Doctor Trek - The Tried And Tested Plot Device (1)
THE TRIED AND TESTED PLOT DEVICE
This Missing Adventure takes place between the video stories
THE MENACE OF JIP AND PANE and THE BIG FAIRY
"It was in the year 3033, when legendary television producer Frank N. Furter
attempted to bring back the once-popular "Star Trek" science-fiction television
series, with "Star Trek - The Next Generation After The Last One", that the shocking
discovery about Plot Cliches, as they are now known, was discovered. Even when
"ST : TNGATLA" attempted to make the new series fresh and new and original,
and distinct from it's illustrious and sometimes not-so-illustrious predecessors,
the old Cliches soon began to seep into the series like a plague. Body swaps.
Alien possession. Temporal anomalies. Warp Ellipses. You name it, they were
there. Frank N. Furter sacked the writers, replacing them with an all-new staff,
but the Cliches remained. It was then that the shocking truth was revealed. Those
Cliches were not, as had once been thought, the result of tired, lazy, unoriginal,
unimaginative and just plain crap writers, but were in fact a naturally occurring
phenomenon, living beings that gravitated creative endeavours and then attached
themselves to them as a kind of metaphysical imagination leech. It wasn't only
science-fiction shows that attracted these Plot Cliches, however, soap opera
writers were equally afflicted. The "Character Returns From The Dead",
"Extra-Marital Affair", "Repressed Memory of Childhood Abuse" and "Teen
Pregnancy" Cliches were likewise sentient entities that wormed their way into
the psyches of writers, whose work, we are sure, would otherwise have been
scintillatingly original and sophisticated - "
"Why are you making us watch this crap?" Frobisher complained loudly.
Captain James T. Who pressed the remote, pausing the "educational video"
currently playing in the TARDISPRISE cinema. "I thought you might find it
"Instructive?" Frobisher, currently in the form of a "Doctor Who" video ('Underworld'
- everyone assumed he had chosen that form simply in order to be perverse),
jeered. "Instructive as what? A cure for insomnia? A way of depressing someone
into contemplating suicide or self-mutilation as a cure for boredom?"
"Well, really," Who huffed. "If you weren't enjoying it, all you had to do was say."
"I AM saying," Frobisher flapped his case.
"Why did you think it would be instructive anyway, Captain?" Mr Wok interrupted.
"I'm glad you asked, Mr Wok," Who complemented patronisingly. "As you all
know, now that we have "borrowed" the TARDISPRISE from Admiral Borusa - "
"STOLEN," Frobisher stressed. "Pinched. Nicked. Made off with. 'Alf-inched."
"Liberated," Who corrected lightly. "Since we have liberated the TARDISPRISE,
we have, sort of, technically anyway, broken the law. Sort of. Agreed?"
"Yes, Captain," Wok and Frobisher agreed, simply because it was quicker that
way. The Captain did so like things in unison, they knew that from their first
twenty-five years with him.
"Well then, there is then teeny tiniest possibility that Borusa, especially if he
gets in one of his moods, might send other ships after us," Who explained.
"In which case it might be rather nice to be able to outrun them."
"But the TARDISPRISE is the fastest ship in the fleet!" Frobisher objected.
"I'm afraid not, eh Mr Wok?" Who noted sadly.
"Indeed not, Captain," Wok agreed. "The TARDISPRISE drive engines are all
but disintegrating as we speak."
"WHAT?" Frobisher cried.
"Well, it was sitting in a junkyard unused for quite some years after out initial
mission, at least until Borusa called us out of retirement to deal with the menace
of Jip and Pane," Who pointed out.
"What's all that got to do with that toss you were just making us sit through?"
Frobisher wanted to know.
"Well, if you'd let the video finish, you'd find out," Who said smugly. "Mr Wok,
if you please."
Mr Wok re-started the video.
"Anyway, Frank N Furter was so incensed by this discovery, that he formed a
committee of fellow concerned tv producers, and their collective intelligence
paved the way for a think-tank, set up exclusively to deal with the Cliche problem.
It was discovered that these Cliches could be held in containment and prevented
from ever infiltrating anymore television or movies ever again, though the puzzler
was how to lure every Cliche in the known universe together in order for them to
be so trapped. Ultimately, distinguised scientist Leonardo DeCaprio IV came up
with the answer: By playing the cliche-ridden Australian soap opera "Neighbours"
on a continuous loop (particularly the post-1991 episodes, all of which have been
scientifically proven to be utter crap) on an isolated space station, every Cliche
in the cosmos was drawn there, like moths to a flame, or perhaps more aptly
like flies to faeces, where they have ever since been held in a secure, 100%
escape-proof Script Containment Facility.
