSE: Dead?

DALEKS: Oh, yeah, he... want some audience participation here! WHAT IS HE?

MICKEY: (Sighs) Dead...

SINGH: Actualy, I'm picking up a life sign...

DALEKS: You pick up nothing, man! Unless it's a... erm, what would a gay man pick up?

CYBERLEADER: YOU!

DALEKS: No, something like- oh fuck.

(The Cyberleader punches a fist through both of their casings, causing them to squeal in incomprehensible pain, and he then bashes the two Daleks together, chunks of their casings flying through the air and pieces of their squelchy blue flesh and blood flying through the air. After five minutes their is nothing left)

ROSE: How am I meant to get this out of my hair?

CYBERLEADER: Well, you aren't, are you? You're meant to become like us. Fuck, do I have to go over everything to you people five billion times? And you wonder why I say you need to be upgraded...

(The Doctor runs in, along with some more Cybs)

THE DOCTOR: Yeah, way to go, Leader. Any particular reason you needed the lift to yourself?

CYBERLEADER: No.

THE DOCTOR: You bastard. Anyway, what'd I miss?

CYBERLEADER: Pest control.

THE DOCTOR: Oh, so that's-

ROSE: Dalek.

THE DOCTOR: Right. That makes sense. So... Cybermen win, eh? Blow me, that's a lot of tenners I owe now... wtf?! MICKEY!

MICKEY: Yeah. Travelled through the Universes.

THE DOCTOR: But that's IMPOSSIBLE!

MICKEY: It is?

THE DOCTOR: Yes!!!

MICKEY: Bollocks.

(Mickey vanishes in a puff of logic.)

THE DOCTOR: Two of my deadliest enemies vanquished! Now all I need is some sweet bullion...

CYBERLEADER: Pitiful fleshman! We have upgraded beyond that stage as clearly demonstrated in the canonical serial 'Attack of the Cybermen' as written by Jared Hansen.

THE DOCTOR: Erm, parallel universe, all of that jazz?

CYBERLEADER: It was all a ruse!

THE DOCTOR: My God, that's genius! At least, I think it is because I can't make sense of it...

SINGH: Still here in case you were wondering...

THE DOCTOR: Professor! Oh, proffy proffy proff-proff! Can I call you that?

SINGH: If you believe life is overrated.

THE DOCTOR: Good-good. NOW, what's in the box that the Daleks brought with them, shortly before they suffered genocide at the hands of David, I mean, the Cyberleader?

SINGH: They said it needed a time-traveller to open it.

THE DOCTOR: Ah! There you go, Rose, all yours.

ROSE: Erm... why don't you?

THE DOCTOR: Because I'm sure whatever is in their is so good and benign that it would be a waste of time for the older, more grizzled of the two of us to open it.

ROSE: ...okay.

(She does the open-y thing. And out comes... Maxil! [played by Jared Hansen])

MAXIL: w00t! Word up, motherfuckers, Time Lord in the house!

THE DOCTOR: Hmm, nice physical form, Maxil, I might just have to use that myself...

MAXIL: What a surprise.

THE DOCTOR: Hey, I did that ONCE, okay!

ROSE: WHAT?!? The Time Lords are all dead!!!

MAXIL: It was all a ruse!

THE DOCTOR: Yeah, just like that time I pretended to be Nick Briggs for a month.


====CUTAWAY===

NICK BRIGGS: OR was it ME pretending to be Paul McGann? Food for thought!

(Briggs is tapped on the shoulder, as he turns, he is kneed in the balls by and comes face-to-face with Sylvester McCoy)

McCOY: I believe I have an answer for you, Mister Briggs... though I seem to have written it on the end of my fist...



ROSE: How could you lie to me?

THE DOCTOR: Oh, it's all 'me, me, me' with you, isn't it? I lied to the entire Universe! We needed to make sure the Daleks would never find out that we were all alive all along, because they'd nuke us. Then we wouldn't be all alive all along as you might expect. It was my job to go around being a complete arse, drawing attention to myself so we could find all the Daleks that 'fell through time'. Bloody annoying thing, time. Like a sieve.

MAXIL: A big sieve too. Mothership got through didn't it?

THE DOCTOR: Yep.

MAXIL: Kind of makes blowing up that fake Gallifrey that we built entirely using Block Transfer Computation and the power of Skaro's sun being detonated by The Hand of Omega seem kind of pointless, doesn't it?

THE DOCTOR: Oh, yeah, that's some smooth exposition, mate.

MAXIL: Up yours.

ROSE: You bastard! To think I loved you?!

THE DOCTOR *Snort* You did?

ROSE:... you said you loved me!

MAXIL: It was all a ruse!

THE DOCTOR: Hey, it's MY turn to say that! You seem to be getting all the good lines, in fact...

MAXIL: Hey, poofter! Nice fourth-wall-breaking! Anyway, man, let's go! We've been sitting around in the TARDIS for ages. I'm so sick of hearing 'it's just like a surprise birthday party' it's not funny..

(Maxil goes back into the TARDIS)

ROSE: Right, that's it! We are officially broken up!

THE DOCTOR: You still here? See ya later jail-baiter...

ROSE: No wait!

THE DOCTOR: *sigh* What?

ROSE: Erm.. saving the world?

THE DOCTOR: Oh, right, can't do it.

ROSE: But... that's what you do!

THE DOCTOR: Yeah, normally but, well... I sort of had this deal with the Cybermen.

ROSE: A deal?

CYBERLEADER: It was all a ruse!

THE DOCTOR: Yes, thank you, I was getting to that! See, the Daleks found the bolthole the Time Lords were all in and I needed to make sure I could get it from them. And so, I sort of completely sold-out. Thanks for that, by the way.

CYBERLEADER: No problem. You have given us Earth!

THE DOCTOR: Yes, I noticed. Don't scratch the paint job, though, or you won't get it again. Anyway, this is me, deserting the human race. Bye Rose, proffy-proffy proff proff!

SINGH: OOH!

(The Doctor goes into the TARDIS and it dematerialises. Rose bursts into tears.)

CYBERLEADER: Excellent. Excellent excellent excellent excellentexcellentexcellent. Totally excellent.

CYBERMAN: I love a happy ending.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Hey, hey, yeah, yeah! I wish to be Unnaturally Cruel to Other People

Originally meant to be posted... May last year


Something that has been brewing away for ages, among several other unpleasant things, is a certain viral music clip composed and conceived by a twisted and Canadian brain, currently in the possession of Avril Lavigne. The thought has been resurrected by tales on radio's quality production Get This, starring Tony Martin and Ed Kavalee.

Anyway, like all of commercial radio, they were taking the piss out of The Logies, ignoring the fact that absolutely nobody sane takes the Logies seriously, and that they really just take the piss out of themselves. BUT a terrible revelation came out - at the Logies Avril Lavigne was a special guest (after doing sooo much for the benefit Australian television) and performed her latest single Girlfriend. As guest Jane Kennedy said "The crowd looked like they were watching a documentary on the Kokoda Track". That's usually the expression on my face when the clip comes on multi-award winning station Channel V when I'm at the gym.

So I present

Jared Reviews Music Videos Episode Two
AVRIL "SODDING" LAVIGNE - GIRLFRIEND

For those of you who don't have the memory of an elephant, Episode One was written back in the misty dawn of time before the fall of the Roman Empire. A modern translation of which can be found here.

