Saturday, 21 July 2012

Holiday Special (Doctor Who Adventures #278)

The laws of nature were its grammar, the stuff of physical reality its nouns…  Since language was tied into the formation of the universe, words had the potential to change it.
- Benjamin Woolley,  
The Queen’s Conjuror: The Life and Magic of Dr Dee

Tonight, Matthew, I’ll be crossing the line with gay abandon…

Doctor Who Adventures #278

This issue is still in the shops, if you’re quick.

Me:  I used to love Holiday Specials when I was little.  Right up until I read them.

Him:  Okay.

Me:  So, what’s this blog entry about?

Him:  Doctor Who Adventures, issue 278.

Me:  And what’s it really about?

Him:  Our holiday.

Me:  That’s right.  Would you care to give our faithful reader some background on the Doctor Who Adventures?  What it is and that?  Assuming she (or he) isn’t already a subscriber that is.

Him:  Do I have to?

Me:  No.  But if you don’t, I will.  And nobody wants that.

Him:  You’re right, nobody wants that.


Me:  And?

Him:  You do it.

Me:  It’s a weekly stationery set (or toy) that comes with a free magazine.  It’s not as good as Doctor Who Weekly was, but I’m glad it exists.  You’ve got the lot to date, but I think that at 46, you’re getting too old for it.  Doctor Who Weekly had the good grace to age along with its readership, but I haven’t noticed an ongoing article detailing every trip taken by the TARDIS in the Doctor Who Adventures as of yet.1 Is there one?

Him:  Yes.  Many.

Me:  Oh, right.  Is it turning into Junior In-Vision then?

Him:  Question mark?

Me:  Don’t worry, no-one’ll get that.2  Let’s start with the cover.

Him:  Well, the cover has lots of Adipose on it, and lots of Jimmy Vee.

Me:  It’s almost a tribute issue.  John Carpenter gets alluded to too, which I doubt you got.

The Him refuses to join in.  There’s an awkward silence.

Me:  Oh, alright.  There’s a pun on Big Trouble in Little China.  Shall we delve within?

Him:  The ‘Mega Moment’ is – I don’t think it’s normally at the start of the issue – a description of a scene from one of the episodes that readers send in as their favourite scene.

Me:  Do you think the readers really send them in?

Him:  Yes.

Me:  So do I.

Him:  If Elliot Telford’s reading this blog, he’ll be very upset.

Me:  If anyone’s reading this blog, they’ll be very upset.

Him:  That’s not true.

Him:  ‘Hello, Time Travellers!’ is a letter from the Doctor.

Me:  Doctor Who Weekly used to have those.  Is it signed ‘Happy Times and Places’?

Him:  No.  I think it might be Matt Smith’s handwriting, but I’m not sure.

Me:  You might be right.  I remember reading that Dez Skinn got Tom Baker to write ‘The Doctor’ as a signature, so that the one in the magazine would match the one you’d get if you managed to corner the Mighty One4 in Woolworths or something.

Him:  Oooookay.  ‘Tiny Terrors’ is information about the small monsters – or the mini-monsters – or the micro-menaces – that have been in the recent series.

Me:  So it doesn’t go into rancid detail about the Nucleus-

Him/Me:  - of the Prawn./?

Him:  I said that.

Me:  You didn’t, you interrupted me to claim credit.

Him:  So, I said it first.

Me:  Technically.  But I was thinking it quicker.

Him:  Lies!

Me:  What’s this poster of then?

Him:  The stairs to Atlantis.

Me:  Which one?

Him:  Oh, ‘AAAGH!’’s amazing!

Me:  Why?

There’s no reply.  The Him’s reading it again.

Him:  'Creature Feature'.  This is information on monsters from the Doctor Who series.

Me:  Classic?  New?

Him:  I think it’s in general, because right now it’s the Adipose, and that’s a different Doctor.

Me:  Have they done the Garm yet?   

I should’ve worded that a bit better, perhaps.

Him:  Who’s “The Garm”?

Me:  The Garm’s what Digby will eventually evolve into after all that exposure to Gojira.

The Him makes a priceless, but confused, face at this.  Quite right too: the syntax is all over the shop.  

Undaunted, we move on to the Facts section.

Him:  This week it’s the TARDIS key.  I’m going to miss out the terrible pun they’ve got on Rocket Science.

Me:  Good.

Him:  ‘Pocket Science’.

Me:  Thanks for that.  Is it interesting?