As it turned out, this was not only too late to save "Star Trek - The Next
Generation After The Last One", which had been axed several years earlier,
but indeed resulted in the complete and total destruction of the film and
television industries in every corner of the cosmos, as, as it turned out, they
had in fact been completely reliant and indeed run on such Cliches all along."
Who stopped the video. "See?"
"Not really," Frobisher yawned.
"We've found a space-station that holds the equipment we need to give the
TARDISPRISE a new, more efficient drive system. You know, better for outrunning
policemen and all that," Who explained. "It just so happens to be a Script
"Fascinating," Frobisher lied. "But if we're only going there for the drive system,
did we really have to know all that rubbish?"
"Well, no," Who admitted reluctantly, "but I thought you might find it instructive."
Frobisher sighed. In fact, he was so annoyed he changed his video cover into the
dvd of 'New Earth', just to be that little bit extra perverse.
Captain Henry Ramsay had a problem.
The problem was thus: Not so much that he happened (entirely coincidentally,
his parents assured him) to have the same name as an inexplicably popular
character in an inexplicably popular (well, once upon a time, anyway) and
Cliche-ridden Australian television soap opera called "Neighbours". Not even
so much that he was (entirely coincidentally, his superiors assured him) assigned
to a Space Station whose main function as a Script Containment Facility forced
him to play said series in an endless loop in order to keep said Cliches safely
imprisoned. BUT, he felt, anyway, the fact that his co-workers in arms were,
respectively, Lt. Bronwyn Davies, Lt. Craig McLachlan and Chief of Security
Rachel Friend, was, as far as he was concerned (and no matter how many times
his superiors denied it) a case of someone quite frankly taking the piss.
Not that he had a problem with his co-workers as such (well, most of them). It
was just a bit embarassing, that was all. Especially when it was Craig shagging
Bronwyn when, in all honesty, he really felt it should have been him, if only to
prevent further confusion. Funnily enough, though, Bronwyn hadn't seen his
point and had even got quite cross about him bringing it up repeatedly in staff
meetings. Henry shook his head. Women. He could have had a shot with Rachel,
of course, but then who'd want to? Rachel Friend looked a bit like Bronwyn, he
supposed - especially if you squinted a lot - but was definitely the less
attractive, dried-up, passed-it one of the two. Frankly, Henry preferred to keep
the hope of something happening with Bronwyn, instead. You never know,
Craig might have a fatal airlock accident or something, at which point Bronwyn
would undoubtedly turn to him for comfort and other things.
Henry was thus entirely absent-mindedly engaged with trying to accidentally
sabotage the airlock controls when Bronwyn rushed up to him in a flurry of
hotness. "Sir! Sir!"
Henry imagined her saying those words to him while naked in his bed, and
instantly regretted it when he became a victim of Instant Erection (TM).
Instant Erection was not a formula or a drug like that Viagra thing from the
late 20th/early 21st Century, which had, many years later, been found to cause
men to inexplicably change sexes, but was in fact a new surgical technique
designed to stimulate both blood flow and penis elasticity. In theory, this was
all very well, but Henry had unfortunately opted to have Instant Erection Procedure
12 - the maximum elasticity.
Thus, Henry attempted to answer Bronwyn's cry while simultaneously hoping she
hadn't noticed the 12-foot erection which had just caught her in the midriff and
sent her flying across the room. "Yes, Lieutenant, what is it?"
Bronwyn picked herself up off the floor, studiously avoiding looking at his
erection. Which was no mean feat, given that it currently occupied almost
two-thirds of the entire room. "A Captain's ship is requesting permission for some
of it's crew to come aboard. They are in need of supplies."
"What ship?" Henry asked, desperately trying to think unsexy thoughts, but
knowing it was futile even if successful, given that he had selected The Stay
Hard Longer extra as part of the Instant Erection package deal.
"The TARDISPRISE, sir."
"Really?" Henry perked up. In more ways than one. "I thought that had been
decommissioned years ago."
"Apparently not, sir."
"Very well, then, Lieutenant. Grant permission, and inform Chief Friend that
they'll be coming aboard," Henry ordered. Bronwyn hesitated. "Well, Lieutenant?"
"It's just..." Bronwyn hesitated.
"Chief Friend, sir. No one's seen her for a while, and I can't raise her on her
communicator. No one seems to know where she is."
