Dave-El here! Last week I kicked off a new serial Doctor Who fan fiction to help provide some new Doctor Who adventures during these long, long months without new Doctor Who on our television.
Before we kick off the next episode, let me jump in with some background about the opening scene from last week's story.
The scene of the Doctor playing guitar with a rock band is a bit of a meta reference. Current Doctor Who actor Peter Capaldi back in the days of his youth was in a punk rock band called the Dreamboys which, by no coincidence at all, is the name of the band that we find the Doctor performing with. In the band with Peter was a fellow Scotsman who would go on to become well known as a talk show host here in America. That man? Craig Ferguson. Yep, like the Scottish dude named Craig who wants the Doctor to become a permanent part of the Dreamboys. And the sick guitarist named "Petey" that the Doctor was filling in for? You can figure that one out, I'm sure.
OK, let's look to today's episode. First the disclaimer.
Scene opens: a barren plain of sand and rocks. A metallic robot creature resembling a spider crawls across the surface of the planet Mars. A red light scans a rock. From the spiders perspective, we see an analysis schematic with lots of numbers and symbols. Then the words ANALYSIS: ROCK. The spider skitters across to another section and the process repeats.
Scan. Schematic. ANALYSIS: ROCK. Skitter.
Scan. Schematic. ANALYSIS: ROCK. Skitter.
Scan. Schematic. ANALYSIS: ROCK. Skitter.
Scene change: Toby Parker, a couple of years older than when we last saw him, is looking out his window. At the house across the street, an adult couple are moving things in as a young boy about toby’s age sits on the front porch with a handheld game, looking bored.
Claire, Toby’s mother, enters the room.
Claire: Hey, Toby.
Toby: Hi, Mom.
Claire: How’s the homework coming along?
Toby casts a glance to his desk where a science book is open with papers and pictures referencing the planet Mars.
Toby: Kind of stuck.
Claire: I see.
Claire looks out the window.
Claire: Looks like the new neighbors are moving in.
Claire: And they have a son, looks about your age.
Claire: Maybe a new friend?
Toby: Maybe. I dunno.
Claire looks at Toby with concern.
Claire: Toby, are you all right?
Toby: Yeah, I guess. I’m just…
Suddenly they hear a sound: VWORP! VWORP! VWORP!
Toby’s eyes brighten and he smiles.
Toby runs out of the room and down the stairs.
Claire (to herself): Looks like the Doctor is in.
Scene change: Toby runs out the door to the back lawn where the TARDIS is parked and the Doctor is striding towards the house.
The Doctor: Toby!
They bump fists and the Doctor rubs Toby’s head. The Doctor sees Claire standing in the doorway of the back of the house.
The Doctor: Mrs. Parker! Good to see you!
Claire: Hello again, Doctor!
The Doctor (to Toby): So how was the birthday this year?
Toby: Awesome! I got a telescope! Wanna see?
Claire (still smiling): In a few moments, Toby. I need to speak with the Doctor.
Claire: Run upstairs and we'll be along shortly.
Toby goes back upstairs as Claire directs the Doctor towards the kitchen with a nod of her head. Claire drops the smile a bit.
Claire: Care for a cup of tea?
The Doctor: I'm in London, right?
Claire: Yes, Doctor.
The Doctor: Then I would very much care for a cup of tea, Mrs. Parker.
The Doctor sits at a small table in the kitchen as Claire pours tea.
Claire: Doctor, you've been coming 'round to visit Toby once a year for 3 years now.
Claire sits down at the table with the tea.
Claire: When are you going to call me Claire?
The Doctor takes a sip of his tea.
The Doctor: There's something on your mind, isn't there, Mrs. Parker?
Claire: Of course. The same thing as always. My baby boy.
The Doctor: Baby? He's growing up so fast.
Claire: Too fast. Doctor?
The Doctor: Hmmm?
Claire: Are you ever going to tell me the truth?
The Doctor: The truth?
Claire: About what happened three years ago. To Toby.
The Doctor: I told you, Mrs. Parker.
Claire: Yes, about the tiny alien...virus...
The Doctor: The Chronovirus, yes.
Claire: Still, it's so hard to believe. But...you saved him.