Him:  Meh.  I already knew all the stuff in it.  I can’t believe you’re not going to do the ‘Monster Texts’.

Me:  I can.

Me:  What’s this all about then?

Him:  It looks a sunny day after it’s just rained recently.

Me:  Symbolic of the series, hopefully?

Him:  Maybe.

Me:  Would you like to say anything about this?

Him:  Should I give them the story?

Me:  I would.

Him:  Are you sure you don’t want to tell it?

Me:  I’m pretty sure that no-one else would want me to.

Him:  Well they’ll just have to make do.

Me:  But if Interpol turn up, the blog updates might get even more sporadic than they are already.

Him:  I used all my holiday money on it though.

Me:  “M’lud”.  So, there’s a subscription page next.  I’ll use this as an opportunity to:

Him:  ‘Big Sky’?  Is that to do with The Poison Sky?

Me:  No. It’s this update’s example of the hidden running gag for the Troughton entries.  It’s not hidden here because it’s not a Troughton entry.5


Me:  Well, I’ve run out of really vague photos for the Facts and the Letters sections, and seeing as people can only comment here if they’ve got themselves a blogspot account, I’ll do another plug for our Facebook and Twitter pages.  What are your opinions of these final bits?

Him:  They’re alright. 

Me:  And the puzzles?

Him:  Meh.

Me:  Would you like a Doctor Who comic that was just made up of comic strips then?

Him:  Uh.  Yeah.  Yeah, I would.

Me:  Okay.  Shall I finish off with some self-indulgent shots of our time visiting the Colony?

Him:  Well, yes.

Me:  And we can just veg out.

Him:  Word.


Next Week:  The Chameleons

Lest we forget...

1.  In fairness to the mighty organ that is the DWA, it does take every opportunity to mention the Classic Series.  It still isn’t as good as School Fun, however.  Is there really no space on the market for a comic made up of comic strips?  The Phoenix manages it…

2.  Except for our loyal reader.  He (or she) will just have choked on their Horlicks, I can almost guarantee it.3

3.  This is a lie.

4.  Sorry, Tharg.

5.  It’s also not the only hidden running gag.  “Give me things that don’t last long.”6

6.  That might be the other one.  Or one of the other ones at least.  Or it might not.  Don’t write in, it’s not for fun.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

The Macra Terror

Work is the province of cattle.
- Dorothy Parker

Procrastination may well be the thief of time, but it's the only way the dusting gets done…


Me:  There’s a photonovel of this on the BBC site.

Him:  What’s that?

Me:  Umm…

We have a look.

Him:  Oh God, we’re not doing it like this are we?

Me:  No.  johnnyfanboy is. 

Previously on No Complications

The TARDIS is in flight.  Perfect flight, no less.  The Doctor turns on the Time Scanner.  It shows the future.  Apparently.

Jamie:  The second sight?  Very dangerous.

Polly:  Doctor!  Look!

Cripes!  It’s a big claw!

And, like an unfortunate lobster in an over-posh restaurant, we’re plunged, screaming, into the boiling maelstrom of spanky new titles.

Him:  Brand new intro.

Me:  Looks good.

Him:  Uh-huh.

Me:  I’m quite excited.

Eyes twitch (probably) as a heart beats.  Suddenly, the music goes bonkers and a familiar voice announces the arrival of, what appear to be, majorettes.

Me:  Ah.  That’s a bit weird.

Him:  How am I supposed to recognise who it is?

Me:  From the voice.

Him:  I don’t recognise it.

Me:  It’s Colin Baker.

Him:  What?  But-

Me:  Exactly.  AudioGO noticed he hadn't actually been involved with The Macra Terror, and that’s why we've also got a different version read by Anneke Wills.  Colin’s cropping up unexpectedly a lot today. 1

Me:  It’s The Prisoner.

Him:  It’s not The Prisoner.

Me:  Oddly enough, it sort of is

Him:  The thing that makes it not The Prisoner, is that it’s not The Prisoner.

Me:  Well…

I was going to put a long bit in here about how The Macra Terror is very similar to The Prisoner and list the points that prove my argument.  You’ll notice I haven’t done that.  I’m not being nice, I’m just saving it for another post.

Me:  It’s Count Grendel.

Pilot, played by the wonderful Peter Jeffrey cheers on Barney’s ladies through the medium of soundbites.  A bearded gentleman, Medok, makes a dash through the musical joy, pursued by leathery guards led by a rather angry chap named Ola.  There’s the merest hint of a hint of heartbeat and then we’re outside.

