Friday, January 26, 2007

Nigel Verkoff's "Faith Dealer"

Serial 8S – Faith Dealer
An Alternate Program Guide By Ewen Campion-Clarke
Twenty-Fourth Entry in EC Unauthorized Guide O' "MAN! This is some GOOD shit here!"

Serial 8S – Faith Dealer

Part One – Lark Dreams

As Steve Foxx begins to outline the latest Double The Fist challenge that the Doctor, Charley and C'Rizz must complete in order to regain their TARDIS, C'Rizz suddenly collapses. Erotic images play out in his mind as the corrupting presence of the Doctor and Charley overload his pubescent libido.

As C'Rizz convulses and twitches on the floor, Foxx decides that he can no longer stand the Eutermesan and that the next TRUE mission for the Doctor and Charley is to get rid of their erstwhile companion forever. Oddly enough, the duo were already planning to do this.

C'Rizz finally recovers and, after a quick change of underwear, is ready to hear the challenge. Foxx announces that the trio must head to the planet Multi-Market, a world of stores and franchises where numerous shops interact peacefully.

"This MAKES ME SICK!" Foxx screams.

With their mission to destroy this utopia utmost in their minds, the Doctor, Charley and C'Rizz arrive on Multi-Market. The complex is so large and densely packed that to enter you actually must be starting up a business or already be working for an existing franchise.

Multi-Market is watched over by the Boring Man, a dull accountant that balances the fringe stores and major retailers in the complex. The Boring Man's Assistant (BMA), a camp Welsh stereotype, asks the newcomers to identify the business they represent, and the Doctor explains that he and Charley run a pet's store with C'Rizz as their mascot for handing out leaflets.

C'Rizz tries to argue this point, only for Charley to grab his crotch in order to shut him up. This instead prompts another sickening sexual fantasy, and C'Rizz faints, moaning.

Extremely embarrassed, the BMA allows the trio to jump the queue and meet the Boring Man herself! Yes, this woman was so boring when she accidentally appointed herself as a man, no one was interested enough to correct her.

The Doctor explains to the Boring Man that they need to dump C'Rizz in some dead end job and run like hell, and the Boring Man happily guides them to the nearest McDonalds who are after new staff.

The dazed C'Rizz can't cook, but the store manager assures him that culinary skills are not necessary. There he meets a Goth Eutermesan chick called L'da, the neighbor C'Rizz has been fantasizing about all episode. As she's into self-abnegation and torture, L'da is prepared to start a relationship with C'Rizz.

Elsewhere in the Multi-Market, Mr. Parrot, proprietor of the pet food store is having tea and jelly baby's at Honest Doc's LSD Jelly Babies, a theme restaurant run by the boggle-eyed Fourth Doctor.

The Fourth Doctor offers Parrot some 'lucid crystals' he physically harvested from the dreams of his followers but Parrot correctly identifies as some week-old jelly babies.

Annoyed, the Fourth Doctor lassos Parrot and drags him into his TARDIS, where he is placed in a glass tube flooded with mysterious mind-altering drugs.

The Fourth Doctor's current bitch, Gerbil Jones, doesn't see the point in this – and she's right, there isn't one bar the fact the Fourth Doctor has taken up the hobby of drugging dignified businessmen and letting them wander the streets for a laugh.

As the Eighth Doctor and Charley explore the Multi-Market, they rejoice at finally ditching C'Rizz. The Doctor explains he knows for a fact that Devious Dan's Homemade Police Boxes is somewhere around here – and where else would you hide a TARDIS stuck in the shape of one? All they have to do is find the shop, break inside and find where Foxx has hidden the TARDIS and they are out of here!

Back at McDonalds, L'da and C'Rizz are exchanging anguished metaphors when the Fourth Doctor and his fellow Jelly Baby warriors storm the restaurant and wait in line for Happy Meals, chanting their own Gregorian chant which is just "Daylight comes and I wanna go home" sung in an extremely pompous manner.
Bored, the Fourth Doctor starts handing out LSD-soaked sweets to everyone and it doesn't take long for all the customers to freak out and are off their face...

...and C'Rizz, deep within his trance, finds himself making the beast with two back-plates once again. But this time, it's for real.

Part Two – Seeing the Blight

The Doctor is bragging to Charley about how he plans to redecorate the interior of the TARDIS in an "Event Horizon Farscape organic funk groove style" when they find the nearest McDonalds ransacked and now populated by stoned wasters painting rainbows over the golden arches.

