Monday 16 April 2012

The Gunfighters

Music, which can be made anywhere, is invisible and does not smell.
- W.H. Auden (who obviously hadn’t watched The Gunfighters)

Me:  Bit of a milestone this story.

Him:  Shall I get the other packet of Matchmakers?

Me:  Yeah.  This is the last one with individual episode titles; it’s numbers from here on in.

Him:  I know.

Me:  And – Doc Holliday’s son ended up writing the TV Movie.  Well, the actor’s son did, not Doc Holliday’s actual son.  So, Anthony and Matthew Jacobs are related.  That’s what I’m saying.

Him:  Okay.  I thought his name was ‘Dog’ Holliday.

Me:  Arf!

Him:  After this, do we really only have The Savages, The War Machines, The Smugglers and The Tenth Planet left?  With Daleks - Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.?

Me:  That’s right.  Anyway, dental care warnings ahoy!

The Him totally misses an opportunity for a swift burst of Lemming of the BDA and we’re off to October 1881.


Him:  I was wondering why you were drawing teeth.

Me:  Very good.  Was I?

Him:  Who?

Me:  Somnambulist, I reckon.

Him:  You’ve written a lot for this to only be ten seconds in.

And here comes The Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon.

Him:  What’s that noise?  There’s blood coming out of my ears!

Me:  Ah, yes.  Enlightenment strikes.

Him:  Who?

Me:  Cap’n Wrack; now sells Petrichor; used to hand around with Danger Mouse.

Him:  Who did?  Oh, the little mole thing.  Pedro?

Me:  Penfold.

Him:  ‘Penfold’.  His name was Penfold?

Me:  Still is.  But that’s not who’s singing this.

On it goes.  Horses enter the picture.

Me:  Must’ve been hell getting those up in the lift.  The horses, that is - not the accents.

Him:  Horses in lifts?

The TARDIS materialises slightly to the left.  The Doctor emerges, he’s still got a sore tooth.

Me:  They’ve all got the same clothes on from The Celestial Toymaker.

Steven:  Where are we?

Dodo works it out, and she’s mighty excited as a result.

Dodo:  The Wild West!

It’s the last chance for cussin’ in the Last Chance Saloon.

Him:  “I cuss/You cuss/We all cuss/For asparagus”

Me:  Far Side?

Him:  Far Side.

Charles Kerensky, an intimidated barman, c. 1881
The cowboys we saw earlier, the Clantons, stride in and start threatening to shoot this Doc called Holliday, intimidating the landlord and generally kicking up a ruckus.

Me:  “Not zat zvitch!”

Him:  I don’t think that’s the voice.

Me:  It’s Professor Kerensky’s. I’m borrowing it.

Steven and Dodo emerge from the TARDIS.  They’ve changed.

Dodo:  How do we look?

Me:  Well, Steven looks like Elvis.

The Doctor:  Why can’t you wear inconspicuous clothes, like I do, hmmm?

Ignoring that comment, we move on.

The Doctor confiscates Dodo’s hat for himself.  Steven reminds us of The Chase and then drops his gun.  The Doctor sighs.

The Doctor:  Oh, do be careful, dear boy.  And remember, that belongs to my favourite collection.

Me:  “There’s a matching cloak and everything.”

Steven picks up the gun, only to have it shot from his hands by Wyatt Earp, who promptly arrests them.  The Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon grinds up again.

Cap’n Wrack:  ‘til there’s blood upon the sawdust/At the Last Chance Saloon

Him:  They like that line, don’t they?

Me:  We’ll certainly be encountering it again.  I always associate sawdust with unfortunate moments in school assemblies.  Does that still happen?

Him:  What?  When someone’s sick they cover them with sawdust?

Me:  That’s a lot harsher than it used to be.  They cover the whole child now?

Him:  Yes.

Me:  Blimey.

Him:  “’til there’s vomit under sawdust/At the Last Chance Saloon”

The Clantons conspire.  The only problem they have is that they don’t actually know what Doc Holliday looks like.  At this piece of information, Kate – a dancer – offers her apologies to the intimidated Charlie and sashays off. 