Me:  Oo – location.

The pursuit of Medok continues.

Me:  This wouldn’t work on the radio without the narration.

As Medok hides behind some grass, he hears a wheezing, groaning sound.  The TARDIS lands and after a few moments, our heroes exit.  The planet’s atmosphere seems to make voices echo for some reason.

Ben:  What’s the big stick for, Jamie?

The Doctor:  Unless I’m very much mistaken, these creatures are so big they’re going to see us long before we see them.

Me:  Eh?  How’s that work?

Medok jumps Jamie and grapples desperately for possession of the big stick.  Ben wades in and soon Medok’s overpowered.  The big stick is never mentioned again, but I’m holding out hope for its return in the new series - perhaps as a butler.   

Ola and his guards arrive to take Medok and the credit.  Ola’s a bit confused as to who exactly our chums are, and suggests they accompany him to the colony to meet Pilot.  Ben asks the question that we all want the answer to.

Ben:  Pilot?

Ola’s answer doesn’t help.

Ola:  Yes, the pilot of our colony.  No doubt he’ll want to thank you in person.

There’s a bit of an awkward moment.  The Doctor reveals to Jamie that he doesn’t know when they are, but he’s got an idea as to where.

The Doctor:  …on a planet very like the Earth.

Jamie:  How d’you know?

The Doctor:  I don’t.  I’m guessing.

Ola introduces himself properly, this time including his job title.

Ola:  My name is Ola.  I’m the Chief of Police.

Whilst it’s an encouraging sight to see management mucking in with the general staff, it does make the situation that our chums’re in somewhat more serious.  And Ola’s ‘invitation’ a lot harder to refuse.

Elsewhere in the colony, music is occurring.

Me:  Delia Derbyshire helped out on the music for this.

Following a chime, there’s a brief ditty.  Ola introduces the Doctor to Pilot.
Pilot offers his thanks to the Doctor and reveals that the colony’s day is regulated with music.

Me:  Ace.  Sounds like The Prisoner.

Although Jamie is suspicious of this ideal culture, others in the party are delighted at the offer of having their weary bodies revived.  You’d never guess Ian Stuart Black also wrote The Savages.

Me:  This is where Polly’s wig gets removed.

In the refreshment complex, Pilot takes a call from Control.  It’s like Skype, but with a profile picture rather than a webcam.

The Schizoid Man
Polly:  Hey, who’s that? He looks smashing.

Him:  Ha!

The Controller welcomes the Doctor and companions and extends his plummy gratitude for their returning Medok.  Polly’s having a gear time.  Pilot has to head off to do some stapling and leaves our friends in the care of Barney.

Barney:  Delighted to see you, delighted to have you with us.  Now you have a complete choice of all our treatments.  We have steam baths, beauty treatments, perhaps a massage -

Me:  “…wig removal.”

Barney turns to the Doctor.

Barney:  You, sir, of course, would like your clothes cleaned.

Me:  Ha!

There’s a blackout during which Polly’s syrup is taken on to the runway and executed.  Consequently, when we return, she has very short hair.  Ben, on the other hand, now has hair down to his waist and a beard that you could hide a church in.
Jamie’s not enjoying his enpampering, and neither’s the Doctor, to be fair.  The Doctor’s been placed in a machine that cleans your clothes and brushes your hair, a Poppins machine, if you will.

The Doctor emerges, looking groomed.  Ben and Polly compliment him on not looking scruffy.  There’s a great line here-

Me:  Ha!

-but I won’t spoil it for you. 

The Doctor reverses the morality of the scrub-n-comb, climbs back in and - after a spot of rough and tumble - emerges as a mess.

Elsewhere in the colony, Medok is being taken for treatment.  On the way he encounters an old friend and certain underlying questions are raised that are still pertinent today.  It’s got depths, I’ll give it that.

There’s a chime and an American voice announces that work must continue before tonight’s celebration in honour of our friends.  The layers keep lifting.  We’re watching it at this point.  It’s not bad at all.

Posh Macra (in disguise):  IT WILL BE FUN FOR ALL!

The Doctor joins the scene.

Me:  Nicely sinister atmosphere here.

Ola locks Medok up and then strides away.  The Doctor indulges in some furtive lock picking, and then there’s a surprise (for me) reappearance.

Me:  Oo!  It’s Kitty!

The Him sighs.