The Boring Man wanders onto the scene, sees the devastation, shrugs and wanders off, putting it down to the activities of the Jelly Baby warriors, lead by a weirdo called 'the Doctor'.

C'Rizz and L'da, meanwhile, have realized they were just given placebos and head to find the Fourth Doctor and complain. The Fourth Doctor decides to offer them a free trip in his Psychedelic Corkscrew. By this time, C'Rizz and L'da is willing to try anything...

The Eighth Doctor realizes that his Fourth self must have frequented this universe several times. When Charley demands to know why the Eighth Doctor doesn't already know this, the Time Lord replies:
"You'll know when you meet him. I've no idea what I was on back then and the scary thing is that HE doesn't know either!"

The Doctor loses his way in the mall and puts it down to some extra-sensory powers making him doubt his own sense of direction. Charley just asks for direction at the local Ludicrous Compensation Claims Court, who worship Whoops the Great Neglecter, and praise accidents and chaos of all kinds for the law suits they create.

The Fourth Doctor shows them the remains of Mr. Parrot, now a whimpering, terrified shell of a man who can barely recall his own name after his chemical dumping. L'da immediately asks for some of whatever he's having, as she feels it will help exorcise her inner demons or at least throw them into sharp relief.

However, she asks C'Rizz to note her behavior for her autobiography and to do that he has to stay sober. Furious, he turns and kills Parrot with the handy hat stand standing nearby.

The Fourth Doctor, meanwhile, goes to the rave in the console room and rings up the Boring Man to tell her what she's missing. After five wrong numbers and an order for pizza, and suggests she lighten up. He makes it quite clear that his 'suggestion' was a not-so-veiled threat.

While searching for Devious Dan's Homemade Police Boxes, the Doctor and Charley stumble into a riot of tripping customers and retail workers handing out flowers, dancing and vomiting and throwing their hands up in the air like they just – don't – care!

Charley spots C'Rizz nearby and tries to run in a different direction, but the Eutermesan is in a real bitch of a mood and, sexual frustration already getting the better of him, decides to throttle Charley there and then, laughing like a madman...

Part Three – Hash Truths

The Doctor returns and watches, amused, as C'Rizz tries to shatter Charley's neck and then decides to head butt the Eutermesan unconscious. Unfortunately, C'Rizz's armored forehead does the Doctor more injury and so the Time Lord is forced to resort to his electric-cattle-prod-finger-jab.

The Doctor and Charley then decide to return to the Ludicrous Compensation Claims Court and file a claim against the Fourth Doctor and the Jelly Baby warriors.

Director Garfield doesn't have much hope of a case, as C'Rizz admits that this is the second time in recent memory that he's tried to kill Charley out of sexual frustration. However, although the LCCC is built on such flimsy excuses for court cases, most of the staff have attended the rave in the Fourth Doctor's TARDIS.

Thus, Garfield is forced to send the Doctor and Charley over their to give the Fourth Doctor a subpoena – unfortunately, LCCC is fresh out of them and so the Doctor must bluff his way with a wine list.

They leave C'Rizz to Garfield's tender mercies, and, under the pretext of 'breaking a witness', ties C'Rizz up, attaches electrodes to his extremities and then prepares the Prosecution Probe...

The rave at the TARDIS is getting more extreme as more and more gatecrashers turn up, tune in and freak out. The Doctor and Charley arrive and denounce Honest Doc's LSD Jelly Babies as nothing more than a scam to get drifters high for sadistic amusement.

Charley points out that, if they sue the Fourth Doctor, surely that means the Doctor will ultimately have to pay himself the cash?

The Doctor protests that it's the PRINCIPLE of the thing that counts, then gives up and they head off to steal the TARDIS from the local police box retailer.

In the central offices, the Boring Man's Assistant decides to get a life and head to the rave party. The Boring Man wants to follow, but the BMA refuses to take her – she's a social embarrassment.

Just as C'Rizz is about to suffer the final humiliation, a hormone-driven L'da bursts into the room, breaks Garfield's head and begins to do very immoral and highly illegal things to the powerless C'Rizz...

Part Four – Faith Dealer

The Doctor and Charley are trying to break into Devious Dan's Homemade Police Boxes when they hear the naughty noises coming from Ludicrous Compensation Claims Court across the aisle and they watch on in disgust at the sight of two Eutermesans mating.