"Oh, I wouldn't worry about it, Bronwyn," Henry assured. "For starters, she's a
bit of a dog these days, isn't she? That's Rachel Friend we're talking about, by
the way. Just thought I'd reemphasise that."
"Yes, sir," Bronwyn frowned.
"Hurry along, then. I've no doubt the old dear will turn up eventually."
"Yes, sir," Bronwyn hurried away.
Henry began desperately rummaging through his desk for his Anti-Erection
Security Chief Rachel Friend was in fact in the Script Containment Facility itself.
And she was not in the best of moods, having woken up and looked in the mirror
without thinking. Rachel was supposed to be in the Facility, doing her daily round,
making sure all Cliches were all still locked up safe and sound, but normally she'd
have finished and been back in her office by now, desperately applying Oil Of
Uranus. "One Planet's Arsehole Gives You Younger-Looking Skin" was the advert's
claim. Rachel didn't feel younger. She felt dried-out, washed-up, passed-it. It
didn't help Henry saying it to her face every morning, either, let alone Bronwyn's
presence, who seemed to be on the station solely to taunt her with her more
youthful (and just plain better) looks. Rachel felt worthless, rejected, like nothing.
Even these Cliches got more respect than her. After all, they were the reason
this station was even here, weren't they? Her? She was less-than.
That was it. A light went off in Rachel's head, and the idea came to her fully
Rachel turned, looking at the Chambers which held the Sci-Fi Plot Cliches.
Let them out, a voice in her head whispered.
Oh sure, betrayal from within was something of a Plot Cliche in itself, but so
what? They'd notice her this time. Better to be a bloody Cliche than a bloody
But could she do it? Could she do it, REALLY?
Making her mind up, Rachel took the keys off her belt and headed for the
Captain Ramsay and Lieutenant Davies stood to attention in the docking bay as
the teleport cubicle materialised in front of them.
Three men emerged from the tent, a young, blonde dandy, a dubiously ethnic
Chinaman in a green dress, and a man who looked suspiciously - and chillingly -
like one-time British 'celebrity' Jeremy Beadle.
"Good afternoon," the dandy announced cheerfully. "Allow me to introduce
my - ourselves. I am Captain James T. Who, this is Mr Wok and the one
currently resembling a retarded colostomy bag is Frobisher."
"Hey!" Frobisher objected. "I'll have you know, this was the 'in look' in the UK
in the late 80s."
"So was Maggie Thatcher," Wok noted.
Ramsay looked at him oddly.
"And you - er..?" Who inquired charmingly.
"Yes, of course. Apologies and all that. I am Captain Henry Ramsay, and this is
my second-in-command, Bronwyn Davies."
Who did a double-take, then looked at them dubiously. "SERIOUSLY?"
"How are Madge and 'arold these days?" Frobisher mocked.
Ramsay looked at him sourly. "Yes, because I've never heard THAT ONE
before. Honest." Frobisher frowned.
"Forgive me, I'm sorry, you just caught me a tad off-guard," Who noted. "We
haven't had many 'Neighbours' jokes since Sammy left, you see. "
"Quite," Ramsay nodded uncomprehendingly. "Now, if we could get on with
things, we're rather busy here. I understood you were in need of supplies?"
"You understood correctly, my good fellow," Who beamed. Henry bristled
somewhat at this. He was not a 'good fellow', he was a complete asshole,
and he had worked hard to get that reputation. "Do you have the list, Mr Wok?"
"Yes, Captain," Wok reached into his pocket. Ramsay giggled. Wok stared.
"Is something wrong?"
"It's just... your accent," Ramsay laughed. "It's some kind of wind-up, right?"
Wok stared. "What?"
"It's the worst attempt at a Chinese accent I've ever heard," Ramsay laughed.
"Even Freddie Starr's was better."
Wok stared at him bemusedly. "What's he talking about, Captain?"
"I'm not sure," Who looked at Ramsay, as if checking him for some sign of
"Well, you're not really Chinese, are you?" Henry laughed.
Wok's stare became decidedly hostile. "I'm not?"
"Well, with your name and your clothes, I was expecting a sort of cross between
Mr Spock and a wise Chinese mandarin," Henry pointed out. "Instead of which
you sound more like Neil Kinnock," he laughed. "In a skirt." He became aware
that the three visitors were staring at him dangerously. Being stared at
dangerously by Jeremy Beadle was a somewhat unnerving experience, and he
realised he may have offended them. Oh well, least he'd hear no more of that
'good fellow' crap now, then. He took the list from Wok's hand. "Oh yes, that
all looks quite straightforward. Come with me, I'll sort you out." He turned on his
heel and marched away, followed by Davies, Who, Frobisher and a mutinously
muttering Wok in the rear.