Him:  Kitty the Lovely Barmaid?

Me:  The same.  I was wrong - she did come back.  But she doesn’t stay for the whole story, although the character does.

The Him doesn’t care.

The Doctor makes his way into the cell and strikes up a conversation with Medok about the spooky crawling things he’s been seeing.  It’s a very brief talk, as Medok makes a dash for it.

An alarm sounds, calling Ola and Pilot to the empty cell.  The Doctor’s in trouble.

Ola:  He let the prisoner escape.  That is a crime in this colony.

Me:  I should think that’s a crime everywhere.

Him:  Except on Crimulus, where ironically, they have no crimes.

Me:  Does this remind you of any other stories?

Him:  All Patrick Troughton stories begin this way.

Me:  Ha!

Him:  I can’t wait until they move.  Does any of this one move?

Me:  Yes.

Him:  How much?

Me:  The bits that were too scary for the antipodes.

Him:  So… two per cent?

Me:  Ah…

The Doctor and friends are being escorted to the labour exchange, when the Doctor catches sight of Medok. 

There’s an announcement from the Controller. Everything’s fine.  Well, mostly, but don’t worry because Medok’ll be grabbed.

Ours heroes watch a work-shift change over,  This process has a theme tune. The actual jobs that are being done are very vague – something about tapping and refining gas.

Two miners stagger out of a shaft, but even though something’s gone wrong, the work must continue. 

In the confusion, the Doctor’s slipped away and found Medok.  They carry on the conversation from earlier.

The Doctor:  These creatures.  Have you seen them clearly?  What do they look like?

Medok:  Hard to say. They move at night.  In the dark.  Horrible.  Creatures… like giant insects

Him:  Crabs aren’t insects.

The Doctor returns to the others as a curfew is declared.  We’re watching it again.

There’s another blackout.

When we return, everyone’s resting.  The Doctor decides to break curfew,slip away and find Medok. 

There are odd noises – other than those just made by the Him there. 

The Doctor and Medok meet up in the shell of a house under construction.  Ola and the guards are close.  The Doctor and Medok slip from hiding place to hiding place when Medok suddenly spots something moving in the moonlight…

Me:  Whoah!  That’s pretty good.

Him:  “It walked toward them on its insect legs, with its insect claws held high and insect eyes twinkling.”


Colony Trumpets:  PARPY PARP PARP PARP

Announcer:  This is BBC 1. 

It’s back into the pot for us.

Me:  Did that just happen?

Him:  “This is BBC 1”?

Me:  Yeah.

Him:  What’s wrong with it?

Me:  Nothing, it’s ace.

Him:  “Now I am king!”

Me:  “When love is the law.”

Him:  “Now I am king!”  Oh, I’ve already said that.

Me:  “And the wheel turn round.”

By the time that’s over and done with, so are the credits.  There’s some serious moonlight taking place.  And again with the sighting of the giant thing.

Medok gets a bit excited and attracts Ola and the guards.  Medok names the beast as a Macra.  This is interesting, but we’ll ignore it as the Doctor’s in trouble again.

Me:  The sounds are spooky , they remind me a bit of whalesong.

Back in Pilot’s office where a letter is being dictated.  Ola interrupts and escorts the Doctor in.  Ola leaves and the Doctor has a poke around the office.  Pilot isn’t very impressed, but in many ways just seems a bit amused by the Doctor and his constant defence of the hallucinating Medok.  There’s another interruption from Ola – Medok’s made a statement about the Doctor.  In an interesting turn of events, Medok absolves the Doctor of all blame and takes total responsibility.  Which is nice.

Me:  Very noble of Medok there.

Medok is taken away to the hospital for correction and Pilot runs through a little of the planet’s history, though not enough to explain everything.  The colony itself is very old.  Pilot bids the Doctor goodnight.

After the Doctor leaves, the ‘Handsome Controller’ pops up on Pilot’s screen and recommends that the Doctor and chums undergo a course of intensive retraining.  Special rest cubicles are to be prepared.


Him:  “Mutter…”

Me:  I’ll never manage to find a link to that. 

It’s true, I couldn’t.  Basically, there exists somewhere, a US television advert for Mutter, Rammstein’s third album.  The 30 second blipvert consists of shots from the videos to the smash-hit singles from the LP which, of course, included the title track.  So, following Mr Lindemann’s bellowing of, “Mutter?  Mutter?!  MUTTER??!”, the gravel-throated announcer comes in with: “Mutter.  The new album from Ram Stine.”   

