Star Trek A&E season 3
Creating new lows in Star Trek fanfic by flying at it at warp speed.
Episode 1 - Staying Alive
The Studios of QVC News,
Welwyn Garden City, Earth,
About 10.32 pm
"…And finally, a dog has been seen skateboarding down Putney high Street….No, sorry, wrong story. Good news, after a long hiatus of several months which occurred for no apparent reason, Star Trek A & E is about to return. Here's a special report from Kate Adie…."
<Cue: Tacky Sixties Music…>
"STAR TREK A & E IS SPONSORED BY DYNO ROD!!"
"…No they're not bloody well here yet! Months it's taken to get this back off the ground, and they can't even be bothered to turn up. Well, you tell the director of Desperate Housewives that the ship needs it's captain back….and as for the producer of ER, I don't care if they need extras for a story line involving two colliding UFOs, we need Einstein! Here at QVC, we may not have an audience, but we do have your merchandising rights! And don't you forget it!"
Max Savings slammed his phone closed, and screamed at the top of his lungs "WRITERS! HERE! NOW!"
Two dishevelled characters, one looking like an extra from Celebrity Fit Club, the other tall and lanky with a red folder and pair of cricket pads on (ever the optimist) ran instantly at the sound of Max's voice – in the opposite direction.
"So what have we got?"
"Apart from no budget, no cast, no set, no studio and no script?"
"A cup of coffee and a doughnut"
"That's OK then. It's amazing what you can do with pure brain food…"
<Voice from the Sidelines : "So you haven't thought of anything yet?">
The Globe Theatre, London
"Now, now, don't distress yourself, here, have another box of tissues".
"Didn't you read the small print?"
"I'm an act-or! And they gave me a contract! You don't read small print! Can you believe it? Years, I've waited! Years! All my life I've dreamed that this day would come! All those years ago when I started at the lowest level possible, a budding actor, understudying to Donald Sindon's understudy in Never the Twain Shall Meet! At last I'd arrived! Who'd imagine? Moi! Top billing! King Lear! On the stage of the Globe Theatre! This should be my moment! This should be all I dreamed of! "
"It's only one more season!"
"I can't believe they pulled this on me! A little-known, seldom used, reverse activation clause! In other words, they drafted me! And my agent shaf----"
"Now, now, family show…."
"Where did QVC ever get the money from?"
"Apparently it's being sponsored by Dyno Rod. And the action figures of Commander Ball actually sell very well at conventions. You can use them as punch bags as well, apparently".
"I suppose I'll have to be whacked by that moron of captain again, at least twice an episode"
"Oh, don't worry about him, he may have mellowed, after all, he's been on Desperate Housewives. Literally."
"Then there's that stupid fur ball prop!"
"That's no way to talk about Einstein! Did a damn good job as an extra on ER!"
"I meant that damn Brian, did you see how embarrassing it was? Him, representing us? On the Eurovision Song Contest!"
"Yes but that nice Ensign Goodbody did a lovely job of comparing"
"I didn't know you watched The Fantasy Channel! "
"Look on the bright side. At least you aren't made to wear a red shirt…..!"
"I bet they have me walking round with a sink plunger", he moaned through a soaked hankie.
If the power of a glaring stare could break glass, Max Savings wristwatch would have exploded exponentially. He dragged heavily on his fourteenth cigar that morning, which considering he still had the other thirteen in his mouth was quite a challenge. But then if you could juggle a QVC budget, you could juggle anything. Apart from, that is, a newly-starting soon-to-be-cancelled naff sci-fi show, and it's participants. He strode outside to the sound and vision of a beat-up Skoda smashing into the dustbins outside and coming to a violently juddering halt. (He'd missed it kangarooing through the red traffic lights, over the pavements and through the at least one pedestrian underpass. Not to mention through the living room of number 32, Alston road, Welwyn Garden City.
"Who's that?" asked Ensign No-Name, who'd been working as a car park attendant during the off-season.
"Must be the new navigator. Funny, didn't think we'd be getting Deanna Troi!"
"Any chance of wearing this day-glo vest during filming? If I'd have been in my red shirt, I'd have been under that car, and resembling a jam pancake!"
"Let's see, yellow security officers, probably about the norm for this show."
The car's doors opened, and clattered to the ground, and Deanna Troi climbed calmly out. (JUST KIDDING!) Actually, Maureen climbed calmly out. The remaining passengers staggered on hands and knees. They slowly clawed their way clear of the rancid surroundings of the East European Potential Death Trap in which they had arrived. Each in their own turn kissed the ground and collapsed exhausted as the shear relief of escape from their worse nightmare overcame them. A very peculiar sound could suddenly be heard, emanating from the Skoda's boot. Maureen calmly lifted the lid, reached in with one hand, out emerged, pinched between finger and thumb, and held at arm's length, was a gibbering fur-ball, swamped in his own vomit.
"nlfqwlreghirthgrtjtlnsr,ehtoo45uo;'rntlitylh4iuygky45,q3rtul5uth3rghm,elewrtuqlekufywkerutkiutkq45ukwyki3uoero5t45k3yo5i3yu5telju4t;leruulu45louyo45u45outlk3y43ltyrghkdrhgejkhbvkruglihlvkhear;ljor;eu w'evkqlr;h,jyhfvurkeilthrkhrtgkirhkhtel,wgkr,jhl,rh4tjt,wqyh43,kgwj;jlht,khtk3hri,khmkqhk4jhtkh4tw4thk4thk4thtkhktewhk4twl4tgjhwleht4tlkwhtkitehhhelloritanhdktekrkfrehkerhtdlfkfgkd,kblvkjmsdfhmkugkrhglkwuhkuregyhkhgkugoeuyghlgiueltireyhhtgulgijhrealkhgkrhglkerhfihtgklghkhgk,rghlrkehglriehgklhlb,nhr,jhlk,fejlkhgjhger,g,khgkethg,ijhlieyrjly5u45; lu5yluiolitul3utlijlihtli3qhtlithlk3423,g23lh3frtkrg23klhrewlir23hguk2gfukehgrt3kfg2krghewi3 4li4htulynlriwfekrlkwhfelj;kq;pjput5ki?!"
"Well that was uncalled for!"
"No-need for language like that!"
"I'm sure her mother was actually very nice"
"Never mind all that" exclaimed Maureen, "What do you mean, the light was red? That's the last time I give you a lift. Look what you've done to my shagpile!"
(At this point, writer number one sneezed and only a lack of Equity membership prevented him from making it into the actual story. If he had, it would probably be more interesting).
"Who the hell's that?" Max asked of the finally arrived writers.
"That's Maureen. Can't you tell?"
"Well, who was that we had last season?"
"Ah. We couldn't afford eye candy since the incident with the short bloke with the umbrella".
Max's lip wobbled uncontrollably, sending a storm of cigars shooting in all directions.
The three other occupants of the car at last began to show some signs of coherence. Trotski gazed at the mangled metal.
"You stupidski sheski American pig-dogski! Look vot youv doneski to diz beautifulski example of superior Rrrrussian technology!"
"But it's a piece-of-crap Skoda!"
"How dare youski? Ze Skoda is inwention of finest Rrrussian peasantski in 1142!"
"But it's only ten o'clock!"
George was by now coherent, and feeling the bruises on his forehead that he'd managed to somehow obtain en route.
"That's the last time I ever get in a car that's being driven by a former star of Driving School!"
Max stared at the short, frumpy, aged Welsh woman with bad dress sense that now stood in front of him, eagerly gripping her car keys.
"This is not going to help ratings."
"It was your idea to re-cast Maureen. Again."