Rachel observed the Containment Chambers. Which one should she pick?
Rather annoyingly, they weren't individually labelled, so she had no idea which
Cliche she'd get from which Chamber. Still, at least this was the Sci-Fi Cliche
section. Whatever she got, it had to be more interesting than if she opened one
in the Soap section. With no tv shows left in production anywhere in the universe
(well, except Big Brother, but no self-respecting Cliche would go near that
brain-dead crap), Cliches had often been known to infiltrate humans and make
their lives one giant Cliche instead. Rachel wanted that desperately. Even
the most tedious Sci-Fi Cliche had to be more interesting than the life she
currently had. Rachel wavered between the Chambers. "Eeeny meeny, miney
mo..." she began, "sit the baby on his po, when he's done, wipe his bum,
eeny meeny miney..." her finger hit on one Chamber, "and mo."
The Chamber door opened.
Rachel ventured into the cell.
The Cliche sat in the corner of the room. It looked up at her.
"Go on, then," Rachel said.
The Cliche didn't move, almost as if it didn't understand what she was saying.
"I'm giving you a chance," Rachel said. "Enter me. Make me a Cliche, I beg
The Cliche stood up on it's eight legs. The bottom half of it's body resembled
that of a giant spider, albeit a giant spider wearing specially designed
trackypants. The top half, however, resembled one-time British 'celebrity'
"COME ON THEN!" Rachel shouted.
The Cliche moved.
Who, Wok and Frobisher were following Ramsay and Davies down the corridor
when the alarms started blaring.
"What the hell?" Ramsay swore.
Davies checked her indicator. "Oh my God!"
"Would someone mind telling us what's happening?" Who inquired.
"Davies?" Ramsay snapped.
"It's coming from the Script Containment Facility, sir," Davies looked at him in
"One of the Cliches has escaped!"
The Cliche moved - straight past Rachel, out the door and into the corridor.
"Wait!" Rachel yelled. "What are you doing?"
The Cliche flew down the corridor at top speed. In flight, it ceased to look like
it's freaky Woganspider hybrid, and became a translucent pink cloud, the word
"Bollochs!" for some reason visible within it's folds. The Cliche zipped away,
leaving Rachel helpless to catch up.
"Wait!" She yelled, near-hysterical. "Don't go! Please don't leave me!"
Ramsay and Davies rushed toward the Facility, Who, Wok and Frobisher
following. They reached the entrance. "I thought I told you to stay!" he yelled.
Frobisher morphed into a ginger tom cat. "I'm not a dog," he objected.
"Perhaps we could help," Who suggested eagerly.
"I doubt it," Ramsay and Davies unpacked protective clothing from the
storage cupboard and began to struggle into it. "If one of the Cliches has
escaped, I doubt your 'help' will do a helluva lot of good. Now stay here!"
He keyed a command into the door, and it slowly slid open.
The Cliche had come to a halt at the door, looking at it with a bemused
expression on it's Welshman's face.
Rachel reached it, gasping for breath. "I told you to stay!" she said. "The
outer doors are made of the same metal as the Chambers. You can't get
outside, so you may as well - "
The door began to slide open.
"NO!" Rachel screamed.
The door slid open, and Henry, Bronwyn, Who, Wok and Frobisher found
themselves face to face with the Cliche.
"Oh my," Bronwyn gasped.
"Good grief," Who exclaimed.
"Christ, that guy gets everywhere, doesn't he?" Frobisher commented.
For a split-second, everyone froze. Then the Cliche went into cloud mode,
zipping past them and away like a bolt of lightning, leaving only the word
"Bollochs!" written in smoke in the air in it's wake.
"NO!" Rachel came out of the Facility, hysterical. "WAIT!"
"What the hell were you doing in there, Friend?" Henry snapped.
Rachel looked at him.
"I rather think Friend is the one who let your littler friend out," Who observed.
Henry reddened. "WHAT?! Friend, is this true?" Rachel said nothing. Henry
took the absence of a denial as confirmation of her guilt. "You silly little dried-up,
passed-it, washed-out old bint!"
"I say, that's a tad strong, don't you think?" Who noted.