ANYWAY, this clip is humourous for a few reasons. The first is purely to do with context: those of you who listen to the crap that pop stars say, will remember Avril powerfully and impressively proclaiming that she would move away from the cliched, manufactured punk-rock-girl image that resulted in noisy, meaningless songs like Sk8ter Boi. She then, of course, brought out Keep Holding On, which is a real musical drudge of emo cliches and celebration of that annoying teen mindset that sees keeping a relationship going through a lack of mobile signal a real struggle on par with Stuat Diver's trip to Thredbo. And then, this pile of crap comes out, which not only manages to surpass Keep Holding On in terms of sheer awfulness, but also makes Avril look like a complete fool... wait, is that really a challenge?

Soooo, anyway, here we all are, waiting with baited breath for Avril's latest piece of thought-provoked and introverted lyrics, far detached from her, like, totally immature popgirl days... and what do we get? Opening lyrics: "Hey, hey, yeah, yeah, I DON'T LIKE YOUR GIRLFRIEND! No, No, Yeah, Yeah I think you need a new one!"

Hmmm. This espouses a lot of shite to whoever's unfortunate enough to soak up this song: the misconception that getting a boyfriend is simply a competition to yell loud and open up your legs quickly, that there is nothing wrong with setting out to vindictively have sex with a man who's partnered with a woman you don't like, the idea that anyone would even care about this.

The next words are "Hey, baby I love you, you're so delicious"... what could the couplet be? "My love for you verges on capiricious"? "Times like this my feelings are insidious"? "I swear you're even cooler than a hover-bus"? "But yet you're with a girl who looks indigenous"? "No matter what the jury says I'm not 'solicitous'"? No! "Can't get you off my mind, you're so addictive."

Yes, Avril, that maestra of song-writing prowess (apparently) was completely unable to think of a work to actually rhymes with 'delicious'. Not even this bloke would make that rhyming couplet:



(Okay, there's meant to be a picture of Michael Caine from Educating Rita there. No idea if it's going to come up... actually it seems to have, but I'm hedging my bets. This website has screwed me over all too many times in the past...)

I'm not going to analyse the rest of the lyrics, for the simple reason that I'm not sure if there are any. Focusing on the clip. Avril isn't satisfied simply to dazzle us with her song writing skills and complete lack of popgirlishness, she also plays DUAL ROLES. Well, triple, if you include the daunting task of playing herself as a decidedly slutty singer on a stage. This is necessary for the carefully constructed narrative of the clip: there is a guy who, I'm guessing, is 'hot'. But currently he is being escorted by a girl who has RED HAIR and WEARS GLASSES and a PLAID SKIRT! OMFG NOT FCUKING AY-WAY, GAAAHLFRIEND! And, lo! His saviour arrives, a girl with BLACK HAIR, EYESHADOW, and a STRIPY SOCKS! If only she can humiliate the Nerdy Girl in unnecessarily cruel ways in public and convince the hot guy to penetrate her as she has never been before.

The problems with this should be obvious: Avril Lavinge is pretty good looking. And the simple act of her putting on a terribly cheap red wig and a pair of glasses does not somehow magically transform her into the antagonist of this piece that the audience is meant to resent so much. Furthermore, Avril is no actress, unless we are to assume that the art has not evolved since the days of The Three Stooges. There is more gurning here than a drinking competition between Sylvester McCoy and David Tennant - Avril's favourite action to evoke the ostracised pain of the 'nerdy' character is to let her mouth fall open to it's maximum threshold, widen her eyes unnaturally, and turn her head 45 degrees to her left. I'm guessing she got some bad direction and assumed that she was playing one of those carnival clown heads.

The clip goes on in a vain attempt to provoke some interest, using incredibly colourful locales such as carnivals, a miniature golf course, and the most brightly-lit women's bathroom that I've ever seen. Erm... not that I've seen many womens' bathrooms... moving on.

Goth-Avril essentially stalks Dork-Avril to a disturbing degree, showing up everywhere that she takes her boyfriend and humiliating her in ritualistic ways presumably borrowed from The Wicker Man (The original, I mean. No bees in this film-clip) She destroys Dork-Avril dodgem car, pashes her guy when she takes a break from girlfriend-stuff to eat, and then bodily hurls her out of one of those mall photo booths with method that would make Roy Symonds proud so she can be treated to a set of photos of her Goth twin sister making out until her tonsils bleed.

After all of this, the final setpiece duel is in the Happy Somethingorother Mini-Golf Course where, in a dazzling break of established form in the narrative, Goth-Avril is there purely by coincidence! Fortunately one of her friends is around to point out that Dork-Avril is also there with her boyfriend - occassionally any stalker can slip up, which is why we, er, I mean THEY all need a backup unit. Upon seeing her mortal enemy, Goth-Avril whacks her ball with the force of a driver (something that's essentially impossible to do with a mini-putter), predictably whacking Dork-Avril in the head and sending her plummeting into a handy ice-cold body of water. Once again presumably-hot dude does not seem so much as fazed that a psychotically persistent stalker is on his trail, nor that she may well have commited homicide.

Instead Avril absconds with the guy, though now in the form of Normal-Avril (ie, no wig) and whisks him off to the brightly coloured bathroom where she has been dancing intermittenly throughout the clip, apparently telling all other patrons of the facilities to 'fuck off' as they scurry off stage-right after a simple hand-motion from her, and leads her new conquest into a cubicle. As in, the kind with a toilet inside.

Well, Avril thinks it's okay. Does that make it acceptable? I mean, personally I thought sex on a toilet was kind of... shall we say, tacky? Apparently it's good enough to be glorified in a pop clip. Food for thought.

So, anyway, after that faintly disturbing episode the clip rounds off in the usual scatterbrained editing that these things typically dissolve into, but with one last entry into the rather one-sided and extremely morally questionable duel between Goth-Avril and Dork-Avril. Dork-Avril emerges from the water, showing signs of a serious concussion, and then sees that Goth-Avril has indeed stolen her beau with her unethical campaign, and now decides to do a hate-fuuelled Gollum impression by running forward with nails and teeth bared and trying to tackle her.

You can, of course, predict that Goth-Avril sidesteps effortlessly. What you probably cannot, and would not DARE to predict, is that at that exact moment a morbidly obese man emerges from a port-a-potty in the distance, and Dork-Avril rolls down the hill into the briefly open door, causing, naturally, the mobile latrine to roll wildly down the hill and, let's not dress this up, cover Dork-Avril in feces.

I seriously have to ask, what sick mind dreamt up the moral code used throughout this filmclip? Since when has the crime of being "Like, so whatever!" (seriously how Dork-Avril is described in the lyrics) merited non-consensual human-waste submersion as a form of Copral Punishment? (Ha! See what I did there? A pun!) If it is Avril herself... you scare me.

All in all, a mightily offensive film clip that poses more questions than answers. Just one of them: was this based on Caerdroia?

(Ha! See what I did there? I ended it on an obscure Doctor Who reference! Rather than anything about the clip! Ha, I am so left-field and wacky!)

Expect another film-clip review sometime next year.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Life on Jupiter, or How do These Guys Get Commissioned?

My name's Jared Hansen. I turned on the TV to watch my favourite show at 8:30 on a Thursday night. Am I mad, in a coma, or back in time to when Chris Chibnall was meant to be writing? Either way, it's as if I'm on a whole other planet. Now if I can just find out the reason... actually I don't know what I'll do. Forget I brought it up...

Last night's episode of Life On Mars really demonstrated the importance of script writers. Because everything suggested that it was written by some guy who'd only seen half the first episode and decided that was all he needed to know.

One of the things that suggests this is the fact that the episode effectively revolves around Maya. If someone had happened to miss last night's I can well imagine them scratching their heads and saying 'who?' at this point. Well, do you remember Sam's petite Pakistani DS love-interest from the first five minutes of Episode One? Yes, the exact same one that hasn't been mentioned once in the intervening 12 episodes, and, judging by Sam's advances towards Annie, he's forgotten about her as well.