The Doctor says nothing as he sips his tea.
Claire: You saved him, didn't you?
The Doctor puts down his cup.
The Doctor: Mrs. Parker...
Claire: Did you save my boy? Is Toby all right?
The Doctor: Toby...your son...is fine. He encountered something unusual, even by my standards. I want to be sure he stays that way. That's why I keep checking on him every year.
Claire looks at the Doctor. She's torn. She wants to simply accept that her son is OK. But she can't shake the feeling that the Doctor is not telling her something.
Claire: You know....
Claire pulls a rumpled piece of paper from her pocket.
Claire: My boy was supposed to die. All the doctors were telling me the same thing.
The piece of paper is the same document we saw Claire with in the previous episode.
Claire: Terminal cancer, they said. And you come along...THE Doctor. And my boy is still alive. God, I don't want to question a miracle...
The Doctor: Then don't. Mrs. Parker, your son is alive and well and as long as I have anything to say about it, he will stay that way for a very, very long time.
The Doctor rises from the table.
The Doctor: I believe Toby wants me to see his new telescope.
The Doctor heads up the stairs as we see Claire sitting alone at the kitchen table, clutching at the piece of paper.
Scene change: back to Toby's room. Toby's sitting at his desk, his homework sprawled in front of him but he's distractedly looking out the window. The young boy across the street is sitting on the front step. He's no longer playing the game but resting his chin on his fists just staring out into the distance.
The Doctor enters the room. Toby turns to greet him.
Toby: Hey, Doctor!
The Doctor: So, how are you feeling?
Toby stands up with his arms spread out.
Toby: You tell me!
The Doctor takes out his sonic screwdriver and waves it up down over Toby's body. Then he looks at the reading.
The Doctor calmly puts the screwdriver back in his jacket pocket.
The Doctor: You're in perfect health!
The Doctor spies Toby's telescope.
The Doctor: So this is your new telescope?
Toby: Yeah! It's pretty cool!
The Doctor looks it over.
The Doctor: Pretty sharp piece of equipment. Telescopes have come a long way since I helped Galileo puts his first one together.
Toby: Help who do what now?
The Doctor: Nevermind. So....homework. Science?
Toby: Yeah. Supposed to be doing a report on Mars.
The Doctor: Mars, eh?
Toby: Yeah but its kind of boring.
The Doctor: Boring? Not when you've gone up against the Ice Warriors like I have!
Toby: Ice Warriors?!?
The Doctor: Yeah! Uh, don't put that in your report. Teachers aren't always cool with stuff like that.
Toby (dejected): Yeah.
The Doctor and Toby are silent for a moment.
The Doctor: Toby?
Toby: Yeah, Doctor?
The Doctor: I've been coming around for three years now and you know what?
The Doctor: You know that blue box I show up in?
The Doctor: Would you like to take a look inside?
Toby: But...it's just a box, right?
The Doctor says nothing but grins mischievously.
Scene change: interior of the TARDIS. The Doctor is leaning against the console while Toby turns around and around taking it all in.
The Doctor: Yeah.
The Doctor: Uh huh.
Toby: On the inside...
The Doctor: Go on.
Toby: Go on with what?
The Doctor: You know, the rest of it....
Toby: The rest of...what?
The Doctor: It's bigger on the inside...
The Doctor: Than...
The Doctor: It is...
Toby says nothing.
The Doctor: On the outside.
Toby: Oh, that! Well, duh!
The Doctor: Duh?
Toby: Still, this is so...so....wow!
The Doctor: Duh?
Toby: How...how does all this work?
The Doctor: Magic!
Toby wrinkles his nose.
Toby: I was thinking some kind of, I don't know, dimension shift...you know, like in the comic books.
The Doctor: Hmph! Comic books!
Toby: So this thing....this...
The Doctor: The TARDIS.
Toby: TARDIS, right. It travels in space...
The Doctor: And time.
Toby: Right but in space too, right?
The Doctor: ...yes?
Toby: You don't suppose we could use it to help me with my homework?
The Doctor: Your homework? Listen here, Toby! The TARDIS is the most powerful machine in the universe and you think we can just use it to help with your homework?