C'Rizz realizes that his companions are watching him and, when they heckle his sexual performance, he loses the flow and L'da turns on him. Amused, the Doctor and Charley return to breaking and entering.

Meanwhile, the party is winding down when the Boring Man finally arrives. The Fourth Doctor is unimpressed with the Boring Man's hand-jiving and produces a crackling glass of LSD milkshake and hands it to her to drink.
The Boring Man vaporizes as the two concepts cancel each other out.

The Fourth Doctor blinks, checks his drink, double-takes, shrugs, and starts doing the Funky Chicken with Gerbil.

The Multi-Market is now a ghost city, with the occasional advertising executive lying face down in their own sick, trousers round their ankles. Everyone else is partying bar the Eighth Doctor and Charley, who are now checking the police boxes for the one they need.

The TARDIS turns out to be the curiously-chubby, squared off version, identical to the one Foxx mocked the Doctor with at the conclusion of the last four-parter. Upon entering the hotel lobby-styled REG control room, Charley goes crazy – the fumes of the rave party have finally got to her. Before the Doctor can stop her, she starts operating controls.

The TARDIS dematerializes, fading away around the Doctor and Charley like a dream. Furious, the Doctor starts screaming and slapping Charley silly, but she's too far gone to pay attention.

Furious, the Doctor decides to steal his previous self's TARDIS and to hell with the time paradox. Storming there, he finds the only people still conscious are the Fourth Doctor, Gerbil, C'Rizz and L'da.

C'Rizz, seriously annoyed, decides to kill the Doctor and Charley, but the Doctor is in no mood for fannying about and Venusian finger-jabs the Eutermesan before rounding on the Fourth Doctor.

The Fourth Doctor explains it was just a holiday between companions that has all got out of hand and offers his Eighth self a jelly baby. Unfortunately, it's a trap – and when the Eighth Doctor recovers from the LSD trip, the Fourth Doctor has legged it in his TARDIS.

The Multi-Market is now in ruins, hundreds of the inhabitants of now either mentally sub-normal or hyper-alert and intelligent. What's more, L'da has decided to become the new Boring Man to fuel her artistic suffering. Sadly, this doesn't depress C'Rizz but simply makes him boast pompously that he has known true love (or at least great sex) and is thus a better person.

Seriously pissed off, the Doctor doesn't even wait for Foxx's disappointed summing up. Yes, they're weak. No, no fist. Yes, the Multi-Market will return and Foxx now still has the TARDIS.

"Get on with it!" the Doctor snaps.

Book(s)/Other Related –
Doctor Who – Return Of The Nutter In The Scarf
The Joint Venture II: This Time, It's Super-Freaky

The Warringah Mall Guide: "It's Not As Screwed-Up As Multi-Market in Doctor Who: Faith Dealer, But It's Close!"

Fluffs – Paul McGann seemed worryingly gullible during this story.
"When you've met as many pushers as I have there's a tendency to become a shade... of dunduckaty grey. With black spots."

Goofs –
Why on Earth does the Doctor trust himself not to have poisoned the drink he was handing over to him? Uh... DAMN IT, YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN!

Fashion Victims –
C'Rizz orange spectacles, skimpy purple T-shirt, crappy flea market pantaloons with purple triangle sewn in and open-toed sandals make him look like a French exchange student. With poor taste in clothes.

Technobabble –
The Multi-Market has an 'identical corridor matrix spread'.

Links and References -
The Doctor reveals his priorities are: to dump C'Rizz, escape Double the Fist, regain the TARDIS, return to his own universe and recover his missing pen (a reference to Full Frontal in Space, Peanut of the Dustbins and The Clean Breath)

Untelevised Misadventures -
The Doctor once caught the Terran Ague (or 3 Day Sweats) from Charley.

Groovy DVD Extras -
A recipe for Marijuana Gin. Well worth the price for Region 1 DVDs.

Dialogue Disasters -
4th Doctor: Who says religion has to have a spiritual dimension?
Gerbil: Uh, you did, actually.
4th Doctor: Did I really? How clever of me.
Gerbil: So, uh, religion DOES have to have spiritual dimension?
4th Doctor: Oh, don't listen to me. I never do.

Charley: How did you make so many police boxes?
Devious Dan: Lucidity made them tangible and belief made them real.
Charley: You followed the instructions.
Devious Dan: Well, yes. A bit.