Curiously, the episode suggests that Maya has been visiting Sam every day in hospital... which is slightly odd considering that last time we (sort of) saw her she had been abducted by a serial killer. Of course, the end of the episode had a suggestion she was alive thanks to Sam's tampering with his own past, but this was immediately over-ridden with the nutjob who gave Sam the information running around wildly screaming "NO! BAD JOKE!" Man, I love that episode...

So, if you're following this, if Maya's alive that means that Sam is both in a coma and actually in 1973. So the big question is - WHY THE HELL AREN'T ANY OF THESE PEOPLE WEIRDED OUT? Come on, his black future-mentor, his mum, and now the mother of his future girlfriend have all meant a completely identical guy in their past, ALSO a Detective Inspector ALSO called Sam Tyler, and don't find this strange in the slightest? Sorry, am I thinking about this too much.

But enough about that. Terrible writing. It isn't so much that the ep is about Maya being why it's terrible (though it doesn't help) but, as I said, the guy not getting the show.

Firstly... the characters. What the fuck? Everybody except Sam is an incredibly poorly-thought-out cardboard-cutout, based on whatever lines of dialogue he saw from them. I'll be the first to admit that once you get to DS Ray "Moustache" Carling there isn't much depth, but you can usually count on some. Here's the logic going on last night:

Ray Carling: If he does anything at all, it will be either incompetent or racist. He's a third-tier character so obviously he does nothing of interest, but I guess I should give him ten lines just to keep the actor happy.

Chris Skelton: Hmm, I can't remember anything about this character, but he's young so obviously everyone will treat him like crap. But as a twist, I'll have him deserve it. Everything about him will be stupid. Or occassionally horny mixed in with stupid. I guess I'll put in some sort of hint that he might grow up to be a decent copper.

Annie Cartwright: Let's see... it's a woman. So... really womanly. A real woman character. Doing women-y things. She can be... I dunno, the voice of conscience. And the hostage. General stuff that doesn't require a penis.

Phyliss Dobbs: What? ANOTHER woman? Oh, it's an OLD woman. That's fine. She can be sarcastic in one scene or something.

Nelson: I'm bored now. You can be in somebody else's episode.

By far the worst, though, is everybody's favourite - the Gene Genie, the Mullet of Steel, the Big Sheriff, Hunt Make-Fast, Egg Butty Man, 20G Fistslam, Flask McAlco, The Ace of Racist, The Offensothon 12000, DCI Gene "Motherfucking" Hunt. How did he get him so wrong?

Well, I'd guess the guy stopped watching after his first two scenes where, from memory Gene punched Sam out twice. Because the reason we love Gene Hunt, as much as we would be absolutely terrified to ever actually meet him, is that he does actually want the write thing, and no matter how much he hides it we know his moral code isn't actually too different to Sam's. In fact, in the episode apparently called A Conflict of Interests, there's more than a hint that he started out with exactly Sam's attitude, but the nature of the job soon disillusioned him utterly.

In this episode, though, Gene Hunt is a psychopath through and through. Every single scene (rather than just most) he is pissed off and shouting, he has to visibly resist punching Chris' lights out, and he kicks the shit out of corpses. Most ridiculous of all is actually a major plot element - that Gene, who prides himself so highly on being the Sergio Leone-esque Sherrif of the 'small town' of Manchester, who strives to maintain an iron-grip over his officers and their actions... hires a murderous gangster named Toolbox (played by the terrifying bastard lovechild of DI Lytton and Bernard Fanning) to do his dirty work.

It helps that Sam is just as shocked as I am at this revelation.

Toolbox and his behaviour also suggests to me that this story originated as the most retarded script ever submitted for the short-lived, completely-off-the-fucking-wall gangster series Lock, Stock as the character relishes in that show's combination of the grittily revolting and the unbelievably camp. He shows up with a sackful of ferrets to nibble a man's testicles off. He ascends from underneath in his run-down theatre playing a church organ as a prelude to a torture session. He is a fucking cartoon character.

The assumption inherent, that Life on Mars isn't much of a show to be taken seriously, may also explain the plot revolving around heroin as a 'new' drug in Manchester. I admit that my knowledge of the history of drug use is practically non-existant, but I do know that one of the biggest drug-bust operations ever took place in 1961, twelve years earlier, and involved a multi-million dollar load of herion transported in vintage cars to the US. Thank you, French Connection!

So, anyway, I won't get into the whole Pakistani racism subplot in the story because it's exactly the same as the Irish racism subplot in The Bombing only more poorly written. All you need to know is that this episode has the most retarded ending ever.

Sam and Gene go back to Toolbox's theatre-cum-slaughterhouse to watch him kill an innocent man (!!!!) when Sam goes "Hey, that's a very Asian looking rug!" See, because the heroin was in a warehouse full of Middle-Eastern rugs, this is a highly incriminating piece of evidence, specifically of the type you are not meant to leave on plain view when the police come around. Then Gene or somebody says something about where's Annie and, what do you know!, she's tied up in a chair in plain sight. Toolbox and his partner then pull out guns and take Gene and Sams'. It's kind of odd that they're carrying them because generally they only get guns their guns when they're sure they're going to meet armed resistance but this plothole doesn't really amaze. And then... Chris shoots the woman. Simply because if he hadn't this episode would be even worse because as I said, Chris is inexplicably treated like a retarded kid throughout the entire episode, at one point even being told to shut the fuck up before he has opened his mouth.

I mean, come on! Earlier he orders two women out of a bed because they're naked, even though Sam has already said otherwise. Firstly, Sam is a hero to Chris. Secondly, Chris is nervous around girls as demonstrated in... let's see... every episode he's appeared in! This begs another question - does Life on Mars HAVE a script-editor? If so, what did the first draft of this shit look like?

This was a real disappointment, because I thought last week's was the best one that they'd done. It was sort of spoilt by the terrible last minute twist, but I can easily pretend that never happened. Much as I hope to with this episode. BRING BACK CHRIS CHIBNALL!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

NEWBIE REVIEW #3: Players

While I still have the ability to post on my own blog, thought I'd post the next of ye olde Newbie Reviews, as they are by far the easiest 'regular' feature on my blog to post. (And also the only 'regular' feature to actually appear more than twice - this is not co-incidence)

The third DW novel I read was a bog-standard piece of Dick. s. Terrance Dicks' usual fine work in trying to see how badly he can write but still continue to be hired.

What did I say in my more diplomatic days...

Wow. Can you say 'different kettle of fish'? This like going from Earthshock back to Black Orchid - because this story is, much like that Davison gem, an entertaining little diversion.

Well - not that entertaining, really. The first half drags. After a silly little bit about running around the sewers of some alien world, Uncle Terry decides that he's had enough of Colin Baker and Pertweeifies the Sixth Doctor with undue haste, giving him fine evening wear and a desire to take Peri to see hoi-polloi life in turn-of-the-century London. Fair enough.

But wait! They aren't in London at all, but Africa in the middle of the Boer War! Can they form an unlikely alliance with the true-blue young war correspondent friend Winston Churchill, outfox their fiendish captors and avoid a stalking assassin to get back to Old Blighty in time for tea and scones and the Grand National. Of course they can: they're British! Seriously Boy's Own stuff, this, but thankfully it doesn't last long.

After some bloke tries to kill the Doctor twice with little pre-amble (by his standards, anyway) he twigs that something odd is going on and brings out the memory-displaying device from The Wheel in Space thus giving us a nice little segue to a mini-2DA at the start of Season 6B. This bit's pretty dull, too, actually but has some nice Troughton moments that make it worth risking drowning in the bucketloads of The War Games continuity.