Me:  Dodo’s wandering accent’s more contagious than her colds.

Tinkle go the ivories, like a skull having conniptions, as elsewhere in Tombstone, Doc Holliday’s moving in to his new dental surgery.  His operating chair’s being delicately lowered into place by a couple of farmhands.  Kate warns him that the Clanton’s are in town and there’s some wonderful dialogue.  

Me:  This was written by Donald Cotton, the genius who brought us The Myth Makers.  Wiles and Tosh had liked that story, which makes sense as it was a masterpiece, and they wanted to replicate its magic.  Unfortunately, Innes Lloyd and Gerry Davis who’d taken over as producer and story editor respectively, wanted to do more sci-fi, so this is the start of the historical story’s journey into the dark.

Him:  What?

Me:  It’s the last comedy historical, and almost the last proper historical that doesn’t feature Adric.

Him:  Black Orchid.  Or are you talking about Earthshock?

Me:  You stole my line, you swine!  I was setting that up!

Him:  I don’t have anything else to say at this point.

The Doctor and our chums are being introduced to the goodies.  Here’s Bat Masterson.

Me:  The set looks great.

The Doctor:  Oh quite, quite so.  Allow me, sir, to introduce Miss Dodo Dupont, wizard of the ivory keys, and, uh, Steven Regret, tenor.  And lastly, sir, your humble servant, Doctor Caligari.

Bat Masterson:  Doctor Who?

Me:  Superb.  The oldest question.

The Doctor:  Yes, quite right.

Him:  Who’s ‘Doctor Caligari’?

Me:  Not that oldest question.  Doctor Caligari was a German kohl merchant.  Big in Expressionist Cabinets.

Turns out there’s no need for performers in Tombstone, as it hasn’t got a theatre.  The Doctor asks after a dentist and is directed toward Doc Holliday’s.

The Doctor:  Come, fellow thespians!  No doubt I shall be very glad to see you, meet you, later on, Mr… Mr Werp.

Me:  Ace.

Him:  ‘Mr Werp’.

The Ballad rears its inquisitive head as the picture fades.

After the oversea adverts, Steven is moaning about his name and job title.

The Doctor:  Oh, my dear young man, can’t you sing a little?

Me:  More than Dodo.  This is why she’ll be playing the piano while Mr Purves grimaces his way through the song.

The Doctor sends his companions off as he gingerly approaches the sign of the molar.  The Him’s transfixed.

Him:  “I don’t wanna go.”

Me:  William Hartnell’s ace in this.

Him:  Dodo’s so small.

Me:  She can’t fly either.

Doc Holliday and Kate and the Doctor exchange banter.  It’s great.

The Clantons are playing cards in the Saloon.  This is observed in verse.  But then, everything’s observed in verse in this story.

Me:  There are two-hundred and fifty-seven verses to this song.

Him:  And how many are there really?

Me:  Oh, alright.  There’s only two-hundred and fifty-two.

In-between hands the Clantons are intimidating Charlie some more.

Me:  “Not zat zvitch!”

Whisky is killed just as Dodo and Steven enter the saloon.  Steven attempts to book rooms and inadvertently ends up getting himself and Dodo employed as entertainers.  The Clantons eavesdrop a misunderstanding, so now they reckon the Doctor’s the Doc and Steven’s his sidekick.  Seth Harper heads off to greet the Doc.

Back with the Doc and the Doctor and the extraction’s gone wonderfully.

The song bleats some more as Harper and the Doctor trundle through a wonderful farce whilst the Doc and Kate listen in.  Harper heads off and Doc Holliday gives the Doctor his gun.

The Doctor:  I certainly disapprove of violence.

Him:  Lied the Doctor.

Back in the Saloon, the baddies await the arrival of our unsuspecting hero.  Steven and Dodo are forced to perform at gunpoint. 

The Doctor comes closer… 

The Ballad bangs on… 

A sign appears…

Him:  There it is!

Next:  Don’t Shoot the Pianist

Me:  Dodo’s pretty good on that piano.

