DIY Sheep versus Doctor Who and everybody else

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Scherzo: If I Close My Eyes You Can't See Me

I have great fun imagining the pitch for this story...

Rob: So what happens is this - they wander around a big glass ring, eat raw alternate universe evolving monsters, chat a bit and then they sort of chat a bit more... and that is about it.

Gary: Get the butterfly net.

However Rob and the Greeks had the right idea: catharsis. Sometimes you just have to let it all out.

Have you ever had one of those nights? You know the one. It starts off as a party, perhaps with a few friends and it ends up as a sort of drunken psychoanalysis session. You find yourself at three in the morning getting someone's life history, far too much information about their sex life and all the fears, hopes and dreams that they are too afraid to even admit to themselves. During that time (and under the influence of lots and lots of alcohol) you reach out to people in a way that you can never normally do. And, ironically, then when you see them next morning at the photocopier you smile at each other and never speak of that night again.

To me Scherzo is the Doctor Who equivalent of Charley and the Doc staying up far too late with a bottle of tequila. What ever happens during that drunken night won't change anything, it probably won't be remembered or ever spoken of again, but these nights occur because just every so often we have to let go and actually say how we feel about... well... everything.

Everyone (and I am going to use the word "complains" here) complains about this story because it is yet another "companion falls for the Doctor" story.

And yes I agree... dear god - this poor man/Time Lord. He is a total shag magnet. At this point in the EDAs I have even begun to wonder if Fitz has started to fall in love with the Doc. It makes me really glad that I am not Paul McGann. I get the feeling that Paul cannot go to the supermarket without being leapt upon by the checkout chicks.

But is this story really just about Charley going all gooey for our byronesque Eighth Doc (come on - didn't we cover this ground in the books so do we really need to rehash it here?) or is it really an excuse for us to see how our two protagonists tick and perhaps examine a side of the Doctor we very rarely get to see - how he feels about life, the universe and this whole being a universe saving hero thing?

If this was a Kate Orman story the Doctor and Charley would probably be beaten with sticks. Rob Shearman's approach is more subtle. He just hands them the Tequila bottle, sits back and waits. Because he knows that with enough tequila (or in this case enough walking endlessly around a big glass ring with half your senses cut off) that after a while the truth will come out.

And personally I think the Doctor had already been hitting the booze before the party started. Well, not so much hitting the booze, but that he dropped some acid just before lunch and is currently having a very bad trip. When we first meet the new post-Zagreus Doctor he is hiding behind the console and freaking out "cos like the future's going to come and get him and gobble him up". It is then that we realize the Doc doesn't really have all his dimensions stabilized.

Or, to put it another way, he is as mad as a teapot.

Which in itself is not surprising after Zagreus. I would assume that the poor bloke is suffering from some post "being stabbed to death with a large sword and then turned into an anti-time fictional monster and exiled to some weird universe" traumatic type stress and that it might take a little while to get over this sort of thing happening to you. So I don't really blame him if, in this story he just isn't his usual "these shoes - they fit perfectly" Doctor. He is totally out of his element and probably scared to death.

And that is what I really like about this story; it is an exploration of the Doctor's character. Yes there I go again...

"It is all about characterization with you girls isn't it? Personally I don't give a stuff. As long as he is wearing a frock coat he can run down my corridor any day."

"But why does he run down corridors?"

"Well, he is the Doctor."

"And who is the Doctor?"

"Well, he's a bloke... who wears a frock coat... and who runs down corridors."

As Patrick McGoohan once said on The Prisoner: "Haven't you ever wondered? Haven't you ever tried to find out?"

And Scherzo is exactly that. It is an exploration of why the Doctor does what he does, why he keeps hanging around with underage girls who then invariably fall in love with him and want to jump his bones (and yes I thought of the obvious reason too - I think that is the reason I have so much of a problem with the first Doctor. I am just so glad that William Hartnell's costume never included a raincoat... now that would just be too disturbing), and this whole being a universe-saving hero thing.