Charley: Charley's Furry Store welcomes all and in the end all shall come. And THAT's a guarantee!

8th Doctor: If you're experiencing mental strain the last thing you need is someone giving you a god complex!
4th Doctor: Why not? Works wonders for me every time!

4th Doctor: The thing I've noticed about power is that it's ever so abuser-friendly, isn't it? And that it smells ever-so-slightly of caramel.

BMA: Are any of you pot-heads? Or lapsed alcoholics? Or nerds that got fooled into thinking that a tic-tac was really 300 pounds worth of ecstasy and look like a rather ugly lizard? I'm thinking of you, specifically, C'Rizz.
C'Rizz: [hands over ears] Shut up!

Dialogue Triumphs -
The obligatory Eighth Doctor 'Damn it! I just love...' quote –
8th Doctor: DAMN IT! I JUST LOVE LSD!!

4th Doctor: All the answers are waiting for you in your dreams!
C'Rizz: But I thought EVERYTHING in dreams represented sex! Are you saying that sex is the answer to everything?
Charley: I like that philosophy!

BMA: Are any of you carrying drugs about your person?
Charley: Depends. Do you do strip searches?

Gerbil: I'm through with blindly following leaders! I'll do whatever you ask me without question!
8th Doctor: There, you see, Charley – why can't you be like Gerbil?
Charley: I can't afford the lobotomy.

C'Rizz's haunting story -
"L'da and me were digging the summer and drawing on my jeans in biro, when this guy in a scarf came up and said, 'Hey, how about an electric cool laid acid trip? Like 300 pounds a tab?' We dropped them and instantly.... previous adolescent depression fell away from me, my head detached itself and floated above me. I looked across and I could see that L'da's tits were bigger than Alpha Sphere.

Then this flying saucer landed on her right nipple and an apricot-coloured walrus waddled out and started playing 'Greensleeves' on a lute made out of my nostril hair - except it wasn't a walrus, it was a LAMP POST!

And he said, 'Watch the moonlight make out, C'Rizz, there are no more heavy vibes.'

I said, 'Each and every one of my thoughts is a glittering bubble, floating in space for all eternity.' Then, there was this incredibly sexy-looking tree in front of me doing a dance.

It looked a lot like L'da and was singing a song that went, 'This is an orange tic-tac, C’Rizz! Man, we've been ripped off!'

"I have vowed revenge."

8th Doctor: C'Rizz was compelled against his will to do the funky chicken. Now something like that's bound to leave some psychic bruising.
C'Rizz: OK, it's a bit unfashionable now, but it was cutting edge back then. I've dealt with it...
8th Doctor: Don't listen to him, Charley - his guilt is very much in the present. The weight of it is crushing him.
C'Rizz: Uh, no, I'm fine. I haven't thought about the incident... ooh, only a few times since it happened.
8th Doctor: And there's only a few times like the present.
C'Rizz: Hey, are you implying something?!

UnQuotable Quote -

Viewer Quotes -
"This Doctor Who story was a real freak-out. Like, totally the same thing happened to me when I discovered drugs. I WAS HAPPY FOR EIGHT MINUTES! When I found out the 'acid' were just tic-tacs, my second adolescent depression started. God damn the pusher man."
- Neil Pye, ELF (1984)

"Ah, Faith Dealer! That's the one where they go somewhere. Something about drugs. Was there a fountain involved in this one? No I think that was The Actual Mystery of Beer... Something else about relationships... C'Rizz gets laid - I remember that bit distinctly - that was cool. Something else happens, the Doctor probably does something extremely clever and Doctorish (probably at the last minute knowing him) and then they leave. Now, Faith Dealer was... I remember... er... hang on... give me a second... something about faith and dealing?" - DIY Sheep's Amnesiac Review (I forget when)

"I remember when a new season of Doctor Who was a time of celebration, a chance to hurriedly rewatch all those stories that will lead to the first new episode. So MY memory is fine!"
- Jo Ford's Bitchy-to-Amnesiacs Reviews (2005)

"I tried sniffing glue, once. I threw up and spent five hours trying to eat my own navel, before my right nostril got stuck to the toilet bowl. So, yeah, it worked for me!" - Andrew Beeblebrox (2005)