With that out of the way the Sixth Doctor becomes intrigued by these odd figures meddling in time - these 'Players' - who are they and what do they want? Actually, it's probably best if you're not too curious about that because this plotline doesn't go anywhere as such. However, the second-half of this book is great fun!

Ol' Uncle Terry brings back Churchill, a slightly comic depiction of VonRibbentrop, the devious Wallis Simpson, and a loveably stereotyped Chicago private dick named Dekker. The scene? London in the 1930s, dealing with the political build-up to WWII. I loved this because this was a period of history I knew nothing about, and found it all truly fascinating to read about.

As I've said, though, the characterisation of Doctor #6 is terrible. There are certainly moments where he does feel like Baker, but they're few and far between. Most of the time he sounds like Pertwee or even Davison! And Dicks seems to have gone out of his way to make him seem more of a pacifist than he did in his TV stories.

Peri is good, though, and gets to show off her attitude in dealing with the comically bumbling VonRibbentrop and her nice little pseudo-rivalry with fellow American Wallis Simpson. Most of the characters are pretty two-dimensional, but there are stand-outs: such as the mysterious Count and Coutness (even if they get bugger-all to do)

I can't recommend the second-half of this book enough, in spite of the clunky prose and sometimes ludicrous dialogue it's firmly planted in the fun-but-not-classic region. Pity it has to have a first half 5/10


As always, the final score seems unduly generous. Now I'd give it about 3 because really... I did not rag off that first half enough. I made it clear it was bad but it took me AGES to get through. The writing was nice and simple, nothing at all to lose yourself in like some sort of sick river of marshmallow somebody made, but dear Christ is it dull. Runarounds, I can handle. Terrance specialises in 'sit-arounds' and 'stand-arounds'. Everyone chats patiently to one another before doing anything, and you get the vibe that Terrance writes imagining himself sitting their with everybody else, enjoying the tea and scones that somehow materialise in a Boer dungeon just because the Doctor and Churchill are around.

(Note, that's not an actual continuity error in the story. They just act as if there's tea and scones around.)

Has the sixth Doctor ever been so laid-back and inoffensive? It's the type of Sixth Doctor you could take back to meet your mum. Unless you hadn't come out to your family in which case the situation would be quite awkward. But seriously Terrance gets him out of the coat as quickly as possible, and into tux, suits, what the hell ever.

The end of the story is quite good, when Terrance remembers the sort of interesting things that happen in a Boy's Own Adventure which is, afterall, what he's actually trying to write here. But there's the usual shortfalls: abysmal characterisation of the regulars, all the historical characters are cardboard cut-outs existing to teach us about history and nothing else, and all the non-historical, non-regular characters are non-existant.

The Players are just a vague excuse for a historical adventure, rather than any sort of thought-out alien race, btw. Worth noting because that's why, in spite of all the shit they've started and the fact that the range of books ended with the last story in which they appeared, Terrance still hasn't killed them off.

It's quite annoying because if, say, Lawrence Miles, or somebody with unique ideas and a grasp of characterisation, wrote for The Players they could actually be quite good. But they haven't. Sigh.

The Dial-Up Conspiracy

As I being writing this the time is 3:04 PM. I went online today at roughly 10:30 AM. One of the first things I did was check if Ewen left a comment responding to my previous comment in the last entry. Yes, I know these are thoroughly sad details.

The point is that it has been nearly five hours and I haven't been able to post my reply. I've been trying on and off during those five hours, hoping that the tides of bandwidth will somehow have cleared. So far, nothing.

This is pissing me off, because where I live there's no broadband access. And even if there was, broadband's not cheap. And this is leading me to place some credence in my father's theory about a great conspiracy to boost broadband sales by 200% once the cables (which are apparently being laid in a Labor initiative) are out by slowing up dial-up more than it has already been.

This rings true for me, as over the past two months our internet has been running slower than ever before. I suppose there are a few possible explanations:

a) Our ISPN has radically grown in terms of clients and its server is at breaking point. But I would think it would have trouble maintaining that sort of customer base with such terrible service...

b) Internet use in general has expanded to the point where there is less bandwidth across the board and is universally slowing. Seems a bit simplistic of a read...

c) I have thousands of trojans and worms in my system that I am oblivious to, syphoning off all my precious bandwidth. Bastards.

Of course, even that last one is incredibly unlikely as I have an anti-virus program that is updated every day, a firewall, and perform full scans of the system with two programs at least twice a day. So... there's no other possibilities. I'm going to go ahead and blame Telstra for this, as they have screwed my life over in so many other ways as well...


And, for the record, the post I was originally going to make in "PMG Seasn 3 Review" went thusly:

*SNIP*

EDIT: 4:06 PM. Nevermind that bollocks. I've posted it now. Only needed another hour. I was just being impatient, clearly.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

PMG Season 3 Review

Zagreus

Yes, I am staying true to my word and am listening to Zagreus, all the way through for a second time. No, don't cry for me, I am sure that I can handle it. It may seem unnecessary as I wrote a fair bit about it last time, and that's true, but it's a different kettle of fish hearing it in context. And this review will doubtless be even longer...

The first question would logically be: okay, Jared, you've heard the lead-in, will you admit now that Zagreus is the most terrible scourge ever inflicted upon homo sapien? Well... no. Because Neverland wasn't actually that good - it's not as if there was a golden setup which is squandered, Neverland is a mad scramble for a cliffhaner for Zagreus to resolve. In fact, I'd say that NL is actually more bloated than Zagreus itself, as it sets out to achieve so little, but takes so bloody long doing it... think about it, all NL needs to do is a) Tell us what anti-time is, b) Have the TARDIS caught in an anti-time explosion, c) Re-introduce Rassilon, and d) Have the Doctor scream "I AM ZAGREUS" cue "Zzzzzieouw!" noise. And it goes for over 2 hours. I'd go so far as to say that Neverland could have simply been conflated into Time of the Daleks to create a vaguely interesting story.

The unavoidable reality is that Zagreus is one of the least popular DW stories of all time, though. I argued previously that this would be due to the fact that expectations were too high, and I still think that is true. Obviously you can only laugh at Zagreus being released directly after Omega, Davros and Master, suggesting with that ascending order of villainy that Zagreus himself is the single greatest villain that the Doctor has ever faced, making those other three wankers look like small-fry, as it reeks of hubris to high-heaven and has proven to be terribly untrue.

So, the character of Zagreus, supposedly the most fearsome villain the Doctor has faced.. what is the problem with him? Well, firstly there's the fact that it isn't even real. In NL people can't stop saying that Zagreus isn't real and... they're right. I was expecting some sort of twist but, no dice, he is really just a fairy tale. The title of the story doesn't even come from the character, but the fact that when the Doctor is hit by the anti-time infection he goes insane and decides to start calling himself Zagreus because he's 'the leader of a fictional race'. So really the villain is Sentris. Again. Just couldn't get enough of her the first time.

So the hook isn't the villain itself, because Zagreus is imaginary. It's the fact that the villain is the Doctor. Still, you can't shake the odd feeling that this has been done before... because it has. Just two stories previous in the Nev Fountain alleged cack-fest Omega, where the Doctor and Omega interact in pretty much exactly the same way as Zagreus and the Doctor. Not a good start for a story that was meant to be taking DW into 'areas it had never been before'. Hmm.