All you need is love:

Go on - have a big think about it... Harry, Sarah, Peri, Sam... can you honestly say the Doctor has loved, knows love, understands love? But what would happen if the Doctor broke with the tradition of a lifetime and really did fall in love? Not the Bridget Jones type lovie love, but that, for the first time ever, he allowed himself to love - to care for someone so much that he would sacrifice a universe for them?

And what if he fell in love with Charley (I know I know... but love is strange and unpredictable isn't it - but just think: IT COULD HAVE BEEN SAM! That scared you didn't it?) I have to speculate that - hero he may be, genius, he may be, a thousand years old he may be... able to cope with falling in love - absolutely no way. It is pretty scary concept for us humans, and we are used to the idea. Imagine what it was like for the Doctor.

Did you ever know that you're my hero:

In Neverland and Zagreus the Doctor made the ultimate hero's sacrifice and died 1. For the universe and 2. For Charlie (or the other way around if you prefer). But there is a problem. He isn't dead. So now the Doctor is right pissed. All he wanted was all the wonderfulness of life or the certainty of a hero's death.

What was the point of all this love thing?

He tried the whole love thing - he fell in love, did the whole hero bit and died for love, but his sacrifice was in vain because he is now stuck in some half life poncing around a big glass ring in a weirdo universe and Charley, the silly cow, is still hanging around - and what is worse the doozy bitch won't just let him off himself, she keeps making him fight to stay alive, telling him how she values him and that he should "never, ever give up".

And he just doesn't get it. He doesn't understand why Charley won't leave him. The idea of being loved has never even crossed his radar. Loving is scary, but allowing yourself to be loved is even scarier.

So what does he do? He does what everyone does when they are scared and in denial. He gets very angry and starts lashing out at (dare I say it) the one he loves - Charley. But Charley isn't having a bar of it. I don't know if Charley's love is the same as Sam's "shag him till bits fall off", or something different. However while she may be a mere human she is much more au fait with this whole love concept that the Doctor. And, angry, hurt and rejected she gives him what for... but she doesn't stop loving him because that is what love is: never having to say you're sorry.

Charley: Take my hand.

Doctor: But we can see now?

Charley: I know "you doozy git" (my unspoken subtext) - take my hand anyway.

Dear little sound creature: The music

Tidelie bom, tidelie bom... Whooooo arrrrrr wooooooo!

This story reminded me of how much I love that stupid song. How sometimes I turn it down because I am embarrassed and sometimes I say "sod you lot - I'm a daggy Doctor Who fan and proud of it" and drive the neighbours crazy. So I suppose that a story concerning a sound creature is the perfect place to discuss the grooviness of the Eighth Doctor's Big Finish theme song.

It sounds rather like they took the old tune, stuck the tape recorder under water and then repeatedly punched Paul McGann in the stomach half way through (oof oof oof oof). The darker, grittier style of this tune admirably suits the Eighth Doctor's BF adventures and I am sad to note that they have taken out the "oof oof oof oof" bit in later stories.

The Spooky Universe:

I adore Shearman's view of the spooky alternate universe. It is like that bit in The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy where Arthur and Ford find themselves in a mathematical representation of South End - where the sea stays steady as a rock and the buildings keep washing up and down. Now that's the sort of interesting concept-type-thing I thought we would get with these new universe stories - total weirdness modified any which way to make a good story. Sadly Douglas Adams is very very dead and has not written any of the alternate universes so apart from Shearman's exploration of the new universe's weirdness in Scherzo, the entire idea has gone to waste and I bet the bloke who thought it up is really narked.

And guess what...

I just wanted to drop you a quick thank you for the kind and sensitive things you said about Scherzo last week. Hugely appreciated!

I'm not really sure I got to grips with the story as I wrote it, or did justice to the idea as it was in my head. It was a funny one to tackle - though I'll be honest, and say it was tremendously good fun to try to get to grips with the Doctor and Charley in that way. Your review makes me think I got closer to where I was trying to reach than I had thought - and it was greatly uplifting to hear that.

Many thanks from a grateful writer!

Rob Shearman xx

So there you go teddies...