Where in all space and time could a know-it-all such as the Doctor feel out of place? How about a time when everyone is a know-it-all and there is no one who doesn’t know all your mysteries?
The Doctor and Mel arrive far in the future in a time described by the Doctor as the “Vulgar end of Time”. He is uncomfortable as he feels that the future is a boring place, but when they see a crowd gathering and rejoicing, they ask a member of the crowd what has happen. He explains that the Doctor has just saved them from a terrible threat, but the Doctor is stunned by this news as, according to him, he can usually sense when another version of him is about and right now he dose not have such a feeling.
Curiosities peaked, they find a news paper that shows a picture of the “Doctor” and his companion that claims they have just saved the planet of Generios. Armed with this knowledge the TARDIS crew go to investigate.
It’s worth mentioning that had I not known this play was written by Clayton Hickman and Gareth Roberts, I would have sworn it was written by the late Douglas Adams himself. It almost seems as if the Doctor and Mel have skipped dimensions and ended up in “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” universe.
In case you can’t tell the listener is in for a treat as this story takes a nicely handled comedic tone, as the name of the plant “Generios” would suggest. It’s simply just another generic planet.
Onward to the story.
The Doctor and Mel make their way into the capital building when the “Doctor” and his companion are celebrating the success of a job well done.
It should come as no surprise that there is an imposter pretending to save the universe calling himself the Doctor. His name is Banto Zame, his companion is Sally-Ann Stubbins, and they have just pulled off the scam of a lifetime.
The plan was simple, fake an invasion on Generios, then swoop in and save the day by pretending to fix the situation. When all is said an done the people will be so grateful they will want to reward you, of course Banto will play the roll of the Doctor and claim he can not accept a reward, but then Sally-Ann steps in and says that the “STARDIS” (we’ll get to that
later) is in need of repair and perhaps they could just take a reward as a small loan. Then take the money and move on to the next world.
What could go wrong?
Well, for starters the real Doctor could show up, and to make matter worse a real invasion could happen. Things being what they are, and to make sure that you have a story worth buying, both events take place.
By now the Doctor and Mel have been taken to a nice cozy cell for being imposters/fans of the Doctor. Naturally Banto Zame has been asked to thwart the real invasion “just as he did the first”. Banto is at a loss for words but has not yet been paid his money so he tries to get them to step up the payment so that he can skip out on this invasion.
Soon we hear the voice of the alien attacker, who is shaped like a cylinder sort of reminiscent of Star Trek 4, it demands that the people of Generios give “tribute” to its masters. This tribute must be their three greatest treasures, or it will destroy the entire system.
By now Banto decides to help as he feels this is another fake attack, this time put in place by the real Doctor, whom he believes to be another fake.
He asks that his STARDIS be brought to him at once so that he can spring in to action.
The real Doctor has worked out that this is indeed a real attack and that he must get out of his cell to help them. Having done so he and Mel make their way to the main chamber where Banto is gearing up pretend to be the hero.
The scenes between the Doctor and Banto are very much fun and very well written, it rivals the bickering of Jon Pertwee and Patrick Troughton.
Having endured enough on this trip the Doctor is hit with the biggest shock of all, Banto’s STARDIS.
According to Banto the STARDIS is exacting in every way to Police Boxes of the past, but in reality it is a Porta-Loo. Having no other way to get back to the real TARDIS they are forced pile into Banto’s ship, which is by no means bigger on the inside.
Here is one of those great comedic moments of the story when the STARDIS takes off, the sound effects used mimic the sounds of the TARDIS only with the sounds of a flushing toilet.
Finally back at the real TARDIS they are free to start their journey. In good old fashion Doctor Who style the two teams split up and the Doctor leaves Banto and Mel to find the first treasure while he and Sally-Ann take on number two.
Banto and Mel arrive on Generios Eight to find “Unit ZX419”. While they have a look around they realize that they are in a furniture warehouse and are soon captured by a band of robotic Assemblers who protect the first treasure. The robots, having a mean sense of humor, tell them that if they can assemble Unit ZX419, which turns out to be shelves, that they can take it with them when they leave. If they fail to put it together then they must die.
The joke here, as Mel and Banto learn, is that the shelves are in a state of dimensional flux and not all of the pieces are in our dimension at the same time, so the shelves can never be properly built.
The Doctor and Sally-Ann have their own problems when they land on Generios Fourteen for the second treasure known as “Mentos”. Mentos is not being held captive and is free to leave with the Doctor just as soon as he is done playing the game show that he is currently the only contestant on. The Doctor and Sally-Ann are prepared to wait for Mentos to get a question wrong so that they can be on their way, but can it really be this easy?
Of course not.
It turns out that Mentos is a super computer with a sophisticated system capable of obtaining any information needed to answer any question Due to this he has been the reigning champion for that last 330 centuries. As our heroes are under a time restriction they have to think fast to stump Mentos so they can rejoin Mel and Banto and move on to the last treasure.
One of the great things about this story is that the Doctor is constantly on the move, using the TARDIS to help him beat the clock, it harkens back to stories such as “The Chase” and “The Dalek’s Master Plan”. In fact to those who have heard the Audio of “The Dalek’s Master Plan”, or for those who remember seeing it way back when, there is a hidden track that will provide a nice reminiscent amusement for your listening pleasure. As well as an outtake scene.
I have to give a hand to Clayton Hickman and Gareth Roberts for coming up with a story as enjoyable and funny as this, with out crossing any lines that usually would lessen the viewers enjoyment of a classic show. The entire story seem to be one laugh after another, while at the same time feeling as if it could have easily been filmed in one of Doctor Who’s glory days.
But time it ticking.
The Last treasure the team must get to complete their mission is a huge Diamond that is guarded by a Gigantic Amoeboid Creature. This creature would feel very much at home in the Hitchhikers universe, perhaps he could have been Marvin’s only friend. Some of these scenes are the best out of the entire play, there is so much Douglas Adams in the air it’s breathtaking.
But before they can get to the last treasure Mel and Banto must find a way to beat the Robots and split with the shelves, the Doctor and Sally-Ann have to use their minds, something Sally-Ann is not to used to, to beat the game and win the second treasure, and then they must find their way to the third treasure and overcome many obstacles that stand in their way.
But with time running out will they ever make it in time, and will they all survive?
Don’t just sit there viewer, run out and get your copy of Big Finish’s audio “The One Doctor” to find out!