The added problem is that Zagreus has no apparent characteristics or personality. It's just Paul shouting a lot. And it's very disappointing that his very first scene, where he hits Charley, is actually as evil as he gets. Pretty much every scene afterwards isa combination of Paul mumbling fearfully (as 'The Doctor') and then intermittently shouting madly (as 'Zagreus'). This is interesting the first couple of times but becomes boring VERY quickly. However, because Paul McGann is the star of the entire series, there are necessarily a lot of these scenes.

The state of affairs forces Charley into the limelight, which is something well overdue, in spite of the fact that her character is meant to be dead by now, because as I've pointed out she is far from the Rose Tyler of the audios as press will lead you to believe and gets sidelined to Melian levels in most of her stories, and never once upstages the Doctor. Sadly, she doesn't get to upstage even here. The Doctor is out of the way, but there's a substitute very quickly, because as soon as an obviously imaginary and entirely pants-paralyzingly dull bit with Charley talking to her bloody aunt is over the surrogate emerges in The Brigadier aka The TARDIS. Incidentally, I have to say that on my second listen-through I noticed a really neat piece of foreshadowing, in that the Brigadier is introduced to Charley as "Dr Zagreus". If there wasn't so much shite in this story small details like that would be rightfully lauded.

Because Nick Courtney becomes pretty much the star of this audio, possibly as a warped amending of his complete rorting in Minuet in Hell, his performance becomes more central to the drama than any of the other Mark Strickson-style blow-ins. What's interesting, is the fact that it's unusually inconsistent - unusual as Nick is generally the Rock of Gibraltar as the steadfast yet oddly passionate Brigadier. In scenes where he is grandiose and villainous, he is quite brillaint. When he is effectively the Brigadier of old, he is also brilliant. But, strangely enough, when he has to, say, provide the voice of "Captain Dodo", the senile and treasonous head of the animatronic armies of Walton Winkley, alongside the understated performance of Bonnie Langford, he sounds like he's delivering the dialogue while sleepwalking and dreaming of better scripts.

The biggest question posed by Zagreus... I guess after the obligatory "WHAT THE FUCK?!?" anyway... is why the hell it is so long. Yes, it's the "40th Anniversay Special"... but so what? The Anniversary is made by the guest cast and the plot. A whole disc of padding, in turn ratcheting the price of the story up and making the end harder to get to, isn't going to endear you to anyone. As I've said before, people would have been expecting a Multiverse-crossing epic with as many Doctors as possible actively involved and fighting the Anti-Time menace, with plenty of action and crossed and double-crossed subplots. THAT could need three discs. But Zagreus, no matter how much it dresses itself up with mind-bending dialogue, is essentially a shitload of characters walking around the TARDIS. Most of whom aren't real.

The length doesn't just defeat [most of] the listeners - you can tell it defeated Gary Russell himself. Although Zagreus is noted for it's callous butchering of all the sacred cows of the DW universe, what is conspicuous is that there's mostly gentle ribbing in the first two discs. It isn't until the last episode that Charley starts calling the Doctors morons, the Doctors tell PMG he's useless, Romana starts insulting Leela non-stop for no reason, the TARDIS is destroyed, PMG turns evil and the Brigadier tries to kill all the Doctor's companions whilst yelling about their dirty knickers. It may be a rash conclusion to draw, but I think Russell had OD'ed completely on DW by this stage and was just lashing out at all and sundry.

After all the hatred in the final episode, the happy ending feels truly out of place, with Charley apparently reverting to an eight-year-old girl, and the Brig giving the Doctor a magic potion that solves everything. Or, actually, nothing because he's still Zagreus anyway so why even put it in the story? Not enough frigging references to a children's book written by some stoner a few centuries ago? And why the hell does the Brigadier say he's "been trying to give it to the Doctor all morning"? Weren't trying very hard, were you? Maybe if you stopped trying to kill him for more than five minutes... arsehole.

Oh, and Rassilon's plan is pretty stupid, surely? Why does he think the Doctor will agree to kill an entire Universe?

Anyway, I still kinda like it. Definitely a guilty pleasure.


Scherzo

Scherzo is one of those stories where you want to kick yourself in the teeth simply to alleviate some of the rage at the fact that the motherfucker writing the previous story didn't even try to segue the end of it into the next one. What's the matter, Russell? Too busy having a nervous breakdown? Well, I guess that's a half decent excuse. But it's really painful because Zagreus eventually ends with the TARDIS flying off to unknown vistas in the brand, spanking new Divergent Universe in a state of serenity. Whereas Scherzo opens with the TARDIS dying with a drawn out death-rattle upon reaching the new Universe.

HELLO?! SLIGHT CONTINUITY ISSUE!

The reason this pisses me off so much is the fact that this story is just sodding fantastic, so to have a blight against it from the previous, far inferior work seems almost as unjust the ABC managing to purchase one of the greatest TV sci-fi dramas ever to be devised, only to discover they've got episodes that have been 're-jigged' by the same dude who edited the Season 22 cliffhangers with extra swearing edited in by Eddie Catflap with the subtlety of those edits of The Goodies all those years ago.

Yes, I'm talking about Jekyll. How about some of Steven Moffat's classic dialogue, as delivered by Gina Bellman?

"What the fuck do you mean you haven't fucked anyone in fucking days? You motherfucker! I'm going to fuck you till I crush your fucking pelvis!!!"

Ah, as charming as it is urbane...


Damn, getting distracted as I often do when the story is too good for me to slag off. I promise I won't reference any other shows for the remainder of this one review. But then I don't always keep my promises...

Anyway, Scherzo's beginning is wonderfully dramatic. The TARDIS is going nuts and Charley is scared. She goes to find the Doctor... who seems to have regressed to a childlike state, hiding under the console and hoping all of his problems vanish. Not that he would know, because as he says he's hiding from nothing - the TARDIS is from another Universe and so here it cannot understand the data it's receiving and from it's point of view nothing here exists. This goes from creepy to downright scary as the TARDIS begins to be eaten away or, rather, ceasing to exist with a horrible hissing noise - and the Doctor decides that he's going to die with his ship.

Charley naturally tries to talk the Doctor out of this, as would we all, but the problem is that the Doctor doesn't recognize her in a neat parallel to the way that his TARDIS doesn't recognize any of it's surroundings. He has sacrificed his life so that Charley may live, so it can't be possible that Charley is here to die with him... man, this is a cool story.

Eventually, of course, Charley gets the Doctor out of the TARDIS and the two stumble into what must be generically termed a 'white void', but that's understatement of the century. It's a void of pure light, burning light that sears into their eyes, that stabs into their skin, their mouths, and destroys all of their senses. As soon as they have seen the TARDIS crumple into nothingness, all they have is one another, and the need to escape.

Even though his life has been saved, the Doctor is majorly pissed off. Charley has destroyed his suicide attempt and thus his life. Charley is similarly pissed off at this lack of gratitude and the fact that the brave new Universe isn't really what she was expecting what with the whole 'stumbling around numbly and blindly'. They have to talk to one another, though, because in this Universe there isn't anything else to do at all. Well, until the Doctor tells Charley to shut the fuck up so he can think.

Just like with The Chimes of Midnight there are suggestions that Shearman's work got butchered in the editing stages of Dalek, as here his emo work is again completely unobtrusive, subtle, and not just relevant to the plot - it is the plot. The Doctor and Charley need to do far more than work together (which, to begin with, they find impossible) to survive, as they find themselves confronted by a terrible enemy in this new Universe - themselves. Or, rather, a creature that is taking shape as themselves.