Quick scene change: a barren dusty Martian plain. As we pan across this desolate scene, we see the familiar shape of the TARDIS. Stretching across the flat sandy surface, we see two sets of footprints. Our view continues to shift as we see two figures in orange space suits, 1 taller than the other. As we draw closer, we hear voices, slightly muffled by the space suit helmets.
The Doctor: I can't believe I let you talk me into this!
Toby: Honest, Doctor, all I said was could we use the TARDIS to help me with my homework. Then you grumbled a bit, threw a switch and now...
Toby pauses to take a breath.
Toby: WE'RE ON FREAKIN' MARS!!!
The Doctor: Easy, Toby. Mind the air supply.
Toby: I'm in a SPACESUIT!!!
The Doctor: Well...
Toby: ...ON FREAKIN' MARS!!!
The Doctor: Yes, we're on Mars.
Toby: FREAKIN' MARS!!!!
The Doctor: OK, fine. Freaking Mars.
Toby: So are we going to see any of those Ice Soldiers...
The Doctor: Ice Warriors!
Toby: Right! Them! Are we gonna see any?
The Doctor: I doubt it. We're easily about 3 or 4 thousand years too late for that.
Toby: But there was life on Mars?
The Doctor: Was, yes. And will be again too. But not today. Nope, Toby, nobody on this planet today but you and me...
As the Doctor and Toby turn past an outcropping of rock, we see the spider robot from the beginning of this episode. It's about 4 or 5 yards away.
The Doctor: And that robot.
Toby: A robot! Cool!
The spider bot bobs slightly on its spindly legs, a red light blinks from the central part of the robot. It's almost like the spider bot is sizing up these two visitors.
The Doctor: Hmm! Now that's interesting.
Toby: What is it?
The Doctor: We must have slipped a few years into your future, Toby. That's an experimental Mars rover. Codename "Ziggy", designed to be the most autonomous Mars rover ever built.
Toby: Wow! Let's get closer!
The Doctor holds Toby back.
The Doctor: No, we best not.
Toby: Oh, why not?
The Doctor: It's a very finely tuned instrument, designed for extremely precise analysis of the Martian landscape. It's best we leave it alone.
Toby: But it's a robot...
The Doctor: Yes, it is.
Toby: A robot on...
The Doctor: On freaking Mars, I know, I know.
The Doctor and Toby turn to head back the way they came. Suddenly a spark flies from Ziggy, hurling through the air and blasting the ground barely a foot in front of the Doctor and Toby.
The Doctor: What the hell...?
Ziggy skitters forward a few feet and stops.
Toby: It shot at us!
The Doctor: We better get back to the TARDIS, now!
Toby: OK by me!
But as the Doctor and Toby start to bolt back along their path, Ziggy fires off two sparks this time in rapid succession. The Doctor and Toby stop short as the ground in front of them gets blasted again.
The Doctor: The energy charges, probably built in to clear debris fields.
Toby: Now its trying to clear us out.
The Doctor: Ziggy's not suppose to be able to do that!
Toby: It doesn't seem to know that!
Another attempt by the Doctor and Toby to retreat back to the TARDIS gets stop by another volley of exploding sparks shot by Ziggy, forcing the two to go back to the rock. Ziggy stops firing, bobbing on its spider legs. Almost hesitantly, it skitters a few steps towards where the Doctor and Toby are hiding behind the rock.
The Doctor: Are you OK, Toby?
Toby: I'm in a spacesuit...
The Doctor: Yeah...
Toby: On Mars...
The Doctor: Yeah...
Toby: Being shot at by a robot.
The Doctor: Toby, are you OK?
Toby: Fine. I'm fine, Doctor. Except...
Toby peaks over the rock. Ziggy is about 2 or 3 yards away now, just sort of waiting.
The Doctor: Toby, stay down!
Toby: Except I'm not.
The Doctor: Not fine?
Toby: NOT being shot at by a robot. Not...now.
Toby eyes the robot, then looks at the path that leads back to the TARDIS.
Toby: I've got an idea.
Suddenly Toby runs from behind the rock away from the Doctor and Ziggy.
The Doctor: Toby! NO!!!