"Yeah, but they didn't need to use concrete"
<Voice from the Sidelines: Two and a half pages in, and they're still in the car park!"
Still, they have managed to get out of the car, which is more than they managed to do in Jurassic Park!" Dinosaur merchandise available in our upcoming spring sale, with optional novelty sink
plunger attachments and drain fittings.>
Once Max savings had managed to remove the car keys from where they had been violently shoved by re-re-cast Maureen, his attention was drawn to a wailing sound approaching from up the road.
"There she blows!"
"Eh? That's Ball! Doing his Ahab! I thought Patrick Stewart got that gig!"
"I heard he got some sort of job at the Globe. I guess it was to be or not to be. Why is he here?"
"That is the question."
"Ah well, once more unto the bridge, dear friends, once mo—urgh!" Ensign No-Name fell to the ground like a sack of spuds in a spin-dryer as Ball's fist impacted on his nose.
"Uncalled for, wasn't it?
Ball just glared back at Max Savings.
"Prick us shall we not bleed. Wrong us, shall we not avenge. Mock us shall we not GIVE YOU A SMACK IN THE MOUTH!!!" a still tearful Ball replied.
A second wailing sound was heard approaching, and a ramshackle pedal car ambulance drew up outside.
"Oi! The Bugsy Malone re-make is on Lot 13!" bellowed Max savings.
With that the rear doors flew open, and Doctor Doug and Nurse Gladys Emmanuelle leapt from the back and pulled out an operating trolley to which was strapped a gagged and very perturbed looking Doc Brown. They raced up to the huddle of dishevelled hired helps amassed in the middle of the empty sound stage, crashing through a set of double swing doors which had been put there for no readily apparent reason, as Einstein followed on behind sporting a white coat, a stethoscope and a holding a clipboard in his mouth.
"He's been taking that ER role way too seriously!" mumbled George.
The four of them reached the others and they pulled the gurney to a stop, just as it had finished running over Max Saving's toes.
"Fourteen hours in surgery and we still couldn't remove that damn colander! We think he's been spending time on Deck 36 as well, cause we couldn't get the smile off his face either!"
Outside in the car park Ensign No-Name noticed that it was starting to rain, and reached for his waterproof parka. He just finished pulling up the zip on the bright red garment when a huge chauffer-driven gleaming white stretch limo came flying round the corner, smashing into the unsuspecting car park attendant, sending him flying over the bonnet, across the roof, through the mini-bar, only to drown in the swimming pool bolted to the back of the chassis. The chauffer exited the front seat and walked round the front of the car, slowly opening the rear doors as though royalty itself were about to disembark.
A picture of the seventies stepped from the rear compartment, the crisp freshly-ironed white suit in stark contrast to the clunky medallions that hung blatantly inside the open jacket, clearly visible against the black sequined waistcoat, making them sparkle more than the teeth in a Saturday morning cinema hero's smile. Attached to this was a rampant Ensign Goodbody, dressed in almost nothing but a long feather boa and a broad grin.
<Cue: Music Tragedy by the Bee Gees>
<Voice from the sidelines: "Shouldn't that be Saturday Night Fever?"
"You know we're right. It's either that or Staying Alive!">
Rogers swaggered nonchalantly toward the massed group, the gold tip on his cane glinting in the studio lights. Everyone stared, open mouthed as he approached the group, even Max Savings seemed speechless at Rogers' blatant arrogance as he reached the others. He eyed them with an air of total disdain.
"Underlings", Rogers addressed his audience, whilst simultaneously striking the heavy metal end of his swagger stick deep into Ball's face.
"Anyone wants me, I'll be in Trailer 36…"
<Cue: Tacky Sixties Music>
Note: Lynn Faulds-Wood was not harmed in the making of this episode. But Max Savings was as he did all his own stunts (although he didn't know it until he forgot to duck).
Episode 2 - The Wing-Nut Strikes Back
Captain's Log – Stardate: A Week Last Tuesday (Star Trek A & E Calendars are available from the QVC Mega Offer Hotline)
The Frazer is currently on assignment in the Stilton Sector, Blue vein 23, actually doing what we're supposed to be doing – my god, what has the Universe come to?
The map-making scanners are on maximum suppression, as obviously are the writers because we've had three lines with no sign of any innuendo, and Ball is working hard to complete the new edition of the road atlas using the new paint with numbers which he got for Christmas. And I'm really, really bored.
"Have you noticed that if you stare at a flashing cursor for long enough, you hypnotise yourself?" muttered Rogers as he glared at the open Word document on his view screen. His left hand flexed on the wooden grip of a caveman-like club and he smashed it into the deck plate, he'd soon got bored of hitting people when nobody paid any attention.
This work thing was the pits.
"Can't we just go and blow something up?"
"Try your Vinyl Vera. She's on Deck 36".
(Vinyl Vera is available from the QVC order hotline – offer open only to over 18s, or Lib Dem MPs and only after 10pm).
<Cue: Tacky Sixties Music >
Maureen shook the captain's shoulder in a vague attempt to bring him to consciousness.
"Wake up sir! We have a priority call!"
"Tell him I've paid the bill for the chat line…."
"No, sir, it's Admiral Camembert! We have new orders!"
"You mean someone's paying money for that calendar?"
"No-one's that desperate, no, we're being re-assigned, something about a convention?"
"Not another bloody convention! If I see one more raving loony with a great big axe and a Eurovision Song Contest outfit, I'm gonna go insane! And as for that bloody awful fan-fiction…"
Ball looked up from his scanner. "I'm confused, did he say he was gonna go insane?!"
Ball knew when he'd said the wrong thing, and realised it was one of those moments as he got back up off the floor, and attempted to mop the blood off his uniform.
"Well, the day hasn't been a complete loss, at least I managed to practice my golf swing, and we got some violence and innuendo on the first page".
"Keptain stupid American Pig-Dog-ski, Admiral-ski Camembert-ov is still holding on line three-ski. He's already listened to QVC hold music-ski twice, and he hazen't even bought-ski a single calendar yet!"
"Well I wasn't going to go into the attributes of the centrefold on page eight in quite that much detail but I totally agree about Miss November"
"Vot about the Admiral-ski?"
"Patch it through to my Oven-Ready Room."
"CUT!!! What's this Oven-ready Room?! You realise we've got to build a whole new set? We'll have to furnish it with fish, glass-top tables, panoramic windows, plasma screens, comfy chairs….."
Max Savings began to perspire profusely, he grabbed the script, yelled expletives that even we won't publish and began to feverishly re-write. He turned on a heel and stormed towards his office doorway, hurling the wad of crumpled papers in the face of Writer Number Two as he did so.
"Patch it through to my Oven-Ready Room."
"I'll take it in Shuttlebay Three".
The Captain reclined on his park bench, and looked at the widescreen portable black and white monitor perched on the pile of packing crates, where a blurry image was trying to form.
"Rogers!? Rogers is that you? You're looking a mess….tidy yourself up, man!"
"Trying fiddling with aerial a bit sir".
"Now look here, Rogers, what you get up to on Deck 36 is your business, but when you're talking to me, keep it clean, or I'll have your commission!"
"Really? So how many calendars shall I put you down for, than? They've got a lovely picture of Nurse Gladys on the front cover, although I'm not sure using Einstein was the wisest move".
"Quit blathering, boy! Have you gone completely mad?"
"Is that a rhetorical question?"
"Shut up and listen to me! Honestly I don't know why we bother!"
"Didn't know you did Admiral…"
"Enough!! You've gone too far!"