One reviewer pointed out that this is the story where Shearman's habit of writing stories in a Sparacus-style make-it-up-as-I-go approach is most evident. I'd extend that logic to saying that this is the story where Shearman's godlike nature is most evident, as it's still hard to tell. In fact, I'd say he's given himself the perfect story to work this way in - it's the Doctor and Charley just walking around a void talking to one another! Of course it's going to be disjointed, stream-of-consciousness stuff. There's no exposition, no guest cast, no plot twists that have to be explained to all and sundry - it must have been as liberating as it would have been terrifying to write because Shearman eliminates any and all kind of the usual obligation to the audience for himself. This is also what makes it the perfect story to introduce the Divergent Universe - a wonderful start from a blank slate type of deal..

(Incidentally if you think in the last paragraph I compared Sparacus and Shearman's writing styles I guess you would be correct. I should qualify that the key difference is that Shearman isn't tossing one off while he's doing it, and nor does he send the script to Big Finish with a post-it note saying "Sorry it's not finished I've just gone to the loo". At least not as far as I know...)

The story also deals with the big left-field moment of Neverland, which probably would have been amazing before the New Series, where the Doctor tells Charley that he loves her. Admirably, it looks at what that means in practical and cynical terms. "I love you" Charley says to the Doctor. There is a pause you could boil an egg in. "Is that IT?" spits the Doctor in response, suddenly using his Lieutenant Bush voice*. It fits in the story perfectly whislt also making a point - what does the 'love' mean to DW? Really?

The directions that the story takes, thanks to Shearman's near callous disregard for narrative conventions (Episode 3 begins at least a month after the previous cliffhanger - I love it!) is unpredictable and very entertaining. The scenes of the villain appealing to Charley's weak emotional side by masquerading as her imaginary daughter, even though it is so clueless about humanity it appears and sounds exactly like PMG are dark, tense, and fucking hilarious.

This is where Scherzo's big problem rears it's head. It is just too good. The series has well and truly established the fact that it can't tell consistent stories and its previous attempts at arcs have been misguided at best and incoherent and worst. With a new arc being undertaken, Shearman grabs the bull by the horns and buggers the life out of it, using the ideas brilliantly and creating a brilliant setup. He leaves us with Charley and the Doctor in love with one another, redefining the Doctor-companion relationship, and the two on the cusp of a new Universe that they find it difficult even to understand. These ideas are great. And surely every fan had to realise that they would be immediately squandered in stories that could never live up to these high standards?

This is outlined by a bit near the end, where Shearman has clearly written some dialogue to indicate the temporary omniscience of the Doctor, the acceptance of the new Universe and neatly foreshadow what is oncoming. He has clearly written some blank spots for Gary Russell to fill in, preferrably with the names of some amazingly impressive beings in this Universe. However it ends up being:

"We could be mightier than the Kromon, more powerful than The Censor, greater even than Koth!"

On first listen-through, this is rather intriguing. On a second, it is hilarious, as none of those count as proper villains and Russell has twisted the words as a desperate and misguided bit for publicity for the next three stories. I mean, seriously, the Doctor could be mighter than the Kromon by opening a bottle of Mountain Dew on the first try...

Speaking of the Kromon..

*Knew I couldn't make it. Hornblower reference...


The Creed of the Kromon

Ewen Campion-Clarke maintains with the vigor of Rob Sitch impersonating Imran Khan that that this story is the worst of all of PMG's stories. I maintain that The Next Life makes this feel like Ben Folds to my thankful ears. It doesn't seem our positions are going to change.

I think, if I were to lose my ingrained repulsion to the sheer horribleness of TNL, I could probably admit that they're both as bad as one another. But in diffrent ways. TNL has a lot of ideas. Two years of stories' worth of ideas, in fact, but they are poorly presented (mostly in the space of one episode) with a complete lack of any coherent plot, painful padding, whilst leaving all the regulars on the sideline and ignoring all the issues of the 'arc' it is supposed to be concluding. A lot happens, but it is amazingly retarded.

Kromon, however, has nothing happen in it. There isn't really any plot, no real ideas.

So, which one is worse really depends on whether you think it's better to try to be clever and fail, or try to be average and fail. I guess from my vote of which story is worse that I go for the latter, and to me it makes sense. It lands closer to its goal afterall. Whatever one's opinion, it's certainly a close-run thing between these two dreadful stories.

To begin with, the story starts with the Doctor and Charley walking and talking in a way that tells us immediately that the previous masterpiece has been completely retconned out of existence and the fact that they are supposedly in love will never be mentioned again. Thanks for that, arsehole. Things get lamer steadily, as Phil Martin proves as quickly as possible that having to rewrite the script for Vengeance on Varos a dozen times before it ended up on TV has permanently handicapped his career in sci-fi, as he is conspicuously unable to stop re-writing it and give it a new title. I'm referring to the bit where Charley is attacked by hundreds of killer insects and the Doctor mumbles "Yeah, they're, like, hallucinations or something". Of course, Charley's a girl so she has to be told several more times before she gets the message.

And then the fucking Kro'ka turns up.

I don't know who to blame for Kro'ka. But whoever it was: you suck. An incredibly camp guy who sounds like Nick Briggs, reads minds and makes crap jokes. Let's make him a recurring villain. What is this, 60s Batman? How many people has the Doctor met who can read minds for Christ's sake?! Why are we meant to be impressed with THIS loser? He tortures Charley a little bit, which I guess is kind of interesting, but the Doctor defers to him like a total wuss (WHY?!?) and Kro'ka proceeds to act like a customs officer and consider the Doctor's right to enter 'Zone: Eutermes'.

As soon as the Doctor is through with this crap the Kro'ka pulls out... something, and says "Experiment 54cimtotallynotgay started..."

Who thought that the idea of the Doctor being shunted between one pointless experiment and another was a good idea? Take a guess as to my opinion of you. That's right: you suck. Well done.
Of course, if they did something with the idea... but no. The 'experiments' are not different to any normal adventure in any way at all. They're a framing device or, specifically, the worst framing device ever devised as they are completely irrelevant to everything else in the story.

So, after all this crap where do the Doctor and Charley end up? Wandering around a desert, bitching. Until they find C'rizz, mumbling insanely and he tries to strangle Charley. They're oddly unperturbed by this and proceed to save his life, so he can tell them a long and very boring story about how he ended up there.

Philip Martin, judging by scenes like this and the general shittiness of the story, seems to be completley ignorant of BF's achievements in making innovative and fresh forms of the humble audio drama, and the fact that it's not all that different to TV. Even though it's not a visual media, the principle of 'show, don't tell' still applies. If we were introduced to the story with C'rizz's strange and alien wedding ceremony being interrupted by gun-toting cockroaches in a surreal yet action-packed scene, we would actually care about the characters. Or if C'rizz was stand-offish and made cryptic references, which we slowly began to understand with flashbacks, then we would be intrigued. As is, we just get Conrad Westmaas expositing till the sun comes down.

The rest of the episode is taken up by desert-wandering and introducing the Oroog, a giant badger who serves as the stories only real character. Everyone then gets captured by the Kromon in a suitably lame fashion, and the cliffhanger is seriously C'rizz saying that they're all going to die. Setting aside the fact that he isn't in any position to judge this, C'rizz has been well and truly established as the whiniest bitch on the planet. This isn't surprising. Let alone interesting. Let alone confronting. Let alone anything approaching frightening or tense which is the whole idea of a cliffhanger for Christ's sake!!

Bear in mind, this is the best episode of the story. Thanks mostly to the brilliant sound design and nicely strange and understated music, and the desolate atmosphere, this episode is actually bearable.