At that moment, Ziggy sparks again and the ground in front of Toby explodes. Toby stops.
The Doctor: Toby!
Toby: Wait up, Doctor!
Toby takes a few steps back and Ziggy seems to relax. Then Toby makes a move as if to step forward. Ziggy arches up on its spider legs as if tensing up to fire again. Toby stops. Ziggy relaxes.
The Doctor eases up from behind the rock, warily watching both Toby and Ziggy. Calmly, he withdraws his sonic screwdriver and begins scanning Ziggy.
The Doctor: Oh. I see.
The Doctor waves to Toby.
The Doctor: Over here, Toby.
Carefully, the Doctor and Toby approach Ziggy. Very gingerly, the Doctor's fingers open a cover on Ziggy's central chassis, revealing a slowly scrolling digital read out.
Toby cautiously touches one of Ziggy's spider legs.
Toby: Doctor, what's going on here?
The Doctor closes the panel.
The Doctor: It seems that Ziggy has lost contact with Earth. Yet it remains fully functional, still doing what it was sent here to do. Analyze rocks. All those geological surveys and no one to tell them to. It's enough to drive an autonomous Martian rover...mad.
Toby: A mad robot?
The Doctor: Yeah.
The Doctor: No?
Toby: No, a lonely robot.
The Doctor looks at Toby with a bemused expression.
Toby: He wasn't shooting to hurt us. He was shooting to keep us from leaving.
The Doctor: You're saying it needs a friend.
Toby: I'm saying HE needs a friend.
The Doctor shakes his head and sighs.
The Doctor: Humans. Always anthropomorphizing dogs and robots.
The Doctor stands up.
The Doctor: Which reminds me....I may have a way to...help Ziggy. But I need to get something from the TARDIS.
Toby puts his hand on Ziggy who gently bobs on his spider legs.
Toby: You go. I'll stay here with Ziggy.
The Doctor shakes his head again.
The Doctor: Humans.
Scene change: a view of the Martian landscape from above. Across the sands of Mars, we see two objects moving across the plain. One is Ziggy, the Spider Robot of Mars. The other has the shape of something resembling...a metal dog. It looks a lot like K-9.
As we pull back we see we're watching this scene on a monitor. We're back inside the TARDIS with the Doctor and Toby out of their space suits.
Toby: So...you just happen to have robot dogs you keep in the TARDIS?
The Doctor: Yes. Well, actually robot dog shells. I wind up needing them more than one would expect. I programmed that one with a rudimentary A.I., sufficient to keep Ziggy company. So, young Toby Parker, did you learn anything to help with your report on Mars?
Toby: Yeah. Maybe I did learn something.
Scene change: a residential street with trees and houses. On the front step of one of those houses is the little boy we saw earlier from Toby's room. He looks bored. Then we hear a voice.
The boy looks up to see Toby standing there.
Boy (shyly): Uh, hi.
Toby: Uh, my name's Toby. I live across the street.
Boy: Yeah. We...uh, we just moved in.
Toby: Yeah. I saw.
Toby sits down on the step next to the boy. He holds out his hand.
Toby: Thought that, well, maybe you could use a friend.
The boy allows for a slight smile, extends his hand to shake Toby's.
Boy: My name's Jamal.
Our view rises up from the two boys sitting on the door step but we still hear there voices even as our view extends above the trees and we can see Toby's backyard where the TARDIS sits.
Toby (VO): Welcome to the nieghborhood, Jamal.
Jamal (VO): Seems like a nice place. Anything ever happen around here?
Toby (VO): Nah, it's pretty quiet. Nothing much happens around here.
We hear the echo of the TARDIS engine noise as it vanishes from Toby's backyard.
Toby (VO): Well, almost nothing.
They say the course of true love never runs smooth but for Toby Parker, its down right dangerous. Meanwhile the Doctor needs Toby's help to solve a murder mystery: his own?
Who is the...The Man Who Murdered The Doctor?
The next time in Episode Three of...
Meanwhile, yes, I know today is Mother's Day. And tomorrow is the kick off of Comic Book Week here on the blog. So tomorrow, Mothers Who Are Also Super Heroes.
Until then, remember to be good to one another.