"Most people say not far enough…"
At this point, Rogers couldn't quite tell if the reception had gone again or if that really was steam coming out of the Admiral's ears. Camembert was squinting at the screen.
"That first officer of yours. The one standing at that control panel. Get him over here on the double…"
"Sir? There's no-one here you old fool, we're on the hanger deck!"
"Rubbish! I can see him there, the bridge set is just next door!"
Rogers rolled his eyes, turned to his left and yelled out "Oi, git face, Admiral Cannonball Von Toshburger wants to speak at you. Don't take all day, we've a commercial break in a minute!"
Ball took a moment to compose himself, and walked cautiously through the gap in the Bridge set, taking care to avoid tripping on the polystyrene boulders on the way.
"Ah, Ball! Good! I hereby promote you to the field rank of acting Captain, may god have mercy on your soul, …"
"Ah! At last! I told you I was an act-OR! No more of this underling first officer rubbish! I've finally got my proper place in life! The dizzy heights of command! The being weighted on hand and foot! The keys to the executive washroom on Deck 36! The tacky plastic chair! Mine, mine, all mine!" Ball wasn't the only one who knew when he'd said the wrong thing. The Admiral shook his head in resigned disappointment.
"Rogers! I say Rogers! Answer me when I'm shouting at you!"
"That's your superior officer you're beating to a pulp! If he regains consciousness in time, he could have you
thrown out of an airlock….!"
Max Savings handed the script back to Writer Number Two and stalked off mumbling.
"We can't afford a ruddy airlock!"
Rogers picked his jaw up off the floor. He wasn't used to being speechless. But there was a first time for everything. And for once, that didn't involve Ensign Goodbody on Deck 36.
Ball squared up to his long-serving superior officer. He glared deep into Rogers eyes, and then with one swift motion kicked him straight in the groin.
Ball waved his finger at two bored looking Red-Shirts.
"You and you!"
The two security officers gazed at each other with a look of mortal fear.
"Grab this freak of nature, and throw him in the brig, and if he gives you any trouble, you have my permission to shoot first and ask questions later. But if that happens, remember to shoot him first before you get caught in your own cross-fire!"
Ball gave one last boot to Rogers' ribs before they could drag him away.
"Ah, the privileges of rank!" commented Ball, dusting his hands as he casually stepped back through the gap in the sets, made his way over to the tacky plastic imitation leather, vinyl encrusted, 100% poly-urethane, completely non-fire-retardant with built in soap dispenser and toothbrush holder and stroked the imitation covering, lustfully, as he sat and viewed his new domain. All in all, his new chair, was a 'potential death trap!"
(No Lynn Faulds-Woods were harmed in the making of this episode).
At the helm, George glanced over at (Re-cast) Maureen.
"OK, we're really screwed now…"
On the main view screen, the Windows 95 Starfield screensaver vanished, to be replaced momentarily by Men and Motors Plus One – An Emmanuelle Night Special, before switching back to the blurred image of enraged Admiral Camembert, who's face had now turned the colour of ripe beetroot.
"BALL! SIT DOWN AND LET ME GIVE YOU YOUR RUDDY ORDERS BEFORE I PROMOTE THIS BLASTED TRIBBLE TO COMMODORE!!!"
"Does he always make noises like that?"
"Only on Thursdays, sir, it's Curry night".
"But you're supposed to be surveying Comets! Don't tell me you've been studying Curry's instead!"
"Well we've done from Abergaveny to York so far, and we still haven't found the bits we need to repair the Aquavac".
(Note: all QVC Aquavacs come with full back-to-base repair and extended warranty cover).
"Well, listen. You can have your regimental orders or your marching order – your choice!"
"OK sir, I'm ready for the burdens of command".
"You're to make best speed to Terra Prime".
"No, worse than that. Welwyn Garden City. There's a little event going on and we need our best crew to protect the guests…"
Ball flushed with pride. (DynoRod were on stand-by).
"…but they weren't available, so we're sending you lot instead".
Ball frowned, but Camembert pressed on.
"The Ringway Holiday Inn is playing host to the pinnacle of the Cheese Federations greatest minds. The great ad the good are gathering, and the awards are being polished. The highest levels of Cheese Federation 'Intelligence' Division has found absolutely nothing to suggest there's any threat of any kind, we have therefore gone to our highest state of alert for the duration of the event, and have banned the sale of beef on the bone to over 65s. Your job, should you choose to accept it, and you have no choice if you want to keep that chair, is to make sure that the event passes without so much as a spilt glass of Ribena or a split cheese football. Full instructions are now being sent in a coded file on a ZX81 compatible signal stream. Ball, I wish you and your crew good luck. Actually I wish your crew good luck. This message will self destruct in ten….."
The screen turned blue, with the words 'FATAL EXCEPTION ERROR' filling the screen.
"George! Full stop!" hollered Ball in his most act-orian accent.
George reached down below his chair, and pulled the hand brake hard. At the same time, he spun the steering wheel ninety degrees, and did a full-about turn in less time than it usually took Rogers to strip down to his underwear at an S & M convention.
"S & M convention?! That's more like it! I trust Claudia Black will be there!"
<Voice from the Sidelines:
"She won't ever read this, will she?"
"Well, it's not very likely".
"Yeah, but better safe than sorry".
"OK, please find full apologies in the plain brown envelope delivered from QVC's over-eighteens and Lib Dem MPs Division". >
"So, what is this thing we're attending then?" asked McAffee, shrugging her shoulders from the Anti-Virus console.
"It's just coming through on the coded file, Brian is patching it through to the main view screen. It's a very complicated piece of software. I'm not sure our computer can handle it".
McAffee's fingers were a blur on the keypad, as she frantically tried to get the ship's systems to accept the complex sub-routines that were attempting to melt the Frazer's logic circuits.
"I think I've just about got it 'Acting' Captain."
Ball frowned as the main view screen went almost completely black, save for a little white dot and one white vertical stripe on either side, as Trotski and George suddenly found themselves embroiled in a game of 1970s Atari Tennis.
<Atari Sports Consoles and a selection of replacement game cartridges are available from the QVC Order Hotline>.
"That's not it! Try turning the cartridge over!"
McAffee reversed the polarity of the neutron flow, the screen flickered, and in place of 1970s Tennis, up popped a page of complex looking text and graphics. Beneath the Route finder printout, on a new page, was a hard copy of Camembert's original orders.
"There you go" said Ball, "the Technically Orchestrated Spatial Science Examination Register's annual gala award ceremony., for the brightest, and best achievements in the field of scientific endeavour".
George stared at the screen, mouthing the words as he read them.
"It's the TOSSERs!"
<To be continued>
In next month's enthralling episode…..can Ball keep command…..? Will the award ceremony descend into chaos…..? Will Rogers ever escape his own brig…..? Will George beat Trotski at 1970s Atari Tennis? Or will he get knocked out in the quarter finals? All will probably not be revealed in the next snooze-worthy instalment…
<Cue: Tacky Sixties Music>
Einstein is behind the plot to blow up the convention as he doesn't want to be regarded as a 'tosser'
Rogers tries repeatedly to escape from the Brig in Great Escape style.
Doc Brown is in his element, winning all the convention competitions such as 'Pin The Tail on the Red Shirt' and 'Guess the Weight Of The Keiko', and being on the winning team at the Play-Dough Quiz., but gets disqualified for being a smart-arse.
McAffee spends the entire weekend chatting up the latest variant of the astro-droid only to find that I is in fact a dustbin (available exclusively at QVC).
Insurrection parody – diplomatic function – otherwise too much expensive location shooting.
Arrive at wrong convention – cross stitch at the Cross Roads.