It loses something in the transcription.  Just think of the John Fashanu trailer from The Day Today and you’ll see what I mean.  Y'know, this one:

Me:  The ‘Handsome Controller’ got a bit worked up there.  

And on utterance of this comment the music goes mad.  Well, madder.   

Colin Baker:  Jamie was tossing restlessly.   

Me:  That music certainly wouldn’t have helped.   

Jamie’s hearing an evil voice, dripping honeyed persuasion in his ears and making a right mess of his pillow,  he awakens with a panicked start.  Jamie can’t stir Ben.  

Polly’s in a separate rest cubicle, but the voice is being piped through even there.   

Posh Macra (in disguise):  YOU WILL NOT RESIST THE SLEEPING GAS!   

Him:  Ha!   

The Doctor enters and checks on Polly.   

Colin Baker:  The Doctor tried not to disturb her…   

Me:  “…but even he had to admit, his recorder habit was getting out of hand.” 

The Doctor fiddles around with a small bit of wire that’s sticking out of the wall.  Before long it’s exploded and Polly’s awake.  The Doctor’s realised that advice is being fed to the unconscious minds of the dreamers.   

Me:  Do you know what’s going on?   

Him:  No.  I feel that I should. 

 Me:  Subliminal messaging.   

Him:  Isn’t that illegal?   

Me:  It’s programming in a way.  Very The Prisoner.5   

The Doctor:  I want you to forget everything that you’ve been dreaming.   

Me:  Good advice.   

And then the music goes mad.  Again.   

Me:  Sounds a bit like Mario just died.   

The Him disagrees and performs all the different variations of the Mario Snuffs It Theme to show why this is.    

The Doctor rushes to check on Ben and Jamie, Polly gets caught up in the slipstream.  It looks like it’s too late for Ben – even his accent’s changed its mind.   

Me:  Oh dear.   

Jamie’s all for leaving Ben and running off.  Ola arrives and arrests the Doctor for Malicious Damage.

Elsewhere, Medok’s indoctrination continues, overseen by Pilot.  It doesn’t seem to be working. Glumly, Pilot decides that Medok’ll have to be sent to do some mining.  

A call comes through and Pilot leaves to see what the Doctor’s done this time. Polly and Ben have a bit of a row, and then Polly storms off.  Ben follows her outside.  The weird noises are back.  Ben grabs hold of Polly – she sees something, screams and there’s: 

Me:  Movement! 

Him:  Must’ve been too scary. 

Polly:  I saw it.  A huge face…  Like an insect, or a giant crab.   

The Him sighs   

Me:  “Could’ve been a fish…”   

Don’t settle yet, there’s another one.   

Me:  Whoah!  That’s pretty good.   

And even more movement, but this time with added doubt as Polly falls between a couple of claws and fails to be able to stand up.   

Me:  Then again.   

Him:  No, it was good.   

Colin Baker:  Ben began beating the creature relentlessly.   

Ben and Polly try to escape. 
Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling
 Me:  More movement!   

They run.  But to where?  Where?

The Doctor and Pilot are having a chat about the Doctor’s interfering when Ola, Ben and Polly arrive. 

Polly:  Doctor, it was horrible.  A great insect.  Like a crab. 

The Him emits a particularly loud sigh. 

Ben:  There are no such things as Macra. 

The Doctor:  Ben has come under the control of the evil forces at the heart of this colony. 

Pilot’s flabbergasted.  The Doctor demands to be introduced to Control properly, and none of this dodgy Skype business.

Suddenly the screen changes to reveal a cowering, less than smashing, elderly gentleman.  It’s the same chap though. 

Me:  Whoah. 

Posh Macra (still in disguise, but not really trying too hard now):  THIS IS YOUR CONTROLLER!  THIS IS YOUR CONTROLLER!! 

Me:  Oo… 

A huge claw comes in from out of frame, like the removal crook used in theatre to cut short over-long performances.  It grips the real Controller gently by the throat - 

Me:  Movement. 

- and drags him off-screen. 

Polly:  They’re in control! 

Me:  Well.  I’m enjoying it. 

Him:  I quite like this one.  I just wish it would move. 


Me:  So, what do you think so far then? 

Him:  None of this johnnyfanboy stuff has any thumbs down. 

Me:  Right. I was talking about The Macra Terror to be honest. 

Him:  Oh.  S’alright. 

Me:  Concise. 