"This season shows the Eighth Doctor, Charley and C'Rizz stranded in another universe, cut off from the TARDIS and looking for a way home. It was kinda like the E-Space Trilogy mixed with Season 12. Only with more groupies." – A Brief, Brief History of (Time) Travel (2004)

"The only complaint I have is the horribly rushed ending which in a shockingly awful moment, the Eighth Doctor gets wasted and misses the ending which suggested Verkoff ran out of time and just scribbled out a blink-and-you'll-miss-it ending. Uh, that was a signed confession to be honest." – Nigel Verkoff (2005)

"There is a familiar feeling now with Chris Eccelston's ninth Doctor on the horizon that the eighth Doctor has had his day and with eight years of being the head of the TARDIS it is easy to see where the feeling has come about. Sod off you Liverpudlian Tosser! Let someone with some actual talent take over!" – David Tenannt (2004)

Psychotic Nostalgia -
"Tweedle dum and tweedle dee! There's a mushroom growing inside me! Who am I? Don't you ask! HAH! YOU'RE just a pain in the looking glass!"

Paul McGann Speaks!
"Once more into the breach, India, once more. My last season as the Doctor. We've had our hero, we've followed his journey, we've followed his paths and watched him trying to surmount their obstacles and all the usual bollocks. I feel bloody relieved now there's someone else in the firing line. In fact, I regularly log into Outpost Gallifrey under the name of WOTAN and insist that my incarnation doesn't count and Chris Eccleston is the TRUE Eighth Doctor. So far, no luck, but I will persevere. Damn Eccleston, being the first skinhead Doctor Who. THAT COULDA BEEN ME!! Stupid American film directors..."

Conrad Westmaas Speaks!
"The main difference with this season was that, this time round, I was a lot more comfortable and familiar with Doctor Who. No more New Boy initiation pranks like having the inside of my underpants smeared with Tigerbaum, or being doused with petrol and set on fire, or being reversed over by Mark Gatiss in his four-wheel drive. Paul, India and me have been through more than the characters have – a year's passed, conventions have come and gone, Zig-Zag-Gay-Ass, vodka slammers... Yeah, I'm definitely one of the team now. We're inseparable."

India Fisher Speaks!
"It was a bit of a shock to return to Doctor Who so soon, but I never complain about the chance to get a bit closer to Paul McGann. It's that element which gets me back time and time again, and it is good to see the Big Finish team realize when I say 'I will crush your testicles', it's not an idle threat. Oh, and that other guy was there... You know... Some actor or another we've never heard of. Connington somebody? Anyway, he was there. Big bald wanker."

Trivia -
This story does not have a trailer. But then again, neither did The Twice-A-Night Kingdom. Or Credo of the Moron. Or Schizo. Or Nowhere-Land. Or Encase the Arseholes. Or Reasons to Care. Or Vogon Cutaway. Or Evaders from Bars. And The Best Wife lack one as well.

Rumors & Facts –
No one expected the Eighth Doctor to return again so quickly after The Twice-A-Night Kingdom and plenty prayed it wouldn't happen.

Upon hearing that Doctor Who was returning to television in a brand new series NOT written exclusively by himself, Producer Gay Russell had the ongoing adventures of the Eighth Doctor shunted off into another universe where he could never return.

He soon began to regret this fit of pique, especially as the mind-blowing possibilities of the Divergent Universe had been reduced to the Doctor, his companion Charley Pollard and an annoying lizard called C'Rizz being forced to participate in extreme lifestyle show Double the Fist in the vain hope of regaining the TARDIS.

Critics themselves simply couldn't spew up enough bile for the season, with only The Twice-A-Night Kingdom (with its endless sex scenes and full-frontal nudity) escaping this fate by being so good it cancelled out the inevitable crap reviews and was thus, forgotten entirely.

Russell made several rebuttals in the media, suggesting that after six years of making Big Finish audios, he expected the fanbase to trust him when he made the entirely spurious decision to remove the TARDIS, Earth and any old monsters from the line-up. "We're building to something!" he would regularly scream, but when pressed admitted he was lying.

Basically, everyone thought the whole Divergent idea was crap, and as a result Big Finish had been hemorrhaging buyers and listeners like a hemophiliac with a slit wrist ever since the horror of Zig-Zag-Gay-Ass. Jason Haigh-Ellery suggested they might want to try and capture new buyers, intrigued by Doctor Who's past once the new TV series was the inevitable success.