Episode 3 - Patterns of Farce
Captain's Log : Stardate: Hotter than the hottest hot spell that's being simmered over a low flame since the hottest day got hotter.
<What do you mean Captain's log? I'm the Acting Captain, don't you know! Amateurs!">
Alas, poor bridge crew. I knew them well, whether it is nobler in the tacky sixties chair, to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous left hooks…
<Voice from the Sidelines – Light Industrial Magic Special Effects Department - "Hey, think budgets here! It's slings or arrows…."
"Excuse me! Do you mind not interrupting when I'm amusing…sorry, when I'm musing…..I went to drama school for twenty three years, served my apprenticeship with the likes of Gielgood, Attenborough, Phil and Grunt off EastEnders, and you're trying to saddle me with the petty considerations of budgets! Acting transcends money, it transcends life! The Act-OR should hold an audience in the palm of his hand, not be shouted at by a GREASY LITTLE OIK LIKE YOU!!!"
<Voice from the sidelines – "Alright, keep ya wig on!"
"You could never say that about Patrick Stewart!"
"But you could about Shatner!"
"CUT!!!!", the director strode up to Ball's ear, while still yelling into his megaphone.
"We'll not get anywhere at this rate! We've got a budget of three pounds fifty an episode, and Rogers has just wasted that on a hot dog in the staff canteen!
<At this point Writer Number Two came up with a really crude joke about hot dogs and deck 36 which was immediately censored by Writer Number One and the Drum Sergeant Major of the Household Cavalry.>
Tad Des-Parrot, the director, (may be responsible for season finale) was looking slightly fraught.
"FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, you're supposed to be a professional! Can we just get this scene out of the way, we've already got more than enough material for the out-takes on the DVDs! As well as It'll Be Alright On Deck 36 Tonight, part 367, The Leather Fetish Special. Now can be please GET ON?!"
"Really! Directors! So tetchy! Now where was I? Oh yes. "Slings, arrows, and outrageous left hooks…." "
"WHAT DO YOU CALL THIS?!! We can't allow this kind of leak to happen, you know DynoRod have got the exclusive rights on leaks around here! And before you know it, they'll be seeing complete episodes on the Internet before they're finished!" erupted Max Savings as he stormed his way onto the set, gesticulating wildly with a small stapled bundle of paper. <Don't forget to go to www.a-and-e.wanadoo.co.uk, or visit QVC Publishings, but take care not to click on the calendars>.
"Don't you know these are supposed to be trade secrets? Which one of you idiots left that used toilet roll you call a script lying about, and how did it end up in this journal of iniquity?" He threw a crumpled up copy of this month's guest publication, the not entirely disposable The Universe Today down at the director's feet. "Don't you realise we pay good money for these scripts!""
<Voice From The Sidelines: "Oh no you don't!">
"Oh good! Is it panto season already?" blurted Ball.
Des-Parrot held his head in his hands and wept openly, as a large brown and white pantomime horse went trotting across the stage for no apparent reason. (But don't worry, it was Only Fools In Horses).
All of a sudden, hundreds of voices shouted out in unison "IT'S BEHIND YOU!"
Max stared in disbelief. "No! Not a live studio audience!"
<Voice from the Sidelines – Light Industrial Magic Special Effects Department - "Well, we can't afford a dead one…."
<Cue: Tacky Sixties Benny Hill Music>
<Pantomine horse in a bikini – scary thought.>
The Frazer had arrived in a parking orbit, in the ring-road above Welwyn Garden City. Being parked wasn't intentional, but the road works just outside that well-known London suburb, Bromsgrove, we're proving to be a real hazard for navigation, and in fact, movement. Throw in the fact that the public toilets didn't work well under high-gravity conditions and things were getting decidedly unpleasant. Or grim for anyone north of the M4 ("It's Grim Up North!")
But it wasn't all bad news as no-one had seen Captain Rogers in days. He was still in the brig, bouncing his balls off the wall (much to Ensign Goodbody's amusement), back on the bridge, chaos had not so much ensued as taken charge.
"Ecting Britishski Stupid American pig-dogski Keptainski, ve have arrivedski at the Vestern Kepitalist pigski slum, Welwyn Gardenski City. Estimated time to arrivalski, es soon es zey clearski zese bloody coneskis, vich vere ancient inwention of Rrrrussian peasant in 1368!"
"Y'know, that might be one invention you may not have wanted to claim responsibility for" said George from the helm.
There was a pause-ski.
"Yes, you would have thought the Universal Translator would be able to a better job on that pseudo-Russian, wouldn't you?"
"Next month, I'll try running it through Babel Fish dot com" chimed McAfee from her station.
"And don't even think about claiming that one!" warned George.
"But it voz! By famous Rrrrussian comedy writer and satirist Douglaski Adamsovski, in 1791! I thought even you vould know zat!"
Ball hit the bell on the Holiday Inn reception desk. He hit it again. He found he liked hitting things, he didn't usually get the chance to do this. (Next thing you know he'll be ripping his shirt for no apparent reason)
<Voice from the other side lines – "BASIL! There's someone at the desk, I'm on the phone!"
"Yes my little loathsome devil worshipper"
"What was that Basil?" came the high pitched response.
"Nothing dear, tell you what, why don't I get that, shall I? I wouldn't want to interrupt your vital conversation about has-been actresses and the vitality of her stretchmarks!"
"Yes, run along Basil….">
A tall, moustached man in a tweed coat and cap strode out from the office to the reception desk.
"Yes, you guessed it, the bell does work! Unlike my wife! Let's just test it again shall we? Yes it still works! I know, let's try it with this cricket bat shall we? Here we go…"
Unfortunately the slightly startled Ball had forgotten to remove his hand from the bell. Think Tom after being whacked by frying-pan wielding Jerry).
<Cue: Sound Effects budget….>
<Voice From The Sidelines: "Nothing like the sound of bat on Ball, is there?">
"Yes, how can I help you? "
"We'd like ten rooms and a first aid kit, please", said George, pushing past the still howling Ball.
"Erm, well, alright then, if you must. I'll just get the porter. If I can find him. He's from the planet Barcelona, you know. You can't get the staff, honestly, I mean I'm up every day at five o'clock, running this dump, and for what….."
"I do the rants, if you don't mind, it's in my contract!" said a red-faced Ball.
"Tchh! Actors! Tchh!" the hotelier said, slamming a bunch of keys onto Ball's uninjured hand which he was unwisely resting on the desk. "Here's the keys to the rooms on the seventh floor, Manuel will bring your bags up, if you're lucky.
He turned around and strode back into the office, muttering something about guests and what a pain in the neck they were.
"Honestly, we never had this trouble in Torquay…" murmured Maureen from behind the mountain of suitcases.
Ball peered at one of the cases, which was covered in what appeared to be a leopard skin effect cover. "Wait a second, that's not one of mine!" he blurted, as he struggled to lift it off the trolley.
"This thing weighs a ton! What on Earth's someone packing in here?" It thudded down onto the floor, and to the shock and surprise of everyone standing around, a muffled but clearly audible "Urrgghh!" came from within.
Ball grappled with the locks, and threw the lid open. Rogers' fist flew out like a jack-in-a-box, it connected straight into Ball's testicles <at this point, Writer Number Two nearly choked on a chocolate digestive>.
Just at that moment, another tall, moustached man appeared amidst the chaos, pointed at Rogers, who was emerging from the suitcase with a face of a bulldog chewing a particularly viscous purple people eater, and bellowed "Quock! Arrost that min! Throw him bick in the brog!"