Colony Trumpets:  PARPY PARP PARP PARP 

Announcer:  This is BBC 1.

 Me:  It did it again. 

Bubble and splash go the credits.  The Sapped Controller gets removed again. 

Me:  The Macra are very well spoken.  For giant insect crabs. 

Him:  They’re not insects. 

Following this sudden burst of excitement, the Colonists sink back into their torpor.  Pilot sends our chums off to join a very specific section of the workshift. 

Me:  “Danger Gang.”  Another subtle Prisoner reference. 

Him:  This is before The Prisoner. 

Me:  That’s how subtle it is.  And also, it shows how important The Prisoner actually was.  It’s not many television series that can make the arrow of time more of a suggestion than something mandatory. 

Ben remains behind to help out the Macra.  It’s never a good sign when a companion starts collaborating. 

Hammer Into Anvil
Jamie:  Aye, well you don’t send a lassie and an old man down to dig, 

The Doctor:  ‘Old’?  What do you mean ‘old’?  I’m not old, Jamie. 

Me:  Ha! 

Medok joins our chums.  They’re to be set to mine for valuable gas – which is better than digging for fire I guess.  The Doctor gets left behind as shift supervisor, and down the mine the others go.  The Doctor starts taking in his surroundings. 

Him:  “We call it: The Pit.” 

Ben arrives to spy on the Doctor.  Again, Troughton’s amazing.  The Doctor warns Ben to watch out for Jamie as he’s a lot less likely to be understanding as to what Ben’s going through.

In the mine, our heroes almost immediately encounter an emergency.  There’s too much gas.  The miners are panicking. 

Me:  Trapped gas.  Nasty. 

Medok, Jamie and Polly manage to stop the leak of the gas from the bowels of the planet.

Back upstairs, the Doctor is writing on the wall.  Pilot arrives and is staggered to spot that the Doctor’s graffiti is actually one of the Colony’s most  carefully guarded secret formulas.  Banter ensues. 

Me:  Ha!  Troughton’s ace. 

Back in the mine, Medok’s probing the shaft furiously.  There’s another accident.  Ben just watches. 

Me:  I’m not sure I’m happy about Ben being under the ‘fluence.  It’s a sign of impending contract cancellation.  Remember Dodo? 

Him:  “She was so upset, she changed her handwriting."

 Jamie finds a door and manages to crack it open.  Polly leaves him to it.  As the door opens Jamie finds a new shaft and someone playing a Gameboy. 

Me:  They’ve finished the level. 

Him:  Sounds more like the start of one. 

Following a brief moment of movement, Jamie’s escape is noticed on the surface.

Medok follows Jamie along the shaft, but he gets jumped by a lurking Macra.  Which is no mean feat when you consider that they’re the size of a car.

The Controller’s yearbook photo appears on the screen on the surface.  The guards aren’t to follow Jamie and they must leave the shaft alone.

The Doctor asks who’s escaped. 

Ben:  It is Jamie. 

The Doctor asks why Ben didn’t report this, and Ben begins to throw off the conditioning.  And his false beard. 

Me:  Ben can’t stand the confusion in his mind. 

We’re back with Jamie and the shaft. 

Colin Baker:  As he trod gingerly through the rubble, he discovered Medok lying on the floor. 

Him:  ‘Trod gingerly’? 

Me:  Better than “trod mud through the living room”. 

Him:  Sounds like a name.  “Trod Gingerly: Hero of the Western Front”. 

In the darkness, something moves.  It’s the Stealth Macra! 

Me:  Wow! 

Suddenly, we’re back on the surface. 

Me:  Oh.  I wanted to see that. 

The Doctor and Polly discuss Jamie’s chances. 

The Doctor:  I’m trying to analyse this gas, and I’m not having very much luck. 

Him:  “Ah.  It’s toxic deatheum.  Oh dear.” 

The wrong lovely lady arrives. 

Him:  It’s Barbara. 

Me:  It’s not.  And it’s not Kitty either.  Bah. 

Back in the shaft and the Stealth Macra isn’t moving.

The Posh Macra orders gas to be pumped into the old shaft.  As this occurs, the Stealth Macra starts to move and the Doctor works out that the Macra need the gas to breathe, which is why they’re having it brought to the surface. 

In the shaft, the Stealth Macra advances on Jamie.

The Doctor tries to mess up the gas plumbing.

As the gas fills the atmosphere, Jamie’s choking and the Stealth Macra’s getting closer… 

Him:  “It then sucked out his soul.” 