"He's got a point, though," Frobisher whispered. Wok surreptitiously nodded
"Davies, take this old trout into custody. In the meantime, I'll alert the crew
we now have a Cliche on the loose. We have to either contain it, or evacuate
and blow the station altogether." He looked at Rachel disgustedly. "All because
of this old relic."
"How old ARE you, my dear?" Who whispered.
"Thirty-three," Rachel replied.
Who did a double-take. "SERIOUSLY?!"
"Enough of the confab," Henry snapped. "Davies, take the old dear away."
Davies grabbed Rachel. "Why'd you do it, Rachel?" she asked in a mixture
of sympathy and bemusement.
Rachel looked at her sadly. "I just wanted to be a Cliche," she said.
Frobisher looked at her. "You should have just experimented with your
sexuality while in college," he noted.
Who, Wok and Frobisher stood watching as Henry took command on the
Command Deck (well, that fits). "As of now, this station is quarantined,"
Henry was saying. "No one and no ships can leave or dock until this crisis
"Except us, of course," Who smiled.
"I'm afraid not, Captain," Henry said sternly. Who's smile faded. "Don't
worry, I've already sent Earth a message, telling them about your predicament."
"You have, have you?" Who said nervously. "Oh goody."
"Did I hear that twat right?" Frobisher growled. "He's just shopped us, hasn't
"Now, in order to track the Cliche - " Henry began.
Who motioned for he, Wok and Frobisher to leave the Command Deck. They
sidled out of the room.
"Now what?" Wok complained. "Borusa will be sending ships for us!"
"Then we have to leave, of course," Who replied. "Obviously. You and
Frobisher head for the teleport cubicle."
"What about you?" Wok argued.
"I'll get those parts we need. Seeing as we are going to have to outrun Borusa
rather sooner than I'd hoped, I think it would be a rather good idea to help
ourselves to them while we have the chance, don't you?"
Wok and Frobisher looked at each other, and sighed. "Yes, Captain," they
Who headed for the Stores Department. It was empty, unlocked and unguarded,
no doubt because of all the panic over the escaped Cliche. "Terribly convenient,
I must say," he commented to himself. Who had a great time looking for the
parts. He could spend many happy hours in here, he thought, then hastily
reminded himself of the need for a speedy exit. Shaking his head at how fast
his life was becoming (especially in comparison to his retirement, when an
entire day could be passed simply - and vainly - waiting for the next 'CT'
to arrive) Who made sure he had everything he needed, and turned to leave.
The Cliche blocked the exit, it's Terry Wogan head grinning at him in a most
"Ah," said Who.
The Cliche advanced, completely blocking the exit.
Who backed away. "Now, I say... I'm sure we can talk about this."
The Cliche MOVED.
"Wait!" Who yelled, panicking as it scuttled toward him. The Woganspider leapt
on him, shimmering, and imposing it's body over his. "You've no RIGHT!" Who
yelled. "You haven't even bought me dinner and a movie yet!" Who struggled
further, to no avail.
The Cliche disappeared, and all that was left was Who, a flicker of a red glow
in his eyes and an unnatural grin on his face.
"A new body at last," 'Who' grinned gruesomely in triumph.
"A new body... at last!"
Mr Wok and Frobisher were standing idly by the teleport cubicle, as per
instructions, waiting for the Captain to return.
"How about a game of 'I SPY'?" Frobisher asked, licking his paws.
"Oh, alright then," Wok groaned.
"I spy with my little eye," Frobisher began, "something beginning with 'c'."
"Corridor," Wok guessed.
Frobisher fluffed himself, rather put out. "Your go."
"It was rather obvious," Wok pointed out.
"Not totally," Frobisher sniffed. "It could have been 'cat'."
"On that subject," Wok looked at him, "can't you change into something else?
You look ridiculous."
"Hey!" Frobisher objected, once more licking his paws. "I don't know about you,
Wokky, but some of us LIKE licking pussy!"
Who suddenly came breezing down the corridor, his arms laden with
equipment. "Hurry up, you two. Into the teleport cubicle!"
Who, Wok and Frobisher dived into the TARDIS tent, and with a wheezing,
groaning sound, it faded away into nothing.
The teleport cubicle rematerialised in the console bridge of the TARDISPRISE,
and Who, Wok and Frobisher leapt out. Who instantly began connecting up the
new equipment to under the main console.
"Erm, Captain..." Wok began.
"Not now, Wokky," Who snapped. "I'm CONCENTRATING."
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Copyright © 2006 Ian Kidd