"Can we have subtitles please?" enquired George, as six burly red-shirted crewmen bundled Rogers threw the doors and back to his cell aboard the Frazer. As they frog-marched him out, McAfee noticed a strange trail of soil coming from the inside of Roger's trousers, and frowned, as the hotel's PA system played a vaguely familiar tune. She was sure she recognised it from one of those old war film.
"Do do. Do-doo do-do-do. Do-doo, Do-doo, Do-do, Do-do-do…………………." Etc.
Max Savings was purple. Almost as purple as a purple people eater that had been eating purple people!
"Wait! What do you think you're doing? We can't afford to pay royalties for that! Do you know who wrote it? Elmer flamin' Bernstein, that's who! And we still couldn't have afforded it if it was written by Elma Fudd! We're still paying off Weird Al for that thing about clones in season one.-!"
There was a stony silence, as Max turned slowly to face the audience, who much to his astonishment (but also relief) were still live.
"OK, I'll just go now and count some beans or something…." He muttered as he was whisked off stage, by a strange hook device which caught him around the neck and dragged him back into the wings, as booing erupted from the on-lookers.
"Crabtree! Vot are you doing here, you stupidski English French American pig-frogski! I thought you ver vorking at Fedewation Headqvarters?!"
The hotelier poked his head round the office door.
"Oi! They'll be no 'qvarting' in my hotel, if you don't mind! If you want to do that sort of thing, go back to Deck 36!"
Crabtree ignored him. "I om, but Headquiters sont me here to oversoo socurity for the TISSERS."
The hotelier was still listening. "What kind of accent is that? You're not German are you? We had some German guests once, but I think we got away with it!"
"No, he's English, but the accent is supposed to be French, although you could easily mistake it for Double Dutch" said George
"Really? In that case, don't mention the score!"
" I spoke Doble Dotch as well, for instance, 'Good Groaning'"
Ball was getting restless, and glanced at the audience.
"Ok, never mind all that, what's your plan for dealing with these TOSSERS?"
Half an hour later:
"Ok, quite enough of that, Nurse, lets deal with the patient."
Doctor Doug surveyed his patient on the gurney in front of him.
"Did you ever see Evolution?"
Once the DIY anal probe which was composed of a table leg and a rotting cabbage had been successfully extracted from Ball, (it's amazing what an irate OAP can do with a walking stick) the crew gathered around an over-head projector, in a broom-cupboard, in a particularly grotty looking corridor, which they had just commandeered from Philip Schofield and Gordon the Gopher. Philip had been fine about it but Gordon's comments would have been completely unrepeatable had it not been for the breakdown of the universal translator, but even then, you should have seen Brian blush.
"Vhy are ve in here anyvay, you stupidski English Americanski pig-dogski?" enquired Trotski.
"That stupid Englishski land-lordski….oh God, you've got me doing it now! That half-wit hotelier double booked the conference with the 57th annual Cross-Stitch Masters Convention, and they were given most of the conference facilities!" replied Ball. " We got this cupboard and the triangular shaped conference room on the fifteenth floor!"
"Well why is that so bad?" enquired re-cast Maureen..
"It's called the Bermuda Suite, that's what!" exclaimed Ball.
"Well, they were worried about the terrorist threat, and guess what, the TOSSERS bombed!" said George, studying in non-comprehension at the myriad of rings and lines which Crabtree had drawn on the overhead projector.
"That's Crabtree's game of noughts and crosses", pointed out McAfee helpfully. "The security plan is on the next page".
George turned the page. Comprehension was still several hours away from dawning.
"No, we're still screwed!"
Outside in the corridor, a shadow lurked near the broom-cupboard door - someone was listening….
<Voices from the balcony: "Might as well be listening, 'cos I bet they're not reading!">
Back in the brig, Rogers leaned his head on the cell door, arms folded, eyes shut, shirt ripped for absolutely no readily apparent reason. There was a rustling sound, and Rogers stirred, and then poured in five teaspoons of sugar, and stirred again. His tea, (Tetley's, luke warm) was standing on the floor in a big mug with the word 'BOSS' emblazoned on the side – he had insisted on having some of the comforts of Deck 36 if he had to spend any time at all in this god-forsaken hole. He opened his eyes, rubbed his eyes, waking from his state of woken plotting, and looked down at the piece of paper on the floor, which was still half concealed where it had been pushed under the plywood wall from the neighbouring cell. He picked it up and inspected it further.
"Interesting note paper", he thought aloud. "Perforated at both ends. Must be written on the back cover of a script".
He read the writing, which was scrawled in big, black capital letters, which was fortunate, due to the difficulty he had with joined up writing.:–
"DO YOU WANT TO GET OUT OF HERE?"
Roger's nostrils flared. What kind of a question was that?!
He hunted around in his pocket for his favourite red crayon, found it, and scribbled on the back:-
"WOT DO U FINK? OF CORZE I DOO YOU MUPPETT! HOO DE HELLL R U ENIWAY?
He shoved the paper back under the wall. Then he leaned down as close to the floor as he could manage, and peered under the plywood….
…and was startled to find a pair of bloodshot, desperate eyes with air of insanity staring back at him…..
< TO BE CONTINUED >
Who does the desperate bloodshot pair of eyes belong to…? Who is lurking in the shadow outside the broom-cupboard….? Which classic BBC sit-com will be will receive the A and E treatment next month? And will the live studio audience still be live by then?
Some, all or fewer of these questions may or may not be answered in next month's cringe inducing episode….!
Episode 4 - What a Stitch Up
Captain's Log: Stardate A week later than it should have been (and written in chalk on the cell wall, 'cause I'm in prison, remember?)
It's a little odd, this situation, starring, routed to the spot, under the plywood partition divide in the brig at a pair of desperate blood-shot eyes in the next cell, while trying to scrawl a captain's log on the wall above me using chalk. Of course, if I was wearing fishnet stockings, being lashed with a leather whip, and lounging on deck 36, it would have been perfectly normal.
But now that I've realised that the pair of blood shot eyes belong to me, and WHO THE HELL PUT A MIRROR THERE ANYWAY???!!! It all makes almost perfect sense.
<Voice from the sidelines: "Where exactly was the mirror? Oohh, sounds painful!"
"Excuse me (in top 'act-or-ian type fashion), I'm supposed to be the captain at the moment, thank you very much! I've waited for years for the opportunity to postulate one of these idiosyncratic opening syntax. If you think I'm going to be deprived now, after years of honing my craft, of slaving my way from the lowest levels of third-string back up to the pantomime horse to the lofty position I now attain, thanks to my years of servitude to the dramatic ar----"
<Cue: Tacky Sixties Music>
(Ball started to cry).
Officer Crabtree was in his element. He'd had important duties before, but today, the fate of the Cheese Federation's finest representatives, and the crew of the Frazer, lay squarely on his shoulders.
"Wit do you thunk you are doeing?" The red-shirted ensign looked most bemused.
"Suction three I tooled you!" He gave the sub-ordinate a clip round the ear, and resorted to writing the instruction down and gesticulating wildly with his truncheon. Ensign Deadbeat was still none the wiser because not only could he not understand badly spoken French, he couldn't read it either. Virtually the entirety of the ship's compliment had been drafted in. All had received similar detailed and well thought out instruction, had got completely confused by it, and had all bundled off to the canteen.
Trotsky walked into the mess. It wasn't always like that, but no one could be bothered to tidy up. He gazed at virtually all of his shipmates as they sat around in the cafeteria.
"Vot do you thinkski you are all doing, you stupid American, Englishski, non-pseudo-French speaking-ski pig-dogskis? "
"The script's rubbish!" said McAfee, turning away from the slot-machine, "and the director has vanished! What are we supposed to do?"