All in all, it was probably not the best time for the Eighth Doctor's adventures to be 2/5ths into a five-year ongoing story arc in another universe with no TARDIS and a crap gameshow format.

After it became clear that Big Finish's remaining two subscribers would soon be leaving them, Gay Russell agreed that the next season of the Eighth Doctor would be the last one, literally. Abandoning the next two years of Double the Fist storylines, Season 31 would now consist solely of stories from the original Season 33. Due this bizarre rescheduling, Paul McGann's future releases would be recorded on rotation rather than in blocks. True, this meant it would be even more difficult than normal to get McGann to portray the Eighth Doctor, but then he wasn't THE Doctor anymore no one really cared.

Production was stuffed from the beginning as the writers and stories proposed for Season 31 had been immediately abandoned and so Big Finish basically had to start from scratch. Ideally, the season would be quite simple for new listeners and give a nail-biting departure for the Eighth Doctor and companions. Unfortunately, a near-total media black out had been imposed by new series creator Russell T Davies once it became known Billie Piper would be the new companion Rose Tyler a full three months before she'd auditioned. With no idea of the stories, tone or developments of 'Season 32', Russell had no idea what would happen in Season 31!

Even an audio regeneration couldn't be done, as Christopher Eccleston had made sure he was unavailable to Big Finish for the rest of his entire life after appearing as Maxil in The Twice-A-Night Kingdom.

With no time left, Russell grabbed the four most important scripts to the arc and commissioned them on the spot. The second story would involve the trio escaping the Double the Fist plot, the third have them regain a TARDIS and fourth have them escape the divergent universe. That only left the first to be worked out. As chaos reigned following the decision of Witch-finder General Matthew Hopkins' decision to write the second story, Russell decided to fall on his old standby – Nigel Verkoff.

Nigel Verkoff regularly pestered Big Finish to be allowed to work for them writing a story. He would then negotiate downward to co-writing a story, then just appearing in a story, then just making the coffee, or his final offer of being locked in a studio for six hours with nothing but India Fisher and a can of whipped cream. However, his open-minded outlook and lack of desire to become a canonical Doctor made him far more approachable than Nick Briggs.

Verkoff's first submission to Big Finish was its second release, a Fifth Doctor, Turlough and Kamelion story called Phantasmagoria Is In Nigel Verkoff's Pants (later renamed Fan & Phantasmagoria), which ignored the regulars entirely in favor of a character of Verkoff's own creation – Sir Nigel Verkoff Esquire.

Verkoff's weekly-proposed sequel, The Nigel Verkoff Experiment, was not so well received but Russell decided to give him the duty of writing a story from the season outline. The story was originally to be the shock-filled finale of the second Divergent season, where the Doctor and Charley find the TARDIS... only to immediately lose it and be sucked back into Double the Fist.

Verkoff agreed to write the story as long as he could feature a wild LSD rave party and take the piss out of his former employers, Warringah Mall, where he had been forced to dress as the Easter Bunny and hand out eggs. "They only paid me twenty bucks an hour," Verkoff remembers, "which wasn't so bad. Except, what with all the medical bills and bail fines from the muggings and beatings I got came to around $2500."

He agreed not to include the character of Sir Nigel Verkoff Esquire, but would get to play The Boring Man's Assistant. He also went and talked to Tom Baker, his old drinking buddy, about making a return appearance to Big Finish after gatecrashing the production of D'You Believe This? in 2003.

Having previously worked with Paul McGann in the television movie playing the eponymous Rasputin, Baker was undecided and finally agreed on the condition he could do a rapping song about being the embodiment of God, the Divine Being and Ruler of the Universe.

Nigel agreed and double-dared Nick Briggs to work on the episode WITHOUT trying to take control of the story and crown himself the Doctor Immortal for All Eternity.

One of the biggest criticisms of the third McGann season was its lack of consistency as there were wildly imaginative and innovative stories sitting alongside bland rehashes of archetypal Doctor Who adventures. That and the fact it was all shit. Faith Dealer is perhaps the first story to appreciate the difference of the Divergents' universe setting – it's exactly like this one, except there's better parking on Tuesdays and all the pens work.

There are some flaws which detract from Faith Dealer's overall quality – what there is of it. For example, C'Rizz tawdry love affair which DOESN'T end with either the horrible death of one of them or Lizard Boy staying behind just feels... realistic. And when we're talking about C'Rizz, psycho-scaly-people's-poet, realism is LOW on the list.

