Friday, May 25, 2007

Doctor Who's Wacky Funtime Playhouse, Part Three

A day late, but this is the third and final part in the short story in which I attempted to create something completely new and different, similar only in the title and the use of "time travel" to the classic TV series 'Doctor Who'. As you'll soon see, this is also the point at which I realized I'd spectacularly failed...

Dale looked at him incredulously. “I’ll tell you what caused the end of it—I died! Or, I mean, I will die. As soon as you leave. Which I want you to do, because I just want to get this over with…I want to die. I can’t keep going anymore, and I can’t stop.”

“Why do you wish to die?” Gogos seemed puzzled.

“Because I’ve been doing this show, this albatross, this anchor, this…thing…for twenty years! It’s ruined me for any other acting work; can you imagine the host of ‘Doctor Who’s Wacky Funtime Playhouse’ doing Shakespeare, or ‘Death of a Salesman’? I can’t even go out and get drunk over it, because I’m supposed to be a role-model for kids! The show doesn’t pay enough for me to retire, I’ll never do any of the roles I got into acting to do…” The words poured out of him, twenty years of bile finally unleashed in a single flowing rant. “All my life, I wanted to touch people, and instead I wound up doing a local kid’s show for twenty years. It’s worthless.”

Gogos shook his head. “Perhaps you did not hear me,” he said. “You have touched all of us. The empires of my sector of space span a thousand worlds, with a thousand billion inhabitants. Each of us has our own religion, our own culture, our own taboos, our own emotions. There is no common ground, no touchstone for us. Every day, we each encounter perspectives so alien to our own that there seems no possible outcome but violence.

“Your show changed all that. Every week, we saw something that we could all understand and appreciate. Yes, it was silly. Yes, it was intended for children. Yes, the values it espoused were simple, sometimes unworkable in the real and complex world we live in. And yes, the production values were low. But it provided us with a sense of wonder, a simple pleasure and enjoyment that transcended our cultural barriers. Through you, Doctor Who, we gained a common ground that different cultures could all appreciate. Love, luck, and laughter. They are not such bad values to build upon.”

There was a long silence. At the end of it, Dale said, “Thank you,” very quietly.

“You are welcome,” Gogos said. “Now, please, continue with your suicide.”

Dale raised an eyebrow. “Um…it really doesn’t seem…I mean, I think I can go on now, because like you said, um…”

Gogos shook his head. “I am afraid there is nothing I can do here. The series ceased transmission on this date. It is a historical fact, and there is nothing I can do about it. A shame, but that is the laws of causality for you.” He paused, obviously pretending to be lost in thought and not quite managing to conceal a hint of smugness. “Unless…”

Dale said, “Spare me the acting. Unless what?”

Gogos said, “It occurs to me that I could use the time-belt to bring you with me back to my home on Vinoma in the future. From there, we could then bring you on a good-will tour of the planets of the empire, performing before all the different worlds and uniting the fractured races in a new order of peace and harmony. It will be difficult, of course. After seven years of fighting, some no longer wish for peace. You may have to perform to hostile crowds. Your life may even be in danger at times.” Gogos looked meaningfully at the drawer. “Then again, I am not certain how much more dangerous it could be than putting a loaded fire-arm in your mouth and pulling the trigger.”

Dale smiled ruefully. “I see your point. Sure, I’ll go.” He stood up. “I think my work is done here on Earth anyway.”

Gogos stood up as well. “Excellent,” he said. “Please, take my hand now, and we will transmit ourselves to the future.”

Dale clasped his hand with Gogos, and as he felt a strange, distant tingling sensation overwhelm him, he said the only words he could possibly think of as appropriate.

“Doctor Who prescribes love, luck, and laughter for the rest of the day!”


Anonymous said...

I rather liked it; a nice, fun diversion on what has been until now a thoroughly crappy day.

Thank you

Tyson said...

I'll confess that I don't know anything about Doctor Who (I've never seen an episode of it). (Some geek I am, huh? So embarrassing.)

Despite that, I really enjoyed this - I just enjoyed it as an entertaining and well written story. It reminds me of some of Arthur C. Clarke's older short stories (and I hope you realize that this is high praise!).

Anonymous said...

I thought "spectacular failure" was a tad harsh. I thought the ending could use some work-a little too deus ex machina-y, but not as bad as you thought.

John Seavey said...

The "spectacular failure" part was a bit of a joke--it hit me when I was writing the paragraph about the old TV show, and how it was great despite the low production values and cheesy bits, that I was really writing a love letter to the classic series and explaining why I loved it, bad special effects and all.

Which is a "spectacular failure" at writing something new and different. :)