Jamie tries to run, but he’s trapped by yet another giant insect crab.  More gas pumps in.  The Stealth Macra’s getting really lively.

A sudden held organ note blurs into the Greatest Theme in the History of Ever. 

Me:  Oh, good stuff there from Dudley.  You enjoying it? 

Him:  Yeah.  I just wish it would move. 


Colony Trumpets:  PARPY PARP PARP PARP 

Announcer:  This is BBC 1.  

Me:  Ah.  I think it’s a johnnyfanboy conceit. 

The Stealth Macra ‘pounces’ on Jamie.

Back in the control room, the Doctor continues his tamperage.  Polly’s fretting, but on the plus side, isn't offering to whip up a warm beverage to boost everyone’s spirits. 

Polly:  What’ll be happening to Jamie now? 

Me:  “It’s laying eggs in him as we speak.” 

There’s some flummery about pressure to distract us and build tension. 

Me:  Any thoughts on Polly’s hair? 

Him:  Makes her look like Dodo. 

Me:  Like she’s being written out? 

Him:  Like she’s brunette. 

The Him sighs.

The Doctor’s tapping pipes and running through numbers. 

Me:  Maths.  Urgh. 

Him:  Oo, maths. 

The Doctor manages to disrupt the pressure and send a blast of fresh, Highlander-invigorating air blowing down the shaft. 

The Doctor:  Confusion is best left to the experts. 

Me:  Arf! 

With the change in air to gas ratio, Jamie manages to gain the upper hand. 

Although the Doctor’s sealed the control room door, Ola’s guards are seeing to it.  The Doctor and Polly run through another door and wedge it shut.  There’s a lull.  And a lot of pipes. 

Polly:  Doctor, I think these are the pipes that carried the poisonous gas. 

The Doctor suggests that they follow them, and see what secrets are revealed. 

The Doctor:  Come along, Polly.  I’m sure there’s no need to be afraid… Well, I think there’s no need to be afraid.  Oh, come on, let’s find out. 

Us:  Ah! 

Jamie, meanwhile, has found a miracle of nature. 

Me:  It's a web spun by an insect crab. 

On the other side of the web, Jamie finds a door and makes his way through.  There’s a party taking place.  Or a rehearsal. 

Me:  Jamie’s stumbled upon the Village’s pack of charity muggers. 

Him:  ‘And we must obey’? 

Jamie gets mistaken for a dancer.  Spotting the guards taking an interest in him, he decides to try and audition for the Dance Final.  The dance co-ordinators are after something very specific from Jamie. 

Me:  Umm… 


Jamie:  ‘Gay and cheerful’? 

That’s language in action for you, personally I’m more worried about what the McCrimmon lad’s about to try and get away with.  It’s tense.

Here goes… 

Him:  I wish this moved.  It’d be good if this did move because that’d mean it was- 

Suddenly, it moves. 


Of course, it’s not terrifying footage of Jamie dancing the Highland Fling, but he manages to escape, so hurrumble for that.  

Colin Baker:  But Jamie had flung himself straight into the guards. 

Me:  Well done, Colin. 

And Ola.  Oh dear.  Jamie is tied up.

The Doctor and Polly have found the source of the voice.  They sneak up to a porthole and peek through. 

Me:  It’s the Rills! 

Colin Baker:  They saw one of the Macra inhaling the gas.. 

Him:  ‘Inhaling the dead’? 

Me:  ‘Inhaling the gas.’ 

Him:  Phew.  I was beginning to wonder why this wasn’t moving… 

Me:  Notice anything about the Posh Macra? 

Him:  Apart from the bow tie? 

Me:  Ha!  Cool. 

Him:  “I’m a Macra now.  Macras are cool.” 

Me:  Ha! 

The Doctor:  They’re like the germs in the human body. 

Him:  They’re big bacteria now. 

Me:  German insect crabs. 

Him:  Why German?  Oh.  Alright, I get it.  That wasn’t very funny. 

Me:  Thanks.  I’m riding this humourless losing streak right into the wall. 

The Doctor begins tampering with more pipes, and then the decision is taken to show Pilot who they’ve found.

Ola’s shown Jamie to Pilot and announced how fed up he's become with the way everyone criticises his work. 

Me:  ‘The Running of the Pits’ was an unsuccessful West Country folk tradition.  Participants would often die of boredom until the round cheese was introduced. 