Him:  Was that actually Jackie Lane playing it?

Me:  I wouldn’t have thought so.  Is that the first musical cliffhanger?

Him:  It’s the only musical cliffhanger.

Me:  I’m pretty sure that Mel screams in key at the end of an episode of Trial of a Time Lord.


We recap – Steven’s murdering a song at gunpoint, hot tears glisten on his cheeks.  Elsewhere, Doc Holliday fills in the story for anyone who’s arrived late.  Luckily, Kate’s written it down for him before heading back to the Saloon.

Me:  Steven’s getting into it.

Steven:  I’ve sung this song four times already.

Me:  That’s over a thousand verses.

Kate saves the day with a song and dance.  The Doctor arrives in the middle of a misunderstanding.  The dialogue sings a lot better than Steven did.

Harper:  Well, if it ain’t the great Doc.

The Doctor:  Oh, you flatter me, young man.  Yes, reasonably accomplished I would say, but not great.

The Doctor also doesn’t drink.

Me:  That’ll change soon enough when there’s a smoking jacket and cheese involved.

Doc Holliday has snuck in like a Silent and drifted up the stairs.  There’s a bang and Harper is shot.  Kate seizes this moment to convince the Clantons that the Doctor is, indeed, Doc Holliday.

A rare still from Doctor on Holliday.
Me:  And, in a brave an unexpected move this is where the series renames itself Doctor on Holliday and becomes an oddly prophetic version of Deadwood.

The deception doesn’t last long, and as the sawdust settles, Doc Holliday abducts Dodo.

Mr Werp enters the story again.

Werp:  Howdy, sinners.

Me:  “Hello, Sheriff.”

Mr Werp arrests the Doctor.  Doc Holliday and Kate prepare to ride out of town with Dodo under their arms. 

Back in the Saloon, Steven’s facing up to the Clantons and preparing to spring the Doctor from jail.

Mr Werp and Doc Holliday have a quick chinwag.  Mr Werp’ll release the Doctor the next morning after explaining to the Clantons that they’ve got the wrong physician.  In the meantime, Doc Holliday’ll have to leave town.

Back in the Saloon there’s schemin’ taking place.  Steven leaves for the jail to rescue the Doctor.

Kate and Dodo are talking about stuff and it’s at this point that I should apologise for the lack of comments.  We’re watching it.

The Doctor is passing the time reading a wanted poster.

Him:  Who reads the backs of wanted posters?  Oh, it’s got the script on it.

Steven tells the Doctor the plan – it all kicks off in ten minutes.  Steven gives the Doctor a pistol and heads off.  The Doctor calls for Mr Werp and twirls the pistol thoughtfully.

Me:  Some fans hate this one.  It had the reputation of being awful for years.

Him:  Why?

Me:  Comedy.

Him:  “Stupid comedy.  Don’t understand it.  Makes me laugh.”

Mr Werp and the Doctor share a moment.

Me:  Beautiful.

A lynch mob’s being set up at the Saloon.

Me:  Oo – lots of people.

Jane of Rod, Jane and Freddy fame is said to be somewhere in the crowd, but I didn’t spot her.

Steven is roped up to provide an alternate lynchin’ if the mob can’t get their hands on the Doctor.

Doc Holliday runs off, straight into Harper.  Harper doesn’t survive the meeting.  Doc Holliday and Kate prepare to leave.  Dodo’s coming along as well.

Me:  He smacked her bottom!

Him:  He did.

The Doctor’s lynch mob have arrived.  The Ballad resumes and carries us to the cliffhanger.

Me:  Oh.

Him:  Second musical cliffhanger.

Me:  Alright, alright.


We recap.  Swingin’s still afoot, as the Ballad points out.

The Doctor:  I can’t just stand here and allow them to hang Steven!

I decide to chance it.

Me:  “Now, Adric on the other hand…”

The Him sighs and the showdown continues until Mr Werp breaks it up.

Me:  “Move along now, nothing to see here.”

Charlie runs along and info-dumps all over the street.  This, unsurprisingly, leads to a confrontation between the Clantons and Werp.