She noticed the look that flashed into Trotski's eyes.
"Well I'm not doing that! It's not in my contract!"
"Zat is not vwot you said on deck 36-ski".
"But, we're not on deck 36".
Rogers was frustrated. He could spend hours cooped up, not being able to leave a section of he ship without it troubling him in any way. However, that section of the ship was normally deck 36, and right at this moment he longed for his Vinyl Vera and the blowlamp. The thudding noise rebounded around his cramped enclosure, as the baseball continually rebounded from floor to wall, and then back to his grasp, only to be thrown down into the floor once more. The sound was rhythmic and comforting in the same way that Japanese water-torture is a nice icebreaker at parties. (Well, it was at the kind of parties he went to).
"Please stop! I can't take anymore!"
Rogers caught the ball (that's the baseball, not the first officer, and if he'd been on deck 36, it would have been something completely different).
"Why on earth should I?"
"'Cause I'll go insane if that noise doesn't stop!"
"You're working on A and E, how much more insane can you get?"
<Voice from the Sidelines: "Could be worse, you could be writing it!">
<Voice from the Sidelines: "It could be worse than that – you could be reading it!">
Back in the hotel, the main auditorium was a hive of activity. It was the Cross Stitch Convention's Cabaret Night. Across the hall, in the Luxury Meldrew Suite, the great and the good were gathering for a night of a night of fun and debauchery. Unfortunately, QVC's budget didn't extend that far, so they'd ended up at the TOSSER's instead. Tables buzzed with glistening conversation, as the best of the Cheese Federation's scientific elite waded their way through the pre-presentation dinner and speeches. Furore erupted at one point, when someone in the centre of the room ordered a green salad and the main dish of the day got most upset.
<Voice from the sidelines: "I think the exact words were "I DON'T BELIEVE IT!!!!!" >
Crabtree was going into meltdown, as he raced around, attempting to ensure the safety of the delegates. He'd finally managed to get everyone to their appropriate posts, and given them snazzy little earpiece communicators that meant that none of them could get prosecuted for driving with a mobile phone. The host for the evening, the Lord High Stinking Bishop was warming up for the big presentation, and the first of a string of awards.
"Luck at hom. Anyone would thunk he was the poop!"
"Don't you mean 'pope?'" McAfee asked.
"I knoo what I moan!"
Back on the stage, the Big Cheese was well into his famous anecdote about the chicken, the rabbi and the Swedish prostitute. He'd already recounted the one about the Vietnamese pot-bellied pig, the word search and the Aqua-Vac, and had a string of notes about a mile long yet to wade through.
It was about this point that the evening's organisers were thankful they'd been spiking the Bishop's drinks all through dinner. It was halfway through the gag about the thermos flask and the Algerian limbo dancer that the pan-galactic gargle blaster started to kick in. And the bishop kicked out.
George was keeping an eye on the proceedings from the wings of the stage. As the Stinking Bishop was hauled away from the lectern, he turned to his accompanying Ensign, a young Welshman by the name of Ivor Targetonmibak, and said "Thank goodness for that. I was starting to think that bombing the TOSSER's wouldn't actually be such a bad idea!"
High up in geo-stationery orbit, Brian was a tribble with troubles. The hardest thing about keeping you foot on the gas peddle is that being a tribble, he didn't have foot. He tried rolling over it, he tried bouncing up and down on it, he tried giving it one of his hard stares, and had finally resorted to swearing profusely at it.
Yes, he was that upset.
The problem was, that the entirety of the ship's compliment had gone down to the surface leaving him solely responsible for keeping the ship in stable orbit. This had confused him t start with. He tried feeding it some hay, and mucking out the toilets, but this had little effect, and without the continued pressure being applied to the ship's accelerator, the ship was in danger of stalling. If this happened Brian really would swear.
The Frazer's nose dipped, as it began to drop in altitude.
Tad Des-Parot was starting to get anxious He'd begun this trilogy of episodes as the director, one of QVC's finest (a dubious honour), and he couldn't quite work out how he'd come to sharing a brig with the former captain and being driven insane by the sound of someone repeatedly banging their balls.
<Voice from the Sidelines: "We can't quite remember either! >
"I tell you there's something wrong, Rogers, we need top get out of here!"
"Well, I'm open to suggestions."
"Well, all the security guards have gone."
"What, all the ones in red uniforms?"
"Yeah, those guys."
"I expect they're dead."
"You haven't watched this show much, have you?"
"That doesn't alter the fact we've gotta get out! Isn't there some fancy, electronic technical gizmo that you can use or manipulate to act as a main string plot device when everything else seems impossible?"
"What, you mean the sort of thing Doc Brown would come out with?"
"Yeah, what would he do?"
"He'd probably fetch out a manually gravitated counter-clockwise linkage agitating modulated inertially sequential latchment oscillating traversment inducing device".
"A key, you moron!"
"You have a key??!!"
"Of course I do! It's my ship you know!"
On the bridge, Brian was really panicking. A panicked tribble is a very scary sight, if only someone could have been there to see it. Not only had he not been able to press the accelerator, but now the Frazer had begun free-fall, he couldn't budge the brake either.
Back in the Meldrew Suite, festivities were just re-commencing following the pitch invasion that resulted when the Henley On Thames Patchwork Quilt Society decided to snake their conga line down the centre aisle, across the stage, and through the Stinking Bishop's dressing room, much to the hilarity of the town's women's guild representatives. The presentations had continued apace, and so far, Doc Brown had achieved special merit having received awards for both Most Original Use of a Colander and Other Kitchen Utensils, and Scientific Quadruped Experimentation Utilizing Oscillating Cycling Shorts and An Elastic Band Dependency. He'd also picked up the award for Best Use of a Chastity Belt In Zero Gravity, which he collected on behalf of an absent Captain Rogers.
Behind the prop façade that made up the backdrop to the stage set, a shadowy dark cloaked figure made his way stealthily towards the back of the podium, his four pawed feet moving cautiously to avoid all the ropes, pulleys and paraphernalia that you tend to come across when someone has put Officer Crabtree in charge of a security operation.
Rogers was taking a leaf out of Brian's book, and swearing profusely. He really should have remembered that his key only worked on the handcuffs on deck 36. Tad Des-Parot sobbed uncontrollably. Luckily he was standing next to the door controls at the time, and the resulting moisture shorted the bypass circuitry, sending the doors to the cellblock flying conveniently open.
Fire erupted around the Frazer's hull, billowing orange plumes snaked their way along the fuselage and through theship's TWANG generators, as the atmosphere began to buffit the outer shell of the ship's saucer. It wasn't doing a lot for the cups or teaspoons either. Rogers and Tad Des Parot were thrown through the now-open doorways and rammed violently into the wall of the adjacent corridor. Thankfully for their sakes, QVC sets weren't the most robust of constructions, and they burst straight through the thin plywood onto the neighbouring set.
Einsten wasn't prepared for what happened next. He'd just been preparing himself to pounce on the unexpecting speaker and launch his devastating evil scheme to destroy the TOSSERs when two burly dishevelled Neanderthals, one of whom had ripped his shirt for no apparent reason, and another that looked like he'd peeled too many onions, burst through the set wall behind him making him leap backwards in surprise, striking one of the conveniently placed levers at the side of the stage. This had the effect of seeing three perfectly position sandbags drop from the gantries overhead, striking both Einstein and his unexpected companions on the head, knocking them ut cold. Each of the sand bags was attached to a neat coil of rope wound up on the backstage floor. Of course, the law of physics demanded that what came down also goes up. (I cannae change the laws of physics, but Doc Brown can!) As a result all three were now suspended and thoroughly entangled amongst the lighting rigs and speaker systems that suspended above the stage.