What destroys this story is a dreadful combination of two different factors. Firstly, the simple fact that Philip Martin has a terribly naive view of science-fiction. Look at what he comes up with: a colony of gigantic anthropomorphised insects kidnap other aliens and enslave them, transform beautiful females into disgusting maggot-queens for questionable reasons and... actually, that's it. It's the cheesiest load of 50s-style pulp you'll encounter outside of MST3K. It's sheer rubbish. It's derivative, listless, pointless GUFF. And what really stings is that this is all presented as if these are incredible ideas. The Doctor practically spends the entire story going around saying "Whoa, this stuff is seriously expanding my mind!" making him sound like a complete moron. This story is very notable as the first one where McGann completely loses enthusiasm and attempts to deadpan every line of dialogue, as well.

The second factor, is context. That this generic slab of cliche and dullness should come directly after Scherzo is painful. That this is supposed to be the Universe that the Doctor was struggling even to comprehend a few minutes ago is absurd because there is nothing here even to be taken aback by. There's also the fact that this story is the kicking off point for a long arc and, as such, sets the tone for everything that will follow. Which is a terrifying thought. Frankly, what I'm getting at is why the hell did they even approach Philip Martin about this story?

Anyway, in the midst of all the nothing happening over the course of the next hour C'rizz is 'forced' to kill L'da, his wife, as she's been turned into a giant maggot. Not too important to hear this bit as it will replayed in every play after this pretty much and makes another shit cliffhanger. The Doctor also turns evil for no readily apparent reason, achieving genocide of the Kromon race through a gigantic bomb and, when that doesn't quite do the job, poisoning their water supply. Erm... 'yay'? Is that what you're expecting from me here, Phil?

This evil turn from the Doctor, without the excuse given in Mindwarp, feels very odd, considering that the Kromon are, without a doubt, the most pisspoor race of monsters he has ever encountered. And they're up against stiff competition! The Kromon are a bunch of termites that talk like accountants, have no scientific skills, and need to be constantly hydrated. Which can be a bit of a weakness when you live on a desert planet! They are obsessed with production and following business models in their pisspoor attempts at galactic conquest. What's that? Yes, just like Sil. Whom all of Philip Martin's other DW stories contain. Hmm. It should be noted that the Kromon lack Sil's character, intelligence, charisma, competency and general memorability.

Good news: eventually the story ends. Bad news...


The Natural History of Fear

Sometimes ya just gotta say "What the fuck?"

So the Doctor, Charley and C'rizz talk about crazy shit is about to go down. Then they spin a top. Then we hear the theme music coming from some terrible PA sound system in a weird 80s mix. Then Charley's watching an episode of Doctor Who with some dude who's apparently her husband. Then he asks a question and she needs to call in C'rizz and his Jackboot Patrol. Then her husband kills himself. Then Charley gets taken away. Then...

No. It's not worth it. It just isn't. Fucking. Worth it.

Jim Mortimore is some guy whose stuff I have never read but gets praised to the point where Buddha would be feeling it's a bit excessive. I gather he's quite smart. It seems quite a commonly known fact. So it's strange that he's using this audio seemingly for the sole purpose of communicating this fact.

There is a plot. But in the end it isn't actually very interesting. The Doctor, Charley and C'rizz are dropped off in Light City by the Kro'ka. And... no I can't be bothered. I really can't. If you're reading this, you either know the plot or you'll be lost and not care.

The idea is an interesting one. A society where minds are preserved, where people are 'revised' by an Editor, where questions are banned, where Thought Police rule supreme. But these are not ideas on which the narrative is based. They seem to be used as obstructions to keep us from the narrative.

Because people are constantly revised Conrad Westmaas and India Fisher are always changing roles. The confusion is compouned by the fact that in Light City names are banned also - there's the Nurse, the Conscience, the DJ, the Engineer, the Editor, the Censor and the Fire Officer. No frigging names. Paul McGann is the only constant, playing The Editor, who thinks he is The Doctor. But what exactly his motive is remains confusing because he double-talks nearly everyone he meets and it soon becomes apparent that he is entirely insane.

To demonstrate the fact that the society is stuck in a blind-alley from which it can't evolve, entire scenes play out identically. The Editor mimicks the Engineer's suicide rant before letting a bomb off; The Nurse and The Editor give exactly the same speech about the real world; the conversation between The Doctor and Charley upon arriving in Light City is repeated ad nauseum. The story contains very little action, and no tension as we are never given a clear hero. Essentially we are given two possible heroes in the opening (The Nurse and The Conscience) but they're re-written. From then on the story follows The Editor, who was introduced to us as the villain... and really still is.

What I'm getting at here is that this is a story entirely obsessed with what it can do to be clever, without any regard for the audience. Five minutes of the lengthy philosophical discussions in this story are interesting. A whole episode is a major stretch of patience and effort to follow things. The entire story will most likely take up to a dozen sittings and feel utterly unrewarding.

Basically... The Censor got the Doctor's memories so she could use them to destroy her own state in a bloody revolution. No it doesn't make much sense. No, it's not a good ending.

And why the hell are Doctor Who episodes used as propagand in Light City? It makes no sense - the entire idea of the show is escapism, but everything to do with Travel is banned! Gack, this audio sucks!


The Twilight Kingdom

The season starts with a little bit of a bang, and ends with a 'meh'.

Words cannot describe how bemused I was at Twilight Kingdom. It is not bad - well, I could have been influenced by it's placement in the season, as to seem distinctly bad after it's two predecessors it would need to be nearly lethal - but with this story it's as if they've (I don't know who wrote it - some guy?) set out to create the single most innocuous, generic DW ever.

They could never succeed, of course, because God had one of his funny days and had to go and invent Mark Gatiss, but this is really pedestrian, middle-of-the-road stuff. Utterly generic, instantly forgettable.

So... did the writers know this was meant to be an arc about the Doctor in a completely, scarily foreign Universe? Kromon at least tried to wow us somehow with aliens that didn't look human (Oh my giddy aunt!) and History of Fear aimed to fuck our heads up so much that we hopefully wouldn't realise the story could have been set anywhere. But here... they seem to have given up entirely.

A bunch of rebels gathered together under the leadership of the renegade Major Koth - played by the great Michael Keating who really relishes his villainous role and is generally terrific. Curiously there's much talk of space battles and whatnot, which is interesting because in every other storyin the arc inter-planetary travel doesn't exist (no, sorry, forgot about The Last. But can you blame me? That shit makes this season look like high art...) There are vague comments from the rebels and stuff that serve to vaguely hint that it's a possibility that everyone here is somehow stranded from our Universe to cover for the fact that the author has actually made no effort to fit this into continuity at all.

Anyway, with such a generic story I guess I should look at the hooks. Well, it has the whole "Companions Betraying the Doctor!" bit. Which, it's fair to say, C'rizz probably could have done without considering that he strangled Charley in his first story and didn't even appear in his second: he leaves the season feeling more than a little like Adric Mk II, which a lot of people would not want to see. It also feels a bit shoddy by not doing justice to the obvious potential blended with the "Doctor-and-Charley, sitting-in-a-tree..." subplot in the arc, but then there does seem to be an agreement among writers to pretend that that never happened. For its purpose, though, it works well enough.

The other stuff in the story... well, not that much. There's some nice disturbing bits to do with the old "living planet" idea, which is riffed on in style, and in a rare moment of distinction the story actually does the whole "Doctor gets the smack-down by way of being told that he can't do everything before human does the noble sacrifice that he never could" bit that was easily the best bit of Voyage of the Damned, but here it's with a 50 year-old man rather than Kylie Minogue so didn't quite get the same level of attention.

In short... a nice, completely harmless and enjoyable little DW yarn. That happens to be precisely what the series didn't want at this time. *Sigh* Where was this when Sword of Orion came out?