Me:  “Ah’m gonna go up ta 4 on the varmint!”

That, more-random-than-usual comment, requires a ‘Link’ - bwah ha!

The Ballad tells us what we’re watching.  The Doctor and Steven recap.

Me:  Still calling him ‘Werp’, I notice.

Steven nearly does too.

Back in the Saloon and the Clantons are planning on calling Johnny Ringo.

Me:  Drinking at that rate they’ll be lucky to contact anyone without having a long lie-down first.

Charlie tells the Doctor and Steven that Dodo’s gone.  And hasn’t left a forwarding address.

Charlie:  Now, mister, if’n you’re involved in a killin’, you don’t leave no messages.  You git.

The Doctor:  Now, don’t be ridiculous.  Doc Holliday’s a great friend of mine.  He gave me a gun, he extracted my tooth.  Good gracious me, what more do you want?

Me:  Another great line.

Kate, Dodo and Doc Holliday arrive at the far end of the street to the straining of the Ballad.  Dodo’s not happy with the arrangement and wants to return to the other end of the set.

"Well, boy.  That kinda looks like a switch to me..."
Charlie and Johnny Ringo (who isn’t played by Patrick Troughton, in what might well have otherwise been a weird echo of Maxil - or a precendent - but is now, simply, a missed opportunity) shoot the breeze1 before Johnny shoots Charlie.

Me:  Well, Charlie won’t be saying “Not zat zvitch!” any more.

We rejoin Doc Holliday and chums.  There’s chuckling.  Dodo obtains a gun, sparkle goes the dialogue as she demands to be returned to the other end of the street.  It ends as, true to her name, Dodo faints.  Which reminds me of a conversation about pheasants I had recently.

Me:  Oh yeah.  Fainting is linked to the fight/flight response – I got it wrong before.  There’re actually at least four states triggered as reactions to extreme danger: fight, flight, faint and freeze.  So, Barbara’s actions in Planet of Giants made sense and I shouldn’t have been rude.  Just wanted to clear that up.

Him:  What did Barbara do in Planet of Giants?

Me:  She fainted.  I think the Glaring Fly was involved.

Him:  What was the Glaring Fly?

Me:  Well, you made it up…

The Doctor, Steven and Johhny Ringo exchange banter over Charlie’s body.

Me:  Hartnell’s on fire in this one.

Steven wipes some imaginary spittle away.

Me:  Nice bit of business, Pete.

In the jail, there’s talk.  We’re heading for the final shootout, so things are stepping up a gear.  I’m fairly sure that the newly-introduced (and therefore disposable) Warren Earp’s waistcoat is a fetching shade of Enterprise Red.  The Doctor enters and fills in the lawmen on the story.

Steven and Johnny have reached the far end of the street.  The Ballad points out that Kate’s on the way and Johnny Ringo perks up at this. 

Johnny Ringo:  Git!

Me:  That’s not a very nice thing to say.

Him:  Arf!

The Clantons arrange a jailbreak that leads to a totally unexpected shootout and the end of Warren Earp’s role as Justified Revenge Motif.

Me:  It’s another one by Donald Cotton that builds to an historic event where not all the characters we’re meeting’ll be reaching the final musical sting.  And again, the audience knows a lot more about what’s going on than the characters do.  Superb.

1.  Probably in the same parallel world where William Hartnell played Wolverine.


Cap’n Wrack:  He knew Johnny’s name
And he spoke it out loud
Now Charlie the barman
Has gotten a shroud

Him:  “His blood’s on the sawdust”

Me:  “And his brain’s on the wall”

Him:  “His guts’re in the gutter”

Me:  “And his lungs’re on the floor”

Us:  “Of the
“Last Chance

The Doctor and Werp are filling in the story over Charlie.  He’s become quite a conversation-piece; the Wild West equivalent of the water-cooler.  The Doctor finds himself being deputised.  Oddly enough, the blustery ‘not one line’ speech isn’t in evidence at this turn of events.