Ball and Crabtree ran full pelt onto the stage. They'd seen the three figures fly high above the backdrop set and were sure that this was the feared terrorist plot that had been completely unimagined by the Cheese federations finest intelligence agents and so was obviously going to happen. They stared up in disbelief and a weary looking Trotsky approached them in a far more casual manner.
"Ah, stupid American Pig-dogski, didn't you knowski that flying voz invwented by Rrrussian peasant in 1445."
"Yes, but he didn't do it bound and gagged like he was spending an afternoon on deck 36!" piped up McAfee as she joined her crewmates on the main stage. At that precise moment a commotion could be heard coming from the rear of the Meldrew Suite, as the room invaded by a sea of delegates from the Cross Stitch Confederacy, many still in their cabaret outfits, snorkels and bicycle clips, which if Trotsky had had time to point out, were invented by Rrrussian peasant in 1173 and 1364 respectively. The massed screams that filled the air were merely a pre-cursor as Brian did his level best to try and keep the Frazer's nose up as it crashed through the main sound stage, decapitating half of the Leeds Women's Voluntary Service in one fell swoop. The huge bulk of rampaging metal (read: cardboard and plywood) crashed through the gala arena of the Welwyn Garden City Ringway Holiday Inn, splintering wood from the set was sent flying in all directions as the hotel's manager came bursting in, nostrils and moustache flaring.
"BLOODY GERMANS! MANUEL!!!!!"
The entirety of the Frazer's bridge crew stared on in disbelief as their ship slowly ground to a halt three quarters of the way down the central aisle of the auditorium. Steam rose slowly from the battered front end of the wrecked saucer (someone had spilt the tea) as they exclaimed in one voice
"I DON'T BELIEVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
<Cue: Tacky Sixties Music>
Will the Frazer ever fly again?
Will Ball go from Acting Captain to Capatin and Act-OR?
Will Crabtree ever learn to speak French?
These and other questions will remain unanswered in the next mind-boggling (read: numbing) episode of Star Trek: A & E.
Episode 5 - Return to the Fold
Captain's Log - Stardate Only 5?! You lazy gits!
Captain Rogers gently stroked the new tacky sixties plastic pseudo-imitation leather effect chair that took centre stage on the bridge. He lifted a finger and inspected it thoroughly. Part of him was slightly disappointed not to find a layer of dust.
"Mr George, are we ready?"
"That depends, Captain. What did you have in mind?"
"You can be sure-ski it inwolves deck 36-ski, and prwobably your-ski entire vation of moustache wax-ski, (a quaint Rrrussian inwention which dates back-ski to 1630)."
"You mean it was invented at half past four?"
The Frazer's engines flared. This was because the large red button on the helmsman's console was hit hard by George's forehead, as he was sent reeling from the impact of the cricket bat as it swung into the back of his skull.
"If you've quite finished with your chit-chat, we do actually have a mission to carry out. Trotski, what kind of TWANG factor can we achieve without the scaffolding falling off?"
"It all depends-skiwhat grade of super-glue-ski voz used by ze stupid-ski pig-dog-ski American special-effect-ski bod-ski".
Outside, in the dark gulf of space (also known as the broom cupboard in QVC studio 3) Ball was busy doing an impersonation of the opening credits of Red Dwarf. The only distinction being that even the Cheese Federation wasn't foolish enough to paint their starships in red.
"Smoke me a kipper, I'll be back for breakfast!"
<"It's Cold Outside, there's no kind of…>
<Voice from the sidelines: ACUUUUUUTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!!!" >
Tad Des-Parot (the show's director) charged onto the soundstage and managed to decapitate Buzz Loudly (the chief sound editor) with one snap of his clapper boards.
"Next one that tries that is gonna be singing soprano!"
<Cue: Tacky Sixties Music>
It's not often that Doctor Doug was speechless. But being caught by your captain (a painful concept) with your trousers round your ankles in a compromising position involving your chief nurse (Gladys Emmanuelle, of course) and being up to your knees in a vat of cold porridge, in the middle of sick bay, does tend to cramp your style. And your patients who are trying to get some sleep.
"Ah, Doctor, still conducting the radioactive Ready-Brek experiments, I see? You really should try the sushi in the galley B I hear Ensign Trotski particularly recommends it to us Western pig-dogs-skis."
"Great Scott!" Doc Brown exclaimed as he entered the room. "Einstein's got better legs than that!"
"Brown, shouldn't you be in engineering?"
"Well, it's only next door now, since they glued the saucer section back on the wrong way round."
"That would explain a lot. I was wondering why my cabin windows no longer overlooked the women's changing rooms. It was a nasty surprise seeing Geoff Capes preparing for his ballet lesson instead! More to the point, it would also explain why I've ended up in sickbay and not the briefing room. I'll see both of you in there just as soon as Doug can lose those wellies."
<Voice from the Sidelines:- "Well, actually there's another reason you're in sick bay and not the briefing room. We haven't actually built a briefing room yet. We used all the wood on the actors!"
"Well really! That's act-ors! I've not been so insulted since the time I was understudying for Derek Jacobi when he implied that I hadn't paid for my subscription of The Globe Periodical! I mean, really, as if I would have scrimped out of paying for that most esteemed thespian journal, it even had a review of my sublime performance of Robinson Crueso, in Kenneth Brannagh's production of HMS Pinafore, where I quite masterfully upstaged even Judi Dench and Professor Yaffle from Bagpuss!"
"Somebody get me a fresh clapper board"
A blur of speeded up stock film footage robbed from various episodes of Changing Rooms later…
The door slid open as the captain strode into the (briefing) room.
AGentlemen, and Lieutenant McAfee, you may have wondered why I asked you to assemble here. Basically it's like this. Admiral Camonbert, the senile old fool, who is only slightly better at typing than Writer Number Two, has been instructed by the Ministry of the Cheese Federation, to investigate".
There was a stunned silence, as fear gripped the bridge crew, and Brian wet himself. Unfortunately, not even Tribbles know which way up a Tribble is, which made it very uncomfortable for Brian when he realised he was doing a headstand on wet leather.
Rogers was like a blur. He pulled his phase pistol from it's hip holster, and fired in a split second. The air fizzed as the laser blast made it's mark, cutting straight through the target's skull and leaving a scorched blackened mark on the bulkhead behind.
"WHAT IDIOT LET JAR JAR IN HERE????!!!!"
<Pause for mass rejoicing and cheering, except for in the merchandising department>.
Decapitated Jar Jar Beanie Babies available from QVC Warehouse B cut price!
"What-ski is zis Fold-ski thing-ski?"
"Well, it's like a galactic sized Bermuda Triangle"
"Vot's viz zis Bermud-ski Triangle-ski?"
"It's that TV show that sucks hour-and-a-half chunks of your life away, and that isn't Coronation Street!"
"What our esteemed commanding officer is trying to say", said Ball from the other end of the table, "is that it's a big blank area of space, that happens to have been placed at the centre of every single edition of the Cheese federation Road Atlas. It's in that bit of the Atlas that no-one can ever quite see because it's just too near the centre. No-one has ever successfully charted it, because there's no decent map of exactly where it starts. If you get too near, you never escape. There are rumours and legends about The Fold. Some say it's a gateway to another dimension even more baffling than this one. Some say there's a gravity well leading to a black hole. Some say any object will be torn to shreds by a techno-babylon field which swirls around the area. Some say it contains an enormous cloud of molten liquorice. Although those who say that tend to be a bit stoned when they say it. Or it might be like what they found within The Great Barrier in The Final Frontier, only not quite as naff. Or it might be empty. A bit like Basildon".