The only thing that disrupts this is, predictably, interference from the arc. Because the audience can't help but think "What the fuck are these experiments about?!", due to the rather glaring fact that none of them since Scherzo have so much as vaguely made sense. And then they try the cliffhanger ending to the season...

"Oh, yeah, gang. Based on no evidence at all, I know precisely who is behind this... RASSILON!"

"Isn't he dead?"

"Who's Rassilon?"

"Sorry, is that meant to be impressive?"

"Hey, I'm not having guest-cast interrupting my cool, fourth-wall breaking, foreshadow-y epiphanies!"

"Then what am I doing now?"

"Well... I guess I am having it. For the moment. Now please stop."

"Okay."

"Anyway to answer your questions yes, he did seem to be dead. But... I dunno he was made of the Matrix or something. Point is HE'S COMING BACK! And as for you, C'rizz... you're an idiot and I don't like you. So... re-subscribe for next year. Please. Do it or Conrad gets it!"

"Hey!"

"No, you're right, that will only encourage them further... WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU WANT ANOTHER TAKE?!"


Couldn't quite work out why they got Dylan Moran to play the Doctor in that one scene...

Monday, March 17, 2008

431 Bottles of Spam on the wall, 431 Bottles of Spam...

I don't get spam. No, it's true. I've got a very good filter on my email, or just good luck or something. I've never been inundated with the hoards of Spam email that most people get, apparently quite regularly. Which is probably for the best as I am very short-tempered when it comes to unwanted emails.

In my youth I led a charge against chain-emails, or 'forwards' or what the fuck ever you call them. Specifically ones that looked like this.

Hey man this is fucking hilarious make sure you read not that Im gay

From milkthepope@quickemail.com.srb 3:15 AM 9/2/04
~
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~~From ifollowtrendsinordertonotappeargay@imnotgay.co.gy 3:14 AM 9/2/04
~~
~~
~~
~~~From autofellatio@iamalsonotgay.co.gy 3:14 AM 9/2/04
~~~
~~~
~~~~From barnyardsexwithpirateninjas@rogeringvegetables.org 3:11 AM 9/2/04
~~~~
~~~~
~~~~~From mistadobalinamistabobdobalinamistabobdobalinawontuquityoureallymakemesick@longnames=longwongtheory.alt.org.au.us.fu.haha 3:10 AM 9/2/04


until eventually

Yeh, like, 40 years ago a girl died in a house somewher. She slit her wrists until blood came out and thendrank it al untl she died in drowinng. She did the kilself thing becaus she was lonely. If u don't email this two five hundred ppls who ar not gay the girl wll put a curse on u and yu wil not meet the love of ur life at midnight tonight, insted u will meet my friend who wil giv u much viagra from nigeria.

This shit put me in such a rage I blocked most people who sent it, before eventually adopting a far more subtle and rewarding method of sending death-threats to everyone concerned, before changing my email settings so that all emails from them in reponse to said threats would be sent directly to the one guy on the email list who I actually knew, hopefully putting him off email for life.

So generally people are too terrified to send unwanted material into my inbox, and this seems to extend even to those weirdoes in New Zealand who apparently get paid by 'Cialis' or whoever to set up programs that send entirely illegible email to as many people as possible. My dad, however, doesn't have this reputation, and as I found today while checking his email (that's my job, you see) has now amassed incredible levels of spam. 431 spam emails. Four hundred and thirty-one. Would you not term that 'a lot'. So, for want of anything better to do I decided to take a look, and see what sort of crazy bargains were on offer from my Nigerian friends today...

ingrim gadi ___ Rihanna porno dvd preview - WATCH IT FOR FREE

There's a few things I like about this one. First and foremost, the idea that Rihanna would actually have a porno DVD coming out. Second, the fact that I wouldn't have heard about it if she did. Then the fact that the Indians would apparently be the first people to get their hands on a copy and immediately move to share it with the world. And finally, the explanation of the term 'preview' in allcaps, as that word's clearly quite high-fallutin' for the porno crowd.

Shinjin mizher ____ Free up your lust - Lynn moaned in pleasure and cried that the feeling of my lo...

One of the great features of Gmail is that it gives you a preview of the body of the email. Never be left in the lurch again! And here we see that this email is apparently somebody trying to spread their 'erotic literature' to the world at large. Within the inviting proposal of a monk teaching you how to 'free up your lust'. I'm confused about what exactly that's meant to mean. So, I free up my lust... what does it do then? I can't think of much else it can be useful for. Lusting up people is it, surely? Not as if it can finally realise its dream to represent Australia...

Tonia Sanez ____ I was tired of being a virgin

Hmm. This doesn't work either as a start-up line in conversation or through email. Nothing like spam that tries to bore you with life stories...

jean-paul bang ___ Rihanna porno dvd preview - WATCH IT FOR FREE

"They're not buying it from the Indian guy! Get our French branch onto it!"

I guess a guy name named 'Bang' is a prerequisite for selling porn DVDs...

gregory oldfield ___ Your giant jang will rule the world

..setting aside the fact that I have never heard it called that before (a sinister new meaning behind the Gang-Gajang?!?) I think this clearly shows a problem with those advertising gigantic members, in that they seem uncertain over actual intent of people wanting penis extensions. Often borne out of insecurity, it is true, but I've yet to meet anybody who wants a gigantic, sentient penis with the intelligence, ability, and independence to conquer an entire planet.

A bit surplus to requirements, surely?

Jeanine Mcmullen ___ Set your wife on fire - I'm not kidding, all the girls in town will admire to go wit...

This falls, I think, into the 'scary' category. Incinerating human beings as an aphrodisiac? No. I do not think so. The big question, I think, is what on Earth this is meant to advertise. Matches? Firestarters? Postal: The Movie?

lazlo drazen ___ Re:Enlarge your organ today to the size you always wanted

Now THAT sounds more like it. No more Stewie Griffin-style intelligent cocks on promise here. Just big ones.

It can be interpreted as quite amusing, though, thanks to the use of the word 'organ' as a euphemism for 'penis'. Possibly grounds for false advertisement really. I mean if I show up asking for Lance Armstrong sized heart, what are they gonna tell me, huh?

Sach Killingworth ___ Take Hayden from Behind!

Whoa. Were Hayden Christensen's performances in Attack of the Clones and Jumper really bad enough to warrant a stream of viral marketing directed at offering people the chance to violate him Deliverance-style?!


What am I saying, of course they were...

harrison dharmara ___ Interesting dvd Madonna

Jeeze... you gotta feel sorry for Harrison, eh? All of his colleagues at the Hindustani branch of Spam Inc. are given the Carmen Electra and Rihanna porno DVDs to cell... and what does he get? A clean one with Madonna. That is arguably fairly interesting.

I almost clicked on this one, that's how bad I felt for him.


Well, those are the highlights, but the rest of the spam was of quite high quality so the senders should not go unheralded for their fine work. Ladies and gentlemen, a hand if you would, for Fazeel Cronus, Lveitra Vigara, Estaban Kramer, Dell Dian, Gaspar Lory, Levi Melendez, Ilari EMMANUEL, Lveitra Viarga (no relation to Lveitra Vigara..), Jerad Ingemar, Gifford Amy, Me, Cyrille Peebles, Alick Guy, Kimbell Russell, Hasheem Erling, Lveitra iVagra (no relation to either Lveitra Viarga or Lveitra Vigara), Cristian Dai, Conrado Stephon, Laird Torsten (the fifteenth Laird of Torsten, I believe), Seokjun Legge, Aldrich Jacques, Gran Garfield, Amadeus Clarrie, Eldon Zapata, and Hannibal Mahbuba!