The Doctor:  Nothing will ever induce me to raise a gun in anger.

Me:  Hmmmmm…  You haven’t met the Cybermen yet.

The Clanton posse arrive where Steven and Kate are hostaged-up.

Back in Tombstone, Warren’s failing to tell anyone where the gold is.

Disposable Warren:  Shouldn’t have let Phin rile me…

Me:  Shouldn’t have let him shoot you.

Warren dies.  Stress and tension begin to build as a result.  Virgil Earp (‘Verp’) is sent out to tell the Clantons that Werp’s up for a scrap in the morning.
Werp:  The law can’t bring my kid brother back.

Me:  “Only the Dark Arts kin do that.  Fetch me a black cat, boy.”

Steven and Kate are waiting for destiny to ride around.

Johnny Ringo:  If you want me, you’d better shout real loud.

Me:  “On account of me being a little deaf‘n’all.”

Verp offers the Clantons a challenge and a venue.  Pa Clanton listens, but won’t let Verp borrow Steven.

Pa Clanton:  Now, git!

Me:  Tch.  This lot are at it now.

Johnny Ringo comes up with a plan.  I leave it as a surprise.

Back at the OK Corral, there’s law-based scheming taking place.  Verp returns and says what he’s seen.  Including the captive Steven.

The Doctor:  Steven, what in the world?

Me:  No, ‘Steven Regret’.

Doc Holliday and Dodo have left the far end of the street long behind: to Tombstone they’ve returned.  Dodo and the Doctor are reunited.  With the arrival of Doc Holliday, the Doctor’s deputisation is rescinded.

Later, the Doctor and Dodo fill in the time before the gunfight with some milk and banter.

The Doctor:  What about this man, Mr Werp?  Supposing he gets himself killed, hmmm?

Him:  He’s still getting his name wrong.

Masterson turns up and asks the Doctor to go and talk to the Clantons in one last attempt to avert bloody sawdust.  Dodo points out it would help Steven too.

The Doctor:  Yes, quite so, my dear.  That thought had passed through my head, yes.

Me:  Rather that than a bullet.

Steven and Kate wait.  And wait.

The Doctor arrives and tries to steer History down a different tributary.

Me:  He can’t stop it.

Him:  I know.

The Clantons harness up at the OK Corral.  You can tell we’re back on film, because Johnny Ringo’s suddenly become English.

Johnny Ringo:  Be seeing you.

Me:  Trouble in Harmony, eh?

The Ballad plasters on a grin for one more tired shuffle.

The preparation for a fight is taking place on both sides.

And, they’re off!

Him:  They’re all really bad shots.

Johnny Ringo grabs Dodo and Doc Holliday shoots him.

Him:  He made a weird noise there.

We rewind.

Me:  He did.

Blam!  Blam!  Someone falls over some railings.

Me:  Oo.

Him:  Is that how the real thing went?

Me:  Near enough,2 I guess.  It’s a bit longer here.

There’s a shot of feet and it’s all over, bar the buryin’. 

Goodbyes are said. 

The Doctor:  Oh, my dear Dodo, my dear Dodo.  You know, you’re fast becoming a prey to every cliché-ridden convention in the American West.

The TARDIS is entered.  And then…

Me:  Whoah.  Big change.

Him:  “Steven, you stay in the TARDIS.”

On the scanner, a bloke approaches.

Me:  Odd cliffhanger.

And, ladies and gentlemen, it’s the credits.

Me:  Thoughts?

Him:  It’s an educational one more than anything else.

Me:  Did you like it?

Him:  Yeah.

Me:  What did you like about it then?

Him:  I just like that one.

Me:  So.  The Savages next.

Him:  Uh-huh.  I don’t want to watch The Savages.

Me:  Because of Steven?

Him:  Yeah.  I’ve grown to like Steven.  And Hi-Fi.


Him:  In time, I’ll grow to like all the companions.  Even Turlough.

Me:  Even Mel.

Him:  I don’t know much about Mel.

Me:  She could scream in key.

The Him has a go at demonstrating this.

Next:  What Happened to Steven

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