But the biggest problem is the hasty resolution as the Doctor offhandedly gets wasted and misses the resolution of the story – which was apparently a garbled mess of technobabble which was as unconvincing as it was terse.

There is some improvement in the characterization of C’Rizz here, but having a companion that makes Kamelion look well-thought-out and used better is not a good sign. Also the fact that it takes up to three minutes at a go for the Doctor and Charley to remember who he is wastes valuable drinking-and-boozing time.
While Paul McGann and India Fisher were once the backbone of this part of Big Finish's range, it's become clear that the character of Charley is increasingly stale. She's finally DONE everything TO everything and is utterly redundant in this story, bounding along after the Doctor like an over-excited and rather-horny lapdog but adding nothing of substance to the drama. She doesn't get her knockers out, either.

What is chilling is that this script is by Nigel Verkoff, India Fisher's – and Charley's – greatest fan. The fact she's treated like dirt in this story could be down to the author's fickle decision to lust after Billie Piper instead, but he denies this utterly. Very sensible too. Fisher will kill him if it's true.

To be fair, McGann's Doctor sucks just as bad. McGann, consummate performer that he is, doesn't even try to act alongside Tom Baker after last time. The Eighth Doctor is pretty screwed too, with the search for the TARDIS to escape Steve Foxx just a pale shadow of the original dump Charley and her illegitimate sprog plotline of his first two seasons.

Faith Dealer is an engaging and enjoyable play that evokes the spirit of Doctor Who well, being a good mixture of spirits and mind-altering drugs. It brings some much needed ravers into the hitherto humourless Divergent Universe and for that it's easy to overlook its deficiencies in relation to the regular characters, plot, setting, episode structure, dialogue and sound design.

LSD rave parties in a shopping centre are scarcely touched upon by Doctor Who and it is easy to see why. It's such a tricky subject that is usually dealt with in totally arse-scratching-ly dull seriousness so not to offend anybody. Even Nose of Evil, which is the closest Doctor Who ever got to truly screwing up everything in the name of a good laugh treated dealt with the idea by having the Fourth Doctor only SUGGEST this, rather carry it out, as he does here.

Finally, tragedy had befallen Big Finish during the production of The Actual Mystery of Beer. While there the specially-re-composed theme tune by David Arnold had been replaced by Waltzing Matilda on a Jew's harp, it was discovered at a relatively late stage that they had, in fact, taped over the original music.

Thus, specially composed theme tunes were made for every individual Eighth Doctor story onwards, starting with 'A Decent Star' for The Twice-A-Night Kingdom. For Faith Dealer, Verkoff managed to get a three-part harmony with Tom Baker, Paul McGann and Nick Briggs...

"Yes, The Doctor Is GOD!!!"
by Sir Nigel Verkoff Esquire
performed by Tom Baker, Nicholas Briggs and Paul McGann

TB: My name's Tom Baker!

PM & NB: No need to shout.

TB: I said, that's my name!

PM & NB: So don't wear it out.

NB: My name is Nicky Briggsy
If the situation's sticky...
Then I'm your man, I am canon
And Tom used to be a brickie
I don't give a damn
About what you say
If you don't like that
You better walk this way!

PM: Rock it, Little Nicky, rock it to the left!

TB: Rock it, Little Nicky, rock it to the right!

PM: My name is McGann, Paul
And I'm the best of all
Cause I'm in your face
Like a can of mace
I'm a Satan-groove love man
King of the universe
Mess with me, C'Rizz
And you leave in a hearse.

ALL: Your GOD is a nothing GOD
Is a small-mind GOD
Is a weak-arsed GOD
Now I'm a real-tough GOD
A straight-line GOD
And a good old boy

As a GOD I arm-wrestled Charley
And – grin – wide
Yes, the Doctor is GOD!

Long scarves and jelly babes
And the good word is 'Rasputin'
Cause I'm the guy
Who won't die
And fought all the Dustbins!

Cause I'm the word
You've heard
The truth, the light, the way
But I have not risen
Cause I'm sleeping in today

Go get some merchandise
For me to autograph
Don't be too pathetic
And I'll try not to laugh!

My will, my law, my drugs
My will, my law, my drugs

("Nick Briggs for the Tenth Doctor! – Oww!")

Doctor Who is G-G-G-G-G-G-GONE!

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