The Doctor arrives and persuades Pilot to follow him.

There’s a very stressed message from the Posh Macra.  Pilot ignores it.  Ola isn’t happy. 

Pilot:  I don’t know why I trust you, Doctor. 

The Doctor:  Perhaps it’s because I’ve got an honest face. 

Me:  Lovely. 


The Posh Macra is revealed, in all its glorious glory. 

Him:  Oh!  It’s white.  And it’s got a top hat. 

Pilot:  What are they, Doctor?  I mean, some monstrous form of bacteria?  Insects?  Or what? 

Him:  They’re not insects. 

Pilot vows to destroy the Macra.

Elsewhere, Ola’s been promoted. 

Pilot:  Ola!  The colony’s in the hands of grotesque insects! 


And they haven’t got hands.  

Anyway, Ola’s not throwing away his promotion for anyone.  He locks our heroes and the Pilot  in a room.  Ola is told to leave the area. 


Him:  Oh.  Sinister. 

The gassing of our chums begins.  The Posh Macra delivers a commentary in its syrupy voice.

Ben, who’s okay now, appears at the door.  The Doctor offers instructions. 

Me:  “There must be a fulcrum release lever or something.” 

Ben follows the Doctor’s instructions and begins to build the pressure.

The Posh Macra is stressing itself toward an aneurysm. 

Ben:  Oh, shut up! 

Posh Macra:  BANG! 

Suddenly, everyone’s dancing.  It all wraps up surprisingly quickly again.  Pilot thanks our chums, announces a Bank Holiday to be named after them, with competitions and prizes and a trophy. 

Me:  The…? 

Him:  That’s not what he said. 
Free For All
Him:  “I would like a hat like that.” 

Me:  Mmmmm. 

Our heroes leave the colony through the medium of dance. 

Dance of the Dead
Him:  What’s up with Jamie? 

Me:  “Send… more… dancing… girls…"


Me:  Righto.  What’d you think? 

Him:  It was alright. 

Me:  Yeah.

Announcer:  Happy sleep time everybody. 

Me:  Whoah! 


 1.  We’ve taken to visiting a haunted Victorian Music Hall on Saturdays – well, why not?  In a glorious confirmation of either synchronicity, luck, the Library Angel or a need to desperately see patterns in things that aren’t there,2 serendipitous Doctor Who merchandise has become a theme of these visits.  The first week went a bit like this:
    The Me and the Him’d arranged to meet up with a duo of Natty Choristers and promotionally paper shops3 with informative and educational leaflets.  On the finishing lap of the circuit we’d worked out we ended up being diverted by a Steampunk Tobacconist into a ghost-sodden old building, stained with the after-effects of applause and full of cultural artefacts that must be worth at least eighteen times more than you’d think.  And lots and lots of Doctor Who stuff.
    In fairness, there was a comic mart taking place, so this isn’t half as surprising as I’m bluffing it up to be – but I won’t tell anyone if you don’t.  The upshot was finding the first ten issues of the Marvel Doctor Who comic that wasn’t this one, although this one was there: 

    And then the history goes mad, so I’ll skip on and say that when we ventured in for the second visit, we found four videos: The Pertwee Years, The Colin Baker Years, Cybermen – The Early Years and the Baggsian Doctors documentary.  Hence, Colin Baker turning up unexpectedly.4 

2.  Turns out it’s Man. 

3.  I should add that I’m being vague on purpose.  I don’t have to write like this. 

4.  It’s been said that authors often end up meeting their characters in real life.  It makes sense, I guess, and kind of happened to me recently.  Someone I’ve made up appeared in front of me but kept turning and turning and matching my attempts to see if it really was them (which it couldn’t be, because that’s insane) and then suddenly bolted off at full pelt.  It was a mad moment in at least three ways. 

5.  In July 2005 I found myself needing employment pretty much instantly.  I ended up joining a company that would sent you out, laden with tat to flog to punters in pubs and shops.  The morning warm up session consisted of the person who took your profits telling you what a winner you were, at maximum volume.  How lucky you were to be working for the company in question was also mentioned.  Following this there was lots of “I’m a winner!” type shouting, group hugging and other unsavoury practises that I can’t go into as I need a lawyer to check through my accusations first.   It was like being trapped in Charlie Sheen’s bathroom, I imagine.
    Anyway, the whole thing was based on creepy psychological programming techniques which made me feel massively uncomfortable.  As did flogging sensorite to pensioners. 
    I lasted two days.