"We are so screwed." (thought Writer Number One's chocolate digestive as it dived head-long into a steaming cup of coffee in a last ditch suicide attempt. No, really, it did!)
"The Cheese Federation is on the brink of a revolutionary next generation of road atlas B the next edition will have those curly spiral back binding, instead of a glued spine, so the area in the middle can no longer be uncharted. That, apparently, is where we come in."
"You could have just said, 'b0!!0#s!' "
<Voice from the Sidelines:
Writer Number One: "Who'd have believed that chocolate digestives and lemmings were related?"
Writer Number Two: "Who'd have believed that chocolate digestives and red shirts could be related?"
Writer Number One: "Erm, no, red shirts generally don't kill themselves!"
Writer Number Two "OK you've got a point there." >
"Great Scott! If we don't have a map, how do we get there? Will we just fall out of space?"
"No, we did that last episode. And landed on Welwyn Garden City. In fact it's lucky for you that we need Einstein on TWANG control or he'd still be in interrogation on Deck 36!"
Rogers reached out an index finger, but before he could reach his target, McAfee slapped him hard across the face. He prodded at the control, console on the desk instead.
"Computer, how long until Fold Sector of space?"
A seductive voice oozed out of the speakers.
"Oooh Captain, it's been too long, it seems like ages since I've been on your lap---"
<"Careful, family show and all thatY.">
"--top on deck 36. And you never did get that rubber mouse-mat you promised me."
<"I said be careful!">
"If it's not too much trouble, Fold Space? Any time soon?"
"There's no need to be impatient. You weren't like that when you were opening my windows."
"Don't look now, but Max Savings just spontaneously combusted".
"Does that mean that he's related to a chocolate digestive as well?" retorted McAfee. She was starting to get impatient.
"For god's sake! Suffragettes didn't die in vain just so that pathetic computer programs like you can make every woman in the world feel pathetic, useless or much more likely, BLOODY ANGRY! Now, HOW LONG UNTIL WE GET TO THE DAMNED FOLD?!"
Trotski nudged George in the ribs.
"Must be PMT-ski!"
"HOW LONG TIL WE GET THERE?!?!?!?!"
"Twelve seconds ago."
"Right, we're really, really, really screwed!"
"Where did all the chocolate digestives go?"
The Frazer was rocked by laser blast after laser blast. Luckily, they were 1970s BBC effects and therefore couldn't even damage the crappy QVC sets. The bridge crew stared at the viewscreen, an immense array of varied space craft of every shape and colour imaginable was lined up in front of them like a mass fleet preparing for a Waterloo-style naval engagement.
<Voice from the sidelines:- "STOP!!!! WE CAN'T AFFORD ANY MORE BLOODY MUSIC ROYALTIES!!!! LEAST OF ALL TO BLOODY ABBA!!!>
The lead ship had three pointy fork-like protrusions, with a torch on the end of each one, and a large luminous green bum.
On the Frazer's bridge, an area of air in front of the viewscreen began to shimmer and a very strange loud pseudo-electronic style noise could be not heard by everybody. Suddenly three men and two women stood fondling bracelets and very pointy torches, which is a shame because while they wasted time fondling their weaponry and trying to look cool, Rogers shot the lot of them.
"Find Blake now, you bastards!"
<Voice From The Sidelines: "Well, they were on the right track. Knowing Gareth Thomas he was probably in the pub. Can't think why!">
Rogers had a glint in his eye like never before. Those new contact lenses were great! He dreamed of this moment. At last, he was in a fight he could win, and Ball was not his opponent! The Frazer banked starboard, and took up a strafing on the ramshackle fleet's right flank. The first salvo blew the scaffolding clear of the front of the hull. A putlug struck an Eagle head on, smashing straight through the viewscreen, decapitating both pilots. It didn't do enough damage to cause an explosion but the Eagle blew up anyway, for no apparent reason. The Cylon Base-Ships didn't stand a chance, although they weren't made by the BBC effects team, the models were only three inches high. One well-placed scaffold clip took out an entire fleet of three of the monstrous Cylon craft and then everyone stopped and watched the stock footage of a viper needing three laser blasts to not hit it's target but blow it up anyway.
"Erm, what the hell is actually happening here anyway?" enquired a spell-bound Ball.
Rogers was completely entranced by the ensuing mayhem, and oblivious to all going on around him.
"It seems that the contents of The Fold is actually every single spaceship in the history of film and TV and film that has ever been destroyed, and they seem to be a little bit annoyed. It's possible they may want to take hideous revenge and follow us back out of the Fold and invade our Galaxy" offered McAfee by way of an extremely contrived explanation. After a sharp glare from a beetroot coloured Max Savings she added
"But only if we need to turn this into a two-parter".
"And we're doing what precisely? Blowing them up again?! That'll really help to cheer them up!" replied Ball.
Meanwhile, outside, the affray continued apace. A squadron of X-Wing fighters found a convenient corridor running across the Frazer's saucer-section outer hull and attempted to run along it's length to drop doughnuts into a garbage outlet at one end, but were thwarted when they ran head long into a banner that had been hung up outside proclaiming "DOCTOR DOUG - FORTY TODAY!" that had been there for three weeks and which no-one had bothered to take down. Meanwhile a marauding TIE fighter was equally done in by a novelty Flag of St George stuck to the hull, which had been there since England had lost their World Cup warm-up match against the Isle of Wight the previous April. The Frazer continued it's onslaught although ships from Ming the Merciless' evil forces of Mongo showed stiff resistance with the use of a viciously waved sparkler. A Dalek hub-cap saucer flew Frisbee-style across the scene, missed the Frazer by several dozen light years, and nearly decapitated poor Buzz Loudly, (if it wasn't for the fact his head was still missing after the incident with the clapper board, it would have sliced clean through his neck) while a swarm of Space-bourne spangly Dapol Daleks charged hell for leather at the ship - and began to bounce harmlessly off the front of the saucer section.
A huge shadow---
<Voice from the Sidelines B Writer Number Two: ANOOOOO!!!!! JMS will never let us use them!"
A huge black shape engulfed the Frazer, darkening the bridge. Quite why it should have affected the lights was a mystery.
"This is the Vogon Constructor Fleet. This Fold has been cited for development by the Cheese Federation to make a hyperspace bypass, and accompanying Little Chefs. Planning notices have been available in Admiral Camonbert's filing cabinet since lunchtime last Tuesday".
Four points of light flashed in the distance but rest assured the Frazer managed to destroy Buck Rogers before he could escape, a point of principle for the Captain who thought there was only room for one Rogers in the Galaxy. Mind you, that didn't stop him having plans for Wilma Deering on Deck 36.
The Frazer's tractor beam (a toe-rope with a sink plunger on one end) grasped her ship and the Frazer fled the scene to let the Vogons do their worst.
The entirety of QVC's back-stage staff were huddled round a painfully white, frigid lifeless looking Max Savings, who was spread-eagled on the floor, one foot nervously twitched showing the only sign that life still remained in his otherwise inert form.
Tad Des-Parot ran up to the huddled masses who were fanning Max Savings face to try and get some air into his lifeless frame.
"Oh god! I went too far! I should have known, his heart couldn't take it! What was I thinking? All those effects, all the cost! I should've known it would have been the end for him!"
"It wasn't that" said George from his place on the bridge set. "it was the Vogon poetry!!!!!!!!!"
<Tacky Sixties Music>
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